button to main menu  Gents Mag 1785 p.843

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Gentleman's Magazine 1785 p.843


Agricultural Drainage

IF you can find room in your entertaining miscellany for the sentiments of an old traveller, who in September last reviewed a part of this Island which he had passed over forty years ago, you will oblige.
In the Eastern parts of the counties of York, Durham, and Northumberland, and the low-lands of Scotland, I saw some hundred thousands of acres added to the national stock. These lands, forty years ago, consisted of boggy peat-moss, or heath soil, which, at that time, were not worth more than from six pence to three shillings per acre (now let at twenty shillings per acre), yielding only a scanty pittance for a few half-starved sheep, colts, and young cattle, with here and there a bush, shrub, or dwarf-tree; without a hedge, a few stone-walls, low-mould fences, or shallow ditches, to mark boundaries; travelling miles without seeing a human face, or the habitation of one, which when you did was the dwelling of a miserable farmer, scarce able to exist. Sometimes, indeed, the eye was a little cheered by seeing a stone-house of the owner of some land, guarded by stone-walls, with a small garden and improved land, ornamented with a few sycamores and alder-trees.
I am now, in September 1785, happy to give you a different landscape; the boggy and peat-land drained, producing oats or potatoes; the barren heath converted into grass, meadow-land, or corn-fields, smiling with plenty of golden wheat or barley, ornamented here and there with pine clumps, sometimes mixed with ash, beech, and young oaks; the lands divided by luxuriant white-thorn hedges, which here thrive amazingly well, and those near the noblemen's seats are kept in excellent order: indeed there is one, in particular, Mr. Brandling, one of the present members for Newcastle, seems sensible of the white-thorn as a timber-tree, which sometimes grows to a lrage size, and is the most beautiful wood for cabinet-makers use, being much superior in texture, colour, and veins, where knots are, to any other wood now in use. I observed in this gentleman's hedges, at the distance of every ten or twenty yards, one of these being straiter and taller than the rest, singled out, growing two or three feet above the rest of the hedges. This mode I also observed was followed by two or three gentlemen in Ayrshire. I dwell the longer on this wood because very few know its value, and to what size it will grow. I have seen one of these trees in the county of Middlesex, where they do not thrive so well as in the North, grow straight from the root to its branches twelve feet high, and at five feet above the ground, measure in the girth five feet and a half; but the tree was then decaying, and I saw from one of its branches planks of seven inches width cut from it; and of this one branch two large elbow chairs, one good sized table, and two tea-trays, and two tea-canisters, were made, the most beautiful I ever saw. The Duke of Argyle has several of these trees tolerably
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