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the preserver of his, and thou shalt not nede to feare any earthlie calamitie, or death it selfe.” I believe that this is all true. The Lord can at all tymes (even miraculously), if it shall seeme good to his eternall majestye, kepe his children safe, that a haire of their heades shall not fall, though all the foundations of the earth be removed out of their places. But can any man, who is a freind to his countrey, and unfainedly thirsteth for the safetie thereof (more then his owne life), behold the daylie depopulačón, destruction, and imminent ruine thereof, without teares? If our age (or country) produce tale hominis monstrum, one who is so farre allured or enchanted won the deadlie melodie of the Sirenes, or the Circean charmes of the vanities of our tymes, it shalbe my charitie rather to praie for the enlightening of his understandinge, then his perseverance in that carelesnes and neglect, which may presage the ruine, of such a man. And now because the estate & condión, not onely of this Countie, and the inhabitants thereof, but also of the whole kingdome, may yeild manyfold causes of lamenta&ns, (the conceit whereof might amase or confounde a man of much more wisdome then my selfe,) I will onely discourse upon these foure partes or kinde of Abuses, viz.: the great waiste of woode; the imprudent and base ruinating and pulling downe of our castles and fortresses; the great decaie of martiall discipline; and the generall vanityes of our people. Of all which (wth the reverend patience of the judicious reader) I will onely touch some few branches, which my meane learning and weake capacitie can best comprehend (as being much more willing to conceale, then laie open the defecte of my countrie, if the dutie which I owe unto it, did not compell mee thereunto); neither should I have presumed to touch any of these things, if I had not discerned them to be utterly neglected by those wo" are of greate worth and understanding, and whome they doe especially (and without all comparison) more nearely concerne then myselfe. And therefore (in this place) I humbly entreate the judicious reader (through the abundance of his clemencie, & grave wisedome), to pardon my rusticke stile & methode, and the (unwilling) errore of my writinge; and the rather, because the tender good will of my countrie moves mee to write, who (otherwise) would have confined my selfe to an eternall silence.
In the first place (touching the waste of woodes), it is knowne to all men by experience, that (under God Almightie) none earthly thing alone doth more uphold the good estate of a comönwealth, then woode; for take them awaie, and what can succede, but ruine? Wee can neither build or mainteyne church, castle, hall, or house, if woode be awantinge. Or suppose, wee had as flourishing a comón-wealth, as ever any nation coulde desire, yet if wee had no supplie of woode, (within a very few yeares) wee should have neither house, nor harbour, plowing nor sowing, but (all of us) be forced to leave and forsake our countries, or else to die for want of necessaries. I could in the commenda&n thereof, (if my reading and knowledge were answereable to the large extent of my theame,) employ a large volume, and yet come farre short of explanačán of its excellence; but it is not much nedefull, seing (wee all knowe) that wee can doe nothing, nor be p'served alive willout the same. And yet (wth teares I write it), albeit the use thereof be of such extraordinarie necessitie, as cannot be disciphered (almost) by the penne of man, yet there is such havocke and unnecessarie waste made thereof, that wohin these twenty yeares (if God be not mercyfull in altring the resolutions of the cheife owners of it), wee shall not have a hundred oake trees in this whole Countye. I could produce the names of many gentlemen (and others) in these partes, who (in my tyme, and to my knowledge) have cutt downe hundrede and thousande of oakes, onely for their barkes (the barke of so many score trees being solde for x" the tree, so many hundrede at xij" the tree, and so many at xv" the tree, and then they cast up the whole some, and rejoyce that they have made so good a bargaine); yea, this penny wisedome and pound folly is of such estima&n, that a man shall scarce* finde a yonge spendthrift, or nedefull f cockescombe (country-man I should saie) in a whole countrey (if hee be an owner of woodes), wo" will not presently sell the barkes of one or two hundred trees to any tanner (w" puts forth the hande); albeit that hee neither hath use himselfe, nor knoweth of a chapman, for five of the trees, being onely lead on (or induced thereunto) with this conceit, that woods will sell at all tymes, w° is too true (& more is the pittie). I should scarce gaine beliefe, if I should write that there be some men (& of great worth also), who wohin these two yeares, have cutt downe a great part of the verie timber, wo" is the chiefe grace, ornament, and defence of their mannose & houses, (and have kept them from the blustering blastes of Boreas, and the nipping stormes of many winters,) onely for the barkes; or howe a gentleman of good worth (in this Countie), wanting a matter of twenty poundé, (and not knowing in this stony age of ours how to procure so much instantlie,) sent for a tanner (whom I also know very well), walked into his woode, and sould him the barkes of 300 trees (such as hee should chuse) for the same xx"; and I dare be bould to affirme it, that hee knew not at that houre of any chapman for ten of the trees. A man surely cannot be accounted wise in such actions as these, and yet it is admirable to see how comönly they are practised; for wee have scarce a Lord or Gentleman (entring to his lande), but the first act wch hee doeth (after hee hath called a Court, and inhansed his rente), is to view his woodes, and if it can appeare that eyther the tymber (for buildinge), the underwoode (for iron or lead workes), or the barke (for tanners) will yeild present money, then the woods are the first thing wo" come to ruine. And alas ! there is small or no hope of any amendment of this Abuse; for (as it [is] related to me by sundry psons) there is a nobleman (whose lands adjoyne to the place where I live), who purposeth to sell the timber and underwoode of a whole parke, weh if hee doe, (and that Brancepeth parke go downe also, as it is certaine, whout Gode speciall grace, it will,) wee must be forced wthin twenty yeares to have provision of woode for plowe geare, reparaóns of hedges, &c. from Ireland, or by sea; then well what can be more lamentable! I have often heard, that the Spanyards (for the maintayninge of their iron workes) plant six trees for each one wo" they cut downe; but wee (to mainteyne irone workes, leade workes, tillage, &c.) for each tree which wee plant, cutt downe six hundred (I might saie, sixe thousande, for, in these partes, there is no such thing as planting or springing of woodes heard of); the consideraćon whereof makes mee thinke, that such poore Bachello" as my selfe (w" have neither wives nor children) are happy men; for to what purpose do men marry wives, or beget children? or how is it likely or possible, that those won succede us shall live, when wee (our selves) use all meanes to destroie & waist our countries? and (which is worse above all comparison then the rest) without all sence of sorrow for the same! Surelie, if our Ancesto"6 had done as wee doe, wee might by this tyme have learned to digge up the earth, & make burrowes therein, as the conies doe, or to have made our houses in the cliftes of the rockes; and then wee should have knowne the benefit of woode by wofull experience. It would cause any man to weepe (if he had but an ounce of charitable blood in his whole bodie), to behould the poore dejected oakes, wo" now lye upon the earth overgrowne w!" mosse, corrupted, and spoiled, in many pkes and woode (and in some towne-streetes) of this Countye; all which (if they had growne without barkes) had still bene the glorie and ornament of this countrie. I have often heard, that if a nobleman or gent of Scotland had proved traitour to his prince or countrie (amongst many other dishonours and punishmente, w°h were inflicted upon him), all his houses were pulled (and his woode cutt) downe, that there might nothing remaine to reedifie and build againe his houses whall, but that his habitaôns and country might remaine as a desert or wildernes. And this was (in myne opinion) a greater punishment then ten thousand deathes: yet (alas!) wee are so farre blinded with the spirit of errour, and so stupified and bewitched won the effeminate vanities of our tymes, that wee account the cutting downe of woode a matter of indifferencie, or (rather) no moment; nay, wee are so farre from esteeming it a fault, that wee hould it a pt of good husbandrie, and no dishonour, but rather a commendable vertue. But in the name and feare of God, let us remember, that no Commonwealth can remaine prosperous, if it want the continuall supply of woode; and let us also believe (as it is too likely) that the cutting downe thereof is one of the judgemte of God (as wee have lately tasted many), which is laide upon us for our sinnes; and that (if wee do not spedylie repent, and amend our wicked lives) wee our selves shalbe in no better estate then our woode are, but rather in worse. Let us also (but) looke into many of our pceedings w” the eyes of wisedome and discretion, and it will appeare, that in the most of them wee are no better, but rather more cruell then enemyes. If wee looke but into the exactions of rente, oppressions, extortions, &c. wee shall beholde inexprimable abuses. For if the Spanyard, the Turke, or the devill (humana specie) should cóme into our kingdome, and cutt downe whole thousande of oakes and other trees; pull downe all our fortresses and castles, and sell the iron doores, window-barres, and leades thereof, perhaps to our utter enemies; inhanse & racke the rents of our groundé, that a poore man could not get a goose-gate (as wee saie) whout money; and in steade of relievinge and comforting the poore (which received the stile of beggars from his diabolicall oppression), should cage them up in correction houses, and whip them sorer then ever poore gally-slave was, (w" is the onely &, I may say, alone charity wo" is conferred upon the poore people of our age, and is odious to a tender-hearted childe of God, and questionles was suggested into mens mynde and