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Precursor to Forest Trees and Timber, Petty, Dr. Hook, and Silva Evelyn,
&c. addressed to His Royal High- to this subject, the valuable Works ness WILLIAM DUKE OF CLARENCE, published by the latter excited such a Admiral of the British Fleet, &c. spirit for planting, as to have been Sir,
the means of priacipally furnishing S the Admiral of a Fleet indis- the supply of oak timber for the distinguished officers and seamen the the French Revolutionary War in world has hitherto produced, I hum- 1793, when the neglect of the judibly presume to address your Royal cious measure pursued by James Highness on the means of supporting began to be seriously felt; and has the Navy; the subject matter of put the means of supporting our which, being mostly drawn from offi- maritime strength in such jeopardy, cial documents and actual experi- that, without the speedy and effective ments, will shew that policy, econo- exertions of the Royal Power and of my, and the safety of the State, re- Parliament in directing the good sense quire the adoption of efficient mea. and spirit of the Nation, our Navy sures to
a supply of good is in danger ere long of becoming imships for the present, and a permanent becile, and the personal skill and succession of durable timber in fu- bravery of our seamen rendered aborture, as well as more skilful manage tive, from a defeciive and rapid decay ment in the preparation and appro- of the material.-In such dilemma, I priation of it for use: trusting that, venture with great deference to exashould your Royal Highness conde- mine the cause, and with humble scend to investigate the matter, and duty to suggest a remedy; earnestly submit the result to your august hoping that, through the exertion of Brother, the Prince Regent, such a your Royal Highness, the formation vigorous and wise system would be es- and construction of our ships of war tablished for the permanent support with more durable materials, and the of the Navy, that the Nation may have providing of an adequate permanent cause to feel that gratitude towardsyou future supply of Timber within ourwhich is justly due to James Duke of selves will be fully established; and York, who, supported by his brother that William Duke of Clarence will Charles II. not only regenerated our be entitled to that merit and applause naval power after the Restoration, of his country for improving the but, as Lord High Admiral, directed Navy, which his illustrious Brother the principal officers and commission- Frederick Duke of York has justly ers of the Navy to apply to the then obtained for bettering the Army. most scientific and intelligent body of I have the honour to be, with great men in Europe, respecting a supply respect, Sir, your Royal Highof timber for the Navy, which pro
ness's most obedient and very duced the most beneficial effect. The humble servant, Royal Society having directed the
W. LAYMAN. attention of those able men Sir Wm. January 1.
“ The great decrease in Naval Timber is the more alarming, and calls the more for the attention of Government, from its being occasioned not by any temporary causes, but by such as must inevitably render it every day more general and rapid. There is no reflecting person in the kingdom who does not feel and acknowledge that the existence of every thing valuable to us as a Nation depends upon maintaining our naval superiority; and yet for more than forty years we have remained in a state of apparent insensibility, although it has been demonstrated, that the article most essential to the preservation of our Navy bas been gradually diminishing, and that the causes of that dimination are of a nature not to afford the smallest prospect of a probable change, unless the most vigorous exertions are made to provide a substitute for those resources on which we have hitherto relied, and which we know are in a progress of rapid decay and ultimate failure at no very distant period. During the short time I remained at the head of our Naval concerns, I suggested the appointment of the Commission of Naval Revision, under a deep impression, that the state of Naval Timber, and other matters of essential importance to the Naval service of the Country, required an immediate and radical investigation. If there are any parts of the 14th Report of that Commission which it is
expedient expedient to conceal, still much useful information might be given to Parliament and the publick, consistently with such reserve. I am not aware that any good can result from such a determined concealment. If there is just cause of alarm from the increased decay and scarcity of an article so essentially necessary to the existence of the Empire, the knowledge of such an impending danger would be the strongest incitement to the publick at large cordially to concur in every measure which Government may think necessary to ward off so serious a calamity.
“If an example be wanting of the benefits to be produced by the diffusion of a knowledge of the state of timber in the kingdom, a very strong proof is to be found in the effect which was produced by the writings of Evelyn.—The vast quantities of great timber consumed by our Navy during the present reign were chiefly the produce of the plantations made between the Restoration and the end of the 16th century on private property, in almost every part of England, as well as in the Royal Forests, particularly the Forest of Dean; and which had been occasioned hy the publication of the state of timber in this kingdom, and by looking at the danger of a scarcity boldly in the face.
“ Thus it appears, that while at this time we are experiencing the practical good effect, and reaping the very fruit produced by the system of promulgating the extent of the wants of the Navy in former times, a line of policy is adopted (that of concealment) the very reverse of that which past experience has proved to have been so eminently beneficial.
“ It would seem as if the successive Governments of this Country had invariably become disheartened, and had therefore abandoned all attempts to place this important branch of our naval resources upon a permanent basis, because the members of it could not hope to live to see the success of their own measures. But, if this course of policy is to govern all our actions,-if, because we may struggle through the immediate difficulties we have to encounter, and are able to ward off any imminent danger in our own lives, we are therefore to pursue the narrow policy uf neglecting to provide for posterity,— with what reproaches will after-generations load our memory! shall we not be certain of drawing down upon us the execration instead of the praises of posterity?
“ It is evident, that some general system ought to be adopted for securing a sufficient and permanent supply to our Navy; and in promoting such an object, I think we ought all to agree, whatever be our differences of opinion in other points.” --Henry Viscount Melville to Mr. Perceval, June, 1810.
SUPPORT OF THE Navy. ance of such policy being at present a It is a truth universally admilled, great chain upon our finances; it is a that the power, wealth, and existence duty incumbent on us to investigate of the British Empire depend on our resources, and establish within maritinje superiority. The support ourselves permanent means for supof its Navy is, therefore, an object of porting our Navy: the greatest national importance ; The home supply of oak timber has and to have the means of it within hitherto been derived either from ourselves, must ensure our safety in private property, or the Royal Fothe 'same degree, as to rely on fo- rests ; but it appears by papers prereign powers for that which is essen- sented to Parliament, that the Comptial to our strength and prosperity troller of the Navy stated to the First must be supine and dangerous. Lord of the Admiralty, by letter dated
Towards this support, timber wust 23d March 1802, that “ the consumpbe considered the most essential ar- tion is now so much more Iban the ticle; and as, froin misapplication in growth, that the article will soon use, and the immense increase in con- cease to be supplied, if the same syssumption, with the neglcct of home tem is allowed to go on.” And by supply, Great Britain has fallen into other
dated the 24th and 29th the hazardous policy of depending on of March 1804, that the Navy Board other countries for precarious and recommended to the Admiralty the expensive supplies of perishable ma- appointment of “ some competent terials to prop her Marine; by which person or persons as Purveyors-geneour ships of war have been defective, ral in the purchase of Timber for the and are now going rapidly to decay, Navy, and that the purchases might be and millions have been added to the mude apparently on account of the public debt, as well as the continu- agent.” But this knowing trick,
wbich without such authority could and not feel our necessties till it is not be reconciled as the transaction too late. of a Public Board, was strongly re- From Private Property. probated by the Admiralty, at which Earl St. Vincent then presided, who
The supply to be expected from slated, that the execution of a plan the profit arising from plantations of
private property must depend upon which may have in view any
oak trees being greater than the prodependence on the timber-merchants,
fit to be derived from the produce of cannot fail in the end to increase your
the land in cultivation, or the annual difficulties in procuring timber, and
rent added to the accumalated interest to put the supplies entirely into the hands of the contractors, who will thereon, from the time of planting thereby have the publick completelyviduals, planting with a view to profit,
until the trees are felled ; wbich indiat their mercy." However, the Navy Board having, increase in the value of a tree by its
will naturally do, when the annual notwithstanding this remonstrance, and the pointed directions of the growth is less than the annual interest Lord High Admiral in 1661*, thought
of the money it would sell fo'r. And it expedient to confine the supply of
as trees, like animals, are thrifty in timber for the Navy to two timber youth, healthy and vigorous; young merchants only, to the exclusion of oaks, until they contain about a all others, and to furnish advances of quarter of a load of timber, will pas
. the public money; it becomes a pub
per cent. per annum by their lic question, without any intention growth, and some may pay 51. per
ceni. until they arrive at half a load whatever of reflecting upon the indi. vidual members of that Board (for but if left growing till they arrive at many of whom I have great personal increase will not be equal to 31. per
a load of 50 cubical feet per tree, the respect),or upon the timber merchants
cent.; and if allowed to stand till they who happen to be particularly eni
reach 80' feet, the most thriving oak ployed. My object is to examine the
will only pay 36s. per cent. for standprinciple as to a home supply of timber, and effective gnod ships for the ing, at the price hitherto given for
timber. To yield a profit equal to support of our Navy, without any re
the annual rent of land during the gard to persons.
last century, taking 88. 3d. for the Home Supply of Timber. average rate in the year 1700, and This measure, by doing away com- progressively increasing to 208. 6d. petitors, will certainly keep down in 1800, amounting, with the accuthe price of the present stock of tin- mulated interest in that period, to ber; but it will be the means of pre- 14101. for one acre, the price of naval venting future supplies, as the price oak timber requires to be upwards of of the production will be forced be- 201. per load. And if the average low its real value. But, though the value of the rent of land taken at immediate demand be answered, we present at 33s. per acre per annum may be in danger of future want, should only increase from the year 1800
* “ As to the management of affairs among yourselves, that which I shall principally recommend to you is, that there be due and timely information gotten of the quantity of each sort of goods needful in the Navy, which are to be bought, and of the prices ; in both which I desire you not to rely wholly on the information of Purveyors, or any person; but to use all means to be fully informed, to make your contracts at your public meetings in the Navy-office; and in contracts of great value, to give yourselves some days for enquiring, before concluding the contracts; that so you may not be misguided by a supposed necessity of buying of any one merchant, when possibly others might furnish cheaper and better; and by this method, as the King's contracts may probably be made with better husbandry, so will it be no small advantage to his Majesty, in that it will take away all occasion of calumniating his officers, it being impossible but the least reproach, however unjust, upon officers so highly intrusted as yourselves, should, by the diminution of your authority towards your inferiors, redound very much to the disservice of his Majesty
James. * Whitehall, January 14, 1661. To the Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy."
to 1900 in the proportion it did from 83,738 acres, was only 50,456 loads, 1700 to 1800, the profit of one acre being not equal to one yeur's consumpfrom rent and accumulated interest tion, even at that time, as stated by will amount to 5317. in the next 100 the Commissioners appointed by Paryears; to equal whici, if an adjoining liament, although in 1788 the whole acre was planted with oaks, and pro- tonnage of the Navy consisted of only duced 50 loads of naval oak timber 413,667 tons; which in 1810 amounted at the end of that period, it would to nearly 800,900 tons, and the conrequire to be sold for upwards of sumption of timber was stated at 661. per load.--Such is the prospect 100,000 loads per annum, and in of a future supply of large oak tim- 1812, atl 10,000 loads (or hull timber, ber from private property, when the without including ordnance or masts, present scanty stock is exhausted; &c. which, at the average produce which from demi-official informa ion on private property of 50 loads of oak (fur there never has been any regular timber per acre, in 100 years would survey) was admitied in 1802 to be require 220,000 acres, of which 2,200 only equal to 18 years' consumption must be felled and planted every year for our Navy.
to yield a supply equal to such con
sumption. · But it is a melancholy From the Royal Forests.
fact, as shewn in an account laid With respect to the Royal Forests, before the House of Commons, dated of which 115,504 acres are withheld November 26, 1803, that in the New from the Royal Family and ihe pub- Forest, of 66,942 acres, “ the number lick for the ostensible purpose of of oak trees in an improving state, supporting the Navy, it appears which may be considered fit for naval from the elaborate Report of the purposes, were only 8,012, containing Commissioners, &c. appointed by but 8,322 loads” of timber; which, Parliament in 1788, that for 57 from Parliamentary records, appear years preceding, the supply of tim-. not to be equal to three months conber to his Majesty's Dock-yards from sumption in the King's Dock-yard only. these dignified wastes averaged only It is true, that, owing to the energy 1356 loads annually; which, in the and remonstrances of the late Lord proportion of timber then consumed Melville, more attention has of late in the construction of ships in the been paid to this subject, and an King's Dock-yards, is only equal attempt made to improve these digto the building of a ship of 642 tons, nified wastes by planting 32,000 acres, being less than che smallest frigate of as stated in the House of Commons 32
guns in his Majesty's service, and last Session. But admitting that is little more than half a cubic foot quantity to be properly fenced and from an acre, which, at the average planted with oaks producing the reut of what the land would have let best ship timber, and to be as carefor, cost the publick at the rate of fully managed as on private property, upwards of 681. per load, without the such plantations cannot be expected carriage, when the highest price to produce 16,000 loads of oak timgiven to individuals for siinilar tim- ber annually during the present cenber at that period was only Al. 58. per tury; nor can the whole 115,000 acres, load. And in 1802, from a greater after great expence, and under the supply being demanded, the Surveyor best possible care, be made equal to general of Woods stated to the Navy supply the present and increasing conBoard, that “the quantity of im- .sumption for the Navy. It were deluproving timber in his Majesty's Fo- sion to hold out such expectation, and rests is by far too inconsiderable to the extreme of credulity to credit it afford the smallest expectation of the (of which the late distinguished Statescontinuance of even the annual sup- man, who was most zealous in the plies the Yards have lately bad.” establishing of supplies for the supIndeed, from the survey made in port of the Navy, seemed fully aware); 1783 it appears, that in four forests as in his Letter to the late Mr. Perthe quantity of decayed timber' ex- ceval his Lordship says:
Having, ceeded the sound, and that the whole I trust, satisfactorily shewn, that the quantity of sound oak timber fit for consumption of timber for the sup: naval purposes then standing in six of port of the Royal Navy, as well the forests out of ten, and containing as for other uses, is immensely in
creased *, since the Commissioners of present call the attention of your Land Revenue presented their Re- Readers are, the glaring inconsistports to Parliament; and that there ency, the flagrant partiality, and the cannot be any well-grounded expecta- palpable injustice, which appear in tion of as much being obtained as this work of the learned Doctor. formerly from individual proprietors; De mortuis nil nisi bonum seeins to it is evident 'that the means which it be the rule which he has laid down was then proper to recommend to for the regulation of bis conduct GO ernment for providing a perma- when he has to speak of the hero of ment supply for the Navy, even if his piece. De mortuis nil nisi verum they had all been carried inio effect, is, I thiuk, a much better reading ; would now be inadequate to the in- and I think so for the very good reacreased demand.”
800 which Le Clerc bas given," Nec The preceding statements are not nocet veritas mortuis, et multum promade with the most distant intent dest vivis.” Epistolæ Crit. p. 80.to crate alarm or despondency; but The supposition of the learned Docto prevent the supine policy of con- tor's ignorance of the existence of a cealment, which is only applicable to passage, such as I shall produce from a state conscious of its own weakness, a Treatise of his favourite and fato which, God be praised, this Nation voured Author, whose character as a is not yet reduced. But, if such scholar, as a writer, as a man, and as system is suffered to continue, the a Christian, he bas so earnestly lacountry might be fulled into fatal boured to defend,—this supposition security, and be left destitute of the is precluded by the minute attention means of supporting her naval power. paid to the several charges, verbal, The more closely this long-neglected syllabical, and literal, preferred against but most important subject is in- this celebrated Genius, and by the quired into, the more accurately will anxiety displayed in the endeavour to our deficiencies and wants be under- refute those charges. stood, and the greater exertions used When the learned Doctor was cento effect a remedy before it is too suring in such severe, though perhaps late.
merited terms, the malignity of SalWith a view to this great national masius, of Lauder, and of Johnson, a object, it is pecessary to examine the feeling of consistency, impartiality, present mode of construction and and justice, should have prompted expenditure; in order to ascertain him to produce the passage alluded wbether any, and what methods can to; in which is exbibited as much be devised, to render our naval force fanatic malignity as ever flowed from more efficient, and decrease the coni- the pen, as ever rankled in the heart sumption of materials; thereby re- of man. Was Milton's difference of ducing the demand for timber to our opinion about modes of government owo means of future supply. civil and ecclesiastical,
was his [To be continued.)
aversion from regal rule and prela
tieal authority,—was the conduct of Mr. URBAN,
Jan. 4. the Government under which he lived, REGARD for the sacred cause A
however harsh, bowever tyrannical of Truth induces ne to request he might have felt or fancied it to be, the insertion of the following obser- -was all this sufficient to justify bis vatious in your valuable Magazine. involving an entire Hierarchy in one
I have lately been engaged in read- sweeping clause of indiscriminate ing a Life of Milton, written by the damnation ? Did this become a being Rev. Dr. Symmons; and I have risen stamped with the image of humanity? from the perusal of it with wingled Did this accord with his profession as sensations of pleasure and disgust. a Christian? Was this to walk in the But the poiots to which I would at steps of his blessed Master, who, after * The consumption of timber for the
having suffered all the evil, and done whole shipping of Great Britain was
all the good of which his life was castated in the before-mentioned Report pable, closed that invaluable life with to have been in 1788 equal to 208,000. a pious fervent prayer for his enemies loade; and in 1808 Lord Melville has and his murderers? But, blessed be stated it at 349,900 loads annually.
God! damuation dwells not on the GENT. Mac. January, 1813.