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SOME years ago Mr. EDWARD CHALONER put forward a Pamphlet, on the subject of the preparation of Mahogany for shipment to this country. This met with such a favourable reception, that two editions were soon expended ; and many Friends enquiring for such information, it became desirable to reprint it. In so doing, the idea has naturally suggested itself, that it might be made much more interesting, if accompanied with a short sketch of the various places producing the Mahogany Tree, more especially at the present time, when the concentrated attention of the world is turned towards the marvellous development of California, and the Countries bordering the Pacific Ocean; causing the reproduction of various schemes which are now being acted upon to obtain ready access to them by crossing the Central Isthmus of America ; and this happens to be precisely the zone in which the Mahogany tree, and other fine and hard woods, exist in great abundance.
From a growing conviction that the period is not remote when the trade in the Tropical Woods of America with this country may be greatly extended, more especially in that of Mahogany, which, in respect of quality, durability, dimensions, and beauty, greatly exceeds that of all others known to us, we are persuaded the next move of consequence will be directed to that quarter of the world, and that such a trade eventually may be made to approximate in value to that of the Colonial Fir Timber itself, which, comparatively speaking, is but of recent date, and in its origin was promoted by the earlier importers receiving a bounty at the expense of the community, in order to enable them to compete with the Fir trade of the Baltic, which latter continues to this day oppressed with heavy import duties, greatly to the detriment of national interests. Time was, only a few years since, when not more than two or three small cargoes of Firs were imported into Liverpool from America in a year, but its consumption now needs almost such an importation daily. Until the year 1845, Mahogany, although by far the greater portion of it came from British Settlements, did not meet with equality of treatment. It never seemed to have entered the minds of our Statesmen, or even of the Public generally, that it might compete with the Woods of North America or the Baltic in any other manner than as a luxury. Mahogany was loaded with duties, so that by these means it had not a chance of being consumed as a raw material, eoncurrently with the Timber of North America.
However the views of our legislators have become more rational by the alterations of the Tariff which now admits Mahogany free of all duty; an intercourse is encouraged between our possessions and the Countries on the Continent of Central America, in which that and other woods are obtainable in exchange for British Manufactures ; and we are sanguine that, before long, the trade in the plainer, though finer sized Mahogany, will bear a comparison with that of the Firs of Europe at least, and that too forced on by a just appreciation of the qualities of Mahogany, daily more and more proved to be susceptible of infinite application for all the purposes of Furniture and Structures, as well as its great advantages in the important art of Shipbuilding
With a view to elucidate that part of the present subject which relates to the countries in which Mahogany is found, we have availed ourselves of the assistance of our esteemed friend Mr. GEORGE O'GORMAN who was a resident for upwards of sixteen years in various parts of Mexico, and who acted as Secretary to the Association of the Honduras Merchants, and his services in that capacity were duly appreciated in his advocacy of the extension of the use of Mahogany, and more particularly for its unrestricted employment in Ship-building ; it is, therefore, a pleasure to express our acknowlegements to him, and, also to our friend, Mr. ROBERT DALE, whose valuable assistance was constantly given to the Honduras Committee for the promotion of the interests of the Mahogany trade, and for the accumulation and arrangement of the materials, now condensed by these gentlemen, from every available source of information which has been deemed worthy of notice.
The present enquiry has given occasion to consult the Official Blue Books on the British Colonies, Mosquitia, and the States of Central America, (compiled by Mr. Mac Gregor, M. P., for Glasgow); the narratives of Cortez, and the Voyages of the early Discoverers, both Spanish and English; the Essays of Humboldt, Chevalier, Stephens, Squier ; the Surveys of Baily, Moro, Garella, Lloyd, Hopkins, and other writers upon the projected communications referred to in Rockwell's Report to the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth Congress of the United States. Search has been made into the modern accounts of these countries for facts connected with the the present subjects; so that in view of such an accumulation of evidence, the public may rest satisfied that it is not upon any speculative opinions of our own, we have considered it highly important in a national point of view, to call the special attention of the Shipping Interests, as well as of every other concerned in the Fine Wood Timber Trade, to the immense advantages to be derived from cultivating more extended and intimate commercial relations with the countries noticed in the following pages.