William Forsyth.

A treatise on the culture and management of fruit trees ... To which is added, a new and improved edition of Observations on the diseases, defects and injuries of all kinds of fruit and forest trees .. online

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heal the wounds thus given discovers itself by en-
circling the wound with a kind of callus or lip,
which, increasing in size, and swelling out from
the annual flow of the juices, forms a hollow or ca-
vity of the central part, where the rain or snow is
very apt to lodge; and penetrating between the
bark and the wood, dried and cracked by a hard
frost or a warm sun, promotes that fermentation
with the natural juices, which is the certain source
of disease and decay.

Young, healthful, and vigorous trees, when they
have been injured by being wantonly cut through
the bark, or from other causes, will sometimes re*
cover themselves, and, to all outward appearance,
be restored to their original soundness ; but when


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cut into planks and boards, internal blemishes and
faults are discovered in them, which appear to have
been occasioned by the early injuries which the
tree had received ; the texture of the wood not
uniting where the wound was originally given 4
though, from the youthful vigour of nature, the
bark has closed, and an external cure been evi-
dently performed*

As a most efficacious remedy to prevent the evils
that I have described, with all their destructive
consequences, and to restore sound timber where
the symptoms of decay are already apparent, I con-
fidently recommend the use of my Composition,
which, being applied in a proper manner to the
wounded or injured part, will infallibly prevent the
bleeding of trees, or the oozing of juices through
the wounds of limbs or branches that have been
cut off in the middle of Summer, when they are in
their highest vigour, and most rapid flow of vege-
tation ; by which means, any wasteful discharge of
the juices is prevented, and they are duly confined
to their natural operations of giving nourish-
ment, growth, and fertility, to their respective

By employing the proposed remedy, trees of all
kinds, whether in gardens or orchards, in parks or
forests, may with greater safety and advantage be
pruned or lopped in the Spring, or early in the
Summer, than in the Winter season ; as the Com-
position, when properly applied, repels the flow of
the juices through the wound, causes a more active

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vegetation, and assists nature more powerfully in
healing the wound at the time the sap is in full vi-
gour, than when it is on the decline, as in Autumn
and Winter.

* It is also necessary to remark, that both fruit
and forest tree* (particularly those which grow in
the shade) are very liable to be affected with dis-
orders proceeding from the growth of liver- wort,
and various kinds of moss, that adhere to the outer
bark of the tree, and frequently gain a considerable
thickness, that not only prevents the natural flow
of the juices, but causes a stagnation in the circu-
lation, and brings on decay; which, after destroy-
ing the outer bark, penetrates, by degrees, deeper
into the wood. Where this circumstance is ob-
served, care should be taken to clear the whole
bark of the tree from these growths j and where it
is infected, to scrape or pare it away. When the
body of the tree is thus cleansed from infection,
the Composition should be applied, in a liquid state,
to the parts so cleansed, to close the pores of the
wood j when the tree will soon acquire a fresh
bark, with improved health and vegetation. I am
confirmed in these opinions by the many experi-
ments and various trials that I have made to as-
certain by the most positive proofs, the properties
of this Composition, before I ventured to offer it
to the public attention. Indeed, every year's ex-
perience has increased my conviction of its gene-
ral utility, when properly applied to the purposes
for which it is recommended. To give a more

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complete illustration of its virtues, and to place the
advantages arising from it in a stronger light, I
shall beg leave to state a few of the very nu-
merous experiments that I have made on the forest
trees in His Majesty's Gardens at Kensington,
where the salutary effects of the Composition are
evident to every attentive observer.

The first triads of its efficacy were made on some
very large and ancient Elms, many of which wem
in a most decayed state, having all their upper
parts broken, by high winds, from their trunks,
which were withal so hollow and decayed, that a
small portion alone of the bark remained alive and
sound* Of these trees I cut away at first a part
only of the rotten stuff from the hollow of the tree,
and then applied the plaster to the place where the
operation had been performed, by way of an inter-
nal coat of* the Composition. In a short time,
however, the efforts of nature, with a renovated
flow of the juices, were clearly discernible in their
formation of new wood, uniting with, and swelling*
as it were, from the old, till it became a strong sup-
port to that part of the tree where the Composi-
tion had been applied. I then cut away more of
the rotten wood from the inside, applying the plas-
ter in the same manner, with the same good effects,
and continued to use the knife in proportion to the
acquisition of new wood ; so that, from the tops of
these decayed and naked trunks, stems have ac-
tually grown of above thirty feet in height, in the

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course of six or seven years from the first applica-
tion of the Composition ; an incontrovertible proof
of ite good effects in restoring decayed vegetation.

Many other Elm trees, which had received hurts
from bruises and other causes, and where disease
and decay were already evident, after cutting away
all the infected part, and duly applying the plaster,
were so completely healed, that the outline of the
wound is scarcely discernible on the bark, and the
new wood is as perfectly united to the old, as if it
had been originally formed with the tree.

Of Oak trees also, which had received very con-
siderable damage from various accidents, as blows,
bruises, and cutting of deep letters, the rubbing off
of the bark by the ends of rollers, or wheels of
carts, and mutilated branches, a perfect cure has
been made, and sound timber produced. The
acidity, or corrosive quality, of the juice of Oak-
trees, when obstructed in their circulation from
any of the causes already mentioned, and ferment-
ing with the wet and moisture imbibed by the
wounds from the atmosphere, will bring on
^disease, and promote decay : for notwithstanding
the hard texture of the Oak, when once the prin-
ciples of decay begin to operate, the acrimonious
juices feed the disease, and accelerate its progress,
m much, perhaps, as in trees of a softer quality
and texture; but when the diseased or injured
part is entirely cut away to the fresh sound wood,
And the Composition properly laid on, as perfect

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a cure has been made as I have already related in
the recovery of Elm trees. Indeed, when I reflect
that the Oak has been the boast of our early ances-
tors, and the means, under the blessing of God, of
affording protection and safety, as well as accumu-
lating honour and wealth, to the nation, what lan-
guage can sufficiently deplore that want of public
spirit, and that strange inattention to the preserv-
ation and increase of this staple tree, which suffers
such numbers of stately Oaks to go to decay ; in
which disgraceful state they remain to upbraid
their possessors, as foes to the commerce and naval
glory of the kingdom !

Various experiments have also been made on
other forest trees, as ash, limes, chesnuts, and
sycamores, that had received the several injuries
to which they are exposed ; as well as many of the
resinous kinds, such as the cedar of Lebanon, and
others of the pine tribe ; in all of which I have
experienced a degree of success that exceeded my
most sanguine expectations.

As I feel a strong solicitude to render my expe-
riments of the most extensive advantage to the
community, and in particular to the proprietors of
landed estates throughout the kingdom, I beg
leave to recommend to their particular attention,
that all forest trees, whether felled with a saw or
an axe, may be cut near to the ground ; at the
same time carefully preserving the stump and roots
from any further injury. The surface should then

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be made quite smooth, when the Composition
may be spread over the whole surface, according
to the directions already given. It should, how-
ever, be observed, that the Composition, when
employed for this particular purpose, should have
an equal quantity of the powder of alabaster mixed
with the dry powder generally directed to be used
after the Composition is laid on, in order to render
the surface harder, and of course better able to re-
sist the bad effects of the dripping of trees, of rain,
frost and snow : but this addition is by no means
necessary in the usual application to the sides of

- In consequence of this process, the vigour of
the roots will operate so powerfully in the course
of the succeeding Spring, that a considerable num-
ber of buds and branches will shoot forth round
the stump, which, with proper care and attention,
may be trained to many valuable purposes, either
straight- or crooked, for knee-timber or other uses:
and by retaining only so many of these shoots as
are designed to grow for any particular intention,
more than one half will be saved, in point of time,
according to the proportions of common growth :
for, if a young tree, be planted in a soil equal in
quality to the site of the old stump, the shoot grow-
ing from the latter will, in eight or ten years, attain
to a size which the single plant will hardly acquire
in twice that period. There are also many useful
purposes of husbandry, as hop-poles, and other poles

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used on various occasions for which a number of
shoots may be trained from one stump, whose
fertile juices will shortly rear a healthy and nume-
rous offspring around it Very particular atten-
tion, however, should be paid to regulate their
number, according to the size and vigour of the
stump. It would certainly be proper to leave
more of them at first than are intended to be re-
served for final use, in order to draw up the sap :
if too few are left, they will be liable to burst, from
the superabundant flow of the juices from the old
stock: to prevent which inconvenience, they
should be cut away by degrees, always applying
the Composition as they are cut, and leaving the
finest stem to produce the new tree, which will in
time cover the old stump, and leave nothing but a
faint kind of cicatrix at the junction of the old
and new part of the tree.

It is needless for me to insist on the great ad-
vantage which land-proprietors and farmers will
derive from this method of managing their woods
and coppice-grounds, wherever they may be. In
many counties of England, coppice or underwood
is an article in very great demand for charcoal,
common fuel, or the purposes of particular manu-
factories, as well as to furnish a variety of articles
for husbandry and domestic convenience.

It would be equally unnecessary to enlarge on
what must be so evident to the most ordinary
understanding, the great national advantage which

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may be derived from the use of this Composition,
by preserving and increasing the native supplies of
our country for the support of that navy which is
to protect it Nor need I urge to the man of
taste, and the lover of landscape beauty, what
useful help it may afford to the delightful modern
art of ornamental horticulture.

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No. I.

Land Revenue Office, April 17, 1789.


Being informed that you have disco-
vered a method of curing defects in growing trees
of all ages, which may have sustained damage from
any cause whatever, .we wish to be favoured by you
with an answer to the following questions, relative
to injuries done to the bark of Oak trees, and the
means of preventing defects in the timber arising
from that cause j viz.

1. Supposing a piece of bark of five or six inches
square to be cut from the side of an Oak tree of
any size, from twenty feet to one load or more,
so as to lay the wood bare, and that letters or
figures were burnt, or stamped with sharp instru-
ments, into solid wood, where the bark was so
taken off, and the tree left in that state so long as

f f 2

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it should continue standing; what effect do you
think would be produced by such process upon the
body of the tree ; whether it would continue to
grow, and increase in size in the part from which
the bark was taken ; or whether any, and what de-
triment would ensure from it to the timber, if no
means were used to prevent it j and whether such
detriment, if any, would extend further than the
limits of the part deprived of its bark ?

2. If you should be of opinion th&t Oak trees
would sustain any material detriment, or become
in any degree defective^ from the cause above
stated ; do you know any means by which such de-
triment may be effectually prevented, in trees which
have remained in that state from four, five, or six
months to a year ; so as to restore the bark, and
prevent the trees from becoming defective, and
unfit for the use of the navy ?

3. If you should be able to suggest a complete
remedy for such defects, and if the remedy would
be effected by means peculiar to yourself, and un-
known to others ; we wish to know if you would
be willing to undertake to apply it, or superintend
or direct the application of it by persons properly
instructed by yourself, to any number of trees that
might require it in any of the royal forests?

4. In case there should be occasion to apply
iwich a remedy to a very considerable number of
trees in the state above described, we wish to know,
as nearly as possible, what expence the application
would be attended with, by the hundred, or thou*

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sand! or any given number of trees, including la T
bour, material, and every incidental expeace.

We shall be glad to receive an answer to these
inquiries with all convenient speed : and are,


Your most obedient Servants,

John Call,
John Fordyce.
Mr. Forsyth.

No. II.

To the Honourable the Commissioners of the Land Revenue.

Royal Gardens t Kensington, April 84> H89.

Honoured Sirs,

To the letter you have been pleased
to honour me with, I beg in general to say, that,
from many years' attention to fruit and forest trees,
I have observed every wound, bruise, or injury j
even the wanton cutting of the initials of a name
on the bark of a tree has been attended with mis-

ff 3

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chief, and often brought on the destruction of the
tree, especially if old. In particular I beg to say,
that if a tree be young, Nature will exert herself
to recover from the injury ; but, if the tree be old,
it will cease to grow about the injured part, will
not increase in size, the wound will daily increase,
and in time destroy all the timber of the tree.

In answer to the second question, I beg to say,
that Oak trees are equally liable to decay and de-
triment, as all other trees, though their decay will
be proportionably slow, as they are less porous than
many other trees of our island ; though I should
add, that after Oak trees are so far decayed as to
hold water, their decay is as rapid as most other
trees. In answer to the question, " Do you know
any means by Which such detriment may be effec-
tually prevented ?" I beg to say, that after many
years* close application, and strictly critical observ-
ation, I am fully convinced, -**iat upon the excision
of the decayed part, and thf Application of a Com-
position, it is possible to heal any wounded tree, and
even to restore it to its former health, if there be
only an inch or two of bark remaining, to carry on
the circulation of the vegetable economy. This is
no theory, but is demonstrated by a great variety
of experiments on fruit and forest trees in His
Majesty's Gardens at Kensington, now under my
care; and which trees, upon examination, have
convinced all those who viewed them, of the prac-
ticability of producing the finest, cleanest, . and
most prolific branches from stumps in a state of

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decay: and with confidence I can assert, that I
have succeeded so well with Hia Majesty's fruit
trees, that by cutting out the diseased and dead
wood, the trees have produced more and finer fruit
in two and three years, than a tree newly planted
will in thirteen or fourteen years ; and this advan-
tageous circumstance is equally visible in the expe-
riments I have made on Elms, where nothing
remained but the bark. The Oak, from experience,
I find equally as curable as any other tree ; the
bark may be restored, and the trees rendered as fit
for the navy, as though they never had been

In answer to the third question, I say that I am
able to " suggest a complete remedy for the de-
fects} 99 and that remedy I suppose to be known
only to myself^ as it is not a secret drawn from
books, or learned from men, but the effect of close
application, and repeated experiments. As to un-
dertaking the application of the remedy, I must
request you will have the goodness to permit me to
say, that as a servant of His Majesty, I do not
think myself at liberty to form any engagement
that must inevitably call me for a time from His
Majesty's service in his Royal Gardens at Kensing-
ton ; but should His Majesty be graciously pleased
to think my services would be productive of a na-
tional good, and will condescend to permit me to
be absent, I shall with the greatest pleasure and
alacrity engage in the undertaking.

f f 4

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I beg permission to lay before your' Honourable
Board several specimens of parts of trees which
have been injured in a manner similar to those you
have alluded to ; others which have been healed
bf the method I have before mentioned. But the
most effectual means of demonstrating the utility
at this application, is the many fruit and forest
trees now growing in His Majesty** Royal Gardens
at Kensington, winch I shall be happy to show

Your Honourable Board, considering the short-
ness of time, will, I trust, make every allowance
for any inaccuracy in this answer to the letter you
favoured me with, and permit me to subscribe

With the greatest respect,

Your most obedient,
Humble Servant,

William Forsytb.

To the Honourable the

Commissioners of tlue Land Revenue.

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Land Revenue Office, April 25, 1789.


We have received your letter of
yesterday's date, which contains a very clear and
satisfactory answer to our enquiries respecting the
effects of injuries done to the bark of Oak trees,
and the means of preventing damage to the timber
from that causf ; and the specimens sent with your
letter afford the most convincing proofs both of the
destructive consequences arising from even slight
injuries to the bark, when no means are used to
prevent them, and of the efficacy of your discovery
for preventing and curing defects in timber pro-
ceeding from that source : but we observe that you
have not given an answer to our enquiry as to the
expence which the application of the remedy you
have discovered would be attended with, by the
hundred, or thousand, or any given number of
trees, in case there should be occasion to apply it
to a very considerable number. We therefore re-
peat our request, that you will be so good as to in-
form us, as nearly as you can, whereabouts would
be the expence of such application, including la-
bour, materials, and all incidental charges ; but ex-
clusive of any reward to yourself for disclosing the

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Composition for the benefit of the public, which
we conceive should be given separately.

We are. Sir,

Your most obedient Servants,

John Call,
John Fordyce.

Mr. William Forsyth.

No. III.

To the Honourable the Commissioners of the Land Revenue.
Royal Gardens, Kensington , April 28, 1789.

Honoured Sirs,

I presume I need not again assign
the reason why I omitted in my former letter men-
tioning the expence which will be incurred by cut-
ting out the injured parts of the trees, and the ap-
plication of my Composition. I have endeavoured
to think of every probable charge that will accrue ;
and, upon an accurate calculation, I am convinced

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it will not exceed sixpence per tree. It may not
be improper here to observe, that this calculation
includes the labour of the men for the operation,
the Composition, and the application of it; and
also an after review, that the healing of the trees
is going on well ; but I should also observe, that in
this expence I have not put down any thing for
myself, leaving that wholly and altogether to your
further consideration.

I am, honoured Sirs,
With great respect,

Your most obedient,
Humble Servant,

William Forsyth.

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No. IV.

July 24, 1789.


That an humble Address be pre-
sented to His Majesty, that he will be graciously
pleased to give directions for making such en-
quiries as shall be thought necessary for the pur-
pose of ascertaining the efficacy of a remedy
invented by William Forsyth, for curing defects in
trees, arising from injuries in the bark j and in case
the same shall appear likely to be of public utility,
to order such recompence to be made to the same
William Forsyth, on the disclosure thereof, as His
Majesty shall judge proper; and to assure His
Majesty this House will make good the same.

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No. V.

Land Revenue Office* Scotland- Yard >
Dec 11, 179a

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Having represented to the Lords
Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, that in
pursuance of their Lordships 9 desire, we had writ-
ten to the several noblemen and gentlemen men-
tioned in the list, of which a copy was sent to
each of you, requesting to know whether they
would hav6 the goodness to make the necessary ex-
aminations and enquiries, to ascertain the effect of
the experiments made by Mr. Forsyth, of the
Composition discovered by him for curing defects
in trees j and that twelve of those noblemen and
gentlemen, hereunder named, and to whom this
letter is addressed, had signified their willingness
to assist in the proposed examination : we have now
the honour to inform you, that their Lordships have
been pleased to signify to us, that they approve of
the examination being made by those noblemen and

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gentlemen, or any seven or more of them ; and
to request that yon will be pleased to take sad*
steps as you shall think necessary for ascertaining
the efficacy of the said Composition for curing in-
juries and defects in trees, and to address the
result of your examination to the Lords of the

Among the uses to which the Composition in
question is said to be applicable, that which ap-
pears to us more immediately connected with the
objects referred by Parliament to our consideration
is, the cure of injuries and defects in forest trees,
especially the Oak : and we beg leave particularly
to recommend it to you to examine.

Whether the Composition appears to be efficacious
for the purpose of restoring the bark of an Oak
tree which has been either cut or accidentally torn
off, so as to prevent such injuries or defects in the
timber, as are commonly found to proceed from
that cause.

* And whether the application of the Composition
to the parts of forest trees where limbs or branches
have been cut or torn ofl£ appears to be efficacious
for the preventing or curing injuries and defects in

Online LibraryWilliam ForsythA treatise on the culture and management of fruit trees ... To which is added, a new and improved edition of Observations on the diseases, defects and injuries of all kinds of fruit and forest trees .. → online text (page 26 of 29)