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historical account of the forest lands of Maine, and to make a remark or two upon the timber trade of the United States generally:
Whoever is familiar with the narratives of the early voyagers to New England, will not need to be reminded of their glowing descriptions of the forests which everywhere encompassed their steps in this country. Gosnold was the first Englishman who came directly across the ocean to New England, and in the several records of his adventures on our
stern and rock-bound coast,” where “ the woods against a stormy sky, Their giant branches tossed,” we are struck with the apt and pithy words that are used to express his admiration of the hills and meadows hedged round with stately groves. Thus, the country is full of goodly
" woods,” say Archer and Brereton, in their accounts of Gosnold's voyage ; while in the tracts appended to Brereton, it is declared, that the trees will afford" tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine, and soap-ashes, and will make masts for the greatest ships of the world,” and “excellent timber of cedar, and boards for curious building.” So, too, says
, " the chronicler, there are kinds of wood fit “ to be turned into small boxes for ladies and gentlemen.” Waymouth, who came to New England in 1605, three years after Gosnold, saw “trees very great and tall," and the fir, “out of which issueth turpentine in so marvellous plenty, and so sweet, as our chirurgeon and others affirmed they never saw so good in England.” Smith, the father of Virginia, , who followed nine years after Waymouth, declares, that between Penobscot and Cape Cod, there were “ more than two hundred isles, overgrown with good timber of divers sorts of wood;" that from Penobscot to Sagadahock,* were mountains and huge rocks covered with all sorts of excellent
continent; but the peculiarities of the articles of trade and of the occupations which they denote are so marked, and the use of them is now so general here, that it would be a proof of affectation and folly, and an injury to the perspicuity of discourse, scrupulously to avoid and reject them. The 66 forester woodman" of England is a very different person from the “ lumberer” of Maine, and the latter ought, therefore, to possess a distinctive title, “ Timber" is here applied only to the trunks of trees, and the beams and large joists which are formed from them; while “ lumber” is the generic term, including not only all the kinds of timber, but the boards, shingles, clapboards, and other articles of trade manufactured from it.
* The Kennebec.
materials for building houses, boats, barques or ships," and immense trees to make "pitch, tar, masts, and yards,” and « such beasts to hunt, that besides the delicacy of their bodies for food, their skins are so rich as may well recompense thy daily labor with a captain's pay."
The opinions of Christopher Levett, who built for himself a habitation in Maine in 1623 or 1624, who had been the king's wood-ward or forest officer for Somersetshire, and who, of course, looked upon the trees of “ Aquamenticus,” "Cape Porpas,” and “ Cape Manwagan,” with a profes
” sional eye, are entitled to more consideration than those of any person who had preceded him in visiting the New World. We learn, that he landed at the Isles of Shoals, where and at the moment of his arrival — he almost contemptuously remarks, that he did not “ see one good timber tree.” Proceeding easterly, it seems that his ideas of the country were formed with surprising accuracy, when it is considered, that he could not have penetrated far into the unbroken wilderness, but must have confined his explorations, principally, to the sea-coasts and the shores of the rivers. I dare be bold to say,” he reports to Buckingham, Surrey, and the other noblemen under whose commission he acted, “there may be ships as convenient there as in any place in the world, where I have been, and better cheap. As for crooked timber, and all other sorts whatsoever can be desired for such purpose, the world cannot afford better. Masts and yards of all sizes, there be also trees growing, whereof pitch, and tar is made ;” and again, that "there is also much excellent timber for joiners and coopers ; howsoever a worthy nobléman hath been abused, who sent over some to make pipe-staves ; who, either for want of skill or industry, did no good. Yet I dare say no place in England can afford better timber for pipe-staves, than four several places which I have seen in that country.'
Levett's general views of Maine, to which part of the country his observations in America were entirely confined, are, in the main, so accurate, that we cannot forbear annexing them to the quotations already made. They occur in his “ Directions for all private persons that intend to go into New England to plant.”
" That is a country,” he quaintly says, " where pone can live except he either labor himself, or be able to keep others to
labor for him. If a man have a wife and many small children, not to come there, except for every three loiterers, he have one worker; which if he have, he may make a shift to live, and not starve. If a man have but as many good laborers as loiterers, he shall live much better there than in any place I know. If all be laborers, and no children, then let him not fear, but to do more good there in seven years than in England in twenty. Let as many plant (settle) together as may be, for you will find that very comfortable, profitable, and secure.”
To the settlers who are now wending their way to the Aroostook, part of this compendious advice will be as useful 'as was the whole to those to whom it was addressed, more than two centuries ago. The territory of Maine has not had a good name ; but surely, that cannot be a bad soil from which to obtain subsistence, that will allow of one “ loiterer
66 laborer" ; and we may tell such as persist in their reproachful talk, as Levett told the cavillers of his day, “ let wisdom judge ; for my desire is, that the saddle may be set on the right horse, and the ass be rid, and the knave punished either for discouraging or encouraging too much, whosoever he be.” Her “coast be rocky, and thus affrightable,” said Smith ; “ but there is no kingdom," he justly added, " so fertile that hath not some part barren.”
The forests which drew forth the high praises that are here quoted, have been the source of much dispute and litigation. Though the questions of grants and titles occupy hundreds of pages of documentary history and court records, we shall endeavour to convey to our readers, in a short space, some of their most important results and conclusions. Of the immense domains, embracing almost the half of our continent, which, in 1620, King James conferred upon those gentlemen of his court who, in popular language, are known as the “ Council of Plymouth,” Maine formed a part. Among the most distinguished members of this Council was Sir Ferdinando Gorges ; to whom, and to John Mason, the Council, two years after the date of their own patent, conveyed all the lands and “ fishings " between the rivers Merrimack and Sagadahoc. Subsequently, and rapidly, other grants covered the same soil, and angry and endless contentions followed. But Gorges, bent on leaving his name in our annals, obtained of Charles the First a grant for himself, individually, of the territory be
tween the Piscataqua and Sagadahock, and thence from the sea one hundred and twenty miles northward.
These were the ancient limits of the “ Province of Maine.” Having now a sort of double title, Gorges might reasonably hope, that his rights were perfect, and that he might pursue his plans without interruption. But Massachusetts, on the one hand, insisted that her boundaries were narrowed by the grants to Mason and himself ; while the Council, on the other, with inexcusable carelessness or dishonesty, continued to alienate the very soil which he held both from themselves and their common naster. Thus he was harassed his life long, and went to his grave old and worn out with perplexities and the political sufferings and losses of a most troubled period. He was a soldier, and the tried friend of the Stuarts in their times of need — of which their reigns were full — and was plundered and imprisoned in their wars.
He set his hopes of princely power and fortune on enterprises for the colonization of America, and as “Lord Palatine” of Maine, wasted many of his best years and a vast sum in endeavours for its settlement ; but not one of his purposes was accomplished either for himself or his lineage. After his death, his son deemed his possessions in Maine of little or no worth, and took no pains to retain them, or to carry out his designs; and his grandson, to whom his right descended, gave to Massachusetts a full assignment and release for the insignificant consideration of twelve hundred and fifty pounds sterling ; a sum less than one sixteenth of the amount which had been actually expended.
By the purchase from Ferdinando Gorges the younger, Massachusetts acquired only a part of Maine, as now constituted. France made pretensions to all the part lying east of the Penobscot, and the Duke of York to the part between the Penobscot and the Kennebec ; nor was it until the reign of William and Mary, that disputes about boundaries were merged, and the St. Croix and Piscataqua became the acknowledged charter frontiers.
As already observed, the Council of Plymouth had trespassed upon the rights of Gorges, their own oldest grantee ; and to ascertain and quiet the pretensions of the subsequent grantees, their heirs, and the claimants under then, was a task which Massachusetts could not shun, but which
No. 123. 38
she could hardly perform. Ruinous suits ensued, and titles to persons in possession, adverse to the claims of Massachusetts, were at length established for about two millions of acres. The principal grants thus held to be valid in themselves, or to which claims were relinquished, were as follows ; * That to Richard Vines and Thomas Oldham, of a tract on the west side of the Saco, from the sea eight miles up the river, and four miles wide ; † that of a tract of similar extent to Thomas Lewis and another person, on the east side of the same river ; # that to Thomas Cammock, of five thousand acres at Black Point ; § that to John Dy, John Smith, and others, of a tract running from Cape Porpoise forty miles east, and forty miles into the country ; || that to the Plymouth Pilgrims, of fifteen miles on both sides of the Kennebec, without definite limits north and south ; that to Beauchamp and Leverett, of about thirty miles square on the west side of Penobscot River and Bay ; and that to Robert Alsworth and Giles Elbridge, of twelve thousand acres, and a hundred acres additional to each of the settlers whom they procured, at and in the vicinity of " ancient Pemaquid." tt
Besides the soil held under the Council's grants, the title to more than half a million of acres rests on Indian deeds. Of these titles, the oldest is that to Humphrey Chadbourne, of a considerable part of South Berwick, and that to one Boughton, of a part of Kittery. Of another part of the last named town, there was also a later conveyance to Thomas Spencer. On the Saco, two tracts depended on native covenants with Walter Philips, and four miles square within the limits of Lyman were alienated to Bush and Tarbell.
* It should be remarked, that in the grants here named, embracing, by a tolerably accurate calculation, 1,965,000 acres, some Indian titles which bordered on, or were intermixed with, those granted by the Council are. in. cluded; as are some others, that were given to claimants to make up ascertained or allowed deficiencies in these grants. + Biddeford.
§. In Scarborough. || The “ Province of Lygonia.” This grant is in the towns of Falmouth, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunk-Port, and the city of Portland.
1 It was finally determined that Topsham and Woolwich should be regarded as south of the south line, and what are now Anson and Madison should be considered north of the north line.
** The “Waldo Patent." This tract passed into the hands of General Waldo, and a considerable part of it descended to General Knox, whose wife was the granddaughter of Waldo.
tt Parts of Bristol, Newcastle, and Nobleborough.