Francis Bacon.

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

. (page 47 of 52)
Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 47 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

sides ; as in lettuce, and young cabbage : and the
third is folding into an head ; as in cabbage full grown,
and cabbage-lettuce.

652. It is reported, that fir and pine, especially if
they be old and putrified, though they shine not as
some rotten woods do, yet in the sudden breaking they
will sparkle like hard sugar.

VOL. L 2 G


653. The roots of trees do some of them put down-
wards deep into the ground ; as the oak, pine, fir, etc.
Some spread more towards the surface of the earth ;
as the ash, cypress- tree, ohve, etc. The cause of this
latter may be, for that such trees as love the sun, do
not willingly descend far into the earth ; and there-
fore they are, commonly, trees that shoot up much ;
for in their body their desire to approach to the sun
maketh them spread the less. And the same reason
under ground, to avoid recess from the sun, maketh
them spread the more. And we see it cometh to
pass in some trees which have been planted too deep
in the ground, that for love of approach to the sun,
they forsake their first root, and put out another more
towards the top of the earth. And we see also, that
the olive is fiUl of oily juice ; and ash maketh the best
fire ; and cypress is an hot tree. As for the oak,
which is of the former sort, it loveth the earth ; and
therefore groweth slowly. And for the pine and fir
likewise, they have so much heat in themselves, as
they need less the heat of the sun. There be herbs
also that have the same difference ; as the herb they
call inorsus diaboli ; which putteth the root down so
low, as you cannot pull it up without breaking;
which gave occasion to the name and fable ; for that
it was said, it was so wholesome a root, that the devil,
when it was gathered, bit it for envy : and some of
the ancients do report, that there was a goodly fir,
which they desired to remove whole, that had a root
under ground eight cubits deep ; and so the root came
up broken.

654. It hath been observed, that a branch of a tree,
being unbarked some space at the bottom, and so set
into the ground, hath grown ; even of such trees, as
if the branch were set with tlic bark on, they would
not grow ; yet contrariwise we sec, that a tree pared
round in the body above ground, will die. The cause
may be, for that the unbarked part draweth the nou-
rishment best, but the bark continueth it only.

655. Grapes will continue fresh and moist all win-
ter long, if you hang tliem cluster by cluster in the


roof of a warm room ; especially if when you gather
the cluster, you take off with the cluster some of the

656. The reed or cane is a watery plant, and
groweth not but in the water : it hath these properties ;
that it is hollow : that it is knuckled both stalk and
root ; that being dry, it is more hard and fragile than
other wood ; that it putteth forth no boughs, though
many stalks out of one root. It differeth much
in greatness ; the smallest being fit for thatching of
houses, and stopping the chinks of ships, better than
glue or pitch. The second bigness is used for angle-
rods and staves ; and in China for beating of offenders
upon the thighs. The differing kinds of them arc,
the common reed, the cassia fistula, and the sugar-
reed. Of all plants it boweth the easiest, and riseth
again. It seemeth, that amongst plants which are
nourished with mixture of earth and water, it draweth
most nourishment from water : which maketh it the
smoothest of all others in bark, and the hoUowest in

657. The sap of trees when they are let blood, is
of differing natures. Some more watery and clear ;
as that of vines, of beeches, of pears : some thick, as
apples : some gummy, as cherries : some frothy, as
elms : some milky, as figs. In mulberries the sap
seemeth to be almost towards the bark only ; for if you
cut tlic tree a little into the bark with a stone, it will
come forth ; if you pierce it deeper with a tool, it will
be dry. The trees which have the moistest juices in
their fruit, have commonly the moistest sap in their
body ; for the vines and pears are very moist ; apples
somewhat more spungy : the milk of the fig hath the
quality of the rennet, to gather cheese ; and so have
certain sour herbs wherewith they make cheese in Lent.

658. The timber and wood are in some trees more
clean, in some more knotty ; and it is a good trial to
try it by speaking at one end, and laying the car at
the other : for if it be knotty, the voice will not pass
well. Some have the veins more varied and cliam-
bletted ; as oak, whereof wainscot is made ; maple,

2g 2


whereof trenchers are made : some more smooth, as fir
and wahiut : some do more easily breed worms and
spiders ; some more hardly, as it is said of Irish trees :
besides there be a number of differences that concern
their use ; as oak, cedar, and chestnut, are the best
builders ; some are best for plough -timber, as ash ; some
for piers, that are sometimes wet and sometimes dry,
as elm ; some for planchers, as deal ; some for tables,
cupboards, and desks, as walnuts ; some for ship-timber,
as oaks that grow in moist grounds ; for that maketh
the timber tough, and not apt to rift with ordnance ;
wherein English and Irish timber are thought to excel :
some for masts of ships, as fir and pine, because of
their length, straightness, and lightness : some for pale,
as oak ; some for fuel, as ash ; and so of the rest.

659. The coming of trees and plants in certain
regions, and not in others, is sometimes casual : for
many have been translated, and have prospered well ;
as damask-roses, that have not been known in Eng-
land above an hundi'ed years, and now are so common.
But the liking of plants in certain soils more than in
others, is merely natural ; as the fir and pine love the
mountains ; the poplar, willow, sallow, and alder, love
rivers and moist places ; the ash loveth coppices, but
is best in standards alone ; juniper loveth chalk ; and
so do most fruit trees ; samphire groweth but upon
rocks ; reeds and osiers grow where they are washed
with water ; the vine loveth sides of hills, turning
upon the south-east sun, etc.

660. The putting forth of certain herbs discovereth
of what nature the ground where they put forth is ;
as wild thyme sheweth good feeding-ground for cattle ;
betony and strawberries shew grounds fit for wood ;
camomile sheweth mellow grounds fit for wheat. Mus-
tard-seed, growing after the plough, sheweth a good
strong ground also for wheat : burnet sheweth good
meadow, and the like.

661 . There are found in divers countries some other
plants that grow out of trees and plants, besides mis-
seltoe : as in Syria there is an herb called cassytas,
that growetli out of tall trees, and windeth itself about


the same tree wliere it growetli, and sometimes about
thorns. There is a kind of polypode that growetli out
of trees, thougli it windeth not. So likewise an herb
called faiuios, upon the wild olive. And an licrb
called hippopluunton upon the fullers thorn : wliicli,
they say, is good for the falling sickness.

^^2. It hath been observed by some of the ancients,
that howsoever cold or easterly winds are thouglit to
be great enfMuies to fruit, yet nevertheless south winds
are also found to do hurt, especially in the blossoming
time : and the more if showers follow. It seemeth
they call forth the moisture too fast. The west winds
are the best. It hath been observed also, that green
and open winters do hurt trees ; insomuch as if two
or three such winters come together, almond-trees, and
some other trees, will die. The cause is the same with
the former, because the lust of the earth over-spendeth
itself: howsoever some other of the ancients have com-
mended warm winters.

663. Snows lying long cause a fruitful year ; for
first, they keep in the strength of the earth ; secondly,
they water the earth better than rain : for in snow, the
earth doth, as it were, suck the water as out of the
teat : thirdly, the moisture of snon- is the finest mois-
ture, for it is the froth of the cloudy waters.

QQ^. Showers, if they come a little before the ripe-
nintr of fruits, do o-ood to all succulent and moist
fruits ; as vines, olives, pomegranates ; yet it is rather
for ])lenty than for goodness ; for the best vines are in
the driest vintages : small showers are likewise good
for corn, so as parching heats come not upon them.
Generally night showers are better than day showers,
for that the sun followeth not so fast upon them ; and
we see even in watering by the hand, it is best in
summer time to water in the evening.

665. The differences of earths, and the trial of them,
are worthy to be diligently inquired. The earth, that
with showers doth easiliest soften, is commended ; and
yet some earth of that kind will be very dry and hard
before the showers. The earth that casteth up from
the plough a great clod, is not so good as that which


castetli up a smaller clod. The earth that putteth
forth moss easily, and may be called moiddy, is not
good. The earth that smelleth well upon the digging,
or ploughing, is commended ; as containing the juice
of vegetables almost already prepared. It is thought
by some, that the ends of low rainbows fall more upon
one kind of earth than upon another ; as it may well
be ; for that that earth is most roscid : and therefore
it is commended for a sign of good earth. The poor-
ness of the herbs, it is plain, shew the poorness of the
earth ; and especially if they be in colour more dark :
but if the herbs shew withered, or blasted at the top,
it sheweth the earth to be very cold ; and so doth the
mossiness of trees. The earth, whereof the grass is
soon parched with the sun, and toasted, is commonly
forced earth, and barren in its own nature. The ten-
der, chessome, and mellow earth, is the best, being
mere mould, between the two extremes of clay and sand,
especially if it be not loamy and binding. The earth,
that after rain will scarce be ploughed, is commonly
fruitful : for it is cleaving, and full of juice.

666. It is strange, which is observed by some of
the ancients, that dust helpeth the fruitfulness of trees,
and of vines by name ; insomuch as they cast dust
upon them of purpose. It should seem, that that
powdering, when a shower cometh, maketli a kind of
soiling to the tree, being earth and water finely laid
on. And they note, that countries wliere the fields
and ways are dusty bear the best vines.

667. It is commended by the ancients for an excel-
lent help to trees, to lay the stalks and leaves of
lupins about the roots, or to plough them into the
ground where you will sow corn. The burning also
of the cuttings of vines, and casting them upon land,
doth much good. And it was generally received of
old, that dunging of grounds when the west wind
bloweth, and in the decrease of the moon, doth greatly
lielp; the earth, as it seemetli, being then more thirsty
and open to receive the dung.

()f)8. The grafting of vines upon vines, as I take it,
is not now in use : the ancients had it, and that three


ways : the first was incision, which is the ordinary
manner of grafting : the second was tcrehration tlirougli
the middle of the stock, and putting in the cions there :
and the third was paring of two vines that grow
together to the marrow, and biiuUng them close.

669. The diseases and ill accidents of corn are
worthy to be inquired ; and would be more worthy to
be inquired, if it were in mens power to help them ;
whereas many of them are not to be remedied. The
mildew is one of the greatest, which, out of question,
cometh by closeness of air ; and therefore in hills, or
large champain grounds, it seldom cometh ; such as is
with us York's woald. This cannot be remedied,
otherwise than that in countries of small inclosure the
grounds be turned into larger fields : which I have
known to do good in some farms. Another disease is
the putting forth of wild oats, whereinto corn often-
times, especially barley, doth degenerate. It happeneth
chiefly from the weakness of the grain that is sown ;
for if it be either too old or mouldy, it will bring forth
wild oats. Another disease is the satiety of the ground ;
for if you sow one ground still with the same corn, I
mean not the same corn that grew upon the same
ground, but the same kind of grain, as wheat, barley,
etc. it will prosper but poorly : therefore, besides the
resting of the ground, you must vary the seed. Another
ill accident is from the winds, which hurt at two times ;
at the flowering, by shaking off the flowers ; and at
the full ripening, by shaking out the corn. Another
ill accident is drought, at the spindling of the corn,
which with us is rare, but in hotter countries common :
insomuch as the word calamitas was first derived from
calamus, when the corn could not get out of the stalk.
Another ill accident is over-wet at sowing time, which
with us breedeth much dearth, insomuch as the corn
never cometh up ; and many times they are forced to
re-sow summer corn where they sowed winter corn.
Another ill accident is bitter frosts continued without
snow, especially in the beginning of the winter, after
the seed is new sown. Another disease is worms,
which sometimes breed in the root, and happen upon


hot suns and showers immediately after the sowing ;
and another worm breedeth in the ear itself, especially
when hot suns break often out of clouds. Another
disease is weeds ; and they are such as either choke
and over-shadow the corn, and bear it down ; or starve
the corn, and deceive it of nourishment. Another
disease is over-rankness of the corn ; which they use
to remedy by mowing it after it is come up ; or putting
sheep into it. Another ill accident is laying of corn
with great rains, near or in harvest. Another ill acci-
dent is, if the seed happen to have touched oil, or any
thing that is fat ; for those substances have an anti-
pathy with nourishment of water.

670. The remedies of the diseases of corn have been
observed as folio weth. The steeping of the grain,
before sowing, a little time in wine, is thought a pre-
servative : the mingling of seed-corn with ashes is
thought to be good : the sowing at the wane of the
moon, is thought to make the corn sound : it hath not
been practised, but it is thought to be of use to make
some miscellano in corn ; as if you sow a few beans
with wheat, your wheat will be the better. It hath been
observed, that the sowing of corn with houseleek doth
good. Though grain that touchcth oil or fat, receiveth
hurt, yet the steeping of it in the dregs of oil, when
it beginneth to putrify, which they call amuixa, is
thought to assure it against worms. It is reported
also, that if corn be mowed, it will make the grain
longer, but emptier, and having more of the husk.

671. It hath been noted, that seed of a year old is
the best; and of two or three years is worse ; and that
which is more old is quite barren ; though, no doubt,
some seed and grains last better than others. The
corn which in the vanning lieth lowest is the best :
and the corn which broken or bitten retaineth a little
yellowness, is better tlian tliat v/hicli is very white.

672. It hath been observed, that of all roots of
herbs, the root of sorrel gocth the farthest into the
earth ; insomuch that it liath been known to go tln-ee
cubits deep : and that it is the root that continuetli fit
longest to be set again, of any root that groweth. It


is a coltl and acid herb, tliat, as it secmcth, loveth the
cartli, and is not much drawn by the sun.

673. It hath been observed, that some herbs like
best being watered with salt water ; as radish, beet,
rue, pennyroyal ; this trial would be extended to some
other herbs ; especially such as are strong, as tarragon,
mustard-seed, rocket, and the like.

67-i. It is strange that is generally received, how
some poisonous beasts affect odorate and wholesome
herbs ; as that the snake loveth fennel ; that the toad
will be much under sage ; that frogs will be in cinque-
foil. It may be it is rather the shade, or other cover-
ture, that they take liking in, than the virtue of the

675. It were a matter of great profit, save that I
doubt it is too conjectural to venture upon, if one could
discern what corn, herbs, or fruits, are like to be in
plenty or scarcity, by some signs and prognostics in
the beginning of the year : for as for those that are
like to be in plenty, they may be bargained for upon
the ground ; as the old relation was of Thales ; who,
to shew how easy it was for a philosopher to be rich,
when he foresaw a great plenty of olives, made a mo-
nopoly of them. And for scarcity, men may make
profit in keeping better the old store. Long continu-
ance of snow is believed to make a fruitftd year of
corn : an early winter, or a very late winter, a barren
year of corn ; an open and serene winter, an ill year
of fruit : these we have partly touched before : but
other prognostics of like nature are diligently to be

676. There seem to be in some plants singularities,
wherein they differ from all otlicr ; the olive hath the
oily part only on the outside ; whereas all other fruits
have it in the nut or kernel. The fir hath, in effect,
no stone, nut, nor kernel ; except you will count the
little grains kernels. The pomegranate and pine-
apple have only amongst fruits grains distinct in
several cells. No herbs have curled leaves but cabbage
and cabbao;c -lettuce. None have doubled leaves, one
belonging to the stalk, another to the fruit or seed,


but the artichoke. No flower hath that kind of spread
that the woodbine hath. This may be a large field
of contemplation ; for it sheweth that in the frame of
nature, there is, in the producing of some species, a
composition of matter, which happeneth oft, and may
be much diversified : in others, such as happeneth
rarely, and admitteth little variety : for so it is like-
wise in beasts ; dogs have a resemblance with wolves
and foxes ; horses with asses ; kine with buflles ; hares
with coneys, etc. And so in birds : kites and kestrels
have a resemblance with hawks ; common doves with
ring-doves and turtles ; blackbirds with thrushes and
mavises ; crows with ravens, daws, and choughs, etc.
But elephants and swine amongst beasts ; and the bird
of paradise and the peacock amongst birds ; and some
few others, have scarce any other species that have
affinity with them.

We leave the description of plants, and their virtues,
to herbals, and other like books of natural history ;
wherein mens diligence hath been great, even to cu-
riosity : for oiu" experiments are only such as do ever
ascend a degree to the deriving of causes, and ex-
tracting of axioms, which we are not ignorant but
that some botli of the ancient and modern writers
have also laboured ; but their causes and axioms are
so full of imagination, and so infected with the old
received theories, as they are mere inquinations of
experience, and concoct it not.

Experhnent solitary toncldng healing of wounds.

677- It liath been observed by some of the ancients,
that skins, especially of rams, newly pulled off, and
applied to the wounds of stripes, do keep them from
swelling and ex ulcerating ; and likewise heal them
and close them up ; and tliat the whites of eggs do
the same. The cause is a temperate conglutination ;
for both bodies are clammy and viscous, and do bridle
the deflux of humoms to the hurts, without penning
them in too mucli.


Experiment solitary touching fat diffused in Jlesh.

678. You may turn almost all flesh into a fatty
substance, if you take flesh and cut it into pieces, and
])ut the pieces into a glass covered with parchment ;
and so let the glass stand six or seven hours in boiling
water. It may be an experiment of profit for making
of fat or grease for many uses ; but then it must be of
such flesh as is not edible; as horses, dogs, bears,
foxes, badgers, etc.

Experiment solitary touching ripening of drink before
the time.

679- It is reported by one of the ancients, that
new wine put into vessels well stopped, and the
vessels let down into the sea, will accelerate very
much the making of them ripe and potable. The
same would be tried in wort.

Experiment solitarrj touching pilosity and plumage,

680. Beasts are more hairy than men, and savage
men more tlian civil ; and the plumage of birds ex-
ceedeth the pilosity of beasts. The cause of the
smoothness in men is not any abundance of heat and
moisture, though that indeed causeth pilosity ; but
there is requisite to pilosity, not so much heat and
moisture, as excrcmentitious heat and moisture ; for
whatsoever assimilatcth, goetli not into the hair; and
excrementitious moisture aboundcth most in beasts,
and men that are more savage. JMuch the same
reason is there of the plumage of birds ; for birds
assimilate less, and excern more than beasts ; for
their excrements are ever liquid, and their flesh gene-
rally more dry : besides, they have not instruments
for urine ; and so all the excrementitious moisture
goeth into the feathers ; and therefore it is no marvel,
though birds be commonly better meat than beasts,
because their flesh doth assimilate more finely, and
secerneth more subtilly. Again, the head of man
liath hair upon the first birth, which no other part of
llic body hath. The cause may be want of perspi-
j ation : for much of the matter of hair, in the other


parts of tlie body, goeth forth by insensible perspira-
tion ; and besides, the skull being of a more solid
substance, nourisheth and assimilateth less, and ex-
cerneth more ; and so likewise doth the cliin. We
see also, that hair cometh not upon the palms of the
hands, nor soles of tlie feet ; which are parts more
perspirable. And children likewise are not hairy, for
that their skins are more perspirable.

Experiment solitary touching the quickness of motion
in birds.

681. Birds are of swifter motion than beasts; for
the flight of many birds is swifter than the race of any
beasts. The cause is, for that the spirits in birds are
in greater proportion, in comparison of the bulk of
their body, than in beasts : for as for the reason that
some give, that they are partly carried, whereas boasts
go, that is nothing ; for by that reason swimming
should be swifter than running : and that kind of
carriage also is not without labour of the wing.

Experiment solitary touching the different clearness of
the sea.

682. The sea is clearer when the north wind
bloweth, than when the south wind. The cause is,
for that salt water hath a little oiliness in the surface
thereof, as appeareth in very hot days : and again, for
that the southern wind relaxcth the water somewhat;
and no water boiling is so clear as cold water.

Experiment solitary touching the different heats of fire
and boiling water.

683. Fire burneth wood, making it first luminous ;
then black and brittle ; and lastly, broken and incine-
rate ; scalding water doth none of these. Tlie cause
is, for that by fire the spirit of the body is first refined,
and then emitted; wlicreof tlie refining or attenua-
tion causeth the light ; and the emission, first the fra-
gility, and after, the dissolution into ashes ; neither
doth any other body enter : but in water the spirit of
the body is not refined so niuch ; and besides part of


the water entereth, which doth increase the spirit, and
in a degree extinguish it : therefore we see that
hot water will quench fire. And again we see, that
in bodies wherein the water doth not much enter, but
only the heat passeth, hot water workcth the effects of
fire ; as in eggs boiled and roasted, into which the
water entereth not at all, there is scarce difference to
be discerned : but in fruit, and flesh, whereinto the
water entereth in some part, there is much more

Experiment solitary touching the qualification of heat
by moisture.

684. The bottom of a vessel of boiling water, as
hath been observed, is not very much heated, so as
men may put their hand under the vessel and remove
it. The cause is, for that the moisture of water as it
quencheth coals where it entereth, so it doth allay
heat where it toucheth : and therefore note well, that

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 47 of 52)