Sunday, December 20, 2009


The Woods of Bachycraigh

R.W. Ketton-Cremer, "Johnson and the Countryside," in Johnson, Boswell and Their Circle: Essays Presented to Lawrence Fitzroy Powell in Honour of His Eighty-Fourth Birthday (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), pp. 65-75 (at 68):
While aware of the economic facts of forestry, he was opposed to ruthless felling—to the treatment of woodlands as an expendable asset. During his tour of Wales with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale in 1774, they visited the home of her ancestors at Bach-y-Graig; and when, a few years later, Thrale wanted to cut down the woods that surrounded the house, he helped her to resist. 'I never disputed with my Husband in my Life,' she wrote later, 'but to save my Wood in Wales from being cut down as Mr. Thrale apparently intended to do: after about a Week's Intreaties, Tears, and Sullens on my part, he promised me their Lives.' She mentioned Johnson's assistance in this matter more than once;3 and he long recalled these woods with pleasure. 'Boswell ... wants to see Wales,' he wrote in 1777, 'but except the woods of Bachycraigh, what is there in Wales?'4 Thrale had his way in the end, and the woods were sold for £4,000. It is unlikely that he replanted them.

3 Thraliana, i. 222, 424; Life, v. 586-7. 4 Letters, no. 545.
Related posts: Papadendrion; Papadendrion Again; A Bewilderment of Birds; Ancient Protests Against Deforestation; Illustrations of Erysichthon; Prayer and Sacrifice to Accompany Tree Cutting; A Spirit Protects the Trees; St. Martin and the Pine Tree; The Geismar Oak; Bregalad's Lament; Petition of a Poplar; Cactus Ed and Arboricide; Views from the Center of Highgate Wood; Artaxerxes and Arboricide; When the Last Tree Falls; The Hamadryads of George Lane; Sorbs and Medlars; So Foul a Deed; Like Another Erysichthon; The Fate of Old Trees; Scandalous Misuse of the Globe; The Groves Are Down; Massacre; Executioners; Anagyrasian Spirit; Butchers of Our Poor Trees; Cruel Axes; Odi et Amo; Kentucky Chainsaw Massacre; Hornbeams; Protection of Sacred Groves; Lex Luci Spoletina; Turullius and the Grove of Asclepius; Caesarian Section; Death of a Noble Pine; Two Yew Trees in Chilthorne, Somerset; The Fate of the Shrubbery at Weston; The Trees Are Down; Hornbeams; Sad Ravages in the Woods; Strokes of Havoc; Maltreatment of Trees; Arboricide; An Impious Lumberjack; Erysichthon in Ovid; Erysichthon in Callimachus; Vandalism.

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