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rapidly, and he will wonder why the crop is not realized and the ground replanted, till he is referred to Clause 6 of the same Act, by which he will see that the ground may not be cleared of the crop. Last, and worst of all, he will see some 4,500 acres of the most beautiful old woods in the country, most of which are dying back and steadily going to wreck and ruin. But here again absolutely nothing can be done. . . . It is sad to see them dying out, when all that is required to preserve them for future generations is to imitate the wisdom of those who made them at first, and by simply protecting, by enclosing them and removing dead trees, leave it to nature to perpetuate them. . . . Those who framed the New Forest Act of 1877 desired to conserve these old woods, but their zeal seems to have carried them so far as to defeat the object they had in view; and I cannot but think that had Forestry been a science commonly taught in the past, as I trust it may be in the future, owing to the result of this inquiry, no such clause could ever have found a place in an Act of Parliament dealing with woodlands.” . The object of the Act of 1877, no doubt, was that the forest should be maintained in a state of natural beaaty ; and as the effect now appears to be to defeat this very object, the present condition of the forest demands the serious attention of the Government.’
Considering the great improvements that have taken place in most other departments of rural economy throughout Great Britain and Ireland within the last half-century, it is to be hoped that Forestry will not continue to be so much neglected as has hitherto been the case. Intelligent men who may be induced to give any attention to the subject will at once perceive the vast importance of timber from a national point of view; and it will also be at once apparent that the British arboricultural method of rearing oak trees in full exposure to light, for the production of crooked timber for shipbuilding, cannot possibly be of the best commercial advantage now. The requirements of the timber market at the present day, on the contrary, demand long, straight, clean stems, free from knots and branches; and trees of this description can only possibly be grown when a greater density of canopy is maintained than would formerly have been suitable for the production of timber which should best meet the requirements of our navy and our mercantile fleet.
It is impossible to estimate the actual market value of our existing 3,000,000 acres of woodlands. Taking the average rotation to be about ninety years, and the costs of formation at Žl, an acre, and estimating that the land is worth, on an average, 5s, a year per acre for pasturage,_then the actual cost of production of our woods, presuming them only to yield 2% per cent, on the capital invested, probably amounts to more
Vol. 179.—No. 357. O than than 20% million pounds sterling. And, as has previously been shown, they ought to have a capital value of about 50 million pounds, if properly managed. Unless, however, better methods of management are introduced than at present exist, their actual market value cannot be expected to be anything like the latter sum.
Better results than can at present be reasonably expected would probably be obtained, if State aid were freely granted towards the dissemination of sound instruction concerning Sylviculture; and the only proper places for bringing this within the reach of the future landowners, and of young men of good education, are undoubtedly the great Universities.
But mere University teaching will be of no avail unless at the same time a departure be made from the present custom of treating the British woodlands principally as game-covers. What Sir Herbert Maxwell has written on “Woodlands, on this point, is quite correct:—
‘One chief hindrance to our woodlands being remunerative may be stated at once: we are arboriculturists and sportsmen, not foresters. A large proportion of the land returned as woodland is really pleasure-ground and game-cover. Thousands of landowners follow on a smaller scale the example set by the State on a larger in the New Forest and Windsor Forest.”
ART. VIII.-Silva Gadelica : a Collection of Tales in Irish, edited from MSS. and translated. By Standish H. O'Grady. London, 1892.
To most perfect modern prose, beyond question, is the French. But French prose is nothing else than the speech of the Celtic Muse, arrayed in a Parisian robe of the finest, and taught a little Latin, which that petulant goddess utters with a grace and vivacity most unlike the Roman style. From Chateaubriand to Renan the stream flows along, lightsparkling, dreamy, passionate, with sudden descents and silver cascades, so fresh and youthful that it lends a charm to the ugly landscape through which it often moves, and the commonest pebbles, bathed in it, shine with a deceitful lustre. Yet the origin of that fascination, how many can trace? Who among the readers of to-day would turn from his novel or his newspaper to study the Celtic dialects? They are known to a few isolated groups of peasants, and to some half-dozen scholars; but, like the fairy godmother whose gifts made the Princess beautiful, they receive a scant welcome at the banquet of civilization; and when they have shrunk back into their mountain solitudes, or taken refuge in remote islands, the world, which is never weary of praising its French literature, forgets their existence, and goes on its loud-resounding way, as unheeding as it is proverbially ungrateful. Nevertheless, though Welsh and Irish, Highland Erse and the language of Brittany should cease to be spoken, the work they have wrought can never be undone. Four times has the Celtic Muse breathed life into a noble literature, outside the circle of her native speech. The Eddic poems are among the first of those achievements which, according to competent judges, like Powell and Vigfusson, owe much of their inspiration and their imagery to the Celts of the Western Islands, and to Irish story-tellers. And yet a second time did this seed of old-world poetry spring up, when the legends of Arthur, Merlin, and the Table Round, were sung all over Europe, until they grew to be the common medieval Epic, and, in Boiardo and Ariosto, made a home for themselves among Italians, to whom Virgil was a magician, and the Iliad little more than a name. . In our English Spenser this splendid human story took for its scene and battleground the huge forests which the poet saw in all their primitive wildness about him at Kilcolman. Thus, despite its memories of Ariosto, the ‘Faery Queen’ is an Irish woodland romance. And it is the prelude to Shakspere, whose Queen Mab recalls the ancient goddess-heroine of Connacht, O 2 known known at this day in Achill and on the coasts of Galway. The Celtic names of Lear and Cymbeline stand engraved for ever on that world-monument, which not even the most careless of moderns can help glancing at, as he hurries by to his Stock Exchange or his vestry meeting. But Ariel, Prospero, and Miranda pass their days in the very kingdom of Fairyland, over which gleams like a rainbow the “Midsummer Night's Dream,' with its charmed moonlight and its luscious wild flowers, its love-scenes, and its magic transformations, and the elves and sprites that dance about the steps of Oberon and Titania. What chords of music, again, linger in the ear more voluptuously, than those in which the great Hebrew Epics of Milton rehearse heroic names from the lays of Arthur or of Charlemagne? But the memories of chivalry which never quitted him came to the Puritan singer from the ‘utmost Isles, where the Celt roamed in Hesperian fields with Saturn, oldest of the fabled gods, and an exile from the sky. Last of all, in that prosaic century when poetry was reduced to rhyming couplets, and Homer had been taught the manners of the age of Anne, from a land hidden behind the mists came forth the ghostlike voice of Ossian, thundering with the floods and roaring cataracts, sobbing over a long-forgotten past, and calling on the dead names of Oscar and the Knights whom Fingal had led to victory against the “King of the World, but whose green mounds lay scattered by the sea and among the silent hills. It could have surprised no one, had the uncouth singing died away without an echo. But on every side, as though Ossian had broken the spell of prose which hung heavy upon Europeans, other strains took up the note. The passionate poetry which never since has ceased to pour out its soul, began in this key of reminiscence and lament; of sorrow for which there was no healing, yet which found in itself the secret of pleasure. All that is most lyrical in Goethe, Byron, Shelley, in the German romantic singers, in Heine, in Victor Hugo, bears on it somewhere the stamp of Fingal. We read in “Werther' the quotations from Ossian, which betray, how deeply he had coloured the imagination of Goethe. The descent of “Childe Harold’ from ‘René’ has been pointed out by Chateaubriand himself. And that incomparable Breton is wholly Celtic– nor then least of all, perhaps, when he pleads for the Christian faith as a transfiguration of Nature; as a sacred ritual borrowed from the fountain and the forest; and as a worship of the Divine presence in the woods and the solitudes of ocean. Thus we have come round to French prose again —a long history, from the time when Irish monks lectured in the schools at
at Lismore, taught Charlemagne's Franks to read Latin, and