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that building the eye has a panorama not surpassed for what might be called a home-view. The spires of twenty-eight churches are in sight; also the State House, Cambridge Colleges, Bunker Hill Monument, the old Powder House, and the most captivating view of Medford. The beauties of upland and valley, of meadows and marshes, of river and creeks, of ocean and islands, of cities and towns, all lie immediately beneath, in that domestic nearness and manageable form which seems to doubly make them the property of the eye.
There are many smaller hills within Medford, making parts of the “Rocks” at the north, which have not yet received names. One fact is worthy notice, that among these hills there are copious springs of the sweetest water; and, in imagination, we can see them falling in beautiful cascades in the future gardens of opulent citizens.
A short record only of this is necessary. Governor Winthrop writes, July 23, 1630 : “For the country itself, I can discern little difference between it and our own. We have had only two days which I have observed more hot than in England. Here is sweet air, fair rivers, and plenty of springs, and the water better than in England." An experience of only six weeks in June and July was not enough to warrant a safe judgment concerning the climate. Another testimony, Oct. 30, 1631, is as follows: “The Governor having erected a building of stone at Mistic, there came so violent a storm of rain, for twenty-four hours, that (it being not finished, and laid with clay for want of lime) two sides of it were washed down to the ground, and much harm was done to the other houses by that storm.” The form of the land in this neighborhood has its effect on our climate. We have neither of the extremes which belong to deep, long valleys, and high mountains. We have very little fog during the year. In Medford there are few, if any, places where water can stagnate; it readily finds its way to the river; and the good influence of this fact on climate and health is considerable. The presence of salt water and salt marshes is another favorable circumstance. Lightnings do not strike here so often as between ranges of high hills; and the thermometer does not report Medford as famous for extremes of heat or cold. The time, we think, is not far distant, when the great law, regulating the changes of the weather, will be discovered. God hasten the momentous development! physical herbs. Here are plenty of single damask roses, very sweet; also, mulberries, plums, raspberries, currants, chessnuts, filberds, walnuts, smallnuts, hurtleberries, and hawes of whitethorne, near as good as cherries in England. They grow in plenty here."
SOIL AND PRODUCTIONS.
The soil in New England, like that of all primitive formations, is rocky, thin, and hard to till. A visitor from the western prairies, when he first looks on our fields, involuntarily asks, “How can you get your living out of these lands?” We reply, that the little soil we have is very strong, and by good manure and hard labor we get the best of crops. We generally add, that we, New Englanders, are granite men, and can do almost any thing!
That the virgin soil, first opened by our European ploughs, should give a prophetic yield, is not surprising. The richest spots only had been chosen by the Indians. Capt. Smith, in his voyage here (1614), calls the territory about us “the paradise of all those parts.”
Rev. Mr. Higginson, writing to his friends in England, in 1629, on “New England's Plantation," gives the following description of the soil, climate, and productions:
“I have been careful to report nothing but what I have seen with my own eyes. The land at Charles River is as fat, black earth as can be seen anywhere. Though all the country be, as it were, a thick wood for the general, yet in divers places there is much ground cleared by the Indians. It is thought here is good clay to make bricks, and tyles, and earthern pots, as need be. At this instant we are sitting a brick kiln on work.
“ The fertility of the soil is to be admired at, as appeareth in the abundance of grass that groweth everywhere, both very thick, very long, and very high, in divers places. But it groweth very wildly, with a great stalk, and a broad and ranker blade; because it never had been eaten by cattle, nor mowed by a sythe, and seldom trampled on by foot. It is scarce to be believed how our kine and goats, horses and hoggs, do thrive and prosper here and like well of this country. Our turnips, parsnips, and carrots are here both bigger and sweeter than is ordinary to be found in England. Here are stores of pumpions, cowcumbers, and other things of that nature. Also, divers excellent pot herbs, strawberries, pennyroyal, wintersaverie, sorrell, brookelime, liverwort, and watercresses; also, leekes and onions are ordinarie, and divers
The fullest credit may be given to these statements of Mr. Higginson. They show, among other things, that the region we now occupy was a dense forest in 1629. This confirms the story told of Gov. Winthrop; that when he took up his residence on his farm at “ Ten Hills," on the bank of Mystic River, he one day penetrated the forest near “Winter Hill.” He so lost his latitude and longitude as to become entirely bewildered. Night came on, and he knew not which way to steer. After many ineffectual trials to descry any familiar place, he resigned himself to his fate, kindled a fire, put philosophy in his pocket, and bivouacked, feeling much as St. Paul did in his shipwreck-voyage, when they « cast anchor, and wished for day.” What the Governor learned or dreamed of during that rural night we are not specifically told; but his absence created a sharp alarm among his family, and a hunting party started in quest of him. They " shot off pieces and hallooed in the night; but he heard them not." He found his way home in the morning, and discovered that he had been near his house most of the time.
It would be hard, in our day, to find a forest within sight of the “ Ten-Hill Farm” in which a boy of ten years old could be lost for a moment. The almost entire destruction of our forests within twenty miles of Boston, and our inexplicable neglect in planting new ones, argues ill, not only for our providence and economy, but for our patriotism and taste. Plant a hogshead of acorns in yonder rockland, and your money will return you generous dividends from nature's savings' bank.
In 1629, Mr. Graves, of Charlestown, said in a letter sent to England : “ Thus much I can affirm in general, that I never came in a more goodly country in all my life. If it hath not at any time been manured and husbanded, yet it is very beautiful in open lands, mixed with goodly woods, and again open plains, in some places five hundred acres, some places more, some less, not much troublesome for to clear for the plough to go in; no place barren, but on the tops of hills.”
Governor Winthrop, writing to his son, runs a parallel between the soil of Mistick and its neighborhood, and the soil of England, and says: “Here is as good land as I have seen there, though none so bad as there. Here can be no want of any thing to those who bring means to raise out of the earth and sea.” Nov. 29, 1630, he writes to his wife, and says: “My dear wife, we are here in a paradise.” Such testimony from a Mystic man, and he the Governor, reads agreeably to our ears. The grants of land made by the General Court to Governor Winthrop, Mr. Cradock, Rev. Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Nowell, show conclusively what the best judges thought of the soil and capabilities of Medford.
Deputy-Governor Dudley, in 1631, writes: “That honest men, out of a desire to draw others over to them, wrote somewhat hyperbolically of many things here."
Our first farmers here were taught by the Indians how to raise corn; and, in return for that kind service, they gave the redmen European seeds, and called the American grain “Indian corn.” Their crop in 1631 was most abundant; and they began the strange experiment of eating Indian corn, yet with singular misgivings. The crop of the next year was small, owing to the shortness and humidity of the summer. Their fields were not generally fenced, and boundary lines were often unsettled. After a few years, fences became more necessary; and Sagamore John was made to fence his field, and promised to indemnify the whites for any damages his men or cattle should do to their cornfields. There were many lands held in common by companies of farmers, as lands are now held in Nantucket. These large tracts were enclosed by fences, planted by the whole company; and, at the harvest, each received according to his proportion in the investment. This complicated plan brought its perplexities; and the General Court, to settle them, passed the following law, May 26, 1647: Ordered, “ That they who own the largest part of any lands common shall have power to order and appoint the improvement of the whole field.”
The farmers here experienced great inconvenience and alarm from the burning of woods. Such was the Indian system of clearing a forest; but it would not do where European settlements obtained. Our fathers therefore applied legislation to the matter in the following form : “ Nov. 5, 1639. — Ordered, That whosoever shall kindle a fire in other men's grounds, or in any common grounds, shall be fined