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1806.-Last winter, in cutting up an old decayed mill-wheel, those parts of the water-cogs, &c. which had been repaired with larch about twenty years before, though black on the surface, on the hatchet being applied, were found as sound and #. as when put up. There is not a sufficient quantity of larch of fit growth, to bring that wood into general use for country purposes; but such as has been cut and sold, has brought two shillings per foot, in some instances more. About the year 1800, I received twelve uineas for a single larch-tree of #. years' growth. I was at the same time offered twenty pounds for another larch, which I declined cutting. The tree sold had eighty-nine solid square feet of wood; and the purchaser cut two if not three axles for mills out of it. 1806.-Last year I cut out twenty larch-trees from a clump where they stood too thick. I left the finest trees standing, and received one hundred guineas for the twenty trees taken out, being at the rate of two shillings per foot. The largest of the twenty trees measured one hundred and five feet in length, five feet eleven inches in girth at four feet from the ground, and contained ninety-four square feet of timber. One tree measured one hundred and six feet; two, one hundred and seven ; and one, one hundred and nine feet in length; but, being drawn up by standing too close, did not contain so much solid wood as the first. It is not in the quality only of
the wood that I consider the larch a great acquisition; but in the nature of the ground, where it will not only grow luxuriantly, but I am persuaded will arrive at a size fit for any purpose to which wood can be applied. The lower range of the Gram[. Hills, which extend to Duneld, are in altitude from one thousand to seventeen hundred feet above the level of the sea; a range of mountains to the height of twelve hundred is now in the course of being planted. They are in general barren and rocky, composed of mountain schist slate and iron stone. Up to the height of twelve hundred feet, larch are planted, and grow luxuriantly, where the Scotch fir, formerly considered the hardiest tree of the north, cannot rear its head. In considerable tracts, where fragments of shivered rocks are strewed so thick, that vegetation scarcely meets the eye, the larch puts out as strong and vigorous shoots as are to be found in the valleys below, or in the most sheltered situations. I have been employed for the last five years in forming a very extensive plantation of larch, on mountains similar to what I have described. The plantation embraces a tract of nearly eighteen hundred Scotch acres, nearly one thousand of which I have already planted (1807), mostly with larch, placing Scotch fir onl in the wet grounds where i. will not grow, and mixing spruce on the highest points, finding from experience d. that tree is next in value to the larch, and thrives in Alpine situations almost equally well.
In all the larch which I have cut, I have never met with one instance of decay. But I have seen larch cut in wet situations and tilly soil on low moors some miles below Dunkeld, which at forty years of age were decaying at the heart. The larch is certainly an Alpine tree, and does not thrive in wet situations.
In 1795 a species of blight ap
ared on the larch, which in ow situations destroyed numbers. The season in which this was observed to any extent, the frosts were very severe late in the spring, and the clouds of frost fog, which rested on the larch, in calm mornings, when just coming into leaf, produced the blight. I did not find trees above twentyfive or thirty feet in height af. fected by it, neither did it appear at all on the higher grounds, where a slight breeze of air could shake the trees. For eight or ten years P. severe frosts at the end of spring and beginning of summer, have partially brought a somewhat similar blight, which, though not essentially injuring the growth of the wood, except in a few instances, nearly destroyed the flower of the larch,
which has prevented my having been able to obtain larch seed in the quantity I wished, in order to carry my intention into effect; to cover all the mountainous tract near Dunkeld belonging in proerty to me, with larch; which }. persuaded, at the distance of sixty or seventy years from planting, will be fit for most naval purposes.
The comparative value of larch and Scotch fir will not bear calculation. In the year 1800 I sold a larch of fifty years old for twelve guineas; while a fir, of the same age, and in the same soil, brought fifteen shillings.A fall of snow will destroy in one might, and break and tear down sometimes more than one-third of a fir plantation. This I have often experienced at all ages. High winds also destroy firs in numbers.
The larch are never broken by snow, and very seldom torn up by winds, and then only in single trees. Scotch firs are bad and shabby growers (with me at least), at about eight hundred feet of altitude. arch grow luxuriantly some hundred feet higher.
EARTHQUAKE IN THE CARACCAS. (Humboldt's Travels.)
THE shock felt at Caraccas, in the month of December, 1811, was the only one, that preceded the horrible catastrophe of the 26th of March, 1812. The inhabitants of Terra Firma were ignorant of the agitations of the volcano in the island of St. Vincent on one side, and on the other, of those that were felt in the basin of the Mississippi, where, on the 7th and 8th of February, 1812, the earth was day and night in perpetual oscillation. . A great drought prevailed at this period in the province of Venezuela, Not a single drop of rain had fallen at Caraccas, or in the country ninety leagues round, during the five months which preceded the destruction of the capital. The 26th of March was a remarkably hot day. The air was calm, and the sky unclouded. It was Holy Thursday, and a great part of the population was assembled in the churches. Nothing seemed to presage the calamities of the day. At seven minutes after four in the afternoon the first shock was felt; it was sufficiently
the tropics in time of storms. This noise preceded a perpendicular motion of three or four seconds, followed by an undulatory movement somewhat longer. The shocks were in opposite directions, from north to south, and from east to west. Nothing could resist the movement from beneath upward, and undulations crossing each other. . The town of Caraccas was entirely overthrown. Thousands of the inhabitants (between nine and ten thousand) were buried under the ruins of the houses and churches. The procession had not yet set out; but the crowd was so great in the churches, that nearly three or four thousand persons were crushed by the fall of , their vaulted roofs. The explosion was stronger toward the north, in that part of the town situate nearest the mountain of Avila, and the Silla. The churches of la Trinidad and Alta Gracia, which were more than one hundred and fifty feet high, and the naves of which were supported by pillars of twelve or fifteen feet diameter, left a mass of ruins scarcely exceeding five or six feet in joi. The sinking of the ruins has been so considerable, that there now scarcely remain any vestiges of pillars or columns. The barracks, called El Quartel de San Carlos, situate farther north of the church of the Trinity, on the road from the Custom-house de la Pastora, almost entirely disappeared. A regiment of troops of the line, that was assembled under arms, ready to join the procession, was, with the exception of a few men, buried under the ruins of this great edifice. Nine tenths of the fine town of Caraccas were entirely destroyed. The walls of the houses that were not thrown down, as those of the street San Juan, near the Capuchin hospital, were cracked in such a manner, that it was impossible to run the risk of inhabiting them. The effects of the earthquake were somewhat less violent in the western and southern parts of the city, between the principal square and the ravin of Caraguata. There, the cathedral, supported by enormous buttresses, remains standing.
Estimating at nine or ten thousand the number of the dead in the city of Caraccas, we do not include those unhappy persons, who, dangerously wounded, peFished several months after, for
want of food and proper care. The night of Holy Thursday presented the most distressing scene of desolation and sorrow. That thick cloud of dust, which, rising above the ruins, darkened the sky like a fog, had settled on the ground. No shock was felt, and never was a night more calm, or more serene. The moon, nearly full, illumined the rounded domes of the Silla, and the aspect of the sky formed a perfect contrast to that of the earth, covered with the dead, and heaped with ruins. Mothers were seen bearing in their arms their children, whom they hoped to recall to life. Desolate families wandered through the city, seeking a brother, a husband, a friend, of whose fate they were ignorant, and whom they believed to be lost in the crowd. The people pressed along the streets, which could no more be recognized but by long lines of ruins. . All the calamities experienced . in the great catastrophes of Lisbon, Messina, Lima, and Riobamba were renewed on the fatal day of the 26th of March, 1812. “The wounded, buried under the ruins, implored by their cries the help of the passers by, and nearly two thousand were dug out. Never was pity displayed in a more affecting manner; never had it been seen more ingeniously active, than in the efforts employed to save the miserable victims, whose groans reached the ear. Implements for digging, and clearing away the ruins were entirely wanting; and the people were obliged to use their bare hands, to disinter the living. The wounded, as well as the sick *: a
had escaped from the hospitals, were laid on the banks of the small river Guayra. They found no 'shelter but the foliage of trees. Beds, linen to dress the wounds, instruments of surgery, medicines, and objects of the most urgent necessity, were buried under the ruins. Every thing, even food, was wanting during the first days. Water became alike scarce in the interior of the city. The commotion had rent the pipes of the fountains; the falling in of the earth had choaked up the springs that supplied them; and it became necessary, in order to have water, to go down to the river Guayra, which was considerably swelled ; and then vessels to convey the water were wanting.
There remained a duty to be fulfilled toward the dead, enjoined at once by piety, and the dread of infection. It being impossible to inter so many thousand corpses, half-buried under the ruins, commissaries were appointed to burn the bodies: and for this purposefuneral piles were erected between the heaps of ruins. This ceremony lasted several days. , Amid so many public calamities, the people devoted themselves to those religious duties, which they thought were the most fitted to appease the wrath of heaven. Some, assembling in processions, sung funeral hymns; others, in a state of distraction, confessed themselves aloud in the streets. In this town was now repeated what had been remarked in the province of Quito, after the tremendous earthquake of 1797; a number of marriages were con
tracted between persons, who had neglected for many years to sanction their union by the sacerdotal benediction. Children found parents, by whom they had never till then been acknowledged; restitutions were promised by persons, who had never been accused of fraud; and families, who had long been enemies, were drawn together b the tie of common calamity.” If this feeling seemed to calm the passions of some, and open the heart to pity, it had a contrary effect on others, rendering them more rigid and inhuman. In great calamities vulgar minds preserve still less goodness than strength : misfortune acts in the same manner, as the pursuits of literature and the study of nature; their happy influence is felt only by a few, giving more ardour to sentiment, more elevation to the thoughts, and more benevolence to the disposition.
SCENERY ON THE RIO APURE, [From the same.]
During the whole of my voyage from San Fernando to San Carlos del Rio Negro, and thence to the town of Angostura, I confined myself to writing day by day, either in the boat, or where we disembarked at night, what appeared to me worthy of observation. Violent rains, and the prodigious quantity of moschettoes with which the air is filled on the banks of the Oroonoko and the Cassiquiare, necessaril occasioned some breaks in this labour; which I supplied by notes taken a few days after. The following pages are extracts from