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rivalled elsewhere. Of such scenery, Old standing singly or in groups, measured Sloden was probably the noblest example. out the distance, and displayed the endHollies, yews, and whitebeam of the less variety of the surface. The two large largest growth stood singly or in small beech-woods, placed with indescribable groups, at intervals sufficient for the full taste upon the farthest ridge, and rising in appreciation of their form and colour, and solitary grandeur against the sky, perfected for glimpses of distant landscape. Here the foreground, and set off the distant and there a shapely oak or beech over- prospect. In the calm lustre of an Octohung the evergreen clumps, and aged | ber afternoon, few spots, even in the forbirches or hawthorns studded the open est, could vie with Highland Water in spaces. The forest can still boast many a wealth of warm and harmonious colour. sunny ridge, bright with bell-heather and It will hardly be credited that modern fern in summer, or dappled with the in- Vandalism has selected this scene for its numerable tints of decay in autumn; but latest and, it is to be hoped, its last we recall no other of similar extent where achievement. The surveyor has undone the trees were so uniformly large and so the work of the artist, and replaced with picturesquely distributed. The red-ber- hard outlines the soft irregularity of Naried whitebeams,* too, gave it a special ture. The old beeches have been felled character, particularly when, ruffled by the and sold for firewood; the dimpled holbreeze, they displayed the silver under- lows, bared of their trees, are scored with side of their leaves in contrast with the parallel trenches; the winding stream is sombre foliage of the holly and yew. But become a straight dyke; and a dull moOld Sloden exists no longer; its site was notony of fir plantation will soon cover, one of the first selected for planting under with a not unkindly mantle, the last traces the régime of 1851; all its trees, including, of ruined beauty. It is with a deep sense it is said, more than three hundred ancient of relief that the observer raises his eyes yews, were swept away, and a sea of from this scene of desolation, to contemScotch fir now conceals even the configur- plate the varied effects of light and atmosation of the soil.
phere which give a never-failing interest A few woods of beech are found upon to such a landscape, and to the whole of the highlands of the forest, but these are the highland of the forest. Their subtle evidently artificial, and were doubtless beauty is indescribable in words, and placed there to give variety to the land- must be left to the mind's creative eye scape. The sites have been selected with the poverty of language cannot cope with an artist's eye, and it is to be regretted the limitless fancy of Nature ; but no one, that these memorials of great opportuni- to whom the plains or the ridge of Stony ties grandly used should not have been Cross is familiar ground, will hesitate to taken as models for imitation. Two such, acknowledge that few localities elsewhere Puckpits and another wood on the same offer a field so favourable for their disridge, were prominent features in the pros- play. pect from Soldiers' Oak on the road be- The slopes that connect the moorland tween Ringwood and Stony Cross. with the timbered lowland partake of the
This landscape, one of the finest in the vegetation of both, and form a debatable forest, was too comprehensive for pen or land between them, where descending pencil to describe. The view extended tongues of heath interpenetrate the advancover terraced undulations of heath, upon ing wedges of rough woodland. The exan unbroken but varied woodland and the quisite interchange of hill and dale, and silver Solent, being closed at length by the the random wild-wood characteristic of blue downs of the Isle of Wight. Not a this intermediate region, give to New Forsign of civilization marred the wildness est scenery its peculiar beauty. The of the scene. The foreground, a landscape hardier vegetation of the ridges interminin itself, lay close at the feet of the ob- gles with the more lordly growths of the server, and combined every characteristic lowland, the hollies and hawthorns aspire feature of the open forest." Streams, con- to the dignity of trees, and the oak and verging from amongst the undulations, beech rise solitary, or in small, isolated united in a grassy bottom overshadowed groups, from thickets of thorn, or among by isolated oaks and clumps of holly and beds of gorse and fern. In this natural thorn. On the curving sides of the val- commonwealth the birch finds a congenial ley-basin, furze-brakes and beds of fern, home, and attains a perfection almost unand, lower down, hollies and larger trees, known beyond the limits of the New Forsured bark of the dusky trunk and its soft light. Spots, indeed, there are where the drapery of variegated moss and lichen, the clustering hollies cast at broad noonday a developed form, that ideal of picturesque depth of shadow that often realizes, and symmetry and grace, are fully represented sometiines exceeds, the “ green night” of here.
est. The lustrous smoothness of stem and A species of service; the hoar-withy. bough, in contrast with the deeply-fis
And whether overhanging some Marvell, and woods and groves where shadowy hollow in the brown heath, or the grey-streaked wall of the red gravel- Save what from heaven is with the breezes
“ There is no light, pit, or the ever-blossoming furzebrake be
blown tween the woods, the old tree is ever in Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy perfect harmony with its setting, and thus
ways;” a crowning charm is added to its beauty.
The native woods are surrounded by but these are few and far between. The such scenery as this, and are themselves warm glow of sunset streams along hill also remarkable for their open character. and slope, illumining at times some group The trees stand apart in groups or groves, of beech till the very boughs and limbs separated by irregular patches of dwarf grow indistinct radiant with lambent flame, gorse, heather, and crisp turf, or by glades or paints a background to the towering fringed with fern, broad lawns, or moor. grove; and the level rays of autumn Many of the hollies have been pollarded to search the inmost recesses of the forest. browse the deer, and, in the absence of Among the old woods, where the trees underwood or brambles, the fern alone are tall and their boughs gaunt and scanty, checks the free passage of man and beast, even “old December's bareness” ceases and veils the old grassy ways. The oak to be dreary. The softened sunshine, and beech, spreading towards the light, “ everywhere pervasive yet nowhere em“ train their young boughs in graceful in- phatic,” lends an amber gleam to the tricacies, with snatches of the sky between, evergreen ferns and mosses on the trees and frame shady roofs and arches rude ;” and soil, and is weirdly reflected by group the sun, descending at every opening, after group of holly on the slope. The flickers on the foliage and chequers the glossy leaves, with alternately receding party-coloured floor, or breaks up the long and advancing curves, disperse the ray avenues into alternate breadths of light and rob it of its colour; and as each leaf and shade. The seeker after trees notice- capriciously meets or evades the light, the able for age, size, or form, will not be dis- bushes are speckled with a broken sheen, appointed, but will find the intervening not unlike that of moonlight on faintly. scenery yet more attractive. A sense of rippled water, but strangely still, and unlimited freedom, the calm seclusion and sometimes iridescent. orderly disorder of the leafy wilderness, But it is time to pass on and examine give it a fascination peculiarly its own. the old woods more in detail; yet hence
The herds of deer, indeed, just tame forward the changes that confront the enough to suffer themselves to be admired, explorer become at each advance more are sorely missed, but the woodland yet extensive and more lamentable. The task harbours life enough to give a zest to its of enumerating the old woods that are yet seclusion. The pigeon, dove, and night- standiug is only too easy; but, fortunateingale, with mellow, fitful notes, “ at once ly, almost every one has a special characfar off and near,” or the busy woodpecker, ter of its own. Burley Old, Bramshaw intensifies the silence; the colt, half shy, Wood, Denny Wood, and Mark Ash are half curious, beside its shaggy dam under the noblest relics of the ancient forest; of the oak upon the glade, the grouped cattle these Mark Ash is acknowledged to be and flock of geese upon the broad lawn, the finest. It should be visited from enliven the scene. But in autumn the Boldrewood, whence it is approached along wanderer may find his day-dream rudely a ridge, of which it occupies the lower and broken by the sudden grunt of routing broader portion, through groups of oak pigs, or the defiant bark-like cry of the and beech rising from the heather and galloping drove as it charges in a wedge fern. An abrupt slope, studded with the scared dog that hurries for shelter be- tangled thickets or single hawthorns hung hind him. Perhaps some future Morland with grey moss and honeysuckle, unites will justify the remark that the pigs are the two fragments of the ridge; Mark Ash indispensable, as its element of humour, veils the foot of the slope, and, barring the to the New Forest landscape.
view, concentrates attention on itself. The undulating character and southerly On entering the wood, the change of aspect of the woodland render it peculiarly scene is startling and complete. The susceptible of the manifold effects of sun-' drooping boughs that veiled the entrance
now conceal the approach, and a deep, tion of all general measures, and even of gloom succeeds to the open sunshine. À those relating to the other royal forests.* narrow band of light on either slope marks The Act of 1851, however (as will be seen the limits of the grove; the dim space in presently), while preserving the language, front is broken only by the low, massy reversed the intention of the Act of 1698. trunks and soaring limbs of great beech- Hitherto, the condition and management trees, in every feature eloquent of antiqui- of this forest had suffered no material ty. The expressive silence, the “ listening change since it was subjected to the Norgloom," and cloistral solitude, produce in man forestal law by the Conqueror. It the beholder a strange sense of mystery provided (nominally at least) a hunting and awe.
ground for the sovereign, and pasturage On a nearer view, the trees are found for the cattle of the owners and tenants to stand wide apart, and are all of great of the adjacent manors and freeholds. A size; at the edge of the wood they are court of verderors, probably a Saxon infully developed, and the boughs feather stitution adopted into forest-law, regulated towards the ground, but within it the the exercise of the common rights for the growth tends upwards. Bare limbs, each protection of the soil and timber, as the a tree in itself
, spring from a corded bole, representatives of the Crown and comand rise like vaulting arches to a great moners. The members of the court seem height; aloft, the boughs form a continu-(as at present) always to have been elected ous canopy, almost impenetrable by the by the freeholders of the county of Southsun, and rarely stirred by a passing breeze; ampton, in pursuance of a writ issued by below, the faint trackway loses itself be the sovereign, as vacancies occurred. The neath a russet covering of undisturbed lands to which these rights attached are leaves, the accumulation of successive still traceable in Domesday Book, and had years.* The grouping of this
been registered in 1670 to the extent of “ Noble horde,
65,000 acres, probably as the first step A brotherhood of venerable trees,”
necessary to the introduction of such å
measure as that of 1698. It should be obis especially suggestive where a double served that this registration (although the row encircles, as with an aisle, an opening ascertainment of their rights was perto the sky, left by the fall of a central sistently requested by the commoners) tree. In this pantheon of Nature's build- was only completed, at their instance, by ing, it is easy to understand the existence the Royal Commission of 1854, since which of the four hundred prophets of the time these privileges of common right groves, which did eat at Jezebel's table, have been exercised by the indefeasible and the mediæval imagination which put tenure of immemorial usage, confirmed by the dry bones of history into fancy dress, a parliamentary title. and produced the picturesque traditions
The general appearance of the forest in of the ancient Druids.
the sixteenth century may be inferred from
the preceding sketches of its primitive Intermediate in extent and style be- beauty, and from the fact that a survey tween the native forest and the new plant- made in 1608 shows that it then contained ations are the woods planted under the a large amount of old and valuable timber. Act of William III. But before describing But during the civil wars of the Commonthese it is necessary to pause and review wealth, one of the historic periods of the the circumstances under which that Act New Forest, its woods, as well as those of was passed, and its provisions. The prac
the kingdom in general, had been so much tice of enclosing portions of the New wasted and impaired that ship-timber had Forest for the growth of artificial timber, become very scarce. This forest, being thus first introduced (1698), is the cause close to Portsmouth and well supplied with of all the changes which have taken place suitable ports, was naturally selected for in its aspect. The Act is also specially the growth of timber for the use of the important as the basis of all subsequent Royal Navy: An Act was therefore passed legislation on the subject of a district al- to enable the Crown, through a Special ways regarded as exceptional in character, Commission to be appointed under the and therefore exempted from the opera- Act, to plant a limited amount of oak only
for this particular purpose. But this exSince this sketch was written, the attention of the writer has been called to an article on the New * The New Forest is not less than six times the size Forest in Fraser's Magazine for February, 1868, in of any other forest (Evidence, 1-68, p. 737), a d no which another description of this “core of some parellel can be correctly drawn between it and any boundless primæval forest" occurs on page 219. other, the circumstances being always different.
traordinary power to plant commonable | spring through such a woodland, when the land was neither lightly granted nor unat- silence is broken only by the babble of the tended by efficient safeguards. Its exer- brook or the plaintive cry of the lapwing, cise was strictly limited to the growth of and when the sunlit air is fragrant with oak for national purposes, and special opening buds, is not readily forgotten. clauses jealously guarded the rights of the But later on, when the air is languid with
The plantations were to be the dropping mayflower, when the oakmade very gradually; 2,000 acres were to blossom hangs from its sheath of half-debe enclosed immediately (before 1700), veloped leaves, and the tracery of the but the remainder, 4,000 acres, at a rate limbs is yet unveiled, when the young folinot exceeding 200 acres in one year; the age of the beech, brilliant with imprisoned land was to be taken in every case where light, casts the tenderest of shade, and the * it could be best spared from the commons uncurling fern yet leaves the vistas free to and highways," and the plantations again display the witchery of broken lights on thrown open to pasturage as soon as the stem and bough — with such a scene in trees were past damage by the deer and view, amidst cattle. The whole amount of 6,000 acres having been disenclosed, a similar quan
“ The symphony of spring, the passion of the
groves, tity might be planted on the same terms. It is to be noted that, even if the power even the approach of summer and her thus granted had been exercised to the “ matron grace is almost regretted. extreme, and under the system adopted Even in the denser and mare formal woods in 1850, the commoners would only have the ragged undergrowth of holly and fern, lost the pasturage of one-tenth of the and the mossy, rush-tufted glade which forest. The earlier enclosures were, how the blackcock makes his curling-ground, ever, agreeably to the spirit of the Act show that Nature has resumed her own. as the reader will presently observe The plantations made just previous to actually restored as fair woodland pasture. the year 1851, and since that date, are of But the plantations thus authorized were a very different charaeter. Instead of not completed, and it may be presumed, small woods picturesquely distributed orer therefore, that the powers granted were the whole forest, plantations measurable found by experience larger than the need; by the square mile, and closely adjacent to for in 1851 only 9,600 acres had been en- each other, occupy its most beautiful holclosed and planted, the whole of which had lows. In such places the native woodland been disenclosed with the exception of has been completely swept away, and the 1,800 acres ; and it is a curious fact that old ornamental woods have gone to drug the probable value of the timber in 1608 the timber market. Many a grassy valley and the estimated value of the entire and cattle-studded lawn has disappeared forest in 1819 nearly agree.
for ever beneath a sombre sea of Scotch The woods thus brought into existence, fir. The pastures thus planted are deowing to their limited extent, the system stroyed, the old winding ways are filled of planting adopted, and the tasteful selec- with trees and intersected by indelible tion of many of the sites, altered but little trenches, the new rides are laid out on no the general aspect of the forest, and in intelligible principle of convenience or many cases added to its beauty. The sur picturesqueness, so that the plantations, face planted suffered little change, and the when again thrown open to the public and banks were soon trodden 'down by the the commoners, will offer neither free-pascattle, when the plantations had been sage, pasturage, nor beauty. again thrown open to pasture; glades ap- This radical change is the result of the peared where the young trees failed, and Deer Removal Act of 1851, under the prowere enlarged by the deer and ponies visions of which the last relics of the which, in winter, especially, consumed primitive forest will inevitably be cleared the rough overgrowth of the soil. The away in a few years, and the whole area stronger trees, outgrowing and supplant- may be planted over almost within the ing the weaker, gave variety of form and present century, unless Parliament intera natural wantonness to the wood. In the vene. Strange as this statement may apBentleys art is almost lost in nature; pear, the sequel will show how such a nanoble oaks, sloping glades shaded by tional loss was involved in the fate of a shapely hawthorns and hollies, the stream few hundreds of deer. The fact, however, winding through the crisp sward tufted should be borne in mind, that the herediwith blackthorn, compose park scenery of tary rights of the Crown over the forest the wildest character. A stroll in early comprised only the usual rights of a lord
of the soil, and those resulting from the the pollard ash in front of the cottage imposition of forestal law upon the dis-above, begin to feed; others, shy and wisttrict by William the Norman the latter ful, are grouped on the heather around. being represented in modern times by the The attention of the lingering observer is right to keep deer in it. Nor could any divided between the intermingling hues extension of power over the New Forest of the distant landscape and the animated be obtained except by the grant of the scene at his feet; but at each return from Legislature and for national purposes. long wanderings through space, where
It is difficult to understand why the deer were preserved in the forest when they “ All ether softening, sober evening takes could no longer minister to the amuse- Her wonted station in the middle air, ment of the sovereign; their value, how
A thousand shadows at her beck," ever, as an ornament to the landscape could hardly be over-estimated. The av- the eye notes with surprise the lessening erage number is said to have been about groups upon the slope, as the deer disap3,000 head, of which a small proportion pear silently and mysteriously as they were red deer. The fallow deer were came. generally harboured about the keepers'
But ornamental as the deer undoubtedly lodges for protection, and fed daily with were, their presence in the forest was on boughs of holly and ash, with hay and other grounds very objectionable. Being other food specially provided for them ; imperfectly protected, and harboured in the pollard ash on the village-green still large numbers near some of the villages, preserves in the neighbourhood of the for- they were an ever-present temptation to est the memory of the old order of things, the poorer classes, and by constant inroads and of the days when such trees were a upon the manors discouraged and injured small annuity to their owners. The feed- the farmers. Reports made to Parliament ing of the deer at Bramble Hill Lodge was from time to time recommended their reone of the most attractive sights in the moval upon public grounds; but upon the forest, the prospect thence being probably principal that its forestal rights would go unsurpassed by any in the South of Eng- with the deer, such excessive demands land. ` A lawn, not quite reclaimed from seem to have been made on behalf of the the little moor encircled by woods, slopes Crown, that these recommendations could towards the lip of a densely-timbered de- not be carried into effect. Compensation pression; beyond, - on one side, the flat was required, not only for the right to ridge of Stony Cross bars the view, but keep deer, but for a right to keep an unfalls at length partly across the middle limited number of them to the extinction distance, and in a succession of swelling of the pasturage of the commoners. Yet knolls tufted with trees subsides into the every attempt to increase the number to plain; on the other side, the diagonal line any extent had been frustrated by the of the estuary leads the eye onward from starvation of hundreds during severe winthe gleaming spires of Southampton to the ters. Nay, more, although the expense of point where the unbroken forest veils its keepers and of large supplies of artificial junction with the Solent, and seems to food entailed a heavy annual loss upon the touch the sea. The landlocked waters of sovereign, unaccompanied by any correCowes and the wavy outline of the Isle of sponding advantage, compensation was Wight close the scene. The foreground claimed for that which was in fact a costly lies in shadow, for the wall of Stony Cross and useless privilege as though it had been holds back the sidelong rays that create a valuable and profitable right. One atislets of light in the green expause be- tempt, however, that was made for their yond ; but the hollow woodland, with its removal deserves a passing notice, and is myriad domes of foliage and depths of also of interest as illustrative of the conblue atmosphere between that shroud the i dition of the forest and the views of the radiating slopes, displays, whatever the Legislature with regard to it at the time. hour or season, a never-failing variety of A Royal Commission in 1789 (after an colouring or form. At the foot of the inquiry extending over nearly three years) lawn a miscellaneous collection of fodder made an elaborate and careful report, in lies outspread in the afternoon sunshine ; which extraordinary revelations were made the keeper whistles again and again. of waste and wanton mismanagement in Slowly but suddenly, as if by magic, the the New Forest. A Bill was, therefore, deer begin to appear, and attended by the introduced in 1792 to provide for the fawns enter at the open bars. Some, eye- further increase and preservation of timing coyly the group of visitors beneath 'ber there, and for the removal of the