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Title: On Naval Timber and Arboriculture - With Critical Notes on Authors who have Recently Treated - the Subject of Planting
Author: Matthew, Patrick
Language: English
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 Old Fishmarket, Edinburgh.


It may be thought presumptuous in a person who has never had the
curiosity to peruse the British classic authors on planting and
timber—EVELYN, HANBURY, MARSHALL, MILLER, PONTEY—to make experiment of
the public sufferance. The author does not, however, think any apology
necessary; as, if the public lose time unprofitably over his pages, he
considers the blame attachable to them, not to him. A writer does not
obtrude as a speaker does, but merely places his thoughts within reach.

As the subject, notwithstanding its great importance, might, _per se_,
be felt dry and {vi} insipid by the general reader, accustomed to the
luxuries of modern literature, the author has not scrupled to mix with
it such collateral matter as he thought might serve to correct the
aridity. The very great interest of the question regarding species,
variety, habit, has perhaps led him a little too wide.

There is one advantage in taking a subject of this kind, that few
professional (literary) critics can meddle with it, further than as
regards style and language, without exposing their own ignorance. Yet
will the author experience the highest pleasure in being instructed
and corrected, wherever his knowledge may be found defective, or
when speculation or misconception of facts have led him into error.
Knowledge and truth, is mental strength and health; ignorance and
error, weakness and {vii} disease: the man who pursues science for its
own sake, and not for the pride of possession, will feel more gratitude
towards the surgeon who dislodges a cataract from the mind’s eye, than
towards the one who repairs the defect of the bodily organ.

 _Sept._ 10, 1830.


 INTRODUCTION, . . . Page 1



 Figure, dimensions, and quality of timber suitable, . . . 5

 British trees suited for plank, . . . 7

 Directions for training and pruning plank timber, . . . 8


 Most suitable dimensions, . . . 18

 Figures of bends and crooks, . . . 19

 British trees suited for timbers, . . . 21


 Oak—Quercus, . . . 31

 Spanish Chestnut—Castanea vulgaris, . . . 42

 Beech-tree—Fagus sylvatica, . . . 48

 Scotch Elm—Ulmus montana, . . . 50

 English Elm—Ulmus campestris, . . . 54

 Red-wood Willow—Salix fragilis, . . . 58

 Red-wood Pine—Pinus, . . . 63

 White Larch—Larix communis, pyramidalis, . . . 75

   Investigation of the causes of the rot in larch, . . . 78

   Soils and subsoils most suited for larch, . . . 82

 Soils and subsoils where larch generally takes rot, . . . 86

   Remarks on open draining, . . . 88

   Bending and kneeing larch, . . . 90

   New plan of forming larch roots advantageously into knees, . . . 94

   Uses of larch, and value as a naval timber, . . . 97


 NURSERIES, . . . 106

   Infinite variety existing in what is called species, . . . ib.

   Injurious effect from selecting the seed of the inferior varieties
   for sowing, . . . 107

   Injurious effect from kiln-drying fir cones, . . . ib.

   A principle of selection existing in nature of the strongest
   varieties for reproduction, . . . 108

   Injurious effect from the plants spindling in the seed-bed and
   nursery line, . . . 109

   Injurious effect from cutting the roots and from pruning, . . . 111

   A light soil and open situation best suited for a nursery, . . . ib.

   Wide diverging root-leaders necessary to the large extension of a
   tree, . . . 112

 PLANTING, . . . 114

 Further observations on pruning, . . . 117

 Observations on timber, . . . 122

 Table of the number of sap-growths of different kinds of
 timber, . . . 124

 Remarks on laburnum, . . . 126

 Height to which trees may be trained of clear stem, . . . 128


   Causes which befit Britain for being the first naval power, and the
   emporium of the world, . . . 131

   Utility of a system of universal free trade, . . . 133

   Absolute necessity of abolishing every monopoly and restriction on
   trade in Britain, . . . 134

   Our marine not represented in Parliament, and the consequences,
   . . . 135

   Insane duty on the importation of naval timber and hemp, . . . 136


 Utility of a general review of these authors, . . . 138


   Advantage of converting our coppice oak into forest, and of saving
   our home oak in time of peace, . . . 140

   Plan, by Mr Monteath, of preparing peat soils for planting, . . . 142

   ————— of covering bare rocky ground with timber, . . . 143

   ————— of raising oak-forest or copse by layers, . . . 144

   Influence of our vernal eastern breeze on vegetation, . . . 146

   Cause why the trees of narrow belts seldom grow to large timber,
   . . . 148

   Observations on pruning and thinning, . . . 150

   Observations on the age at which the valuable part of oak bark is
   thickest, . . . 154

   Observations on the prevention of dry-rot, . . . 157


   Different influence of transplanting on herbaceous and woody
   vegetables, . . . 164

   Cutting the roots close in, injurious to some trees and not to
   others, . . . 165

   Mr Sang’s plan of raising forest from the seed _in situ_, . . . 167

   Reasons which render the planting of young trees preferable to
   sowing _in situ_, . . . 168

   Mr Sang’s directions for nursery practice; sowing the different
   kinds of forest trees in the seed-bed; removing the seedlings to the
   nursery line, and from thence to the field, . . . 170

   Remarks on transplanting, . . . 178


   An account of the management of the Royal Forests, . . . ib.

   Reasons why government should rather purchase than raise timber, and
   that they should sell off the Royal Forests, . . . 182

   The Billingtonian system of pruning, . . . 185

   Remarks on planting soils not easily permeable by water, . . . 187

   Mr Billington’s directions for planting these soils, . . . 188

   ————— ————— for clearing away weeds, and for cutting in or
   pruning the points of the branches, . . . 189


   Mr Forsyth’s surgery of trees, and the value of his
   composition-salve, . . . ib.

   Manner in which a tree can be transformed from disease and
   rottenness to health and soundness, . . . 193

 V.—MR WITHERS, . . . 198

   Discomfiture of our Scottish Knights by Mr Withers, . . . ib.

   Account of a number of facts and experiments by the writer, on
   the comparative strength of quick and slow grown timber—on the
   influence of circumstance and age in modifying the quality of the
   timber—on the difference in the quality of different varieties of
   the same species, and of different parts of the same tree, . . . 199

   Oak timber, moderately fast grown, so that it may be of sufficient
   size, and still retain the toughness of youth, best suited for naval
   use, . . . 214

   Mr Withers, his literary friends and Sir Henry Steuart equally
   imperfectly acquainted with the subject in dispute between them,
   . . . 215

   The Withers’ system neither necessary nor economically suited for
   the greater part of Scotland, . . . 217

   Fallacy of experiments on the strength of timber, from not taking
   into account the difference of tension of the different annual
   layers, and their position, whether flat, perpendicular, &c.,
   . . . 221

 CRITIQUE, . . . 226

   Importance of whatever may serve to amuse the second childhood of
   the wealthy, . . . 227

   The subject—the art of moving about large trees in general, merely
   a pandering to our wilfulness and impatience, . . . 227

   Intolerable dulness of the park and smooth lawn, . . . 228

   Delightful sympathies with the objects and varied scenery of our
   _peopled_ subalpine country, . . . 229

   Sir Walter Scott’s curious effort to give consequence to the art of
   moving about large trees, . . . 231

   Paroxysm of admiration of Sir Walter, at Sir Henry’s discoveries,
   with his hyperbolic figures of comparison, . . . 233

   Account of the writer’s practice in moving trees of considerable
   size, . . . 235

   Taste of Sir Walter Scott for “home-keeping squires,” practisers of
   the Allanton system, . . . 245

   What a British gentleman should be, . . . 246

   The Allanton practice described, . . . 249

   Quotation from Sir Henry Steuart’s volume, in which the philosophy
   of his practice is described, . . . 254

   Summary of Sir Henry’s discoveries, . . . 264

   Consideration of the accuracy of some of Sir Henry’s assertions
   regarding the desiccated epidermis of trees, and the elongation of
   the shoots of plants, . . . 265

   Sir Henry’s assertion that quick-grown timber is inferior to
   slow-grown, and that culture necessarily renders it softer, less
   solid, and less durable, not correct, . . . 282

   The present climate of Scotland, and of the Orkneys and Shetlands,
   inferior to a former, . . . 287

   That this may have been owing to these islands having once been a
   portion of the continent, . . . 288

   The recent advance and recession of the German Ocean, render a
   former junction with the continent not improbable, . . . 289

   Mr Loudon’s statement, of the effect produced by pruning on the
   quality and quantity of the timber, that trees produce the best
   timber in their natural locality, not supported by facts, . . . 305

   The apparent use of the infinite seedling varieties of plants,
   . . . 307


   Advantages of laying ground under timber, stated rather too high by
   Mr Cruickshank, . . . ib.

   Mr Cruickshank’s account of the superior fertilizing influence of
   forest upon the soil, . . . 310

   Facts which in many cases lead to an opposite conclusion, . . . 316

   An examination into the causes which promote or retard the
   formation, or which tend to dissipate the earth’s covering of
   vegetable mould, . . . 316

   Account of an uncommon system of fallowing once practised in the
   Carse of Gowrie, . . . 324

   High manuring quality of old clay walls, . . . 325

   Formation of nitre the probable cause of the fertilizing quality of
   these walls, . . . ib.

   The fertilizing influence of summer fallow may in part be owing to
   the formation of nitre and other salts, . . . ib.

   That there is a deficiency of these salts in some places of the
   world, and an excess in others, . . . 326

   Ignorance of Mr Cruickshank regarding the location of certain kinds
   of trees, . . . 327

   Mr Cruickshank’s reprehension of the practice of covering fir seeds
   half an inch deep in England, and of _forcing_ suitable earth
   for nurseries where awanting, . . . 330

   Best method of transplanting seedlings in the nursery row, . . . 331

   Quotation worthy the attention of planters, . . . ib.

   Error of authors on the location of trees, in inculcating a
   determinate character of soil as generally necessary for each kind
   of tree, . . . 334

   Further errors of Mr Cruickshank on the location of trees, . . . 335

   Adaptation of Scots fir to moist soils, even to peat-moss, . . . 338

   An account by Mr Cruickshank of the most economical and successful
   mode of planting moors and bleak mountains, . . . 340

   Method of planting by the flat dibble or single notch, . . . 343

   ————— ————— by the double notch or cross-slitting, . . . 344

   Expense and comparative merits of each, . . . 345

   These methods of planting best adapted for a sterile country, where
   the weeds are small, . . . 346

   Practice by the writer of cultivating young plantation by the
   plough, suited for rich soil, . . . 347

   Best season for planting moist soils, . . . 348

   Manner in which frost throws up the young plant from the soil,
   . . . 349

   Mr Cruickshank’s plan of raising oak forest _in situ_ from the seed,
   . . . 351

   That although the bare plan given by our author, of sowing _in
   situ_, under the shelter of nurses, is good, his directions for
   executing it are not very judicious, . . . 352

   Advantages of this plan which Mr Cruickshank has not noticed,
   . . . 353

   That the power of ripening seed is not increased by shelter in
   proportion to the power of growing, . . . 356

   That the line of seed ripening, and not the line of growing,
   regulates the natural distribution of plants in respect to climate,
   . . . 357

   That oaks, under this plan of sowing _in situ_ under shelter, can be
   extended to a climate inferior to the natural, . . . ib.

   That oaks grown in the low country, and best climate of Scotland,
   appear not to ripen the seed sufficiently. Thence the probability
   that oak now would not even keep its present locality in the low
   country of Scotland, although it may “be taught to rise in our”
   alpine country, . . . 358


 NOTE A.—That universal empire is practicable only under
 naval power, . . . 363

 NOTE B. On hereditary nobility and entail, . . . 364

 NOTE C. Instinct or habit of breed, . . . 369

   Nautical and roving disposition of the superior breed which has
   spread westward over the maritime provinces of Britain, and over
   nearly the whole continent of North America, . . . 370

   Influence of change of place, . . . 371

   Influence of civilization and confinement upon the complexion,
   . . . 372

   Difference of character between the population of the northern and
   southern maritime provinces of Britain, . . . 373

   That the middle and southern portion of the North Temperate Zone
   is not so favourable to human existence as the northern portion,
   . . . 375

 NOTE D. Use of the selfish passions, . . . 376

 NOTE E. Injudicious measurement law of the tonnage of
 vessels, rendering our mercantile marine of defective proportions,
 . . . 377

 NOTE F. On the mud depositions or alluvium on the eastern
 coast of Britain, . . . 378

   Probability that a delta of this alluvium, a continuation of
   Holland, had at one time occupied the entire German Ocean, . . . 379

   Accommodation of organized life to circumstance, by diverging
   ramifications, . . . 381

   Retrospective glance at our pages, . . . 388


NAVIGATION is of the first importance to the improvement and perfecting
of the species, in spreading, by emigration, the superior varieties of
man, and diffusing the arts and sciences over the world; in promoting
industry, by facilitating the transfer of commodity through numberless
channels from where it is not, to where it is required; and in healing
the products of those most fertile but unwholesome portions of the
earth, to others more congenial to the existence of the varieties of
man susceptible of high improvement: Water being the general medium
of action,—fluidity or conveyance by water, almost as necessary to
civilized life as it is to organic life, in bearing the molecules
forward in their vital courses, and in floating the pabulum (the raw
material) from the soil through the living canals to the manufactories
of assimilized matter, and thence to the points of adaptation. {2}

As civilization progresses under the influence of navigation, and
the earth exchanges her straggling hordes of savages for enlightened
densely-peopled nations, every climate and country will be more set
apart to its appropriate production, and the utility of the _great
conduit, the_ OCEAN, will more and more be developed, and become the
grand theatre of contested dominion—superiority there being almost
synonymous with _Universal Empire_—dry land only the footstool of the
_Mistress of the Seas_[1].

In the still hour which has followed the cannon roar of our victories,
we seem disposed to sleep secure, almost in forgetfulness, that we
possess this superiority, that we stand forth the Champion of the
World, and must give battle to every aspirant to the possession of the
_trident sceptre_.

As soon as the recent principles of naval motion and new projectiles,
conjoined to shot-proof vessels, shall have been brought to use
in naval warfare, marine will have acquired a great comparative
preponderance over land batteries, and every shore be still more at the
mercy of the Lords of Ocean.

When we consider the tendency of luxurious peace, the effeminacy thence
flowing in upon many of our wealthier population,—when we view, on
the {3} one hand, an entailed aristocracy[2], whose founders had been
gradually thrown uppermost in more stirring times, the boldest and
the wisest, but whose progeny, “in a calm world” entailed to listless
satiety, have little left of hope or fear to awaken in them the dormant
energies of their ancestors, or even to preserve these energies from
entirely sinking; and, on the other hand, an overflowing population,
chained, from the state of society, to incessant toil, the scope of
their mental energies narrowed to a few objects from the division of
labour, all tending to that mechanical order and tameness incompatible
with liberty; thus, perhaps, equally in danger of deteriorating and
sinking into _caste_, both classes yielding to the natural law of
restricted adaptation to condition:—when we reflect on this, the
conclusion is irresistibly _forced_ upon us, that the periodical
return of war is indispensable to the heroic chivalrous character and
love of freedom which we have so long maintained, and which (Britain
being the first in name and power in the family of nations) must be
so influential on the _morale_ of the civilized world. It is by the
jar and struggle of the conflict that the baser alloy and rust of our
manners and institutions must be removed and rubbed away: it is by the
{4} ennobling excitement of danger and of hardship that our generous
passions must be cherished, and our youth led to emulate the Roman in
patriotic thirst for glory—the Spartan in devotion—their own ancestor,
the more daring Scandinavian sea-king or rover[3], in adventurous
valour. Without, however, seeking the fight, yet in preparation for
the perhaps not distant time, when we shall face another foe, it
behoves us, without any sickly sentimentality, to cherish our warlike
virtues—above all things to attend to what must constitute “the field
of our fame,” _Our_ MARINE, and the material of its construction,
_Naval Timber_.


[1] See App. A.

[2] See App. B.

[3] See App. C.

{5} PART I.


Vessels are constructed of wood under two forms, _Plank_ and _Timbers_;
Plank, the out and inside skin of the vessel—Timbers, the ribs or frame
which support the plank.


Trees intended for plank ought to be reared in close forest, or
protected situation, drawn tall and straight, or what is preferable
for a part, with a gentle regular bend, technically _sny_, Figs. v
and x, (next page). It requires to be of clean solid texture, from 12
to 40 feet in length, and at least 8 inches in diameter at small end,
or any greater thickness. For the conveniency of transport, oak plank
timber is generally squared or planked where grown, and is cut out from
2 1/2 to 7 inches in thickness, and from 6 to 18 inches in breadth.
Plank is needed of such various dimensions, that any oak tree of clean
timber, nearly straight one way, and straight, or with a gentle regular
bending, the other, may safely be cut into plank, the section to be
in the plane of the {6} curve. Figs. v, x, y, z, represent the most
advantageous forms of logs for cutting into plank. The dotted lines
shew the section of the saw in planking: the straighter the log is
in the plane of the saw, it is the more suitable, as the planks bend
sufficiently _side_-way by steaming; Fig. v, of considerable bend and
taper, where the planks, when cut, have a bend _edge_-way, is the most
valuable: this form requires to be very free of knots. In straight
planks, Fig. z, cleanness from knots is not such a desideratum.

[Illustration: Figs. z, y, of any length—best long; x, from 25 to 35
feet; v, v, from 12 to 24 feet.

In the above cut, for distinctness, the saw is drawn entering the butt.
In practice it enters the top.]

When planks are cut out where grown, they are sawn from the round
log immediately after it is {7} felled and barked, which not only
prevents injury from drought-cracks, but produces also a considerable
saving of timber and labour, as the wood is softer when green; and
the centre planks can thus be had much broader than after squaring
the log. The outer part of the matured or red wood, which is partly
cut away in squaring, is also the cleanest for bending. The sap or
not sufficiently matured wood, when left on the side of the plank
in the vessel, wherever it is not always soaking in water, is only
useful to the shipwright, as it decays in two or three years, and
demands an expensive repair. When plank timber is squared, it is for
the conveniency of carriage and stowage, and where timber is of little

Of British trees suited for plank, the most valuable are oak, Spanish
chesnut, larch, red wood pine, and sometimes beech[4], elm, plane
(_Acer pseudo-platanus_) under water. As no timber decays under water
for a considerable length of time, when put in fresh, unless it be
devoured by the sea-worm, beech or any other hard tough wood is nearly
equally good as oak for outside plank under light water-mark, provided
the timber be hastened out of the bush into the vessel, or be kept in
pools, either in log or {8} plank, till used, or be planked, and the
plank kept dry under cover. One summer on the ground will generally
render a beech log in the bark useless.



Divide all branches into leaders and feeders; leaders, the main or
superior shoots which tend to become stems, A, _a_, _a_; feeders, the
inferior branches, B, _b_, _b_, _b_. {9}

Should more than one leader appear from the time of planting the tree
till it attain the required height for the plank, shorten all but the
most promising one down to the condition of feeders, making the section
immediately above a twig, preferring one which takes a lateral or
horizontal direction. Vide dotted line crossing _a_, _a_.

Should any feeder, below the required height, become enlarged beyond
its compeers, such as B, reduce it to equality (_vide_ dotted line), or
prune it close off, if this should be necessary to the symmetry of the

Cut off, close by the trunk, all shoots which rise at a very acute
angle with the main stem, such as C. There is a triple reason for this:
they rise up and interfere with the more regular horizontal feeders,
tending also to become leaders; they do not form a proper junction with
the stem, by reason of the wood, as it swells, not being able to throw
up the bark out of the narrow angle; thence the bark of both stem and
branch is enclosed in the confined breek, and the wood never unites[6],
thence disease is {10} liable to be generated between them, or the
branches are subject to be torn down by the wind; and should they
ultimately come to be removed, being then of considerable size, and
the section from their perpendicular position being partly horizontal,
as the sides of the wound swell up, the rain lodges in the centre, and
generates rot. These nearly perpendicular branches generally originate
from improper pruning, springing out where a large branch has been cut

Lop off all branches, which, by taking an irregular direction, incline
to rub upon the more regular; also remove all splintered, twisted, and
diseased branches.

Do not cut away any of the lower branches (feeders) till they become
sickly or dead. By pruning these prematurely, you destroy the fine
balance of nature, and throw too much vigour into the top, which in
consequence puts forth a number of leaders. You also diminish the
growth of the tree by the loss of healthy feeders; the timber of the
tree increasing in proportion to the quantity of healthy branches
and foliage (the foliage being the stomach and lungs {11} of the
plant). You also, by diminishing the number of feeders, increase the
comparative size of those remaining, which throws the upper part of
the stem into large knots, improper for plank, and renders then future
excision dangerous, as large feeders, when circumstance or decay
require their removal, or, when they are rifted off by winds or snow,
leave wounds which often carry corruption into the core of the tree.

After the tree has acquired a sufficient height of bole for plank, say
from 20 to 60 feet, according to circumstance of exposure, climate,
&c., and also as many branches above this height as may be thought
necessary to carry on advantageously the vital functions, as the
superior head will now sustain small injury by being thrown out into
large branches and plurality of leaders, (if it be oak it will become
more valuable by affording a number of small crooks and knees); it
will then be proper, in order to have timber as clean as possible, and
regularly flexible, to lop clean off all the branches on the stem as
far up as this required height. From the early attention to procure
very numerous feeders, and to prevent any from attaining large size,
the wounds will very soon be closed over, leaving no external scar, and
as little as possible of internal knot or breaking off of {12} fibre.
There are many salves, panaceæ, and pigments in use for covering over
the section of removed branches, which in ordinary cases may occasion
no injury, but they are unsightly. In wounds of beech trees where the
cut tubes are so prone to die downward a considerable way into the stem
and to generate rot, an antiseptic quickly-drying pigment might be
beneficial. This and the time of the season for pruning, at which the
cut tubes or fibres are least liable to die inward, deserve attention.
We consider the spring the least dangerous time. Should a number of
small shoots spring out in consequence of this last pruning, they may
be swept down if good plank be desired; if not, they may remain, as
their presence will not greatly injure the plank, and they occasion the
stem to thicken considerably faster where they grow: yet it is probable
that, in doing this, by obstructing the flow of the sap downwards, they
may interfere with the natural enlargement of the roots, and ultimately
be injurious. Some varieties, or rather some individuals of oak, are
much more prone to this sprouting upon the bole after pruning than
others; where the disposition exists in a great degree it ought to be
encouraged, and the tree set apart for the construction of cabinet
work. {13}

This system of pruning—encouraging numerous feeders and one leader
while the tree is young, and of allowing or rather inducing the
branches, after the tree has acquired sufficient height, to spread
out into a horizontal top, is in harmony with, and only humouring the
natural disposition of trees, and is therefore both seemly and of easy
practice[7]. The perfection of naval forest economy would consist in
superadding (according to instructions to be given on training of
timbers) a top of which every branch is a valuable bend or knee, though
in consequence of the situation the timber will be fragile, and of
light porous texture.

_In pruning and educating for plank timber, the whole art consists
in training the tree as much as possible, and with as little loss of
branch as possible, to one leader and numerous feeders, and to the
regular cone figure which the pine tribe naturally assumes._ This can
be best and most easily performed by timely attention—checking every
over-luxuriant, overshadowing branch and wayward shoot on its first
appearance; so that none of the feeders which spring forth at first
may be smothered, till {14} they in turn become lowermost; and by the
influence of rather close plantation, which of itself will perform in a
natural manner all that we have been teaching by art, and will perform
it well. This closeness must, however, be very guardedly employed, and
timeously prevented from proceeding too far, otherwise the complete
ruin of the forest, by premature decay or winds, may ensue, especially
when it consists of pines. Of course all kinds of pines require no
other attention than this (well-timed thinning), and to have their
sickly moss covered under branches swept clean down.


Timbers, as before stated, are the ribs of the vessel, spreading out
and upward (excepting at the bow and stern) at right angles to the
keel and keelson, two large straight logs which form a double spinal
support or backbone. The ribs or compass timbers in great public
building establishments are sometimes bent by machinery, after being
softened by steam or hot liquids[8]; and for this purpose the {15}
cleanest straightest wood is requisite. We, however, do not believe
that pieces of great diameter, bent artificially, can have equal
strength and resilience as when grown bent—the fibre must in some
degree be crippled. We admit that timbers and frames may be built of
separate bended pieces of no great thickness, and have all the strength
and resilience of natural bend: the strongest and most elastic mode of
forming vessels would be to compose them of different layers of plank
over each other in diagonal fashion, or at an angle 60°, but the labour
and inconveniency of these modes would be great. We will not admit that
an experiment between the strength of a piece of coarse cross-grained
timber, half naturally bent, half cut out of the solid, and that of a
piece of clean timber artificially bent, is any proof on the subject.
Let us produce a clean natural bend, exactly fitted to its place,
without any section of fibre, and make experiment with it. But at any
rate, as this plan (bending of timbers) has never been adopted to any
extent in our private building-yards, we must doubt its economy,—either
{16} that the practice is of no considerable advantage, or that the
requisite machinery is too expensive for private establishments, and
conclude that fine bent timber still continues a necessary in the
formation of at least our mercantile marine.

Of the very ingenious innovations in the structure of vessels contrived
by Sir R. SEPPINGS, by which knees and crooked timber might nearly
be superseded, we can only say, the practice is not followed, and,
at least in private building-yards, not likely to be so;—that the
demand for fine crooked timber, comparatively, is, and will continue
to be, as great as ever. Should our war navy, from the introduction
of steam impulse and bomb cannon, be reduced to fleets of strong
gun-boats, the demand for crooked timber, instead of lessening, will
greatly increase,—the building of frames of straight timber being more
expensive, and less suitable, in small than in large vessels; and
should war occur, in the hurry of the formation of a new war navy under
a different principle, the speediest and simplest mode of construction
will be followed.

Nearly two-thirds of the timbers of a vessel consist of the curves and
bends _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_, _e_, _f_; the other third is of straighter
timber, and easily obtained. {17} All timbers require to be straight
in one way—in the plane of their side, and the sides generally to be
square. The under measures embrace timbers of appropriate size for
vessels from 50 to 500 tons register; it is seldom that merchantmen are
required under or above this size. Of course, large war-vessels require
timbers of larger dimension. The corresponding timbers of vessels of
different size are nearly similar figures, and the length of their
respective lines not far from being in the ratio of the cube root of
the tonnage—a little deeper and thicker in the smaller vessels. When
timbers are formed of larch or pine, they require to be a little more
in diameter than when of oak. {18}


 Fig. _a_, Flat floor, from 9 1/2 to 18 feet long (that is, 9 1/2
 for a vessel of 50 tons, and 18 for one of 500), and from 9 to 16
 inches deep at middle; thickness 1/4th less than depth, the diameter
 increasing in proportion to the length. When fillings such as _s_ are
 used, flat floors are cut from straight logs.

 _b_, Rising floor shorter, and same depth and thickness as former.

 _c_, _c_, High rising floors, from 4 to 8 feet in length of wing, and
 a little deeper, and same thickness as former. From the difficulty
 of procuring this bend, the wings are often used of unequal length,
 according as the timber turns out, the shorter wing to exceed 3 feet,
 and more when of considerable diameter. Floors are of every rise from
 _a_ to _c_, being flattest at midships, and rising gradually as they
 approach the bow and stern. In all timbers, it is necessary, for
 strength, that the fibre of the wood extend from one end to the other
 without much cross grain. See lines on high rising floor, _c_.

 _d_, First foot-hook, from 7 to 13 feet long, and from 7 to 14 inches
 deep; thickness 1/5th less than depth.

 _e_, Second foot-hook, from 6 to 10 feet long, and from 6 to 13
 inches deep, thickness 1/6th less than depth. This curve, when of
 great size, is valuable as, breast-hooks—curved timbers stretching
 horizontally within and at right angles to the bow-timbers, to support
 the bow.

 _f_, _f_, _f_, Knees, the one wing nearly at right angles to the
 other; from 2 to 9 feet in length of wing; depth at middle as much
 as possible; thickness from 4 to 12 inches,—generally required about
 3 1/2 feet in length of wing, and from 6 to 8 inches thick. Knees,
 when large, suit for high rising floors.

 Fig. _h_ is a valuable piece, and easily procured by bending the young
 plant; when cut, it forms two second foot-hooks.

 Figs. _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_, _e_, are suitable, though the part cut off
 by the dotted line be awanting. In good work, this plan is often
 followed, and a cross-chock put on. (Vid. _s_, left side of the
 cross-section of a vessel thus timbered, page 20). By this {19} mode
 of building, vessels can be constructed from much straighter timber,
 and the vessels are superior, from being more elastic; but from the
 nicety and expense of the work and waste of timber, the practice is
 not much in use. {20}]

[Illustration: Cross-section of a Vessel at midships—knees not

A first foot-hook alternates with each floor, and second foot-hook,
alongside, extending from _o_ to _q_; and a top-timber, or third
foot-hook, alternates alongside of each second foot-hook, and chock
extending from _q_ to _a_. These timbers are bolted together, and
constitute a frame or double rib; and the skeleton is composed of a
series of double ribs (several inches separate, of course wider above
than lower down, as the timbers decrease in thickness), to within a
little of the bow and stern, where the timbers are usually placed
singly, without framing. {21} In large vessels a fourth futtock is
used; thence straighter timber is suitable.

The knees occupy the position at _x_, stretching horizontally along the
inside of the vessel and end of the beams.

Of British trees, timbers are formed of oak, Spanish chestnut,
larch, red-wood pine, red-wood willow (the stags-head ozier, _Salix
fragilis_), and sometimes the broad-leafed elm (_Ulmus montana_) under

In Britain, crooked oak for timbers is found chiefly in hedge-rows and
open forests, where the winds, casual injury, or overhanging superior
branches, have thrown the tree, while young, from its natural balance;
or, by the tree, from open situation, or excision of lower branches,
parting early into several leaders, which, in receding from each other,
form curves and angular bends. On the Continent of Europe, in the
natural forest, it is chiefly the tops of old lofty trees which afford
the crooks; in consequence, those we import are, for the most part, of
a free, light, insufficient quality[9]. {22}

To procure a sufficiency of excellent crooks, every person who has
the charge of young plantations of timber intended for naval purposes,
ought, in the more exposed situations not favourable to the growth of
plank timber, or timber for bending, when the plants are from 3 to
15 feet high, to mark out the most healthy, suitably formed plants,
sufficiently close to fill the ground when of the proper size, say 6
yards apart, and to bend these, as the under figures will illustrate.
The dotted portion is the growth after being bent. {23}

[Illustration: Fig. _f._]

The bend of floors requiring to be at the middle, and of angular bend,
see Fig. _f_, young trees of one-half the required length, should have
the earth removed from the bulb of the root, from one or both sides,
according to circumstances, and the tree and stool partially upset to
windward, that is, generally south-west; (the operator, in effecting
this, may be assisted by a strong pronged instrument); then fixed in
this inclined position, and the earth filled in. This inclination may
be given at planting, when the plants are tall.

The best mode of securing the larger plants in their bent position,
is by rods, forked or hooked at one end, the other end nailed to a
ground-stake;—the upper end, if forked, firmly tied to the bent plant
by mat or straw rope. Smaller plants may be secured to the notched
tops of stakes by ligatures; and the smallest, particularly larch,
pinned down by small stakes with hooked tops. Advantage may also be
taken of an adjacent tree of small value, and which would ultimately
be required to be thinned out, to tie the bended standard down to the
most convenient part of its top or stem, lopping off all above the
ligature, if it interfere with the standard, and barking it near the
ground, to prevent much future growth. When the workmen comprehend {24}
the required bends, they will fall upon methods of fixing the plants
in the most suitable position, better adapted to the locality than
any directions can teach. The plants will require to be fixed down at
least two years, and bent a little more than what is requisite, as in
their after-growth they have generally a tendency to become straighter,
from depositing the thickest layers in the hollow of the bend. A
fine regular curve may be obtained by bending the plant for several
successive years, a little lower every year; this gradual lowering
does not so much check the growth of the leader, nor tend so much to
cause the feeders upon the upper side to push as leaders. When oaks are
bent, great attention must be paid to cut away any ground-shoots, and
to cut off or twist down any strong feeders that stand perpendicular
on the upper side of the tree; and also for several years afterwards,
to look over the trees twice a-year, correcting any exuberant feeder,
and destroying root-shoots. The forester ought to keep in mind that his
pupils are proverbially pliant, and that, should his growing timber
not be of the most valuable and most appropriate figure, he must rank
either with the negligent or the incapable.

Ship timbers being generally required of greater depth than thickness,
that is, broadest in the plane {25} of the curve, hedge-row is better
adapted to growing them than the forest, especially when the trees are
close in the row. The bend generally takes place across the row; and
the bole of the tree acquires a greater diameter in that direction than
in the line of the row. If the figure of the top of a tree be very
elliptical in the horizontal plane, the cross section of the bole,
instead of being circular, will also be elliptical (cake-grown). The
lateral spread of the roots in thick planted rows being greater than
the longitudinal, also tends to give elliptic bole, the stem swelling
most on the sides where the strongest roots enter, which, of course,
always occurs on the sides affording most nourishment. Forests intended
for ship timbers might be planted and kept in rows a considerable
distance apart, with the plants close in the row, and thus acquire the
elliptic bole. This would also facilitate the bending; by being turned
a little right and left alternately, they would spontaneously, from the
weight of the top, and their inclination to avoid the shade of each
other, increase the original bias. Were forests planted in close double
rows, the plants thick in the row, with wide avenues or glades between,
many of the trees would acquire crooked boles, and the crooked might be
retained when thinning. Avenues of this description {26} would form
agreeable diversity from the monotonous irregularity of the forest, and
be highly picturesque.

Were close triple rows planted with wide glades between, having spruce,
larch, birch, or other trees of more rapid growth than the oak in the
mid row, and oak in the side rows, the greater part of the oak would be
thrown out into fine curves by the overshadowing top of the superior
tree. After the oak had received a sufficient side bias, the central
row, which of those kinds comes soon to be of value, might be removed.

The easiest way to procure good oak knees is to look out in hedge-row
and open forest for plants which divide into two or four leaders,
from 3 to 10 feet above ground; and should the leaders not diverge
sufficiently, to train them as horizontally as possible for several
feet, by rods stretching across the top, or by fixing them down by
stakes; see following figures. Figs. _a_, _b_, _f_, are drawn to a
smaller scale than _c_, _d_; of course, a stem, after dividing, never
extends in length below the division. {27}


When grown, the main stem, either used whole, sawn in two, or
quartered, will form one wing of the knee, and the bent branch the
other; see figs. _c_, _d_. The dotted lines shew the saw section.
Particular attention must be paid to prevent oaks from separating
into more than four leaders, and also to train up these leaders a
considerable height, without allowing them to divide again, retaining
always numerous feeders; thus, when the tree acquires size, {28} many
valuable crooks _g_, _h_, _i_, will be formed above the knees. It is
necessary, however, to guard against training the branches to too great
a height, as, when so, they run much risk of being twisted and torn by
high winds.

Knees may also be obtained by cropping the top from plants that have
side branches similar to _f_, and training these branches for leaders
as above directed. In this case, the section, where the top is cut
off, must not be too large, and the branches, either two or four,
well knotted to the trunk, or the situation sheltered, otherwise the
trunk at the section may be split down by the strain of the wind on
the new leaders. Also, in healthy growing trees of considerable size,
which have spreading tops, and which are not to be cut down for a
considerable time, the forester, if he have a good eye, may, by lopping
off a few branches here and there throughout the top, throw the greater
part of the boughs into condition to become knees, or valuable crooks,
when of size. This is of most material consequence to the ultimate
value of half-grown oak trees, in open situations, and ought to be
particularly studied by the superintendent, as, when allowed to run
into very numerous _stemmy_ branches, without direction or curtailment,
the top, instead of being ultimately of {29} considerable value
as timber, is of none. Directions in writing will scarcely suffice
to teach a forester this part of his business; he must consider
attentively the knee figures and bends we have furnished, fix them in
his memory, and use every eligible means to obtain them. Knees, of all
descriptions of oak timber are in the greatest request. We have known
them purchased at 7s. per computed solid foot, which, from the plan
of measuring, is as much as 10s. per real solid foot. The prevailing
inattention to judicious training will continue to occasion the supply
of knees to be short of the demand, and thence the price high, provided
some change does not take place in the structure of vessels, or iron
knees be adopted, which are now sometimes used, or vessels, with the
exception of the deck and rigging, be formed of iron altogether, which
we have seen do very well in inland navigation.

As crooked round oak timber of the natural length is extremely
unmanageable, and its distant transport very expensive, it is desirable
that it be squared and cut in lengths suited to its ultimate use, where
grown. This requires a thorough knowledge of the necessary curves, to
which the figs. p. 19, will afford considerable assistance. However,
the superintendent of any extensive fall of naval timber either should
be {30} a shipwright who has had practice in lining off timbers, or
should have passed several months in a dock-yard during the timbering
of vessels, observing every piece that is put to use.

As most part of the timbers of a vessel have their sides squared, the
cutter cannot err much in hewing away the sides in the plane of, and at
right angles to, the curves, at least as deep as the sap-wood reaches,
thus leaving only a little sap-wood on the angles; the sap-wood, in
all cases (except in those small craft used in carrying lime, which
preserves from rot), being worse than useless; by its decay not only
weakening the vessel from the want of entireness of the timbers, but
also acting as a ferment to further corruption.

In our directions for obtaining curved and angular bent timbers, we
may be thought to have been a little too minute with the dimensions
and figures: under the hand of the shipwright, or person of skill, a
tree of almost any possible bend cuts out to valuable purpose: what
is wanted is crooked timber, free of large knots;—first and second
foot-hooks and knees are, however, most in demand.


[4] Beech, suited for plank, is sometimes of more value when straight
and of considerable length for the purposes of keel-pieces; for this
the log requires to be from 30 to 70 feet in length, and at least of
sufficient thickness at the small end to square a foot.

[5] These directions are generally applicable—as well for what may be
required for being bent for compass-timbers, and for what may be used
for land purposes, as for plank.

[6] There are several valuable varieties of apple-trees of acute branch
angle, which do not throw up the hark of the breeks; this either
occasions the branches to split down when loaded with fruit, or, if
they escape this for a few years, the confined bark becomes putrid,
and produces canker, which generally ruins the tree. We have remedied
this by a little attention in assisting the rising of the bark with
the knife. Nature must not be charged with the malformation of these
varieties; at least, had she formed them, as soon as she saw her error
she would have blotted out her work.

[7] Commencing by times, the greater part of training and pruning for
plank, excepting in the case of dead branches, fractures, and last
pruning, may be performed by a small knife.

[8] We are not in possession of sufficient facts to judge of the effect
to hasten or deter decay occasioned by the timber having been softened
in hot liquids of 212° or upwards, and not raised so high as to
generate pyrolignous acid; but we think it must impair the elasticity.

[9] As excellent plank can be obtained by importation, the grower
of naval timber ought to regard the production of crooks as a more
patriotic occupation than the production of plank. _It will generally
pay better._

{31} PART II.



Oak appears to be the most prevalent tree about the middle of the
north temperate zone, growing, naturally, upon almost every soil,
excepting some of the sterile sandy hats. With the exception of the
pines, it is by far the most useful kind of tree, almost balancing
the accommodating figure of stem, and manageable quality of the pine
timber, by its greater strength and durability, and excelling the
pines in value of bark. It is not easy to determine whether there be
distinct British species in the genus _Quercus_; but, at least, there
are several breeds, or families, or grouped resemblances, which,
though the individuals may slightly vary, and though a gradation, or
connection, may be traced among these families themselves, yet possess
general character sufficiently marked to support names. Botanists, who
are so prompt and so well prepared with their classes, {32} orders,
genera, species, varieties, long before they acquire much knowledge
of what they are so ready to classify, or be able to distinguish
between species and variety, or know if species and variety be really
distinct, divide the oak of this country into two species, _Quercus
Robur_ and _Q. sessiliflora_, the former with long fruit-stalks,
and hard, strong, durable timber, the late leafing old kind once so
prevalent in the island: the latter an earlier leafing, faster growing
kind, timber inferior, leaves petiolate, fruit sessile, not common,
but supposed native. We consider there is no foundation for this
specific distinction; we have met with oaks with various lengths of
fruit-stalks: Besides, short and long fruit-stalks is a very common
difference among seedling varieties. The families or breeds which we
have observed in the indigenous oak resemble what are found among
almost every kind of vegetable, and graduate into each other,—those
farthest removed in appearance, no doubt having power to commix by the
pollen. The most remarkable distinction we have observed is in the
colour of the bark, whether inclining to white or black. The variety
or breed with grey white bark, often very smooth and shining, and
sometimes beautifully clouded with green, has also a different form
of leaf and figure of top from those with {33} blackish bark, and we
have no doubt will also afford a different quality of timber. Those
with blackish dingy bark vary considerably from each other, some being
of very luxuriant growth and heavy foliage, with thick fleshy bark,
affording much tannin; others, though in favourable situation, of
stunted growth, thin dry bark, and delicate constitution, often being
nipped in the twigs by the frost: some having a round easy figure of
top, even with pendulous branching, others extremely stiff and angular
in the branching; some with the most elegant foliage, deeply sinuated
and finely waved, others with the clumsiest, most misshapen foliage,
almost as if opposite principles had presided at their forming. We have
observed the earlier kinds, with the dark bark, to have generally the
easiest figure of top; the angular branching and stiffness of figure
of top being greatest in those sooty-barked late kinds, most disposed
to take two growths in the season, the spring and autumnal, which,
from the proneness of these kinds to be affected in the terminal bud
by monstrosities, and sometimes also to be nipped in the point of
the unripened autumn shoot by the frost, are generally thrown out in
different directions, the tree, from these causes, growing awkwardly
and irregularly, and by fits and starts.

Besides the indigenous _Quercus Robur_, we have {34} a number of
kinds, termed distinct species, growing in Britain, of foreign
derivation—the Turkish oak, _Quercus Cerris_; the Lucombe oak, _Q.
sempervirens_; the scarlet-leaved American, _Q. coccinea_; the
evergreen, _Q. Ilex_, and several others. The Turkish and Lucombe
resemble each other, but the latter generally continues green till the
spring, when the old leaves wither, a little before the young appear:
Botanists make them varieties. We consider the Turkish oak the most
valuable and elegant of these foreign kinds. The leaves are generally
very long and slender, deeply and widely sinuated, and the teeth
or salient angles sometimes undulated, having a curled appearance;
yet there are some individuals with broad, short, flat leaves, not
differing in figure from those of the common oak, but the tree in other
respects not different from the Turkish, being easily distinguished
from the common oak by the reddish hairy appearance of the developing
shoot, the scales of the bud having a hair-like extension, visible in
each leaf axilla. The acorns are also bristled like echini, with this
scaly prolongation. The timber is tough and clean, resembling the white
American, and suitable for staves. The stem and branches are generally
very straight, as the terminal bud seldom fails, and the growing
proceeds steadily, without much autumnal shoot. {35}

As oaks run more hazard in transplanting than most other kinds of
trees, the greater care is necessary in procuring well-rooted,
short, vigorous plants; in having the soil free of stagnating water,
in timing and executing the work in a proper manner, and in hoeing
around the plant, keeping the ground clean and friable on the surface
during the first two or three seasons. As young oaks grow much more
vigorously under considerable closeness and shelter, and as the plants
are expensive, it is proper to plant, along with them, a mixture of
cheaper plants, larches or other pines, which also sooner come to be
of a little value, to be removed gradually as the young wood thickens
up. In bleak exposed situations, it is well to plant the ground first
with pines, and when these attain a height of 6 or 8 feet, to cut out
a number, not in lines, but irregularly, and plant the oaks in their
stead, gradually pruning and thinning away the remaining firs as the
oaks rise. In general, pitting is preferable to slitting; but when
the plants are very small, and the ground wet-bottomed (with close
subsoil), liable to become _honeycomby_ with frost, slitting secures
the plant better from being thrown out.

Oak is by far the best adapted tree for hedge-row, or for being grown
by the sides of arable fields, both {36} with respect to its own
qualities, and to the growth of the adjacent crops or hedge. The bark
is much thicker, and more valuable in proportion to its bulk here, than
in close forest, and the timber more crooked, which is desiderated in
oak, but which unfits most other trees for much else than firewood. The
oak is, besides, as generally suited for the variety of soils which
lines crossing a country in all directions must embrace: this is matter
of consideration, as few planters have skill to locate a number of
kinds properly. It will also be thought, by reason of British feeling,
the most interesting and ornamental; nor is it to be overlooked, that,
by the roots taking a more downward direction than other trees, the
plough has greater liberty to proceed around, and the moisture and
pabulum necessary to evaporation and growth are not drawn from the
ground so superficially; thence the minor plants adjacent do not suffer
so much. We have observed, too, that, when all cause of injury by
root suction was cut off by a deep ditch, the undergrowth seemed less
injured by shade of oak than of some other trees. The apple and the
pear only, appear to be as little detrimental to the surrounding crop
as the oak. The ash, the elm, the beech, in Scotland the most general
hedge-row trees, are the most improperly located; the ash and the {37}
elm as being the most pernicious to the crops, and the beech as being
of little or no value grown in hedge-row. In clays, most kinds of
trees, particularly those whose roots spread superficially, are more
detrimental to the crop around than in the more friable earths, owing
to the roots in clays foraging at less depth, and to the clay being
a worse conductor of moisture than other earths. The disadvantages
attending the planting of hedge-row with oaks are, that their removal
is not in general so successful as that of other trees, especially
to this exposed dry situation, and that the progress of the plant,
for a number of years, is but slow; and thus for a longer time liable
to injury from cattle. Fair success may, however, be commanded, by
previously preparing the roots, should the plants be of good size;
transplanting them when the ground is neither too moist nor too dry,
and in autumn, as soon as the leaves have dropped or become brown,
particularly in dry ground; performing the operation with the utmost
care not to fracture the roots, and to retain a considerable ball;
opening pits of considerable size for their reception, much deeper than
the roots, and should a little water lurk in the bottom of the pit, it
will be highly beneficial, provided none stagnate so high as the roots;
firming the earth well around the roots {38} after it is carefully
shaken in among the fibres; and, especially, keeping the surface of the
ground, within four feet of the plant, friable and free from weeds,
by repeated hoeings during the first two or three summers. Of course,
if you suffer the plant to waver with the wind, or to be rubbed and
bruised by cattle, or by the appendages of the plough, it is folly
to expect success. On this account, stout plants, from 8 to 12 feet
high, the branches more out of the way of injury, may, in sheltered
situations, under careful management, be the most proper size. Much
also depends on procuring sturdy plants from exposed situations. We
have experienced better success with hardy plants from the exposed side
of a hill, having unfibred _carrot_ roots much injured by removal,
than with others from a sheltered morass, having the most numerously
fibred, well extricated roots. In cases, where, from the moistness and
coldness of the ground in early summer, there was a torpor of root
suction, and, in consequence, the developing leaves withering up under
an arid atmosphere, we have attempted to stimulate the root action by
application of warm water, covering up the surface of the ground with
dry litter to confine the heat; we have also endeavoured to encourage
the root action by increasing the temperature of cold light-coloured
soils, by strewing soot {39} on the surface for a yard or two around
the plant, and by nearly covering a like distance by pieces of black
trap rock, from three to six inches in diameter. The success from the
pieces of trap appeared greatest; they diminished the evaporation from
the ground, thence less loss of heat and of necessary moisture; and
being at once very receptive of radiant caloric, and a good conductor,
they quickly raised the temperature of the soil in the first half of
the summer, when bodies, from the increasing power of the sun, are
receiving much more heat by radiation than they are giving out by

The oak should never be pruned severely, and this rule should be
particularly observed when the tree is young. We have known several
of the most intelligent gardener-foresters in Scotland err greatly in
this; and, by exclusively pruning the oak plants, from misdirected
care, throw them far behind the other kinds of timber with which they
were mixed in planting. There is no other broad-leaved tree which we
have seen suffer so much injury in its growth, by severe pruning, as
the oak. The cause of this may be something of nervous susceptibility,
or connected life, all the parts participating when one is injured; it
may be owing to the tendency to putrescency of the sap-wood, or rather
of the sap, the part around the section often decaying, especially
{40} when the plant is not vigorous; or it may arise from some torpor
or restricted connection of the roots, which, when robbed of their
affiliated branch, do not readily forage or give their foraging to the
support of the nearest remaining branch, or to the general top of the
tree, but throw out a brush of twigs near the section.

Although the oak often lingers in the growth while young, yet, after it
attains to six inches or a foot in diameter, its progress is generally
faster than most other kinds of hard wood, not appearing to suffer so
much as others from excessive fruit-bearing. The value of the timber,
and also of the bark, and the slight comparative injury occasioned to
the under crop, whether of copse, grass, corn, or roots, independently
of any patriotic motives, or religious reverence lingering in our
sensorium from the time of the Druids, should give a preference to this
tree for planting, wherever the soil and climate are suitable, over
every other kind, with the exception of larch and willow, which, in
particular soils, will pay better.

The planter of oak should throw in a considerable proportion of Turkish
oak into the more favourable soils and situations. The beautiful
clustered, fretted foliage of this species gives a richness, and, in
winter, when it retains the withered leaf, a warmth of colouring to
our young plantations beyond any other {41} of our hardy trees and
shrubs. We have had this kind, eighteen years old, equal in size to
larches of the same age in the same ground. We cut down several of
these oaks of about 8 inches in diameter, and compared the timber and
bark with those of common oak of the same age. The timber was clean,
very tough and flexible, with much _flash_, and we should suppose might
suit for plank when matured; at any rate, from the splendid shew of the
laminæ (_flash_), it would form beautiful pannelling and furniture. It
shrunk, however, extremely while drying, which must have been partly
owing to the quick growing and youngness, it thence consisting almost
entirely of sap-wood, and this sap-wood almost entirely of sap; and,
when left in the sun in the round state, after peeling, rent nearly to
splinters,—much more than the common oak under the same exposure. The
bark was about double the thickness and weight of that of the common
oak of equal size, and, in proportion to its weight, consisted much
more of that cellular or granular substance most productive of tannin.
The varieties of common oak with thick bark are generally of inferior
quality of timber; but they are by far the finest, most luxuriant
growing trees, with rich heavy foliage, and appear as giants standing
in the same row with {42} the thin barked varieties, though planted at
the same time.

To the naturalist the oak is an object of peculiar interest, from the
curious phenomena connected with the economy of numerous insects who
depend upon it for existence. It would be tedious to describe the
different apples, galls, excrescences, tufts, and other monstrosities
which appear upon the oak. It is something like enchantment! These
insects, merely by a puncture and the deposition of an egg, or drop of
fluid, turning Nature from her law, and compelling the Genius of the
Oak to construct of living organized oak matter, instead of leaves and
twigs, fairy domes and temples, in which their embryo young may lie for
a time enshrined.

SPANISH CHESTNUT—_Castanea vulgaris_, (_Fagus Castanea, L._)

Spanish or sweet Chestnut, sometimes named Chestnut Oak, sometimes
included in the genus Fagus, seems at least a connecting link between
Quercus and Fagus. This valuable timber tree, the largest growing, and,
in many places, also the most common in the south of Europe, and which
was once so {43} abundant in England that many of the largest of our
ancient piles are wooded of it, has been for several ages much on the
decrease in this country; owing, probably, to a slight refrigeration
of climate, which, during this period, appears to have taken place,
preventing the ripening of the seed, or, in more rigorous winters,
following damp, cold summers, destroying all the young plants (at
least the part above ground), whose succulent unripened shoots and
more delicate general constitution, from immatured annual round of
life, or imperfect concoction of juices, have not power to withstand
the severe cold sometimes occurring near the surface of the earth. A
very general destruction of the young plants of this kind of tree has
occurred more than once within our memory from severe frost; but as the
climate, a few years back, rather improved, and the spirit of planting
became more general, a considerable number of plants of this tree have
attained height and hardihood to withstand the cold, excepting in the
points of the annual shoot, which we notice are again nipped (year
1830). This may give encouragement to more extended planting, as the
tree is handsome, and, in most places, where water does not abound nor
stagnate, acquires great size in comparatively short time. It is said
to prefer a gravelly or stone {44} rubble subsoil, but we have seen it
in rich clay, in row with large beeches, even exceed them in size. We
should prefer for it any deep friable dry soil.

There is one circumstance connected with this timber in this country,
at least in Scotland, which must prevent its general use in ship plank,
and be of material injury to it for ship timbers; this is, that few
trees of it of size are found without the timber being shaky or split,
some to such a degree that the annual rings or concentric growths have
separated from each other. This appears to be owing to our climate
being colder than what is suitable to the nature of the plant; the
sap in the stem possibly freezing in severe weather and splitting, or
severing the growths of the timber, but more probably occasioned by
the season being too short, and too moist and cold, to ripen or fill
up with dense matter, sufficiently, the frame of the annual growths;
thence, as each ring of sap-wood, prematurely hastened by the torpor
of moisture and cold, turns to red or matured wood, and, in so doing,
dries considerably within the other rings of moist sap-wood, the
contractile force may be sufficient to separate this growth from the
next external sap growth, the cohesion existing between the tissue or
fabric of the growth being much stronger than the cohesion between one
{45} growth and another. The uncommon dryness of the matured wood, and
moistness of the sap-wood of this tree, and smallness of the number of
sap-wood rings, commonly only from 2 to 6 in this country, incline us
to believe that this is the cause of the insufficiency or defect; and
that, in a milder, drier climate, the sap-wood rings will be found to
be more numerous, and thus, independent of a better first ripening,
affording a longer time for their cells to be more filled up with an
unctuous matter (which prevents the shrinking) gradually deposited
while they convey the sap, the sap-wood rings being the part of the
timber through which the sap circulates. As proof of this unctuous
deposit or filling up, we observe that dry sap-wood imbibes moisture
much quicker, and in greater quantity, than dry mature. We think this
premature maturity (if we may so term it) of timber in cold countries,
a general law. Our larch, originally from the Apennine, has not more
than one-third of the number of sap-rings of our Scots fir, indigenous
in Mar and Rannoch mountains; and our narrow-leafed, or English
elm, said to have been introduced from the Holy Land in time of the
Crusades, has not more than one-half of the number of our indigenous
broad-leafed, or Scots elm. From the sap-growths of Laburnum, {46}
scarcely exceeding in number those of the Spanish chestnut, we should
suppose that it has been moved northward, or that the proper climate
has left it. We have observed that moist, or water-soaked ground, has
influence, as well as climate, to deprive the alburnum vessels sooner
of their living functions, inducing that torpor of tubes, or semi-vital
condition, in which they only serve to support the more active parts,
and constitute what is called Mature Timber.

It is a general opinion that Spanish chestnut soon takes rot in
situations where the roots come in contact with water. This appears
to result from moist soil inducing the too early maturing of the
timber already alluded to, and occasioning shaky insufficient fabric,
which soon corrupts. We have observed oaks which had fewer layers of
sap-wood, from growing in damp situations, have the timber of inferior
quality, and sometimes of a shaky, brownish description, when cut
across, throwing out a dirty brownish liquid or stain.

From the use of the Spanish chestnut in the Spanish navy, both in
planking and timbering, and from the roofing beams and ornamental
work of Westminster Hall being also of this wood, we should suppose
it was not so liable to this defect of rents in {47} the timber in
milder climates. Chestnut timber is a good deal similar to oak, though
not quite so reedy and elastic, but is destitute of the large laminæ
or plates (_flash_), which, radiating from the pith to the outside,
become so prominent to view in the oak when the longitudinal section
is perpendicular to the outside, in the plane of the laminæ. It is, we
should think, as capable of supporting weight, when stretching as a
beam, as the oak, and is equally, if not more durable, many beams of
it existing in very old buildings undecayed: it is said even to have
been taken out fresh where it had stood 600 years as lintels. Earth
stakes of it are also very durable. It possesses one advantage over
oak, which must recommend it for ship-building, that is, having much
less proportion of sap-wood; and, from the matured wood containing much
less sap or moisture, we should suppose it not so liable to dry rot, or
that more simple means, or shorter period, would suffice for seasoning
it, so as to be proof against this evil. Spanish chestnut is as yet
little known among British shipwrights; but were a quantity of it in
the market free of the unsoundness we have alluded to, its merits would
soon become known. The bark is used by tanners, but is said not to
equal that of oak.

{48} BEECH-TREE—_Fagus sylvatica_.

This hardy tree occupies fully as wide a range, both of soil and
climate, as the oak, and is generally the fastest growing, most
vigorous of all our hard-wood kinds, prospering on all soils, on the
dry and moist, the aluminous, the calcareous, the siliceous, provided
water does not stagnate. It combines magnificence with beauty, being
at once the Hercules and Adonis of our Sylva. The timber of our beech,
while green, is by far the hardest of our large growing trees, and, in
the American forest, the members of the beechen family match better
than those of any other, with the perseverance of the ruthless Yankee;
the roots retaining the hardness deeper in the earth than those of any
other tree, and being so plaited and netted throughout the ground for
a considerable space around the bulb, that it is next to impossible to
trench or dig over the soil till they have decayed.

As we have before stated, the timber of the beech-tree soon corrupts if
it is not speedily dried, or kept in water after being cut down, and
is equally liable to corruption in the tree when deprived of life by
wounds or other injury. Beech has a matured and sap wood, although they
are not very distinguishable, being nearly of one colour. The former
has {49} considerable durability when kept dry, the latter is speedily
consumed by worming.

The planter of beech should procure the kind[10] with yellow-coloured
wood, termed by joiners Yellow Beech, in opposition to the kind with
white wood, called White Beech. The yellow grows faster and straighter,
and is cleaner and freer of black knots, and also more pleasantly
worked than the white, but it corrupts much sooner in the bark when
cut down. This variety of beech, when properly trained, is probably
the most profitable hard-wood that we can raise; when planked, it
bends pleasantly under the shipwright to the curvature of the vessel’s
side. The tree is also much superior in size and grace of outline to
the white. There are few planters who need be put in mind that beech
of small size, or of short or crooked stem, is the least valuable of
all timber. Whoever plants with a view to profit will, therefore,
throw in only as many beech plants as may ultimately be required for
standards, and these in the bosom of plantations; as it is seldom that
beech attains to much value in hedge-row or on the outskirts of woods,
{50} from its proneness when so situated to ramify and grow crooked.
It is, however, quite possible, with a little early attention, to rear
beech as straight and clean as to be valuable, on the outskirts, where
it forms a beautiful fringe to the plantation, and affords excellent

ELM—_Ulmus._—BROAD-LEAVED, OR SCOTCH, or WYCH ELM—_Ulmus montana._

This beautiful and most graceful tree, whose favourite locality is the
damp, deep, accumulated soil, free of stagnant water, at the bottom of
declivities, is, together with its sister, the small-leaved kind, the
English elm, when so situated, the fastest growing of our hard-wood
trees. Both delight in easy or gravelly soils, though the small-leaved
will also prosper in the more adhesive, the alluvial and diluvial clays.

There are a number of kinds of elm growing in this country, differing
rather more from the common run of _U. montana_ and _U. campestris_,
than what occurs among seedling varieties of untamed plants; but as
these have very probably a power of mingling by the pollen, thence not
specifically different, we leave to {51} botanists to explain their
nice peculiarities, and think it sufficient to rank the whole under
_montana_ and _campestris_, especially as the timber seems to range
into two kinds—_Montana_, with large leaves, heavy annual shoots,
somewhat zig-zag, thick towards the point, thence drooping a little
from gravity; having much sap-wood, and timber of great longitudinal
toughness, but, from the great quantity of sap-wood, and want of
lateral adhesion, it splits considerably in drying;—_Campestris_, with
smaller leaves, more numerous straight annual shoots, which are small
towards the point, thence more erect, has but little sap-wood, and the
timber also possessing greater lateral adhesion, and less longitudinal,
it does not crack much in drying. We have noticed one broad leaved
kind or variety, whose annual twigs often spring out in tufts or knots
from one point; this seems to arise from the shoot of the preceding
year sometimes dying, probably nipped by frost, and the tuft of shoots
springing out from the knot at the lower extremity of the dead twig.
From this cause, it has not the graceful easy spread of branches of the
_U. montana_, but assumes a more angular, stiff, upright figure. We
have heard this named Dutch Elm, but it does not quite correspond with
the elm in the parks at London said to be Dutch. We consider it a kind
{52} not very nearly allied to _U. montana_, yet the above peculiarity
of appearance may only arise from individual tenderness, and may not be
accompanied by other difference of character.

The elm, more especially the broad-leaved Scotch elm, has a peculiar
fan-like sloping-to-one-side spread of branches, most perceptible
while young; hence the tree when grown up, has generally a slight
bending in the stem, which renders it very fitting for floor-timbers of
vessels, the only part of a ship, excepting bottom plank, to which it
is applicable, as it soon decays above water. Its great toughness and
strength, however, render it good floors.

There are some kinds of foreign elm which deserve attention. Some time
ago we planted several of these, and lately cut down one of about
six inches diameter, which we found a great deal harder and stronger
timber than our _U. montana_. We had this kind under the name of the
Broad-leaved American. The bark was rather lighter in colour, and
smoother, than _U. montana_; the leaves were rough and large, and the
annual shoots extremely luxuriant; but, probably owing to climate,
or difference of circumstance, the exposed situation where we had it
growing being very unlike the close American forest, it did not carry
up its vigour of growing into {53} the top, although the top was
healthy, but continued throwing out numerous annual shoots, five or
six feet long, from the bulb and side of stem, which disposition we
did not succeed in correcting by pruning. This did not seem to arise
from grafting, as some of the shoots broke out higher up than the graft
must have been, and there was no difference between the lower and upper

_U. montana_, when come to some size, on the primary branches being
lopped off, like the oak, often throws out a brush of twigs from the
stem, and these twigs impeding the transit of the sap, the brush
increases, and the stem thickens considerably, in consequence of a
warty-like deposit of wood forming at the root of the twigs. This
excrescence, when of size, after being carefully seasoned in some cool
moist place, such as the north re-entering angle of a building, exposed
to the chipping from the roof, forms a richer veneer for cabinet-work
than any other timber. This disposition to form brush and excrescence
might be given by art to almost any kind of tree, excepting the
coniferæ and beech, and might be made a source of considerable profit.
This could easily be effected by slitting, pricking, and bruising the
bark at certain periods of the season. A very beautiful waved timber
might also be formed by {54} twisting the stems of trees tight up
with round ropes, the screw circles of the rope not being quite close
to each other; the ropes to remain several seasons, then to be kept
off for a season or two, and again applied. The practice of forming
warty excrescences might be combined with that of forming wavy fibres,
with the finest effect. Of course, those trees with timber of rich
colour, and susceptible of high polish, would be the most suitable
for undergoing this process. _U. campestris_ also throws out a brush,
but from the great inferiority of the timber in beauty, and from its
unfitness for cabinet-work, it would be useless to encourage it by
art. Some plants of _montana_, not covered with brush, have a curious
unevenness (laced appearance) of the timber in the stem, which renders
it a beautiful cabinet plank.


There are few Scotchmen, as they migrate southward, who have failed to
remark the tame subdued appearance of the landscape of the middle and
south of England, where a number of straggling tufted-headed poles,
along with windmill towers, occupy {55} the horizon. These straggling,
tall, tufted poles, stuck in, perpendicular to the flat surface, are
composed of living narrow-leaved elm-trees, which the perseverance of
the peasantry in quest of billets, has reduced to this condition. Some
varieties of this elm, however, when uncurtailed in lateral expansion,
attain the grandest development, stretching forth a hundred giant arms
aloft, supporting masses of foliage, fantastically magnificent.

In the neighbourhood of London, this tree is attacked by an insect,
which, running along the outside of the timber, within the bark,
in a few seasons deprives the individual of life, the bark peeling
off in large girdles, threatening to bereave this capital of the
finest ornaments of its parks. We have observed, in different kinds
of growing trees, such as the apple and oak, the roads of insects
traversing between the rhind and wood, although the individual thus
affected appeared to suffer little or no injury; and we consider the
agency of the insect in the destruction of the English elm around
London to be merely sequent to disease—perhaps a taint of corruption,
or slight putrescency of the sap, occasioned by the _impurities of
the London air_, assisted by the hard beaten state of the ground[11]
above the roots. Should {56} any one examine the inside of the bark
of a cut tree, when corruption has just begun with the bark, and see
how thoroughly it is undermined by insects, he will, we think, admit
the strong probability, that the insect is only subordinate in the
destruction of those fine old elms around London. We do not wonder at
the condition of the trees—it would not surprise us if the human race
in London were swept off by some similar secondary cause.

The small-leaved elm has great disposition to spread by suckers from
the roots, and thus extended has become very prevalent throughout
most parts of England, in the broad wastes (termed fences), which,
from the indolent husbandry, consequent to tithes and the want of
leases, generally surround the pasture and corn fields, but which are
so necessary to these unvaried plains, as some prominent object, or
characteristic land-mark, on which the _amor patriæ_ of the population
may perch; the finest remembrances and associations of youth being
mixed up with these bushy flower-covered enclosures.

It is with country as with society, strong lasting {57} attachment
occurs only where there is individuality of character to give
distinctness of image.

 “Oh! how should I my true love know,
 From many other one?”

There is design and utility in this fascination of peculiarity. If
individual distinction be but strongly marked, it signifies little
of what character. Love of country often hangs upon features of the
harshest and most fearful description, with which the associations
and feelings become entwisted, as attachment to individual is often
rivetted by fierce, austere, or even morose qualities.

The narrow-leaved elm is valuable for forming the blocks and
dead-eyes[12], and other wooden furniture of rigging, being
particularly suitable for these purposes, from its hard and adhesive
nature, and indisposition to crack or split, when exposed to sun and

We have observed many minor distinctions, perhaps individual, in the
above kinds of elm, in figure, size and smoothness of leaf, in colour
and roughness {58} of bark, &c. Some varieties or individuals of the
English elm have the bark of the young twigs and branches covered with
corky ridges: others want this excrescence.

REDWOOD WILLOW, _or_ STAG’S HEAD OZIER,—_Salix fragilis_[13].

This kind of willow, once very common in the alluvial parts of
Scotland, before the introduction of _Salix alba_, _S. Russelliana_,
&c., is probably the most profitable timber that can be planted in such
soils. It was our district’s maxim, that “the willow will purchase the
horse before any other timber purchase the saddle,” on account of its
very quick growth, and the value of its timber. It delights in {59}
the rich easy clay by the sides of our _pows_ (the old Scottish term
for those sluggish natural drains of our alluvial districts), throwing
out its fibril roots in matted-like abundance under the water: it also
flourishes in the more sandy and gravelly alluvion, by the sides of
rivers and streams, which does not become too dry in summer.

This tree, similar to some others which, like it, are continued
by cuttings or layers, is, in certain seasons, especially when of
considerable size, subject to a derangement in the sap-concoction,
which leads to the death of some of its more recent parts, particularly
the uppermost branches; whence its withered top sometimes assumes the
appearance of a stag’s head of horns, which, from the indestructibility
of these dead branches, it retains for many years; new branches
springing out from the sides, of much luxuriance. This disease, similar
to canker in the genus Pyrus, is generally concentrated to certain
places of the bark and alburnum, the portion of branch above these
places thence withering, the connection with the root being cut off;
though sometimes the points of the twigs appear to be nipped, without
any previous disease. From these affections, and also on account of
the branches and stem being often rifted by the winds, the tree is
frequently found with rot {60} in the stem, when it has stood long. It
agrees in this with the larch, that, though its timber, when cut down,
or withered and dried, as on the top of the tree, is little liable to
corruption, yet it is very subject to it, as part of the stem of the
living tree, perhaps under certain circumstances of semi-vitality.
To determine whether this tree, raised from seed, would be liable to
these disorders, the same as when continued by slips, would be an
interesting, though tedious, experiment. We never have seen any young
seed-plants rise around old trees.

The use of the red wood willow, as timbers of vessels, has been of
long standing in this part of Scotland, and has proved its long
endurance, and excellent adaptation. By reason of its lightness,
pliancy, elasticity, and toughness, it is, we think, the best, without
exception, for the formation of small fast-sailing war-vessels. We
are pretty certain that our Navy Board would not have cause to regret
trial of it in a long, low, sharp schooner, of sufficient breadth to
stand up under great press of sail, moulded as much as possible to
combine great stability with small resistance from the water, and when
in quick motion to be buoyant—especially not to dip forward,—provided
it could be procured not too old, and free from rot, large knots, and
cross-grain; a very {61} little attention in the cultivation would
afford it of the finest bends, and clean and fresh. Our Navy Board
have received some slight teaching from our transatlantic brethren, of
the superior sailing of fir-constructed vessels, to those of oak, the
result of their superior lightness, pliancy, and elasticity.

The writer of this has also had experience of two vessels, one of oak,
and the other of larch, on the same voyages, at the same time, and has
found the latter superior in sailing to the former, in a degree greater
than the difference of build could account for. From the superior
elasticity and lightness of the willow, even to larch, the lightest
and most elastic of the fir-tribe, we should expect that vessels of it
would outstrip those of fir, at least of Scots or red pine, as much
as the latter do those of oak; and that, from this greater elasticity
and lightness, they would move through the water, yielding to the
resistance and percussions of the waves, compared to those of oak, as a
thing of life to a dead block. For vessel-timbers, this wood requires
to be used alone; as, when mixed with other kinds less pliant or
elastic, the latter have to withstand nearly all the impetus or strain,
and are thence liable to be broken, or from the vessel yielding more at
one place than another, she is apt to strain and become leaky. {62}

Some years ago, when demolishing an old building which had stood fully
a century, the writer found the large frames of the building, or ground
_couples_, which, from their situation, could not have been renewed, to
consist of this timber; and, with the exception of the outside, which
was so much decayed, for about half an inch in depth, as the finger
could pick it away, the body of the wood was as fresh as at first,
still fit for any purpose, and of a beautiful pink or salmon colour.
When we observed the mouldering exterior of these pieces, we laid one
of the smallest hollow over a log, and struck it with a large wooden
mallet, not doubting that it would go to fragments; such, however, was
the _resilience_, that the mallet rebounded so greatly as almost to
leap from our hands.

For country purposes, red-wood willow is employed in the construction
of mill water-wheels, of the body or hoarding of carts, especially of
lining of carts employed in the carriage of stones, or of any utensil
requiring strong, tough, light, durable boarding. Formerly, before
the introduction of iron-hoops for cart-wheels, the external rim or
felloe was made of willow; when new, the cart or wain was driven along
a road covered with hard small gravel (in preference, gravel somewhat
angular), by which means {63} the felloe shod itself with stone,
and thus became capable of enduring the friction of the road for a
long time, the toughness and elasticity of the willow retaining the
gravel till the stone was worn away. Under much exposure to blows and
friction, this willow outlasts every other home timber. When recently
cut, the matured wood is slightly reddish, and the sap-wood white. When
exposed to the air and gradually dried, both are of salmon colour,
and scarcely distinguishable from each other. Willow-bark is used in
tanning; it also contains a bitter, said to be febrifuge.


This tribe of the order Coniferæ, at once the most useful, and the most
plentifully and widely extended over the North temperate zone—that
portion of the earth more congenial to man, and which contains about
four-fifths of his numbers, has a similitude of character and qualities
more distinguishable by one glance of the eye than by laboured
description. It consists of a number of kinds, which again divide into
families and individuals perceptibly different from each other. The
following are those whose timber is best known to us: {64}

 Scots fir, or Norway pine,         _Pinus sylvestris_.
 Pinaster,                          _Pinus Pinaster_.
 Canadian red Pine[14] (foreign),       *  *  *  *
 Pitch pine (foreign),                  *  *  *  *

And, though a little more distinct,

 Yellow American, or Weymouth Pine, _Pinus Strobus_.

Very little observation will distinguish these from the next useful
great tribe of the Coniferæ with white wood, the Spruces and Silver

There are a number of foreign kinds of pine, some of great promise,
recently introduced into Britain, but of whose adaptation for
ship-building we cannot speak. Samples of the timber of _P. laricio_,
_P. tæda_, _P. cembra_, _P. maritima_, _P. rigida_, &c. of British
growth, may, however, soon be had of sufficient size for experiment.
The common Scots fir is the only pine of British growth which has been
employed as a naval timber; for which purpose, however, since the last
peace, and the introduction of our larch, it is in very little demand.

An acute botanist, Mr G. Don of Forfar, a number of years ago, gave a
description of the varieties of cultivated Scots fir which had come
under his notice. The following is an abstract of his observations:

 “_Varieties of Pinus sylvestris._

 “Var. 1st. The common variety, well known by its branches forming
 a pyramidal head, the leaves marginated, of dark-green colour, but
 little glaucous underneath, the cones being considerably elongated and
 tapering to the point, and the bark of the trunk very rugged. This
 variety seems short-lived, becoming soon stunted in appearance.

 “Var. 2d, Distinguishable from the former by disposition of branches,
 which are remarkable for horizontal disposition and tendency to
 bend downwards close to the trunk. The leaves are broader than var.
 1st, and serrulated, not marginated; leaves are distinguishable at
 a distance by their much lighter and beautiful glaucous colour, the
 bark not so rugged as var. 1st, and the cones thicker and not so much
 pointed, and also smoother. This tree seems a hardy plant, growing
 freely in many soils: this variety may be named Pinus horizontalis.
 Var. 1st, much more general than var. 2d, and also sooner comes to
 seed, which is also easier gathered from the position of the branches.

 “Var. 3d, Is of a still lighter colour than var. 2d, being of a light
 glaucous hue, approaching to a silvery tint; its branches form, like
 var. 1st, a pyramidal head, but it differs remarkably in its cones
 from {66} both the former varieties; the cones of this seem beset
 with blunt prickles bent backwards, the leaves serrulated. This
 variety is rather more common than var. 2d; like it, it is a good tree.

 “Var. 4th, The leaves somewhat curled or rather twisted, and much
 shorter than the others: this variety is very rare.”

Our observation does not go to confirm these subdivisions. We think
they are little more distinct than the fair, the red[15], the black
haired, the fair, the sallow, the brown complexioned, the tall,
the short, of the same community or even family of men. There is
variation and individuality more or less strongly marked in all kinds
of organized beings: at least those vegetables which have exposed
fructification possess it; many whose fructification is secluded also
possess it; and the others of more constant character, such as some
of the Gramineæ, with a little art (removing their anthers before the
pollen bursts forth, and applying the pollen of others as near to them
in the chain of life as can be found to be different, or changing the
circumstances by culture), can also be rendered equally {67} variable.
These minor distinctions or individualities of vegetables become more
perceptible as our observation closes in upon the object. We have never
yet found one individual apple plant, raised from seed, to be the
counterpart of another; but differing even in every part and habit,
in bud, leaf, flower, fruit, seed, bark, wood, root; in luxuriance of
growth; in hardihood; in being suited for different soils and climates,
some thriving in the very moist, others only in the dry; in the
disposition of the branches, erect, pendulous, horizontal; in earliness
and comparative earliness of leaf, of flower, of fruit.

We hope the above remarks will not be lost on those who have the
management of the sowing, planting, and thinning of woods, and that
they will always have selection in view. Although numerous varieties
are derived from the seed of one tree, yet if that tree be of a good
_breed_, the chances are greatly in favour of this progeny being also
good. Scots fir of good variety will thrive and reach considerable size
and age, in almost any soil which is not very moist, or very arid and
barren (such as our sand and gravel flats much impregnated with iron
or other deleterious mineral), provided the plants from their earliest
years have room to throw out and retain a sufficiency of side branches.
This is especially necessary to their health where the soil is {68}
ungenial, the resulting vigour often overcoming the disadvantages.
From the pine being found chiefly in the light sandy districts on the
continent of Europe, and in the sandy pine barrens of America, an idea
has gone abroad that these barren districts are more congenial to it
than the more clayey, the more rocky, or the richer vegetable mould;
but its natural location in the barren sandy districts results from its
being more powerful in this soil than any other plant of the country,
not from preference of this soil. Should any one doubt of this, let him
take a summer excursion to Mar Forest, where no other tree having been
in competition with Pinus sylvestris, and where it is spread over the
hill and the dale, he will observe that it prospers best in good timber
soil, and though comparatively preferring an easy soil, and having
superior adaptation to thin or rocky ground, that its taste does not
differ very materially from that of the plane or the elm, the oak or
the ash.

In Mar Forest he will also observe (if they be not now all cut down)
several well marked individuals of the _splatch_ pine, esteemed a very
valuable and hardy kind; and with the right which a botanist has in a
plant sown by nature, he may bear off some of the seeds, and endeavour
to spread this rare indigenous kind throughout the island. Should he be
unsuccessful in finding these at Mar, he may return {69} by Kenmore,
where, on the side of the hill on the right bank of the Tay, near the
confluence of the Lyon, he will find several trees, we think five,
of this kind of pine, of considerable size, growing at one place,
apparently planted: we were told the plants had been brought down from
the natural forest farther up on the mountains. These are sufficiently
distinct in character from the common Scots fir growing around, having
a horizontal, straggling disposition of branches, the leaves being of
a much lighter, different shade of green, and more tufted, and the
bark of a yellower red, so as to merit a distinct name; and we should
consider Pinus horizontalis as descriptive as any other, if it shall
not appear to be only a sub-species of P. sylvestris. The descriptive
name _splatch_ fir, is from the prominences of the rugged bark not
being in longitudinal ridges or flutes, but in detached flat oblong
lumps, such as soft clay or mud takes when cast with force upon a wall.
We, however, do not think this the same as Mr DON’s var. 2d, at least
we have noticed in our lowland woods raised by planting, such as Mr DON
examined, individuals here and there having less or more resemblance to
his described varieties, but none of them approaching the distinctness
of this alpine Scots fir. The proprietors of this kind of pine will
confer a benefit on the public by causing the timber {70} be examined
and compared with that of trees of equal size of the common Scots fir
growing near, and making a public report of the number and size of
annual growths, the number of these of matured and of sap wood, the
comparative strength, density, quantity of resinous deposit, hardness,

The Pinaster is a valuable kind of red-wood pine, with strong resinous
timber, and from not having one-half the number of sap-wood layers of
the common Scots fir, we should consider it deserving attention as a
naval timber; but perhaps the small number of sap-layers is from want
of climate: owing to the branches being larger, and, in proportion to
their size, being joined to the stem with a larger swell than those of
P. sylvestris, the timber is rougher with larger knots. In the very
barren sand and gravel district near Christchurch, scarcely affording
sustenance to lichens, and where even heaths will not grow, we have
observed this tree make considerable progress, and outstrip the Scots
fir in growth.

The Canadian Red Pine has been employed to a considerable extent in
this country, both as planking and spars. It is inferior in strength
and durability to the Baltic red pine, and would seldom make its
appearance on this side the Atlantic while the Baltic was open to us,
did not a very ill advised {71} duty obstruct the supply of the better
article. This timber is sometimes supplied with a good character by the
shipwright, as it is soft, pliant, and easily worked. The Canadian red
pine has a greater number of layers of sap-wood than any other red pine
we are acquainted with; we have repeatedly counted 100 sap-wood layers.
We have never seen this kind of pine growing in Britain.

The most common American pine, with yellow timber, Pinus strobus, has
been introduced for a long time back into Britain, it is said first by
the Earl of Weymouth, thence sometimes named Weymouth Pine. This rather
elegant tree requires a warm sheltered situation, as it is easily torn
down by wind, from the weakness of the timber, which is inferior in
hardness and strength to any other pine we are acquainted with; and
from its slender needle leaf not having substance to withstand the
evaporation of much exposure. Altogether, the kind appears rather out
of climate in Britain, and, though the monarch of the pines in Canada,
holds here but a very subordinate place. Although extremely tender and
light, the matured timber does not soon decay when cut out thin and
exposed to wind and weather, nor worm when kept dry in houses; but when
employed in shipbuilding,—remaining always between the moist {72} and
dry, the condition most favourable to putrefaction, and surrounded by
a close, warm, putrid atmosphere,—it very soon, especially in masses,
becomes corrupted. It requires more time to season or dry in the
deal than any other wood, owing to the fineness of fibre, smallness
of pores, and want of density. From this quality of parting with its
moisture with extreme slowness, it forms convenient deck-planking for
vessels on tropical stations, or when employed in carriage of unslacked
lime, as the plank does not readily shrink and become leaky under the
great evaporation occasioned by the heat and arid air. Yellow pine has
generally about 40 growths of sap-wood.

We have had no acquaintance with American pitch pine as a growing tree.
As a timber, it is superior in several respects to all the others,
having a great deal more resinous matter, so much, as often to render
it semitranslucent. It is strong and weighty, and is used as a naval
timber for most of the purposes to which other pine timber is applied.
It forms the very best bottom planking. The shipwrights of the docks
at Devonport will attest its quality, as the bottom planking of the
Gibraltar of 80 guns: this vessel carried home to England from the
Mediterranean, a piece of coral rock of about ten tons weight sticking
in her bottom, her preservation {73} in all probability resulting from
the adhesive quality of this timber. Its great weight is, however,
a considerable inconveniency attending its use as spars, and the
abundance of resin, we should think, would unfit it for tree-nails;
resinous tree-nails,—probably from some derangement of the structure
or disposition to chemical change produced in the resin by the very
great pressure of the hard driving,—soon corrupting and infecting the
adjacent wood. In some cases we have also known very resinous Baltic
plank decay soon in vessels. The pitch pine, from the quantity of
resin, contracts little in drying, at least for a long time, till the
resin itself begins to dry up. It forms the best house-floors we have
seen, being strong and durable, continuing close at joinings, and the
fibre not readily taking in moisture when washed.

Our red-wood pine, when come to some age, is in wet ground attacked
by rot, which commences in the bulb and adjacent roots and stem, in a
manner very similar to the rot in larch. The red-wood also approaches
nearer to the outside where this rot exists, and on the side of the
tree where the rot is greatest. Most of our planted red pine forest,
especially in poor wet tills, and in all flat sandy moorish ground of
close subsoil, fall by decay at from 30 to 60 years old. This decay is
gradual, owing to the {74} difference in strength of constitution of
the individuals. Closeness of rearing and consequent tall nakedness of
stem, and disproportion of leaves to stem, would alone induce this in
a few years longer even in good soil, excepting perhaps in protected
narrow dells; but the decay commences much sooner when the soil is
unfavourable, and is no doubt accelerated by the mode of extracting
the seeds by kiln-drying the cones, and by using a weak variety of the
plant. The approach of this decay may often be noticed, several years
previous, in the saw-cross section of the stem mid-way up the tree—an
irregular portion of the section appearing of a different shade, from
breaking off free and irregular before the teeth of the saw, and not
having so much fibrous cover as the healthy part. When Scots fir rises
naturally, it is not nearly so subject to this decay even in very
inferior soils: the plants having generally much more room from the
first, do not rise so tall, have more branch in proportion to stem,
thence are more vigorous. The cones not being injured by kiln-drying,
may also account for this.

The fact that the red pine in Scotland has fewer sap-wood layers than
the red pine of Memel or of North America, and also the fact that, in
most situations in Scotland, the red pine soon {75} decays—soonest
in the places where the trees have fewest sap-wood layers, and where
the timber has been planted, that is, where the cones have been
kiln-dried—is worthy of notice. Scots red pine has generally from 15
to 40 layers, Memel from 40 to 50, Canadian often 100. We consider the
long moist open winter and cold ungenial spring in Scotland, and the
till bottoms soaking with water, perhaps aided by the transplanting,
and the kiln-drying of the cones, to be the cause of this early loss
of vitality or change of sap-wood into matured. In Poland and Prussia,
the earth does not remain so long cold and moist as in Scotland, but
is either frozen or sufficiently warm and dry;—this occurs even to a
greater degree in Canada[16], and neither the Memel nor Canadian have
any chance of being planted or kiln-dried.

WHITE LARCH—_Larix communis_, (_L. pyramidalis_).

White Larch is a timber tree combining so many advantages, its
properties so imperfectly known, of {76} so recent introduction,
and of such general culture, (about 10,000,000 plants being sold
annually from the nurseries of the valley of the Tay alone), that any
accurate notice of its history, its habitudes, and uses, must possess
an interest sufficient to arrest the attention of every one, from the
statesman and economist down to the mere lord and the squire. We shall
therefore devote to it a little more of our attention than we have
bestowed on those already treated of.

Larch is scattered over a considerable part of the northern hemisphere,
inhabiting nearly the same regions with the other Coniferæ. White
larch, the kind[17] common in Britain, is found growing extensively on
the alpine districts of the south of Europe, in Italy, Switzerland,
Sardinia; this may be termed the European temperate species. Another,
native to the country around Archangel, and extending from {77} Norway
eastward through Russia and Siberia, of inferior size, may be styled
the European Hyperborean. North America, like the old world, is said to
possess a temperate and hyperborean species. The first, Black Larch (L.
pendula), more generally extending along the longitudinal parallel of
the United States; the other, Red Larch (L. microcarpa), along that of
Lower Canada and Labrador. We have seen the American temperate attain
18 inches in diameter in Scotland, but it is much inferior in figure
and growth, and also cleanness of timber, to the Appenine or European
temperate, being covered with knots and protuberances. Though rough,
the timber is said to be of excellent quality.

It is now upwards of 80 years since the larch, so common in Britain,
was brought from the Appenines to Strath-Tay. The rapidity of its
growth and striking novelty of appearance, assisted by the influence of
the family of Athole (to a female of which some say we owe its first
introduction), soon attracted general attention: it quickly spread over
the neighbouring country, and was planted in every variety of soil
and situation, from the unfitness of which, in most places of the low
country, it is already fast decaying. About 40 years ago it began to
be planted in many parts of Britain. It is now introduced into almost
every new plantation in the two islands, and {78} the space of country
covered by its shade is extending with a rapidity unparalleled in the
history of any other ligneous plant.

Larch is generally conceived to be an alpine[18] plant, and its decay
in the low country attributed to situation or climate. This idea
seems to have arisen from its locality in Italy, and from observing
it succeed so well in our alpine districts, not taking into account
that the soil is different,—that it may be the soil of these districts
which conduces to the prosperity of the larch, and not the altitude.
Throughout Scotland, wherever we have observed the decay, it appeared
to have resulted almost solely from unsuitableness of soil. We have
witnessed it as much diseased on our highest trap hills, 1000 feet
in altitude, as on a similar soil at the base. Yet the freeness from
putrescency or miasma of the pure air of the mountain, {79} and
deficiency of putrescent matter in the ground, or other more obscure
agencies connected with primitive ranges, may have some influence to
counterbalance unsuitableness of soil. It is not probable that the
coolness and moisture of altitude would be necessary in Scotland to the
healthy growth of a vegetable which flourishes under Italian suns, on
the general level of the Appenine and on the Sardinian hills.

The rot, so general in growing larch, though sometimes originating in
the bulb or lower part of the stem, seems to have its commencement
most frequently in the roots. Thence the corruption proceeds upwards
along the connecting tubes or fibres into the bulb, and gradually
mounts the stem, which, when much diseased, swells considerably
for a few feet above the ground, evidently from the new layers of
sap-wood forming thicker to afford necessary space for the fluids to
pass upward and downward—the matured wood through which there is no
circulation approaching at this place within one or two annual layers
of the outside. In a majority of cases, the rot commences in the
roots which have struck down deepest into the earth, especially those
under the stool; these having been thrown to a considerable depth by
the young plant, as the tree enlarges, are shut out from aëration,
&c. by the {80} superior increasing stool and hard-pressed earth
underneath it; this earth at the same time becoming exhausted of the
particular pabulum of the plant. It is, therefore, quite probable, from
these parts of the roots being the weakest, that they will be most
susceptible of injury from being soaked in stagnant water in the flat
tills[19], starved during droughts in light sand, tainted by the putrid
vapours of rich vegetable mould, or poisoned by the corrosive action
of pernicious minerals. It may also be supposed that these smothered
sickly roots, not possessing sufficient power or means of suction
(endosmose), will be left out in the general economy of vegetation of
the plant, thence lose vitality, and become corrupt. But this affords
no explanation why the larch roots, under these circumstances, are more
liable to corruption than those of other trees, or how the bulb itself
should become contaminated. {81}

We have cut off the top, where the diameter of the section was about
three inches, from sound young larch trees, and found a similar rot
proceed downwards in a few months from the section, as rises from the
diseased roots in improper soil. There is something favourable to the
quick progress of this rot in the motion of the sap, or vitality of the
tree; as, under no common circumstances, would the wood of a cut larch
tree become tainted in so short a time.

The rot, though most general in trees which are chilled in wet cold
tills, or starved in dry sand, or sickly from any other cause, is also
often found to take place in the most luxuriant growing plants in open
situations, branched to the ground, and growing in deep soil free
from stagnating water. There must, therefore, be some constitutional
tendency to corruption in the larch, which is excited by a combination
of circumstances; and we must limit our knowledge for the present
to the fact, that certain soils, perhaps slightly modified by other
circumstances, produce sound, and others unsound larch, without
admitting any general influence from altitude, excepting in so far as
its antiseptic influence may go.

The fitness of soil for larch seems to depend more especially upon
the ability the soil possesses of affording an equable supply of
moisture; that is, upon its {82} mechanical division, or its powers of
absorption or retention of moisture; and its chemical composition would
seem only efficacious as conducive to this.

Soils and subsoils[20] may be divided into two classes. The first,
where larch will acquire a size of from 30 to 300 solid feet, and is
generally free of rot; the second, where it reaches only from 6 to 20
feet solid, and in most cases becomes tainted with rot before 30 years
of age.


_Sound rock, with a covering of firm loam, particularly when the rock
is jagged or cloven, or much dirupted and mixed with the earth._—In
such cases, a very slight covering or admixture of earth will suffice.
We would give the preference to primitive rock, especially micaceous
schist and mountain limestone. Larch seldom succeeds well on sandstone
or on trap, except on steep slopes, where the rock is quite sound and
the soil firm. {83}

Fully the one half of Scotland, comprehending nearly all the alpine
part, consists of primary rock, chiefly micaceous schist and gneiss.
These rocks are generally less decayed at the surface, better
drained, and fuller of clefts and fissures containing excellent earth
(especially on slopes), into which the roots of trees penetrate and
receive healthy nourishment, than the other primitive and transition
rocks, granite, porphyry, trap, or the secondary and tertiary
formations of nearly horizontal strata, red and white sandstone, &c.
Primary strata are generally well adapted for larch, except where
the surface has acquired a covering of peat-moss, or received a flat
diluvial bed of close wet till or soft moorish sand, or occupies a too
elevated or exposed situation—the two latter exceptions only preventing
the growth, not inducing rot.

_Gravel_, not too ferruginous, and in which water does not stagnate in
winter, even though nearly bare of vegetable mould, especially on steep
slopes, and where the air is not too arid, is favourable to the growth
of larch. It seems to prefer the coarser gravel, though many of the
stones exceed a yard solid.

The straths or valleys of our larger rivers, in their passage through
the alpine country, are generally {84} occupied, for several hundred
feet of perpendicular altitude up the slope, by gravel, which covers
the primitive strata to considerable depth, especially in the eddies of
the salient angles of the hill. Every description of tree grows more
luxuriantly here than in any other situation of the country; the causes
of this are, _1st_, The open bottom allowing the roots to penetrate
deep, without being injured by stagnant moisture; _2d_, The percolation
of water down through the gravel from the superior hill; _3d_, The
dryness of the surface not producing cold by evaporation, thence the
ground soon heating in the spring; _4th_, The moist air of the hill
refreshing and nourishing the plant during the summer heats, and
compensating for the dryness of the soil; _5th_, The reverberating of
the sun’s rays, between the sides of the narrow valley, thus rendering
the soil comparatively warmer than the incumbent air, which is cooled
by the oblique currents of the higher strata of air, occasioned by the
unequal surface of the ground. This comparatively greater warmth of the
ground, when aided by moisture, either in the soil or atmosphere, is
greatly conducive to the luxuriancy of vegetation.

_Firm dry clays and sound brown loam._—Soils well adapted for wheat and
red clover, not too rich, {85} and which will bear cattle in winter,
are generally congenial to the larch.

_All very rough ground, particularly ravines, where the soil is
neither soft sand nor too wet; also the sides of the channels of
rapid rivulets._—The roots of most trees luxuriate in living or
flowing water; and, where it is of salubrious quality, especially when
containing a slight solution of lime, will throw themselves out a
considerable distance under the stream. The reason why steep slopes,
and hills whose strata are nearly perpendicular to the horizon, are so
much affected by larch and other trees, is, because the moisture in
such situations is in motion, and often continues dripping through the
fissures throughout the whole summer. The desideratum of situation for
larch, is where the roots will neither be drowned in stagnant water in
winter, nor parched by drought in summer, and where the soil is free
from any corrosive mineral or corrupting mouldiness.

Larch, in suitable soil, sixty years planted, and seasonably thinned,
will have produced double the value of what almost any other timber
would have done; and from its general adaptation both for sea and land
purposes, it will always command a ready sale.


_Situations (steep slopes excepted) with cold till subsoil, nearly
impervious to water._—The larch succeeds worst when moorish dead
sand alone, or with admixture of peat, occupies the surface of these
retentive bottoms. Where the whole soil and subsoil is one uniform,
retentive, firm till, it will often reach considerable size before
being attacked by the rot. When this heavy till occupies a steep slope,
the larch will sometimes succeed well, owing to the more equable supply
of moisture, and the water in the soil not stagnating, but gliding down
the declivity.

In general, soils whose surface assumes the appearance of honeycomb
in time of frost, owing to the great quantity of water imbibed by
the soil, will not produce large sound larch. More than half the low
country of Scotland is soil of this description.

_Soft sand soil and subsoil._—Sand is still less adapted for growing
larch than the tills, the plants being often destroyed by the summer’s
drought before they attain size for any useful purpose: the rot also
attacks earlier here than in the tills. It appears that {87} light
sand, sloping considerably on moist back-lying alpine situations,
covered towards the south by steep hill, will sometimes produce
sound larch; whereas did the same sand occupy a dry front or lowland
situation, the larch would not succeed in it. The same moist back
situation that conduces to produce sound larch in light dry soils, may
probably tend to promote rot in the wet. The moisture and the less
evaporation of altitude diminishing the tendency to rot in dry light
sand, and increasing it in wet till. Larch will sometimes succeed well
in sharp dry alluvial sand left by rivulets.

_Soils incumbent on brittle dry trap, or broken slaty
sandstone._—Although soil, the debris of trap, be generally much better
adapted for the production of herbaceous vegetables than that of
sandstone or freestone, yet larch does not seem to succeed much better
on the former than the latter. The deeper superior soils, generally
incumbent on the recent dark red sandstone, are better suited for larch
than the shallow inferior soils incumbent on the old grey and red

_Ground having a subsoil of dry rotten rock, and which sounds hollow to
the foot in time of drought._

_Rich deaf earth, or vegetable {88} mould._—Independently of receiving
ultimate contamination from the putrid juices or exhalations of this
soil, the larch does not seem, even while remaining sound, to make so
much comparative progress of growth, as some of the hard wood trees, as
elm, ash, plane.

_Black or grey moorish soils, with admixture of peat-moss._

Although the soils specified in this class will not afford fine large
larch for naval use, yet they may be very profitably employed in
growing larch for farming purposes, or for coal-mines, where a slight
taint of rot is of minor importance. The lightness of larch, especially
when new cut (about one-third less weight than the evergreen coniferæ),
gives a facility to the loading and carriage, which enhances its value,
independent of its greater strength and durability. Those larches in
which rot has commenced, are fully as suitable for paling as the sound:
they have fewer circles of sap-wood, and more of red or matured. When
the rot has commenced, the maturing or reddening of the circles does
not proceed regularly, reaching nearest the bark on the side where the
rot has advanced farthest.

A great amelioration of our climate and of our soil, and considerable
addition to the beauty and salubrity of the country, might be
attained by {89} landholders of skill and spirit, did they carry
off the noxious moisture, by sufficient use of open drainage, from
their extensive wastes of mossy moors and wet tills, which are only
productive of the black heath, the most dismal robe[21] of the
earth, or rather the funeral pall with which Nature has shrouded her
undecayed remains. This miserable portion of our country, so dreary
when spread out in wide continuous flats, and so offensive to the eye
of the traveller, unless his mind is attuned to gloom and desolation,
lies a disgrace to the possessor. Were a proper system of superficial
draining executed on these districts, and kept in repair, most of our
conifers, particularly spruce and Scots fir, with oak, beech, birch,
alder, and, in the sounder situations, larch, would thrive and come to
maturity, ultimately enhancing the value of the district an hundred
fold. This could be done by fluting the ground, opening large ditches
every 30, 50, or 100 yards, according to the wetness or closeness of
the subsoil—the deeper, the more serviceable both in efficacy and
distance of drainage. These flutes should stretch across the slope with
just sufficient declivity to allow the {90} water to flow off easily,
The excavated matter should be thrown to the lower side; and when the
whole, or any part, of the excavation consists of earth or gravel, it
ought to be spread over the whole mossy surface, whether the field
be morass or drier hill-peat: this would be useful in consolidating
it, and in preventing too great exhaustion of moisture in severe
droughts, from which vegetation in moss-soil suffers so much. Even
though planting were not intended, this fluting and top-dressing would
facilitate the raising of the gramineæ. These ditches, when the ground
is not too stoney, or too moist, or containing roots, might be scooped
out, excepting a little help at the bottom, by means of a scoop-sledge,
or levelling box, worked by a man and two horses, the surface being
always loosened by the common plough: one of these will remove earth as
fast as twenty men with wheelbarrows.


We cannot too forcibly inculcate the urgent necessity of attending to
the bending of the larch: for our country’s interest, we almost regret
we cannot compel it. In all larch plantations, in proper {91} soil,
not too far advanced, and in all that may hereafter be planted, a
proportion of those intended to remain as standards should be bended.
The most proper time for this would perhaps be May or June, before the
top-growth commences, or has advanced far; the best size is from three
feet high and upwards. The plants should be bent the first season to an
angle of from 40° to 60° with the horizon, and the next brought down
to from 10° to 60°, according to the size of the plant, or the curve
required,—the smallest plants to the lowest angle.

From experience we find that the roots of larch form the best of all
knees; they, however, might be much improved by culture[22], although
it does not {92} seem as yet to have been attempted or thought of. To
form the roots properly into knees, should the plants be pretty large,
the planter ought to select those plants which have four main roots
springing out nearly at right angles, the regularity of which he may
improve a little by pruning, and plant them out as standards in the
thinnest dryest soil suited for larch, carefully spreading the roots to
equal distances and in a horizontal position. To promote the regular
square diverging of these four roots, he should dig narrow ruts about
a foot deep and three feet long out from the point of each root, and
fill them in with the richest of the neighbouring turf along with a
little manure. When the plants are small, and the roots only a tuft of
fibres, he should dig two narrow ruts about eight feet long crossing
each other at the middle at right angles, fill these as above, and put
in the plant at the crossing: the rich mould of the rotted turf and its
softness from being dug, will cause the plant to throw out its roots in
the form of a cross along the trenches. When the plants have reached
five or six feet in height, the earth may be removed a little from
the root, and, if more than one stout root leader have run out into
any of the four trenches, or if any have entered the unstirred earth,
they ought all to be cut excepting one, the stoutest {93} and most
regular in each trench. In a few years afterwards, when the plants have
acquired some strength, the earth should be removed gradually, baring
the roots to from two to five feet distance from the stool, or as far
as the main spurs have kept straight, cutting off any side-shoots
within this distance, should it be found that such late root-pruning
does not induce rot. This process of baring the roots will scarcely
injure the growth of the trees, as the roots draw the necessary pabulum
from a considerable distance, nor, if done carefully, will it endanger
their upsetting; and the roots, from exposure to the air, will swell
to extraordinary size[23], so as to render them, ere long, the firmest
rooted trees in the wood. The labour of this not amounting to the
value of sixpence each, will be counterbalanced thrice {94} over by
the ease of grubbing the roots for knees; and the whole brought to the
shipwright will produce more than double the price that the straight
tree alone would have done.

_The forester should also examine and probe the roots of his growing
larch, even those of considerable size, in sound ground; and when
several strong horizontal spurs, not exceeding four, are discovered
nearly straight, and from two to five feet long, he ought to bare these
roots to that distance, that they may swell, carefully pruning away any
small side-roots, and reserve these plants as valuable store_, taking
good heed that no cart-wheel in passing, or feet of large quadruped,
wound the bared roots. In exposed situations the earth may be gradually
removed from the roots.

The rot in larch taking place in the part appropriate to knees, the
forester cannot be too wary in selecting the situations where there is
no risk of its attack, for planting those destined for this purpose. It
is also desirable, if possible, to have the knee timber in ground free
of stones or gravel, as the grubbing in stoney ground is expensive, and
the roots often embrace stones which, by the future swelling of the
bulb, are completely imbedded and shut up in the wood, particularly
in those places between the spurs {95} where the saw section has to
divide them for knees. Were the roots carefully bared at an early
period, it would tend to prevent the gravel from becoming imbedded in
the bulb. Nothing can be more annoying to the shipwright, when he has
bestowed his money, ingenuity, and labour, upon an unwieldy root, and
brought his knees into figure at the cost of the destruction of his
tools by the enveloped gravel, to discover stains of incipient rot
which renders it lumber.

This plan of baring the roots might be extended to oak trees for knees,
baring and pruning about a foot out from the bulb annually. By exposure
to the air, the timber of the root would mature and become red wood
of sufficient durability. When covered with earth, the root of the
oak remains white or sap wood, and soon decays after being dug up,
the matured wood of the stem scarcely extending at all underneath the
surface of the ground. The roots of the pine tribe are the reverse of
this, at least the bulb and the spurs near it, are the best matured,
reddest, toughest, most resinous, part of the tree. It is probably
unnecessary to observe, that it would be folly to remove the earth from
the bulb of trees in situations where water would stand for any length
of time in the excavation. {96}

_Larch knees are possessed of such strength and durability, and are of
such adaptation by their figure and toughness, that were a sufficient
quantity in the market, and their qualities generally known, we
believe that none else would be used for vessels of any description of
timber—even for our war-navy of oak._ In America, where it is difficult
to procure good oak knees in their close forest, it is customary to
use them of spruce roots even for their finest vessels. The knees of
vessels have a number of strong bolts, generally of iron, passing
through them to secure the beam-ends to the sides of the ship. Larch
knees are the more suited for this, as they do not split in the driving
of the bolts, and contain a resinous gum which prevents the oxidation
of the iron.

As the larch, unlike the oak, affords few or no crooks naturally,
excepting knees, the artificial formation of larch crooks is of the
utmost consequence to the interest of the holders of larch plantations
now growing. In order to obtain a good market for their straight
timber, it is absolutely necessary to have a supply of crooks ready
as soon as possible to work the straight up. This would increase the
demand, and thence enhance the price of the straight more than any one
not belonging to the craft could {97} believe. In good soil many of
the crooks would be of sufficient size in twenty years to begin the
supply, if properly thinned out. In a forest of larch containing many
thousand loads, and which had been untouched by any builder, we have
seen the greatest difficulty in procuring crooks for one small brig.
It is only on very steep ground, and where the tree has been a little
upset after planting, that any good crooks are found. From the rather
greater diameter required of larch timbers, and also from the nature of
the fibre of the wood, we should suppose that steam bending of larch
timbers would scarcely be followed, even as a _dernier ressort_.

Larch, from its great lateral toughness, particularly the root, and
from its lightness, seems better adapted for the construction of
shot-proof vessels than any other timber; and opposed _end-way_ to shot
in a layer, arch fashion, several feet deep around a vessel, would
sustain more battering than any other subject we are acquainted with,
metal excepted. Were the part above water of a strong steam-vessel,
having the paddles under cover, a section of a spheroid or half egg
cut longitudinally, and covered all around with the root cuts of larch
five or six feet deep with the hewn down bulb, external; well supported
{98} inside, having nothing exposed outside of this arch, and only a
few small holes for ventilators and eyes; there is no shot in present
naval use that would have much impression upon it. Had such a vessel
a great impelling power, and a very strong iron cutwater, or short
beak wedge-shaped (in manner of the old Grecian galleys), projecting
before the vessel under water, well supported within by beams radiating
back in all directions, she might be wrought to split and sink a fleet
of men-of-war lying becalmed, in a few hours. This could be done
by running successively against each, midships, and on percussion
immediately backing the engine, at same time spouting forth missiles,
hot water, or sulphuric acid from the bow to obstruct boarding; but
even though the external arch were covered with assailants like a
swarm of bees, they would be harmless, or could be easily displaced.
To prevent combustion by red hot shot, the larch blocks, after drying,
might have their pores filled by pressure with alkali. However, the
employment of bomb-cannon about to be introduced in naval warfare,
throwing explosive shot, regulated with just sufficient force to
penetrate without passing through the side of the opposed vessel, will
render any other than metallic defensive cover ineffectual; but {99}
this circumstance will, at the same time, completely revolutionize sea
affairs, laying on the shelf our huge men-of-war, whose place will be
occupied with numerous bomb-cannon boats, whose small size will render
them difficult to be hit, and from which one single explosive shot
taking effect low down in the large exposed side of a three decker will
tear open a breach sufficient to sink her almost instantly. _For the
construction of these boats, larch, especially were a proportion bent,
would be extremely suitable, and thence larch will probably, ere long,
become our naval stay._

Larch has been used in the building-yards of the Tay for 20 years back;
and there is now afloat several thousand tons of shipping constructed
of it. The Athole Frigate built of it nearly 12 years ago, the Larch, a
fine brig built by the Duke of Athole several years earlier, and many
other vessels built more recently, prove that larch is as valuable
for naval purposes as the most sanguine had anticipated. The first
instance we have heard of British larch being used in this manner, was
in a sloop repaired with it about 22 years back. The person to whom it
had belonged, and who had sailed it himself, stated to us immediately
after its loss, that this sloop had been built of oak about 36 years
before; that at 18 years {100} old her upper timbers were so much
decayed as to require renewal, which was done with larch; that 18 years
after this repair this sloop went to pieces on the remains of the
pier of Methel, Fifeshire, and the top timbers and second foot-hooks
of larch were washed ashore as tough and sound as when first put into
the vessel, not one spot of decay appearing, they having assumed the
blue dark colour which some timber acquires in moist situations, when
it may be stiled _cured_; being either no longer liable to the putrid
change constituting dry rot, or which forms timber into a proper
soil for the growth of dry rot; or, from this blueness caused by the
union of the tannin with iron acting as a poison on vegetation: this
blueness, resulting from some alteration in the balance of affinities,
occurs chiefly in timber containing much of the tannin principle, in
which larch abounds. The owner of a larch brig who had employed her
for several years on tropical voyages, also assures us that the timber
will wear well in any climate, and that he would prefer larch to any
other kind of wood, especially for small vessels; he also states that
the deck of this brig, composed of larch plank, stood the tropical heat
well, and that it did not warp or shrink as was apprehended.

From the softness of the fibre and want of {101} density of the larch,
we would not deem it suitable for planking vessels beyond the size
of ordinary merchantmen, say 500 tons, as in the straining of very
large vessels, when the greatest force comes upon the outward skin,
the fabric of the wood might crush before it, along the edge of the
plank, and throw (chew) the oakum. In ordinary sized vessels, however,
larch plank retains the oakum better than oak, from greater lateral
elasticity. For the purpose of timbers, if root-cuts[24], and properly
bent, we would think larch suitable to the largest class of vessels;
as, though light, it is tough and quite free from knot, crack, or
cross-grain, which is so common in oak, and which occasions dense old
oak in large masses to give way at once, before a shock or strain,
the hardness and unyielding nature of the fibre concentrating the
whole dirupting impetus to one point. Larch may also be advantageously
employed in the ceiling or inside skin of the part of war vessels
above water: shot bores it, comparatively, like an auger,—thence the
structure will endure longer under fire, and life be much economized.

In all places where larch has become known, it has completely
superseded other timber for {102} clinker-built boats, surpassing all
others in strength, lightness, and durability. For this purpose, young
trees of about 9 inches diameter, in root-cuts from 10 to 20 feet in
length, with a gentle bend at one end, such as the larch often receives
from the south-west wind, are the most suitable. The log should be
kept in the bark till used, and in dry weather the boards put upon the
boat’s side within two or three days from being sawn out, as no timber
we are acquainted with parts sooner with its moisture than larch; and
the boards do not work or bend pleasantly when dry. When dried, the
thin larch board is at once strong, tough, durable, and extremely
light. The tough strength, almost equalling leather, is owing to the
woven or netted structure of the fibre of the wood, entirely different
from the pine, whose reedy structure runs parallel with very slight
connecting or diverging fibres. It is very difficult to split larch
even by wedges.

For rural purposes generally, larch is incomparably the best adapted
timber, especially for rail or fence, or out-door fabric exposed
to wind and weather. It is also getting into use for implements of
husbandry, such as harrows, ploughs, and carts. We have seen a larch
upright paling, the timber of which, with the exception of the large
charred posts, {103} had only been eight years in growing, standing a
good fence, sixteen years old, decked out by moss and lichen in all the
hoary garniture of time.

In the construction of buildings, larch is valuable only for the
grosser parts, as beams, lintels, joists, couples. For the finer
boarded part, it is so much disposed to warp, and so difficult to be
worked, as generally to preclude use. It is, however, asserted that if
larch be seasoned by standing two years with the bark stripped from
the bole before being cut down, that the timber becomes manageable for
finer house work.

Although larch timber be extremely durable in exposed situation, yet
it yields to the depredations of insects fully as soon as any pine
timber in close houses. We have proof of it in house-furniture about 50
years old, but it is considerably moth-eaten by apparently a smaller
insect than common. Larch stools also disappear in forests sooner than
the stools of Scots fir, being eaten by a species of beetle; and the
sea-worm devours larch in preference to almost any other wood.

We have looked over some experiments conducted at Woolwich, in trial
of the comparative strength of larch and other fir timber, where the
larch is stated inferior to Riga and Dantzic fir, Pitch pine, {104}
and even Yellow pine. Larch, in the districts of Scotland where it
is grown and much in use, is universally allowed to be considerably
stronger than other fir; and the sawyers of it have one-fourth more pay
per stated measure. We, ourselves, have had considerable experience
of the strength of larch applied to many purposes, and have found it
in general much superior in strength to other fir. We have known a
crooked topmast of this timber, to which the sailors bore a grudge,
defy their utmost ingenuity to get carried away. We once had four
double horse-carts, made (excepting the wheels) of peeled young larch
of rather slow growth, for the carriage of large stones; these, by
mistake, were made very slight, so light, that, without the wheels, a
man could have carried one of them away. When we saw the first loading
of stones nearly a ton weight each, two in each cart, and the timber
yielding and creaking like a willow-basket, we did not expect they
would have supported the weight and jostlings of a rugged road many
yards; yet they withstood this coarse employment for a long time. The
timber of larch near the top of the tree is, however, very inferior and
deficient in toughness; and it is not improbable that the experiments
above alluded to at Woolwich had been made with larch {105} timber
deficient in strength from being a top. White larch has comparatively
smaller and more numerous branches than any other of the Coniferæ;
consequently the timber is freer of large knots, and has more equable
strength, as well in small spars as when large and cut out into joists
and beams, provided the timber be not too far up the tree. _Larch,
however, compared with pines and firs, has the timber much stronger
when young, and several inches or below a foot in diameter, than when
old and large_: this may partly be owing to its deficiency in resinous


[10] We have often preferred the terms kind, breed, family, individual,
to genus, species, variety, subvariety, as the former seem less
definite. Were nature true to the latter classification as employed by
botanists, it would be convenient.

[11] In those we observed, we considered this last circumstance had a
considerable share as a predisposing cause of the attack of the worm.
Forests of _Pinus sylvestris_ are sometimes destroyed by insects under
the bark, in cases where it is difficult to decide whether external
circumstances, such as a dry warm season, has been promotive of the
increase of the insect itself, or has induced some disorder in the
plant, rendering the juices more suitable aliment to the worm.

[12] Some nautical or technical terms have unavoidably crept into
this work; we shall not presume to think any explanation necessary:
Britannia would blush _jusqu’au blanc des yeux_, to the _tips_ of the
fingers and toes, did she think it were doubted that any of her sons,
not doomed to unceasing mechanical labour, were unacquainted with these.

[13] It is termed by our professors _Salix fragilis_, or Crack Willow,
from the small branches breaking easily at the junction of the annual
growth—or, perhaps, Crack Willow, from the branches breaking with
considerable report; or from the wood, while burning, frequently
detonating or crackling, from the expansion of some aërial fluid within
the fibres. Though named by their sapience _fragilis_, it is not weaker
than other large growing willows, but stronger and denser; and, being
harder in the small branches, they do not bend, but break when their
bark and alburnum is driest, in winter. The timber is superior to that
of _Salix alba_, or of any other large growing willow we are acquainted
with, and is sufficiently pliant and tough.

[14] Red Canadian pine is generally termed _Pinus resinosa_; but as
it is not so resinous as several other kinds, we consider _Pinus
rubra_ (_rubra_ from the colour of stem and also of timber), which is
sometimes used, more suitable. The pitch pine of the American United
States should be _Pinus resinosa_.

[15] We think that in mankind the variations of the children of the
same parents do not soften entirely—there would seem to be certain
types or nuclei both of appearance and temperament around which
external and internal character vibrates.

[16] The Canadian red pine resembles P. sylvestris or Norway pine so
much, that it is usually styled Norway pine by the settlers: Though
different, it is so nearly allied to P. sylvestris, that we consider
the number of sap-growths may be referred to the climate and soil, and
not to the kind,—that is, that, were it grown in Britain, if it did not
at first, it would in the course of time come to have fewer sap-growths.

[17] Our common larch, like almost every other kind of tree, consists
of numberless varieties, which differ considerably in quickness of
growth, ultimate size, and value of timber. This subject has been
much neglected. We are, however, on the eve of great improvements in
arboriculture; the qualities and habits of varieties are just beginning
to be studied. It is also found that the uniformity in each kind of
wild growing plants called _species_, may be broken down by art or
culture, and that when once a breach is made, there is almost no limit
to disorder; the _mele_ that ensues being nearly incapable of reduction.

[18] There is yet no sufficient data for the term alpine plant, but
with reference to latitude. The influence on vegetables, arising from
rarefaction and diminution of pressure of atmosphere, from difference
of stimulus of solar ray—when the entire ray of light, heat, and
chemical power, though less intense, is radiated fresh, and not much
broken or modified by refraction and reflection, and heat communicated
more in proportion by radiation than by contact of heated air; or
from difference of electric or galvanic or other meteoric impression
connected with altitude or ranges of mountains, or with primary rocks
or more upright strata, has not been made the subject of research, at
least has not been sufficiently investigated by any naturalist.

[19] When water is stationary, either in the pores of the soil or by
itself, if the temperature be not very low, a slight putrefaction
generally commences, aided by the dead vegetable or animal matter
contained in the soil or the water; and it is only the more robust
aquatic vegetables whose juices are not corrupted, from their roots
being soaked in this tainted fluid. It would appear, too, that the
aqueous part of the atmosphere is also susceptible of the same putrid
changes, although in general the putrescency may have commenced before
the evaporation. This condition of the aqueous part of the atmosphere
is a disposing cause to blight or mildew in vegetables, and remittent,
intermittent, and putrid fevers in man. Mill-ponds are notorious both
for mildew and agues.

[20] We have had no experience of larch, excepting very young, growing
on chalk and its affinities. We are told there are a few instances
where larch has reached 50 years in these calcareous soils, some
distance south of London. This merits attention.

[21] “Oh! the bonny blooming heather.”—“Man has spoken evil things of
the sun, of love, and of life.”

[22] As we held this plan of forming larch knees, and of bending
larch, of considerable importance, we some time ago presented it in
manuscript, along with some other matter, to the Highland Society
of Scotland. Tiring, however, of the delay of examination, perhaps
unavoidable in their official departments, and from some improvements
occurring to us during the delay, we requested it back. We now present
it under this more convenient form to the Society, and hope they
will find the examination or perusal of it printed, not quite so
impracticable as when in manuscript. It will afford us pleasure to
know that this useful Society approves, and that the members who have
opportunity are setting about following our directions. We especially
recommend to them to probe the roots of their growing larch, and to lay
bare those fitted for knees.

[23] The landlord agriculturist is sufficiently aware of the influence
of the baring the upper part of the root of turnip, while the plant
is young, in extending the future growth of the bulb, and that a dry
situation gives most root in proportion to stem. These are general laws
in vegetation. There are few observers who have not remarked the very
large size which roots have attained when the trees have originally
been planted on dikes, and the dike earth removed, leaving the roots
bare. Should any person examine the very great difference of thickness
between the upper and lower part, from the heart of a root near the
bulb, he will at once discover the influence of exposure to the air and
freeness from pressure in promoting the swelling.

[24] As you ascend the tree the timber deteriorates greatly.

{106} PART III.



Much of the luxuriance and size of timber depending upon the particular
variety of the species, upon the treatment of the seed before sowing,
and upon the treatment of the young plant, and as this fundamental
subject is neither much attended to nor generally understood, we shall
take it up _ab initio_.

The consequences are now being developed of our deplorable ignorance
of, or inattention to, one of the most evident traits of natural
history, that vegetables as well as animals are generally liable to
an almost unlimited diversification, regulated by climate, soil,
nourishment, and new commixture of already formed varieties. In those
with which man is most intimate, and where his agency in throwing
them from their natural locality and dispositions has brought out
this power of diversification in stronger shades, it has been forced
upon his notice, as in man himself, in the dog, horse, cow, sheep,
poultry,—in the apple, {107} pear, plum, gooseberry, potato, pea,
which sport in infinite varieties, differing considerably in size,
colour, taste, firmness of texture, period of growth, almost in
every recognisable quality. In all these kinds man is influencial in
preventing deterioration, by careful selection of the largest or most
valuable as breeders; but in timber trees the opposite course has
been pursued. The large growing varieties being so long of coming to
produce seed, that many plantations are cut down before they reach this
maturity, the small growing and weakly varieties, known by early and
extreme seeding, have been continually selected as reproductive stock,
from the ease and conveniency with which their seed could be procured;
and the husks of several kinds of these invariably kiln-dried[25], in
order that the seeds might be the more easily extracted! May we, then,
wonder that our plantations are occupied by a sickly short-lived puny
race, incapable of supporting existence in situations where their own
kind had formerly flourished—particularly evinced in the genus {108}
Pinus, more particularly in the species Scots fir; so much inferior
to those of Nature’s own rearing, where only the stronger, more hardy,
soil-suited varieties can struggle forward to maturity and reproduction?

We say that the rural economist should pay as much regard to the breed
or particular variety of his forest trees, as he does to that of his
live stock of horses, cows, and sheep. That nurserymen should attest
the variety of their timber plants, sowing no seeds but those gathered
from the largest, most healthy, and luxuriant growing trees, abstaining
from the seed of the prematurely productive, and also from that of
the very aged and over-mature; as they, from animal analogy, may be
expected to give an infirm progeny, subject to premature decay.

As, from many facts, a considerable influence is known to result in
several vegetables from drying severely the seeds from whence they
had sprung[26],—from exposure of these seeds to the sun and air,—from
long keeping, or from injury by mould or {109} impure air, which all
tend to shorten the life of the resulting individual, to accelerate
the period of its seeding, and to increase its reproductiveness; the
nurseryman should pay the utmost attention to the seeds he makes use
of, procuring them as recent as possible, and preserving them in
well-aired lofts, or under sheds, and also retaining them in the husks
till the time of sowing: the superior germinating power of the seed
thus treated will repay this attention.

From facts we are also assured, that, in some hard wood kinds,
and also in the Coniferæ, the hanging of the growth of the young
plant, the spindling up in the seed-bed, or injudicious deterring
treatment afterwards, have a tendency to injure the constitution of
the individual, inducing premature seeding, and diminutive old age;
and also, that when plants, especially of some size, of these kinds
of trees have their roots much broken, the secondary or new roots
often partake something of the nature of the infirm runners, which,
in most kinds of trees, are thrown out by layers,—the resulting tree,
as in the case of those from layers in fruit trees being dwarfish,
sooner exhausting itself by reproduction, and sooner decaying. For
distinctness, we shall recapitulate: {110}

That the seed be from the largest, hardiest variety of tree in
luxuriant growth.

That the seed be recent, and carefully preserved in husk till sowing,
and extracted from the husk or cone without artificial drying.

That the nursery be in an open, rather exposed situation,—most eligible
without shelter either of tree, hedge or wall, of rather light dry soil
of ordinary quality, of dry climate, and, in preference, soil naturally
good to that made so by high manuring.

That the plants be not too close, nor remain too long in the seed-bed;
that they be extricated without much fracture of root, and be replanted
in wide rows, with good space between the plants in the row, keeping
the roots as superficially extended as they will thrive, and without
doubling the main root up to the surface of the ground.

That the plant receive no pruning, excepting in the case of more than
one leader appearing, or feeder unproportionally extended; and no
root-section, in order to retard its growth, or increase the number of
root-fibres; and that its ultimate removal be accomplished without much
fracture of root or branch.

By exposed situation of nursery, ordinary quality of soil, and much
room in the seed-bed and rows, we {111} shall have plants with firm
fibre and hardy constitution, with thick juicy bark, thick stem at the
surface of ground, and numerous feeders all the way down the stem.
Roots are most easily extricated from light soil, and with least
fracture. They are large in proportion to stem in dry soil and climate,
and when they are situated near the surface of the ground.—A healthy
growing plant, of firm fibre, large root, and sturdy short stem of one
leader and numerous feeders, is the great desideratum: a large root is
the more desirable, as a considerable part of it is generally broken
off in transplanting, rendering it disproportioned to the top, which,
in consequence, either languishes, or receives deterring cropping.

We consider, that a tree grows more luxuriantly, acquires larger size,
and is much longer of reaching senility, when it is furnished with
several large roots, say one or two to each of the cardinal points,
extending horizontally out with bold leaders, than when numerous small
rootlets diverge in all directions from the bulb, as is the case
in some kinds when much fracture of root takes place from frequent
removals, or, when the nursery is of moist or mossy soil, the plants
being removed when of considerable size. We have cut down old stunted
hard wood trees having extremely numerous crowded roots, all {112}
engrafted into a matted net throughout the soil near the bulb, and
without any strong extended leaders. We attributed this crowded rooting
to the plants having been of considerable size when put in, and losing
their natural leaders; the situation, an avenue exposed to cattle, went
to confirm the probability that the defect of the rooting had been
owing to the largeness of the plants.

When a tree is supplied by numerous, consequently small and not
wide-extending roots, as the tree acquires size, the wide spreading
branches and leafy top shed off the rain and dews from the space
occupied by these roots, very few of them extending beyond this shade;
at the same time, this narrow space becomes soon exhausted of the more
particular pabulum necessary to the kind of plant, the exhaustion
being accelerated by the dryness. This dryness and exhaustion of the
soil very soon show their effects aloft; the living hark of the tree
becomes covered from its connexion with the air, and constricted by a
thick hard dead crust, which, with the consequent very thin alburnum
affording an inefficient communication between the supply and demand,
react to impair the general vigour, and particularly to impede the
descent of the proper sap necessary to the enlargement and further
extension of the roots. The buds {113} not receiving sufficient supply
of root-moisture, instead of pressing on to new formation of wood, only
find enough to burgeon out into flower-buds, which the following season
drain the tree by reproduction; this fruit-bearing alternates with
periods of exhaustion, when the buds have not even supply sufficient to
swell into the embryo of flower and seed, but extend only into a few
leaves; and sometimes, in the event of a benign season, the buds may
throw out a small extension of new shoots. The tree progresses very
slowly in thickness of bole all this time, and generally soon falls a
prey to disease. On the other hand, when the tree has its naturally
fine large roots preserved, and is situated in open forest, and mixed
with other kinds, these large roots diverging widely from the tree and
each other, have a much larger less-sought space to forage in; and the
tree enjoying a long period of luxuriant growth before it fall much
into seed-bearing, acquires strength of constitution to thrive and
increase for ages under this drain.

We are satisfied that cutting or fracture of the root-leaders,
especially near the bulb, when they have acquired some size, is
injurious to the extension and longevity of the tree, in pines and most
kinds of hard wood; and that branch-pruning, as generally practised,
is not less pernicious, first, by the {114} derangement which the
plant receives, from the regular connexion between the rootlets and
their affiliated twigs and leaves being destroyed by the section,
and afterwards from the distance between the manufacturing parts,
the leaves and the sources of supply in the ground being unnaturally
extended, especially when the stem is long, slender, and much denuded.

Although we consider severe root fracture at planting pernicious to
some hard wood and resinous trees, yet there are kinds to which it
is advantageous. All plants which grow freely by cuttings, strike
better to have the roots pruned in near to the bulb. Many kinds
of seedling-plants also strike sooner, and throw out stronger new
root-leaders, when the long straggling fibres are cut in a little,
similar to the branches above, which, when over-numerous and slender,
throw out more vigorous shoots by being cropped at planting.


In regard to planting, soils divide into the _dry_ and the _moist_;
the former require to have the plants put in as soon as possible after
the leaves drop off—at any rate, not to allow February to pass without
completing the planting; excepting evergreens, {115} which should not
be delayed beyond the middle of April. In dry soils, if the expense
be not limited to a very low rate, pit-planting should be adopted,
and the pits are better to be dug some months previous, in order
that the earth may be aërated, and the turf partly rotted. The moist
soils may be divided into those which are much disposed to throw the
plant from the frosts and thaws, and those which are not; the former
consisting of moory, soft, or spongy earth, upon a retentive subsoil;
the latter, of the firmer, more equable loams, clays, and tills. Unless
the plants are large, they should always be slitted into the former
soil, and the work performed as soon as the ground becomes sadded in
spring—as, though the lateness of planting should preclude throwing of
pitted plants the first season, they will often be thrown the ensuing
winter. When plants are very small, they may be put into the latter,
by slitting; but if middle-sized, or large, they are better pitted. It
is of the greatest importance to these moist soils, to have very deep,
open[27] drains executed previous to planting, cutting off all the
springs at their sources, and, if possible, drying the subsoil to such
a degree that water will not stand in the pits. Should this be {116}
accomplished, it is highly advantageous to dig the pits in time for
the excavated clay to have its cohesion broken by frost: the planting
should afterwards be performed exactly at the time when this frosted
mould is sufficiently dry, and no more, to shake conveniently in among
the fibres of the roots, and not to knead into mortar, by the necessary
pressing of the feet. After this pressure, a little of the tenderest of
the soil should be spread loose over the surface, to exclude drought.
Should this dryness of subsoil not be effected, the pits must be dug
in spring, at the time the clay is most friable; that is, between the
moist and dry; and the plants put in immediately, breaking the clay as
fine as possible, and closing it well around the roots. It is better to
delay planting even till May, than to perform it too wet. When planting
is delayed late in spring, the plants should be kept _shoughed_ in the
coldest situation that can be found, at the top of a hill exposed to
the north, or in some cold, damp, back-lying place. Care should also
be taken not to expose them much while planting, as they, especially
if the buds be bursting, very soon wither when root and stem are both
exposed to the sun and dry air. When late planted, they ought always
to be dipped as far up as the branches in a puddle of clay and water:
{117} should they be dipped over head in the puddle, it will not
injure them.

What is of most importance to the success of planting, is to have the
soil put very closely in contact with all the root-fibre, and these
fibres in due natural separation, with a little tender mould on the
surface;—not to have water stagnating around the root, at any rate
during the first spring;—to have the planting done in time, to receive
a good sadding by rain before the spring droughts commence;—to prevent
rank weeds, furze, &c. from smothering the young plants;—and to exclude
or destroy all bestial, as cattle, sheep, rabbits, hares, mice, &c. In
keeping the latter in check, a few families of foxes are very efficient.


Every forester is aware, that when feeders are pruned off, they should
be cut away as close as possible to, and without tearing the hole.
To perform this without danger of injury to the tree, when feeders
of considerable size are to be removed, the branch should first be
sawn over at about one foot beyond the intended section, and a second
section then performed at the proper place. This {118} requires a
little more time, but not nearly so much as an inexperienced person
would suppose, as the section a foot out is made very quickly, and the
pruner generally takes as much time to reach the branch as to cut it
off. The neatness and advantage of this method will be acknowledged by
those who have seen it practised, to compensate for the longer time it

We find the saw, shears, and knife, the best instruments for pruning;
in some cases of difficult approach, the long-handed pruning-iron may
be resorted to. When the lopping is performed by a percussion tool, the
wood and bark at the section is often shattered by the blow, and thence
is less likely to cicatrize soundly; and even when executed in the best
manner, the surface of the section is smooth and hard, consequently
a good conductor of heat, dries much, and thence shrinks and cracks
near the centre of the cut, opening a deep crevice, into which the
rain penetrates, and often rots deep into the stem. When the section
is made by the saw, a slight fibrous clothing is left upon the place,
which in some measure protects the ends of the cut tubes from the frost
and drying air, and excludes the heat; in consequence the wood at the
section does not lose its vitality so far inward, and is not so liable
to shrink {119} and crack in the centre and receive rain. The section
can also generally be made much neater and closer by the saw than by
any other instrument. The common erroneous belief, that a section by
a sharp-edged instrument is less injurious than by the saw, is merely
hypothetical, from wide analogy from animals. The pernicious influence
on the whole individual, received and transmitted by the nerves from
mangled section of animal fibre, is probably entirely awanting in
vegetables; the whole process of life and of cicatrization is also
totally different.

The forester should also be very wary in cutting off a considerable
branch, whose section would incline upwards, as such a section, when it
has received a circle of new bark and wood, forms a cup which receives
and contains rain water, which quickly corrupts the bottom of the cup,
and often rots the centre of the tree down to the ground. It is better
to crop such a branch several feet from the main stem, close by some
small feeder, unless the branch be dead. In pruning, every considerable
section should be as near as possible at right angles with the horizon,
or rather inclining inward below. Of naval timber, the beech is by far
the most likely to take rot by being pruned, and should never have a
large limb cut off, as the divided fibres generally die {120} downward
a number of feet below the section, and soon afterward decay, leaving a
hole in the bole.

As nothing retards the growth of trees more than full flowering and
seeding, if pruning diminish this flowering and seeding, so that the
gain from the prevention of this exhaustion more than counterbalances
the loss of the pruned-off part, the pruning will of course accelerate
the growth of the tree; but the removal of lower branches, although in
the first place promotive of growing buds and extension of the top, in
a year or two longer only tends to throw the tree more into flowering
and seeding. The rich dryness, or want of fluidity of the juices which
occasions flower-buds, is also induced by hot, dry atmosphere, and
short supply of moisture from the roots during the preceding summer,
both of which disposing causes are increased by a long naked stem.
When the proportion of the part above ground of a tree to the roots
is diminished, growing buds result, at least to a certain extent; yet
it would be very difficult to practise a proper system of pruning on
this principle, as the consequent lengthened stem is, in the end,
promotive of flower-buds, especially in dry seasons, and the loss of
feeders might greatly counterbalance the gain from not flowering, did a
succession of wet cold seasons follow. {121}

The season when pruning should be performed, is something dependent
upon the kinds, whether they bleed when pruned in early spring or do
not. Almost any convenient time will suit for pruning the latter, but
we rather prefer March, April, May, June, or autumn after the leaf has
fallen. The former, sycamore, maple, birch, &c. ought either to be
pruned in autumn, or after the buds are beginning to break in spring,
as they bleed and suffer considerable exhaustion when pruned in the
latter part of winter or early spring. From some facts, we consider
that pruning in winter, especially in severe weather, gives a check to
the vigour of the tree; others agree with this.


The quantity of measurable wood of the various timber trees which
a certain extent of adapted ground will carry, when come to full
maturity, or when they may be most profitably felled, and the quantity
that may be thinned out during the maturing, with the time requisite
to bring to value, with the relative selling price per foot, and also
whether the greatest quantity of timber can be grown of one kind or
mixed, are questions of more importance than might be judged, from
the attention paid to the subject. Of our common timber trees, Scots
fir, silver fir, and spruce, larch, pinaster, black Italian poplar,
Salix alba, commonly called Huntingdon willow, red-wood willow, beech,
Spanish chestnut, ash, plane, elm, birch, oak, are here ranked nearly
in the order of quantity of measure which adapted ground in this
country will produce or support; that is, that an acre of close Scots
fir trees, of whatever age, will admeasure more timber than an acre
covered with any other tree of the same size; and a close acre of oaks
less. A little further south, in the temperate zone, the large-leaved
deciduous trees, particularly the {123} elms, acquire thicker and
longer stem, in closer order, in a given time. In this country, in
rich warm situations, this is visible in some degree, both as regards
quantity of timber and quickness of growth, compared with pines. It
would be difficult to state the comparative quickness of growth of
the various timber trees, as so much depends on soil, situation, and
treatment; it also varies considerably at different stages of their
growth. It is well known, that in proper soil, black Italian poplar,
Salix alba, and red wood willow, exceed all others.

As, for naval use, it is not the quickness of growth and bulk of
the timber altogether, but of the matured timber alone, which is of
consequence—we give a view of the number of growths or annual circles
of sap-wood (the useless part), which the main stems of several kinds
of trees presented. Most of those we examined had a greater number
of sap-layers near the top than at a few feet above ground, and the
vigorous branches had generally more than the stem immediately adjacent
to them; the branches with least vigour had fewest sap circles. {124}

 _Of Home Growth._

 Common oak, some trees               10, others 14, others 18
 Spanish chestnut,                     2,         5,         6
 Scots elm, _U. montana_,             16,        25,        32
 English elm, _U. campestris_,         0,        10,         0
 Red-wood willow,                      8,        14,         0
 Laburnum,                             3,         5,         0
 Wild cherry, _Prunus cerasus_,       16,        24,         0
 Black Italian poplar,                 9,         0,         0
 Scots fir,                           20,        30,        40
 Pinaster,                             0,        10,         0
 White larch, free of rot,             5,        12,        18

 _Of Foreign Growth._

 Memel fir,                            0,        43,         0
 Red Canadian pine,                    0,       100,         0
 Yellow Canadian pine,                38,        44,         0

The process of maturing in several did not proceed regularly, some
of the rings being reddened on one side and remaining white on the
other: this did not seem to be influenced by position to south or
north. In the larch, particularly in those trees {125} where the rot
is incipient, this maturing is very irregular, in the view of the
cross section dashing out into angles and irregularities, and being
darker red than in the healthy plants: in those where rot had made
considerable progress, the red-wood was within a circle or two of
the bark. This approach of red-wood to the outside is so regularly
connected with rot, that we needed no other indication of the roots
being unfit for knees, and therefore not worth grubbing, than merely a
slight notch by two cuts of a hatchet.

Those kinds of timber whose matured wood assumes a brown or reddish
colour, are generally much less susceptible of change, either by simple
putrefaction or by attack of fungi, or gnawing of insects, than those
whose matured wood remains of a whitish colour. In many of the latter,
there does not even appear to be any particular change of constitution,
or greater capability of resisting corruption or insects, between the
alburnum and mature wood, although the difference between the two is
generally perceptible when the cross section is drying, and immediate,
as in the brown or red; there being no gradual change or softening in
either between the mature and immature. Although the change in those
which become brown and red does not much affect {126} the hardness or
strength of the timber (mature and immature being nearly equal in these
when dried before corruption injures the latter), yet it materially
influences its nature or quality. We have taken down Laburnum trees in
the round natural form from the roofing of an old building, from which
nearly the whole yellow or sap-wood was eaten away by insects, although
they had not made the least impression upon the brown[28]. {127}

Whether timber be more lasting when cut at one time of the season than
at another, is not yet determined. The matured wood does not seem to be
much affected by the season, continuing nearly equally moist throughout
the year; life or action in it, though not quite, being nearly extinct,
and little or no circulation remaining; yet the matured wood of the
stool of the pine throws out a little resin when the tree is cut
down in summer,—perhaps only a mechanical effect of heat and drying.
Steeping in water for a considerable time is of far more importance
to the duration of timber than any thing depending on the time of the
season when it is cut down; steeping causes some acetous {128} change
in the timber (easily recognisable by the sense of smelling when any
section of it is made), which, judging from the effect the acetous
change has to preserve other vegetable matter from putrefaction, is
probably of considerable use in preserving the timber from decay,
either by rot or worming. The time of cutting, although of considerable
importance to the quality and durability of the sap-wood, appears to be
of little or none to the matured.

The age at which timber may be cut down being uncertain, the
height to which it should be trained up of clear stem is not very
determinable,—say that the trees are to be allowed to stand till
nearly full grown,—as long as the timber continues to retain its
strength and toughness when growing in proper soil, that is for
hard-wood trees 100 years and upwards, and for pines from two to three
hundred. On crowns of eminences and exposed bluffs, particularly when
the latitude or altitude is rather high, the soil inferior, or the
climate arid, from 15 to 30 feet of clear hole may be as much as can
judiciously be attempted; upon plains under common circumstances,
from 30 to 50 feet is an attainable stem; in sheltered dales and
valleys, they may be trained clean, and without branch, from 50 to
70 feet in altitude; and in cases where soil, situation, {129} and
climate, are all propitious, and it is desired that nature’s fullest,
grandest, development should be displayed, from 70 to 150 feet, clear
of branch, maybe gained. Lewis and Clarke describe a spruce, in a
sheltered dell on the river Columbia, which they measured, lying upon
the ground, 312 feet long from root to top. We have little belonging
to earth more sublime, or which bears home to man a deeper sense of
his bodily insignificance, and puny transient being, than an ancient
majestic forest, whose luxuriant foliage on high, seems of itself
almost a firmament of verdure, supported on lofty moss-covered columns,
and unnumbered branched arches,—a scene equally sublime, whether we
view it under the coloured and flickering lights and shadows of the
summer eve and morning, resounding to the song of the wild life which
harbours there,—or under the scattered beams streaming downward at
high noontide when all is still,—or in winter storms, when the wild
jarring commotion, the frightful rending and lashing of the straining
branches, like the arms of primeval giants, contending in their might,
bear accompaniment to the loud roar and bellow of the tempest, forming
a drone and chaunter to which demons might dance.


Can we consider the Briton sane who speaks of bounding this country
to her home resources? Can any one doubt that our name, our wealth,
our power, are not wholly attributable to our _Marine_? Can any one
be ignorant that the superiority of our marine is wholly dependant on
our _foreign trade_, particularly the bulkier part of it, on _foreign
supply_? Does any one dread the necessity of _foreign supply_, from the
foolish fear that it may be cut off by war? Keeping out of view the
argument, that ere the British pride would suffer _other domination
on the waters_, our numbers would be well thinned away, they know
little of the influence of circumstance on man, who do not perceive
that, in the event of free trade, and of the population of Britain
increasing beyond what the country, under the best possible culture,
could support, the very necessity of being mistress of the seas would
make her so. They know little of what Britain is, country and people,
who doubt of her continued supremacy, should she not be ruined,
indeed, by following the narrow selfish {131} views of a party—a
party alike ungrateful[29] for the past, and blind to, or heedless
of, their own ultimate good. The position of Britain,—her stretch
of sea-coast, serrated with harbours,—her minerals, the principle
of mechanical motion, so necessary in the arts,—her navy, docks,
canals, roads, implements, and machinery, so superior to those of the
whole world beside,—her fertile soil,—her capital,—her protection of
property,—her insular situation,—her steady government and consequent
ingress of capital from the continent on any commotion,—her habits
of industry,—her knowledge of trade,—her sciences,—her arts,—her
free press,—her {132} religion[30],—and the stamina and indomitable
spirit of her people. All these, causes and effects combined, brought
into action under a climate the most favourable for developing the
moral and physical energies of man, where the extremes of temperature
neither relax nor chill, where the human muscle and human mind are more
capable of continued strong exertion, and machinery less influenced by
hygrometric and calorific change, than on any other spot of earth. When
all these are condensed into a nucleus of power of so small compass
that one spirit, one interest, may pervade all, but drawing support
by ramifications from every nook of the habitable world, should an
infatuated party not render unavailable these unmatched advantages,
cowardice could not even dream of peril to the supremacy of British
naval power.

Let us continue to extend our foreign intercourse and home
cultivation—let the merchant legislate in affairs of trade—the
landholder in country matters; each in that in which his judgment
has been formed by experience, acting always on the principle that
the general prosperity of the country is the interest {133} of
every class—that, like the branch and the root, their prosperity is
indissolubly combined.

When we view the advantages of Britain—almost to a wish,—when we view
her able and ready to supply the necessities of man in every clime,
in exchange for his superfluities, and to scatter science, morality,
the arts of life, all that conduces to happiness and improvement over
the nations,—when we view all this, being blasted by an exclusive
system of monopoly, of very doubtful advantage to one party of the
nation, and tyrannically oppressive upon all others, can we refrain
from execration? We would desire the casuist to draw a distinction
between the criminality of preventing the operative from exchanging
the produce of his labour (otherwise unsaleable) for cheap food[31],
when his family is famishing; and compelling the labour of the Negro
(whom you support with food) with the whip. Men will be found of a
virtue sufficiently easy to advocate either system. We only wish that
the supporters of {134} monopoly and their abettors were sent off to
some separate quarter of the world with all their beloved restrictions,
duties, tariffs, passports, revenue officers, blockade men, with the
innumerable petty interfering vexatious regulations, and all the
contrivances which surely the devil has invented to repress industry
and promote misery, where they might form an Elysium of their own.

There is nothing more certain, should we by restrictions continue to
banish knowledge, capital, and industry from our shores[32], than that
the Genius of Improvement will fix upon some other place for the seat
of her throne. _Maritime dominion_ will follow in her train; and on
the first war, all exportation of the products of our manufacturers
being at an end, unexampled misery will involve four-fifths of our
population, and an explosion will ensue, from its origin and character
of unparalleled fury, which will sweep to destruction the insane
authors of the calamity—tear to shreds the whole fabric of society—and
give to the winds all the institutions which man has been accustomed to
revere. {135}

       *       *       *       *       *

It is disgraceful that our MARINE is not directly represented in the
British Parliament. Is it possible that every clown in England, who is
owner of a few acres or miserable hovel, is carried to the poll,—and
that our shipping interest, and brave seamen, to whom the rest of the
nation is indebted “for all they have, and almost all they know,”
are passed over—have not one direct representative—have not even one
direct vote, and that their interest is totally neglected[33]? Will it
be credited that our most sage legislators, as if on purpose to ruin
our marine, have laid on a tax of L. 4 per load (above 1s. 7d. per
solid foot) on oak-plank, and L. 2, 15s. per load on rough oak-timber,
imported from other nations; which, as only a small part of what is
(not of what would be) used, is so derived, at the same time that
it raises the price of the whole[34] nearly 100 per cent., tends
comparatively little to swell the revenue,—nearly the whole of the high
monopoly price reverting to our landholders and our grateful Canadian
{136} colony? As about a load (50 solid feet) of timber is required
for the construction of a ton of trading shipping, this duty, together
with the high duty on hemp, increases the cost of our vessels nearly
L. 4 per register ton, independent of the higher price of building
and sailing them, from other monopolies; and it is only from the very
superior skill, honesty and industry of our seamen[35], that our
shipping, since the peace, under this very great disadvantage, has been
at all enabled to compete with foreign. At Shields and Newcastle a new
merchant-vessel of oak, rigged and ready for sea, uncoppered, can be
purchased for L. 10 per register ton. Were the price, by the removal of
monopoly, reduced to L. 6 per ton, scarcely a foreign bottom, American
excepted, would compete with British, in the carrying trade, or would
enter a British port. Can it be believed that our very liberal late
minister (Mr Huskisson), and our very non-liberal member for Newark
(Mr Sadler), have both made a _full_ exposè of the distresses of our
shipping interest, and not once have adverted to the _cause_ of this,
and of the comparative decline of our naval preponderance—_the very
high duty on the_ {137} _material_? Does our Government perceive the
rapid strides which our rival brothers in America are making to surpass
us in marine—and will it be so besotted as continue laws to the speedy
fulfilment of this?

May we hope that, through the energy of OUR SAILOR KING, Britain will
lead the van in the disenfranchisement of man from the old bondage of
monopoly and restriction—that a more sane system of taxation (a tax on
property) will be adopted, as well as a necessary retrenchment—that the
true interest of Britain will be understood and followed, and a new era
begin. We are sick of the drivelling nonsense of our closet economists
about loss by colonies and foreign connexion. Bonaparte well knew the
value of SHIPS, COLONIES and COMMERCE, and dreaded the power which
eventually wrought his fall. The existence of China depends upon her
Agriculture, and the sovereign devotes a part of his time annually to
the plough. The existence of Britain depends upon her Marine, and the
king should always be bred a sailor—the heir-apparent and presumptive
being always sent to sea. In the case of a female, if she did not take
kindly to the sea-service, a dispensation might be allowed, on her
marrying a sailor, and the foolish law prohibiting our Royal Family
from marrying a Briton be put aside.


[25] If the heat and evaporation of a gardener’s pocket for several
days be sufficient to render the seeds of melons and gourds productive
of plants of earlier maturity, that is less disposed to extension and
more to reproduction,—what may be expected from kiln-drying fir-cones?

[26] The full ripening of the seeds of some cultivated varieties
of vegetables, and also the drying of the seeds severely without
artificial heat, are found to have considerable influence upon the
germination of the seeds, and even some impression upon the character
of the resulting plant.

[27] Covered drains are not adapted for woods, as the matted fibres of
the roots, especially of the semi-aquatic trees, very soon enter them
and form obstructions.

[28] Laburnum (Cytisus) is the most valuable timber this country
produces. It is equally deep in colour, and takes as fine a polish as
rose-wood, having also something slightly pellucid in the polished
surface. From its extreme hardness, it is much better adapted for
use than mahogany, not being indented or injured by blows or rough
treatment. We are acquainted with no other timber of home produce so
little liable to decay. The large-leaved variety in rich warm soils
acquires a diameter of a foot or a foot and a-half, and grows rapidly
till it fall into seed-bearing. Its usual very stunted growth is partly
owing to less valuable faster growing trees overtopping it: Were it
planted alone, and trained to proper curve, it might be profitably
reared for the upper timbers (the part where decay commences) of small
vessels: it has the thinnest covering of sap wood of any of our timber
trees. The extreme beauty and richness of its clustered depending
blossoms is a considerable injury to its growth, as it is often broken
and despoiled of the branches on this account. The small-leaved
Laburnum, though producing the most beautiful timber, is of such
puny growth as not to rank as a forest tree. There is a peculiarity,
at least seldom occurring in other trees, attending the growth of
the small-leaved variety: a branch frequently gives up feeding the
connected trunk and roots, drawing supply of nourishment from these
upward, without returning much or any of the digested matter downward.
This branch above the place of the stagnation of the bark vessels
becomes enlarged, running into numerous shoots, which are generally
unnaturally thick and unhealthy, approaching to dropsical—often,
however, beautifully pendant down to the ground, from their weight
and the smallness of the supporting branch. We do not know whether
this is an awkward effort towards increase—that these branches, under
the influence of a not entirely matured instinct or faculty, droop in
search of earth to root, and extend by layers, in conformity to a habit
of some tribes of trees, in which this mode of increase is efficient,
or that it is a disease unconnected with design or final cause. These
overgrown branches of the small-leaved laburnum are generally thrown
out by trees, which, owing to circumstances, are little disposed to

[29] Let us compare the wealth of the British landholder with that
of the like grade on the Continent. It is the unrivalled skill and
industry of our manufacturers and traders which have laid every shore
under contribution for the immense riches which has poured in upon our
landholders, and which, from juxtaposition, will continue to do so,
in a certain degree, under the fullest freedom of trade. It is now
absurd to talk of duties on foreign products, to counterbalance home
taxation—taxation now bears lightly on home agricultural production,
more so than in many parts of the Continent, and our manufacturers,
under the same or greater taxation, compete with and outstrip all the
world in cheapness of production.

[30] The dread of change in Catholic countries—the proscription of
almost every new work treating of science—the complete submission of
the mind to the religious authorities, bearded men “becoming little
children” even to the letter—the consequent general abandonment to
sensual enjoyment—the immense number of holidays—and the shoals of
meddling priests, are a great bar to improvement—an insurmountable
one to manufacturing pre-eminence. We need not say that all this is
subordinate to climate. Effect, however, soon turns to cause.

[31] Our industrious operatives, rendered trebly more productive by
recent machinery improvements, fabricate three times more commodity
than our landed and other population can with their present habits
consume. Few other nations can give else but food in exchange for this
overplus; our landholders have enacted laws to exclude food, and our
operatives are being starved down to the requisite number for home

[32] The same polity under which Britain has acquired supremacy, will
not now serve to continue it. A knowledge of the interests of nations
is abroad, and if we will not suffer our country to be the emporium of
the world, another will.

[33] See App. E.

[34] The price of any article raised at home, when any part requires to
be imported, of course rises to the whole cost (prime cost, duty and
freight) of the foreign.

[35] The chance of loss by wreck, damage from sea-water, and pilfering,
being much less in British than in foreign bottoms, enables the British
to obtain a higher freight than the foreign.

{138} PART IV.


After throwing together several of our own observations, we bethought
ourselves of examining into the ideas and experience of recent writers
on the same subject. Having taken notes of the more prominent matter
contained in their pages, we believe we shall do the public a service
by printing these notes, accompanied by slight remarks. This may be the
more useful, especially as almost every author has his own particular
mania, which few common readers have sufficient knowledge of the
subject to discriminate from the saner matter: and as, from the nature
of hobbies—from some shrewd enough guesses by the owner that they are
his own undoubted property—and, perhaps, from some misgivings, that
what he advances on these is not perfectly self-evident, he is thence
the more disposed to expatiate upon them, and embellish. The {139}
credulous and inexperienced, partly from this, and partly from the
fascination of the very improbability, rush at once into the snare;
bring the speculations or assertions to practical test; get quickly
disenchanted by realities, and ever after are disposed to treat all
written directions on material science with contempt. We bring forward
these authors in the order of perusal. We have found several remarks
similar to our own; this was to be expected.

{140} I. THE FORESTER’S GUIDE, _by Mr Monteath_.

This volume is the work of a man of some experience, and of
considerable observation and ingenuity, not much assisted by botanical
or physiological science or literary attainment, which he, indeed,
disclaims. His principal forte, and what he seems to have been most
engaged with, is oak-coppice—his besetting sin, cutting and cropping.
His directions on rearing and cutting coppice may be sensible;—those
who wish to practise the sacrilege of destroying young oak-forest, we
refer to him, as we have always had a horror at seeing a beautiful
sapling untimeously cut down, like an American bullock for its hide. At
present, and while peace continues, it is very easy to obtain plenty
of foreign bark, and also oak-timber, for consumption, at a very cheap
rate, for this reason—_and also, because, in the event of war, the
price of these articles would be nearly doubled—we would request the
holders of coppice, and, indeed, of all growing oak-timber, to pause
in their operations of cutting, and not to sacrifice their property
so unprofitably, to their own ultimate disadvantage, and also to the
detriment of {141} the national resources; but immediately to
set about converting their coppice-hags into oak-forest, by careful
thinning and selection_. For performing this, we refer them to Mr
Monteath in person, who seems to comprehend the utility, and to be
pretty well versed in the practice, of thinning; only we would desire
him, in pruning, to attend to the functions of the leaves; that the
more abundant the covering of healthy foliage, the tree will progress
the faster; and that the repeated cutting down of a young plant, year
after year, as he recommends, even sometimes extending it to five
years in succession, will either destroy the plant altogether, or be
extremely injurious to its growth: although, if the plant be stunted,
cutting it down, once, as every body knows, is the plan which should be
adopted with all kinds of our common forest trees—the coniferæ, beech,
and birch, excepted.

Mr Monteath advises a naturalization of young plants, after they are
got from nurseries, in a soil and climate similar to that which they
are ultimately to occupy. We see no necessity for this. All that is
required in a young plant, is, that it be of good variety, of firm
fibre, in a healthy growing state; with a stout stem, in proportion to
the height, {142} with numerous side branches, and with a root rather
large in comparison to the part above ground.

Our author’s mode of preparation of turfy peat-moss soils for planting
we think good, but conveniently applicable in heathy moss ground, only
with the assistance of the late Mr Finlayson’s ingenious device of
the self-clearing plough. At every seven feet of breadth, Mr Monteath
excavates a deep rut, by means of a plough with three coulters and
two mould-boards,—two of the coulters cutting, each, a side of the
rut, the other dividing it in the middle, and the double mould-board
turning out a furrow to each side. He passes this plough twice along
in forming the rut, each time turning out from four to six inches in
depth, so that the whole depth of the rut is about ten inches. These
minor drains communicate with larger ones dug by the spade across the
field. The thrown up slices are then cut into lengths of eighteen
inches, and carefully dried, by turning and by piling a few together,
as openly as possible, that the wind may blow through. A small pile,
about six in number, is then burnt upon the intended site of each tree,
if necessary, aided in the combustion by furze or other fuel; taking
care, by proper regulation of the quantity of fuel, or otherwise, to
prevent the combustion from proceeding too {143} far, and the ashes
from becoming white and light, as in this case a considerable part
of their virtues is dissipated. This ploughing, drying, and burning,
being performed as early in the summer as the weather will permit,
the earth under the ashes is immediately dug over, from two to four
feet in breadth, and mixed with the ashes, and the following spring
the planting is performed. In situations where Mr Monteath’s plough
could not be worked to advantage, these minor drains may be formed by
the spade; and in heathy peat soils, not requiring drains, the burning
of the heathy turfs on the site of the plants might be efficacious in
correcting the tannin, and in reducing and enriching the soil within
the immediate reach of the young plant, which would thus acquire
strength to subdue the more distant part, and gradually reduce and form
the whole into soil capable of affording healthy nourishment.

We also approve of the plan mentioned by Mr Monteath, for covering
with timber, rocks or stony ground, so bare of soil as not to admit of
planting, by means of placing seeds in the crevices, or on the shelves
of the rock, and scraping together a little mould to cover them; or,
when practicable, placing the seeds in the middle of the mould. Here,
however, we think he errs, in recommending the {144} cutting down
of the young resulting shoot, year after year, that the plant may
acquire long roots, extended down the crevices, to give the future
stem stability and sufficient foraging. We would never cut down but
when the plant appeared stunted, and not then in succession, nearer
than three or four years from the last cutting. Those who possess
rocky precipices, so steep or inaccessible that the above method
of our author could not be practised with conveniency, may cause a
quantity of the cheapest seeds of trees be sown down over the top of
the crags during the winter: we would prefer the end of January, as the
mouldering effects of the frost and the rains would cover numbers of
these, so as they would come to vegetate.

Mr Monteath advises, in rearing oak-forest or copse, to put in only
about thirty plants per acre, and by layers from these to cover the
interstices. In order to recommend this practice, he states the
celerity with which these could be extended, layer beyond layer, making
steps, every second season, of eight or nine feet, by relaying the
last layer’s shoots, and he affirms, that a forest could be sooner,
and more economically raised by this means, than by planting the whole
at first. This is sufficiently imaginative. He seems not to be aware
of the fact, that life is {145} very languid, and growth slow, in any
branch horizontally extended, especially when upright stems from the
same root are suffered to remain. He also expects the layer-roots to
become strong and capable to forage for large trees. That they will,
in the oak, ever become so, we think very improbable. Examination
of the roots which proceed from oak-layers would place this beyond
dispute; if they are, as we presume, fibrous and slender, similar to
those produced by apple-layers, no tree or bush of any great size will
result. Large trees, generally, cannot be procured by layers, but only
in those semiaquatic kinds which grow readily by slips. Whether it
may be advantageous to fill up the vacancies of copse by layers, in
preference to seed-plants, experience only can determine. The bark of
trees or bushes raised by layers or cuttings is generally thicker than
that of those raised from seed:—this might balance some deficiency of
the growth in the case of oak-coppice.

Our author advises the cutting off the upper part of spruce-trees on
the outside of plantations, in order that their lower branches may
extend the more, and remain vigorous,—thence affording more adequate
shelter to the within plantation. Perhaps it is quite unnecessary to
guard any person from practising this piece of folly. On the outside
of woods, spruce-firs {146} will retain the branches in vigour,
sufficiently low for all the purposes of shelter: nothing could be more
unseemly than the decapitated trees; and in a few years most of them
would become rotted in the stem, die, and fall down.

From observing, on the western side of Scotland, thriving plantations
exposed to south-west winds and sea-spray, and also to north-east
winds and sea-spray, in woods extending along the western side of
the salt lochs in Argyllshire, our author predicts, that, under his
panacea of repeated cutting down, trees would grow luxuriantly in
exposed situations on the north-eastern margin of our island. We do not
desire to see Mr Monteath’s sanguine hope turned to disappointment,
which a trial would certainly effect. There is something peculiarly
hard and cutting in our _vernal_ north-eastern breeze fresh from
ocean, which withers up the tender spreading leaves of every plant
raised from the ground, and placed in its immediate draught. This is
occasioned as well by a cold moist, as by a cold dry wind, the new
vegetable structure in the developing process, when the tissues of
tubes and cells are only in the state of pulp, and all the molecular
germs floating into figure, under the direction of vital and chemical
impulses and attractions, being very susceptible {147} of derangement.
We attribute this effect on vegetables principally to the coldness and
saline matter. The depressing effect on the spirits or vital energy of
man, occasioned by the eastern breeze, does not appear to be dependent
on the same cause. The great rivers, the Rhine, the Weser, the Elbe,
independent of the English rivers, throw a great quantity of decaying
vegetable matter into the lower part of the German sea, which, being
there only a shallow muddy gulf, may thence have its waters so far
contaminated as to throw off pernicious exhalations. Or, what is much
more probable, the eastern breeze, sweeping along the swamps (at this
time in high evaporation, of malaria) which extend from Holland upward,
and along the whole southern shore of the Baltic, and thence eastward
nobody knows how far, must bear these exhalations, uncorrected, over
the narrow sea which intervenes between these flats and our shores.
It is even likely that a slight diffusion of saline matter from this
gulf, instead of correcting, may have the opposite effect, as a small
quantity of salt tends to promote putrefaction. It is evident that this
miasma-atmosphere, borne across the German sea, is not pernicious to
vegetables; as, when the breeze is not too cold, or too violent, they
progress rapidly in growth, {148} and acquire a deep green colour:
and, on the north-eastern Scotch coast, where timber suffers most, the
breeze has little of that depressive influence on man, although it
may derange his respiratory and transpiratory organs; while down on
the shores of Suffolk and Essex, where the malaria of the breeze is
greatest to man, the exposed trees receive less injury. Yet something
may depend upon the electric state of this air, or upon the greater
pressure of the atmosphere, which, we believe, are connected. On the
exposed east coast, when it is desired to grow timber, we must estimate
the most enduring kind of tree, perhaps sycamore plane, and place it to
seaward, covering it as much as possible by wall, and planting other
kinds under its lee. We have noticed several instances where timber
throve well, without shelter, close by the sea, on our north-east
coast, which we attributed to a diminished draught of the eastern
breeze, owing to the configuration of the adjacent higher country.

Mr Monteath ascribes the sickliness and decay which, in many places,
is perceptible in the timber of narrow belts, to the want of shelter,
and recommends to form belts wider. There is some truth in this, and
the advice is good, although he does not seem to be aware of the
whole cause of the evil. {149} Trees in single rows thrive latterly
much better than in narrow belts, because, from the planting, they
are habituated to open situation, and acquire roots, branches, and
stem, suited to this: whereas trees in narrow belts, from being in a
thicket while young, acquire great length of stem, and roots and tops
unproportionably small; and, when thinned out, and from the narrowness
of the belt, exposed nearly as much, as, though in single row, they
become sickly, from delicacy of constitution unsuited to this exposure,
and from deficiency of roots to draw moisture commensurate to the
increased evaporation. To obviate this evil, resulting from narrow
belts, timely thinning, so as to retain numerous side-branches downward
to the ground, of course, should be adopted. In a drier climate, or in
high and exposed situation, continued forest will have great effect in
promoting the luxuriance and health of timber; but in the southern part
of Scotland, there are few situations, keeping away from high elevation
and the eastern coast, where any of our common trees would prosper in
forest, which would not grow pretty well singly, provided the plant be
allowed from the first to accommodate its figure to the situation.

Mr Monteath’s system of pruning severely while {150} the trees are
young, we think very prejudicial; and his restricting pruning to trees
under 15 or 20 feet in height, equally erroneous. About 15 years ago,
we selected a number of young trees several years planted, and low
and bushy, in an open situation. We treated one half of these in a
manner similar to what our author inculcates, pruning away most of
the lower branches, and also any irregular top ones: and the other
portion, though very bushy, we left to nature’s own discretion, merely
correcting several which threw up more than one leader. The result
has been, that those much pruned up have required constant attention
to the top and repeated pruning, they continuing to break forth into
irregular branches and numerous leaders, and thence have sustained
considerable loss of growth; while those let alone, after hanging
several years in bush fashion, of their own accord have thrown up fine
leaders, which now form beautiful, upright stems, with sufficiency of
regular lateral branches or feeders, requiring little or no attention;
while the original bush at the ground, from the size and overshadowing
of the superior tree, appears now so diminutive as to be unworthy of
notice. We do not mean to inculcate that pruning is superfluous; on the
contrary, when judiciously executed, under regulation of the purpose
for which the {151} particular kind of timber may be required, it is
highly useful: but the cutting off and diminishing the number of lower
feeders, thence deterring the growth of the tree, and encouraging the
superior feeders to push up as leaders; or to increase in size so as to
render their removal, should it be necessary, dangerous to the health
of the tree, and the upper part of the stem useless from large knots
(a practice which in nine cases out of ten is followed), cannot be
sufficiently reprobated. _In pruning, every means should be taken to
increase the number of feeders_, in order that none of them may become
too large; and no healthy regular feeder should be lopped off till the
tree has reached the required height of stem, and a sufficient top
above this for the purpose of growth; at which time the feeders upon
the stem, as far up as this necessary height, may be removed[36].

Mr Monteath states that Scots fir should not be thinned to greater
distance than 20 feet apart, and larch 15 feet. This shews very little
consideration: the distance apart necessary for these kinds of timber,
and of all other kinds, must be relative to the soil, situation and
climate, and the intentions of the owner, whether he means to bring
them soon to {152} market, or carry them forward to great timber.
When fir trees are intended to be early cut down, or when disease in
larch from unfitness of soil may be apprehended, as it is thence of
small consequence though their future ability to become great timber
be destroyed by closeness, the plants should be retained pretty near
each other from the first, that the timber may be tall, straight, and
clean. On the other hand, when the soil is suitable and great timber
intended, early attention to thinning and great openness from the
first is absolutely necessary, as they (the firs), different from
other trees, can never repair the loss of their lower branches by
throwing out new ones from the naked stem; and double the distance
stated by Mr Monteath at least for larch, which, instead of less, needs
more space than Scots fir, will be required. We believe the decay of
Scots fir, occurring so generally at about 40 years of age, although
also dependent on inferior variety and kiln-drying of cones, arises
principally from want of timely thinning; that is, that the infirm
variety of Scots fir in common use, when supported by numerous feeders,
and not weakened by being drawn up into a tall slender stem, will often
have hardihood to continue growing, and acquire considerable size in
our cold, wet, moorish tills, or even in our moorish {153} sandy
flats. Many casualties will, however, occur among resinous trees[37],
especially in unsuitable soil, even when the plants rise from the seed
naturally sown, and have sufficient room for lateral expansion. The
same cause, viz. closeness or want of thinning, induces early maturity,
old age and decay in larch, although it does not seem to have any
influence, either as inducement to, or prevention of, the rot. We have
heard men,—even men reasonable on other subjects—speak of allowing a
pine wood to thin itself: as well might a farmer speak of allowing his
turnip field to thin itself. When woods are planted of various kinds
of timber, the stronger, larger growing kinds will sometimes acquire
room by overwhelming the smaller: but when the forest is of one kind
of tree, and too close, all suffer nearly alike, and follow each other
fast in decay, as their various strength of constitution gives way;
unless, from some negligence or defect in planting, a portion of the
plants have come away quickly, and the others hung back sickly for
several years, so that {154} the former might master the latter:
or when some strong growing variety overtops its congeners. In the
natural forest of America, when a clearance by any means is effected,
the young seedlings, generally all of one kind, spring up so numerous,
that, choaking each other, they all die together in a few years. This
close springing up and dying is sometimes repeated several times over;
different kinds of trees rising in succession, till the seeds in the
soil be so reduced as to throw up plants so far asunder as to afford
better opportunity for the larger growing varieties to develope their
strength; and, overpowering the less, thus acquire spread of branches
commensurate to the height, and thence strength of constitution
sufficient to bear them forward to large trees.

Mr Monteath, apparently to encourage the destruction of young oak, and
keep his merciless hatchet agoing, asserts that “oak trees, at the age
of 24 or not exceeding 30 years, have as thick a rind or fleshy part
of bark, as when they arrive at 50.” If by this he means to say, that
the useful part of the oak bark of the stem of a tree at 50 years old
is no thicker than that of one of 30, we say he is wrong, widely wrong.
A thriving oak tree of 100 years will still continue to increase the
thickness of the valuable part of the bark on the stem, although part
of the {155} outer layers or cuticle may lose vitality, and become
_corky_. We have taken down a luxuriant growing oak, exceeding three
feet in diameter, the living bark of whose stem was about two inches
in thickness, resembling thick plank, and which was considered by the
tanners much stronger in quality than bark of younger growth. Has Mr
Monteath seen any bark resembling this on 24 years old sproutings? If,
by the above quotation, our author means to say, that the valuable
part of the bark on the branches of a tree 30 years old, is equal in
thickness to that on the same sized branches of a tree at 50, we say he
errs still; that is, provided the older tree be in a healthy thriving
condition, and growing equally open and exposed as the younger. Trees,
as they increase in years, increase also in the thickness of the living
bark, from the root upwards to the smallest twig, provided they have
not begun to get dry and sickly from over maturity. When this period
arrives, the living part of the bark upon the stem and larger branches
becomes very thin, with a great proportion of dead corky substance;
although, on the twigs and smaller branches, it still continues to
thicken. The age at which the external part of the bark begins to lose
vitality, is considerably dependant upon luxuriance of growth, climate,
and exposure; and the {156} period when this loss proceeds faster than
the annual increase within, is altogether dependent on the vigour of
the tree, not on the age, and never takes place till the timber is ripe
for the dock-yard.

We would warn the readers of Mr Monteath’s volume, that his
calculations and statements regarding the worth of coppice and timber
generally, seem more suited to flatter the owner’s wishes than to be
useful to him as a merchant; or to be adjusted to the value of money
during the late war—not to the present value. We also do not very well
comprehend his re-establishment or resuscitation of life in dead trees.
We observe several other slight errors, such as the duration of his
paling,—and the affirmation that the sap-wood will not extend so as to
cover over the section of a pruned branch which contains any red or
matured wood. Most readers will be able to detect such errors as these.

In taking leave of Mr Monteath’s volume, we would offer our
acknowledgment for the attention he has bestowed on the subject of the
seasoning of timber, by steaming with extract of wood (pyroligneous
acid) and by scorching, as prevention of dry rot. The greatest
objection we see to his plan is, that all timber dried quickly is
liable to crack and split, and loses a considerable portion of its
{157} toughness and elasticity; at least, timber when dried slowly is
harder and stronger than when dried quickly, the dryness in both cases
being carried to the same extent. The comparative strength of timber
scorched and timber not scorched, after both are soaked in water, as
in the lower timbers and plank of vessels, should be subjected to

Our author’s directions (although the practice is also not new) to
season larch by peeling off the bark one or more years previous to
cutting, in order to prevent it from warping or twisting in framed
housework; and his hints recommending stripping off the bark from
most kinds of timber a season previous to cutting, are also deserving
of notice. We greatly wonder that something efficacious has not been
done in regard to dry rot by our Navy Board, and consider the subject
of such importance, that we think a rot-prevention officer or wood
physician should be appointed to each war vessel from the time her
first timber is laid down, to be made in some shape accountable if
rot to any extent should ever occur; and that this officer should be
regularly bred to his profession at an institution established for the
study of this branch of science at the King’s largest building yard.
Perhaps it might be as well to endow several professors’ chairs at the
universities to follow {158} out and lecture on this science, as being
of far more importance than many which are already endowed. We think
that steeping in fresh water pits for several years, till a kind of
acetous fermentation take place in the timber, or till it become of a
blue colour; or in tan-pits; or for a shorter period in strong brine
pits; or even salting the timber like herrings, after it is blocked
out; or forcing pyroligneous acid, or composition of chlorine, or
other solution, antiseptic or obnoxious to life, into the pores of the
timber when dry, by pressure; or perhaps by charring the timbers after
they are cleaned down on the stocks ready for the plank, by playing on
them a jet of flame from a flexible gas pipe,—might, some of them, be
found preventive of the rot, and at same time not to impair any of the
valuable qualities of the timber.

We are a little shy in committing ourselves, lest we should be
impressed as a dry-rot physician or professor; but if the following
plan for preservation of vessels when unemployed has not already been
tried, we recommend it to the notice of our Navy Board.

Let every part of the vessel be cleared out, and every port-hole or
external opening be made as air-tight as possible.

Let a quantity of recent-burned limestone {159} (lime-shells) be
spread thin over every inside deck or floor, and over the whole bottom
and sides of the vessel, and every door or hatch in the main-deck be
immediately closed down air-tight. A number of rods or shreds of timber
would require to be nailed slightly to the inside skin of the ship
where the slope is considerable, in order that the lime-shells may rest
and not roll down.

As soon as it is found that the lime-shells are completely
slaked—become hydrate of lime—let it be sold to the farmer or
house-builder, or be used in any government erection going forward at
the time; and let another quantity be laid in. We would consider a
sloop of 80 tons load of lime, value, prime cost and freight, about
L.70, would suffice for covering the internal surface of a seventy-four
gun ship. When slaked to powder, the lime might be disposed of at
little loss. It is impossible, without trial, to say how often the
lime would require renewal, but we think twice or thrice a-year would
suffice to preserve the vessel dry and free of any corruption; perhaps
even once might be found effectual. Suppose that the lime was renewed
every four months, and that when slaked it only sold at two-thirds of
the whole cost, the preservation of a line-of-battle ship would be
nearly as follows. The price of the lime {160} and work is correct,
according to the rates in most of the harbours of Scotland.

 A quantity of rods or shreds of timber, about three inches
   in diameter, for nailing on the sloping sides of the vessel,
   material and labour,                            L.20  0  0

 Eighty tons lime-shells = 560 bolls, at 1s. 7d.
   per boll, prime cost,                             44  6  8

 Freight of 560 bolls, at 1s.                        28  0  0
   The slaked lime is supposed to sell at 2-3ds
     of the cost, thence the whole loss on a year
     would equal the value of one cargo.

 Carrying three lime cargoes of shells aboard,
   and spreading them,                               30  0  0
   We allow here for the greater distance of
     carriage, and spreading out of the cargo,
     nearly thrice the sum requisite to remove
     lime-shells from a vessel into a cart.

 Removing the slaked lime of three cargoes,          30  0  0
                      Cost first year,            L.152  6  8
                      Deduct rods,                   20  0  0
 Cost, second, and each following year,           L.132  6  8

The complete efficacy of lime-shells in preventing dry-rot is already
proved—the coasting small craft frequently employed in the carriage
of lime-shells not being liable to it. All that requires to be
ascertained, is the minimum quantity which will effect it; and if
the expense of this quantity will greatly exceed the average loss by
dry-rot in our unemployed {161} shipping. If the quantity necessary be
not greater than what we have supposed—even Mr Hume himself would not
consider the expense extravagant—the preservation of a line-of-battle
ship not exceeding that of one of our numerous army _captains_ while
lying _in ordinary_.

Lime is preventive of dry-rot in several ways,—when uncombined as an
antiseptic, simply by drying, from its attraction for water; by its
causticity, which remains for a number of months after it is slaked,
destroying organic life; and by its absorbing putrescent gases. It is
not easy, without trial, to form a correct estimate of the quantity of
moisture which would enter through the inside planking of a man-of-war;
but were the bottom of the vessel in good condition, the pumps attended
to, and external air excluded, we should consider that the moisture
would not greatly exceed 60 tons of water yearly, which would nearly
be required to convert 240 tons of lime-shells into dry hydrate of
lime. No very great injury or inconvenience would be produced by the
opening of the seams of the ceiling (the inside skin), or of the inner
decks or floors, or by the warping of the plank, resulting from the
contraction of the timber by the dryness; but the caulking of the main
deck would require to be looked to. {162} No danger from fire need be
apprehended, from the sudden slaking of a thin layer of shells, even
though a leak in the main deck should occur. The thickness beyond which
shells could not be suddenly slaked upon dry boards without danger of
fire, might be tried.

It is necessary to mention, that, though lime-shells, or dry hydrate of
lime, when timber is so dry as to be liable to corruption by insects
or by dry rot, is, by destroying life and increasing the dryness,
preventive of this corruption; yet lime, in contact with timber for
a considerable time in very moist air, from its great attraction to
water, draws so much moisture from the air as to become wet mortar or
pulp, which, moistening the timber, promotes its decay by the moist


This volume, which ought to have been named Sang’s Nurseryman’s
Calendar, is a work of very considerable merit and usefulness, where
the craft of the common nurseryman is plainly and judiciously taught.
The editor, Mr Sang, admits that he was very little indebted to the
notes of his friend (the late Mr Nicol) for the matter of the volume;
and the work itself bears evidence of this, being principally devoted
to the operations of the nursery, the sowing and planting of hard-wood
trees, which are described with a judgment and accuracy attainable
only by long experience in that line, to which we understand Mr Sang
belongs. Every person engaged with the sowing, planting, or rearing of
timber, if he be not too wise or too old to learn, should forthwith
procure this volume.

Mr Sang recommends sowing of forests in preference to planting, which
many before him have done, we believe, more from conjecture that
nature’s own process must be superior to any method of art, than from
any experience of the fact or accurate {164} knowledge of—at least
without giving sufficient explanation of, any cause rendering the
tree of more puny growth in consequence of being transplanted. In
the case of simple herbaceous vegetables, we find, on the contrary,
that transplanting increases the size, protracts the period of full
development, and retards the decay, the individual suffering no lasting
injury from root fracture, or that injury being more than compensated
by change to a new and more recently wrought soil; or even the root
fracture, instead of being of prejudice to the growth, by throwing the
energy of the plant in this direction to repair the injury, not only
may do so, but delaying the superior process towards reproduction[38],
may also give a {165} new vigour to the soft fibrous rootlets,
and greater extension than they otherwise would have attained.
But in regard to some kinds of compound plants of perennial stem,
transplanting, especially when the plant has attained some size, by
fracture, throws the main wide diverging roots into numerous rootlets
and slender matted fibres, none of which has individual strength to
extend as a leader far beyond the shade of the spreading top, thence
forage in a drier, more exhausted soil, and, from consequent want of
supply of moisture, the sap of the tree stagnates into flower, or
merely leaf-buds, instead of flowing out into new wood. The fibrous
softer rooting vegetables sustain no lasting injury from root-fracture
and transplanting; but the harder, more woody, larger growing roots,
losing their leader, never entirely recover their original power of
extention. Yet we think that one or two year old plants, taken from
the seed-bed, would suffer little or no injury from removal, as the
_tap-root_, which is ultimately of no consequence, never constituting
a leader, but eventually {166} disappearing, is the only part which
suffers fracture in the woody state; and the side shoots, which become
the grand root leaders, are in the fibrous state, which easily repairs
small injury. These observations refer only to certain kinds of timber
trees. The willows, poplars, and lindens, succeed better when their
roots are cropped in near the bulb when removed. We planted a piece of
trenched ground, partly with poplar plants, with good roots, from a
nursery, and partly with poplar loppings, about the same size as the
plants, stuck into the ground: the loppings grew more luxuriantly than
the nursery plants. The same occurs with willows—with this difference,
that willow-loppings do better with the top entirely cropped, without
any twigs or external buds; the poplar only pruned a little, with
a terminal bud left on every twig, especially on the top shoot.
The superiority of the growth of those without roots, results from
their having fewer buds and twigs to exhaust the juices before the
formation of new fibrils to draw from the ground, these few buds thence
continuing to push more strongly, and from the roots growing more
vigorously when sprung anew, than when they are a continuation of the
wounded deranged old ones.

New rootlets spring out much sooner and more {167} boldly from the
thick vigorous green stem bark, than from the delicate tender root
bark, and also more vigorously from the bark of the bulb than from
the bark of the remote roots, of those soft-wooded trees; indeed, it
appears to be owing alone to the great strength of the vitality of the
bark of the stem, that those kinds are so capable of continuation by
cuttings. The roots have nearly the same delicacy of those of other
kinds of trees, and show no particular readiness to throw up sprouts
when bared.

Mr Sang, in furtherance of his advocated scheme of raising forests
_in situ_ from the seed, sensible of the general impracticability of
fallowing or working the ground all over previous to sowing, gives
directions for pitting or stirring the earth the previous spring and
summer, in spots about fourteen inches square, and from six to nine
feet separate, burying the turf under the soil, in order that it may be
rotted, and a fine friable mould obtained for reception of the seeds to
be sown the following spring; several seeds are then deposited in each
spot, equidistant; these require to be hand-weeded the first season,
and the resulting plants hoed around for several successive years, till
they have mastered the weeds, after which they are all plucked out but
one (the most promising) in each spot. This is all very well, {168} if
we could have patience and assiduity to proceed thus systematically;
and if the mice, birds, and other enemies, would “let them be;” but
although this plan, when a braird is obtained, and the tufts cleaned,
and seasonably thinned, is probably the best, yet landlords, in general
incapable of exertion, but under the excitement of a fresh thought, are
so infirm of purpose; tenure of life and property are so precarious;
and trusted servants, especially when the procedure has originated
with another, are so liable to be negligent, that our amateurs ought
to gratify their passion for improvement while it lasts, and proceed
at once by purchase of plants, and pitting or slitting, which procures
them a forest immediately palpable to view. There is no doubt, however,
that wooing the soil to kindliness, rearing the infant plant from the
germ, and superintending _a principio_ the entire beautiful process of
vegetable development, will afford a deeper charm to a patient lover
of nature; and that the continued solicitude and attentions required
during this process acting upon man’s parental instinct, will excite an
interest hardly to be felt towards a child of adoption.

A nursery gives such facility to the rearing of the plants, that,
taking into account the greater chance of failure by sowing _in situ_
than by planting, the {169} latter practice will be executed for one
half the expense of the former. Supposing that the progress, after
twenty years’ occupancy of the ground, be equal in both cases,—at
which period, however, we think the transplanted would still have
the advantage,—it would require a considerable ultimate superior
progress in those sown, to outbalance the accumulating value of the
extra expense. It is probable a combination of both practices might be
advantageously followed—sowing the soils and situations most suitable,
and transplanting the thinnings of these into the more exposed
unpropitious places[39]. The matter, however, must, after all, be left
to the test of experiment in a variety of soils and situations.

This volume, being principally a monthly detail of a nursery practice,
which has supported the test of competition, has, on this account, a
very different credit and value from much that has been published of
landlords’ practice, theorists’ conjectures, or adventurers’ quackery.
The burthen of our author’s song, which, from the nature of the work,
falls to be repeated at several of the calendary periods, and which
perhaps cannot be too often repeated, is nearly as follows.

Procure good seed of the best varieties from large healthy trees,
and preserve these in husk in dry {170} well-aired places till
sowing; with the exception of ash keys, haws, holly-berries, roans,
and yew-berries, which require to be put in the rot-heap as soon as
gathered. The rot-heap consists of seed mixed with sandy earth formed
into a layer not exceeding ten inches in thickness; this is turned
several times before midwinter, when it is covered with a layer of
earth about seven inches deep, to exclude the frost. After remaining
in this heap one year—till September, or the following February, these
seeds are sown out.

Sow seeds of trees during the last half of February, March, or April,
on beds of high manured easy soil, in very fine tilth, and clear of
weeds, such as follows hoed green crop, in distance and depth in
proportion to the size of the seed, or rather of the annual stem or
braird. To deposit the seed at an equable depth, the upper friable
mould is pushed (cuffed) off the bed to the interstices between by
the reversed head of a rake, as deep as necessary; the seed is then
deposited by the hand, and rolled over by a very light roller to fix
it, that it may not suffer derangement by the return of the earth which
is then evenly _cuffed_ back from the sides, and no harrowing or raking

Watch most narrowly, and ward off or destroy all {171} kinds of
vermin, mice, snails, birds, till the time when the rising braird has
disencumbered itself of the husk of the seed thrown up by the ascending
stem, and nip out every weed as soon as discernible by the naked eye.
In order to diminish the toil of watching, the different kinds should
be sown as near the same time as their nature renders prudent, and the
seed-beds be situated as near each other as circumstances will admit.

At the end of the first or second season, according to size and
closeness of plants, remove the seedlings from the bed to nursery rows,
at any time when the leaf is off, and the ground sufficiently dry
not to poach; before April for deciduous trees, and during April for
evergreens, placing them in rather open order, either by dibbling or
laying, according to the nature of the root, firming the plants well in
the ground; in case of dibbling, taking good heed to leave no vacuum of
hole under the root, and to work the tool so as to compress the earth
more below than above.

Keep the soil loose and friable on the surface, and clear of weeds
between the transplanted rows by repeated seasonable hoeings, and let
the plants rise with a single leader.

After the plants have stood one or two years in {172} the nursery-row,
remove them to their ultimate destination with as little fracture or
exposure of root as possible,—the larger rooted by pitting, and the
smaller by slitting, or as the nature of the soil may require; paying
most particular attention to plant the dry ground early after the leaf
has dropped, and the moister and more adhesive soils in succession, as
they become so dry in spring as not to adhere to the tools in working,
or poach in treading the plant firm in; removing the evergreens
earlier, or later, in April, according to the dryness or moistness of
the ground; dipping the roots in a clay-puddle, and endeavouring to
seize the opportunity of planting before a shower, should the spring be
far advanced and dry, especially in the more arid situations.

Stout healthy seedlings, one or two years old, may be at once removed
from the seed-bed to their place in the forest, and will often succeed
as well as when nursed in rows, as above.———We have preferred the
pick of the seedlings to the common run of the transplanted, as being
probably stronger growing varieties.

In cases where it is practicable, work over the new plantations for
several years with crops of potatoes, turnips, lettuce, &c., manuring
the ground, if {173} possible; and then sow out with perennial
rye-grass and white clover, if the trees are not become a close cover,
making economical use of the grass as early in the season as it can be
mowed with a short scythe.

For seeds that require to lie a season in the rot-heap, such as ash
keys, haws, &c. September-sowing is preferable to deferring it to the
following spring, as they are liable to chip in the heap. If not sown
in September, they must be got in as soon in February as possible.

Acorns, Spanish and Horse Chestnuts, are best sown when they drop from
the tree; but when the seed is not procured till spring, the sowing
ought not to be deferred beyond February and March. The best soil is a
deep rich loam.

Elm-seed may be sown in June, when it is new from the tree, or
carefully dried and kept over season till next spring; one-half may
then be sown in March, and the other in April, as the March-sown is
sometimes injured by late frosts. The utmost care is required to
prevent this seed from heating when newly gathered.

Beech braird is also liable to be cut off by spring frost; the seed
should therefore be sown partly in March and partly in April, to
diminish the chance {174} of entire failure. The soil requires to be
rich, and is benefited by a dressing of well-made manure previous to

Sycamore Plane braird also suffers by late frost, and for greater
security ought also to be sown partly in March and partly in April.
Planes require dry, poor, rather exposed sandy soil, for seed-bed; as,
in rich damp soil, the top of the annual shoot does not ripen: the seed
ought to be thinly sown.

Birch and Alder seeds require to be sown in March, or beginning of
April, on very fine, rich, easy mould, giving them very slight cover,
especially the birch.

The Coniferæ, Scots Fir, Spruce, Silver Fir, &c. should be sown in
April, on very rich easy soil. The greatest care is required to deposit
these different seeds at proper regular depth, from an inch to the
fourth of an inch, in proportion to the size of the seed.

Larch should also be sown in April; it succeeds best on the clean
mellow ground which has produced a crop of seedling Scots fir. It is
worthy of remark, that the larch seedlings and row-plants are liable to
die under a putrescent disease, when much recent manure is employed.—We
remark this accordance with its tendency to putrid disease in after
life. {175}

Acorns, Chestnuts, and other large seeds, may be economically sown
in drill: where the soil contains much annual weed seed, this admits
of expeditious cleaning by the hoe. Ground which has borne a crop of
potatoes the preceding season, is unfit for seed-beds, as the tubers
and seed of the potato give much trouble.

These are the chief of Mr Sang’s directions on raising timber-plants.
With the exception of kiln-drying of cones, and being rather too
prodigal of manure to the seed-beds (perhaps necessary in a sale
nursery), we see nothing in the volume to censure.—A premium should be
offered for a convenient plan of distributing fir-seed suitably in the
seed-bed, without the aid of artificial drying.

It is perhaps unnecessary to state, that, in the culture of trees,
there are thousands of incidental circumstances to which general
directions will not apply, and which demand a discriminating judgment
in the operator: this acts as a school to the mental acumen; and there
is no class of operative men, which has the faculties of attention,
activity, discrimination, and judgment, more developed, than nurserymen
and gardeners,—whose diversified labours, requiring, at the same time,
constant mental and corporeal exertion, keep up a proper balance of the
human powers. {176}

We leave to the judgment of the operator to proportion the thickness
of sowing of the different kinds of seed to the expected size of stem
and leaf, under regulation of soil, season, and quality of seed; and
to determine whether the plants may be continued more than one season
in the seed-bed, or be entirely or partly drawn the first, which
must depend on their luxuriance and closeness; also to notice if all
the seeds have vegetated the first season, or if many of them still
be inert; in the latter case, the seedlings must be picked out; to
facilitate which, the earth may be gently raised by a three-pronged
fork, with as little superficial disturbance as possible.

In nurseries, the great and general error is having the plants too
close together, particularly in the row. Every nursery-row plant should
be of a regular cone figure, with numerous side-branches down near to
the root, and gradually widening in the cone downwards. These would,
indeed, occupy more space of package, and probably not please the
ignorant purchaser, who generally prefers a clean, tall body; but they
would support the hardships of removal to the moor, and be stately
trees; when the comely, straight, slender plants would either have died
altogether, or have become miserable, unsightly skeletons, or stunted
bushes. {177}

In cases where plants are required of considerable size, for hedge-rows
or park-standards, it is matter of doubt, how far frequent removals in
nursery, or cutting of roots, is profitable. This occasions fibrous
matted roots, which tend much to the success of the ultimate removal,
and to the growth of the plant for several years after; but, by
checking the disposition the roots naturally have to extend by several
wide-diverging leaders, probably unfit the plant for becoming a large

Mr Sang remarks that sycamore planes and birch should not be pruned in
the latter part of the winter, as they bleed greatly at that season: we
have often noticed this as early as midwinter, which also occurs to the
maple tribe. Our author introduces the mountain-ash as a forest tree, a
rank it by no means merits, at least for value as a timber tree. When
exceeding six inches in diameter, it is generally rotted in the heart,
and is only valuable as a copse for affording pliant, tough rods; or
twigs, as a charm or fetiche against witchcraft! It is, however, one of
our most beautiful trees.

Mr Sang gives directions for kiln-drying fir cones previous to
thrashing out, or extracting the seeds. We have before adverted to
this, and would {178} particularly reprehend the practice. It is
difficult to determine how far early fruitfulness and consequent
infirmity of constitution, diminutiveness of size at maturity, and
early decay, may originate from kiln-drying the cones; but, from the
same process of drying in a less degree having been ascertained to
induce early seed-bearing in the case of other seeds, we may infer
almost to certainty, that the coniferæ of this country, not naturally
planted, are very materially injured by this practice.

It is of small consequence, in reference to the tree itself, at what
season deciduous trees are planted, provided they be naked of leaf,
and the ground not too dry, as they are not liable to lose much
by desiccation or evaporation by the bark alone, before the roots
strike anew in spring, and draw freely from the soil; and the skin of
the bulb, although the small rootlets be broken, sucks up moisture
from the damp soil to repair the loss by superior evaporation: but
evergreens—firs, hollies, laurels, yews, sometimes suffer by removal at
a time when the roots do not immediately strike, as in winter, owing
to the torpor from cold. We have often seen their juices exhausted,
and their leaves entirely withered, by a continuation of dry northerly
winds, the manifest cause of which {179} was the great superficial
exposure of the leaves evaporating faster than the fractured torpid
roots afforded supply. Therefore, although winter planting seldom
fails, yet it is perhaps better to seize the exact time in spring,
immediately before the roots commence to strike anew, before there is
any new top-growth, and while the soil and air remain somewhat moist
and cold, that the evaporation may not be too great. In this climate,
April is a good season for removing evergreens to the field, although,
to throw the work from the busy season, it is often practised in the
nursery in September, when their annual growths are completed, and
while there is yet warmth to enable the roots to strike anew; this,
however, is only advisable where the soil for their reception is in
the most favourable state, friable, and inclining to moist, or when
there is great indication of rain, and the air near the dew point. Of
course they require to be planted as soon as extracted. In winter or
spring, when it happens that evergreens must lie in the _shough_, the
most protected situation, where the air is moist and still, ought to
be chosen, and the earth carefully closed to their roots, which is
best done by watering, if rain be not expected; the stems and branches
should also lie as close to the ground as possible. {180}

There is appended to this valuable Planter’s Calendar a treatise on the
Formation and Management of Osier Plantations. As this will not bear
compression well, we refer our reader to the volume itself.


We have perused Billington’s account of the management of the Royal
Forests with much profit; it affords us an excellent series of
experiments, shewing how much conduct and integrity may exist in
Government establishments, even although the strictest watch be _not_
kept over their motions by the nation itself. Words are awanting to
express our admiration of every thing connected with the management of
our misnamed Royal Wastes. We scarcely could have hoped to find such
pervading judgment and skill of calling, as have been displayed by the
Commissioners, and Surveyors General and Particular; but it is true,
the noble salaries attached to these situations must induce men of
the very first ability and knowledge of the subject, to accept of the

Our author, Mr Billington, proceeds with great naiveté to relate how
they sowed and resowed acorns—how they planted and replanted trees,
persevering even to the fifth time, sometimes covering the roots, and
sometimes not, “but all would not avail,” nothing would do; the seeds
did not vegetate, and the {182} plants refused to grow, excepting in
some rare spots, and a few general stragglers. Then how the natural
richness of the soil threw up such a flush of vegetation—of grass,
and herbs, and shrubs, that most of these plants were buried under
this luxuriance; and how the mice and the emmets, and other wayfarers,
hearing, by the _bruit_ of fame, of the wise men who had the governing
of Dean, assembled from the uttermost ends of the island, expecting
a millennium in the forest, and ate up almost every plant which had
survived the smothering. Now, this is well; we rejoice over the natural
justice of the native and legitimate inhabitants of the Royal Domain,
the weeds mastering the invaders the plants, who, year after year, to
the amount of many millions, made hostile entrance into the forest. We
only deplore the cruel doom of the mice, on whose heads a price was
laid, and of the emmets, who, acting as allies of the native powers,
merited a better fate than indiscriminate slaughter.

May we hope that our Government will no longer persist in unprofitable
endeavours to turn cultivator, or to raise its own supply? We laugh at
the Pasha of Egypt becoming cotton-planter and merchant himself, in a
country where the exertions of a man enlightened beyond his subjects,
who has influence {183} to introduce intelligent cultivators,
possessing the knowledge of more favoured nations, may be necessary
to teach and stimulate the ignorant Copt to raise a new production:
And here, where discovery in every branch of knowledge almost exceeds
the progressive—here, where so many public and government _fixtures_
stand out, as if left on purpose to indicate the recent march of
mind, contrasting so strongly with private and individual attainment
in science and art,—with every thing the reverse of what affects the
Egyptian’s conduct; or, at least, with no excuse beyond affording
a cover for a wasteful expenditure of the public money;—will our
Government continue the system, heedless of reason or ridicule? or
will they not at once end these practices, and immediately commence
sales of every acre of ground to which the Crown has claim, excepting
what is necessary for the use of royalty, abolishing Woods and Forest
Generals, Rangers—every one who has taken rank under Jacques’ Greek,
or the devil’s own invocation, and pay off a part of the debt which is
crushing the energies of the first of nations?

Yet it is not of individuals that we complain; perhaps nobody
could have had a stronger _desire_ to do his duty, than the late
Surveyor-General. It is the system that is naught; where, to the lowest
{184} labourer, none have individual interest in the success of their
work; and where the efforts of the really honest, intelligent, and
industrious are, by directions and trammels, rendered unavailing; or
even through misrepresentation by _those_ of a contrary character, (as
would seem in the case of Mr Billington), are the cause of dismissal.

We can only predicate of the future from the past. In spite of all
our Parliamentary acts respecting these forests, and the clamour that
for ages has been made about them, they, with little exception, have
existed only as cover for sinecure expenditure, or for display of tyro
ignorance and incapacity, and subject for pillage, thieving, and frauds
of every description[40]; (_vide_ Parliamentary Reports). We could
easily—by a very simple incantation, requiring a rod neither tipped
with silver nor with gold, but merely a plain cane or sword—bring forth
a sufficient quantity of large growing oaks to meet any emergency.
Our charm would be to give the title of Prince to the Duke who should
possess, and have at the command of Government at a fair price, a
certain {185} number of oaks above a certain size, and a step of
elevation to every titled person, and the title of Baronet to every
private gentleman, who should possess a given number, diminishing the
number requisite to give a step as the title became lower. We should
conceive this law would not render nobility of less estimation. Perhaps
the clause might be added, that one tree raised on waste ground should
count two.

As a treatise on the rearing, or rather prevention of the rearing,
of young planting, Mr Billington’s small volume possesses some real
merit; and simplicity and useful and sagacious remark are so blended
together, as to afford to the reader at once amusement and information.
We are something at a loss to account for this incongruity. Has the
seclusion of a forest life given a cast of the _naturel_ to his mental
product; or has Jaques of Arden really been in Dean with his celebrated

Mr Billington’s directions on pruning and training are generally
good; but he distances common sense when on his hobby of shortening
of side branches, in recommending to extend this practice to pines.
His breeding as a gardener, and consequent taste for espalier and
wall-training, where every shoot must be under especial direction, seem
to have {186} unfitted his mind to expand to the comprehension of
nature’s own process of action, and disqualified him from walking hand
in hand with her. We also consider that no good, but rather evil, would
result from continued cutting in, and lopping off the points of the
branches of all kinds of trees, excepting when the plants were stunted,
or much covered with flower-buds. Even a very slight clipping greatly
retards the growth of hedges; and the labour and attention requisite
would be very great: besides, the poor things, the trees, trimmed to
the Billingtonian standard, would, amongst the unrestrained beauties
of the forest, be ready to sink into the earth for very shame of their
_formal deformity_. He errs, too, in recommending not to plant sycamore
plane, as being of little value while young. We have sold young planes,
six or seven inches in diameter, at a higher price per foot than large
oak. They will generally find a good market wherever machinery abounds,
and will probably become every year in greater request.

Mr Billington is particularly solicitous to render his instructions
as plain as possible, in describing the mode of pruning young oaks
in formation of knee timber, as he confesses to bring it down to the
comprehension of gentlemen; but he is not very happy in his figures
of oak trees trained to this use, from {187} want of acquaintance
with the cutting out of naval crooks. He remarks that “larches are
more liable to die in wet ground by their roots being soaked in water
during winter, than oak and some other kinds;” but ground that is at
all pervious to water, ought not to be planted till it be drained in
such a manner that water will soon disappear from shallow holes; and
where, from the plastic closeness of the clay, draining is not quite
effectual, the planting should take place as late in the spring as the
breaking of the buds will permit; and principally by slitting, which,
by not breaking the natural coherence or turfiness of the soil, affords
less opening for water to stagnate around the roots, and does not
occasion the soil to sink down into the mortary consistence consequent
to pitting; there is also less destruction of the vegetables growing
in the soil, hence less putrescent matter to taint the water that may
stagnate round the roots; pure water, or water in motion, not being
detrimental to the roots for a considerable time: also, when the
plants are put in late in spring, there is seldom long stagnation of
water that season, and by next winter the ground has become so firmed
around the roots as to allow very little space for water, and has
also acquired a certain granular arrangement akin to polarization or
crystallization, which {188} allows the water gradually to percolate;
it is also bored by the earth-worm, and other insects, and the plant
itself, after the roots have struck anew and the fractures healed,
possesses a vitality which better enables it to withstand the exclusion
of air from the roots, and chilling by the water the ensuing winter,
and either prevents absorption of the stagnant fluid, or counteracts
its putrid tendency. Planting succeeds best in soil of this description
when the ground has been under grass for some period, at least the
new planted tree, in this case, is less liable to the root-rot; and
trenching or digging previous to planting is of more utility, as the
turfiness prevents the clay from sinking down into impervious mortar,
and allows the water to percolate to the drains.

Mr Billington is very earnest in recommending to drain well at first,
and to keep the drains (open drains) in repair; he also directs, where
the ground is very impervious and wet, to take large square sods, about
18 inches square and 9 inches thick, from the drains while digging in
early winter, and place one of these, the grassy side undermost, in
the site which each plant is to occupy. In the spring, by the time of
planting, the sod has become firmly fixed, and the two swards rotting
afford an excellent nourishment to the plant, which is inserted in
the {189} centre of the sod, with the roots as deep as the original
surface; the drains, being necessarily numerous, afford turf sufficient
for all the plants. This is good. He also gives sensible directions
to beat down, hoe, or cut away all weeds, shrubs, and grass, from the
young plants, and to remove all rough herbage and thickets of shrubs,
that form harbour for the short-tailed mouse, which is exceedingly
destructive, in the case both of planting and sowing; in the former,
by nibbling the bark from the stem, and biting off the twigs of the
young trees, (from which our author may have taken the hint of cutting
in, as mankind took that of pruning from the browsing of the ass), and
gnawing their roots immediately below the surface of the ground; and
in the latter, by devouring the seed in the ground, and cutting down
the seedling annual shoot. He also instructs to keep the tree to one
leader, shortening all straggling large branches; but his assertion,
that plants which had the tops of the straggling branches pinched off
in the first part of summer, grew much larger in consequence, looks
rather absurd; although we have known a part of a hedge, clipped a week
or two after the growth had commenced in spring, grow more luxuriantly
than the part which had been pruned in the same manner before the
growth had {190} commenced. This was owing to the check by the late
clipping, throwing the period of growth into warm moist July; what was
earlier clipped performed its growth in dry June, and was considerably
injured by the manna blight which the latter escaped[41]. The same
cause operates to induce late sown grain and wheat, which has been
thrown late by much injury of spring frost, to acquire a larger, more
luxuriant bulk, than that of earlier growth.

It would appear to us that Mr Billington, from ignorance of the value
of larch, and of the soil proper for maturing it, has done more
injury to the parts of the royal forests where a growth of timber was
obtained, by cutting out the thriving larch, than will be compensated
by his pruning and training of the sickly stunted oak which remained,
as described by him, scarcely visible, when the larches were of size
for country use; but we forget; no blame can attach to him—his orders
were, that every thing should give place to oak. {191}

In parting with our author, it is but just to state, that we consider
many may profit by a perusal of his pages: that notwithstanding the
simplicity to which we have alluded, there is often something sterling
in his remarks and reflections, the result of much experience,
resembling the original freshness of our writers before writing became
so much of a trade. In some places, indeed, his narrative is so
simply, naturally descriptive, and speaks so eloquently, of ignorance
of climate, season, soil, circumstance—of all the unknown dangers and
difficulties incident to _their_ new employment—and of the wonderful
contrivances and inventions hit upon to remedy them—that, when perusing
it, we could scarcely persuade ourselves we were not engaged with
Robinson Crusoe.


The _surgery of trees_, which this author has the great merit of
almost perfecting, is the only important matter in this volume. His
composition salve, on the merits of which he expatiates so much, and
for the discovery of which he received a premium from the collective
wisdom of the nation assembled in Parliament, is, however, a piece of
mere quackery; and all the virtue of his practice lies in the cutting
out of the dead and diseased parts of the tree, thus effecting for
vegetables by excision, what nature herself performs for animals by
suppuration, exfoliation, and absorption.

Mr Forsyth’s surgery is of slight importance to timber trees in respect
of economy, as with them as with man, it is generally easier to raise
up anew than cure the diseased. Yet it is well that the rationale of
this practice be understood by foresters, more in regard to prevention
than cure; an occasion will however sometimes occur where a tree may
economically be benefited by surgical aid: and in cases where the {193}
Dryades acquire lasting attachment to particular objects, the science
is invaluable, as the object of their love may be thus continued
flourishing to the end of time, or as long as the inamorata chooses to
pay the surgeon.

Mr Forsyth presents us with numerous models of knives, irons, and
gouges, suited to the operation of removing the dead parts of his
patients. Where the gangrene occurs in the outside, he hews and scrapes
away with these till every portion in which the vital principle is
extinct be detached, and the surface all regular and smooth, so
scooped out as to afford no hollow where water may rest. He then
gives a coating of his composition salve to all the space operated
on, wherever the cuticle of the bark has been broken, which prevents
the drought, rain or air, from injuring the bared parts till the bark
spread over it. In cases where the removal of all the dead part at once
would endanger the stability of the tree, he first removes it along
the borders of the decayed part all round, close to the sound bark,
of such a breadth as to give full room for the bark to spread over in
one season, and covers this with his pigment, annually repeating the
cutting out, and painting around the rim or edge of the new-formed
bark, till the whole of the dead part be cleared away. {194} Under
this treatment, the excavation is gradually filled up with the new
wood forming under the spreading bark, and the wound becomes cleanly
cicatrized. Mr Forsyth has effected complete renovation, where the
sound vital part consisted only of a narrow stripe of bark and alburnum
upon one side of the stem, and where two cart loads of the diseased
trunk had been scooped out.

When the heart of the tree is decayed, he makes a section
longitudinally in the side of the tree, as far up and down as the rot
extends, and of sufficient width to admit the working out the diseased
part; and managed as above, the bark and wood gradually extend from
the two sides of the section into the vacuity, and fill it up entirely
with new sound timber. When the tree is of considerable diameter, the
opening formed in the side of the stem must be wide, nearly extending
to half the circumference, otherwise the sides of the section would
meet before the bark extended over all the inside. When the bark from
the two sides approaches to touch in the bottom of the hollow, he pares
off the cuticle from each side where they join, in order that they may
unite thoroughly. Should any of the roots be diseased, he removes the
earth, and pares away the corrupting parts; and if the top be stunted
or {195} sickly, he crops it at the joints where the smaller branches
separate, whence numerous fine strong shoots spring forth, whose new
vigour of vegetation, and absence of drain by seeding for several
years, generally renovate the whole plant, and occasion the filling up
of the wounds (should the trunk be under cure) to proceed rapidly.

Need we mention, that it is only in the cases where the partial death
or decay has resulted from casualty, or something not connected with
the general system of the plant, or with the soil, or other external
circumstances (unless these can be changed), that renovation by
clearing away the decayed or sickly parts is attainable? Where the
plant is sinking from mere old age, a source of decay of which in
some kinds at least we have doubts, or from the soil being improper
or exhausted for the particular kind of plant by long occupancy, or
from any circumstance not admitting of remedy, the attempt to heal up
the wounds caused by cutting out the diseased parts, or to induce new
vigour by cropping the top, must be abortive, or only attended with
partial or temporary success.

Our author, who is a practical man, apparently very little disposed
to throw away time upon inquiring into causes, does not attempt even
to guess at {196} the mode by which his composition performs the
wonders for which he gives it credit. It is impossible, by any salve,
to promote discharge from the bare alburnum, though cut into the
vital part, to form, or assist in the formation, of bark; and the
sum of the resulting advantages consists in preventing the vitality
from becoming extinct far inward from the section (as under the best
management to a certain extent it will become so), by an antiseptic
cover from the drought and moisture, heat and cold; in promoting the
spread of the juices from the edge of the bark over the bared part by
exclusion of drought, and by forming a defence against insects. We
have found a paste of pure clay, wrought up with some fibrous matter,
as chaff or short hay, an excellent cover for tree wounds, applied in
spring or early summer, when dry weather followed the application; but
in autumn or winter, and when moist weather followed, the clay, by
remaining wet, only served to induce corruption. We think this clay
paste (probably benefited by a powdering of charcoal on the inside) the
best application when applied in spring. We have seen a terminal cross
section, of about one inch diameter, of a long branch, covered quite
over in two months with bark when clayed; and a tree of three inches
in diameter, from {197} which a dog had torn off the bark from one
half of the circumference of the stem, entirely renew the lost bark
in one season, when immediately clayed over. Resins, oils, bitumen,
paints and composts without number, have been used with more or less
success, depending upon the period of the year, weather, kind of tree,
individual health, and other circumstances; but these salves should, as
in flesh-wound salves, be considered only as protections, or slightly
auxiliary to the restorative energy of nature, not as cures.

{198} V.—MR WITHERS.

Having by chance glanced over a pamphlet by an Englishman, a Mr
Withers, we find there has been jousting between that gentleman and our
Scottish knights, backed by their squire the Edinburgh Reviewer, in
which the discomfiture of the knights has been wrought by simple hands.

It seems Sir Henry Steuart, forgetful that his own bright fame, which
rivals that of the discoverers of steam-power and gas[42], though of
comparatively quick growth, will endure for ages; and led astray,
probably, by the foolish adage, “soon ripe, soon rotten,” had stated
unqualifiedly, that “fast grown timber will sooner decay, and is of
opener weaker texture than slow grown of the same kind;” and on these
false premises concluded, that all culture or application of manure to
further the growth of timber is improper—winding up with some patriotic
flourish about danger to our war navy, from Mr Withers {199} rendering
the British oak of such exceedingly rapid growth as to be soft and
perishable as mushrooms. Withers completely demolishes his literary
and scientific adversaries, but is, withal, so very imperfectly
acquainted with the subject—himself, and also his junto of experienced
correspondents, that we shall attempt a few lines in elucidation.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall first state our facts, accompanied with explanatory remarks.

No. 1. An ash tree of about 18 inches diameter, and 65 years of age.
The first 35 years, the annual growths were of middle size, and the
timber weighty and tough; the following 15 years, very small, light,
porous, and free; the latter 15 of middle size, and of fair quality.
This tree had been growing till about 49 years of age in a grassy
avenue, of dry clay soil, and close by a deep ditch. About sixteen
years back, the ditch had been filled up, and the ground ploughed and
manured regularly till the tree was cut down. After 35 years’ growth,
the scorching roots of the ash had rendered the soil so dry, that the
tree had run entirely to reproduction: _Nearly all the nourishment from
the ground assimilated in the leaves being expended in forming seed, no
extension of the top had taken place, and_ {200} _thence no thickening
of the bole being necessary for support, no wood proper had been
deposited on the trunk save the annual rings of lineal tubes to convey
the sap, which constituted a brittle light wood, of very slight lateral
adhesion_[43]. After the ditch was filled up, and the surrounding
ground ploughed and manured, the increased supply of moisture and
nourishment had induced a considerable new extension of top (which was
quite visible in fine young healthy branches rising from a stunted
base), and consequent necessary thickening of stem by annual layers of
proper dense wood, along with the lineal annual tubes.

No. 2. A beautiful most luxuriant growing oak, in one of the sweetest
sunny spots of the sweetest valley of our Highlands. This tree,
of nearly two hundred solid feet of timber, and 80 years of age,
was growing upon the bare shelf of a sound mica-schist rock. From
underneath this shelf, several feet down in front, a most exuberant
spring welled out, and the roots spread down over {201} the rock to
the mouth of the crystal spring, no doubt tracing inward the course
of the limpid waters into the rocky chambers of the Naiad. We had
much conjecture how this tree came to be growing on the bare shelf,
and finally concluded, that the nymph of the spring, while she sat
there gazing on her beauties, under the varying dimpling reflection
of the living waters, her rosy feet bathed by the glassy flood, had
been surprised by some rude Celt, and to effect escape from his rough
embrace, had been transformed by Diana into a tree. Yet whether of
natural or supernatural origin, it was by the people of the glen held
of miraculous virtue, and the sickly children were brought to be dipped
in the spring after being borne several times round the charm-tree.
When torn from its seat, the tree, though sound, and having a level
fall (we saw it fall), broke across about twenty feet up, where the
stem was about eight feet in circuit; _this was owing to the very
soft tender nature of the wood, which, although consisting of very
large annual growths, was, when sawn out, the most porous insufficient
Scots oak we have ever seen_. As this fact may be ascribed to the
supernatural,—the heart of the nymph beginning to soften towards the
Celt at the time Diana interfered, accounting well for {202} the soft
texture of the heart-wood of the tree, we shall not press it as a proof
on either side of the controversy. Perhaps sober reasoners may think
this all phantasy, and conclude, that the tree, from deficiency of
substantial earthy food, and subsisting principally on _slops_ (being
mainly nourished by drinking of the delicious well), would, like an
animal under similar circumstances, be of soft flabby consistency.

The above fact is opposed to common opinion—a Highlander always
choosing his oaken staff from off a rock, as being most to depend upon;
yet perhaps this preference is owing to some association with the
hardness of the rock itself.

No. 3. We found a sycamore plane (Acer pseudo-platanus) in the same
row with other sycamores, and about the same size, so exceeding hard
that it could scarcely be cut down by mattock and hatchet, whereas
the others adjacent were comparatively of moderate hardness, though
differing considerably in hardness from each other; the soil in this
case was very equable, being of Carse clay. The peculiar hardness of
this tree could only be attributable to a harder variety. Indeed,
the difference of quality in timber depends chiefly on the infinite
varieties existing in what is called Species, though soil and {203}
climate have no doubt considerable influence, both in forming the
variety, and in modifying it while growing. Of varieties, those which
have the thinnest bark, under equal exposure, have the hardest wood.

No. 4. We have cut a number of large old ash trees, and found, with one
or two exceptions, of what is called thunder-struck trees (which we
consider only an obdurate variety), that they were invariably of very
free, weak consistency, more especially the latter formed growths, but
even the earlier growths had become _frush_ from age. This timber soon
went to decay after being cut down:—one piece cut out into planks, and
these being laid down in the order they occupied in the log, was in the
course of some weeks rendered again entire by being agglutinated by
Jew’s ears (a species of fungus.) The workmen were greatly startled at
the fact, thinking the log bewitched. When immediately dissevered by
wedges, the wood was so much decomposed, that its fibre was tenderer
than the Jew’s ears, separating in a new course in most places, in
preference to the saw draught occupied by the ears. We have found very
old oaks have exactly the same friable character, so much so, as render
their safe felling almost impossible; yet this oak timber had not lost
much in weight {204} when compared after being dried with younger oak.

No. 5. We cut a row of ash trees, about 50 years of age, in dry Carse
clay, by the side of a deep ditch, and consequently of slow growth; the
timber was excellent, hard, strong, and weighty, rather most so where
the size was smallest. At one end, where the row approached a brook,
and the soil became richer and moister, several of the trees were of
good size, but rather inferior in quality of timber, excepting one (the
largest, though not the nearest to the brook), which was of very hard,
strong, and reedy fibre, evidently a variety differing much from the
others. It is always easy to discriminate pretty accurately the quality
of the wood, by examination of the saw cross section of the trunk, that
is, provided the same saw be employed, and be kept equally sharp; the
best timber having the glossiest, smoothest section.

No. 6. We have examined Scots fir grown in many different situations;
by far the best quality, of its age, of any we know, stands upon a
very adhesive Carse clay, which, from the proprietor’s neglect, is all
winter and in wet weather soaking with water, and the trees not of very
luxuriant growth. These, till a few years ago, stood in close order,
without the stem being {205} much exposed to parching or evaporation;
this exposure of the stem rendering fir timber much harder and more
resinous. Every body who has touched larch must be convinced that the
slow grown on poor _tills_, especially with long naked stems in exposed
situation, is very much stronger and harder than the quick grown,
though often not so tough: but much depends on the variety in larch,
those having the reddest matured wood being much harder than the paler

Memel fir, which is the largest growthed red pine we are acquainted
with, is very strong and durable, probably next to the pitch pine of
North America; yet the very large growthed Memel is generally weakest,
though we frequently find a log of small growthed, mild and inferior in
strength. In old buildings we have often witnessed the beautiful small
growthed red wood pine wormed, when the larger growthed was sound,
but we are sensible that spontaneous decomposition and consumption
by insects are very different; much resin deters insects, whereas,
in moist situations, as in treenails of vessels, it conduces to
spontaneous decay; yet is it preservative when the timber is exposed to
the weather by excluding the rain. {206}

The coniferæ differ much in the internal arrangement of their woody
structure from the hard wood species, having tissue of much larger
cells, and being generally destitute of the large lineal tubes, which
in hard wood constitute the more porous inner part of the annual layer.
When these tubes occur in the pines, they also differ in position,
being in the outer part of the layer. Owing to the resin of the pines
becoming fixed in the cells of the outer part of the annual layers,
inspissated, we think, by the summer’s heat and drought (others say
congealed by the cold), these cells are filled up, and this part of
the growth rendered much denser than the inner part of the layer,
being from solidity semi-transparent. We would attribute the abundance
of resin in the Georgian pitch pine to the heat and long summer of
that country, probably in concert with damp richness of soil, not
only occasioning this deposit under these circumstances, but perhaps
inducing a disposition in this species to the formation of this
product[44]. The absence of the large tubes, {207} and the presence
of oleaginous resin, render pine timber, when old and small growthed,
not so brittle, nor so liable to decay, as that of deciduous trees; but
it becomes very deficient in lateral adhesion. From the same cause we
find the external layers of matured pine timber comparatively superior
to the quality of the inner layers: in hard wood the exterior layers
are generally much inferior to the inner. Boards of sap-wood of fast
grown Scots fir, particularly of the outside layers are much better
suited—stronger and more lasting, for boxes used as carriage packages,
or for machinery or cart lining much exposed to blows and friction;
than boards of the best matured red wood of Memel, Swedish, or Norway
pine. This is principally owing to the fast grown alburnum possessing
much greater lateral adhesion than the matured wood of old pines. To
have these sap-wood boards in greatest perfection, the tree must {208}
not lie in the bark after felling, and the boards must be well dried
soon after being cut out. To expose the tree, peeled, either standing
or felled, to the sun and dry air for some time, will considerably
increase the strength of this alburnum. The wood, while in the state
of sap-wood, of many kinds of timber is as strong and much tougher
than the same wood after being matured, and would be equally valuable
were any process discovered of rendering it equally durable; its
insufficiency often arises from partial decay having occurred while in
the log. The same sap-wood of oak, which, allowed to lie on the grass
after being peeled in spring, will be so much decomposed in autumn that
it may be kicked off with one’s heel; if cut out and dried immediately
on being felled, it will be tougher than the matured, and, kept dry
as cart-spokes, and defended by paint from the worm, will last and
retain its toughness for an age. The tilling up, which to a certain
extent occurs in maturing, is most probably deposited to fill up tubes,
and may thus not greatly strengthen the mass; a hollow cylinder being
stronger than a solid cylinder when extending horizontally over a
considerable stretch, like a joist or beam; the mass may also become
a little more fragile by maturing: besides a filling up is the result
of some chemical change the {209} wood probably becoming slightly
carbonized or approaching to that change which takes place when
vegetables become peat.

It is rather difficult to speak of the strength of timber, as different
kinds of timber, and different parts and qualities of the same kind
of timber, have different kinds of strength. Some kinds are stronger
as beams or joists, other kinds as boarding; while, again, some kinds
are better for enduring a regular pressure, others for supporting a
sudden jerk or blow, either as beams or boards. Some kinds are also
comparatively stronger, moist; others when dry—and some kinds retain
their qualities of strength or toughness longer than others when moist,
and others longer when dry, although no rot appear.

No. 7. Purposely for experiment[45], we selected three ash trees, all
growing in Carse clay, but differing the most in fastness of growth of
any we could discover. We cut these down on the same day; two of them
proved about 36 years planted, and the third 15; this, the youngest
was of fast growth, and had layers of more than double the size of one
of the {210} former, and about six times that of the other. We cut a
number of pieces of exactly equal length and thickness (17 inches long,
and nearly an inch on the side), from each of these, choosing them
of clean straight fibre, at equal distance from the ground, and from
the outside of the tree, and having their growths nearly parallel to
one side, of course free of heart. We proved one of each immediately
on being cut out while full of sap, with their growths on edge in
horizontal position, supported at each end with a weight suspended from
the middle. The smallest growthed, and the largest, weighed at the time
of trial nearly equal; the medium growthed one-thirtieth more. The
smallest growthed supported the weight about six minutes; the medium
and the largest about half that time; the smallest growthed yielded
the least before breaking, and the largest yielded the most. When
completely dried, the weight of the medium growthed still continued
greatest, surpassing the largest one-fourteenth, and the smallest about
one-thirtieth. The smallest and medium supported nearly equal weight,
during equal time, and outbore the largest about one-seventh[46]; when
placed {211} with the growths on edge, they were stronger than when
placed with the growths flat.

After these rather lengthy references to facts, we must allude to a
circumstance which we are astonished has not been attended to by Mr
Withers, and his gentlemen correspondents connected with His Majesty’s
docks,—the not taking into account the place of the tree whence the
portion of wood for experimenting the strength had been taken, and also
how the annual layers stood, whether horizontal or on edge, or around
a centre, when the weight was applied. The experienced and accurately
practical Mr Withers presents two specimens of oak, the one of faster
and the other of slower growth, to Professor Barlow, of Woolwich Royal
Academy, and the strength of these specimens is tested and reported
upon, without once alluding to what we have mentioned above. Now, if
this has not been attended to, the experiment may be considered a test
of something else than of the timber. How much the strength is affected
by the place of the tree, any person may satisfy himself by proving
one piece of timber taken from near the root, another half way up the
tree, and a third near the top: he will find that in a tall tree the
comparative {212} strength will sometimes vary as much as 3, 2, 1;
that is, a beam, say 2 inches square, and 4 feet long, taken from near
the root, when horizontally placed, and resting only at each end, will
support three times as much as a like beam in like position from near
the top of the tree, although both are equally clear of knots or cross
section of grain. This is particularly manifest in large fast-grown
silver fir and old ash, and the difference is always greatest in old
trees. He will also find that the position of the beam, in respect to
the layers being circular round the heart, flat, on edge, or at an
angle, has considerable influence, and, should he inquire farther, will
perhaps notice, that the timber from different sides of the tree is
not always alike strong; that one specimen of timber will be superior
to another, both being moist, and inferior to it when both are dry,
and that also, as in No. 1, the tree at the same height on the same
side, will contain timber differing in strength fully one half, and not
always diminishing in strength from the heart outwards, even in hard
wood. We are well pleased with one gentleman of the Navy Dock-yard, who
naively admits, that he is incompetent to decide on these subjects,
having been altogether devoted to the mathematical, in estimating
the strain and resistance timber suffers under {213} different
combinations. Now we like this division of labour.

But to return to our subject. The facts stated go to prove, that the
quality of timber depends much upon soil, circumstance, and more
especially on variety; and that in the early period of the growth of
trees, before much seeding, and when the soil is not much exhausted of
the particular pabulum necessary for the kind of plant, that rather
slow grown timber is superior in strength to quick grown, especially
when the quickness exceeds a certain degree; when this degree is
exceeded, the timber is not so weighty, and is well known not to be so
durable. However, when timber is required of considerable scantling, it
is only in good soils, where the tree increases moderately fast, that
timber will attain sufficient size for this, at an age young enough
to retain its toughness throughout, or to continue forming firm dense
wood on the exterior. This is particularly so in the case of hard-wood
timber, more especially when oak grows upon a moist soil, where the
matured wood, of brownish-red colour, is often unsound, and where
decay commences at a comparatively early period. In the pine, owing to
the oleaginous undrying nature of the sap (resin), the {214} timber
retains its strength to a great age; and the reedy closeness of slow
growth, for most purposes, outbalances any loss from deficiency of
lateral adhesion.

Moderately fast grown timber is much more requisite for naval purposes
than for other uses; as, besides the greater longitudinal strength
when of large dimension, it has greater adhesion laterally, is far
more pliant, and therefore much better suited for the ribs of vessels,
where cross cutting a portion of the fibre, from the inattention to
training to proper bends, is unavoidable; and whence a disrupting
shock (which is rather to be withstood than fair pressure), makes the
unyielding splintering old wood fly like ice; the rift commencing its
run from the cut fibre. For plank, the lateral adhesion and pliancy
of young moderately fast grown timber is equally valuable, especially
for those which are applied to the curvature of the bow and stern.
Young timber also softens much better by steam, therefore is more
convenient for planking, and for being bent for the compass timbers
of large vessels. The vessel constructed of it will besides, from the
general elasticity of the fibre, be more lively in the water, sail
faster, and, though stronger to resist, will {215} have less strain
to endure[47]. Mr Withers’s corresponding friends, especially those of
his Majesty’s Dock-yards, with the good common sense of practical men,
are well acquainted with all this, although they get a little out of
element when they meddle with nature or causes. Mr Withers is himself
equally out of element when he expatiates on the mighty advantage of
trenching and manuring at planting, and when he talks of our Scottish
holes. The Knight, too, is still more at fault in dreading any great
influence on the quickness of the growth of trees from this gentleman’s
_new inventions_,—and doubly at fault, from conjecturing our navy would
suffer from being constructed of the fastest grown British timber there
is any chance of our shipwrights obtaining. Since we were in our teens,
we have almost every season trenched a portion of ground for planting,
and have manured highly at planting[48], {216} and for several years
afterwards. We have found, when very adhesive subsoil was brought
upward, that the trees throve _well_ while the ground continued under
cultivation; but when the labour ceased, they were soon overtaken by
those planted at the same time without trenching. This comparative
falling off was evidently owing to the surface being rendered more
adhesive by the gluey plastic subsoil being mixed upward with the
original small portion of surface-mould. This new surface melted to a
pulp by the winter rains, when drought set in spring, run together,
became indurated, and parting into divisions, admitted the drought down
to the unstirred ground by numerous deep and wide cracks, which rent
the rootlets of the trees, and rendered it impossible for any plant to
thrive. There are also many kinds of light subsoil, which it would be
folly to bring to the surface, and where little profit would arise from
deep stirring, even though the surface were retained uppermost.

In cases where the plants were very small, we have found deep trenching
of no benefit, but in certain {217} soils rather hurtful, even during
the first years; but with larger plants, such as are often used in
England, it invariably occasioned their roots to strike quickly, by
affording a regular supply of moisture, and from being easily permeated
by the rootlets, expedited the growth, yielding much early luxuriance
when followed by skilful culture, but latterly, seldom to such a degree
as would lead us to suppose much difference would be discernible at 30
years of age, between the trenched and those planted by mere pitting,
slitting, or sowing,—much more depending on proper draining, on young,
thriving, small sturdy plants, of best variety,—on suiting the plant to
the soil and climate, and on timely thinning.

But even were a very superior ultimate progress of growth obtained by
trenching, manuring, and culture of timber, yet as capital and manure
will _probably_ be more advantageously employed in common agriculture,
which gives a comparatively quick return of both, we shall leave to
Mr Withers and his coterie of illuminati the whole advantage of his
discovery. Economic philosophy is the queen of our Scottish plants; she
will not admit any new system of nurture for her subjects without the
{218} strictest scrutiny of its utility as applied to her domains,—she
proceeds thus to weigh Mr Withers’s practice:—

 _Extra Cost per Acre._

 Twenty loads of putrescent manure, at the average price at
   which thousands of tons are annually imported to the valley
   of the Tay from _England_, 9s. per load,         L. 9  0  0

 Carriage expenses of above, at 3s. per load,               3  0  0

 Twenty loads calcareous manure, including
   carriage (were marl not at hand, lime would
   cost thrice as much),                             4  0  0

 Trenching,                                          9  0  0

       Total first extra cost,                    L.25  0  0

 Accumulation by 28 years’ interest, at 5 per
   cent. nearly,                                 L.100  0  0

Would land under timber 28 years planted, with growth accelerated
by Mr Withers’s practice, in two-thirds of the available portion of
Scotland, sell at more than L. 100 per English acre? Suppose that the
thinnings previous to the 28th year would cover the cost of planting,
and subsequent cultivation and attention which is necessary, besides
{219} the cost of the trenching and manuring (in many cases they
would not), the entire value of the land would be lost. It may be said
that the common rules of utility do not apply in this case,—that the
landlords will not be moved to any other improvement than planting,
and that otherwise their income would be dissipated entirely, without
any portion being applied to reproductive uses. We grant all this;
but Scottish landlords have very little taste for the Withers’
system,—to deface their beautiful wastes, by burying all the fine
turf and wildflowers under the red mortar (the common subsoil), or to
scatter manure. Planting by pitting and slitting will prove far more
attractive; besides, the means are entirely awanting to carry on such
expensive proceedings to the necessary extent, and the cultivation of
one acre in this fashion would leave 19 untouched, when the whole 20
might have been wooded, in many cases to equal advantage, by the money
expended on one. We have known planting executed by contract for one
year’s interest of the above stated first extra expenditure, which
we would match against planting raised by Mr Withers’s process, in
the same situation. There is also a very considerable proportion of
Scotland very suitable for {220} timber where the stony nature of the
surface entirely precludes trenching.

Mr Withers, who appears to have no general knowledge of soils and
climates, would hold a different language with regard to Scotland and
Scotsmen, if he saw the beautiful thriving plantations now rising in
that country, planted by mere pitting and slitting, where, owing to
the drought in early summer being less fierce than what occurs in
the central, eastern, and southern counties of England, and to the
herbage being less luxuriant, planting without trenching can always
be depended upon. Mr Withers would also have been sensible had he had
much practice in rural affairs, that twenty loads of putrid manure per
acre at planting, although of very considerable advantage for two or
three seasons to the rising trees, in promoting, along with hoeing and
digging, an early start to luxuriance, would cause little or no lasting
amelioration of the soil; That the vegetable mould naturally occupying
the surface is generally by itself a much better defence against the
summer’s drought, than when incorporated with the subsoil, especially
after cultivation ceases; that lasting fertility of ground for timber,
though sometimes, is often not increased by admixture of soil {221}
and subsoil; and that, generally, the luxuriance of the tree must
ultimately depend on the natural depth and quality of the ground itself.

Mr Withers, with that precise knowledge of the subject, and clear
conception of the nature of things, which generally accompanies
a partial acquaintance with facts, makes a confident and rather
imposing appearance as a wielder of language and a logician. From his
assumed superiority, we especially wonder that he should possibly
have envy of Scotsmen, which, from the tenor of his letter, we are
constrained to believe. Need Caledonia remind her noble sister,
England, of their consanguinity,—that they are sisters whom nature
hath _twinned_ together? Is there another in all the earth, with
quadruple the advantages of Scotland, who can rank with her in science
and literature, arts and arms? And is England not proud of her poorer
sister? Or can they feel aught but mutual love?

       *       *       *       *       *

Since writing the above, we have looked over some experiments by Messrs
Barlow, Beaufoy, Couch, and others, on the strength of timber. These
show so much discrepancy of result, as leads us to conclude, {222}
that experimenters have not attended sufficiently to the structure and
nature of the timber, the position and quality of the different layers,
&c. Take, for example, the stem of a tall tree, 100 years old: At the
cross section, it is found to consist of a certain number of layers of
matured timber, and of sap timber. These layers having been gradually
formed, the external, after those more internal have partly dried,
and the internal and matured wood being also filled up to more solid
consistency than the external, the stem, on being barked, contracts in
drying much more externally than internally. As soon as the surface
has dried, the outer layers contracting laterally are not sufficient
to surround the undried internal layers, thence split in longitudinal
rifts; and as the drying proceeds inwards, the cracks deepen till they
reach nearly to the heart—these rifts, when the timber is thoroughly
dry, being generally wider in the sap timber than in the matured, more
than in the proportion of the size of the respective circles. This
effect of drying is what every body is acquainted with.

Besides lateral contraction, there is also a disposition to contract
longitudinally by drying, much greater in the external than internal
layers. While the tree is undivided, this greater contraction of the
{223} exterior layers is prevented, by the adhesion to the drier more
filled up central column (which probably had contracted a little during
the formation of the exterior sap-wood layers), the contractile force
of the exterior balancing equally around this central column. Should
this balance be destroyed by the stem being cleft up the middle, the
longitudinal contraction will immediately take place, and the two
halves will bend outward, from the outside layers contracting more than
the inside layers. We have seen an ash tree rend up the middle from the
cross section above the bulb, nearly to the top, on being cut across in
felling, owing to the longitudinal contractile force of the exterior
existing even before drying.

Should the dried stem of a tree, of considerable length, be laid
hollow, supported at each end, the outside layer being stretched
almost to breaking by the longitudinal contraction being greatest
in the outermost part, a very small weight, aided by a slight jerk
or concussion, may be sufficient to burst the outside layer on the
lower side, the outside layers on the upper side not standing out as
a support above, but combining their contractile force with gravity
to rend the lower. As the outer layer gives way, the strain is thrown
concentrated upon the next outermost, which also gives way, and the
beam is broken {224} across in detail. In like manner, when the
direct longitudinal strength is tested, the external circles being
in greater tension than the internal, the tightest parts of the log
will give way in succession, like a rope with strands of different
degrees of tightness; yet the lateral adhesion of the layers will have
considerable effect in strengthening the mass.

The above explains the fallacy of estimating the longitudinal strength
of a thick piece of timber from experiments with small shreds; it
likewise explains how a large unbuilt mast is so easily sprung;
wherefore a beam round as grown will be rendered stronger as a beam by
being formed into a hollow cylinder, by boring out the central part;
and also how a square log will be strengthened as a beam, by cleaving
it up the middle, and placing the two pieces on edge, with their
outside or backs together. In the latter case, the middle, by being
turned outside, and exposed to the air, will contract more than what
it would do shut up and covered by the exterior wood, especially if
resinous pine timber, which continues to contract for many years, owing
to the resin, when exposed to the air, gradually drying or undergoing
some change, by which it is diminished in size, and rendered similar to
amber. {225}

Consideration of the difference of tension of the concentric layers,
from the difference of disposition to contract by drying, modified
by the difference of position in which these layers may stand, when
supporting weights and bearing strain, with the various qualities of
timber of the same kind of tree, from variety, age, soil, climate, or
from being taken from near the outside or heart, or butt or top, will,
we think, account for the contrariety of results which unphilosophical
experiments have afforded.


We have noticed that a sensation has been produced in a certain
quarter, particularly among persons of a certain age, by a publication
of Sir Henry Steuart of Allanton, on removing large trees, eked out by
a very clever article in the London Quarterly, on Landscape Gardening,
ascribed to Sir Walter Scott.

It may seem unnecessary to direct the attention of the public again
either to this volume or its subject, both of which have already
engaged the public attention to a degree greatly beyond their value
and importance; but Sir Henry, with all his foppery and parade of
decorating parks, approaches, and lawns, and all that sort of chateau
millinery, has now and then risen above his subject, and not only given
us several hints useful in rural economy, but has also pretensions to
have brought out some facts hitherto but imperfectly known, and to have
traced them to general principles. {227}

It is curious to remark of how much greater importance the elder part
of society—those upon whom wealth has at length devolved, are generally
held. Any device, however trifling, which can in any way divert the
fancy, pamper the lingering senses, or patch up the body of our second
childhood, is infinitely more useful to the discoverer, and meets with
higher patronage and more eclat, than what is of a thousand times more
consequence to the young. Now, if this were the fruit of filial love,
all would be very well—we would idolize the picture: but when we see
these discoveries only patronized by the old themselves, in the merest
egotism, we blush for our patriarchs, and wonder if time and suffering
will be spent as unprofitably upon ourselves.

We wonder much what fascination can exist to a mind of so much ability
and culture as that of Sir Henry Steuart, in decorating a few dull
unprofitable acres,—causing a few bushes and bush-like trees to change
place from one side of a dull green to the other!—laying digested
plans of action, embracing a great number of years, to accomplish
this very important feat, which most probably the next heir will make
_the business of his life_ to undo, by turning them back to their
old quarters, if he does not, with more wisdom, grub them out {228}
altogether as cumberers of the soil! For ourselves, we would rather
_baa_ with the silly sheep, and nibble the turf, than pass our time in
acting over this most pitiful trifling, or in publishing a memorial
of our shame. We know not how others are affected, but there is no
other place on earth where we have felt such oppression and weariness,
as in the extensive smoothed park and lawns around the country seat.
We sicken under the uniformity of the heavy-looking round-headed
trees,—the dulness of the flat fat pasture, undecorated by a single
weed,—the quiet stupid physiognomy of the cattle,—the officiousness of
the sleek orderly menial. It may be we are very destitute of taste in
this; here every thing is experiencing satiety of sensual enjoyment, is
full to repletion; every thing has been sedulously arranged to please,
and we ought certainly to admire; but we have no sympathy with such a

The solitariness, the absence of men and of human interest, is not
compensated by any of the wild charms of nature. There is small room
here for the discovery of the _habitat_ and native character of plants,
no chance of meeting with a rare species, every thing is modelled
to art. The land-bailiff is an adept. With his dirty composts and
top-dressings, he smothers the _fog_ and the daisy; the scythe {229}
sweeps down every idle weed, every wild flower which escapes his
large-mouthed oxen. The live smooth bark of the lush fast-growing
trees, affords no footing for the various and beautiful tribes of
mosses and lichens. The fog-bee has lost its dwelling, the humble-bee
its flowers, and they have flown away. Scarce an insect remains, except
the swollen earth-worm, the obscene beetle, and the bloated toad,
crawling among the rank grass. There is a heavy dankness in the air
itself. The nervous fluid stagnates under it,—the muscles relax into
lassitude,—inexpressible depression sinks upon the heart.

It is impossible to describe the relief we feel when we emerge again
into varied nature beyond the ring-fence,—we have the hill and the
furze, the wild-violet and the thyme, and all the sweet diversity of
our subalpine flora. We have the thatched, patched hut, the fine ragged
children, the blooming cottage-girl,—we have the corn-field, where
weeds of every dye, the beautiful centaurea and scabiosa, the elegant
fumaria, the gaudy cock-rose, and the splendid chrysanthemum, are
contending for existence with the cerealeæ. Look at the broken mound,
with its old picturesque trees and tangled bushes; there is the ancient
root where the throstle had its nestlings, which are now at large on
the leafy boughs, and are {230} tuning their yet unformed notes to
melody. Now every twig has raised its new column of foliage to the sun;
and branch, and root, and stone, embellished all over in the richest
variety of cryptogamic beauty, swarm of insect life. This smooth path
has been paved by the lightsome foot; how superior to the gravel-walk
on which the labourer has grudged his useless toil! Even the cart-ruts
possess an interest, which useful labour has worn. After the smooth
monotony of the park; the turf-dykes, the fluting of the ridges, the
different kinds of crops, are most agreeable diversity. The dunghil,
and chanticleer among his dames, the toiled horse, the lean milch-cow,
and the superhumanly-sagacious-looking shepherd-colley,—every thing we
behold commands a sympathy, draws forth a wish of benevolence.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Sir Walter Scott’s Critique came under our notice prior to Sir
Henry’s Guide, we shall proceed in the same order.

In the first half of this article, Sir Walter gives the history, and
describes the varied character, of Landscape Gardening, in a very
imaginative and felicitous manner, which, as depending on genius and
literature alone, was to be expected; but, in the latter part of the
essay, when he comes to treat of {231} action and facts, and Sir
Henry’s _discoveries_, the deficiency in practical knowledge and
judgment, only forms a contrast to the fancy, elegance, and erudition
of what goes before.

Sir Walter, apparently not quite unconscious of the ridicule attaching
to the subject,—to this mighty scientific and historic parade in
teaching country gentlemen to amuse themselves by transferring grown
trees as they list, from one place to another, without entirely
destroying the life of the transported subject,—makes a curious effort
to sustain its consequence, by pointing out the immense advantages to a
district by the squire’s residing in it; insinuating, that every thing
which may amuse him at home, and thus induce him to stay, although
of itself childish or infamous, becomes of the highest importance,
being ennobled by the end. The following courtly quotation is from Sir
Walter’s proemial observations: “A celebrated politician used to say,
he would willingly bring in a bill to make poaching felony, another
to encourage the breed of foxes, and a third to revive the decayed
amusements of cock-fighting and bull-baiting; that he would make, in
short, any sacrifice to the humours and prejudices of the country
gentlemen, in their most extravagant form, providing only he could
prevail on them to dwell in their {232} own houses, be the patrons of
their own tenantry, and the fathers of their own children.” Sir Walter
does not attempt to describe or analyze the “humours and prejudices”
necessary to render the above lures efficacious. Does he infer that
such dishonourable power over their fellow men, or that the opportunity
of indulging in such low despicable practices, would induce the country
gentlemen to sojourn in their father-land? It is impossible to say
any thing more insultingly cutting. But we are far from imputing to
Sir Walter any intentional offence. Yet we cannot help being angry
with the freakish favouritism of Fortune, although we are sensible it
belongs instinctively to the female character, often a necessary and
very interesting trait; how she dooms one man from his childhood to
toil incessantly for a bare subsistence; how she lavishes her favours
upon another, and surrounds him from the cradle with every delight;
the mind enlightened, the taste cultivated, the body trained to the
most graceful exercises, _even whose very amusements_ are considered
of so great importance as to throw a high interest upon an art of
no earthly utility, but, on the contrary, where the labour of many
workmen is thrown uselessly away. We are aware that Sir Walter and his
Senator only regard these pastimes {233} of the country gentlemen,
thus highly, through a reflected interest, the latter in a political
view; and the Baronet, from the known warm benevolence of his heart (a
feeling generally associated with genius), towards his poor countrymen,
to whom he supposes, in the event of the country gentlemen being by
any means induced to stay at home, a part of the great land revenue so
unjustly wrung from the poor man’s labour would again devolve.

It is amusing to observe with what a flow of imagination Sir Walter
shews off his friend’s inventions—inventions which have been practised
with less or more success, in a manner very similar, by almost every
planter of note, since the time of Nero. We quote again: “The existence
of the wonders,—so we may call them,—which Sir Henry Steuart has
effected, being thus supported by the unexceptionable evidence of
competent judges (_a deputation by the Highland Society_), what lover
of natural beauty can fail to be interested in his own detailed account
of the mode by which he has been able to make wings for time?”—“But
although we have found the system to be at once original, effectual,
and attended with moderate expense, we are not sanguine enough to hope
that it will at once find {234} general introduction. The application
of steam and gas to the important functions which they at present
perform, was slowly and reluctantly adopted, after they had been
opposed for many years by the prejudices of the public,—earlier or
later this beautiful and rational system will be brought into general
action, when it will do more to advance the picturesque beauty of the
country in five years, than the slow methods hitherto adopted will
in fifty. It is now found we possess the art of changing the face of
nature like the scenes in a theatre, and that we can convert, almost
instantaneously, a desert to an Eden.”

Now, this is admirable! Even were it granted, that no planter before
Sir Henry Steuart’s time, or without his instructions, had ever removed
a tree of considerable size successfully (though we believe he has
nearly as much the merit of discovery in this as in the other curious
invention ascribed to him by Sir Walter, “making wings for time,” which
must certainly have been performed by Sir Henry a long while ago, as
we remember time flying very well when we were a truant boy); yet,
nevertheless, Sir Walter, now that his paroxysm of admiration has had
time to moderate, will surely help us to laugh {235} at the absurdity
of his hyperbolic figures of comparison, with steam, and gas, and
scenic transformation, which throw such ridicule upon his excellent

We believe that Sir Henry Steuart has been as successful as many others
of his countrymen in transplanting grown trees. We have had some little
practice ourselves in this art, but which, had it not been for Sir
Henry’s _discoveries_, we should not have thought of obtruding on the
notice of the public. The house we occupied was covered to the south
and west by part of an old orchard of apple and pear trees, which
excluded the drying south-western breeze, so necessary in a low damp
situation. We transplanted nearly an acre of these, certainly with
more success and economy than could have been effected by Sir Henry’s
practice, the soil being so tenacious, that it was impossible to remove
the earth from the roots without fracturing all the smaller fibres.
The soil, an adhesive brown _Carse_ clay, contained a good deal of
vegetable matter, to the depth of about 15 inches, when the subsoil,
a close hard yellow clay commenced, into which very few of the roots
penetrated. This ground had been long under grass, and the upper soil
was much bound together by the grass and tree roots. Under these
circumstances we adopted the following plan:—{236}

We first had a stout sledge made, about four feet square, of lumber
pieces of wood, the side pieces about five feet long, on which it slid,
had a small bend, and extended nearly a foot behind the cross bottom
sheaths, which were sparred over with three narrow boards. The stout
chain of a roller was affixed to this sledge, when at use, to drag
it by. In the autumn we prepared the site where we intended placing
each tree, by throwing out the earth on two sides about a foot deep,
and eight feet square, and then dug over the bottom of this shallow
pit one spit deep, and sloped the two other sides, to which the earth
had not been thrown, so that horses could walk across it; we then
took the opportunity of a slight shower, when the ground was slippery
above and hard below, so that the sledge could easily be dragged, and
set the labourers to work to dig a narrow trench, two feet deep, and
about three feet distant from the stem (more or less according to the
size of the tree), around those trees we intended to remove, paying no
regard to the roots, but cutting them right down where they interfered
with the trench, and where the roots in the central part (the part
surrounded by the trench) were not immediately at the surface, paring
off the turf till the roots appeared. This being done, we caused them
to {237} under-dig and scrape out the clay all round, nearly a foot
inward below the roots, and then to introduce two large ladders at one
side as levers to upset the tree, the strong end of the ladders being
put into the trench, and as far underneath the roots as to catch hold
firmly, the outer side of the trench being the fulcrum on which they
rested to obtain a purchase, the light end sloping upward about 14
feet high. Two men were then employed upon each ladder; one of them
pulled down by a rope attached to the top, while the other guided the
ladder, and rocked it a little up and down; and, at the same time,
several men hung upon the opposite side of the tree, either by a rope
or the branches, till their united force upset the tree with a large
cake of clay bound together by the roots, five or six feet square, and
perhaps fifteen inches thick, standing up like a wall, similar to what
occurs when spruce or Scots fir are upset by high winds, in shallow
wet-bottomed soil. We then removed the ladders, sloped the outer side
of the trench where they had rested, and pared away the clay from the
upset root, till we thought four horses could drag it, one or two men
in the mean time sitting in the top to prevent the tree righting. After
this we introduced the sledge, pushing it as far back as possible; if
necessary, cutting holes to {238} admit the ends of the side-pieces of
the sledge through the lower edge of the upset root; and if the tree
were large, placing several wet slippery boards under the sides of the
sledge, that it might be more easily drawn up the acclivity of the
hole. The men hanging or sitting on the top, then let go their hold,
and the tree generally righted itself, standing fair upon the sledge as
it grew; if it did not do this of itself, they assisted its rising by
lifting at the top. The root was then secured firmly upon the sledge
with ropes, and the horses were attached, who, by pulling stoutly,
dragged the sledge with its load out of the hole up the slope, and away
to the prepared new situation, one man walking at each side, having
hold of a rope attached to the top of the tree to guide and steady it
when passing a furrow or other inequality of the road. The horses were
led across the new site, and stopped when the sledge and tree were in
the pit, about a foot past the berth; the ropes fixing the stool on the
sledge were then untied, and, by pulling backward upon the ropes fixed
to the top, the tree was upset again upon its side from off the sledge,
and the sledge dragged forward. The tree was then allowed or assisted
to right itself again in its proper berth, and friable earth packed
well around and scattered over the stool, and a little litter spread
over {239} all. The ground was then drained and trenched, excepting
the part around the tree, which had been stirred in the planting. If
thought necessary, a prop or two were placed to steady the tree during
the winter, as it might otherwise work a little back and forward with
the wind while the clay was moist and soft. After the earth had dried
in the spring, the props were removed.

When we look back on the description of this practice, it seems
tedious; but much of the work is done sooner than described. Were it
of sufficient importance, trees might be grown in something like _lazy
beds_, with water always standing in the dividing trenches, about
fifteen inches lower than the surface, which would procure roots very
manageable by this practice. We once had a small nursery of oaks so
situated, and the trees which were removed, when of considerable size,
had roots uncommonly matted and fibrous, and which carried with them a
large mass of soil. These succeeded very well when transplanted, but
we should consider that plants from a drier poorer soil, with roots
equally fibrous, would be preferable, could they be extracted with as
much adhering earth, which, however, could not be accomplished without
preparation and considerable labour. Were it the only consideration to
procure plants which would best {240} support the transplanting when
of considerable size, this, or the practice of cutting the roots, and
encouraging the rooting by manuring and thickening the earth around
the stool, would merit attention; but as we have already stated, we
consider plants with these matted roots not so likely to grow to large
timber as those with several unchecked large diverging root-leaders.

Besides the above mentioned part of orchard, we have, by this practice,
removed successfully (in some cases so much so as that no trace of the
removal appeared), a considerable number of trees, where they were
growing too close, and think it simpler, and much superior to Sir
Henry’s, wherever the stool of the tree can be turned up with a large
cake of earth, as in cases where the greater part of the roots run out
horizontally near the surface, which always occurs in flat ground, when
the subsoil is soaking with moisture the greater part of the season.
Whatever risk there may be of the tree not growing when it has been
subjected to all Sir Henry’s formal and tedious process, assisted
by costly machinery, there is none here, provided it is placed in
drained trenched ground, as a considerable number of the small fibres
on which the suction of moisture for supply of the leaves depends,
remain untouched, with this earth around them, and {241} strike out
immediately in the new moist soft soil; and there is no laceration
of the main roots, which, by Sir Henry’s plan, cannot altogether be
avoided, this laceration being much more pernicious, and likely to
occasion putrescency, than simple cross section[49].

By the above sledging practice, we have successfully removed fruit
trees 2 1/2 feet in circumference, at two feet from the ground,
and have had some 20 feet high, make a new addition to their height
of six inches the first summer, where no shortening of the top had
taken place. We have also plucked fair loads of fruit, both first
and second season, as large {242} and well matured as any of the
same kind produced by trees which had not been touched; but it is
generally prudent not to allow them to fruit the first two seasons. As
an experiment, we cut most of the branches from the top of two of the
trees—that is, headed them down, but found these did not grow so well
as those which were only slightly pruned, or not pruned at all.

Pruning at planting should take place in cases where there are long
annual shoots of the preceding season, or much close spray as in old
fruiting-trees; the former should be cut in, to five or six buds in
length, and the latter ought to be thinned, to an extent, which the
kind of tree, the largeness and safe state of the root, soil, exposure,
and climate, must determine: we request our readers to pay attention to
this. Pruning the long annual shoots, prevents a too early formation of
leaves, which often occurs in moist cold soil, and which wither before
the roots begin to strike.

In some cases, where we found the earth too friable, and not
sufficiently bound together by the roots, to rise up in a cake, we
first prepared the stool for upsetting, and waited for hard frost[50]
to bind {243} the earth and roots into a firm body like a large
millstone, pouring some water upon it the evening previous to the
commencement of the frost, that it might become firmer; we then
proceeded with our sledging during the frost if the road was smooth;
and, if rough, we covered over the frozen root with straw to retain
the frost; and the first day of fresh, when the ground was soft and
slippery above, and hard underneath, we proceeded with our work, taking
care not to cover up the root with earth till it had thawed. We have
found (contrary to general opinion), that no injury is sustained by
exposure of the roots of various kinds of trees to frost, or as great
cold as generally occurs at the surface of the ground in this climate.
We have succeeded equally well with pear-trees, which had lain out on
the exposed bare crown of a ridge for two months of winter, without
the smallest quantity of earth adhering to the roots, or protection of
any kind, as with those immediately from the ground where they grew.
We have even thought that a certain exposure of the roots to cold
increased their susceptibility to be stimulated to strike quicker by
the warmth of the ground in spring, and thus the root suction coming to
act sooner than it usually does in transplanted trees without balls,
and nearer the time of the expansion {244} of the leaves; the check
occasioned by the upper vegetation being too forward for the lower, was
not so great. In some cases a slight degree of withering also appeared
to have a good effect in deterring the development of the buds till the
earth acquired a warmth sufficient for the root striking.

We succeeded to our wish with those we transplanted by sledging,
excepting a few which were placed among young trees obtained from a
sale nursery. These young plants brought along with them a number of
the eggs of the common green caterpillar. These eggs produced larvæ
upon the young trees the following spring; and these larvæ going down
into the earth, produced a small grey silvery moth in July. The moths,
from the tallest plants being most opposed to them in their flight,
or from being guided by common parasitical instinct to choose the
largest subjects, deposited their eggs upon the removed old trees in
preference to those on which they had been brought from the nursery,—a
preference which did not seem to arise from any sickliness of the old,
as they were fully as vigorous the first summer after transplanting
as the young. These imported vermin prospering under the propitious
dry warm summer of 1826, rendered several of the old trees as bare of
foliage the second and third June after {245} removal as they were in
December; they have now, however, recovered their vigour, shaken off
their parasites, and have produced good loads of fruit.

We may be thought fastidious in our tastes, and extravagant in our
wishes, but we desire and expect more of our country gentlemen than
to be mere idlers, or worse than idlers,—practisers of the _Allanton
system_. When they turn their attention to forestry, we would have
them to sow, or to plant from the nursery, and not to disturb and
torture the fine growing timber which their fathers had located, and
which generally suffers irreparable injury from removal,—a system to
which Sir Henry Steuart is so absurdly attached, as to recommend its
practice, although only _to turn the lee side of the tree round_ to
the wind in the same spot. Nor have we much sympathy with Sir Walter
Scott’s taste for home-keeping squires,—those Shallows and Slenders
with whom our great dramatist has made himself so merry. We would have
our landed gentlemen to know that _they_ are the countrymen,—many
of them, perhaps, of the blood of the Raleighs, the Drakes, and the
Ansons. Let them, like our Wellington, our Nelson, our Cochrane,
Wilson, Miller, and many others, continue to set before the world some
little assurance of British manhood. Let them, like our {246} no less
honourable Penns, and Baltimore, and Selkirk, lay foundations of future
empires. We would have our young men of fortune go abroad into the
world as soon as their scholastic education is completed,—not to spend
a few idle years in Paris, Rome, or other of the common enervating
haunts,—they might as well remain in mother’s drawingroom or father’s
stable; but to view man and nature under every appearance. Let them
acquire horsemanship on the Pampas of La Plata; hunt the lion and
the elephant, and other game, at the Cape, and study the botany and
natural history of these prolific wilds. Let their ideas shoot while
they recline under the lone magnificence of the primeval forest, while
they gallop over the unappropriated desert, free as the Bedouin, or lie
down composedly to sleep, serenaded by the hyena and jackal’s howl, and
lion’s roar. Let them learn geology and mineralogy on the Andes and
Himalaya, and around every shore where the strata are denuded. Let them
wind about among those abrupt rocks and craggy precipices, where they
may contemplate the sea-bird’s household economy—the wild herbs of the
cliff—the vegetation and shells and monsters of the ocean—the solitary
white sail from distant land—the vestiges of olden time, the exuviæ
of former worlds, in the {247} exposed strata—the abrasion of the
rocky land by the continued battering of the numberless pebbles moved
backward and forward by the heaving of the ceaseless wave. Let them
study the currents, and winds, and meteorology on the ocean, and enjoy
the sublime feeling of riding over it in its wildest mood. Let them
join the ranks of freedom in any quarter of the world where freedom is
opposed to tyranny. Let them head the savage horde, and introduce the
morality and arts of Britain among the ignorant barbarian; or lead out
colonies of our starved operatives to new lands of high agricultural
capability, where for centuries no population-preventive checks would
be necessary. No other employment of life could be so abounding in
heart-stirring emotion, as leading out the enthusiastic emigrants, with
their huddled groups of children, whom you know you have rescued from
the irksome unhealthy toil and wretchedness of the city manufactory;
no occupation could be more delightful than cherishing the new-born
settlement during the privations and hardships of infancy; in procuring
a supply of food, when through mistakes, owing to ignorance of the
climate and other circumstances, success had not attended their
industry; and in leading them on to an effective self government. One
would gladly leave {248} this old world, whose surface is disfigured
all over by man’s patched drilled deformities, and pass on to a new
one, where inviolated nature has produced and reared her own children
after her own fashion, where every plant occupies its own place and
blossoms in its own time. This order must afford intense delight
to the naturalist, independent of the novelty of every thing, from
the constellation in the sky to the lichen on the stone. In such a
place, one should feel remorse to suffer the hatchet to work, or the
ploughshare to enter in.

We fear these amusements (to which indeed, the British seem more
disposed than any other people), would spoil all relish for the
_Allanton system_, and that our travellers, on their return, would
suffer the thriving trees planted by their fathers to remain at rest,
and rather incline to introduce into the park some of their hardy
foreign favourites—the iron-wood evergreens of Patagonia, the valuable
pines and other trees of New Zealand and Eastern Asia. We believe,
also, that an acquaintance with the real world, obtained in this
way, would be much better fitted, than the following Sir Walter’s
recommendation, to render our gentlemen in after life able and ready to
direct at the nation’s councils, and to improve their estates, and the
condition of their dependents. {249} Perhaps they would then disdain
to hang on at St Stephen’s, the contemptible retainers (all but in
livery) of some intriguing member of the cabinet, like hungry jackals
(call-jack), for the pickings their master might leave them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having now looked at the general bearing of our subject, we shall
approach it a little closer, to examine the facts, inductions, and
minutiæ of the practice.

When we first heard of Sir Henry Steuart’s celebrated discoveries
and new system of moving about large live trees, and read Sir Walter
Scott’s declaration, that Birnam wood might now in reality come down
living to Dunsinane, we were disposed to hold Sir Henry a magician,
and were not a little alarmed lest grown up trees might indeed
acquire, under his art, the locomotive power, and gallop about, to
the no small terror and danger of his Majesty’s subjects; but, on
closer examination, we find all Sir Henry’s art resolve itself into
transferring them from one hole into another, by the labour of real men
and horses, without injuring the trees to such a degree as preclude
hope of recovery under proper subsequent attention. His mode of
performing this may be stated shortly as follows:—

1st, Procure sturdy subjects, not drawn up tall {250} and delicate
in close plantations, but with short stem balanced all round with
numerous compact branches, and well and regularly rooted, such as occur
in open situation on level surface. If you have not trees possessing
these _prerequisites_ ready at hand Go prepare them. Thin out your
young woods to double and triple distance, according as you intend
to transfer them to sheltered or exposed situations; cut the roots
of these trees, and trench around them at a few feet distant from
the bulb, or lay down rich compost mould around them, to encourage
exuberance of rooting, _and in eight or ten years_ you will have fit
subjects for removal!

2d, Prepare the site a year previous, by trenching and manuring with
compost, carefully mixing and blending the whole (the upper and lower
earth of the soil and compost), and adding mould when the soil is
shallow; attending to thicken and mix clay soil with sandy mould, and
sand soil with clayey mould, also guarding against lodgment of water.
Recent farm-yard dung, peat-moss, and quick-lime, when well compounded
together, make an excellent compost manure.

3d, Commence extricating your trees by opening a deep trench at the
extremities of the roots, undermining a little inward, and gradually
severing the {251} earth from the rootlets, by stirring, scraping, and
shaking with a very light pick, at the same time throwing the separated
earth out of the hole, and working inward with the shovel underneath
the bared rootlets, till the tree is so far loosened as to be upset
by pulling on a rope fixed near the top, the rootlets, as extricated,
being bundled up so as to be as much out of the way of injury as
possible. Now, throw some earth into the hole; re-elevate the tree
upon this earth, and upset it in the contrary direction; continue to
throw in earth, elevate and upset in the contrary direction, till the
bottom of the root be nearly on a level with the surface of the ground.
Procure a large two wheeled wood-drag, and wheel it backward close to
the standing tree. Elevate the pole of this drag, and tie it firmly
aloft to the stoutest and most convenient part of the top. Make the
body of the tree near the root fast to the axle, or to a beam raised a
little above the axle, a pad intervening between the axle or beam and
body of the tree, to prevent injury to the bark; then by pulling down
upon the top of the pole, upset the tree upon the drag, balancing as
near as possible upon the axle. All being now in readiness, attach your
horses to the reverse end of the drag, where the root is swung, and
have your plant pulled {252} backward to its new berth, and deposit it
carefully there, without any top-pruning, having its heaviest branches
towards the west, that it may the better withstand our prevailing
winds, taking great care to divide and comb out all the rootlets, and
to pack in the fine prepared mould, so as to separate them nearly in
the order they formerly occupied. Then _sad_ down the whole by beating
or watering, and mulch over all to exclude the drought.

4th, Water every two or three days in dry weather, during the early
part of the first summer, and continue for several years to work over
the surface of the ground by repeated hoeing or otherwise, till the
tree has forgotten her rough treatment, and has become reconciled to
her new quarters.

Now, this is Sir Henry’s practice. What is there here meriting the name
of discovery? All the world knew long ago, that trees drawn up tall and
delicate, in sheltered situations, were unfit for an open exposure,
especially when of considerable size. We have ourselves dug trenches
round trees, and picked the earth from the rootlets with pointed
instruments, preserving as far as possible every fibre entire. We have
often collected fine mould and composts upon the ground previous to
planting, and trenched over the soil; we have carefully arranged the
{253} rootlets, and packed in our prepared mould; we have noticed
that mutilating the top of certain kinds of trees was very pernicious,
particularly of the beech and the oak; we have invariably turned round
the heaviest branches to the west; we have mulched and watered the
first summer, and have hoed around the plants for years afterwards;
conveyance by a two-wheeled timber-drag has been long in use (we have
employed the axle and wheels of a common cart); many, before Sir Henry,
have prepared the roots by previous cutting; what planter of experience
is ignorant of all this? We grant Sir Henry has done all this well;
much of it must have occurred to himself, as it has done to us, as it
will do to any person of ordinary acuteness and observation, but does
this merit the name of discovery, or comparison with steam and gas?

We shall now give some little attention to a subject on which we
consider Sir Henry’s claim to the rank of philosophic discoverer solely
rests, and which he introduces to our notice certainly with sufficient
prefatory flourish, under the designation of his “new principle,”
“his rational theory,” which he predicts will raise transplanting of
trees of considerable size to the rank of a useful art, it being thus
founded on fixed principles. In order to bring the matter fairly {254}
before the mind of our readers, we are under the necessity of having
recourse to a long quotation. We fear our readers will find Sir Henry’s
metaphysics not very intelligible; but this may well be forgiven, we
are all too guilty of plunging about when we get into deep water, and
some of us have not always sense enough to swim with the stream.

We here introduce a quotation of our author:

 “But while every organic creation tends to full development, that is,
 to absolute energy, or perfect life, still we find, that the organs of
 which it is composed are each reciprocally dependent on every other,
 for the possibility and degree of their peculiar action. At the same
 time, as these internal conditions of animated existence are severally
 dependent on certain external conditions, which, again, are not always
 fully and equally supplied; so it follows, that the life of every
 organized being is determined in its amount, and in the direction
 of its development, by the outward circumstances of its individual
 situation. For this reason, we see that every animal, and every plant,
 is dependent for its existence, and also for its perfect existence, on
 conditions both internal and external.

 “From this reasoning it may be conceived, how the several parts of
 the living whole reciprocally act and react. They are, in fact, cause
 and effect {255} mutually; and no one can precede another, either in
 the order of nature, or of time. Thus, in an animal, the digestive,
 and the absorbent, the sanguineous, the respiratory, and the nervous
 systems are at once relative and correlative. In like manner, in a
 plant, the same reciprocal proportion is found to hold between the
 roots and the stem, the branches and the leaves: Each modifies and
 determines the existence of all the others, and is equally affected
 by all in its turn. And as their several parts, by means of their
 union, constitute the organic whole; and as their functions, by the
 same means, realize the complement of life, which the plant or animal
 exhibits; it is evident, that every living individual is a necessary
 system, in which no one part can be affected, without affecting the
 other parts, and throughout which there reigns an intimate sympathy,
 and a complete harmony of perfection and imperfection.

 “Further; The external conditions of this internal development of
 plants and animals, are Food, Air, and Heat; while Light seems to be a
 peculiar condition, indispensably necessary to plants. Where any one
 of these conditions is not supplied, the existence of life, whether
 animal or vegetable, becomes impossible; where it is insufficiently
 supplied, life is {256} proportionally enfeebled or repressed.
 But, to limit our consideration to the vegetable kingdom, it may
 be observed, that where a loose and deep soil affords an abundant
 supply of food, where a genial climate diffuses warmth in an adequate
 degree, and where a favourable exposure allows a competent access of
 light (for air, being fully and universally given, may be thrown out
 of the case); in these circumstances, a plant, if not mechanically
 injured, will vigorously exercise its functions, and attain the full
 development of its parts, thus realizing the absolute complement
 of life, to which it naturally tends. In the same way, when these
 conditions are stinted, the luxuriance of the plant is checked, in the
 ratio of that restraint, and the deficiency of the supply. Where any
 one of the external conditions is partially or inadequately supplied,
 the plant appears to make special, and even forced efforts to secure
 as much of the beneficial influence as it can, and to accommodate
 itself to the exigency of its situation. Thus, where light is admitted
 only from a single point, a plant concentrates all its powers, in
 stretching towards the direction of the light. Where light is shed all
 around, the plant throws out its branches on every side. In conformity
 with this principle, we find, that, in the interior of a wood, where
 the Trees {257} mutually impede the lateral admission of light, the
 tendency of each is upwards; and the consequence of this tendency is,
 that the plant is thereby not developed in its natural and perfect
 proportions, but is elongated, or drawn up to an undue height. It
 displays its ramification chiefly near the top; while the imperfection
 of its life is manifested in the whole character of its vegetation. In
 open exposures, on the other hand, the tree developes its existence,
 in full health and luxuriance. It reaches a height, such as the soil
 and situation admit, and sufficient to allow the branches, which are
 thrown out on every side, to expand their leaves freely to the sun.
 Not being compelled to concentrate its efforts, in securing a scanty
 supply of one beneficial influence, all its proportions are absolute
 and universal, not relative and particular. In such circumstances,
 therefore, it may be considered as in a full and natural state of

 “Another condition of vegetable life appears to be an adequate
 degree of Heat. Within a certain range of temperature, vegetation
 is positively promoted: Below, or above a certain point (the degree
 differing in different species of plants), vegetation is positively
 checked. To speak only of the latter case, which is briefly expressed
 by the term {258} Cold, it is either produced by absolute lowness
 of temperature, or, in particular circumstances, by the generation
 of cold, through the effect of wind, and consequent evaporation
 from a moist surface; for trees, in themselves, have but little
 self-generated heat, above the surrounding temperature. Some they
 certainly possess, otherwise they would be killed during severe
 frosts. Of the above accidents nature can modify the former, by
 accommodating different species of plants to different latitudes
 and elevations: Against the latter she adopts the plan of affording
 suitable protection to the individual. In the interior of woods, where
 the free current of air is intercepted, where stillness and serenity
 are maintained, and where each tree affords shelter, more or less,
 to every other, nature has little need to generate the provisions
 necessary to mitigate the injurious effects of evaporation. But, in
 open exposures, and in the case of isolated trees, this effect must
 be assuaged, and is, in fact, to a certain extent alleviated, by
 various provisions or properties, bestowed upon the tree itself. In
 the first place, a thicker and closer ramification of the sides and
 top is supplied, and a more abundant spray towards the stormy quarter,
 thereby furnishing a kind of clothing of leaves, in order to protect
 from cold both the {259} ascending and the descending sap-vessels:
 And, secondly, a greater induration of the epidermis, and thickness
 of the cortical layers of the bark are provided; which, forming a bad
 conductor of heat, act as a still more effectual defence to the stem,
 by preventing the immediate and powerful application of cold, through
 the sudden subtraction of caloric, from the proper vessels of the
 inner bark.

 “In this economy, nature only follows the analogy which she displays
 in modifying the influence of cold upon the animal kingdom. The
 quadrupeds, which are destined to encounter the severity of an Arctic
 winter, are provided with thick and shaggy coats, to enable them to
 withstand the intensity of the cold; and all the richest furs, which
 man employs to supply his natural, or rather his artificial wants,
 are always furnished by animals inhabiting the highest latitudes, and
 killed during the severest frosts. What is still more illustrative of
 the point under consideration is, that the coats of animals, of which
 the thin and short hair is familiar to us in the temperate climates,
 such as the dog, the fox, and the ox, are all remarkable, under the
 polar regions, for their close, lengthened, and almost impenetrable
 fibre, as a secure barrier of non-conducting matter, to prevent the
 escape of their vital heat. {260}

 “In like manner, in all the other relations, we see Nature especially
 accommodating the character of each individual plant, to the
 exigencies of its particular situation. In the interior of woods, the
 wind can exert a far less mechanical effect on individual trees; and
 therefore, while they are _positively_ determined to push upwards
 towards the light, they are _negatively_ permitted to do so, by the
 removal of any necessity to thicken their trunks, for the sake of
 greater strength, and to contract the height of them, in order to
 afford the blast a shorter lever against the roots. But, with trees in
 an open situation, all this is widely different. There they are freely
 exposed to the wind, and the large expansion of their branches, gives
 every advantage to the violence of the storm. Nature, accordingly,
 bestows greater proportional thickness, and less proportional
 elevation on trees, which are isolated, or nearly so; while their
 system of root, which, by necessity, is correlatively proportional
 to their system of top, affords likewise heavier ballast, and a
 stronger anchorage, in order to counteract the greater spread of sail,
 displayed in the wider expansion of the branches.

 “Every individual tree is thus a beautiful system of qualities,
 specially relative to the place which it holds in creation; of
 provisions admirably {261} accommodated to the peculiar circumstances
 of its case. Here every thing is necessary; nothing is redundant. In
 the words of a great philosopher, who was an accurate observer of
 nature, ‘Where the necessity is obviated, the remedy, by consequence,
 is withdrawn.’ If these facts and reasonings be correctly stated,
 the only rational theory of the removal of large trees consists,
 in prospectively maintaining the same harmony between the existing
 provisions of the tree, and the exigencies of its new situation, as
 had previously subsisted between its relative properties and the
 circumstances of its former site.”

 “In considering the characteristics of trees above mentioned, we
 should always bear in mind, that every production of nature is an
 end to itself, and that every part of it is, at once, end and mean.
 Of trees in open exposures we find, that their peculiar properties
 contribute, in a remarkable manner, to their health and prosperity.
 In the first place, their shortness and greater girth of stem, in
 contradistinction to others in the interior of woods, are obviously
 intended to give to the former greater strength to resist the winds,
 and a shorter lever to act upon the roots; Secondly, their larger
 heads, with spreading branches, in consequence of the free access of
 light, are formed as plainly for the nourishment, as well as {262}
 the balancing of so large a trunk, and also for furnishing a cover to
 shield it from the elements; Thirdly, their superior thickness and
 induration of bark is, in like manner, bestowed for the protection
 of the sap-vessels that lie immediately under it, and which, without
 such defence from cold, could not perform their functions; Fourthly,
 their greater number and variety of roots are for the double purpose
 of nourishment and strength; nourishment to support a mass of such
 magnitude, and strength to contend with the fury of the blast.”

 “On the other hand, in the interior of woods, a universal tendency,
 for the reasons already stated, is observable in trees, to rise to
 the light, to attain greater altitude, to form far smaller heads, and
 taller, slenderer, and more elegant stems. Here is found a milder
 and more genial climate; in which, by means of the calm generated by
 shelter, vegetation is not checked by cold, and, at the same time,
 is undisturbed by the external impediment of wind; and nature has no
 need, as in the case of exposures, to generate provisions necessary
 to mitigate the effect of evaporation, as has been above observed, or
 to endue each individual tree with distinct and appropriate means of
 defence against the elements.”

 “That, as the four protecting properties, {263} already delineated, as
 belonging to trees in open situations, are essential and necessary to
 the vigorous development of their existence, so they may be set down
 as indispensable prerequisites for those intended for transplantation,
 which generally implies increased exposure; and that soil and climate
 being equal, such subjects will succeed the best as are endued in the
 greatest degree with those prerequisites or properties.”

 “If we adopt this principle, and follow it up with a judicious mode
 of execution, it seems evident that the necessity of defacing or
 mutilating the fine tops of trees will be entirely superseded. _We
 shall obtain at once_, what the art, as hitherto practised, has not
 been able to obtain for us, the Immediate and Full effect of Wood,
 that is, _Trees complete and perfect in all their parts_, without
 the loss of the time required to replace the parts so defaced and
 mutilated.”—“And if such a mode of execution be superinduced upon it,
 as shall furnish to the tree a competent supply of sap at the critical
 period of removal, the art probably may be said to be established on
 _fixed principles_.”

 “Wind being, in a great degree, excluded in unthinned plantation, and
 evaporation prevented, heat is, by consequence, generated in an undue
 degree. {264} In the same way, light is nearly shut out from such
 plantations, except from the top, and a disproportionate elongation of
 the stem is occasioned _by the efforts which each individual makes to
 gain the light_.” P. 191.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, what do we gather from all these _discoveries_ which, in
continuation, our author turns round and round, and exhibits to us
under every combination, with admirable elegance, it must be allowed,
like the objects in a kaleidoscope?—that trees grown in sheltered
situation are not suited for exposed situation, because their roots are
proportionally too small, and the stem too long for stability under
the strain of high winds; their exterior bark or epidermis, dead and
living, too thin to afford protection to the sap-vessels from cold,
the effect of evaporation caused by the wind; their spray and leaves
too elevated and open to exclude the cold, or wind generating cold,
from the stem and branches. That the reverse coexistent conditions of
trees in open situation—short stout stem, thick bark dead and living,
strong rooting, close cover of spray and leaves all around, befitting
the plant to withstand the tempest, and affording shelter to the
sap-vessels of the stem and branches—and these conditions being {265}
wanting when redundant in sheltered situation, show the beautiful
adaptation of means to end, like warm fur of animals in cold countries:
That trees being formed to grow tall in close situation, is a
beneficent provision of Providence for accommodating man with straight
long clean deal and beams: That trees shoot tall in close situation
because they strain hard to reach the light: That trees shoot tall in
close situation from warmth: That shelter and exposure is heat and
cold: That, “to establish any just analogy between the transplanting of
young and of old trees is utterly impossible:” That these conditions
of trees being thus explained to mankind, and followed up by judicious
execution, the thing is reduced to fixed principles, and raised to the
rank of an useful art, and the necessity of defacing, or mutilating,
the fine tops of trees, when transplanted, entirely superseded.

We shall now attempt to weigh some of these assertions and conclusions
of Sir Henry, and to pursue these inquiries a little farther.

It is known to every forester, that trees growing in close order,
and drawn up tall, will not continue healthy on being thinned out to
very open arrangement, but will often fall victims to the change of
circumstances, even though they withstand the gale. Who, then, would
be guilty of the folly of expecting {266} they would bear exposure
and the injuries of transplanting at the same time? Sir Henry Steuart
mentions some particular facts as causes of this unsuitableness.
Perhaps it would have been as well to ascribe it to general inaptitude
and delicacy, as there are several other circumstances not easily
understood, such as vital stamina, habitude or acclimatizing, and
texture and configuration of vessels, which must have influence. We
should also think simple evaporation of the fluids of the transplanted
tree a much greater cause of its failure than the cold of this or
of any other evaporation acting to numb the sap-vessels in the stem
and branches. The absorbing mouths of the rootlets, excepting in the
case of very large balls, are generally destroyed by the operation
of removal; and the development of the leaves to a certain extent
taking place before any new process of striking of the roots, owing
to the atmosphere and branches getting sooner heated in spring than
the ground and roots, the half-developed leaves shrivel up in the
arid spring air, from the evaporation of the juices and deficiency
of root-suction; and when the air gets moist, showers fall, and the
earth becomes warm enough for the _striking_ of the roots, the vital
principle is too far spent, or the material substance too much changed,
for the {267} recommencement of organic action. We have found that
trees which had remained months out of ground, and were planted in
March, succeed better than trees removed immediately from their old
site to their new, both being planted with equal care in the same
ground at the same time. The latter acquired half developed leaves
early in April, which withered from deficiency of root-suction; and it
was only with attention that we succeeded in causing them to bud forth
anew and acquire leaves about midsummer; in several, we stimulated the
root-suction by application of heated water, covering up with litter
to retain the heat. The former were several weeks more backward in
leafing, and when the buds burst, the ground had become warm enough
for _root-striking_, and the vegetation proceeded without check. Sir
Henry will say, that the check sustained by those which leafed early,
was owing to the numbing effect of the cold spring wind, and of the
cold of evaporation on the sap-vessels of the stem; but we had caused
several of them to be wrapped round the stem with soft straw-ropes,
and this did not prevent the shrivelling of the leaves, although it
certainly protected the sap-vessels from the cold. This withering of
the leaves of transplanted trees, by which large transplanted trees so
{268} frequently perish, is most prevalent in cold damp soils, when
the air is dry and the sun powerful, and evidently results from the
superior vegetation being in advance of the inferior; torpor of the
roots, not torpor of the sap-vessels of the stem from cold. It is also
perfectly evident, that trees with long naked stems will suffer most,
as their leaves are raised higher, more in the current of the drying
wind; their root and top farther asunder, therefore less liable to
contemporaneous impulse; the sap-vessels of the stem longer and more
attenuated, therefore the streams of fluids from the soil, not only
smaller, but also more liable to obstruction, or to flow slowly, from
the insufficiency of the vital impulse, or of endosmose in the wounded
sickly plant to impel to such a height. Our author’s assertion, that
the rough epidermis generally covering the live bark of trees in open
situations, is necessary to the health of the tree, in protecting the
sap-vessels from cold, is, we think, not quite correct. Some time ago
we caused the dead epidermis be hewn down from several trees, in a
rather exposed situation. This was done with considerable nicety, and
extending up along the branches. We remember of one case, of very thick
indurated epidermis, where a carpenter was employed more than a day
in laying bare the live bark of one tree. {269} Instead of suffering
injury by this exposure of the sap-vessels to cold, the trees rather
acquired new vigour from the operation; and the particular tree alluded
to, was unusually luxuriant the season following this flaying, which
was performed in winter. Now, to apply Sir Henry’s analogy of fur of
animals, would an arctic fox have been benefited by exposure to the
winter’s cold in like plight? We also think Sir Henry will find the
trees of dry climates have a much thicker coating of dead bark than in
cold countries, evidently a consequence of desiccation[51], and, if Sir
Henry must have animal analogy—similar to the desiccation and cracking
of the skin of man in arid air. {270}

It is a subject of considerable difficulty to explain the cause of
slender lengthened shoots in sheltered situations, and short stout
shoots in exposed. Sir Henry solves this “excellently well” in two
ways, first, attributing it to shelter and exposure themselves,—“for
shelter is heat, and exposure cold,”—and again, to an instinctive
straining in the sheltered to reach the light, of which its neighbours
deprive it every way but from above, and would do so there too if it
failed to exert itself.

We find that vegetables have long spindling shoots, and wide spaces
between the leaves or buds, when growing in a damp, still, close
atmosphere, especially when the plant is sickly or weak from deficiency
of nourishment, and that this happens equally, whether a trailing
plant being supported aloft throws out depending shoots in opposition
to the current of light; whether a climbing[52] plant runs out
horizontally along a branch or beam at right angles to the light, or
whether a self-supported mounting plant rises in direct opposition
to gravity. No doubt, when the light comes from one direction, {271}
such as the aperture of a window, the plant shoots forth towards the
light, possibly in consequence of the leaves inclining themselves to
receive the ray on their superficies, and thus leading the shoot in
the direction of the light. But this does not prove any straining or
lengthening of the shoot to approach the light; and we ask, what do
general opinion and Sir Henry found their belief upon, of lengthening
growth and straining to approach the light?

Again, with regard to heat, we notice that plants, particularly shoots
from tubers, left to sprout in cold, damp, confined cellars, throw
out very long stems, with wide spaces between the buds or leaves, and
that very long shoots always occur in confined damp air—long in the
ratio of the dampness and confinement, whatever the degree of heat
may be, provided it exceed a little the vegetating point. Also on
the north side of hills, the trees have generally longer stems than
on the sun-ward side, although in the former case, they are exposed
to the northern blast, while in the latter they bask in the sun. Has
the same kind of plant, in lower latitudes, longer spaces between the
leaves than in higher? And if it has not, is the cold, from greater
evaporation, sufficient to balance the superior heat of the climate?

The above facts must lead, we think, to the conclusion, that
evaporation, or non-evaporation, of the fluids, has, directly, a very
considerable influence in causing a shorter or longer extension of the
shoot between the buds or leaves, and that the influence of the cold
of this evaporation is at most but of a very secondary character. We
would compare the extending rudiments and matter of the young scion to
the slow flowing of a gelatinous fluid. In moist air, the watery part
is slowly evaporated, and the drop extends into a long pendulous form.
In dry air, the water of solution is quickly evaporated, longitudinal
extension ceases, and the pendant is thicker and shorter. The cold of
evaporation may a little affect the fluidity, but only in a very small

The causes of the elongation of vegetables are, {273} however, not
very plain. We have noticed, that the deeper the seed is placed in
the ground, the braird rises the higher above ground, even when the
seeds at the different depths have been equally moist. This might
admit of explanation, but having already occupied too much space with
this subject, we shall only remark further, that in close woods, the
trees elongate, because they are precluded from extending laterally.
The top buds, from receiving more of the stimulating or nourishing
influence of the dew, sun’s rays, fresh unvitiated air, invigorating
motion of the winds, and perhaps of electricity[54], {274} throw out a
greater continuation of shoot than the under branches; nearly the whole
nourishment from the soil being on this account drawn up and consumed
by these top shoots, and the lower overshadowed twigs and branches
languishing and dying from the absence of these advantages. Besides
this extension of top shoots, by the greater continuation of leaves,
or links of life, occasioned by the above causes, these shoots, owing
to the moist atmosphere of the wood, also push out into longer spaces
between the leaves. However, these top branches do not push sun-ward,
but merely in opposition to gravity.

Sir Henry states, that “trees certainly possess some heat, otherwise
they would be killed during severe frosts.” Our belief of the vital
heat of vegetables is placed on a much better foundation than {275}
this _otherwise_; otherwise our credence would be far from philosophic.
Freezing cold affects many vegetables as well as some of the lower
animals, only by mechanical injury, in rending the vessels by means of
the expansion of the contained fluid. Now, if these vessels are not
quite full of fluid, if the fluid be of such a nature as not to congeal
into greater size, or if the body be small, and the vessels elastic, to
yield to expansion without fracture—the vegetable or animal will often
resume vitality, on being thawed from thorough congelation. We have
rendered potatoes, turnips, and fruits, frost-proof, at least unless
the frost was intense, by a slight desiccation caused by exposing them
a short time to the air after being taken from the ground or tree[55].
In the cases where fishes and reptiles have been found {276} frozen so
hard as to require a hatchet to dissect them, and reviving on thawing,
it will be found that the fluids were principally oleaginous, which
do not expand in congealing; and in the case of insects being frozen
in masses during the night, and resuming their liveliness next day in
the sun, we think, if their fluids have congealed at all, that either
the vessels must have yielded, being elastic (which might more likely
take place in a small body, without general fracture and derangement),
or that the fluids had not extended by being congealed; but it is very
probable, though frozen together in a mass of water and mud, that their
fluids, from being of an acid nature, had resisted the congelation.

With regard to trees, we have heard that intense frost often splits
the trunks of some of our indigenous kinds by congelation[56]; but
these trees retain vitality, and only suffer from the consequences
which may ensue from the fissures. We have seen evergreens, plants
from milder climates, and trees which had not thoroughly ripened their
{277} wood (that is, retained the vessels full of moisture), injured
in the extremities, and even killed throughout by cold. But this does
not prove that these had any vegetable heat, any more than those which
suffered no injury from the same degree of cold, prove that they had
vegetable heat. The juices of some kinds of plants do not congeal at
the same point of temperature as others. The vessels of some in winter
are not so much distended with fluids as others; and probably the vital
principle of some is less susceptible of injury from cold than others.
These facts may account for the endurance of intense cold by some kinds
of trees, independent of vegetable heat.

Our author, speaking of the transplanting of fruit trees, states, that
“any gardener could have predicted the probability of fruit during the
first season, together with the certainty during the second of its not
taking place.” Our gardeners will be moonstruck at having the gift
of prophecy attributed to them, at least to predict in such a way.
We have thought Sir Henry sufficiently ready to impute ignorance to
gardeners before we came to this remark; but to represent a useful and
intelligent class of men in so ludicrous a light, is certainly using a
very improper liberty. {278}

Every gardener is aware that trees will fruit the first season after
transplanting, just if they have had the rudiments of the fruit formed
in the bud before transplanting, and should the blossom not be injured
by severe weather. Every gardener is aware, though Sir Henry seems not,
that all fruit trees, of any size, form these rudiments the season
after transplanting, and that they invariably fruit the second season,
if the season suit the fruiting of the kind; and every gardener of
any experience is capable, even without Sir Henry’s instructions, of
removing a fruit tree of considerable size, without injuring it so
severely as to prevent it fruiting both first and second season, which
it will do, and even mature fine fruit both years, though during the
first, under very unfavourable circumstances, it should scarcely be
able to develope leaves 1-5th of the usual size, and though these
leaves wither and drop off long before the summer is ended, while the
fruit remains to ripen on the tree. This is _a direct consequence
of evaporation_. The thin leaves shrivel up in the ardent sun from
evaporation and want of sufficient supply by root-suction; and the
bulbs of the fruit, from their massiveness, contain sufficient moisture
to resist withering till the night, when they drink the dews, and
suck up some little moisture from the roots, undiminished {279} by
evaporation in the transit, to replenish the daily loss.

Sir Henry remarks, that “no man who knows any thing of wood, will put
down the oak or the elm on light sand or gravel, as it is only on deep
loam and clay that the oak, in particular, will really thrive and
grow into timber.” No man who knows _how much a suitable soil for any
kind of plant is under regulation of the moistness or dryness of the
atmosphere, and other circumstances_, will refrain from smiling at Sir
Henry’s very superficial acquaintance with his own subject, and at
the manner he thus again brings forward mankind to testify in support
of his own error. Our author will place the above quotation among the
errata should he take a ride up Strath-Tay from Birnam to Kenmore.

Among other items of expense given by our author, none of which seem
to be overstated, we feel grateful for the information, that compost
manure of lime, farm-yard dung, and moss, can be obtained, compounded,
fermented, conveyed and applied, at the rate of 6d. and 9d. per single
and double load!

Sir Henry makes good his assertion, that slow grown timber is always
stronger, denser, and more durable than fast grown, by a cloud of
witnesses,—every forester, gardener, and carpenter of the {280}
country, is ready to attest it of course! There are few sublunary
matters which admit of evidence more conclusive. We quote his account
of this uniform “law of nature.”

 “The same general law operates in a similar way on all woody plants,
 but of course less rapidly, owing to the less rapid growth of
 trees, from the lowest bush to the oak of the forest. In all these,
 the culture of the soil tends to _accelerate vegetation_, and by
 consequence to _expand the fibre of the wood_. It necessarily renders
 it softer, less solid, and more liable to suffer by the action of the
 elements. Let us shortly give a few examples of the uniform effect of
 this law of nature.

 “Every forester is aware how greatly easier it is to cut over thorns
 or furze that are trained in hedges, than such as grow naturally wild,
 and are exempt from culture. Gardeners experience the same thing in
 pruning or cutting over fruit trees or shrubs; and, the difference of
 the texture of the raspberry in its wild and in its cultivated state,
 is as remarkable; for although the stem in the latter state is nearly
 double the thickness of that in the former, it is much more easily
 cut. On comparing the common crab, the father of our orchards, with
 the cultivated {281} apple, the greater softness of the wood of the
 latter will be found no less striking to every arboriculturist.

 “Further, the common oak in Italy and Spain, where it grows faster
 than in Britain, is ascertained to be of shorter duration in those
 countries. In the same way, the oak in the Highland districts of
 Scotland or Wales, is of a much harder and closer grain, and therefore
 more durable, than what is found in England; though in such mountains
 it seldom rises to the fifth part, or less, of the English tree. Every
 carpenter in Scotland knows the extraordinary difference between the
 durability of Highland oak and oak usually imported from England, for
 the spokes of wheels. Every extensive timber-dealer is aware of the
 superior hardness of oak raised in Cumberland and Yorkshire, over that
 of Monmouthshire and Herefordshire; and such a dealer in selecting
 trees in the _same_ woods, in _any_ district, will always give the
 preference to oak of slow growth, and found in cold and clayey soils,
 and to ash on rocky cliffs, which he knows to be the soils and
 climates natural to both. If he take a cubic foot of park-oak, and
 another of forest-oak, and weigh the one against the other (or if
 he do the like {282} with ash and elm of the same description), the
 latter will uniformly turn out the heavier of the two.”

It is certainly the case, that luxuriant growth increases the size
of the sap-vessels and cells, but with this increase of size, there
is often a proportional increase of thickness of the sides of these
vessels and cells, and a greater than proportional filling up of dense
matter, as the alburnum is better ripened in autumn, or as the mature
wood, especially of hard wood in dry situations, ripens more slowly in
the course of years. There is also in many kinds more of close tissue
and cellular part, in proportion to large sap-vessels, when the tree
is growing vigorously than when it is stunted. (See the facts in our
notice of Withers, p. 199.) _Thence culture does not necessarily render
the timber softer, less solid, and more liable to suffer by the action
of the elements._ We are really angry with those smooth-tongued rogues
who “fool us to the top of our bent.” _Every artificer_ who has worked
slow grown ash of considerable age, that is, when most of the timber
has been deposited after the tree has been seeding strongly, _assures
us_ that the timber is very inferior, in all respects, to that of
quicker growth. {283}

We consider the forester who has observed that thorns or furze trained
in hedges are much easier cut from softness of timber than when growing
in detached bushes, a much better observer than ourselves; and we
would inquire whether he were certain that the greater efficiency
of his blows was not owing to their being better directed, from the
conveniency of access, owing to the training up, than from the timber
being softer? The example of the raspberry we consider very irrelevant,
it being only a semi-herbaceous plant of biennial stem.

Gardeners certainly experience the branches and roots of crab-apple
to be harder than the varieties with thicker bark, larger more downy
leaves, and larger fruit. The largest growing apple varieties, however,
are not the above mentioned mild varieties, but those which have a
pretty close approximation to the crab. We have taken slips from some
of the very largest of our pear-trees, and having placed them close
to the ground on young stocks, have found they threw out spines and
rectangular branching similar to crabs. Those most dissimilar to
the crab have thick annual shoots, without any lateral rectangular
branching, and very thick bark; they have been gradually bred to this
condition by repeated sowing, always choosing the seed of those {284}
partaking most of these qualities for resowing, their disposition to
vary to mildness being at the same time influenced in some measure
by culture and abundant moist nourishment; but these mild varieties,
although they throw out a strong annual shoot while young, seldom or
never reach to any considerable size of tree, unless they are nourished
by crab roots, their own roots being soft and fleshy, and incapable of
foraging at much depth or distance. Their branches and twigs as they
get old, are also very soft and friable, covered with a thick bark,
but the timber of the stem is very little inferior in hardness to crab

We ask, if even the fact of these unnaturally tender varieties
(obtained by long-continued selection, probably assisted by culture,
soil and climate, and which, without the cherishing of man, would soon
disappear), being of rather more porous texture of wood, goes any
length to prove our author’s assertion? We have paid some attention to
the fibre of the genus Pyrus, and find that the Siberian crabs have
by far the smallest vessels. Having grafted the large Fulwood upon
the smallest Red Siberian Crab, or Cherry-apple, the new wood layers
above the junction swelled to triple the thickness of those below. By
ingrafting other kinds upon other {285} stocks, we have found the
reverse to take place, no doubt owing to those with largest vessels
swelling the most, there being the same number of vessels above and
below the junction, each corresponding, or being a continuation of the
other[57]. But this small Siberian crab, when ingrafted upon a common
crab, grew fully as quickly during several years as the Fulwood under
the same circumstances; and the timber, though of much finer texture,
scarcely exceeded the other in hardness. Sir Henry tells us, that the
oak is less durable in Italy and Spain than in England[58]. We tell
Sir Henry, that the red-wood pitch-pine from Georgia and the Floridas,
on the confines of the torrid zone, is more durable than the red-wood
pine from Archangel, on the confines of the frigid zone. But does this
fact {286} regarding the oak of the south of Europe, prove any thing
regarding the oak of England,—that it will always he deteriorated by
culture for several years after planting, or that the quality may not
suffer as much from slowness of growth as from fastness, or from the
climate being too cold as from being too warm?

The reason why Highland Scots oak spokes are superior to English, is,
because the latter are generally split from out the refuse of the
timber cut for naval purposes,—principally _the branches and tops_ of
large trees; whereas, those from the Highlands of Scotland are from
_the root cuts_ of copse. We believe most carpenters of Scotland are
aware of this. The oak from the Highlands of Scotland is, however, for
the most part, of excellent quality, growing generally on _dry gravel
and rock_, not on cold moist _clayey soils_. The hardest we have ever
seen was from a steep, dry gravel bank, of south exposure, in an open
situation, much exposed to the western breeze. The Highland oak from
these soils is generally of a greyish colour, and very dense; whereas
that from moist soils is often reddish-brown, and defective. Should Sir
Henry weigh portions of oak from these soils in a pair of material,
in place of mental scales, we think his conclusions would be {287}
somewhat different.—The strongest, hardest ash we have seen, was cut
from a hard, dry, adhesive clay, of course a young tree.

Sir Henry, speaking of the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland,
states that “it is from a want of soil, and not of climate, that woods
of any given extent cannot be got up in these unsheltered, but romantic
situations.” Of many situations of these bleak districts, this must
be admitted, but we cannot receive it as a general fact; and even
where it holds true, the want of (proper) soil, or formation of peat,
is a _consequence_ of the want of climate, although _this_ may have
reacted to increase the evil. There must have been a greater warmth of
climate, at least in summer, when the forests grew, which lie buried
in the mosses of the northern part of Scotland, and of the Orkney and
Shetland Islands, as some kinds of timber are found in situations
where such kinds, by no circumstances of gradual shelter under the
present climate, could have grown. There are several indications of
a greater warmth having been general throughout Britain, and even
farther eastward, and that a slight refrigeration is still in progress.
We instance the once numerous vineyards of England,—the vestiges of
aration so numerous upon many of our hills, where it would now be
considered fruitless to attempt raising grain, even {288} with the
assistance of modern science; and the report that the Caspian is
gradually overflowing her shores, a probable consequence of diminished
evaporation from decrease of heat.

That this is not wholly owing to the moisture and cold consequent to
the moss formation, or to any cover or want of cover to the earth, of
timber, or of any other plants which might possibly have effect upon
the temperature by shade, evolution of vegetable heat, electric or
meteoric agency, we think proved, should the asserted fact be correct,
that, in the small _oes_ of Shetland, (so distant from any considerable
portion of land as not to be under these influences, and so small, that
the climate must be solely dependant upon the sea), timber is found
in the morasses, although the climate will not now admit of timber
growing, being apparently equally deteriorated as that of the Mainland.
It is not improbable that the superior former climate of the North of
Scotland and Islands was owing to their having formed, at one time, an
extensive country, perhaps joined to the continent, and thus partaking
of the continental climate, that is, having a colder winter and
warmer summer, capable of producing considerable vigour of arboreous
vegetation, and not so favourable to the generating of that fixed
vegetable incubus, peat-moss, who has crept over, and folded {289}
in her chill embrace, the once fair districts of northern Scotland.
The fogs and more steady low temperature of insular situation, which
now prevail, not only induce that chemical change in dead and dying
vegetables which forms peat-moss, and preserves this moss from decay,
but also being too cool for the vegetation of the gramineæ, &c. tend
only to promote the general spread of sphagni and other moss-generating
plants, which, again, are almost the only plants that can vegetate on
acrid moss-flow, as they draw little or nothing from below, and are
nourished directly by the moisture and other fluids of the atmosphere.

Our eastern shore affords sufficient proof that the ocean has both
receded and advanced recently—at least recently in comparison with
the great changes which have occurred to modify the surface of the
earth. In proof of this recession, we have the upper _carses_, or
deltas, visible in every firth or creek where a river falls into the
German Sea. These carses, on the firths in Ross-shire, at Dun near
Montrose, around the upper end of the Firths of Tay and Forth, are all
of nearly equal level, about 20 feet above the highest stream-tides.
The gravel bar at Montrose is considerably above the present sea-level.
A number of caves exist on this {290} eastern coast, evidently worn
into the rock by the action of the sea at the height where the waves
have broken. These caves have nearly one level, corresponding in
height with that of the carses. There are also many places where the
coast has been shorn away by the action of the waves, and a shelf of
rocks left extending out some hundred paces. This abrasion, which
takes place nearly at, or a little above, low water-mark, is effected
by innumerable hard pebbles (the most indurated parts of the rocks
which give way being converted into battering material for further
reduction), being upborne and dashed against the rock by the continuous
heaving and lashing of the waves. Wherever any breach commences from
the feebler opposition of any softer part, the action of the waves and
battering train proceeds with increased impetus and concentration,
especially if the breach be wedge-shaped narrowing inward, thence caves
of considerable extent are hallowed out. The rocks thus abraded and
undermined, tumble down and are ground into sand, which is swept by the
tides and motion of the waters into the depths of the ocean, or borne
along to the upper end of the bays, or to some part of the coast where
more sluggish lateral tides, and particular motion of the waves leave
it and throw it ashore to be blown up into {291} downs. There are some
former islands which have been altogether shorn down to this sea-level,
of which the Bell-Rock, extending nearly a mile of shelf, affords a
well known specimen. In many places of the coast, these shelves accord
with the superior former level of the sea, and with the floors of the

In proof of the sea having advanced upon the land, there are vestiges
of submerged forests (the stumps of the trees standing erect where
they grew, at or a little above the present lowest ebb) existing at
different places on the eastern coast, both of England and Scotland,
and these vestiges standing upon a former carse or alluvium of the
rivers, are visible in the same firths with the upper level of carse,
of course generally more to seaward than these higher carses, as
deposition of rivers occurs at what may be termed deposition point,
that is where the rivers, from the stemming of the sea-water, begin
to widen—where the firths commence; and the slowness of the motion of
the water gives time for the subsidence of the floated mud. By reason
of the flux and reflux of the tide into the mouths of rivers, this
deposition takes place only at or near high water, that is, when the
strength of the inward tide-flux ceases, and before that of the reflux
begins. It is {292} most abundant at the windward shore, or where
there is least surf, and among the tall gramina and other vegetation
where there is least undulation and current; the deposition which
occurs at this time, some distance below high water level, is floated
away by the current of the following flux and reflux, unless some
object afford a nucleus of formation. Hence deltas or carses usually
form near the shore of firths, generally soon rise to high-water level,
and have often steep, or even abrupt, banks, collecting at one place,
and giving way before the waves and undermining current at another.
There is a deposition of another kind than river diluvium, which also
takes place at the bottom, or further end, of bays and firths, and is
sometimes mixed with the preceding: This consists, as mentioned above,
of the abrasion of the rocks, or shores of the bay and neighbouring
coast, and also of molluscous exuviæ, borne along by the motion of the
waters; but this is generally rather an accumulation than a deposition,
occurring in greatest quantity where a heavy swell rolls dead in.

Although we have pretty accurate proof that the present elevation of
the German Sea has remained nearly steady for several hundred years,
yet our new formation of carse, at the present high-water level, {293}
bears a small proportion to the extent of the upper carse; from which
may be inferred, either that the sea has remained a shorter time at the
present level, or that some general cause has more recently operated
to diminish the deposition, such as inferiority of present climate not
producing so much littoral vegetation,—tides or higher winds preventing
subsidence by greater undulation or current, till the diffused mud
be carried out to sea[59]. The junction of the higher and present
sea-level carses, abrupt and always definite, that is, not gradually
declining from the one to the other, would seem to indicate a quick
subsiding of the sea, or rising of the land, such as has been known
to result from subterraneous derangement. The very accurate level of
these carses proves, that this portion of the world has remained a very
long time pretty free from these disturbances, recently so prevalent
in some other quarters; and if the change of sea-level has been owing
to such disturbance, it follows, from the extent and regularity of
the upheaving or subsidence, that the cause must have been very deep
seated, or of great magnitude.

We begin to think, from our disposition to ramble from the Allanton
system, that we tire of Sir {294} Henry; and we believe, should
_he_ follow us thus far, that he will be tired of us. On looking
back on what we have written, we are almost disposed to accuse
ourselves of being splenetic; but the truth is, we regard the whole
art as very unimportant, if not positively pernicious, at least in
the way in which it has been exemplified by Sir Henry, as a throwing
away of valuable labour to no purpose, if it ought not indeed to be
considered as a mere pander to luxury and caprice. We have no sympathy
with the aristocratical object of the book, and as little with the
aristocratical tone in which it has been bepraised by Sir Walter
Scott. We should also have no greater pleasure in the discovery of a
royal road to virtue than we should have to the discovery of one to
science,—the four cardinal virtues being, as every body knows, writing
books, building houses, and raising trees and children, but we should
hope, neither by proxy, nor by the _Allanton System_. While, however,
we thus state our opinions with freedom, we do not hesitate to add,
that Sir Henry’s volume has afforded us more information, or, at least,
more materials for reflection, than any other of the works which we
have brought under the notice of our readers. {295}

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall finish our remarks on Sir Henry’s work, by making some
observations upon a quotation made by Sir Henry Steuart, from “A
Treatise on the Forming and Improving of Country Residences,” by the
Author of the Encyclopædia of Gardening, &c.—an author, who combines
talent, successful industry, and enlightened benevolence, in no common
degree. We are sorry to appear before this author, whom we have long
esteemed, in opposition; yet we regret the less, as we consider him one
of the few who prefer accuracy and truth to an old opinion, and whose
name stands too high to be affected by a casual misconception.

 “The general effects of pruning,” says this author, as quoted by Sir
 Henry Steuart, “is of a corresponding nature with culture, that is,
 to increase the quantity of timber-produce: the particular manner
 in which it does this is by directing the greater part of the sap,
 which generally spreads itself into side branches, into the principal
 stem. This must consequently enlarge the stem in a more than ordinary
 degree, by increasing the annual circles of the wood. Now, if the tree
 be _in a worse soil and climate than those which are natural to it,
 this will be of some advantage_, as the extra increase of {296} timber
 will still be of a quality _not inferior_ to what would take place in
 its natural state; or, in other words, it will correspond with that
 degree of quality and quantity of timber, which the nature and species
 of the tree admit of being produced. If the tree be in its natural
 state, the annual increase of timber occasioned by pruning, must
 necessarily _injure its quality_ in a degree corresponding with the
 increased quantity. If the tree be in a better climate and soil than
 that which is natural to it, and at the same time the annual increase
 of wood be promoted by pruning, it is evident that such wood must be
 of _a very different quality_ from that produced in its natural state
 (that is _very inferior_).”—“_Whatever tends to increase the wood
 in a greater degree than what is natural to the species when in its
 natural state, must injure the quality of the timber._ Pruning tends
 to increase this in a considerable degree, and therefore it must be
 a _pernicious practice_.”—“Mr Knight has shown, in a very striking
 manner, that timber is produced, or rather that the alburnum or
 sap-wood is rendered ligneous, by the motion of the tree, during the
 descent of the tree (or proper) sap. It is also sufficiently known,
 that the solid texture of the wood greatly depends upon the quantity
 of sap which must necessarily {297} descend, and also on the slowness
 of the descent. Now, both these requisites are materially increased
 by side-branches, which retain a large quantity of sap, and, by their
 junction with the stem, occasion a contraction and twisted direction
 of the vessels, which obstructs the progress of the (proper) sap. Of
 maple and birch, those trees which have fewest side-branches bleed
 more freely than the other, but during a much shorter space of time.
 These hints, therefore, afford additional evidence against pruning,
 and particularly against pruning fir trees, which, as Mr Knight justly
 observes, have larger vessels than the others, and therefore, when in
 an improved soil and climate, side-branches for the purposes above
 mentioned are essentially necessary to them, if solid, resinous, and
 durable timber be the object in view.

 “From the foregoing remarks, I think the following conclusions may be

 “First, That trees should be planted as much as possible in soils,
 situations, and climates, _analogous to those of their natural
 state_; and that it is chiefly in this state, or when there are some
 defects relative to it, that pruning or culture can be exercised with
 advantage. {298}

 “Secondly, That in proportion to the superiority of the soil, &c. in
 which trees are placed, over the natural soil of these trees, in the
 same proportion pruning and cultivating the soil ought to be avoided,
 and thinning encouraged.

 “Thirdly, That particular regard should be had to the soil and
 situation, where either larches, or any other of the pine tribe,
 are planted, to remain as the final crop. For as the roots of these
 chiefly run along the surface, and as in them the great current
 of the sap is chiefly confined to one channel, that is the trunk,
 consequently that tribe of trees is peculiarly liable to injury and
 change, when subjected to unnatural agency.

 “Fourthly, That the only way in which oak timber of safe quality can
 be provided for the British navy, is by enclosing, preserving from
 cattle, and properly managing, those royal forests where oak is the
 natural produce of the soil. (Alas! there is reason to fear, that on
 some future day the neglect of this advice will be regretted). Park
 oak is very frequently much inferior to _forest oak_ in durability.”

We differ from the author of the Encyclopædia of Gardening here,
even _in limine_, in his {299} assumption, that pruning is of a
corresponding nature with culture, in increasing the annual circles of
the wood[60]. Culture, if judiciously executed, increases these annual
circles; but common pruning up (which, from the general bearing of the
language, we suppose is meant), nine times out of ten diminishes them,
and merely tends to extend the stem in length, by throwing all the new
formation of branches to the top of the tree, in place of partly to the
sides. Thence the tree acquires a slenderer figure, and more delicate
constitution; and from greater height, and being without cover of
side-branches, loses more by evaporation, and receives less moisture
from the ground, which is dried by the breeze passing along under the
branches; the principal process of vegetation, assimilation by the
leaves, being reduced by the pruning, and carried on at an unnatural
height, in a colder less genial atmosphere, under a diminished supply
of nourishment from the ground, is consequently less productive of
new assimilized {300} matter; and this smaller quantity requiring
to be extended along a greater length of stem, the annual rings are
necessarily thinner.

We admit that a tree becomes more _stemmy_ by being repeatedly pruned
up;—we admit, that, on removal of the lower branches, the upper part
of the stem may have, for a few seasons, larger annual circles; but
the annual circles will be diminished in thickness in a much greater
proportion on the lower part of the stem;—we admit, that the timber,
from being deposited in a clean lengthened cylinder, becomes far more
useful, there being less redundant matter than when scattered out
into _stemmy_ branches, to which disposition, trees in open situation
sometimes incline, especially if not transplanted very young, but
to which they are nevertheless much more disposed under the common
mode of pruning in an early stage of their growth, than when left to
themselves;—we admit, that trees, by pruning, raised to lengthened
stem, and thence performing less assimilation, partly compensate for
this less assimilation, for some time, by making more stem deposit
in proportion to the other deposit, which extends the parts more
immediately necessary to new formation,—the roots and twigs; but
the deficiency of productory parts soon {301} reacts to diminish
the amount of _all_ the new products. In tall trees, this greater
deposition on the stem, in proportion to that on the roots, twigs, and
leaves, some will think instinctive; some will refer it to an effort of
nature to supply the necessary strength to enable the stem to resist
the great strain of the winds upon the elevated top. If it take place
to a greater extent than what arises from the greater elongation of
the necessary vessels of communication, perhaps it is owing to the
evaporation or stagnation of the sap on the tall exposed stem, and
to the considerable motion or waving of the stem by wind promoting
deposition, evincing one of the deep balancings of material cause
and effect, or circumstantial regulation, which mocks the wisdom of
the wise. We admit, also, that pruning, in the first place, impedes
formation of flower-buds, and will sometimes thus prevent exhaustion
of trees by seeding, which is so prejudicial both to the quality
and quantity of the new wood deposit; but the consequent greater
length of stem, greater exposure to evaporation, constriction of
bark, and slenderer connecting tubes between leaf and roots, all tend
subsequently to promote formation of flower-buds, although the removal
of the lower branches may for a few seasons serve to {302} prevent
this. We therefore consider pruning, excepting in a very slight degree,
to guide to one leader, and to remove the sickly, lower, moss-covered
branches a few seasons earlier than they would have dropped off in
the common course of decay, to be generally preventive of quantity of
wood-deposit, even of common marketable timber, in any considerable
number of years, although pruning to a greater degree is often
necessary where fine clean timber is required.

Our author’s next implied assumption, that a tree produces best timber
in a soil and climate _natural_ to it (we suppose by this is meant the
soil and climate where the kind of tree is naturally found growing),
is, we think, at least exceedingly hypothetical; and, judging from our
facts, incorrect. The natural soil and climate of a tree, is often
very far from being the soil and climate most suited to its growth,
_and is only the situation where it has greater power of occupancy,
than any other plant whose germ is present_. The pines do not cover
the pine barrens of America, because they prefer such soil, or grow
most luxuriant in such soil; they would thrive much better, that is,
grow faster, in the natural allotment of the oak and the walnut, _and
also mature to a better wood in this deeper richer soil_. But the {303}
oak and the walnut banish them to inferior soil from greater power
of occupancy in good soil, as the pines, in their turn, banish other
plants from inferior sands—some to still more sterile location, by the
same means of greater powers of occupancy in these sands. One cause
considerably affecting the natural location of certain kinds of plants
is, that only certain soils are suited to the preservation of certain
seeds, throughout the winter or wet season. Thus many plants, different
from those which naturally occupy the soil, would feel themselves at
home, and would beat off intruders, were they once seated. We have had
indubitable proof in this country, that _Scots fir, grown upon good
deep loam, and strong till_ (what our author would call the natural
soil of the oak), _is of much better quality, and more resinous, than
fir grown on poor sand_ (what he would call the natural soil of the
Scots fir), although of more rapid growth on the loam than on the sand;
and the best Scots fir we have ever seen, of equal age and quickness of
growth, is growing upon Carse land (clayey alluvium).

The reason that Scots fir is of better quality, and more resinous, on
good loam and moist till, than on poor siliceous ground, may probably
be, that the loam contains more oleaginous matter, and other {304}
vegetable products which bear a near relation to resinous, and which,
transmitted upwards from the roots, may occasion richer assimilated
juices. Men fed upon whale or seal blubber, if the digestion is good,
have much fatty deposit upon the body, and the perspired fluid is oil.
It is a fact well known to every intelligent farmer, that _infield_ or
_croft_ land, that is land, which, having been earliest cultivated,
was, of course, the best soil at first, and which has also been long
highly manured at the cost of the _outfield_, and therefore containing
much oleaginous and other matter, products of organization, produces
grasses and other vegetables much more nutritive to cattle than the
_outfield_, even though these vegetables be of the same species, and
by reason of more careful culture of those of the _outfield_, also of
the same size of plant. We have also considered that light, poor sandy
soil, which throws up a considerable flush of vegetation in the spring,
partly because it has then sufficient moisture, but which almost
entirely gives over producing throughout the latter part of the summer,
partly because the winter’s moisture is exhausted, may throw out the
frame or skeleton of a considerable growth, or annual layer of wood,
in the early part of the season, but may not afford sufficient matter
for the filling up or {305} maturing the layer into good dense timber
later in the season, when the assimilated fluid or sap is believed to

Our author states, that the timber of pruned trees must be inferior
to that of trees with many side-branches, because the consequent
contracting and twisting of the vessels as they pass the junction of
the branches and stem, obstruct the descent of the sap, thence the
timber is better matured, and in firs has more of resinous deposit. We
admit that the resinous deposition is more abundant in knots and in
some of the parts adjacent; but the timber is not better throughout.
Worm-eating may be observed to commence generally in the neighbourhood
of knots. Although one part of the wood, in consequence of the
obstruction of the knot, be more dense and resinous, another part,
immediately above or below the knot, where the growths are extended to
fill up the vacant space, where the worming commences, is less dense,
and of inferior durability, and corruption begun, extends. The knotted
timber, of course, is very inferior in strength and value to the clean.
We would refer the longer continued flow of sap from maple and birches,
which have many side-branches, in part, to the lower or side-branches
commencing to vegetate sooner in the {306} spring than the top of
the tree; this successive commencement of vegetation prolonging the

Again, in larch, we find that by far the hardest and most durable wood
is grown upon poor, hard, thin tills (that is, thin of vegetable mould
upon the diluvium), even where the root-rot commences about thirty
years of age. Now, we ask, is this the natural soil of larches? We have
not, however, found larch from rich loam, of better quality than from
poor sand, as we have observed in Scots fir. We also consider larch,
grown on a proper larch soil—on sound soil and subsoil, or sound rock,
common in acclivous situation—superior in quality to larch of equal
quickness of growth, raised on rich loam or sand, though not equal to
larch of slow growth from the above mentioned poor tills.

We would ask how our author is enabled to assume, as an axiom, that
trees produce the best timber in their natural locality? We would also
desire some _rational_ information to shew in what manner pruning
up can in any way conduce generally, to the increase of the timber,
or to the enlargement of one-stemmed vegetables. A tree naturally
rises in one stem. It throws out its branches in the disposition most
favourable to draw the fullest benefit from the light and air. It of
its own {307} accord (that is when man does not meddle), gradually
raises its pyramidal centre, with proportional lateral spread, as high
as is befitting, for the fullest expansion of the individual, under
the circumstances of its location. Man may mar this beautiful natural
balance easier than decypher the proximate cause he may throw the
new deposit of wood in greater proportion upon the upper part of the
stem, rendering his beam more suitable from equality of thickness,
and particularly in pines, of cleaner, smaller growthed, more durable
timber, thence more valuable. But the tree will neither produce the
same quantity of measurable timber in a considerable number of years,
nor will it ultimately reach to nearly the same size, nor continue life
nearly so long, as when left to itself. Man’s interference is useful
in removing competitors, in giving it lateral room for extension,
in _training_ it skilfully to one leader and subordinate equality
of feeders, should transplanting, early pruning up, or other cause,
destroy the natural regular pyramidal disposition—not in pruning it up,
thus reducing it to narrower compass, and destroying its balance to the

The use of the infinite seedling varieties in the families of plants,
even in those in a state of nature, differing in luxuriance of growth
and local adaptation, {308} seems to be to give one individual (the
strongest best circumstance-suited) superiority over others of its kind
around, that it may, by overtopping and smothering them, procure room
for full extension, and thus affording, at the same time, a continual
selection of the strongest, best circumstance-suited, for reproduction.
Man’s interference, by preventing this natural process of selection
among plants, independent of the wider range of circumstances to
which he introduces them, has increased the difference in varieties,
particularly in the more domesticated kinds; and even in man himself,
the greater uniformity, and more general vigour among savage tribes,
is referrible to nearly similar selecting law—the weaker individual
sinking under the ill treatment of the stronger, or under the common

As our author’s premises thus appear neither self-evident, nor
supported by facts, it might seem unfair, at least it would be
superfluous, to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and
corollaries. {309}


After the preceding parts of this volume had gone to press, we received
a copy of Cruickshank’s Practical Planter. We endeavour to give a short
view of the contents.

The author commences with some general remarks on the expediency and
profit of laying uncultivated ground under timber, stating, rather too
strongly, the very superior income derivable from forest than from
heathy moors, and its advantages to the soil. No doubt, a great portion
of the higher and more rocky part of Scotland is susceptible of little
other improvement than planting; and, under timber, would produce more
than ten times the income that it does in pasture; and the patriotic
motive of embellishing his country, and enriching his countrymen, may
excuse his having drawn the advantages of planting in rather high
colours. Mr Cruickshank’s statement (as he says, designedly kept rather
below the truth), that an acre of moor, of average quality, covered
with Scotch fir, sixty years {310} planted, would contain 600 trees,
value 10s. each, differs considerably from what has come within our
experience. The timber of an acre of Scotch fir, sixty years planted in
such waste ground as occurs in the valley of the Tay, will not average
much more than one hundred pounds per acre on the spot, and laid down
on the quay at Newcastle (the place to which the greater part of the
Scotch fir on the east of Scotland is carried), would not produce L.
300 per acre.

In order the more to encourage planting, Mr Cruickshank runs into a
speculative statement of the fertilizing influence of planting upon
the soil, in rather a novel manner, leaving out the particular facts,
which, he says, had come under his own observation, and adducing one
as proof, furnished to him by another person unnamed. We have often
had occasion to see ground, which had produced a crop of firs, brought
under tillage without any marked fertility beyond the adjacent fields
which had been under proper rotation of cropping, certainly inferior
to what had lain for the same length of time in natural grass pasture.
There is a particular instance in a slight rising ground (diluvial
soil) in the Carse of Gowrie, where the fields, since the rooting out
of the fir-wood, have not paid seed and labour in corn, though {311}
under regular manuring and rotation. There are even varieties of pine,
such as the loblolly, which are known to have an influence upon the
soil where they grow poisonous to succeeding crops. Mr Cruickshank
himself adverts several times to ground which had produced a crop of
timber, being _boss_ (hollow) from the roots remaining in the soil,
and owing to this hollowness being unsuited for replanting till the
roots were removed or consumed. We do not very well comprehend this
hollowness, and ascribe the unsuitableness for replanting immediately,
rather to exhaustion, or to the formation of something inimical to
vegetation, than to any hollowness or manner of arrangement of the soil.

As the causes which promote or retard the formation, or which tend to
dissipate the earth’s covering of vegetable mould—a covering, on the
richness or thickness of which the fertility of ground, as well for
most kinds of naval timber as for other products, is so much dependent,
though of the greatest importance—have never, that we are aware of,
been generally brought into view, we shall devote some space to their

In the first place, to give a fair specimen of our author, we shall
transcribe several pages where he {312} has treated this subject with
some ingenuity, and on which he appears to have bestowed considerable

 “Those who have never had an opportunity of seeing old woodlands
 brought into cultivation, will scarce credit what has now been
 advanced, that the soil should be enriched by the production of wood,
 when the experience of ages has proved that it is always exhausted by
 other crops.”—“Trees draw their nourishment from a much greater depth
 than any of the grasses, roots, or different kinds of grain raised
 by the agriculturist. Most of the latter derive the whole of their
 subsistence from the part of the soil that lies within a few inches of
 the surface; but the former, from the superior strength and magnitude
 of their roots, are enabled to penetrate much farther, and extract
 food from the very rock which forms the substratum of a great portion,
 both of our cultivated and uncultivated grounds. This, though it does
 not account for lands being positively enriched by wood, makes it, at
 the same time, far less surprizing that trees should grow to a large
 size, and yet not exhaust the upper part of the soil in so great a
 degree as most of the crops cultivated by the farmer.

 “There is another circumstance which gives ground in wood a great
 advantage over that in {313} tillage, which is, that the leaves of
 the trees are suffered to decay and rot where they fall, and, by
 this means, an annual addition is made to the depth of the vegetable
 mould. Now, the leaves of a tree may be considered as bearing the same
 proportion to the trunk and branches, in respect to the nourishment
 which they require, as the straw of corn bears to the grain. But the
 manure which cultivated land receives, is, in general, little more
 than the straw which grows on it after it has served for food or
 litter to cattle. Ground in wood, then, actually receives, in the
 annual fall of the leaves, as much enrichment as the farmer bestows on
 his land under tillage.

 “Ground employed in agriculture is exposed at almost every season of
 the year to the full action of the atmosphere; and in the drought and
 heat of summer, much of its strength is evaporated. In land covered
 with wood, the case is entirely different, as from the shade afforded
 by the leaves and branches, very little evaporation takes place.
 This, then, is another reason that serves in some measure, at least,
 to explain the seemingly paradoxical fact in question. For, that
 evaporation has a very powerful tendency to exhaust land, by drawing
 off and dissipating the more volatile part of the matter which {314}
 assists in the process of vegetation, there can be no doubt, when we
 consider that any kind of dung may be deprived of the greater part
 of its strength by being long exposed to a dry atmosphere. Nor is it
 merely by preserving its own original substance that land in wood has
 the advantage of cultivated ground. Whatever is extracted from the
 latter in the form of vapour, falls again, when condensed, in the
 shape of rain or dew; but, instead of descending wholly on the same
 spots from whence it rose, it is, of course, diffused over the whole
 space which the clouds, containing it, may happen to cover, and woods
 and moors have as good a chance of receiving it on its return to the
 earth, as the ground in tillage. The part of it which falls, either
 on the cultivated fields or the naked wastes, may be again evaporated
 before it has time to be productive of any benefit; but the portion
 of it which the woodlands imbibe is retained to enrich the soil; for,
 the umbrage excluding the rays of the sun, there is no possibility of
 its being extracted a second time. Land covered with trees, therefore,
 while it never loses any thing, receives, with every fall of rain,
 or of dew, a tribute from the riches of the cultivated part of the
 country. The advantage derived from this source is greater than
 will be credited by those who are not aware how much {315} of the
 substances proper for vegetable nutriment are exhaled from the land in
 a gaseous state during the dry season of the year.

 “But the principal way in which wood becomes instrumental in enriching
 land still remains to be noticed. When trees attain a certain size,
 they attract multitudes of birds, which build their nests and seek
 shelter among the branches. The dung of these animals is the very
 richest kind of manure which can be applied to land, and possesses, at
 least, three times the strength of that commonly used in agriculture.
 The quantity of it produced during the long series of years which
 trees require to reach maturity is, especially where large colonies of
 crows take up their abode, very considerable, and must have a powerful
 influence in improving and fertilizing the soil.

 “I ought not to omit here to mention, among the causes why ground is
 improved by producing wood—the minuteness into which its particles
 are divided by the roots and their fibres. On taking up a young tree,
 or even a gooseberry bush, and shaking the earth from its roots, we
 find the mould that falls from it as completely reduced to powder, as
 if it had been passed through a fine sieve. Now, the fact {316} seems
 undoubted, that land is much increased in fertility by being brought
 to this state.”

Whether a greater accumulation of vegetable mould or enriching of
the soil, would take place under a system of rotation of crops,
stirring of the ground, and manuring, or under Nature’s own system
of management—whether, under forest, or under the rich leafy grasses
depastured by cattle, is a question of the greatest intricacy, and
only admits of local decision, being dependent upon climate, soil,
and circumstance. From our author’s statements, it would appear that
his mind had only ranged along the surface of the subject. He has not
taken into account the quantity of root which herbaceous vegetables
annually leave in the ground—in some kinds little inferior in bulk to
the portion above ground. We have traced oat and wheat roots running
down into clay five and six feet (as deep as those of many kinds of
trees), extremely numerous, and fine as human hair. He seems not aware
that the bulk of yearly vegetable produce is much increased by culture,
alternate cropping, and extraneous manure, such as lime, mixture of
earths, sea-ware, bones. He has not considered that the annual dead
roots within the soil, and the vegetable and animal manure, and the
{317} sward and the stubble ploughed down, conduce much more to enrich
and thicken the soil than the tree leaves, blown about by the winds,
and nearly dissipated into air, before the residuum fixes as a part
of the soil; and also that ploughing is often beneficial to shallow
soils, by mixing the thin covering of mould with the pure earth of
the subsoil,—the vegetable soil-matter, from consequent deeper cover,
and more equable moisture, not losing so much by evaporation, and at
the same time being more efficacious as nutriment to the vegetation.
He seems unacquainted with the fact, that the matter of wood and
tree-leaves, especially of the resinous kinds, and those containing
much tannin, if not actually pernicious, have very little fertilizing
effect—saw-dust has generally no manuring influence, but turns into
peat. He also appears to be ignorant, that some kinds of vegetables
draw more from the air and water, and others more from the earth;
and, especially, that vegetables in a moist climate, depastured or
cut before maturity, exhaust the soil much less than when allowed to
seed. In Britain, soils, particularly those of good quality, become
richer, and thicken more under pasturage, than under any other common
vegetation. This is owing to the manuring of the cattle—to the natural
grasses not being what is termed scourging plants, especially {318}
when not allowed to seed—to the complete cover of the ground by the
leaves—to the quantity of root which dies annually—and to the mould
thrown up by the red earth-worm, renovating the surface, and partly
covering the moss and decayed leaves and old bulbs. It is a curious
fact, that, under pasturage, fertility should increase in Britain and
diminish in Australia. An uncropt deep cover of grass appears necessary
to shelter the vegetable soil-matter during the arid heat, and even to
protect the roots from being burned out, in the latter country. And the
manure of cattle, instead of being covered by the luxuriant herbage
before it is desiccated, and enriching the soil as in England, is, in
New South Wales, under the powerful sun and arid air, quickly reduced
to dust and dissipated.

The fertility of soils may also be quickly increased, and the vegetable
cover thickened almost to any extent under tillage, by first rearing
a quantity of large growing annual vegetables, and when nearly full
extended, burying this green vegetable produce in drills, resowing the
ground immediately with another fast growing kind, and proceeding thus

The influence of birds in enriching forest soil, is exceedingly
limited, and is chiefly perceptible, not in continued forest, but in
some detached portions or {319} clumps of park trees, which colonies
of rooks or other large birds frequent.

Of the natural grass which Mr Cruickshank states succeeds in woods
to the original heaths, and which he describes as affording such
excellent tender food for cattle, we can only say, that either the
woods must have been unprofitably thin, and the trees naked, or that
he has completely mistaken the quality of the herbage. The grass of
woods is unhealthy food for cattle, and generally not relished, being
rendered unpalatable and noxious by the resinous and bitter droppings
from the tree leaves, and by the bitter and nauseous juices generated
in the soil by the roots of trees, which the herbage roots draw up.
In dry soils, there is sometimes an accumulation of whitish substance
within the ground, around the roots of trees, which some refer to
excrementitious deposit[61], but which, we think, is rather the produce
of a subterraneous vegetable, of the nature of a fungus or mould.
Wherever this has increased to a considerable extent, we believe old
forest ground will be found of great fertility. {320}

The friability and minute division of the soil to which Mr
Cruickshanks refers, existing around the bulbs of trees, can only be
of utility where the soil is too adhesive. Light soil is often injured
by being cropped by plants which tend greatly to reduce adhesion—what
the farmer styles being _driven_: besides, all luxuriant annual crops
render adhesive soils friable; and, remaining for a time under natural
grass, gives what is termed a turfiness to soils, which continues for
several years, and which renders both adhesive and light soils more
productive, preventing the adhesive from sinking down into mortar
under cultivation, and the light from losing all adhesion or granular

There is, no doubt, a disposition to accumulate vegetable deposit
in forests, from the moistness, coolness of the ground, and shade,
not tending so much as the sunshine and exposure of open country to
dissipate or volatilize the residuum of the decayed leaves and roots.
In a lower latitude, beyond the line of peat formation, this will have
some influence to increase the depth and richness of the vegetable
mould; but, in Scotland, where cold till bottom prevails, more injury
will result from forest tending to throw the debri of vegetation into
combinations unfavourable to the nourishment of plants (such as peat
{321} and compounds in which iron forms a part), than advantage, from
the dead vegetable matter not being so much dissipated by aration and
exposure to the sun. We have often observed the effect of remaining for
a length of time in a state of considerable dryness, dissipating the
vegetable part of the soil, in some of the old infield clays, where
the crown of the large ridges are raised up a foot or two above the
original surface-level. At the crown of the ridge, the vegetable clay
mould often only extends down about nine inches from the surface, the
subsoil immediately under being nearly void of vegetable matter, and
extremely close tenacious clay,—a solid foot of it, though of equal
moistness, being nearly double the weight of the same bulk of the
vegetable clay mould above it. From this clay, almost purely mineral,
being a little above the original surface-level, there can be no doubt,
that at one time it consisted of the vegetable surface mould of the
country, heaped up by repeated ploughings, and that it has gradually
lost the vegetable part. The depth of vegetable soil, near the furrows
of the ridges, is generally found to be greater than at the ridge crown.

The same dissipation of vegetable matter takes place when a ditch has
been dug in clay ground, and {322} the excavated earth thrown up to
form a dike on one side. On removal of the dike, the original surface,
which no doubt, at the time the dike was formed, consisted of vegetable
clay mould similar to the surface around, is always found to be close,
heavy, poor clay, containing little or no carbonaceous or vegetable
matter. In this case, from the draining effect of the ditch, the
original surface under the dike must have been drier than the subsoil
of the crowns of the ridges.

The difference of depth and richness of vegetable mould, may nearly
always be referred to existing causes, such as the original surface
(diluvium, or decayed rock), being a combination of earths favourable
to vegetation; occupying a genial situation; being favourably placed
with regard to moisture, that is, less or more moist, according as the
original surface has been clayey or sandy, or open or close bottomed;
and is in no way connected with those flood torrents to which we owe
the diluvium deposits themselves—tills, sand and gravel, in which
we have never found any vegetable matter, excepting in the coaly or
mineralized state.

Unless in the case of alluvium, or of drift sand, or where surface
earth has been rolled down from {323} heights, or been _forced_ by
man[62], soil is seldom found to exceed 6 feet in depth, and that only
in warm moist situations, propitious to vegetation. In Scotland we
never have seen it exceed 3 or 4 feet in depth where its accumulation
had not been aided by the above causes. The most common depth is from
6 inches to 2 feet; but, in many of our sterile districts, the surface
hardly deserves the name of mould, containing very little vegetable
matter, or that matter being unavailable from the presence of tannin.

It is a well known fact, that summer-fallowing always dissipates a
portion of the vegetable matter in the soil, although it may, at the
same time, tend to fertility, especially in adhesive soils, and where
the climate is not very arid and warm, overbalancing the loss from
dissipation by the advantage resulting from aëration and absorption
of gases and heat, and the sun’s rays; by the mechanical disposition
and comminution from being thoroughly dried and then moistened; and,
probably, by the formation of salts, {324} stimulative to vegetation;
or, as it has been thought, by the resting for a season. In the case
of any tannin or inert vegetable matter existing in the soil, the
heat and drying will tend to reduce these to a condition suitable for
vegetable food. In the West Indies, when a summer fallowing is resorted
to in order to get clear of the weeds, the fertility of the ground
is considerably lessened, from the evaporation or burning out of the
putrescent or carbonaceous matter. Were the fallowing continued for
several successive seasons, there is no doubt that the whole matter,
which, combined with earth, forms mould, would be dissipated.

About a century ago, it was the practice, in our neighbourhood (an
alluvial clay district), to build up the soil of the fallow division,
furrow deep, into thin dikes, or walls, about 5 feet high. This was
done in early summer. After being dried and aërated by the summer’s
drought, the dikes were levelled down in the autumn and sown with
wheat. This system was considered so fertilizing as to counterbalance
the labour and the loss of a crop.

Our own practice has proven that there is scarcely any manure more
effective for one crop, particularly of spring sowing, than the clay of
old mud walls of {325} houses, though applied in no larger quantity
than is usually given of farm-yard manure, and though the clay appear
quite free from vegetable matter. It is improbable that the resting
of the clay from production could have any effect to occasion this
fertility. We considered it to arise chiefly from a quantity of nitre
having been formed in, or deposited about, the walls from their long
proximity to animal effluvia and to atmospheric air. The fertilizing
effect of the dike system of summer-fallow, and even of the present
system, may also depend in part on the formation of nitre, well known
to be a powerful manure or stimulant in this country. In dry seasons we
have scraped together handfuls of salts, partly nitre, from the exposed
surface of clay-banks. Should a considerable part of the fertilizing
effect of fallowing arise from the formation of nitre, the application
of lime and putrescent manures to fallows, in the early part of
summer, will be advantageous, as the presence of both are favourable
to the formation of nitre. Of course, the utility of encouraging the
formation[63] of {326} nitre or other salts, combinations of potassa
or of soda, will depend on the climate, whether much or little rain
falls, and whether the rain water goes off by evaporation or by
drainage. In the case of little rain, or the rain-water being nearly
all evaporated, nitre and other salts will accumulate in the soil, so
as, from their excess, to be injurious to vegetation; whereas, should
much rain fall, or the rain-water be chiefly carried off by drainage,
vegetation may languish from deficiency of these salts, there being
less deposition of the salts, or the salts as they form being washed
away. The same will apply to the graminivorous animals. Sea-salt,
perhaps also nitre and other salts, will be serviceable in a moist
country, or far from the sea, where the plants and water contain little
saline matter, and probably pernicious in a dry climate, where the
plants and water generally contain much saline matter.

In the portion of the earth from the Atlantic eastward, through
Numidia, Libya, Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, Persia, as far as the Indus,
from the enormous ruins, and other vestiges of dense population,
as well as from ancient records, there must have {327} existed a
considerable depth of vegetable mould covering, where now little is
left but pure sand, baked clay, bare rock, and saline encrustations.
From the footing which an industrious and brave nation has recently so
honourably acquired in this territory, may we not hope that the tide
of arid sterility, dissipating the vegetable covering, will be turned,
and that through European enterprise and mechanical science, by means
of steam and wind power, a system of irrigation will be introduced
which will reanimate this dead portion of the earth—spreading forth
again perpetual spring, strewing the desert all over with herbs, and
fruits, and flowers, converting the sirocco into a breeze loaded with
fragrance, and reproducing, in profusion, all the delights of the
gardens of Hesperus? From the carbonaceous or soil-matter being burned
out, and from the quantity of saline deposit, a very considerable time
will, however, elapse before production be generally extended, and
the desert so far circumscribed, and the ground cooled so much, as to
condense a sufficiency of rain and dew, that a new vegetable mould
cover may be formed.

But to return from our wide exclusion, we observe, that Mr Cruickshank
states, page 25, “that any land that is proper for Scots fir will be
found to answer well with the larch.” This observation, with {328}
what he says of larch “being heavier in proportion to its bulk” than
Scots fir, and that “spruce is very easily wrought, and tries the
carpenter’s tools less than any other kind of wood used in building,”
would lead us to suspect that our author has had a very limited
acquaintance with his subject. A number of different soils will produce
large Scots fir where larches will be generally rotted and hollow in
the heart, by twenty years of age[64]. This ignorance of our author is
the more glaring, as it is coupled with {329} some severe strictures
on planters in general for _their ignorance_ of the proper location
of trees. He says, “Scots fir, on soils of a fertile character, is
short lived, and the excellence of its timber is in proportion to
the slowness of its growth.” This is erroneous. We would rather say
it is short-lived in bad soil: Memel fir (Pinus sylvestris), is of
very superior quality, very large growthed, and of great age. He also
asserts “elm prefers a strong clay soil, and it is perhaps impossible
to bring this tree to the utmost size it is capable of attaining in
land of a different quality.” This is also erroneous. We have seen very
beautiful large Scots elms grubbed out from a soil of pure gravel, and
we can show thousands of instances where Scots elms do not thrive well
in clay—in rich as well as poor clay. We are aware that in every volume
treating of numerous facts, such as Mr Cruickshank’s, many inaccuracies
may always be picked out, but the above are rather too prominent.

Mr Cruickshank censures the practice of covering fir seeds one-half
inch deep in England, referring the {330} demand there for Scots
plants to the seeds being thus buried in place of being sown, and
states that they should only be covered one-fourth of an inch, as is
the practice in Aberdeenshire. He also reprehends the author of the
Encyclopædia of Gardening, on account of some directions which this
author has given, to form, by forcing, a fine friable soil, suitable
for the delicate seeds of trees, where this does not previously exist.
Now, we should consider that the difference of climate between the
neighbourhood of London and Aberdeen would require a difference of
cover nearly equal to this; and that forcing a friable earth for
seed-beds was absolutely necessary, in the very adhesive clays around
London, and so general in the more recent formations of the south and
middle of England, although superfluous in the north of Scotland,
where sandy or light soil is sufficiently abundant. Seeds, under a
moist cloudy atmosphere, will vegetate without cover at all; but in
situations where the air is arid in spring, with much sunshine, a
covering of some depth is necessary, and that covering, where the
rudiments of the plant spring out weak and delicate, is required to be
soft and friable, a good absorber and retainer of moisture, and not
disposed to run together with rain, or crack with drought.

Mr Cruickshank gives an account of our different {331} forest
trees, neither very accurate nor interesting, but, luckily, not very
tedious. He then proceeds to treat of nursery, sowing, transplanting,
and choosing of plants, where many sensible, though some of them
common-place, observations occur, of much use to the generality
of planters. His views, however, of the proper manner of planting
seedlings in the nursery, are defective. The best method of planting
these—neither by laying, nor by dibbling—is first to stretch the
line and make a furrow, level in the bottom, as broad as the roots
may stretch, with the inner side straight and steep. One person then
holds the plant erect in its berth, from two to four inches from the
perpendicular side, according to the general size of the horizontal
roots, so that the fibres may be regularly spread; and another person
throws on the earth from the place of the next furrow; the placer of
the plants footing the earth to the roots as he proceeds, or after the
row is completed.

The following observations of Mr Cruickshank are worthy the attention
of planters:

 “Proprietors should not attempt to raise seedlings, but purchase
 them from professional nurserymen, and place them in a succession
 nursery of their own. A proprietor may, in general, purchase seedlings
 much cheaper than he can raise them; while the case {332} is just the
 reverse with regard to plants of a greater age. In raising seedlings,
 much skill and attention is requisite, which the professional man can
 always command at a much more reasonable rate than the proprietor.
 In the treatment of plants after they are removed from the seed-bed,
 the rent of the ground is the chief source of expense, as any common
 gardener will be able to manage them.”

 “A general, and a very gross error, in purchasing plants, is to
 consider those as best which are the largest in proportion to their
 age. This absurd principle of selection makes those nurseries most
 frequented by customers which least deserve to be so, such, namely,
 as are situated in the richest soils, surrounded by the closest
 shelter, and stimulated by the greatest quantities of manure. It is
 necessary, no doubt, that plants should be of a size to suit them to
 the situations for which they are intended; but if they have attained
 this size sooner than the due time by being forced, they are in the
 worst state imaginable for growing in a barren moor, or on the bleak
 side of a mountain.”

 “Plants are often much injured, though raised sufficiently hardy in
 other respects, by being too much crowded in the nursery line.”—“The
 surest method that I know of enabling those who have little {333}
 experience, to ascertain whether plants, in the seed-bed, are too
 much crowded or not, is to compare such as grow on the verge of the
 alley with those in the interior. If the girt of the latter be equal,
 or nearly so, to that of the former, the plants have sufficient
 room.”—“When plants have stood for several years in nursery lines,
 if they are too much crowded, many of their lower branches will be
 sickly or withered, or the stems will be entirely devoid of branches,
 excepting within a few inches of the top. This is a mark so plain that
 no one can mistake.

 “Care should be taken not to purchase plants which betray symptoms of
 disease. When larches not more than three years old cast the whole,
 or even the greater part, of their leaves, just when the winter
 commences, it is a sure sign that they are in an unhealthy state, and
 that many of them will die in the course of next season; for, under
 this age, the larch should retain a considerable quantity of its old
 leaves till spring.”—“There is also a minute white insect, which
 is fatal to the larch in plantations, that sometimes attacks it in
 the nursery after it enters its second year; on this account, it is
 proper to examine the larch plants the summer previous to purchasing
 them.”—“Scots fir maybe regarded as sickly, when the points of the
 leaves become withered, or {334} when they change their naturally
 dark colours into a faint yellowish green. Any vestige of withering
 on the spruce or silver fir, is a sure prognostication of approaching
 decay. Any kind of fir which has lost its leader may be considered

 “When plants are packed up in mats for the conveniency of carriage,
 strict orders should be given that those which carry their leaves in
 winter be taken up when they are entirely free from moisture. If they
 be pulled wet, they will heat and get mouldy in the packages. In the
 course of a few days good plants are often spoiled in this manner.”

Mr Cruickshank does not swerve from the common foolish system, of
inculcating a determinate character of soil as generally necessary for
each kind of tree. We are angry with the dulness of the writers on
location of timber; they will not comprehend that a tree has two ends,
by both of which it draws moisture, though from different elements,
earth and air. The dullest clown is sensible he requires to drink more
under an arid sun than under a drizzling rain. The same holds of trees;
if there be little evaporation of moisture from the leaves, and if the
leaves, instead of exhaling, can frequently even imbibe water, from the
plant occupying an elevated situation, where the air the greater part
of the season {335} is cool, and nearly surcharged with moisture, the
most porous, driest soil (sufficiently damp in such a situation), will
generally be the most suitable; and trees of every kind will prosper in
sands, in which, under a dry atmosphere, they would not have survived
one summer; whereas in arid, warm, low country, the deepest, dampest
loams and clays are generally the best suited for timber, provided
water does not stagnate. And, besides, we have found varieties of the
same kind or species of tree, _some of them adapted to prosper in dry
air and soil, and others in moist air and soil_. Although the above
causes prevent a positive limitation of certain kinds of trees to
certain soils, yet there are some which have superior adaptation to
moist soils and others to dry; some whose roots, from their fibrous
soft character, can only spread luxuriantly on light, soft, or mossy
soils, and others, whose roots have power to permeate the stiffest
and most obdurate. The above explanations will account for much of
the incongruity which we find in authors regarding the adaptation of
certain kinds of timber to certain soils.

In describing the soils suitable for different kinds of trees, Mr
Cruickshank mentions, that “the Scots fir will thrive in very barren
situations, provided the soil be dry. Dryness is, in fact, the {336}
most indispensable requisite in order to produce a good crop of Scots
fir, and it is never advisable to plant this tree in very moist ground,
or where draining is necessary to carry off the surface water.”—“Stiff
land seems decidedly hostile to its growth.”—“On a deep rich soil
it grows very fast, attains a large size, and soon decays. In these
circumstances, its wood is spongy, and of inferior value.”—“The most
important precept that can be delivered with regard to this tree, is
never to plant it either in _wet_ or _very stiff_ land.”

 “The larch is also a very hardy plant, and is sure to thrive on any
 land that will answer for the Scots fir. It is, however, less delicate
 in its choice of soil than the latter, and will grow in a much greater
 degree of moisture.”—“This tree is one of the surest growers we have
 in barren soils.”

 “The spruce is as partial to moist land as the Scots fir is to dry;
 and in this particular these two species stand directly opposed to one
 another.”—“Spruce may indeed appear to thrive in a dry situation for
 a few years; but by the time it reaches ten or twelve feet in height,
 its lower branches will decay, and after that period it will make
 little progress, but remain even a cumberer of the soil.”—“ Spruce
 seems to be most partial to a cold stiff clay: it is, {337} however, a
 very hardy plant, and not very nice in its choice of soil, provided it
 have enough of sap.”—“I do not mean such as is deluged in winter with
 stagnant water. This is incompatible with the growth of wood of every
 kind.”—“The silver fir and balm of Gilead will answer in the same
 kinds of land as the spruce.”—“They, together with the spruce, are
 invaluable for where the soil is deep peat-moss, as neither the Scots
 fir nor the larch will thrive in it.”

       *       *       *       *       *

There is in the above quotations, in common with many of our opinions
(formed hastily upon a too partial acquaintance with facts), a
considerable proportion both of truth and error. Such sweeping
assertions will, however, generally command the assent and admiration
of the reader. From the enjoyment the mind has in forming clear
conceptions and reaching conclusions, from its love of order, and from
its disposition to cling to every thing like definite, unfluctuating
arrangement, to assist its limited powers of comprehension, we are led
away by the author, who reduces the character of natural phenomena to
great simplicity, although in reality exceedingly complicated.

Scots fir, it is true, has rather a superior adaptation to dry, sharp,
and rocky soils; yet there are many {338} situations of poor wet till
and clay, and even peat-moss ground, where it will be advantageous
to plant Scots fir in preference to any other kind of timber; for
this plain reason, that no other kind will thrive so well in those
cold moist moors. Both Larix and Abies have a much narrower range of
adaptation than Pinus sylvestris. Larch will not thrive in the dead
sand nor till flats of the low country, often not in the dead sand and
till of rising grounds, in both of which the Scots fir, if allowed
sufficient room for side branching, will reach good-sized timber. There
is a considerable formation of peat-moss near Dunmore, in which the
Scots fir has shown superior adaptation to the Norway spruce. We have
also seen, in the moss of Balgowan, Perthshire, fine thriving Scots
firs, many of them two feet in diameter, growing in very moist, rich,
mossy loam,—so moist, that although in a rather protected situation,
a number of the trees, while young, had been laid on their sides by
the wind, and were growing luxuriantly in the form of a quadrant of
a circle, with as much as six and eight feet of the stem upon the
level ground, affording a curve sufficient to reach from the keel of a
vessel to the deck at midships. We examined the timber of several of
these, and found it superior to the average of home P. sylvestris. The
superior {339} quality of the timber may be ascribed to the richness
and moisture of the soil, and to the full branching of the trees from
their rather open arrangement. There is nothing which conduces so much
to the good quality of Scots fir as exposure. Under the great shelter
of the close _planted_ woods, the timber is soft and porous, without
much resin; but under great exposure, especially to dry air, the timber
is hard, close, and resinous. This is, however, considerably modified
by the soil.

The quality of natural grown timber is considered superior to the
planted. Is this occasioned by the former having generally more
branches and leaves in proportion to the length of the stem, and being
more exposed than the latter? Can root fracture at transplanting,
or the kiln-drying of the cones, have any influence to diminish the
strength of the fibre or quantity of resinous deposit? We have been
told by several old people, in the neighbourhood of Dunsinane, that
Scots fir plants, brought more than half a century ago from Mar Forest
to Dunsinane Wood, succeeded much better than some which had been
procured from nurseries, and also produced better timber.

Clay is assuredly _not_ the proper soil for spruce and silver fir;
their exceedingly numerous, soft, fibrous, moss-like rootlets, require
an easy damp soil. {340} We have tried a number of kinds of abies,
in both dry and moist clay, and have found they did not grow so
luxuriantly (thrive so well) as Scots fir or larch. The silver fir
shewed superior adaptation to any of the other kinds of abies.

Almost in every instance where we have seen the silver fir and Norway
spruce (by far the best spruce for Scotland) growing together, the
former was the superior. The timber, in the lower part of the stem, is
harder than that of the spruce, but freer and more porous in the upper
part. It is probable that the silver fir will not thrive in so elevated
or so moist a situation as the spruce, but in all favourable soils it
merits a preference.

We now come to a very important part of our author’s volume—an account
of the most economical, and, as he says, the most successful, mode
of planting moors and bleak exposed mountains, but which is brought
forward by him under no limitation to place. To the invention of this
method, our author lays no claim; he merely describes the practice in a
clear and judicious manner.

 “The most proper time for removing firs from the nursery to waste
 land, is when they are two years old.”—“The experience I have had
 enables me to say, with as much confidence as I can speak on {341}
 any point whatever, that the longer any fir is allowed to remain
 in the nursery after it has attained two years’ growth, so much
 the less chance is there of its success when removed to its final
 destination.”—“At this period (two years’ growth) larches may be
 obtained transplanted, as it is customary to put considerable numbers
 of them out into nursery-lines when they are one year old. Such plants
 have better roots than those that have remained in the seed-bed till
 they are of the same age; but as their price is considerably higher
 than that of the latter, it is somewhat doubtful whether they are so
 much superior in quality as to compensate for the greater expense. At
 all events, healthy larches from the seed-bed have never failed to
 give satisfaction when properly planted in soil suitable for them.
 Other species of fir are scarce ever transplanted in the nursery till
 they are two years old, so of this age there is no choice left but to
 take them from the seed-bed.”—“Birch, alder, and mountain ash, succeed
 well when removed from the nursery in their second year.”—“Beech
 and plane do not succeed well unless they have stood some time (two
 years at least) in nursery lines, after having been removed from the

 “The pitting system of planting should be {342} adopted in every
 instance in which the plants exceed two years old.

 “The expense of planting was much reduced by the introduction, about a
 century ago, of the notching system. Of this there are two varieties,
 the oldest of which may be described as follows:—One person makes a
 notch in the ground, or rather two notches crossing each other, with
 a common spade, raising the sod by bending down the handle of the
 instrument, till the notch become wide enough to receive the roots of
 the plant. An assistant, with a bundle of trees, slips the root of
 one into the aperture thus made for its reception. The spade is then
 withdrawn, and the closing of the sod on the root is assisted by a
 smart blow of the heel of the planter. In this way two persons, well
 practised in the work, will put into the ground between five hundred
 and a thousand per day.

 “This system was much simplified about fifty years ago, and rendered
 so expeditious, that it seems in vain to look for its receiving any
 further improvement. Instead of the spade, an instrument of nearly
 the same shape, but so small that it can be wrought with one hand as
 easily as a common garden-dibble, was introduced, and is now known by
 the name of the Planting-iron. With this, a notch is made in {343}
 the ground to receive the root; and owing to the portability of the
 tool, and its occupying but one of the hands, the person that works it
 requires no assistant, but, carrying a parcel of plants in a wallet
 before him, he singles out one with his left hand, inserts it in the
 notch, withdraws the implement, fixes the plant with his heel, and
 proceeds with as much apparent ease as if he were performing the
 operation in the soft ground of the nursery. In this way of planting,
 the workman goes forward in such a line as he can judge of by his eye;
 and as it is extremely difficult to see the plants after they are put
 in, especially if the heath is pretty long, he sets up poles in the
 first line, to enable him to keep the second a due distance from it;
 and in planting the last mentioned, he removes these poles into it as
 he comes opposite to them, which then serve as his guide in planting
 the third; and thus he proceeds till he cover the whole ground. The
 lines thus formed are necessarily so zig-zag, that when the trees grow
 up, they do not seem to have been planted in rows.

 “In this way, an expert workman will plant between three and four
 thousand young plants a-day, and do it so perfectly, that the fault
 will not be his if a single individual of the whole number fail to
 {344} grow. I have assisted in planting, according to this plan,
 upwards of three thousand acres in Aberdeenshire; and, in all that
 extent, I know not of a single instance of failure, where the plants
 were in a healthy state when put into the ground, of the proper age
 and varieties, and suitable for the soil.”

 “To plant well and expeditiously in this way, requires considerable
 dexterity on the part of the workman; and where raw hands are
 employed, it will be necessary to have some person to teach and
 superintend them.”

Mr Cruickshank disposes of the old cross system of slit planting
by the spade, with very little ceremony; as it would almost seem,
without being able to appreciate its merits. It is, in fact, a totally
different mode of planting from that by the flat dibble-planter or
planting-iron, and is well adapted for all plants with horizontal
roots, and which have stood from one to three years in the nursery
line. By first striking the spade in perpendicularly, as deep as the
turf-soil, by again striking it in at right angles to the end of
the first cut, in the form of a T, and bending back the spade, the
turf-soil is raised from a horizontal bed, and the first cut opened so
wide as to admit the root, which {345} inserted and drawn a little
along by an experienced hand, and well tramped down, has its rootlets
disposed over the horizontal bottom almost as regularly and well
adjusted for growing, as can be done by pit-planting. This practice
is sometimes performed singly, a clever workman managing the spade
with one hand and the plants with the other, and inserting 1000 each
day. The plants suited for this system are fully double the size of
those suited for the flat-dibble system, and are purchased at about
one half more price, thus enhancing the cost of planting to £1, 10s.
or £2 per acre; but in many situations, especially where the herbage
grows freely, affording an earlier growth, and more regular success,
sufficient to balance the greater expense ten times over.

Although the cross-system of slitting is the best for commanding
general success, yet wherever the flat dibble planting can be depended
on, it merits a preference, as from the smallness of the plants, the
roots receive less fracture and derangement in the woody state, and the
process comes nearer to raising from the seed _in situ_.

The expense of each system per acre, will be nearly as follows:— {346}

 _By Cross-slitting, or the Double Notch._

 3000 larches and Scots firs, from one to three years transplanted,
   at 5s.                                                 L.0 15  0

 500 hard wood, from one to three years transplanted,
   at 12s.                                                  0  6  0

 4 days of one superior planter, or of two ordinary
   planters, at 3s.                                         0 12  0
                                                          L.1 13  0

 _By the Flat Dibble, or the Single Notch._

 4000 larches or Scots firs, from the seed-bed, or one year
   transplanted, at 2s. 6d.                               L.0 10  0

 1000 hard-wood plants,                                     0  7  0

 1 1/2 day of a planter, at 2s.                             0  3  0
                                                          L.1  0  0

Although our author speaks so confidently of the success of
transplanting out firs at one and two years of age, yet this must only
be taken under limitation to the country in which his experience has
lain,—the barren mountains and moors of Scotland, where the vegetation
of the heaths is extremely slow, and the herbage both thin and short.
Were these small plants used in the superior climates of England and
Ireland, where the vegetation of the grasses, and {347} other natural
occupiers of the soil, is very luxuriant, there would scarcely be one
in a hundred that would ever be seen after the first spring, unless
a very expensive cultivation to check the weeds were resorted to. To
effect economical planting in these soils, it is necessary to have the
plants sufficiently large, not too close together, and placed in rows,
that a mower may be able to distinguish them among the herbage while
he cuts it down; or what is much better, that the spade or plough[65]
culture may be {348} practised, and potatoes, turnips, or other green
crop, raised among them, without the plants being overwhelmed. In case
of grass production, the oftener during the season the young plantation
is mown, the more advantageous, as well that the plants may be the more
easily distinguished, as that the lower branches may not be smothered,
nor the soil so much exhausted and dried by the blooming and seeding
of the herbage; of course, a short scythe is required, and also a very
careful mower.

Speaking of the best season for planting, Mr Cruickshank states:—

 “In wet and swampy soils, as well as in land, whether dry or moist,
 whose surface is bare, I would be inclined to prefer the spring. Wet
 land swells to such a degree, that plants which have not had time to
 take a firm hold with their roots, are almost {349} inevitably thrown
 out.”—“These remarks have reference only to the system of planting by
 notching: when the pitting system is adopted, it fixes the plant so
 thoroughly, as to render the utmost power of frost incapable of doing
 them any injury.”—“The utmost limits of the planting season may be
 estimated from the middle of October to the middle of March.”—“I am a
 decided advocate for thick planting, and would advise that no fewer
 than 3000 trees per acre be planted in good land, nor a less number
 than 4000 when the soil is of a middling or inferior quality.”

Mr Cruickshank must surely have had little acquaintance with soft,
spongy, close-bottomed soils, or he would not have asserted that
pit-planted trees are not subject to be thrown. If planted in the early
part of winter or autumn, trees of the usual size, which have remained
from one to three years in the nursery line, are very frequently
thrown from such soils. This is caused by the freezing earth first
catching fast hold of the plant at the surface, and afterwards swelling
underneath from the enlargement of the freezing water in its pores,
and from the open crystallized _honeycomb_ arrangement which takes
place by congelation. As the stem is fast to {350} the ground at the
surface, and the earth subsequently enlarged underneath as far as the
congelation proceeds, the roots below the congelation must of necessity
be drawn upwards to the distance which the ground has swelled after
the stem was fixed to the surface. The earth, on thaw, first loses
hold of the plant at the surface, and then falls away as it contracts.
Each successive frost and thaw during winter thus raises the plant a
certain space, till by spring it often is so far extracted, as to fall
over on its side. When the plant has stood a season, there is generally
a tuft of herbage around its stem, which prevents the freezing in a
considerable degree; and the roots having fixed in the lower earth,
resist the pulling up so much, that the hold which the frozen earth has
of the stem at the surface gives way, sometimes pulling off a portion
of the bark, and the earth rises around the stem in place of pulling
the tree.

Instead of the season for spring planting being over by the middle of
March, we think that, in many of our wet moors, it should then only
be commencing, especially under the pitting system. However, planting
should never be deferred a day later in spring than what is absolutely
necessary to render the ground sufficiently dry for the process. {351}

Mr Cruickshank’s opinions regarding pruning and thinning are generally
not very incorrect. His commencing sentence on pruning, that “most
deciduous trees, if left to themselves, have a tendency to grow with
short trunks, containing little timber, and to waste their strength
on large unwieldy tops,” would, however, lead us to form a different
conclusion. The very tall, clean, straight, deciduous trees, in the
American forests, give a sufficient answer to this. We like his remark
respecting thinning, that “it is only efficacious when applied as a
preventive, not as a cure.”

Mr Cruickshank next brings forward his plan of raising oak forest,
which appears to have been his own invention, although invented before.
Whenever mice and other gnawers (glires) are not very abundant, it,
if properly executed, would seem to be the best method of raising oak
forest; and, indeed, in many situations, the only practicable one. Mr
Cruickshank’s method coincides nearly with Mr Sang’s, only he does not
carry his system of protection so far as Mr Sang, in first raising
belts of the most hardy kinds of timber, distributed to windward of,
and intersecting the place intended to be planted, in such a manner as
to afford the best possible shelter from the coldest most destructive
{352} winds. Mr Cruickshank, who has never carried his plan into
execution, except in an experiment embracing a few yards, directs that
the ground intended for oak forest should first be planted with Scots
fir and larch, about 4000 to the acre, by the single-notch process,
previously described, which can be accomplished under L. 1 per acre. As
soon as these have risen to four feet in height, he prepares patches
about two feet square and ten feet distant in the interstices, by
digging the soil over, and mixing a spadeful of slaked lime carefully
with the mould, taking out a tree whenever the interstices do not suit
for the patches. He then plants, in the end of March or beginning
of April, five acorns in each patch, about an inch deep, one in
the centre, and the other four in the angles of a foot square, and
gives them no farther attention for two years, except removing any
overhanging low fir branch. He then goes over the patches, cutting out
all the supernumerary plants, a few inches below the surface, leaving
the most promising one on each patch, being very careful not to disturb
any of its roots in cutting out the others. As these oak plants extend
in size, he gradually removes the fir.

Excepting the bare plan itself, which is certainly very plausible,
there is nothing in the description {353} of the practice—the
preparation of the patches of ground to receive the seed and the
subsequent management—which merits attention. His very particular
interdiction of the use of manure is, to say the least of it,
injudicious—as if it signified to the plant whether it were forced by
the use of lime, or by a little putrescent manure, both of which Mr
Withers would consider very advantageous; or as if there were much fear
on our poor exposed wastes of erring on the side of rendering the plant
delicate from over luxuriance; its constitution, on the contrary, would
rather be strengthened. Mr Cruickshank, in directing the removal of
the fir nurses, one thousand per acre to stand till they have reached
twenty-five years, fit for roofing of cottages, and similar purposes;
and five hundred till they have reached thirty-five years; his dividing
a slaked boll of lime into five hundred spadefuls; and his bestowing no
hoeing or weeding upon his seedlings, would show, without his admitting
it, that he had never practised this mode of forming plantation.

Prefacing this system of rearing oak forest, Mr Cruickshank in rather
a clever manner points out its advantages, and also the disadvantages
and consequent failures of _planting_ young oak trees in exposed
situations. But after all his eulogy, we think he has {354} left
something unsaid. The great disadvantage attending transplanting oaks
to situations not very favourable to their growth, is, that the plant
which, under any circumstances, receives irreparable and often mortal
harm, from the severe injuries of removal, has to contend, in this
mutilated condition, at the same time with the uninjured occupiers of
the soil (the nurses or the native weeds), and with the unpropitious
situation; whereas, when the plant springs up from the acorn a native,
especially when it is assisted at first by weeding or hoeing, the part
above ground being always in proportion to that below, and receiving
due nourishment, it contends with the occupiers on more equal terms,
and encounters the sterility of the soil, or the severity of the
climate, with all its natural powers unimpaired.

As it is the natural condition of the seedling to grow up under the
shelter of the parent tree, so also does it happen, that it rises under
this shelter with greater luxuriance and vigour than when exposed to
the evaporation, and parching sun, and battering wind, of the bare

We have admired the beautiful, straight, luxuriant, shoots of the
young hollies, thrown out under shelter, and have compared them with
the dry stunted shoots of the young holly in the open country, though
in the former case their roots had to contend {355} with the roots
of larger trees, and in the latter they had the soil to themselves.
Experience has proved, that in exposed bleak situations, shelter is
necessary to young plants. Transplanted oaks among the roots of young
trees, so large as to afford sufficient shelter, very frequently do not
succeed, at least without the utmost care in the transplanting, and a
considerable deal of labour to prevent the roots of the shelter trees
from starving the transplanted ones, unless a very propitious moist
summer follow the transplanting. Raising from the seed, which obviates
all this, seems therefore the only conveniently practicable way. Yet it
must be owned, that the system of raising forests _in situ_ from the
seed, appears, as yet, much more successful on paper than on our hills
and moors.

In endeavouring to confute the opinion, that the oak will not grow
throughout Scotland, but in the milder and more propitious situations,
Mr Cruickshank adduces the well-known fact, that large oak timber is
found in almost every peat-moss.

This is a fact worth tracing to its cause. Under Nature’s own conduct,
trees advance considerably further into elevated or cold inhospitable
regions, than they would otherwise do, by means of the mutual shelter,
and of the more hardy kinds acting as an advance guard. Yet there is a
limit to this, as the {356} power of ripening seed is not increased
by shelter in proportion to the power of growing—perhaps not at all;
we instance the Spanish chestnut, which has scarcely ever been known
to ripen seed in Scotland. Seed-grown trees will, therefore, under
Nature’s arrangement, not be found extending much beyond _the line of
seed ripening_. From nuts, acorns, and other seeds, fully developed,
being found in elevated mosses in this country, other causes than
shelter appear to have existed.

Before this country was so much overrun by men and oxen, a great deal
of timber had existed, covering much of the superior land which is now
under tillage. This consisted chiefly of the oak, Scots fir, birch,
hazel, and alder,—the oak extending northward and to elevations, and
ripening seed, and attaining to a size which it does not now do, either
wild or cultivated, in the same latitude, neither here nor in any other
portion of the world; which, along with some other facts, lead to the
supposition, that the climate has changed a little,—in part, possibly,
as we have before stated, from the gradual formation of peat, to which,
overthrown oak forest, from the abundance of the tannin principle, has
a great disposing influence, even under a warmer climate than present
Scotland. The highest latitude to which a tree, or any other kind of
plant, reproducing by seed, {357} naturally extends, depending on the
ripening of the seed, and also on the power of occupancy, is however
different from that where it will grow, when ripe seeds are procured
from the coldest place where they ripen, and all the competitors
removed; and under the system of shelter belts, hardy pine nurses, and
seeds from the nearest place where they ripen, we have no doubt that
oaks may be extended to a colder situation than Nature herself would
have placed them in. For the higher more bleak portion of the country,
we would recommend acorns grown in Scotland, in preference to those
imported from England. We have several times observed wheat, the seed
of which had been imported from England, sustain blight and other
injuries in a cold moist autumn, when a portion of the same field, sown
of Scots seed, at the same time as the other, and under the very same
circumstances, was entirely free from injury. English acorns are also
frequently heated in the casks in which they are imported, which must
impair their vigour[66]. {358}

The part of Mr Cruickshank’s volume which we have analyzed, does
not extend much beyond the first half: this portion is well worth a
perusal. We have merely glanced over the remainder: it is a make-up
scarce worth noticing. The language, on the whole, is easy and plain;
and although the volume contains a considerable number of errors, in
the pointing out of which we have not been sparing, yet will it form an
excellent planter’s assistant to people who have ground to plant, and
are ignorant of the process of planting.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now brought before the reader a pretty fair picture of the
Forestry of the present day. Some may wonder that the written science
of arboriculture should be so imperfect and inaccurate; but the
knowledge of the art, and the power of communicating that knowledge,
are of so different a {359} character, it not unfrequently happens,
that those write who cannot act, and those who can, are incompetent
to write—sometimes unwilling; besides, correct opinions on this
subject, as on most others, are only just beginning to be formed.
We have endeavoured to assist in disentangling the correct from
the erroneous. It is impossible for the most wary always to avoid
misconception of facts, but man merits the name of rational only, when
he evinces a readiness to break from those misconceptions, to which
the narrow-minded, the proud, the vain, and the creature of habit
and instinct, cling so obstinately. As a friend, we have stood on no
ceremony with our brother arboriculturists. We have laid ourselves open
to their criticism, and we hope they will shew as little ceremony with


[36] This repetition of our directions on pruning is
intentional—“Carthago est delenda.”

[37] The coniferæ have a weaker or more connected vitality than most
other trees—the whole individual participating in the injury of any
part. Perhaps this arises from the liability of resinous juice to
putrescency—any putrid affection in one spot of the more vital part of
the tree spreading quickly over the whole.

[38] Transplanting having an opposite influence on the young of
herbaceous and woody vegetables, in the former when not already rising
into stem, retarding, and the latter accelerating or furthering
development of the reproductory parts, is a good lesson to reasoners
from analogy. The root-fractured herbaceous plants repairing the injury
almost immediately, and before the rudiments of the reproductory parts
have time for expansion, the greater quantity of moist nourishment
afforded by the unsought newly stirred soil, produces a flush of
radical leaves, which react to further the extension of the roots. The
new rootlets have again more connexion to promote the growth of the
radical leaves, and to induce offsets—_tillering_—from the sides of the
bulb, than to nourish or mature the core part, from whence the stem
arises—a certain comparative extension and maturity of the core being
necessary to the rising of the stem. Thence seeding can be retarded,
and life in annuals be continued, _ad libitum_. On the contrary, in
woody vegetables of perennial stem, the reparation of the root-injury
takes place slowly, and the evaporation from the stem and elevated
branches and leaves exhausting the little moisture afforded by the
inadequate root-suction during an entire season, gives time and bias
for the germs to pass into reproductory instead of productory organs
even the first season.

[39] We rather think Mr Sang mentions this.

[40] They say a better management has lately been established. This may
be followed for a short time in the high stream of the agitation, or
while the present heads of management remain in power; but the system,
we fear, contains the seeds of evil, which, like the weeds, will soon
overwhelm the alien good.

[41] The inferior growth of the part of a hedge which was pruned
before the vegetation had begun, may be ascribed to the vital action
having been checked at the commencement by the destruction of the buds
necessary to stimulate this action; and being deprived of this first
strong impulse, life had remained languid throughout the season, the
roots never recovering their proper suction or foraging power;—when the
pruning was later, a sufficient stimulus had already been given.

[42] Vide Sir Walter Scott.

[43] The want of the annual layers of cellular tissue of wood, exterior
to and separating the annual lineal tubes, is so complete in some cases
of slow growth, that the timber seems only a light congeries of tubes,
without arrangement; hence the age of the tree cannot be determined but
by a section of the root-bulb, where the growths are larger, and the
deposits regular.

[44] The climate of a country in regard to annual steadiness, can be
pretty accurately determined by the appearance of the annual layers
of trees, especially of the pine tribe; and in a new settlement where
great difference of size of layer, and of resinous deposit is observed,
we may be pretty certain the seasons are not steady, or that insect
depredations or blights occur; and a reserve of food ought always
to be retained. By careful inspection of the nature of the annual
wood deposit, or of the locality with regard to moisture, it may be
ascertained, whether the irregularity has been owing to difference of
temperature, or of moisture. In warm climates the irregularity will
generally depend on drought and moisture, and in cold climates on
heat and cold; though sometimes the depredations of insects, such as
locusts, or of blights, may be the cause.

[45] Though we give this experiment, we admit that little dependence
can be placed upon a single fact. The trees must have been different in
variety, and probably in sex, both of which may occasion a discrepancy.

[46] The time the weight is in suspension, must be attended to. A beam
will support a much greater weight during a minute than during an hour;
and two beams may be found, the one capable of supporting the greatest
weight during a minute, and the other the greatest during an hour.

[47] We shall not here introduce the interminable discussion of
dry-rot, as it remains to be proved that moderately fast grown young
timber is at all more liable to dry-rot than small-growthed old,
provided the sap-wood be entirely removed.

[48] In fairness, it may be proper to explain, that the greater part
of the trees we have thus cultivated have been of _Pyrus_, although
we commenced the practice with common forest trees—yet the pear and
apple vary nothing from the oak and ash in the primary stage of life,
in as far as respects the extension—we can also profit fully as much
by raising apple timber of proper fast grown variety, as by any other
timber; and have it in our power to sell this timber to machine-makers
at double the price of oak of the same size.

[49] We think Sir Henry would find some of the failures of which he
owns he cannot well ascertain the cause, but occurring especially in
beech and oak, to be owing to a number of the lower roots, which are
by far the tenderest, being bruised by the weight of the tree itself,
when he turns it repeatedly over from the one side to the other, in
order, by throwing in earth beneath it, to raise the root on a level
with the surface of the field, the whole weight of the incumbent mass
resting upon these soft roots. The oak, and still more the beech, are
exceedingly susceptible to injury from cutting or bruises, and die far
inward from the laceration. The wounded lower roots, especially when
any vacuity is left not filled close in with earth, where mouldiness
might generate in a dry situation, or when soaking in moisture for a
part of the season, will become corrupted; the putrefaction thence
gradually extending upward into the bulb, will contaminate the whole,
and the second or third year after planting, the tree will be dead.

[50] We understand freezing the earth around the bulb is an old

[51] We particularize the oak, cork-tree of arid warm Spain, and
much of the timber of New Holland. Owing to the hot parching air
in the latter place, the epidermis becomes dried to such a degree,
that contracting by the drought, and bursting by the swelling of the
enveloped stem, it peels off like the old skin of a serpent, and
is often seen hanging upon the tree in large shreds like tattered
garments. In several kinds of trees, we have counted regular annual
rings of desiccated bark; in some kinds this appeared a growth or
deposition, in others, mere parched exuviæ. Trees attain some age
before the _exuviæ_ commence; the _deposit_ begins the first season,
even in sheltered situations. The cork-tree, and the small-leaved
elm, shew the greatest annual deposit of dry bark. The former does,
and the latter is said to belong to warm arid countries; both form a
better nonconductor of heat than any other dry bark we are acquainted
with—infinitely better than the bark exuviæ of trees which approach the
polar regions.

[52] We do not pretend to explain how it is, that one kind of climbing
plant follows the sun in its convolutions, and another traverses his
course. There surely cannot be any thing in a habit acquired in the
southern hemisphere.

[53] In proceeding further on in Sir Henry’s volume, we have noticed an
excellent observation quoted from Du Hamel: “The extension of the shoot
is inversely as its induration, rapid while it remains herbaceous,
but slow as it is converted into wood. Hence moisture and shade are
the circumstances, of all others, the most favourable to elongation,
because they prevent induration or retard it.” Although quoting this,
Sir Henry recurs to his old opinions, and proceeds to observe, “Trees
so circumstanced, push upward to the light; and from the warmth
which their situation affords, their stems being thin and slender in
proportion to their height, they are destitute of strength to resist
the winds.”

[54] We do not mention temperature, because we are not in possession
of facts sufficient to lead us to form an opinion on the subject.
Judging from animal analogy, of which our author is so fond, we
notice, that those animals exposed in open atmosphere, have generally
warmer blood than those who lurk in holes,—even than those of the same
species who happen to live under shelter. Now evaporation takes place
from animals as well as from vegetables, and the consequent cold is
more than balanced by the heat of what may be termed the vital fire,
which, like most other fires, burns brightest on exposure to a current
of atmospheric air, being increased either by the result of the new
chemical combinations having less capacity for heat, or by the stimulus
of the fresh moving air exciting the vital action. Of the general
influence of close forest on temperature, we are also not very well
assured; but the few facts which observation has afforded, lead to the
opinion, that to the northward of 50 deg. Lat. forests have higher
temperature than bare country; that from about 50 to 30 degrees Lat.
forests are cooler in winter and warmer in summer; and that nearer
the equator, forests are generally cooler than bare country. But the
temperature is regulated so much by the position of seas and lakes, in
combination with the prevailing currents and strength of currents of
the air—by the configuration of the country,—moisture and cloudiness of
the atmosphere and quantity of rain,—by the composition, arrangement,
and colour of the soil,—by the lower vegetable cover, and even by the
nature of the forest itself, whether deciduous or evergreen, that
particular facts must be very carefully weighed to enable us to reach
general conclusions. It is generally understood, that forests render
the climate moister.

[55] Our experiments have not yet been carried so far, as to determine
if, by any arrangement of drying or exposure, they may be seasoned
to sustain intense frost, which may affect them differently from
moderate frost, either by causing complete congelation of all their
structure (moderate freezing appearing only to congeal their fluids,
but not entirely the containing vessel, at least only partly congealing
the mass), or by killing the vital principle itself through nervous
affection. The potatoes became green from the exposure to the light,
and we rather think acquired greater hardihood of constitution, or
greater vitality or excitability by the exposure, thence greater power
to resist the cold, independent of the disposition they acquired by
desiccation to endure it.

[56] Is the rending of the stems of trees, during intense frost,
internal only, and occasioned by the alburnum expanding more by
congelation than the drier mature wood? or, is it external, and caused
by the contractile effect of the dry air and cold on the alburnum
rendering it insufficient to surround the mature wood, which, from
dryness and want of living susceptibility, may not contract so much.

[57] The fineness of vessel or fibre of the Siberian crab, may be
induced by the arid warm air, the continued radiation of heat and
light upon the portion above ground, and the coldness of the ground
around the roots during the short summer in Siberia, where the air
and surface of the ground is warm, and vegetation progressive, while
the ground remains frozen at a small depth. Like all varieties of
plants habituated to colder climate, the Siberian crab developes its
leaves under less heat than varieties of the same kind which have been
habituated to milder climate.

[58] We have not taken Sir Henry in the literal sense. Timber is well
known to decay sooner in a warm than in a cold country, _cæteris

[59] See Appendix F.

[60] The preliminary sentence is very vaguely worded; we suppose,
“increasing the annual circles,” means increasing them in thickness,
not general contents of length multiplied by thickness. But even in the
latter sense, we hold pruning tends generally to diminish the annual

[61] It is a theory of Mr Sheriff, Mungo’s Wells, that all plants have
excrementitious deposit from the roots, the deposit from one kind
affording a good manure to another kind. Thence the advantage of mixed
grasses and legumes in pastures, and of the rotation of different kinds
of crops.

[62] Vegetable soil is sometimes buried deep under volcanic mud, sand,
and ashes, or mixed with the subsoil by earthquakes. In some districts
of South America, the country, from being fertile, has been recently
reduced to sterility, by the vegetable mould being so much scattered
through the subsoil by repeated upheavings and tossings about by
earthquakes, as to be out of the reach of plants.

[63] There is a deposition from the atmosphere of saline matter going
on at the surface of the earth, either evaporated from the ocean, and
falling with the rain and dews, or formed by gaseous combinations—most
probably both. In countries where the quantity of rain is insufficient
to wash this saline accumulation away into the ocean as fast as it is
formed, it increases to such a degree as almost to prevent vegetation,
only a few of what are termed saline plants appearing. This saline
accumulation in warm dry countries, bears considerable analogy to
tannin deposit in cold countries.

[64] The matured timber of the larch, in some cases, remains for a
considerable time stained before the rot proceeds rapidly; in other
cases, the rot makes quick progress; in this rapid decomposition,
certain kinds of fungi assist greatly. When once seated, they seem
to form a putrid atmosphere or tainted circle around them, either by
their living exhalations, or corrupt emanations when dead, which is
poisonous to the less vital parts of superior life, and also expedites
the commencement of decay in sound dead organic matter, such as timber,
thus furthering the decomposition so far as to render it suitable food
for their foul appetite, and paving the way to their further progress.

How their seeds enter into the heart of a growing tree having no
external rottenness, is not very obvious, unless they are inhaled or
imbibed by the root tendrils: from the resemblance which the growth
of some of them has to fermentation, it is not even very improbable
that the animalcules of supposed molecular or inferior life, have,
of themselves, a disposition to unite into some of these aggregates
without the presence of any disposing germ.

The modifications of material attractions, by the varied germs of
superior life—the fixity of some of these deposites after life is
gone—the resolution of these into inferior animalcular, or even
molecular, life—and the instrumentality of zoophytes of the lower order
of organization, in hastening this decomposition by the balancing
of the attractions of this secondary life, afford a wide field for
investigation. Those uncouth sportings of nature quickly appear and
disappear as _material_ spectres, feeding on corruption, and mocking at
primary life.

[65] We have raised crops among young trees (as well timber as fruit
trees), not four yards apart, by plough culture, and have found the
process, after the ploughmen and horses were accustomed to it, not
much more expensive than common cultivation, and the crop, till the
trees became too close, scarcely inferior. By means of a long _muzzle_
to the plough standing out towards the left side, and a driver to the
horses beside the ploughman, we succeeded in getting the two first
furrows lapped a little over each other in the row of trees, where
the gathering of the ridge commenced (we gathered up at every other
row). In the row of trees where the finishing of the ploughing of the
ridge occurred, we were obliged to leave a stripe of ground about two
feet wide, to be dug by the spade. The horses required to be yoked in
file, and to drag by ropes (traces) rather than by chains, as the bark
of the trees was liable to be rubbed off by the latter. The more to
guard against rubbing, we had the _swingletree_ constructed so that
the trace-ropes came out from a hole in the ends, without any hook.
In harrowing the ground, one man is required to lead the horses, and
another to direct the harrows. In rich soil, under cultivation of green
crop, in this manner, trees progress very rapidly, and from the open
arrangement acquire very healthy constitutions. Of course, when not
coniferæ, the plants require a little more attention to train to one
leader and equality of feeders, than when close planted. We should
consider plough cultivation of young woods, provided ploughmen as
expert and careful as the Scots could be obtained, much more worthy the
attention of the English planter than the Withers’ system (trenching).
Need we mention, that in green crop, every thing depends upon plenty of
manure and of well-timed plough and horse hoe labour? Excepting in the
case of larch, we should dread no injury to the trees or timber from
plenty of manure.

[66] We are indebted to our friend Mr Gorrie, Annat Garden, for the
fact, that English acorns throw up a much more luxuriant stem than
the Scots; they forming a step of several inches when planted next
each other in the nursery line. We should consider this to arise from
the largeness of the rudiments of the plant, and greater quantity of
garnered nourishment in the English acorns, which are nearly double
the size of the Scots, our present climate being insufficient for
the proper development. This leads to the question, will the greater
luxuriance balance any tenderness from want of acclimatizing? Would the
oak keep its present locality in Scotland if left to nature? A careful
inspection of the most elevated peat mosses in which remains of timber
exist, and a comparison of the size of the seeds found there, with that
of those of the present day, grown the nearest to this in situation,
would resolve the question of refrigeration.




It is only on the _Ocean_ that _Universal Empire_ is practicable—only
by means of _Navigation_ that all the world can be subdued or retained
under one dominion. On land, the greatest numbers, and quantity of
materiel, are unavailable, excepting around the spot where they are
produced. The most powerful army is crippled by advancing a few degrees
in an enemy’s territory, unless when aided by some catching enthusiasm;
its resources get distant—communication is obstructed—subjection
does not extend beyond the range of its guns, and it quickly melts
away. The impossibility of dominion extending over a great space,
when communication is only by land, has often been proved. The rule
of Cyrus, or Alexander, the Cæsars, the Tartar conquerors[67], or
Bonaparte, did not extend over a tithe of the earth; and we may
believe, that, by some of these chiefs, dominion was {364} extended as
widely as under land communication could be effected—further than under
it could be supported.

On the contrary, when a powerful nation has her warlike strength
afloat, and possesses naval superiority, independent of being
unassailable herself, every spot of the world, wherever a wave can
roll, is accessible to her power and under her control. In a very short
time she can throw an irresistible force, unexhausted by marches, and
with every resource, upon any hostile point, the point of attack being
in her own choice, and unknown to the enemy. In case of her dependent
dominions being scattered over the two hemispheres, her means of
communication, and consequent power of defending these and supporting
authority, are more facile than what exists between the seat of
government of any ordinary sized continental kingdom and its provinces.
Were a popular system of colonial government adopted, many islands and
inferior states would find it their interest to become incorporated as
part of the Empire.


There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every
reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that
its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears
intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to
their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains
the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the {365}
fox in his wiles. As Nature, in all her modifications of life, has a
power of increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what
falls by Time’s decay, those individuals who possess not the requisite
strength, swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without
reproducing—either a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under
disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being
occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on
the means of subsistence. The law of entail, necessary to hereditary
nobility, is an outrage on this law of nature which she will not pass
unavenged—a law which has the most debasing influence upon the energies
of a people, and will sooner or later lead to general subversion, more
especially when the executive of a country remains for a considerable
time efficient, and no effort is needed on the part of the nobility to
protect their own, or no war to draw forth or preserve their powers
by exertion. It is all very well, when, in stormy times, the baron
has every faculty trained to its utmost ability in keeping his proud
crest aloft. How far hereditary nobility, under effective government,
has operated to retard “the march of intellect,” and deteriorate the
species in modern Europe, is an interesting and important question.
We have seen it play its part in France; we see exhibition of its
influence throughout the Iberian peninsula, to the utmost degradation
of its victims. It has rendered the Italian peninsula, with its
islands, a blank in the political map of Europe. Let the panegyrists
of hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and entail, say what these
countries might not have been {366} but for the baneful influence of
this unnatural custom. It is an eastern proverb, that no king is many
removes from a shepherd. Most conquerors and founders of dynasties
have followed the plough or the flock. Nobility, to be in the highest
perfection, like the finer varieties of fruits, independent of having
its vigour excited by regular married alliance with wilder stocks,
would require stated complete renovation, by selection anew, from among
the purest crab. In some places, this renovation would not be so soon
requisite as in others, and, judging from facts, we would instance
Britain as perhaps the soil where nobility will continue the longest
untainted. As we advance nearer to the equator, renovation becomes
sooner necessary, excepting at high elevation—in many places, every
third generation, at least with the Caucasian breed, although the
finest stocks be regularly imported. This renovation is required as
well physically as morally.

It is chiefly in regard to the interval of time between the period of
necessary feudal authority, and that when the body of the population
having acquired the power of self-government from the spread of
knowledge, claim a community of rights, that we have adverted to the
use of war. The manufacturer, the merchant, the sailor, the capitalist,
whose mind is not corrupted by the indolence induced under the law of
entail, are too much occupied to require any stimulant beyond what the
game in the wide field of commercial adventure affords. A great change
in the circumstances of man is obviously at hand. {367} In the first
step beyond the condition of the wandering savage, while the lower
classes from ignorance remained as helpless children, mankind naturally
fell into clans under paternal or feudal government; but as children,
when grown up to maturity, with the necessity for protection, lose the
subordination to parental authority, so the great mass of the present
population requiring no guidance from a particular class of feudal
lords, will not continue to tolerate any hereditary claims of authority
of one portion of the population over their fellow-men; nor any laws
to keep up rank and wealth corresponding to this exclusive power.—It
would be _wisdom_ in the noblesse of Europe to abolish every claim or
law which serves to point them out a separate class, and, as quickly as
possible, to merge themselves into the mass of the population. It is
a law manifest in nature, that when the use of any thing is past, its
existence is no longer kept up.

Although the necessity for the existence of feudal lords is past, yet
the same does not hold in respect to a hereditary head or King; and the
stability of this head of the government will, in no way, be lessened
by such a change. In the present state of European society, perhaps no
other rule can be so mild and efficient as that of a liberal benevolent
monarch, assisted by a popular representative Parliament. The poorest
man looks up to his king as his own, with affection and pride, and
considers him a protector; while he only regards the antiquated feudal
lord with contempt. The influence of a respected hereditary family,
as head of a country, is also of great utility in {368} forming a
principle of union to the different members, and in giving unity and
stability to the government.

In respect to our own great landholders themselves, we would ask, where
is there that unnatural parent—that miserable victim of hereditary
pride—who does not desire to see his domains equally divided among his
own children? The high paid sinecures in church and state will not
much longer be a great motive for keeping up a powerful family head,
whose influence may burthen their fellow-citizens with the younger
branches. Besides, when a portion of land is so large, that the owner
cannot have an individual acquaintance and associations with every
stream, and bush, and rock, and knoll, the deep enjoyment which the
smaller native proprietor would have in the peculiar features, is not
called forth, and is lost to man. The abolition of the law of entail
and primogeniture, will, in the present state of civilization, not
only add to the happiness of the proprietor, heighten morality, and
give much greater stability to the social order, but will also give a
general stimulus to industry and improvement, increasing the comforts
and elevating the condition of the operative class.

In the new state of things which is near at hand, the proprietor and
the mercantile class will amalgamise,—employment in useful occupations
will not continue to be held in scorn,—the merchant and manufacturer
will no longer be barely tolerated to exist, harassed at every turn by
imposts and the interference of petty tyrants;—Government, instead of
forming an engine of oppression, being simplified and based on morality
and justice, will {369} become a cheap and efficient protection to
person and property; and the necessary taxation being levied from
property alone, every individual will purchase in the cheapest market,
and sell the produce of his industry in the dearest. This period
might, perhaps, be accelerated throughout Europe, did the merchants
and capitalists only know their own strength. Let them, as citizens of
the world, hold annual congress in some central place, and deliberate
on the interests of man, which is their own, and throw the whole of
their influence to support liberal and just governments, and to repress
slavery, crime, bigotry—tyranny in all shapes. A Rothschild might
earn an unstained fame, as great as yet has been attained by man, by
organizing such a power, and presiding at its councils.


The influence of long continued impression, constituting instinct or
habit of breed, is a curious phenomenon in the animal economy. Our
population in the eastern maritime districts of Britain, descended
principally from the Scandinavian rover, though devoted for a time
to agricultural or mechanical occupation, betake themselves, when
opportunity offers, to their old element, the ocean[68], {370} and
launch out upon the “wintry wave” with much of the same home-felt
composure as does the white polar bear. They roam over every sea and
every shore, from Behring’s Straits to Magellan’s, with as little
solicitude as the Kelt over his own misty hill, overcoming, in
endurance, the native of the torrid zone under his vertical sun, and
the native of the frigid among his polar snows.

To what may we ascribe the superiority of this portion of the Caucasian
breed,—may it arise in part from its repeated change of place under
favourable circumstances? Other races have migrated, but not like this,
always as conqueror. The Jew has been a stroller in his time; but he
has improved more in mental acumen and cunning—not so much in heroism
and personal qualities: his proscribed condition will account for this.
The Caucasian in its progress, will also have mingled slightly, and,
judging from analogy, perhaps advantageously, with the finer portion
of those whom it has overwhelmed. This breed, by its wide move across
the Atlantic, does not seem at all to have lost vigour, and retains
the nautical and roving instinct unimpaired, although the American
climate is certainly inferior to the European. It is there rapidly
moving west, and may soon have described one of the earth’s circles.
A change of seed, that is, a change of place, within certain limits
of latitude, is well known {371} to be indispensable to the more
sturdy growth and health of many cultivated vegetables; it is probable
that this also holds true of the human race. There are few countries
where the old breed has not again and again sunk before the vigour of
new immigration; we even see the worn out breed, chased from their
homes to new location, return, after a time, superior to their former
vanquishers, or gradually work their way back in peace, by superior
subsisting power: this is visible in France, where the aboriginal
sallow Kelt, distinguished by high satyr-like feature, deep-placed
sparkling brown or grey eye, narrowed lower part of the face, short
erect vertebral column, great mental acuteness, and restless vivacity,
has emerged from the holes of the earth, the recesses of the forests
and wastes, into which it had been swept before the more powerful
blue-eyed Caucasian; and being a smaller, more easily subsisting
animal, has, by starving and eating out, been gradually undermining
the breed of its former conquerors. The changes which have been taking
place in France, and which, in many places, leave now scarcely a trace
of the fine race which existed twenty centuries ago, may, however, in
part, be accounted for by the admixture of the Caucasian and Keltic
tending more to the character of the latter, from the latter being a
purer and more fixed variety, and nearer the original type or medium
standard of man; and from the warm dry plains of France (much drier
from cultivation and the reduction of the forests), having considerable
influence to increase this bias: In some of the south-eastern
departments, {372} more immediately in the tide of the ingress of the
Caucasian, where the purest current has latest flowed, and the climate
is more suitable, and also in some of the maritime districts, where the
air is moister, and to which they have been seaborn at a later period,
the Caucasian character is still prominent. Something of this, yet not
so general, is occurring in Britain, where the fair bright-blooded race
is again giving place to the darker and more sallow. This may, however,
be partly occasioned by more of artificial heat and shelter and other
consequences of higher civilization. There seems to be something
connected with confinement and sedentary life, with morbid action of
the liver, or respiratory or transpiratory organs, which tends to this
change under dry and hot, and especially confined atmosphere. Perhaps
imagination is also a worker here; and the colour most regarded, as
snow in cold countries, black among colliers, white among bleachers,
or even the dark colour of dress, may produce its peculiar impression,
and our much looked-up-to Calvinistic priesthood, from the pulpit,
disseminate darkness as well as light.

Our own Kelt has indubitably improved much since, _par necessité_,
he took to the mountain; but, though steadily enduring, when there
is mental excitement, he has acquired a distaste to dull hopeless
unceasing labour, and would fare scantily and lie hard, rather than
submit to the monotonous industry of the city operative, or the toil of
the agricultural drudge. Though once a fugitive, the Kelt is now, in
moral courage and hardihood, equal {373} perhaps to any other, yet he
still trembles to put foot on ocean.

Notwithstanding that change of place, simply, may have impression
to improve the species, yet is it more to circumstances connected
with this change, to which the chief part of the improvement must be
referred. In the agitation which accompanies emigration, the ablest
in mind and body—the most powerful varieties of the race will be
thrown into their natural position as leaders, impressing the stamp
of their character on the people at large, and constituting the more
reproductive part; while the feebler or more improvident varieties will
generally sink under the incidental hardships. When a swarm emigrates
from a prosperous hive, it also will generally consist of the more
adventurous stirring spirits, who, with the right of conquerors, will
appropriate the finest of the indigenæ which they overrun; their choice
of these being regulated by personal qualities, not by the adventitious
circumstances of wealth or high birth—a regard to which certainly tends
to deteriorate the species, and is one of the causes which renders the
noblesse of Europe comparatively inferior to the Asiatic, or rather the
Christian noblesse to the Mahometan.

It has been remarked, that our finest, most acute population, exist in
the neutral ground, where the Caucasian and Keltic have mixed, but this
may arise from other causes than admixture. Our healthiest and poorest
country borders the Highlands, and the population enjoy more of the
open air. Our eastern population, north of the {374} natural division
of Flamboroughead, are also harder and sharper featured, and keener
witted, than those southward, who may be styled our fen-bred. There is
no doubt more of Keltic blood mingled with the north division; but the
sea-born breeds have also been different, those more northerly being
Scandinavian, and the more southerly consisting of the native of Lower
Germany and the heavy Fleming. The placid-looking Englishman, more
under the control of animal enjoyment, though perhaps not so readily
acute, excels in the no less valuable qualities of constancy and bodily
powers of exertion; and when properly taught under high division of
labour, becomes a better operative in his particular employment, and
even will sometimes extend scientific discovery further, than his
more mercurial northern neighbour, who, from his quick wits being
generally in advance of his manual practice, seldom attains to the
dexterity which results from the combination of continued bodily
action and restricted mental application. There exists, however, very
considerable intellectual capacity in this English breed, but it too
frequently is crushed under the preponderance of the animal part,
affording that purest specimen of vulgarity, the English clown. But,
independently of climate and breed, a great part of the low Englander’s
obtuseness is referable to his being entailed lord of the soil, under
poor-rate law, contravening a natural law (see note B), so that, when
unsuccessful or out of employment, he, without effort to obtain some
new means of independent subsistence, sinks into the parish {375} or
work-house labourer. On the contrary, the Scotsman, with no resource
but in himself, with famine always in the vista, as much in his view
as a principle of action in material affairs as his strong perception
of the right in moral, and also under the stimulus of a high pride,
leaves no means untried at home; and, when fairly starved out of his
native country, among various resources, often invades the territory
of his more easy-minded southern neighbour, where his acuteness seldom
fails to find out a convenient occupation, in which manual dexterity is
second to economy and forethought—his success exciting the wonder and
envy of the dull-witted native.

It would appear, that the finest portion, at least apparently so,
of the north temperate zone, between the parallels of 30° and 48°
latitude, when nearly of the level of the ocean, is not so favourable
for human existence as the more northern part between 50° and 60°,
or even the torrid zone. The native of the north of Europe has a
superior development of person, and a much longer reproductory life
than the native of the south, which more than counterbalances the
earlier maturity of the latter in power of increase. Independent of
the great current of population setting south in the northern part of
the temperate zone, there seems even to be some tendency to a flux
northward, from the confines of the torrid; but this arises rather from
the unsteadiness of the seasons, and consequent deficit of food, at
particular times, than from a steady increase of population. {376}

NOTE D, p. 4.

Our milder moods, benevolence, gentleness, contemplation—our refinement
in sentiment—our “lovely dreams of peace and joy,” have negative
weight in the balance of national strength. The rougher excitement of
hatred, ambition, pride, patriotism, and the more selfish passions,
is necessary to the full and strong development of our active powers.
That Britain is leaving the impress of her energy and morality on a
considerable portion of the world, is owing to her having first borne
fire and sword over these countries: the husbandman tears up the glebe,
with all its covering of weeds and flowers, before he commit his good
seed to the earth. Life and death—good and evil—pleasure and pain, are
the principles of impulse to the scheme or machine of nature, as heat
and cold are to the steam-engine, thus moving in necessary alternate
dependence. Our moral sense, our perception and love of good, could not
exist without the knowledge of evil; yet, we shudder at the truth of
evil being part and portion of nature.


There cannot be a more striking proof of the necessity of a better
representation of the marine interest, than the fact, that our trading
vessels are constructed of an {377} unsuitable figure, owing to the
improper manner of measuring the register tonnage. In order to save a
little trouble of calculation to the surveying officer in gauging the
contents of the vessel, the law directs him merely to take the length
and breadth at the widest place, and from these lines, by a regular
formula, to compute the tonnage; the vessel paying the charges for
lights and harbours, and other dues, in proportion to this measurement.
The result is, that, in order to lessen these dues individually, our
vessels are constructed deep in proportion to breadth, consequently are
sluggish sailers, and not nearly so safe and pleasant sea-boats as they
otherwise would be—many a ship, especially with light cargo, getting
on her beam-ends and foundering, or not standing up under canvass to
weather a lee shore. The influence of this absurd measurement law is
the more unlucky, as the ship-owner, from a deep vessel being, in
proportion to the capacity of the hold, cheaper than one of shallower
or longer dimensions, is already more disposed to construct his vessel
deeper than is consistent with the safety of the seamen and security
of the ship and cargo, the particular insurance of a deep vessel not
being greater than that of one of safer proportions. The injurious
effect from vessels being constructed on the principles of avoiding
tolls or dues, rather than for sailing, will occur to every one. We
need not say that all this flows from the ignorance or carelessness of
the constructors of our Parliamentary acts, consequent to defective
representation. {378}


In the case of the upper carse on the Tay Firth, there is evidence,
both from its vestiges and from records, that it had occupied, at
least, the entire firth, or sea-basin, above Broughty Ferry, and
that about 50 square miles of this carse has been carried out into
the German Ocean by the strong sea-tide current, a consequence of
the lowering of the German Ocean, and of the deepening of the outlet
of this sea-basin at Broughty Ferry, apparently by this very rapid
sea-tide current. This carse appears to have been a general deposition
at the bottom of a lake having only a narrow outlet communicating with
the sea, and probably did not rise much higher than the height of the
bottom of the outlet at that time.

An increase of deposition of alluvium, or prevention of decrease, may,
in many cases, be accomplished by artificial means. The diminution of
the carse of the Tay was in rapid progress about sixty years ago, the
sea-bank being undermined by the waves of the basin, the clay tumbling
down, becoming diffused in the water, and being carried out to sea,
by every ebbing tide, purer water returning from the ocean the next
tide-flow. This decrease was stopped by the adoption of stone embanking
and dikes. A small extension of the carses of present high-water level,
in the upper part of the firths of Tay and Forth, has lately been
effected, by forming brushwood, stone and mud dikes, to promote the
accumulation. {379} In doing this, the whole art consists in placing
obstructions to the current and waves, so that whatever deposition
takes place at high-water, or at the beginning of the flood-tide, when
the water is nearly still, may not again be raised and carried off.

Notwithstanding this accumulation, and also the prevention of further
waste of the superior carse, the deepening of the Tay Firth, formerly
carse, and of the gorge at Broughty Ferry, seems still in progress,
and could not, without very considerable labour, be prevented. In the
case, however, of the sea-basin of Montrose, a little labour, from
the narrowness of the gorges, would put it in a condition to become
gradually filled with mud. Not a great deal more expenditure than what
has sufficed to erect the suspension-bridge over its largest outlet,
would have entirely filled up this outlet, and the smaller outlet
might have been also filled to within several feet of high-water, and
made of sufficient breadth only, to emit the water of the river, which
flows into the basin. The floated sand and mud of this river, thus
prevented from being carried out to sea, would, in the course of years,
completely fill up the basin.

From some vestiges of the upper carse, as well as of the lower or
submarine carse, in situations where their formation cannot easily be
traced to any local cause, it seems not improbable that the basin of
the German sea itself, nearly as far north as the extent of Scotland,
had at one time been occupied with a carse or delta, a continuation
of Holland, formed by the accumulation of the {380} diluvium of the
rivers which flow into this basin, together with the molluscous exuviæ
of the North Sea, and the abrasion of the Norwegian coast and Scottish
islands, borne downward by the heavy North Sea swell.

In the case of the delta of Holland having extended so far northward,
a subsidence of the land or rising of the sea, so as to form a passage
for the waters round Britain, must have occurred. The derangement,
at several places, of the fine wavy stratification of these carses,
and the confusedly heaped-up beds of broken sea-shells, shew that
some great rush of water had taken place, probably when Belgium was
dissevered from England. Since the opening of the bottom of the gulf,
the accumulation may have been undergoing a gradual reduction, by
more diffused mud[69] being carried off from the German Sea into
the Atlantic and North Sea, than what the former is receiving—the
same process taking place here as has been occurring in the basin
of the Tay. The large sand-banks on the Dutch and English coast,—in
some places, such as the Goodwin Sands, certainly the heavier, less
diffusible part of the former alluvial country, and portions of these
alluvial districts being retained by artificial means,—bear a striking
resemblance to the {381} sand-banks of the sea basin of the Tay—the
less diffusible remains of the removed portion of the alluvium which
had once occupied all that basin, and to the remaining portion of the
alluvium also retained by artificial means.

       *       *       *       *       *

Throughout this volume, we have felt considerable inconvenience, from
the adopted dogmatical classification of plants, and have all along
been floundering between species and variety, which certainly under
culture soften into each other. A particular conformity, each after
its own kind, when in a state of nature, termed species, no doubt
exists to a considerable degree. This conformity has existed during
the last forty centuries. Geologists discover a like particular
conformity—fossil species—through the deep deposition of each great
epoch, but they also discover an almost complete difference to exist
between the species or stamp of life, of one epoch from that of every
other. We are therefore led to admit, either of a repeated miraculous
creation; or of a power of change, under a change of circumstances,
to belong to living organized matter, or rather to the congeries of
inferior life, which appears to form superior. The derangements and
changes in organized existence, induced by a change of circumstance
from the interference of man, affording us {382} proof of the plastic
quality of superior life, and the likelihood that circumstances have
been very different in the different epochs, though steady in each,
tend strongly to heighten the probability of the latter theory.

When we view the immense calcareous and bituminous formations,
principally from the waters and atmosphere, and consider the oxidations
and depositions which have taken place, either gradually, or during
some of the great convulsions, it appears at least probable, that the
liquid elements containing life have varied considerably at different
times in composition and in weight; that our atmosphere has contained
a much greater proportion of carbonic acid or oxygen; and our waters,
aided by excess of carbonic acid, and greater heat resulting from
greater density of atmosphere, have contained a greater quantity of
lime and other mineral solutions. Is the inference then unphilosophic,
that living things which are proved to have a circumstance-suiting
power—a very slight change of circumstance by culture inducing a
corresponding change of character—may have gradually accommodated
themselves to the variations of the elements containing them, and,
without new creation, have presented the diverging changeable phenomena
of past and present organized existence.

The destructive liquid currents, before which the hardest mountains
have been swept and comminuted into gravel, sand, and mud, which
intervened between and divided these epochs, probably extending over
the whole surface of the globe, and destroying nearly all living {383}
things, must have reduced existence so much, that an unoccupied field
would be formed for new diverging ramifications of life, which, from
the connected sexual system of vegetables, and the natural instincts
of animals to herd and combine with their own kind, would fall into
specific groups, these remnants, in the course of time, moulding and
accommodating their being anew to the change of circumstances, and
to every possible means of subsistence, and the millions of ages of
regularity which appear to have followed between the epochs, probably
after this accommodation was completed, affording fossil deposit of
regular specific character.

There are only two probable ways of change—the above, and the still
wider deviation from present occurrence,—of indestructible or molecular
life (which seems to resolve itself into powers of attraction and
repulsion under mathematical figure and regulation, bearing a slight
systematic similitude to the great aggregations of matter), gradually
uniting and developing itself into new circumstance-suited living
aggregates, without the presence of any mould or germ of former
aggregates, but this scarcely differs from new creation, only it forms
a portion of a continued scheme or system.

In endeavouring to trace, in the former way, the principle of these
changes of fashion which have taken place in the domiciles of life,
the following questions occur: Do they arise from admixture of
species nearly allied producing intermediate species? Are they _the
diverging ramifications_ of the living principle under modification
of {384} circumstance? Or have they resulted from the combined
agency of both? Is there only one living principle? Does organized
existence, and perhaps all material existence, consist of one Proteus
principle of life capable of gradual circumstance-suited modifications
and aggregations, without bound under the solvent or motion-giving
principle, heat or light? There is more beauty and unity of design
in this continual balancing of life to circumstance, and greater
conformity to those dispositions of nature which are manifest to us,
than in total destruction and new creation. It is improbable that
much of this diversification is owing to commixture of species nearly
allied, all change by this appears very limited, and confined within
the bounds of what is called Species; the progeny of the same parents,
under great difference of circumstance, might, in several generations,
even become distinct species, incapable of co-reproduction.

The self-regulating adaptive disposition of organized life may, in
part, be traced to the extreme fecundity of Nature, who, as before
stated, has, in all the varieties of her offspring, a prolific power
much beyond (in many cases a thousandfold) what is necessary to fill
up the vacancies caused by senile decay. As the field of existence
is limited and pre-occupied, it is only the hardier, more robust,
better suited to circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle
forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which
they have superior adaptation and greater power of occupancy than
any other kind; the weaker, less circumstance-suited, being {385}
prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action, it
regulates the colour, the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those
individuals of each species, whose colour and covering are best suited
to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from vicissitude
and inclemencies of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to
health, strength, defence, and support; whose capacities and instincts
can best regulate the physical energies to self-advantage according
to circumstances—in such immense waste of primary and youthful life,
_those_ only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which
Nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness
to continue their kind by reproduction.

From the unremitting operation of this law acting in concert with
the tendency which the progeny have to take the more particular
qualities of the parents, together with the connected sexual system in
vegetables, and instinctive limitation to its own kind in animals, a
considerable uniformity of figure, colour, and character, is induced,
constituting species; the breed gradually acquiring the very best
possible adaptation of these to its condition which it is susceptible
of, and when alteration of circumstance occurs, thus changing in
character to suit these as far as its nature is susceptible of change.

This circumstance-adaptive law, operating upon the slight but continued
natural disposition to sport in the progeny (seedling variety), does
not preclude the supposed influence which volition or sensation may
have over the configuration of the body. To examine into the {386}
disposition to sport in the progeny, even when there is only one
parent, as in many vegetables, and to investigate how much variation
is modified by the mind or nervous sensation of the parents, or of the
living thing itself during its progress to maturity; how far it depends
upon external circumstance, and how far on the will, irritability and
muscular exertion, is open to examination and experiment. In the first
place, we ought to investigate its dependency upon the preceding links
of the particular chain of life, variety being often merely types or
approximations of former parentage; thence the variation of the family,
as well as of the individual, must be embraced by our experiments.

This continuation of family type, not broken by casual particular
aberration, is mental as well as corporeal, and is exemplified in many
of the dispositions or instincts of particular races of men. These
innate or continuous ideas or habits, seem proportionally greater
in the insect tribes, those especially of shorter revolution; and
forming an abiding memory, may resolve much of the enigma of instinct,
and the foreknowledge which these tribes have of what is necessary
to completing their round of life, reducing this to knowledge, or
impressions, and habits, acquired by a long experience. This greater
continuity of existence, or rather continuity of perceptions and
impressions, in insects, is highly probable; it is even difficult
in some to ascertain the particular stops when each individuality
commences, under the different phases of egg, larva, pupa, or if much
{387} consciousness of individuality exists. The continuation of
reproduction for several generations by the females alone in some of
these tribes, tends to the probability of the greater continuity of
existence, and the subdivisions of life by cuttings, at any rate must
stagger the advocate of individuality.

Among the millions of _specific varieties_ of living things which
occupy the humid portion of the surface of our planet, as far back
as can be traced, there does not appear, with the exception of man,
to have been any particular engrossing race, but a pretty fair
balance of powers of occupancy,—or rather, most wonderful variation
of circumstance parallel to the nature of every species, as if
circumstance and species had grown up together. There are indeed
several races which have threatened ascendency in some particular
regions, but it is man alone from whom any general imminent danger to
the existence of his brethren is to be dreaded.

As far back as history reaches, man had already had considerable
influence, and had made encroachments upon his fellow denizens,
probably occasioning the destruction of many species, and the
production and continuation of a number of varieties or even species,
which he found more suited to supply his wants, but which, from the
infirmity of their condition—not having undergone selection by the
law of nature, of which we have spoken, cannot maintain their ground
without his culture and protection.

It is, however, only in the present age that man has {388} begun
to reap the fruits of his tedious education, and has proven how
much “knowledge is power.” He has now acquired a dominion over the
material world, and a consequent power of increase, so as to render it
probable that the whole surface of the earth may soon be overrun by
this engrossing anomaly, to the annihilation of every wonderful and
beautiful variety of animated existence, which does not administer to
his wants principally as laboratories of preparation to befit cruder
elemental matter for assimilation by his organs.

       *       *       *       *       *

In taking a retrospective glance at our pages from the press, we notice
some inaccuracy and roughness, which a little more timely attention to
_training_ and _pruning_ might have obviated; the facts and induction
may, however, outbalance these.

We observe that Fig. _d_, p. 27, from the want of proper shading,
and error in not marking the dotted lines, does not serve well to
illustrate our purpose. This figure is intended to represent a tree
of a short thick stem, dividing into four branches, springing out
regularly in the manner of a cross, nearly at right angles with the
stem. These branches cut over about three or four feet out from the
division, form each one wing of a knee, and the stem, quartered
longitudinally through the heart, forms the other wing. It is of great
advantage to have four branches rather than two or three, as the stem,
divided into four, by being twice cut down the middle, forms the wings
nearly square; whereas, when divided {389} into two, the halves are
broad and flat, and a considerable loss of timber takes place; besides,
the two branches afford a thicker wing than the flat half of the stem
does when squared. When the tree separates into three branches, the
stem does not saw out conveniently; and when divided, the cleft part
is angular, and much loss of timber also takes place in the squaring.
When the stem divides into four branches, each of these branches
coincides in thickness with the quartered stem, and the knees are
obtained equally thick throughout, without any loss of timber. The four
branches, at six or eight feet above the division, may with a little
attention be thrown into a rectangular bend, and thus give eight knees
from each tree. Knees are generally required of about eight inches in
diameter, and three and a half feet in length of wing; but when they
are to be had thicker and longer, a foot or more in thickness, and
from four to ten feet in length of wing, they are equally in request,
suiting for high rising floors or heel-knees.

The directions for forming larch roots into knees after the tree is
grubbed, are also not very explicit. The stem of the tree is cut over
nearly the same distance from the bulb as the length of the root spurs;
this quartered through the heart (in the same manner as above), forms
one wing of the knee, and the four spurs form the other wings. The
same advantage results from having four regular root-spurs in larch,
as in having four regular branches in oak: the two processes are quite
similar, only the roots in the one case, and the branches in the other,
form one wing of the knees. {390}

We have given no directions for the bending of plank timber. In larch,
the wind generally gives the slight necessary bend to a sufficient
proportion; and in oak, the trees frequently grow a little bent of
their own accord.

A foot-note has been omitted, stating, that the plan of bending young
trees, by tying them to an adjacent tree, intended to be soon removed,
belongs, as we are informed, to Mr Loudon.

We regret that our allusion to the lamented Mr Huskisson was printed
off before we knew of his death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since this volume went to press, there has been some changes of
scenery on the political European stage, _even rivalling_ what has
ever been accomplished of sylvan metamorphosis on the face of nature
by Sir Henry Steuart. The intense interest excited by these efforts
towards the regeneration of man, has completely thrown into shade our
humbler subject—the regeneration of trees. We have even forgot it
ourselves in the hands of the printer, while yet unborn. These sudden
transformations altering the political and moral relations of man,
also render a number of our observations not quite apposite, and our
speculations, some of them, rather “prophetic of the past.” They, by
obliterating national distinctions, and diminishing the occasions for
going to war, will, it is hoped, bring the European family closer
into amity. At any rate, they have completely thrown out the {391}
calculations of our politicians regarding the balance of power and
international connection as natural allies and foes, and bind the
French and the British together by ties on the surest principle of
friendly sympathy, “_idem velle atque nolle_,” which no Machiavellian
policy of cabinets, nor waywardness of political head, will be able to

We had intended to bring out Naval Timber and Arboriculture as a
portion of a work embracing Rural Economy in general, but this is not a
time to think of rural affairs.


[67] The very extended sway, the state of civilization considered,
of the Tartar, was evidently the consequence of the great facility
of communication from the plain open surface of the country, and the
equestrian habits of the people.

[68] The habit of breed is apparent in many places of the world. Where
a fine river washes the walls of some of the internal towns of France,
scarce a boat is to be seen, except the long tract-boats employed in
the conveyance of fire-wood—nobody thinks of sailing for pleasure. The
Esquimaux, and the Red Indian of North America, inhabiting the same
country, shew an entirely distinct habit of breed. The Black and the
Copper-coloured native of the Australian Islands, are equally opposed
in instinctive habit.

[69] The sea water from Flamborough-head, southward to the Straits
of Dover, is generally discoloured with mud; and during every breeze
takes up an addition from the bottom, which is an alluvium so unstable
and loose, that no sea vegetation can hold in it. From not producing
herbage, the general basis of animal life, few fishes or shells can
find support in it.



 Page 10, top line, _for_ they _read_ the branches
      18, line 13. from bottom, _for_ under _read_ within
      18, line 8. from bottom, _for_ long _read_ in length of wing
      22, _insert_ f _at fig. on right-hand side of wood cut_.
      26, line 8. from bottom, _for_ 5 _read_ 3
      57, line 4. from top, _for_ any _read_ many
      78, line 11. from top, _for_ latitude _read_ altitude
      87, line 9. from top, _dele_ may also in some degree
      —, line 10. from top, _for_ diminish _read_ diminishing
      —, line 11. from top, _for_ increase _read_ increasing
     205, line 12. from top, _dele_ generally esteemed
     206, bottom line, _for_ lineal _read_ large
     218, line 5. from bottom, _for_ ground _read_ portion
     220, line 7. from bottom, _after_ soil _insert a semicolon_
     222, line 14. from top, _for_ latterly _read_ laterally
     223, line 13. from top, _for_ falling _read_ felling
     242, line 12. from top, _for_ into _read_ in, to
     280, line 14. from top, _for_ the _read_ this
     285, top line, _after_ n _insert_ o
     300, line 2. from bottom, _dele_ of
     327, line 6. from bottom, _for_ that dew, _read_ dew, that
     331, line 10. from bottom, _for_ root _read_ row
     372, line 14. from top, _for_ tend _read_ tends


Original spelling and grammar have been generally retained, with some
exceptions noted below. Original printed page numbers are shown like
this: {52}. Original small caps are now uppercase. Italics look _like
this_. Footnotes have been converted to endnotes labeled 1–69, and
moved to the end of the appropriate book division—i.e. Introduction,
Parts I–IV, or Appendix. The transcriber produced the cover image
and hereby assigns it to the public domain. Original page images are
available from archive.org—search for “onnavaltimberarb00matt”.

Page iii. Changed “EDINDURGH” to “EDINBURGH”.

Page xiv. Changed “and and” to “and”.

Page 216. Changed “in in” to “in”.

Page 218. The phrase “3s. per do.” was changed to “3s. per load,”.

Page 325n. Changed “coutnries” to “countries”.

Page 326. Changed “Eygpt” to “Egypt”.

Page 346. Ditto marks in the first table, “do.   do.” were changed to
“, from one to three years transplanted,”.

Page 351. Changed “unweildy” to “unwieldy”.

Page 386. Changed “mpressions” to “impressions”.

Page 391, ERRATA. The errata have been applied to the text in the
proper locations. The correction for page 327 l.6 from bottom had
already been applied in the edition which is the basis for this
transcription. The correction for page 331 l. 10 from bottom cannot
be applied, as there was no “root” or “row” on that line. There was,
however, a “row” on line 8 from the bottom, so perhaps the correction
had already been applied.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On Naval Timber and Arboriculture - With Critical Notes on Authors who have Recently Treated - the Subject of Planting" ***

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