The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 4
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South western Historical Quarterly
this very readable diary, you lose the sense of what he was
really performing in the way of toil; for it was toil simply to
go anywhere then, and a passage like the next one brings it
back to you
As I was approaching Lynchburg [he wrote on the
8th of November, 1841] I saw a steam boat descending
the river, which touched at San Jacinto and moved on
again before I could get in hailing reach; so I shall
have to wait for another probably some days.
So he did; in fact, he ended by not waiting any longer, and
set off on his horse for Houston on November 11th.
Meantime he set down a marvelous page-and-a-half about the
genius of Nature's balance. It all began when he noticed that
he had met with no limestone in that part of Texas. He wrote:
I think it probable that there is none anywhere on
the waters of the. Sabine, Trinity, San Jacinto Rivers,
etc., or if there is, it must be towards their sources,
and so little as not sensibly to affect the water. I judge
thus from the fact that I have frequently seen cows
chewing bones, since I have been on the waters of these
streams; which is occasioned (I have thought) on ac-
count of the want of a sufficiency of lime in the water,
etc., to supply the system with what is requisite for
the formation of their bones, etc. Thus the animal
system being kept [in] want of one of its important
constitutents the animal [goes] after whatever con-
tains lime and chews bones etc. as they chew or lick
whatsoever contains salt in a country that affords no
saline waters, licks, exhalations, etc.
It was a pretty piece of observation, and as you have seen,
it drew upon a fund of diverse knowledges for its theory. He
encountered a different explanation of why cows ate bones, and
he disposed of it rather grandly, in a line of argument that
was never broken and that ended up impressively far afield.
Some Louisiana travelers, and amongst them a
"doctor" [he writes, with scornful quotes around the
title], stayed all night at Hardin's whilst I was there.
They mentioned the phenomenon of cows chewing
bones, for which they were unable to account: all
however agreed that it must be for the salt they con-
tain. Mr Hardin assured us that the cattle, etc., had
chewed up nearly all the human bones that had re-
mained strewn on the ground of several hundred Mex-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/8/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.