Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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goodness of the crop is a great matter of gain ; if the
goodness of the crop answer the earliness of the coming
up ; as it is like it will ; both being from the vigour
of the seed ; which also partly appeared in the former
experiments, as hath been said. This experiment
would be tried in other grains, seeds, and kernels : for
it may be some steeping will agree best with some
seeds. It would be tried also with roots steeped as
before, but for longer time. It would be tried also
in several seasons of the year, especially the spring.

403. Strawberries watered now and then, as once
in three days, with water wherein hath been steeped
sheeps-dung or pigeons-dung, will prevent and come


early. And it is like the same effect would follow in
other berries, herbs, flowers, grains, or trees. And
therefore it is an experiment, though vulgar in straw-
berries, yet not brought into use generally : for it is
usual to help the ground with muck ; and likewise to
recomfort it sometimes with muck put to the roots ;
but to water it with muck water, which is like to be
more forcible, is not practised.

404. Dung, or chalk, or blood, applied in substance,
seasonably, to the roots of trees, doth set them for-
wards. But to do it unto herbs, without mixture of
water or earth, it may be these helps are too hot.

405. The former means of helping germination, are
either by the goodness and strength of the nourish-
ment ; or by the comforting and exciting the spirits
in the plant to draw the nourishment better. And of
this latter kind, concerning the comforting of the spi-
rits of the plant, are also the experiments that follow;
though they be not applications to the root or seed.
The planting of trees warm upon a wall against the
south, or south-east sun, doth hasten their coming on
and ripening ; and the south-east is found to be bet-
ter than the south-west, though the south-west be the
hotter coast. But the cause is chiefly, for that the
heat of the morning succeedeth the cold of the night :
and partly, because many times the south-west sun is
too parching. 8o likewise the planting of them upon
the back of a chimney where a fire is kept, doth hasten
their coming on and ripening : nay more, the drawing
of the boughs into the inside of a room where a fire is
continually kept, worke^i the same effect ; which hath
been tried with grapes ; insomuch as they will come
a month earlier than the grapes abroad.

406. Besides the two means of accelerating germi-
nation formerly described ; that is to say, the mending
of the nourishment ; and comforting of the spirit of
the plant ; there is a third, which is the making way
for the easy coming to the nourishment, and drawing
it. And therefore gentle digging and loosening of
the earth about the roots of trees ; and the removing
herbs and flowers into new earth once in two years,


which is the same thing, for the new eartli is ever
looser, doth greatly further the prospering and earli-
ness of plants.

407. But the most admirable acceleration by facili-
tating the nourishment is that of water. For a standard
of a damask rose with the root on, was set in a cham-
ber where no fire was, upright in an earthen pan, full
of fair water, without any mixture, half a foot under
the water, the standard being more than two foot high
above the water : within the space of ten days the
standard did put forth a fair green leaf, and some other
little buds, which stood at a stay, without any shew of
decay or withering, more than seven days. But after-
wards that leaf faded, but the young buds did sprout
on ; which afterward opened into fair leaves in the space
of three months ; and continued so a while after, till
upon removal we left the trial. But note, that the
leaves were somewhat paler and lighter-coloured than
the leaves used to be abroad. Note, that the first buds
were in the end of October ; and it is likely that if
it had been in the spring time, it would have put forth
with greater strength, and, it may be, to have grown
on to bear flowers. By this means you may have, as
it seemeth, roses set in the midst of a pool, being sup-
ported with some stay ; which is matter of rareness
and pleasure, though of small use. This is the more
strange, for that the like rose-standard was put at the
same time into water mixed with horse-dung, the horse-
dung about the fourth part to the water, and in four
months space, while it was observed, put not forth any
leaf, though divers buds at the first, as the other.

408. A Dutch flower that had a bulbous root, was
likewise put at the same time all under water, some
two or three fingers deep ; and within seven days
sprouted, and continued long after further growing.
There were also put in, a beet-root ; a borage-root, and
a radish-root, which had all their leaves cut almost
close to the roots ; and within six weeks had fair leaves ;
and so continued till the end of November.

409. Note, that if roots, or peas, or flowers, may be
accelerated in their coming and ripening, there is a


double profit ; the one in the high price tliat those
things bear when they come early : the other in the
swiftness of their returns : for in some grounds which
are strong, you shall have a radish, etc. come in a
month, that in other grounds will not come in two, and
so make double returns.

410. Wheat also was put into the water, and came
not forth at all ; so as it seemeth there must be some
strength and bulk in the body put into the water, as
it is in roots ; for grains, or seeds, the cold of the water
will mortify. But casually some wheat lay under the
pan, which was somewhat moistened by the suing of
the pan ; which in six weeks, as aforesaid, looked
mouldy to the eye, but it was sprouted forth half a
finger's length.

411. It seemeth by these instances of water, that
for nourishment the water is almost all in all, and that
the earth doth but keep the plant upright, and save it
from over-heat and over- cold ; and therefore is a com-
fortable experiment for good drinkers. It proveth also
that our former opinion, that drink incorporate with
flesh or roots, as in capon -beer, etc. will nourish more
easily, than meat and drink taken severally.

412. The housing of plants, I conceive, will both
accelerate germination, and bring forth flowers and
plants in the colder seasons : and as we house hot-
country plants, as lemons, oranges, myrtles, to save
them ; so we may house our own country plants, to
forward them, and make them come in the cold sea-
sons ; in such sort, that you may have violets, straw-
berries, peas, all winter : so that you sow or remove
them at fit times. This experiment is to be referred
unto the comforting of the spirit of the plant by
warmth, as well as housing their boughs, etc. So then
the means to accelerate germination, are in particular
eight, in general three.

Experiments in consort toncJmrg the putting back or
retardat ion of germ i nation .

413. To make roses, or other flowers come late, it
is an experiment of pleasure. For the ancients esteemed


much of the rosa sei'a. And indeed tlic Novem-
ber rose is the sweetest, having been less exhaled by
the sun. Tlic means arc these. First, the cutting off
their tops immediately after they have done bearing ;
and then tliey will come again the same year about
November : but they will not come just on the tops
where they were cut, but out of those shoots which
were, as it were, water boughs. The cause is, for that
the sap, which otherwise would have fed the top,
thougli after bearing, will, by the discharge of that,
divert unto the side sprouts ; and they will come to
bear, but later.

414'. The second is the pulling off the buds of the
rose, when they are newly knotted ; for then the side
branches will bear. The cause is the same with tlie
former ; for cutting off the tops, and pulling off tlie
buds, work the same effect, in retention of the sap for
a time, and diversion of it to tlie sprouts that were not
so forward.

415. The third is the cutting off some few of the
top boughs in the spring time, but suffering the lower
boughs to grow on. The cause is, for that the boughs
do help to draw up the sap more strongly ; and we see
that in polling of trees, many do use to leave a bough
or two on the top, to help to draw up the sap. And
it is reported also, that if you graft upon the bough of
a tree, and cut off some of the old boughs, the new
cions will perish.

416. The fourth is by laying the roots bare about
Christmas some days. The cause is plain, for that it
doth arrest the sap from going upwards for a time ;
which arrest is afterwards released by the covering of
the root again with earth ; and then the sap getteth
up, but later.

417. The fifth is the removing of the tree some
month before it buddeth. The cause is, for that some
time will be required after the remove for the re -sett-
ling, before it can draw the juice ; and that time being
lost, the blossom must needs come forth later.

418. The sixth is the grafting of roses in May,
which commonly gardeners do not till .July ; and then


they bear not till the next year ; but if you graft thein
in May, they will bear the same year, but late.

419. The seventh is the girding of the body of the
tree about with some pack-thread ; for that also in a
degree restraineth the sap, and maketh it come up
more late and more slov/ly.

420. The eighth is the planting of them in a shade,
or in a hedge ; the cause is, partly the keeping out of
the sun, which hasteneth the sap to rise ; and partly
the robbing them of nourishment by the stuff in the
hedge. These means may be practised upon other,
both trees and flowers, mutatis mutandis.

421. Men have entertained a conceit that sheweth
prettily ; namely, that if you graft a late-coming fruit
upon a stock of a fruit-tree that cometh early, the graft
will bear early ; as a peach upon a cherry ; and contrari-
wise, if an early-corning fruit upon a stock of a fruit-
tree that cometh late, the graft will bear fruit late ;
as a cherry upon a peach. But these are but imagi-
nations, and untrue. The cause is, for that the cion
over-ruleth the stock quite; and the stock is but
passive only, and givetli aliment, but no motion to
the graft.

Experiments in consort touching the melioration of frail a,
treeSf and plants.

We will speak now, how to make fruits, flowers, and
roots larger, in more plenty, and sweeter than they use
to be ; and how to make the trees themselves more tail,
more spread, and more hasty and sudden than they use
to be. Wherein there is no doubt but the former
experiments of acceleration will serve much to tliese
purposes. And again, that these experiments, which
we shall now set down, do serve also for acceleration,
because both effects proceed from the increase of vigour
in the tree ; but yet to avoid confusion, and because
some of the means are more proper for the one effect,
and some for the other, we will handle them apart.

422. It is an assured experience, that a heap of flint
or stone, laid about the bottom of a wild tree, as an
oak, elm, ash, etc. upon the first planting, doth make


it prosper double as much as without it. Tlie cause
is, for that it retaineth the moisture wliich fallctli at
any time upon the tree, and suffereth it not to be
exhaled by the sun. Again, it keepoth the tree warm
from cold blasts, and frosts, as it were in an house. It
may be also there is somewhat in the kcejnng of it
steady at the first. Query ^ If laying of straw some
height about the body of a tree, will not make the tree
forwards. For thougli the root giveth the sap, yet it
is the body that drawctli it. But you must note, that
if you lay stones about the stalk of lettuce, or other
plants that are more soft, it will over-moisten the roots,
so as the worms will cat tlicm.

423. A tree, at tlie first setting, should not be
shaken, until it hath taken root fully : and therefore
some have put two little forks about tlie bottom of their
trees to keep them upright ; but after a year's rooting,
then shaking doth the tree good, by looseniiig of the
earth, and, perhaps, by exercising, as it were, and stir-
ring the sap of the tree.

424. Generally the cutting away of boughs and
suckers at the root and body doth make trees grow
liigli ; and contrariwise, the polling and cutting of the
top maketh them grow spread and bushy. As we see
in pollards, etc.

425. It is reported, that to make hasty-growing
coppice woods, the way is, to take willow, sallow, pop-
lar, alder, of some seven years growth ; and to set
them, not upright, but aslope, a reasonable depth under
the ground ; and then instead of one root they will
put forth many, and so carry more shoots upon a stem.

426. When you would liave many new roots of fruit
trees, take a low tree and bow it, and lay all its brandies
afiat upon the ground, and cast earth upon them ; and
every twig will take root. And this is a very profit-
able experiment for costly trees, for the boughs will
make stocks without charge ; such as are apricots,
peaches, almonds, cornelians, mulberries, figs, etc. The
like is continually practised with vines, roses, musk-
roses, etc.

427. From May to July you may take off tl^e
vor,. I. 2 c


bark of any boiigli, being of the bigness of tliree or
four inches, and cover the bare place, somewliat
above and below, with loam well tempered with
horse-dung, binding it fast down. Then cut off the
bough about Allhollontide in the bare place, and set
it in the ground ; and it will grow to be a fair tree in
one year. The cause may be, for that the baring from
the bark keepeth the sap from descending towards
winter, and so holdeth it in the bough ; and it may be
also that the loam and horse-dung applied to the bare
place do moisten it, and cherish it, and make it more
apt to put forth the root. Note, that this may be a
general means for keeping up the sap of trees in their
boughs ; which may serve to other effects.

428. It hath been practised in trees that shew fair
and bear not, to bore a hole through the heart of the
tree, and thereupon it will bear. Which may be, for
that the tree before had too much repletion, and was
oppressed with its own sap ; for repletion is an enemy
to generation.

429. It hath been practised in trees that do not
bear, to cleave two or three of the chief roots, and to
put into the cleft a small pebble, which may keep it
open, and then it will bear. The cause may be, for
that a root of a tree may be, as it were, hide-bound,
no less than the body of the tree ; but it will not keep
open without somewhat put into it.

430. It is usually practised, to set trees that re-
quire much sun upon walls against the south ; as
apricots, peaches, plums, vines, figs, and the like. It
hath a double commodity : the one, the heat of the wall
by reflexion ; tlie other, the taking away of the shade ;
for when a tree groweth round, the upper boughs over-
shadow the lower : but when it is spread upon a wall,
the sun cometh alike upon the upper and the lower

431. It hath also been practised by some, to pull
off some leaves from the trees so spread, that the sun
may come upon the bough and fruit the better. Tliere
hath been practised also a curiosity, to set a tree upon
the north side of a wall, and at a little height to draw

(;rnt. v.] nattthal history. 391

it tlirmigli tlic wall, and spread it upon the south side :
conceiving that the root and lower part of the stock
should enjoy the freshness of the shade ; and the up-
per boughs, and fruit, the comfort of the sun. But it
sorted not ; the cause is, for that the root requireth
some comfort from the sun, though under earth,
as well as the body : and the lower part of the body
more than the upper, as we see in compassing a tree
below with straw.

432. The lowness of the bough where the fruit
cometh, maketh the fruit greater, and to ripen better;
for you shall ever see, in apricots, peaches, or me-
locotones upon a wall, tho greatest fruits towards the
bottom. And in France, the grapes that make the
wine, grow upon low vines bound to small stakes ;
and the raised vines in arbours make but verjuice. It
is true, that in Italy and other countries where they
liave hotter sun, they raise them upon elms and trees ;
but I conceive, that if the French manner of planting
low were brought in use there, their wines would be
stronger and sweeter. But it is more chargeable in
respect of the props. It were good to try whether a
tree grafted somewhat near the ground, and the
lower boughs only maintained, and the higher con-
tinually ])runed off, would not make a larger fruit.

433. To have fruit in greater plenty, the way is to
graft not only upon young stocks, but upon divers
boughs of an old tree ; for they will bear great num-
bers of fruit : whereas if you graft but upon one
stock, the tree can bear but few.

434. The digging yearly about the roots of trees,
which is a great means both to the acceleration and
melioration of fruits, is practised in nothing but in
vines : which if it were transferred unto other trees
and shrubs, as roses, etc. I conceive would advance
them likewise.

435. It hath been known, that a fruit tree hath
been blown up, almost, by the roots, and set up again,
and the next year bare exceedingly. The cause of this
was nothing but the loosening of the earth, which
comforteth any tree, and is fit to be practised more

O Q o


than it is in fruit-trees : for trees cannot be so fitly
removed into new grounds, as flowerr; and herbs may.

436. To revive an old tree, the digging of it about
the roots, and applying new mould to the roots, is the
way. We see also that draught-oxen put into fresh
pasture gather new and tender flesh ; and in all things
better nourishment than hath been used doth help to
renew ; especially if it be not only better, but changed
and differing from the former,

437. If an herb be cut off from the roots in the be-
ginning of winter, and then the earth be trodden and
beaten down hard with the foot and spade, the roots
will become of very great magnitude in summer. The
reason is, for that the moisture being forbidden to come
up in the plant, stayeth longer in the root, and dilateili
it. And gardeners use to tread down any loose ground
after they have sown onions, or tm-nips, etc.

438. \i paiiicum be laid below and about the bot-
tom of a root, it will cause the root to grow to an ex-
cessive bigness. The cause is, for that being itself of
a spongy substance, it draweth the moisture of the
earth to it, and so feedeth the root. This is of greatest
use for onions, turnips, parsnips, and carrots.

439. The shifting of ground is a means to better
the tree and fruit ; but with this caution, that all
things do prosper best when they are advanced to the
better : your nursery of stocks ought to be in a more
barren ground than the groimd is ^Nhercunto you re-
move them. So all grasiers prefer their cattle from
meaner pastures to better. We see also, that hard-
ness in youth lengtheneth life, because it leaveth a
cherishing to the better of the body in age : nay,
in exercises, it is good to begin with the hardest, as
dancing in thick shoes, etc.

440. It hath been observed, that hacking of trees in
their bark, both downright and across, so as you may
make them rather in slices than in continued hacks, doth
great good to trees; and epecially delivcreth them from
being hide-bound, and killeth their moss.

441. Shade to some plants conduceth to make
them large and prosperous, more than sun ; as in


strawberries and bays, etc. Therefore uinoiig straw-
berries sow here and there some borage seed ; and you
shall find the strawberries under those leaves far
more large than their fellows. And bays you must
plant to the north, or defend them from the sun by a
hedge-row ; and when you sow the berries, weed
not the borders for the first half year ; for the weed
giveth them shade.

442. To increase the crops of plants, there would
be considered not only the increasing the lust of the
earth, or of the plant, but the saving also of that which
is spilt. So they have hitcly made a trial to set wheat ;
which nevertheless hath been left off, because of the
trouble and pains : yet so much is true, that there is
much saved by the setting, in comparison of that
which is sown : both by keeping it from being picked
up by birds, and by avoiding the shallow lying of it,
wliereby much that is sown taketli no root.

443. It is prescribed by some of the ancients, that
you take small trees, upon which figs or other fruit
grow, being yet unripe, and cover the trees in the mid-
dle of autumn with dung until the spring ; and then
take them up in a warm day, and rei)lant them in
good ground ; and by that means the former year's
tree will be ripe, as by a new birth, when other trees
of the same kind do but blossom. But this seemeth
to have no great probability.

444. It is reported, that if you take nitre, and min-
gle it with water, to the thickness of honey, and there-
with anoint the bud after the vine is cut, it will sprout
forth within eight days. The cause is like to be, if
the experiment be true, the opening of the bud and
of the parts contiguous, by the spirit of the nitre ; for
nitre is, as it w-ere, the life of vegetables.

445. Take seed, or kernels of apples, pears, oranges ;
or a peach, or a plum-stone, etc. and put them into a
squill, which is like a great onion, and they will come
up much earlier than in the earth itself. This I con-
ceive to be as a kind of grafting in the root ; for as
the stock of a graft yieldeth better prepared nourish-
ment to the graft, than the crude earth ; so the


squill dotli the like to the seed. And I suppose the
same would be done, by putting kernels into a turnip,
or the like ; save that the squill is more vigorous and
hot. It may be tried also, with putting onion-seed in-
to an onion-head, which thereby, perhaps, will bring
forth a larger and earlier onion.

446. The pricking of a fruit in several places, when
it is almost at its bigness, and before it ripeneth, hath
been practised with success, to ripen the fruit more
suddenly. We see the example of the biting of wasps
or worms upon fruit, whereby it manifestly ripeneth
the sooner.

447. It is reported, that alga marina, sea-weed, put
under the roots of colcworts, and, perhaps, of other plants,
will further their growth. The virtue, no doubt, hath
relation to salt, which is a great help to fertility.

448. It hath been practised, to cut off the stalks of
cucumbers, immediately after their bearing, close by
the earth ; and then to cast a pretty quantity of earth
upon the plant that remaineth, and they will bear the
next year fruit long before the ordinary time. The
cause may be, for that the sap goeth down the sooner,
and is not spent in the stalk or leaf, which remaineth
after the fruit. ^Vhere note, that the dying in the
winter of the roots of plants that are annual, seemeth
to be partly caused by the over-cxpence of the sap in-
to stalk and leaves ; which being prevented, they will
super-annuatc, if they stand warm.

449. The pulling off many of the blossoms from a
fruit-tree, doth make the fruit fairer. The cause is
manifest ; for that the sap hath the less to nourish.
And it is a common experience, that if you do not pull
off some blossoms the first time a tree bloometh, it will
blossom itself to death.

4,50. It were good to try, what would be the effect,
if all the blossoms were pulled from a fruit-tree: or
tlie acorns and chestnut-buds, etc. from a wild tree, for
two years together. I suppose that the tree will either
put forth the third year bigger and more plentiful
fruit; or else, the same years, larger leaves, because
of the sap stored up.



451. It hath been generally received, that a plant
watered with warm water, will come up sooner and
better, than with cold water or with showers. But
our experiment of watering wheat with warm water,
as hath been said, succeeded not; which may be, be-
cause the trial was too late in the year, viz. in the end
of October. For the cold then coming upon the seed,
after it was made more tender by the warm water,
might check it.

452. There is no doubt, but that grafting, for the

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 41 of 52)