Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Prose

New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
Of the Honey-Dew
July 1791; p.378; by R

For the New-York Magazine.

Messrs. Swords,

IF all the phenomena of nature were faithfully registered, besides the satisfaction resulting to the public from novel relations, natural history would receive important additions.

On the 18th day of the last month, I was surveying in the woods about a mile west from Hudson's river, and eighty miles north of the city of New-York. At noon, the sky being perfectly clear, and the sun shining hot, I remarked that the whole forest glistened in a manner not less uncommon than beautiful.

Surveying in field

I at first imagined it occasioned by either rain or dew, till, upon a moment's reflection, I found it could not be the former, as there was not a cloud to be seen, not the latter, as it must long before have disappeared in a day so warm and serene. Some of the company declared they had observed similar appearances before, and called it honey-dew. Every green leaf on the trees, as well as those that were dry under our feet, were covered with a substance perfectly transparent, and in taste not inferior to dissolved sugar-candy. We could not refrain continually drawing the foliage between our lips to taste a syrup that fresh from heaven.

The preceding night had been clear and still, and a small southern breeze blew all morning. It is probably that this modern manna would have been discernable by the taste in the morning, but it was not noticed till the heat of the meridian sun inspissated and gave it the appearance of an elegant varnish.

I have seen accounts of this phenomenon in the Connecticut newspapers, which determine its extension above an hundred miles -- perhaps it has covered a considerable part of North America. When it is considered that every leaf of every tree, and each blade of grass upon the thousand hills of an extensive country was perfectly candied over with the purest sugar, palpable to the touch, visible to the eye, and poignant upon the palate, the quantity must have been prodigious.
R.June, 1791.

Surveying was a profession much practiced among educated and ambitious men. The work gave the surveyor an early look at potentially valuable property, and much early wealth was built on land speculation. Henry learned the profession from his father Henry Sr, who had learned it from his father, Gilbert, who had learned it from his father, Robert Livingston, the first Lord of Livingston Manor.

Other prominent surveyors were Governor George Clinton, the brother of Henry's commander in the Montgomery Expedition, Colonel James Clinton, and Governor DeWitt Clinton.

chain bundle chain spread out

New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
Of the Honey-Dew
July 1791; p.378-9; by R


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