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Table of Contents for Dwight's 4 volumes.

Journey to Provincetown

Travels in New England and New York.
4 volumes.
Timothy Dwight

Volumes I and II were published in 1821, volumes III and IV in 1822. New Haven Connecticut: Timothy Dwight

This was republished in 1969 by the John Harvard Library, Belknap Press of Harvard University, edited by Barbara Miller Solomon, with the assistance of Patricia M. King. The text here was taken from the Harvard edition. The language has been modernized—I don't know to what extent. There is an extensive introduction by Solomon, as well as many pages of explanatory notes. Each volume has a map near the front detailing the paths taken in that volume's Travels. 

The details of Dwight's life are mainly from Solomon:
Rev. Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) was not an ordinary traveler. During the time he made his travels, from the 1790s to 1815, he was President of Yale, the most prominent Congregational theologian in New England, an active Federalist, and perhaps the most important man in Connecticut. In writing this book, he was consciously trying to sway European public opinion, which believed then, as now, that Americans were just money-grubbing, ignorant, violent barbarians. ...

The volumes have many chapters, each subdivided in Letters. Posted here is the Cape Cod section of Journey to Provincetown, from Volume III, pp 46-72, which includes the end of Letter VIII, and all of Letters IX to XI. Context indicates he made this trip in 1800, although there is also additional later information from census reports, other publications, and correspondents. Dwight's chapter titles are rather misleading—he certainly did make it to Provincetown, but that specific location wasn't the point of his trip. Journey to Provincetown begins in New Haven, and takes 8 Letters to wind its way along the Connecticut shore into Rhode Island, then into southeastern Massachusetts. Cape Cod gets 3 and a fraction Letters. The return trip goes through Plymouth, into the towns surrounding Boston, and back to northeastern Connecticut through southern Worcester county, Massachusetts, in 4 Letters.

Table of Contents for Dwight's 4 volumes.

Timothy Dwight - Appletons
Timothy Dwight -
posted April 2004

Journey to Provincetown

Helburne Woods—Westport—New Bedford—Its situation, commerce, and settlement—Attack on Fairhaven by the British in 1778—Gallant defense of the place  by  Major Fearing—Rochester—Wareham—Proposed  canal across  the peninsula  of Cape  Cod—Sandwich

Country between Sandwich and Barnstable—Barnstable—Yarmouth—Saltworks of Cape Cod—Observations on the extent of this  manufacture—Difficulties of Christianizing  the Indians—Dennis—Harwich—Orleans

Eastham—Truro—Provincetown—Beach  grass,  its   utility—Soil  very thin and blown away from the white sand beneath—Manners and habits of the inhabitants of  Provincetown—Its   fisheries and  harbor—Wellfleet—Return   to   Harwich—Innkeeper
Return to Sandwich—Mission among the Indians at Mashpee—Visit to the Rev. Gideon Hawley, the missionary—Description of the peninsula of Cape Cod—Its soil, population, etc.


    Thursday, November 25th, we left New Bedford early in the morning, and rode to Sandwich, thirty miles; through Rochester, twelve; and Wareham, thirteen. On our way we visited a manufactory of twine at the head of the harbor and about four miles from the town. It is the property of Mr. Rotch, and will cost, it is said, forty thousand dollars when completed. It [p 47] contains five stands of quills, each of which spins thirty pounds of flax per day, and a twisting machine which easily twists all that is spun. One hundred and fifty pounds of flax, therefore, are converted daily into twine at this manufactory, or 46,950 pounds in twelve months. Sewing twine only is spun at present and is said to be of a good quality, but it is intended soon to spin that which is designed for netting. The flax is chiefly imported from Connecticut. This was an application of water machinery to the convenience of man which I have not before seen.
    Soon after we passed the Acushnet, we entered upon the great sandy plain which forms the southeastern region of Massachusetts. Between New Bedford and Rochester it is tolerably firm. Thence to Wareham it becomes lighter, and the road heavier. From Wareham to Sandwich the horse may be said to wade. The forest throughout this region is principally formed of yellow pines. Oaks are however interspersed in New Bedford and Rochester. The soil in Rochester is principally hard and furnishes a good road.
    Rochester consists of scattered plantations. The soil, so far as we had opportunity to see it, is thin and indifferent. Around a decent church we saw several well-looking houses, and a number of others in different parts of the. township.
    Rochester was incorporated in 1686, and contained in 1790, 2,644 inhabitants; in 1800, 2,546; and in 1810, 2,954.
    Wareham, on the road, is almost merely a sandy plain, except a few spots lying chiefly along the streams. The soil, which is light and thin, lies immediately upon a stratum of white sand, from half an inch to eight or ten inches in thickness. Beneath this lies another stratum of yellow sand, descending below any depth to which it has been explored. As all this country is formed in the same manner to Provincetown with few and small interruptions, I shall have occasion hereafter to resume this subject.
    The Congregational church in Wareham is decent; but neither this, nor the church in Rochester, has a steeple.
    The lands in this township near the ocean are said to be much better than those on the road.
    Wareham was incorporated in 1739, and in 1790 contained 854 inhabitants; in 1800, 770; and in 1810, 851.
    Between Wareham and Sandwich we crossed the neck, or isthmus, which connects the peninsula of Cape Cod with the main. Two streams from this peninsula empty their waters into Barnstable Bay on the east and Buzzards Bay on the west, whose headwaters are very near to each other. A scheme has long since been projected, and often been brought up to the view of the public, for making a canal to connect these two waters, of sufficient depth to admit vessels of considerable burden and thus save them the voyage round Cape Cod, which at some seasons of the year is not a little hazardous. The design is accompanied by the following very serious difficulties. The expense  [p 48] as estimated by several successive surveyors will be very great. There is no harbor at the entrance in Barnstable Bay to secure vessels aiming at the canal in tempestuous weather. This evil is radical, and can be remedied only by an expensive mole at this spot. If the canal should be guarded with locks, it would in the winter be frozen, and thus preclude all navigation at the time of the greatest exposure. If the canal should be left open, it is believed that a sand bar would be formed at one of the entrances. The importance of this work, however, is so great that it will probably be one day attempted. During five months out of the nine in which it would be open, easterly storms more or less prevail. Many vessels are lost, and a great mass of property is sunk in the ocean. The commerce of Boston and other towns on the eastern shore of Massachusetts would also be rendered so much safer and easier that it could not fail of being greatly increased. Perhaps there never was a spot in which such a work was more necessary, or in which it would be more useful to mankind, than in this. The distance between the navigable waters of these two bays is five miles.
    The soil of Sandwich is much better than that which we saw at Wareham. The surface is an interchange of hills and valleys, which, though not beautiful in themselves, were particularly agreeable to us after having languished over so extensive a plain. These, to a considerable extent, are moderately well covered with earth. The meadows were often brilliant. The arable land bears good crops of the grains common to the country, and among them of wheat, which not uncommonly yields well. The maize was small, but the season had been very dry and stinted its growth. Generally the crop is good. A stranger surveying this ground would suppose from its appearance that vegetation of every kind must be greatly inferior to that which really exists. There are several good orchards in this town and one cidermill, the only one on the peninsula.
    The town of Sandwich is built on the northern, or, as it is commonly called, the western side of the isthmus, on a hill of considerable height. The most compact part of it surrounds a clear, pleasant looking pond. From this water runs a handsome stream, on which stands a gristmill. The church is an ancient building, as are also many of the houses.
    A considerable salt marsh along the shore of the bay yields the inhabitants a large quantity of hay, which is valuable both as fodder and as manure. Near it is a small harbor, called the Town Harbor, where, and in some other inlets belonging to the township, about thirty vessels are employed in the coasting business, especially in carrying wood to Boston.
    The general appearance of Sandwich is not unpleasant, and from the high grounds there is a fine prospect of the bay and of the neighboring country. There is a small academy, containing at this time a considerable collection of students.
    Sandwich is divided into two parishes. It was incorporated in 1639, and in [p  49] 1790 contained 1,991 inhabitants; in 1800, 296 dwelling houses and 2,024 inhabitants; and in 1810, 2,382. There is one Society of Friends and another of Methodists in this township.
    The inhabitants of Sandwich have very civil, decent manners. Since we were on this ground there has been a considerable revival of religion in the congregation of the Rev. Mr. B.
I am, Sir, yours, etc.

Country between Sandwich and Barnstable—Barnstable—Yarmouth—Saltworks of Cape   Cod—Observations   on   the   extent   of   this   manufacture—Difficulties   of Christianizing  the Indians—Dennis—Harwich—Orleans

Dear Sir,
    Monday, September 29th, we left our friends in Sandwich and rode to Orleans, thirty miles; through Barnstable, twelve; Yarmouth, sixteen; Dennis, twenty-one; and Harwich, twenty-five.
    The country from Sandwich to Barnstable is hilly and in a great degree bare, bleak, and desolate: the inhabitants having universally cut down their forests and groves and taken no measures to renew them. The soil is thin and unproductive and furnishes very little that is sprightly to enliven the scene. The road is in many places worn through the soil down to the yellow sand, and is deep and very heavy. The hills succeed each other so rapidly and the acclivities and declivities are so sudden as to render the traveling very laborious. It ought to be mentioned, however, that in the valleys and toward the bay a number of meadows alternate the prospect pleasantly. The views from the heights are frequently extensive and interesting. The streams are few and small. The houses on the road are neither numerous, nor, except in a very few instances, of much value.
    Barnstable lies at the bottom or the southern extremity of Massachusetts Bay. The township extends across the peninsula, which here is from five to nine miles wide, and about eight miles from Sandwich to Yarmouth. A noble prospect is seen from the high grounds, consisting of the town and neighboring country. A very extensive salt marsh, at that time covered with several thousand stacks of hay; the harbor, a mile wide, and four or five miles long; a long, lofty, wild and fantastical beach, thrown into a thousand  [p 50] grotesque forms by the united force of winds and waves; and the bay, bounded on the north only by sky, on the east by the peninsula of Cape Cod, and on the west by the eastern shore of Massachusetts; Plymouth Point, a very long beach running several miles into the bay, and Duxborough Point, another beach of considerable extent, and lapping upon that of Plymouth, are conspicuous and very pleasing objects in this view.
    The soil in Barnstable is plainly richer, as the situation is better, than that of Sandwich. The forest growth in both townships is chiefly oak and yellow pine. The land produces good crops of maize, rye, and other grains, a good deal of flax, and a great quantity of onions. On some grounds and in favorable seasons, wheat grows well. Salt hay is furnished by the marshes in abundance.
    The town is built on the northern declivity of a range of hills running near the middle of the peninsula. The greater part of the houses stand on the road; taken together they are superior to those of Sandwich. Many of them are neat, and several exhibit proofs of wealth and taste. The public buildings which we saw were a Presbyterian church and a courthouse, the latter decent and well repaired, the former disagreeable to the eye. The church is unusually low, while the tower of the steeple is disproportionately high, appearing as if made for some other building and by accident annexed to this.
    Barnstable was incorporated in 1639, and is the shire town of the county which bears this name. This distinction it acquired in 1635 [sic]; and, although situated near the western end of the peninsula, has quietly retained it ever since. From this source the manners of the inhabitants have received some degree of polish, and their morals some injury. Many of the inhabitants are seamen, and a greater part farmers.
    Barnstable includes two parishes and three congregations: two Presbyterian, and a small Baptist. In 1790, the number of inhabitants was 2,610; in 1800, 2,964; houses 408; and in 1810, 3,446.
    From Barnstable to Yarmouth the road is deep and heavy like that last described.
    The soil of this township is inferior to any which we had seen except some parts of Wareham. Here we were first witnesses of that remarkable phenomenon, so interesting to the inhabitants of this peninsula, the blowing of the sand. I shall describe it hereafter.
    The houses in Yarmouth are inferior to those in Barnstable, and much more generally of the class which may be called with propriety Cape Cod houses. These have one story and four rooms on the lower floor, and are covered on the sides, as well as the roofs, with pine shingles, eighteen inches in length. The chimney is in the middle immediately behind the front door, and on each side of the door are two windows. The roof is straight. Under it [p 51] are two chambers, and there are two larger and two smaller windows in the gable end. This is the general structure and appearance of the great body of houses from Yarmouth to Race Point. There are, however, several varieties, but of too little importance to be described. A great proportion of them are in good repair. Generally, they exhibit a tidy, neat aspect in themselves and in their appendages, and furnish proofs of comfortable living, by which I was at once disappointed and gratified. The barns are usually neat, but always small.
    At Yarmouth also may be said to commence the general addiction of the people on this peninsula to fishing. Born and bred at the verge of the water, they are naturally tempted to seek for plenty and prosperity on the waves, rather than glean a pittance from the field. From this source is derived their wealth and much of their subsistence.
    In Yarmouth we first found the saltworks which are now beginning to engross the attention of the people on this peninsula.
    During the Revolutionary War, many persons, here and elsewhere along the coast, applied themselves to the business of making salt. The process consisted in evaporating sea water from large boilers by fire. The quantity obtained in this manner was necessarily small, and the consumption of fuel great. It was therefore given up at the ensuing peace, but the subject was not absolutely forgotten. A Mr. Kelly, having professedly made several improvements in the means of accomplishing this business, obtained a patent about two years before this journey was taken for making saltworks on the plan now generally adopted in this region. Of these the following is a description.
    Vats of a number suited to the owners design, twenty feet square, and ten or twelve inches in depth, are formed of pine planks, an inch and a half thick, and so nicely joined as to be watertight. These are arranged into four classes. The first class or that next to the ocean is called the water room; the second, the pickle room; the third, the lime room; and the fourth, the salt room. Each of these rooms, except the first, is placed so much lower than the preceding that the water flows readily from it into another in the order specified. The water room is filled from the ocean by a pump furnished with vans or sails and turned by the wind. Here it continues until of the proper strength to be drawn into the pickle room, and thus successively into those which remain. The lime with which the water of the ocean abounds is deposited in the lime room. The salt is formed into small crystals in the salt room, very white and pure, and weighs from seventy to seventy-five pounds a bushel. The process is carried on through the warm season.
    After the salt has ceased to crystallize, the remaining water is suffered to freeze. In this manner a large quantity of Glauber's salt is obtained in crystals, which are clean and good. The residuum is a strong brine and yields a great proportion of marine salt like that already described.
 p 52                          
    To shelter the vats from the dews and rains, each is furnished with a hipped roof, large enough to cover it entirely. The roofs of two vats are connected by a beam, turning upon an upright post set firmly in the ground, and are moved easily on this pivot by a child of fourteen, or even twelve years. To cover and uncover them is all the ordinary labor.
    The marine salt made here is sold for seventy-five cents a bushel; and the Glauber's salt, at from six to ten cents a pound. At these prices the saltworks were supposed by the several persons with whom we conversed to yield an annual profit of 25, 26, 27, 30, and 33 1/3 per cent on the principal employed. If this estimate is not excessive, the business must certainly be better than most others. It is useful, permanent, liable to few accidents, secure of a market, incapable of being overdone, and unattended with any material expense either for labor or repairs. In ordinary cases a child can perform the labor of a considerable establishment, and the repairs are almost confined to the roof and the pieces of timber by which the works are supported. If these were smeared with oil and Spanish brown, or lampblack, they would last a long time. The brine itself secures the vats from decay.
    The people of Dennis, the town immediately east of Yarmouth, began this business. The improvements of Mr. Kelly were represented to me as contested and doubtful. Whatever the truth may be concerning this part of the subject, the people of Dennis have the merit and ought unquestionably to have the honor of commencing efficaciously this useful employment.
    The sight of these works excited in my mind a train of thought which others perhaps will pronounce romantic. I could not easily avoid thinking, however, that this business might one day prove the source of a mighty change in the face of this country. The American coast, as you know, is chiefly barren, and of course thinly inhabited. It is also almost everywhere low and level; and, therefore, while it is unsuited to most other employments, is remarkably fitted to this. Why, then, may it not be believed that many thousands of persons may one day be profitably employed in making salt along the immense extent of our shore? Why may not comfort and even wealth be easily, as well as usefully, obtained here by great multitudes who otherwise might hardly earn a subsistence? For aught that appears, this business may be followed with success and profit to an extent which it would be very difficult to define. A small capital is sufficient to begin the employment with advantage. The demand for salt is at present very great, and is every year increasing. There are (1811) seven millions of inhabitants within the United States; within a moderate period there will be seventy. The West Indian sources from which we principally derive this necessary article of life are now more than sufficient. The time is near in which the demand will exceed the supplies from that quarter. To what means can the inhabitants of this country so naturally betake themselves as to those which I have specified. Will they not of course erect works of this nature in succession [p 53]  from St. Marys to Machias? Will not comfort, therefore, and even affluence spring up on sands and wastes which now seem doomed to everlasting desolation? Will not towns and villages smile in tracts which are now condemned to gloom and solitude? May not multitudes who habitually spend life in casual and parsimonious efforts to acquire a bare subsistence, interluded with long periods of sloth and drunkenness, become sober, diligent, and even virtuous, and be formed for usefulness and immortality?
    About forty years since, there stood within the limits of Yarmouth an Indian church, in the neighborhood of which, called Indian Town, resided a small congregation of praying Indians, of the Pokanoket, or Wampanoag tribe. This was among the last relics of the efforts successfully made by our ancestors for the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. From the obstinate belief which extensively prevails that these people can never become Christians until they shall have been first civilized, one would naturally suppose the trial never to have been made, or to have been made without any success; yet, history informs us that our ancestors spread the religion of the Gospel among them with as few obstacles and as happy effects as were perhaps ever known to attend efforts of the like nature among any barbarians since the early days of the church.
    From Major General Gookin, a perfectly unexceptionable witness, we learn with certainty that in the colony of Massachusetts Bay there were in his time eleven hundred praying Indians in fourteen villages. In the colony of Plymouth, there were at the same time, including those of all ages, not far from six thousand. In Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, there were perhaps fifteen hundred more. When to these we add those in Connecticut, the number may be estimated at not far from ten thousand. These facts perfectly refute the opinion that there is some peculiar difficulty attending the conversion of Indians which is inherent in their character or manners. It cannot, however, be denied that the attempts which have been made in modern times to spread the influence of the Gospel among them have in a great measure been unsuccessful. Two great causes have in my apprehension produced this effect. The first of these was the general persuasion excited by Philip that the English were enemies to the Indians and were embarked in a general design to possess themselves of their lands.        This persuasion appears to have spread by the agency of that sagacious chieftain throughout the greatest part of New England, in a manner remarkably rapid and efficacious. So firmly were the Indians satisfied of the hostility and sinister designs of the colonists that the impression has never been effectually erased. Whenever our people approach them, therefore, they are met with apprehension and dislike, strongly cherished by the sense of their own inferiority and diminution, and of the population and power of the Americans. The other cause of this difficulty is found in the character and conduct of those who are called Indian traders. These are a class of men who for a long period [p  54] employed themselves in exchanging coarse European goods, and ardent spirits, muskets, powder and ball, flints, hatchets, knives, and some other commodities with the Indians for furs and peltry. Sometimes they resided among them permanently, and sometimes occasionally; and in either case acquired often considerable ascendancy over them. Generally, they were men of loose lives, as well as of loose principles. In their trade they were greedy and oppressive, and in their ordinary conduct licentious. A great part of their gains arose from the sale of ardent spirits, a business to the success of which the vice, particularly the intemperance, of the Indians was, indispensable. Against Christianity and its missionaries, therefore, these men arrayed themselves, and made on the minds of their customers the most unfavorable impressions concerning both. At the same time, they themselves were white men, and in the view of the Indians were of course Christians. With Christianity, therefore, these ignorant people almost necessarily connected the unprincipled and profligate lives of the traders, as being often the only, and always the prominent, examples of what they supposed to be the proper effects of the Christian religion. (The same effects are produced in the minds of the Hindus by the loose lives of the British inhabitants of Hindustan. The most solid, the most operative objection brought by them against the Christian religion, and that which is obviated with the greatest difficulty, has been derived from this source. The Mexicans made the same objection, and as they thought irresistibly, against the religion that was taught them by the Spaniards. The inhabitants of Tanjore, after having been a short time witnesses of the life of Schwarz, never thought of questioning either the reality or the excellence of his religion.)
    To these great causes must in certain cases be added a third, which sometimes was not inferior to either in its efficacy: I mean, the very censurable character of that class of men who usually plant themselves upon the frontier of the English settlements, a class composed principally of the foresters heretofore described. These men almost of course alienate the minds of the Indians from everything adopted by the colonists.
    Independently of these causes, there is nothing in the Indian character which can rationally discourage efforts for their conversion. They are savages it is true, and a savage life is hostile to religion; but how often has Christianity triumphed over this obstacle. What I especially intend is that there is nothing of a peculiar nature in their circumstances which would make their conversion more hopeless and difficult than that of other savages. Of this, decisive proof is furnished in the facts which have been already stated. A strong illustration of the same proof is also exhibited in the remarkable success of the excellent Brainerd, who at Grossweeksung converted by his preaching, so far as the human eye can judge, seventy-five Indians out of one hundred to the faith and obedience of the Gospel within twelve months. What minister can boast of greater success in any congregation [p 55] of civilized life! Such a fact is a flaming proof that the difficulty here complained of does not lie in the mere character of these people.
    Yarmouth was incorporated in 1639. In 1790, it contained 2,678 inhabitants, Dennis being then included within its limits. In 1800, Yarmouth alone contained 1,727; and in 1810, 2,134. Of Dennis we saw little except the ground on which we rode, and occasional extensions of our prospect over the neighboring country. Of the houses and inhabitants we saw few, and those distinguished by no peculiarity. A considerable part of the road from Yarmouth to Orleans, where we lodged, is hilly and unpleasant. The soil is principally lean; the verdure, faded prematurely; the forests, which in Dennis extend along the road in one place three miles, are low and unthrifty; and the surface, though sufficiently varied, destitute of beauty. The views of the bay and the tidy, comfortable appearance of the houses are here almost the only objects which can gratify the eye of a traveler. On the northern shore the soil is said to be better. Rye, Indian corn, and onions are said to grow well, and are cultivated in greater quantities than are necessary for the consumption of the inhabitants.
    The highest land in the county of Barnstable is Scargo Hill in this township.
    The following account of the saltworks in Barnstable County is taken from the Collections of the Historical Society of Massachusetts, Vol. VIII, page 138.

In No. of works No. of feet
Dennis 47   33,800
Yarmouth 4   16,630
Barnstable 14 11,717
Sandwich 4 2,702
Falmouth 4 1,900
Harwich 21 18,600
Chatham 6 11,500
Orleans 11 3,080
Eastham 12 9,100
Wellfleet 2 180
Truro 1 700
Provincetown 10 11,404

136 121,313

    You are to be informed that these feet denote the area of the several vats contained in each saltwork; and that a foot has here a singular meaning, and denotes ten actual feet. The real amount of the whole area of the vats erected on this peninsula was in the year 1802, 1,213,130 square feet. It was calculated that these works would yield annually 40,438 bushels of marine salt and 181,969 pounds of Glauber's salt, worth in the whole $41,701.56: of [p 56]  which the marine salt, valued at 75 cents a bushel, amounts to $30,328.50; and the Glauber's salt, valued at 6¼ cents per lb., to $11,373.06.
    Captain John Sears, of Dennis, was the first and principal author of this method of manufacturing salt, and is to be considered as one of the benefactors of his country, particularly as he persevered in bringing the design to perfection in spite of the sneers and ridicule of his neighbors, weapons often employed in a very shameful, though successful manner to discourage useful inventions.
    There is a flourishing village on Bass River, running between Yarmouth and Dennis on the south side of the peninsula.
    Dennis was incorporated in 1793. In 1800, it contained 188 dwelling houses and 1,408 inhabitants; and in 1810, 1,739.
    Harwich presents a handsomer aspect than any other town after Barnstable. It is situated on an easy declivity towards the south, and has a tolerably good soil. The verdure was more vivid, and the agriculture more successful. The houses are generally such as have been already described. (In the year 1803, the township of Harwich was divided, and the first parish incorporated by the name of Brewster. This is the part through which we traveled. In the year 1790, the township contained 2,392 inhabitants; and in 1800, 2,987. In the year 1810, the present Harwich contained 1,942; and Brewster, 1,112: 3,054.)
    Orleans is not greatly distinguished by anything from Harwich, except that it is much inferior in pleasantness of appearance. The soil also is lighter and apparently less productive. On Pocket [Pochet] Neck, however, lying upon the south, it is much better than in the main body of the township, and on Pocket [Pochet] Island in Pleasant Bay is still better. In the body of the township twelve bushels of maize and eight of rye are the average crop; on the neck, from fifteen to twenty of maize and from eight to twelve of rye; and on the island, twenty bushels of maize without the aid of manure. Old men and boys are principally the husbandmen; the middle aged and young men are chiefly employed in fishing. Clams are the bait used by the fishermen, of which from six hundred to a thousand barrels are collected here in a single season. In this business many poor people find employment and subsistence. Very little wood grows in this township. Imported wood and peat are the fuel of the inhabitants. The township is divided into scattered plantations.
    Orleans was formerly a part of Eastham, and was incorporated in 1797. In 1800, it contained 1,095 inhabitants; and in 1810, 1,248.
I am, Sir, yours, etc.
p 57

Eastham—Truro—Provincetown—Beach  grass,  its   utility—Soil  very   thin  and blown away from the white sand beneath—Manners and habits of the inhabitants of   Provincetown—Its   fisheries   and   harbor—Wellfleet—Return   to   Harwich—Innkeeper

Dear Sir,
    We left our comfortable inn in Orleans, September 29th, and rode to Provincetown through Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro: thirty miles. When we had proceeded half a mile on our journey, the road turned to the north, and thence to the northwest, this spot being the elbow of the peninsula. In Eastham the surface became a perfect plain, and the peninsula so narrow that we had a full view of Massachusetts Bay and the Atlantic at the same time. The bay was everywhere magnificent, and on the north was, like the ocean, without limits. We were, therefore, presented with the prospect of two immense oceans, separated only by a strip of land three miles in breadth. Few spots on a continent unite two such objects in a single view.
    In Eastham the cultivation of the earth was a point of perceptibly less consequence than in Orleans. The soil was visibly more barren; the fields were large, as if owned in common by many proprietors; the fences were low, as if little danger was apprehended from cattle; and large tracts were left unenclosed. All these appearances increased until, at the distance of perhaps six miles from Orleans, we entered a forest, composed at first of oaks, and afterward of oaks and pines, still lower and leaner than any which we had seen before. This forest lasts without intermission to Wellfleet, and with very little to the borders of Truro. At first the ground is high, but level. After we had traveled a few miles, it became broken into hills and valleys. On the eastern side of this township, however, there is a tract of very good land, containing about two hundred acres, probably the best in this county, yielding, when well manured, from thirty to forty-five bushels of maize and from twenty to thirty bushels of rye. Generally, the land on the eastern side is better than that on the western. More than one thousand bushels of maize are annually sent to market by the farmers. Eastham was incorporated in 1646; and, including Orleans, contained in [p 58]  1790, 1,834 inhabitants; in 1800, Eastham alone contained 659, and both townships, 1,784; and in 1810, Eastham contained 751.
    Our journey through the forest mentioned above was disagreeable. The surface was unpleasant, and the trees were destitute of thrift and beauty. The road also became within a few miles a mere bed of deep sand, through which our horses moved with excessive difficulty. Yet, even in this forest we saw, planted at considerable distances, tidy, snug houses, usually surrounded by a fence enclosing a small piece of ground. On most of these were orchards of apple trees, defended from the sea winds by a barrier of cherry trees or locusts. Under these trees we had from time to time the pleasure of seeing patches of verdure, not indeed very brilliant, yet very agreeable to us, accustomed as we had now been for a great distance to fields covered with a melancholy russet. These houses are almost all built in valleys, surrounded by hills of considerable height, and defended by the forests which cover them. A small barn is commonly built near the house, in which is lodged the salt hay destined to be the food of one or more cows. These animals, having never known better food, will, it is said, live well on this fodder.
    Our road passed Wellfleet on the right at such a distance that we saw little of this town until our return.
    Truro, i. e. the town, lies on the western side of the peninsula, being built, like most of those through which we had passed, upon the harbor. The principal concern of these people, you will remember, lies with the ocean. The villages of Truro and Wellfleet, and the houses scattered through these townships, are almost entirely stationed in valleys, one of which toward the northern part of the township runs across, or nearly across, the peninsula. On these low grounds they find a better soil and security from the violence of the winds. The hills, contrary to what is found almost everywhere else in New England, are dry, sandy, and barren.
    The general aspect of the township and of the buildings which it contains differs in nothing remarkable from those which have been already described. It includes two villages, one of about forty, and the other of about thirty houses, together with several hamlets and a number of scattered habitations. The houses have the same tidy, comfortable appearance which has been heretofore remarked, but are painted in fewer instances than in Yarmouth and some other places. The church is large and decent, but without a steeple. From the ground on which this building stands, there is a noble prospect of the bay and the ocean. This view is frequently repeated in the way to Provincetown.
    In passing through this township we saw a few melancholy cornfields, particularly toward the northern limits. The corn hills formed by the hoe were all standing, as if the fields had yielded their last crop and were finally forsaken. The fences appeared to have been designed rather to mark the boundaries of the fields, than to defend them against the intrusion of cattle. [p 59] Yet these lands are said in ancient times to have produced fifty bushels of maize to the acre, and from fifteen to twenty bushels of wheat.
    Truro contained in 1790, 1,193 inhabitants and 165 dwellings; in 1800, 1,152 inhabitants; and in 1810, l,209.
    From Truro to Provincetown our road lay chiefly on the margin of a beach which unites it with Truro. The form of this township, exclusively of Long Point, is not unlike that of a chemical retort: the town lying in the inferior arch of the bulb, and Race Point on the exterior, and the beach being the stern. Immediately before the town is the harbor, commonly styled Cape Cod harbor, the waters of which extend round the north end of Truro a considerable distance, and are there terminated by an excessive salt marsh, which reaches some distance into the last-mentioned township. Between this marsh and the waters of Provincetown harbor on one side and the Atlantic on the other runs the beach. From observing it in various places along the road from Eastham, I was induced to believe that it borders the ocean from Race Point to the elbow, and perhaps reaches still farther.
    This remarkable object is an enormous mass of sand, such as has been already described, fine, light, of a yellowish hue, and the sport of every wind. It is blown into plains, valleys, and hills. The hills are of every height from ten to two hundred feet. Frequently they are naked, round, and extremely elegant; and often rough, pointed, wild, and fantastical, with all the varied forms which are seen at times in drifts of snow. Some of them are covered with beach grass, some fringed with whortleberry bushes, and some tufted with a small and singular growth of oaks. The variety and wildness of the forms, the desolate aspect of the surface, the height of the loftier elevations, the immense length of the range, and the tempestuous tossing of the clouds of sand formed a group of objects, novel, sublime, and more interesting than can be imagined. It was a barrier against the ambition and fretfulness of the ocean, restlessly and always employed in assailing its strength and wearing away its mass. To my own fancy it appeared as the eternal boundary of a region, wild, dreary, and inhospitable, where no human being could dwell, and into which every human foot was forbidden to enter. The parts of this barrier which are covered with whortleberry bushes and with oaks have been either not at all or very little blown. The oaks particularly appear to be the continuation of the forests originally formed on this spot. Their appearance was new and singular. Few if any of them rose above the middle stature of man; yet, they were not shrubs, but trees of a regular stem and structure. They wore all the marks of extreme age, were in some instances already decayed and in others decaying, were hoary with moss, and were deformed by branches, broken and wasted, not by violence, but by time. The whole appearance of one of these trees strongly reminded me of a little, withered, old man. Indeed, a Lilliputian of three score years and ten compared with a veteran of Brobdingnag would [p 60]  very naturally illustrate the resemblance, or rather the contrast, between one of these dwarfs and a full-grown tenant of our forests.
    This stinted vegetation is partially and perhaps justly attributed to the influence of the sea winds. The chief cause, however, is undoubtedly the sterility of the soil. Throughout the whole of this peninsula the forest trees and all others, even those in the most favored spots, are unusually small. You will remember that, with the exception of a thin soil and a few spots of salt marsh, it is formed entirely of sand. In such ground no forest tree can grow either with rapidity or vigor. All the trees and all their branches are blunt and unthrifty in their appearance, and humble in their stature. The water which nourishes them is received upon a mere sieve, which retains it but for a moment and supplies them with a scanty, parsimonious nurture. Accordingly, the trees are in the literal sense starved. On the beach this evil exists in a peculiar degree. The hills on which these remarkable vegetables stand are of very small compass, and the water runs down their sides and oozes from their declivities. Hence, the supply of nutriment is still less and the growth more stinted than on the body of the peninsula.
    On the driest and most barren of these grounds grows a plant which I had never before seen, known here by the name of beach grass. This vegetable bears a general resemblance to sedge, but is of a light bluish green, and of a coarse appearance. On these sands, sterile as they appear, it flourishes with a strong and rapid vegetation; and, I believe, not at all or very rarely on any other ground; and, here, one would naturally think nothing could grow.
    From a Mr. Collins, now an inhabitant of Plymouth and formerly of Truro, I received the following information. When he lived at Truro the inhabitants were under the authority of law, regularly warned in the month of April yearly to plant beach grass, as in other towns of New England they are warned to repair highways. You will observe that it was required by the laws of the state and under the proper penalties for disobedience, being as regular a public tax as any other. The people, therefore, generally attended and performed the labor. The grass was dug in the bunches in which it naturally grows, and each bunch divided into a number of smaller ones. These were set out in the sand at distances of three feet. After one row was set, others were placed behind it in such a manner as to shut up the interstices; or, as a carpenter would say, so as to break the joints. It was placed in this manner in order to prevent the wind from having an open course through the grass in any direction, lest it should drive the sand away. When it is once set, it grows of course and spreads with rapidity. Every bunch enlarges, and with its seeds plants new ones around it. The seeds are so heavy that they bend the heads of the grass; and, when ripe, drop directly down by its side, where they immediately vegetate. Thus in a short time the ground is covered.
    Where this covering is found, none of the sand is blown. On the contrary, [p 61] it is accumulated and raised continually, as snow gathers and rises among hushes or branches of trees cut and spread upon the earth. Nor does the grass merely defend the surface on which it is planted, but rises as that rises by new accumulations, and always overtops the sand, however high that may be raised by the wind.
    Within the memory of my informant the sea broke over the beach which connects Truro with Provincetown (the eastern end of which for three miles is within the limits of the former township) and swept the body of it away for some distance. The beach grass was immediately planted on the spot, in consequence of which the beach was again raised to a sufficient height, and in various places into hills.
    The wisdom and goodness of the Creator exhibited in the formation of this plant in this place certainly claim the admiration and gratitude of man. But for this single, unsightly vegetable, the slender barrier which here has so long resisted the ravages of the ocean had not improbably been long since washed away. In the ruins, Provincetown and its most useful harbor must have been lost; and the relief which the harbor and the inhabitants furnish to multitudes of vessels in distress, and which no other place or people could possibly furnish, must have been prevented. No other plant grows on this sand. The purpose for which it seems to have been created, it answers easily, permanently, and perfectly. Perhaps at some period at a more advanced state of knowledge, when war shall have become less and the advancement of happiness more the object of human pursuit, uses of similar importance may be found for most, possibly for all other objects, however useless they may be thought at present, and however neglected in the inquiries of man.
    The benefit of this useful plant, and of these prudent regulations, is however in some measure lost. There are in Provincetown, as I was informed, one hundred and forty cows. These animals, being stinted in their means of subsistence, are permitted often to wander at times in search of food. In every such case they make depredations on the beach grass and prevent its seeds from being formed. In this manner the plant is ultimately destroyed.
    It has been a frequent opinion that this beach, and not improbably the whole township of Provincetown, will one day, and that at no distant period of time, be swept away by the ocean. I was not able to obtain satisfactory information concerning this subject, particularly as judicious persons differed entirely both as to facts and probabilities. Some averred that the beach has been greatly diminished within a moderate period. Others, particularly one, a discreet man, insisted that what it lost on one side it regularly gained on the other. It is now a mere line of sand, in several places not wore than one hundred yards wide, and appears to the eye of a stranger as if every vestige of it might be easily swept away within two or three years.
    From Truro to Provincetown the road and the scenery are both singular. [p 62]  Beside the beach and the salt marsh already described the high grounds of Truro on the southwest exhibit a prospect entirely peculiar. Bleak, barren and desolate, as if never designed to be the residence of man, they are nevertheless divided into fields, enclosed in the low, slender manner mentioned above, and covered with short grass, now russet and melancholy. The soil, here scarce an inch thick, has in spots spread over all these fields at little distances been either blown or washed away, and left the white sand immediately beneath it bare. These spots exactly resemble the remains of a light snow chiefly melted and vanished, yet still whitening the ground in many places and with perpetually differing gradations of luster.
    The road, except when the tide has declined, lies along the southwestern margin of the beach in a mass of sand, through which a horse wades with excessive fatigue. When the tide has sufficiently fallen, a path is furnished by that part of the beach which has been washed, better in our opinion than almost any which we had found after we had left Rochester. The only objects in this tract which can be called beautiful, except the water, are the naked hills of sand. These in many instances are perfectly regular, graceful swells, highly ornamented with fine waving figures of great elegance wrought in the sand by the various motions of the wind.
    Provincetown stands on the end of the peninsula, and near the western limit of the beach. Race Point, the northern termination of the peninsula, lies three miles farther north; and Long Point, a hook extending from its western border, shoots out towards the south four and a half. Between this hook and a beach connected with the northwestern corner of Truro winds the entrance of the harbor, which is thus completely landlocked and perfectly safe. The town is built on the north side of the harbor, and on the southern margin of the beach. When we were on the ground, it contained 140 houses, all, as far as we saw them, of one story. They were new, neat, and comfortable, but are built on a bed of deep sand and set upon blocks of wood. They are built in rows, the first of which is complete; the second, immediately behind it, broken with interstices; and the third, short and broken also. All or nearly all of them face toward the harbor. There are a few courtyards, but no other enclosures of any kind. Cellars, where they exist, are built of bricks in a circular form to prevent the sand from forcing in the walls by its pressure. It is said that there are two or three gardens at some distance from the town, and some of the inhabitants cultivate a few summer vegetables in their courtyards. Almost all their food, except fish, is imported from Boston. Fish is the only commodity of domestic use with which they supply themselves.
    The earth is here a mere residence, and can scarcely be said to contribute at all to the sustenance of man. All his support and all his comforts are elicited from the ocean. To the ocean he betakes himself as the only field of his exertions, and as if it were his native element. The little children were [p 61] wading as familiarly in the harbor as elsewhere they are seen playing in the streets. Their sports and their serious occupations are alike found there. Little boys managed boats of considerable size with the fearlessness, and apparently with the skill, of experienced boatmen. Every employment, except within doors, seemed to be connected with the water and intended for the sea. To fish in every various manner, to secure that which had been caught, to cure fish, to extract oil, and to manage different sorts of vessels from the canoe to the ship engrossed apparently the whole attention of the inhabitants.
    The manners of all those whom we saw, of every age and of both sexes, were very becoming, plain, frank, obliging, and obviously sincere. Nothing was perceived of the roughness which I had expected from a mere collection of fishermen and sailors. The inn in which we lodged was kept by a respectable man who, with his whole family, did everything which we could wish for our accommodation.
    All these people appear to be industrious and enterprising. They are said to be excelled by no seamen in their resolution, skill, and activity. Many of them command ships belonging to Boston and the other trading towns in its neighborhood. Many of them also are said to amass wealth to a considerable degree; and some of them retire into the interior, where they purchase farms of their less industrious and less prosperous countrymen.
    The fishery of Provincetown is an important object. For some years the scarcity of whales has been such as to discourage the whale fishery; but, as they have now become more numerous, they are beginning to be objects of more attention. The cod fishery is pursued with great spirit and success. Just before we arrived, a schooner came in from the Great Banks with 56,000 fish, about 1,500 quintals, taken in a single voyage: the main deck, as I was informed, being on her return eight inches under water in calm weather. They also fish for sharks, and take great numbers of them; for mackerel, horse mackerel, haddock, etc. Herrings are also taken in prodigious quantities.
    The harbor of Provincetown is very capacious, secure, open at all times, and of good bottom. Its depth is sufficient for ships of any size, and it will contain more than three thousand vessels at once. Its importance is incalculable. The exterior coast of the peninsula is peculiarly hazardous. The storms which prevail on the American coast generally come from the east, and there is no other harbor on a windward shore within two hundred miles. A vast number of vessels are always plying in this commercial region, and thousands have found safety here which would otherwise have perished.
    About 37,000 quintals of codfish and about 5,000 barrels of herrings are annually caught by the people of Provincetown. The herrings are about four dollars a barrel and codfish about three dollars and a third, or twenty shillings a quintal.
p 64
    Within this township there are two horses, ten yoke of oxen, and one hundred and forty cows. These, except when they purloin the beach grass, are fed from the marsh in the neighborhood.
    All the inhabitants whom we saw, of every age, were well clad; and no marks of poverty were discerned by us.
    Provincetown contains a Presbyterian church. Mr. P[arker], the present minister, is much, and deservedly, respected by his people; and his public labors are very generally attended. This, undoubtedly, is a prime source of the sobriety and decency conspicuous among the inhabitants. He was settled, as we were told, when there were only seventeen families on the spot: the town having been in a great measure deserted during the Revolutionary War.
    A stranger born and educated in the interior of New England, amid the varied beauties of its surface and the luxuriant succession of its produce, naturally concludes when he visits Provincetown that the inhabitants and the neighbors also must possess a very limited share of enjoyment. Facts, however, refute this conclusion. For aught that we could discern, they were as cheerful and appeared to enjoy life as well as any equal number of their countrymen. This indeed is easily explicable. Food and clothing, houses, lodging, and fuel, they possess of such a quality and with so much ease in the acquisition as to satisfy all the demands of that middle state in life which wise men of every age have dignified by the name of golden. Nature and habit endear to them the place in which they were born and live, and prevent them from feeling what would be serious inconveniences  to a stranger. Their mode of life is naturally not less pleasing than that of the farmer or mechanic, for no people are more attached to their employment than seamen. The enterprise which this life requires and the energy which it supplies render it less even and dull, and are probably as well suited to the natural taste of man as arts or agriculture. The situations of others they rarely see, and are therefore rarely led to make irksome comparisons. The lawn, the meadow, the orchard, and the harvest excite in their minds neither wishes, nor thoughts. The draft of herrings, the fare of codfish, the conquest of a shark, and the capture of a whale prompt their ambition, engross their care, and furnish pleasures as entirely unknown to the farmer as the joy of harvest is to them. To solitude they are strangers. An active, enterprising life is scarcely molested by ennui. Almost every day strangers visit Provincetown from different parts of the world: for there is hardly any spot, except great trading cities, which is more frequented by vessels of all descriptions than this. By these they are furnished with business and intelligence, and with not a few of those little varieties in thought and feeling which contribute so much to the cheerfulness of life. Nor do they fail of enjoying a conscious, uninterrupted superiority over mere landsmen. While most of their countrymen have been chained to a small spot of earth, they [p 65] have traversed the ocean. While the husbandman has followed the plow or brandished the sickle, the inhabitant of Provincetown has coasted the shores of Greenland, swept the Brazilian seas, or crossed the Pacific Ocean in chase of the whale. Who that has circumnavigated the globe will not look down on him who has scarcely traveled out of his native county, or spent life on his own farm?
    The truth is, a great part of human happiness or misery arises from comparison merely. Our misfortunes spring not from our poverty, for we are rarely poor in such a sense as to suffer, but from a perception that we are not so rich as others. To this spirit there are no bounds. Alexander would have been contented with Macedon had there been no Persia, with Persia had the Indus and the ocean limited the Asiatic continent, and with the station of a man had there been in his apprehension no gods. Where objects of superiority and comparison do not exist, the pain arising from this source is not felt. Such in a good degree is the situation of these people. Their lot is the lot of all around them. They have little to covet, because they possess most of what is seen and known. Happily, Providence has in cases of real importance conciliated us, partially at least, to the sources of our enjoyment. Were we naturally and generally prompted to an universal comparison of our condition with that of others, how many who are now satisfied would make themselves miserable because they were not seated on thrones and wielding scepters. How many would pine that they were not to glitter on the page of the historian and the poet. How many would spend life in sighing for the fine enthusiasm of Spencer and Beattie, the exquisite elegance of Addison and Vergil, or the sublime raptures which thrilled in the bosom of Homer, Milton, or Isaiah.
    Provincetown in 1790 contained 454 inhabitants; in 1800, 812; in 1802, there were 198 families and, by a proportional calculation, 946 persons, rather less than five to a family; and in 1810, 936.
    Wednesday, September 30th, we left our hospitable and friendly inn, and rode to Harwich: thirty-five miles. We began our journey at an early hour in order to take the benefit of a hard path furnished by that part of the beach which is covered by the tide at high water. For several miles we were presented with a fine view of the Atlantic, now rolling against the shore under the pressure of a strong wind with inexpressible grandeur. After we had ascended the high ground on which stands the church of Truro, I was struck with the resemblance between this spot and some parts of Scotland, as they are often exhibited in description. "Bleak and barren," like "Scotia's Hills," (Beattie's Minstrel.) the country seemed to forbid the cultivation and the hopes of man. Providence appeared in the very formation of the ground to have destined it to accidental visitation or eternal solitude. In spite of facts the imagination [p 66] irresistibly asked who that could make his retreat would fix his residence here.
    On this ground there is a handsome lighthouse, stationed upon a mass of clay remarkable for its firmness, and not less so for being found here. General Lincoln, a gentleman to whom his country is indebted for many important services, superintended its erection; and it is said to be contrived in a manner uncommonly useful.
    On our way we passed through the town of Wellfleet, and found the houses generally like those heretofore described, but with more appearances of attention and taste.
    Here we saw a collection of sand hills surrounding the harbor. They were of different sizes and in some degree of different figures, but were all obtuse cones, smooth, regular, and elegant. Such a number, adorning a handsome piece of water, winding beautifully until it opened with a vistalike passage into the bay, were, after all the similar objects which we had seen, new and interesting. No mass of earth is comparable to these hills for regularity and elegance of figure and surface. Were they as cheerful as they are regular, were they dressed with the verdure which so generally adorns New England, they would be among the most beautiful objects in nature.
    At Wellfleet formerly lived Colonel Elisha Doane, who amassed in this spot an estate of £20,000 sterling.
    In 1790, Wellfleet contained 1,117 inhabitants; in 1800, 1,207; and in 1810, l,402.
    At Eastham we changed our road a few miles before we reached Orleans; and, after passing by the church, an ordinary building in indifferent repair, entered a large sandy waste lying toward the bay. Here about one thousand acres were entirely blown away to the depth in many places of ten feet. Nothing can exceed the dreariness and desolation of this scene. Not a living creature was visible, not a house, nor even a green thing, except the whortleberries which tufted a few lonely hillocks, rising to the height of the original surface, and prevented by this defense from being blown away also. These, although they varied the prospect, added to the gloom by their strongly picturesque appearance, by marking exactly the original level of the plain, and by showing us in this manner the immensity of the mass which had thus been carried away by the wind. The beach grass had been planted here, and the ground had been formerly enclosed; but the gates had been left open, and the cattle had destroyed this invaluable plant. The inhabitants were, I presume, discouraged, and yielded up their possessions to ruin. When and where this evil will stop cannot easily be calculated, for the sand spreads a perfect sterility in its progress and entirely desolates the ground on which it falls. The impression made by this landscape cannot be realized without experience. It was a compound of wildness, gloom, and solitude. I felt myself transported to the borders of Nubia, and was well [p 67] prepared to meet the sandy columns so forcibly described by Bruce, and after him by Darwin. A troop of Bedouins would have finished the picture, banished every thought of our own country, and set us down in an African waste.
    The day had now become very warm; the wind blew from behind us; the sand was very deep; and our horses were obliged to move slowly and with extreme difficulty. Nothing could better elucidate the strength and beauty of that fine image of Isaiah, "a weary land;" and to us "the shadow of a great rock" would have been inexpressibly delightful.
    The rocks on this peninsula terminated upon our road in Orleans. They are the common, gray granite of the country.
    We lodged at Harwich with a Captain A. This man had been thirty years at sea and, as he informed us with emphasis, had seen the world. Now he was the principal farmer in Harwich, and cut annually from four to eight loads of English hay, (spear grass.) a greater quantity, as he told us, than was cut by any single farmer further down the Cape. A farmer in the interior, who cuts annually from one or two hundred tons, may perhaps smile at this story.
I am, Sir, yours, etc.


Return to Sandwich—Mission among the Indians at Mashpee—Visit to the Rev. Gideon Hawley, the missionary—Description of the peninsula of Cape Cod—Its soil, population, etc.

Dear Sir,
    The next morning, Thursday, October 1st, we rode to Yarmouth, nine miles, to breakfast; and spent a considerable time in examining the saltworks of Peter Thacher, Esq.1 Hence we proceeded to Marshpee, or Massapee, fifteen, to dinner. In the evening we returned to Sandwich, twelve: in all thirty-six miles. Our road was better than on the three preceding days.
    Mashpee is one of the few tracts in the populous parts of New England which are still occupied by the aborigines. A missionary has been regularly supported here, with small interruptions, from the establishment of this Indian colony by the efforts of Mr. Richard Bourne, the first missionary. [p 68]  This gentleman, with a disinterestedness and piety highly honorable to him, obtained in the year 1660 a deed from an Indian named Quachatissel and others to the Indians of Mashpee, or, as they were then called, the South Sea Indians, covering the tract which bears this name. The instrument was so drawn that the land could never be sold without the consent of every Indian belonging to the settlement. On this foundation he began a mission to this place, and was ordained as a missionary in 1670. In 1685, he died; and was succeeded by an Indian preacher named Simon Popmonet, who lived in this character about forty years; and was succeeded in 1729 by Mr. Joseph Bourne, a descendant of Richard. This gentleman resigned the office in 1742; and was followed by a second Indian missionary, a regular minister, and a good, sensible preacher. During his life two gentlemen were successively candidates for the office; but, being powerfully opposed, neither of them was inducted. In 1758, the Rev. Gideon Hawley was installed as the pastor of these people.
    Mashpee is peculiarly fitted to be an Indian residence. It lies on the sound, is indented by two bays, and shoots into it several necks, or points, of land. It is also watered by several streams and ponds. From these circumstances the inhabitants derive abundant opportunities of supplying themselves with fish. It is well covered with a forest, and therefore has long retained the game which was the second source of their subsistence. It is also sequestered in a great measure from that correspondence with the whites which has been usually fatal to Indian settlements in this country.
    The face of this tract is not unpleasant. It is composed of plains, valleys, and hills, but is less unequal than Sandwich or Barnstable. On our road we saw several English houses, all of which were good buildings and exhibited proofs of prosperity. I have nowhere seen quinces in such abundance.
    The inn at which we dined was kept by a respectable family, who entertained us with great civility and kindness. After dinner one of my fellow travelers accompanied me to the house of Mr. Hawley, with whom we had an interview, more interesting than words can describe.
    This gentleman was a most intimate friend of my parents. From his youth he had sustained as amiable and unexceptionable a character as can perhaps be found among uninspired men. He was pious and benevolent, zealous and candid, firm and gentle, sedate and cheerful, with a harmony of character equally uncommon and delightful. Naturally, I believe, his disposition was ardent, his conceptions strong, and his susceptibility exquisite. The points, however, were worn down and smoothed by an excellent understanding and a peculiar self-government. Equally removed from the phlegm of insensibility and the vehemence of passion, his feelings were warm and yet temperate. Me, whom he had not seen since I was a youth of eighteen, he regarded with personal affection. To this he added the peculiar attachment which he was prepared to place on me as a representative of my parents and my [p 69] grandparents on both sides, all of whom he remembered with the strongest emotions of friendship, whom he had not seen for thirty years, and whom he expected never to see on this side of the grave. The expressions of genuine and virtuous attachment paint the heart at once, in a manner perfectly understood and exquisitely felt, but they cannot be copied. Perhaps they were never more happily exhibited, nor by a mind which felt more, or in a manner more amiable and dignified.
    Mr. Hawley had a favorite son, a young gentleman of the greatest hopes, possessed of superior talents and learning, of elegant manners, distinguished piety, and the best reputation. He had lately come from the tutorship in Cambridge, and had been just ordained to the ministry.
    By all who knew him he was beloved and honored, and most by those who knew him best. In the room over our heads he lay on his dying bed, and had been expected to expire the preceding night. For death he was, however, eminently prepared, and looked forward through the curtains which hide the invisible world to scenes of a higher and more refined nature, scenes suited to the elevated taste of an enlightened Christian, with a serenity and confidence more dignified than the loftiest conceptions of proud philosophy and the sublimest dreams of sceptered ambition.
    The pleasure with which the father of this good man received me; the sympathy with which he recalled the friends of his youth; the sorrow awakened by the situation of his expiring son, and the setting of his fond, luminous hopes in the night of the grave; the luster which played and trembled over this melancholy scene from the mind of that son, brilliant with lucid hopes of immortal glory, exhibited in their union and their alternations a picture wholly singular, beautiful, solemn, and sublime. I beheld it with a mixture of wonder and delight. To describe it is beyond my power. Into all these subjects he entered familiarly and at once, and appeared equally ready to go with his son, or stay behind with his remaining friends; to protract his toil a little longer, or to be summoned to his account and the reward of his labors, as it should please his Employer. He felt deeply, but with a serene submission. He knew that he was chastened, but found high and sufficient consolation for his sufferings in the character of Him from whom the stroke came. To me he showed, in such a manner as to put suspicion out of countenance, the affection of a father; and, when we parted, he gave me a father's blessing.
    If I may be permitted to judge, the emotions which he discovered, and even those which he excited, were such as an infidel or any other worldling, if he could enjoy or understand them, would deeply envy. They were such as he would of necessity confess to be as much brighter, nobler, and better than anything which he had ever imagined before as the golden visions of enraptured poetry are superior to the dull, cold relatives of this untoward life.
p 70
    The young gentleman who accompanied me on this visit was educated in the gay world and, as himself declared, sufficiently addicted to its enjoyments; but he was entirely overcome by the scenes of this interview. After we had left the house, he burst into a flood of tears, which he had with great difficulty suppressed until that time, and was unable to utter a word until we had almost reached the inn. In broken accents he then declared that he had never been so deeply affected in his life; that, although he had not before been accustomed to think lightly of Christianity, he had now acquired new ideas of its excellence; and that, should he ever lose them afterwards, he should esteem himself guilty, as well as unhappy. Yet the whole conversation had been rather cheerful, and everything which it involved of a melancholy nature had been gilded and burnished by serenity and hope.
      As this excellent man died a few years after the time here mentioned, I will add those particulars concerning him which I have been able to collect. In a letter to the author, dated April 29, 1801, Mr. Hawley observes: "When you honored me with a visit on the 2nd of October ult., my son, my son James, the son of my old age, the hope of my declining years, was in the last stage of life; and he only survived until the 8th at evening, when he expired. May my other children live as he lived; and, when they come to die, may they die as he died. A number of his church and congregation came forty miles to be present at his funeral, which was attended by all the vicinity of ministers. The Rev. Mr. L, of Falmouth, kept Sabbath with us on the day after his funeral, and delivered a very suitable discourse on the occasion.— James died at a time of life when men are generally lamented in case their characters are
    In a letter of September 2, 1802, he says: "I have rather declined since I had the honor and satisfaction to see you at my house, in October 1800, a few days before my late James' death.—I am yet upon duty—may I be faithful unto the death—the time is short; and the time of my departure is at hand. My coevals are dead.
    "For a man of seventy-five I have very few complaints. In the early part of life, my labors and sufferings were many and hard, and I did but just survive my services (among the Indians and in the army) in the year 1756. I came down to this place in 1757 expecting soon to end my days, but was so far recovered as to be on my western mission in 1761—and as far as Chenango.
    "I have lately written to your kinsman, the only surviving son of your late uncle, and president of Union College, deceased, concerning his father in his puerile years when with me in the Indian country, and how we came off in the dead of winter. I was six days in passing from Onecho Yunghe to Cherry Valley with my two boys, and the four last days with only ourselves, my Indians (not through disaffection, but fatigue) having given out by the way. An Indian will hardly endure three days fatigue in succession."
    This eminent and faithful servant of the Lord died on the 3rd of October, 1807, in the eighty-first year of his age, and fifty-sixth of his missionary labors. "On his death bed, he appeared perfectly rational and tranquil. Speaking of his approaching dissolution and his prospects of futurity, he observed, I have hope of acceptance, but it is founded wholly on free and sovereign grace, and not at all on my own works. It is true my labors have been many, but they have been so very imperfect, attended with so great a want of charity, humility, etc., that I have no hope in them as the ground of my acceptance." ( See Panoplist, 1807. )
    When we arrived at the inn, we found two of our companions had set out for Sandwich soon after dinner. It was near sunset when we followed them. [p 71] The evening was calm and beautiful; the country through which we passed was a forest, still and solitary; and the moon, whose unclouded beams darted at momentary intervals through the pines bordering our road, prolonged the serene solemnity awakened in our minds during the afternoon, and formed a happy conclusion of the affecting scenes which I have described. After a delightful ride of twelve miles, we arrived at Mr. B's, and were received with every proof of politeness and affection.
    On the afternoon of the succeeding day, Friday, October 2nd, we left this hospitable family and, accompanied by Mr. D, rode to Plymouth: eighteen miles. At the house of Mr. H. the same polite and friendly reception which we had experienced at Sandwich was repeated.
    As I have now bidden adieu to the peninsula of Cape Cod, I will close my account of it with a few general observations.
    This singular piece of land extends from the isthmus which connects it with the main to Race Point, as measured on the road, sixty-eight miles. About half this distance, it runs eastward; and the remaining half, principally northwestward. At Sandwich, where it is widest, it is about seventeen miles in breadth, or if measured to the southwestern extremity of Falmouth, about twenty. At Harwich it is about eleven, or, if measured to the southern point of Cape Malabar, about nineteen. The basis of this peninsula, constituting almost the whole mass, is a body of fine, yellow sand. Above this is a thin layer of coarser, white sand; and above this, another layer of soil, gradually declining from Barnstable to Truro, where it vanishes. A considerable part of the peninsula is still forested. Many of the inhabitants within the elbow are seamen; beyond it, almost all. They are generally, perhaps as generally as in any other part of the United States, in comfortable and even in thrifty circumstances. Few decayed or unrepaired houses were visible to us, and no peculiar marks of poverty. The inhabitants are industrious and orderly. The vice principally complained of to us was intemperance, and this chiefly in the western division. Every town has at least one church; and, so far as I was able to learn, divine service is, with few exceptions, generally and respectfully attended. Their intercourse with each other by land is confined. There are no more enterprising, active, skillful seamen perhaps in the world. Upon the whole, this unpromising tract sustains more inhabitants and furnishes them with more comfortable means of subsistence than a stranger would be easily induced to imagine. In 1790, the county of Barnstable contained 17,354 people; in 1800, 19,293; and in 1810, 22,211: a great part of whom are like beavers, gaining their subsistence from the water, and making use of the land chiefly as a residence. Those who live beyond the elbow have been heretofore accused of plundering the vessels wrecked on their coast and treating the seamen who escaped with inhumanity. Instances of this nature may have happened. I am well assured that the contrary character is to be attributed to them generally, and that they [p  72] have often exhibited the most humane as well as undaunted spirit in relieving their suffering countrymen, and in aiding them to preserve the remains of their shipwrecked property.
    The country from Sandwich to Plymouth is a continued forest, with a few solitary settlements in its bosom. The surface is principally a plain, but at times swelling into hills. Wherever the road lies on the shore, the prospects are romantic, but wild and solitary. The forest is generally composed of yellow pines; the soil is barren; and the road almost universally sandy, but less deep than that which has been heretofore described.
    We passed several places which in this region have been kept in particular remembrance from an early period. Among them is a rock called Sacrifice Rock, and a piece of water named Clam Pudding Pond. On the former of these the Indians were accustomed to gather sticks, some of which we saw lying upon it, as a religious service, now inexplicable. On the shore of the latter the early colonists of Plymouth held an annual festival, and made this food a part of their entertainment. A great part of the tract is in the township of Plymouth.
I am, Sir, yours, etc.