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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most part, doth meliorate the fruit. The cause is ma-
nifest ; for that the nourishment is better ju'epared in
the stock, than in the crude earth : but yet note well,
that there be some trees that arc said to come up more
happily from the kernel than from the graft ; as the
peach and niolocotone. The cause I suppose to be,
for tliat those plants require a nourishment of great
moisture : and though the nourishment of the stock
be finer and better prepared, yet it is not so moist and
plentiful as the nourishment of the earth. And in-
deed we see those fruits are very cold fruits in their
nature.

453. It hath been received, that a smaller pear
grafted upon a stock that beareth a greater pear, will
become great. But I think it is as true as that of the
prime fruit upon the late stock ; and e cotwej'so ;
which we rejected before : for the cion will govern.
Nevertheless, it is probable enough, that if you can
get a cion to grow upon a stock of another kind, that
is much moister than its own stock, it may make the
fruit greater, because it will yield more plentiful nou-
rishment ; tliough it is like it will make the fruit
baser. But generally the grafting is upon a drier stock ;
as the apple upon a crab ; the pear upon a thorn, etc.
Yet it is reported, that in the Low-(Jountries they will
graft an apple cion ujion the stock of a colewort,
and it will bear a great flaggy apple ; the kernel of
which, if it be set, will be a colewort, and not an apple.
It were good to try whether an ap})le cion will pros-
per, if it be grafted upon a sallow, oi- n})on a poplar,
orupon an alder, or upon an elm, or upon an horse-



396 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. V.

plum, whicli are the moistest of trees. I have heard
that it hath been tried upon an ehn, and succeeded.

454. It is manifest by experience, that flowers re-
moved wax greater, because the nourishment is more
easily come by in the loose earth. It may be, that oft
regrafting of the same cion may likewise make fruit
greater ; as if you take a cion, and graft it upon a
stock the first year ; and then cut it off, and graft it
upon another stock the second year ; and so for a third
or fourth year ; and then let it rest, it will yield after-
ward, when it beareth, the greater fruit.

Of grafting there are many experiments worth the
noting, but those we reserve to a proper place.

455. It maketh figs better, if a fig-tree, when it be-
ginneth to put forth leaves, have his top cut oflP. The
cause is plain, for that the sap hath the less to feed,
and the less way to mount : but it may be the fig will
come somewhat later, as was formerly touched. The
same may be tried likewise in other trees.

456. It is reported, that mulberries will be fairer,
and the trees more fruitful, if you bore the trunk of
the tree through in several places, and thrust into the
places bored wedges of some hot trees, as turpentine,
mastictrec, guaiacum, juniper, etc. The cause maybe,
for that advcntive heat doth chear up the native juice
of the tree.

457. It is reported, that trees will grow greater,
and bear better fruit, if you put salt, or lees of wine,
or blood to the root. The cause may be the increasing
the lust or spirit of the root ; these things being more
forcible than ordinary composts.

455. It is reported by one of the ancients, that ar-
tichokes will be less prickly, and more tender, if the
seeds liavc their tops dulled, or grated oifupon a stone.

459. Herbs will be tenderer and fairer, if you take
them out of beds, when they are newly come up, and
remove them into pots with better earth. The remove
from bed to bed was spoken of before ; but that was
in several years ; this is upon the sudden. The cause
is the same with other removes formerly mentioned.

460. Colevvorts are reported by one of the ancients



CENT. V^] NATURAL HISTORY. 397

to prosper exceedingly, and to be better tasted, if they
be sometimes watered with salt water ; and much
more with water mixed with nitre ; the spirit of which
is less adurent than salt.

461. It is reported, that cucumbers will prove more
tender and dainty, if their seeds be steeped a little in
milk ; the cause may be, for that the seed being molli-
fied ^vitll the milk, will be too weak to draw the grosser
juice of the earth, but only the finer. The same ex-
periment may be made in artichokes and other seeds,
when you would take away cither their fiashiness or
bitterness. They speak also, that the like effect fol-
loweth of steeping in water mixed with honey ; but
that seemeth to me not so probable, because honey
hath too quick a spirit.

462. It is reported, that cucumbers will be less
watery, and more melon-like, if in the pit where you
set them, you fill it, half-way up, with chaff or small
sticks, and then pour earth upon them ; for cucum-
bers, as it seemeth, do extremely affect moisture, and
over-drink themselves ; which this chaff* or chips for-
biddeth. Nay, it is farther reported, that if, when a
cucumber is grown, you set a pot of water about five
or six inches distance from it, it will, in twenty-four
hours, shoot so much out as to touch the pot ; which,
if it be true, is an experiment of an higher nature
than belongeth to this title ; for it discovcreth percep-
tion in plants, to move towards that which should
help and comfort them, though it be at a distance.
The ancient tradition of the vine is far more strange ;
it is, that if you set a stake or prop at some distance
from it, it will grow that way ; which is far stranger,
as is said, than the other : for that water may work
by a sympathy of attraction ; but this of the stake
seemeth to be a reasonable discourse.

463. It hath been touched before, that tcrebration
of trees doth make them prosper better. But it is
found also, that it maketh the fruit sweeter and bet-
ter. The cause is, for that, notwitstanding the tcre-
bration, they may receive aliment sufficient, and yet no
more than they can well turn and digest : and withal



398 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. V.

do sweat out the coarsest and improfitablest juice ;
even as it is in living creatures, wliich by moderate
feeding, and exercise, and sweat, attain the soundest
habit of body.

464. As terebration doth meliorate fruit, so upon
the like reason doth letting of plants blood ; as prick-
ing vines, or other trees, after they be of some growth ;
and thereby letting forth gum or tears ; though this
be not to continue, as it is in terebration, but at some
seasons. And it is reported, that by this artifice bitter
almonds have been turned into sweet.

465. The ancients for the dulcorating of fruit do
commend swines dung above all other dung ; which
may be because of the moisture of that beast, wliereby
the excrement hath less acrimony ; for we see swines
and pigs flesh is the moistest of fleshes.

466. It is observed by some, that all herbs wax
sweeter, both in smell and taste, if after they be grown
up some reasonable time, they be cut, and so you take
the latter sprout. The cause may be, for that the lon-
ger the juice stayeth in the root and stalk, the better
it concocteth. For one of the chief causes why grains,
seeds, and fruits, are more nourishing than leaves, is
the length of time in which they grow to maturation.
It were not amiss to keep back the sap of herbs, or
the like, by some fit means, till the end of summer ;
whereby, it may be, they will be more nourishing.

467. As grafting doth generally advance and me-
liorate fruits, above that which they would be if they
were set of kernels or stones, in regard the nourish-
ment is better concocted ; so, no doubt, even in graft-
ing, for the same cause, the clioice of the stock doth
much ; always provided, that it be somewhat inferior
to the cion: for otlierwise it dulleth it. They commend
much tlie grafting of pears or apples upon a quince.

468. Besides tlie means of melioration of fruits
before-mentioned, it is set down as tried, that a mix-
ture of bran and swines dung, or chaff and swines
dung, especially laid up togetlicr for a montli to rot,
is a very great nourislier and comforter to a fniit-trce.

469. It is delivered, that onions wax greater if



CENT, v.] NATURAL HISTORY. 599

tliey be taken out of the earth, and Liid a drying
twenty days, and then set again ; and yet more, if
the outermost pill be taken off all over.

470. It is delivered by some, that if one take the
bough of a low fruit-tree newly budded, and draw it
gently, without hurting it, into an earthen pot per-
forate at the bottom to let in the plant, and then
cover the pot with earth, it will yield a very large
fruit within the ground. Which experiment is no-
thing but potting of plants without removing, and
leaving the fruit in the earth. The like, they say,
will be effected by an empty pot without earth in it
put over a fruit, being propped up with a stake, as
it hangeth upon the tree ; and the better, if some few
pertusions be made in the pot. Wherein, besides the
defending of the fruit from extremity of sun or wea-
ther, some give a reason, that the fruit loving and
coveting the open air and sun, is invited by those
pertusions to spread and approach as near the open
air as it can ; and so enlargeth in magnitude.

471. All trees in high and sandy grounds are to
be set deep ; and in watery grounds more shallow.
And in all trees, when they be removed, especially
fruit-trees, care ought to be taken, that the sides of the
trees be coasted, nortli and south, etc. as they stood
before. The same is said also of stone out of the
quarry, to make it more durable ; though that seemeth
to have less reason ; because the stone lieth not so near
the sun, as the tree groweth.

472. Timber trees in a coppice wood do grow better
than in an open field ; both because they offer not
to spread so much, but shoot up still in height ; and
chiefly because they are defended from too much sun
and wind, which do check the growth of all fruit;
and so, no doubt, fruit-trees, or vines, set upon a wall
against the sun, between elbows or buttresses of stone,
ripen more than upon a plain wall.

473. It is said, that if potado-roots be set in a pot
filled with earth, and then the pot with earth be set
likewise within the ground some two or three inches,
the roots will grow greater than ordinar}-. The cause



400 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. V,

may be, for tliat having earth e]ioug;h \vithiii the pot
to nourish them ; and then being sto})ped by the bot-
tom of the pot from putting strings downward, they
must needs grow greater in breadth and thickness.
And it may be, that all seeds or roots potted, and so
set into the earth, will prosper the better.

474. The cutting off the leaves of radish, or other
roots, in the beginning of winter, before they wither,
and covering again the root something high with earth,
will preserve the root all winter, and make it bigger in
the spring following, as hath been partly touched be-
fore. So that there is a double use of this cutting off
the leaves ; for in plants 'svliere the root is the esculent,
as radish and parsnips, it will make the root the great-
er ; and so it will do to the heads of onions. And
where the fruit is the esculent, by strengthening the
root, it will make the fruit also the greater.

475. It is an experiment of great pleasure, to make
the leaves of shady trees larger than ordinary. It
hath been tried for certain that a cion of a weech-elm,
grafted upon the stock of an ordinary elm, will put
forth leaves almost as broad as the brim of one's hat.
And it is very likely, that as in fruit-trees the graft
maketh a greater fruit ; so in trees that bear no fruit,
it will make tlie greater leaves. It wovdd be tried
therefore in trees of that kind cliicfly, as birch, asp,
willow ; and especially the shining willow, which they
call s\vallow-tail, because of the pleasure of the leaf.

47(). The barrenness of trees by accident, besides
tlie weakness of the soil, seed, or root ; and the injury
of the weather, cometh cither of their overgrowing
with moss, or their being hide-bound, or their plant-
ing too deep, or ])y issuing of tlie sap too much into
the leaves. For all tliese there are remedies men-
tioned before.

Experiments in consort touching compound fruits aiul
flowers.

We see that in living creatures, that have male and
female, there is copulation of several kinds ; and so
compound creatures ; as the mule, that is generated



CENT, v.] NATURAL IIISTORV. 401

betwixt the horse and tlie ass ; and some otlier com-
pounds which we call monstci'^, though more rare ;
and it is held that that proverb, " Africa semper ali-
([uid monstri parit," cometh, for that the fountains of
waters there being rare, divers sorts of beasts come
from several parts to drink ; and so being refreshed,
fall to couple, and many times with several kinds. The
compounding or mixture of kinds in plants is not found
out ; which, nevertheless, if it be possible, is more at
command than that of living creatures ; for that their
lust requireth a voluntary motion ; wherefore it were
one of the most noble experiments touching plants to
find it out : for so you may have great variety of new
fruits and flowers yet unknown. Grafting doth it not:
that mendeth the fruit, or doublcth the flowers, etc.
but it hath not the power to make a new kind. For
the cion ever over-ruleth the stock.

477. It hath been set down by one of the ancients,
that if you take two twigs of several fruit-trees, and
flat them on the sides, and then bind them close toge-
ther and set them in the ground, they will come up in
one stock ; but yet they w ill put forth their several
fruits without any commixture in the fruit. Wliere-
in note, by the way, that unity of continuance is easier
to procure than unity of species. It is reported also,
that vines of red and white grapes being set in the
ground, and the upper parts being flatted and bound
close together, will put forth grapes of the several co-
lours upon the same branch ; and grape-stones of se-
veral colom'S within the same grape : but the more
after a year or two ; the unity, as it seemeth, grow-
ing more perfect. And this will likewise help, if from
the first uniting they be often watered ; for all mois-
ture helpeth to union. And it is prescribed also to
bind the bud as soon as it cometh forth, as well as the
stock, at the least for a time.

478. They report, that divers seeds put into a
clout, and laid in earth well dunged, will put up
plants contiguous ; which, afterwards, being bound
in, their shoots will incorporate. The like is said of



402 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT^ V.

kernels put into a bottle with a narrow mouth filled
with earth.

479. It is reported, that young trees of several
kinds set contiguous without any binding, and very
often watered, in a fruitful ground, with the very lux-
ury of the trees will incorporate and grow togetlier.
Which seemeth to me the likeliest means that hath
been propounded ; for that the binding doth hinder
the natural swelling of the tree ; which, while it is in
motion, doth better unite.

Experiments in consort touching the sympathy and anti-
pathy of plants.

There are many ancient and received traditions and
observations touching the sympathy and antipathy
of plants ; for that some will thrive best growing near
others, which they impute to sympathy ; and some
worse, which they impute to antipathy. But these
are idle and ignorant conceits, and forsake the true
indication of the causes, as the most part of experi-
ments that concern sympathies and antipathies do.
For as to plants, neither is there any such secret friend-
ship or hatred as they imagine ; and if we should be
content to call it sympathy and antipathy, it is utterly
mistaken, for their sympathy is an antipathy, and their
antipathy is a sympathy : for it is thus ; Wheresoever
one plant draweth a particular juice out of the earth,
as it qualifieth the earth, so that juice which remain-
eth is fit for the other plant ; there the neighbourhood
doth good, because the nourishments are contrary or
several : but where two plants draw much the same
juice, there the neighbourhood hurteth, for the one
deceiveth the other.

480. First therefore, all plants that do draw much
nourishment from the earth, and so soak the earth and
exhaust it, hurt all things that grow by them ; as great
trees, especially ashes, and such trees as spread tlieir
roots near the top of the ground. So the colewort is
not an enemy, though that were anciently received,
to the vine only ; but it is an enemy to any other
pl^nt, because it draweth strongly the fattest juice of



CENT, v.] NATURAL HISTORY. 408

the earth. And if it be true, tliat the vine vvlien it
crccpcth near the colewort will turn away, thivS may
be, because there it iindeth worse nourishment ; for
though the root be where it was, yet, I doubt, the
plant will bend as it nourishcth.

481. Where plants are of several natures, and draw
several juices out of the eartli, there, as hath been said,
the one set by the other helpeth : as it is set down by
divers of the ancients, that rue doth prosper much, and
becometh stronger, if it be set by a fig-tree ; which,
we concei\'c, is caused not by reason of friendship, but
by extraction of a contrary juice : the one drawing
juice fit to result sweet, the other bitter. So they
have set down likewise, that a rose set by garlic is
sweeter : which likewise may be, because the more
fetid juice of the earth goeth into the garlic, and the
more odorate into the rose.

482. This we see manifestly, that there be certain
corn-flowers which come seldom or never in other
places, unless they be set, but only amongst corn ; as
the blue bottle, a kind of yellow marygold, wild pop-
py, and fumitory. Neither can this be, by reason of
the culture of the ground, by ploughing or furrowing :
as some herbs and flowers will grow but in ditches
new cast ; for if the ground lie fallow and unsown,
they will not come : so as it should seem to be the
corn that qualifieth the earth, and prepareth it for
their growth.

483. This observation, if it holdeth, as it is very
probable, is of great use for the meliorating of taste
in fruits and escvdent herbs, and of the scent of
flowers. For I do not doubt, but if the fig-tree do
make the rue more strong and bitter, as the ancients
have noted, good store of rue planted about the fig-
tree will make the fig more sweet. Now the tastes
that do most offend in fruits, and herbs, and roots, are
bitter, harsh, sour, and waterish, or flashy. It were
good therefore to make the trials following :

484. Take wormwood, or rue, and set it near let-
tuce, or coleflory, or artichoke, and see whether the
lettuce, or the coleflory, etc. become not the sweeter.



404 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. V.

485. Take a service-tree, or a cornelian-tree, or an
elder-tree, which we know have fruits of harsh and
binding juice, and set them near a vine, or fig-tree,
and see whether the grapes or figs will not be the
sweeter.

486. Take cucumbers, or pumpions, and set them,
here and there, amongst musk-melons, and see wlie-
ther the melons will not be more winy, and better
tasted. Set cucumbers, likewise, amongst radish,
and see wliether the radish will not be made the more
biting.

487. Take sorrel, and set it amongst rasps, and see
whether the rasps will not be the sweeter.

488. Take common briar, and set it amongst vio-
lets or wall-flowers, and see whether it will not make
the violets or wall-flowers sweeter, and less earthy in
their smell. So set lettuce or cucumbers amongst rose-
mary or bays, and see whether the rosemary and bays
will not be the more odorate or aromatical.

489. Contrariwise, you must take heed how you
set herbs together, that draw much the like juice.
And therefore I think rosemary will lose in sweetness,
if it be set with lavender, or bays, or the like. But
yet if you will correct the strength of an herb, you
shall do well to set other like herbs by him to take
him down ; as if you should set tansey by angelica, it
may be the angelica would be the weaker, and fitter for
mixture in perfume. And if you should set rue by
common wormwood, it may be the wormwood would
turn to be liker Roman wormwood.

490. This axiom is of large extent ; and therefore
would be severed, and refined by trial. Neither must
you expect to have a gross difference by this kind of
culture, but only farther perfection.

491. Trial would be also made in herbs poisonous
and purgative, whose ill quality, perhaps, may be dis-
charged, or attem])ered, by setting stronger poisons or
purgatives by them.

492. It is reported, tliat the shrub called our ladies
seal, which is a kind of briony, and coleworts, set near
togetlier, one or botli will die. The cause is, for that



CKNT. v.] NATITRAJ. HISTORY. 405

they be both great ilepredators of the earth, and one
of them starveth the other. The Hke is said of a reed
and a brake : both which are succulent ; and therefore
the one deceiveth the other. And the like of hem-
lock and rue; botli whicli (haw strong juices.

493. Some of the ancients, and likewise divers of
the modern writers, that have laboured in natural
magic, have noted a sympathy between the sun, moon,
and some principal stars, and certain herbs and plants.
And so they have denominated some herbs solar, and
some lunar ; and such like toys put into great words.
It is manifest that there arc some flowers tliat have
respect to the sun in two kinds, the one by opening
and shutting, and the other by bowing and inclining
the head. For marygolds, tulips, pimpernel, and in-
deed most flowers, do open and spread their leaves
abroad when the sun shineth serene and fair : and
again, in some part, close them, or gather them in-
ward, either towards night, or when the sky is over-
cast. Of this there needeth no such solemn reason to
be assigned ; as to say, that they rejoice at the pre-
sence of the sun, and mourn at the absence thereof.
For it is nothing else but a little loading of the leaves,
and swelling them at the bottom, with the moisture
of the air ; whereas the dry air doth extend them ;
and they make it a piece of the wonder, that garden
clover will hide the stalk when the sun sheweth bright:
which is nothing but a full expansion of the leaves.
For the bowing and inclining of the head, it is found
in the great flower of the sun, in marygolds, wart-
wort, mallow-flowers, and others. The cause is some-
what more obscure than the former ; but I take it be
no other, but that the part against which the sun
beateth waxeth more faint and flaccid in the stalk,
and thereby less able to support the flower.

494. What a little moisture will do in vegetables,
even though they be dead and severed from the earth,
appeareth well in the experiment of jugglers. They
take the beard of an oat ; which, if you mark it well,
is wreathed at the bottom, and one smooth entire straw
at the top. They take only the part that is wreatlied,

VOL. I. 2 I)



406 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. V.

and cut off the other, leaving the beard half the
breadth of a finger in length. Then they make a
little cross of a quill, longways of that part of the
quill which hath the pith ; and cross-w'ays of that
piece of the quill without pith ; the whole cross being
the breadth of a finger high. Then they prick the
bottom where the pith is, and thereinto they put the
oaten beard, leaving half of it sticking forth of the
quill ; then they take a little white box of wood, to
deceive men, as if somewhat in the box did work the
feat : in which, \vitli a pin, they make a little hole,
enough to take the beard, but not to let the cross sink
down, but to stick. Then likewise, by way of im-
' posture, they make a question ; as. Who is the fairest
woman in the company ? or. Who hath a glove or
card ? and cause another to name divers persons : and
upon every naming they stick the cross in the box,
having first put it towards their mouth, as if they
charmed it ; and the cross stirreth not ; but when they
come to the person that they would take, as they hold
the cross to their mouth, they touch the beard with
the tip of their tongue, and wet it ; and so stick the
cross in the box ; and then you shall see it turn finely
and softly three or four turns ; which is caused by tlie
untwining of the beard by the moisture. You may
see it more evidently, if you stick the cross between
your fingers instead of the box ; and therefore you may
see, that this motion, which is effected by so little
wet, is stronger than the closing or bending of the
head of a marygold.

495. It is reported by some, that the herb called



Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 52)