Saturday, 21 May 2016

Historical Trekking-Period Quotes.

Victuals well dressed by Pamela Patrick-White.

Mid 18th century.
"Till this Night I had always lain in my Night Gown, but upon Tryal, I found it much warmer to strip to my shirt, & lie in naked Bed with my gown over me. The Woodsmen put all off, if they have no more than one Blanket, to lye in, & agree that 'tis much more comfortable than to lye with their Cloaths on, the' the Weather be never so cold".

I find the above quote very interesting, one because without their clothes they would be at a disadvantage should they have to suddenly leave. Secondly because I myself sleep fully clothed & have never found it a problem. Could this removing of clothes be because their clothes were damp from perspiration

"A True Woodsman, if he have no more than a Single Blanket, constantly pulls all off, and, lying on one part of it, draws the other over him, believing it much more refreshing to ly so, than in his cloaths; and if he find himself not warm enough. Shifts his Lodging to Leeward of the Fire, in which Situation the smoak will drive over him, and efifectually correct the cold Dews that wou'd otherwise descend upon his Person, perhaps to his great damage".

"The worst of it was, we were forced to Encamp in a barren place, where there was hardly a blade of Grass to be seen. Even the wild Rosemary failed us here, which gave us but too just apprehensions that we should not only be oblig'd to trudge all the way home on foot, but also to lug our Baggage at our Backs into the Bargain".
"Thus we learnt by our own Experience, that Horses are very improper animals to use in a long Ramble into the Woods, and the better they have been used to be fed, they are still the worse. Such will fall away a great deal faster, and fail much sooner, than those which are wont to be at their own keeping. Besides, Horses that have been accustom'd to a Plane and Champaign Country will fovmder presently, when they come to clamber up Hills, and batter their Hoofs against continal Rocks".
"We need Welsh Runts, and Highland Galloways to climb our Mountains withal; they are us'd to Precipices, and will bite as close as Banstead Down Sheep. But I should much rather recommend Mules, if we had them, for these long and painful Expeditions; tho' till they can be bred, certainly Asses are the fittest Beasts of Burthen for the Mountains. They are sure-footed, patient under the heaviest Fatigue, and will subsist upon Moss, or Browsing on Shrubs all the Winter. One of them will carry the Necessary Luggage of four Men, without any Difficulty, and upon a Pinch will take a Quarter of Bear or Venison upon their Backs into the Bargain. Thus, when the Men are light and disengaged from everything but their Guns, they may go the whole Journey on foot with pleasure. And
tho' my Dear Countrymen have so great a Passion for riding, that they will often walk two miles to catch a Horse, in Order to ride One, yet, if they'll please to take my Word for 't, when they go into the Woods upon Discovery, I would advise them by all Means to march a-foot, for they will then be deliver'd from the great Care and Concern for their Horses, which
takes up too large a portion of their time. Over Night we are now at the trouble of hobbling them out, and often of leading them a mile or two to a convenient place for Forrage, and
then in the morning we are some Hours in finding them again, because they are apt to stray a great way from the place where they were turn'd out. Now and then, too, they are lost for a whole day together, and are frequently so weak and jaded, that the Company must ly still Several days, near some Meadow, or High-land Pond, to recruit them. All these delays retard their Progress intolerably; whereas, if they had only a few Asses, they wou'd abide close to the Camp, and find Sufficient food everywhere, and in all Seasons of the Year. Men wou'd then be able to travel Safely over Hills and Dales, nor wou'd the Steepest Mountains obstruct their Progress. They might also search more narrowly for Mines and other Production of Nature, without being confin'd to level grounds, in Compliment to the jades they ride on. And one may foretell, without the Spirit of Divination, that so long as Woodsmen continue to range on Horse-back, we shall be Strangers to our own Country, and a few or no valuable Discoveries will ever be made".
"The FRENCH COURIERS de Bois, who have run from one End of the Continent to the other, have performed it all on foot, or else in all probability must have continued as ignorant as we are. Our Country has now been inhabited more than 130 years by the English, and still we hardly know any thing of the Appallachian Mountains, that are no where above 250 miles from the sea. Wliereas the French, who are later comers, have rang'd from Quebec Southward as far as the Mouth of Mississippi, in the bay of Mexico, and to the West almost as far as California, which is either way above 2000 miles".

"Custom had now made travelling on foot so familiar, that we were able to walk ten Miles with Pleasure. This we cou'd do in our Boots, notwithstanding our way lay over rough Woods and uneven Grounds. Our learning to walk in heavy Boots was the same advantage to us that learning to Dance High Dances in Wooden Shoes is to the French, it made us most exceedingly Nimble without them".
"The Indians, who have no way of travelling but on the Hoof, make nothing of going 25 miles a day, and carrying their little Necessaries at their backs, and Sometimes a Stout Pack of Skins into the Bargain. And very often they laugh at the English, who can't Stir to Next Neighbour without a Horse, and say that 2 Legs are too much for such lazy people, who cannot visit their next neighbour without six. For their Parts, they were utter Strangers to all our Beasts of Burthen or Carriage, before the Slothful Europeans came amongst them. They had on no part of the American Continent, or in any of the Islands, either Horses or Asses, Camels, Dromedaries or Elephants, to ease the Legs of the Original Inhabitants, or to lighten their Labour".

"Before nine of the Clock this Morning, the Provisions, Bedding
and other Necessaries, were made up into Packs for the Men to carry on their Shoulders into the Dismal. They were victuall'd for 8 days at full Allowance, Nobody doubting but that wou'd be abundantly Sufficient to carry them thro' that Inhospitable Place; nor Indeed was it possible for the Poor Fellows to Stagger under more. As it was, their Loads weigh'd from 60 to 70 Pounds, in just Proportion to the Strength of those who were to bear them".

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