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Confident of the success of his plan, he throws down the gauntlet, and challenges all the shipwrights in the kingdom to take it upand take it up some of them must. It is not enough to say that Mr. Pering knows little of the matter, and that he had better mind his own concerns than officiously step forward on subjects foreign to his department: such answers as these we have already heard; but such will not satisfy the public.
Mr. Money's pamphlet will not detain us long; it contains but 73 pages, 39 of which are employed in endeavouring to convince his readers that the scarcity of oak timber for ship-building is not an imaginary but a real evil of alarming extent; and that it is of a permanent nature.' For this purpose he refers to the report of the committee of the House of Commons appointed in 1771 to inquire into the state of oak timber in the country, and censures them for moving the House to discharge that part of the order which required them to give an opinion:-he quotes a letter from Mr. Nichols, purveyor of the navy for Portsmouth yard, written in 1791 to Lord Chatham then first Lord of the Admiralty, noticing the great decrease of large timber in the kingdom; and lastly, he skims over the volume of evidence' contained in the 11th Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state and condition of the woods, forests and land revenues of the crown, which was laid before Parliament in 1792.
After thus establishing the fact of the disease, he proceeds to suggest the remedy-a partial one it is true, but effectual as far as it goes-it is to avail ourselves of the resources which India affords for building ships of teak wood at Bombay. Two additional docks have recently been constructed there, one for the purpose of building, and the other for that of repairing, the largest men of war which it will ever be necessary to send into the Indian seas.
'These docks, executed by Captain Cowper of the Engineers, in one of which the Minden 74 has been built, are now finished, and for the beauty of their form and proportions, the durability of the materials with which they are constructed, and the perfection of the work, are allowed by all competent judges to constitute a chef d'œuvre in architecture, unrivalled by any similar works in the British dominions.'
The two dock-yards of Bombay can build, at the same time, two ships of the line, two frigates, and a large and small Indiaman, The builder, Jansetjee Bomanjee, a native Parsee, has proved himself, in the construction of the Salsette and the Minden, a man of real ability, and fully competent to the duties of his situation. His son Nowrojee, and several young men of the different branches of his family, assist him in the important performance of the concern committed to his charge; and he employs about a thousand native workmen, whose numbers may be increased at pleasure. The
teak forests are in the ghauts of the interior, both to the northward and southward of Bombay, but chiefly in the latter direction. The late Lord Melville, whose ruling passion was the interests and concerns of the British navy, had much at heart an organized plan for making India subservient to a regular supply of line-of-battle ships and frigates; and he intended to avail himself of the means which Calcutta and the Prince of Wales's island might afford, as well as those of Bombay. But the timber which was to be imported from Ava and Pegu to the last mentioned places, was found inferior to that on the western side of India, while the supply of it was always precarious from the fickle and wavering politics of the sovereigns of those countries. Lord Wellesley therefore, in consequence of a communication from Lord Melville, caused the teak forests of western India to be examined. Measures were adopted for procuring a regular supply from them; and other woodlands have since been purchased by the East India Company; so that, in addition to all the demands of the Company, an ample supply may now be drawn from the provinces of Canara and Malabar alone, besides Compas timber from the country between Bombay and Surat, equal to the building of two sail of the line and four frigates annually. Mr. Money seems to think that, by the judicious regulations adopted for preventing the felling of young trees, and securing the replantation of the naked tracts, these provinces will, in a few years, yield inexhaustible resources for the dock-yard.
The quality of teak is in every respect preferable to that of oak for ship-building. The alternate exposure to a vertical sun, and to the drenching rain of the wet monsoon, which would rend in pieces European oak, produces no injurious effects upon teak. Many of the upright timbers for securing the stays in the old docks at Bombay have stood more than forty years without paint or tar, and are still as perfect as when erected.
A piece of teak was taken out of a gate of one of Tippoo's forts in Canara, which had been exposed to every change of weather for more than half a century, and when brought to Bombay was ascertained to be unimpaired, with nails, which had secured it, quite free from corrosion or rust, and as sound as when first driven.'
The Turkish flag ship at Bussorah was built by Nadir Shah more than 70 years ago; she was lately in dock at Bombay, when all her timbers were ascertained to be perfectly sound. The Hercules of 485 tons was built at Bombay in 1763, and constantly employed till 1805, when she was captured by the French sound as new. The Milford of 679 tons, after constant employment to China and Europe for 24 years, was then examined; but it was not found necessary to shift a single timber, and the whole of her re
pairs did not amount to a thousand pounds. Her teak mainmast continued in her twenty-one years, when, being partially sprung, it was converted into a nainmast for a smaller vessel.
Teak possesses the property of preserving iron; oak that of destroying it. The oil which teak contains preserves the iron and destroys the worm; while the gallic acid of the oak corrodes the iron, and appears to be particularly grateful to the taste of the worm nor has it come to our knowledge that the dry-rot was ever met with in teak. A piece of teak plank, which had been bolted to the side of the Chiffonne frigate, was removed at the end of eight years; that part of the iron bolt which was buried in the teak, was perfectly good, whereas that which had been in the oak was totally corroded. The Sceptre of 74 guns had nearly foundered at sea before she was five years old, from a hole about seven inches square in the bottom plank, close to the hooden ends, eaten by the worms; which, in many other places where the copper was worn off, had nearly perforated the bottom, and destroyed the gripe. The preference therefore of teak to oak in the two important points of preserving iron, and resisting the worm, seems to be fully established: but a prejudice still existed against teak in this country from its supposed heaviness. Mr. Money however tells us he has ascertained, by many experiments, that the teak of Malabar weighs one quarter less than oak, while that from the northward of Bombay is pretty nearly of the same weight. But we have an instance in point: the Minden was built from the same draft as the Culloden, and her tonnage is the same. When stored and victualled, the draught of water was found not to differ an inch, and the Minden carries her ports higher than the Culloden.
Another objection against teak was its particular disposition to splinter. This too seems an erroneous idea. Mr. Money produces a letter from General Abercrombie, who commanded the expedition against the Isle of France, in which he says, I can now vouch that the effect of shot upon teak is far less dangerous than upon oak. On board the Ceylon there were very few men wounded by splinters.'
We pass over Mr. Money's calculation of savings to the public by building at Bombay, which upon twenty sail of the line and fifty frigates, for fifty years, exclusive of the expense of repairs of oak ships, which those of teak would not require, he makes to amount to £9,310,000, well knowing how fallacious such calculations are, and how rarely such savings are realized. His data, in fact, are erroneous. A ship of the line does not cost so much as £36 per ton in England, nor has a ship of the line been built at Bombay for so little as £30 per ton. The cost of building a 74 gun ship in England is about £33. 10s. We understand that the
cost of the Minden will probably amount to £35 per ton; and as she measures about 1650 tons, the whole cost will exceed that which a ship of the same tonnage would have been launched for here by £2475. The Salsette frigate, of 36 guns and 960 tons, cost about £27,000 or somewhat more than £28 per ton. The same frigate built in England, of oak, would have cost, at the present price, £23,520, which is at the rate of £24 10s. per ton. These ships however were built wholly under the direction of the Company's government; and we all know the magnificent stile in which every thing is performed under their auspices-sloops of war and gun brigs may be built, we understand, for little more than the expense of labour, as the timber suitable for such purposes is considered almost as useless.
We see no great objection to the building of king's and company's ships in India, from any injury which the ship-wrights in the king's yards or the ship-builders on the banks of the Thames are likely to sustain. Nor do we agree with Mr. Money as to the 'substantial objection' to an importation of teak into England, for the purpose of building at home, on account of the freight. A certain quantity of converted timber might be imported as ballast, in ships with light cargoes from Bombay. Every line-of-battle ship will carry the duplicate of her frame in her hold; and we understand that the Admiralty, in giving directions for the building of the Cornwallis, a 74 gun ship now on the stocks at Bombay, have ordered the timbers of another ship of the same lines and dimensions to be prepared at the same time, and to be brought home in her hold and set up in England.
We have now done with Mr. Money; but before we take leave of this important subject, and a more important one cannot possibly be brought under consideration, we shall avail ourselves of this opportunity to hazard a few ideas which we have long entertained, and which the perusal of the two pamphlets has brought afresh to our recollection.
A great commercial and manufacturing country like England, laying the whole world under contribution for necessaries, as well as luxuries, looks to its own soil the last of all others for a supply of its partial wants: while so large a portion of its capital is employed on foreign commerce, the extent of its home resources is never known; it is necessity only which calls forth its productive powers. We have been so long in the habit of drawing almost every material of which the navy is constituted, with the exception of oak and iron, from foreign nations, that we are apt to consider every temporary interruption of the usual channels of supply as an irremediable calamity, and it is not till after some time lost in lamentation and despondency, that the discovery is
made of ample resources within our own reach. however ceases with the cause, and we again lapse into ease and dependence. It has been ascertained beyond the possibility of doubt, in the first place by a committee of the House of Commons, in 1771, subsequently by the commissioners of land revenue in 1792, and still more recently by the indefatigable exertions of the late Mr. Fordyce, that the woodlands in general of Great Britain, but plantations of oak in particular, have diminished in proportion as the population and prosperity of the country have augmented. The soil which the oak affects, is that best adapted for wheat; oak moreover is, of all woods, the longest in coming to its full growth. Individuals therefore have not much inducement to plant oaks; whilst, from the high price of bark, which has been nearly quadrupled within the last fifteen years, and the demand for oak paling, &c. great temptations are held out for cutting the trees whilst young. Whether for ornament or profit, trees of a quicker growth than oak, generally compose the new plantations on private estates. Among these, it is true, some may be applied to naval purposes. The larch, in particular, is very little inferior, and in some respects preferable, to oak. It resists the attack of the worm, and does not corrode iron; while the turpentine which it contains is a preservative against the effects of the weather. It is found to thrive in the poorest soils, and in very elevated situations; and it arrives at perfection in fifty or sixty years.
It is to the crown lands that we must look with any degree of confidence for the future supply of naval timber. If 60,000 or 70,000 acres of the royal forests had been enclosed and planted, as recommended by the commissioners of land revenue in 1792, we should at this time have had a valuable nursery for future use. In the last session, however, bills were passed for the planting and enclosing of 1,600 acres in the forest of Alice Holt, and 2,000 acres in that of Woolmar. It is indeed more than time to look minutely into the state of our naval timber. The crisis is fast approaching when the scarcity will be felt in a most alarming degree. We believe, and our opinion is not formed on light grounds, that if we go on building ships of the line at the rate in which we have proceeded for the last six years, the whole of our native oak will be exhausted in less than twenty years. At this moment, scarcely any of that large and crooked timber required for first and second rates is to be found in the country: this, at one period, would have been considered as an evil beyond the reach of remedy. Necessity, however, has in this, as in similar cases, suggested expedients in the substitution of iron knees, and of large and crooked pieces of timber artificially put together by a mode called scarphing, and by other methods, invented and adopted by Mr. Seppings, the ingenious