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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sloes, almonds, etc. and it seemeth to be a work of
providence that they blossom so soon ; for otherwise
they could not have the sun long enough to ripen.

579. There be fruits, but rarely, that come twice a
year ; as some pears, strawberries, etc. And it seemeth
they are such as abound with nourishment ; whereby
after one period, before the sun waxeth too weak, they
can endure another. The violet also, amongst flowers,
cometh twice a year, especially the double white ; and
that also is a plant full of moisture. Roses come
twice, but it is not without cutting, as hath been
formerly said.

580. In INIuscovy, though the corn come not up till
late spring, yet their harvest is as early as ours. The
cause is, for that the strength of the ground is kept
in with the snow ; and we see with us, that if it be a
long winter, it is commonly a more plentiful year :
and after those kind of winters likewise, the flowers
and corn, which are earlier and later, do come com-
monly at once, and at the same time ; which troubleth
the husbandman many times ; for you sliall have red
roses and damask roses come together ; and likewise
the harvest of wheat and barley. But this happeneth
ever, for that the earlier stayeth for the later ; and
not that tlic later cometh sooner.

581 . There be divers fruit trees in the hot countries,
wliich have blossoms, and young fruit, and ripe fruit,


almost all the year, succeeding one another. And it
is said the orange hath the like with us, for a great
part of summer ; and so also hath the fig. And no
douht the natural motion of plants is to have so ; but
that either they want juice to spend; or they meet
with the cold of the winter : and therefore this circle
of ripening cannot be but in succulent plants, and hot

582. Some herbs are but annual, and die, root and
all, once a year ; as borage, lettuce, cucumbers, musk-
melons, basil, tobacco, mustard-seed, and all kinds of
corn : some continue many years ; as hyssop, german-
der, lavender, fennel, etc. The cause of the dying is
double ; the first is, tlie tenderness and weakness of
the seed, which maketh the period in a small time ;
as it is in borage, lettuce, cucumbers, corn, etc. and
therefore none of these are hot. The other cause is,
for that some herbs can worse endure cold ; as basil,
tobacco, mustard-sced. And these have all much heat.

Experiments in consort touching the lasting of herbs and trees.

583. The lasting of plants is most in those that are
largest of body : as oaks, elm, chestnut, the loat-tree,
etc. and this holdeth in trees ; but in lierbs it is often
contrary : for borage, colewort, pompions, whicli are
herbs of the largest size, are of small durance ; whereas
hyssop, winter-savoury, germander, thyme, sage, will
last long. The cause is, for that trees last according
to the strength and quantity of their sap and juice ;
being well munited by their bark against the injuries
of the air : but herbs draw a weak juice, and have a
soft stalk ; and therefore those amongst them which
last longest, are herbs of strong smell, and with a
sticky stalk.

584. Trees that bear mast, and nuts, are commonly
more lasting than those that bear fruits ; especially
the moister fruits : as oaks, beeches, chestnuts, walnuts,
almonds, pine trees, etc. last longer than apples, pears,
plums, etc. The cause is the fatness and oilincss of
tlie sap ; which ever wasteth less than the more watery.

58.5. Trees that bring forth their leaves late in the


year, and cast them likewise late, are more lasting
than those that sprout their leaves early, or shed them
betimes. The cause is, for that the late coming forth
sheweth a moisture more fixed ; and the other more
loose, and more easily resolved. And the same cause
is, that wild trees last longer than garden trees ; and
in the same kind, those whose fruit is acid, more than
those whose fruit is sweet.

586. Nothing procureth the lasting of trees, bushes,
and herbs, so much as often cvitting : for every cutting
causeth a renovation of the juice of the plant ; that
it neither goeth so far, nor riseth so faintly, as when
the plant is not cut ; insomuch as annual plants, if you
cut them seasonably, and will spare the use of them,
and suffer them to come up still young, will last more
years than one, as hath been partly touched ; such as
is lettuce, purslane, cucumber, and the like. And for
great trees, we see ahnost all overgrown trees in church-
yards, or near ancient buildings, and the like, are
pollards, or dottards, and not trees at their full height.

587. Some experiment would be made, how by art
to make plants more lasting than their ordinary period ;
as to make a stalk of wheat, etc. last a whole year.
You must ever presuppose, that you handle it so as the
winter killeth it not ; for we speak only of prolonging
the natural period. I conceive that the rule will hold,
that whatsoever maketh the herb come later than at
its time, will make it last longer time : it were good
to try it in a stalk of wheat, etc. set in the shade, and
encompassed with a case of wood, not touching the
straw, to keep out open air.

As for the preservation of fruits and plants, as well
upon the tree or stalk, as gathered, we shall handle it
under the title of conservation of bodies.

Experiments in consort touching the several Jigures of plants.

588. The particular figiu'es of plants we leave to
their descriptions ; but some few things in general we
will o])serve. Trees and herbs, in the growing forth
of" tlieir boughs and l)ranches, are not figured, and keep
no order. The cause is, for that the sap being restrained


in the rind and bark, breaketh not forth at all, as in
the bodies of trees, and stalks of herbs, till they begin
to branch ; and then when they make an eruption,
they break forth casually, where they find best way in
the bark or rind. It is true, that some trees are more
scattered in their boughs ; as sallow-trees, warden-
trees, quince-trees, medlar-trees, lemon-trees, etc. some
are more in the form of a pyramis, and come almost
to todd ; as the pear-tree, which the critics will have
to borrow his name of ttZ^, fire, orange-trees, fir-trees,
service-trees, lime-trees, etc. and some arc more spread
and broad ; as beeches, hornbeam, etc. the rest are
more indifferent. The cause of scattering the boughs,
is the hasty breaking forth of the sap ; and therefore
those trees rise not in a body of any height, but branch
near the ground. The cause of the pyramis is the
keeping in of the sap long before it branch ; and the
spending of it, when it beginneth to branch, by equal
degrees. The spreading is caused by the carrying up
of the sap plentifully without expence ; and then
putting it forth speedily and at once.

589. There be divers herbs, but no trees, that may
be said to have some kind of order in the putting forth
of their leaves : for they have joints or knuckles, as it
were stops in their germination ; as have gilly- flowers,
pinks, fennel, corn, reeds, and canes. The cause
whereof is, for that the sap ascendeth unequally, and
doth, as it were, tire and stop by the way. And it
seemeth they have some closeness and hardness in their
stalk, which hindereth the sap from going up, until it
hath gathered into a knot, and so is more urged to put
forth. And therefore they are most of them hollow
when the stalk is dry, as fennel-stalk, stubble, and

590. Flowers have all exquisite figures ; and the
flower numbers are chiefly five, and four ; as in prim-
roses, brier roses, single musk roses, single pinks, and
gilly-flowers, etc. which have five leaves : lilies, flower-
de-luces, borage, bugloss, etc. which have four leaves.
But some put forth leaves not numbered ; but they
are ever small ones ; as marygolds, trefoils, etc. We


see also, that the sockets and supporters of flowers are
figured ; as in the five brethren of the rose, sockets of
gilly-flowers, etc. Leaves also are all figured ; some
round ; some long ; none square ; and many jagged
on the sides ; which leaves of flowers seldom are. For
I account the jagging of pinks and gilly-flowers, to be
like the inequality of oak leaves, or vine leaves, or the
like : but they seldom or never have any small purls.

Experiments in consort touching some principal
differences in plants.

591. Of plants, some few put forth their blossoms
before their leaves ; as almonds, peaches, cornelians,
black thorn, etc. but most put forth some leaves before
their blossoms ; as apples, pears, plums, cherries, white
thorn, etc. The cause is, for that those that put forth
their blossoms first, have either an acute and sharp
spirit, and therefore commonly they all put forth early
in the spring, and ripen very late ; as most of the
particulars before mentioned, or else an oily juice,
which is apter to put out flowers than leaves.

592. Of plants, some are green all winter ; others
cast their leaves. There are green all winter, holly,
ivy, box, fir, yew, cypress, juniper, bays, rosemary, etc.
The cause of the holding green, is the close and com-
pact substance of their leaves, and the pedicles of them.
And the cause of that again is either the tough and
viscous juice of the plant, or the strength and heat
thereof. Of the first sort is holly ; which is of so
viscous a juice, as they make birdlime of the bark of
it. The stalk of ivy is tough, and not fragile, as we
see in other small twigs dry. Fir yicldetli pitch. Box
is a fast and heavy wood, as wc sec it in bowls. Yew
is a strong and tough wood, as we see it in bows. Of the
second sort is juniper, which is a wood odoratc ; and
makcth a hot fire. Bays is likewise a hot and aroma-
tical wood ; and so is rosemary for a shrub. As for
the leaves, their density appcareth, in that either they
are smooth and sliining, as in bays, liolly, ivy, box, etc.
or in that they arc hard and spiry, as in the rest. And
trial would be made of grafting of rosemary, and bays,


and box, upon a holly- stock ; because they are plants
that come all winter. It were good to try it also with
grafts of other trees, either fruit trees, or wild trees ;
to see whether they will not yield their fruit, or bear
their leaves later and longer in the winter; because
the sap of the holly putteth forth most in the winter.
It may be also a mezcrion-tree, grafted upon a holly,
will prove both an earlier and a greater tree.

593. There be some plants that bear no flower, and
yet bear fruit : there be some that bear flowers and no
fruit : there be some that bear neither flowers nor fruit.
Most of the great timber trees, as oaks, beeches, etc.
bear no apparent flowers ; some few likewise of the
fruit trees ; as mulberry, walnut, etc. and some shrubs,
as juniper, holly, etc. bear no flowers. Divers herbs
also bear seeds, which is as the fruit, and yet bear no
flowers ; as purslane, etc. Those that bear flowers and
no fruit are few ; as the double cherry, the sallow, etc.
But for the cherry, it is doubtful whether it be not by
art or culture ; for if it be by art, then trial would be
made, whether apple, and other fruits blossoms, may
not be doubled. There are some few that bear neither
fruit nor flower ; as the elm, the poplars, box, brakes, etc.

59-1. There be some plants that shoot still upwards,
and can support themselves ; as the greatest part of
trees and plants : there be some other that creep along
the ground ; or wind about other trees or projis, and
cannot support themselves ; as vines, ivy, brier, briony,
woodbines, hops, climatis, camomile, etc. The cause
is, as hath been partly touched, for that all plants
naturally move upwards ; but if the sap put up too fast,
it maketli a slender stalk, which will not support the
weight : and therefore these latter sort are all swift
and hasty comers.

Experiments in consort touching all manner of composts^
and helps of ground.

595. The first and most ordinary help is stercora-
tion. The sheeps dung is one of the best ; and next
the dung of kine : and thirdly, that of horses, wliich
is held to be somewhat too hot unless it be mingled.


That of pigeons for a garden, or a small quantity of
ground, excelleth. The ordering of dung is, if the
ground be arable, to spread it immediately before the
ploughing and sowing ; and so to plough it in : for if
you spread it long before, the sun will draw out much
of the fatness of the dung : if the ground be grazing
ground, to spread it somewhat late towards winter ;
that the sun may have the less power to dry it up.
As for special composts for gardens, as a hot bed, etc.
we have handled them before.

596. The second kind of compost is, the spreading
of divers kinds of earths ; as marie, chalk, sea sand,
earth upon earth, pond earth : and the mixtures of
them. Marie is thought to be the best, as having
most fatness ; and not heating the ground too mucli.
The next is sea sand, which no doubt obtaineth a
special virtue by the salt : for salt is the first rudiment
of life. Chalk over-heateth the ground a little ; and
therefore is best upon cold clay grounds, or moist
grounds : but I heard a great husband say that it was
a common error, to think that chalk helpeth arable
grounds, but helpeth not grazing grounds ; whereas
indeed it helpeth grass as well as corn : but that which
breedeth the error is, because after the chalking of the
ground they wear it out with many crops without rest ;
and then indeed afterwards it will bear little grass,
because the ground is tired out. It were good to try
the laying of chalk upon arable grounds a little while
before ploughing ; and to plough it in as they do the
dung ; but then it must be friable first by rain or lying.
As for earth, it compostcth itself; for I knew a great
garden that had a field, in a manner, poured upon it ;
and it did bear fruit excellently the first year of the
planting : for the surface of the earth is ever the fruit-
fullest. And earth so prepared hath a double surface.
But it is true, as I conceive, that such earth as hath
salt-petre bred in it, if you can procure it %vithout too
much charge, doth excel. The way to hasten the
breeding of salt-pctre, is to forbid the sun, and the
growtli of vegetables. And therefore if you make a
large hovel, thatched, over some quantity of ground ;


nay, if you do but plank the ground over, it will breed
salt-petre. As for pond earth, or river earth, it is a
very good compost ; especially if the pond have been
long uncleansed, and so the water be not too hungry :
and I judge it will be yet better if there be some mix-
ture of chalk.

597- The third help of ground is, by some other
substances that have a virtue to make ground fertile,
though they be not merely earth ; wherein ashes excel ;
insomuch as the countries about Mtna, and Vesuvius
have a kind of amends made them, for the mischief
the eruptions many times do, by the exceeding fruit-
fulness of the soil, caused by the ashes scattered about.
Soot also, though thin spread in a field or garden, is
tried to be a very good compost. For salt, it is too
costly ; but it is tried, that mingled with seed-com,
and sown together, it doth good : and I am of opinion,
that chalk in powder, mingled with seed-com, would
do good ; perhaps as much as chalking the ground all
over. As for the steeping of the seeds in several mix-
tures with water to give them vigour, or watering-
grounds with compost-water, we have spoken of them

598. The fourth help of ground is, the suffering of
vegetables to die into the ground, and so to fatten it ;
as the stubble of corn, especially peas. Brakes cast
upon the groimd in the beginning of winter, will make
it very fruitful. It were good also to try whether
leaves of trees swept together, with some chalk and
dung mixed, to give them more heart, would not make
a good compost ; for there is nothing lost so much as
leaves of trees ; and as they lie scattered, and with-
out mixture, they rather make the ground sour than

599. The fifth help of ground is, heat and warmth.
It hath been anciently practised to bum heath, and
ling, and sedge, with the vantage of the wind, upon
the ground. We see that warmth of walls and inclo-
sures mendeth ground : we see also, that lying open
to the south mendeth ground : we see again, that the
foldings of sheep help ground, as well by their warmth

VOL. I. 2 F


as by their compost : and it may be doubted, whether
the covering of the ground with brakes in the begin-
ning of the vsinter, whereof we spake in the last
experiment, helpeth it not, by reason of the warmth.
Nay, some very good husbands do suspect, that the
gathering up of flints in flinty ground, and laying them
on heaps, which is much used, is no good husbandry,
for that they would keep the ground warm.

600. The sixth help of ground is by watering and
irrigation ; which is in two manners ; the one by let-
ting in and shutting out waters at seasonable times :
for water at some seasons, and with reasonable stay,
doth good ; but at some other seasons, and with too
long stay, doth hurt : and this serveth only for mea-
dows which are along some river. The other way is,
to bring water from some hanging grounds, where
there are springs, into the lower grounds, carry'ing it
in some long fiu'rows ; and from those furrows, draw-
ing it traverse to spread the water. And this maketli
an excellent improvement, both for com and grass. It
is the richer, if those hanging grounds be fruitful, be-
cause it washeth off some of the fatness of the earth ;
but howsoever it profiteth much. Generally where
there are great overflows in fens, or the like, the
drowning of them in the winter maketh the summer
following more fruitful : the cause may be, for that it
keepeth the ground warm, and nourisheth it. But the
fen-men hold, tliat the sewers must be kept so as the
water may not stay too long in the spring till the
weeds and sedge be grown up ; for then the ground
will be like a wood, which keepeth out the sun, and
so continueth the wet ; whereby it will never graze to
purpose that year. Thus much for irrigation. But
for avoidances, and drainings of \vater, where there is
too much, and tlie helps of ground in that kind, we
shall speak of them in another place.



Expeiimenls in consort tonching the affinities and differences
between plants and inanimate bodies.

601. The differences between animate and inani-
mate bodies, we shall handle fully under the title of
life, and living spirits, and powers. We shall there-
fore make but a brief mention of them in this place.
The main differences are two. All bodies have spirits,
and pneumatical parts within them ; but the main
differences between animate and inanimate, are two :
the first is, that the spirits of things animate are all
continued vrithin themselves, and are branched in veins,
and secret canals, as blood is : and in living creatures,
the spirits have not only branches, but certain cells
or seats, where the principal spirits do reside, and
whereunto the rest do resort : but the spirits in things
inanimate are shut in, and cut off by the tangible
parts, and are not pervious one to another, as air is
in snow. The second main difference is, that the
spirits of animate bodies are all in some degree, more
or less, kindled and inflamed ; and have a fine com-
mixture of flame, and an aerial substance. But in-
animate bodies have their spirits no whit inflamed or
kindled. And this difference consisteth not in the
heat or coolness of spirits ; for cloves and other spices,
naptha and peti'olcum, have exceeding hot spirits,
hotter a great deal than oil, wax, or tallow, etc. but
not inflamed. And when any of those weak and
temperate bodies come to be inflamed, then they
gather a much greater heat than others have unin-
flamed, besides their light and motion, etc.

602. The differences, which are secondary, and
2 F 2


proceed from these two radical differences, are, first,
plants are all figurate and determinate, which inani-
mate bodies are not ; for look how far the spirit is able
to spread and continue itself, so far goeth the shape
or figure, and then is determined. Secondly, plants
do nourish ; inanimate bodies do not : they have an
accretion, but no alimentation. Thirdly, plants have
a period of life, which inanimate bodies have not.
Fourthly, they have a succession and propagation of
their kind, which is not in bodies inanimate.

603. The differences between plants, and metals
or fossils, besides those four before mentioned, for
metals I hold inanimate, are these : first, metals are
more durable than plants : secondly, they are more
solid and hard : thirdly, they are wholly subterrany ;
whereas plants are part above earth, and part under
the earth.

604. There be very few creatures that participate
of the nature of plants and metals both ; coral is one
of the nearest of both kinds : another is vitriol, for
that is aptest to sprout with moisture.

605. Another special affinity is between plants and
mould or putrefaction : for all putrefaction, if it dis-
solve not in arefaction, will in the end issue into
plants or living creatures bred of putrefaction. I
account moss, and mushrooms, and agaric, and other
of those kinds, to be but moulds of the ground, walls,
and trees, and the like. As for flesh, and fish, and
plants themselves, and a number of other things,
after a mouldiness, or rottenness, or corrupting, they
will fall to breed worms. These putrefactions, which
have affinity with plants, have this difference from
them ; that they have no succession or propagation,
though they nourish, and have a period of life, and
have likewise some figure.

606. I left once by chance a citron cut, in a close
room, for three summer months that I was absent ;
and at my retimi there were grown forth, out of the
pith cut, tufts of hairs an inch long, with little black
heads, as if they would have been some herb.


Experiments in consort touching tJie affinities and differences
of' plants and living creatures^ and the coiifiners and par-
ticiples of them.

607. The affinities and differences between plants
and living creatures arc these that follow. They have
both of them spirits continued, and branched, and also
inflamed. But first in living creatures, the spirits
have a cell or seat, which plants have not ; as was
also formerly said. And secondly, the spirits of living
creatm-es hold more of flame than the spirits of plants
do. And these two arc the radical differences. For
the secondary differences, they are as follow : — First,
plants are all fixed to the earth, whereas all living
creatures are severed, and of themselves. Secondly,
living creatures have local motion, plants have not.
Thirdly, living creatures nourish from their upper
parts, by the mouth chiefly ; plants nourish from be-
low, namely, from the roots. Fourthly, plants have
their seed and seminal parts uppermost ; living crea-
tures have them lowermost : and tlierefore it was said,
not elegantly alone, but philosophically : " Homo est
planta in versa;" Man is like a plant turned upwards:
for the root in plants is as the head in living crea-
tures. Fifthly, living creatures have a more exact
figure than plants. Sixthly, living creatures have
more diversity of organs within their bodies, and, as
it were, inward figures, than plants have. Seventhly,
living creatures have sense, which plants have not.
Eighthly, living creatures have voluntary motion,
which plants have not,

608. For the difference of sexes in plants, they
are oftentimes by name distinguished ; as male-piony,
female-piony ; male rosemary, female-rosemary; he-
holly, she-holly, etc. but generation by copulation
certainly extendcth not to plants. The nearest ap-
proach of it is between the he-palm and the she-
palm, which, as they report, if they grow near, incline
the one to the other ; insomuch as, that which is more
strange, they doubt not to report, that to keep the
trees upright from bending, they tie roj)es or lines
from the one to the other, that the contact might be


enjoyed by the contact of a middle body. But this
may be feigned, or at least amplified. Nevertheless
I am apt enough to think, that this same binarium

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 45 of 52)