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burges are of apple, peium, is a des
Tisted, those where this pointed to ketructive inges live, we
General Court) to Mr. John Winthrop, jun., to employ his Indian to shoot at fowl” (probably in Mystic River).
The fish most common in our waters are the shad, alewives, smelt, bass, perch, bream, eel, sucker, tom-cod, pickerel, and shiner. We do not now think of any species of fish which frequent either our salt or fresh waters which is unfit for food.
Of insects we have our share, and could well do with fewer. If all persons would agree to let the birds live, we should have less complaint about destructive insects. The cedar or cherry-bird is appointed to keep down the cankerworm; and, where this useful bird is allowed to live unmolested, those terrible scourges are kept in due subjection. The borer, which enters the roots of apple, peach, quince, and other trees, and eats his way up in the albunum, is a destroyer of the first rank among us. Of late years, almost every different tree, plant, and shrub, appears to have its patron insect that devours its blossoms or its fruit. They are so numerous and destructive that many persons do not plant vines. Fifty or a hundred miles back in the country, these insects are comparatively scarce. The voracious bugs most complained of here are the squash, yellow, potato, cabbage, apple, peach, pear, and rose. The two elements of fire and water, all sorts of decoctions, powders, gasses, and fumigations, have been resorted to for the extermination of the above-named bugs, yet all with slight effects. Our next neighbor, forty years ago, raised the most and best melons and squashes of the county, by placing a toad, in a small house, next to each hill of plants. Every morning these hungry hunters would hop forth to their duty; and their missile tongues, glued at the end, were sure to entrap every insect. Caterpillars and canker-worms have destroyed orchards, as grasshoppers have fields; and the way to prevent their ravages is only partially understood.
Assured that every insect has its place for good assigned by the wise Creator, we have only to labor for that true science which shall reveal all uses, and thus prevent abuses.
If we could comprehend all the localities of the globe, with all their varieties, we should then see all animals in their places, and should thus get a glimpse of the great system of correspondencies.
The keeping and increase of honey-bees was a favorite idea with our Medford ancestors; and a pound of honey bore, for
compa, peach, pear; alecoctions, for the
nearly two centuries, the same price as a pound of butter. As early as 1640, bees were kept here; and their gathered sweets were among the very choicest delicacies on our ancestral tables. The modes now adopted for taking a portion of honey from every hive, and yet leaving enough to feed the insect family through the winter, was not known by our forefathers. Their mode of securing the honey of their bees was the topmost of cruelty and ingratitude. When autumn flowers ceased to yield any sweets, the owner of bees resolved to devote one hive to destruction; and his method was as follows:- He dug a hole in the ground, near his apiary, six inches square and three deep; and into this hole he put brimstone enough to kill all the bees in any hive. When night had come, and the innocent family were soundly sleeping, the owner sets fire to the brimstone, and then immediately places the hive over the suffocating fumes, and there leaves it till morning, when it is found that not even an elect one is delivered from the hell beneath! We wonder if our fathers ever thought of the text, “A merciful man is merciful to his beast.” If bees have souls, some of their executioners may hereafter find themselves surrounded by swarms of tormentors, and then learn the meaning of another text, “ Mine enemies compasseth me about like bees." It is customary now to sow the white clover and mignonette for the bees, as these plants furnish the richest food.
We have given these broken notices of the natural history of Medford in popular language, and without full scientific arrangement, deeming any further catalogue unnecessary.
We may here express the hope, that the parents and teachers of coming generations may be wise enough to show their children and pupils the harmonies of nature; those analogies and relationships of things which can be seen only by looking from the divine angle. When the human mind can thus “ look through nature up to nature's God," it can then comprehend the beauty, power, and sacredness of the Creator's approval, “And God saw every thing that he had made; and, behold, it was very good.” Would that anything we could say might induce the inquisitive minds of future days to open the Bible of nature, and read passage after passage for the illumination of the mind and the peace of the heart ! Nothing learned here need be unlearned hereafter. The proper study of natural history will give force to vital Christian faith. This study indicates a safe road from the natural to the spiritual world. The naturalist fixes on facts evolving the order of causes and the harmonies of the universe. He would see truth's polarity in the smallest feather as in the rolling planet. He would thus follow the great and everexpanding order of creation inwards to the point where mechanics and geometry are realized in the all-embracing laws of Wisdom and Providence; and where, at last, the human mind itself recognizes the very source of life in its humiliation before the throne of God.
The oldest town-records extant are in a book fifteen inches long, six wide, and one thick. It is bound in parchment, and was tied together by leathern strings. Its first twenty-five or thirty pages are gone; and the first thirty pages of the present volume are all loose and detached from their place, and may very easily be lost. The first record is as follows:“ The first Monday of February, in the year of our Lord, 1674. At a meeting of the inhabitants of Meadford, Mr. Nathaniel Wade was chosen constable for the year ensuing.” The chirography is very good, the sentences properly constructed, and the spelling without error. There are Latin quotations in them. Only six pages of Mr. Jonathan Wade's records remain. As it was customary to keep the townrecords in the same hands as long as possible, it is fairly presumed that this gentleman was the second, perhaps the first, town-clerk. His successor was Mr. Stephen Willis, who remained in office thirty-six years, exercising a fidelity which entitles him to the name of veteran. The first volume of records is wholly of his writing, save the little above-mentioned and the seven years of Mr. John Bradstreet. When he had finished the volume, he resigned his office; and we regret that the book closes without showing any vote of thanks for his long and valuable services.
to the Lor, marriages, the Mr. Tureli he ministry of 13, 1774.
At the end of this first volume of records, there is a catalogue of births, marriages, and deaths, mixed up with county rates, &c. The last item in the volume is dated Aug. 20, 1718, and is the receipt of Rev. Aaron Porter for his salary. His signature is in that round and manly style, which, as it stands, seems to be a fit guarantee for the truth of all the preceding records.
The second volume is a small folio, bound in parchment. It is twelve inches and a half long, eight wide, and one inch and a half thick. It begins Feb. 12, 1718, and ends June 23, 1735. From 1674 to the present time, the town-records are unbroken.
The third volume is a large folio, but sadly torn and injured. A proper index of the records is greatly needed.
The first volume of church records is bound in parchment. It is eight inches long, six and a half wide, and half an inch thick. It begins May 19, 1712, and ends April 13, 1774. It contains all the records during the ministry of Rev. Mr. Porter, and that of Rev. Mr. Turell. It records births, baptisms, and marriages, the doings of the church, the admissions to the Lord's supper, &c.; but it does not notice any deaths.
The second volume of church records is bound in rough leather, and is of the same form and size as the first. It contains all the facts belonging to the ministry of Dr. Osgood. It begins Sept. 14, 1774, and ends with his last entry, Dec. 2, 1822, made twelve days before his death.
Of the later records in town and church (all unbroken and accurate), it is not necessary to speak. They are well secured in strong books; but those above mentioned should be copied by a careful hand, and bound in uniformity. The iron or stone safe, where old manuscripts are kept, should be emptied, aired, and well heated once in every six months.
In early times, one page was sufficient to contain a full record of a town-meeting ; but, in our day, the record of a March meeting is spread over fifteen or twenty pages.
The earliest records of the town-treasurer, which are preserved, are those of Capt. Samuel Brooks. For many years, this gentleman was placed on the most important committees. On the Sunday after his death, July 10, 1768, Mr. Turell preached two funeral sermons from Phil. i. 21. The first person in Medford who seemed to have any true regard for posterity, in making his records, was Mr. Thomas Seccomb, who, for twenty-two years, recorded with admirable particularity the facts most important for the historian.
To show properly the first coming of our ancestors to this region, it will be necessary to trace their last movements in England. This can be done most briefly and satisfactorily by giving extracts from the truthful and interesting letter of Governor Dudley, dated March 28, 1631, to the Countess of Lincoln. The extracts are as follows:
“ To the Right Honorable, my very good Lady, the Lady Bridget,
Countess of Lincoln. “MADAM,- Touching the plantation, which we here have begun, it fell out thus : About the year 1627, some friends, being together in Lincolnshire, fell into discourse about New England and the planting of the gospel there; and, after some deliberation, we imparted our reasons by letters and messages to some in London and the West Country, where it was likewise deliberately thought upon, and at length, with often negotiation, so ripened, that, in the year 1628, we procured a patent from his Majesty for our planting between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River on the south, and the river of Merrimack on the north, and three miles on either side of those rivers and bays ; 'as also for the government of those who did or should inhabit within that compass. And the same year we sent Mr. John Endicott, and some with him, to begin a plantation; and to strengthen such as we should find there, which we sent thither from Dorchester, and some places adjoining; from whom, the same year, receiving hopeful news, the next year, 1629, we sent divers ships over, with about three hundred people, and some cows, goats, and horses, many of which arrived safely.
“These, by their too large commendations of the country and the commodities thereof, invited us so strongly to go on, that Mr. Winthrop, of Suffolk (who was well known in his own country, and well approved here for his piety, liberality, wisdom, and gravity), coming in to us, we came to such resolution, that in April, 1630, we set sail from Old England with four good ships. And, in May following, eight more followed; two having gone before in February and March, and two more following in June and August, besides another set out by a private merchant. These seventeen ships arrived all safe in New England for the increase of the plantation here this year, 1630; but made a long, a troublesome, and costly voyage, being all wind-bound long in England, and hindered with contrary winds after they set sail, and so scattered with mists and tempests, that few of them arrived together. Our four ships, which set out in April, arrived here in June and July, where we found the Colony in a sad and unexpected condition ; above eighty of them