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The weavil has not yet ascended the high mountains.
A more satisfactory estimate of our climate to some, may perhaps be formed, by noting the plants which grow here, subject however to be killed by our severest colds. These are the fig, pomegranate, artichoke, and European walnut. In mild winters, lettuce and endive require no shelter; but generally they need a slight covering. I do not know that the want of long moss, reed, myrtle, swamp laurel, holly and cypress, in the upper country, proceeds from a greater degree of cold, nor that they were ever killed with any degree of cold in the lower country. The aloe lived in Williamsburgh, in the open air, through the severe winter of 1779, 1780.
A change in our climate, however, is taking place very sensibly. Both heats and colds are become much more moderate, within the memory even of the middle aged. Snows are less frequent and less deep. They do not often lie, below the mountains, more than one, two, or three days, and very rarely a week. They are remembered to have been formerly frequent, deep, and of long continuance. The elderly inform me, the earth used to be covered with snow about three months in every year. The rivers, which then seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the winter, scarcely ever do
This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits. From the year 1741 to 1769, an interval of twenty-eight years, there was no instance of fruit killed by the frost in the neighbourhood of Monticello. An intense cold produced by constant snows, kept the buds locked up till the sun could obtain, in the spring of the year, so fixed an ascendancy as to dissolve those shows, and protect the buds, during their developement, from every danger of returning cold. The accumulated snows of the winter remaining to be dissolved altogether in the spring, produced those over
flowings of our rivers, so frequent then, and so rare
Having had occasion to mention the particular situation of Monticello for other purposes, I will just take notice that its elevation affords an opportunity of seeing a phænomenon which is rare at land, though frequent
The seamen call it looming. Philosophy is as yet in the rear of the seamen, for so far from having accounted for it, she has not given it a name. Its principal effect is to make distant pbjects appear larger, in opposition to the general law of vision, by which they are diminished. I knew an instance at York town, from whence the water prospect eastwardly is without termination, wherein a canoe with three men, at a great distance was taken for a ship with its three masts. I am little acquainted with the phænomenon as it shows itself at sea; but at Monticello it is familiar. There is a solitary mountain about forty miles off in the South, whose natural shape, as presented to view there, is a regular cone; but by the effect of looming, it sometimes subsides almost totally in the horizon; sometimes it rises more acute and more elevated; sometimes it is hemispherical; and sometimes its sides are perpendicular, its top flat, and as broad as its base. In short it assumes at times the most whimsical shapes, and all these perhaps successively in the same morning. The blue ridge of mountains comes into view, in the northeast at about 100 miles distance, and approaching in a direct line, passes by within 20 miles, and goes off to the south-west. This phenomenon begins to show itself on these mountains, at about 50 miles distance, and continues beyond that as far as they are seen. mark no particular state, either in the weight, moisture, or heat of the atmosphere, necessary to produce this. The only constant circumstances are its appearance in the morning only, and on objects at least 40 or 50 miles distant. In this latter circumstance, if not in both, it differs from the looming on the water. Refraction will not account for the metamorphosis. That only changes the proportions of length and breadth, base
and altitude, preserving the general outlines. Thus it may make a circle appear elliptical, raise or depress a cone, but by none of its laws, as yet developed, will it make a circle appear a square, or a cone a sphere.
The number of its inhabitants ?
The following table shows the number of persons imported for the establishment of our colony in its infant state, and the census of inhabitants at different periods, extracted from our historians and public records, as particularly as I have had opportunities and leisure to examine them. Successive lines in the same year show successive periods of time in that year. I have stated the census in two different columns, the whole inhabitants having been sometimes numbered, and sometimes the tythes only. This terrn, with us, includes the free males above 16 years of age, and slaves above that age of both sexes. A further examination of our records would render this history of our population much more satisfactory and perfect, by furnishing a greater number of intermediate terms. These, however, which are here stated will enable us to calculate, with a considerable degree of precision, the rate at which we have increased. During the infancy of the colony, while numbers were small, wars, importations, and other accidental circumstances render the progression fluctuating and irregular. By the year 1654, however, it becomes tolerably uniform, importations having in a great measure ceased from the dissolution of the company, and the inhabitants become too numerous to be sensibly affected by Indian wars. Beginning at that period, therefore, we find that from thence to the year 1772, our tithes had increased from 7209 to 153,000. The whole term being of 118 years, yields a duplication once in every 274 years. The intermediate enumerations taken in 1700, 1748, and 1759, furnish proofs of the uniformity of this progression.
Should this rate of increase continue, we shall have between six and seven millions of inhabitants within 95 years. If we suppose our country to be bounded, at some future day, by the meridian of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, (within which it has been before conjectured, are 64,461 square miles) there will then be 100 inhabitants for every square mile, which is nearly the state of population in the British Islands.
Here I will beg leave to propose a doubt. The present desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great importations of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good policy? The advantage proposed is the multiplication of numbers. Now let us suppose (for example only) that, in this state, we could double our numbers in one year by the importation of foreigners; and this is a greater accession than the most sanguine advocate for emigration has a right to expect. Then I say, beginning with a double stock, we shall attain any given degree of population only 27 years, and 3 months sooner than if we proceed on our single stock. If we propose four millions and a half aş a competent population for this state, we should be 541 years attaining it, could we at once double our numbers; and 814 years, if we rely on natural propagation, as may be seen by the following table :
In the first column are stated periods of 273 years; in the second are our numbers at each period, as they will be if we proceed on our actual stock; and in the third are what they would be, at the same periods, were we to set out from the double of our present stock. I have taken the term of four millions and a