Page images

those that feed in the valleys where no such herbs are. Thus far I am of opinion, that as steeped wines and beers are very medicinal; and likewise bread tempered with divers powders; so of meat also, as flesh, fish, milk, and eggs, that they may be made of great use for medicine and diet, if the beasts, fowl or fish, be fed with a special kind of food fit for the disease. It were a dangerous thing also for secret empoisonments. But whether it may be applied unto plants and herbs, I doubt more; because the nourishment of them is a more common juice; which is hardly capable of any special quality, until the plant do assimilate it.

500. But lest our incredulity may prejudice any profitable operations in this kind, especially since many of the ancients have set them down, we think good briefly to propound the four means which they have devised of making plants medicinable. The first is by slitting of the root, and infusing into it the medicine; as hellebore, opium, scammony, treacle, &c. and then binding it up again. This seemeth to me the least probable; because the root draweth immediately from the earth; and so the nourishment is the more common and less qualified; and besides, it is a long time in going up ere it come to the fruit. The second way is to perforate

the body of the tree, and there to infuse the medicine; which is somewhat better: for if any virtue be received from the medicine, it hath the less way, and the less time to go up. The third is, the steeping of the seed or kernel in some liquor wherein the medicine is infused; which I have little opinion of, because the seed, I doubt, will not draw the parts of the matter which have the propriety: but it will be far the more likely, if you mingle the medicine with dung: for that the seed naturally drawing the moisture of the dung, may call in withal some of the propriety. The fourth is, the watering of the plant oft with an infusion of the medicine. This, in one respect, may have more force than the rest, because the medication is oft renewed; whereas the rest are applied but one at a time; and therefore the virtue may the sooner vanish. But still I doubt, that the root is somewhat too stubborn to receive those fine impressions; and besides, as I said before, they have a great hill to go up. I judge therefore the likeliest way to be, the perforation of the body of the tree in several places one above the other; and the filling of the holes with dung mingled with the medicine; and the watering of those lumps of dung with squirts of an infusion of the medicine in dunged water, once in three or four days.


Experiments in consort touching curiosities about fruits and plants.

Our experiments we take care to be, as'we have often said, either experimenta fructifura, or lucifera; either of use or of discovery : for we hate impostures, and despise curiosities. Yet because we must apply ourselves somewhat to others, we will set down some curiosities touching plants.

501. It is a curiosity to have several fruits upon one tree; and the more, when some of them come early, and some come late; so that you may have upon the same tree ripe fruits all summer. This is easily done by grafting of several cions upon several boughs of a stock, in a good ground plentifully fed. So you may have all kinds of cherries, and all kinds of plums, and peaches and apricots, upon one tree; but I conceive the diversity of fruits must be such as will graft upon the same stock. And therefore I doubt, whether you can have apples, or pears, or oranges, upon the same stock upon which you graft plums.

502. It is a curiosity to have fruits of divers shapes and figures. This is easily performed, by molding them when the fruit is young, with molds of earth or wood. So you may have cucumbers, &c. as long as a cane; or as round as a sphere; or formed like a cross. You may have also apples in the form of pears or lemons. You may have also fruit in more accurate figures, as we said, of men, beasts, or birds, according as you make the molds.

Wherein you must understand, that you make the mold big enough to contain the whole fruit when it is grown to the greatest: for else you will choke the spreading of the fruit; which otherwise would spread itself, and fill the concave, and so be turned into the shape desired; as it is in mold works of liquid things. Some doubt may be conceived that the keeping of the sun from the fruit may hurt it: but there is ordinary experience of fruit that groweth covered. Query, also, whether some small holes may not be made in the wood to let in the sun. And note, that it were best to make the molds partible, glued, or cemented together, that you may open them when you take out the fruit.

503. It is a curiosity to have inscriptions, or engravings, in fruit or trees. This is easily performed, by writing with a needle, or bodkin, or knife, or the like, when the fruit or trees are young; for as they grow, so the letters will grow more large and graphical.

— Tenerisque mcos incidcre amores Arboribus; crescent illiB, crescctis amores.

504. You may have trees apparelled with flowers or herbs, by boring holes in the bodies of them, and putting into them earth holpen with muck, and setting seeds or slips of violets, strawberries, wild thyme, camomile, and such like, in the earth. Wherein they do but grow in the tree as they do in pots; though, perhaps, with some feeding from the trees. It would be tried also with shoots of vines, and rootsof red roses; for, it may be, they, being of a more ligneous nature, will incorporate with the tree itself.

505. It is an ordinary curiosity to form trees and shrubs, as rosemary, juniper, and the like, into sundry shapes; which is done by molding them within, and cutting them without. But they are but lame things, being too small to keep figure; great castles made of trees upon frames of timber, with turrets and arches, were matters of magnificence.

506. Amongst curiosities I shall place coloration, though it be somewhat better: for beauty in flowers is their pre-eminence. It is observed by some, that gilly-flowers, sweet-williams, violets, that are coloured, if they be neglected, and neither watered, nor new molded, nor transplanted, will turn white. And it is probable that the white with much culture may turn coloured. For this is certain, that the white colour cometh of scarcity of nourishment; except in flowers that are only white, and admit no other colours.

507. It is good therefore to see what natures do accompany what colours; fof by that you shall have light how to induce colours, by producing those natures. Whites are more inodorate, for the most part, than flowers of the same kind coloured; as is found in single white violets, white roses, white gilly-flowers, white stock-gilly-flowers, &c. We find also that blossoms of trees, that are white, are commonly inodorate, as cherries, pears, plums; whereas those of apples, crabs, almonds, and peaches, are Mushy, and smell sweet The cause is, for that the substance that maketh the flower is of the thinnest and finest of the plant, which also maketh flowers to be of so dainty colours. And if it be too sparing and thin, it attaineth no strength of odour, except it be in such plants as are very succulent; whereby they need rather to be scanted in their nourishment than replenished, to have them sweet. As we see in white satyrion, which is of a dainty smell; and in bean-flowers, &c. And again, if the plant be of nature to put forth white flowers only, and those not thin or dry, they are commonly of rank and fulsome wiell; as may-flowers, and white lilies.

508. Contrariwise, in berries the white is commonly more delicate and sweet in taste than the coloured, as we see in white grapes, in white rasps, in white strawberries, in white currants, &c. The cause is, for that the coloured are more juiced, and coarser juiced, and therefore not so well and equally concocted; but the white are better proportioned to the digestion of the plant.

509. But in fruits the white commonly is meaner: 58 in pear-plums, damascenes, &c. and the choicest plums are black; the mulberry, which, though they rail it a berry, is a fruit, is better the black than the *hite. The harvest white plum is a base plum; 2nd the verdoccio, and white date-plum, are no very good plums. The cause is, for that they are all over-watery; whereas a higher concoction is required for sweetness, or pleasure of taste; and therefore all your dainty plums are a little dry, and come from the stone; as the muscle-plum, the damasceneplum, the peach, the apricot, &c. yet some fruits,

which grow not to be black, are of the nature of berries, sweetest such as are paler; as the coeurcherry, which inclineth more to white, is sweeter than the red; but the egriot is more sour.

510. Take gilly-flower seed, of one kind of gillyflower, as of the clove-gilly-flower, which is the most common, and sow it, and there will come up gillyflowers, some of one colour, and some of another, casually, as the seed meeteth with nourishment in the earth; so that the gardeners find, that they may have two or three roots amongst a hundred that are rare and of great price; as purple, carnation of several stripes; the cause is, no doubt, that in earth, though it be contiguous, and in one bed, there are very several juices; and as the seed doth casually meet with them, so it cometh forth. And it is noted especially, that those which do come up purple, do always come up single: the juice as it seemeth, not being able to suffice a succulent colour, and a double leaf. This experiment of several colours coming up from one seed, would be tried also in larks-foot, monks-hood, poppy, and holyoak.

511. Few fruits are coloured red within: the queen-apple is; and another apple, called the roseapple: mulberries, likewise, and grapes, though most toward the skin. There is a peach also that hath a circle of red towards the stone: and the egriot cherry is somewhat red within; but no pear, nor warden, nor plum, nor apricot, although they have many times red sides, are coloured red within. The cause may be inquired.

512. The general colour of plants is green, which is a colour that no flower is of. There is a greenish primrose, but it is pale, and scarce a green. The leaves of some trees turn a little murry or reddish; and they be commonly young leaves that do so j as it is in oaks, and vines, and hazel. Leaves rot into a yellow, and some hollies have part of their leaves yellow, that are, to all seeming, as fresh and shining as the green. I suppose also, that yellow is a less succulent colour than green, and a degree nearer white. For it hath been noted, that those yellow leaves of holly stand ever towards the north or northeast Some roots are yellow, as carrots; and some plants blood-red, stalk and leaf, and all, as amaranthus. Some herbs incline to purple and red; as a kind of sage doth, and a kind of mint, and rosa solis, &c. And some have white leaves, as another kind of sage, and another kind of mint; but azure and a fair purple are never found in leaves. Thisshoweth that flowers are made of a refined juice of the earth, and so are fruits; but leaves of a more coarse and common.

513. It is a curiosity also to make flowers double, which is effected by often removing them into new earth; as, on the contrary part, double flowers, by neglecting and not removing, prove single. And the way to do it speedily, is to 60W or set seeds or slips of flowers, and as soon as they come up, to remove them into new ground that is good. Inquire also, whether inoculating of flowers, as stockgilly-flowers, roses, musk-roses, &c. doth not make them double. There is a cherry-tree that hath double blossoms; but that tree bearcth no fruit: and it may be, that the same means which, applied to the tree, doth extremely accelerate the sap to rise and break forth, would make the tree spend itself in flowers, and those to become double: which were a great pleasure to see, especially in appletrees, peach-trees, and almond-trees, that have blossoms blush-coloured.

514. The making of fruits without core or stone, is likewise a curiosity, and somewhat better: because whatsoever maketh them so, is like to make them more tender and delicate. If a cion or shoot, fit to be set in the ground, have the pith finely taken forth, and not altogether, but some of it left, the better to save the life, it will bear a fruit with little or no core or stone. And the like is said to be of dividing a quick tree down to the ground, and taking out the pith, and then binding it up again.

515. It is reported also, that a citron grafted upon a quince will have small or no seeds; and it is very probable that any sour fruit grafted upon a stock that beareth a sweeter fruit, may both make the fruit sweeter, and more void of the harsh matter of kernels or seeds.

516. It is reported, that not only the taking out of the pith, but the stopping of the juice of the pith from rising in the midst, and turning it to rise on the outside, will make the fruit without core or stone; as if you should bore a tree clean through, and put a wedge in. It is true, there is some affinity between the pith and the kernel, because they are both of a harsh substance, and both placed in the midst.

517. It is reported, that trees watered perpetually with warm water, will make a fruit with little or no core or stone. And the rule is general, that whatsoever-will make a wild tree a garden tree, will make a garden tree to have less core or stone.

Experiments in consort touching the degenerating of plants, and of the transmutation of them one into another.

518. The rule is certain, that plants for want of culture degenerate to be baser in the same kind; and sometimes so far as to change into another kind. 1. The standing long, and not being removed, maketh them degenerate. 2. Drought, unless the earth of itself be moist, doth the like. 3. So doth removing into worse earth, or forbearing to compost the earth; as we see that water mint turncth into field mint, and the colewort into rape, by neglect, &c.

519. Whatsoever fruit useth to be set upon a root or a slip, if it be sown, will degenerate. Grapes sown, figs, almonds, pomegranate kernels sown, make the fruits degenerate and become wild. And again, most of those fruits that use to be grafted, if they be set of kernels, or stones, degenerate. It is true that peaches, as hath been touched before, do better upon stones set than upon grafting: and the rule of exception should seem to be this; that whatsoever plant requircth much moisture, prospereth better upon the stone or kernel, than upon the graft. For the stock, though it giveth a finer nourishment, yet it giveth a scanter than the earth at large.

520. Seeds if they be very cold, and yet have strength enough to bring forth a plant, make the plant degenerate. And therefore skilful gardeners make trial of the seeds before they buy them, whether they be good or no, by putting them into water gently boiled: and if they be good, they will sprout within half an hour.

521. It is strange which is reported, that basil too much exposed to the sun doth turn into wild thyme; although those two herbs seem to have small affinity: but basil is almost the only hot herb that hath fat and succulent leaves; which oiliness, if it be drawn forth by the sun, it is like it will make a very great change.

522. There is an old tradition, that boughs of oak put into the earth will put forth wild vines: which if it be true, no doubt, it is not the oak that turneth into a vine, but the oak-bough putrifying, qualifieth the earth to put forth a vine of itself.

523. It is not impossible, and I have heard it verified, that upon cutting down of an old timber tree, the stub hath put out sometimes a tree of another kind; as that beech hath put forth birch; which, if it be true, the cause may be, for that the old stub is too scant of juice to put forth the former tree; and therefore putteth forth a tree of a smaller kind, that needeth less nourishment

524. There is an opinion in the country, that if the same ground be oft sown with the grain that grew upon it, it will in the end grow to be of a baser kind.

525. It is certain, that in very sterile years corn sown will grow to another kind.

"Grandia saepe quibus mandavimus hordea sulcis,
Infelix lolium, et stcriles dominantur avena?."

And generally it is a rule, that plants that arc brought forth by. culture, as corn, will sooner change into other species, than those that come of themselves; for that culture giveth but an adventitious nature, which is more easily put off.

This work of the transmutation of plants one into another, is inter magnalia natural; for the transmutation of species is, in the vulgar philosophy, pronounced impossible: and certainly it is a thing of difficulty, and requireth deep search into nature; but seeing there appear some manifest instances of it, the opinion of impossibility is to be rejected, and the means thereof to be found out We see, that in living creatures, that come of putrefaction, there is much transmutation of one into another; as caterpillars turn into flies, &c. And it should seem probable, that whatsoever creature, having life, is generated without seed, that creature will change out of one species into another. For it is the seed, and the nature of it, which locketh and boundeth in the creature, that it doth not expatiate. So as we may well conclude, that seeing the earth of itself doth put forth plants without seed, therefore plants may well have a transmigration of species. Wherefore, wanting instances which do occur, we shall give directions of the most likely trials: and generally we would not have those that read this our work of " Sylva sylvarum" account it strange, or think that it is an over-haste, that we have set down particulars untried; for contrariwise, in our own estimation, we account such particulars more worthy than those that are already tried and known: for these latter must be taken as you find them; but the other do level point-blank at the inventing of causes and axioms.

526. First therefore, you must make account, that if you will have one plant change into another, you must have the nourishment overrule the seed: and therefore you are to practise it by nourishment as contrary as may be to the nature of the herb, so nevertheless as the herb may grow; and likewise with seeds that are of the weakest sort, and have kast vigour. You shall do well, therefore, to take marsh-herbs,' and plant them upon tops of hills and champaigns; and such plants as require much moisture, upon sandy and very dry grounds. As for example, marsh-mallows and sedge, upon hills; cucumber, and lettuce seeds, and coleworts, upon a sandy plot; so contrariwise, plant bushes, heath, ling, and brakes, upon a wet or marsh ground. This I conceive also, that all esculent and garden herbs, set upon the tops of hills, will prove more medicinal, though less esculent, then they were before. And if may be likewise, some wild herbs you may make sallad herbs. This is the first rule for transmutation of plants.

527. The second rule shall be, to bury some few seeds of the herb you would change, amongst other seeds; and then you shall see whether the juice of those other seeds do not so qualify the earth, as it will alter the seed whereupon you work. As for example, put parsley seed amongst onion seed, or lettuce seed amongst parsley seed, or basil seed amongst thyme seed; and see the change of taste or otherwise. But you shall do well to put the seed you would change into a little linen cloth, that it mingle not with the foreign seed.

528. The third rule shall be, the making of some medley or mixture of earth with some other plants bruised or shaven either in leaf or root; as for example, make earth with a mixture of colewort leaves stamped, and set in it artichokes or parsnips; wtaie earth made with marjoram, or origanum, or *ild thyme, bruised or stamped, and set in it fennel swd, &c. In which operation the process of nature still will be, as I conceive, not that the herb you *ork upon should draw the juice of the foreign herb, for that opinion we have formerly rejected, tat that there will be a new confection of mold, *hich perhaps will alter the seed, and yet not to 'he kind of the former herb.

529. The fourth rule shall be, to mark what herbs some earths do put forth of themselves ; and to take that earth, and to pot it, or to vessel it; and in that to set the seed you would change: as for example, •ake from under walls or the like, where nettles put forth in abundance, the earth which you shall there fad. without any string or root of the nettles; and Pot that earth, and set in it stock-gilly-flowers, or *aD-tlowers, &c. or sow in the seeds of them; and s« what the event will be: or take earth that you tave prepared to put forth mushrooms of itself,

whereof you shall find some instances following, and sow in it purslane seed, or lettuce seed; for in these experiments, it is likely enough that the earth being accustomed to send forth one kind of nourishment, will alter the new seed.

530. The fifth rule shall be, to make the herb grow contrary to its nature; as to make groundherbs rise in height: as for example, carry camomile, or wild thyme, or the green strawberry, upon sticks, as you do hops upon poles; and see what the event will be.

531. The sixth rule shall be, to make plants grow out of the sun or open air; for that is a great mutation in nature, and may induce a change in the seed: as barrel up earth, and sow some seed in it, and put it in the bottom of a pond; or put it in some great hollow tree; try also the sowing of seeds in the bottoms of caves, and pots with seeds sown, hanged up in wells some distance from the water, and see what the event will be.

Experiments in consort touching the procerity, and lowness, and artificial dwarfing of trees.

532. It is certain, that timber trees in coppice woods grow more upright, and more free from under boughs, than those that stand in the fields: the cause whereof is, for that plants have a natural motion to get to the sun; and besides, they are not glutted with too much nourishment; for that the coppice shareth with them; and repletion ever hindereth stature: lastly, they are kept warm; and that ever in plants helpeth mounting.

533. Trees that are of themselves full of heat, which heat appeareth by their inflammable gums, as firs and pines, mount of themselves in height without side boughs, till they come towards the top. The cause is partly heat, and partly tenuity of juice, both which send the sap upwards. As for juniper, it is but a shrub, and groweth not big enough in body to maintain a tall tree.

534. It is reported, that a good strong canvass spread over a tree grafted low, soon after it putteth forth, will dwarf it, and make it spread. The cause is plain ; for that all things that grow, will grow as they find room.

535. Trees are generally set of roots or kernels; but if you set them of slips, as of some trees you may, by name the mulberry, some of the slips will take; and those that take, as is reported, will be dwarf trees. The cause is, for that a slip draweth nourishment more weakly than either a root or kernel.

536. All plants that put forth their sap hastily, have their bodies not proportionable to their length; and therefore they are winders and creepers; as ivy, briony, hops, woodbine: whereas dwarfing requireth a slow putting forth, and less vigour of mounting.

Experiments in consort touching the rudiments of plants, and of the excrescences of plants, or superplants.

The Scripture saith, that Solomon wrote a Natural History, " from the cedar of Libanus, to the moss growing upon the wall:" for so the best translations have it. And it is true that moss is but the rudiment of a plant; and, as it were, the mold of earth or bark.

537. Moss groweth chiefly upon ridges of houses tiled or thatched, and upon the crests of walls; and that moss is of a lightsome and pleasant green. The growing upon slopes is caused, for that moss, as on the one side it cometh of moisture and water, so on the other side the water must but slide, and not stand or pool. And the growing upon tiles, or walls, &c. is caused, for that those dried earths, having not moisture sufficient to put forth a plant, do practise germination by putting forth moss; though when, by age, or otherwise, they grow to relent and resolve, they sometimes put forth plants, as wall-flowers. And almost all moss hath here and there little stalks, besides the low thrum.

538. Moss groweth upon alleys, especially such as lie cold and upon the north j as in divers terrasses: and again, if they be much trodden; or if they were at the first gravelled; for wheresoever plants are kept down, the earth putteth forth moss.

539. Old ground, that hath been long unbroken up, gathereth moss: and therefore husbandmen use to cure their pasture grounds when they grow to moss, by tilling them for a year or two: which also dependeth upon the same cause; for that the more sparing and starving juice of the earth, insufficient for plants, doth breed moss.

540. Old trees are more mossy far than young; for that the sap is not so frank as to rise all to the boughs, but tireth by the way, and putteth out moss.

541. Fountains have moss growing upon the ground about them;

"Muscosi fontes:"—

The cause is, for that the fountains drain the water from the ground adjacent, and leave but sufficient moisture to breed moss: and besides the coldness of the water conduceth to the same.

542. The moss of trees is a kind of hair; for it is the juice of the tree that is excemed, and doth not assimilate. And upon great trees the moss gathereth a figure like a leaf.

543. The moister sort of trees yield little moss; as we see in asps, poplars, willows, beeches, &c. which is partly caused for the reason that hath been given, of the frank putting up of the sap into the boughs; and partly for that the barks of those trees are more close and smooth than those of oaks and ashes; whereby the moss can the hardlier issue out

544. In clay-grounds all fruit-trees grow full of moss, both upon body and boughs; which is caused partly by the coldness of the ground, whereby the plants nourish less; and partly by the toughness of the earth, whereby the sap is shut in, and cannot get up to spread so frankly as it should do.

545. We have said heretofore, that if trees be hidebound, they wax less fruitful, and gather moss; and that they are holpen by hacking, &c. And therefore, by the reason of contraries, if trees be bound in with cords, or some outward bands, they will put forth more moss: which, I think, happeneth to trees that stand bleak, and upon the cold

winds. It would also be tried, whether, if you cover a tree somewhat thick upon the top after his polling, it will not gather more moss. I think also the watering of trees with cold fountain-water, will make them grow full of moss.

546. There is a moss the perfumers have which cometh out of apple trees, that hath an excellent scent. Query, particularly for the manner of the growth, and the nature of it. And for this experiment's sake, being a thing of price, I have set down the last experiment how to multiply and call on mosses.

Next unto moss, I will speak of mushrooms; which are likewise an imperfect plant. The mushrooms have two strange properties; the one, that they yield so delicious a meat; the other, that they come up so hastily, as in a night; and yet they are unsown. And therefore such as are upstarts in state, they call in reproach mushrooms. It must needs be, therefore, that they be made of much moisture; and that moisture fat, gross, and yet somewhat concocted. And, indeed, we find that mushrooms cause the accident which we call incubus, or the mare in the stomach. And therefore the surfeit of them may suffocate and empoison. And this showeth that they are windy; and that windiness is gross and swelling, not sharp or griping. And upon the same reason mushrooms are a venerous meat.

547. It is reported, that the bark of white or red poplar, which are of the moistest of trees, cut small, and cast into furrows well dunged, will cause the ground to put forth mushrooms at all seasons of the year fit to be eaten. Some add to the mixture leaven of bread dissolved in water.

548: It is reported, that if a hilly field, where the stubble is standing, be set on fire in a showery season, it will put forth great store of mushrooms.

549. It is reported, that hartshorn shaven, or in small pieces, mixed with dung and watered, putteth up mushrooms. And we know that hartshorn is of a fat and clammy substance; and, it may be, ox-hom would do the like.

550. It hath been reported, though it be scarce credible, that ivy hath grown out of a stag's hom; which they suppose did rather come from a confrication of the horn upon the ivy, than from the hom itself. There is not known any substance but earth, and the procedures of earth, as tile, stone, &c. that yieldeth any moss or herby substance. There may be trial made of some seeds, as that of fennel-seed, mustard-seed, and rape-seed, put into some little holes made in the horns of stags, or oxen, to see if they will grow.

551. There is also another imperfect plant, that in show is like a great mushroom: and it is sometimes as broad as one's hat; which they call a toad's stool; but it is not esculent; and it groweth, commonly, by a dead stub of a tree, and likewise about the roots of rotten trees: and therefore seemeth to take his juice from wood putrified. Which showeth, by the way, that wood putrified yieldeth a frank moisture.

552. There is a cake that groweth upon the side

« PreviousContinue »