« PreviousContinue »
the dew that is found upon it, be not the dew of the morning preserved, when the dew of other herbs is breathed away; for it hath a smooth and thick leaf, that doth not discharge the dew so soon as other herbs that are more spungy and porous. And it may be purslane, or some other herb, doth the like, and is not marked. But if it be so, that it hath more dew at noon than in the morning, then sure it seemeth to be an exudation of the herb itself. As plums sweat when they are set into the oven : for you will not, I hope, think, that it is like Gideon's fleece of wool, that the dew should fall upon that and no where else.
496. It is certain, that the honey dews are found more upon oak leaves, than upon ash, or beech, or the like: but whether any cause be from the leaf itself to concoct the dew; or whether it be only that the leaf is close and smooth, and therefore drinketh not in the dew, but preserveth it, may be doubted. It would be well enquired, whether manna the drug doth fall but upon certain herbs or leaves only. Flowers that have deep sockets, do gather in the bottom a kind of honey ; as honey-suckles, both the woodbine and the trefoil, lilies, and the like. And in them certainly the flower beareth part with the dew.
497. The experience is, that the froth which they call woodseare, being like a kind of spittle, is found but upon certain herbs, and those hot ones; as lavender, lavender-cotton, sage, hyssop, etc.
Of the cause of this inquire farther; for it seemeth a secret. There falleth also mildew upon corn, and smutteth it; but it may be, that the same falleth also upon other herbs, and is not observed.
498. It were good trial were made, whether the great consent between plants and water, which is a principal nourishment of them, will make an attraction at distance, and not at touch only. Therefore take a vessel, and in the middle of it make a false bottom of coarse canvas : fill it with earth above the canvas, and let not the earth be watered; then sow some good seeds in that earth; but under the canvas, some half a foot in the bottom of the vessel, lay a great spunge thoroughly wet in water; and let it lie
so some ten days, and see whether the seeds will
and fruits medicinable. 499. The altering of the scent, colour, or taste of fruit, by infusing, mixing, or letting into the bark, or root of the tree, herb, or flower, any coloured, aromatical, or medicinal substance, are but fancies. The cause is, for that those things have passed their period, and nourish not. And all alteration of vegetables in those qualities must be by somewhat that is apt to go into the nourishment of the plant. But this is true, that where kine feed upon wild garlic, their milk tasteth plainly of the garlic: and the flesh of muttons is better tasted where the sheep feed upon wild thyme, and other wholesome herbs. Galen also speaketh of the curing of the scirrus of the liver, by milk of a cow that feedeth but upon certain herbs; and honey in Spain smelleth apparently of the rosemary, or orange, from whence the bee gathereth it: and there is an old tradition of a maiden that was fed with napellus; which is counted the strongest poison of all vegetables, which with use did not hurt the maid, but poisoned some that had carnal company with her. So it is observed by some, that there is a virtuous bezoar, and another without virtue, which appear to the shew alike: but the virtuous is taken from the beast that feedeth upon the mountains, where there are theriacal herbs; and that without virtue, from those that feed in the vallies 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, etc. 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 at one 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 fructifera, 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, etc. as long as a cane; or as round as a sphere; or formed like a
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. 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
Wherein you 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 meos incidere amores Arboribus ; crescent illæ, crescetis 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 roots of 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