Earth as Modified by Human Action, The: Chapter 03 (historical)

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Historical E-Book: The Earth as Modified by Human Action
Author: George Perkins Marsh
First published: 1874

Chapter III: The Woods

The Habitable Earth originally Wooded

There is good reason to believe that the surface of the habitable earth, in all the climates and regions which have been the abodes of dense and civilized populations, was, with few exceptions, already covered with a forest growth when it first became the home of man. This we infer from the extensive vegetable remains--trunks, branches, roots, fruits, seeds, and leaves of trees--so often found in conjunction with works of primitive art, in the boggy soil of districts where no forests appear to have existed within the eras through which written annals reach; from ancient historical records, which prove that large provinces, where the earth has long been wholly bare of trees, were clothed with vast and almost unbroken woods when first made known to Greek and Roman civilization[1]; and from the state of much of North and of South America, as well as of many islands, when they were discovered and colonized by the European race[2].

These evidences are strengthened by observation of the natural economy of our time; for, whenever a tract of country once inhabited and cultivated by man, is abandoned by him and by domestic animals, and surrendered to the undisturbed influences of spontaneous nature, its soil sooner of later clothes itself with herbaceous and arborescent plants, and, at no long interval, with a dense forest growth. Indeed, upon surfaces of a certain stability and not absolutely precipitous inclination the special conditions required for the spontaneous propagation of trees may all be negatively expressed and reduced to these three: exemption from defect or excess of moisture, from perpetual frost, and from the depredations of man and browsing quadrupeds. Where these requisites are secured, the hardest rock is as certain to be overgrown with wood as the most fertile plain, though, for obvious reasons, the process is slower in the former than in the latter case. Lichens and mosses first prepare the way for a more highly organized vegetation. They retain the moisture of rains and dews, and bring it to act, in combination with the gases evolved by their organic processes, in decomposing the surface of the rocks they cover; they arrest and confine the dust which the wind scatters over them, and their final decay adds new material to the soil already half formed beneath and upon them. A very thin stratum of mould is sufficient for the germination of seeds of the hardy evergreens and birches, the roots of which are often found in immediate contact with the rock, supplying their trees with nourishment from a soil deepened and enriched by the decomposition of their own foliage, or sending out long rootlets into the surrounding earth in search of juices to feed them.

The eruptive matter of volcanoes, forbidding as is its aspect, does not refuse nutriment to the woods. The refractory lava of Etna, it is true, remains long barren, and that of the great eruption of 1669 is still almost wholly devoid of vegetation[3].

But the cactus is making inroads even here, while the volcanic sand and molten rock thrown out by Vesuvius soon become productive. Before the great eruption of 1631 even the interior of the crater was covered with vegetation. George Sandys, who visited Vesuvius in 1611, after it had reposed for several centuries, found the throat of the volcano at the bottom of the crater "almost choked with broken rocks and trees that are falne therein." "Next to this," he continues, "the matter thrown up is ruddy, light, and soft: more removed, blacke and ponderous: the uttermost brow, that declineth like the seates in a theater, flourishing with trees and excellent pasturage. The midst of the hill is shaded with chestnut trees, and others bearing sundry fruits." [4] I am convinced that forests would soon cover many parts of the Arabian and African deserts, if man and domestic animals, especially the goat and the camel, were banished from them. The hard palate and tongue and strong teeth and jaws of this latter quadruped enable him to break off and masticate tough and thorny branches as large as the finger. He is particularly fond of the smaller twigs, leaves, and [[[seed]]-pods of the sont and other acacias, which, like the American Robinia, thrive well on dry and sandy soils, and he spares no tree the branches of which are within his reach, except, if I remember right, the tamarisk that produces manna. Young trees sprout plentifully around the springs and along the winter water-courses of the desert, and these are just the halting stations of the caravans and their routes of travel. In the shade of these trees, annual grasses and perennial shrubs shoot up, but are mown down by the hungry cattle of the Bedouin, as fast as they grow. A few years of undisturbed vegetation would suffice to cover such points with groves, and these would gradually extend themselves over soils where now scarcely any green thing but the bitter colocynth and the poisonous foxglove is ever seen.

General Meteorological Influence of the Forest

The physico-geographical influence of forests may be divided into two great classes, each having an important influence on vegetable and on animal life in all their manifestations, as well as on every branch of rural economy and productive industry, and, therefore, on all the material interests of man. The first respects the meteorology of the countries exposed to the action of these influences; the second, their superficial geography, or, in other words, the configuration, consistence, and clothing of their surface.

For reasons assigned in the first chapter, and for others that will appear hereafter, the meteorological or climatic branch of the subject is the most obscure, and the conclusions of physicists respecting it are, in a great degree, inferential only, not founded on experiment or direct observation. They are, as might be expected, somewhat discordant, though one general result is almost universally accepted, and seems indeed too well supported to admit of serious question, and it may be considered as established that forests tend to mitigate, at least within their own precincts, extremes of temperature, humidity, and drought. By what precise agencies the meteorological effects of the forest are produced we cannot say, because elements of totally unknown value enter into its action, and because the relative intensity of better understood causes cannot be measured or compared. I shall not occupy much space in discussing questions which at present admit of no solution, but I propose to notice all the known forces whose concurrent or conflicting energies contribute to the general result, and to point out, in some detail, the value of those influeuces whose mode of action has been ascertained. Electrical Influence of Trees. The properties of trees, singly and in groups, as exciters or conductors of electricity, and their consequent influence upon the electrical state of the atmosphere, do not appear to have been much investigated; and the conditions of the forest itself are so variable and so complicated, that the solution of any general problem respecting its electrical influence would be a matter of extreme difficulty. It is, indeed, impossible to suppose that a dense cloud, a sea of vapor, can pass over miles of surface bristling with good conductors, without undergoing and producing some change of electrical condition. Hypothetical cases may be put in which the character of the change could be deduced from the known laws of electrical action. But in actual nature, the elements are too numerous for us to seize. The true electrical condition of neither cloud nor forest could be known, and it could seldom be predicted whether the vapors would be dissolved as they floated over the wood, or discharged upon it in a deluge of rain. With regard to possible electrical influences of the forest, wider still in their range of action, the uncertainty is even greater. The data which alone could lead to positive, or even probable, conclusions are wanting, and we should, therefore, only embarrass our argument by any attempt to discuss this meteorological element, important as it may be, in its relations of cause and effect to more familiar and bettor understood meteoric phenomena. It may, however, be observed that hail-storms--which were once generally supposed, and are still held by many, to be produced by a specific electrical action, and which, at least, appear to be always accompanied by electrical disturbances--are believed, in all countries particularly exposed to that scourge, to have become more frequent and destructive in proportion as the forests have been cleared. Caimi observes: "When the chains of the Alps and the Apennines had not yet been stripped of their magnificent crown of woods, the May hail, which now desolates the fertile plains of Lombardy, was much less frequent; but since the general prostration of the forest, these tempests are laying waste even the mountain-soils whose older inhabitants scarcely knew this plague[5]. The paragrandini[6], which the learned curate of Rivolta advised to erect, with sheaves of straw set up vertically, over a great extent of cultivated country, are but a Liliputian imago of the vast paragrandini, pines, larches, and fire, which nature had planted by millions on the crests and ridges of the Alps and the Apennines[7]." "Electrical action being diminished," says Meguscher, "and the rapid congelation of vapors by the abstraction of heat being impeded by the influence of the woods, it is rare that hail or waterspouts are produced within the precincts of a large forest when it is assailed by the tempest[8]." Arthur Young was told that since the forests which covered the mountains between the Riviera and the county of Montferrat had disappeared, hail had become more destructive in the district of Acqui, and a similar increase in the frequency and violence of hail-storms in the neighborhood of Saluzzo and Mondovi, the lower part of the Valtelline, and the territory of Verona and Vicenza, is probably to be ascribed to a similar cause[9]. Chemical Influence of the Forest. We know that the air in a close apartment is appreciably affected through the inspiration and expiration of gases by plants growing in it. The same operations are performed on a gigantic scale by the forest, and it has even been supposed that the absorption of carbon, by the rank vegetation of earlier geological periods, occasioned a permanent change in the constitution of the terrestrial atmosphere[10].

This opinion of the modification of the atmosphere by vegetation is contested

To the effects thus produced are to be added those of the ultimate gaseous decomposition of the vast vegetable mass annually shed by trees, and of their trunks and branches when they fall a prey to time. But the quantity of gases thus abstracted from and restored to the atmosphere is inconsiderable--infinitesimal, one might almost say--in comparison with the ocean of air from which they are drawn and to which they return; and though the exhalations from bogs, and other low grounds covered with decaying vegetable matter, are highly deleterious to human health, yet, in general, the air of the forest is hardly chemically distinguishable from that of the sand plains, and we can as little trace the influence of the woods in the analysis of the atmosphere, as we can prove that the mineral ingredients of landsprings sensibly affect the chemistry of the sea. I may, then, properly dismiss the chemical, as I have done the electrical, influences of the forest, and treat them both alike, if not as unimportant agencies, at least as quantities of unknown value in our meteorological equation[11].

Trees as a Protection against Malaria

Few European countries present better opportunities for observation on this point than Italy, because in that kingdom the localities exposed to miasmatic exhalations are numerous, and belts of trees, if not forests, are of so frequent occurrence that their efficacy in this respect can be easily tested. The belief that rows of trees afford an important protection against malarious influences is very general among Italians best qualified by intelligence and professional experience to judge upon the subject. The commissioners, appointed to report on the measures to be adopted for the improvement of the Tuscan Maremme, advised the planting of three or four rows of poplars, Populus alla, in such directions as to obstruct the currents of air from malarious localities, and thus intercept a great proportion of the pernicious exhalations[12]." Maury believed that a few rows of sunflowers, planted between the Washington Observatory and the marshy banks of the Potomac, had saved the inmates of that establishment from the intermittent fevers to which they had been formerly liable. Maury's experiment[s have been repeated in Italy. Large plantations of sunflowers have been made upon the alluvial deposits of the Oglio, above its entrance into the Lake of Iseo, near Pisogne, and it is said with favorable results to the health of the neighborhood[13]. In fact, the generally beneficial effects of a forest wall or other vegetable screen, as a protection against noxious exhalations from marshes or other sources of disease, situated to the windward of them, are very commonly admitted.

It is argued that, in these cases, the foliage of trees and of other vegetables exercises a chemical as well as a mechanical effect upon the atmosphere, and some, who allow that forests may intercept the circulation of the miasmatic effluvia of swampy soils, or even render them harmless by decomposing them, contend, nevertheless, that they are themselves active causes of the production of malaria. The subject has been a good deal discussed in Italy, and there is some reason to think that under special circumstances the influence of the forest in this respect may be prejudicial rather than salutary, though this does not appear to be generally the case[14]. It is, at all events, well known that the great swamps of Virginia and the Carolinas, in climates nearly similar to that of Italy, are healthy even to the white man, so long as the forests in and around them remain, but become very insalubrious when the woods are felled[15].

Trees as Shelter to Ground to the Leeward

As a mechanical obstruction, trees impede the passage of air-currents over the ground, which, as is well known, is one of the most efficient agents in promoting evaporation and the refrigeration resulting from it[16]. In the forest, the air is almost quiescent, and moves only as local changes of temperature affect the specific gravity of its particles. Hence there is often a dead calm in the woods when a furious blast is raging in the open country at a few [[yards' distance. The denser the forest--as, for example, where it consists of spike-leaved trees, or is thickly intermixed with them--the more obvious is its effect, and no one can have passed from the field to the wood in cold, windy weather, without having remarked it[17]. The action of the forest, considered merely as a mechanical shelter to grounds lying to the leeward of it, might seem to be an influence of too restricted a character to deserve much notice; but many facts concur to allow that it is a most important element in local climate.

It is evident that the effect of the forest, as a mechanical impediment to the passage of the wind, would extend to a very considerable distance above its own height, and hence protect while standing, or lay open when felled, a much larger surface than might at first thought be supposed. The atmosphere, movable as are its particles, and light and elastic as are its masses, is nevertheless held together as a continuous whole by the gravitation of its atoms and their consequent pressure on each other, if not by attraction between them, and, therefore, an obstruction which mechanically impedes the movement of a given stratum of air will retard the passage of the strata above and below it. To this effect may often be added that of an ascending current from the forest itself, which must always exist when the atmosphere within the wood is warmer than the stratum of air above it, and must be of almost constant occurrence in the case of cold winds, from whatever quarter, because the still air in the forest is slow in taking up the temperature of the moving columns and currents around and above it. Experience, in fact, has shown that mere rows of trees, and even much lower obstructions, are of essential service in defending vegetation against the action of the wind. Hardy proposes planting, in Algeria, belts of trees at the distance of one hundred metres from each other, as a shelter which experience had proved to be useful in France[18]. "In the valley of the Rhone," says Becquerel, "a simple hedge, two metres in height, is a sufficient protection for a distance of twenty-two metres[19]." The mechanical shelter acts, no doubt, chiefly as a defence against the mechanical force of the wind, but its uses are by no means limited to this effect. If the current of air which it resists moves horizontally, it would prevent the access of cold or parching blasts to the ground for a great distance; and did the wind even descend at a large angle with the surface, still a considerable extent of ground would be protected by a forest to the windward of it.

In the report of a committee appointed in 1836 to examine an article of the forest code of France, Arago observes; "If a curtain of forest on the coasts of Normandy and of Brittany were destroyed, these two provinces would become accessible to the winds from the west, to the mild breezes of the sea. Hence a decrease of the cold of winter. If a similar forest were to be cleared on the eastern border of France, the glacial east wind would prevail with greater strength, and the winters would become more severe. Thus the removal of a belt of wood would produce opposite effects in the two regions[20]."

This opinion receives confirmation from an observation of Dr. Dwight, who remarks, in reference to the woods of New England: "Another effect of removing the forest will be the free passage of the winds, and among them of the southern winds, over the surface. This, I think, has been an increasing fact within my own remembrance. As the cultivation of the country has extended further to the north, the winds from the south have reached distances more remote from the ocean, and imparted their warmth frequently, and in such degrees as, forty years since, were in the same places very little known. This fact, also, contributes to lengthen the summer and to shorten the winter half of the year[21]."

It is thought in Italy that the clearing of the Apennines has very materially affected the climate of the valley of the Po. It is asserted in Le Alpi che cingono l'Italia that: "In consequence of the felling of the woods on the Apennines, the sirocco prevails greatly on the right bank of the Po, in the Parmesan territory, and in a part of Lombardy; it injures the harvests and the vineyards, and sometimes ruins the crops of the season. To the same cause many ascribe the meteorological changes in the precincts of Modena and of Reggio. In the communes of these districts, where formerly straw roofs resisted the force of the winds, tiles are now hardly sufficient; in others, where tiles answered for roofs, large slabs of stone are now ineffectual; and in many neighboring communes the grapes and the grain are swept off by the blasts of the south and south-west winds."

According to the same authority, the pinery of Porto, near Ravenna--which is twenty miles long, and is one of the oldest pine woods in Italy--having been replanted with resinous trees after it was unfortunately cut, has relieved the city from the sirocco to which it had become exposed, and in a great degree restored its ancient climate[22].

The felling of the woods on the Atlantic coast of Jutland has exposed the soil not only to drifting sands, but to sharp sea-winds, that have exerted a sensible deteriorating effect on the climate of that peninsula, which has no mountains to serve at once as a barrier to the force of the winds, and as a storehouse of moisture received by precipitation or condensed from atmospheric vapors[23]. The local retardation of spring, so much complained of in Italy, France, and Switzerland, and the increased frequency of late frosts at that season, appear to be ascribable to the admission of cold blasts to the surface, by the felling of the forests which formerly both screened it as by a wall, and communicated the warmth of their soil to the air and earth to the leeward.

Caimi states that since the cutting down of the woods of the Apennines, the cold winds destroy or stunt the vegetation, and that, in consequence of "the usurpation of winter on the domain of spring," the district of Mugello has lost all its mulberries, except the few which find in the lee of buildings a protection like that once furnished by the forest[24].

The department of Ardeche, which now contains not a single considerable wood, has experienced within thirty years a climatic disturbance, of which the late frosts, formerly unknown in the country, are one of the most melancholy effects. Similar results have been observed in the plain of Alsace, in consequence of the denudation of several of the crests of the Vosges.[25] [26] Dussard, as quoted by Ribbe, [27] maintains that even the MISTRAL, or north-west wind, whose chilling blasts are so fatal to tender vegetation in the spring, "is the child of man, the result of his devastations." "Under the reign of Augustus," continues he, "the forests which protected the Cevennes were felled, or destroyed by fire, in mass. A vast country, before covered with impenetrable woods--powerful obstacles to the movement and even to the formation of hurricanes--was suddenly denuded, swept bare, stripped, and soon after, a scourge hitherto unknown, struck terror over the land from Avignon to the Bouches-du-Rhone, thence to Marseilles, and then extended its ravages, diminished indeed by a long career which had partially exhausted its force, over the whole maritime frontier. The people thought this wind a curse sent of God. They raised altars to it and offered sacrifices to appease its rage." It seems, however, that this plague was less destructive than at present, until the close of the sixteenth century, when further clearings had removed most of the remaining barriers to its course. Up to that time, the north-west wind appears not to have attained to the maximum of specific effect which now characterizes it as a local phenomenon. Extensive districts, from which the rigor of the seasons has now banished valuable crops, were not then exposed to the loss of their harvests by tempests, cold, or drought. The deterioration was rapid in its progress. Under the Consulate, the clearings had exerted so injurious an effect upon the climate, that the cultivation of the olive had retreated several leagues, and since the winters and springs of 1820 and 1836, this branch of rural industry has been abandoned in a great number of localities where it was advantageously pursued before. The orange now flourishes only at a few sheltered points of the coast, and it is threatened even at Hyeres, where the clearing of the hills near the town has proved very prejudicial to this valuable tree.

Marchand informs us that, since the felling of the woods, late spring frosts are more frequent in many localities north of the Alps; that fruit-trees thrive no longer, and that it is difficult even to raise young fruit-trees[28].

Influence of the Forest, considered as Inorganic Matter, on Temperature. The evaporation of fluids, and the condensation and expansion of vapors and gases, are attended with changes of temperature; and the quantity of moisture which the air is capable of containing, and of course, other things being equal, the evaporation, rise and fall with the thermometer. The hygroscopical and the thermoscopical conditions of the atmosphere are, therefore, inseparably connected as reciprocally dependent quantities, and neither can be fully discussed without taking notice of the other. The leaves of living trees exhale enormous quantities of gas and of aqueous vapor, and they largely absorb gases, and, under certain conditions, probably also water. Hence they affect more or less powerfully the temperature as well as the humidity of the air. But the forest, regarded purely as inorganic matter, and without reference to its living processes of absorption and exhalation of gases and of water, has, as an absorbent, a radiator and a conductor of heat, and as a mere covering of the ground, an influence on the temperature of the air and the earth, which may be considered by itself.

Absorbing and Emitting Surface

A given area of ground, as estimated by the every-day rule of measurement in yards or acres, presents always the same apparent quantity of absorbing, radiating, and reflecting surface; but the real extent of that surface is very variable, depending, as it does, upon its configuration, and the bulk and form of the adventitious objects it bears upon it; and, besides, the true superficies remaining the same, its power of absorption, radiation, reflection, and conduction of heat will be much affected by its consistence, its greater or less humidity, and its color, as well as by its inclination of plane and exposure. An acre of clay, rolled hard and smooth, would have great reflecting power, but its radiation would be much increased by breaking it up into clods, because the actually exposed surface would be greater, though the outline of the field remained the same. The inequalities, natural or artificial, which always occur in the surface of ordinary earth, affect in the same way its quantity of superficies acting upon the temperature of the atmosphere, and acted on by it, though the amount of this action and reaction is not susceptible of measurement.

Analogous effects are produced by other objects, of whatever form or character, standing or lying upon the earth, and no solid can be placed upon a flat piece of ground, without itself exposing a greater surface than it covers. This applies, of course, to forest trees and their leaves, and indeed to all vegetables, as well as to other prominent bodies. If we suppose forty trees to be planted on an acre, one being situated in the centre of every square of two rods the side, and to grow until their branches and leaves everywhere meet, it is evident that, when in full foliage, the trunks, branches, and leaves would present an amount of thermoscopic surface much greater than that of an acre of bare earth; and besides this, the fallen leaves lying scattered on the ground, would somewhat augment the sum-total[29]. On the other hand, the growing leaves of trees generally form a succession of stages, or, loosely speaking, layers, corresponding to the annual growth of the branches, and more or less overlying each other. This disposition of the foliage interferes with that free communication between sun and sky above, and leaf-surface below, on which the amount of radiation and absorption of light depends. From all these considerations, it appears that though the effective thermoscopic surface of a forest in full leaf does not exceed that of bare ground in the same proportion as does its measured superficies, yet the actual quantity of area capable of receiving and emitting heat must be greater in the former than in the latter case[30].

It must further be remembered that the form and texture of a given surface are important elements in determining its thermoscopic character. Leaves are porous, and admit air and light more or less freely into their substance; they are generally smooth and even glazed on one surface; they are usually covered on one or both sides with spicula, and they very commonly present one or more acuminated points in their outline--all circumstances which tend to augment their power of emitting heat by reflection or radiation. Direct experiment on growing trees is very difficult, nor is it in any case practicable to distinguish how far a reduction of temperature produced by vegetation is due to radiation, and how far to exhalation of the gaseous and watery fluids of the plant; for both processes usually go on together. But the frigorific effect of leafy structure is well observed in the deposit of dew and the occurrence of hoarfrost on the foliage of grasses and other small vegetables, and on other objects of similar form and consistence, when the temperature of the air a few feet above has not been brought down to the dew-point, still less to 32 degrees, the degree of cold required to congeal dew to frost[31].

We are also to take into account the action of the forest as a conductor of heat between the atmosphere and the earth. In the most important countries of America and Europe, and especially in those which have suffered most from the destruction of the woods, the superficial strata of the earth are colder in winter, and warmer in summer, than those a few inches lower, and their shifting temperature approximates to the atmospheric mean of the respective seasons. The roots of large trees penetrate beneath the superficial strata, and reach earth of a nearly constant temperature, corresponding to the mean for the entire year. As conductors, they convey the heat of the atmosphere to the earth when the earth is colder than the air, and transmit it in the contrary direction when the temperature of the earth is higher than that of the atmosphere. Of course, then, as conductors, they tend to equalize the temperature of the earth and the air.

In countries where the questions I am considering have the greatest practical importance, a very large proportion, if not a majority, of the trees are of deciduous foliage, and their radiating as well as their shading surface is very much greater in summer than in winter. In the latter season, they little obstruct the reception of heat by the ground or the radiation from it; whereas, in the former, they often interpose a complete canopy between the ground and the sky, and materially interfere with both processes.

Dead Products of Trees

Besides this various action of standing trees, considered as inorganic matter, the forest exercises, by the annual moulting of its foliage, still another influence on the temperature of the earth, and, consequently, of the atmosphere which rests upon it. If we examine the constitution of the superficial soil in a primitive or an old and undisturbed artificially planted wood, we find, first, a deposit of undecayed leaves, twigs, and seeds, lying in loose layers on the surface; then, more compact beds of the same materials in incipient, and, as we descend, more and more advanced, stages of decomposition; then, a mass of black mould, in which traces of organic structure are hardly discoverable except by microscopic examination; then, a stratum of mineral soil, more or less mixed with vegetable matter carried down into it by water, or resulting from the decay of roots; and, finally, the inorganic earth or rock itself. Without this deposit of the dead products of trees, this latter would be the superficial stratum, and as its powers of absorption, radiation, and conduction of heat would differ essentially from those of the layers with which it has been covered by the droppings of the forest, it would act upon the temperature of the atmosphere, and be acted on by it, in a very different way from the leaves and mould which rest upon it. Dead leaves, still entire, or partially decayed, are very indifferent conductors of light, and, therefore, though they diminish the warming influence of the summer sun on the soil below them, they, on the other hand, prevent the escape of heat from that soil in winter, and, consequently, in cold climates, even when the ground is not covered by a protecting mantle of snow, the earth does not freeze to as great a depth in the wood as in the open field.

Specific Heat

Trees, considered as organisms, produce in themselves, or in the air, a certain amount of heat, by absorbing and condensing atmospheric gases, and they exert an opposite influence by absorbing water and exhaling it in the form of vapor; but there is still another mode by which their living processes may warm the air around them, independently of the thermometric effects of condensation and evaporation. The vital heat of a dozen persons raises the temperature of a room. If trees possess a specific temperature of their own, an organic power of generating heat like that with which the warm-blooded animals are gifted, though by a different process, a certain amount of weight is to be ascribed to this element in estimating the action of the forest upon atmospheric temperature.

Boussingault remarks: "In many flowers there has been observed a very considerable evolution of heat, at the approach of fecundation. In certain arums the temperature rises to 40 degrees or 50 degrees Cent. [= 104 degrees or 122 degrees Fahr.] It is very probable that this phenomenon in general, and varies only in the intensity which it is manifested[32]."

If we suppose the fecundation of the flowers of forest trees to be attended with a tenth only of this calorific power, they could not fail to exert an important influence on the warmth of the atmospheric strata in contact with them.

Experiments by Meguscher, in Lombardy, led that observer to conclude "that the wood of a living tree maintains a temperature of + 12 degrees or 18 degrees Cent. [= 54 degrees, 56 degrees Fahr.] when the temperature of the air stands at 3 degrees, 7 degrees, and 8 degrees [= 37 degrees, 46 degrees, 47 degrees F.] above zero, and that the internal warmth of the tree does not rise and fall in proportion to that of the atmosphere. So long as the latter is below 18 degrees [= 67 degrees Fahr.], that of the tree is always the highest; but if the temperature of the air rises to 18 degrees, that of the vegetable growth is the lowest. Since then, trees maintain at all seasons a constant mean temperature of 12 degrees [= 54 degrees Fahr.], it is easy to see why the air in contact with the forest must be warmer in winter, cooler in summer than in situations where it is deprived of that influence[33]."

Professor Henry says: "As a general deduction from chemical and mechanical principles, we think no change of temperature is ever produced where the actions belonging to one or both of these principles are not present. Hence, in midwinter, when all vegetable functions are dormant, we do not believe that any heat is developed by a tree, or that its interior differs in temperature from its exterior further than it is protected from the external air. The experiments which have been made on this point, we think, have been directed by a false analogy. During the active circulation of the sap and the production of new tissue, variations of temperature belonging exclusively to the plant may be observed; but it is inconsistent with general principles that heat should be generated where no change is taking place[34]."

There can be no doubt that moisture is given, out by trees and evaporated in extremely cold winter weather, and unless new fluid were supplied from the roots by the exercise of some vital function, the tree would be exhausted of its juices before winter was over. But this is not observed to be the fact, and, though the point is disputed, respectable authorities declare that "wood felled in the depth of winter is the heaviest and fullest of sap[35]." Warm weather in winter, of too short continuance to affect the temperature of the ground sensibly, stimulates a free flow of sap in the maple. Thus, in the last week of December, 1862, and the first week of January, 1863, sugar was made from that tree in various parts of New England. "A single branch of a tree, admitted into a warm room in winter through an aperture in a window, opened its buds and developed its leaves, while the rest of the tree in the external air remained in its winter sleep[36]." Like facts are matter of every-day observation in graperies where the vine is often planted outside the wall, the stem passing through an aperture into the warm interior. The roots, of course, stand in ground of the ordinary winter temperature, but vegetation is developed in the branches at the pleasure of the gardener. The roots of forest trees in temperate climates remain, for the most part, in a moist soil, of a temperature not much below the annual mean, through the whole winter; and we cannot account for the uninterrupted moisture of the tree, unless we suppose that the roots furnish a constant supply of water. Atkinson describes a ravine in a valley in Siberia, which was filled with ice to the depth of twenty-five feet. Poplars were growing in this ice, which was thawed to the distance of some inches from the stem. But the surface of the soil beneath it must have remained still frozen, for the holes around the trees were full of water resulting from its melting, and this would have escaped below if the ground had been thawed. In this case, although the roots had not thawed the thick covering of eartfh above them, the trunks must have melted the ice in contact with them. The trees, when observed by Atkinson, were in full leaf, but it does not appear at what period the ice around their stems had melted.

From these facts, and others of the like sort, it would seem that "all vegetable functions are" not absolutely "dormant in winter, and, therefore, that trees may give out SOME heat even at that season[37]."

It does not appear that observations have been made on the special point of the development of heat in forest trees during florification, or at any other period of intense vital action; and hence an important element in the argument remains undetermined. The "circulation of the sap" commences at a very early period in the spring, and the temperature of the air in contact with trees may then be sufficiently affected by heat evolved in the vital processes of vegetation, to raise the thermometric mean of wooded countries for that season, and, of course, for the year. The determination of this point is of much greater importance to vegetable physiology than the question of the winter temperature of trees, because a slight increment of heat in the trees of a forest might so affect the atmosphere in contact with them as to make possible the growing of many plants in or near the wood which could not otherwise he reared in that climate.

The evaporation of the juices of trees and other plants is doubtless their most important thermoscopic function, and as recent observations lead to the conclusion that the quantity of moisture exhaled by vegetables has been hitherto underrated, we must ascribe to this element a higher value than has been usually assigned to it as a meteorological influence.

The exhalation and evaporation of the juices of trees, by whatever process effected, take up atmospheric heat and produce a proportional refrigeration. This effect is not less real, though to common observation less sensible, in the forest than in meadow or pasture land, and it cannot be doubted that the local temperature is considerably affected by it. But the evaporation that cools the air diffuses through it, at the same time, a medium which powerfully resists the escape of heat from the earth by radiation. Visible vapors, fogs and clouds, it is well known, prevent frosts by obstructing radiation, or rather by reflecting back again the heat radiated by the earth, just as any mechanical screen would do. On the other hand, fogs and clouds intercept the rays of the sun also, and hinder its heat from reaching the earth. The invisible vapors given out by leaves impede the passage of heat reflected and radiated by the earth and by all terrestrial objects, bat oppose much less resistance to the transmission of direct solar heat, and indeed the beams of the sun seem more scorching when received through clear air charged with uncondensed moisture than after passing through a dry atmosphere. Hence the reduction of temperature by the evaporation of moisture from vegetation, though sensible, is less than it would be if water in the gaseous state were as impervious to heat given out by the sun as to that emitted by terrestrial objects.

Total Influence of the Forest on Temperature

It has not yet been found practicable to measure, sum up, and equate the total influence of the forest, its processes and its products, dead and living, upon temperature, and investigators differ much in their conclusions on this subject. It seems probable that in every particular case the result is, if not determined, at least so much modified by local conditions which are infinitely varied, that no general formula is applicable to the question. In the report to which I referred on page 163, Gay-Lussac says; "In my opinion we have not yet any positive proof that the forest has, in itself, any real influence on the climate of a great country, or of a particular locality. By closely examining the effects of clearing off the woods, we should perhaps find that, far from being an evil, it is an advantage; but these questions are so complicated when they are examined in a climatological point of view, that the solution of them is very difficult, not to say impossible." Becquerel, on the other hand, considers it certain that in tropical climates the destruction of the forests is accompanied with an elevation of the mean temperature, and he thinks it highly probable that it has the same effect in the temperate zones. The following is the substance of his remarks on this subject: "Forests act as frigorific causes in three ways:

  1. They shelter the ground against solar irradiation and maintain a greater humidity.
  2. They produce a cutaneous transpiration by the leaves.
  3. They multiply, by the expansion of their branches, the surfaces which are cooled by radiation.

"These three causes acting with greater or less force, we must, in the study of the climatology of a country, take into account the proportion between the area of the forests and the surface which is bared of trees and covered with herbs and grasses.

"We should be inclined to believe, a priori, according to the foregoing considerations, that the clearing of the woods, by raising the temperature and increasing the dryness of the air, ought to react on climate. There is no doubt that, if the vast desert of the Sahara were to become wooded in the course of ages, the sands would cease to be heated as much as at the present epoch, when the mean temperature is twenty-nine degrees [ Centigrade, = 85 degrees Fahr. ]. In that case, the ascending currents of warm air would cease, or be less warm, and would not contribute, by descending in our latitudes, to soften the climate of Western Europe. Thus the clearing of a great country may react on the climates of regions more or less remote from it.

"The observations by Boussingault leave no doubt on this point. This writer determined the mean temperature of wooded and of cleared points, under the same latitude, and at the same elevation above the sea, in localities comprised between the eleventh degree of north and the fifth degree of south latitude, that is to say, in the portion of the tropics nearest to the equator, and where radiation tends powerfully during the night to lower the temperature under a sky without clouds[38]."

The result of these observations, which has been pretty generally adopted by physicists, is that the mean temperature of cleared land in the tropics appears to be about one degree Centigrade, or a little less than two degrees of Fahrenheit, above that of the forest. On page 147 of the volume just cited, Becquerel argues that, inasmuch as the same and sometimes a greater difference is found in favor of the open ground, at points within the tropics so elevated as to have a temperate or even a polar climate, we must conclude that theforests in Northern America exert a refrigerating influence equally powerful. But the conditions of the soil are so different in the two regions compared, that I think we cannot, with entire confidence, reason from the one to the other, and it is much to be desired that observations be made on the summer and winter temperature of both the air and the ground in the depths of the North American forests, before it is too late.

Recent inquiries have introduced a new element into the problem of the influence of the forest on temperature, or rather into the question of the thermometrical effects of its destruction. I refer to the composition of the soil in respect to its hygroscopicity or aptitude to absorb humidity, whether in a liquid or a gaseous form, and to the conducting power of the particles of which it is composed[39].

The hygroscopicity of humus or vegetable earth is much greater than that of any mineral soil, and consequently forest ground, where humus abounds, absorbs the moisture of the atmosphere more rapidly and in larger proportion than common earth. The condensation of vapor by absorption develops heat, and consequently elevates the temperature of the soil which absorbs it, together with that of air in contact with the surface. Von Babo found the temperature of sandy ground thus raised from 68 degrees to 80 degrees F., that of soil rich in humus from 68 degrees to 88 degrees. The question of the influence of the woods on temperature does not, in the present state of our knowledge, admit of precise solution, and, unhappily, the primitive forests are disappearing so rapidly before the axe of the woodman, that we shall never be able to estimate with accuracy the climatological action of the natural wood, though all the physical functions of artificial plantations will, doubtless, one day be approximately known.

But the value of trees as a mechanical screen to the soil they cover, and often to ground far to the leeward of them, is most abundantly established, and this agency alone is important enough to justify extensive plantation in all countries which do not enjoy this indispensable protection.

Influence of Forests as Inorganic on the Humidity of the Air and the Earth

The most important hygroscopic as well as thermoscopic influence of the forest is, no doubt, that which it exercises on the humidity of the air and the earth, and this climatic action it exerts partly as dead, partly as living matter. By its interposition as a curtain between the sky and the ground it both checks evaporation from the earth, and mechanically intercepts a certain proportion of the dew and the lighter showers, which would otherwise moisten the surface of the soil, and restores it to the atmosphere by exhalation[40]; while in heavier rains, the large drops which fall upon the leaves and branches are broken into smaller ones, and consequently strike the ground with less mechanical force, or are perhaps even dispersed into vapor without reaching it[41].

The vegetable mould, resulting from the decomposition of leaves and of wood, serves as a perpetual mulch to forest-soil by carpeting the ground with a spongy covering which obstructs the evaporation from the mineral earth below[42], drinks up the rains and melting snows that would otherwise flow rapidly over the surface and perhaps be conveyed to the distant sea, and then slowly gives out, by evaporation, infiltration, and percolation, the moisture thus imbibed. The roots, too, penetrate far below the superficial soil, conduct water along their surface to the lower depths to which they reach, and thus by partially draining the superior strata, remove a certain quantity of moisture out of the reach of evaporation. The Forest as Organic.

These are the principal modes in which the humidity of the atmosphere is affected by the forest regarded as lifeless matter. Let us inquire how its organic processes act upon this meteorological element. The commonest observation shows that the wood and bark of living trees are always more or less pervaded with watery and other [[fluid[[s, one of which, the sap, is very abundant in trees of [[deciduous] foliage when the buds begin to swell and the leaves to develop themselves in the spring. This fluid is drawn principally, if not entirely, from the ground by the absorbent action of the roots, for though Schacht and some other eminent botanical physiologists have maintained that water is absorbed by the leaves and bark of trees, yet most experiments lead to the contrary result, and it is now generally held that no water is taken in by the pores of vegetables. Late observations by Cailletet, in France, however, tend to the establishment of a new doctrine on this subject which solves many difficulties and will probably be accepted by botanists as definitive. Cailletet finds that under normal conditions, that is, when the soil is humid enough to supply sufficient moisture through the roots, no water is absorbed by the leaves, buds, or bark of plants, but when the roots are unable to draw from the earth the requisite quantity of this fluid, the vegetable pores in contact with the atmosphere absorb it from that source.

Popular opinion, indeed, supposes that all the vegetable fluids, during the entire period of growth, are drawn from the bosom of the earth, and that the wood and other products of the tree are wholly formed from matter held in solution in the water abstracted by the roots from the ground. This is an error, for the solid matter of the tree, in a certain proportion not important to our present inquiry, is received from the atmosphere in a gaseous form, through the pores of the leaves and of the young shoots, and, as we have just seen, moisture is sometimes supplied to trees by the atmosphere. The amount of water taken up by the roots, however, is vastly greater than that imbibed through the leaves and bark, especially at the season when the sap is most abundant, and when the leaves are yet in embryo. The quantity of water thus received from the air and the earth, in a single year, even by a wood of only a hundred acres, is very great, though experiments are wanting to furnish the data for even an approximate estimate of its measure; for only the vaguest conclusions can be drawn from the observations which have been made on the imbibition and exhalation of water by trees and other plants reared in artificial conditions diverse from those of the natural forest[43].

Flow of Sap

The amount of sap which can be withdrawn from living trees furnishes, not indeed a measure of the quantity of water sucked up by their roots from the ground--for we cannot extract from a tree its whole moisture--but numerical data which may aid the imagination to form a general notion of the powerful action of the forest as an absorbent of humidity from the earth.

The only forest-tree known to Europe and North America, the sap of which is largely enough applied to economical uses to have made the amount of its flow a matter of practical importance and popular observation, is the sugar maple, Acer saccharinum, of the Anglo-American Provinces and States. In the course of a single "sugar season," which lasts ordinarily from twenty-five to thirty days, a sugar maple two feet in diameter will yield not less than twenty gallons of sap, and sometimes much more[44]. This, however, is but a trifling proportion of the water abstracted from the earth by the roots during this season; for all this fluid runs from two or three incisions or auger-holes, so narrow as to intercept the current of comparatively few sap vessels, and besides, experience shows that large as is the quantity withdrawn from the circulation, it is relatively too small to affect very sensibly the growth of the tree[45]. The number of large maple-trees on an acre is frequently not less than fifty[46], and of course the quantity of moisture abstracted from the soil by this tree alone is measured by thousands of gallons to the acre. The sugar orchards, as they are called, contain also many young maples too small for tapping, and numerous other trees--two of which, at least, the black birch, Betula lenta, and yellow birch, Betula excelsa, both very common in the same climate, are far more abundant in sap than the maple[47] --are scattered among the sugar-trees; for the North American native forests are remarkable for the mixture of their crops. The sap of the maple, and of other trees with deciduous leaves which grow in the same climate, flows most freely in the early spring, and especially in clear weather, when the nights are frosty and the days warm; for it is then that the melting snows supply the earth with moisture in the justest proportion, and that the absorbent power of the roots is stimulated to its highest activity.

When the buds are ready to burst, and the green leaves begin to show themselves beneath their scaly covering, the ground has become drier, the absorption by the roots is diminished, and the sap, being immediately employed in the formation of the foliage, can be extracted from the stem in only small quantities.

Absorption and Exhalation by Foliage

The leaves now commence the process of absorption, and imbibe both uncombined gases and an unascertained but probably inconsiderable quantity of aqueous vapor from the humid atmosphere of spring which bathes them.

The organic action of the tree, as thus far described, tends to the desiccation of air and earth; but when we consider what volumes of water are daily absorbed by a large tree, and how small a proportion of the weight of this fluid consists of matter which, at the period when the flow of sap is freest, enters into new combinations, and becomes a part of the solid framework of the vegetable, or a component of its deciduous products, it becomes evident that the superfluous moisture must somehow be carried back again almost as rapidly as it flows into the tree. At the very commencement of vegetation in spring, some of this fluid certainly escapes through the buds, the nascent foliage, and the pores of the bark, and vegetable physiology tells us that there is a current of sap towards the roots as well as from them[48].

I do not know that the exudation of water into the earth, through the bark or at the extremities of these latter organs, has been proved, but the other known modes of carrying off the surplus do not seem adequate to dispose of it at the almost leafless period when it is most abundantly received, and it is possible that the roots may, to some extent, drain as well as flood the water-courses of their stem. Later in the season the roots absorb less, and the now developed leaves exhale an increased quantity of moisture into the air. In any event, all the water derived by the growing tree from the atmosphere and the ground is parted with by transpiration or exudation, after having surrendered to the plant the small proportion of matter required for vegetable growth which it held in solution or suspension[49]. The hygrometrical equilibrium is then restored, so far as this: the tree yields up again the moisture it had drawn from the earth and the air, though it does not return it each to each; for the vapor carried off by transpiration greatly exceeds the quantity of water absorbed by the foliage from the atmosphere, and the amount, if any, carried back to the ground by the roots.

The present estimates of some eminent vegetable physiologists in regard to the quantity of aqueous vapor exhaled by trees and taken up by the atmosphere are much greater than those of former inquirers. Direct and satisfactory experiments on this point are wanting, and it is not easy to imagine how they could be made on a sufficiently extensive and comprehensive scale. Our conclusions must therefore be drawn from observations on small plants, or separate branches of trees, and of course are subject to much uncertainty. Nevertheless, Schleiden, arguing from such analogies, comes to the surprising result, that a wood evaporates ten times as much water as it receives from atmospheric precipitation [50]. In the Northern and Eastern States of the Union, the mean precipitation during the period of forest growth, that is from the swelling of the buds in the spring to the ripening of the fruit, the hardening of the young shoots, and the full perfection of the other annual products of the tree, exceeds on the average twenty-four inches. Taking this estimate, the evaporation from the forest would be equal to a precipitation of two hundred and forty inches, or very nearly one hundred and fifty standard gallons to the square foot of surface.

The first questions which suggest themselves upon this statement are: what becomes of this immense quantity of water and from what source does the tree derive it We are told in reply that it is absorbed from the air by the humus and mineral soil of the wood, and supplied again to the tree through its roots, by a circulation analogous to that observed in Ward's air-tight cases. When we recall the effect produced on the soil even of a thick wood by a rain-fall of one inch, we find it hard to believe that two hundred and forty times that quantity, received by the ground between early spring and autumn, would not keep it in a state of perpetual saturation, and speedily convert the forest into a bog.

No such power of absorption of moisture by the earth from the atmosphere, or anything approaching it, has ever been shown by experiment, and all scientific observation contradicts the supposition. Schubler found that in seventy-two hours thoroughly dried humus, which is capable of taking up twice its own weight of water in the liquid state, absorbed from the atmosphere only twelve per cent. of its weight of humidity; garden-earth five and one-fifth per cent. and ordinary cultivated soil two and one-third per cent. After seventy-two hours, and, in most of his experiments with thirteen different earths, after forty-eight hours, no further absorption took place. Wilhelm, experimenting with air-dried field-earth, exposed to air in contact with water and protected by a bell-glass, found that the absorption amounted in seventy-two hours to two per cent. and a very small fraction, nearly the whole of which was taken up in the first forty-eight hours. In other experiments with carefully heat-dried field-soil, the absorption was five per cent. in eighty-four hours, and when the water was first warmed to secure the complete saturation of the air, air-dried garden-earth absorbed five and one-tenth per cent. in seventy-two hours.

In nature, the conditions are never so favorable to the absorption of vapor as in those experiments. The ground is more compact and of course offers less surface to the air, and, especially in the wood, it is already in a state approaching saturation. Hence, both these physicists conclude that the quantity of aqueous vapor absorbed by the earth from the air is so inconsiderable "that we can ascribe to it no important influence on vegetation[51]." Besides this, trees often grow luxuriantly on narrow ridges, on steep declivities, on partially decayed stumps many feet above the ground, on walls of high buildings, and on rocks, in situations where the earth within reach of their roots could not possibly contain the tenth part of the water which, according to Schleiden and Pfaff, they evaporate in a day. There are, too, forests of great extent on high bluffs and well-drained table-lands, where there can exist, neither in the subsoil nor in infiltration from neighboring regions, an adequate source of supply for such consumption. It must be remembered, also, that in the wood the leaves of the trees shade each other, and only the highest stratum of foliage receives the full influence of heat and light; and besides, the air in the forest is almost stagnant, while in the experiments of Unger, Marshal, Vaillant, Pfaff and others, the branches were freely exposed to light, sun, and atmospheric currents. Such observations can authorize no conclusions respecting the quantitative action of leaves of forest trees in normal conditions.

Further, allowing two hundred days for the period of forest vital action, the wood must, according to Schleiden's position, exhale a quantity of moisture equal to an inch and one-fifth of precipitation per day, and it is hardly conceivable that so large a volume of aqueous vapor, in addition to the supply from other sources, could be diffused through the ambient atmosphere without manifesting its presence by ordinary hygrometrical tests much more energetically than it has been proved to do, and in fact, the observations recorded by Ebermayer show that though the RELATIVE humidity of the atmosphere is considerably greater in the cooler temperature of the wood, its ABSOLUTE humidity does not sensibly differ from that of the air in open ground[52].

The daily discharge of a quantity of aqueous vapor corresponding to a rain-fall of one inch and a fifth into the cool air of the forest would produce a perpetual shower, or at least drizzle, unless, indeed, we suppose a rapidity of absorption and condensation by the ground, and of transmission through the soil to the roots and through them and the vessels of the tree to the leaves, much greater than has been shown by direct observation. Notwithstanding the high authority of Schleiden, therefore, it seems impossible to reconcile his estimates with facts commonly observed and well established by competent investigators. Hence the important question of the supply, demand, and expenditure of water by forest vegetation must remain undecided, until it can be determined by something approaching to satisfactory direct experiment[53].

Balance of Conflicting Influences of Forest on Atmospheric Heat and Humidity

We have shown that the forest, considered as dead matter, tends to diminish the moisture of the air, by preventing the sun's rays from reaching the ground and evaporating the water that falls upon the surface, and also by spreading over the earth a spongy mantle which sucks up and retains the humidity it receives from the atmosphere, while, at the same time, this covering acts in the contrary direction by accumulating, in a reservoir not wholly inaccessible to vaporizing influences, the water of precipitation which might otherwise suddenly sink deep into the bowels of the earth, or flow by superficial channels to other climatic regions. We now see that, as a living organism, it tends, on the one hand, to diminish the humidity of the air by sometimes absorbing moisture from it, and, on the other, to increase that humidity by pouring out into the atmosphere, in a vaporous form, the water it draws up through its roots. This last operation, at the same time, lowers the temperature of the air in contact with or proximity to the wood, by the same law as in other cases of the conversion of water into vapor.

As I have repeatedly said, we cannot measure the value of any one of those elements of climatic disturbance, raising or lowering of temperature, increase or diminution of humidity, nor can we say that in any one season, any one year, or any one fixed cycle, however long or short, they balance and compensate each other. They are sometimes, but certainly not always, contemporaneous in their action, whether their tendency is in the same or in opposite directions, and, therefore, their influence is sometimes cumulative, sometimes conflicting; but, upon the whole, their general effect is to mitigate extremes of atmospheric heat and cold, moisture and drought. They serve as equalizers of temperature and humidity, and it is highly probable that, in analogy with most other works and workings of nature, they, at certain or uncertain periods, restore the equilibrium which, whether as lifeless masses or as living organisms, they may have temporarily disturbed[54]. When, therefore, man destroys these natural harmonizors of climatic discords, he sacrifices an important conservative power, though it is far from certain that he has thereby affected the mean, however much he may have exaggerated the extremes of atmospheric temperature and humidity, or, in other words, may have increased the range and lengthened the scale of thermometric and hygrometric variation.

Special Influence of Woods on Precipitation

With the question of the action of forests upon temperature and upon atmospheric humidity is intimately connected that of their influence upon precipitation, which they may affect by increasing or diminishing the warmth of the air and by absorbing or exhaling uncombincd gas and aqueous vapor. The forest being a natural arrangement, the presumption is that it exercises a conservative action, or at least a compensating one, and consequently that its destruction must tend to produce pluviometrical disturbances as well as thermometrical variations. And this is the opinion of perhaps the greatest number of observers. Indeed, it is almost impossible to suppose that, under certain conditions of time and place, the quantity and the periods of rain should not depend, more or less, upon the presence or absence of forests; and without insisting that the removal of the forest has diminished the sum-total of snow and rain, we may well admit that it has lessened the quantity which annually falls within particular limits. Various theoretical considerations make this probable, the most obvious argument, perhaps, being that drawn from the generally admitted fact, that the summer and even the mean temperature of the forest is below that of the open country in the same latitude. If the air in a wood is cooler than that around it, it must reduce the temperature of the atmospheric stratum immediately above it, and, of course, whenever a saturated current sweeps over it, it must produce precipitation which would fall upon it, or at a greater or less distance from it.

We must here take into the account a very important consideration. It is not universally or even generally true, that the atmosphere returns its condensed humidity to the local source from which it receives it. The air is constantly in motion,

--howling tempests scour amain </dd>
From sea to land, from land to sea;[55] </dd>

and, therefore, it is always probable that the evaporation drawn up by the atmosphere from a given river, or sea, or forest, or meadow, will be discharged by precipitation, not at or near the point where it rose, but at a distance of miles, leagues, or even degrees. The currents of the upper air are invisible, and they leave behind them no landmark to record their track. We know not whence they come, or whither they go. We have a certain rapidly increasing acquaintance with the laws of general atmospheric motion, but of the origin and limits, the beginning and end of that motion, as it manifests itself at any particular time and place, we know nothing. We cannot say where or when the vapor, exhaled to-day from the lake on which we float, will be condensed and fall; whether it will waste itself on a barren desert, refresh upland pastures, descend in snow on Alpine heights, or contribute to swell a distant torrent which shall lay waste square miles of fertile corn-land; nor do we know whether the rain which feeds our brooklets is due to the transpiration from a neighboring forest, or to the evaporation from a far-off sea. If, therefore, it were proved that the annual quantity of rain and dew is now as great on the plains of Castile, for example, as it was when they were covered with the native forest, it would by no means follow that those woods did not augment the amount of precipitation elsewhere. The whole problem of the pluviometrical influence of the forest, general or local, is so exceedingly complex and difficult that it cannot, with our present means of knowledge, be decided upon a priori grounds. It must now be regarded as a question of fact which would probably admit of scientific explanation if it were once established what the actual fact is.

Unfortunately, the evidence is conflicting in tendency, and sometimes equivocal in interpretation, but I believe that a majority of the foresters and physicists who have studied the question are of opinion that in many, if not in all cases, the destruction of the woods has been followed by a diminution in the annual quantity of rain and dew. Indeed, it has long been a popularly settled belief that vegetation and the condensation and fall of atmospheric moisture are reciprocally necessary to each other, and even the poets sing of

Afric's barren sand,
Where nought can grow, because it raineth not,
And where no rain can fall to bless the land,
Because nought grows there[56].

Before going further with the discussion, however, it is well to remark that the comparative rarity or frequency of inundations in earlier or later centuries is not necessarily, in most cases not probably, entitled to any weight whatever, as a proof that more or less rain fell formerly than now; because the accumulation of water in the channel of a river depends far less upon the quantity of precipitation in its valley, than upon the rapidity with which it is conducted, on or under the surface of the ground, to the central artery that drains the basin. But this point will be more fully discussed in a subsequent chapter.

In writers on the subject we are discussing, we find many positive assertions about the diminution of rain in countries which have been stripped of wood within the historic period, but these assertions very rarely rest upon any other proof than the doubtful recollection of unscientific observers, and I am unable to refer to a single instance where the records of the rain-gauge, for a considerable period before and after the felling or planting of extensive woods, can be appealed to in support of either side of the question. The scientific reputation of many writers who have maintained that precipitation has been diminished in particular localities by the destruction of forests, or augmented by planting them, has led the public to suppose that their assertions rested on sufficient proof. We cannot affirm that in none of these cases did such proof exist, but I am not aware that it has ever been produced[57].

The effect of the forest on precipitation, then, is by no means free from doubt, and we cannot positively affirm that the total annual quantity of rain is even locally diminished or increased by the destruction of the woods, though both theoretical considerations and the balance of testimony strongly favor the opinion that more rain falls in wooded than in open countries. One important conclusion, at least, upon the meteorological influence of forests is certain and undisputed: the proposition, namely, that, within their own limits, and near their own borders, they maintain a more uniform degree of humidity in the atmosphere than is observed in cleared grounds. Scarcely less can it be questioned that they tend to promote the frequency of showers, and, if they do not augment the amount of precipitation, they probably equalize its distribution through the different seasons[58].

Total Climatic Influence of the Forest

Aside from the question of local disturbances and their compensations, it does not seem probable that the forests sensibly affect the general mean of atmospheric temperature of the globe, or the total quantity of precipitation, or even that they had this influence when their extent was vastly greater than at present. The waters cover about three-fourths of the face of the earth, and if we deduct the frozen zones, the peaks and crests of lofty mountains and their craggy slopes, the Sahara and other great African and Asiatic deserts, and all such other portions of the solid surface as are permanently unfit for the growth of wood, we shall find that probably not one-tenth of the total superficies of our planet was ever, at any one time in the present geological period, covered with forests. Besides this, the distribution of forest land, of desert, and of water, is such as to reduce the possible influence of the woods to a low expression; for the forests are, in large proportion, situated in cold or temperate climates, where the action of the sun is comparatively feeble both in elevating temperature and in promoting evaporation; while, in the torrid zone, the desert and the sea--the latter of which always presents an evaporable surface--enormously preponderate. It is, upon the whole, not probable that so small an extent of forest, so situated, could produce a sensible influence on the general climate of the globe, though it might appreciably affect the local action of all climatic elements. The total annual amount of solar heat absorbed and radiated by the earth, and the sum of terrestrial evaporation and atmospheric precipitation, must be supposed constant; but the distribution of heat and of humidity is exposed to disturbance in both time and place by a multitude of local causes, among which the presence or absence of the forest is doubtless one.

So far as we are able to sum up the results, it would appear that, in countries in the temperate zone still chiefly covered with wood, the summers would be cooler, moister, shorter, the winters milder, drier, longer, than in the same regions after the removal of the forest, and that the condensation and precipitation of atmospheric moisture would be, if not greater in total quantity, more frequent and less violent in discharge. The slender historical evidence we possess seems to point to the same conclusion, though there is some conflict of testimony and of opinion on this point.

Among the many causes which, as we have seen, tend to influence the general result, the mechanical action of the forest, if not more important, is certainly more obvious and direct than the immediate effects of its organic processes. The felling of the woods involves the sacrifice of a valuable protection against the violence of chilling winds and the loss of the shelter afforded to the ground by the thick coating of leaves which the forest sheds upon it and by the snow which the woods prevent from blowing away, or from melting in the brief thaws of winter. I have already remarked that bare ground freezes much deeper than that which is covered by beds of leaves, and when the earth is thickly coated with snow, the strata frozen before it fell begin to thaw. It is not uncommon to find the ground in the woods, where the snow lies two or three feet deep, entirely free from frost, when the atmospheric temperature has been for several weeks below the freezing-point, and for some days even below the zero of Fahrenheit. When the ground is cleared and brought under cultivation, the leaves are ploughed into the soil and decomposed, and the snow, especially upon knolls and eminences, is blown off, or perhaps half thawed, several times during the winter. The water from the melting snow runs into the depressions, and when, after a day or two of warm sunshine or tepid rain, the cold returns, it is consolidated to ice, and the bared ridges and swells of earth are deeply frozen[59]. It requires many days of mild weather to raise the temperature of soil in this condition, and of the air in contact with it, to that of the earth in the forests of the same climatic region. Flora is already plaiting her sylvan wreath before the corn-flowers which are to deck the garland of Ceres have waked from their winter's sleep; and it is probably not a popular error to believe that, where man has substituted his artificial crops for the spontaneous harvest of nature, spring delays her coming[60].

There are, in the constitution and action of the forest, many forces, organic and inorganic, which unquestionably tend powerfully to produce meteorological effects, and it may, therefore, be assumed as certain that they must and do produce such effects, UNLESS they compensate and balance each other, and herein lies the difficulty of solving the question. To some of these elements late observations give a new importance. For example, the exhalation of aqueous vapor by plants is now believed to be much greater, and the absorption of aqueous vapor by them much less, than was formerly supposed, and Tyndall's views on the relations of vapor to atmospheric heat give immense value to this factor in the problem. In like manner the low temperature of the surface of snow and the comparatively high temperature of its lower strata, and its consequent action on the soil beneath, and the great condensation of moisture by snow, are facts which seem to show that the forest, by protecting great surfaces of snow from melting, must inevitably exercise a great climatic influence. If to these influences we add the mechanical action of the woods in obstructing currents of wind, and diminishing the evaporation and refrigeration which such currents produce, we have an accumulation of forces which MUST manifest great climatic effects, unless--which is not proved and cannot be presumed--they neutralize each other. These are points hitherto little considered in the discussion, and it seems difficult to deny that as a question of ARGUMENT, the probabilities are strongly in favor of the meteorological influence of the woods. The EVIDENCE, indeed, is not satisfactory, or, to speak more accurately, it is non-existent, for there really is next to no trustworthy proof on the subject, but it appears to me a case where the burden of proof must be taken by those who maintain that, as a meteorological agent, the forest is inert.

The question of a change in the climate of the Northern American States is examined in the able Meteorological Report of Mr. Draper, Director of the New York Central Park Observatory, for 1871. The result arrived at by Mr. Draper is, that there is no satisfactory evidence of a diminution in the rainfall, or of any other climatic change in the winter season, in consequence of clearing of the forests or other human action. The proof from meteorological registers is certainly insufficient to establish the fact of a change of climate, but, on the other hand, it is equally insufficient to establish the contrary. Meteorological stations are too few, their observations, in many cases, extend over a very short period, and, for reasons I have already given, the great majority of their records are entitled to little or no confidence[61].

Influence of the Forest on the Humidity of the Soil

I have hitherto confined myself to the influence of the forest on meteorological conditions, a subject, as has been seen, full of difficulty and uncertainty. Its comparative effects on the temperature, the humidity, the texture and consistence, the configuration and distribution of the mould or arable soil, and, very often, of the mineral strata below, and on the permanence and regularity of springs and greater superficial water-courses, are much less disputable as well as more easily estimated and more important, than its possible value as a cause of strictly climatic equilibrium or disturbance.

The action of the forest on the earth is chiefly mechanical, but the organic process of absorption of moisture by its roots affects the quantity of water contained in the vegetable mould and in the mineral strata near the surface, and, consequently, the consistency of the soil. In treating of the effects of trees on the moisture of the atmosphere, I have said that the forest, by interposing a canopy between the sky and the ground, and by covering the surface with a thick mantle of fallen leaves, at once obstructed insulation and prevented the radiation of heat from the earth. These influences go far to balance each other; but familiar observation shows that, in summer, the forest-soil is not raised to so high a temperature as open grounds exposed to irradiation. For this reason, and in consequence of the mechanical resistance opposed by the bed of dead leaves to the escape of moisture, we should expect that, except after recent rains, the superficial strata of woodland-soil would be more humid than that of cleared land. This agrees with experience. The soil of the natural forest is always moist, except in the extremest droughts, and it is exceedingly rare that a primitive wood suffers from want of humidity. How far this accumulation of water affects the condition of neighboring grounds by lateral infiltration, we do not know, but we shall see, in a subsequent chapter, that water is conveyed to great distances by this process, and we may hence infer that the influence in question is an important one.

It is undoubtedly true that loose soils, stripped of vegetation and broken up by the plough or other processes of cultivation, may, until again carpeted by grasses or other plants, absorb more rain and snow-water than when they were covered by a natural growth; but it is also true that the evaporation from such soils is augmented in a still greater proportion. Rain scarcely penetrates beneath the sod of grass-ground, but runs off over the surface; and after the heaviest showers a ploughed field will often be dried by evaporation before the water can be carried off by infiltration, while the soil of a neighboring grove will remain half saturated for weeks together. Sandy soils frequently rest on a tenacious subsoil, at a moderate depth, as is usually seen in the pine plains of the United States, where pools of rain-water collect in slight depressions on the surface of earth the upper stratum of which is as porous as a sponge. In the open grounds such pools are very soon dried up by the sun and wind; in the woods they remain unevaporated long enough for the water to diffuse itself laterally until it finds, in the subsoil, crevices through which it may escape, or slopes which it may follow to their outcrop or descend along them to lower strata.

Drainage by Roots of Trees

Becquerel notices a special function of the forest to which I have already alluded, but to which sufficient importance has not, until very recently, been generally ascribed. I refer to the mechanical action of the roots as conductors of the superfluous humidity of the superficial earth to lower strata. The roots of trees often penetrate through subsoil almost impervious to water, and in such cases the moisture, which would otherwise remain above the subsoil and convert the surface-earth into a bog, follows the roots downwards and escapes into more porous strata or is received by subterranean canals or reservoirs[62]. When the forest is felled, the roots perish and decay, the orifices opened by them are soon obstructed, and the water, after having saturated the vegetable earth, stagnates on the surface and transforms it into ponds and morasses. Thus in La Brenne, a tract of 200,000 acres resting on an impermeable subsoil of argillaceous earth, which ten centuries ago was covered with forests interspersed with fertile and salubrious meadows and pastures, has been converted, by the destruction of the woods, into a vast expanse of pestilential pools and marshes. In Sologne the same cause has withdrawn from cultivation and human inhabitation not less than 1,100,000 acres of ground once well wooded, well drained, and productive.

It is an important observation that the desiccating action of trees, by way of drainage or external conduction by the roots, is greater in the artificial than in the natural wood, and hence that the surface of the ground in the former is not characterized by that approach to a state of saturation which it so generally manifests in the latter. In the spontaneous wood, the leaves, fruits, bark, branches, and dead trunks, by their decayed material and by the conversion of rock into loose earth through the solvent power of the gases they develop in decomposition, cover the ground with an easily penetrable stratum of mixed vegetable and mineral matter extremely favorable to the growth of trees, and at the same time too retentive of moisture to part with it readily to the capillary attraction of the roots.

The trees, finding abundant nutriment near the surface, and so sheltered against the action of the wind by each other as not to need the support of deep and firmly fixed stays, send their roots but a moderate distance downwards, and indeed often spread them out like a horizontal network almost on the surface of the ground. In the artificial wood, on the contrary, the spaces between the trees are greater; they are obliged to send their roots deeper both for mechanical support and in search of nutriment, and they consequently serve much more effectually as conduits for perpendicular drainage.

It is only under special circumstances, however, that this function of the forest is so essential a conservative agent as in the two cases just cited. In a champaign region insufficiently provided with natural channels for the discharge of the waters, and with a subsoil which, though penetrable by the roots of trees, is otherwise impervious to water, it is of cardinal importance; but though trees everywhere tend to carry off the moisture of the superficial strata by this mode of conduction, yet the precise condition of soil which I have described is not of sufficiently frequent occurrence to have drawn much attention to this office of the wood. In fact, in most soils, there are counteracting influences which neutralize, more or less effectually, the desiccative action of roots, and in general it is as true as it was in Seneca's time, that "the shadiest grounds are the moistest[63]."

It is always observed in the American States, that clearing the ground not only causes running springs to disappear, but dries up the stagnant pools and the spongy soils of the low grounds. The first roads in those States ran along the ridges, when practicable, because there only was the earth dry enough to allow of their construction, and, for the same reason, the cabins of the first settlers were perched upon the hills. As the forests have been from time to time removed, and the face of the earth laid open to the air and sun, the moisture has been evaporated, and the removal of the highways and of human habitations from the bleak hills to the sheltered valleys, is one of the most agreeable among the many improvements which later generations have witnessed in the interior of the Northern States[64].

Recent observers in France affirm that evergreen trees exercise a special desiccating action on the soil, and cases are cited where large tracts of land lately planted with pines have been almost completely drained of moisture by some unknown action of the trees. It is argued that the alleged drainage is not due to the conducting power of the roots, inasmuch as the roots of the pine do not descend lower than those of the oak and other deciduous trees which produce no such effect, and it is suggested that the foliage of the pine continues to exhale through the winter a sufficient quantity of moisture to account for the drying up of the soil. This explanation is improbable, and I know nothing in American experience of the forest which accords with the alleged facts. It is true that the pines, the firs, the hemlock, and all the spike-leaved evergreens prefer a dry soil, but it has not been observed that such soils become less dry after the felling of their trees. The cedars and other trees of allied families grow naturally in moist ground, and the white cedar of the Northern States, Thuya occidentalis, is chiefly found in swamps. The roots of this tree do not penetrate deeply into the earth, but are spread out near the surface, and of course do not carry off the waters of the swamp by perpendicular conduction. On the contrary, by their shade, the trees prevent the evaporation of the superficial water; but when the cedars are felled, the swamp--which sometimes rather resembles a pool filled with aquatic trees than a grove upon solid ground--often dries up so completely as to be fit for cultivation without any other artificial drainage than, in the ordinary course of cultivation, is given to other new soils[65].

The Forest in Winter

The influence of the woods on the flow of springs, and consequently on the supply for the larger water-courses, naturally connects itself with the general question of the action of the forest on the humidity of the ground. But the special condition of the woodlands, as affected by snow and frost in the winter of excessive climates, like that of the United States, has not been so much studied as it deserves; and as it has a most important bearing on the superficial hydrology of the earth, I shall make some observations upon it before I proceed to the direct discussion of the influence of the forest on the flow of springs.

To estimate rightly the importance of the forest in our climate as a natural apparatus for accumulating the water that falls upon the surface and transmitting it to the subjacent strata, we must compare the condition and properties of its soil with those of cleared and cultivated earth, and examine the consequently different action of these soils at different seasons of the year. The disparity between them is greatest in climates where, as in the Northern American States and in the extreme North of Europe, the open ground freezes and remains impervious to water during a considerable part of the winter; though, even in climates where the earth does not freeze at all, the woods have still an important influence of the same character. The difference is yet greater in countries which have regular wet and dry seasons, rain being very frequent in the former period, while, in the latter, it scarcely occurs at all. These countries lie chiefly in or near the tropics, but they are not wanting in higher latitudes; for a large part of Asiatic and even of European Turkey is almost wholly deprived of summer rains. In the principal regions occupied by European cultivation, and where alone the questions discussed in this volume are recognized as having, at present, any practical importance, more or less rain falls at all seasons, and it is to these regions that, on this point as well as others, I chiefly confine my attention.

Importance of Snow

Recent observations in Switzerland give a new importance to the hygrometrical functions of snow, and of course to the forest as its accumulator and protector. I refer to statements of the condensation of atmospheric vapor by the snows and glaciers of the Rhone basin, where it is estimated to be nearly equal to the entire precipitation of the valley. Whenever the humidity of the atmosphere in contact with snow is above the point of saturation at the temperature to which the air is cooled by such contact, the superfluous moisture is absorbed by the snow or condensed and frozen upon its surface, and of course adds so much to the winter supply of water received from the snow by the ground. This quantity, in all probability, much exceeds the loss by evaporation, for during the period when the ground is covered with snow, the proportion of clear dry weather favorable to evaporation is less than that of humid days with an atmosphere in a condition to yield up its moisture to any bibulous substance cold enough to condense it[66].

In our Northern States, irregular as is the climate, the first autumnal snows pretty constantly fall before the ground is frozen at all, or when the frost extends at most to the depth of only a few inches[67]. In the woods, especially those situated upon the elevated ridges which supply the natural irrigation of the soil and feed the perennial fountains and streams, the ground remains covered with snow during the winter; for the trees protect the snow from blowing from the general surface into the depressions, and new accessions are received before the covering deposited by the first fall is melted. Snow is of a color unfavorable for radiation, but, even when it is of considerable thickness, it is not wholly impervious to the rays of the sun, and for this reason, as well as from the warmth of lower strata, the frozen crust of the soil, if one has been formed, is soon thawed, and does not again fall below the freezing-point during the winter[68]. The snow in contact with the earth now begins to melt, with greater or less rapidity, according to the relative temperature of the earth and the air, while the water resulting from its dissolution is imbibed by the vegetable mould, and carried off by infiltration so fast that both the snow and the layers of leaves in contact with it often seem comparatively dry, when, in fact, the under-surface of the former is in a state of perpetual thaw. No doubt a certain proportion of the snow is given off to the atmosphere by direct evaporation, but in the woods, the protection against the sun by even leafless trees prevents much loss in this way, and besides, the snow receives much moisture from the air by absorption and condensation. Very little water runs off in the winter by superficial water-courses, except in rare cases of sudden thaw, and there can be no question that much the greater part of the snow deposited in the forest is slowly melted and absorbed by the earth.

The immense importance of the forest, as a reservoir of this stock of moisture, becomes apparent, when we consider that a large proportion of the summer rain either flows into the valleys and the rivers, because it falls faster than the ground can imbibe it; or, if absorbed by the warm superficial strata, is evaporated from them without sinking deep enough to reach wells and springs, which, of course, depend much on winter rains and snows for their entire supply. This observation, though specially true of cleared and cultivated grounds, is not wholly inapplicable to the forest, particularly when, as is too often the case in Europe, the underwood and the decaying leaves are removed.

The quantity of snow that falls in extensive forests, far from the open country, has seldom been ascertained by direct observation, because there are few meteorological stations in or near the forest. According to Thompson,[69] the proportion of water which falls in snow in the Northern States does not exceed one-fifth of the total precipitation, but the moisture derived from it is doubtless considerably increased by the atmospheric vapor absorbed by it, or condensed and frozen on its surface. I think I can say from experience--and I am confirmed in this opinion by the testimony of competent observers whose attention has been directed specially to the point--that though much snow is intercepted by the trees, and the quantity on the ground in the woods is consequently less than in open land in the first part of the winter, yet most of what reaches the ground at that season remains under the protection of the wood until melted, and as it occasionally receives new supplies the depth of snow in the forest in the latter half of winter is considerably greater than in the cleared fields. Careful measurements in a snowy region in New England, in the month of February, gave a mean of 38 inches in the open ground and 44 inches in the woods[70].

The general effect of the forest in cold climates is to assimilate the winter state of the ground to that of wooded regions under softer skies; and it is a circumstance well worth noting, that in Southern Europe, where Nature has denied to the earth a warm winter-garment of flocculent snow, she has, by one of those compensations in which her empire is so rich, clothed the hillsides with umbrella and other pines, ilexes, cork-oaks, bays and other trees of persistent foliage, whose evergreen leaves afford to the soil a protection analogous to that which it derives from snow in more northern climates.

The water imbibed by the soil in winter sinks until it meets a more or less impermeable or a saturated stratum, and then, by unseen conduits, slowly finds its way to the channels springs, or oozes out of the ground in drops which unite in rills, and so all is conveyed to the larger streams, and by them finally to the sea. The water, in percolating through the vegetable and mineral layers, acquires their temperature, and is chemically affected by their action, but it carries very little matter in mechanical suspension.

The process I have described is a slow one, and the supply of moisture derived from the snow, augmented by the rains of the following seasons, keeps the forest-ground, where the surface is level or but moderately inclined, in a state of approximate saturation throughout almost the whole year[71]. It may be proper to observe here that in Italy, and in many parts of Spain and France, the Alps, the Apennines, and the Pyrenees, not to speak of less important mountains, perform the functions which provident nature has in other regions assigned to the forest, that is, they act as reservoirs wherein is accumulated in winter a supply of moisture to nourish the parched plains during the droughts of summer. Hence, however enormous may be the evils which have accrued to the above-mentioned countries from the destruction of the woods, the absolute desolation which would otherwise have smitten them through the folly of man, has been partially prevented by those natural dispositions, by means of which there are stored up in the glaciers, in the snow-fields, and in the basins of mountains and valleys, vast deposits of condensed moisture which are afterwards distributed in a liquid form during the season in which the atmosphere furnishes a slender supply of the beneficent fluid so indispensable to vegetable and animal life[72].

Summer Rains, Importance of

Babinet quotes a French proverb: "Summer rain wets nothing," and explains it by saying that at that season the rainwater is "almost entirely carried off by evaporation." "The rains of summer," he adds, "however abundant they may be, do not penetrate the soil beyond the depth of six or eight inches. In summer the evaporating power of the heat is five or six times greater than in winter, and this force is exerted by an atmosphere capable of containing five or six times as much vapor as in winter." "A stratum of snow which prevents evaporation [from the ground], causes almost all the water that composes it to filter into the earth, and forms a provision for fountains, wells, and streams which could not be furnished by any quantity whatever of summer rain. This latter, useful to vegetation like the dew, neither penetrates the soil nor accumulates a store to supply the springs and to be given out again into the open air[73]."

This conclusion, however applicable to the climate and to the soil of France, is too broadly stated to be received as a general truth; and in countries like the United States, where rain is comparatively rare during the winter and abundant during the summer half of the year, common observation shows that the quantity of water furnished by deep wells and by natural springs depends almost as much upon the rains of summer as upon those of the rest of the year, and consequently that a large portion of the rain of that season must find its way into strata too deep for the water to be wasted by evaporation[74].

Besides, even admitting that the water from summer rains is so completely evaporated as to contribute nothing directly to the supply of springs, it at least tends indirectly to maintain their flow, because it saturates in part the atmosphere, and at the same time it prevents the heat of the sun from drying the earth to still greater depths, and bringing within the reach of evaporation the moisture of strata which ordinarily do not feel the effects of solar irradiation.

Influence of the Forest on the Flow of Springs

It is an almost universal and, I believe, well-founded opinion, that the protection afforded by the forest against the escape of moisture from its soil by superficial flow and evaporation insures the permanence and regularity of natural springs, not only within the limits of the wood, but at some distance beyond its borders, and thus contributes to the supply of an element essential to both vegetable and animal life. As the forests are destroyed, the springs which flowed from the woods, and, consequently, the greater water-courses fed by them, diminish both in number and in volume. This fact is so familiar throughout the American States and the British Provinces, that there are few old residents of the interior of those districts who are not able to testify to its truth as a matter of personal observation. My own recollection suggests to me many instances of this sort, and I remember one case where a small mountain spring, which disappeared soon after the clearing of the ground where it rose, was recovered about twenty years ago, by simply allowing the bushes and young trees to grow up on a rocky knoll, not more than half an acre in extent, immediately above the spring. The ground was hardly shaded before the water reappeared, and it has ever since continued to flow without interruption. The hills in the Atlantic States formerly abounded in springs and brooks, but in many parts of these States which were cleared a generation or two ago, the hill-pastures now suffer severely from drought, and in dry seasons furnish to cattle neither grass nor water.

Almost every treatise on the economy of the forest adduces facts in support of the doctrine that the clearing of the woods tends to diminish the flow of springs and the humidity of the soil, and it might seem unnecessary to bring forward further evidence on this point[75]. But the subject is of too much practical importance and of too great philosophical interest to be summarily disposed of; and it ought to be noticed that there is at least one case--that of some loose sandy soils which, as observed by Valles[76], when bared of wood very rapidly absorb and transmit to lower strata the water they receive from the atmosphere--where the removal of the forest may increase the flow of springs at levels below it, by exposing to the rain and melted snow a surface more bibulous, and at the same time less retentive, than its original covering. Under such circumstances, the water of precipitation, which had formerly been absorbed by the vegetable mould and retained until it was evaporated, might descend through porous earth until it meets an impermeable stratum, and then be conducted along it, until, finally, at the outcropping of this stratum, it bursts from a hillside as a running spring. But such instances are doubtless too rare to form a frequent or an important exception to the general law, because it is very seldom the case that such a soil as has just been supposed is covered by a layer of vegetable earth thick enough to retain, until it is evaporated, all the rain that falls upon it, without imparting any water to the strata below it.

If we look at the point under discussion as purely a question of fact, to be determined by positive evidence and not by argument, the observations of Boussingault are, both in the circumstances they detail and in the weight to be attached to the testimony, among the most important yet recorded. The interest of the question will justify me in giving, nearly in Boussingault's own words, the facts and some of the remarks with which he accompanies the detail of them. "In many localities," he observes[77], "it has been thought that, within a certain number of years, a sensible diminution has been perceived in the volume of water of streams utilized as a motive-power; at other points, there are grounds for believing that rivers have become shallower, and the increasing breadth of the belt of pebbles along their banks seems to prove the loss of a part of their water; and, finally, abundant springs have almost dried up. These observations have been principally made in valleys bounded by high mountains, and it has been noticed that this diminution of the waters has immediately followed the epoch when the inhabitants have begun to destroy, unsparingly, the woods which were spread over the face of the land. "And here lies the practical point of the question; for if it is once established that clearing diminishes the volume of streams, it is less important to know to what special cause this effect is due. The rivers which rise within the valley of Aragua, having no outlet to the ocean, form, by their union, the Lake of Tacarigua or Valencia, having a length of about two leagues and a half [= 7 English miles].

At the time of Humboldt's visit to the valley of Aragua, the inhabitants were struck by the gradual diminution which the lake had been undergoing for thirty years. In fact, by comparing the descriptions given by historians with its actual condition, even making large allowance for exaggeration, it was easy to see that the level was considerably depressed. The facts spoke for themselves. Oviedo, who, toward the close of the sixteenth century, had often traversed the valley of Aragua, says positively that New Valencia was founded, in 1555, at half a league from the Lake of Tacarigua; in 1800, Humboldt found this city 5,260 metres [= 3 1/2 English miles] from the shore.

"The aspect of the soil furnished new proofs. Many hillocks on the plain retain the name of islands, which they more justly bore when they were surrounded by water. The ground laid bare by the retreat of the lake was converted into admirable plantations; and buildings erected near the lake showed the sinking of the water from year to year. In 1796, new islands made their appearance. A fortress built in 1740 on the island of Cabrera, was now on a peninsula; and, finally, on two granitic islands, those of Cura and Cabo Blanco, Humboldt observed among the shrubs, somo metres above the water, fine sand filled with helicites.

"These clear and positive facts suggested numerous explanations, all assuming a subterranean outlet, which permitted the discharge of the water to the ocean. Humboldt disposed of these hypotheses, and did not hesitate to ascribe the diminution of the waters of the lake to the numerous clearings which had been made in the valley of Aragua within half a century."

Twenty-two years later, Boussingault explored the valley of Aragua. For some years previous, the inhabitants had observed that the waters of the lake were no longer retiring, but, on the contrary, were sensibly rising. Grounds, not long before occupied by plantations, were submerged. The islands of Nuevas Aparecidas, which appeared above the surface in 1796, had again become shoals dangerous to navigation. Cabrera, a tongue of land on the north side of the valley, was so narrow that the least rise of the water completely inundated it. A protracted north wind sufficed to flood the road between Maracay and New Valencia. The fears which the inhabitants of the shores had so long entertained were reversed. Those who had explained the diminution of the lake by the supposition of subterranean channels were suspected of blocking them up, to prove themselves in the right.

During the twenty-two years which had elapsed, the valley of Aragua had been the theatre of bloody struggles, and war had desolated these smiling lands and decimated their population. At the first cry of independence a great number of slaves found their liberty by enlisting under the banners of the new republic; the great plantations were abandoned, and the forest, which in the tropics so rapidly encroaches, had soon recovered a large proportion of the soil which man had wrested from it by more than a century of constant and painful labor.

Boussingault proceeds to state that two lakes near Ubate, in New Granada, had formed but one, a century before his visit; that the waters were gradually retiring, and the plantations extending over the abandoned bed; that, by inquiry of old hunters and by examination of parish records, he found that extensive clearings had been made and were still going on.

He found, also, that the length of the Lake of Fuquene, in the same valley, had, within two centuries, been reduced from ten leagues to one and a half, its breadth from three leagues to one. At the former period, the neighboring mountains were well wooded, but at the time of his visit the mountains had been almost entirely stripped of their wood. Our author adds that other cases, similar to those already detailed, might be cited, and he proceeds to show, by several examples, that the waters of other lakes in the same regions, where the valleys had always been bare of wood, or where the forests had not been disturbed, had undergone no change of level.

Boussingault further states that the lakes of Switzerland have sustained a depression of level since the too prevalent destruction of the woods, and arrives at the general conclusion that, "in countries where great clearings have been made, there has most probably been a diminution in the living waters which flow upon the surface of theground." This conclusion he further supports by two examples: one, where a fine spring, at the foot of a wooded mountain in the Island of Ascension, dried up when the mountain was cleared, but reappeared when the wood was replanted; the other at Marmato, in the province of Popayan, where the streams employed to drive machinery were much diminished in volume, within two years after the clearing of the heights from which they derived their supplies. This latter is an interesting case, because, although the rain-gauges, established as soon as the decrease of water began to excite alarm, showed a greater fall of rain for the second year of observation than the first, yet there was no appreciable increase in the flow of the mill-streams. From these cases, the distinguished physicist infers that very restricted local clearings may diminish and even suppress springs and brooks, without any reduction in the total quantity of rain.

It will have been noticed that these observations, with the exception of the last two cases, do not bear directly upon the question of the diminution of springs by clearings, but they logically infer it from the subsidence of the natural reservoirs which springs once filled. There is, however, no want of positive evidence on this subject. Marchand cites the following instances: "Before the felling of the woods, within the last few years, in the valley of the Soulce, the Combe-es-Monnin and the Little Valley, the Sorne furnished a regular and sufficient supply of water for the ironworks of Unterwyl, which was almost unaffected by drought or by heavy rains. The Sorne has now become a torrent, every shower occasions a flood, and after a few days of fine weather, the current falls so low that it has been necessary to change the water-wheels, because those of the old construction are no longer able to drive the machinery, and at last to introduce a steam-engine to prevent the stoppage of the works for want of water.

"When the factory of St. Ursanne was established, the river that furnished its power was abundant, and had, from time immemorial, sufficed for the machinery of a previous factory. Afterwards, the woods near its sources were cut. The supply of water fell off in consequence, the factory wanted water for half the year, and was at last obliged to stop altogether.

"The spring of Combefoulat, in the commune of Seleate, was well known as one of the best in the country; it was remarkably abundant, and sufficient, in the severest droughts, to supply all the fountains of the town; but as soon as considerable forests were felled in Combe-de-pre Martin and in the valley of Combefoulat, the famous spring, which lies below these woods, has become a mere thread of water, and disappears altogether in times of drought.

"The spring of Varieux, which formerly supplied the castle of Pruntrut, lost more than half its water after the clearing of Varieux and Rougeoles. These woods have been replanted, the young trees are growing well, and, with the woods, the waters of the spring are increasing.

"The Dog Spring between Pruntrut and Bressancourt has entirely vanished since the surrounding forest-grounds were brought under cultivation.

"The Wolf Spring, in the commune of Soubey, furnishes a remarkable example of the influence of the woods upon fountains. A few years ago this spring did not exist. At the place where it now rises, a small thread of water was observed after very long rains, but the stream disappeared with the rain. The spot is in the middle of a very steep pasture inclining to the south. Eighty years ago, the owner of the land, perceiving that young firs were shooting up in the upper part of it, determined to let them grow, and they soon formed a flourishing grove. As soon as they were well grown, a fine spring appeared in place of the occasional rill, and furnished abundant water in the longest droughts. For forty or fifty years this spring was considered the best in the Clos du Doubs. A few years since, the grove was felled, and the ground turned again to a pasture. The spring disappeared with the wood, and is now as dry as it was ninety years ago[78]."

Siemoni gives the following remarkable facts from his own personal observation:

"In a rocky nook near the crest of a mountain in the Tuscan Apennines, there flowed a clear, cool, and perennial fountain, uniting three distinct springs in a single current. The ancient beeches around and particularly above the springs were felled. On the disappearance of the wood, the springs ceased to flow, except in a thread of water in rainy weather, greatly inferior in quality to that of the old fountain. The beeches were succeeded by firs, and as soon as they had grown sufficiently to shade the soil, the springs begun again to flow, and they gradually returned to their former abundance and quality[79]."

This and the next preceding case are of great importance both as to the action of the wood in maintaining springs, and particularly as tending to prove that evergreens do not exercise the desiccative influence ascribed to them in France. The latter instance shows, too, that the protective influence of the wood extends far below the surface, for the quality of the water was determined, no doubt, by the depth from which it was drawn. The slender occasional supply after the beeches were cut was rain-water which soaked through the superficial humus and oozed out at the old orifices, carrying the taste and temperature of the vegetable soil with it; the more abundant and grateful water which flowed before the beeches were cut, and after the firs were well grown, came from a deeper source and had been purified, and cooled to the mean temperature of the locality, by filtering through strata of mineral earth. "The influence of the forest on springs," says Hummel, "is strikingly shown by an instance at Heilbronn. The woods on the hills surrounding the town are cut in regular succession every twentieth year. As the annual cuttings approach a certain point, the springs yield less water, some of them none at all; but as the young growth shoots up, they flow more and more freely, and at length bubble up again in all their original abundance[80]." Dr. Piper states the following case: "Within about half a mile of my residence there is a pond upon which mills have been standing for a long time, dating back, I believe, to the first settlement of the town. These have been kept in constant operation until within some twenty or thirty years, when the supply of water began to fail. The pond owes its existence to a stream that has its source in the hills which stretch some miles to the south. Within the time mentioned, these hills, which were clothed with a dense forest, have been almost entirely stripped of trees; and to the wonder and loss of the mill-owners, the water in the pond has failed, except in the season of freshets; and, what was never heard of before, the stream itself has been entirely dry. Within the last ten years a new growth of wood has sprung up on most of the land formerly occupied by the old forest; and now the water runs through the year, notwithstanding the great droughts of the last few years, going back from 1856."

Dr. Piper quotes from a letter of William C. Bryant the following remarks: "It is a common observation that our summers are becoming drier and our streams smaller. Take the Cuyahoga as an illustration. Fifty years ago large barges loaded with goods went up and down that river, and one of the vessels engaged in the battle of Lake Erie, in which the gallant Perry was victorious, was built at Old Portage, six miles north of Albion, and floated down to the lake. Now, in an ordinary stage of the water, a canoe or skiff can hardly pass down the stream. Many a boat of fifty tons burden has been built and loaded in the Tuscarawas, at New Portage, and sailed to New Orleans without breaking bulk. Now, the river hardly affords a supply of water at New Portage for the canal. The same may be said of other streams--they are drying up. And from the same cause--the destruction of our forests--our summers are growing drier and our winters colder[81]."

No observer has more carefully studied the influence of the forest upon the flow of the waters, or reasoned more ably on the ascertained phenomena, than Cantegril. The facts presented in the following case, communicated by him to the Ami des Sciences for December, 1859, are as nearly conclusive as any single instance well can be:

"In the territory of the commune of Labruguiere there is a forest of 1,834 hectares [4,530 acres], known by the name of the Forest of Montaut, and belonging to that commune. It extends along thenorthern slope of the Black Mountains. The soil is granitic, the maximum altitude 1,243 metres [4,140 feet], and the inclination ranges between 15 and 60 to 100.

"A small current of water, the brook of Caunan, takes its rise in this forest, and receives the waters of two-thirds of its surface. At the lower extremity of the wood and on the stream are several fulleries, each requiring a force of eight horse-power to drive the water-wheels which work the stampers. The commune of Labruguiere had been for a long time famous for its opposition to forest laws. Trespasses and abuses of the right of pasturage had converted the wood into an immense waste, so that this vast property now scarcely sufficed to pay the expense of protecting it, and to furnish the inhabitants with a meagre supply of fuel. While the forest was thus ruined, and the soil thus bared, the water, after every abundant rain, made an eruption into the valley, bringing down a great quantity of pebbles which still clog the current of the Caunan. The violence of the floods was sometimes such that they were obliged to stop the machinery for some time. During the summer another inconvenience was felt. If the dry weather continued a little longer than usual, the delivery of water became insignificant. Each fullery could for the most part only employ a single set of stampers, and it was not unusual to see the work entirely suspended.

"After 1840, the municipal authority succeeded in enlightening the population as to their true interests. Protected by a more watchful supervision, aided by well-managed replantation, the forest has continued to improve to the present day. In proportion to the restoration of the forest, the condition of the manufactories has become less and less precarious, and the action of the water is completely modified. For example, sudden and violent floods, which formerly made it necessary to stop the machinery, no longer occur. There is no increase in the delivery until six or eight hours after the beginning of the rain; the floods follow a regular progression till they reach their maximum, and decrease in the same manner. Finally, the fulleries are no longer forced to suspend work in summer; the water is always sufficiently abundant to allow the employment of two sets of stampere at least, and often even of three.

"This example is remarkable in this respect, that, all other circumstances having remained the same, the changes in the action of the stream can be attributed only to the restoration of the forest--changes which may be thus summed up: diminution of flood-water during rains--increase of delivery at other seasons."

Becquerel and other European writers adduce numerous other cases where the destruction of forests has caused the disappearance of springs, a diminution in the volume of rivers, and a lowering of the level of lakes, and in fact, the evidence in support of the doctrine I have been maintaining on this subject seems to be as conclusive as the nature of the case admits[82]. We cannot, it is true, arrive at the same certainty and precision of result in these inquiries as in those branches of physical research where exact quantitative appreciation is possible, and we must content ourselves with probabilities and approximations. We cannot positively affirm that the precipitation in a given locality is increased by the presence, or lessened by the destruction, of the forest, and from our ignorance of the subterranean circulation of the waters, we cannot predict, with certainty, the drying up of a particular spring as a consequence of the felling of the wood which shelters it; but the general truth, that the flow of springs and the normal volume of rivers rise and fall with the extension and the diminution of the woods where they originate and through which they run, is as well established as any proposition in the science of physical geography[83].

Of the converse proposition, namely, that the planting of new forests gives rise to new springs and restores the regular flow of rivers, I find less of positive proof, however probable it may be that such effects would follow[84]. A reason for the want of evidence on the subject may be, that, under ordinary circumstances, the process of conversion of bare ground to soil with a well-wooded surface is so gradual and slow, and the time required for a fair experiment is consequently so long, that many changes produced by the action of the new geographical element escape the notice and the memory of ordinary observers. The growth of a forest, including the formation of a thick stratum of vegetable mould beneath it, is the work of a generation, its destruction may be accomplished in a day; and hence, while the results of the one process may, for a considerable time, be doubtful if not imperceptible, those of the other are immediate and readily appreciable. Fortunately, the plantation of a wood produces other beneficial consequences which are both sooner realized and more easily estimated; and though he who drops the seed is sowing for a future generation as well as for his own, the planter of a grove may hope himself to reap a fair return for his expenditure and his labor.

Influence of the Forest on Inundations and Torrents

Inasmuch as it is not yet proved that the forests augment or diminish the precipitation in the regions they principally cover, we cannot positively affirm that their presence or absence increases or lessens the total volume of the water annually delivered by great rivers or by mountain torrents. It is nevertheless certain that they exercise an action on the discharge of the water of rain and snow into the valleys, ravines, and other depressions of the surface, where it is gathered into brooks and finally larger currents, and consequently influence the character of floods, both in rivers and in torrents. For this reason, river inundations and the devastations of torrents, and the geographical effects resulting from them, so far as they are occasioned or modified by the action of forests or of the destruction of the woods, may properly be discussed in this chapter, though they might seem otherwise to belong more appropriately to another division of this work.

Besides the climatic question, which I have already sufficiently discussed, and the obvious inconveniences of a scanty supply of charcoal, of fuel, and of timber for architectural and naval construction and for the thousand other uses to which wood is applied in rural and domestic economy, and in the various industrial processes of civilized life, the attention of European foresters and public economists has been specially drawn to three points, namely: the influence of the forests on the permanence and regular flow of springs or natural fountains; on inundations by the overflow of rivers; and on the abrasion of soil and the transportation of earth, gravel, pebbles, and even of considerable masses of rock, from higher to lower levels, by torrents. There are, however, connected with this general subject, several other topics of minor or strictly local interest, or of more uncertain character, which I shall have occasion more fully to speak of hereafter.

The first of these three principal subjects--the influence of the woods on springs and other living waters--has been already considered; and if the facts stated in that discussion are well established, and the conclusions I have drawn from them are logically sound, it would seem to follow, as a necessary corollary, that the action of the forest is as important in diminishing the frequency and violence of river-floods as in securing the permanence and equability of natural fountains; for any cause which promotes the absorption and accumulation of the water of precipitation by the superficial strata of the soil, to be slowly given out by infiltration and percolation, must, by preventing the rapid flow of surface-water into the natural channels of drainage, tend to check the sudden rise of rivers, and, consequently, the overflow of their banks, which constitutes what is called inundation.

The surface of a forest, in its natural condition, can never pour forth such deluges of water as flow from cultivated soil. Humus, or vegetable mould, is capable of absorbing almost twice its own weight of water. The soil in a forest of deciduous foliage is composed of humus, more or less unmixed, to the depth of several inches, sometimes even of feet, and this stratum is usually able to imbibe all the water possibly resulting from the snow which at any one time covers, or the rain which in any one shower falls upon it. But the vegetable mould does not cease to absorb water when it becomes saturated, for it then gives off a portion of its moisture to the mineral earth below, and thus is ready to receive a new supply; and, besides, the bed of leaves not yet converted to mould takes up and retains a very considerable proportion of snow-water, as well as of rain.

The stems of trees, too, and of underwood, the trunks and stumps and roots of fallen timber, the mosses and fungi and the numerous inequalities of the ground observed in all forests, oppose a mechanical resistance to the flow of water over the surface, which sensibly retards the rapidity of its descent down declivities, and diverts and divides streams which may have already accumulated from smaller threads of water[85].

The value of the forest as a mechanical check to a too rapid discharge of rain-water was exemplified in numerous instances in the great floods of 1866 and 1868, in France and Switzerland, and I refer to the observations made on those occasions as of special importance because no previous inundations in those countries had been so carefully watched and so well described by competent investigators. In the French Department of Lozere, which was among those most severely injured by the inundation of 1866--an inundation caused by diluvial rains, not by melted snow--it was everywhere remarked that "grounds covered with wood sustained no damage even on the steepest slopes, while in cleared and cultivated fields the very soil was washed away and the rocks laid bare by the pouring rain[86]."

The Italian journals of the day state that the province of Brescia and a part of that of Bergamo, which have heretofore been exposed to enormous injury, after every heavy rain, from floods of the four principal streams which traverse them, in a great degree escaped damage in the terrible inundation of October, 1872, and their immunity is ascribed to the forestal improvements executed by the former province, within ten or twelve years, in the Val Camonica and in the upper basins of the other rivers which drain that territory. Similar facts were noticed in the extraordinary floods of September and October, 1868, in the valley of the Upper Rhine, and Coaz makes the interesting observation that not even dense greensward was so efficient a protection to the earth as trees, because the water soaked through the sod and burst it up by hydrostatic pressure[87].

The importance of the mechanical resistance of the wood to the flow of water OVER THE SURFACE has, however, been exaggerated by some writers. Rain-water is generally absorbed by the forest-soil as fast as it falls, and it is only in extreme cases that it gathers itself into a superficial sheet or current overflowing the ground. There is, nevertheless, besides the absorbent power of the soil, a very considerable mechanical resistance to the transmission of water BENEATH the surface through and along the superior strata of the ground. This resistance is exerted by the roots, which both convey the water along their surface downwards, and oppose a closely wattled barrier to its descent along the slope of the permeable strata which have absorbed it[88]. Rivers fed by springs and shaded by woods are comparatively uniform in volume, in temperature, and in chemical composition[89]. Their banks are little abraded, nor are their courses much obstructed by fallen timber, or by earth and gravel washed down from the highlands. Their channels are subject only to slow and gradual changes, and they carry down to the lakes and the sea no accumulation of sand or silt to fill up their outlets, and, by raising their beds, to force them to spread over the low grounds near their mouth[90].

Causes of Inundations

The immediate cause of river inundations is the flow of superficial and subterranean waters into the beds of rivers faster than those channels can discharge them. The insufficiency of the channels is occasioned partly by their narrowness and partly by obstructions to their currents, the most frequent of which is the deposit of sand, gravel, and pebbles in their beds by torrential tributaries during the floods[91].

In accordance with the usual economy of nature, we should presume that she had everywhere provided the means of discharging, without disturbance of her general arrangements or abnormal destruction of her products, the precipitation which she sheds upon the face of the earth. Observation confirms this presumption, at least in the countries to which I confine my inquiries; for, so far as we know the primitive conditions of the regions brought under human occupation within the historical period, it appears that the overflow of river-banks was much less frequent and destructive than at the present day, or, at least, that rivers rose and fell less suddenly, before man had removed the natural checks to the too rapid drainage of the basins in which their tributaries originate. The affluents of rivers draining wooded basins generally transport, and of course let fall, little or no sediment, and hence in such regions the special obstruction to the currents of water-courses to which I have just alluded does not occur. The banks of the rivers and smaller streams in the North American colonies were formerly little abraded by the currents[92]. Even now the trees come down almost to the water's edge along the rivers, in the larger forests of the United States, and the surface of the streams seems liable to no great change in level or in rapidity of current[93].

Inundations in Winter

In the Northern United States, although inundations are not very unfrequently produced by heavy rains in the height of summer, it will be found generally true that the most rapid rise of the waters, and, of course, the most destructive "freshets," as they are called in America, are occasioned by the sudden dissolution of the snow before the open ground is thawed in the spring. It frequently happens that a powerful thaw sets in after a long period of frost, and the snow which had been months in accumulating is dissolved and carried off in a few hours. When the snow is deep, it, to use a popular expression, "takes the frost out of the ground" in the woods, and, if it lies long enough, in the fields also. But the heaviest snows usually fall after midwinter, and are succeeded by warm rains or sunshine, which dissolve the snow on the cleared land before it has had time to act upon the frost-bound soil beneath it. In this case, the snow in the woods is absorbed as fast as it melts, by the soil it has protected from freezing, and does not materially contribute to swell the current of the rivers. If the mild weather, in which great snow-storms usually occur, does not continue and become a regular thaw, it is almost sure to be followed by drifting winds, and the inequality with which they distribute the snow over the cleared ground leaves the ridges of the surface-soil comparatively bare, while the depressions are often filled with drifts to the height of many feet. The knolls become frozen to a great depth; succeeding partial thaws melt the surface-snow, and the water runs down into the furrows of ploughed fields, and other artificial and natural hollows, and then often freezes to solid ice. In this state of things, almost the entire surface of the cleared land is impervious to water, and from the absence of trees and the general smoothness of the ground, it offers little mechanical resistance to superficial currents. If, under these circumstances, warm weather accompanied by rain occurs, the rain and melted snow are swiftly hurried to the bottom of the valleys and gathered to raging torrents. It ought further to be considered that, though the lighter ploughed soils readily imbibe a great deal of water, yet grass-lands, and all the heavy and tenacious earths, absorb it in much smaller quantities, and less rapidly than the vegetable mould of the forest. Pasture, meadow, and clayey soils, taken together, greatly predominate over sandy ploughed fields, in all large agricultural districts, and hence, even if, in the case we are supposing, the open ground chance to have boon thawed before the melting of the snow which covers it, it is already saturated with moisture, or very soon becomes so, and, of course, cannot relieve the pressure by absorbing more water. The consequence is that the face of the country is suddenly flooded with a quantity of melted snow and rain equivalent to a fall of six or eight inches of the latter, or even more. This runs unobstructed to rivers often still-bound with thick ice, and thus inundations of a fearfully devastating character are produced. The ice bursts, from the hydrostatic pressure from below, or is violently torn up by the current, and is swept by the impetuous stream, in large masses and with resistless fury, against banks, bridges, dams, and mills erected near them. The bark of the trees along the rivers is often abraded, at a height of many feet above the ordinary water-level, by cakes of floating ice, which are at last stranded by the receding flood on meadow or ploughland, to delay, by their chilling influence, the advent of the tardy spring.

Another important effect of the removal of the forest shelter in cold climates may be noticed here. We have observed that the ground in the woods either does not freeze at all, or that if frozen it is thawed by the first considerable snow-fall. On the contrary, the open ground is usually frozen when the first spring freshet occurs, but is soon thawed by the warm rain and melting snow. Nothing more effectually disintegrates a cohesive soil than freezing and thawing, and the surface of earth which has just undergone those processes is more subject to erosion by running water than under any other circumstances. Hence more vegetable mould is washed away from cultivated grounds in such climates by the spring floods than by the heaviest rain at other seasons.

In the warm climates of Southern Europe, as I have already said, the functions of the forest, so far as the disposal of the water of precipitation is concerned, are essentially the same at all seasons, and are analogous to those which it performs in the Northern United States in summer. Hence, in the former countries, the winter floods have not the characteristics which mark them in the latter, nor is the conservative influence of the woods in winter relatively so important, though it is equally unquestionable.

If the summer floods in the United States are attended with less pecuniary damage than those of the Loire and other rivers of France, the Po and its tributaries in Italy, the Emme and her sister torrents which devastate the valleys of Switzerland, it is partly because the banks of American rivers are not yet lined with towns, their shores and the bottoms which skirt them not yet covered with improvements whose cost is counted by millions, and, consequently, a smaller amount of property is exposed to injury by inundation. But the comparative exemption of the American people from the terrible calamities which the overflow of rivers has brought on some of the fairest portions of the Old World, is, in a still greater degree, to be ascribed to the fact that, with all our thoughtless improvidence, we have not yet bared all the sources of our streams, not yet overthrown all the barriers which nature has erected to restrain her own destructive energies. Let us be wise in time, and profit by the errors of our older brethren!

The influence of the forest in preventing inundations has been very generally recognized, both as a theoretical inference and as a fact of observation; but the eminent engineer Belgrand and his commentator Valles have deduced an opposite result from various facts of experience and from scientific considerations. They contend that the superficial drainage is more regular from cleared than from wooded ground, and that clearing diminishes rather than augments the intensity of inundations. Neither of these conclusions appears to be warranted by their data or their reasoning, and they rest partly upon facts, which, truly interpreted, are not inconsistent with the received opinions on these subjects, partly upon assumptions which are contradicted by experience. Two of these latter are, first, that the fallen leaves in the forest constitute an impermeable covering of the soil over, not through, which the water of [[precipitation[|rains]] and of melting snows flows off, and secondly, that the roots of trees penetrate and choke up the fissures in the rocks, so as to impede the passage of water through channels which nature has provided for its descent to lower strata.

As to the first of those, we may appeal to familiar facts within the personal knowledge of every man acquainted with the operations of sylvan nature. Rain-water never, except in very trifling quantities, flows over the leaves in the woods in summer or autumn. Water runs over them only in the spring, in the rare cases when they have been pressed down smoothly and compactly by the weight of the snow--a state in which they remain only until they are dry, when shrinkage and the action of the wind soon roughen the surface so as effectually to stop, by absorption, all flow of water. I have observed that when a sudden frost succeeds a thaw at the close of the winter, after the snow has principally disappeared, the water in and between the layers of leaves sometimes freezes into a solid crust, which allows the flow of water over it. But this occurs only in depressions and on a very small scale; and the ice thus formed is so soon dissolved that no sensible effect is produced on the escape of water from the general surface.

As to the influence of roots upon drainage, we have seen that there is no doubt that they, independently of their action as absorbents, mechanically promote it. Not only does the water of the soil follow them downwards, but their swelling growth powerfully tends to enlarge, not to obstruct, the crevices of rock into which they enter; and as the fissures in rocks are longitudinal, not mere circular orifices, every line of additional width gained by the growth of roots within them increases the area of the crevice in proportion to its length. Consequently, the widening of a fissure to the extent of one inch might give an additional drainage equal to a square foot of open tubing.

The observations and reasonings of Belgrand and Valles, though their conclusions have not been accepted by many, are very important in one point of view. There writers insist much on the necessity of taking into account, in estimating the relations between precipitation and evaporation, the abstraction of water from the surface and surface-currents, by absorption and infiltration--an element unquestionably of great value, but hitherto much neglected by meteorological inquirers, who have very often reasoned as if the surface-earth were either impermeable to water or already saturated with it; whereas, in fact, it is a sponge, always imbibing humidity and always giving it off, not by evaporation only, but by infiltration and percolation.

The remarkable historical notices of inundations in France in the Middle Ages collected by Champion[94] are considered by many as furnishing proof, that when that country was much more generally covered with wood than it now is, destructive inundations of the French rivers were not less frequent than they are in modern days. But this evidence is subject to this among other objections: we know, it is true, that the forests of certain departments of France were anciently much more extensive than at the present day; but we know also that in many portions of that country the soil has been bared of its forests, and then, in consequence of the depopulation of great provinces, left to reclothe itself spontaneously with trees, many times during the historic period; and our acquaintance with the forest topography of ancient Gaul or of mediaeval France is neither sufficiently extensive nor sufficiently minute to permit us to say, with certainty, that the sources of this or that particular river were more or less sheltered by wood at any given time, ancient or mediaeval, than at present[95]. I say the sources of the rivers, because the floods of great rivers are occasioned by heavy rains and snows which fall in the more elevated regions around the primal springs, and not by precipitation in the main valleys or on the plains bordering on the lower course.

The destructive effects of inundations, considered simply as a mechanical power by which life is endangered, crops destroyed, and the artificial constructions of man overthrown, are very terrible. Thus far, however, the flood is a temporary and by no means an irreparable evil, for if its ravages end here, the prolific powers of nature and the industry of man soon restore what had been lost, and the face of the earth no longer shows traces of the deluge that had overwhelmed it. Inundations have even their compensations. The structures they destroy are replaced by better and more secure erections, and if they sweep off a crop of corn, they not unfrequently leave behind them, as they subside, a fertilizing deposit which enriches the exhausted field for a succession of seasons[96].

If, then, the too rapid flow of the surface-waters occasioned no other evil than to produce, once in ten years upon the average, an inundation which should destroy the harvest of the low grounds along the rivers, the damage would be too inconsiderable, and of too transitory a character, to warrant the inconveniences and the expense involved in the measures which the most competent judges in many parts of Europe believe the respective governments ought to take to obviate it.

Destructive Action of Torrents

But the great, the irreparable, the appalling mischiefs which have already resulted, and which threaten to ensue on a still more extensive scale hereafter, from too rapid superficial drainage, are of a properly geographical, we may almost say geological, character, and consist primarily in erosion, displacement, and transportation of the superficial strata, vegetable and mineral--of the integuments, so to speak, with which nature has clothed the skeleton frame-work of the globe. It is difficult to convey by description an idea of the desolation of the regions most exposed to the ravages of torrent and of flood; and the thousands who, in these days of swift travel, are whirled by steam near or even through the theatres of these calamities, have but rare and imperfect opportunities of observing the destructive causes in action. Still more rarely can they compare the past with the actual condition of the provinces in question, and trace the progress of their conversion from forest-crowned hills, luxuriant pasture grounds, and abundant cornfields and vineyards well watered by springs and fertilizing rivulets, to bald mountain ridges, rocky declivities, and steep earth-banks furrowed by deep ravines with beds now dry, now filled by torrents of fluid mud and gravel hurrying down to spread themselves over the plain, and dooming to everlasting barrenness the once productive fields. In surveying such scenes, it is difficult to resist the impression that nature pronounced a primal curse of perpetual sterility and desolation upon these sublime but fearful wastes, difficult to believe that they wore once, and but for the folly of man might still be, blessed with all the natural advantages which Providence has bestowed upon the most favored climes. But the historical evidence is conclusive as to the destructive changes occasioned by the agency of man upon the flanks of the Alps, the Apennines, the Pyrenees, and other mountain ranges in Central and Southern Europe, and the progress of physical deterioration has been so rapid that, in some localities, a single generation has witnessed the beginning and the end of the melancholy revolution.

I have stated, in a general way, the nature of the evils in question, and of the processes by which they are produced; but I shall make their precise character and magnitude better understood by presenting some descriptive and statistical details of facts of actual occurrence. I select for this purpose the south-eastern portion of France, not because that territory has suffered more severely than some others, but because its deterioration is comparatively recent, and has been watched and described by very competent and trustworthy observers, whose reports are more easily accessible than those published in other countries[97].

The provinces of Dauphiny and Provence comprise a territory of fourteen or fifteen thousand square miles, bounded north-west by the Isere, north-east and east by the Alps, south by the Mediterranean, west by the Rhone, and extending from 42 degrees to about 45 degrees of north latitude. The surface is generally hilly and even mountainous, and several of the peaks in Dauphiny rise above the limit of perpetual snow. Except upon the mountain ridges, the climate, as compared with that of the United States in the same latitude, is extremely mild. Little snow falls, except upon the higher mountains, the frosts are light, and the summers long, as might, indeed, be inferred from the vegetation; for in the cultivated districts, the vine and the fig everywhere flourish; the olive thrives as far north as 43 and one half degrees, and upon the coast grow the orange, the lemon, and the date-palm. The forest trees, too, are of southern type, umbrella pines, various species of evergreen oaks, and many other trees and shrubs of persistent broad-leaved foliage, characterizing the landscape.

The rapid slope of the mountains naturally exposed these provinces to damage by torrents, and the Romans diminished their injurious effects by erecting, in the beds of ravines, barriers of rocks loosely piled up, which permitted a slow escape of the water, but compelled it to deposit above the dikes the earth and gravel with which it was charged[98]. At a later period the Crusaders brought home from Palestine, with much other knowledge gathered from the wiser Moslems, the art of securing the hillsides and making them productive by terracing and irrigation. The forests which covered the mountains secured an abundant flow of springs, and the process of clearing the soil went on so slowly that, for centuries, neither the want of timber and fuel, nor the other evils about to be depicted, were seriously felt. Indeed, throughout the Middle Ages, these provinces were well wooded, and famous for the fertility and abundance, not only of the low grounds, but of the hills.

Such was the state of things at the close of the fifteenth century. The statistics of the seventeenth show that while there had been an increase of prosperity and population in Lower Provence, as well as in the correspondingly situated parts of the other two provinces I have mentioned, there was an alarming decrease both in the wealth and in the population of Upper Provence and Dauphiny, although, by the clearing of the forests, a great extent of plough-land and pasturage had been added to the soil before reduced to cultivation. It was found, in fact, that the augmented violence of the torrents had swept away, or buried in sand and gravel, more land than had been reclaimed by clearing; and the taxes computed by fires or habitations underwent several successive reductions in consequence of the gradual abandonment of the wasted soil by its starving occupants. The growth of the large towns on and near the Rhone and the coast, their advance in commerce and industry, and the consequently enlarged demand for agricultural products, ought naturally to have increased the rural population and the value of their lands; but the physical decay of the uplands was such that considerable tracts were deserted altogether, and in Upper Provence, the fires which, in 1471 counted 897, were reduced to 747 in 1699, to 728 in 1733, and to 635 in 1776[99].

Surell--whose admirable work, Etude sur les Torrents des Hautes Alpes, first published in 1841,[100] presents a most appalling picture of the desolations of the torrent, and, at the same time, the most careful studies of the history and essential character of this great evil--in speaking of the valley of Devoluy, on page 152, says: "Everything concurs to show that it was anciently wooded. In its peat-bogs are found buried trunks of trees, monuments of its former vegetation. In the framework of old houses, one sees enormous timber, which is no longer to be found in the district. Many localities, now completely bare, still retain the name of 'wood,' and one of them is called, in old deeds, Comba nigra [Black forest or dell], on account of its dense woods. These and many other proofs confirm the local traditions which are unanimous on this point.

"There, as everywhere in the Upper Alps, the clearings began on the flanks of the mountains, and were gradually extended into the valleys and then to the highest accessible peaks. Then followed the Revolution, and caused the destruction of the remainder of the trees which had thus far escaped the woodman's axe."

In a note to this passage the writer says: "Several persons have told me that they had lost flocks of sheep, by straying, in the forests of Mont Auroux, which covered the flanks of the mountain from La Cluse to Agneres. These declivities are now as bare as the palm of the hand."

The ground upon the steep mountains being once bared of trees, and the underwood killed by the grazing of horned cattle, sheep, and goats, every depression becomes a water-course. "Every storm," says Surell, page 153, "gives rise to a new torrent [101]. Examples of such are shown, which, though not yet three years old, have laid waste the finest fields of their valleys, and whole villages have narrowly escaped being swept into ravines formed in the course of a few hours. Sometimes the flood pours in a sheet over the surface, without ravine or even bed, and ruins extensive grounds, which are abandoned forever."

I cannot follow Surell in his description and classification of torrents, and I must refer the reader to his instructive work for a full exposition of the theory of the subject. In order, however, to show what a concentration of destructive energies may be effected by felling the woods that clothe and support the sides of mountain abysses, I cite his description of a valley descending from the Col Isoard, which he calls "a complete type of a basin of reception," that is, a gorge which serves as a common point of accumulation and discharge for the waters of several lateral torrents. "The aspect of the monstrous channel," says he, "is frightful. Within a distance of less than two English miles, more than sixty torrents hurl into the depths of the gorge the debris torn from its two flanks. The smallest of these secondary torrents, if transferred to a fertile valley, would be enough to ruin it."

The eminent political economist Blanqui, in a memoir read before the Academy of Moral and Political Science on the 25th of November, 1843, thus expresses himself: "Important as are the causes of impoverishment already described, they are not to be compared to the consequences which have followed from the two inveterate evils of the Alpine provinces of France, the extension of clearing and the ravages of torrents. ... The most important result of this destruction is this; that the agricultural capital, or rather the ground itself--which, in a rapidly increasing degree, is daily swept away by the waters--is totally lost. Signs of unparalleled destitution are visible in all the mountain zone, and the solitudes of those districts are assuming an indescribable character of sterility and desolation. The gradual destruction of the woods has, in a thousand localities, annihilated at once the springs and the fuel. Between Grenoble and Briancon, in the valley of the Romanche, many villages are so destitute of wood that they are reduced to the necessity of baking their bread with sun-dried cow-dung, and even this they can afford to do but once a year.

"Whoever has visited the valley of Barcelonette, those of Embrun, and of Verdun, and that Arabia Petraea of the department of the Upper Alps, called Devoluy, knows that there is no time to lose--that in fifty years from this date France will be separated from Savoy, as Egypt from Syria, by a desert[102]."

It deserves to be specially noticed that the district here referred to, though now among the most hopelessly waste in France, was very productive even down to so late a period as the commencement of the French Revolution. Arthur Young, writing in 1789, says: "About Barcelonette and in the highest parts of the mountains, the hill-pastures feed a million of sheep, besides large herds of other cattle;" and he adds: "With such a soil and in such a climate, we are not to suppose a country barren because it is mountainous. The valleys I have visited are, in general, beautiful[103]." He ascribes the same character to the provinces of Dauphiny, Provence, and Auvergne, and, though he visited, with the eye of an attentive and practised observer, many of the scenes since blasted with the wild desolation described by Blanqui, the Durance and a part of the course of the Loire are the only streams he mentions as inflicting serious injury by their floods. The ravages of the torrents had, indeed, as we have seen, commenced earlier in some other localities, but we are authorized to infer that they were, in Young's time, too limited in range, and relatively too insignificant, to require notice in a general view of the provinces where they have now ruined so large a proportion of the soil.

But I resume my citations

"I do not exaggerate," says Blanqui. "When I shall have finished my description and designated localities by their names, there will rise, I am sure, more than one voice from the spots themselves, to attest the rigorous exactness of this picture of their wretchedness. I have never seen its equal even in the Kabyle villages of the province of Constantine; for there you can travel on horseback, and you find grass in the spring, whereas in more than fifty communes in the Alps there is absolutely nothing.

"The clear, brilliant, Alpine sky of Embrun, of Gap, of Barcelonette, and of Digne, which for months is without a cloud, produces droughts interrupted only by diluvial rains like those of the tropics. The abuse of the right of pasturage and the felling of the woods have stripped the soil of all its grass and all its trees, and the scorching sun bakes it to the consistence of porphyry. When moistened by the rain, as it has neither support nor cohesion, it rolls down to the valleys, sometimes in floods resembling black, yellow, or reddish lava, sometimes in streams of pebbles, and over huge blocks of stone, which pour down with a frightful roar, and in their swift course exhibit the most convulsive movements. If you overlook from an eminence one of these landscapes furrowed with so many ravines, it presents only images of desolation and of death. Vast deposits of flinty pebbles, many feet in thickness, which have rolled down and spread far over the plain, surround large trees, bury even their tops, and rise above them, leaving to the husbandman no longer a ray of hope. One can imagine no sadder spectacle than the deep fissures in the flanks of the mountains, which seem to have burst forth in eruption to cover the plains with their ruins. Those gorges, under the influence of the sun which cracks and shivers to fragments the very rocks, and of the rain which sweeps them down, penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of the mountain, while the beds of the torrents issuing from them are sometimes raised several feet in a single year, by the debris, so that they reach the level of the bridges, which, of course, are then carried off. The torrent-beds are recognized at a great distance, as they issue from the mountains, and they spread themselves over the low grounds, in fan-shaped expansions, like a mantle of stone, sometimes ten thousand feet wide, rising high at the centre, and curving towards the circumference till their lower edges meet the plain.

"Such is their aspect in dry weather. But no tongue can give an adequate description of their devastations in one of those sudden floods winch resemble, in almost none of their phenomena, the action of ordinary river-water. They are now no longer overflowing brooks, but real seas, tumbling down in cataracts, and rolling before them blocks of stone, which are hurled forwards by the shock of the waves like balls shot out by the explosion of gunpowder. Sometimes ridges of pebbles are driven down when the transporting torrent does not rise high enough to show itself, and then the movement is accompanied with a roar louder than the crash of thunder. A furious wind precedes the rushing water and announces its approach. Then comes a violent eruption, followed by a flow of muddy waves, and after a few hours all returns to the dreary silence which at periods of rest marks these abodes of desolation[104].

"The elements of destruction are increasing in violence. The devastation advances in geometrical progression as the higher slopes are bared of their wood, and 'the ruin from above,' to use the words of a peasant, 'helps to hasten the desolation below.'

"The Alps of Provence present a terrible aspect. In the more equable climate of Northern France, one can form no conception of those parched mountain gorges where not even a bush can be found to shelter a bird, where, at most, the wanderer sees in summer here and there a withered lavender, where all the springs are dried up, and where a dead silence, hardly broken by even the hum of an insect, prevails. But if a storm bursts forth, masses of water suddenly shoot from the mountain heights into the shattered gulfs, waste without irrigating, deluge without refreshing the soil they overflow in their swift descent, and leave it even more seared than it was from want of moisture. Man at last retires from the fearful desert, and I have, the present season, found not a living soul in districts where I remember to have enjoyed hospitality thirty years ago."

In 1853, ten years after the date of Blanqui's memoir, M. de Bonville, prefect of the Lower Alps, addressed to the Government a report in which the following passages occur:

"It is certain that the productive mould of the Alps, swept off by the increasing violence of that curse of the mountains, the torrents, is daily diminishing with fearful rapidity. All our Alps are wholly, or in large proportion, bared of wood. Their soil, scorched by the sun of Provence, cut up by the hoofs of the sheep, which, not finding on the surface the grass they require for their sustenance, gnaw and scratch the ground in search of roots to satisfy their hunger, is periodically washed and carried off by melting snows and summer storms.

"I will not dwell on the effects of the torrents. For sixty years they have been too often depicted to require to be further discussed, but it is important to show that their ravages are daily extending the range of devastation. The bed of the Durance, which now in some places exceeds a mile and a quarter in width, and, at ordinary times, has a current of water less than eleven yards wide, shows something of the extent of the damage[105]." Where, ten years ago, there were still woods and cultivated grounds to be seen, there is now but a vast torrent; there is not one of our mountains which has not at least one torrent, and new ones are daily forming.

"An indirect proof of the diminution of the soil is to be found in the depopulation of the country. In 1852 I reported to the General Council that, according to the census of that year, the population of the department of the Lower Alps had fallen off no less than 5,000 souls in the five years between 1846 and 1851.

"Unless prompt and energetic measures are taken, it is easy to fix the epoch when the French Alps will be but a desert. The interval between 1851 and 1856 will show a further decrease of population. In 1862 the ministry will announce a continued and progressive reduction, in the number of acres devoted to agriculture; every year will aggravate the evil and in half a century France will count more ruins, and a department the less."

Time has verified the predictions of De Bonville. The later census returns show a progressive diminution in the population of the departments of the Lower Alps, the Isere, Drome, Ariege, the Upper and the Lower Pyrenees, Lozere, the Ardennes, Doubs, the Vosges, and, in short, in all the provinces formerly remarkable for their forests. This diminution is not to be ascribed to a passion for foreign emigration, as in Ireland, and in parts of Germany and of Italy; it is simply a transfer of population from one part of the empire to another, from soils which human folly has rendered uninhabitable, by ruthlessly depriving them of their natural advantages and securities, to provinces where the face of the earth was so formed by nature as to need no such safeguards, and where, consequently, she preserves her outlines in spite of the wasteful improvidence of man[106].

Floods of the Ardeche

The River Ardeche, in the French department of that name, has a perennial current in a considerable part of its course, and therefore is not, technically speaking, a torrent; but the peculiar character and violence of its floods is due to the action of the torrents which discharge themselves into it in its upper valley, and to the rapidity of the flow of the water of precipitation from the surface of a basin now almost bared of its once luxuriant woods[107]. A notice of these floods may therefore not inappropriately be introduced in this place.

The floods of the Ardeche and other mountain streams are attended with greater immediate danger to life and property than those of rivers of less rapid flow, because their currents are more impetuous, and they rise more suddenly and with less previous warning. At the same time, their ravages are confined within narrower limits, the waters retire sooner to their accustomed channel, and the danger is more quickly over, than in the case of inundations of larger rivers. The Ardeche drains a basin of 600,238 acres, or a little less than nine hundred and thirty-eight square miles. Its remotest source is about seventy-five miles, in a straight line, from its junction with the Rhone, and springs at an elevation of four thousand feet above that point. At the lowest stage of the river, the bed of the Chassezac, its largest and longest tributary, is in many places completely dry on the surface--the water being sufficient only to supply the subterranean channels of infiltration--and the Ardeche itself is almost everywhere fordable, even below the mouth of the Chassezac. But in floods, the river has sometimes risen more than sixty feet at the Pont d'Arc, a natural arch of two hundred feet chord, which spans the stream below its junction with all its important affluents. At the height of the inundation of 1857, the quantity of water passing this point--after deducting thirty per cent. for material transported with the current and for irregularity of flow--was estimated at 8,845 cubic yards to the second, and between twelve o'clock at noon on the 10th of September of that year and ten o'clock the next morning, the water discharged through the passage in question amounted to more than 450,000,000 cubic yards. This quantity, distributed equally through the basin of the river, would cover its entire area to a depth of more than five inches.

The Ardeche rises so suddenly that, in the inundation of 1846, the women who were washing in the bed of the river had not time to save their linen, and barely escaped with their lives, though they instantly fled upon hearing the roar of the approaching flood. Its waters and those of its affluents fall almost as rapidly, for in less than twenty-four hours after the rain has ceased in the Cevennes, where it rises, the Ardeche returns within its ordinary channel, even at its junction with the Rhone. In the flood of 1772, the water at La Beaume de Ruoms, on the Beaume, a tributary of the Ardeche, rose thirty-five feet above low water but the stream was again fordable on the evening of the same day. The inundation of 1827 was, in this respect, exceptional, for it continued three days, during which period the Ardeche poured into the Rhone 1,305,000,000 cubic yards of water.

The Nile delivers into the sea 101,000 cubic feet or 3,741 cubic yards per second, on an average of the whole year[108]. This is equal to 323,222,400 cubic yards per day. In a single day of flood, then, the Ardeche, a river too insignificant to be known except in the local topography of France, contributed to the Rhone once and a half, and for three consecutive days once and one third, as much as the average delivery of the Nile during the same periods, though the basin of the latter river probably contains 1,000,000 square miles of surface, or more than one thousand times as much as that of the former.

The average annual precipitation in the basin of the Ardeche is not greater titan in many other parts of Europe, but excessive quantities of rain frequently fall in that valley in the autumn. On the 9th. of October, 1827, there fell at Joyeuse, on the Beaume, no less than thirty-one inches between three o'clock in the morning and midnight. Such facts as this explain the extraordinary suddenness and violence of the floods of the Ardeche, and the basins of many other tributaries of the Rhone exhibit meteorological phenomena not less remarkable[109].

The Rhone, therefore, is naturally subject to great and sudden inundations, and the same remark may be applied to most of the principal rivers of France, because the geographical character of all of them is approximately the same.

The volume of water in the floods of most great rivers is determined by the degree in which the inundations of the different tributaries are coincident in time. Were all the affluents of the Lower Rhone to pour their highest annual floods into its channel at once--as the smaller tributaries of the Upper Rhone sometimes do--were a dozen Niles to empty themselves into its bed at the same moment, its water would rise to a height and rush with an impetus that would sweep into the Mediterranean the entire population of its banks, and all the works that man has erected upon the plains which border it. But such a coincidence can never happen. The tributaries of this river run in very different directions, and some of them are swollen principally by the melting of the snows about their sources, others almost exclusively by heavy rains. When a damp southeast wind blows up the valley of the Ardeche, its moisture is condensed, and precipitated in a deluge upon the mountains which embosom the headwaters of that stream, thus producing a flood, while a neighboring basin, the axis of which lies transversely or obliquely to that of the Ardeche, is not at all affected[110]. It is easy to see that the damage occasioned by such floods as I have described must be almost incalculable, and it is by no means confined to the effects produced by overflow and the mechanical force of the superficial currents. In treating of the devastations of torrents, I have hitherto confined myself principally to the erosion of surface and the transportation of mineral matter to lower grounds by them. The general action of torrents, as thus fur shown, tends to the ultimate elevation of their beds by the deposit of the earth, gravel, and stone conveyed by them; but until they have thus raised their outlets so as sensibly to diminish the inclination of their channels--and sometimes when extraordinary floods give the torrents momentum enough to sweep away the accumulations which they have themselves heaped up--the swift flow of their currents, aided by the abrasion of the rolling rocks and gravel, scoops their beds constantly deeper, and they consequently not only undermine their banks, but frequently sap the most solid foundations which the art of man can build for the support of bridges and hydraulic structures[111].

In the inundation of 1857, the Ardeche destroyed a stone bridge near La Beaume, which had been built about eighty years before. The resistance of the piers, which were erected on piles, the channel at that point being of gravel, produced an eddying current that washed away the bed of the river above them, and the foundation, thus deprived of lateral support, yielded to the weight of the bridge, and the piles and piers fell up-stream.

By a curious law of compensation, the stream which, at flood, scoops out cavities in its bed, often fills them up again as soon as the diminished velocity of the current allows it to let fall the sand and gravel with which it is charged, so that when the waters return to their usual channel, the bottom shows no sign of having been disturbed. In a flood of the Escontay, a tributary of the Rhone, in 1846, piles driven sixteen feet into its gravelly bed for the foundation of a pier were torn up and carried off, and yet, when the river had fallen to low-water mark, the bottom at that point appeared to have been raised higher than it was before the flood, by new deposits of sand and gravel, while the cut stones of the half-built pier were found buried to a great depth in the excavation which the water had first washed out. The gravel with which rivers thus restore the level of their beds is principally derived from the crushing of the rocks brought down by the mountain torrents, and the destructive effects of inundations are immensely diminished by this reduction of large stones to minute fragments. If the blocks hurled down from the cliffs were transported unbroken to the channels of large rivers, the mechanical force of their movement would be irresistible. They would overthrow the strongest barriers, spread themselves over a surface as wide as the flow of the waters, and convert the most smiling valleys into scenes of the wildest desolation.

As I have before remarked, I have taken my illustrations of the action of torrents and mountain streams principally from French authorities, because the facts recorded by them are chiefly of recent occurrence, and as they have been collected with much care and described with great fulness of detail, the information furnished by them is not only more trustworthy, but both more complete and more accessible than that which can be gathered from any other source. It is not to be supposed, however, that the countries adjacent to France have escaped the consequences of a like improvidence. The southern flanks of the Alps, and, in a less degree, the northern slope of these mountains and the whole chain of the Pyrenees, afford equally striking examples of the evils resulting from the wanton sacrifice of nature's safeguards. But I can afford space for few details, and as an illustration of the extent of these evils in Italy, I shall barely observe that it was calculated ten years ago that four-tenths of the area of the Ligurian provinces had been washed away or rendered incapable of cultivation in consequence of the felling of the woods[112].

Highly colored as these pictures seem, they are not exaggerated, although the hasty tourist through Southern France, Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Northern Italy, finding little in his high-road experiences to justify them, might suppose them so. The lines of communication by locomotive-train and diligence lead generally over safer ground, and it is only when they ascend the Alpine passes and traverse the mountain chains, that scenes somewhat resembling those just described fall under the eye of the ordinary traveller. But the extension of the sphere of devastation, by the degradation of the mountains and the transportation of their debris, is producing analogous effects upon the lower ridges of the Alps and the plains which skirt them; and even now one needs but an hour's departure from some great thoroughfares to reach sites where the genius of destruction revels as wildly as in the most frightful of the abysses which Blanqui has painted[113].

There is one effect of the action of torrents which few travellers on the Continent are heedless enough to pass without notice. I refer to the elevation of the beds of mountain streams in consequence of the deposit of the debris with which they are charged. To prevent the spread of sand and gravel over the fields and the deluging overflow of the raging waters, the streams are confined by walls and embankments, which are gradually built higher and higher as the bed of the torrent is raised, so that, to reach a river, you ascend from the fields beside it; and sometimes the ordinary level of the stream is above the streets and even the roofs of the towns through which it passes[114]. The traveller who visits the depths of an Alpine ravine, observes the length and width of the gorge and the great height and apparent solidity of the precipitous walls which bound it, and calculates the mass of rock required to fill the vacancy, can hardly believe that the humble brooklet which purls at his feet has been the principal agent in accomplishing this tremendous erosion. Closer observation will often teach him, that the seemingly unbroken rock which overhangs the valley is full of cracks and fissures, and really in such a state of disintegration that every frost must bring down tons of it. If he computes the area of the basin which finds here its only discharge, he will perceive that a sudden thaw of the winter's deposit of snow, or one of those terrible discharges of rain so common in the Alps, must send forth a deluge mighty enough to sweep down the largest masses of gravel and of rock. The simple measurement of the cubical contents of the semicircular hillock which he climbed before he entered the gorge, the structure and composition of which conclusively show that it must have been washed out of this latter by torrential action, will often account satisfactorily for the disposal of most of the matter which once filled the ravine. When a torrent escapes from the lateral confinement of its mountain walls and pours out of the gorge, it spreads and divides itself into numerous smaller streams which shoot out from the mouth of the ravine as from a centre, in different directions, like the ribs of a fan from the pivot, each carrying with it its quota of stones and gravel. The plain below the point of issue from the mountain is rapidly raised by newly-formed torrents, the elevation depending on the inclination of the bed and the form and weight of the matter transported. Every flood both increases the height of this central point and extends the entire circumference of the deposit. Other things being equal, the transporting power of the water is greatest where its flow is most rapid. This is usually in the direction of the axis of the ravine. The stream retaining most nearly this direction moves with the greatest momentum, and consequently transports the solid matter with which it is charged to the greatest distance.

The untravelled reader will comprehend this the better when he is informed that the southern slope of the Alps generally rises suddenly out of the plain, with no intervening hill to break the abruptness of the transition, except those consisting of comparatively small heaps of its own debris brought down by ancient glaciers or recent torrents. The torrents do not wind down valleys gradually widening to the rivers or the sea, but leap at once from the flanks of the mountains upon the plains below. This arrangement of surfaces naturally facilitates the formation of vast deposits at their points of emergence, and the centre of the accumulation in the case of very small torrents is not unfrequently a hundred feet high, and sometimes very much more.

The deposits of the torrent which has scooped out the Nantzen Thal, a couple of miles below Brieg in the Valais, have built up a semicircular hillock, which most travellers by the Simplon route pass over without even noticing it, though it is little inferior in dimensions to the great cones of dejection described by Blanqui. The principal course of the torrent having been--I know not whether spontaneously or artificially--diverted towards the west, the eastern part of the hill has been gradually brought under cultivation, and there are many trees, fields, and houses upon it; but the larger western part is furrowed with channels diverging from the summit of the deposit at the outlet of the Nantzen Thal, which serve as the beds of the water-courses into which the torrent has divided itself. All this portion of the hillock is subject to inundation after long and heavy rain, and as I saw it in the great flood of October, 1866, almost its whole surface seemed covered with an unbrokun sheet of rushing water.

The semi-conical deposit of detritus at the mouth of the Litznerthal, a lateral branch of the valley of the Adige, at the point where the torrent pours out of the gorge, is a thousand feet high and, measuring along the axis of the principal current, two and a half miles long[115]. The solid material of this hillock--which it is hardly an exaggeration to call a mountain, the work of a single insignificant torrent and its tributaries--including what the river which washes its base has carried off in a comparatively few years, probably surpasses the mass of the stupendous pyramid of the Matterhorn. In valleys of ancient geological formation, which extend into the very heart of the mountains, the streams, though rapid, have often lost the true torrential character, if, indeed, they ever possessed it. Their beds have become approximately constant, and their walls no longer crumble and fall into the waters that wash their bases. The torrent-worn ravines, of which I have spoken, are of later date, and belong more properly to what may be called the crust of the Alps, consisting of loose rocks, of gravel, and of earth, strewed along the surface of the great declivities of the central ridge, and accumulated thickly between their solid buttresses. But it is on this crust that the mountaineer dwells. Here are his forests, here his pastures, and the ravages of the torrent both destroy his world, and convert it into a source of overwhelming desolation to the plains below.

I do not mean to assert that all the rocky valleys of the Alps have been produced by the action of torrents resulting from the destruction of the forests. The greater, and many of the smaller channels, by which that chain is drained, owe their origin to higher causes. They are primitive fissures, ascribable to disruption in upheaval or other geological convulsion, widened and scarped, and often even polished, so to speak, by the action of glaciers during the ice period, and but little changed in form by running water in later eras.

It has been contended that all rivers which take their rise in mountains originated in torrents. These, it is said, have lowered the summits by gradual erosion, and, with the material thus derived, have formed shoals in the sea which once beat against the cliffs; then, by successive deposits, gradually raised them above the surface, and finally expanded them into broad plains traversed by gently flowing streams. If we could get back to earlier geological periods, we should find this theory often verified, and we cannot fail to see that the torrents go on at the present hour, depressing still lower the ridges of the Alps and the Apennines, raising still higher the plains of Lombardy and Provence, extending the coast still farther into the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, reducing the inclination of their own beds and the rapidity of their flow, and thus tending to become river-like in character.

We cannot measure the share which human action has had in augmenting the intensity of causes of mountain degradation, and of the formation of plains and marshes below, but we know that the clearing of the woods has, in some cases, produced, within two or three generations, effects as blasting as those generally ascribed to geological convulsions, and has laid waste the face of the earth more hopelessly than if it had been buried by a current of lava or a shower of volcanic sand. New torrents are forming every year in the Alps. Tradition, written records, and analogy concur to establish the belief that the ruin of most of the now desolate valleys in those mountains is to be ascribed to the same cause, and authentic descriptions of the irresistible force of the torrent show that, aided by frost and heat, it is adequate to level Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa themselves, unless new upheavals shall maintain their elevation.

There are cases where torrents cease their ravages of themselves, in consequence of some change in the condition of the basin where they originate, or of the face of the mountain at a higher level, while the plain or the sea below remains in substantially the same state as before. If a torrent rises in a small valley containing no great amount of earth and of disintegrated or loose rock, it may, in the course of a certain period, wash out all the transportable material, and if the valley is then left with solid walls, it will cease to furnish debris to be carried down by floods. If, in this state of things, a new channel be formed at an elevation above the head of the valley, it may divert a part or even the whole of the rain-water and melted snow which would otherwise have flowed into it, and the once furious torrent now sinks to the rank of a humble and harmless brooklet. "In traversing this department," says Suroll, "one often sees, at the outlet of a gorge, a flattened hillock, with a fan-shaped outline and regular slopes; it is the bed of dejection of an ancient torrent. It sometimes requires long and careful study to detect the primitive form, masked as it is by groves of trees, by cultivated fields, and often by houses, but, when examined closely, and from different points of view, its characteristic figure manifestly appears, and its true history cannot be mistaken. Along the hillock flows a streamlet, issuing from the ravine, and quietly watering the fields. This was originally a torrent, and in the background may be discovered its mountain basin. Such EXTINGUISHED torrents, if I may use the expression, are numerous[116]."

But for the intervention of man and domestic animals, these latter beneficent revolutions would occur more frequently, proceed more rapidly. The new scarped mountains, the hillocks of debris, the plains elevated by sand and gravel spread over them, the shores freshly formed by fluviatile deposits, would clothe themselves with shrubs and trees, the intensity of the causes of degradation would be diminished, and nature would thus regain her ancient equilibrium. But these processes, under ordinary circumstances, demand, not years, generations, but centuries[117]; and man, who even now finds scarce breathing-room on this vast globe, cannot retire from the Old World to some yet undiscovered continent, and wait for the slow action of such causes to replace, by a new creation, the Eden he has wasted.

Crushing Force of Torrents

I must here notice a mechanical effect of the rapid flow of the torrent, which is of much importance in relation to the desolating action it exercises by covering large tracts of cultivated ground with infertile material. The torrent, as we have seen, shoots or rolls forwards, with great velocity, masses and fragments of rock, and sometimes rounded pebbles from more ancient formations. Every inch of this violent movement is accompanied with crushing concussion, or, at least, with great abrasion of the mineral material, and, as you follow it along the course of the waters which transport it, you find the stones gradually rounding off in form, and diminishing in size, until they pass successively into gravel, and, in the beds of the rivers to which the torrents convey it, sand, and lastly impalpable slime.

There are few operations of nature where the effect seems more disproportioned to the cause than in the crushing and comminution of rock in the channel of swift waters. Igneous rocks are generally so hard as to be wrought with great difficulty, and they bear the weight of enormous superstructures without yielding to the pressure; but to the torrent they are as wheat to the millstone. The streams which pour down the southern scarp of the Mediterranean Alps along the Riviera di Ponente, near Genoa, have short courses, and a brisk walk of a couple of hours or even less takes you from the sea-beach to the headspring of many of them. In their heaviest floods, they bring rounded masses of serpentine quite down to the sea, but at ordinary high water their lower course is charged only with finely divided particles of that rock. Hence, while, near their sources, their channels are filled with pebbles and angular fragments, intermixed with a little gravel, the proportions are reversed near their months, and, just above the points where their outlets are partially choked by the rolling shingle of the beach, their beds are composed of sand and gravel to the almost total exclusion of pebbles.

Guglielmini argued that the gravel and sand of the beds of running streams were derived from the trituration of rocks by the action of the currents, and inferred that this action was generally sufficient to reduce hard rock to sand in its passage from the source to the outlet of rivers. Frisi controverted this opinion, and maintained that river-sand was of more ancient origin, and he inferred from experiments in artificially grinding stones that the concussion, friction, and attrition of rock in the channel of running waters were inadequate to its comminution, though he admitted that these same causes might reduce silicious sand to a fine powder capable of transportation to the sea by the currents[118]. Frisi's experiments were tried upon rounded and polished river-pebbles, and prove nothing with regard to the action of torrents upon the irregular, more or less weathered, and often cracked and shattered rocks which lie loose in the ground at the head of mountain valleys. The fury of the waters and of the wind which accompanies them in the floods of the French Alpine torrents is such, that large blocks of stone are hurled out of the bed of the stream to the height of twelve or thirteen feet[119]. The impulse of masses driven with such force overthrows the most solid masonry, and their concussion cannot fail to be attended with the crushing of the rocks themselves.

The greatest depth of the basin of the Ardeche is seventy-five miles, but most of its tributaries have a much shorter course. "These affluents," says Mardigny, "hurl into the bed of the Ardeche enormous blocks of rock, which this river, in its turn bears onwards, and grinds down, at high water, so that its current rolls only gravel at its confluence with the Rhone[120]." Duponchel makes the following remarkable statement: "The river Herault rises in a granitic region, but soon reaches calcareous formations, which it traverses for more than sixty kilometres, rolling through deep and precipitous ravines, into which the torrents are constantly discharging enormous masses of pebbles belonging to the hardest rocks of the Jurassian period. These debris, continually renewed, compose, even below the exit of the gorge where the river enters into a regular channel cut in a tertiary deposit, broad beaches, prodigious accumulations of rolled pebbles, extending several kilometres down the stream, but they diminish in size and weight so rapidly that above the mouth of the river, which is at a distance of thirty or thirty-five kilometres from the gorge, every trace of calcareous matter has disappeared from the sands of the bottom, which are exclusively silicious[121]."

Similar effects of the rapid flow of water and the concussion of stones against each other in river-beds may be observed in almost every Alpine gorge which serves as the channel of a swift stream. The tremendous cleft through which the well-known Via Mala is carried receives, every year, from its own crumbling walls and from the Hinter Rhein and its mild tributaries, enormous quantities of rock, in blocks and boulders. In fact, the masses hurled into it in a single flood like those of 1868 would probably fill it up, at its narrow points, to the level of the road 400 feet above its bottom, were not the stones crushed and carried off by the force of the current. Yet below the outlet at Thusis only small rounded boulders, pebbles, and gravel, not rock, are found in the bed of the river. The Swiss glaciers bring down thousands of cubic yards of hard rock every season. Where the glacier ends in a plain or wide valley, the rocks are accumulated in a terminal moraine, but in numerous instances the water which pours from the ice-river has forces enough to carry down to larger streams the masses delivered by the glacier, and there they, with other stones washed out from the earth by the current, are ground down, so that few of the affluents of the Swiss lakes deliver into them anything but fine sand and slime. Great rivers carry no boulders to the sea, and, in fact, receive none from their tributaries. Lombardini found, twenty years ago, that the mineral matter brought down to the Po by its tributaries was, in general, comminuted to about the same degree of fineness as the sands of its bed at their points of discharge. In the case of the Trebbia, which rises high in the Apennines and empties into the Po at Piacenza, it was otherwise, that river rolling pebbles and coarse gravel into the channel of the principal stream. The banks of the other affluents--excepting some of those which discharge their waters into the great lakes--then either retained their woods, or had been so long clear of them that the torrents had removed most of the disintegrated and loose rock in their upper basins. The valley of the Trebbia had been recently cleared, and all the forces which tend to the degradation and transportation of rock were in full activity[122].

Transporting Power of Water

But the geographical effects of the action of torrents are not confined to erosion of earth and comminution of rock; for they and the rivers to which they contribute transport the debris of the mountains to lower levels and spread them out over the dry land and the bed of the sea, thus forming alluvial deposits, sometimes of a beneficial, sometimes of an injurious, character, and of vast extent[123].

A mountain rivulet swollen by rain or melted snow, when it escapes from its usual channel and floods the adjacent fields, naturally deposits pebbles and gravel upon them; but even at low water, if its course is long enough for its grinding action to have full scope, it transports the solid material with which it is charged to some larger stream, and there lets it fall in a state of minute division, and at last the spoil of the mountain is used to raise the level of the plains or carried down to the sea.

An instance that fell under my own observation, in 1857, will serve to show something of the eroding and transporting power of streams which, in these respects, fall incalculably below the torrents of the Alps. In a flood of the Ottaquechee, a small river which flows through Woodstock, Vermont, a mill-dam on that stream burst, and the sediment with which the pond was filled, estimated after careful measurement at 13,000 cubic yards, was carried down by the current. Between this dam and the slackwater of another, four miles below, the bed of the stream, which is composed of pebbles interspersed in a few places with larger stones, is about sixty-five feet wide, though, at low water, the breadth of the current is considerably less. The sand and fine gravel were smoothly and evenly distributed over the bed to a width of fifty-five or sixty feet, and, for a distance of about two miles, except at two or three intervening rapids, filled up all the interstices between the stones, covering them to the depth of nine or ten inches, so as to present a regularly formed concave channel, lined with sand, and reducing the depth of water, in some places, from five or six feet to fifteen or eighteen inches. Observing this deposit after the river had subsided and become so clear that the bottom could be seen, I supposed that the next flood would produce an extraordinary erosion of the banks and some permanent changes in the channel of the stream, in consequence of the elevation of the bed and the filling up of the spaces between the stones through which formerly much water had flowed; but no such result followed. The spring freshet of the next year entirely washed out the sand its predecessor had left, deposited some of it in ponds and still-water reaches below, carried the residue beyond the reach of observation, and left the bed of the river almost precisely in its former condition, though, of course, with the displacement of the pebbles which every flood produces in the channels of such streams. The pond, though often previously discharged by the breakage of the dam, had then been undisturbed for about twenty-five years, and its contents consisted almost entirely of sand, the rapidity of the current in floods being such that it would let fall little lighter sediment, even above an obstruction like a dam. The quantity I have mentioned evidently bears a very inconsiderable proportion to the total erosion of the stream during that period, because the wash of the banks consists chiefly of fine earth rather than of sand, and after the pond was once filled, or nearly so, even this material could no longer be deposited in it. The fact of the complete removal of the deposit I have described between the two dams in a single freshet, shows that, in spite of considerable obstruction from roughness of bed, large quantities of sand may be taken up and carried off by streams of no great rapidity of inclination; for the whole descent of the bed of the river between the two dams--a distance of four miles--is but sixty feet, or fifteen feet to the mile[124]. The facts which I have adduced may aid us in forming an idea of the origin and mode of transportation of the prodigious deposits at the mouth of great rivers like the Mississippi, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Hoang-Ho, the delta of which last river, composed entirely of river sediment, has a superficial extent of not less than 96,500 square miles. But we shall obtain a clearer conception of the character of this important geographical process by measuring, more in detail, the mass of earth and rock which a well--known river and its tributaries have washed from the mountains and transported to the plains or the sea, within the historic period.

The Po and its Deposits

The current of the River Po, for a considerable distance after its volume of water is otherwise sufficient for continuous navigation, is too rapid for that purpose until near Cremona, where its velocity becomes too much reduced to transport great quantities of mineral matter, except in a state of minute division. Its southern affluents bring down from the Apennines a large quantity of fine earth from various geological formations, while its Alpine tributaries west of the Ticino are charged chiefly with rock ground down to sand or gravel. The bed of the river has been somewhat elevated by the deposits in its channel, though not by any means above the level of the adjacent plains as has been so often represented. The dikes, which confine the current at high water, at the same time augment its velocity and compel it to carry most of its sediment to the Adriatic. It has, therefore, raised neither its own channel nor its alluvial shores, as it would have done if it had remained unconfined. But, as the surface of the water in floods is above the general level of the plains through which it flows, the Po can, at that period, receive no contributions of earth from the washing of the fields of Lombardy, and there is no doubt that a large proportion of the sediment it now deposits at its mouth descended from the Alps in the form of rock, though reduced by the grinding action of the waters, in its passage seaward, to the condition of fine sand, and often of silt.

We know little of the history of the Po, or of the geography of the coast near the point where it enters the Adriatic, at any period more than twenty centuries before our own. Still less can we say how much of the plains of Lombardy had been formed by its action, combined with other causes, before man accelerated its levelling operations by felling the first woods on the mountains whence its waters are derived. But we know that since the Roman conquest of Northern Italy, its deposits have amounted to a quantity which, if recemented into rock, recombined into gravel, common earth, and vegetable mould, and restored to the situations where eruption or upheaval originally placed or vegetation deposited it, would fill up hundreds of deep ravines in the Alps and Apennines, change the plan and profile of their chains, and give their southern and northern faces respectively a geographical aspect very different from that they now present. Ravenna, forty miles south of the principal mouth of the Po, was built like Venice, in a lagoon, and the Adriatic still washed its walls at the commencement of the Christian era. The mud of the Po has filled up the lagoon, and Ravenna is now four miles from the sea. The town of Adria, which lies between the Po and the Adige, at the distance of some four or five miles from each, was once a harbor famous enough to have given its name to the Adriatic Sea, and it was still accessible to large vessels, if not by the open sea at least by lagoons, in the time of Augustus. The combined action of the two rivers has so advanced the coast-line that Adria is now more than fourteen miles inland, and, in other places, the deposits made within the same period by these and other neighboring streams have a width of twenty miles.

What proportion of the earth with which they are charged these rivers have borne out into deep water, during the last two thousand years, we do not know, but as they still transport enormous quantities, as the North Adriatic appears to have shoaled rapidly, and as long islands, composed in great part of fluviatile deposits, have formed opposite their mouths, it must evidently have been very great. The floods of the Po occur but once, or sometimes twice, in a year[125].

At other times, its waters are comparatively limpid and seem to hold no great amount of mud or fine sand in mechanical suspension; but at high water it contains a large proportion of solid matter, and, according to Lombardini, it annually transports to the shores of the Adriatic not less than 42,760,000 cubic metres, or very nearly 55,000,000 cubic yards, which carries the coast-line out into the sea at the rate of more than 200 feet in a year[126]. The depth of the annual deposit is stated at eighteen centimetres, or rather more than seven inch[es, and it would cover an area of not much less than ninety square miles with a layer of that thickness. The Adige, also, brings every year to the Adriatic many million cubic yards of Alpine detritus, and the contributions of the Brenta from the same source are far from inconsiderable. The Adriatic, however, receives but a small proportion of the soil and rock washed away from the Italian slope of the Alps and the northern declivity of the Apennines by torrents. Nearly the whole of the debris thus removed from the southern face of the Alps between Monte Rosa and the sources of the Adda--a length of watershed[127] not less than one hundred and fifty miles--is arrested by the still waters of the Lakes Maggiore and Como, and some smaller lacustrine reservoirs, and never reaches the sea. The Po is not continuously embanked except for the lower half of its course. Above Cremona, therefore, it spreads and deposits sediment over a wide surface, and the water withdrawn from it for irrigation at lower points, as well as its inundations in the occasional ruptures of its banks, carry over the adjacent soil a large amount of slime[128]. If to the estimated annual deposits of the Po at its mouth, we add the earth and sand transported to the sea by the Adige, the Brenta, and other less important streams, the prodigious mass of detritus swept into Lago Maggioro by the Tosa, the Maggia, and the Ticino, into the lake of Como by the Maira and the Adda, into the lakes of Garda, Lugano, Iseo, and Idro, by their affluents[129], and the yet vaster heaps of pebbles, gravel, and earth permanently deposited by the torrents near their points of eruption from mountain gorges, or spread over the wide plains at lower levels, we may safely assume that we have an aggregate of not less than ten times the quantity carried to the Adriatic by the Po, or 550,000,000 cubic yards of solid matter, abstracted every year from the Italian Alps and the Apennines, and removed out of their domain by the force of running water[130]. The present rate of deposit at the mouth of the Po has continued since the year 1600, the previous advance of the coast, after the year 1200, having been only one-third as rapid. The great increase of erosion and transport is ascribed by Lombardini chiefly to the destruction of the forests in the basin of that river and the valleys of its tributaries, since the beginning of the seventeenth century[131]. We have no data to show the rate of deposit in any given century before the year 1200, and it doubtless varied according to the progress of population and the consequent extension of clearing and cultivation. The transporting power of torrents is greatest soon after their formation, because at that time their points of delivery are lower, and, of course, their general slope and velocity more rapid, than after years of erosion above, and deposit below, have depressed the beds of their mountain valleys, and elevated the channels of their lower course. Their eroding action also is most powerful at the same period, both because their mechanical force is then greatest, and because the loose earth and stones of freshly cleared forest-ground are most easily removed. Many of the Alpine valleys west of the Ticino--that of the Dora Baltea, for instance--were nearly stripped of their forests in the days of the Roman Empire, others in the Middle Ages, and, of course, there must have been, at different periods before the year 1200, epochs when the erosion and transportation of solid matter from the Alps and the Apennines were at least as great as since the year 1600.

Upon the whole, we shall not greatly err if we assume that, for a period of not less than two thousand years, the walls of the basin of the Po--the Italian slope of the Alps, and the northern and north-eastern declivities of the Apennines--have annually sent down into the lakes, the plains, and the Adriatic, not less than 375,000,000 cubic yards of earth and disintegrated rock. We have, then, an aggregate of 750,000,000,000 cubic yards of such material, which, allowing to the mountain surface in question an area of 50,000,000,000 square yards, would cover the whole to the depth of fifteen yards[132]. There are very large portions of this area, where, as we know from ancient remains--roads, bridges, and the like--from other direct testimony, and from geological considerations, very little degradation has taken place within twenty centuries, and hence the quantity to be assigned to localities where the destructive causes have been most active is increased in proportion.

If this vast mass of pulverized rock and earth were restored to the localities from which it was derived, it certainly would not obliterate valleys and gorges hollowed out by great geological causes, but it would reduce the length and diminish the depth of ravines of later formation, modify the inclination of their walls, reclothe with earth many bare mountain ridges, essentially change the line of junction between plain and mountain, and carry back a long reach of the Adriatic coast many miles to the west[133].

It is, indeed, not to be supposed that all the degradation of the mountains is due to the destruction of the forests--that the flanks of every Alpine valley in Central Europe below the snow-line were once covered with earth and green with woods, but there are not many particular cases in which we can, with certainty, or even with strong probability, affirm the contrary.

Mountain Slides

Terrible as are the ravages of the torrent and the river-flood, the destruction of the woods exposes human life and industry to calamities even more appalling than those which I have yet described. The slide in the Notch of the White Mountains, by which the Willey family lost their lives, is an instance of the sort I refer to, though I am not able to say that in this particular case the slip of the earth and rock was produced by the denudation of the surface. It may have been occasioned by this cause, or by the construction of the road through the Notch, the excavations for which, perhaps, cut through the natural buttresses that supported the sloping strata above.

Not to speak of the fall of earth when the roots which held it together, and the bed of leaves and mould which sheltered it both from disintegrating frost and from sudden drenching and dissolution by heavy showers, are gone, it is easy to see that, in a climate with severe winters, the removal of the forest, and, consequently, of the soil it had contributed to form, might cause the displacement and descent of great masses of rock. The woods, the vegetable mould, and the soil beneath, protect the rocks they cover from the direct action of heat and cold, and from the expansion and contraction which accompany them. Most rocks, while covered with earth, contain a considerable quantity of water[134].

A fragment of rock pervaded with moisture cracks and splits, if thrown into a furnace, and sometimes with a loud detonation; and it is a familiar observation that the fire, in burning over newly cleared lands, breaks up and sometimes almost pulverizes the stones. This effect is due partly to the unequal expansion of the stone, partly to the action of heat on the water it contains in its pores. The sea, suddenly let in upon rock which had been covered with moist earth for centuries, produces more or less disintegration in the same way, and the stone is also exposed to chemical influences from which it was sheltered before. But in the climate of the United States as well as of the Alps, frost is a still more powerful agent in breaking up mountain masses. The soil that protects the lime and sandstone, the slate and the granite from the influence of the sun, also prevents the water which filters into their crevices and between their strata from freezing in the hardest winters, and the moisture descends, in a liquid form, until it escapes in springs, or passes off by deep subterranean channels. But when the ridges are laid bare, the water of the autumnal rains fills the minutest pores and veins and fissures and lines of separation of the rocks, then suddenly freezes, and bursts asunder huge, and apparently solid blocks of adamantine stone[135].

Where the strata are inclined at a considerable angle, the freezing of a thin film of water over a large interstratal area might occasion a slide that should cover miles with its ruins; and similar results might be produced by the simple hydrostatic pressure of a column of water, admitted, by the removal of the covering of earth, to flow into a crevice faster than it could escape through orifices below. Earth or rather mountain slides, compared to which the catastrophe that buried the Willey family in New Hampshire was but a pinch of dust, have often occurred in the Swiss, Italian, and French Alps. The land-slip, which overwhelmed, and covered to the depth of seventy feet, the town of Plurs in the valley of the Maira, on the night of the 4th of September, 1618, sparing not a soul of a population of 2,430 inhabitants, is one of the most memorable of these catastrophes, and the fall of the Rossberg or Rufiberg, which destroyed the little town of Goldan in Switzerland, and 450 of its people, on the 2d of September, 1806, is almost equally celebrated. In 1771, according to Wessely, the mountain-peak Piz, near Alleghe in the province of Belluno, slipped into the bed of the Cordevole, a tributary of the Piave, destroying in its fall three hamlets and sixty lives. The rubbish filled the valley for a distance of nearly two miles, and, by damming up the waters of the Cordevole, formed a lake about three miles long, and a hundred and fifty feet deep, which still subsists, though reduced to half its original length by the wearing down of its outlet[136].

The important provincial town of Veleia, near Piacenza, where many interesting antiquities have been discovered within a few years, was buried by a vast land-slip, probably about the time of Probus, but no historical record of the event has survived to us.

On the 14th of February, 1855, the hill of Belmonte, a little below the parish of San Stefano, in Tuscany, slid into the valley of the Tiber, which consequently flooded the village to the depth of fifty feet, and was finally drained off by a tunnel. The mass of debris is stated to have been about 3,500 feet long, 1,000 wide, and not less than 600 high[137].

Occurrences of this sort have been so numerous in the Alps and Apennines, that almost every Italian mountain commune has its tradition, its record, or its still visible traces of a great land-slip within its own limits. The old chroniclers contain frequent notices of such calamities, and Giovanni Villani even records the destruction of fifty houses and the loss of many lives by a slide of what seems to have been a spur of the hill of San Giorgio in the city of Florence, in the year 1284[138].

Such displacements of earth and rocky strata rise to the magnitude of geological convulsions, but they are of so rare occurrence in countries still covered by the primitive forest, so common where the mountains have been stripped of their native covering, and, in many cases, so easily explicable by the drenching of incohesive earth from rain, or the free admission of water between the strata of rocks--both of which a coating of vegetation would have prevented--that we are justified in ascribing them for the most part to the same cause as that to which the destructive effects of mountain torrents are chiefly due--the felling of the woods[139].

In nearly every case of this sort the circumstances of which are known--except the rare instances attributable to earthquakes--the immediate cause of the slip has been the imbibition of water in large quantities by bare earth, or its introduction between or beneath solid strata. If water insinuates itself between the strata, it creates a sliding surface, or it may, by its expansion in freezing, separate beds of rock, which had been nearly continuous before, widely enough to allow the gravitation of the superincumbent mass to overcome the resistance afforded by inequalities of face and by friction; if it finds its way beneath hard earth or rock reposing on clay or other bedding of similar properties, it converts the supporting layer into a semi-fluid mud, which opposes no obstacle to the sliding of the strata above.

The upper part of the mountain which buried Goldau was composed of a hard but brittle conglomerate, called nagelflue, resting on unctuous clay, and inclining rapidly towards the village. Much earth remained upon the rock, in irregular masses, but the woods had been felled, and the water had free access to the surface, and to the crevices which sun and frost had already produced in the rock, and, of course, to the slimy stratum beneath. The whole summer of 1806 had been very wet, and an almost incessant deluge of rain had fallen the day preceding the catastrophe, as well as on that of its occurrence. All conditions, then, were favorable to the sliding of the rock, and, in obedience to the laws of gravitation, it precipitated itself into the valley as soon as its adhesion to the earth beneath it was destroyed by the conversion of the latter into a viscous paste. The mass that fell measured between two and a half and three miles in length by one thousand feet in width, and its average thickness is thought to have been about a hundred feet. The highest portion of the mountain was more than three thousand feet above the village, and the momentum acquired by the rocks and earth in their descent carried huge blocks of stone far up the opposite slope of the Rigi.

The Piz, which fell into the Cordevole, rested on a steeply inclined stratum of limestone, with a thin layer of calcareous marl intervening, which, by long exposure to frost and the infiltration of water, had lost its original consistence, and become a loose and slippery mass instead of a cohesive and tenacious bed.

Protection against Avalanches

In Switzerland and other snowy and mountainous countries, forests render a most important service by preventing the formation and fall of destructive avalanches, and in many parts of the Alps exposed to this catastrophe, the woods are protected, though too often ineffectually, by law. No forest, indeed, could arrest a large avalanche once in full motion, but the mechanical resistance afforded by the trees prevents their formation, both by obstructing the wind, which gives to the dry snow of the Staub-Lawine, or dust-avalanche, its first impulse, and by checking the disposition of moist snow to gather itself into what is called the Rutsch-Lawine, or sliding avalanche. Marchand states that, the very first winter after the felling of the trees on the higher part of a declivity between Sannen and Gsteig where the snow had never been known to slide, an avalanche formed itself in the clearing, thundered down the mountain, and overthrew and carried with it a hitherto unviolated forest to the amount of nearly a million cubic feet of timber[140]. Elisee Reclus informs us in his remarkable work, La Terre, vol. i., p. 212, that a mountain, which rises to the south of the Pyrenaean village Araguanet in the upper valley of the Neste, having been partially stripped of its woods, a formidable avalanche rushed down from a plateau above in 1846, and swept off more than 15,000 pine-trees. The path once opened down the flanks of the mountain, the evil is almost beyond remedy. The snow sometimes carries off the earth from the face of the rock, or, if the soil is left, fresh slides every winter destroy the young plantations, and the restoration of the wood becomes impossible. The track widens with every new avalanche. Dwellings and their occupants are buried in the snow, or swept away by the rushing mass, or by the furious blasts it occasions through the displacement of the air; roads and bridges are destroyed; rivers blocked up, which swell till they overflow the valley above, and then, bursting their snowy barrier, flood the fields below with all the horrors of a winter inundation[141].

Minor Uses of the Forest

Besides the important conservative influences of the forest and its value as the source of supply of a material indispensable to all the arts and industries of human life, it renders other services of a less obvious and less generally recognized character.

Woods often subserve a valuable purpose in preventing the fall of rocks, by mere mechanical resistance. Trees, as well as herbaceous vegetation, grow in the Alps upon declivities of surprising steepness of inclination, and the traveller sees both luxuriant grass and flourishing woods on slopes at which the soil, in the dry air of lower regions, would crumble and fall by the weight of its own particles. When loose rocks lie scattered on the face of these declivities, they are held in place by the trunks of the trees, and it is very common to observe a stone that weighs hundreds of pounds, perhaps even tons, resting against a tree which has stopped its progress just as it was beginning to slide down to a lower level. When a forest in such a position is cut, these blocks lose their support, and a single wet season is enough not only to bare the face of a considerable extent of rock, but to cover with earth and stone many acres of fertile soil below[142].

In alluvial plains and on the banks of rivers trees are extremely useful as a check to the swift flow of the water in inundations, and the spread of the mineral material it transports; but this will be more appropriately considered in the chapter on the Waters; and another most important use of the woods, that of confining the loose sands of dunes and plains, will be treated of in the chapter on the Sands.

Small Forest Plants, and Vitality of Seed

Another function of the woods, to which I have barely alluded, deserves a fuller notice than can be bestowed upon it in a treatise the scope of which is purely economical. The forest is the native habitat of a large number of humbler plants, to the growth and perpetuation of which its shade, its humidity, and its vegetable mould appear to be indispensable necessities[143].

We cannot positively say that the felling of the woods in a given vegetable province would involve the final extinction of the smaller plants which are found only within their precincts. Some of these, though not naturally propagating themselves in the open ground, may perhaps germinate and grow under artificial stimulation and protection, and finally become hardy enough to maintain an independent existence in very different circumstances from those which at present seem essential to their life.

Besides this, although the accounts of the growth of seeds, which have lain for ages in the ashy dryness of Egyptian catacombs, are to be received with great caution, or, more probably, to be rejected altogether, yet their vitality seems almost imperishable while they remain in the situations in which nature deposits them. When a forest old enough to have witnessed the mysteries of the Druids is felled, trees of other species spring up in its place; and when they, in their turn, fall before the axe, sometimes even as soon as they have spread their protecting shade over the surface, the germs which their predecessors had shed years, perhaps centuries before, sprout up, and in due time, if not choked by other trees belonging to a later stage in the order of natural succession, restore again the original wood. In these cases, the seeds of the new crop may have been brought by the wind, by birds, by quadrupeds, or by other causes; but, in many instances, this explanation is not probable.

When newly cleared ground is burnt over in the United States, the ashes are hardly cold before they are covered with a crop of fire-weed, Senecio hieracifolius, a tall, herbaceous plant, very seldom seen growing under other circumstances, and often not to be found for a distance of many miles from the clearing. Its seeds, whether the fruit of an ancient vegetation or newly sown by winds or birds, require either a quickening by a heat which raises to a certain high point the temperature of the stratum where they lie buried, or a special pabulum furnished only by the combustion of the vegetable remains that cover the ground in the woods.

Earth brought up from wells or other excavations soon produces a harvest of plants often very unlike those of the local flora, and Hayden informs us that on our great Western desert plains, "wherever the earth is broken up, the wild sun-flower (Helianthus) and others of the taller-growing plants, though previously unknown in the vicinity, at once spring up, almost as if spontaneous generation had taken place[144]."

Moritz Wagner, as quoted by Wittwer[145], remarks in his description of Mount Ararat: "A singular phenomenon to which my guide drew my attention is the appearance of several plants on the earth-heaps left by the last catastrophe [an earthquake], which grow nowhere else on the mountain, and had never been observed in this region before. The seeds of these plants were probably brought by birds, and found in the loose, clayey soil remaining from the streams of mud, the conditions of growth which the other soil of the mountain refused them." This is probable enough, but it is hardly less so that the flowing mud brought them up to the influence of air and sun, from depths where a previous convulsion had buried them ages before.

Seeds of small sylvan plants, too deeply buried by successive layers of forest foliage and the mould resulting from its decomposition to be reached by the plough when the trees are gone and the ground brought under cultivation, may, if a wiser posterity replants the wood which sheltered their parent stems, germinate and grow, after lying for generations in a state of suspended animation.

Darwin says: "On the estate of a relation there was a large and extremely barren heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man, but several hundred acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five years previously and planted with Scotch fir. The change in the native vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable--more than is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another; not only the proportional numbers of the heath-plants were wholly changed, but TWELVE SPECIES of plants (not counting grasses and sedges) flourished in the plantation which could not be found on the heath[146]." Had the author informed us that these twelve plants belonged to species whose seeds enter into the nutriment of the birds which appeared with the young wood, we could easily account for their presence in the soil; but he says distinctly that the birds were of insectivorous species, and it therefore seems more probable that the seeds had been deposited when an ancient forest protected the growth of the plants which bore them, and that they sprang up to new life when a return of favorable conditions awaked them from a sleep of centuries. Darwin indeed says that the heath "had never been touched by the hand of man." Perhaps not, after it became a heath; but what evidence is there to control the general presumption that this heath was preceded by a forest, in whose shade the vegetables which dropped the seeds in question might have grown[147].

Although, therefore, the destruction of a wood and the reclaiming of the soil to agricultural uses suppose the death of its smaller dependent flora, these revolutions do not exclude the possibility of its resurrection. In a practical view of the subject, however, we must admit that when the woodman fells a tree he sacrifices the colony of humbler growths which had vegetated under its protection. Some wood-plants are known to possess valuable medicinal properties, and experiment may show that the number of these is greater than we now suppose. Few of them, however, have any other economical value than that of furnishing a slender pasturage to cattle allowed to roam in the woods; and even this small advantage is far more than compensated by the mischief done to the young trees by browsing animals. Upon the whole, the importance of this class of vegetables, as physic or as food, is not such as to furnish a very telling popular argument for the conservation of the forest as a necessary means of their perpetuation. More potent remedial agents may supply their place in the materia medica, and an acre of grass-land yields more nutriment for cattle than a range of a hundred acres of forest. But he whose sympathies with nature have taught him to feel that there is a fellowship between all God's creatures; to love the brilliant ore better than the dull ingot, iodic silver and crystallized red copper better than the shillings and the pennies forged from them by the coiner's cunning; a venerable oak-tree than the brandy-cask whose staves are split out from its heart-wood; a bed of anemones, hepaticas, or wood violets than the leeks and onions which he may grow on the soil they have enriched and in the air they made fragrant--he who has enjoyed that special training of the heart and intellect which can be acquired only in the unviolated sanctuaries of nature, "where man is distant, but God is near"--will not rashly assert his right to extirpate a tribe of harmless vegetables, barely because their products neither tickle his palate nor fill his pocket; and his regret at the dwindling area of the forest solitude will be augmented by the reflection that the nurselings of the woodland perish with the pines, the oaks, and the beeches that sheltered them[148].

Although, as I have said in a former chapter, birds do not frequent the deeper recesses of the wood, yet a very large proportion of them build their nests in trees, and find in their foliage and branches a secure retreat from the inclemencies of the seasons and the pursuit of the reptiles and quadrupeds which prey upon them. The borders of the forests are vocal with song; and when the gray and dewy morning calls the creeping things of the earth out of their night-cells, it summons from the neighboring wood legions of their winged enemies, which swoop down upon the fields to save man's harvests by devouring the destroying worm, and surprising the lagging beetle in his tardy retreat to the dark cover where he lurks through the hours of daylight.

The insects most injurious to the rural industry of the garden and the ploughland do not multiply in or near the woods. The locust, which ravages the East with its voracious armies, is bred in vast open plains which admit the full heat of the sun to hasten the hatching of the eggs, gather no moisture to destroy them, and harbor no bird to feed upon the larvae[149]. It is only since the felling of the forests of Asia Minor and Cyrene that the locust has become so fearfully destructive in those countries; and the grasshopper, which now threatens to be almost as great a pest to the agriculture of some North American soils, breeds in seriously injurious numbers only where a wide extent of surface is bare of woods.

General Functions of Forests

In the preceding pages we have seen that the electrical and chemical action of the forest, though obscure, exercises probably a beneficial, certainly not an injurious, influence on the composition and condition of the atmosphere; that it serves as a protection against the diffusion of miasmatic exhalations and malarious poisons; that it performs a most important function as a mechanical shelter from blasting winds to grounds and crops in the lee of it; that, as a conductor of heat, it tends to equalize the temperature of the earth and the air; that its dead products form a mantle over the surface, which protects the earth from excessive heat and cold; that the evaporation from the leaves of living trees, while it cools the air around them, diffuses through the atmosphere a medium which resists the escape of warmth from the earth by radiation, and hence that its general effect is to equilibrate caloric influences and moderate extremes of temperature.

We have seen, further, that the forest is equally useful as a regulator of terrestrial and of atmospheric humidity, preventing by its shade the drying up of the surface by parching winds and the scorching rays of the sun, intercepting a part of the precipitation, and pouring out a vast quantity of aqueous vapor into the atmosphere; that if it does not increase the amount of rain, it tends to equalize its distribution both in time and in place; that it preserves a hygrometric equilibrium in the superior strata of the earth's surface; that it maintains and regulates the flow of springs and rivulets; that it checks the superficial discharge of the waters of precipitation and consequently tends to prevent the sudden rise of rivers, the violence of floods, the formation of destructive torrents, and the abrasion of the surface by the action of running water; that it impedes the fall of avalanches and of rocks, and destructive slides of the superficial strata of mountains; that it is a safeguard against the breeding of locusts, and finally that it furnishes nutriment and shelter to many tribes of animal and of vegetable life which, if not necessary to man's existence, are conducive to his rational enjoyment. In fine, in well-wooded regions, and in inhabited countries where a due proportion of soil is devoted to the growth of judiciously distributed forests, natural destructive tendencies of all sorts are arrested or compensated, and man, bird, beast, fish, and vegetable alike find a constant uniformity of condition most favorable to the regular and harmonious coexistence of them all.

General Consequences of the Destruction of the Forest

With the extirpation of the forest, all is changed. At one season, the earth parts with its warmth by radiation to an open sky--receives, at another, an immoderate heat from the unobstructed rays of the sun. Hence the climate becomes excessive, and the soil is alternately parched by the fervors of summer, and seared by the rigors of winter. Bleak winds sweep unresisted over its surface, drift away the snow that sheltered it from the frost, and dry up its scanty moisture. The precipitation becomes as irregular as the temperature; the melting snows and vernal rains, no longer absorbed by a loose and bibulous vegetable mould, rush over the frozen surface, and pour down the valleys seawards, instead of filling a retentive bed of absorbent earth, and storing up a supply of moisture to feed perennial springs. The soil is bared of its covering of leaves, broken and loosened by the plough, deprived of the fibrous rootlets which held it together, dried and pulverized by sun and wind, and at last exhausted by new combinations. The face of the earth is no longer a sponge, but a dust-heap, and the floods which the waters of the sky pour over it hurry swiftly along its slopes, carrying in suspension vast quantities of earthy particles which increase the abrading power and mechanical force of the current, and, augmented by the sand and gravel of falling banks, fill the beds of the streams, divert them into new channels, and obstruct their outlets. The rivulets, wanting their former regularity of supply and deprived of the protecting shade of the woods, are heated, evaporated, and thus reduced in their summer currents, but swollen to raging torrents in autumn and in spring. From these causes, there is a constant degradation of the uplands, and a consequent elevation of the beds of water-courses and of lakes by the deposition of the mineral and vegetable matter carried down by the waters. The channels of great rivers become unnavigable, their estuaries are choked up, and harbors which once sheltered large navies are shoaled by dangerous sand-bars. The earth, stripped of its vegetable glebe, grows less and less productive, and, consequently, less able to protect itself by weaving a new network of roots to bind its particles together, a new carpeting of turf to shield it from wind and sun and scouring rain. Gradually it becomes altogether barren. The washing of the soil from the mountains leaves bare ridges of sterile rock, and the rich organic mould which covered them, now swept down into the dank low grounds, promotes a luxuriance of aquatic vegetation, that breeds fever, and more insidious forms of mortal disease, by its decay, and thus the earth is rendered no longer fit for the habitation of man[150].

To the general truth of this sad picture there are many exceptions, even in countries of excessive climates. Some of these are due to favorable conditions of surface, of geological structure, and of the distribution of rain; in many others, the evil consequences of man's improvidence have not yet been experienced, only because a sufficient time has not elapsed, since the felling of the forest, to allow them to develop themselves. But the vengeance of nature for the violation of her harmonies, though slow, is sure, and the gradual deterioration of soil and climate in such exceptional regions is as certain to result from the destruction of the woods as is any natural effect to follow its cause.

Due Proportion of Woodland

The proportion of woodland that ought to be permanently maintained for its geographical and atmospheric influences varies according to the character of soil, surface, and climate. In countries with a humid sky, or moderately undulating surface and an equable temperature, a small extent of forest, enough to serve as a mechanical screen against the action of the wind in localities where such protection is needed, suffices. But most of the territory occupied by civilized man is exposed, by the character of its surface and its climate, to a physical degradation which cannot be averted except by devoting a large amount of soil to the growth of the woods.

From an economical point of view, the question of the due proportion of forest is not less complicated or less important than in its purely physical aspects. Of all the raw materials which nature supplies for elaboration by human art, wood is undoubtedly the most useful, and at the same time the most indispensable to social progress[151].

The demand for wood, and of course the quantity of forest required to furnish it, depend upon the supply of fuel from other sources, such as peat and coal, upon the extent to which stone, brick, or metal can advantageously be substituted for wood in building, upon the development of arts and industries employing wood and other forest products as materials, and upon the cost of obtaining them from other countries, or upon their commercial value as articles of export.

Upon the whole, taking civilized Europe and America together, it is probable that from twenty to twenty-five per cent. of well-wooded surface is indispensable for the maintenance of normal physical conditions, and for the supply of materials so essential to every branch of human industry and every form of social life as those which compose the harvest of the woods.

There is probably no country--there are few large farms even--where at least one-fourth of the soil is not either unfit for agricultural use, or so unproductive that, as pasture or as ploughland, it yields less pecuniary return than a thrifty wood. Every prairie has its sloughs where willows and poplars would find a fitting soil, every Eastern farm its rocky nooks and its barren hillsides suited to the growth of some species from our rich forest flora, and everywhere belts of trees might advantageously be planted along the roadsides and the boundaries and dividing fences. In most cases, it will be found that trees may be made to grow well where cultivated crops will not repay the outlay of tillage, and it is a very plain dictate of sound economy that if trees produce a better profit than the same ground would return if devoted to grass or grain, the wood should be substituted for the field.

Woodland in European Countries

In 1862, Rentzsch calculated the proportions of woodland in different European countries as follows[152]:

Norway 66 per cent.
Sweden 60 "
Russia 30.00 "
Germany 26.58 "
Belgium 18.52 "
France 16.79 "
Switzerland 15 "
Sardinia 12.29
Neapolitan States 9.43 "
Holland 7.10 "
Spain 5.52 "
Denmark 5.50 "
Great Britain 5 "
Portugal 4.40 "

The large proportion of woodland in Norway and Sweden is in a great measure to be ascribed to the mountainous character of the surface, which renders the construction of roads difficult and expensive, and hence the forests are comparatively inaccessible, and transportation is too costly to tempt the inhabitants to sacrifice their woods for the sake of supplying distant markets.

The industries which employ wood as a material have only lately been much developed in these countries, and though the climate requires the consumption of much wood as a fuel, the population is not numerous enough to create, for this purpose, a demand exceeding the annually produced supply, or to need any great extension of cleared ground for agricultural purposes. Besides this, in many places peat is generally employed as domestic fuel. Hence, though Norway has long exported a considerable quantity of lumber[153], and the iron and copper works of Sweden consume charcoal very largely, the forests have not diminished rapidly enough to produce very sensible climatic or even economic evils.

At the opposite end of the scale we find Holland, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal. In the three first-named countries a cold and humid climate renders the almost constant maintenance of domestic fires a necessity, while in Great Britain especially the demand of the various industries which depend on wood as a material, or on mechanical power derived from heat, are very great. Coal and peat serve as a combustible instead of wood in them all, and England imports an immense quantity of timber from her foreign possessions. Fortunately, the character of soil, surface, and climate renders the forest of less importance as a geographical agent in these northern regions than in Spain and Portugal, where all physical conditions concur to make a large extent of forest an almost indispensable means of industrial progress and social advancement.

Rentzsch, in fact, ascribes the political decadence of Spain almost wholly to the destruction of the forest. "Spain," observes he, "seemed destined by her position to hold dominion over the world, and this in fact she once possessed. But she has lost her political ascendancy, because, during the feeble administration of the successors of Philip II., her exhausted treasury could not furnish the means of creating new fleets, the destruction of the woods having raised the price of timber above the means of the state[154]." On the other hand, the same writer argues that the wealth and prosperity of modern England are in great part due to the supply of lumber, as well as of other material for ship-building, which she imports from her colonies and other countries with which she maintains commercial relations.

Forests of Great Britain

The proportion of forest is very small in Great Britain, where, as I have said, on the one hand, a prodigious industrial activity requires a vast supply of ligneous material, but where, on the other, the abundance of coal, which furnishes a sufficiency of fuel, the facility of importation of timber from abroad, and the conditions of climate and surface combine to reduce the necessary quantity of woodland to its lowest expression.

With the exception of Russia, Denmark, and parts of Germany, no European countries can so well dispense with the forests, in their capacity of conservative influences, as England and Ireland. Their insular position and latitude secure an abundance of atmospheric moisture; the general inclination of surface is not such as to expose it to special injury from torrents, and it is probable that the most important climatic action exercised by the forest in these portions of the British empire, is in its character of a mechanical screen against the effects of wind. The due proportion of woodland in England and Ireland is, therefore, a question not of geographical, but almost purely of economical, expediency, to be decided by the comparative direct pecuniary return from forest-growth, pasturage, and ploughland.

Contrivances for economizing fuel came later into use in the British Islands than on the Continent. Before the introduction of a system of drainage, the soil, like the sky, was, in general, charged with humidity; its natural condition was unfavorable for the construction and maintenance of substantial common roads, and the transportation of so heavy a material as coal, by land, from the remote counties where alone it was mined in the Middle Ages, was costly and difficult. For all these reasons, the consumption of wood was large, and apprehensions of the exhaustion of the forests were excited at an early period. Legislation there, as elsewhere, proved ineffectual to protect them, and many authors of the sixteenth century express fears of serious evils from the wasteful economy of the people in this respect. Harrison, in his curious chapter "Of Woods and Marishes" in Holinshed's compilation, complains of the rapid decrease of the forests, and adds: "Howbeit thus much I dare affirme, that if woods go so fast to decaie in the next hundred yeere of Grace, as they haue doone and are like to doo in this, . . . it is to be feared that the fennie bote, broome, turfe, gall, heath, firze, brakes, whinnes, ling, dies, hassacks, flags, straw, sedge, reed, rush, and also seacole, will be good merchandize euen in the citie of London, whereunto some of them euen now haue gotten readie passage, and taken up their innes in the greatest merchants' parlours . . . . I would wish that I might liue no longer than to see foure things in this land reformed, that is: the want of discipline in the church: the couetous dealing of most of our merchants in the preferment of the commodities of other countries, and hinderance of their owne: the holding of faires and markets vpon the sundaie to be abolished and referred to the wednesdaies: and that euerie man, in whatsoeuer part of the champaine soile enioieth fortie acres of land, and vpwards, after that rate, either by free deed, copie hold, or fee farme, might plant one acre of wood, or sowe the same with oke mast, hasell, beech, and sufficient prouision be made that it may be cherished and kept. But I feare me that I should then liue too long, and so long, that I should either be wearie of the world, or the world of me[155]."

Evelyn's "Silva," the first edition of which appeared in 1664, rendered an extremely important service to the cause of the woods, and there is no doubt that the ornamental plantations in which England far surpasses all other countries, are, in some measure, the fruit of Evelyn's enthusiasm. In England, however, arboriculture, the planting and nursing of single trees, has, until comparatively recent times, been better understood than sylviculture, the sowing and training of the forest. But this latter branch of rural improvement now receives great attention from private individuals, though, so far as I know, not from the National Government, except in the East Indian provinces, where the forestal department has assumed great importance[156].

In fact, England is, I believe, the only European country where private enterprise has pursued sylviculture on a really great scale, though admirable examples have been set in many others. In England the law of primogeniture, and other institutions and national customs which tend to keep large estates long undivided and in the same line of inheritance, the wealth of the landholders, the special adaptation of the climate to the growth of forest-trees, and the difficulty of finding safe and profitable investments of capital, combine to afford encouragements for the plantation of forests, which scarcely exist elsewhere in the same degree.

In Scotland, where the country is for the most part broken and mountainous, the general destruction of the forests has been attended with very serious evils, and it is in Scotland that many of the most extensive British forest plantations have now been formed. But although the inclination of surface in Scotland is rapid, the geological constitution of the soil is not of a character to promote such destructive degradation by running water as in Southern France, and it has not to contend with the parching droughts by which the devastations of the torrents are rendered more injurious in those provinces.

It is difficult to understand how either law or public opinion, in a country occupied by a dense and intelligent population, and, comparatively speaking, with an infertile soil, can tolerate the continued withdrawal of a great portion of the territory from the cultivation of trees and from other kinds of rural economy, merely to allow wealthy individuals to amuse themselves with field-sports. In Scotland, 2,000,000 acres, as well suited to the growth of forests and for pasture as is the soil generally, are withheld from agriculture, that they may be given up to herds of deer protected by the game laws. A single nobleman, for example, thus appropriates for his own pleasures not less than 100,000 acres[157]. In this way one-tenth of all the land of Scotland is rendered valueless in an economical point of view--for the returns from the sale of the venison and other game scarcely suffice to pay the game-keepers and other incidental expenses--and in these so-called FORESTS there grows neither building timber nor fire-wood worth the cutting, as the animals destroy the young shoots.

Forests of France

The preservation of the woods was one of the wise measures recommended to France by Sully, in the time of Henry IV., but the advice was little heeded, and the destruction of the forests went on with such alarming rapidity, that, two generations later, Colbert uttered the prediction: "France will perish for want of wood." Still, the extent of wooded soil was very great, and the evils attending its diminution were not so sensibly felt, that either the government or public opinion saw the necessity of authoritative interference, and in 1750 Mirabeau estimated the remaining forests of the kingdom at seventeen millions of hectares [42,000,000 acres]. In 1860 they were reduced to eight millions [19,769,000 acres], or at the rate of 82,000 hectares [202,600 acres] per year. Troy, from whose valuable pamphlet, Etude sur le Reboisement des Montagnes, I take these statistical details, supposes that Mirabeau's statement may have been an extravagant one, but it still remains certain that the waste has been enormous; for it is known that, in some departments, that of Ariege, for instance, clearing has gone on during the last half-century at the rate of three thousand acres a year, and in all parts of the empire trees have been felled faster than they have grown[158]. The total area of France in Mirabeau's time, excluding Savoy, but including Alsace and Lorraine, was about one hundred and thirty-one millions of acres. The extent of forest supposed by Mirabeau would be about thirty-two per cent. of the whole territory. In a country and a climate where the conservative influences of the forest are so necessary as in France, trees must cover a large surface and be grouped in large masses, in order to discharge to the best advantage the various functions assigned to them by nature. The consumption of wood is rapidly increasing in that empire, and a large part of its territory is mountainous, sterile, and otherwise such in character or situation that it can be more profitably devoted to the growth of wood than to any agricultural use. Hence it is evident that the proportion of forest in 1750, taking even Mirabeau's large estimate, was not very much too great for permanent maintenance, though doubtless the distribution was so unequal that it would have been sound policy to fell the woods and clear land in some provinces, while large forests should have been planted in others[159].

During the period in question France neither exported manufactured wood or rough timber, nor derived important collateral advantages of any sort from the destruction of her forests. She is consequently impoverished and crippled to the extent of the difference between what she actually possesses of wooded surface and what she ought to have retained[160].

The force of the various considerations which have been suggested in regard to the importance of the forest has been generally felt in France, and the subject has been amply debated special treatises, in scientific journals, and by the public press, as well as in the legislative body of that country. Perhaps no one point has been more prominent in the discussions than the influence of the forest in equalizing and regulating the flow of the water of precipitation. Opinion is still somewhat divided on this subject, but the value of the woods as a safeguard against the ravages of torrents is universally acknowledged, and it is hardly disputed that the rise of river-floods is, even if as great, at least less sudden in streams having their sources in well-wooded territory.

Upon the whole, the conservative action of the woods in regard to torrents and to inundations has ben generally recognized by the public of France as a matter of prime importance, and the Government of the empire has made this principle the basis of a special system of legislation for the protection of existing forests, and for the formation of new. The clearing of woodland, and the organization and functions of a police for its protection, are regulated by a law bearing date June 18th, 1859, and provision was made for promoting the restoration of private woods by a statute adopted on the 28th of July, 1860. The former of these laws passed the legislative body by a vote of 246 against 4, the latter with but a single negative voice. The influence of the Government, in a country where the throne is as potent as in France, would account for a large majority, but when it is considered that both laws, the former especially, interfere very materially with the rights of private domain, the almost entire unanimity with which they were adopted is proof of a very general popular conviction, that the protection and extension of the forests is a measure more likely than any other to arrest the devastations of the torrents and check the violence, if not to prevent the recurrence, of destructive river inundations. The law of July 28th, 1860, appropriated 10,000,000 francs, to be expended, at the rate of 1,000,000 francs per year, in executing or aiding the replanting of woods. It is computed that this appropriation--which, considering the vast importance of the subject, does not seem extravagant for a nation rich enough to be able to expend annually six hundred times that sum in the maintenance of its military establishments in times of peace--will secure the creation of new forest to the extent of about 200,000 acres, or one fourteenth part of the soil, where the restoration of the woods is thought feasible, and, at the same time, specially important as a security against the evils ascribed, in a great measure, to its destruction[161].

In 1865 the Legislative Assembly passed a bill amendatory of the law of 1860, providing, among other things, for securing the soil in exposed localities by grading, and by promoting the growth of grass and the formation of greensward over the surface. This has proved a most beneficial measure, and its adoption under corresponding conditions in the United States is most highly to be recommended. The leading features of the system are:

  1. Marking out and securing from pasturage and all other encroachments a zone along the banks and around the head of ravines.
  2. Turfing this zone, which in France accomplishes itself, if not spontaneously, at least with little aid from art.
  3. Consolidation of the scarps of the ravines by grading and wattling and establishing barriers, sometimes of solid masonry, but generally of fascines or any other simple materials at hand, across the bed of the stream.
  4. Cutting banquettes or narrow terraces along the scarps, and planting rows of small deciduous trees and arborescent shrubs upon them, alternating with belts of grass obtained by turfing with sods or sowing grass-seeds. Planting the banquettes and slopes with bushes, and sowing any other vegetables with tenacious roots, is also earnestly recommended[162].

Remedies against Torrents

The rural population, which in France is generally hostile to all forest laws, soon acquiesced in the adoption of this system, and its success has far surpassed all expectation. At the end of the year 1868 about 190,000 acres had been planted with trees[163], and nearly 7,000 acres well turfed over in the Department of the Hautes Alpes. Many hundred ravines, several of which had been the channels of formidable torrents, had been secured by barriers, grading and planting, and according to official reports the aspect of the mountains in the Department, wherever these methods were employed, had rapidly changed. The soil had acquired such stability that the violent rains of 1868, so destructive elsewhere, produced no damage in the districts which had been subjected to these operations, and numerous growing torrents which threatened irreparable mischief had been completely extinguished, or at least rendered altogether harmless[164].

Besides the processes directed by the Government of France, various subsidiary measures of an easily and economically practicable character have been suggested. Among them is one which has long been favorably known in our Southern States under the name of circling, and the adoption of which in hilly regions in other States is to be strongly recommended.

It is simply a method of preventing the wash of surface by rains, and at the same time of providing a substitute for irrigation of steep pasture-grounds, consisting in little more than in running horizontal furrows along the hillsides, thus converting the scarp of the hills into a succession of small terraces which, when once turfed over, are very permanent. Experience is said to have demonstrated that this simple process at least partially checks the too rapid flow of surface-water into the valleys, and, consequently, in a great measure obviates one of the most prominent causes of inundations, and that it suffices to retain the water of rains, of snows, and of small springs, long enough for the irrigation of the soil, thus increasing its product of herbage in a fivefold proportion[165].

As a further recommendation, it may be observed that this process is an admirable preparation of the ground for forest plantations, as young trees planted on the terraces would derive a useful protection from the form of the surface and the coating of turf, and would also find a soil moist enough to secure their growth.

Forests of Italy

According to the most recent statistics, Italy has 17.64 per cent. of woodland[166], a proportion which, considering the character of climate and surface, the great amount of soil which is fit for no other purpose than the growth of trees, and the fact that much of the land classed as forest is either very imperfectly wooded, or covered with groves badly administered, and not in a state of progressive improvement, might advantageously be doubled. Taking Italy as a whole, we may say that she is eminently fitted by climate, soil, and superficial formation, to the growth of a varied and luxuriant arboreal vegetation, and that in the interests of self-protection, the promotion of forestal industry is among the first duties of her people. There are in Western Piedmont valleys where the felling of the woods has produced consequences geographically and economically as disastrous as in South-eastern France, and there are many other districts in the Alps and the Apennines where human improvidence has been almost equally destructive. Some of these regions must be abandoned to absolute desolation, and for others the opportunity of physical restoration is rapidly passing away. But there are still millions of square miles which might profitably be planted with forest-trees, and thousands of acres of parched and barren hillside, within sight of almost every Italian provincial capital, which might easily and shortly be reclothed with verdant woods[167].

The denudation of the Central and Southern Apennines and of the Italian declivity of the Western Alps began at a period of unknown antiquity, but it does not seem to have been carried to a very dangerous length until the foreign conquests and extended commerce of Rome created a greatly increased demand for wood for the construction of ships and for military material[168]. The Eastern Alps, the Western Apennines, and the Maritime Alps retained their forests much later; but even here the want of wood, and the injury to the plains and the nagivation of the rivers by sediment brought down by the torrents, led to legislation for the protection of the forests, by the Republic of Venice, at various periods between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries[169], by that of Genoa as early at least as the seventeenth; and both these Governments, as well as several others, passed laws requiring the proprietors of mountain-lands to replant the woods. These, however, seem to have been little observed, and it is generally true that the present condition of the forest in Italy is much less due to the want of wise legislation for its protection than to the laxity of the Governments in enforcing their laws.

It is very common in Italy to ascribe to the French occupation under the first Empire all the improvements and all the abuses of recent times, according to the political sympathies of the individual; and the French are often said to have prostrated every forest which has disappeared within this century. But, however this may be, no energetic system of repression or restoration was adopted by any of the Italian States after the downfall of the Empire, and the taxes on forest property in some of them were so burdensome that rural municipalities sometimes proposed to cede their common woods to the Government, without any other compensation than the remission of the taxes imposed on forest-lands[170]. Under such circumstances, woodlands would soon become disafforested, and where facilities of transportation and a good demand for timber have increased the inducements to fell it, as upon the borders of the Mediterranean, the destruction of the forest and all the evils which attend it have gone on at a seriously alarming rate.

Gallenga gives a striking account of the wanton destruction of the forests in Northern Italy within his personal recollection[171], and there are few Italians past middle life whose own memory will not supply similar reminiscences. The clearing of the mountain valleys of the provinces of Bergamo and of Bescia is recent, and Lombardini informs us the felling of the woods in the Valtelline commenced little more than forty years ago.

Although no country has produced more able writers on the value of the forest and the general consequences of its destruction than Italy, yet the specific geographical importance of the woods, except as a protection against inundations, has not been so clearly recognized in that country as in the States bordering it on the north and west. It is true that the face of nature has been as completely revolutionized by man, and that the action of torrents has created almost as wide and as hopeless devastation in Italy as in France; but in the French Empire the recent desolation produced by clearing the forests is more extensive, has been more suddenly effected, has occurred in less remote and obscure localities, and therefore, excites a livelier and more general interest than in Italy, where public opinion does not so readily connect the effect with its true cause. Italy, too, from ancient habit, employs little wood in architectural construction; for generations she has maintained no military or commercial marine large enough to require exhaustive quantities of timber[172], and the mildness of her climate makes small demands on the woods for fuel. Besides these circumstances, it must be remembered that the sciences of observation did not become knowledges of practical application till after the mischief was already mainly done and even forgotten in Alpine Italy, while its evils were just beginning to be sensibly felt in France when the claims of natural philosophy as a liberal study were first acknowledged in modern Europe. The former political condition of the Italian Peninsula would have effectually prevented the adoption of a general system of forest economy, however clearly the importance of a wise administration of this great public interest might have been understood. The woods which controlled and regulated the flow of the river-sources were very often in one jurisdiction, the plains to be irrigated, or to be inundated by floods and desolated by torrents, in another. Concert of action, on such a subject, between a multitude of jealous petty sovereignties, was obviously impossible, and nothing but the permanent union of all the Italian States under a single government can render practicable the establishment of such arrangements for the conservation and restoration of the forests, and the regulation of the flow of the waters, as are necessary for the full development of the yet unexhausted resources of that fairest of lands, and even for the maintenance of the present condition of its physical geography.

The Forests of Germany

Germany, including a considerable part of the Austrian Empire, from character of surface and climate, and from the attention which has long been paid in all the German States to sylviculture, is in a far better condition in this respect than its more southern neighbors; and though in the Alpine provinces of Bavaria and Austria the corresponding districts of Switzerland, Italy, and France, has produced effects hardly less disastrous[173], yet, as a whole, the German States, as Siemoni well observes, must be considered as in this respect the model countries of Europe. Not only is the forest area in general maintained without diminution, but new woods are planted where they are specially needed[174], and, though the slow growth of forest-trees in those climates reduces the direct pecuniary returns of woodlands to a minimum, the governments wisely persevere in encouraging this industry. The exportation of sawn lumber from Trieste is large, and in fact the Turkish and Egyptian markets are in great part supplied from this source[175].

Forests of Russia

Russia, which we habitually consider as substantially a forest country--which has in fact a large proportion of woodland--is beginning to suffer seriously for want of wood. Jourdier observes: "Instead of a vast territory with immense forests, which we expect to meet, one sees only scattered groves thinned by the wind or by the axe of the moujik, grounds cut over and more or less recently cleared for cultivation. There is probably not a single district in Russia which has not to deplore the ravages of man or of fire, those two great enemies of Muscovite sylviculture. This is so true, that clear-sighted men already foresee a crisis which will become terrible, unless the discovery of great deposits of some new combustible, as pit-coal or anthracite, shall diminish its evils[176]."

Forests of United States

I greatly doubt whether any one of the American States, except, perhaps, Oregon, has, at this moment, more woodland than it ought permanently to preserve, though, no doubt, a different distribution of the forests in all of them might be highly advantageous. It is, perhaps, a misfortune to the American Union that the State Governments have so generally disposed of their original domain to private citizens. It is true that public property is not sufficiently respected in the United States; and within the memory of almost every man of mature age, timber was of so little value in the northernmost States that the owners of private woodlands submitted, almost without complaint, to what would be regarded elsewhere as very aggravated trespasses upon them[177]. Persons in want of timber helped themselves to it wherever they could find it, and a claim for damages, for so insignificant a wrong as cutting down and carrying off a few pine or oak trees, was regarded as a mean-spirited act in a proprietor. The habits formed at this period are not altogether obsolete, and even now the notion of a common right of property in the woods still lingers, if not as an opinion at least as a sentiment. Under such circumstances it has been difficult to protect the forest, whether it belong to the State or to individuals. Property of this kind is subject to plunder, as well as to frequent damage by fire. The destruction from these causes would, indeed, considerably lessen, but would by no means wholly annihilate the climatic and geographical influences of the forest, or ruinously diminish its value as a regular source of supply of fuel and timber.

It is evidently a matter of the utmost importance that the public, and especially land-owners, be roused to a sense of the dangers to which the indiscriminate clearing of the woods may expose not only future generations, but the very soil itself. Some of the American States, as well as the Governments of many European colonies, still retain the ownership of great tracts of primitive woodland. The State of New York, for example, has, in its north-eastern counties, a vast extent of territory in which the lumberman has only here and there established his camp, and where the forest, though interspersed with permanent settlements, robbed of some of its finest pine groves, and often ravaged by devastating fires, still covers far the largest proportion of the surface. Through this territory the soil is generally poor, and even the new clearings have little of the luxuriance of harvest which distinguishes them elsewhere. The value of the land for agricultural uses is therefore very small, and few purchases are made for any other purpose than to strip the soil of its timber. It has been often proposed that the State should declare the remaining forest the inalienable property of the commonwealth, but I believe the motive of the suggestion has originated rather in poetical than in economical views of the subject. Both these classes of considerations have a real worth. It is desirable that some large and easily accessible region of American soil should remain, as far as possible, in its primitive condition, at once a museum for the instruction of the student, a garden for the recreation of the lover of nature, and an asylum where indigenous tree, and humble plant that loves the shade, and fish and fowl and four-footed beast, may dwell and perpetuate their kind, in the enjoyment of such imperfect protection as the laws of a people jealous of restraint can afford them. The immediate loss to the public treasury from the adoption of this policy would be inconsiderable, for these lands are sold at low rates. The forest alone, economically managed, would, without injury, and even with benefit to its permanence and growth, soon yield a regular income larger than the present value of the fee.

The collateral advantages of the preservation of these forests would be far greater. Nature threw up those mountains and clothed them with lofty woods, that they might serve as a reservoir to supply with perennial waters the thousand rivers and rills that are fed by the rains and snows of the Adirondacks, and as a screen for the fertile plains of the central counties against the chilling blasts of the north wind, which meet no other barrier in their sweep from the Arctic pole. The climate of Northern New York even now presents greater extremes of temperature than that of Southern France. The long-continued cold of winter is more intense, the short heats of summer even fiercer than in Provence, and hence the preservation of every influence that tends to maintain an equilibrium of temperature and humidity is of cardinal importance. The felling of the Adirondack woods would ultimately involve for Northern and Central New York consequences similar to those which have resulted from the laying bare of the southern and western declivities of the French Alps and the spurs, ridges, and detached peaks in front of them.

It is true that the evils to be apprehended from the clearing of the mountains of New York may be less in degree than those which a similar cause has produced in Southern France, where the intensity of its action has been increased by the inclination of the mountain declivities, and by the peculiar geological constitution of the earth. The degradation of the soil is, perhaps, not equally promoted by a combination of the same circumstances, in any of the American Atlantic States, but still they have rapid slopes and loose and friable soils enough to render widespread desolation certain, if the further destruction of the woods is not soon arrested. The effects of clearing are already perceptible in the comparatively unviolated region of which I am speaking. The rivers which rise in it flow with diminished currents in dry seasons, and with augmented volumes of water after heavy rains. They bring down larger quantities of sediment, and the increasing obstructions to the navigation of the Hudson, which are extending themselves down the channel in proportion as the fields are encroaching upon the forest, give good grounds for the fear of irreparable injury to the commerce of the important towns on the upper waters of that river, unless measures are taken to prevent the expansion of "improvements" which have already been carried beyond the demands of a wise economy.

In the Eastern United States the general character of the climate, soil, and surface is such, that for the formation of very destructive torrents a much longer time is required than would be necessary in the mountainous provinces of Italy or of France. But the work of desolation has begun even there, and wherever a rapid mountain-slope has been stripped of wood, incipient ravines already plough the surface, and collect the precipitation in channels which threaten serious mischief in the future. There is a peculiar action of this sort on the sandy surface of pine-forests and in other soils that unite readily with water, which has excited the attention of geographers and geologists. Soils of the first kind are found in all the Eastern States; those of the second are more frequent in the exhausted counties of Maryland, where tobacco is cultivated, and in the more southern territories of Georgia and Alabama. In these localities the ravines which appear after the cutting of the forest, through some accidental disturbance of the surface, or, in some formations, through the cracking of the soil in consequence of great drought or heat, enlarge and extend themselves with fearful rapidity.

In Georgia and in Alabama, Lyell saw "the beginning of the formation of hundreds of valleys in places where the primitive forest had been recently cut down." One of these, in Georgia, in a soil composed of clay and sand produced by the decomposition in situ of hornblendic gneiss with layers and veins of quartz, "and which did not exist before the felling of the forest twenty years previous," he describes as more than 55 feet in depth, 300 yards in length, and from 20 to 180 feet in breadth. Our author refers to other cases in the same States, "where the cutting down of the trees, which had prevented the rain from collecting into torrents and running off in sudden land-floods, has given rise to ravines from 70 to 80 feet deep[178]." Similar results often follow in the North-eastern States from cutting the timber on the "pine plains," where the soil is usually of a sandy composition and loose texture.

American Forest-Trees

The remaining forests of the Northern States and of Canada no longer boast the mighty pines which almost rivalled the gigantic sequoia and redwood of California; and the growth of the larger forest-trees is so slow, after they have attained to a certain size, that if every pine and oak were spared for two centuries, the largest now standing would not reach the stature of hundreds recorded to have been cut within two or three generations[179]. Dr. Williams, who wrote about sixty years ago, states the following as the dimensions of "such trees as are esteemed large ones of their kind in that part of America" [Vermont], qualifying his account with the remark that his measurements "do not denote the greatest which nature has produced of their particular species, but the greatest which are to be found in most of our towns."


Diameter. Height.
Pine 6 feet, 247 feet.
Maple 5 " 9 inches From 100 to 200 feet.
Buttonwood 5 " 6 "
Elm 5 "
Hemlock 4 " 9 "
Oak 4 "
Basswood 4 "
Ash 4 "
Birch 4 "

He adds a note saying that a white pine was cut in Dunstable, New Hampshire, in the year 1736, the diameter of which was seven feet and eight inches. Dr. Dwight says that a fallen pine in Connecticut was found to measure two hundred and forty-seven feet in height, and adds: "A few years since, such trees were in great numbers along the northern parts of Connecticut River." In another letter, he speaks of the white pine as "frequently six feet in diameter, and two hundred and fifty feet in height," and states that a pine had been cut in Lancaster, New Hampshire, which measured two hundred and sixty-four feet, Emerson wrote in 1846: "Fifty years ago, several trees growing on rather dry land in Blandford, Massachusetts, measured, after they were felled, two hundred and twenty-three feet." All these trees are surpassed by a pine felled at Hanover, New Hampshire, about a hundred years ago, and described as measuring two hundred and seventy-four feet[180]. These descriptions, it will be noticed, apply to trees cut from seventy to one hundred and forty years since.

Persons, whom observation has rendered familiar with the present character of the American forest, will be struck with the smallness of the diameter which Dr. Williams and Dr. Dwight ascribe to trees of such extraordinary height. Individuals of the several species mentioned in Dr. Williams's table are now hardly to be found in the same climate, exceeding one-half or at most two-thirds of the height which he assigns to them; but, except in the case of the oak and the pine, the diameter stated by him would not be thought very extraordinary in trees of far less height, now standing. Even in the species I have excepted, those diameters, with half the heights of Dr. Williams, might perhaps be paralleled at the present time; and many elms, transplanted, at a diameter of six inches, within the memory of persons still living, measure four and sometimes even five feet through. For this change in the growth of forest-trees there are two reasons: the one is, that the great commercial value of the pine and the oak have caused the destruction of all the best--that is, the tallest and straightest-- specimens of both; the other, that the thinning of the woods by the axe of the lumberman has allowed the access of light and heat and air to trees of humbler worth and lower stature, which have survived their more towering brethren. These, consequently, have been able to expand their crowns and swell their stems to a degree not possible so long as they were overshadowed and stifled by the lordly oak and pine. While, therefore, the New England forester must search long before he finds a pine fit to be the mast Of some great ammiral, beeches and elms and birches, as sturdy as the mightiest of their progenitors, are still no rarity[181].

California fortunately still preserves her magnificent sequoias, which rise to the height of three hundred feet, and sometimes, as we are assured, even to three hundred and sixty and four hundred feet, and she has also pines and cedars of scarcely inferior dimensions. The public being now convinced of the importance of preserving these colossal trees, it is very probable that the fear of their total destruction may prove groundless, and we may still hope that some of them may survive even till that distant future when the skill of the forester shall have raised from their seeds a progeny as lofty and as majestic as those which now exist[182].

European and American Trees compared

The woods of North America are strikingly distinguished from those of Europe by the vastly greater variety of species they contain. According to Clave, there are in "France and in most parts of Europe only about twenty forest-trees, five or six of which are spike-leaved and resinous, the remainder broad-leaved[183]." Our author, however, doubtless means genera, though he uses the word especes. Rossmassler enumerates fifty-seven species of forest-trees as found in Germany, but some of these are mere shrubs, some are fruit and properly garden trees, and some others are only varieties of familiar species. The valuable manual of Parade describes about the same number, including, however, two of American origin--the locust, Robinia pseudacacia, and the Weymouth or white pine, Pinus Strobus--and the cedar of Lebanon from Asia, which, or at least a very closely allied species, is indigenous in Algeria also. We may then safely say that Europe does not possess above forty or fifty native trees of such economical value as to be worth the special care of the forester, while the oak alone numbers more than thirty species in the United State[184], and some other North American genera are almost equally diversified[185].

While the American forest flora has made large contributions to that of Europe, comparatively few European trees have been naturalized in the United States, and as a general rule the indigenous trees of Europe do not succeed well in our climate. The European mountain-ash--which in beauty, dimensions, and healthfulness of growth is superior to our own[186]--the horse-chestnut, and the abele, or silver poplar, are valuable additions to the ornamental trees of North America. The Swiss arve or zirbelkiefer, Pinus cembra, which yields a well-flavored edible seed and furnishes excellent wood for carving, the umbrella-pine[187], which also bears a seed agreeable to the taste, and which, from the color of its foliage and the beautiful form of its dome-like crown, is among the most elegant of trees, the white birch of Central Europe, with its pendulous branches almost rivalling those of the weeping willow in length, flexibility, and gracefulness of fall, and, especially, the "cypresse funerall," might be introduced into the United States with great advantage to the landscape. The European beech and chestnut furnish timber of far better quality than that of their American congeners. The fruit of the European chestnut, though inferior to the American in sweetness and flavor, is larger, and is an important article of diet among the French and Italian peasantry. The walnut of Europe, though not equal to some of the American species in beauty of growth or of wood, or to others in strength and elasticity of fibre, is valuable for its timber and its oil[188]. The maritime pine, which has proved of such immense use in fixing drifting sands in France, may perhaps be better adapted to this purpose than any of the pines of the New World, and it is of great importance for its turpentine, resin, and tar. The epicea, or common fir, Abies picea, Abies excelsa, Picea excelsa, abundant in the mountains of France and the contiguous country, is known for its product, Burgundy pitch, and, as it flourishes in a greater variety of soil and climate than almost any other spike-leaved tree, it might be well worth transplantation[189]. The cork oak has been introduced into California and some other parts of the United States, I believe, and would undoubtedly thrive in the Southern section of the Union[190]. The walnut, the chestnut, the cork oak, the mulberry, the olive, the orange, the lemon, the fig, and the multitude of other trees which, by their fruit, or by other products, yield an annual revenue, nature has provided Southern Europe with a partial compensation for the loss of the native forest. It is true that these trees, planted as most of them are at such distances as to admit of cultivation, or of the growth of grass among them, are but an inadequate substitute for the thick and shady wood; but they perform to a certain extent the same offices of absorption and transpiration, they shade the surface of the ground, they serve to break the force of the wind, and on many a steep declivity, many a bleak and barren hillside, the chestnut binds the soil together with its roots, and prevents tons of earth and gravel from washing down upon the fields and the gardens. Fruit-trees are not wanting, certainly, north of the Alps. The apple, the pear, and the prune are important in the economy both of man and of nature, but they are far less numerous in Switzerland and Northern France than are the trees I have mentioned in Southern Europe, both because they are in general less remunerative, and because the climate, in higher latitudes, does not permit the free introduction of shade trees into grounds occupied for agricultural purposes[191]. The multitude of species, intermixed as they are in their spontaneous growth, gives the American forest landscape a variety of aspect not often seen in the woods of Europe, and the gorgeous tints, which nature repeats from the dying dolphin to paint the falling leaf of the American maples, oaks, and ash trees, clothe the hillsides and fringe the water-courses with a rainbow splendor of foliage, unsurpassed by the brightest groupings of the tropical flora. It must be confessed, however, that both the northern and the southern declivities of the Alps exhibit a nearer approximation to this rich and multifarious coloring of autumnal vegetation than most American travellers in Europe are willing to allow; and, besides, the small deciduous shrubs which often carpet the forest-glades of these mountains are dyed with a ruddy and orange glow, which, in the distant landscape, is no mean substitute for the scarlet and crimson and gold and amber of the transatlantic woodland[192]. I admit, though not without reluctance, that the forest-trees of Central and Southern Europe have a great advantage over our own in the corresponding latitudes, in density of foliage as well as in depth of color and persistence of the leaves in deciduous species. An American, who, after a long absence from the United States, returns in the full height of summer, is painfully surprised at the thinness and poverty of the leafage even of the trees which he had habitually regarded as specially umbrageous, and he must wait for the autumnal frosts before he can recover his partiality for the glories of his native woods.

None of our north-eastern evergreens resemble the umbrella pine sufficiently to be a fair object of comparison with it. A cedar, very common above the Highlands on the Hudson, and elsewhere, is extremely like the cypress, straight, slender, with erect, compressed ramification, and feathered to the ground, but its foliage is neither so dark nor so dense, the tree does not attain the majestic height of the cypress, nor has it the lithe flexibility of that tree[193]. In mere shape, the Lombardy poplar nearly resembles this latter, but it is almost a profanation to compare the two, especially when they are agitated by the wind; for under such circumstances, the one is the most majestic, the other the most ungraceful, or--if I may apply such an expression to anything but human affectation of movement--the most awkward of trees. The poplar trembles before the blast, flutters, struggles wildly, dishevels its foliage, gropes around with its feeble branches, and hisses as in impotent passion. The cypress gathers its limbs still more closely to its stem, bows a gracious salute rather than an humble obeisance to the tempest, bends to the wind with an elasticity that assures you of its prompt return to its regal attitude, and sends from its thick leaflets a murmur like the roar of the far-off ocean.

The cypress and the umbrella-pine are not merely conventional types of the Italian landscape. They are essential elements in a field of rural beauty which can be seen in perfection only in the basin of the Mediterranean, and they are as characteristic of this class of scenery as is the date-palm of the oases of the Eastern desert. There is however, this difference: a single cypress or pine is often enough to shed beauty over a wide area; the palm is a social tree, and its beauty is not so much that of the individual as of the group[194]. The frequency of the cypress and the pine--combined with the fact that the other trees of Southern Europe which most interest a stranger from the north, the orange and the lemon, the cork oak, the ilex, the myrtle, and the laurel, are evergreens--goes far to explain the beauty of the winter scenery of Italy. Indeed, it is only in the winter that a tourist who confines himself to wheel-carriages and high roads can acquire any notion of the face of the earth, and form any proper geographical image of that country. At other seasons, not high walls only, but equally impervious hedges, and now, unhappily, acacias thickly planted along the railway routes, confine the view so completely, that the arch of a tunnel, or a night-cap over the traveller's eyes, is scarcely a more effectual obstacle to the gratification of his curiosity[195].

The Forest does not furnish Food for Man

In a region absolutely covered with trees, human life could not long be sustained, for want of animal and vegetable food. The depths of the forest seldom furnish either bulb or fruit suited to the nourishment of man; and the fowls and beasts on which he feeds are scarcely seen except upon the margin of the wood, for here only grow the shrubs and grasses, and here only are found the seeds and insects, which form the sustenance of the non-carnivorous birds and quadrupeds[196].

First Removal of the Forest

When multiplying man had filled the open grounds along the margin of the rivers, the lakes, and the sea, and sufficiently peopled the natural meadows and savannas of the interior, where such existed, he could find room for expansion and further growth only by the removal of a portion of the forest that hemmed him in. The destruction of the woods, then, was man's first geographical conquest, his first violation of the harmonies of inanimate nature.

Primitive man had little occasion to fell trees for fuel, or for the construction of dwellings, boats, and the implements of his rude agriculture and handicrafts. Windfalls would furnish a thin population with a sufficient supply of such material, and if occasionally a growing tree was cut, the injury to the forest would be too insignificant to be at all appreciable.

The accidental escape and spread of fire or possibly, the combustion of forests by lightning, must have first suggested the advantages to be derived from the removal of too abundant and extensive woods, and at the same time, have pointed out a means by which a large tract of surface could readily be cleared of much of this natural incumbrance. As soon as agriculture had commenced at all, it would be observed that the growth of cultivated plants, as well as of many species of wild vegetation, was particularly rapid and luxuriant on soils which had been burned over, and thus a new stimulus would be given to the practice of destroying the woods by fire, as a means of both extending the open grounds, and making the acquisition of a yet more productive soil. After a few harvests had exhausted the first rank fertility of this virgin mould, or when weeds and briers and the sprouting roots of the trees had begun to choke the crops of the half-subdued soil, the ground would be abandoned for new fields won from the forest by the same means, and the deserted plain or hillock would soon clothe itself anew with shrubs and trees, to be again subjected to the same destructive process, and again surrendered to the restorative powers of vegetable nature[197].

Principal Causes of the Destruction of the Forest

The needs of agriculture are the most familiar cause of the destruction of the forest in new countries; for not only does an increasing population demand additional acres to grow the vegetables which feed it and its domestic animals, but the slovenly husbandry of the border settler soon exhausts the luxuriance of his first fields, and compels him to remove his household gods to a fresher soil. The extent of cleared ground required for agricultural use depends very much on the number and kinds of the cattle bred. We have seen, in a former chapter, that, in the United States, the domestic quadrupeds amount to more than a hundred millions, or nearly three times the number of the human population of the Union. In many of the Western States, the swine subsist more or less on acorns, nuts, and other products of the woods, and the prairies, or natural meadows of the Mississippi valley, yield a large amount of food for beast, as well as for man. With these exceptions, all this vast army of quadrupeds is fed wholly on grass, grain, pulse, and roots grown on soil reclaimed from the forest by European settlers. It is true that the flesh of domestic quadrupeds enters very largely into the aliment of the American people, and greatly reduces the quantity of vegetable nutriment which they would otherwise consume, so that a smaller amount of agricultural product is required for immediate human food, and, of course, a smaller extent of cleared land is needed for the growth of that product, than if no domestic animals existed. But the flesh of the horse, the ass, and the mule is not consumed by man, and the sheep is reared rather for its fleece than for food. Besides this, the ground required to produce the grass and grain consumed in rearing and fattening a grazing quadruped, would yield a far larger amount of nutriment, if devoted to the growing of breadstuffs, than is furnished by his flesh; and, upon the whole, whatever advantages may be reaped from the breeding of domestic cattle, it is plain that the cleared land devoted to their sustenance in the originally wooded part of the United States, after deducting a quantity sufficient to produce an amount of aliment equal to their flesh, still greatly exceeds that cultivated for vegetables, directly consumed by the people of the same regions; or, to express a nearly equivalent idea in other words, the meadow and the pasture, taken together, much exceed the ploughland[198].

Governments and military commanders have at different periods deliberately destroyed forests by fire or the axe, because they afforded a retreat to robbers, outlaws, or enemies, and this was one of the hostile measures practised by both Julius Caesar and the Gauls in the Roman war of conquest against that people. It was also resorted to in the Mediterranean provinces of France, then much infested by robbers and deserters, as late as the reign of Napoleon I., and is said to have been employed by the early American colonists in their exterminating wars with the native Indians[199].

In the Middle Ages, as well as in earlier and later centuries, attempts have been made to protect the woods by law,[200] as necessary for the breeding of deer, wild boars, and other game, or for the more reasonable purpose of furnishing a supply of building timber and fuel for future generations. It was reserved for more advanced ages to appreciate the geographical importance of the woods, and it is only in the most recent times, only in a few countries of Europe, that the general destruction of the forests has been recognized as the most potent among the many causes of the physical deterioration of the earth[201].

Royal Forests and Game Laws

The French authors I have quoted, as well as many other writers of the same nation, refer to the French Revolution as having given a new impulse to destructive causes which were already threatening the total extermination of the woods[202]. The general crusade against the forests, which accompanied that important event, is to be ascribed, in a considerable degree, to political resentments. The forest codes of the mediaeval kings, and the local "coutumes" of feudalism, contained many severe and even inhuman provisions, adopted rather for the preservation of game than from any enlightened views of the more important functions of the woods. Ordericus Vitalis informs us that William the Conqueror destroyed sixty parishes and drove out their inhabitants, in order that he might turn their lands into a forest,[203] to be reserved as a hunting-ground for himself and his posterity, and he punished with death the killing of a deer, wild boar, or even a hare. His successor, William Rufus, according to the Histoire des Ducs de Normandie et des Rois d'Angleterre, p. 67, "was hunting one day in a new forest, which he had caused to be made out of eighteen parishes that he had destroyed, when, by mischance, he was killed by an arrow wherewith Tyreus de Rois [Sir Walter Tyrell] thought to slay a beast, but missed the beast, and slew the king, who was beyond it. And in this very same forest, his brother Richard ran so hard against a tree that he died of it. And men commonly said that these things were because they had so laid waste and taken the said parishes."

These barbarous acts, as Bonnemere observes,[204] were simply the transfer of the customs of the French kings, of their vassals, and even of inferior gentlemen, to conquered England. "The death of a hare," says our author, "was a hanging matter, the murder of a plover a capital crime. Death was inflicted on those who spread nets for pigeons; wretches who had drawn a bow upon a stag were to be tied to the animal alive; and among the seigniors it was a standing excuse for having killed game on forbidden ground, that they aimed at a serf." The feudal lords enforced these codes with unrelenting rigor, and not unfrequently took the law into their own hands. In the time of Louis IX., according to William of Nangis, "three noble children, born in Flanders, who were sojourning at the abbey of St. Nicholas in the Wood, to learn the speech of France, went out into the forest of the abbey, with their bows and iron-headed arrows, to disport them in shooting hares, chased the game, which they had started in the wood of the abbey, into the forest of Enguerrand, lord of Coucy, and were taken by the sergeants which kept the wood. When the fell and pitiless Sir Enguerrand knew this, he had the children straightway hanged without any manner of trial[205]." The matter being brought to the notice of good King Louis, Sir Enguerrand was summoned to appear, and, finally, after many feudal shifts and dilatory pleas, brought to trial before Louis himself and a special council. Notwithstanding the opposition of the other seigniors, who, it is needless to say, spared no efforts to save a peer, probably not a greater criminal than themselves, the king was much inclined to inflict the punishment of death on the proud baron. "If he believed," said he, "that our Lord would be as well content with hanging as with pardoning, he would hang Sir Enguerrand in spite of all his barons;" but noble and clerical interests unfortunately prevailed. The king was persuaded to inflict a milder retribution, and the murderer was condemned to pay ten thousand livres in coin, and to "build for the souls of the three children two chapels wherein mass should be said every day[206]." The hope of shortening the purgatorial term of the young persons, by the religious rites to be celebrated in the chapels, was doubtless the consideration which operated most powerfully on the mind of the king; and Europe lost a great example for the sake of a mass.

The desolation and depopulation, resulting from the extension of the forest and the enforcement of the game laws, induced several of the French kings to consent to some relaxation of the severity of these latter. Francis I., however, revived their barbarous provisions, and, according to Bonnemere, even so good a monarch as Henry IV. re-enacted them, and "signed the sentence of death upon peasants guilty of having defended their fields against devastation by wild beasts." "A fine of twenty livres," he continues, "was imposed on every one shooting at pigeons, which, at that time, swooped down by thousands upon the new-sown fields and devoured the seed. But let us count even this a progress, for we have seen that the murder of a pigeon had been a capital crime[207]."

Not only were the slightest trespasses on the forest domain--the cutting of an oxgoad, for instance--severely punished, but game animals were still sacred when they had wandered from their native precincts and were ravaging the fields of the peasantry. A herd of deer or of wild boars often consumed or trod down a harvest of grain, the sole hope of the year for a whole family; and the simple driving out of such animals from this costly pasturage brought dire vengeance on the head of the rustic, who had endeavored to save his children's bread from their voracity. "At all times," says Paul Louis Courier, speaking in the name of the peasants of Chambord, in the "Simple Discours," "the game has made war upon us. Paris was blockaded eight hundred years by the deer, and its environs, now so rich, so fertile, did not yield bread enough to support the gamekeepers[208]." The Tiers Etat declared, in 1789, "the most terrible scourge of agriculture is the abundance of wild game, a consequence of the privileges of the chase; the fields are wasted, the forests ruined, and the vines gnawed down to the roots."

Effects of the French Revolution

The abrogation of the game laws and of the harsh provisions of the forestal code was one of the earliest measures of the revolutionary government; and the removal of the ancient restrictions on the chase and of the severe penalties imposed on trespassers upon the public forests, was immediately followed by unbridled license in the enjoyment of the newly conceded rights.

In the popular mind the forest was associated with all the abuses of feudalism, and the evils the peasantry had suffered from the legislation which protected both it and the game it sheltered, blinded them to the still greater physical mischiefs which its destruction was to entail upon them. No longer under the safeguard of the law, the crown forests and those of the great lords were attacked with relentless fury, unscrupulously plundered and wantonly laid waste, and even the rights of property in small private woods ceased to be respected[209].

Various absurd theories, some of which are not even yet exploded, were propagated with regard to the economical advantages of converting the forest into pasture and plough-land, the injurious effects of the woods upon climate, health, facility of internal communication, and the like. Thus resentful memory of the wrongs associated with the forest, popular ignorance, and the cupidity of speculators cunning enough to turn these circumstances to profitable account, combined to hasten the sacrifice of the remaining woods, and a waste was produced which hundreds of years and millions of treasure will hardly repair.

In the era of savage anarchy which followed the beneficent reforms of 1789, economical science was neglected, and statistical details upon the amount of the destruction of woods during that period are wanting. But it is known to have been almost incalculably rapid, and the climatic and financial evils, which elsewhere have been a more gradual effect of this cause, began to make themselves felt in France within three or four years after that memorable epoch[210].

Increased Demand for Lumber

With increasing population and the development of new industries, come new drains upon the forest from the many arts for which wood is the material. The demands of the near and the distant market for this product excite the cupidity of the hardy forester, and a few years of that wild industry of which Springer's "Forest Life and Forest Trees" so vividly depicts the dangers and the triumphs, suffice to rob the most inaccessible glens of their fairest ornaments. The value of timber increases with its dimensions in almost geometrical proportion, and the tallest, most vigorous, and most symmetrical trees fall the first sacrifice. This is a fortunate circuinritiinco for the remainder of the wood; for the impatient lumberman contents himself with felling a few of the best trees, and then hurries on to take his tithe of still virgin groves.

The vast extension of railroads, of manufactures and the mechanical arts, of military armaments, and especially of the commercial fleets and navies of Christendom, within the present century, has incredibly augmented the demand for wood[211], and but for improvements in metallurgy and the working of iron, which have facilitated the substitution of that metal for wood, the last twenty-five years would have almost stripped Europe of her last remaining tree fit for these uses[212]. I have spoken of the foreign demand for American agricultural products as having occasioned an extension of cultivated ground, which had led to clearing land not required by the necessities of home consumption. But the forest itself has become, so to speak, an article of exportation. England, as we have seen, imported oak and pine from the Baltic ports more than six hundred years ago. She has since drawn largely on the forests of Norway, and for many years has received vast quantities of lumber from her American possessions.

The unparalleled facilities for internal navigation, afforded by the numerous rivers of the present and former British colonial possessions in North America, have proved very fatal to the forests of that continent. Quebec became many years ago a centre for a lumber trade, which, in the bulk of its material, and, consequently, in the tonnage required for its transportation, rivalled the commerce of the greatest European cities. Immense rafts were collected at Quebec from the great Lakes, from the Ottawa, and from all the other tributaries which unite to swell the current of the St. Lawrence and help it to struggle against its mighty tides[213]. Ships, of burden formerly undreamed of, have been built to convey the timber to the markets of Europe, and during the summer months the St. Lawrence is almost as crowded with shipping as the Thames[214].

Effects of Forest Fires

The operations of the lumberman involve other dangers to the woods besides the loss of the trees felled by him. The narrow clearings around his shanties form openings which let in the wind, and thus sometimes occasion the overthrow of thousands of trees, the fall of which dams up small streams, and creates bogs by the spreading of the waters, while the decaying trunks facilitate the multiplication of the insects which breed in dead wood and are, some of them, injurious to living trees. The escape and spread of camp-fires, however, is the most devastating of all the causes of destruction that find their origin in the operations of the lumberman. The proportion of trees fit for industrial uses is small in all primitive woods. Only these fall before the forester's axe, but the fire destroys, almost indiscriminately, every age and every species of tree[215].

While, then, without fatal injury to the younger growths, the native forest will bear several "cuttings over" in a generation--for the increasing value of lumber brings into use, every four or five years, a quality of timber which had been before rejected as unmarketable--a fire may render the declivity of a mountain unproductive for a century[216].

Aside from the destruction of the trees and the laying bare of the soil, and consequently the freer admission of sun, rain, and air to the ground, the fire of itself exerts an important influence on its texture and condition. It cracks and sometimes even pulverizes the rocks and stones upon and near the surface[217]; it consumes a portion of the half-decayed vegetable mould which served to hold its mineral particles together and to retain the water of precipitation, and thus loosens, pulverizes, and dries the earth; it destroys reptiles, insects, and worms, with their eggs, and the seeds] of trees and of smaller plants; it supplies, in the ashes which it deposits on the surface, important elements for the growth of a new forest clothing, as well as of the usual objects of agricultural industry; and by the changes thus produced, it fits the ground for the reception of a vegetation different in character from that which had spontaneously covered it. These new conditions help to explain the natural succession of forest crops, so generally observed in all woods cleared by fire and then abandoned. There is no doubt, however, that other influences contribute to the same result, because effects more or less analogous follow when the trees are destroyed by other causes, as by high winds, by the woodman's axe, and even by natural decay[218]. without fatal injury to the younger growths, the native forest will hear several "cuttings over" in a generation--for the increasing value of lumber brings into use, every four or five years, a quality of timber which had been before rejected as unmarketable--a fire may render the declivity of a mountain unproductive for a century[219].

Aside from the destruction of the trees and the laying bare of the soil, and consequently the freer admission of sun, rain, and air to the ground, the fire of itself exerts an important influence on its texture and condition. It cracks and sometimes even pulverizes the rocks and stones upon and near the surface[220]; it consumes a portion of the half-decayed vegetable mould which served to hold its mineral particles together and to retain the water of precipitation, and thus loosens, pulverizes, and dries the earth; it destroys reptiles, insects, and worms, with their eggs, and the seeds of trees and of smaller plants; it supplies, in the ashes which it deposits on the surface, important elements for the growth of a new forest clothing, as well as of the usual objects of agricultural industry; and by the changes thus produced, it fits the ground for the reception of a vegetation different in character from that which had spontaneously covered it. These new conditions help to explain the natural succession of forest crops, so generally observed in all woods cleared by fire and then abandoned. There is no doubt, however, that other influences contribute to the same result, because effects more or less analogous follow when the trees are destroyed by other causes, as by high winds, by the woodman's axe, and even by natural decay[221].

Another evil, sometimes of serious magnitude, which attends the operations of the lumberman, is the injury to the banks of rivers from the practice of floating. I do not here allude to rafts, which, being under the control of those who navigate them, may be so guided as to avoid damage to the shore, but to masts, logs, and other pieces of timber singly entrusted to the streams, to be conveyed by their currents to sawmill ponds, or to convenient places for collecting them into rafts. The lumbermen usually haul the timber to the banks of the rivers in the winter, and when the spring [[flood]s swell the streams and break up the ice, they roll the logs into the water, leaving them to float down to their destination. If the transporting stream is too small to furnish a sufficient channel for this rude navigation, it is sometimes dammed up, and the timber collected in the pond thus formed above the dam. When the pond is full, a sluice is opened, or the dam is blown up or otherwise suddenly broken, and the whole mass of lumber above it is hurried down with the rolling flood. Both of these modes of proceeding expose the banks of the rivers employed as channels of flotation to abrasion[222], and in some of the American States it has been found necessary to protect, by special legislation, the lands through which they flow from the serious injury sometimes received through the practices I have described[223].

Restoration of the Forest

In most countries of Europe--and I fear in many parts of the United States--the woods are already so nearly extirpated, that the mere protection of those which now exist is by no means an adequate security against a great increase of the evils which have already resulted from the diminution of them. Besides this, experience has shown that where the destruction of the woods has been carried beyond a certain point, no coercive legislation can absolutely secure the permanence of the remainder, especially if it is held by private hands. The creation of new forests, therefore, is generally recognized, wherever the subject has received the attention it merits, as an indispensable measure of sound public economy. Enlightened individuals in some European states, the Governments in others, have made extensive plantations, and France, particularly, has now set herself energetically at work to restore the woods in her southern provinces, and thereby to prevent the utter depopulation and waste with which that once fertile soil and genial climate are threatened.

The objects of the restoration of the forest are as multifarious as the motives that have led to its destruction, and as the evils which that destruction has occasioned. It is hoped that the replanting of the mountain slopes, and of bleak and infertile plains, will diminish the frequency and violence of river inundations, prevent the formation of new torrents and check the violence of those already existing, mitigate the extremes of atmospheric temperature, humidity, and precipitation, restore dried-up springs, rivulets, and sources of irrigation, shelter the fields from chilling and from parching winds, arrest the spread of miasmatic effluvia, and, finally, furnish a self-renewing and inexhaustible supply of a material indispensable to so many purposes of domestic comfort, and to the successful exercise of every art of peace, every destructive energy of war[224].

The Economy of the Forest

The legislation of European states upon sylviculture, and the practice of that art, divide themselves into two great branches--the preservation of existing forests, and the creation of new. Although there are in Europe many forests neither planted nor regularly trained by man, yet from the long operation of causes already set forth, what is understood in America and other new countries by the "primitive forest," no longer exists in the territories which were the seats of ancient civilization and empire, except upon a small scale, and in remote and almost inaccessible glens quite out of the reach of ordinary observation. The oldest European woods are indeed native, that is, sprung from self-sown seed, or from the roots of trees which have been felled for human purposes; but their growth has been controlled, in a variety of ways, by man and by domestic animals, and they almost uniformly present more or less of an artificial character and arrangement. Both they and planted forests--which, though certainly not few, are of comparatively recent date in Europe--demand, as well for protection as for promotion of growth, a treatment different in some respects from that which would be suited to the character and wants of the virgin wood.

On this latter branch of the subject, the management of the primitive wood, experience and observation have not yet collected a sufficient stock of facts to serve for the construction of a complete system of this department of sylviculture; but the government of the forest as it exists in France--the different zones and climates of which country present many points of analogy with those of the United States and of some of the British colonies--has been carefully studied, and several manuals of practice have been prepared for the foresters of that empire. I believe the Cours Elementaire de Culture des Bois cree a l'Ecole Forestiere de Nancy, par M. Lorentz, complete et public par A. Parade, with a supplement under the title of Cours d'Amenagement des Forets, par Henri Nanquette, has been generally considered the best of these. The Etudes sur l'Economie Forestiere, par Jules Clave, which I have often quoted, presents a great number of interesting views on this subject, but it is not designed as a practical guide, and it does not profess to be sufficiently specific in its details to serve that purpose[225]. Notwithstanding the difference of conditions between the aboriginal and the trained forest, the judicious observer who aims at the preservation of the former will reap much instruction from the treatises I have cited, and I believe he will be convinced that the sooner a natural wood is brought into the state of an artificially regulated one, the better it is for all the multiplied interests which depend on the wise administration of this branch of public economy.

One consideration bearing on this subject has received less attention than it merits, because most persons interested in such questions have not opportunities for the comparison I refer to. I mean the great general superiority of cultivated timber to that of strictly spontaneous growth. I say GENERAL superiority, because there are exceptions to the rule. The white pine, Pinus strobus, for instance, and other trees of similar character and uses, require, for their perfect growth and best ligneous texture, a density of forest vegetation around them, which protects them from too much agitation by wind, and from the persistence of the lateral branches which fill the wood with knots. A pine which has grown under those conditions possesses a tall, straight stem, admirably fitted for masts and spars, and, at the same time, its wood is almost wholly free from knots, is regular in annular structure, soft and uniform in texture, and, consequently, superior to almost all other timber for joinery. If, while a large pine is spared, the broad-leaved or other smaller trees around it are felled, the swaying of the tree from the action of the wind mechanically produces separations between the layers of annual growth, and greatly diminishes the value of the timber. The same defect is often observed in pines which, from some accident of growth, have much overtopped their fellows in the virgin forest.

The white pine, growing in the fields, or in open glades in the woods, is totally different from the true forest-tree, both in general aspect and in quality of wood. Its stem is much shorter, its top less tapering, its foliage denser and more inclined to gather into tufts, its branches more numerous and of larger diameter, its wood shows much more distinctly the divisions of annual growth, is of coarser grain, harder and more difficult to work into mitre-joints. Intermixed with the most valuable pines in the American forests, are met many trees of the character I have just described. The lumbermen call them "saplings," and generally regard them as different in species from the true white pine, but botanists are unable to establish a distinction between them, and as they agree in almost all respects with trees grown in the open grounds from known white-pine seedlings, I believe their peculiar character is due to unfavorable circumstances in their early growth. The pine, then, is an exception to the general rule as to the inferiority of the forest to the open-ground tree. The pasture oak and pasture beech, on the contrary, are well known to produce far better timber than those grown in the woods, and there are few trees to which the remark is not equally applicable[226].

Another advantage of the artificially regulated forest is, that it admits of such grading of the ground as to favor the retention or discharge of water at will, while the facilities it affords for selecting and duly proportioning, as well as properly spacing, and in felling and removing, from time to time, the trees which compose it, are too obvious to require to be more than hinted at. In conducting these operations, we must have a diligent eye to the requirements of nature, and must remember that a wood is not an arbitrary assemblage of trees to be selected and disposed according to the caprice of its owner. "A forest," says Clave, "is not, as is often supposed, a simple collection of trees succeeding each other in long perspective, without bond of union, and capable of isolation from each other; it is, on the contrary, a whole, the different parts of which are interdependent upon each other, and it constitutes, so to speak, a true individuality. Every forest has a special character, determined by the form of the surface it grows upon, the kinds of trees that compose it, and the manner in which they are grouped." The art, or, as the Continental foresters rather ambitiously call it, the science of sylviculture has been so little pursued in England and America, that its nomenclature has not been introduced into the English vocabulary, and it would not be possible to describe its processes with technical propriety of language, without occasionally borrowing a word from the forest literature of France and Germany. A full discussion of the methods of sylviculture would, indeed, be out of place in a work like the present, but the want of conveniently accessible means of information on the subject, in the United States, will justify me in presenting it with somewhat more of detail than would otherwise be pertinent.

The two best known methods of treating already existing forests are those distinguished as the TAILLIS, copse or coppice treatment[227], and the FUTAIE, for which I find no English equivalent, but which may not inappropriately be called the FULL-GROWTH system. A TAILLIS, copse, or coppice, is a wood composed of shoots from the roots of trees previously cut for fuel and timber. The shoots are thinned out from time to time, and finally cut, either after a fixed number of years, or after the young trees have attained to certain dimensions, their roots being then left to send out a new progeny as before. This is the cheapest method of management, and therefore the best whenever the price of labor and of capital bears a high proportion to that of land and of timber; but it is essentially a wasteful economy[228]. If the woodland is, in the first place, completely cut over as is found most convenient in practice, the young shoots have neither the shade nor the protection from wind so important to forest growth, and their progress is comparatively slow, while at the same time, the thick clumps they form choke the seedlings that may have sprouted near them[229]. The evergreens, once cut do not shoot up again[230], and the mixed character of the forest--in many respects an important advantage, if not an indispensable condition of growth--is lost[231]; and besides this, large wood of any species cannot be grown in this method because trees which shoot from decaying stumps and their dying roots, become hollow or otherwise unsound before they acquire their full dimensions. A more fatal objection still, is, that the roots of trees will not bear more than two or three, or at most four cuttings of their shoots before their vitality is exhausted, and the wood can then be restored only by replanting entirely.

The period of cutting coppices varies in Europe from fifteen to forty years, according to soil, species, and rapidity of growth. In the futaie, or full-growth system, the trees are allowed to stand as long as they continue in healthy and vigorous growth. This is a shorter period than would be at first supposed, when we consider the advanced age and great dimensions to which, under favorable circumstances, many forest-trees attain in temperate climates. But, as every observing person familiar with the forest is aware, these are exceptional cases, just as are instances of great longevity or of gigantic stature among men. Able vegetable physiologists have maintained that the tree, like most fish and reptiles, has no natural limit of life or of growth, and that the only reason why our oaks and our pines do not reach the age of twenty centuries and the height of a hundred fathoms, is, that in the multitude of accidents to which they are exposed, the chances of their attaining to such a length of years and to such dimensions of growth are millions to one against them. But another explanation of this fact is possible. In trees affected by no discoverable external cause of death, decay begins at the topmost branches, which seem to wither and die for want of nutriment. The mysterious force by which the sap is carried from the roots to the utmost twigs, cannot be conceived to be unlimited in power, and it is probable that it differs in different species, so that while it may suffice to raise the fluid to the height of five hundred feet in the eucalyptus, it may not be able to carry it beyond one hundred and fifty in the oak. The limit may be different, too, in different trees of the same species, not from defective organization in those of inferior growth, but from more or less favorable conditions of soil, nourishment, and exposure. Whenever a tree attains to the limit beyond which its circulating fluids cannot rise, we may suppose that decay begins, and death follows from want of nutrition at the extremities, and from the same causes which bring about the same results in animals of limited size--such, for example, as the interruption of functions essential to life, in consequence of the clogging up of ducts by matter assimilable in the stage of growth, but no longer so when increment has ceased. In the natural woods we observe that, though, among the myriads of trees which grow upon a square mile, there are several vegetable giants, yet the great majority of them begin to decay long before they have attained their maximum of stature, and this seems to be still more emphatically true of the artificial forest. In France, according to Clave, "oaks, in a suitable soil, may stand, without exhibiting any sign of decay, for two or three hundred years; the pines hardly exceed one hundred and twenty, and the soft or white woods [bois blancs], in wet soils, languish, and die before reaching the fiftieth year[232]." These ages are certainly below the average of those of American forest-trees, and are greatly exceeded in very numerous well-attested instances of isolated trees in Europe.

The former mode of treating the futaie, called the garden system, was to cut the trees individually as they arrived at maturity, but, in the best regulated forests, this practice has been abandoned for the German method, which embraces not only the securing of the largest immediate profit, but the replanting of the forest, and the care of the young growth. This is effected in the case of a forest, whether natural or artificial, which is to be subjected to regular management, by three operations. The first of these consists in felling about one-third of the trees, in such way as to leave convenient spaces for the growth of seedlings. The remaining two-thirds are relied upon to replant the vacancies, by natural sowing, which they seldom or never fail to do. The seedlings are watched, are thinned out when too dense, and the ill-formed and sickly, as well as those of species of inferior value, and the shrubs and thorns which might otherwise choke or too closely shade them, are pulled up. When they have attained sufficient strength and development of foliage to require, or at least to bear, more light and air, the second step is taken, by removing a suitable proportion of the old trees which had been spared at the first cutting; and when, finally, the younger trees are hardened enough to bear frost and sun without other protection than that which they mutually give to each other, the remainder of the original forest is felled, and the wood now consists wholly of young and vigorous trees. This result is obtained after about twenty years. At convenient periods, the unhealthy stocks and those injured by wind or other accidents are removed, and in some instances the growth of the remainder is promoted by irrigation or by fertilizing applications[233].

When the forest is approaching maturity, the original processes already described are repeated; and as, in different parts of an extensive forest, they would take place at different times in different zones, it would afford indefinitely an annual crop of small wood, fuel, and timber.

The duties of the forester do not end here, for it sometimes happens that the glades left by felling the older trees are not sufficiently seeded, or that the species, or essences, as the French oddly call them, are not duly proportioned in the new crop. In this case, seed must be artificially sown, or young trees planted in the vacancies. Besides this, all trees, whether grown for fruit, for fuel, or for timber, require more or less training in order to yield the best returns. The experiments of the Vicomte de Courval in sylviculture throw much light on this subject, and show, in a most interesting way, the importance of pruning forest-trees. The principal feature of De Courval's very successful method is a systematical mode of trimming which compels the tree to develop the stem, by reducing the lateral ramification. Beginning with young trees, the buds are rubbed off from the stems, and superfluous lateral shoots are pruned down to the trunk. When large trees are taken in hand, branches which can be spared, and whose removal is necessary to obtain a proper length of stem, are very smoothly cut off quite close to the trunk, and the exposed surface is IMMEDIATELY brushed over with mineral-coal tar. When thus treated, it is said that the healing of the wound is perfect, and without any decay of the tree. Trees trained by De Courval's method, which is now universally approved and much practised in France, rapidly attained a great height. They grow with remarkable straightness of stem and of grain, and their timber commands the highest price[234].

A system of plantation, specially though not exclusively suited to very moist soils, recommended by Duhamel a hundred years ago, has been revived in Germany, within about twenty years, with much success. It is called hill-planting, and consists in placing the young tree upright on the greensward with its roots properly spread out, and then covering the roots and supporting the trunk by thick sods cut so as to form a circular hillock around it[235]. By this method it is alleged trees can be grown advantageously both in dry ground and on humid soils, where they would not strike root if planted in holes after the usual mauner. If there is any truth in the theory of a desiccating action in evergreen trees, plantations of this sort might have a value as drainers of lands not easily laid dry by other processes. There is much ground on the great prairies of the West, where experiments with this method of planting are strongly to be recommended.

It is common in Europe to permit the removal of the fallen leaves and fragments of bark and branches with which the forest-soil is covered, and sometimes the cutting of the lower twigs of evergreens. The leaves and twigs are principally used as litter for cattle, and finally as manure, the bark and wind-fallen branches as fuel. By long usage, sometimes by express grant, this privilege has become a vested right of the population in the neighborhood of many public and even large private forests; but it is generally regarded as a serious evil. To remove the leaves and fallen twigs is to withdraw much of the pabulum upon which the tree was destined to feed. The small branches and leaves are the parts of the tree which yield the largest proportion of ashes on combustion, and of course they supply a great amount of nutriment for the young shoots. "A cubic foot of twigs," says Vaupell, "yields four times as much ashes as a cubic foot of stem wood. ... For every hundred weight of dried leaves carried off from a beech forest, we sacrifice a hundred and sixty cubic feet of wood. The leaves and the mosses are a substitute, not only for manure, but for ploughing. The carbonic acid given out by decaying leaves, when taken up by water, serves to dissolve the mineral constituents of the soil, and is particularly active in disintegrating feldspar and the clay derived from its decomposition. ... The leaves belong to the soil. Without them it cannot preserve its fertility, and cannot furnish nutriment to the beech. The trees languish, produce seed incapable of germination, and the spontaneous self-sowing, which is an indispensable element in the best systems of sylviculture, fails altogether in the bared and impoverished soil[236]."

Besides these evils, the removal of the leaves deprives the soil of much of that spongy character which gives it such immense value as a reservoir of moisture and a regulator of the flow of springs; and, finally, it exposes the surface-roots to the drying influence of sun and wind, to accidental mechanical injury from the tread of animals or men, and, in cold climates, to the destructive effects of frost.

Protection against Wild Animals

It is often necessary to take measures for the protection of young trees against the rabbit, the mole, and other rodent quadrupeds, and of older ones against the damage done by the larvae of insects hatched upon the surface or in the tissues of the bark, or even in the wood itself. The much greater liability of the artificial than of the natural forest to injury from this cause is perhaps the only point in which the superiority of the former to the latter is not as marked as that of any domesticated vegetable to its wild representative. But the better quality of the wood and the much more rapid growth of the trained and regulated forest are abundant compensations for the loss thus occasioned, and the progress of entomological science will, perhaps, suggest new methods of preventing the ravages of insects. Thus far, however, the collection and destruction ofthe eggs, by simple but expensive means, has proved the most effectual remedy[237].

Exclusion of Domestic Quadrupeds

But probably the most important of all rules for the government of the forest, whether natural or artificial, is that which prescribes the absolute exclusion of all domestic quadrupeds, except swine, from every wood which is not destined to be cleared. No growth of young trees is possible where horned cattle, sheep, or goats, or even horses, are permitted to pasture at any season of the year, though they are doubtless most destructive when trees are in leaf[238].

These animals browse upon the terminal buds and the tender branches, thereby stunting, if they do not kill, the young trees, and depriving them of all beauty and vigor of growth.

Forest Fires

The difficulty of protecting the woods against accidental or incendiary fires is one of the most discouraging circumstances attending the preservation of natural and the plantation of artificial forests[239]. In the spontaneous wood the spread of fire is somewhat retarded by the general humidity of the soil and of the beds of leaves which cover it. But in long droughts the superficial layer of leaves and the dry fallen branches become as inflammable as tinder, and the fire spreads with fearful rapidity, until its further progress is arrested by want of material, or, more rarely, by heavy rains, sometimes caused, as many meteorologists suppose, by the conflagration itself.

In the artificial forest the annual removal of fallen or half-dried trees and the leaves and other droppings of the wood, though otherwise a very injurious practice, much diminishes the rapid spread of fires; and the absence of combustible underwood and the greater distance between the trees are additional safeguards. But, on the other hand, the comparative dryness of the soil, and of any leaves or twigs which may remain upon it, and the greater facility for the passage of wind-currents through a regularly planted and more open wood, are circumstances unfavorable to the security of the trees against this formidable danger. The natural forest, unless isolated and of small extent, can be protected from fire only by a vigilance too costly to be systematically practised. But the artificial wood may be secured by a network of ditches and of paths or occasional open glades, which both check the running of the fire and furnish the means of approaching and combating it[240].

The experience of 1871 ought not to be wholly without value as a lesson. It is not possible to estimate the damage by forest fires in that disastrous year, in what were lately the North-western States, and in Canada, but as the demand for lumber, and consequently, its market price, are rising at a rate higher than the interest on capital, in a geometrical ratio, one may almost say it is probable that ten years hence those fires will be thought to have diminished the national wealth by a larger amount than even the terrible conflagration at Chicago.

There is no good reason why insurance companies should not guarantee the proprietor of a wood as well as the owner of a house against damage by fire. In Europe there is no conceivable liability to pecuniary loss which may not be insured against. The American companies might at first be embarrassed in estimating the risk, but the experience of a few years would suggest safe principles, and all parties would find advantage in this extension of security.

Forest Legislation

I have alleged sufficient reasons for believing that a desolation, like that which has overwhelmed many once beautiful and fertile regions of Europe, awaits an important part of the territory of the United States, and of other comparatively new countries over which European civilization is now extending its sway, unless prompt measures are taken to check the action of destructive causes already in operation. It is almost in vain to expect that mere restrictive legislation can do anything effectual to arrest the progress of the evil in those countries, except so far as the state is still the proprietor of extensive forests. Woodlands which have passed into private hands will everywhere be managed, in spite of legal restrictions, upon the same economical principles as other possessions, and every proprietor will, as a general rule, fell his woods, unless he believes that it will be for his pecuniary interest to preserve them. Few of the new provinces which the last three centuries have brought under the control of the European race, would tolerate any interference by the law-making power with what they regard as the most sacred of civil rights--the right, namely, of every man to do what he will with his own. In the Old World, even in France, whose people, of all European nations, love best to be governed and are least annoyed by bureaucratic supervision, law has been found impotent to prevent the destruction, or wasteful economy, of private forests; and in many of the mountainous departments of that country, man is at this moment so fast laying waste the face of the earth, that the most serious fears are entertained, not only of the depopulation of those districts, but of enormous mischiefs to the provinces contiguous to them[241]. The only legal provisions from which anything is to be hoped, are such as shall make it a matter of private advantage to the landholder to spare the trees upon his grounds, and promote the growth of the young wood. Much may be done by exempting standing forests from taxation, and by imposing taxes on wood felled for fuel or for timber, something by more stringent provisions against trespasses on forest property, and something by premiums or honorary distinctions for judicious management of the woods; and, in short, in this matter rewards rather than punishments must be the incentives to obedience even to a policy of enlightened self-interest. It might be difficult to induce governments, general or local, to make the necessary appropriations for such purposes, but there can be no doubt that it would be sound economy in the end.

In countries where there exist municipalities endowed with an intelligent public spirit, the purchase and control of forests by such corporations would often prove advantageous; and in some of the provinces of Northern Lombardy, experience has shown that such operations may be conducted with great benefit to all the interests connected with the proper management of the woods. In Switzerland, on the other hand, except in some few cases where woods have been preserved as a defence against avalanches, the forests of the communes have been of little advantage to the public interests, and have very generally gone to decay[242]. The rights of pasturage, everywhere destructive to trees, combined with toleration of trespasses, have so reduced their value, that there is, too often, nothing left that is worth protecting. In the canton of Ticino, the peasants have very frequently voted to sell the town-woods and divide the proceeds among the corporators. The sometimes considerable sums thus received are squandered in wild revelry, and the sacrifice of the forests brings not even a momentary benefit to the proprietors[243].

Fortunately for the immense economical and sanitary interests involved in this branch of rural and industrial husbandry, public opinion in many parts of the United States is thoroughly roused to the importance of the subject. In the Eastern States, plantations of a certain extent have been made, and a wiser system is pursued in the treatment of the remaining native woods[244]. Important experiments have been tried in Massachusetts on the propagation of forest-trees on seashore bluffs exposed to strong winds. This had been generally supposed to be impossible, but the experiments in question afford a gratifying proof that this is an erroneous opinion. Piper gives an interesting account of Mr. Tudor's success in planting trees on the bleak and barren shore of Nahant. "Mr. Tudor," observes he, "has planted more than ten thousand trees at Nahaut, and, by the results of his experiments, has fully demonstrated that trees, properly cared for in the beginning, may be made to grow up to the very bounds of the ocean, exposed to the biting of the wind and the spray of the sea. The only shelter they require is, at first, some interruption to break the current of the wind, such as fences, houses, or other trees[245]."

Young trees protected against the wind by a fence will somewhat overtop their shelter, and every tree will serve as a screen to a taller one behind it. Extensive groves have thus been formed in situations where an isolated tree would not grow at all.

The people of the Far West have thrown themselves into the work, we cannot say of restoration, but rather of creation, of woodland, with much of the passionate energy which marks their action in reference to other modes of physical improvement. California has appointed a State forester with a liberal salary, and made such legal provisions and appropriations as to render the discharge of his duties effectual. The hands that built the Pacific Railroad at the rate of miles in a day are now busy in planting belts of trees to shelter the track from snow- drifts, and to supply, at a future day, timber for ties and fuel for the locomotives. The settlers on the open plains, too, are not less actively engaged in the propagation of the woods, and if we can put faith in the official statistics on the subject, not thousands but millions of trees are annually planted on the prairies.

These experiments are of much scientific as well as economical interest. The prairies have never been wooded, so far as we know their history, and it has been contended that successful sylviculture would be impracticable in those regions from the want ofrain. But we are acquainted with no soil and climate which favor the production of herbage and forbid the rearing of trees, and, as Bryant well observes, "it seems certain that where grass will grow trees may be made to grow also[246]." In any case the question will now be subjected to a practical test, and the plantations are so extensive, and, as is reported, so thrifty in growth, that one generation will suffice to determine with certainty and precision how far climate is affected by clothing with wood a vast territory naturally destitute of that protection.

I have thus far spoken only of the preservation and training of existing woods, not of the planting of new forests, because European experience, to which alone we can appeal, is conversant only with conditions so different from those of our own climate, soil, and arboreal vegetation, that precedents drawn from it cannot be relied upon as entirely safe rules for our guidance in that branch of rural economy[247].

I apprehend that one rule, which is certainly alike applicable to both sides of the Atlantic--that, namely, of the absolute exclusion of domestic quadrupeds from all woods, old or young, not destined for the axe--would be least likely to be observed in our practice. The need of shade for cattle, and our inveterate habits in this respect, are much more serious obstacles to compliance with this precept than any inherent difficulty in the thing itself; for there is no good reason why our cattle may not be kept out of our woods as well as out of our wheatfields. When forest-planting is earnestly and perseveringly practised, means of overcoming this difficulty will be found, and our husbandry will be modified to meet the exigency.

The best general advice that can be offered, in the want of an experimental code, is to make every plantation consist of a great variety of trees, and this not only because nature favors a diversified forest-crop, but because the chances of success among a multitude of species are far greater than if we confine ourselves to one or two.

It will doubtless be found that in our scorching summer, especially on bare plains, shade for young plants is even more necessary than in most parts of Europe, and hence a fair proportion of rapidly growing trees and shrubs, even if themselves of little intrinsic value, ought to be regarded as an indispensable feature in every young plantation. These trees should be of species which bear a full supply of air and light, and therefore, in the order of nature, precede those which are of greater value for the permanent wood; and it would be a prudent measure to seed the ground with a stock of such plants, a year or two before sowing or transplanting the more valuable varieties.

More specific rules than these cannot at present well be given, but very brief experiments, even if not in all respects wisely conducted, will suffice to determine the main question: whether in a given locality this or that particular tree can advantageously be propagated or introduced. The special processes of arboriculture suited to the ends of the planter may be gathered partly from cautious imitation of European practice, and partly from an experience which, though not pronouncing definitively in a single season, will, nevertheless, suggest appropriate methods of planting and training the wood within a period not disproportioned to the importance of the object[248].

The growth of arboreal vegetation is comparatively slow, and we are often told that, though he who buries an acorn may hope to see it shoot up to a miniature resemblance of the majestic tree which shall shade his remote descendants, yet the longest life hardly embraces the seedtime and the harvest of a forest. The planter of a wood, it is said, must be actuated by higher motives than those of an investment, the profits of which consist in direct pecuniary gain to himself or even to his posterity; for if, in rare cases, an artificial forest may, in a generation or two, more than repay its original cost, still, in general, the value of its timber will not return the capital expended and the interest accrued[249]. But the modern improved methods of sylviculture show vastly more favorable financial results; and when we consider the immense collateral advantages derived from the presence of the forest, the terrible evils necessarily resulting from its destruction, we cannot but admit that the preservation of existing woods, and the more costly extension and creation of them where they have been unduly reduced or have never existed, are among the plainest dictates of self-interest and most obvious of the duties which this age owes to those that are to come after it.

Financial Results of Forest Plantation

Upon the whole, I am persuaded that the financial statistics which are found in French and German authors, as the results of European experience in forest economy, present the question under a too unfavorable aspect; and therefore these calculations ought not to discourage landed proprietors from making experiments on this subject. These statistics apply to woods whose present condition is, in an eminent degree, the effect of previous long-continued mismanagement; and there is much reason to believe that in the propitious climate of the United States new plantations, regulated substantially according to the methods of De Courval, Chambrelent, and Chevandier, and accompanied with the introduction of exotic trees, as, for example, the Australian caruarina and eucalyptus[250] which, latter, it is said, has a growth at least five, and, according to some, ten times more rapid than that of the oak--would prove good investments even in an economical aspect[251].

There is no doubt that they would pay the expenses of their planting at no distant period, at least in every case where irrigation is possible, and in very many situations, terraces, ditches, or even horizontal furrows upon the hillsides, would answer as a substitute for more artificial irrigation. Large proprietors would receive important indirect benefits from the shelter and the moisture which forests furnish for the lands in their neighborhood, and eventually from the accumulation of vegetable mould in the woods[252]. The security of the investment, as in the case of all real-estate, is a strong argument for undertaking such plantations, and a moderate amount of government patronage and encouragement would be sufficient to render the creation of new forests an object of private interest as well as of public advantage, especially in a country where the necessity is so urgent and the climate so favorable as in the United States.

Instability of American Life

All human institutions, associate arrangements, modes of life, have their characteristic imperfections. The natural, perhaps the necessary defect of ours, is their instability, their want of fixedness, not in form only, but even in spirit. The face of physical nature in the United States shares this incessant fluctuation, and the landscape is as variable as the habits of the population. It is time for some abatement in the restless love of change which characterizes us, and makes us almost a nomade rather than a sedentary people[253]. We have now felled forest enough everywhere, in many districts far too much. Let us restore this one element of material life to its normal proportions, and devise means of maintaining the permanence of its relations to the fields, the meadows, and the pastures, to the rain and the dews of heaven, to the springs and rivulets with which it waters the earth. The establishment of an approximately fixed ratio between the two most broadly characterized distinctions of rural surface--woodland and ploughland--would involve a certain persistence of character in all the branches of industry, all the occupations and habits of life, which depend upon or are immediately connected with either, without implying a rigidity that should exclude flexibility of accommodation to the many changes of external circumstance which human wisdom can neither prevent nor foresee, and would thus help us to become, more emphatically, a well-ordered and stable commonwealth, and, not less conspicuously, a people of progress.



This is a chapter from Earth as Modified by Human Action, The (historical e-book).
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Notes

1. ^The recorded evidence in support of the proposition in the text has been collected by L. F. Alfred Maury, in his Histoire des grandes Forets de la Gauls et de l'ancienne France, and by Becquerel, in his important work, Des climats et de l'Influence qu'exercent les Sols boises et non boises, livre ii., chap. i. to iv. We may rank among historical evidences on this point, if not technically among historical records, old geographical names and terminations etymologically indicating forest or grove, which are so common in many parts of the Eastern Continent now entirely stripped of woods--such as, in Southern Europe, Breuil, Broglio, Brolio, Brolo; in Northern, Bruhl, and the endings -dean, -den, -don, -ham, -holt, -horst, -hurst, -lund, -shaw, -shot, -skog, -skov, -wald, -weald, -wold, -wood.

2. ^ The island of Madeira, whose noble forests wore devastated by fire not Iong after its colonization by European settlors, takes its name from the Portuguese word tor wood.

3.^ Even the volcanic dust of Etna remains very long unproductive. Near Nicolosi is a great extent of coarse black sand, thrown out in 1669, which, for almost two centuries, lay entirely bare, and can be made to grow plants only by artificial mixtures and much labor.The increase in the price of wines, in consequence of the diminution of the product from the grape disease, however, has brought even these ashes under cultivation. "I found," says Waltershausen, referring to the years 1861-62, "plains of volcanic sand and half-subdued lava streams, which twenty years ago lay utterly waste, now covered with fine vineyards. The ashfield of ten square miles above Nicolosi, created by the eruption of 1669, which was entirely barren in 1835, is now planted with vines almost to the summits of Monte Rosso, at a height of three thousand feet" Ueber den Sicilianischen Ackerbau, p. 19.

4. ^A Relation of a Journey Begun An. Dom. 1610, lib. 4, p. 260, edition of 1615. The testimony of Sandys on this point is confirmed by that of Pighio, Braccini, Magliocco, Salimbeni, and Nicola di Rubco, all cited by Roth, Der Vesuv., p. 9. There is some uncertainty about the date of the last eruption previous to the great one of 163l. Ashes, though not lava, appear to have been thrown out about the year 1500, and some chroniclers have recorded an eruption in the year 1306; but this seems to be an error for 1036, when a great quantity of lava was ejected. In 1130, ashes were thrown out for many days. I take these dates from the work of Roth just cited.

5. ^ There are, in Northern Italy and in Switzerland, joint-stock companies which insure against damage by hail, as well as by fire and lightning. Between the years 1854 and 1861, a single one of these companies, La Riunione Adriatica, paid, for damage by hail in Piedmont, Venetian Lombardy, and the Duchy of Parma, above 6,500,000 francs, or nearly $200,000 per year.

6. ^The paragrandine, or, as it is called in French, the paragrele, is a species of conductor by which it has been hoped to protect the harvests in countries particularly exposed to damage by hail. It was at first proposed to employ for this purpose poles supporting sheaves of straw connected with the ground by the same material; but the experiment was afterwards tried in Lombardy on a large scale, with more perfect electrical conductors, consisting of poles secured to the top of tall trees and provided with a pointed wire entering the ground and reaching above the top of the pole. It was at first thought that this apparatus, erected at numerous points over an extent of several miles, was of some service as a protection against hail, but this opinion was soon disputed, and does not appear to be supported by well-ascertained facts. The question of a repetition of the experiment over a wide area has been again agitated within a very few years in Lombardy; but the doubts expressed by very able physicists as to its efficacy, and as to the point whether hail is an electrical phenomenon, have discouraged its advocates from attempting it.

7. ^ Cenni sulla Importansa e Coltura dei Boschi, p. 6.

8. ^Memoria sui Boschi, etc., p. 44.

9. ^Le Alpi che cingono l'Italia, i., p. 377. See "On the Influence of the Forest in Preventing Hail-storms," a paper by Becquerel, in the Memoires de l'Academie des Sciences, vol. xxxv. The conclusion of this eminent physicist is, that woods do excercise, both within their own limits and in their vicinity, the influence popularly ascribed to them in this respect, and that the effect is probably produced partly by mechanical and partly by electrical action.

10. ^"Long before the appearance of man, ... they [the forests] had robbed the atmosphere of the enormous quantity of carbonic acid it contained, and thereby transformed it into respirable air. Trees heaped upon trees had already filled up the ponds and marshes, and buried with them in the bowels of the earth--to restore it to us, after thousands of ages, in the form of bituminous coal and of anthracite--the carbon which was destined to become, by this wonderful condensation, a precious store of future wealth."--Clave, Etudes sur l'Economie Forestiere, p. 13. Mossman ascribes the great luxuriance and special character of the Australian and New Zealand forests, as well as other peculiarities of the vegetation of the Southern hemisphere, to a supposed larger proportion of carbon in the atmosphere of that hemisphere, though the fact of such excess does not appear to have been established by chemical analysis. Mossman, Origin of the Seasons. Edinburgh, 1869. Chaps. xvi. and xvil.

11. ^ Schacht ascribes to the forest a specific, if not a measurable, influence upon the constitution of the atmosphere. "Plants imbibe from the air carbonic acid and other gaseous or volatile products exhaled by animals or developed by the natural phenomena of decomposition. On the other hand, the vegetable pours into the atmosphere oxygen, which is taken up by animals and appropriated by them. The tree, by means of its leaves and its young herbaceous twigs, presents a considerable surface for absorption and evaporation; it abstracts the carbon of carbonic acid, and solidifies it in wood, fecula, and a multitude of other compounds. The result is that a forest withdraws from the air, by its great absorbent surface, much more gas than meadows or cultivated fields, and exhales proportionally a considerably greater quantity of oxygen. The influence of the forests on the chemical composition of the atmosphere is, in a word, of the highest importance."--Les Arbres, p. 111.

See on this subject a paper by J. Jamin, in the Revue des Deux Mondes for Sept. 15, 1864; and, on the effects of human industry on the atmosphere, an article in Aus der Natur, vol. 29, 1864, pp. 443, 449, 465, et seq. See also Alfred Maury, Les Forete de la Gaule, p. 107. Our inquiries upon this branch of the subject will accordingly be limited to the thermometrical and hygrometrical influences of the woods. There is, however, a special protective function of the forest, perhaps, in part, of a chemical nature, which may be noticed here.The influence of forests in preventing the diffusion of miasmatic vapors is not a matter of familiar observation, and perhaps it does not come strictly within the sphere of the present inquiry, but its importance will justify me in devoting some space to the subject. "It has been observed" (I quote from Becquerel) "that humid air, charged with miasmata, is deprived of them in passing through the forest. Rigaud de Lille observed localities in Italy where the interposition of a screen of trees preserved everything beyond it, while the unprotected grounds were subject to fevers." Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., p. 9.

12. ^ Salvagnoli, Rapporto sul Bonificamento delle Maremme Toscane, pp. xii., 124.

13. ^ Il Politecnico, Milano, Aprile e Maggio, 1863, p. 35.

14. ^Salvagnoli, Memorie sulle Maremme Toscane, pp. 213, 214. The sanitary action of the forest has been lately matter of much attention in Italy. See Rendiconti del Congresso Medico del 1869 a Firenze, and especially the important observations of Selmi, Il Miasma Palustre, Padua, 1870, pp. 100 et seq. This action is held by this able writer to be almost wholly chemical, and he earnestly recommends the plantation of groves, at least of belts of trees, as an effectual protection against the miasmatic influence of marshes. Very interesting observations on this point will be found in Ebermayer, Die Physikalischen Einwirkungen des Waldes, Aschaffenburg, 1873, B. I., pp. 237 et seq., where great importance is ascribed to the development of ozone by the chemical action of the forest. The beneficial influence of the ozone of the forest atmosphere on the human system is, however, questioned by some observers. See also the able memoir: Del Miasma vegetale e delle Malattis Miasmatiche of Dr D. Pantaleoni in Lo Sperimentale, vol. xxii., 1870.

The necessity of such hygienic improvements as shall render the new capital of Italy a salubrious residence gives great present importance to this question, and it is much to be hoped that the Agro Romano, as well as more distant parts of the Campagna, will soon be dotted with groves and traversed by files of rapidly growing trees. Many forest trees grow with great luxuriance in Italy, and a moderate expense in plantation would in a very few years determine whether any amelioration of the sanitary condition of Rome can be expected from this measure.

It is said by recent writers that in India the villages of the natives and the encampments of European troops, situated in the midst or in the neighborhood of groves and of forests, are exempt from cholera. Similar observations were also made in 1854 in Germany when this terrible disease was raging there. It is hence inferred that forests prevent the spreading of this malady, or rather the development of those unknown influences of which cholera is the result. These influences, if we may believe certain able writers on medical subjects, are telluric rather than meteoric; and they regard it as probable that the uniform moisture of soil in forests may be the immediate cause of the immunity enjoyed by such localities. See an article by Pettenkofer in the Sud-Deutsche Presse, August, 1869; and the observations of Ebermayer in the work above quoted, pp. 246 et seq.

In Australia and New Zealand, as well as generally in the Southern Hemisphere, the indigenous trees are all evergreens, and even deciduous trees introduced from the other side of the equator become evergreen. In those regions, even in the most swampy localities, malarious diseases are nearly, if not altogether, unknown. Is this most important fact due to the persistence of the foliage Mossman, Origin of Climates, pp. 374, 393, 410, 425, et seq.

15. ^Except in the seething marshes of northern tropical and subtropical regions, where vegetable decay is extremely rapid, the uniformity of temperature and of atmospheric humidity renders all forests eminently healthful. See Hohensten's observations on this subject, Der Wald, p. 41; also A. Maury, Les Forets de la Gaule, p. 7.

The flat and marshy district of the Sologne in France was salubrious until its woods were felled. It then became pestilential, but within the last few years its healthfulness has been restored by forest plantations. Jules Clave in Revue des Deux Mondes for 1st March, 1866, p. 209. There is no question that open squares and parks conduce to the salubrity of cities, and many observers are of opinion that the trees and other vegetables with which such grounds are planted contribute essentially to their beneficial influence. See an article in Aus der Natur, xxii, p. 813.

16. ^ It is perhaps too much to say that the influence of trees upon the wind is strictly limited to the mechanical resistance of their trunks, branches, and foliage. So far as the forest, by dead or by living action, raises or lowers the temperature of the air within it, so far it creates upward or downward currents in the atmosphere above it, and, consequently, a flow of air towards or from itself. These air-streams have a certain, though doubtless a very small, influence on the force and direction of greater atmospheric movements.

17. ^As a familiar illustration of the influence of the forest in checking the movement of winds, I may mention the well-known fact, that the sensible cold is never extreme in thick woods, where the motion of the air is little felt. The lumbermen in [[Canada] and the Northern United States labor in the woods, without inconvenience, when the mercury stands many degrees below the zero of Fahrenheit, while in the open grounds, with only a moderate breeze, the same temperature is almost insupportable. The engineers and firemen of locomotives, employed on railways running through forests of any considerable extent, observe that, in very cold weather, it is much easier to keep up the steam while the engine is passing through the woods than in the open ground. As soon as the train emerges from the shelter of the trees the steam-gauge falls, and the stoker is obliged to throw in a liberal supply of fuel to bring it up again.

Another less frequently noticed fact, due, no doubt, in a great measure to the immobility of the air, is, that sounds are transmitted to incredible distances in the unbroken forest. Many instances of this have fallen under my own observation, and others, yet more striking, have been related to me by credible and competent witnesses familiar with a more primitive condition of the Anglo-American world. An acute observer of natural phenomena, whose childhood and youth were spent in the interior of one of the newer New England States, has often told me that when he established his home in the forest, he always distinctly heard, in still weather, the plash of horses' feet, when they forded a small brook nearly seven-eighths of a mile from his house, though a portion of the wood that intervened consisted of a ridge seventy or eighty feet higher than either the house or the ford.

I have no doubt that, in such cases, the stillness of the air is the most important element in the extraordinary transmissibilty of sound; but it must be admitted that the absence of the multiplied, and confused noises, which accompany human industry in countries thickly peopled by man, contributes to the same result. We become, by habit, almost insensible to the familiar and never-resting voices of civilization in cities and towns; but the indistinguishable drone, which sometimes escapes even the ear of him who listens for it, deadens and often quite obstructs the transmission of sounds which would otherwise be clearly audible. An observer, who wishes to appreciate that hum of civic life which he cannot analyze, will find an excellent opportunity by placing himself on the hill of Capo di Monte at Naples, in the line of prolongation of the street called Spaccanapoli.

It is probably to the stillness of which I have spoken that we are to ascribe the transmission of sound to great distances at sea in calm weather. In June, 1853, I and my family were passengers on board a ship-of-war bound up the Aegean. On the evening of the 27th of that month, as we were discussing, at the tea-table, some observations of Humboldt on this subject, the captain of the ship told us that he had once heard a single gun at sea at the distance of ninety nautical miles. The next morning, though a light breeze had sprung up from the north, the sea was of glassy smoothness when we went on deck. As we came up, an officer told us that he had heard a gun at sunrise, and the conversation of the previous evening suggested the inquiry whether it could have been fired from the combined French and English fleet then lying at Beshika Bay. Upon examination of our position we were found to have been, at sunrise, ninety sea miles from that point. We continued beating up northwards, and between sunrise and twelve o'clock meridian of the 28th, we had made twelve miles northing, reducing our distance from Beshika Bay to seventy-eight sea miles. At noon we heard several guns so distinctly that we were able to count the number. On the 29th we came up with the fleet, and learned from an officer who came on board that a royal salute had been fired at noon on the 28th, in honor of the day as the anniversary of the Queen of England's coronation. The report at sunrise was evidently the morning gun, those at noon the salute.

Such cases are rare, because the sea is seldom still, and the [word in Greek] rarely silent, over so great a space as ninety or even seventy-eight nautical miles. I apply the epithet silent to [word in Greek] advisedly. I am convinced that Aeschylus meant the audible laugh of the waves, which is indeed of COUNTLESS multiplicity, not the visible smile of the sea, which, belonging to the great expanse as one impersonation, is single, though, like the human smile, made up of the play of many features.

18. ^Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., p. 179.

19. ^Ibid., p. 116. Becquerel's views have been amply confirmed by recent extensive experiments on the bleak, stony, and desolate plain of the Cran in the Department of the Bouches-du-Rhone, which had remained a naked waste from the earliest ages of history. Belts of trees prove a secure protection even against the furious and chilly blasts of the Mistral, and in this shelter plantations of fruit-trees and vegetables, fertilized by the waters and the slime of the Durance, which are conducted and distributed over the Cran, thrive with the greatest luxuriance. Surrell, Etude sur les Torrents, 2d edition, 1872, ii, p. 85.

20. ^ Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., Discours Prelim., vi.

21. ^ Travels, i., p. 61.

22. ^ Le Alpi che cingono l'Italia, pp. 370, 371.

23. ^Bergsoe, Reventlovs Virksomhed, ii., p. 125. The following well-attested instance of a local change of climate is probably to be referred to the influence of the forest as a shelter against cold winds. To supply the extraordinary demand for Italian iron occasioned by the exclusion of English iron in the time of Napoleon I., the furnaces of the valleys of Bergamo were stimulated to great activity. "The ordinary production of charcoal not sufficing to feed the furnaces and the forges, the woods were felled, the copses cut before their time, and the whole economy of the forest was deranged. At Piazzatorre there was such a devastation of the woods, and consequently such an increased severity of climate, that maize no longer ripened. An association, formed for the purpose, effected the restoration of the forest, and maize flourishes again in the fields of Piazzatorre." --Report by G. Rosa, in Il Politecnico, Dicembre, 1861, p. 614.

Similar ameliorations have been produced by plantations in Belgium. In an interesting series of articles by Bande, entitled, "Les Cotes de la Manche," in the Revue des Deux Mondes, I find this statement: "A spectator, placed on the famous bell-tower of the cathedral of Antwerp, saw, not long since, on the opposite side of the Schelde, only a vast desert plain; now he sees a forest, the limits of which are confounded with the horizon. Let him enter within its shade. The supposed forest is but a system of regular rows of trees, the oldest of which is not forty years of age. These plantations have ameliorated the climate which had doomed to sterility the soil where they are planted. While the tempest is violently agitating their tops, the air a little below is still, and sands far more barren than the plateau of La Hague have been transformed, under their protection, into fertile fields."--Revue des Deux Mondes, January, 1859, p. 277.

24. ^ Cenni sulla Importanza e Coltura dei Boschi, p. 31.

25. ^Clave, Etudes, p. 44.

26. ^It has been observed in Sweden that the spring, in many districts where the forests have been cleared off, now comes on a fortnight later than in the last century.--Asbjornsen, Om Skovene i norge, p. 101.

27. ^ La Provence au point de vue des Torrents et des Inondations, p. 10.

Dussard is doubtless historically inaccurate in making the origin of the mistral so late as the time of Augustus. Diodorus Siculus, who was a contemporary of Julius Caesar, describes the north-west winds in Gaul as violent enough to hurl along stones as large as the fist with clouds of sand and gravel, to strip travellers of their arms and clothing, and to throw mounted men from their horses. Bibliotheca Historica, lib. v., c. xxvi. Diodorus, it is true, is speaking of the climate of Gaul in general, but his description can hardly refer to anything but the mistral of South-eastern France.

28. ^ Ueber die Entwaldung der Gebirge, p. 28. Interesting facts and observations on this point will be found in the valuable Report on the Effects of the Destruction of the Forests in Wisconsin, by LAPHAM and others, pp. 6, 18, 20.

29. ^"The Washington elm at Cambridge--a tree of no extraordinary size--was some years ago estimated to produce a crop of seven millions of leaves, exposing a surface of two hundred thousand square feet, or about five acres of foliage."--Gray, First Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology.

30. ^ See, on this particular point, and on the general influence of the forest on temperature, Humboldt, Ansichten der Natur, i., 158.

31. ^The leaves and twigs of plants may be reduced by radiation to a temperature lower than that of the ambient atmosphere, and even be frozen when the air in contact with them is above 32 degrees. Their temperature may be communicated to the dew deposited on them and thus this dew be converted into frost when globules of watery fluid floating in the atmosphere near them, in the condition of fog or vapor, do not become congealed.

It has long been known that vegetables can be protected against frost by diffusing smoke through the atmosphere above them. This method has been lately practised in France on a large scale: vineyards of forty or fifty acres have been protected by placing one or two rows of pots of burning coal-tar, or of naphtha, along the north side of the vineyard, and thus keeping up a cloud of smoke for two or three hours before and after sunrise. The expense is said to be small, and probably it might be reduced by mixing some less combustible substance, as earth, with the fluid, and thus checking its too rapid burning.

The radiating and refrigerating power of objects by no means depends on their form alone. Melloni cut sheets of metal into the shape of leaves and grasses, and found that they produced little cooling effect, and were not moistened under atmospheric conditions which determined a plentiful deposit of dew on the leaves of vegetables.

32. ^Economie Rurale, i., p. 22.

33. ^Memoria Sur Boschi Della Lombardia, p. 45. The results of recent experiments by Becquerel do not accord with those obtained by Meguscher, and the former eminent physicist holds that "a tree is warmed in the air like any inert body." At the same time he asserts, as a fact well ascertained by experiment, that "vegetables possess in themselves the power or resisting extreme cold for a certain length of time,.... and hence it is believed that there may exist in the organism of plants a force, independent of the conduction of caloric, which resists a degree of cold above the freezing-point." In a following page he cites observations made by Bugeaud, under the parallel of 58 degrees N. L., between the months of November and June, during most of which time, of course, vegetable life was in its deepest lethargy. Bugeaud found that when the temperature of the air was at -34.60 degrees, that of a poplar was only at -29.70 degrees, which certainly confirms the doctrine that trees exercise a certain internal resistance against cold.

34. ^United States Patent Office Report for 1857, p. 504.

35. ^Rossmassler, Der Wald, p. 158.

36. ^ Ibid., p. 160.

37. ^ All evergreens, even the broad-leaved trees, resist frosts of extraordinary severity better than the deciduous trees of the same climates. Is not this because the vital processes of trees of persistent foliage are less interrupted during winter than those of trees which annually shed their leaves, and that therefore more organic heat is developed?

In crossing Mont Cenis in October, 1869, when the leaves of the larches on the northern slope and near the top of the mountain were entirely dead and turned brown, I observed that these trees were completely white with hoar-frost. It was a wonderful sight to see how every leaf was covered with a delicate deposit of frozen aqueous vapor, which gave the effect of the most brilliant silver. On the other band, the evergreen coniferae, which were growing among the larches, and therefore in the same conditions of exposure, were almost entirely free from frost. The contrast between the verdure of the leaves of the evergreens and the crystalline splendor of those of the larches was strikingly beautiful. Was this fact due to a difference in the color and structure of the leaves, or rather is it a proof of a vital force of resistance to cold in the living foliage of the evergreen tree The low temperature of air and soil at which, in the frigid zone, as well as in warmer latitudes under special circumstances, the processes of vegetation go on, seems to necessitate the supposition that all the manifestations of vegetable life are attended with an evolution of heat. In the United States it is common to protect ice, in ice-houses, by a covering of straw, which naturally sometimes contains kernels of grain. These often sprout, and even throw out roots and leaves to a considerable length, in a temperature very little above the freezing-point. Three or four years since I saw a lump of very clear and apparently solid ice, about eight inches long by six thick, on which a kernel of grain had sprouted in an ice-house, and sent half a dozen or more very slender roots into the pores of the ice and through the whole length of the lump. The young plant must have thrown out a considerable quantity of heat; for though the ice was, as I have said, otherwise solid, the pores through which the roots passed were enlarged to perhaps double the diameter of the fibres, but still not so much as to prevent the retention of water in them by capillary attraction.

38. ^ Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., pp. 139-141.

39. ^Composition, texture, and color of soil are important elements to be considered in estimating the effects of the removal of the forest upon its thermoscopic action. "Experience has proved," says Becquerel, "that when the soil is bared, it becomes more or less heated [by the rays of the sun] according to the nature and the color of the particles which compose it, and according to its humidity, and that, in the refrigeration resulting from radiation, we must take into the account the conducting power of those particles also. Other things being equal, siliceous and calcareous sands, compared in equal volumes with different argillaceous earths, with calcareous powder or dust, with humus, with arable and with garden earth, are the soils which least conduct heat. It is for this reason that sandy ground, in summer, maintains a high temperature even during the night. We may hence conclude that when a sandy soil is stripped of wood, the local temperature will be raised. After the sands follow successively argillaceous, arable, and garden ground, then humus, which occupies the lowest rank.

"The retentive power of humus is but half as great as that of calcareous sand. We will add that the power or retaining heat is proportional to the density. It has also a relation to the magnitude of the particles. It is for this reason that ground covered with siliceous pebbles cools more slowly than siliceous sand, and that pebbly soils are best suited to the cultivation of the vine, because they advance the ripening of the grape more rapidly than chalky and clayey earths, which cool quickly. Hence we see that in examining the calorific effects of clearing forests, it is important to take into account the properties of the soil laid bare."--Becquerel, Des Climats et des Sols boises, p. 137.

40. ^ Mangotti had observed and described, in his usual picturesque way, the retention of rain-water by the foliage and bark of trees, but I do not know that any attempts were made to measure the quantity thus intercepted before the experiments of Becquerel, communicated to the Academy of Sciences in 1866. These experiments embraced three series of observations continued respectively for periods of a year, a month, and two days. According to Becquerel's measurements, the quantity falling on bare and on wooded soil respectively was as 1 to 0.07; 1 to 0.5; and 1 to 0.6, or, in other words, he found that only from five-tenths to sixty-seven hundredths of the precipitation reached the ground.--Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, 1866. It seemed, indeed, improbable that in rain-storms which last not hours but whole days in succession, so large a proportion of the downfall should continue to be intercepted by forest vegetation after the leaves, the bark, and the whole framework of the trees were thoroughly wet, but the conclusions of this eminent physicist appear to have been generally accepted until the very careful experiments of Mathieu at the Forest-School of Nancy were made known. The observations of Mathieu were made in a plantation of deciduous trees forty-two years old, and were continued through the entire years 1866, 1867, and 1868. The result was that the precipitation in the wood was to that in an open glade of several acres near the forest station as 043 to 1,000, and the proportion in each of the three years was nearly identical. According to Mathieu, then, only 57 thousandths or 5.7 per cent of the precipitation is intercepted by trees.--Surrell, Etude sur les Torrents, 2d ed., ii., p. 98. By order of the Direction of the Forests of the Canton of Berne, a series of experiments on this subject was commenced at the beginning of the year 1869. During the first seven months of the year (the reports for which alone I have seen), including, of course, the season when the foliage is most abundant, as well as that when it is thinnest, the pluviometers in the woods received only fifteen per cent less than those in the open grounds in the vicinity.--Risler, in Revue des Eaux et Forets, of 10th January, 1870.

41. ^We are not, indeed, to suppose that the condensation of vapor and the evaporation of water are going on in the same stratum of air at the same time, or, in other words, that vapor is condensed into rain-drops, and rain-drops evaporated, under the same conditions; but rain formed in one stratum may fall through another, where vapor would not be condensed. Two saturated strata of different temperatures may be brought into contact in the higher regions, and discharge large rain-drops, which, it not divided by some obstruction, will reach the ground, though passing through strata which would vaporize them if they were in a state of more minute division.

42. ^ The only direct experiments known to me on the evaporation from the SURFACE of the forest are those of Mathieu.--Surrell, Etude sur les Torrents, 2d ed., ii, p. 99. These experiments were continued from March to December, inclusive, of the year 1868. It was found that during those months the evaporation from a recipient placed on the ground in a plantation of deciduous trees sixty-two years old, was less than one-fifth of that from a recipient of like form and dimensions placed in the open country.

43. ^The experiments of Hales and others on the absorption and exhalation of vegetables are of high physiological interest; but observations on sunflowers, cabbages, hops, and single branches of isolated trees, growing in artificially prepared soils and under artificial conditions, furnish no trustworthy data for computing the quantity of water received and given off by the natural wood.

44. ^Emerson (Trees of Massachusetts. p. 403) mentions a maple six feet in diameter, as having yielded a barrel, or thirty-one and a half gallons, of sap in twenty-four hours, and another, the dimensions of which are not stated, as having yielded one hundred and seventy-five gallons in the course of the season.

The Cultivator, an American agricultural journal, for June, 1842, states that twenty gallons of sap were drawn in eighteen hours from a single maple, two and a half feet in diameter, in the town of Warner, New Hampshire, and the truth of this account has been verified by personal inquiry made in my behalf. This tree was of the original forest growth, and had been left standing when the ground around it was cleared. It was tapped only every other year, and then with six or eight incisions. Dr. Williams (History of Vermont, i., p. 01) says: "A man much employed in milking maple sugar, found that, for twenty-one days together, a maple-tree discharged seven and a half gallons per day."

An intelligent correspondent, of much experience in the manufacture of maple sugar, writes me that a second-growth maple, of about two feet in diameter, standing in open ground, tapped with four incisions, has, for several seasons, generally run eight gallons per day in fair weather. He speaks of a very large tree, from which sixty gallons were drawn in the course of a season, and of another, something more than three feet through, which made forty-two pounds of wet sugar, and must have yielded not less than one hundred and fifty gallons.

45. ^Tapping does not check the growth, but does injure the quality of the wood of maples. The wood of trees often tapped is lighter and less dense than that of trees which have not been tapped, and gives less heat in burning. No difference has been observed in the bursting of the buds of tapped and untapped trees.

46. ^Dr. Rush, in a letter to Jefferson, states the number of maples fit for tapping on an acre at from thirty to fifty. "This," observes my correspondent, "is correct with regard to the original growth, which is always more or less intermixed with other trees; but in second growth, composed of maples alone, the number greatly exceeds this. I have had the maples on a quarter of an acre, which I thought about an average of second-growth 'maple orchards,' counted. The number was found to be fifty-two, of which thirty-two were ten inches or more in diameter, and, of course, large enough to tap. This gives two hundred and eight trees to the acre, one hundred and twenty-eight of which were of proper size for tapping."

47. ^The correspondent already referred to informs me that a black birch, tapped about noon with two incisions, was found the next morning to have yielded sixteen gallons. Dr. Williams (History of Vermont, i., p. 91) says: "A large birch, tapped in the spring, ran at the rate of five gallons an hour when first tapped. Eight or nine days after, it was found to run at the rate of about two and a half gallons an hour, and at the end of fifteen days the discharge continued in nearly the same quantity. The sap continued to flow for four or five weeks, and it was the opinion of the observers that it must have yielded as much as sixty barrels [l,800 gallons]."

48. ^ "The elaborated sap, passing out of the leaves, is received into the inner bark, . . . and a part of what descends finds its way even to the ends of the roots, and is all along diffused laterally into the stem, where it meets and mingles with the ascending crude sap or raw material. So there is no separate circulation of the two kinds of sap; and no crude sap exists separately in any part of the plant. Even in the root, where it enters, this mingles at once with some elaborated sap already there."--Gray, How Plants Grow, Section 273.

49. ^Ward's tight glazed cases for raising and especially for transporting plants, go far to prove that water only circulates through vegetables, and is again and again absorbed and transpired by organs appropriated to these functions. Seeds, growing grasses, shrubs, or trees planted in proper earth, moderately watered and covered with a glass bell or close frame of glass, live for months, and even years, with only the original store of air and water. In one of Ward's early experiments, a spire of grass and a fern, which sprang up in a corked bottle containing a little moist earth introduced as a bed for a snail, lived and flourished for eighteen years without a new supply of either fluid. In these boxes the plants grow till the enclosed air is exhausted of the gaseous constituents of vegetation, and till the water has yielded up the assimilable matter it held in solution, and dissolved and supplied to the roots the nutriment contained in the earth in which they are planted. After this, they continue for a long time in a state of vegetable sleep, but if fresh air and water be introduced into the cases, or the plants be transplanted into open ground, they rouse themselves to renewed life, and grow vigorously, without appearing to have suffered from their long imprisonment. The water transpired by the leaves is partly absorbed by the earth directly from the air, partly condensed on the glass, along which it trickles down to the earth, enters the roots again, and thus continually repeats the circuit. See Aus der Natur, 21, B. S. 537.

50. ^ Fur Baum und Wald, pp. 46, 47, notes. Pfaff, too, experimenting on branches of a living oak, weighed immediately after being cut from the tree, and again after an exposure to the air for three minutes, and computing the superficial measure of all the leaves of the tree, concludes that an oak-tree evaporates, during the season of growth, eight and a half times the mean amount of rain-fall on an area equal to that shaded by the tree.

51. ^Wilhelm, Der Boden und das Wasser, pp. 14,20.

52. ^Ebermeyer, Die Physikalischen, Einwirkungen des Waldes, i., pp. 150 et seqq. It may be well here to guard my readers against the common error which supposes that a humid condition of the AIR is necessarily indicated by the presence of fog or visible vapor. The air is rendered humid by containing INVISIBLE vapor, and it becomes drier by the condensation of such vapor into fog, composed of solid globules or of hollow vesicles of water--for it is a disputed point whether the particles of fog are solid or vesicular. Hence, though the ambient atmosphere may hold in suspension, in the form of fog, water enough to obscure its transparency, and to produce the sensation of moisture on the skin, the air, in which the finely divided water floats, may be charged with even less than an average proportion of humidity.

53. ^According to Cezanne, Surrell, Etude sur les Torrents, 2e edition, ii., p. 100, experiments reported in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for August, 1868, showed the evaporation from a living tree to be "almost insignificant." Details are not given.

54. ^There is one fact which I have nowhere seen noticed, but which seems to me to have an important bearing on the question whether forests tend to maintain an equilibrium between the various causes of hygroscopic action, and consequently to keep the air within their precincts in an approximately constant condition, so far as this meteorological element is concerned. I refer to the absence of fog or visible vapor in thick woods in full leaf, even when the air of the neighboring open grounds is so heavily charged with condensed vapor as completely to obscure the sun. The temperature of the atmosphere in the forest is not subject to so sudden and extreme variations as that of cleared ground, but at the same time it is far from constant, and so large a supply of vapor as is poured out by the foliage of the trees could not fail to be sometimes condensed into fog by the same causes as in the case of the adjacent meadows, which are often covered with a dense mist while the forest-air remains clear, were there not some potent counteracting influence always in action. This influence, I believe, is to be found partly in the equalization of the temperature of the forest, and partly in the balance between the humidity exhaled by the trees and that absorbed and condensed invisibly by the earth.

55. ^

Und Sturme brausen um die Wette </dd>
Vom Meer aufs Land, vom Land aufs Meer. </dd>
Goethe, Faust, Song of the Archangels.</dd>

56. ^

Det golde Strog i Afrika,
Der Intet voxe kan, da ei det regner,
Og, omvendt, ingen Regn kan falde, da
Der Intet voxer.
Paudan-Muller, Adam Hamo, ii., 408.

57. ^Among recent writers, Clave, Schacht, Sir John F. W. Herschel, Hohenstein, Barth, Asbjornsen, Boussingault, and others, maintain that forests tend to produce rain and clearings to diminish it, and they refer to numerous facts of observation in support of this doctrine; but in none of these does it appear that these observations are supported by actual pluviometrical measure. So far as I know, the earliest expression of the opinion that forests promote precipitation is that attributed to Christopher Columbus, in the Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo, Venetia, 157l, cap. lviii., where it is said that the Admiral ascribed the daily showers which fell in the West Indies about vespers to "the great forests and trees of those countries," and remarked that the same effect was formerly produced by the same cause in the Canary and Madeira Islands and in the Azores, but that "now that the many woods and trees that covered them have been felled, there are not produced so many clouds and rains as before."

Mr. H. Harrisse, in his very learned and able critical essay, Fernand Colomb, sa Vie et ses Oeuvres, Paris, 1872, has made it at least extremely probable that the Historie is a spurious work. The compiler may have found this observation in some of the writings of Columbus now lost, but however that may be, the fact, which Humboldt mentions in Cosmos with much interest, still remains, that the doctrine in question was held, if not by the great discoverer himself, at least by one of his pretended biographers, as early as the year 1571.

58. ^ The strongest direct evidence which I am able to refer to in support of the proposition that the woods produce even a local augmentation of precipitation is furnished by the observations of Mathieu, sub-director of the Forest-School at Nancy. His pluviometrical measurements, continued for three years, 1866-1868, show that during that period the annual mean of rain-fall in the centre of the wooded district of Cinq-Tranchees, at Belle Fontaine on the borders of the forest, and at Amance, in an open cultivated territory in the same vicinity, was respectively as the numbers 1,000, 957, and 853.

The alleged augmentation of rain-fall in Lower Egypt, in consequence of large plantations by Mehemet Ali, is very frequently appealed to as a proof of this influence of the forest, and this case has become a regular common-place in all discussions of the question. It is, however, open to the same objection as the alleged instances of the diminution of precipitation in consequence of the felling of the forest.

This supposed increase in the frequency and quantity of rain in Lower Egypt is, I think, an error, or at least not an established fact. I have heard it disputed on the spot by intelligent Franks, whose residence in that country began before the plantations of Mehemet Ali and Ibrahim Pacha, and I have been assured by them that meterological observations, made at Alexandria about the begiuning of this century, show an annual fall of rain as great as is usual at this day. The mere fact that it did not rain during the French occupation is not conclusive. Having experienced a gentle shower of nearly twenty-four hours' duration in Upper Egypt, I inquired of the local governor in relation to the frequency of this phenomenon, and was told by him that not of drop of rain had fallen at that point for more than two years previous.

The belief in the increase of rain in Egypt rests almost entirely on the observations of Marshal Marmont, and the evidence collected by him in 1836. His conclusions have been disputed, if not confuted, by Joinard and others, and are probably erroneous. See Foissac, Meteorologie, German translation, pp. 634-639.

It certainly sometimes rains briskly at Cairo, but evaporation is exceedingly rapid in Egypt--as any one who ever saw a Fellah woman wash a napkin in the Nile, and dry it by shaking it a few moments in the air, can testify; and a heap of grain, wet a few inches below the surface, would probably dry again without injury. At any rate, the Egyptian Government often has vast quantities of wheat stored at Boulak in uncovered yards through the winter, though it must be admitted that the slovenliness and want of foresight in Oriental life, public and private, are such that we cannot infer the safety of any practice followed in the East merely from its long continuance.

Grain, however, may be long kept in the open air in climates much less dry than that of Egypt, without injury, except to the superficial layers; for moisture does not penetrate to a great depth in a heap of grain once well dried and kept well aired. When Louis IX. was making his preparations for his campaign in the East, he had large quantities of wine and grain purchased in the Island of Cyprus, and stored up for two years to await his arrival. "When we were come to Cyprus," says Joinville, Histoire de Saint Louis, Section 72, 73, "we found there greate foison of the Kynge's purveyance. . . The wheate and the barley they had piled up in greate heapes in the feeldes, and to looke vpon, they were like vnto mountaynes; for the raine, the whyche hadde beaten vpon the wheate now a longe whyle, had made it to sproute on the toppe, so that it seemed as greene grasse. And whanne they were mynded to carrie it to Egypte, they brake that sod of greene herbe, and dyd finde under the same the wheate and the barley, as freshe as yf menne hadde but nowe thrashed it."

59. ^ I have seen, in Northern New England, the surface of the open ground frozen to the depth of twenty-two inches, in the month of November, when in the forest-earth no frost was discoverable; and later in the winter, I have known an exposed sand-knoll to remain frozen six feet deep, after the ground in the woods was completely thawed.

60. ^The conclusion arrived at by Noah Webster, in his very learned and able paper on the supposed change in the temperature of winter, read before the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1799, was as follows: "From a careful comparison of these facts, it appears that the weather, in modern winters, in the United States, is more inconstant than when the earth was covered with woods, at the first settlement of Europeans in the country; that the warm weather of autumn extends further into the winter months, and the cold weather of winter and spring encroaches upon the summer; that, the wind being more variable, snow is less permanent, and perhaps the same remark may be applicable to the ice of the rivers. These effects seem to result necessarily from the greater quantity of heat accumulated in the earth in summer since the ground has been cleared of wood and exposed to the rays of the sun, and to the greater depth of frost in the earth in winter by the exposure of its uncovered surface to the cold atmosphere."--Collection of Papers by Noah Webster, p. 162.

61.^Since these pages were written, the subject of forest meteorology has received the most important contribution ever made to it, in several series of observations at numerous stations in Bavaria, from the year 1866 to 1871, published by Ebermayer, at Aschaffenburg, in 1873, under the title: Die Physikalischen Einwirkungen des Waldes auf Luft und Boden, und seine Klimatologische und Hygienische Bedeutung. I. Band. So far as observations of only five years' duration can prove anything, the following propositions, not to speak of many collateral and subsidiary conclusions, seem to be established, at least for the localities where the observations were made:

  1. The yearly mean temperature of wooded soils, at all depths, is lower than that of open grounds, p. 85.
    This conclusion, it may be remarked, is of doubtful applicability in regions of excessive climate like the Northern United States and Canada, where the snow keeps the temperature of the soil in the forest above the freezing-point, for a large part and sometimes the whole of the winter, while in unwooded ground the earth remains deeply frozen. </dd>
  2. The yearly mean atmospheric temperature, other things being equal, is lower in the forest than in cleared grounds, p. 84.
  3. Climates become excessive in consequence of extensive clearings, p. 117.
  4. The ABSOLUTE humidity of the air in the forest is about the same as in open ground, while the RELATIVE humidity is greater in the former than in the latter case, on account of the lower temperature of the atmosphere in the wood, p. 150.
  5. The evaporation from an exposed surface of water in the forest is sixty-four per cent. less than in unwooded grounds, pp. 159,161.
  6. About twenty-six per cent. of the precipitation is interrupted and prevented from reaching the ground by the foliage and branches of forest trees, p. 194.
  7. In the interior of thick woods, the evaporation from water and from earth is much less than the precipitation, p. 210.
  8. The loss of the water of precipitation intercepted by the trees in the forest is compensated by the smaller evaporation from the ground, p. 219.
  9. In elevated regions and during the summer half of the year, woods tend to increase the precipitation, p. 202.

62. ^"The roots of vegetables," says d'Hericourt, "perform the office of draining in a manner analogous to that artificially practised in parts of Holland and the British islands. This method consists in driving deeply down into the soil several hundred stakes to the acre; the water filters down along the stakes, and in some cases as favorable results have been obtained by this means as by horizontal drains."-Annales Forestieres, 1837, p. 312.

63. ^ Seneca, Questiones Naturales, iii. 11, 2.

64. ^The Tuscan poet Ginati, who hod certainly had little opportunity of observing primitive conditions of nature and of man, was aware that such must have been the course of things in new countries. "You know," says he in a letter to a friend, "that the hills were first occupied by man, because stagnant waters, and afterwards continual wars, excluded men from the plains. But when tranquillity was established and means provided for the discharge of the waters, the low grounds were soon covered with human habitations."-- Letters, Firenze, 1864, p. 98.

65. ^A special dessicative influence has long been ascribed to the maritime pine, which has been extensively planted on the dunes and sand-plains of western France, and it is well established that, under certain conditions, all trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, exercise this function, but there is no convincing proof that in the cases now referred to there is any difference in the mode of action of the two classes of trees. An article by D'Arbois de Jubainville in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for April, 1869, ascribing the same action to the Pinus sylvestris, has excited much attention in Europe, and the facts stated by this writer constitute the strongest evidence known to me in support of the alleged influence of evergreen trees, as distinguished from the draining by downward conduction, which is a function exercised by all trees, under ordinary circumstances, in proportion to their penetration of a bibulous subsoil by tap or other descending roots. The question has been ably discussed by Beraud in the Revue des Deux Mondes for April, 1870, the result being that the drying of the soil by pines is due simply to conduction by the roots, whatever may be the foliage of the tree. See post: Influence of the Forest on Flow of Springs. It is however certain, I believe, that evergreens exhale more moisture in winter than leafless deciduous trees, and consequently some weight is to be ascribed to this element.

66. ^The hard snow-crust, which in the early spring is a source of such keen enjoyment to the children and youth of the North--and to many older persons in whom the love of nature has kept awake a relish for the simple pleasures of rural life--is doubtless due to the congelation of the vapor condensed by the snow rather than to the thawing and freezing of the superficial stratum; for when the surface is melted by the sun, the water is taken up by the absorbent mass beneath before the temperature falls low enough to freeze it.

67. ^The hard autumnal frosts are usually preceded by heavy rains which thoroughly moisten the soil, and it is a common saying in the North that "the ground will not freeze till the swamps are full."

68. ^Dr. Williams, of Vermont, made some observations on the comparative temperature of the soil in open and in wooded ground In the years 1789 and 1791, but they generally belonged to the warmer months, and I do not know that any extensive series of comparisons between the temperature of the ground in the woods and in the fields has been attempted in America. Dr. Williams's thermometer was sunk to the depth of ten inches, and gave the following results:

Temperatures
Time of ground in pasture of ground in woods Difference
May 23 52 46 6
May 28 57 48 9
June 15 64 51 13
June 27 62 51 11
July 16 62 51 11
July 30 65 1/2 55 1/2 10
Aug. 15 68 58 10
Aug. 31 59 1/2 55 4 1/2
Sept.15 59 1/2 55 4 1/2
Oct. 1 59 1/2 55 4 1/2
Oct. 15 49 49 0
Nov. 1 43 43 0
Nov. 16 43 1/2 43 1/2 0

On the 14th of January, 1791, in a winter remarkable for its extreme severity, he found the ground, on a plain open field where the snow had been blown away, frozen to the depth of three feet and five inches; in the woods where the snow was three feet deep, and where the soil had frozen to the depth of six inches before the snow fell, the thermometer, at six inches below the surface of the ground, stood at 39 degrees. In consequence of the covering of the snow, therefore, the previously frozen ground had been thawed and raised to seven degrees above the freezing-point.--William's Vermont, i., p. 74.

Boussingault's observations are important. Employing three thermometers, one with the bulb an inch below the surface of powdery snow; one on the surface of the ground beneath the snow, then four inches deep; and one in the open air, forty feet above the ground, on the north side of a building, he found, at 5 P.M., the FIRST thermometer at -1.5 degrees Centigrade, the second at 0 degrees, and the THIRD at + 2.5 degrees; at 7 A.M. the next morning, the first stood at -12 degrees, the second at -3.5 degrees and the third at -3 degrees; at 5.30 the same evening No. 1 stood at -1.4 degrees, No. 2 at 0 degrees, and No. 3 at + 3 degrees. Other experiments were tried, and though the temperature was affected by the radiation, which varied with the hour of the day and the state of the sky, the upper surface of the snow was uniformly colder than the lower, or than the open air.

According to the Report of the Department of Agriculture for May and June, 1872, Mr. C. G. Prindle, of Vermont, in the preceding winter, found, for four successive days, the temperature immediately above the snow at 13 degrees below zero; beneath the snow, which was but four inches deep, at 19 degrees above zero; and under a drift two feet deep, at 27 degrees above.

On the borders and in the glades of the American forest, violets and other small plants begin to vegetate as soon as the snow has thawed the soil around their roots, and they are not unfrequently found in full flower under two or three feet of snow.--American Naturalist, May, 1869, pp. 155, 156.

In very cold weather, when the ground is covered with light snow, flocks of the grouse of the Eastern States often plunge into the snow about sunset, and pass the night in this warm shelter. If the weather moderates before morning, a frozen crust is sometimes formed on the surface too strong to be broken by the birds, which consequently perish.

69. ^Thompson's Vermont, Appendix, p. 8.

70. ^ As the loss of snow by evaporation has been probably exaggerated by popular opinion, an observation or two on the subject may not be amiss in this place. It is true that in the open grounds, in clear weather and with a dry atmosphere, snow and ice are evaporated with great rapidity even when the thermometer is much below the freezing-point; and Darwin informs us that the snow on the summit of Aconcagua, 23,000 feet high, and of course in a temperature of perpetual frost, is sometimes carried off by evaporation. The surface of the snow in our woods, however, does not indicate much loss in this way. Very small deposits of snow-flakes remain unevaporated in the forest, for many days after snow which fell at the same time in the cleared field has disappeared without either a thaw to melt it or a wind powerful enough to drift it away. Even when bared of their leaven, the trees of a wood obstruct, in an important degree, both the direct action of the sun's rays on the snow and the movement of drying and thawing winds.

Dr. Piper (Trees of America, p. 48) records the following observations: "A body of snow, one foot in depth and sixteen feet square, was protected from the wind by a tight board fence about five feet high, while another body of snow, much more sheltered from the sun than the first, six feet in depth, and about sixteen feet square, was fully exposed to the wind. When the thaw came on, which lasted about a fortnight, the larger body of snow was entirely dissolved in less than a week, while the smaller body was not wholly gone at the end of the second week. "Equal quantities of snow were placed in vessels of the samekind and capacity, the temperature of the air being seventy degrees. In the one case, a constant current of air was kept passing over the open vessel, while the other was protected by a cover. The snow in the first was dissolved in sixteen minutes, while the latter had a small unthawed proportion remaining at the end of eighty-five minutes." The snow in the woods is protected in the same way, though not literally to the same extent, as by the fence in one of these cases and the cover in the other.

71. ^The statements I have made, here and elsewhere, respecting the humidity of the soil in natural forests, have been, I understand, denied by Mr. T. Meehan, a distinguished American naturalist, in a paper which I have not seen He is quoted as maintaining, among other highly questionable propositions that no ground is "so dry in its subsoil as that which sustains a forest on its surface." In open, artificially planted woods, with a smooth and regular surface, and especially in forests where the fallen leaves and branches are annually burnt or carried off, both the superficial and the subjacent strata may under certain circumstances, become dry, but this rarely, if ever, happens in a wood of spontaneous growth, undeprived of the protection afforded by its own droppings, and of the natural accidents of surface which tend to the retention of water. See, on this point, a very able article by Mr. Henry Stewart, in the New York Tribune of November 23, 1873.

72. ^The accumulation of snow and ice upon the Alps and other mountains--which often fills up valleys to the height of hundreds of feet--is due not only to the fall or congealed and crystallized vapor in the form of snow, to the condensation of atmospheric vapor on the surface of snow-fields and glaciers, and to a temperature which prevents the rapid melting of snow, but also to the well-known fact that, at least up to the height of 10,000 feet, rain and snow are more abundant on the mountains than at lower levels.

But another reason may be suggested for the increase of atmospheric humidity, and consequently of the precipitation of aqueous vapor on mountain chains. In discussing the influence of mountains on precipitation, meteorologists have generally treated the popular belief, that mountains "attract" to them clouds floating within a certain distance from them, as an ignorant prejudice, and they ascribe the appearance of clouds about high peaks solely to the condensation of the humidity of the air carried by atmospheric currents up the slopes of the mountain to a colder temperature. But if mountains do not really draw clouds and invisible vapors to them, they are an exception to the universal law of attraction. The attraction of the small Mount Shehallien was found sufficient to deflect from the perpendicular, by a measurable quantity, a plummet weighing but a few ounces. Why, then, should not greater masses attract to them volumes of vapor weighing many tons, and floating freely in the atmosphere within moderate distances of the mountains

73. ^Etudes et Lectures, vol. vi., p. 118. The experiments or Johnstrup in the vicinity of Copenhagen, where the mean annual precipitation is 23 1/2 inches, and where the evaporation must be less than in the warmer and drier atmosphere of France, form the most careful series of observations on this subject which I have met with. Johnstrup found that at the depth at a metre and a half (50 inches) the effects of rain and evaporation were almost imperceptible, and became completely so at a depth of from two to three metres (6 1/2 to 10 feet). During the summer half of the year the evaporation rather exceeded the rainfall; during the winter half the entire precipitation was absorbed by the soil and transmitted to lower strata by infiltration. The stratum between one metre and a half (50 inches) and three metres (10 feet) from the surface was then permanently in the condition of a saturated sponge, neither receiving nor losing humidity during the summer half of the year, but receiving from superior, and giving off to lower, strata an equal amount of moisture during the winter half.--Johnstrup, Om Fugtighedens Bezagelse i den naturlige Jordbund. Kjobenhavn, 1866.

74. ^According to observations at one hundred military stations in the United States, the precipitation ranges from three and a quarter inches at Fort Yuma in California to about seventy-two inches at Fort Pike, Louisiana, the mean for the entire territory, not including Alaska, being thirty-six inches. In the different sections of the Union it is as follows:

North-eastern States 41 inches,
New York 36 "
Middle States 40 1/2 "
Ohio 40 "
Southern States 51 "
S. W. States and Indian Territories 39 1/2 "
Western States and Territories 30 "
Texas and New Mexico 24 1/2 "
California 18 1/2 "
Oregon and Washington Territory 50 "

The mountainous regions, it appears, do not recieve the greatest amount of precipitation. The avenge downfall of the Southern States bordering on the [[Oceans#atlantic ocean|Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico exceeds the mean of the whole United States, being no less than fifty-one inches, while on the Pacific coast it ranges from fifty to fifty-six inches.

As a general rule, it may be stated that at the stations on or near the sea-coast the precipitation is greatest in the spring months, though there are several exceptions to this remark, and at a large majority of the stations the downfall is considerably greater in the summer months than at any other season.

Dalton's experiments in the years 1796, 1797, and 1798 appeared to show that the mean absorption of the downfall by the earth in those years was twenty-nine per cent.

Dickinson, employing the same apparatus for eight years, found the absorption to vary widely in different years, the mean being forty-seven per cent.

Charnock's experiments in two years show an absorption of from seventeen to twenty-seven per cent.

75. ^ "Why go so far for the proof of a phenomenon that is repeated every day under our own eyes, and of which every Parisian may convince himself, without venturing beyond the Bois de Boulogne or the forest of Meudon Let him, after a few rainy days, pass alone the Chevreuse road, which is bordered on the right by the wood, on the left by cultivated fields. The fall of water and the continuance of the rain have been the same on both sides; but the ditch on the side of the forest will remain filled with water proceeding from the infiltration through the wooded soil, long after the other, contiguous to the open ground, has performed its office of drainage and become dry. The ditch on the left will have discharged in a few hours a quantity of water, which the ditch on the right requires several days to receive and carry down to the valley."--Clave, Etudes, etc., pp. 53, 54.

76. ^Valles, Etudes sur les Inondations, p. 472.

77. ^Economie Rurale t. ii, p. 780.

78. ^Ueber Die Entwaldung Der Gebirge, pp. 20 et seqq.

79. ^Manuale D'arte Forestale. 2me editione, p. 492.

80. ^ Physische Geographie, p. 32.

81. ^The Trees of America, pp. 50, 51.

82. ^ See, in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for April, 1867, an article entitled De l'influence des Forets sur le Regime des Eaux, and the papers in previous numbers of the same journal therein referred to.

83. ^Some years ago it was popularly believed that the volume of the Mississippi, like that of the Volga and other rivers of the Eastern Hemisphere, was diminished by the increased evaporation from its basin and the drying up of the springs in consequence of the felling of the forests in the vicinity of the source of its eastern affluents. The boatmen of this great river and other intelligent observers now assure us, however, that the mean and normal level of the Mississippi has risen within a few years, and that in consequence the river is navigable at low water for boats of greater draught and at higher points in its course than was the case twenty-five years ago. This supposed increase of volume has been attributed by some to the recent re-wooding of the prairies, but the plantations thus far made are not yet sufficiently extensive to produce an appreciable effect of this nature; and besides, while young trees have covered some of the prairies, the destruction of the forest has been continued perhaps in a greater proportion in other parts of the basin of the river. A more plausible opinion is that the substitution of ground that is cultivated, and consequently spongy and absorbent, for the natural soil of the prairies, has furnished a reservoir for the rains which are absorbed by the earth and carried gradually to the river by subterranean flow, instead of running off rapidly from the surface, or, as is more probable, instead of evaporating or being taken up by the vigorous herbaceous vegetation which covers the natural prairie.

A phenomenon so contrary to common experience, as would be a permanent increase in the waters of a great river, will not be accepted without the most convincing proofs. The present greater facility of navigation may be attributed to improvements in the model of the boats, to the removing of sand-banks and other impediments to the flow of the waters, or to the confining of these waters in a narrower channel, by extending the embankments of the river, or to yet other causes. So remarkable a change could not have escaped the notice of Humphreys and Abbot, whose most able labors comprise the years 1850-1861, had it occurred during that period or at any former time within the knowledge of the many observers they consulted; but no such fact is noticed in their exhaustive report. However, even if an increase in the volume of the Mississippi, for a period of ten or twenty years, were certain, it would still be premature to consider this increase as normal and constant, since it might very well be produced by causes yet unknown and analogous to those which influence the mysterious advance and retreat of those Alpine ice-rivers, the glaciers. Among such causes we may suppose a long series of rainy seasons in regions where important tributaries have their far-off and almost unknown sources; and with no less probability, we may conceive of the opening of communications with great subterranean reservoirs, which may from year to year empty large quantities of water into the bed of the stream; or the closing up of orifices through which a considerable portion of the water of the river once made its way for the supply of such reservoirs.--See upon this point, Chap. IV., Of Subterranean Waters; post.

84. ^According to the Report of the Department of Agriculture for February, 1872, it is thought in the Far West that the young plantations have already influenced the water-courses in that region, and it is alleged that ancient river-beds, never known to contain water since the settlement of the country, have begun to flow since these plantations were commenced. See also Hayden, Report on Geological Survey of Wyoming, 1870, p. 104, and Bryant. Forest Trees, 1871, chap. iv. In the Voyage autour du Monde of the Comte da Beauvoir, chap. x., this passage occurs: Dr. Muller, Director of the Botanic Garden at Melbourne, "has distributed through the interior of Australia millions of seedling trees from his nursuries. Small rivulets are soon formed under the young wood; the results are superb, and the observation of every successive year confirms them. On bare soils he has created, at more than a hundred points, forests and water-courses."

85. ^ In a letter addressed to the Minister of Public Works, after the terrible inundations of 1857, the late Emperor of France thus happily expressed himself: "Before we seek the remedy for an evil, we inquire into its cause. Whence come the sudden floods of our rivers From the water which falls on the mountains, not from that which falls on the plains. The [[water]s which fall on our fields produce but few rivulets, but these which fall on our roofs and are collected in the gutters, form small streams at once. Now, the roofs are mountains--the gutters are valleys."

"To continue the comparison," observes D'Hericourt, "roofs are smooth and impermeable, and the rain-water pours rapidly off from their surfaces; but this rapidity of flow would be greatly diminished if the roofs were carpeted with mosses and grasses; more still, if they were covered with dry leaves, little shrubs, strewn branches, and other impediments--in short, if they were wooded."--Annales Forestieres, Dec. 1857, p. 311.

The mosses and fungi play a more important part in regulating the humidity of the air and of the soil than writers on the forest have usually assigned to them. They perish with the trees they grow on; but, in many situations, nature provides a compensation for the tree-mosses and fungi in ground species, which, on cold soils, especially those with a northern exposure, spring up abundantly both before the woods are felled, and when the land is cleared and employed for pasturage, or deserted. These humble plants discharge a portion of the functions appropriated to the wood, and while they render the soil of improved lands much less fit for agricultural use, they, at the same time, prepare it for the growth of a new harvest of trees, when the infertility they produce shall have driven man to abandon it and suffer it to relapse into the hands of nature.

In primitive forests, when the ground is not too moist to admit of a dense growth of trees, the soil is generally so thickly covered with leaves that there is little room for ground mosses and mushrooms. In the more open artificial woods of Europe these forms of vegetation, as well as many more attractive plants, are more frequent than in the native groves of America. See, on cryptogamic and other wood plants, Rossmassler, Der Wald, pp. 82 et seqq., and on the importance of such vegetables in checking the flow of water, Mengotti, Idraulica Fisica e Sperimentale, chapters xvi. and xvii. No writer known to me has so well illustrated this function of forest vegetation as Mengotti, though both he and Rossmassler ascribe to plants a power of absorbing water from the atmosphere which they do not possess, or rather can only rarely exercise.

86. ^See, for other like observations, an article entitled Le Reboisement et les Inondations, in the Revue des Eaux et Forets of September, 1868

87. ^Die Hochwasser in 1868 im Bandnerischen Rheingebiet, pp. 12, 68.

Observations of Forster, cited by Cezanne from the Annales Forestieres for 1859, p. 358, are not less important than those adduced in the text. The field of these observations was a slope of 45 degrees divided into three sections, one luxuriantly wooded from summit to base with oak and beech, one completely cleared through its whole extent, and one cleared in its upper portion, but retaining a wooded belt for a quarter of the height of the slope, which was from 1,360 to 1,800 feet above the brook at its foot.

In the first section, comprising six-sevenths of the whole surface, the rains had not produced a single ravine; in the second, occupying about a tenth of the ground, were three ravines, increasing in width from the summit to the valley beneath, where they had, all together, a cross-section of 600 square feet; in the third section, of about the same extent as the second, four ravines had been formed, widening from the crest of the slope to the belt of wood, where they gradually narrowed and finally disappeared.

For important observations to the same purpose, see Marchand, Les Torrents des Alpes, in Revue des Eaux et Forets for September, 1871.

88. ^In a valuable report on a bill for compelling the sale of waste communal lands, now pending in the Parliament of Italy, Senator Torelli, an eminent man of science, calculates that four-fifths of the precipitation in the forest are absorbed by the soil, or detained by the obstructions of the surface, only one-fifth being delivered to the rivers rapidly enough to create danger of floods, while in open grounds, in heavy rains, the proportions are reversed. Supposing a rain-fall of four inches, an area measuring 100,000 acres, or a little more than four American townships, would receive 53,777,777 cubic yards of water. Of this quantity it would retain, or rather detain, if wooded, 41,000,000 yards, if bare, only 11,000,000. The difference of discharge from wooded and unwooded soils is perhaps exaggerated in Col. Torelli's report, but there is no doubt that in very many cases it is great enough to prevent, or to cause, destructive inundations.

89. ^Dumont gives an interesting extract from the Misopogon of the Emperor Julian, showing that, in the fourth century, the Seine--the level of which now varies to the extent of thirty feet between extreme high and extreme low water mark--was almost wholly exempt from inundations, and flowed with a uniform current through the whole year. "Ego olim eram in hibernis apud curam Lutetiam, [sic] enim Galli Parisiorum oppidum appellant, quae insula est non magna, in fluvio sita, qui eam omni ex parte cingit. Pontes sublicii utrinque ad eam ferunt, raroque fluvius minuitur ac crescit; sed qualis aestate talis esse solet hyeme."--Des Travaux Publics dans leur Rapports avec l'Agriculture, p. 361, note. As Julian was six years in Gaul, and his principal residence was at Paris, his testimony as to the habitual condition of the Seine, at a period when the provinces where its sources originate were well wooded, is very valuable.

90. ^Forest rivers seldom if ever form large sedimentary deposits at their points of discharge into lakes or larger streams, such accumulations beginning or at least advancing far more rapidly, after the valleys are cleared.

91. ^The extent of the overflow and the violence of the current in river- floods are much affected by the amount of sedimentary matter let fall in their channels by their affluents, which have usually a swifter flow than the main stream, and consequently deposit more or less of their transported material when they join its more slowly-moving waters. Such deposits constitute barriers which at first check the current and raise its level, and of course its violence at lower points is augmented, both by increased volume and by the solid material it carries with it, when it acquires force enough to sweep away the obstruction.--Risler, Sur L influence des Forets sur les Cours d eau, in Revue des Eaux et Forets, 10th January, 1870.

In the flood of 1868 the torrent Illgraben, which had formerly spread its water and its sediment over the surface of a vast cone of dejection, having been forced, by the injudicious confinement of its current to a single channel, to discharge itself more directly into the Rhone, carried down a quantity of gravel, sand, and mud, sufficient to dam that river for a whole hour, and in the same great inundation the flow of the Rhine at Thusis was completely arrested for twenty minutes by a similar discharge from the Nolla. Of course, when the dam yielded to the pressure of the accumulated water, the damage to the country below was far greater than it would have ben had the currents of the rivers not been thus obstructed.--Marchand, Les Torrents des Alpes, in Revue des Eaux et Forets, Sept., 1871.

92. ^In primitive countries, running streams are very generally fringed by groves, for almost every river is, as Pliny, Nat. Hist., v. 10, says of the Upper Nile, an opifex silvarum, or, to use the quaint and picturesque language of Holland's translation, "makes shade of woods as he goeth."

93. ^ A valuable memoir by G. Doni, in the Rivista Forestale for October, 1863, p. 438, is one of the best illustrations I can cite of the influence of forests in regulating and equalizing the flow of running water, and of the comparative action of water-courses which drain wooded valleys and valleys bared of trees, with regard to the erosion of their banks and the transportation of sediment.

"The Sestajone," remarks this writer, "and the Lima, are two considerable torrents which collect the waters of two great valleys of the Tuscan Apennines, and empty them into the Serchio. At the junction of these two torrents, from which point the combined current takes the name of Lima, a curious phenomenon is observed, which is in part easily explained. In rainy weather the waters of the Sestajone are in volume only about one-half those of the Lima, and while the current of the Lima is turbid and muddy, that of the Sestajone appears limpid and I might almost say drinkable. In clear weather, on the contrary, the waters of the Sestajone are abundant and about double those of the Lima. Now the extent of the two valleys is nearly equal, but the Sestajone winds down between banks clothed with firs and beeches, while the Lima flows through a valley that has been stripped of trees, and in great part brought under cultivation."

The Sestajone and the Lima are neither of them what is technically termed a torrent--a name strictly applicable only to streams whose current is not derived from springs and perennial, but is the temporary effect of a sudden accumulation of water from heavy rains or from a rapid melting of the snows, while their beds are dry, or nearly so, at other times. The Lima, however, in a large proportion of its course, has the erosive character of a torrent, for the amount of sediment which it carries down, even when it is only moderately swollen by rains, surpasses almost everything of the kind which I have observed, under analogous circumstances, in Italy.

Still more striking is the contrast in the regime of the Saint-Phalez and the Combe-d'Yeuse in the Department of Vancluse, the latter of which became subject to the most violent torrential floods after the destruction of the woods of its basin between 1823 and 1833, but has now been completely subdued, and its waters brought to a peaceful flow, by replanting its valley. See Labussiere, Revue Agric. et Forestiere de Provence, 1866, and Revue des Eaux et Forets, 1866.

94. ^ Les Inondations en France depuis le VIe siecle jusqu'a nos jours, 6 vols, 8vo. Paris, 1858-64. See a very able review of this learned and important work by Prof. Messedaglia, read before the Academy of Agriculture at Verona in 1864.

95. ^Alfred Maury has, nevertheless, collected, in his erudite and able work, Les Forets de la Gaule et de l'ancienne France, Paris, 1867, an immense amount of statistical detail on the extent, the distribution, and the destruction of the forests of France, but it still remains true that we can very seldom pronounce on the forestal condition of the upper valley of a particular river at the time of a given inundation in the ancient or the mediaeval period.

96. ^The productiveness of Egypt has been attributed too exclusively to the fertilizing effects of the slime deposited by the inundations of the Nile; for in that climate a liberal supply of water would produce good crops on almost any ordinary sand, while, without water, the richest soil would yield nothing. The sediment deposited annually is but a very small fraction of an inch in thickness. It is alleged that in quantity it would be hardly sufficient for a good top-dressing, and that in quality it is not chemically distinguishable from the soil inches or feet below the surface. But to deny, as some writers have done, that the slime has any fertilizing properties at all, is as great a error as the opposite one of ascribing all the agricultural wealth of Egypt to that single cause of productiveness. Fine soils deposited by water are almost uniformly rich in all climates; those brought down by rivers, carried out into salt-water, and then returned again by the tide, seem to be more permanently fertile than any others. The polders of the Netherland coast are of this character, and the meadows in Lincolnshire, which have been covered with slime by warping, as it is called, or admitting water over them at high tide, are remarkably productive.

Recent analysis is said to have detected in the water of the Nile a quantity of organic matter--derived mainly, no doubt, from the decayed vegetation it bears down from its tropical course--sufficiently large to furnish an important supply of fertilizing ingredients to the soil.

It is computed that the Durance--a river fed chiefly by torrents, of great erosive power--carries down annually solid material enough to cover 272,000 acres of soil with a deposit of two-fifths of an inch in thickness, and that this deposit contains, in the combination most favorable to vegetation, more azote than 110,000 tons of guano, and more carbon than 121,000 acres of woodland would assimilate in a year. Elisee Reclus, La Terre, vol. i., p. 467. On the chemical composition, quantity, and value of the solid matter transported by river, see Herve Magnon, Sur l'Emploi des Eaux dans les Irrigations, 8vo. Paris, 1869, pp. 132 et seqq. Duponchel, Traite d'Hydraulique et de Geologie Agricoles. Paris, 1868, chap. i., xii., and xiii.

97. ^ Streffleur (Ueber die Natur und die Wirkungen der Wildbuche, p. 3) maintains that all the observations and speculations of French authors on the nature of torrents had been anticipated by Austrian writers. In proof of this assertion he refers to the works of Franz von Zallinger, 1778, Von Arretin, 1808, Franz Duile, 1826, all published at Innsbruck, and Hagenus Beschreibung neuerer Wasserbauwerke, Konigsberg, 1826, none of which works are known to me. It is evident, however, that the conclusions of Surell and other French writers whom I cite, are original results of personal investigation, and not borrowed opinions.

98. ^Whether Palissy was acquainted with this ancient practice, or whether it was one of those original suggestions of which his works are so full, I know not, but in his treatise, Des Eaux et Fontaines, he thus recommends it, by way of reply to the objections of "Theorique," who had expressed the fear that "the waters which rush violently down from the heights of the mountain would bring with them much earth, sand, and other things," and thus spoil the artificial fountain that "Practique" was teaching him to make: "And for hindrance of the mischiefs of great waters which may be gathered in a few hours by great storms, when thou shalt have made ready thy parterre to receive the water, thou must lay great atones athwart the deep channels which lead to thy parterre. And so the force of the rushing currents shall be deadened, and thy water shall flow peacefully into his cisterns."--Oeuvres Completes, p. 178.

99. ^These facts I take from the La Provence au point de vue des Bois, des Torrents et des Inondations, of Charles de Ribbe, one of the highest authorities.

100. ^ A second edition of this work, with an additional volume of great value by Ernest Cezanne, was published at Paris, in two 8vo volumes, in 1871-72.

101. ^No attentive observer can frequent the southern flank of the Piedmontese Alps or the French province of Dauphiny, for half a dozen years, without witnessing with his own eyes the formation and increase of new torrents. I can bear personal testimony to the conversion of more than one grassy slope into the bed of a furious torrent by baring the hills above of their woods.

102. ^Ladoucette says the peasant of Devoluy "often goes a distance of five hours over rocks and precipices for a single [man's] load of wood;" and he remarks on another page, that "the justice of peace of that canton had, in the course of forty-three years, but once heard the voice of the nightingale."--Histoire, etc, des Hautes Alpes, pp. 220, 434.

103. ^ The valley of Embrun, now almost completely devastated, was once remarkable for its fertility. In 1800, Hericart de Thury said of it: "In this magnificent valley nature had been prodigal of her gifts. Its inhabitants have blindly revelled in her favors, and fallen asleep in the midst of her profusion."--Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., p. 314.

104. ^These explosive gushes of mud and rock appear to be occasioned by the caving-in of large masses of earth from the banks of the torrent, which dam up the stream and check its flow until it has acquired volume enough to burst the barrier and carry all before it. In 1827, such a sudden eruption of a torrent, after the current had appeared to have ceased, swept off forty-two houses and drowned twenty-eight persons in the village of Goncelin, near Grenoble, and buried with rubbish a great part of the remainder of the village."

The French traveller, D'Abbadie, relates precisely similar occurrences as not unfrequent in the mountains of Abyssinia.--Surrell, Etudes, etc; 2d edition, pp. 224, 295.

105. ^ In the days of the Roman Empire the Durance was a navigable, or at least a boatable, river, with a commerce so important that the boatmen upon it formed a distinct corporation.--Ladoucette, Histoire, etc., des Hautes Alpes, p. 354. Even as early as 1789 the Durance was computed to have already covered with gravel and pebbles not less than 130,000 acres, "which, but for its inundations, would have been the finest land in the province."--Arthur Young, Travels in France, vol i., ch. i.

106. ^Between 1851 and 1856 the population of Languedoc and Provence had increased by 101,000 souls. The augmentation, however, was wholly in the provinces of the plains, where all the principal cities are found. In these provinces the increase was 204,000, while in the mountain provinces there was a diminution of 103,000. The reduction of the area of arable land is perhaps even more striking. In 1842 the department of the Lower Alps possessed 90,000 hectares, or nearly 245,000 acres, of cultivated soil. In 1852 it had but 74,000 hectares. In other words, in ten years 25,000 hectares, or 61,000 acres, had been washed away, or rendered worthless for cultivation, by torrents and the abuses of pasturage.--Clave, Etudes, pp. 66, 67.

107. ^The original forests in which the basin of the Ardeche was rich have been rapidly disappearing for many years, and the terrific violence of the inundations which are now laying it waste is ascribed, by the ablest investigators, to that cause. In an article inserted in the Annales Forestieres for 1843, quoted by Hohenstein, Der Wald, p. 177, it is said that about one-third of the area of the department had already become absolutely barren, in consequence of clearing, and that the destruction of the woods was still going on with great rapidity. New torrents were constantly forming, and they were estimated to have covered more than 70,000 acres of good land, or one-eighth of the surface of the department, with sand and gravel.

108. ^Sir John F. Herschel, citing Talabot as his authority, Physical Geography (24).

In an elaborate paper on "Irrigation," printed in the United States Patent Report for 1860, p. 169, it is stated that the volume of water poured into the Mediterranean by the Nile in twenty-four hours, at low water, is 150,566,392,368 cubic meters; at high water, 705,514,667,440 cubic metres. Taking the mean of these two numbers, the average daily delivery of the Nile would be 428,081,059,808 cubic metres, or more than 550,000,000,000 cubic yards. There is some enormous mistake, probably a typographical error, in this statement, which makes the delivery of the Nile seventeen hundred times as great as computed by Talabot, and more than physical geographers have estimated the quantity supplied by all the rivers on the face of the globe.

109. ^[Footnote: The Drac, a torrent emptying into the Isere a little below Grenoble, has discharged 5,200, the Isere, which receives it, 7,800 cubic yards, and the Durance, above its junction with the Isere, an equal quantity, per second.--Montluisant, Note sur les Dessechements, etc., Annales des Ponts et Chaussees, 1833, 2me semestre p. 288.

The Upper Rhone, which drains a basin of about 1,900 square miles, including seventy-one glaciers, receives many torrential affluents, and rain-storms and thaws are sometimes extensive enough to affect the whole tributary system of its narrow valley. In such cases its current swells to a great volume, but previously to the floods of the autumn of 1868 it was never known to reach a discharge of 2,600 cubic yards to the second. On the 28th of September in that year, however, its delivery amounted to 3,700 cubic yards to the second, which is about equal to the mean discharge of the Nile.--Berichte der Experten-Commission uber die Ueberschaeemmungen im Jahr 1868, pp. 174,175.

The floods of some other French rivers, which have a more or less torrential character, scarcely fall behind those of the Rhone. The Loire, above Roanne, has a basin of 2,471 square miles, or about twice and a half the area of that of the Ardeche. In some of its inundations it has delivered above 9,500 cubic yards per second, or 400 times its low-water discharge.--Belgrand, De l'Influence des Forets, etc., Annales des Ponts et Chaussees, 1854, 1er semestre, p.15, note.

The ordinary low-water discharge of the Seine at Paris is nearly 100 cubic yards per second. Belgrand gives a list of eight floods of that river within the last two centuries, in which it has delivered thirty times that quantity.

110. ^"There is no example of a coincidence between great floods of the Ardeche and of the Rhone, all the known inundations of the former having taken place when the latter was very low."--MARDIGNY, Memoire sur les Inondations des Rivieres de l'Ardeche, p. 26.

The same observation may be applied to the tributaries of the Po, their floods being generally successive, not contemporaneous. The swelling of the affluents of the Amazon, and indeed of most large rivers, is regulated by a similar law. See Messedaglia, Analisi dell' opera di Champion, etc., p. 103.

The floods of the affluents of the Tiber form an exception to this law, being generally coincident, and this is one of the explanations of the frequency of destructive inundations in that river.--Lombardini, Guida allo Studio dell' Idrologia, ff. 68; same author, Esame degli studi sul Tevere.

I take this occasion to acknowledge myself indebted to Mardigny's interesting memoir just quoted for all the statements I make respecting the floods of the Ardeche, except the comparison of the volume of its water with that of the Nile.

111. ^In some cases where the bed of rapid Alpine streams is composed of very hard rock--as is the case in many of the valleys once filled by ancient glaciers--and especially where they are fed by glaciers not overhung by crumbling cliffs, the channel may remain almost unchanged for centuries. This is observable in many of the tributaries of the Dora Baltea, which drains the valley of Aosta. Several of these small rivers are spanned by more or less perfect Roman bridges--one of which, that over the Lys at Pont St. Martin, is still in good repair and in constant use. An examination of the rocks on which the abutments of this and some other similar structures are founded, and of the channels of the rivers they cross, shows that the beds of the streams cannot have been much elevated or depressed since the bridges were built. In other cases, as at the outlet of the Val Tournanche at Chatillon, where a single rib of a Roman bridge still remains, there is nothing to forbid the supposition that the deep excavation of the channel may have been partly effected at much later period.

The Roman aqueduct known as the Pont du Gard, near Nismes, was built, in all probability, nineteen centuries ago. The bed of the river Gardon, a rather swift stream, which flows beneath it, can have suffered but slight depression since the piers of the aqueduct were founded.

112. ^Annali di Agricoltura, Industria e Commercio, vol. i., p. 77. Similar instances of the erosive power of running water might be collected by hundreds from the narratives of travellers in warm countries. The energy of the torrents of the Himalayas is such that the brothers Schlagintweit believe that they will cut gorges through that lofty chain wide enough to admit the passage of currents of warm wind from the south, and thereby modify the climate of the countries lying to the north of the mountains.

113. ^The Skalara-Tobel, for instance, near Coire. See the description of this and other like scenes in Berlepsch, Die Alpen, pp. 169 et seqq., or in Stephen's English translation.

About an hour from Thusis, on the Splagen road, "opens the awful chasm of the Nolla which a hundred years ago poured its peaceful waters through smiling meadows protected by the wooded slopes of the mountains. But the woods were cut down and with them departed the rich pastures, the pride of the valley, now covered with piles of rock and rubbish swept down from the mountains. This result is the more to be lamented as it was entirely compassed by the improvidence of man in thinning the forests."--Morell, Scientific Guide to Switzerland, p. 100.

The recent change in the character of the Mella--a river anciently so remarkable for the gentleness of its current that it was specially noticed by Catullus as flowing molli flumine--deserves more than a passing remark. This river rises in the mountain-chain east of Lake Iseo, and traversing the district of Brescia, empties into the Oglio after a course of about seventy miles. The iron-works in the upper valley of the Mella had long created a considerable demand for wood, but their operations were not so extensive as to occasion any very sudden or general destruction of the forests, and the only evil experienced from the clearings was the gradual diminution of the volume of the river. Within the last thirty years, the superior quality of the arms manufactured at Brescia has greatly enlarged the sale of them, and very naturally stumulated the activity of both the forges and of the colliers who supply them, and the hillsides have been rapidly stripped of their timber. Up to 1850, no destructive inundation of the Mella had been recorded. Buildings in great numbers had been erected upon its margin, and its valley was conspicuous for its rural beauty and its fertility. But when the denudation of the mountains had reached a certain point, avenging nature began the work of retribution. In the spring and summer of 1850 several new torrents were suddenly formed in the upper tributary valleys, and on the 14th and 15th of August in that year a fall of rain, not heavier than had been often experienced, produced a flood which not only inundated much ground never before overflowed, but destroyed a great number of bridges, dams, factories, and other valuable structures, and, what was a far more serious evil, swept off from the rocks an incredible extent of soil, and converted one of the most beautiful valleys of the Italian Alps into a ravine almost us bare and as barren as the savagest gorge of Southern France. The pecuniary damage was estimated at many millions of francs, and the violence of the catastrophe was deemed so extraordinary, even in a country subject to similar visitations, that the sympathy excited for the sufferers produced, in five months, voluntary contributions for their relief to the amount of nearly 0,000.--Delle Inondazioni del Mella, etc., nella notte del 14 al 15 Agosto, 1850.

The author of this pamphlet has chosen as a motto a passage from the Vulgate translation of Job, which is interesting as showing accurate observation of the action of the torrent: "Mons cadens definit, et saxum transfertur de loco suo; lapides excavant aquae et alluvione paullatim terra consumitur."--Job xiv. 18, 19.

The English version is much less striking, and gives a different sense.

The recent date of the change in the character of the Mella is contested, and it is possible that, though the extent of the revolution is not exaggerated, the rapidity with which it has taken place may have been.

114. ^Streffleur quotes from Duile the following observations: "The channel of the Tyrelese brooks is often raised much above the valleys through which they flow. The bed of the Fersina is elevated high above the city of Trent, which lies near it. The Villerbach flows at a much more elevated level than that of the market-place of Neumarkt and Vill, and threatens to overwhelm both of them with its waters. The Talfer at Botzen is at least even with the roofs of the adjacent town, if not above them. The tower-steeples of the villages of Schlanders, Kortsch, and Laas, are lower than the surface of the Gadribach. The Saldurbach at Schluderus menaces the far lower village with destruction, and the chief town, Schwaz, is in similar danger from the Lahnbach."--Streffleur, Ueber die Wildbuche, etc., p. 7.

115. ^Sonklar, Die Octzthaler Gebirgsgruppe, 1861, p. 231.

116. ^ Surrell, Les Torrents des Hautes Alpes, chap. xxiv. In such cases, the clearing of the ground, which, in consequence of a temporary diversion of the waters, or from some other cause, has become rewooded, sometimes renews the ravages of the torrent. Thus, on the left bank of the Durance, a wooded declivity had been formed by the debris brought down by torrents, which had extinguished themselves after having swept off much of the superficial strata of the mountain of Morgon. "All this district was covered with woods, which have now been thinned out and are perishing from day to day; consequently, the torrents have recommenced their devastations, and if the clearings continue, this declivity, now fertile, will he ruined, like so many others."--Ibid, p. 155.

117. ^Where a torrent has not been long in operation, and earth still remains mixed with the rocks and gravel it heaps up at its point of eruption, vegetation soon starts up and prospers, it protected from encroachment. In Provence, "several communes determined, about ten years ago, to reserve the soils thus wasted, that is, to abandon them for a certain time, to spontaneous vegetation, which was not slow in making its appearance."-Becquerel, Des Climats, p. 815.

118. ^Frisi, Del modo di regolare i Fiumi e i Torrenti, pp. 4-19. See in Lombardini, Sulle Inondazioni in Francia, p. 87, notices of the action of currents transporting only fine material in wearing down hard rock. In the sluices for gold-washing in California having a grade of 1 to 14 1/2, and paved with the hardest stones, the wear of the bottom is at the rate of two inches in three months.--Raymond, Mineral Statistics, 1870, p. 480.

119. ^ Surrell, Etude sur les Torrents, pp. 81-86.

120. ^At Rinkenberg, on the right bank of the Vorder Rhein, in the flood of 1868, a block of stone computed to weigh nearly 9,000 cwt. was carried bodily forwards, not rolled, by a torrent, a distance of three-quarter of a mile.--Coaz, die Hochwasser im 1868, p. 54. Memoire sur les Inondations des Rivieres de l'Ardeche, p. 16. "The terrific roar, the thunder of the raging torrents proceeds principally from the stones which are rolled along in the bed of the stream. This movement is attended with such powerful attrition that, in the Southern Alps, the atmosphere of valleys where the limestone contains bitumen, has, at the time of floods, the marked bituminous smell produced by rubbing pieces of such limestone together."--Wessely, Die Oesterreichischen Alpenlander, i., p. 113.

121. ^ Avant-projet pour la creation d'un sol fertile, p. 20.

122. ^Since the date of Lombardini's observations, many Alpine valleys have been stripped of their woods. It would be interesting to know whether any sensible change has been produced in the character or quantity of the matter transported by the rivers to the Po.--Notice sur les Rivieres de la Lombardie, Annales des Ponts et Chaussees, 1847, 1er semestre, p. 131.

123. ^Lorentz, in an official report quoted by Marchand, says: "The felling of the woods produces torrents which cover the cultivated soil with pebbles and fragments of rock, and they do not confine their ravages to the vicinity of the mountains, but extend them into the fertile fields of Provence and other departments, to the distance of forty or fifty leagues."--Entwaldung der Gebirge, p. 17.

124. ^In a sheet-iron siphon, 1,000 feet long, with a diameter of four inches, having the entrance 18 feet, the orifice of discharge 40 feet below the summit of the curve, employed in draining a mine In California, the force of the current was such as to carry through the tube great quantities of sand and coarse gravel, some of the grains of which were as large as an English walnut. --Raymond, Mining Statistics, 1870, p. 602.

125. ^In the earlier medieval centuries, when the declivities of the mountains still retained a much larger proportion of their woods, the moderate annual floods of the Po were occasioned by the melting of the snows on the lower slopes, and, according to a passage of Tasso quoted by Castellani (Dell' Influenza delle Selve, i., p. 58, note), they took place in May. The usually more violent inundations of later ages are due to rains, the waters of which are no longer retained by a forest-soil, but conveyed at once to the rivers--and they occur almost uniformly in the autumn or late summer. Castellani, on the page just quoted, says that even so late as about 1780, the Po required a heavy rain of a week to overflow its banks, but that forty years later it was sometimes raised to full flood in a single day. Pliny says: "The Po, which is inferior to no river in swiftness of current, is in flood about the rising of the dog-star, the snow then melting, and though so rapid in flow, it washes nothing from the soil, but leaves it increased in fertility."--Natural History, Book iii, 20.

The first terrible inundation of the Po in 1872 took place in May, and appears to have been occasioned by heavy rains on the southern flank of the Alps, and to have received little accession from snow. The snow on the higher Alps does not usually thaw so as to occasion floods before August, and often considerably later. The more destructive flood of October, 1872, was caused both by thaws in the high mountains and by an extraordinary fall of rain. See River Embankments; post. Pliny's remark as to enrichment of the soil by the floods appear to be verified in the case of that of October, 1872, for it is found that the water has left very extensively a thick deposit of slime on the fields. See a list of the historically known great inundations of the Po by the engineer Zuccholli in Torelli, Progetto di Legge per la Vendita di Beni incolti. Roma, 1873.

126. ^This change of coast-line cannot be ascribed to upheaval, for a comparison of the level of old buildings--as, for instance, the church of San Vitale and the tomb of Theodoric at Ravenna--with that of the sea, tends to prove a depression rather than an elevation of their foundations. A computation by a different method makes the deposits at the mouth of the Po 2,123,000 metres less; but as both of them omit the gravel and silt carried down at ordinary and low water, we are safe in assuming the larger quantity.

127. ^Sir John F. W. Herschel (Physical Geography, 137, and elsewhere) spells this word water-sched, because he considers it a translation, or rather an adoption, of the German "Wasser-scheide, separation of the waters, not water-SHED the slope DOWN WHICH the waters run." As a point of historical etymology, it is probable that the word in question was suggested to those who first used it by the German Wasserscheide; but the spelling WATER-SCHED, proposed by Herschel, is objectionable, both because SCH is a combination of letters wholly unknown to modern English orthography, and properly representing no sound recognized in English orthoepy, and for the still better reason that WATER-SHED, in the sense of DIVISION-OF-THE-WATERS, has a legitimate English etymology. The Anglo-Saxon sceadan meant both to separate or divide, and to shade or shelter. It is the root of the English verbs TO SHED and TO SHADE, and in the former meaning is the A. S. equivalent of the German verb scheiden. SHED in Old English had the meaning to SEPARATE or DISTINGUISH. It is so used in the Owl and the Nightingale, v. 107. Palsgrave (Lesclarcissement, etc., p. 717) defines I SHEDE, I departe thinges asonder; and the word still means TO DIVIDE in several English local dialects. Hence, watershed, the division or separation of the waters, is good English both in etymology and in spelling.

128. ^ The quantity of sediment deposited by the Po on the plains which border it, before the construction of the continuous dikes and in the floods which occasionally burst through them, is vast, and the consequent elevation of those plains is very considerable. I do not know that this latter point has been made a subject of special investigation, but vineyards, with the vines still attached to the elms which supported them, have been found two or three yards below the present surface at various points on the plains of Lombardy.

129. ^The Po receives about four-tenths of its waters from these lakes. See Lombardini, Dei cangiamenti nella condizione del Po, p. 29. All the sediment carried into the lakes by their tributaries is deposited in them, and the water which flows out of them is perfectly limpid. From their proximity to the Alps and the number of torrents which empty into them, they no doubt receive vastly more transported matter than is contributed to the Po by the six-tenths of its waters received from other sources.

130. ^Mengotti estimated the mass of solid matter annually "united to the waters of the Po" at 822,000,000 cubic metres, or nearly twenty times as much as, according to Lombardini, that river delivers into the Adriatic. Castellani supposes the computation of Mengotti to fall much below the truth, and there can be no doubt that a vastly larger quantity of earth and gravel is washed down from the Alps and the Apennines than is carried to the sea.--Castellani, Dell Immediata Influenza delle Salce sul corso delle Acqua, i., pp. 42,43. I have contented myself with assuming less than one-half of Mengotti's estimate.

131. ^Baumgarten, An. des Ponts et Chaussees, 1847, 1er semestre, p. 175.

132. ^The total superficies of the basin of the Po, down to Ponte Lagoscuro [Ferrara]--a point where it has received all its affluents--is 6,938,200 hectares, that is, 4,105,600 in mountain lands, 2,832,600 in plain lands.--Dumont, Travaux Publics, etc., p. 272. These latter two quantities are equal respectively to 10,145,348, and 6,999,638 acres, or 15,852 and 10,937 square miles.

133. ^I do not use these quantities as factors the value of which is precisely ascertained; nor, for the purposes of the present argument, is quantitative exactness important. I employ numerical statements simply as a means of aiding the imagination to form a general and certainly not extravagant idea of the extent of geographical revolutions which man has done much to accelerate, if not, strictly speaking, to produce.

There is an old proverb, Dolus latet in generalibus, and Arthur Young in not the only public economist who has warned his readers against the deceitfulness of round numbers. I think, on the contrary, that vastly more error has been produced by the affectation of precision in cases where precision is impossible.

In all the great operations of terrestrial nature, the elements are so numerous and so difficult of exact appreciation, that, until the means of scientific observation and measurement are much more perfected than they now are, we must content ourselves with general approximations. I say TERRESTRIAL nature, because in cosmical movements we have fewer elements to deal with, and may therefore arrive at much more rigorous proportional accuracy in determination of time and place than we can in fixing and predicting the quantities and the epochs of variable natural phenomena on the earth's surface.

Travellers are often misled by local habits in the use of what may be called representative numbers, where a definite is put for an indefinite quantity. A Greek, who wished to express the notion of a great but undetermined number, "myriad, or ten thousand;" a Roman, "six hundred;" an Oriental, "forty," or, at present, very commonly, "fifteen thousand." Many a tourist has gravely repeated, as an ascertained fact; the vague statement of the Arabs and the monks of Mount Sinai, that the ascent from the convent of St. Catherine to the summit of Gebel Moosa counts "fifteen thousand" steps, though the difference of level is two thousand feet; and the "Forty" Thieves, the "forty" martyr-monks of the convent of El Arbain--not to speak of a similar use of this numeral in more important cases--have often been understood as expressions of a known number, when in fact they mean simply MANY. The number "fifteen thousand" has found its way to Rome, and De Quincey seriously informs us, on the authority of a lady who had been at much pains to ascertain the EXACT truth, that, including closets large enough for a bed, the Vatican contains fifteen thousand rooms. Any one who has observed the vast dimensions of most of the apartments of that structure will admit that we make a very small allowance of space when we assign a square rod, sixteen and a half feet square, to each room upon the average. On an acre, there might be one hundred and sixty such rooms, including partition walls; and, to contain fifteen thousand of them, a building must cover more than nine acres, and be ten stories high, or possess other equivalent dimensions, which, as every traveller knows, many times exceeds the truth.

The value of a high standard of accuracy in scientific observation can hardly be overrated; but habits of rigorous exactness will never be formed by an investigator who allows himself to trust implicitly to the numerical precision or the results of a few experiments. The wonderful accuracy of geodetic measurements in modern times is, in general, attained by taking the mean of a great number of observations at every station, and this final precision is but the mutual balance and compensation of numerous errors.

The pretended exactness of statistical tables is too often little better than an imposture; and those founded not on direct estimation by competent observers, but on the report of persons who have no particular interest in knowing the truth, but often have a motive for distorting it, are commonly to be regarded as but vague guesses at the actual fact.

134. ^Rock is permeable by water to a greater extent than is generally supposed. Freshly quarried marble, and even granite, as well as most other stones, are sensibly heavier, as well as softer and more easily wrought, than after they are dried and hardened by air-seasoning. Many sandstones are porous enough to serve as filters for liquids, and much of that of Upper Egypt and Nubia hisses audibly when thrown into water, from the escape of the air forced out of it by hydrostatic pressure and the capillary attraction of the pores for water. Even the denser silicious stones are penetrable by fluids and the coloring matter they contain, to such an extent that agates and other forms of silex may be artificially stained through their substance. The colors of the stones cut at Oberstein are generally produced, or at least heightened, by art. This art was known to and practised by the ancient lapidaries, and it has been revived in recent times.

135. ^Palissy had observed the action of frost in disintegrating rock, and he thus describes it, in his essay on the formation of ice: "I know that the stones of the mountains of Ardennes be harder than marble. Nevertheless, the people of that country do not quarry the said stones in winter, for that they be subject to frost; and many times the rocks have been seen to fall without being cut, by means whereof many people have been killed, when the said rocks were thawing." Palissy was ignorant of the expansion of water in freezing--in fact, he supposed that the mechanical force exerted by freezing-water was due to compression, not dilatation--and therefore he ascribes to thawing alone effects resulting not less from congelation.

Various forces combine to produce the stone avalanches of the higher Alps, the fall of which is one of the greatest dangers incurred by the adventurous explorers of those regions--the direct action of the sun upon the stone, the expansion of freezing-water, and the loosening of masses of rock by the thawing of the ice which supported them or held them together.

136. ^Wessely, Die Oesterreichischen Alpenlander und ihre Forste, pp. 125, 126. Wessely records several other more or less similar occurrences in the Austrian Alps. Some of them, certainly, are not to be ascribed to the removal of the woods, but in most cases they are clearly traceable to that cause. See Revue des Eaux et Forets for 1860, pp. 182, 205.

137. ^Bianchi, Appendix to the Italian translation of Mrs. Somerville'S Physical Geography, p. xxxvi.

138. ^Cronica di Giovani Villani, lib. vii., cap. 97. For descriptions of other slides in Italy, see same author, lib. xi, cap. 26; Fanfani, Antologia Italiana, parte ii., p. 95; Giuliani, Linguaggio vivente della Toscana, 1865, lettera 63.

139. ^There is good reason for thinking that many of the earth and rock slides in the Alps occurred at an earlier period than the origin of the forest vegetation which, in later ages, covered the flanks of those mountains. See Bericht uber die Untersuchung der Schweizerischen Hochgebirgswaldungen, 1862, p. 61.

Where more recent slides have been again clothed with woods, the trees, shrubs, and smaller plants which spontaneously grow upon them are usually of different species from those observed upon soil displaced at remote periods. This difference is so marked that the site of a slide can often be recognized at a great distance by the general color of the foliage of its vegetation.

140. ^Entwaldung der Gebirge, p. 41.

141. ^The importance of the wood in preventing avalanches is well illustrated by the fact that, where the forest is wanting, the inhabitants of localities exposed to snow-slides often supply the place of the trees by driving stakes through the snow into the ground, and thus checking its propensity to slip. The woods themselves are sometimes thus protected against avalanches originating on slopes above them, and as a further security, small trees are cut down along the upper line of the forest, and laid against the trunks of larger trees, transversely to the path of the slide, to serve as a fence or dam to the motion of an incipient avalanche, which may by this means be arrested before it acquires a destructive velocity and force.

In the volume cited in the text, Reclus informs us that "the village and the great thermal establishment of Bareges in the Pyrenees were threatened yearly by avalanches which precipitated themselves from a height of 1,200 metres and at an angle of 35 degrees; so that the inhabitants had been obliged to leave large spaces between the different quarters of the town for the free passage of the descending masses. Attempts have been recently made to prevent those avalanches by means similar to those employed by the Swiss mountaineers. They cut terraces three or four yards in width across the mountain slopes and supported these terraces by a row of iron piles. Wattled fences, with here and there a wall of stone, shelter the young shoots of trees, which grow up by degrees under the protection of these defences. Until natural trees are ready to arrest the snows, these artificial supports take their place and do their duty very well. The only avalanche which swept down the slope in the year 1860, when these works were completed, did not amount to 350 cubic yards, while the masses which fell before this work was undertaken contained from 75,000 to 80,000 cubic yards."--La Terre, vol. i., p. 233.

142. ^See in Kohl, Alpenreisen, i., 120, an account of the ruin of fields and pastures, and even of the destruction of a broad belt of forest, by the fall of rocks in consequence of cutting a few large trees. Cattle are very often killed in Switzerland by rock-avalanches, and their owners secure themselves from loss by insurance against this risk as against damage by fire or hail.

143. ^"A hundred and fifty paces from my house is a hill of drift-sand, on which stood a few scattered pines (Pinus sylvestris). Sempervivum tectorum in abundance, Statice armeria, Ammone vernalis, Dianthus carthusianorum, with other sand-plants, were growing there. I planted the hill with a few birches, and all the plants I have mentioned completely disappeared, though there were many naked spots of sand between the trees. It should be added, however, that the hillock is more thickly wooded than before. . . . It seems then that Sempervivum tectorum, etc., will not bear the neighborhood of the birch, though growing well near the Pinus sylvestris. I have found the large red variety of Agaricus deliciosus only among the roots of the pine; the greenish-blue Agaricus deliciosus among alder roots, but not near any other tree. Birds have their partialities among trees and shrubs. The Silvioe prefer the Pinus Larix to other trees. In my garden this Pinus is never without them, but I never saw a bird perch on Thuja occidentalis or Juniperus sabina, although the thick foliage of these latter trees affords birds a better shelter than the loose leafage of other trees. Not even a wren ever finds its way to one of them. Perhaps the scent of the Thuja and the Juniperus is offensive to them. I have spoiled one of my meadows by cutting away the bushes. It formerly bore grass four feet high, because many umbelliferous plants, such as Heracleum spondylium, Spiraea ulmaria, Laserpitium latifolia, etc., grew in it. Under the shelter of the bushes these plants ripened and bore seed, but they gradually disappeared as the shrubs wore extirpated, and the grass now does not grow to the height of more than two feet, because it is no longer obliged to keep pace with the umbellifera which flourished among it." See a paper by J.G. Buttner, of Kurland, in Berghaus s Geographicsches Jahrbuch, 1852, No. 4, pp. 14, 15.

These facts are interesting as illustrating the multitude of often obscure conditions upon which the life or vigorous growth of smaller organisms depends. Particular species of truffles and of mushrooms are found associated with particular trees, without being, as is popularly supposed, parasites deriving their nutriment from the dying or dead roots of those trees. The success of Rousseau's experiments seem decisive on this point, for he obtains larger crops of truffles from ground covered with young seedling oaks than from that filled with roots of old trees. See an article on Mont Ventoux, by Charles Martins, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, Avril, 1863, p. 626.

It ought to be much more generally known than it is, that most if not all mushrooms, even of the species reputed poisonous, may be rendered harmless and healthful as food by soaking them for two hours in acidulated or salt water. The water requires two or three spoonfuls of vinegar or two spoonful of gray salt to the quart, and a quart of water is enough for a pound of sliced mushrooms. After thus soaking, they are well washed in fresh water, thrown into cold water, which is raised to the boiling-point, and, after remaining half an hour, taken out and again washed, Gerard, to prove that "crumpets is wholesome," ate one hundred and seventy-five pounds of the most poisonous mushrooms thus prepared, in a single month, fed his family ad libitum with the same, and finally administered them, in heroic doses, to the members of a committee appointed by the Council of Health of the city of Paris. See Figuier, L'Annee Scientifique, 1862, pp. 353, 384. It should be observed that the venomous principle of poisonous mushrooms is not decomposed and rendered innocent by the process described in the note. It is merely extracted by the acidulated or saline water employed for soaking the plants, and care should be taken that this water be thrown away out of the reach of mischief.

It has long been known that the Russian peasantry eat, with impunity, mushrooms of species everywhere else regarded as very poisonous. Is it not probable that the secret of rendering them harmless--which was known to Pliny, though since forgotten in Italy--is possessed by the rustic Muscovites

144. ^Geological Survey of Wyoming, p. 455.

145. ^Physikalische Geographie, p. 486.

146. ^Origin of Species, American edition, p. 60.

147. ^Writers on vegetable physiology record numerous instances where seeds have grown after lying dormant for ages. The following cases are mentioned by Dr. Dwight (Travels, ii., pp. 438, 430).

"The lands [in Panton, Vermont], which have here been once cultivated, and again permitted to lie waste for several years, yield a rich and fine growth of hickory [Carya Porcina]. Of this wood there is not, I believe, a single tree in any original forest within fifty miles from this spot. The native growth was here white pine, of which I did not see a single stem in a whole grove of hickory."

The hickory is a walnut, bearing a fruit too heavy to be likely to be carried fifty miles by birds, and besides, I believe it is not eaten by any bird indigenous to Vermont. We have seen, however, on a former page, that birds transport the nutmeg, which when fresh is probably as heavy as the walnut, from one inland of the Indian archipelago to another.

"A field, about five miles from Northampton, on an eminence called Rail Hill, was cultivated about a century ago. The native growth here, and in all the surrounding region, was wholly oak, chestnut, etc. As the field belonged to my grandfather, I had the best opportunity of learning its history. It contained about five acres, in the form of an irregular parallelogram. As the savages rendered the cultivation dangerous, it was given up. On this ground there sprang up a grove of white pines covering the field and retaining its figure exactly. So far as I remember, there was not in it a single oak or chestnut tree ... There was not a single pine whose seeds were, or, probably, had for ages been, sufficiently near to have been planted on this spot. The fact that these white pines covered this field exactly, go as to preserve both its extent and its figure, and that there were none in the neighborhood, are decisive proofs that cultivation brought up the seeds of a former forest within the limits of vegetation, and gave them an opportunity to germinate."

See, on the Succession of the Forest, Thoreau, Excursions, p. l35 et seqq.

148. ^Quaint old Valvasor had observed the subduing influence of nature's solitudes. In describing the lonely Canker-Thal, which, though rocky, was in his time well wooded with "[[[fir]], larches, beeches and other trees," he says:

"Gladsomeness and beauty, which dwell in many valleys, may not be looked for there. The journey through it is cheerless, melancholy, wearisome, and serveth to temper and mortify orer-joyousness of thought ... In sum it is a very desert, wherein the wildness of human pride doth grow tame."--Ehre der Crain, i., p. 186, b.

149. ^Smela, in the government of Kiew, has, for some years, not suffered at all from the locusts, which formerly came every year in vast swarms, and the curculio, so injurious to the turnip crops, is less destructive there than in other parts of the province. This improvement is owing partly to the more thorough cultivation of the soil, partly to the groves which are interspersed among the ploughlands. ... When in the midst of the plains woods shall be planted and filled with insectivorous birds, the locusts will cease to be a plague and a terror to the farmer.--Rentzsch, Der Wald, pp. 45, 46.

150. ^Almost every narrative of travel in those countries which were the earliest seats of civilization, contains evidence of the truth of these general statements, and this evidence is presented with more or less detail in most of the special works on the forest which I have occasion to cite. I may refer particularly to Hohenstein, Der Wald, 1860, as full of important facts on this subject. See also Caimi, Cenni sulla Importanza dei Boschi, for some statistics, not readily found elsewhere, on this and other topics connected with the forest.

151. ^In an imaginary dialogue in the Recepte Veritable, the author, Palissy, having expressed his indignation at the folly of men in destroying the woods, his interlocutor defends the policy of felling them, by citing the example of "divers bishops, cardinals, priors, abbots, monkeries and chapters, which, by cutting their woods, have made three profits, "the sale of the timber, the rent of the ground, and the "good portion" they received of the grain grown by the peasants upon it. To this argument Palissy replies: "I cannot enough detest this thing, and I call it not an error, but a curse and a calamity to all France; for when forests shall be cut, all arts shall cease, and they which practise them shall be driven out to eat grass with Nebuchadnezzar and the beasts of the field. I have divers times thought to set down in writing the arts which shall perish when there shall be no more wood; but when I had written down a great number, I did perceive that there could be no end of my writing, and having diligently considered, I found there was not any which could be followed without wood." ... "And truly I could well allege to thee a thousand reasons, but 'tis so cheap a philosophy, that the very chamber-wenches, it they do but think, may see that without wood, it is not possible to exercise any manner of human art or cunning."--Oeuvres de Bernard Pallisy . Paris, 1844, p. 89.

152. ^Der Wald, pp. 123, 124.

153. ^Railway-ties, or, as they are called in England, sleepers, are largely exported from Norway to India, and sold at Calcutta at a lower price than timber of equal quality can be obtained from the native woods.--Reports on Forest Conservancy, vol. i., pt. ii., p. 1533. From 1861 to 1870 Norway exported annually, on the average, more than 60,000,000 cubic feet of lumber.--Wulfsberg, Norges Velstandskilder. Christiania, 1872.

154. ^Der Wald, p. 63. Antonio Ponz (Viage de Espana, i., prologo, p. lxiii.), says: "Nor would this be so great an evil, were not some of them declaimers against TREES, thereby proclaiming themselves, in some sort, enemies of the works of God, who gave us the leafy abode of Paradise to dwell in, where we should be even now sojourning, but for the first sin, which expelled us from it." I do not know at what period the two Castiles were bared of their woods, but the Spaniard's proverbial "hatred of a tree" is of long standing. Herrera combats this foolish prejudice; and Ponz, in the prologue to the ninth volume of his journey, says that many carried it so far as wantonly to destroy the shade and ornamental trees planted by the municipal authorities. "Trees," they contended, and still believe, "breed birds, and birds eat up the grain." Our author argues against the supposition of the "breeding of birds by trees," which, he says, is as absurd as to believe that an elm-tree can yield pears; and he charitably suggests that the expression is, perhaps, a maniere de dire, a popular phrase, signifying simply that trees harbor birds.

155. ^Holinshed, reprint of 1807, i., pp. 357, 358. It is evident from this passage, and from another on page 397 of the same volume, that, though seacoal was largely exported to the Continent, it had not yet come into general use in England. It is a question of much interest, when mineral coal was first employed in England for fuel. I can find no evidence that it was used as a combustible until more than a century after the Norman conquest. It has been said that it was known to the Anglo-Saxon population, but I am acquainted with no passage in the literature of that people which proves this. The dictionaries explain the Anglo-Saxon word grofa by sea-coal. I have met with this word in no Anglo-Saxon work, except in the Chronicle, A.D. 852, from a manuscript certainly not older than the 12th century, and in two citations from Anglo-Saxon charters, one published by Kemble in Codex Diplomaticus, the other by Thorpe in Diplomatarium Anglicum, in all which passages it more probably means peat than mineral coal. According to Way, Promptorium Parrulorum, p. 506, note, the Catholicon Anglicanum has "A turfe grafte, turbarium." Grafte is here evidently the same word as the A.-S. grafa, and the Danish Torvegraf, a turf-pit, confirms this opinion. Coal is not mentioned in King Alfred's Bede, in Neckam, in Glanville or in Robert of Gloucester, though the two latter writers speak of the allied mineral, jet, and are very full in their enumeration of the mineral productions of the island. In a Latin poem ascribed to Giraldus Cambrensis, who died after the year 1220, but found also in the manuesripts of Walter Mapes (see Camden Society edition, pp. 131 and 350), and introduced into Higden's Polychronicon (London, 1865, pp. 398, 399), carbo sub terra cortice, which can mean nothing but pit-coal, is enumerated among the natural commodities of England. Some of the translations of the 13th and 14th century render carbo by cool or col, some by gold, and some omit this line, as well as others unintelligible to the translators. Hence, although Giraldus was acquainted with coal, it certainly was not generally known to English writers until at least a century after the time of that author.

The earliest mediaeval notice of mineral coal I have met with is in a passage cited by Ducange from a document of the year 1198, and it is an etymology|etymological]] observation of some interest, that carbones ferrei, as sea-coal is called in the document, are said by Ducange to have been known in France by the popular name of hulla, a word evidently identical with the modern French houille and the Cornish Huel, which in the form wheal is an element in the name of many mining localities.

England was anciently remarkable for its forests, but Caesar says it wanted the fagus and the abies. There can be no doubt that fagus means the beech, which, as the remains in the Danish peat-mosses show, is a tree of late introduction into Denmark, where it succeeded the fir, a tree not now native to that country. The succession of forest crops seems to have been the same in England; for Harrison, p. 359, speaks of the "great store of firre" found lying "at their whole lengths" in the "fens and marises" of Lancashire and other counties, where not even bushes grew in his time. We cannot be sure what species of evergreen Caesar intended by abies. The popular designations of spike-leaved trees are always more vague and uncertain in their application than those of broad-leaved trees. PINUS, PINE, has been very loosely employed even in botanical nomenclature, and KIEFER, FICHTE, and TANNE are often confounded in German.--Rossmassler, Der Wald, pp. 256, 289, 324. A similar confusion in the names of this family of trees exists in India. Dr. Cleghorn, Inspector-General of the Indian Forests, informs us in his official Circular No. 2, that the name of deodar is applied in some provinces to a cypress, in some to a cedar, and in others to a juniper. If it were certain that the abies of Caesar was the fir formerly and still found in peat-mosses, and that he was right in denying the existence of the beech in England in his time, the observation would be very important, because it would fix a date at which the fir had become extinct, and the beech had not yet appeared in the island.

The English oak, though strong and durable, was not considered generally suitable for finer work in the sixteenth century. There were, however, exceptions. "Of all in Essex," observes Harrison, Holinshed, i., p. 357, "that growing in Bardfield parke is the finest for ioiners craft; for oftentimes haue I seene of their workes made of that oke so fine and faire, as most of the wainescot that is brought hither out of Danske [Danzig]; for our wainescot is not made in England. Yet diuerse haue assaied to deale with our okes to that end, but not with so good successe as they haue hoped, bicause the ab or iuice will not so soone be removed and cleane drawne out, which some attribute to want of time in the salt water." This passage is also of interest as showing that soaking in salt-water, as a mode of seasoning, was practised in Harrison's time.

But the importation of wainscot, or boards for ceiling, panelling, and otherwise finishing rooms, which was generally of oak, commenced at least three centuries before the time of Harrison. On page 204 of the Liber Albus mention is made of "squared oak timber," brought in from the country by carts, and of course of domestic growth, as free of city duty or octroi, and of "planks of oak" coming in in the same way as paying one plank a cart-load. But in the chapter on the "Customs of Billyngesgate," pp. 208, 209, relating to goods imported from foreign countries, an import duty of one halfpenny is imposed on every hundred of boards called "weynscotte"--a term formerly applied only to oak--and of one penny on every hundred of boards called "Rygholt." The editor explains "Rygholt" as "wood of Riga." This was doubtless pine or fir. The year in which these provisions were made does not appear, but they belong to the reign of Henry III.

156. ^The improvidence of the population under the native and early foreign governments has produced great devastations in the forests of the British East Indian provinces, and the demands of the railways for fuel and timber have greatly augmented the consumption of lumber, and of course contributed to the destruction of the woods. The forests of British India are now, and for several years have been, under the control of an efficient governmental organization, with great advantage both to the government and to the general private interests of the people.

The official Reports on Forest Conservancy from May, 1862, to August, 1871, in 4 vols. folio, contain much statistical and practical information on all subjects connected with the administration of the forest.

157. ^Robertson, Our Deer Forests. London, 1867.

158. ^Among the indirect proofs of the comparatively recent existence of extensive forests in France, may be mentioned the fact that wolves were abundant, not very long since, in parts of the empire where there are now neither wolves nor woods to shelter them. Arthur Young more than once speaks of the "innumerable multitudes" of these animals which infested France in 1789, and George Sand states, in the Histoire de ma Vie, that some years after the restoration of the Bourbons, they chased travellers on horseback in the southern provinces, and literally knocked at the doors of her father-in-law's country seat. Eugenie de Guerin, writing from Rayssac in Languedoc in 1831 speaks of hearing the wolves fighting with dogs in the night under her very windows. Lettres, 2d ed., p. 6. There seems to have been a tendency to excessive clearing in Central and Western, earlier than in South-eastern, France. Bernard Palissy, in the Recepte Veritable, first printed in 1563, thus complains: "When I consider the value of the least clump of trees, or even of thorns, I much marvel at the great ignorance of men, who, as it seemeth, do nowadays study only to break down, fell, and waste the fair forests which their forefathers did guard so choicely. I would think no evil of them for cutting down the woods, did they but replant again some part of them; but they care nought for the time to come, neither reck they of the great damage they do to their children which shall come after them."--Oeuvres Completes de Bernard Pallisy, 1844, p. 88.

159. ^The view I have taken of this point is confirmed by the careful investigation of Rentzsch, who estimates the proper proportion of woodland to entire surface at twenty-three per cent. for the interior of Germany, and supposes that near the coast, where the air is supplied with humidity by evaporation from the sea, it might safely be reduced to twenty per cent. See Rentzsch's very valuable prize essay, Der Wald im Haushalt der Natur und der Volkswirthschaft. cap. viii. The due proportion in France would considerably exceed that for the German States, because France has relatively more surface unfit for any growth but that of wood, because the form and geological character of her mountains expose her territory to much greater injury from torrents, and beause at least her southern provinces are more frequently visited both by extreme droughts and by deluging rains.

160. ^In 1863, France imported lumber to the value of twenty-five and a half millions of dollars, and exported to the amount of six and a half millions of dollars. The annual consumption of France was estimated in 1866 at 212,000,000 cubic feet for building and manufacturing, and 1,588,300,000 for firewood and charcoal. The annual product of the forest-soil of France does not exceed 70,000,000 cubic feet of wood fit for industrial use, and 1,300,000,000 cubic feet consumed as fuel. This estimate does not include the product of scattered trees on private grounds, but the consumption is estimated to exceed the production of the forests by the amount of about twenty millions of dollars. It is worth noticing that the timber for building and manufacturing produced in France comes almost wholly from the forests of the state or of the communes.--Jules Clave, in Revue des Deux Mondes for March 1, 1866, p. 207.

161. ^In 1848 the Government of the so-called French Republic sold to the Bank of France 187,000 acres of public forests, and notwithstanding the zeal with which the Imperial Government had pressed the protective Iegislation of 1860, it introduced, into the Legislative Assembly in 1865 a bill for the sale, and consequently destruction, of the forests of the state to the amount of one hundred million francs. The question was much debated in the Assembly, and public opinion manifested itself so energetically against the measure that the ministry felt itself compelled to withdraw it. See the discussions in D'Alienation des Forets de l'Etat. Paris, 1865. The late Imperial Government sold about 170,000 acres of woodland between 1852 and 1866, both inclusive. The other Governments, since the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, alienated more than 700,000 acres of the public forests, exclusive of sales between 1836 and 1857, which are not reported.--Annuaire des Eaux et Forets, 1872, p. 9.

162. ^See a description of similar processes recommended and adopted by Mengotti, in his Idraulica, vol. ii., chap. xvii.

163. ^Travellers spending the winter at Nice may have a good opportunity of studying the methods of forming and conducting the rewooding of mountain slopes, under the most unfavorable conditions, by visiting Mont Boron, in the immediate vicinity of that city, and other coast plantations in that province, where great difficulties have been completely overcome by the skill and perseverance of French foresters. See Les Forets des Maures, Revue des Eaux et Forets, January, 1869.

164. ^For ample details of processes and results, see the second volume of Surrell, Etudes sur les Torrents, Paris, 1872, and a Report by De La Grye, in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for January, 1869.

165. ^Troy, Etude sur le Reboisement des Montagnes, sections 6, 7, 21.

166. ^Siemoni, Manuale d'Arte Forestale, 2 ediz., Firenze, 1872, p. 542.

167. ^To one accustomed to the slow vegetation of less favored climes, the rapidity of growth in young plantations in Italy seems almost magical. The trees planted along the new drives and avenues in Florence have attained in three or four years a development which would require at least ten in our Northern States. This, it is true, is a special case, for the trees have been planted and tended with a skill and care which cannot be bestowed upon a forest; but the growth of trees little cared for is still very rapid in Italy. According to Toscanelli, Economia rurale nella Provincia di Pisa, p. 8, note--one of the most complete, curious, and instructive pictures of rural life which exists in any literature--the white poplar, Populus alba, attains in the valley of the Serchio a great height, with a mean diameter of two feet, in twenty years. Solmi states in his Miasma Palustre, p. 115, that the linden reaches a diameter of sixteen inches in the same period. The growth of foreign trees is sometimes extremely luxuriant in Italy. Two Atlas cedars, at the well-known villa of Careggi, near Florence, grown from seed sown in 1850, measure twenty inches in diameter, above the swell of the roots, with an estimated height of sixty feet.

168. ^An interesting example of the collateral effects of the destruction of the forests in ancient Italy may be found in old Roman architecture. In the oldest brick constructions of Rome the bricks are very thin, very thoroughly burnt, and laid with a thick stratum of mortar between the courses. A few centuries later the bricks were thicker and less well burnt, and the layers of mortar were thinner. In the Imperial period the bricks were still thicker, generally soft-burnt, and with little mortar between the courses. This fact, I think, is due to the abundance and cheapness of fuel in earlier, and its growing scarceness and dearness in later, ages. When wood cost little, constructors could afford to burn their brick thoroughly, and to burn and use a great quantity of lime. As the price of fire-wood advanced, they were able to consume less fuel in brick- and lime-kilns, and the quality and quantity of brick and lime used in building were gradually reversed in proportion. The multitude of geographical designations in Italy which indicate the former existence of forests show that even in the Middle Ages there were woods where no forest-trees are now to be found. There are hundreds of names of mediaeval towns derived from abete, acero, carpino, castagno, faggio, frassino, pino, quercia, and other names of trees.

169. ^See A. de Bereuger's valuable Saggio Storico della Legislazione Veneta Forestale. Venezia, 1863.

We do not find in the Venetian forestal legislation much evidence that geographical arguments were taken into account by the lawgivers, who seem to have had an eye only to economical considerations.

According to Hummel, the desolation of the Karst, the high plateau lying north of Trieste, now one of the most parched and barren districts in Europe, is owing to the felling of the woods, centuries ago, to build the navies of Venice. "Where the miserable peasant of the Karst now sees nothing but bare rock swept and scoured by the raging Bora, the fury of this wind was once subdued by mighty firs, which Venice recklessly cut down to build her fleets."--Physische Geographie, p. 32.

170. ^See the Politecnico for the month of May, 1862, p. 234.

171. ^"Far away in the darkest recesses of the mountains a kind of universal conspiracy seems to have been got up among these Alpine people,--a destructive mania to hew and sweep down everything that stands on roots."--Country Life in Piedmont, p. 134. "There are huge pyramids of mountains now bare and bleak from base to summit, which men still living and still young remember seeing richly mantled with all but primeval forests."--Ibid., p. 135.

172. ^The great naval and commercial marines of Venice and of Genoa must have occasioned an immense consumption of lumber in the Middle Ages, and the centuries immediately succeeding those commonly embraced in that designation. The marine construction of that period employed larger timbers than the modern naval architecture of most commercial countries, but apparently without a proportional increase of strength. The old modes of ship-building have been, to a considerable extent, handed down to very recent times in the Mediterranean, and though better models and modes of construction are now employed in Italian shipyards, an American or an Englishman looks with astonishment at the huge beams and thick planks so often employed in the construction of very small vessels navigating that sea, and not yet old enough to be broken up as unseaworthy.

173. ^As an instance of the scarcity of fuel in some parts of the territory of Bavaria, where, not long since, wood abounded, I may mention the fact that the water of salt-springs is, in some instances, conveyed to the distance of sixty miles, in iron pipes, to reach a supply of fuel for boiling it down.

In France, the juice of the sugar-beet is sometimes carried three or four miles in pipes for the same reason.

Many of my readers may remember that it was not long ago proposed to manufacture the gas for the supply of London at the mouths of the coal- mines, and convey it to the city in pipes, thus saving the transportation of the coal; but as the coke and mineral tar would still have remained to be disposed of, the operation would probably not have proved advantageous.

Great economy in the production of petroleum has resulted from the application of cast-iron tubes to the wells instead of barrels; the oil is thus carried over the various inequalities of surface for three or four miles to the tanks on the railroads, and forced into them by steam-engines. The price of transport is thus reduced one-fifth.

174. ^The Austrian Government is making energetic efforts for the propagation of forests on the desolate waste of the Karst. The difficulties from drought and from the violence of the winds, which might prove fatal to young and even to somewhat advanced plantations, are very serious, but in 1866 upwards of 400,000 trees had been planted and great quantities of seeds sown. Thus far, the results of this important experiment are said to be encouraging. See the Chronique Forestiere in the Revue des Eaux et Forets, Feb. 1870.

175. ^For information respecting the forests of Germany, as well as other European countries, see, besides the works already cited, the very valuable Manuale d'Arts Forestale of Siemoni, 2de edizione, Firenze, 1872.

176. ^Clave, Etudes sur l'Economie Forestiere, p. 261. Clave adds (p. 262): "The Russian forests are very unequally distributed through the territory of this vast empire. In the north they form immense masses, and cover whole provinces, while in the south they are so completely wanting that the inhabitants have no other fuel than straw, dung, rushes, and heath." ... "At Moscow, firewood costs thirty per cent. more than at Paris, while, at the distance of a few leagues, it sells for a tenth of that price."

This state of things is partly due to the want of facilities of transportation, and some parts of the United States are in a similar condition. During a severe winter, ten or twelve years ago, the sudden freezing of the canals and rivers, before a large American town had received its usual supply of fuel, occasioned an enormous rise in the price of wood and coal, and the poor suffered severely for want of it. Within a few hours of the city were large forests and an abundant stock of firewood felled and prepared for burning.

This might easily have been carried to town by the railroads which passed through the woods; but the managers of the roads refused to receive it as freight, because a rival market for wood might raise the price of the fuel they employed for their locomotives. Truly, our railways "want a master."

Hohenstein, who was long professionally employed as a forester in Russia, describes the consequences of the general war upon the woods in that country as already most disastrous, and as threatening still more ruinous evils. The river Volga, the life artery of Russian internal commerce, is drying up from this cause, and the great Muscovite plains are fast advancing to a desolation like that of Persia.--Der Wald, p. 223.

The level of the Caspian Sea is eighty-three feet lower than that of the Sea of Azoff, and the surface of Lake Aral is fast sinking. Von Baer maintains that the depression of the Caspian was produced by a sudden subsidence, from ecological causes, and not gradually by excess of evaporation over supply. See Kaspische Studien, p. 25. But this subsidence diminished the area and consequently the evaporation of that sea, and the rivers which once maintained its ancient equilibrium ought to have raised it to its former level, if their own flow had not been diminished. It is, indeed, not proved that the laying bare of a wooded country diminishes the total annual precipitation upon it; but it is certain that the summer delivery of water from the surface of a champaign region, like that through which the Volga, its tributaries, and the feeders of Lake Aral, flow, is lessened by the removal of its woods. Hence, though as much rain may still fall in the valleys of those rivers as when their whole surface was covered with forests, more moisture may be carried off by evaporation, and a less quantity of water be discharged by the rivers since their basins were cleared, and therefore the present condition of the inland waters in question may be due to the removal of the forests in their valleys and the adjacent plains.

177. ^According to the maxims of English jurisprudence, the common law consists of general customs so long established that "the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." In other words, long custom makes law. In new countries, the change of circumstances creates new customs, and, in time, new law, without the aid of legislation. Had the American colonists observed a more sparing economy in the treatment of their woods, a new code of customary forest-law would have sprung up and acquired the force of a statute. Popular habit was fast elaborating the fundamental principles of such a code, when the rapid increase in the value of timber, in consequence of the reckless devastation of the woodlands, made it the interest of the proprietors to interfere with this incipient system of forest jurisprudence, and appeal to the rules of English law for the protection of their woods. The courts have sustained these appeals, and forest property is now legally as inviolable as any other, though common opinion still combats the course of judicial decision on such questions.

178. ^Lyell, Principles of Geology, 10th ed., vol i., 345-6.

179. ^The growth of the white pine, on good soil and in open ground, is rather rapid until it reaches the diameter of a couple of feet, after which it is much slower. The favorite habitat of this tree is light, sandy earth. On this soil, and in a dense wood, it requires a century to attain the diameter of a yard. Emerson (Trees of Massachusetts, p. 65), says that a pine of this species, near Paris, "thirty years planted, is eighty feet high, with a diameter of three feet." He also states that ten white pines planted at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1809 or 1810, exhibited, in the winter of 1841 and 1842, an average of twenty inches diameter at the ground, the two largest measuring, at the height of three feet, four feet eight inches in circumference; and he mentions another pine growing in a rocky swamp, which at the age of thirty-two years, "gave seven feet in circumference at the but, with a height of sixty-two feet six inches." This latter I suppose to be a seedling, the others TRANSPLANTED trees, which might have been some years old when placed where they finally grew.

The following case came under my own observation: In 1824 a pine-tree, so small that a young lady, with the help of a lad, took it up from the ground and carried it a quarter of a mile, was planted near a house in a town in Vermont. It was occasionally watered, but received no other special treatment. I measured this tree in 1860, and found it, at four feet from the ground, and entirely above the spread of the roots, two feet and four inches in diameter. A new measurement in 1871 gave a diameter of two feet eight inches, being an increase of four inches in eleven years, a slower rate than that of preceding years. It could not have been more than three inches through when transplanted, and up to 1860 must have increased its diameter at the rate of about seven-tenths of an inch per year, almost double its later growth. In 1871 the crown had a diameter of 63 feet.

In the same neighborhood, elms transplanted in 1803, when they were not above three or four inches through, had attained, in 1871, a diameter of from four feet to four feet two inches, with a spread of crown of from 90 to 112 feet. Sugar-maples, transplanted in 1822, at about the same size, measured two feet three inches through. This growth undoubtedly considerably exceeds that of trees of the same species in the natural forest, though the transplanted trees had received no other fertilizing application than an unlimited supply of light and air.

180. ^Williams, History of Vermont, ii., p. 53. Dwight s Travels, iv., p. 21, and iii, p. 36. Emerson, Trees of Massachusetts, p. 61. Parish, Life of President Wheelock, p. 56.

181. ^The forest-trees of the Northern States do not attain to extreme longevity in the dense woods. Dr. Williams found that none of the huge pines, the age of which he ascertained, exceeded three hundred and fifty or four hundred years, though he quotes a friend who thought he had noticed trees considerably older. The oak lives longer than the pine, and the hemlock-spruce is perhaps equally long lived. A tree of this latter species, cut within my knowledge in a thick wood, counted four hundred and eighty-six, or, according to another observer, five hundred annual circles. Great luxuriance of animal and vegetable production is not commonly accompanied by long duration of the individual. The oldest men are not found in the crowded city; and in the tropics, where life is prolific and precocious, it is also short. The most ancient forest-trees of which we have accounts have not been those growing in thick woods, but isolated specimens, with no taller neighbor to intercept the light and heat and air, and no rival to share the nutriment afforded by the soil. The more rapid growth and greater dimensions of trees standing near the boundary of the forest, are matters of familiar observation. "Long experience has shown that trees growing on the confines of the wood may be cut at sixty years of age as advantageously as others of the same species, reared in the depth of the forest, at a hundred and twenty. We have often remarked, in our Alps, that the trunk of trees upon the border of a grove is most developed or enlarged upon the outer or open side, where the branches extend themselves farthest, while the concentric circles of growth are most uniform in those entirely surrounded by other trees, or standing entirely alone."--A. and G. Villa, Necessita dei Boschi pp. 17, 18.

182. ^California must surrender to Australia the glory of possessing the tallest trees. According to Dr. Mueller, Director of the Government Botanic Garden at Melbourne, a Eucalyptus, near Healesville, measured 480 feet in height. Later accounts speak of trees of the same species fully 500 feet in height. See Schleiden, Fur Baum und Wald, p. 21.

If we may credit late reports, the growth of the eucalyptus is so rapid in California, that the child is perhaps now born who will see the tallest sequoia overtopped by this new vegetable emigrant from Australia.

183. ^Etudes Forestieres, p. 7.

184. ^For full catalogues of American forest-trees, and remarks on their geographical distribution, consult papers on the subject by Dr. J. G. Cooper, in the Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1858, and the Report of the United States Patent Office, Agricultural Division, for 1860.

185. ^Although Spenser's catalogue of trees occurs in the first canto of the first book of the "Faery Queene"--the only canto of that exquisite poem actually read by most students of English literature--it is not so generally familiar as to make the quotation of it altogether superfluous:

VII.

Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand, </dd>
A shadic grove not farr away they spide, </dd>
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand; </dd>
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride, </dd>
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide, </dd>
Not perceable with power of any starr: </dd>
And all within were pathes and alleies wide, </dd>
With footing worne, and leading inward farr; </dd>
Faire harbour that them seems; so in they entered ar. </dd>

VIII.

And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led, </dd>
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony. </dd>
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dred, </dd>
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky. </dd>
Much can they praise the trees so straight and hy, </dd>
The sayling pine; the cedar stout and tall; </dd>
The vine-propp elm; the poplar never dry; </dd>
The builder oake, sole king of forrests all; </dd>
The aspine good for staves; the cypresse funerall; </dd>

IX.

The laurell, meed of mightie conquerours </dd>
And poets sage; the firre that weepeth still; </dd>
The willow, worne of forlorn paramours; </dd>
The eugh, obedient to the benders will; </dd>
The birch for shaftes; the sallow for the mill; </dd>
The mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound; </dd>
The warlike beech; the ash for nothing ill; </dd>
The fruitfull olive; and the platane round; </dd>
The carver holme; the maple seeldom inward sound. </dd>

Although the number of SPECIES of American forest-trees is much larger than of European, yet the distinguishable VARIETIES are relatively more numerous in the Old World, even in the case of trees not generally receiving special care. This multiplication of varieties is no doubt a result, though not a foreseen or intended one, of human action; for the ordinary operations of European forest economy expose young trees to different conditions from those presented by nature, and new conditions produce new forms. All European woods, except in the remote North, even if not technically artificial forests, acquire a more or less artificial character from the governing hand of man, and the effect of this interference is seen in the constant deviation of trees from the original type. The holly, for example, even when growing as absolutely wild as any tree can ever grow in countries long occupied by man, produces numerous varieties, and twenty or thirty such, not to mention intermediate shades, are described and named as recognizably different, in treatises on the forest-trees of Europe.

186. ^In the Northern Tyrol mountain-ashes fifteen inches in diameter are not uncommon. The berries are distilled with grain to flavor the spirit.

187. ^The mountain ranges of our extreme West produce a pine closely resembling the European umbrella-pine.

188. ^The walnut is a more valuable tree than is generally supposed. It yields one-third of the oil produced in France, and in this respect occupies an intermediate position between the olive of the south and the oleaginous seeds of the north. A hectare (about two and a half acres) will produce nuts to the value of five hundred francs a year, which cost nothing but the gathering. Unfortunately, its maturity must be long waited for, and more nut-trees are felled than planted. The demand for its wood in cabinet-work is the principal cause of its destruction. See Lavergne, Economie Rurale de la France, p. 253.

According to Cosimo Ridolfi (Lezioni Orali, ii., p. 424), France obtains three times as much oil from the walnut as from the olive, and nearly as much as from all oleaginous seeds together. He states that the walnut bears nuts at the age of twenty years, and yields its maximum product at seventy, and that a hectare of ground, with thirty trees, or twelve to the acre, is equal to a capital of twenty-five hundred francs.

The nut of this tree is known in the United States as the "English walnut." The fruit and the wood much resemble those of the American black walnut, Juglans nigra, but for cabinet-work the American is the more beautiful material, especially when the large knots are employed. The timber or the European species, when straight-grained, and clear, or free from knots, is, for ordinary purposes, better than that of the American black walnut, but bears no comparison with the wood of the hickory, when strength combined with elasticity is required, and its nut is very inferior in taste to that of the shagbark, as well as to the butternut, which it somewhat resembles.

"The chestnut is more valuable still, for it produces on a sterile soil, which, without it, would yield only ferns and heaths, an abundant nutriment for man."--Lavergne, Economie Rurale de la France, p. 253.

I believe the varieties developed by cultivation are less numerous in the walnut than is the chestnut, which latter tree is often grafted in Southern Europe.

The chestnut crop of France was estimated in 1848 at 3,478,000 hectolitres, or 9,877,520 Winchester bushels, and valued at 13,528,000 francs, or more than two million and a half dollars. In Tuscany the annual yield is computed at about 550,000 bushels.

The Tuscan peasants think the flour of the dried chestnut not less nutritious than Indian cornmeal, and it sells at the same price, or about three cents per English pound, in the mountains, and four cents in the towns.

189. ^This fir is remarkable for its tendency to cicatrize or heal over its stumps, a property which it possesses in common with some other firs, the maritime pine, and the European larch. When these trees grow in thick clumps, their roots are apt to unite by a species of natural grafting, and if one of them be felled, although its own proper rootlets die, the stump may continue, sometimes for a century, to receive nourishment from the radicles of the surrounding trees, and a dome of wood and bark of considerable thickness be formed over it. The healing is, however, only apparent, for the entire stump, except the outside ring of annual growth, soon dies, and even decays within its covering, without sending out new shoots. See Monthly Report, Department of Agriculture, for October, 1872.

190. ^At the age of twelve or fifteen years, the cork-tree is stripped of its outer bark for the first time. This first yield is of inferior quality, and it employed for floats for nets and buoys, or burnt for lampblack. After this, a new layer of cork, an inch or an inch and a quarter in thickness, is formed about one in ten years, and is removed in large sheets without injury to the tree, which lives a hundred and fifty years or more. According to Clave (p. 252), the annual product of a forest of cork oaks is calculated at about 660 kilogrammes, worth 150 frances, to the hectare, which, deducting expenses, leaves a profit of 100 francs. This is about equal to 250 pound weight, and eight dollars profit to the acre. The cork oaks of the national domain in Algeria cover about 500,000 acres, and are let to individuals at rates which are expected, when the whole is rented, to yield to the state revenue of about ,000,000. George Sand, in the Histoire de ma Vie, speaks of the cork-forests in Southern France as among the most profitable of rural possessions, and states, what I do not remember to have seen noticed elsewhere, that Russia is the best customer for cork. The large sheets taken from the trees are slit into thin plates, and used to line the walls of apartments in that cold climate. On the cultivation and management of the cork oak, see Des Incendies et de la culture du Chene-liege, in Revue das Eaux et Forets for February, 1869.

191. ^The walnut, the chestnut, the apple, and the pear are common to the border between the countries I have mentioned, but the range of the other trees is bounded by the Alps, and by a well-defined and sharply drawn line to the west of those mountains. From some peculiarity in the sky of Europe, cultivated plants will thrive, in Northern Italy, in Southern France, and even in Switzerland, under a depth of shade where no crop, not even grass, worth harvesting, would grow in the United States with an equally high summer temperature. Hence the cultivation of all these trees is practicable in Europe to a greater extent than would be supposed reconcilable with the interests of agriculture. Some idea of the importance of the olive orchards may be formed from the fact that Sicily alone, an island scarcely exceeding 10,000 square miles in area, of which one-third at least is absolutely barren, has exported to the single port of Marseilles more than 2,000,000 pounds weight olive-oil per year, for the last thirty years. According to Cosimo Ridolfi, Lezioni Orali, vol. ii., p. 340, in a favorable soil and climate the average yield of oil from poorly manured trees, which compose the great majority, is six English pounds, while with the best cultivation it rises to twenty-three pounds. The annual production of olive-oil in the whole of Italy is estimated at upwards of 850,000,000 pounds, and if we allow twelve pounds to the tree, we have something more than 70,000,000 trees. The real number of trees is, however, much greater than this estimate, for in Tuscany and many other parts of Italy the average yield of oil per tree does not exceed two pounds, and there are many millions of young trees not yet in bearing. Probably we shall not exaggerate if we estimate the olive trees of Italy at 100,000,000, and as there are about a hundred trees to the acre, the quantity of land devoted to the cultivation of the olive may be taken at a million acres. Although olive-oil is much used in cookery in Italy, lard is preferred as more nutritious. Much American lard is exported to South-eastern Italy, and olive-oil is imported in return.

192. ^The most gorgeous autumnal coloring I have observed in the vegetation of Europe has been in the valleys of the Durance and its tributaries in Dauphiny. I must admit that neither in variety nor in purity and brilliancy of tint, does this coloring fall much, if at all, short of that of the New England woods. But there is this difference: in Dauphiny, it is only in small shrubs that this rich painting is seen, while in North America the foliage of large trees is dyed in full splendor. Hence the American woodland has fewer broken lights and more of what painters call breadth of coloring. Besides this, the arrangement of the leafage in large globular or conical masses, affords a wider scale of light and shade, thus aiding now the gradation now the contrast of tints, and gives the American October landscape a softer and more harmonious tone than marks the humble shrubbery of the forest hillsides of Dauphiny.

Thoreau--who was not, like some very celebrated landscape critics of the present day, an outside spectator of the action and products of natural forces, but, in the old religious sense, an OBSERVER of organic nature, living, more than almost any other descriptive writer, among and with her children--had a very eloquent paper on the "Autumnal Tints" of the New England landscape.--See his Excursions, pp. 215 et seqq.

Few men have personally noticed so many facts in natural history accessible to unscientific observation as Thoreau, and yet he had never seen that very common and striking spectacle, the phosphorescence of decaying wood, until, in the latter years of his life, it caught his attention in a bivouac in the forests of Maine. He seems to have been more excited by this phenomenon than by any other described in his works. It must be a capacious eye that takes in all the visible facts in the history of the most familiar natural object.--The Maine Woods, p. 184.

193. ^The cold winter, or rather spring, of 1872 proved fatal to many cypresses as well as olive trees in the Val d'Arno. The cypress, therefore, could be introduced only into California and our Southern States.

194. ^European poets, whose knowledge of the date-palm is not founded on personal observation, often describe its trunk as not only slender, but particularly STRAIGHT. Nothing can be farther from the truth. When the Orientals compare the form of a beautiful girl to the stem of the palm, they do not represent it as rigidly straight, but on the contrary as made up of graceful curves, which seem less like permanent outlines than like flowing motion. In a palm grove, the trunks, so far from standing planted upright like the candles of a chandelier, bend in a vast variety of curves, now leaning towards, now diverging from, now crossing, each other, and among a hundred you will hardly see two whose axes are parallel.

195. ^Besides this, in a country so diversified in surface as Italy, with the exception of the champaign region drained by the Po, every new field of view requires either an extraordinary coup d'oeil in the spectator, or a long study, in order to master its relief, its plans, its salient and retreating angles. In summer, except of course in the bare mountains, the universal greenery confounds light and shade, distance and foreground; and though the impression upon a traveller, who journeys for the sake of "sensations," may be strengthened by the mysterious annihilation of all standards for the measurement of space, yet the superior intelligibility of the winter scenery of Italy is more profitable to those who see with a view to analyze.

196. ^Clave, as well as many earlier writers, supposes that primitive man derived his nutriment from the spontaneous productions of the wood. "It is to the forests," says he, "that man was first indebted for the means of subsistence. Exposed alone, without defence, to the rigor of the seasons, as well as to the attacks of animals stronger and swifter than himself, he found in them his first shelter, drew from them his first weapons. In the first period of humanity, they provided for all his wants: they furnished him wood for warmth, fruits for food, garments to cover his nakedness, arms for his defence."--Etudes sur l'Economie Forestiere, p. 13.

But the history of savage life, as far as it is known to us, presents man in that condition as inhabiting only the borders of the forest and the open grounds that skirt the waters and the woods, and as finding only there the aliments which make up his daily bread. The villages of the North American Indians were upon the shores of rivers and lakes, and their weapons and other relics are found only in the narrow open grounds which they had burned over and cultivated, or in the margin of the woods around their hamlets.

Except upon the banks of rivers or of lakes, the woods of the interior of North America, far from the habitations of man, are almost destitute of animal life. Dr. Newberry, describing the vast forests of the yellow pine of the West, Pinus ponderosa, remarks: "In the arid and desert regions of the interior basin, we made whole days' marches in forests of yellow pine, of which neither the monotony was broken by other forms of vegetation, nor its stillness by the flutter of a bird or the hum of an insect."--Pacific Railroad Report, vol. vi., 1857. Dr. Newberry's Report on Botany, p. 37.

Cheadle and Milton's North-west Passage confirms these statements. Valvasor says, in a paragraph already quoted, "In my many journeys through this valley, I did never have sight of so much as a single bird."

The wild fruit and nut trees, the Canada plum, the cherries, the many species of walnut, the butternut, the hazel, yield very little, frequently nothing, so long as they grow in the woods; and it is only when the trees around them are cut down, or when they grow in pastures, that they become productive. The berries, too--the strawberry, the blackberry, the raspberry, the whortleberry, scarcely bear fruit at all except in cleared ground.

The rank forests of the tropics are as unproductive of human aliment as the less luxuriant woods of the temperate zone. In Strain's unfortunate expedition across the great American isthmus, where the journey lay principally through thick woods, several of the party died of starvation, and for many days the survivors were forced to subsist on the scantiest supplies of unnutritious vegetables perhaps never before employed for food by man. See the interesting account of that expedition in Harper's Magazine for March, April, and May, 1855.

197. ^In many parts of the North American States, the first white settlers found extensive tracts of thin woods, of a very park-like character, called "oak-openings," from the predominance of different species of that tree upon them. These were the semi-artificial pasture-grounds of the Indians, brought into that state, and so kept, by partial clearing, and by the annual burning of the grass. The object of this operation was to attract the deer to the fresh herbage which sprang up after the fire. The oaks bore the annual scorching at least for a certain time; but if it had been indefinitely continued, they would very probably have been destroyed at last. The soil would have then been much in the prairie condition, and would have needed nothing but grazing for a long succession of years to make the resemblance perfect. That the annual fires alone occasioned the peculiar character of the oak-openings, is proved by the fact that as soon as the Indians had left the country, young trees of many species sprang up and grew luxuriantly upon them. See a very interesting account of the oak-openings in Dwight s Travels, iv., pp. 58-63. This rude economy would be continued for generations, and, wasteful as it is, is still largely pursued in Northern Sweden, Swedish Lapland, and sometimes even in France and the United States. The practice of burning over woodland, at once to clear and manure the ground, is called in Swedieh svedjande, a participial noun from the verb att svedja, to burn over. Though used in Sweden as a preparation for crops of rye or other grain, it is employed in Lapland more frequently to secure an abundant growth of pasturage, which follows in two or three years after the fire; and it is sometimes resorted to as a mode of driving the Laplanders and their reindeer from the vicinity of the Swedish backwoodsman's grass-grounds and hay-stacks, to which they are dangerous neighbors. The forest, indeed, rapidly recovers itself, but it is a generation or more before the reindeer-moss grows again. When the forest consists of pine, tall, the ground, instead of being rendered fertile by this process, becomes hopelessly barren, and for a long time afterwards produces nothing but weeds and briers.--Laestadius, Om Uppodlingar i Lappmarken, p. 15. See also Schubert, Resa i Sverge, ii., p. 375.

In some parts of France this practice is so general that Clave says: "In the department of Ardennes it (le sartage) is the basis of agriculture."

198. ^The two ideas expressed in the text are not exactly equivalent, because, though the consumption of animal food diminishes the amount of vegetable aliment required for human use, yet the animals themselves consume a great quantity of grain and roots grown on ground ploughed and cultivated as regularly and as laboriously as any other.

The 280,000,000 bushels of oats raised in the United States in 1870, and fed to the 7,000,000 horses, the potatoes, the turnips, and the maize employed in fattening the oxen, the sheep, and the swine slaughtered the same year, occupied an extent of ground which, cultivated by hand-labor and with Chinese industry and skill, would probably have produced a quantity of vegetable food equal in alimentary power to the flesh of the quadrupeds killed for domestic use. Hence, so far as the naked question of AMOUNT of aliment is concerned, the meadows and the pastures might as well have remained in the forest condition. It must, however, be borne in mind that animal labor, if not a necessary, is probably an economical, force in agricultural occupations, and that without animal manure many branches of husbandry could hardly be carried on at all. At the same time, the introduction of machinery into rural industry, and of artificial, mineral, and fossil manures, is working great revolutions, and we may find at some future day that the ox is no longer necessary as a help to the farmer.

199. ^ For many instances of this sort, see Maury, Les Forets de la Gaule, pp. 3-5, and Becquerel, Des Climats, etc., pp. 301-303. In 1664 the Swedes made an incursion into Jutland and felled a considerable extent of forest. After they retired, a survey of the damage was had, and the report is still extant. The number of trees cut was found to be 120,000, and as an account was taken of the numbers of each species of tree, the document is of much interest in the history of the forest, as showing the relative proportions between the different trees which at that time composed the wood. See Vaupell, Bogens Indvandring, p. 35, and Notes, p. 55.

200. ^Stanley, quoting Selden, De Jure Naturali, lib. vi., and Fabricius, Cod. Psedap., V. T., i. 874, mentions a noteworthy Hebrew tradition of uncertain date, but unquestionably very ancient, which is one of the oldest proofs of a public respect for the woods.

"A Hebrew tradition attributes to Joshua ten statutes, containing precise regulations for the protection of the property of every tribe and of every head of a family against irregular depredations. Small quadrupeds were allowed to pasture in dense woods, not in thin ones; but no animal could feed in any forest without the consent of the proprietor of the soil. Every Hebrew might pick up fallen boughs and twigs, but was not permitted to cut them. Trees might be pruned for the trimmings, with the exception of the olive and other fruit-trees, and provided there was sufficient shade in the place."--Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church, part i., p. 271.

Alfred Maury mentions several provisions taken from the laws of the Indian legislator Manu, on the same subject.--Les Forets de la Gaule, p. 9.

The very ancient Tables of Heracles contain provisions for the protection of woods, but whether these referred only to sacred groves, to public forests, or to leased lands, is not clear.

201. ^We must perhaps make an exception in favor of the Emperor Constantine, who commenced the magnificent series of aqueducts and cisterns which still supply Constantinople with water, and enacted strict laws for the protection of the forest of Belgrade, in which rise the springs that feed the aqueducts. See an article by Mr. H. A. Homes on the Water-Supply of Constantinople in the Albany Argus of June 6, 1872.

202. ^Religious intolerance had produced similar effects in France at an earlier period. "The revocation of the edict of Nantes and the dragonnades occasioned the sale of the forests of the unhappy Protestants, who fled to seek in foreign lands the liberty of conscience which was refused to them in France. The forests were soon felled by the purchasers, and the soil in part brought under cultivation."--Becquerel, Des Climats, etc, p. 303.

203. ^The American reader must be reminded that, in the language of the chase and of the English law, a "forest" is not necessarily a wood. Any large extent of ground, withdrawn from cultivation, reserved for the pleasures of the chase, and allowed to clothe itself with a spontaneous growth, serving as what is technically called "cover" for wild animals, is, in the dialects I have mentioned, a forest. When, therefore, the Norman kings afforested the grounds referred to in the text, it is not to be supposed that they planted them with trees, though the protection afforded to them by the game laws would, if cattle had been kept out, soon have converted them into real woods.

204. ^Histoire des Paysans, ii., p. 190. The work of Bonnemere is of great value to those who study the history of mediaeval Europe from a desire to know its real character, and not in the hope of finding apparent facts to sustain a false and dangerous theory. Bonnemere is one of the few writers who, like Michelet, have been honest enough and bold enough to speak the truth with regard to the relations between the church and the people in the Middle Ages.

205. ^ It is painful to add that a similar outrage was perpetrated a very few years ago, in one of the European states, by a prince of a family now dethroned. In this case, however, the prince killed the trespasser with his own hand, his sergeants refusing to execute his mandate.

206. ^Guillame De Nangis, as quoted in the notes to Joinville, Nouvelle Collection des Memoires, etc., par Michaud et Poujoulat, premiere serie, i., p. 335. Persons acquainted with the character and influence of the mediaeval clergy will hardly need to be informed that the ten thousand livres never found their way to the royal exchequer. It was easy to prove to the simple-minded king that, as the profits of sin were a monopoly of the church, he ought not to derive advantage from the commission of a crime by one of his subjects; and the priests were cunning enough both to secure to themselves the amount of the fine, and to extort from Louis large additional grants to carry out the purposes to which they devoted the money. "And though the king did take the moneys," says the chronicler, "he put them not into his treasury, but turned them into good works; for he builded therewith the maison-Dieu of Pontoise, and endowed the same with rents and lands; also the schools and the dormitory of the friars preachers of Paris, and the monastery of the Minorite friars."

207. ^Histoire des Paysans, ii., p. 200.

208. ^The following details from Bonnemere will serve to give a more complete idea of the vexatious and irritating nature of the game laws of France. The officers of the chase went so far as to forbid the pulling up of thistles and weeds, or the mowing of any unenclosed ground before St. John's day (24th June), in order that the nests of game birds might not be disturbed. It was unlawful to fence-in any grounds in the plains where royal residences were situated; thorns were ordered to be planted in all fields of wheat, barley, or oats, to prevent the use of ground-nets for catching the birds which consumed, or were believed to consume, the grain, and it was forbidden to cut or pull stubble before the first of October, lest the partridge and the quail might be deprived of their cover. For destroying the eggs of the quail, a fine of one hundred livres was imposed for the first offence, double that amount for the second, and for the third the culprit was flogged and banished for five years to a distance of six leagues from the forest.--Histoire des Paysans, ii., p. 202, text and notes.

Neither these severe penalties, nor any provisions devised by the ingenuity of modern legislation, have been able effectually to repress poaching. "The game laws," says Clave, "have not delivered us from the poachers, who kill twenty times as much game as the sportsmen. In the forest of Fontainebleau, as in all those belonging to the state, poaching is a very common and a very profitable offence. It is in vain that the gamekeepers are on the alert night and day, they cannot prevent it. Those who follow the trade begin by carefully studying the habits of the game. They will lie motionless on the ground, by the roadside or in thickets, for whole days, watching the paths most frequented by the animals," etc.--Revue des Deux Mondes, Mai, 1863, p. 160.

The writer adds many details on this subject, and it appears that, as there are "beggars on horseback" in South America, there are poachers in carriages in France.

209. ^"Whole trees were sacrificed for the most insignificant purposes; the peasants would cut down two firs to make a single pair of wooden shoes."--Michelet, as quoted by Clave. Etudes, p. 24.

A similar wastefulness formerly prevailed in Russia, though not from the same cause. In St. Pierre's time, the planks brought to St. Petersburg were not sawn, but hewn with the axe, and a tree furnished but a single plank.

210. ^See Becquerel, Memoire sur les Forets, in the Mem. de l'Academie des Sciences, c. XXXV., p. 411 et seqq.

Similar circumstances produced a like result, though on a far smaller scale, in Italy, at a very recent period. Gallenga says: "The destruction of the majestic timber [between the Vals Sesia and Sessera] dates no farther back than 1848, when, on the first proclamation of the Constitution, the ignorant boor had taken it for granted that all the old social ties would be loosened, and therefore the old forest-laws should be at once set at naught."--Country Life in Piedmont, p. 136.

211. ^Let us take the supply of timber for railroad-ties. According to Clave (p. 248), France had, in 1862, 9,000 kilometres of railway in operation, 7,000 in construction, half of which is built with a double track. Adding turn-outs and extra tracks at stations, the number of ties required for a single track is stated at 1,200 to the kilometre, or, as Clave computes, for the entire network of France, 58,000,000. This number is too large, for 16,000 + 8,000 for the double track halfway = 24,000, and 24,000 x 1,200 = 28,800,000. In an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes, July, 1863, Gandy states that 2,000,000 trees had been felled to furnish the ties for the French railroads, and as the ties must be occasionally renewed, and new railways have been constructed since 1863, we may probably double this number.

The United States had in operation on the first of January, 1872, 61,000 miles, or about 97,000 kilometres, of railroad. Allowing the same proportion as in France, the American railroads required 116,400,000 ties. The Report of the Agricultural Department of the United States for November and December, 1869, estimates the number of ties annually required for our railways at 30,000,000, and supposes that 150,000 acres of the best woodland must be felled to supply this number. This is evidently an error, perhaps a misprint for 15,000. The same authority calculates the annual expenditure of the American railroads for lumber for buildings, repairs, and cars, at ,000,000, and for locomotive fuel, at the rate of 10,000 cords of wood per day, at ,000,000.

The walnut trees cut in Italy and France to furnish gunstocks to the American army, during our late civil war, would alone have formed a considerable forest. A single establishment in Northern Italy used twenty-eight thousand large walnut trees for that purpose in the years 1862 and 1863.

The consumption of wood for lucifer matches is enormous, and I have heard of several instances where tracts of pine forest, hundreds and even thousands of acres in extent, have been purchased and felled, solely to supply timber for this purpose. The United States government tax, at one cent per hundred, produces ,000,000 per year, which shows a manufacture of 20,000,000,000 matches. Allowing nothing for waste, there are about fifty matches to the cubic inch of wood, or 86,400 to the cubic foot, making in all upwards of 230,000 cubic feet, and, as only straight-grained wood, free from knots, can be used for this purpose, the sacrifice of not less than three or four thousand well-grown pines is required for this purpose.

If we add to all this the supply of wood for telegraph-posts, wooden pavements, wooden wall tapestry-paper, shoe-pegs, and even wooden nails, which have lately come into use--not to speak of numerous other recent applications of this material which American ingenuity has devised--we have an amount of consumption, for entirely new purposes, which is really appalling.

Wooden field and garden fences are very generally used in America, and some have estimated the consumption of wood for this purpose as not less than that for architectural uses.

Fully one-half our vast population is lodged in wooden houses, and barns and country out-houses of all descriptions are almost universally of the same material.

The consumption of wood in the United States as fuel for domestic purposes, for charcoal, for brick and lime kilns, for breweries and distilleries, for steamboats, and many other uses, defies computation, and is vastly greater than is employed in Europe for the same ends. For instance, in rural Switzerland, cold as is the winter climate, the whole supply of wood for domestic fires, dairies, breweries, distilleries, brick and lime kilns, fences, furniture, tools, and even house-building and small smitheries, exclusive of the small quantity derived from the trimmings of fruit-trees, grape-vines, and hedges, and from decayed fences and buildings, does not exceed TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY CUBIC FEET, or less than two cords a year, per household.--See Bericht uber die Untersuchung der Schweiz Hochgebirgswaldungen, pp. 85-89. In 1789, Arthur Young estimated the annual consumption of firewood by single families in France at from two and a half to ten Paris cords of 134 cubic feet.--Travels, vol. ii., chap. xv.

The report of the Commissioners on the Forests of Wisconsin, 1867, allows three cords of wood to each person for household fires alone. Taking families at an average of five persons, we have eight times the amount consumed by an equal number of persons in Switzerland for this and all other purposes to which this material in ordinarily applicable. I do not think the consumption in the North-eastern States is at all less than the calculation for Wisconsin. Evergreen trees are often destroyed in immense numbers in the United States for the purpose of decoration of churches and on other festive occasions. The New York city papers reported that 113,000 young evergreen trees, besides 20,000 yards of small branches twirled into festoons, were sold in the markets of that city, for this use, at Christmas, in 1869. At the Cincinnati Industrial Exhibition of 1873, three miles of evergreen festoons were hung upon the beams and rafters of the "Floral Hall."

Important statistics on the consumption and supply of wood in the United States will be found in a valuable paper by the Rev. Frederick Starr, Jr., in the Transactions of the Agricultural Society for--.

Of course, there is a vast consumption of ligneous material for all these uses in Europe, but it is greatly less than at earlier periods. The waste of wood in European carpentry was formerly enormous, the beams of houses being both larger and more numerous than permanence or stability required. In examining the construction of the houses occupied by the eighty families which inhabit the village of Faucigny, in Savoy, in 1854, the forest inspector found that FIFTY THOUSAND trees had been employed in building them. The builders "seemed," says Hudry-Menos, "to have tried to solve the problem of piling upon the walls the largest quantity of timber possible without crushing them."--Revue des Deux Mondes, 1st June, 1864, p. 601.

European statistics present comparatively few facts on this subject, of special interest to American readers, but it is worth noting that France employs 1,500,000 cubic feet of oak per year for brandy and wine casks, which is about half her annual consumption of that material; and it is not a wholly insignificant fact that, according to Rentzach, the quantity of wood used in parts of Germany for small carvings and for children's toys is so largs, that the export of such objects from the town of Sonneberg alone, amounted, in 1853, to 60,000 centner, or three thousand tons' weight.--Der Wald, p. 68.

In an article in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for November, 1868, it is stated that 200,000 dozens of drums for boys aro manufactured per month in Paris. This is equivalent to 28,800,000 per year, for which 56,000,000 drumsticks are required, and the writer supposes that the annual growth of 50,000 acres of woodland would not more than supply the material. In the same article the consumption of matches in France is given at 7,200,000,000, and the quantity of lumber annually required for this manufacture is computed at 80,000 steres, or cubic metres--evidently an erroneous calculation.

212. ^Besides the substitution of iron for wood, a great saving of consumption of this latter material has been effected by the revival of ancient methods of increasing its durability, and the invention of new processes for the same purpose. The most effectual preservative yet discovered for wood employed on land, is sulphate of copper, a solution of which is introduced into the pores of the wood while green, by soaking, by forcing-pumps, or, most economically, by the simple pressure of a column of the fluid in a small pipe connected with the end of the piece of timber subjected to the treatment. Clave (Etudes Forestieres, pp. 240-249) gives an interesting account of the various processes employed for rendering wood imperishable, and states that railroad-ties injected with sulphate of copper in 1846, were found absolutely unaltered in 1855; and telegraphic posts prepared two years earlier, are now in a state of perfect preservation.

For many purposes, the method of injection is too expensive, and some simpler process is much to be desired. The question of the proper time of felling timber is not settled, and the best modes of air, water, and steam seasoning are not yet fully ascertained. Experiments on these subjects would be well worth the patronage of Governments in new countries, where they can be very easily made, without the necessity of much waste of valuable material, and without expensive arrangements for observation.

The practice of stripping living trees of their bark some years before they are felled, is as old as the time of Vitruvius, but is much less followed than it deserves, partly because the timber of trees so treated inclines to crack and split, and partly because it becomes so hard as to be wrought with considerable difficulty.

In America, economy in the consumption of fuel has been much promoted by the substitution of coal for wood, the general use of stoves both for wood and coal, and recently by the employment of anthracite in the furnaces of stationary and locomotive steam-engines. All the objections to the use of anthracite for this latter purpose appear to have been overcome, and the improvements in its combustion have been attended with a great pecuniary saving, and with much advantage to the preservation of the woods.

The employment of coal has produced a great reduction in the consumption of firewood in Paris. In 1815, the supply of firewood for the city required 1,200,000 steres, or cubic metres; in 1859 it had fallen to 501,805, while, in the meantime, the consumption of coal had risen from 600,000 to 4,320,000 metrical quintals. See Clave, Etudes, p. 212.

In 1869 Paris consumed 951,157 steres of firewood, 4,902,414 hectolitres, or more than 13,000,000 bushels, of charcoal, and 6,872,000 metrical quintals, or more than 7,000,000 tons of mineral coal.--Annuaire de la Revue des Eaux et Forets for 1872, p. 26.

The increase in the price of firewood at Paris, within a century, has been comparatively small, while that of timber and of sawed lumber has increased enormously.

213. ^The tide rises at Quebec to the height of twenty-five feet, and when it is aided by a north-east wind, it flows with almost irresistible violence. Rafts containing several hundred thousand cubic feet of timber are often caught by the flood-tide, torn to pieces, and dispersed for miles along the shores.

214. ^One of these, the Baron of Renfrew--so named from one of the titles of the kings of England--built forty or fifty years ago, measured 5,000 tons. They were little else than rafts, being almost solid masses of timber designed to be taken to pieces and sold as lumber on arriving at their port of destination.

The lumber trade at Quebec is still very large. According to an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes, that city exported, in 1860, 30,000,000 cubic feet of squared timber, and 400,000,000 square feet of "planches." The thickness of the boards is not stated, but I believe they are generally cut an inch and a quarter thick for the Quebec trade, and as they shrink somewhat in drying, we may estimate ten square for one cubic foot of boards. This gives a total of 70,000,000 cubic feet. The specific gravity of white pine is .554, and the weight of this quantity of lumber, very little of which is thoroughly seasoned, would exceed a million of tons, even supposing it to consist wholly of wood as light as pine.

The London Times of Oct. 10, 1871, states the exportation of lumber from Canada to Europe, in 1870, at 200,000,000 cubic feet, and adds that more than three times that quantity was sent from the same province to the United States. A very large proportion of this latter quantity goes to Burlington, Vermont, whence it is distributed to other parts of the Union.

There must, I think, be some error or exaggeration in these figures. Perhaps instead of cubic feet we should read square feet. Two hundred millions of cubic feet of timber would require more than half the entire tonnage of England for its transportation.

I suppose the quantities in the following estimates, from a carefully prepared article in the St. Louis Republican, must be understood as meaning square or superficial feet, board measure, allowing a thickness of one inch:

"The lumber trade of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, for the year 1869, shows the amount cut as being 2,029,372,255 feet for the State of Michigan, and 317,400,000 feet for the State of Minnesota, and 964,600,000 feet for the State of Wisconsin. This includes the lake shore and the whole State of Wisconsin, which heretofore has been difficult to get a report from. The total amount cut in these States was 3,311,372,255 feet, and that to obtain this quantity there have been shipped 883,032 acres, or 1,380 square miles of pine have been removed. It is calculated that 4,000,000 acres of land still remain unstripped in Michigan, which will yield 15,000,000,000 feet of lumber; while 3,000,000 acres arc still standing in Wisconsin, which will yield 11,250,000,000 feet, and that which remains in Minnesota, taking the estimate of a few years since of that which was surveyed and unexplored, after deducting the amount cut the past few years, we find 3,630,000 acres to be the proper estimate of trees now standing which will yield 32,362,500,000 feet of lumber. This makes a total of 15,630,000 acres of pine lands, which remain standing in the above States, that will yield 58,612,500,000 feet of lumber, and it is thought that fifteen or twenty years will be required to cut and send to market the trees now standing."

See also Bryant, Forest Trees, chap. iv.

215. ^Trees differ in their power of resisting the action of forest fires. Different woods vary greatly in combustibility, and even when the bark is scarcely scorched, trees are, partly in consequence of physiological character, and partly from the greater or less depth at which their roots habitually lie below the surface, differently affected by running fires. The white pine, Pinus strobus, as it is the most valuable, is also perhaps the most delicate tree of the American forest, while its congener, the Northern pitch-pine, Pinus rigida, is less injured by fire than any other tree of that country. I have heard experienced lumbermen maintain that the growth of this pine was even accelerated by a fire brisk enough to destroy all other trees, and I have myself seen it still flourishing after a conflagration which had left not a green leaf but its own in the wood, and actually throwing out fresh foliage, when the old had been quite burnt off and the bark almost converted into charcoal. The wood of the pitch-pine is of comparatively little value for the joiner, but it is useful for very many purposes. Its rapidity of growth in even poor soils, its hardihood, and its abundant yield of resinous products, entitle it to much more consideration, as a plantation tree, than it has hitherto received in Europe or America.

216. ^Between sixty and seventy years ago, a steep mountain with which I am familiar, composed of metamorphic rock, and at that time covered with a thick coating of soil and a dense primeval forest, was accidentally burnt over. The fire took place in a very dry season, the slope of the mountain was too rapid to retain much water, and the conflagration was of an extraordinarily fierce character, consuming the wood almost entirely, burning the leaves and combustible portion of the mould, and in the many places cracking and disintegrating the rock beneath. The rains of the following autumn carried off much of the remaining soil, and the mountain-side was nearly bare of wood for two or three years afterwards. At length a new crop of trees sprang up and grew vigorously, and the mountain is now thickly covered again. But the depth of mould and earth is too small to allow the trees to reach maturity. When they attain to the diameter of about six inches, they uniformly die, and this they will no doubt continue to do until the decay of leaves and wood on the surface, and the decomposition of the subjacent rock, shall have formed, perhaps hundreds of years hence, a stratum of soil thick enough to support a full-grown forest. Under favorable conditions, however, as in the case of the fire of Miramichi, a burnt forest renews itself rapidly and permanently.

217. ^In the burning over of a hill-forest in the Lower Engadine, in September, 1865, the fire was intense as to shatter and calcine the rocks on the slope, and their fragments were precipitated into the valley below.--Ricista Firrestate del Regna d'Italia, Ottobro, 1865, 1865, p. 474.

218. ^The remarkable mounds and other earthworks constructed in the valley of the Ohio and elsewhere in the territory of the United States, by a people apparently more advanced in the culture than the modern Indian, were overgrown with a dense clothing of forest when first discovered by the whites. But though the ground where they were erected must have been occupied by a large population for a considerable leagth of time, and therefore entirely cleared, the trees which grew upon the ancient fortresses and the adjacent lands were not distinguishable in species, or even in dimensions and character of growth, from the neighboring forests, where the soil seemed never to have been disturbed. This apparent exception to the law of change of crop in natured forest growth was ingeniously explained by General Harrison's suggestion, that the lapse of time since the era of the mound-builders was so great as to have embraced several successive generations of trees, and occasioned, by their rotation, a return to the original vegetation.

The succesive changes in the spontaneous growth of the forest, as proved by the character of the wood found in bogs, are such as to have suggested the theory of a considerable change of climate during the human period. But strobus, as it is the most valuable, is also perhaps the most delicate tree of the American forest, while its congener, the Northern pitch-pine, Pinus rigida, is less injured by fire than any other tree of that country. I have heard experienced lumbermen maintain that the growth of this pine was even accelerated by a fire brisk enough to destroy all other trees, and I have myself seen it still flourishing after a conflagration which had left not a green leaf but its own in the wood, and actually throwing out fresh foliage, when the old had been quite burnt off and the bark almost converted into charcoal. The wood of the pitch-pine is of comparatively little value for the joiner, but it is useful for very many purposes. Its rapidity of growth in even poor soils, its hardihood, and its abundant yield of resinous products, entitle it to much more consideration, as a plantation tree, than it has hitherto received in Europe or America.

219. ^Between sixty and seventy years ago, a steep mountain with which I am familiar, composed of metamorphic rock, and at that time covered with a thick coating of soil and a dense primeval forest, was accidentally burnt over. The fire took place in a very dry season, the slope of the mountain was too rapid to retain much water, and the conflagration was of an extraordinarily fierce character, consuming the wood almost entirely, burning the leaves and combustible portion of the mould, and in many places cracking and disintegrating the rock beneath. The rains of the following autumn carried off much of the remaining soil, and the mountain-side was nearly bare of wood for two or three years afterwards. At length a new crop of trees sprang up and grew vigorously, and the mountain is now thickly covered again. But the depth of mould and earth is too small to allow the trees to reach maturity. When they attain to the diameter of about six inches, they uniformly die, and this they will no doubt continue to do until the decay of leaves and wood on the surface, and the decomposition of the subjacent rock, shall have formed, perhaps hundreds of years hence, a stratum of soil thick enough to support a full-grown forest. Under favorable conditions, however, as in the case of the fire of Miramichi, a burnt forest renews itself rapidly and permanently.

220. ^In the burning over of a hill-forest in the Lower Engadine, in September, 1865, the fire was so intense as to shatter and calcine the rocks on the slope, and their fragments were precipitated into the valley below.--Rivista Forestale del Regno d'Italia, Ottobre, 1865, p. 474.

221. ^The remarkable mounds and other earthworks constructed in the valley of the Ohio and elsewhere in the territory of the United States, by a people apparently more advanced in culture than the modern Indian, were overgrown with a dense clothing of forest when first discovered by the whites. But though the ground where they were erected must have been occupied by a large population for a considerable length of time, and therefore entirely cleared, the trees which grew upon the ancient fortresses and the adjacent lands were not distinguishable in species, or even in dimensions and character of growth, from the neighboring forests, where the soil seemed never to have been disturbed. This apparent exception to the law of change of crop in natural forest growth was ingeniously explained by General Harrison's suggestion, that the lapse of time since the era of the mound-builders were so great as to have embraced several successive generations of trees, and occasioned, by their rotation, a return to the original vegetation.

The successive changes in the spontaneous growth of the forest, as proved by the character of a wood found in bogs, are such as to have suggested the theory of a considerable change of the climate during the human period. But this theory cannot be admitted upon the evidence in question. In fact, the order of succession--for a rotation or alternation is neither proved nor probable--may be made to move in opposite directions in different countries with the same climate and at the same time. Thus in Denmark and in Holland the spike-leaved firs have given place to the broad-leaved beech, while in Northern Germany the process has been reversed, and evergreens have supplanted the oaks and birches of deciduous foliage. The principal determining cause seems to be the influence of light upon the germination of the seeds and the growth of the young tree. In a forest of firs, for instance, the distribution of the light and shade, to the influence of which seeds and shoots are exposed, is by no means the same as in a wood of beeches or of oaks, and hence the growth of different species will be stimulated in the two forests.

When ground is laid bare both of trees and of vegetable mould, and left to the action of unaided and unobstructed nature, she first propagates trees which germinate and grow only under the influence of a full supply of light and air, and then, in succession, other species, according to their ability to bear the shade and their demand for more abundant nutriment. In Northern Europe the large, the white birch, the aspen, first appear; then follow the maple, the alder, the ash, the fir; then the oak and the linden; and then the beech. The trees called by these respective names in the United States are not specifically the same as their European namesakes, nor are they always even the equivalents of these latter, and therefore the order of succession in America would not be precisely as indicated by the foregoing list, but, so far as is known, it nevertheless very nearly corresponds to it.

It is thought important to encourage the growth of the beech in Denmark and Northern Germany, because it upon the whole yields better returns than other trees, and does not exhaust, but on the contrary enriches, the soil; for by shedding its leaves it returns to it most of the nutriment it has drawn from it, and at the same time furnishes a solvent which aids materially in the decomposition of its mineral constituents.

When the forest is left to itself, the order of succession is constant, and its occasional inversion is always explicable by some human interference. It is curious that the trees which require most light are content with the poorest soils, and vice versa. The trees which first appear are also those which propagate themselves farthest to the north. The birch, the larch, and the fir bear a severer climate than the oak, the oak than the beech. "These parallelisms," says Vaupell, "are very interesting, because, though they are entirely independent of each other," they all prescribe the same order of succession.--Bogens Indvandring, p. 42. See alo Berg, Das Verdrangen der Laubralder im Nordlichen Deutschland, 1844. Heyer, Das Verhalten der Waldbaume gegen Licht und Schatten, 1852. Staring, De Bodem van Nederland, 1856, i., pp. 120-200. Vaupell, De Danske Skove, 1863. Knorr, Studien uber die Buchen-Wirthschaft, 1863. A. Maury, Les Forets de la Gaule, pp. 73, 74, 377, 384.

222. ^Caimi states that "a single flotation in the Valtelline, in 1830, caused damages appraised at 0,000."--Cenni sulla Importanza e Coltura dei Boschi, p. 65.

223. ^Many physicists who have investigated the laws of natural hydraulics maintain that, in consequence of direct obstruction and frictional resistance to the flow of the water of rivers along their banks, there is both an increased rapidity of current and an elevation of the water in the middle of the channel, so that a river presents always a convex surface. Others have thought that the acknowledged greater swiftness of the central current must produce a depression in that part of the stream. The lumbermen affirm that, while rivers are rising, the water is highest in the middle of the channel, and tends to throw floating objects shorewards; while they are falling, it is lowest in the middle, and floating objects incline towards the centre. Logs, they say, rolled into the water during the rise, are very apt to lodge on the banks, while those set afloat during the falling of the waters keep in the current, and are carried without hindrance to their destination, and this law, which has been a matter of familiar observation among woodmen for generations, is now admitted as a scientific truth.

Foresters and lumbermen, like sailors and other persons whose daily occupations bring them into contact, and often into conflict, with great natural forces, have many peculiar opinions, not to say superstitious. In one of these categories we must rank the universal belief of lumbermen, that with a given head of water, and in a given number of hours, a sawmill cuts more lumber by night than by day. Having been personally interested in several sawmills, been assured by them that their uniform experiences established the fact that, other things being equal, the action of the machinery of sawmills is more rapid by night than by day. I am sorry--perhaps I ought to be ashamed--to say that my skepticism has been too strong to allow me to avail myself of my ooportunites of testing this question by passing a night, watch in hand, counting the strokes of a millisaw. More unprejudiced, and, I must add, very intelligent and credible persons have informed me that they have done so, and found the report of the sawyers abundantly confirmed. A land surveyor, who was also an experienced lumberman, sawyer, and machinist, a good mathematician, and an accurate observer, has repeatedly told me that he had very often "timed" sawmills, and before the difference in favor of night-work above thirty per cent. Sed quaere.

224. ^The preservation of the woods on the former eastern frontier of France, as a kind of natural abattis, was recognized by the Government of that country as an important measure of military defence, though there have been conflicting opinions on the subject.

225. ^Among more recent manuals may be mentioned: in French, Les Etudes de Maitre Pierre, Paris, 1864, 12mo; Bazelaire, Traite de Roboisement, 2d edition. Paris 1864; Paston, L'Amenagemend des Forets, Paris, 1867; in English, Gregor, Arboriculture, Edinburgh, 1868: in Italian, Siemoni 's very valuable Manuale teorico-pratico d'Arte Forestale, 2d ediz., Firenze, 1872; the excellent work of Cerini, Dei Vantaggi di Societe, por l'Impianto e Conservazione dei Boschi, Milano, 1844, 8vo; and the prize essay of Meguscher, Memoria sui Boschi, etc., 2d edizione, Milano, 1859, 8vo. Another very important treatise of the uses of the forest, though not a manual of sylviculture, is Schleiden, Fur Baum und Wald, Leipzig, 1870.

226. ^It is often laid down as a universal law, that the wood of trees of slow vegetation is superior to that of quick growth. This is one of those commonplaces by which men love to shield themselves from the labor of painstaking observation. It has, in fact, so many exceptions, that it may be doubted in whether it is in any sense true. Most of the cedars are slow of growth; but while the timber of some of them is firm and durable, that of others is light, brittle, and perishable. The hemlock-spruce is slower of growth than the pines, but its wood is of very little value. The pasture oak and beech show a breadth of grain--and, of course, an annual increment--twice as great as trees of the same species grown in the woods; and the American locust, Robinia pseudacacia, the wood of which is of extreme toughness and durability, is, of all trees indigenous to North-eastern America, by far the most rapid in growth. Some of the species of the Australian Eucalyptus furnish wood of remarkable strength and durability, and yet the eucalyptus is surpassed by no known tree in rapidity of growth.

As an illustration of the mutual interdependence of the mechanic arts, I may mention that in Italy, where stone, brick, and plaster are almost the only materials used in architecture, and where the "hollow ware" kitchen implements are of copper or of clay, the ordinary tools for working wood are of a very inferior description, and the locust timber is found too hard for their temper. At the same time the work of the Italian stipettai, or cabinet-makers, and carvers in wood, who take pains to provide themselves with tools of better metal, is wholly unsurpassed in finish and in accuracy of adjustment as well as in taste. When a small quantity of mahogany was brought to England, early in the last century, the cabinet-makers were unable to use it, from the defective temper of their tools, until the demand for furniture from the new wood compelled them to improve the quality of their implements. In America, the cheapness of wood long made it the preferable material for almost all purposes to which it could by any possibility be applied. The mechanical cutlery and artisans' tools of the United States are of admirable temper, finish, and convenience, and no wood is too hard, or otherwise too refractory, to be wrought with great facility, both by hand-tools and by the multitude of ingenious machines which the Americans have invented for this purpose.

227. ^COPSE, or COPPICE, from the French COUPER, to cut, means properly a wood, the trees of which are cut at certain periods of immature growth, and allowed to shoot up again from the roots; but it has come to signify, very commonly, a young wood, grove, or thicket, without reference to its origin, or to the character of a forest crop.

228. ^ "In America," says Clave (p. 124, 125), "where there is a vast extent of land almost without pecuniary value, but where labor is dear and the rate of interest high, it is profitable to till a large surface at the least possible cost. EXTENSIVE cultivation is there the most advantageous. In England, France, and Germany, where every corner of soil is occupied, and the least bit of ground is sold at a high price, but where labor and capital are comparatively cheap is wisest to employ INTENSIVE cultivation. ... All the efforts of the cultivator ought to be directed to the obtaining of a given result with the least sacrifice, and there is equally a loss to the commonwealth if the application of improved agricultural processes be neglected where they are advantageous, or if they be employed where they are not required. ... In this point of view, sylviculture must follow the same laws as agriculture, and, like it, be modified according to the economical conditions of different states. In countries abounding in good forests, and thinly peopled, elementary and cheap methods must be pursued; in civilized regions, where a dense population requires that the soil shall be made to produce all it can yield, the regular artificial forest, with all the processes that science teaches, should be cultivated. It would be absurd to apply to the endless woods of Brazil and of Canada the method of the Spessart by "double stages," but not less so in our country, where every yard of ground has a high value, to leave to nature the task of propagating trees, and to content ourselves with cutting, every twenty or twenty-five years, the meagre growths that chance may have produced."

229. ^In ordinary coppices, there are few or no seedlings, because the young shoots are cut before they are old enough to mature fertile seed, and this is one of the strongest objections to the system.

230. ^It was not long ago stated, upon the evidence of the Government foresters of Greece, and of the queen's gardener, that a large wood has been discovered in Arcadia, consisting of a fir which has the property of sending up both vertical and lateral shoots from the stump of felled trees and forming a new crown. It was at first supposed that this forest grew only on the "mountains," of which the hero of About's most amusing story, Le Roi des Montagnes, was "king;" but stumps, with the shoots attached, have been sent to Germany, and recognized by able botanists as true natural products, and the fact must now be considered as established. Daubeny refers to Theophrastus as ascribing this faculty of reproduction to the 'Elate [word in greek] or fir, but he does not cite chapter and verse, and I have not been able to find the passage. The same writer mentions a case where an entire forest of the common fir in France had been renewed in this way.--Trees and Shrubs of the Ancients, 1865, pp. 27-28. The American Northern pitch possesses the same power in a certain degree.

According to Charles Martins, the cedar of Mount Atlas--which, if not identical with the cedar of Lebanon, is closely allied to it--possesses the same power.--Revue des Deux Mondes, July 15, 1864, p. 315.

231. ^Natural forests are rarely, if ever, composed of trees of a single species, and experience has shown that oaks and other broad-leaved trees, planted as artificial woods, require to be mixed, or associated with others of different habits.

In the forest of Fontainebleau, "oaks, mingled with beeches in due proportion," says Clave, "may arrive at the age of five or six hundred years in full vigor, and attain dimensions which I have never seen surpassed; when, however, they are wholly unmixed with other trees, they begin to decay and die at the top, at the age of forty or fifty years, like men, old before their time, weary of the world, and longing only to quit it. This has been observed in most of the oak plantations of which I have spoken, and they have not been able to attain to full growth. When the vegetation was perceived to languish, they were cut, in the hope that this operation would restore their vigor, and that the new shoots would succeed better than the original trees; and, in fact, they seemed to be recovering for the first few years. But the shoots were soon attacked by the same decay, and the operation had to be renewed at shorter and shorter intervals, until at last it was found necessary to treat as coppices plantations originally designed for the full-growth system. Nor was this all: the soil, periodically bared by these cuttings, became impoverished, and less and less suited to the growth of the oak. ... It was then proposed to introduce the pine and plant with it the vacancies and glades.

"... By this means, the forest was saved from the ruin which threatened it, and now more than 10,000 acres of pines, from fifteen to thirty years old are disseminated at various points, sometimes intermixed with broad-leaved trees, sometimes forming groves by themselves"--Revue des Deux Mondes, Mai, 1863, pp. 153, 154.

232. ^Etudes Forestieres, p. 80.

233. ^The grounds which it is most important to clothe with wood as a conservative influence, and which, also, can best be spared from agricultural use, are steep hillsides. But the performance of all the offices of the forester to the tree--seeding, planting, thinning, trimming, and finally felling and removing for consumption--is more laborious upon a rapid declivity than on a level soil, and at the same time it is difficult to apply irrigation or manures to trees so situated. Experience has shown that there in great advantage in terracing the face of a hill before planting it, both as preventing the wash of the earth by checking the flow of water down its slope, and as presenting a surface favorable for irrigation, as well as for manuring and cultivating the tree. But even without so expensive a process, very important results have been obtained by simply ditching declivities. "In order to hasten the growth of wood on the flanks of a mountain, Mr. Eugene Chevandier divided the slope into zones forty or fifty feet wide, by horizontal ditches closed at both ends, and thereby obtained, from firs of different ages, shoots double the dimensions of those which grew on a dry soil of the same character, where the water was allowed to run off without obstruction."--Dumont, Des Travaux Publics, etc., pp. 94-96. The ditches were about two feet and a half deep, and three feet and a half wide, and they cost about forty francs the hectare, or three dollars the acre. This extraordinary growth was produced wholly by the retention of the rain-water in the ditches, whence it filtered through the whole soil and supplied moisture to the roots of the trees. It may be doubted whether in a climate cold enough to freeze the entire contents of the ditches in winter, it would not be expedient to draw off the water in the autumn, as the presence of so large a quantity of ice in the soil might prove injurious to trees too young and small to shelter the ground effectually against frost.

Chevandier computes that, if the annual growth of the pine in the marshy and too humid soil of the Vosges be represented by one, it will equal two in ordinary dry ground, four or five on slopes so ditched or graded as to retain the water flowing upon them from roads or steep declivities, and six where the earth is kept sufficiently moist by infiltration from running brooks.--Comptes Rendus a l'Academie des Sciences, t. xix., Juillet, Dec., 1844, p. 167. The effect of accidental irrigation in well shown in the growth of the trees planted along the canals of irrigation which traverse the fields in many parts of Italy. They nourish most luxuriantly, in spite of continual lopping, and yield a very important contribution to the stock of fuel for domestic use while trees, situated so far from canals as to be out of the reach of infiltration from them, are of much slower growth, under circumstances otherwise equally favorable. In other experiments of Chevandier, under better conditions, the yield of wood was increased, by judicious irrigation, in the ratio of seven to one, the profits in that of twelve to one. At the Exposition of 1855, Chambrelent exhibited young trees, which, in four years from the seed, had grown to the height of sixteen and twenty feet, and the circumference of ten and twelve inches. Chevandier experimented with various manures, and found that some of them might be profitably applied to young but not to old trees, the quantity required in the latter case being too great. Wood-ashes and the refuse of soda factories are particularly recommended. See, on the manuring of trees, Chevandier, Recherches sur l'emploi de divers amendements, etc., Paris, 1852, and Koderle, Grundsatze der Kunstlichen Dungung im Forstculturwesen. Wien, 1865.

I have seen an extraordinary growth produced in fir-trees by the application of soapsuds; in a young and sickly cherry-tree, by heaping the chips and dust from a marble-quarry, to the height of two or three feet, over the roots and around the stem; and cases have come to my knowledge where like results followed the planting of vines and trees in holes half filled with fragments of plaster-castings, and mortar from old buildings. Chevandier's experiments in the irrigation of the forest would not have been a "new thing under the sun" to wise King Solomon, for that monarch saya: "I made me pools of water, to water therewith, the wood that bringeth forth trees." Eccles. ii. 6.

234. ^See De Courval, Taille et conduite des Arbres forestieres et autres arbres de grande dimension. Paris, 1861.

The most important part of Viscount de Courval's system will be found in L'Elagage des Arbres, par le Comte A. Des Cars, an admirable little treatise, of which numerous editions, at the price of one franc, have been printed since the first, of 1864, and which ought to be translated and published without delay in the United States.

235. ^See Manteuffel, L'Art de Planter, traduit par Stumper. Paris, 1868.

236. ^Vaupell, Bogens Indvandring i de Danske Skove, pp. 29, 46. Vaupell further observes, on the page last quoted: "The removal of leaves is injurious to the forest, not only because it retards the growth of trees, but still more because it disqualifies the soil for the production of particular species. When the beech languishes, and the development of its branches is less vigorous and its crown less spreading, it becomes unable to resist the encroachments of the fir. This latter tree thrives in an inferior soil, and being no longer stifled by the thick foliage of the beech, it spreads gradually through the wood, while the beech retreats before it and finally perishes."

Schleiden confirms the opinion of Vaupell, and adds many important observations on this subject.--Fur Baum und Wald, pp. 64, 65.

237. ^I have remarked elsewhere that most insects which deposit and hatch their eggs in the wood of the natural forest confine themselves to dead trees. Not only is this the fact, but it is also true that many of the borers attack only freshly-cut timber. Their season of labor is a short one, and unless the tree is cut during this period, it is safe from them. In summer you may hear them plying their augers in the wood of a young pine with soft, green bark, as you sit upon its trunk, within a week after it has been felled, but the windfalls of the winter lie uninjured by the worm and even undecayed for centuries. In the pine woods of New England, after the regular lumberman has removed the standing trees, these old trunks are hauled out from the mosses and leaves which half cover them, and often furnish excellent timber. The slow decay of such timber in the woods, it may be remarked, furnishes another proof of the uniformity of temperature and humidity in the forest, for the trunk of a tree lying on grass or ploughland, and of course exposed to all the alternations of climate, hardly resists complete decomposition for a generation. The forests of Europe exhibit similar facts. Wessely, in a description of the primitive wood of Neuwald in Lower Austria, says that the windfalls required from 150 to 200 years for entire decay.--Die Oesterreichischen Alpenlander und ihre Forste, p. 312.

The comparative immunity of the American native forests from attacks by insects is perhaps in some degree due to the fact that the European destructive tribes have not yet found their way across the ocean, and that our native species are less injurious to living trees. On the European lignivorous insects, see Siemoni, Manuale d'Arte Forestale, 2d edizione, pp. 369-379.

238. ^Although the economy of the forest has received little attention in the United States, no lover of American nature can have failed to observe a marked difference between a native wood from which cattle are excluded and one where they are permitted to browse. A few seasons suffice for the total extirpation of the "underbrush," including the young trees on which alone the reproduction of the forest depends, and all the branches of those of larger growth which hang within reach of the cattle are stripped of their buds and leaves, and soon wither and fall off. These effects are observable at a great distance, and a wood-pasture is recognized, almost as far as it can be seen, by the regularity with which its lower foliage terminates at what Ruskin somewhere calls the "cattle-line." This always runs parallel to the surface of the ground, and is determined by the height to which domestic quadrupeds can reach to feed upon the leaves. In describing a visit to the grand-ducal farm of San Rossore near Pisa, where a large herd of camels is kept, Chateauvieux says: "In passing through a wood of evergreen oaks, I observed that all the twigs and foliage of the trees were clipped up to the height of about twelve feet above the ground, without leaving a single spray below that level. I was informed that the browsing of the camels had trimmed the trees as high as they could reach." F. Lullin De Chateuvieux, Lettres sur l'Italie, p. 118.

Browsing animals, and most of all the goat, are considered by foresters as more injurious to the growth of young trees, and, therefore, to the reproduction of the forest, than almost any other destructive cause. According to Beatson's Saint Helena, introductory chapter, and Darwin's Journal of Researches in Geology and Natural History, pp. 582, 583, it was the goats which destroyed the beautiful forests that, three hundred and fifty years ago, covered a continuous surface of not less than two thousand acres in the interior of the island [of St. Helena], not to mention scattered groups of trees. Darwin observes: "During our stay at Valparaiso, I was most positively assured that sandal-wood formerly grew in abundance on the island of Juan Fernandez, but that this tree had now become entirely extinct there, having been extirpated by the goats which early navigators had introduced. The neighboring islands, to which goats have not been carried, still abound in sandal-wood."

In the winter, the deer tribe, especially the great American moose-deer, subsists much on the buds and young sprouts of trees; yet--though from the destruction of the wolves or from some not easily explained cause, these latter animals have recently multiplied so rapidly in some parts of North America, that, not long since, four hundred of them are said to have been killed, in one season, on a territory in Maine not comprising more than one hundred and fifty square miles--the wild browsing quadrupeds are rarely, if ever, numerous enough in regions uninhabited by man to produce any sensible effect on the condition of the forest. A reason why they are less injurious than the goat to young trees may be that they resort to this nutriment only in the winter, when the grasses and shrubs are leafless or covered with snow, whereas the goat feeds upon buds and young shoots principally in the season of growth. However this may be, the natural law of consumption and supply keeps the forest growth, and the wild animals which live on its products, in such a state of equilibrium as to insure the indefinite continuance of both, and the perpetuity of neither is endangered until man interferes and destroys the balance.

When, however, deer are bred and protected in parks, they multiply like domestic cattle, and become equally injurious to trees. "A few years ago," says Clave, "there were not less than two thousand deer of different ages in the forest of Fontainebleau. For want of grass, they are driven to the trees, and they do not spare them ... It is calculated that the browsing of these animals, and the consequent retardation of the growth of the wood, diminishes the annual product of the forest to the amount of two hundred thousand cubic feet per year, ... and besides this, the trees thus mutilated are soon exhausted and die. The deer attack the pines, too, tearing off the bark in long strips, or rubbing theie heads against them when shedding their horns; and sometimes, in groves of more than a hundred hectares, not one pine is found uninjured by them."--Revue des Deux Mondes, Mai, 1863, p. 157.

Vaupell, though agreeing with other writers as to the injury done to the forest by most domestic animals and by half-tamed deer--which he illustrates in an interesting way in his posthumous work, The Danish Woods--thinks, nonetheless, that at the season when the mast is falling, swine are rather useful than otherwise to forests of beech and oak, by treading into the ground and thus sowing beechnuts and acorns, and by destroying moles and mice.--De Danake Skore, p. 12. Meguschor is of the same opinion, and adds that swine destroy injurious insects and their larvae.--Memoria, etc., p. 233.

Beckstein computes that a park of 2,500 acres, containing 250 acres of marsh, 250 of fields and meadows, and the remaining 2,000 of wood, many keep 364 deer of different species, 47 wild boars, 200 hares, 100 rabbits, and an indefinite number of pheasants. These animals would require, in winter, 123,000 pounds of hay, and 22,000 pounds of potatoes, besides what they would pick up themselves. The natural forest most thickly peopled with wild animals would not, in temperate climates, contain, upon the average, one-tenth of these numbers to the same extent of surface.

239. ^The disappearance of the forests of ancient Gaul and of mediaeval France has been ascribed by some writers as much to accidental fires as to the felling of the trees. All the treatises on sylviculture are full of narratives of forest fires. The woods of Corsica and Sardinia have suffered incalculable injury from this cause, and notwithstanding the resistance of the cork-tree to injury from common fires, the government forests of this valuable tree in Algeria have been lately often set on fire by the natives and have sustained immense damage. See an article by Ysabeau in the Annales Forestieres, t. iii., p. 439; Della Marmora, Voyage en Sardaigne, 2d edition, t. i., p. 426; Rivista Forestale del Regno d'Italia, October, 1865, p. 474. Five or six years ago I saw in Switzerland a considerable forest, chiefly of young trees, which had recently been burnt over. I was told that the poor of the commune had long enjoyed a customary privilege of carrying off dead wood and windfalls, and that they had set the forest on fire to kill the trees and so increase the supply of their lawful plunder. The customary rights of herdsmen, shepherds, and peasants in European forests are often an insuperable obstacle to the success of attempts to preserve the woods or to improve their condition. See, on this subject, Alfred Maury, Les anciens Forets de la Gaule, chap. xxix.

240. ^It is stated that in the pine woods of the Landes of Gascony a fire has never been known to cross a railway-track or a common road. See Des Incendies, etc., dans la Region des Maures in the Revue des Eaux et Forets for February, 1869. Many other important articles on this subject will be found in other numbers of the same very valuable periodical.

241. ^"The laws against clearing have never been able to prevent these operations when the proprietor found his advantage in them, and the long series of royal ordinances and decrees of parliaments, proclaimed from the days of Charlemagne to our own, with a view of securing forest property against the improvidence of its owners, have served only to show the impotence of legislative action on this subject."--Clave, Etudes sur l'Economie Forestiere, p. 32.

"A proprietor can always contrive to clear his woods, whatever may be done to prevent him; it is a mere question of time, and a few imprudent cuttings, a few abuses of the right of pasturage, suffice to destry a forest in spite of all regulations to the contrary."--Dunoyer, De la Liberte du Travail, ii., p. 452, as quoted by Clave, p. 353.

Both authors agree that the preservation of the forests in France is practicable only by their transfer to the state, which alone can protect them and secure their proper treatment. It is much to be feared that even this measure would be inadequate to preserve the forests of the American Union. There is little respect for public property in America, and the Federal Government, certainly, would not be the proper agent of the nation for this purpose. It proved itself unable to protect the live-oak woods of Florida, which were intended to be preserved for the use of the navy, and it more than once paid contractors a high price for timber stolen from its own forests. The authorities of the individual States might be more efficient.

242. ^A better economy has been of late introduced into the management of the forest in Switzerland. Excellent official reports on the subject have been published and important legal provisions adopted.

243. ^See in Berlepscu, Die Alpen, chapter Holzschlager und Flosser, a lively account of the sale of a communal wood.

244. ^When the census of 1860 was taken, the States of Maine and New York produced and exported lumber in abundance. Neither of them now has timber enough for domestic use, and they are both compelled to draw much of their supply from Canada and the West.

245. ^Trees of America, p. 10.

246. ^The origin of our Western treeless prairies and plains, as of the Russian steppes, which much resemble them, is obscure, but the want of forests upon them, seems to be due to climatic conditions and especially to a want of spring and summer rains, which prevents the spontaneous formation of forests upon them, though not necessarily the growth of trees artificially planted and cared for. Climatic conditions more or less resembling those of our Western territories produce analogous effects in India. Much valuable information on the relations between climate and forest vegetation will be found in an article by Dr. Brandis, On the Distribution of Forests in India, in Ocean Highways for October, 1872.

In the more eastwardly prairie region fires have done much to prevent the spread of the native groves, and throughout the whole woodless plains the pastorage of the buffalo alone would suffice to prevent a forest growth. The prairies were the proper feeding-grounds of the bison, and the vast number of those animals is connected, as cause or consequence, with the existence of these vast pastures. The bison, indeed, could not convert the forest into a pasture, but he would do much to prevent the pasture from becoming a forest.

There is positive evidence that some of the American tribes possessed large herds of domesticated bisons. See Humboldt, Ansichten der Natur, i., pp. 71-73. What authorizes us to affirm that this was simply the wild bison reclaimed, and why may we not, with equal probability, believe that the migratory prairie-buffalo is the progeny of the domestic animal run wild?

There are, both on the prairies, as in Wisconsin, and in deep forests, as in Ohio, extensive remains of a primitive people, who must have been more numerous and more advanced in art than the present Indian tribes. There can be no doubt that the woods where such earthworks are found in Ohio were cleared by them, and that the vicinity of these fortresses or temples was inhabited by a large population. Nothing forbids the supposition that the prairies were cleared by the same or a similar people, and that the growth of trees upon them has been prevented by fires and grazing, while the restoration of the woods in Ohio may be due to the abandonment of that region by its original inhabitants. The climatic conditions unfavorable to the spontaneous growth of trees on the prairies may possibly be an effect of too extensive clearings, rather than a cause of the want of woods.

It is disputed whether the steppes of Russia were ever wooded. They were certainly bare of forest growth at a very remote period; for Herodotus describes the country of the Scythians between the Ister and the Tanais as woodless, with the exception of the small province of Xylaea between the Dnieper and the Gulf of Perekop. They are known to have been occupied by a large nomade and pastoral population down to the sixteenth century, though these tribes are now much reduced in numbers. The habits of such races are scarcely less destructive to the forest than those of civilized life. Pastoral tribes do not employ much wood for fuel or for construction, but they carelessly or recklessly burn down the forests, and their cattle effectually check the growth of young trees wherever their range extends.

At present, the furious winds which sweep over the plains, the droughts of summer, and the rights and abuses of pasturage, constitute very formidable obstacles to the employment of measures which have been attended with so valuable results on the sand-wastes of France and Germany. The Russian Government has, however, attempted the wooding of the steppes, and there are thriving plantations in the neighborhood of Odessa, where the soil is of a particularly loose and sandy character. The tree best suited to this locality, and, as there is good reason to suppose, to sand plains in general, is the Ailanthus glandulosa, or Japan varnish-tree. The remarkable success which has crowned the experiments with the ailanthus at Odessa, will, no doubt, stimulate to similar trials elsewhere, and it seems not improbable that the arundo and the maritime pine, which have fixed so many thousand acres of drifting sands in Western Europe, will be, partially at leaat, superseded by the tamarisk and the varnish-tree.

According to Hohenstein, Der Wald, pp. 228, 229, an extensive plantation of pines--a tree new to Southern Russia--was commenced in 1842, on the barren and sandy banks of the Ingula, near Elisabethgrod, and has met with very flattering success. Other experiments in sylviculture at different points on the steppes promise valuable results.

247. ^Many valuable suggestions on this subject will be found in Bryant, Forest Trees, chap. vi. et seqq.

248. ^For very judicious suggestions on experiments in sylviculture, see the Rev. Frederick Starr's remarkable paper on the American Forests in the Transactions of the Agricultural Society for.

249. ^According to Clave (Etudes, p. 159), the net revenue from the forests of the state in France, making no allowance for interest on the capital represented by the forest, is two dollars per acre. In Saxony it is about the same, though the cost of administration is twice as much as in France; in Wurtemberg it is about a dollar an acre; and in Prussia, where half the income is consumed in the expenses of administration, it sinks to less than half a dollar. This low rate in Prussia and other German states is partly explained by the fact that a considerable proportion of the annual product of the wood is either conceded to persons claiming prescriptive rights, or sold, at a very small price, to the poor. Taking into account the capital invested in forest-land, and adding interest upon it, Pressler calculates that a pine wood, managed with a view to felling it when eighty years old, would yield one-eighth of one per cent. annual profit; a fir wood, at one hundred years, one-sixth of one per cent.; beech wood, at one hundred and twenty years, one-fourth of one per cent. The same author gives the net income of the New Forest in England, over and above expenses, interest not computed, at twenty-five cents per acre only. In America, where no expense is bestowed upon the woods, the value of the annual growth has generally been estimated much higher. Forest-trees are often planted in Europe for what may be called an early crop. Thus in Germany acorns are sown and the young seedlings cultivated like ordinary field-vegetables, and cut at the age of a very few years for the sake of the bark and young twigs used by tanners. In England, trees are grown at the rate of two thousand to the acre, and cut for props in the mines at the diameter of a few inches. Plantations for hoop-poles, and other special purposes requiring small timber, would, no doubt, often prove high remunerative.

250. ^Although the eucalyptus thrives admirably in Algeria--where it attains a height of from fifty to sixty feet, and a diameter of fifteen or sixteen inches, in six years from the seed--and in some restricted localities in Southern Europe, it will not bear the winters even of Florence, and consequently cannot be expected to flourish in any part of the United States except the extreme South and California. The writer of a somewhat enthusiastic article on this latter State, in Harper's Monthly for July, 1872, affirms that he saw a eucalyptus "eight years from a small cutting, which was seventy-five feet in height, and two feet and a half in diameter at the base."

The paulownia, which thrives in Northern Italy, has a wood of little value, but the tree would serve well as a shelter for seedlings and young plants of more valuable species, and in other cases where a temporary shade is urgently needed. The young shoots, from a stem polled the previous season, almost surpass even the eucalyptus in rapidity of growth. Such a shoot from a tree not six inches in diameter, which I had an opportunity of daily observing, from the bursting out of the bud from the bark of the parent stem in April till November of the same year, acquired in that interval a diameter of between four and five inches and a height of above twenty feet.

251. ^The economical statistics of Grigor, Arboriculture, Edinburgh, 1868, are very encouraging. In the preface to that work the author says: "Having formed several large plantations nearly forty years ago, which are still standing, in the Highlands of Scotland, I can refer to them as, after paying every expense, yielding a revenue equal to that of the finest arable land in the country, where the ground previously to these formations was not worth a shilling an acre." See also Hartig, Ueber den Wachsthumsgang und Ertrag der Buche, Eiche und Kiefer, 1869, and especially Bryant, Forest Trees, chap. ix.

252. ^The fertility of newly cleared land is by no means due entirely to the accumulation of decayed vegetable matter on its surface, and to the decomposition of the mineral constituents of the soil by the gases emitted by the fallen leaves. Sachs has shown that the roots of living plants exercise a most powerful solvent action on rocks, and hence stones are disintegrated and resolved into elements of vegetable nutrition, by the chemical agency of the forest, more rapidly than by frost, rain, and other meteorological influences.

253. ^It is rare that a middle-aged American dies in the house where he was born, or an old man even in that which he has built; and this is scarcely less true of the rural districts, where every man owns his habitation, than of the city, where the majority live hired houses. This life of incessant flitting is unfavorable for the execution of permanent improvements of every sort, and especially of those which, like the forest, are slow in repaying any part of the capital expended in them. It requires a very generous spirit in a landholder to plant a wood on a farm he expects to sell, or which he knows will pass out of the hands of his descendants at his death. But the very fact of having begun a plantation would attach the proprietor more strongly to the soil for which he had made such a sacrifice; and the paternal acres would have a greater value in the eyes of a succeeding generation, if thus improved and beautified by the labors of those from whom they were inherited. Landed property, therefore, the transfer of which is happily free from every legal impediment or restriction in the United States, would find, in the feelings thus prompted, a moral check against a too frequent change of owners, and would tend to remain long enough in one proprietor or one family to admit of gradual improvements which would increase its value both to the possessor and to the state.



This is a chapter from Earth as Modified by Human Action, The (historical e-book).
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Citation

Surface, M. (2009). Earth as Modified by Human Action, The: Chapter 03 (historical). Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151849

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