Tuesday, November 12, 2019

1836 Artist Thomas Cole on the American Eden disappearing in man's progress

Thomas Cole - 'Essay on American Scenery'
American Monthly Magazine 1 (January 1836)

1825 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Landscape

I. Introduction

The essay, which is here offered, is a mere sketch of an almost illimitable subject--American Scenery; and in selecting the theme the writer placed more confidence in its overflowing richness, than in his own capacity for treating it in a manner worthy of its vastness and importance.

It is a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; for, whether he beholds the Hudson mingling waters with the Atlantic--explores the central wilds of this vast continent, or stands on the margin of the distant Oregon, he is still in the midst of American scenery--it is his own land; its beauty, its magnificence, its sublimity--all are his; and how undeserving of such a birthright, if he can turn towards it an unobserving eye, an unaffected heart!

Before entering into the proposed subject, in which I shall treat more particularly of the scenery of the Northern and Eastern States, I shall be excused for saying a few words on the advantages of cultivating a taste for scenery, and for exclaiming against the apathy with which the beauties of external nature are regarded by the great mass, even of our refined community.

1827 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848 View in the White Mountains

1. The Contemplation of Scenery as a Source of Delight and Improvement

It is generally admitted that the liberal arts tend to soften our manners; but they do more--they carry with them the power to mend our hearts.

Poetry and Painting sublime and purify thought, by grasping the past, the present, and the future--they give the mind a foretaste of its immortality, and thus prepare it for performing an exalted part amid the realities of life. And rural nature is full of the same quickening spirit--it is, in fact, the exhaustless mine from which the poet and the painter have brought such wondrous treasures--an unfailing fountain of intellectual enjoyment, where all may drink, and be awakened to a deeper feeling of the works of genius, and a keener perception of the beauty of our existence. For those whose days are all consumed in the low pursuits of avarice, or the gaudy frivolities of fashion, unobservant of nature's loveliness, are unconscious of the harmony of creation--

Heaven's roof to them Is but a painted ceiling hung with lamps; No more--that lights them to their purposes-- They wander 'loose about;' they nothing see, Themselves except, and creatures like themselves, Short lived, short sighted.

What to them is the page of the poet where he describes or personifies the skies, the mountains, or the streams, if those objects themselves have never awakened observation or excited pleasure? What to them is the wild Salvator Rosa, or the aerial Claude Lorrain?

There is in the human mind an almost inseparable connection between the beautiful and the good, so that if we contemplate the one the other seems present; and an excellent author has said, "it is difficult to look at any objects with pleasure--unless where it arises from brutal and tumultuous emotions--without feeling that disposition of mind which tends towards kindness and benevolence; and surely, whatever creates such a disposition, by increasing our pleasures and enjoyments, cannot be too much cultivated."

It would seem unnecessary to those who can see and feel, for me to expatiate on the loveliness of verdant fields, the sublimity of lofty mountains, or the varied magnificence of the sky; but that the number of those who seek enjoyment in such sources is comparatively small. From the indifference with which the multitude regard the beauties of nature, it might be inferred that she had been unnecessarily lavish in adorning this world for beings who take no pleasure in its adornment. Who in grovelling pursuits forget their glorious heritage. Why was the earth made so beautiful, or the sun so clad in glory at his rising and setting, when all might be unrobed of beauty without affecting the insensate multitude, so they can be "lighted to their purposes?"

It has not been in vain--the good, the enlightened of all ages and nations, have found pleasure and consolation in the beauty of the rural earth. Prophets of old retired into the solitudes of nature to wait the inspiration of heaven. It was on Mount Horeb that Elijah witnessed the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire; and heard the "still small voice"--that voice is YET heard among the mountains! St. John preached in the desert;--the wilderness is YET a fitting place to speak of God. The solitary Anchorites of Syria and Egypt, though ignorant that the busy world is man's noblest sphere of usefulness, well knew how congenial to religious musings are the pathless solitudes.

He who looks on nature with a "loving eye," cannot move from his dwelling without the salutation of beauty; even in the city the deep blue sky and the drifting clouds appeal to him. And if to escape its turmoil--if only to obtain a free horizon, land and water in the play of light and shadow yields delight--let him be transported to those favored regions, where the features of the earth are more varied, or yet add the sunset, that wreath of glory daily bound around the world, and he, indeed, drinks from pleasure's purest cup. The delight such a man experiences is not merely sensual, or selfish, that passes with the occasion leaving no trace behind; but in gazing on the pure creations of the Almighty, he feels a calm religious tone steal through his mind, and when he has turned to mingle with his fellow men, the chords which have been struck in that sweet communion cease not to vibrate.

In what has been said I have alluded to wild and uncultivated scenery; but the cultivated must not be forgotten, for it is still more important to man in his social capacity--necessarily bringing him in contact with the cultured; it encompasses our homes, and, though devoid of the stern sublimity of the wild, its quieter spirit steals tenderly into our bosoms mingled with a thousand domestic affections and heart-touching associations--human hands have wrought, and human deeds hallowed all around.

And it is here that taste, which is the perception of the beautiful, and the knowledge of the principles on which nature works, can be applied, and our dwelling-places made fitting for refined and intellectual beings.

1827 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Sunny Morning on the Hudson River

2. The Advantages of Cultivating a Taste for Scenery

If, then, it is indeed true that the contemplation of scenery can be so abundant a source of delight and improvement, a taste for it is certainly worthy of particular cultivation; for the capacity for enjoyment increases with the knowledge of the true means of obtaining it.

In this age, when a meager utilitarianism seems ready to absorb every feeling and sentiment, and what is sometimes called improvement in its march makes us fear that the bright and tender flowers of the imagination shall all be crushed beneath its iron tramp, it would be well to cultivate the oasis that yet remains to us, and thus preserve the germs of a future and a purer system. And now, when the sway of fashion is extending widely over society--poisoning the healthful streams of true refinement, and turning men from the love of simplicity and beauty, to a senseless idolatry of their own follies--to lead them gently into the pleasant paths of Taste would be an object worthy of the highest efforts of genius and benevolence. The spirit of our society is to contrive but not to enjoy--toiling to produce more toil-accumulating in order to aggrandize. The pleasures of the imagination, among which the love of scenery holds a conspicuous place, will alone temper the harshness of such a state; and, like the atmosphere that softens the most rugged forms of the landscape, cast a veil of tender beauty over the asperities of life.

Did our limits permit I would endeavor more fully to show how necessary to the complete appreciation of the Fine Arts is the study of scenery, and how conducive to our happiness and well-being is that study and those arts; but I must now proceed to the proposed subject of this essay--American Scenery!

1827 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) The Clove Catskills

II. The Elements of American Scenery

There are those who through ignorance or prejudice strive to maintain that American scenery possesses little that is interesting or truly beautiful--that it is rude without picturesqueness, and monotonous without sublimity--that being destitute of those vestiges of antiquity, whose associations so strongly affect the mind, it may not be compared with European scenery. But from whom do these opinions come? From those who have read of European scenery, of Grecian mountains, and Italian skies, and never troubled themselves to look at their own; and from those travelled ones whose eyes were never opened to the beauties of nature until they beheld foreign lands, and when those lands faded from the sight were again closed and forever; disdaining to destroy their trans-atlantic impressions by the observation of the less fashionable and unfamed American scenery. Let such persons shut themselves up in their narrow shell of prejudice--I hope they are few,--and the community increasing in intelligence, will know better how to appreciate the treasures of their own country.

I am by no means desirous of lessening in your estimation the glorious scenes of the old world--that ground which has been the great theater of human events--those mountains, woods, and streams, made sacred in our minds by heroic deeds and immortal song--over which time and genius have suspended an imperishable halo. No! But I would have it remembered that nature has shed over this land beauty and magnificence, and although the character of its scenery may differ from the old world's, yet inferiority must not therefore be inferred; for though American scenery is destitute of many of those circumstances that give value to the European, still it has features, and glorious ones, unknown to Europe.

1830 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Morning Mist Rising Plymouth New Hampshire

1. Wildness

A very few generations have passed away since this vast tract of the American continent, now the United States, rested in the shadow of primeval forests, whose gloom was peopled by savage beasts, and scarcely less savage men; or lay in those wide grassy plains called prairies--

The Gardens of the Desert, these The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful.

And, although an enlightened and increasing people have broken in upon the solitude, and with activity and power wrought changes that seem magical, yet the most distinctive, and perhaps the most impressive, characteristic of American scenery is its wildness.

It is the most distinctive, because in civilized Europe the primitive features of scenery have long since been destroyed or modified--the extensive forests that once overshadowed a great part of it have been felled--rugged mountains have been smoothed, and impetuous rivers turned from their courses to accommodate the tastes and necessities of a dense population--the once tangled wood is now a grassy lawn; the turbulent brook a navigable stream--crags that could not be removed have been crowned with towers, and the rudest valleys tamed by the plough.

And to this cultivated state our western world is fast approaching; but nature is still predominant, and there are those who regret that with the improvements of cultivation the sublimity of the wilderness should pass away: for those scenes of solitude from which the hand of nature has never been lifted, affect the mind with a more deep toned emotion than aught which the hand of man has touched. Amid them the consequent associations are of God the creator--they are his undefiled works, and the mind is cast into the contemplation of eternal things.

1836 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) The Course of Empire the Acadian or Pastoral State

2. Mountains

As mountains are the most conspicuous objects in landscape, they will take the precedence in what I may say on the elements of American scenery.

It is true that in the eastern part of this continent there are no mountains that vie in altitude with the snow-crowned Alps--that the Alleghanies and the Catskills are in no point higher than five thousand feet; but this is no inconsiderable height; Snowdon in Wales, and Ben-Nevis in Scotland, are not more lofty; and in New Hampshire, which has been called the Switzerland of the United States, the White Mountains almost pierce the region of perpetual snow. The Alleghanies are in general heavy in form; but the Catskills, although not broken into abrupt angles like the most picturesque mountains of Italy, have varied, undulating, and exceedingly beautiful outlines--they heave from the valley of the Hudson like the subsiding billows of the ocean after a storm.

American mountains are generally clothed to the summit by dense forests, while those of Europe are mostly bare, or merely tinted by grass or heath. It may be that the mountains of Europe are on this account more picturesque in form, and there is a grandeur in their nakedness; but in the gorgeous garb of the American mountains there is more than an equivalent; and when the woods "have put their glory on," as an American poet has beautifully said, the purple heath and yellow furze of Europe's mountains are in comparison but as the faint secondary rainbow to the primal one.

But in the mountains of New Hampshire there is a union of the picturesque, the sublime, and the magnificent; there the bare peaks of granite, broken and desolate, cradle the clouds; while the vallies and broad bases of the mountains rest under the shadow of noble and varied forests; and the traveller who passes the Sandwich range on his way to the White Mountains, of which it is a spur, cannot but acknowledge, that although in some regions of the globe nature has wrought on a more stupendous scale, yet she has nowhere so completely married together grandeur and loveliness--there he sees the sublime melting into the beautiful, the savage tempered by the magnificent.

1836 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) The Course of Empire The Savage State

3. Water

I will now speak of another component of scenery, without which every landscape is defective--it is water. Like the eye in the human countenance, it is a most expressive feature: in the unrippled lake, which mirrors all surrounding objects, we have the expression of tranquillity and peace--in the rapid stream, the headlong cataract, that of turbulence and impetuosity.

1836 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) The Oxbow The Connecticut River near Northampton

a. Lakes

In this great element of scenery, what land is so rich? I would not speak of the Great Lakes, which are in fact inland seas--possessing some of the attributes of the ocean, though destitute of its sublimity; but of those smaller lakes, such as Lake George, Champlain, Winnipisiogee, Otsego, Seneca, and a hundred others, that stud like gems the bosom of this country. There is one delightful quality in nearly all these lakes--the purity and transparency of the water. In speaking of scenery it might seem unnecessary to mention this; but independent of the pleasure that we all have in beholding pure water, it is a circumstance which contributes greatly to the beauty of landscape; for the reflections of surrounding objects, trees, mountains, sky, are most perfect in the clearest water; and the most perfect is the most beautiful.

I would rather persuade you to visit the "Holy Lake," the beautiful "Horican," than attempt to describe its scenery--to behold you rambling on its storied shores, where its southern expanse is spread, begernmed with isles of emerald, and curtained by green receding hills--or to see you gliding over its bosom, where the steep and rugged mountains approach from either side, shadowing with black precipices the innumerable islets--some of which bearing a solitary tree, others a group of two or three, or a "goodly company," seem to have been sprinkled over the smiling deep in Nature's frolic hour. These scenes are classic--History and Genius have hallowed them. War's shrill clarion once waked the echoes from these now silent hills--the pen of a living master has portrayed them in the pages of romance--and they are worthy of the admiration of the enlightened and the graphic hand of Genius.

Though differing from Lake George, Winnipisiogee resembles it in multitudinous and uncounted islands. Its mountains do not stoop to the water's edge, but through varied screens of forest may be seen ascending the sky softened by the blue haze of distance--on the one hand rise the Gunstock Mountains; on the other the dark Ossipees, while above and far beyond, rear the "cloud capt" peaks of the Sandwich and White Mountains.

I will not fatigue with a vain attempt to describe the lakes that I have named; but would turn your attention to those exquisitely beautiful lakes that are so numerous in the Northern States, and particularly in New Hampshire. In character they are truly and peculiarly American. I know nothing in Europe which they resemble; the famous lakes of Albano and Nemi, and the small and exceedingly picturesque lakes of Great Britain may be compared in size, but are dissimilar in almost every other respect. Embosomed in the primitive forest, and sometimes overshadowed by huge mountains, they are the chosen places of tranquillity; and when the deer issues from the surrounding woods to drink the cool waters, he beholds his own image as in a polished mirror,--the flight of the eagle can be seen in the lower sky; and if a leaf falls, the circling undulations chase each other to the shores unvexed by contending tides.

There are two lakes of this description, situated in a wild mountain gorge called the Franconia Notch, in New Hampshire. They lie within a few hundred feet of each other, but are remarkable as having no communication--one being the source of the wild Amonoosuck, the other of the Pemigiwasset. Shut in by stupendous mountains which rest on crags that tower more than a thousand feet above the water, whose rugged brows and shadowy breaks are clothed by dark and tangled woods, they have such an aspect of deep seclusion, of utter and unbroken solitude, that, when standing on their brink a lonely traveller, I was overwhelmed with an emotion of the sublime, such as I have rarely felt. It was not that the jagged precipices were lofty, that the encircling woods were of the dimmest shade, or that the waters were profoundly deep; but that over all, rocks, wood, and water, brooded the spirit of repose, and the silent energy of nature stirred the soul to its inmost depths.

I would not be understood that these lakes are always tranquil; but that tranquillity is their great characteristic. There are times when they take a far different expression; but in scenes like these the richest chords are those struck by the gentler hand of nature.

1837 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) View on the Catskill Early Autumn

b. Waterfalls

And now I must turn to another of the beautifiers of the earth--the Waterfall; which in the same object at once presents to the mind the beautiful, but apparently incongruous idea, of fixedness and motion--a single existence in which we perceive unceasing change and everlasting duration. The waterfall may be called the voice of the landscape, for, unlike the rocks and woods which utter sounds as the passive instruments played on by the elements, the waterfall strikes its own chords, and rocks and mountains re-echo in rich unison. And this is a land abounding in cataracts; in these Northern States where shall we turn and not find them? Have we not Kaaterskill, Trenton, the Flume, the Genesee, stupendous Niagara, and a hundred others named and nameless ones, whose exceeding beauty must be acknowledged when the hand of taste shall point them out?

In the Kaaterskill we have a stream, diminutive indeed, but throwing itself headlong over a fearful precipice into a deep gorge of the densely wooded mountains--and possessing a singular feature in the vast arched cave that extends beneath and behind the cataract. At Trenton there is a chain of waterfalls of remarkable beauty, where the foaming waters, shadowed by steep cliffs, break over rocks of architectural formation, and tangled and picturesque trees mantle abrupt precipices, which it would be easy to imagine crumbling and "time disparting towers."

And Niagara! that wonder of the world!--where the sublime and beautiful are bound together in an indissoluble chain. In gazing on it we feel as though a great void had been filled in our minds--our conceptions expand--we become a part of what we behold! At our feet the floods of a thousand rivers are poured out--the contents of vast inland seas. In its volume we conceive immensity; in its course, everlasting duration; in its impetuosity, uncontrollable power. These are the elements of its sublimity. Its beauty is garlanded around in the varied hues of the water, in the spray that ascends the sky, and in that unrivalled bow which forms a complete cincture round the unresting floods.

1838 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Schroon Mountain Adirondacks after a Storm

c. Rivers

The river scenery of the United States is a rich and boundless theme. The Hudson for natural magnificence is unsurpassed. What can be more beautiful than the lake-like expanses of Tapaan and Haverstraw, as seen from the rich orchards of the surrounding hills? hills that have a legend, which has been so sweetly and admirably told that it shall not perish but with the language of the land. What can be more imposing than the precipitous Highlands; whose dark foundations have been rent to make a passage for the deep-flowing river? And, ascending still, where can be found scenes more enchanting? The lofty Catskills stand afar off-the green hills gently rising from the flood, recede like steps by which we may ascend to a great temple, whose pillars are those everlasting hills, and whose dome is the blue boundless vault of heaven.

The Rhine has its castled crags, its vine-clad hills, and ancient villages; the Hudson has its wooded mountains, its rugged precipices, its green undulating shores--a natural majesty, and an unbounded capacity for improvement by art. Its shores are not besprinkled with venerated ruins, or the palaces of princes; but there are flourishing towns, and neat villas, and the hand of taste has already been at work. Without any great stretch of the imagination we may anticipate the time when the ample waters shall reflect temple, and tower, and dome, in every variety of picturesqueness and magnificence.

In the Connecticut we behold a river that differs widely from the Hudson. Its sources are amid the wild mountains of New Hampshire; but it soon breaks into a luxuriant valley, and flows for more than a hundred miles, sometimes beneath the shadow of wooded hills, and sometimes glancing through the green expanse of elm-besprinkled meadows. Whether we see it at Haverhill, Northampton, or Hartford, it still possesses that gentle aspect; and the imagination can scarcely conceive Arcadian vales more lovely or more peaceful than the valley of the Connecticut--its villages are rural places where trees overspread every dwelling, and the fields upon its margin have the richest verdure.

Nor ought the Ohio, the Susqueharmah, the Potomac, with their tributaries, and a thousand others, be omitted in the rich list of the American rivers--they are a glorious brotherhood; but volumes would be insufficient for their description.

1839 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) A View of the Mountain Pass called the Notch of the White Mountains Crawford Notch

4. Forests

In the Forest scenery of the United States we have that which occupies the greatest space, and is not the least remarkable; being primitive, it differs widely from the European. In the American forest we find trees in every stage of vegetable life and decay--the slender sapling rises in the shadow of the lofty tree, and the giant in his prime stands by the hoary patriarch of the wood--on the ground lie prostrate decaying ranks that once waved their verdant heads in the sun and wind. These are circumstances productive of great variety and picturesqueness--green umbrageous masses--lofty and scathed trunks--contorted branches thrust athwart the sky--the mouldering dead below, shrouded in moss of every hue and texture, from richer combinations than can be found in the trimmed and planted grove. It is true that the thinned and cultivated wood offers less obstruction to the feet, and the trees throw out their branches more horizontally, and are consequently more umbrageous when taken singly; but the true lover of the picturesque is seldom fatigued--and trees that grow widely apart are often heavy in form, and resemble each other too much for picturesqueness. Trees are like men, differing widely in character; in sheltered spots, or under the influence of culture, they show few contrasting points; peculiarities are pruned and trained away, until there is a general resemblance. But in exposed situations, wild and uncultivated, battling with the elements and with one another for the possession of a morsel of soil, or a favoring rock to which they may cling--they exhibit striking peculiarities, and sometimes grand originality.

For variety, the American forest is unrivalled: in some districts are found oaks, elms, birches, beeches, planes, pines, hemlocks, and many other kinds of trees, commingled--clothing the hills with every tint of green, and every variety of light and shade.

There is a peculiarity observable in some mountainous regions, where trees of a genus band together--there often may be seen a mountain whose foot is clothed with deciduous trees, while on its brow is a sable crown of pines; and sometimes belts of dark green encircle a mountain horizontally, or are stretched in well-defined lines from the summit to the base. The nature of the soil, or the courses of rivulets, are the causes of this variety;--and it is a beautiful instance of the exhaustlessness of nature; often where we should expect unvarying monotony, we behold a charming diversity. Time will not permit me to speak of the American forest trees individually; but I must notice the elm, that paragon of beauty and shade; the maple, with its rainbow hues; and the hemlock, the sublime of trees, which rises from the gloom of the forest like a dark and ivy-mantled tower.

There is one season when the American forest surpasses all the world in gorgeousness--that is the autumnal;--then every hill and dale is riant in the luxury of color--every hue is there, from the liveliest green to deepest purple from the most golden yellow to the intensest crimson. The artist looks despairingly upon the glowing landscape, and in the old world his truest imitations of the American forest, at this season, are called falsely bright, and scenes in Fairy Land.

1843 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) River in the Catskills

5. Sky

The sky will next demand our attention. The soul of all scenery, in it are the fountains of light, and shade, and color. Whatever expression the sky takes, the features of the landscape are affected in unison, whether it be the serenity of the summer's blue, or the dark tumult of the storm. It is the sky that makes the earth so lovely at sunrise, and so splendid at sunset. In the one it breathes over the earth the crystal-like ether, in the other liquid gold. The climate of a great part of the United States is subject to great vicissitudes, and we complain; but nature offers a compensation. These very vicissitudes are the abundant sources of beauty--as we have the temperature of every clime, so have we the skies--we have the blue unsearchable depths of the northern sky--we have the upheaped thunder-clouds of the Torrid Zone, fraught with gorgeousness and sublimity--we have the silver haze of England, and the golden atmosphere of Italy. And if he who has travelled and observed the skies of other climes will spend a few months on the banks of the Hudson, he must be constrained to acknowledge that for variety and magnificence American skies are unsurpassed. Italian skies have been lauded by every tongue, and sung by every poet, and who will deny their wonderful beauty? At sunset the serene arch is filled with alchemy that transmutes mountains, and streams, and temples, into living gold.

But the American summer never passes without many sunsets that might vie with the Italian, and many still more gorgeous--that seem peculiar to this clime.

Look at the heavens when the thunder shower has passed, and the sun stoops behind the western mountains--there the low purple clouds hang in festoons around the steeps--in the higher heaven are crimson bands interwoven with feathers of gold, fit for the wings of angels--and still above is spread that interminable field of ether, whose color is too beautiful to have a name.

It is not in the summer only that American skies are beautiful; for the winter evening often comes robed in purple and gold, and in the westering sun the iced groves glitter as beneath a shower of diamonds--and through the twilight heaven innumerable stars shine with a purer light than summer ever knows.

1845 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) The Hunter Return

III. The Want of Associations

I will now venture a few remarks on what has been considered a grand defect in American scenery--the want of associations, such as arise amid the scenes of the old world.

We have many a spot as umbrageous as Vallombrosa, and as picturesque as the solitudes of Vaucluse; but Milton and Petrarch have not hallowed them by their footsteps and immortal verse. He who stands on Mont Albano and looks down on ancient Rome, has his mind peopled with the gigantic associations of the storied past; but he who stands on the mounds of the West, the most venerable remains of American antiquity, may experience the emotion of the sublime, but it is the sublimity of a shoreless ocean un-islanded by the recorded deeds of man.

Yet American scenes are not destitute of historical and legendary associations--the great struggle for freedom has sanctified many a spot, and many a mountain, stream, and rock has its legend, worthy of poet's pen or the painter's pencil. But American associations are not so much of the past as of the present and the future. Seated on a pleasant knoll, look down into the bosom of that secluded valley, begin with wooded hills--through those enamelled meadows and wide waving fields of grain, a silver stream winds lingeringly along--here, seeking the green shade of trees--there, glancing in the sunshine: on its banks are rural dwellings shaded by elms and garlanded by flowers--from yonder dark mass of foliage the village spire beams like a star. You see no ruined tower to tell of outrage--no gorgeous temple to speak of ostentation; but freedom's offspring--peace, security, and happiness, dwell there, the spirits of the scene. On the margin of that gentle river the village girls may ramble unmolested--and the glad school-boy, with hook and line, pass his bright holiday--those neat dwellings, unpretending to magnificence, are the abodes of plenty, virtue, and refinement. And in looking over the yet uncultivated scene, the mind's eye may see far into futurity. Where the wolf roams, the plough shall glisten; on the gray crag shall rise temple and tower--mighty deeds shall be done in the now pathless wilderness; and poets yet unborn shall sanctify the soil.

1846 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) A Rocky Glenn

IV. Conclusion

1. The Destruction of Beautiful Landscapes

It was my intention to attempt a description of several districts remarkable for their picturesqueness and truly American character; but I fear to trespass longer on your time and patience. Yet I cannot but express my sorrow that the beauty of such landscapes are quickly passing away--the ravages of the axe are daily increasing--the most noble scenes are made desolate, and oftentimes with a wantonness and barbarism scarcely credible in a civilized nation. The wayside is becoming shadeless, and another generation will behold spots, now rife with beauty, desecrated by what is called improvement; which, as yet, generally destroys Nature's beauty without substituting that of Art. This is a regret rather than a complaint; such is the road society has to travel; it may lead to refinement in the end, but the traveller who sees the place of rest close at hand, dislikes the road that has so many unnecessary windings.

1847 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Genesee Scenery

2. We Are Still in Eden

I will now conclude, in the hope that, though feebly urged, the importance of cultivating a taste for scenery will not be forgotten. Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet. Shall we turn from it? We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and folly. We should not allow the poet's words to be applicable to us--

Deep in rich pasture do thy flocks complain? Not so; but to their master is denied To share the sweet serene.

May we at times turn from the ordinary pursuits of life to the pure enjoyment of rural nature; which is in the soul like a fountain of cool waters to the way-worn traveller; and let us

Learn The laws by which the Eternal doth sublime And sanctify his works, that we may see The hidden glory veiled from vulgar eyes.


1847 Thomas Cole (American artist, 1801-1848) Indian Pass Tahawus

Monday, November 11, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh; Snakeroot (Actaea racemosa)

Black cohosh, or snakeroot, has been grown in American gardens since the late 18th century. Thomas Lamboll sent three kinds of snakeroot to Philadelphia nurseryman and plant explorer William Bartram during the late 1700s, and one is believed to be this species. Thomas Jefferson included “Black snake-root” in a list of native medicinal plants in his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781). Black cohosh is a long-lived perennial that will slowly increase in size for many years and not require dividing. The lacy foliage forms an attractive mound in the flower border or woodland garden.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) His Garden Book 1784-1788 in Williamsburg, Virginia

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Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) was a Virginia politician who loved to garden. He represented Williamsburg in the Virginia House of Delegates, and served as that body's Speaker from 1786 until 1788.

Garden Book 1784-1788

Garden Book - March 1784

Sowed Earth Pease in the square next chimney, the 17th.

19. Sowed Rape seed in same square.

Glory of England sowed same Day in square next street oposite.

19. Sowed Carrots in this square.

19. Transplanted Rose Bushes an dRaspbarries

19. Sowed Lettuce seed.

19. Planted square; Beans

29. Sowed Parsley

23d Mar. Sowed Carrott seed Rhadish, Cresses.

April 1st

Sowed Marrow fats

Planted Ovio [?] Planted Flowering peas, sowed Endive, set out Garlick & Onions.

1786

April 2d sowed Colliflower, Savoy Cabbage. Celery Seed.

August 1st Transplanted three rows of Colliflower Brocoli from seed saved this psring.

Transplanted solid Celery.

3.d August.
Sowed two Rows of six week Peas.
Two Rows of Dwarf marrow fats.

Sowed Lettuce seed, on border on left Hand under small Paling in the large Garden.

7th Au.
Sowed four Rows Peas opposite to those sown 3.d

Sowed Lettuce under North Paling. & Garden.

28 Sowed Lettuce on small Border under Yard Pales

28 Planted out Strawberrys in both Gardens.

January 1787
Sowed Peas on the Border of the north Paling on the 17th day of Jany (all rotted)

19th Planted three tows of large Hotspur Beans in Est Garden

Sowed Cabbage seed on north Border, in E. Garden

Feby 19 Sowed Lettuce & Cabbage from E. shore on Border of White Pales in E. Garden

23d Sowed Peas on the north Border, in the place where they were put the 17th Jany, these are of the six Week

February 1788

13th Sowed Peas on the Border of the E. Garden under the north paling in double rows.

15 Planted Mazagan Beans 7 first Rows in first square in E. Garden.
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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - American Spikenard

American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa)

With a broad native range from New Brunswick south to North Carolina and west to Arizona, Utah, and northern Mexico, the American Spikenard is an easily grown perennial that adapts to a variety of conditions. A member of the Ginseng family, the thick roots are spicy and aromatic and were once used to flavor teas and root beer. Aralia racemosa was included for sale in Bartram’s Catalogue of American Trees, Shrubs, and Herbacious Plants (1783), with the growing requirement listed as “Richest deep moist Soil.”

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Friday, November 8, 2019

Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) Directions for Gardening in Williamsburg, Virginia

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Joseph Prentis (1754-1809) was a Virginia politician who loved to garden. He represented Williamsburg in the Virginia House of Delegates, and served as that body's Speaker from 1786 until 1788.

Directions about Gardening

The last week in September or the first in October, take up your Colliflowers, with as much Earth to the Root as you conveniently can.
Dig a trench eighteen Inches Wide and of a sufficient depth, put in Rotten Dung; then lay your Plants with their Heads to the Sun, cover them with mould up their Leaves, add to this a Coat of Saw Dust.
When apprehensive of Frost, cover them with Straw.


Artichokes
Make a general Dressing of artichokes the first or about the Middle of March; by levelling the Earth from the Plants, but observe to let two or three of the strongest shoots remain upon every Root, and flip off the others; In doing this open the Earth deep enough to admit you to flip the Branches from the places where they arise, and closing and pressing the Earth close to the stock. The flips if wanted may be set out at this Time, and should be placed in an open situation and in a rich soil; and ought to be watered, to settle the Earth about the Plants. These flips will yield the following Autumn. These flips will also answer if put out in April. If you are desirous to have large artichokes, you must in Order to encourage the main Head, cut off, all the suckers or small Heads that are produced from the sides of the stems.
Whenever the artichoke is taken off the stem which supported it ought also to be broken down close to the Earth, as they injure the growth of the Plant it suffered to remain.
About the first of November is the time to cut down the Leaves off the artichoke and earth up the Plants to secure them from severe Frosts. If at the time of Dressing your artichokes any of the strong Plants show Fruit, and you are desirous to save the fruit you must tie up the Leaves close, and then lay the Earth up over the Roots and close about the Leaves which will preserve the Fruit and bring it to perfection.
If not earthed up in Novr it may be done in Decr or even in Jany. If the Frost will not admit of earthing them they may be well covered with straw. Before they are either earthed or covered with straw, all the dead Leaves must be first well taken away.
Jerusalem artichokes must be planted in Rows two feet asunder and about fifteen Inches distance in the Rows.

Beans
The first of February plant your Beans, if of the large kind let them be in rows of a Yard assunder and about six Inches distant in the Row.
They may be put in about the first or middle of January if a favourable season offers. Beans of any kind may also be planted about the first of March and they will succeed very well, or even between the first of April and the middle of May.
The Small Magazan Bean is to be preferred to any other kind that I have seen.

Brocoli
Brocoli Seed both of the purple and white kinds may be sown in May and it will be adviseable to sow a little of this seed at two different times in May, some time between the first and fifteenth, and between the fifteenth and thirtieth.
The Plants that are raised from the first sowing if the winter is mild will afford Heads before Christmas, at least will lead very early in the spring. The second sowing is chiefly for spring use, and will produce fine Heads in February and March and after the Heads are gone will yield abundance of fine sprouts.
The seed ought to be sown on a Border that is not fully exposed to the sun. In June take out from the Beds the Plants, and put them in other Beds three or four Inches apart every way water them and repeat it occasionally. Let them remain here about a Month and then plant them out where you wish them to stand for use.
The second week in June you may sow some more feed, and these Plants will produce Heads in February and March. In July put out your full crop of Brocoli, in Rows allowing three feet between the Rows and two feed from each other in a rich soil, and water them if the season is dry till they appear to have taken Root.

Carrots
Some time in March about 12th sow your Carrots, they grow best in a light soil, and in an open Exposure, the Ground ought to be spaded very deep, and the clods well broken, this seed ought to be thinly sown and on a dry, calm Day. The seed may also be sown in March, or April, and will answer very well; this is the best time. In May your Carrots should be properly encouraged by keeping them clear from weeds and thinning them that they may grow at Top, and swell at Bottom. And in thinning they must be left at least six Inches every way. If the Plants are used at Table they may now be thinned only about four Inches every way. In July if you incline you may sow some carrot seed, which will afford you good young Carrots in the autumn. In August you may also sow some, which will supply the Table in the Spring.
The last of Novr or first of Decr take up your Carrots, in a dry Mild Day and cut off the Tops, clean them from the Earth and carry them to some dry place, then lay a Bed of dry sand on th floor about two or three Inches thick, place the roots upon the sand close together laying their Heads outwards, Cover the Roots with sand, two Inches, and then lay on more Roots, and then more sand. After this cover them with straw.
During the growth of your Parsnips and Carrots it will be proper to spade or loosed the Earth three or four times about their roots, which make them considerably larger.

Colliflowers
These seed may be sown in a Bed of rich Light soil in a warm situation in the natural Ground in the middle of February and planted out about the middle of April in a rich spot, at the distance of two feet or thirty Inches every way, water them if the season is dry. As soon as the flower appears, it should be screened from the sun and wet, which alters its colour, and to shelter it let three or four of the largest Leaves be taken off to cover the flower.
In dry weather they ought to be often watered. If the Plants were not transplanted in April it may be done in May. In May you may sow the seed, and the Plants from this seed, will produce their flowers in abundance in October, and November. The seed ought not to be sown till the last of May and the Bed must be shaded, and frequently watered if dry.
The Plants that were sown in May, about the last of June should be pricked out into another Bed in an open situation at about three Inches apart, and give them a little water to settle the Earth, about their Roots. It will be proper to shade them from the sun if a hot season till they have taken root. They are to remain in this Bed for about a Month and then be planted out where they are to stand, and to be watered till they have taken root, and they will produce in October and November.
For other observations on Colliflowers see forward.

Currants
The last of February or first of March prune your Currants by cutting away all ill growing Branches, and leave the Branches about seven or eight Inches apart. They may be planted at this Time, and ought to be seven or eight feet apart. Currants are best raised by Cuttings for this purpose take such of the shoots as are strong, and let them be from twelve to fifteen Inches long, plant them in Rows not less than twelve inches apart and put each cutting about half way into the Ground.
At this Time it will be also proper to loosed the Earth around the roots.
About the last of October you may prune your Currants, and dig the Earth about them. In these Trees, many young shoots are produced every summer some of which should be cut away, but care taken to leave the strongest to supply the places of the old Branches, some of which should be cut away every Year to make room for the young Bushes.
This is also a very proper season to propagate which is best done by cuttings, in the mode before mentioned.
They may also be raised by Cuttings in December.

Celery
About the middle of March sow Celery for the principal Crop. The seed should be put in a warm spot of rich Earth, cover it but very lightly, as soon as the Plants are large enough draw out the largest and transplant them in a Bed three Inches apart and shade them till they have taken root.
They are to remain her about a month or five weeks, and then to be placed in their Trenches, and which ought to be done in June, in the following manner. Dig each Trench, seven or eight Inches of very rotten Dung in the Bottom of each Trench, when this is done, let the Bottom be neatly dug, burying the Dung equally about four Inches deep, then put in your Plants, in one row in the middle of the trench at the distance of five Inches between each plant; if the season is not very favourable they must be watered frequently, about a month or five weeks they require to be earthed up, and which ought to be done in dry days, the earth must be finely broken and much care be taken, that it is placed gently and equally on both sides and not drawn up so high, as to cover the Bud, this must be repeated every fortnight or thereabouts till the celery is fit for use. For a full Crop of Celery for the winter the same preparation must be made, chuse the strongest Plants, and trim the ends of their roots, and cut two or three Inches off the Tops of their Leaves and plant them in July. Before the Earth is drawn to the Celery it of great service to have it well stirred three or four Times, and by no means to draw it to your Celery when wet. Celery may also be transplanted in August.
The celery ought to be earthed up within four or five Inches of the Tops, and if the Tops are then covered from the severe Frosts it will still be of great service.

Chamomile Flowers
Plant flips of Chamomile in a rich Bed at the distance of nine or ten Inches, when they bear the flowers ought to be gathered and fried for use.

Dressing Borders
In February let your Beds and Borders be thoroughly cleaned from weeds, and the surface of your flower Borders be lightly and carefully loosened with a hoe in a dry day, and neatly raked, which gives a liveliness to the surface, in pleasing to the Eye, and well worth the Labour.

Dung your Grounds
Such of the Garden as may be vacant should be well manured in October and also well spaded that it may have the advantage of fallow from the sun, snow, and air of the winter season.
In March loosen the surface of the Borders which were planted with flowers of any sort in the Fall, or Autumn, let this be done in a dry day with a small Hoe, stirring the Earth very carefully between the Plants, taking care of the shoots from the Bulbous Roots which are now appearg thro’ the surface, then let them be neatly raked and clear away all Dead Leaves, which appear about the Plants. By loosening the surface of the Borders the first growth of seed weeds is prevented, and it greatly promotes the grown of the Flowers.
In December use every oppy of laying Dung on such parts of the Garden as may want it.

Gooseberrys
Use the same method in cultivating this Fruit as is recommended for Currants.

Gathering Seeds
Gather seeds of all sorts as they ripen, let this be done in dry weather and as soon as they are cut spread them in some dry place, where the air can freely come, they ought to be turned frequently and after they are perfectly dry may be beaten out; and well cleaned from the Rubbish and Husks.

Onions
About the middle or last of February you may prepare your Ground for Onions, let it be well manured and sow them thin, and as equally as possible. From this Time till the first of April they will succeed very will if sown.
In May the Onions should be well cleared of weeds and the Plants thinned leaving them three or four Inches asunder. They may be transplanted and when growing it is of great service to loosed the Earth about them.
Onions may also be sown about the Middle of July, or in August for the Winter, when they come up, they must be well attended to, or the weeds will get the better of the Onions and destroy the whole Crop. When your forwardest Crop is fot to take up in the Fall and which is discovered by their Leaves beginning to wither, they must be managed in the following manner.
They must be taken up in dry weather, and leave to each Onion four or five Inches of the Leaves they must then be placed in a dry place to harden exposed to the sun, for a fortnight, and frequently turned. They ought to be afterwards placed in a dry and airy Room, but let them be first well cleaned from the Earth, and their outer skins, and spread, on the floor, the windows of this appartment ought to be kept open in fair weather for about a wek, and those that decay should not be suffered to remain with the others.
About the 20th of Septr is a good time to sow your onion seed. Let them be kept very clean from weeds, and transplanted early in the Spring.

Parsley
Sow some of this seed about the last of January in Drills tolerably thick and cover it about a Quarter of an Inch deep. It may be down from this Time till April, and will thrive very well.

Strawberries
Where new Plantations of this Fruit are desired about the last of June is the proper time to prepare for it. In chusing your Plants let them be taken from such Beds as bear well, and produce the largest fruit. Let the Plants be taken from the last summers Growth very carefully up with the roots. Trip the roots a little and cut off any strings from the Head of the Plant, and let them be put in immediately, into a Bed in a shade situation, and about three or four inches apart, and as soon as planted they must be watered to sell the Earth;
In this situation they must remain till Septr or October, by which time they will be strong and in fine order to transplant where they are to remain and ought to be planted at least twelve Inches asunder. In February they should be well cleaned, and have their spring Dressing. First pull off all the runners and clear the Bed from weeds of every sort, then loosed the Ground between the Plants, and add a little fresh earth, between the rows, and about each plant, which makes them flower strong and produce large fruit. The Beds ought to be kept free from Runners and weeds as they advance, But where new Plantations are wanted it is best to let the runners remain. In dry weather they ought to be frequently watered, especially if they are in Bloom, and if not well supplied with water, you will have but small Fruit, and a thin Crop.
In October or Novr the Beds ought to be well cleaned and any vacancies may at this time be filled with other Roots.

Raspberries
If your Raspberries have remained un pruned till February, they ought now to be pruned, and in doing this, observe to leave three of the strongest last Years shoots, close together on each root to bear fruit, the next summer and all above that number on every root must be cut away. Clear away the dead wood. Each shoot that you leave, should be shortened by taking of about one third of their length. After they are pruned you ought to dig about the root and clear away all straggling roots, and leave none but those that are to support the Branches you expect to bear. In February is a proper time to make new Plantations where there are wanted.
If they are not pruned and cleaned in February it may be done in the month of March, and they will bear transplanting very well, at this Time.
They may also be transplanted in October, or Novr and may be pruned at this Time. In chusing Plants take such as are well provided with roots, for this is very material in this Plant, an dif there be one two or more Buds formed on the roots for the next summers shoots they are to be preferred.
Before they are placed in the Earth, shorten the roots a little and let the shoots be trimmed.

Spinach
Sow spinach in February if the weather is mild, and it ought to be repeated every fortnight, until the middle or last of April. The first of July get your Ground ready for a winter Crop, and sow it in Drills. If not sown at this time, it may be sown in August (or first of Septr best time), but ought to be placed in a spot that is dry in the winter when the Plants are up and have leaves about an Inch broad, they must be thinned and cleared from weeds, and should be left four or five Inches apart from each other and which must be done some time in Septr as you find the Plant requires it. In gathering it for use take care to take the largest Leaves and leaving the inner ones to grow in their turn.

Parsneps
The same Directions that are recommended in the culture of Carrots will also suit this Plant.

Salsafy
The last of February this must be sown, and ought to be placed in a light spott in an open situation, sow the seed thin and let it be gently raked over. It may be sown in March also.
For your winters Crop the seed should now be sown, at this time the seed sown in the Spring should be carefully thinned, and the Plants set out about six or seven Inches apart.

Peas
In the first of January if the weather is open on a warm Exposure, you may sow some Hot Spurr Peas, in Rows three feet and a half distant, at this your Crop of Marrow fats may also be sown but these had better be at the distance of four feet. When they come up draw a little Earth to their stems in a mild day, but take Care that this Earth is pretty dry.
In February sow your principal Crop of Peas. Marrow Fats should be at least three feet and a half asunder. Hot Spur and those of a smaller kind three feet apart. Marrow fat Peas, may also be down in March or any of the smaller sort. They may also be sown in April and will succeed very well. In May as the proper season to sow any kind of Dwarf Peas, and when they come up they ought to be earthed up with tolerable dry soil.
In June you may also sow some Peas, and altho they do not generally succeed very well, yet if the season proves tolerably moist there will be a great chance of reaping a tolerable Crop in Septr at which time they will be a rarity. If the weather be very dry, it will be proper to soak the Peas in Water for a few Hours.
The last of Septr or first of October, sow some Peas, for an early Crop. The earliest Hotspur is the proper sort to be sown at this Time, and a war Border under a wall or fence is the proper situation.
If no Peas were sown in October, it will be proper to sow some the first of November, and those that are sown at this Time have the best chance to succeed. When the weather is open In Decr let a warm spot be got ready for Peas, and sow the early Hotspur, let them be covered an Inch and a half with Earth.

Colliflowers
Must be sown critically t a day, or it is said there can be no Depended on them. For the Fall you must sow your seed on the 12th day of April and transplant them into Beds to stop their growth, in July place them where they are intended to grow as they grow they ought to be hilled up otherwise, when they head, the wind will injure them, they grow best in a rich light soil, the best way of managing then here is as follows. Dig Trenches a foot and a half wide quite down to the clay, mix with the Clay with your spade some long Dung into which place your Plants about five feet apart when they are large enough to be transplanted, and as they grow hill them up with the best mould you can get, this method answered the purpose of transplanting for the Clay suppressed their growth, and the warmth of the Dung afforded them head enough to vegetate.
If the Flie is apt to destroy your plants it is a good way when you sow the seed to sow spinach or Rhadish so an not to interfere with the Plants. These Things being more agreeable food to the Insects will frequently save your Plants.
In November when the intense Frosts approach take your Colliflowers up by the roots with as much Mould as you can and place them in a hole dug in the ground, about two feet below the surface well sheltered by straw, near one another, and cut them as you please, they may be kept in this way the greatest part of the winter.

Lettuce
May be sown from February to October, the last crop to be sown about the first of August, and in October transplanted into a rich Border sheltered from the weather. It is a hardy Plant and will stand most of our winters if covered only with Pea Vines, Asparagus Haulm, Matts or straw.
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Red Chokeberry

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)
 Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

This attractive and vigorous North American shrub grows in bogs, swamps, and moist forests from Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas, especially along the coastal areas. During the 18th century, this species was often classified as Sorbus arbutifolia but sometimes thought to be a kind of pear (hence Pyrus arbutifolia). Bernard McMahon considered it a type of Medlar, calling it “Arbutus-leaved Medlar, Mespilus arbutifolia” in the 1806 edition of his American Gardener’s Calendar and Philadelphia nurseryman John Bartram included it among other Aronias in his 1783 Broadside. This very desirable landscape plant grows into a dense clump and has few pests or diseases.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

On Fruits, Vegetables, & Herbs from Amelia Simmons 1798 Cookbook

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On Fruits, Vegetables, & Herbs 1798 Amelia Simmons Cookbook

ROOTS and VEGETABLES--and the best cook cannot alter the first quality, they must be good, or the cook will be disappointed.

Potatoes, take rank for universal use, profit and early acquirement. The smooth skin, known by the name of How's Potatoe, is the most mealy and richest flavor'd; the yellow rusticoat next best; the red, and red rusticoat are tolerable; and the yellow Spanish have their value--those cultivated from imported feed on sandy or dry loomy lands, are best for table use; though the red or either will produce more in rich, loomy, highly manured garden grounds; new lands and a sand foil, afford the richest flavor'd; and most mealy Potatoe much depends on the ground on which they grow--more on the species of Potatoes planted--and still more from foreign feeds--and each may be known by attention to connoisseurs; for a good potatoe comes up in many branches of cookery, as herein after prescribed.--All potatoes should be dug before the rainy seasons in the fall, well dryed in the sun, kept from frost and dampness during the winter, in the spring removed from the cellar to a dry loft, and spread thin, and frequently stirred and dryed, or they will grow and be thereby injured for cookery.

A roast Potatoe is brought on with roast Beef, a Steake, a Chop, or Fricassee; good boiled with a boiled dish; make an excellent stuffing for a turkey, water or wild fowl; make a good pie, and a good starch for many uses. All potatoes run out, or depreciate in America; a fresh importation of the Spanish might restore them to table use.

It would swell this treatise too much to say every thing that is useful, to prepare a good table, but I may be pardoned by observing, that the Irish have preserved a genuine mealy rich Potatoe, for a century, which takes rank of any known in any other kingdom; and I have heard that they renew their feed by planting and cultivating the Seed Ball, which grows on the tine. The manner of their managing it to keep up the excellency of that root, would better suit a treatise on agriculture and gardening than this--and be inserted in a book which would be read by the farmer, instead of his aimiable daughter. If no one treats on the subject, it may appear in the next edition.

Onions--The Medeira white is best in market, esteemed softer flavored, and not so fiery, but the high red, round hard onions are the best; if you consult cheapness, the largest are best; if you consult taste and softness, the very smallest are the most delicate, and used at the first tables. Onions grow in the richest, highest cultivated ground, and better and better year after year, on the same ground.

Beets, grow on any ground, but best on loom, or light gravel grounds; the red is the richest and best approved; the white has a sickish sweetness, which is disliked by many.

Parsnips, are a valuable root, cultivated best in rich old grounds, and doubly deep plowed, late sown, they grow thrifty, and are not so prongy; they may be kept any where and any how, so that they do not grow with heat, or are nipped with frost; if frosted, let them thaw on earth; they are richer flavored when plowed out of the ground in April, having stood out during the winter, though they will not last long after, and commonly more sticky and hard in the centre.

Carrots, are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground, similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange and red; middling siz'd, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.

Garlicks, though used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.

Asparagus--the mode of cultivation belongs to gardening; your business is only to cut and dress, the largest is best, the growth of a day sufficient, six inches long, and cut just above the ground; many cut below the surface, under an idea of getting tender shoots, and preserving the bed; but it enfeebles the root: dig round it and it will be wet with the juices--but if cut above ground, and just as the dew is going off, the sun will either reduce the juice, or send it back to nourish the root--its an excellent vegetable.

Parsley, of the three kinds, the thickest and branchiest is the best, is sown among onions, or in a bed by itself, may be drying for winter use; tho' a method which I have experienced is much better--In September, I dig my roots, procure an old thin stave dry cask, bore holes an inch diameter in every stave, 6 inches asunder round the cask, and up to the top--take first a half bushel of rich garden mold and put into the cask, then run the roots through the staves, leaving the branches outside, press the earth tight about the root within, and thus continue on thro' the respective stories, till the cask is full; it being filled, run an iron bar thro' the center of the dirt in the cask, and fill with water, let stand on the fourth and east side of a building till frosty night, then remove it, (by slinging a rope around the cask) into the cellar; where, during the winter, I clip with my scissars the fresh parsley, which my neighbors or myself have occasion for; and in the spring transplant the roots in the bed in the garden, or in any unused corner--or let stand upon the wharf, or the wash shed. Its an useful mode of cultivation, and a pleasurably tasted herb, and much used in garnishing viands.

Raddish, Salmon coloured is the best, purple next best--white--turnip--each are produced from southern feeds, annually. They grow thriftiest sown among onions. The turnip Raddish will last well through the winter.

Artichokes--the Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes, (tho' their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the turnip raddish, or pickled--they like,

Horse Raddish, once in the garden, can scarcely ever be totally eradicated, plowing or digging them up with that view, seems at times rather to increase and spread them.

Cucumbers, are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose the bright green, smooth and proper sized.

Melons-- The Water Melons is cultivated on sandy soils only, above latitude 41 1-2, if a stratum of land be dug from a well, it will bring the first year good Water Melons; the red cored are highest flavored; a hard rine proves them ripe.

Muskmelons, are various, the rough skinned is best to eat; the short, round, fair skinned, is best for Mangoes.

Lettuce, is of various kinds; the purple spotted leaf is generally the tenderest, and free from bitter--your taste must guide your market.

Cabbage, requires a page, they are so multifarious. Note, all Cabbages have a higher relish that grow on new unmanured grounds; if grown in an old town and on old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller. This observation has been experienced for years--that Cabbages require new ground, more than Turnips.

The Low Dutch, only will do in old gardens.

The Early Yorkshire, must have rich foils, they will not answer for winter, they are easily cultivated, and frequently bro't to market in the fall, but will not last the winter.

The Green Savoy, with the richest crinkles, is fine and tender; and altho' they do not head like the Dutch or Yorkshire, yet the tenderness of the out leaves is a counterpoise, it will last through the winter, and are high flavored.

The Yellow Savoy, takes next rank, but will not last so long; all Cabbages will mix, and participate of other species, like Indian Corn; they are culled, best in plants; and a true gardener will, in the plant describe those which will head, and which will not. This is new, but a fact.

The gradations in the Savoy Cabbage are discerned by the leaf; the richest and most scollup'd, and crinkled, and thickest Green Savoy, falls little short of a Colliflower.

The red and redest small tight heads, are best for slaw, it will not boil well, comes out black or blue, and tinges other things with which it is boiled.

To boil Cabbage.
If your cabbage is large, cut it into quarters; if small, cut it in halves; let your water boil, then put in a little salt, and next your cabbage with a little more salt upon it; make your water boil as soon as possible, and when the stalk is tender, take up your cabbage into a cullender, or sieve, that the water may drain off, and send it to table as hot as you can.
Savoys are dressed in the same manner.

B E A N S.

The Clabboard Bean, is easiest cultivated and collected, are good for string beans, will shell--must be poled.

The Windsor Bean, is an earlier, good string, or shell Bean.

Crambury Bean, is rich, but not universally approved equal to the other two.

Frost Bean, is good only to shell.

Six Weeks Bean, is a yellowish Bean, and early brought forward, and tolerable.

Lazy Bean, is tough, and needs no pole.

English Bean what they denominate the Horse Bean, is mealy when young, is profitable, easily cultivated, and may be grown on worn out grounds; as they may be raised by boys, I cannot but recommend the more extensive cultivation of them.

The Small White Bean, is best for winter use, and excellent.

Calivanse, are run out, a yellow small bush, a black speck or eye, are tough and tasteless, and little worth in cookery, and scarcely bear exportation,

Peas--Green Peas.

The Crown Imperial, takes rank in point of flavor, they blossom, purple and white on the top of the vines, will run from three to five feet high, should be set in light sandy soil only, or they run too much to vines.

The Crown Pea, is second in richness of flavor.

The Rondehaval, is large and bitterish.

Early Carlton, is produced first in the season--good.

Marrow Fats, green, yellow, and is large, easily cultivated, not equal to others.

Sugar Pea, needs no bush, the pods are tender and good to eat, easily cultivated.

Spanish Manratto, is a rich Pea, requires a strong high bush.

All Peas should be picked carefully from the vines as soon as dew is off, shelled and cleaned without water, and boiled immediately; they are thus the richest flavored.

To boil all kinds of Garden Stuff. In dressing all sorts of kitchen garden herbs, take care they are clean washed; that there be no small snails, or caterpillars between the leaves; and that all the coarse, outer leaves, and the tops that have received any injury by the weather, be taken off; next wash them in a good deal of water, and put them into a cullender to drain, care must likewise be taken, that your pot or sauce pan be clean, well tinned, and free from sand, or grease.

To keep Green Peas till Christmas.
Take young peas, shell them, put them in a cullender to drain, then lay a cloth four or five times double on a table, then spread them on, dry them very well, and have your bottles ready, fill them, cover them with mutton suet fat when it is a little soft; fill the necks almost to the top, cork them, tie a bladder and a leather over them and set them in a dry cool place.

To boil French Beans.
Take your beans and string them, cut in two and then across, when you have done them all, sprinkle them over with salt, stir them together, as soon as your water boils put them in and make them boil up quick, they will be soon done and they will look of a better green than when growing in the garden; if they are very young, only break off the ends, then break in two and dress them in the same manner.

To boil broad Beans.
Beans require a great deal of water and it is not best to shell them till just before they are ready to go into the pot, when the water boils put them in with some picked parsley and some salt, make them boil up quick, when you see them begin to fall, they are done enough, strain them off, garnish the dish with boiled parsley and send plain butter in a cup or boat.

To boil green Peas.
When your peas are shelled and the water boils, which should not be much more than will cover them, put them in with a few leaves of mint, as soon as they boil put in a piece of butter as big as a walnut, and stir them about, when they are done enough, strain them off, and sprinkle in a little salt, shake them till the water drains off, send them hot to the table with melted butter in a cup or boat.

To boil Asparagus.
First cut the white ends off about six inches from the head, and scrape them from the green part downward very clean, as you scrape them, throw them into a pan of clear water, and after a little soaking, tie them up in small even bundles, when your water boils, put them in, and boil them quick; but by over boiling they will lose their heads; cut a slice of bread for a toast, and toast it brown on both sides; when your asparagus is done, take it up carefully; dip the toast in the asparagus water, and lay it in the bottom of your dish; then lay the heads of the asparagus on it, with the white ends outwards; pour a little melted butter over the heads; cut an orange into small pieces, and stick them between for garnish.

Herbs, useful in Cookery.

Thyme, is good in soups and stuffings.

Sweet Marjoram, is used in Turkeys.

Summer Savory, ditto, and in Sausages and salted Beef, and legs of Pork.

Sage, is used in Cheese and Pork, but not generally approved.

Parsley, good in soups, and to garnish roast Beef, excellent with bread and butter in the spring.

Penny Royal, is a high aromatic, although a spontaneous herb in old ploughed fields, yet might be more generally cultivated in gardens, and used in cookery and medicines.

Sweet Thyme, is most useful and best approved in cookery.

F R U I T S.

Pears, There are many different kinds; but the large Bell Pear, sometimes called the Pound Pear, the yellowest is the best, and in the same town they differ essentially.

Hard Winter Pear, are innumerable in their qualities, are good in sauces, and baked.

Harvest and Summer Pear are a tolerable desert, are much improved in this country, as all other fruits are by grafting and innoculation.

Apples, are still more various, yet rigidly retain their own species, and are highly useful in families, and ought to be more universally cultivated, excepting in the most compactest cities. There is not a single family but might set a tree in some otherwise useless spot, which might serve the two fold use of shade and fruit; on which 12 or 14 kinds of fruit trees might easily be engrafted, and essentially preserve the orchard from the intrusions of boys, &c. which is too common in America. If the boy who thus planted a tree, and guarded and protected it in a useless corner, and carefully engrafted different fruits, was to be indulged free access into orchards, whilst the neglectful boy was prohibited--how many millions of fruit trees would spring into growth--and what a saving to the union. The net saving would in time extinguish the public debt, and enrich our cookery.

Currants, are easily grown from shoots trimmed off from old bunches, and set carelessly in the ground; they flourish on all soils, and make good jellies--their cultivation ought to be encouraged.

Black Currants, may be cultivated--but until they can be dryed, and until sugars are propagated, they are in a degree unprofitable.

Grapes, are natural to the climate; grow spontaneously in every state in the union, and ten degrees north of the line of the union. The Madeira, Lisbon and Malaga Grapes, are cultivated in gardens in this country, and are a rich treat or desert. Trifling attention only is necessary for their ample growth.

To dry Peaches.
Take the fairest and ripest peaches, pare them into fair water; take their weight in double refined sugar; of one half make a very thin sirup; then put in your peaches, boiling them till they look clear, then split and stone them, boil them till they are very tender, lay them a draining, take the other half of the sugar, and boil it almost to a candy; then put in your peaches, and let them lie all night, then lay them on a glass, and set them in a stove, till they are dry, if they are sugared too much, wipe them with a wet cloth a little; let the first sirup be very thin, a quart of water to a pound of sugar.

To pickle or make Mangoes of Melons.
Take green melons, as many as you please, and make a brine strong enough to bear an egg; then pour it boiling hot on the melons, keeping them down under the brine; let them stand five or six days; then take them out, slit them down on one side, take out all the seeds, scrape them well in the inside, and wash them clean with cold water; then take a clove of garlick, a little ginger and nutmeg sliced, and a little whole pepper; put all these proportionably into the melons, filling them up with mustard-seeds; then lay them in an earthen pot with the slit upwards, and take one part of mustard and two parts of vinegar, enough to cover them, pouring it upon them scalding hot, and keep them close stopped.

To pickle Barberries.
Take of white wine vinegar and water, of each an equal quantity; to every quart of this liquor, put in half a pound of cheap sugar, then pick the worst of your barberries and put into this liquor, and the best into glasses; then boil your pickle with the worst of your barberries, and skim it very clean, boil it till it looks of a fine colour, then let it stand to be cold, before you strain it; then strain it through a cloth, wringing it to get all the colour you can from the barberries; let it stand to cool and settle, then pour it clear into the glasses; in a little of the pickle, boil a little fennel; when cold, put a little bit at the top of the pot or glass, and cover it close with a bladder or leather. To every half pound of sugar, put a quarter of a pound of white salt.

To pickle Cucumbers.
Let your cucumbers be small, fresh gathered, and free from spots; then make a pickle of salt and water, strong enough to bear an egg; boil the pickle and skim it well, and then pour it upon your cucumbers, and stive them down for twenty four hours; then strain them out into a cullender, and dry them well with a cloth, and take the best white wine vinegar, with cloves, sliced mace, nutmeg, white pepper corns, long pepper, and races of ginger, (as much as you please) boil them up together, and then clap the cucumbers in, with a few vine leaves, and a little salt, and as soon as they begin to turn their colour, put them into jars, stive them down close, and when cold, tie on a bladder and leather.

To keep Damsons.
Take damsons when they are first ripe, pick them off carefully, wipe them clean, put them into snuff bottles, stop them up tight so that no air can get to them, nor water; put nothing into the bottles but plumbs, put the bottles into cold water, hang them over the fire, let them heat slowly, let the water boil slowly for half an hour, when the water is cold take out the bottles, set the bottles into a cold place, they will keep twelve months if the bottles are stopped tight, so as no air nor water can get to them. They will not keep long after the bottles are opened; the plumbs must be hard.

American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life.
By Amelia Simmons
Hartford: Printed for Simeon Butler, Northampton, (1798)

Note: This information also appears in a book which is essentially a pirated editon of Amelia Simmons' American Cookery (1798).

The New-England cookery, or the art of dressing all kinds of flesh, fish, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plumb to the plain cake. Particularly adapted to this part of our country.
By Lucy Emerson
Montpelier, VT: Printed for Josiah Parks, 1808.
.