1. Abies, picea, pinus, pinaster, larsh, &c. are all of them easily rais’d of the kernels and nuts, which may be gotten out of their polysperm and turbinate cones, clogs, and squams, by exposing them to the sun, or a little before the fire, or in warm-water, till they begin to gape, and are ready to deliver themselves of their numerous burthens.
2. There are of the fir two principal species ; the picea, or male, which is the bigger tree ; very beautiful and aspiring, and of an harder wood, and hirsute leaf : And the silver-fir, or female. I begin with the first : The boughs whereof are flexible and bending ; the cones dependent, long and smooth, growing from the top of the branch ; and where gaping, yet retain the seeds in their receptacles, when fresh gather’d, giving a grateful fragrancy of the rosin : The fruit is ripe in September. But after all, for a perfecter account of the true and genuine fir-tree, (waving the distinction of sapinum, from sapinus, litera sed una differing, as of another kind) is a noble upright tree from the ground, smooth and even, to the eruption of the branches ; as is that they call the sapinum, and thence tapering to the summit of the fusterna : The arms and branches (with yew-like leaves) grow from the stem opposite to one another, seriatim to the top, (as do all cone-bearers) discovering their age ; which in time, with their weight, bend them from their natural tendency, which is upright, especially toward the top of aged trees, where the leaf is flattish, and not so regular : The cone great and hard, pyramidal and full of winged-seeds.
The silver-fir, of a whitish colour, like rosemary under the leaf, is distinguish’d from the rest, by the pectinal shape of it : The cones not so large as the picea, grow also upright, and this they call the female : For I find botanists not unanimously agreed about the sexes of trees. The layers, and even cuttings of this tree, take root, and improve to trees, tho’ more naturally by its winged-seeds : But the masculine picea will endure no amputation ; nor is comparable to the silver-fir for beauty, and so fit to adorn walks and avenues ; tho’ the other also be a very stately plant ; yet with this infirmity, that tho’ it remain always green, it sheds the old leaves more visibly, and not seldom breaks down its ponderous branches : Besides, the timber is nothing so white ; tho’ yet even that colour be not always the best character : That which comes from Bergin, Swinsound, Mott, Longland, Dranton, &c. (which experienc’d work-men call the dram) being long, strait and clear, and of a yellow more cedry colour, is esteemed much before the white for flooring and wainscot, for masts, &c. those of Prussia, which we call spruce, and Norway (especially from Gottenberg) and about Riga, are the best ; unless we had more commerce of them from our Plantations in New England, which are preferable to any of them ; there lying rotting at present at Pascataway, a mast of such prodigious dimensions, as no body will adventure to ship, and bring away. All these bear their seeds in conick figures, and squamons, after an admirable manner and closeness, to protect their winged-seeds.
The hemlock-tree (as they call it in New-England) is a kind of spruce : In the Scottish Highlands are trees of wonderful altitude (though not altogether so tall, thick, and fine as the former) which grow upon places so unaccessible, and far from the sea, that (as one says) they seem to be planted by God on purpose for nurseries of seed, and monitors to our industry, reserved with other blessings, to be discover’d in our days amongst the new-invented improvements of husbandry, not known to our southern people of this nation, &c. Did we consider the pains they take to bring them out of the Alps, we should less stick at the difficulty of transporting them from the utmost parts of Scotland. To the former sorts we may add the Esterund firs, Tonsberry, Frederick-stad, Heller-one, Holmstrand, Landifer, Stavenger, Lawrwat, &c. There is likewise a kind of fir, call’d in Dutch the green-boorne, much us’d in building of ships, though not for men of war, because of its lightness, and that it is not so strong as oak ; but yet proper enough for vessels of great burden, and which stand much out of the water : This sort comes into Holland from Norway, and other Eastland countries ; It is some-what heavier yet than fir, and stronger, nor do either of them bend sufficiently : As to the seeds, they may be sown in beds or cases at any time, during March ; and when they peep, carefully defended with furzes, or the like fence, from the rapacious birds, which are very apt to pull them up, by taking hold of that little infecund part of the seed, which they commonly bear upon their tops : The beds wherein you sow them had need be shelter’d from the southern aspects, with some skreen of reed, or thick hedge : Sow them in shallow rills, not above half-inch-deep, and cover them with fine light mould : Being risen a finger in height, establish their weak stalks, by sifting some more earth about them ; especially the pines, which being more top-heavy, are more apt to swag. When they are of two or three years growth, you may transplant them where you please ; and when they have gotten good root, they will make prodigious shoots, but not for the three or four first years comparatively. They will grow both in moist and barren gravel, and poor ground, so it be not over-sandy and light, and want a loamy ligature ; but before sowing (I mean here for large designs) turn it up a foot deep, sowing, or setting your seeds an hand distance, and riddle earth upon them : In five or six weeks they will peep. When you transplant, water them well before, and cut the clod out about the root, as you do melons out of the hot-bed, which knead close to them like an egg : Thus they may be sent safely many miles, but the top must neither be bruised, nor much less cut, which would dwarf it for ever : One kind also will take of slips or layers, interr’d about the latter end of August, and kept moist.
3. The best time to transplant, were in the beginning of April ; they would thrive mainly in a stiff, hungry clay, or rather loam ; but by no means in over-light, or rich soil : Fill the holes therefore with such barren earth, if your ground be improper of it self ; and if the clay be too stiff, and untractable, with a little sand, removing with as much earth about the roots as is possible, though the fir will better endure a naked transplantation, than the pine : If you be necessitated to plant towards the latter end of Summer, lay a pretty deal of horse-litter upon the surface of the ground, to keep off the heat, and in Winter the cold ; but let no dung touch either stem or root : You may likewise sow in such earth about February, they will make a shoot the very first year of an inch ; next an handful, the third year three foot, and thence forward, above a yard annually. A Northern gentleman (who has oblig’d me with this process upon his great experience) assures me, that fir, and this feralis arbor, (as Virgil calls the pine) are abundantly planted in Northumberland, which are in few years grown to the magnitude of ship-masts ; and from all has been said, deduces these encouragements. 1. The facility of their propagation. z. The nature of their growth, which is to affect places where nothing else will thrive. 3. Their uniformity and beauty. 4. Their perpetual verdure. 5. Their sweetness. 6. Their fruitfulness; affording seed, gum, fuel, and timber of all other woods the most useful, and easy to work, &c. All which highly recommend it as an excellent improvement of husbandry, fit to be enjoyn’d by some solemn edict, to the inhabitants of this our island, that we may have masts, and those other materials of our own growth : In planting the silver abies, set not the roots too deep, it affects the surface more than the rest.
4. The pine (of which are reckon’d no less than ten several sorts, preferring the domestic, or sative for the fuller growth) is likewise of both sexes, whereof the male growing lower, with a rounder shape, bath its wood more knotty and rude than the female ; it’s lank, longer, narrow and pointed ; bears a black, thick, large cone, including the kernel within an hard shell, cover’d under a thick scale.
The nuts of this tree (not much inferior to the almond) are used among other ingredients, in beatillapies, at the best tables. They would be gather’d in June, before they gape ; yet having hung two years (for there will be always some ripe, and some green on the same tree) preserve them in their nuts, in sand, as you treat acorns, &c. ’till the season invite, and then set or sow them in ground which is cultivated like the fir, in most respects ; only, you may bury the nuts a little deeper. By a friend of mine, they were rolled in a fine compost made of sheepsdung, and scatter’d in February, and this way never fail’d fir and pine ; they came to be above inch-high by May ; and a Spanish author tells us, that to macerate them five days in a child’s urine, and three days in water, is of wonderful effect : This were an expeditious process for great plantations ; unless you would rather set the pine as they do pease, but at wider distances, that when there is occasion of removal, they might be taken up with the earth and all, I say, taken up, and not remov’d by evulsion ; because they are (of all other trees) the most obnoxious to miscarry without this caution ; and therefore it were much better (where the nuts might be commodiously set, and defended) never to remove them at all, it gives this tree so considerable a check. The safest course of all, were to set the nuts in an earthen-pot, and in frosty weather, shewing it a little to the fire, the intire clod will come out with them, which are to be reserved, and set in the naked earth, in convenient and fit holes prepar’d beforehand, or so soon as the thaw is universal : Some commend the strewing a few oats at the bottom of the fosses or pits in which you transplant the naked roots, for a great promotement of their taking, and that it will cause them to shoot more in one year than in three : But to this I have already spoken. Other kinds not so rigid, nor the bark, leaf, cone and nuts so large, are those call’d the mountain-pine, a very large stately tree : There is likewise the wild, or bastard-pine, and tea, clad with thin long leaves, and bearing a turbinated cone : Abundance of excellent rosin comes from this tree. There is also the pinaster, another of the wild-kind ; but none of them exceeding the Spanish, call’d by us, the Scotch pine, for its tall and erect growth, proper for large and ample walks and avenues: Several of the other wild sorts, inclining to grow crooked. But for a more accurate description of these coniferous trees, and their perfect distinctions, consult our Mr. Ray’s most elaborate and useful work, where all that can be expected or desir’d, concerning this profitable, as well as beautiful tree, is amply set down, Hist. Plant. lib. 25, cap. I.
5. I am assur’d (by a person most worthy of credit) that in the territory of Alzey (a country in Germany, where they were miserably distressed for wood, which they had so destroy’d as that they were reduc’d to make use of straw for their best fuel) a very large tract being newly plowed, (but the wars surprizing them, not suffer’d to sow,) there sprung up the next year a whole forest of pine-trees, of which sort of wood there was none at all, within less than fourscore miles ; so as ’tis verily conjectur’d by some, they might be wafted thither from the country of Westrasia, which is the nearest part to that where they grow : If this be true, we are no more to wonder, how, when our oak-woods are grubb’d up, beech, and trees of other kinds, have frequently succeeded them : What some impetuous winds have done in this nature, I could produce instances almost miraculous : I shall say nothing of the opinion of our master Varro, and the learned 1 Theophrastus, who were both of a faith, that the seeds of plants drop’d out of the air. Pliny in his 16th. book, chap. 33 upon discourse of the Cretan cypress, attributes much to the indoles, and nature of the soil, virtue of the climate, and impressions of the air. And indeed it is very strange, what is affirm’d of that pitchy-rain, (reported to have fallen about Cyrene, the year 43o. U. C.) after which, in a short time, sprung up a whole wood of the trees of Laserpicium, producing a precious gum, not much inferior to benzoin, if at least the story be warrantable: But of these aerial irradiations, various conceptions, and aequivocal productions without seed, &c. difficulties to be solv’d by our philosophers, whence those leaves of the platan come; which Dr. Spon tells us (in his Travels) are found floating in some of the fountains of the isles of the Strophades ; no such tree growing near them by 30 miles : But these may haply be convey’d thro’ some unknown subterranean passage ; for were it by the wind, it having a very large leaf, they would be been flying in, or falling out of the air.
6. In transplanting of these coniferous trees, which are generally resinaceous, viz. fir, pine, larix, cedar, and which have but thin and single roots, you must never diminish their heads, nor be at all busie with their roots, which pierce deep, and is all their foundation, unless you find any of them bruised, or much broken ; therefore such down-right roots as you may be forc’d to cut off, it were safe to sear with an hot iron, and prevent the danger of bleeding, to which they are obnoxious even to destruction, though unseen, and unheeded : Neither may you disbranch them, but with great caution, as about March, or before, or else in September, and then ’tis best to prune up the side-branches close to the trunk, cutting off all that are above a year old ; if you suffer them too long, they grow too big, and the cicatrice will be more apt to spend the tree in gum ; upon which accident, I advise you to rub over their wounds with a mixture of cow-dung ; the neglect of this cost me dear, so apt are they to spend their gum. Indeed, the fir and pine seldom out-live their being lopp’d. Some advise us to break the shells of pines to facilitate their delivery, and I have essay’d, but to my loss ; nature does obstetricate, and do that office of her self, when it is the proper season ; neither does this preparation at all prevent those which are so buried, whilst their hard integuments protect them both from rotting, and the vermin.
Pinastes, the domestic pine grows very well with us, both in mountains and plains ; but the pinaster, or wilder (of which are four sorts) best for walks ; pulcherrima in hortis, (as already we have said) because it grows tall and proud, maintaining their branches at the sides, which the other pine does less frequently. There is in New-England, a very broad pine, which increases to a wonderful bulk and magnitude, insomuch as large canoos have been excavated out of the body of it, without any addition. But beside these large and gigantick pines, there is the spinet, with sharp thick bristles, yielding a rosin or liquor odorous, and useful in carpentary-work.
8. The fir grows tallest, being planted reasonable close together ; but suffers nothing to thrive under them. The pine not so inhospitable ; for (by Pliny’s good leave) it may be sown with any tree, all things growing well under its shade, and excellent in woods ; hence Claudian,
The friendly pine the mighty oak invites.
9. They both affect the cold, high, and rocky grounds, abies in montibus altis : Those yet which grow on the more southern, and less expos’d quarters, a little visited with the beams of the sun, are found to thrive beyond the other, and to afford better timber ; and this was observed long since by Vitruvius of the infernates (as he calls them) in comparison with the supernates, which growing on the Northern and shady side of the Appennines, were nothing so good, which he imputes to the want of due digestion. They thrive (as we said) in the most sterile places, yet will grow in better, but not in over-rich, and pinguid. The worst land in Wales bears (as I am told) large pine ; and the fir according to his aspiring nature, loves also the mountain more than the valley ; but iv roic 7raXur,JotÇ ôaws of 0ufrat, it cannot endure the shade, as Theophrastus observes, de Pi. 1. 4. C. I. But this is not rigidly true ; for they will grow in consort, till they even shade and darken one another, and will also descend from the hills, and succeed very well, being desirous of plentiful waterings, till they arrive to some competent stature ; and therefore they do not prosper so well in an over sandy and hungry soil, or gravel, as in the very entrails of the rocks, which afford more drink to the roots, that penetrate into their meanders, and winding recesses. But though they require this refreshing at first, yet do they perfectly abhor all stercoration ; nor will they much endure to have the earth open’d about their roots for ablaqueation, or be disturb’d : This is also to be understood of cypress. A fir, for the first half dozen years, seems to stand, or at least make no considerable advance, but it is when throughly rooted, that it comes away miraculously. That honourable and learned knight Sir Norton Knatchbull, (whose delicious plantation of pines and firs I beheld with great satisfaction) having assur’d me, that a fir-tree of his raising, did shoot no less than sixty foot in height, in little more than twenty years ; and what are extant at Sir Peter Wentworth’s of Lillingston Lovel ; Cornbury in Oxfordshire, and other places ; but especially those trees growing now in Harefield Park in the county of Middlesex (be-longing to Mr. Serjeant Nudigate) where there are two Spanish or silver firs, that at 2 years growth from the seed, being planted there an. 1603, are now become goodly masts : The biggest of them from the ground to the upper bough, is 81 feet, though forked on the top, which has not a little impeded its growth : The girt, or circumference below, is thirteen foot, and the length (so far as is timber, that is, to six inches square) 73 foot, in the middle 17 inches square, amounting by calculation to 146 foot of good timber : The other tree is indeed not altogether so large, by reason of its standing near the house when it was burnt (about 40 years since) when one side of the tree was scorched also ; yet it has not only recover’d that scar, but thrives exceedingly, and is within eight or nine foot, as tall as the other, and would probably have been the better of the two, had not that impediment happen’d, it growing so taper, and erect, as nothing can be more beautiful : This I think (if we had no other) is a pregnant instance, as of the speedy growing of that material ; so of all the encouragement I have already given for the more frequent cultivating this ornamental, useful, and profitable tree, abounding doubtless formerly in this countrey of ours, if what a grave and authentick author writes be true, Athenaeus relating, that the stupendious vessel, built so many ages since by Hiero, had its mast out of Britain. Take notice that none of these mountainous trees should be planted deep ; but as shallow as may be for their competent support.
The picea (already describ’d) grows on the Alps among the pine, but neither so tall, nor so upright, but bends its branches a little, which have the leaf quite about them, short and thick, not so flat as the fir : The cones grow at the point of the branches, and are much longer than most other cones, containing a small darkish seed. This tree produces a gum almost as white and firm as frankincense : But it is the larix (another sort of pine) that yields the true Venetian turpentine ; of which hereafter.
10. There is also the picearter, already mention’d, (a wilder sort) (the leaves stiff and narrow pointed, and not so close) out of which the greatest store of pitch is boil’d. The taeda likewise, which is (as some think) another sort abounding in Dalmatia, more unctuous, and more patient of the warmer situations, and so inflammable, that it will slit into candles ; and therefore some will by no means admit it to be of a different species, but a metamorphosis of over-grown fattiness, to which the most judicious incline. But of these, the Grand Canaries (and all about the mountains near Tenariff) are full, where the inhabitants do usually build their houses with the timber of the pitch-tree : They cut it also into wainscot, in which it succeeds marvellously well ; abating that it is so obnoxious to firing, that whenever a house is attacqu’d, they make all imaginable hast out of the conflagration, and almost despair of extinguishing it : They there also use it for candle-wood, and to travel in the night by the light of it, as we do by links and torches : Nor do they make these teas (as the Spaniards call them) of the wood of pine alone, but of other trees, as of oak and hasel, which they cleave and hack, and then dry in the oven, or chimny, but have certainly some unctuous and inflammable matter, in which they afterwards dip it ; but thus they do in Biscay, as I am credibly inform’d.
11. The bodies of these being cut, or burnt down to the ground, will emit frequent suckers from the roots ; but so will neither the pine nor fir, nor indeed care to be topped : But the fir may be propagated of layers, and cuttings, which I divulge as a considerable secret that has been essay’d with success.
12. That all these, especially the fir and pine will prosper well with us, is more than probable, because it is a kind of demonstration, that they did heretofore grow plentifully in Cumberland, Cheshire, Stafford, and Lancashire, if the multitudes of these trees to this day found entire, and buried under the earth, though suppos’d to have been o’rethrown and cover’d so ever since the universal Deluge, be indeed of this species : Dr. Plot speaks of a fir-tree in Staffordshire, of 150 foot high, which some think of spontaneous growth ; besides several more so irregularly standing, as shews them to be natives : But to put this at last out of controversie, see the extract of Mr. de la Prim’s letter to the Royal Society, Transact. n. 277, and the old map of Crout, and of the yet (or lately) remaining firs, growing about Hatfield in the commons, flourishing from the shrubs and stubs of those trees, to which I refer the reader. As for buried trees of this sort, the late Dr. Merrett, in his Pinax, mentions several places of this nation, where subterraneous-trees are found ; as namely, in Cornwal, ad finem terra, in agris Flints; in Penbroke-shire towards the shore, where they so abound, ut totum littus (says the Doctor) tanquam silva cadua apparet ; in Cheshire also (as we said) Cumberland and Anglesey, and several of our Euro-boreal tracts, and are called Noah’s-ark.
By Chatnesse in Lancashire (says Camden) the low mossie ground was no very long time since, carried away by an impetuous flood, and in that place now lies a low irriguous vale, where many prostrate trees have been digged out ; And from another I receive, that in the moors of Somersetshire (towards Bridgwater) some lengths of pasture growing much withered, and parched more than other places of the same ground, in a great drowth, it was observ’d to bear the length and shape (in gross) of trees ; they digg’d, and found in the spot oaks, as black as ebony, and have been from hence instructed, to take up many hundreds of the same kind : In a fenny tract of the Isles of Axholme, (lying part in Lincolnshire, and part in Yorkshire) have been found oaks five yards in compass, and fifteen in length, some of them erect, and standing as they grew ; in firm earth below the moors, with abundance of fir, which lie more stooping than the oak ; some being 36 yards long, besides the tops : And so great is the store of these subterraneans, as the inhabitants have for divers years carried away above 2000 cart-loads yearly: See Dugdal’s History of f Draining. This might be of good use for the like detections in Essex, Lincolnshire, and places either low situate, or adjacent to the sea ; also at Binfield Heath in Kent, &c. These trees were (some think) carried away in times past, by some accident of inundation, or by waters undermining the ground, till their own weight, and the winds bow’d them down, and overwhelm’d them in the mud : For ’tis observ’d, that these trees are no where found so frequently, as in boggy places ; but that the burning of these trees so very bright, should be an argument they were fir, is not necessary, since the bituminous quality of such earth, may have imparted it to them ; and Camden denies them to be fir-trees ; suggesting the query ; whether there may not possibly grow trees even under the ground, as well as other things ? Theophrastus indeed, I. iv. c. 8. speaks of whole woods ; bays and olives, bearing fruit ; and that of some oaks bearing acorns, and those even under the sea ; which was so full of plants and other trees, as (’tis said) Alexander’s forces sailing to the Indies, were much hindred by them. There are in Cumberland, on the sea-shore, trees sometimes discover’d at low-water, and at other times that lie buried in the sand ; and in other mossie places of that county, ’tis reported, the people frequently dig up the bodies of vast trees without boughs, and that by direction of the dew alone in Summer ; for they observe it never lies upon that part under which those trees are interr’d. These particulars I find noted by the ingenious author of the Britannia Baconica. How vast a forest, and what goodly trees were once standing in Holland, and those Low-countries, till about the year 86o, that an hurricane obstructing the mouth of the Rhine near Catwic, made that horrid devastation, good authors mention ; and they do this day find monstrous bodies and branches, (nay with the very nuts, most intire) of prostrate and buried trees, in the Veene, especially towards the south, and at the bottom of the waters : Also near Bruges in Flanders, whole woods have been found twenty ells deep, in which the trunks, boughs, and leaves do so exactly appear, as to distinguish their several species, with the series of their leaves yearly falling ; of which see Boctius de Boot.
Dr. Plot in his Nat. Hist. of Oxford and Staff rd shires mentions divers subterraneous oaks, black as ebony, and of mineral substance for hardness ; (see cap. 3. oak) quite through the whole substance of the timber, caus’d (as he supposes, and learnedly evinces) by a vitriolic humour of the earth ; of affinity to the nature of the ink-galls, which that kind of tree produces : Of these he speaks of some found sunk under the ground, in an upright and growing posture, to the perpendicular depth of sixty foot ; of which one was three foot diameter, of an hardness emulating the politest ebony : But these trees had none of them their roots, but were found plainly to have been cut off by the kerf : There were great store of hasel-nuts, whose shells were as sound as ever, but no kernel within. It is there the inquisitive author gives you his conjecture, how these deep interments happen’d ; namely, by our ancesters (many ages since) clearing the ground for tillage, and when wood was not worth converting to other uses, digging trenches by the sides of many trees, in which they buried some ; and others they slung into quagmires, and lakes to make room for more profitable agriculture : But I refer you to the chapter. In the mean time, concerning this mossie-wood (as they usually term it, because, for the most part, dug-up in mossie and moory-bogs where they cut for turf) it is highly probable (with the learned Mr. Ray) that these places were many ages since, part of firm-land covered with wood, afterwards undermined, and overwhelmed by the violence of the sea, and so continuing submerg’d, till the rivers brought down earth, and mud enough to cover the trees, filling up the shallows, and restoring them to the terra-firma again, which he illustrates from the like accident upon the coast of Suffolk, about Dunwich, where the sea does at this day, and bath for many years past, much incroach’d upon the land, undermining, and subverting by degrees, a great deal of high-ground ; so as by ancient writings it appears, a whole wood of more than a mile and half, at present is so far within the sea : Now if in succeeding ages (as, probable it is enough) the sea shall by degrees be fill’d up, either by its own working, or by earth brought down by land-floods, still subsiding to the bottom, and surmounting the tops of these trees, and so the space again added to the firm-land ; the men that shall then live in those parts, will, it’s likely, dig-up these trees, and as much wonder how they came there, as we do at present those we have been speaking of.
In the mean time, to put an end to the various conjectures, concerning the causes of so many trees being found submerg’d, for the most part attributed to the destruction made by the Noatick inundation ; after all has been said of what was found in the level of Hatfield, (drain’d at the never to be forgotten charge and industry of Sir Cornelius Vermuiden) I think there will need no more enquiry : For there was discover’d trees not only of fir and pitch, but of very goodly oaks, even to the length of too foot, which were sold at 15 1. the tree, black and hard as ebony ; all their roots remaining in the soil, and their natural posture, with their bodies prostrate by them, pointing for the most part north-east : And of such there seem’d to be millions, of all the usual species natural to this countrey, sound and firm ash only excepted, which were become so rotten, and soft, as to be frequently cut through with the spade only ; whereas willows and other tender woods, continu’d very sound and entire : Many of these subterranean trees of all sorts, were found to have been cut and burnt down, squar’d and converted for several uses, into boards, bales, stakes, piles, barrs, &c. some trees half riven, with the wedges sticking in them ; broken axe-heads in shape of sacrificing instruments, and frequently several coins of the emperor Vespasian, &c. There was among others, one prodigious oak of 120 foot in length, and i 2 in diameter, i o foot in the middle, and 6 at the small end ; so as by computation, this monster must have been a great deal longer, and for this tree was offered 20 L The truth and history of all this is so perfectly describ’d by Mr. Alan. de la Pryme (inserted among the Transactions of the R. Society) that there needs no more to be said of it to evince, that not only here, but in other places, where such trees are found in the like circumstances, that it has been the work and effects of vast armies of the Romans, when finding they could not with all their force subdue the barbarous inhabitants, by reason of their continual issuing out of those intricate fortresses and impediments, they caused whole forests to be cut down by their legions and soldiers, whom they never suffer’d to remain idle during their Winter quarters, but were continually exercis’d in such publick and useful works, as required multitude of hands ; by which discipline they became hardy, active, and less at leisure to mutiny or corrupt one another : I do not affirm that this answers all submerg’d trees, but of very many imputed to other causes.
But we shall enquire farther concerning these subterranean productions anon, and whether the earth, as well as the water, have not the virtue of strange transmutations : These trees are found in moors, by poking with staves of three or four foot length, shod with iron.
13. In Scotland many submerged oaks are found near the river Neffe ; and (as we noted) there is a most beautiful sort of fir, or rather pine, bearing small sharp cones, (some think it the Spanish pinaster) growing upon the mountains ; of which, from the late Marquess of Argyle, I had sent me some seeds, which I have sown with tolerable success ; and I prefer them before any other, because they grow both very erect, and fixing themselves stoutly, need little, or no support. Near Loughbrun, ‘twixt the Lough, and an hill, they grow in such quantity, that from the spontaneous fall, ruin and decay of the trees lying cross one another to a man’s height, partly covered with mosse, and partly earth, and grass (which rots, fills up, and grows again) a considerable hill has in process of time been raised to almost their very tops, which being an accident of singular remark, I thought fit to mention. Both fir and pine (sociable trees) planted pretty near together (shread and clipt at proper seasons) make stately, noble, and very beautiful skreens and fences to protect orange, myrtile and other curious greens, from the scorching of the sun, and ruffling winds, preferrable to walls : See how to be planted and cultivated with the dimensions of a skreen, in the rules for the defence of gardens, annext to de la Quintin, num. xv. by Mr. London, and Mr. Wise, In the mean time, none of these sorts are to be mingled in taller woods or coppices, in which they starve one another, and lose their beauty. And now those who would see what Scotland produces (of innumerable trees of this kind) should consult the learned Sir Rob. Sibald.
14. For the many, and almost universal use of these trees, both sea and land will plead, The useful pine for ships may be thought to be built of this material, and if the poet mistake not.
There being no material more obedient and ready to bend for such works.
In Holland they receive their best mast out of Norway, and even as far as Moscovy, which are best esteemed, (as consisting of long fibers, without knots) but deal-boards from the first ; and though fir rots quickly in salt-water, it does not so soon perish in fresh ; nor do they yet refuse it in merchant-ships, especially the upper-parts of them, because of its lightness : The true pine was ever highly commended by the Ancients for naval architecture, as not so easily decaying ; and we read that Trajan caused vessels to be built both of the true, and spurious kind, well pitch’d, and over-laid with lead, which perhaps might hint our modern sheathing with that metal at present. Fir is exceeding smooth to polish on, and therefore does well under gilding-work, and takes black equal with the pear-tree : Both fir, and especially pine, succeed well in carving, as for capitals, festoons, nay, statues, especially being gilded, because of the easiness of the grain, to work and take the tool every way ; and he that shall examine it nearly, will find that famous image of the B. Virgin at Loretto, (reported to be carved by the hands of St. Luke) to be made of fir, as the grain easily discovers it : The torulus (as Vitruvius terms it) and heart of deal, kept dry, rejecting the albumen and white, is everlasting ; nor does there any wood so well agree with the glew, as it, or is so easie to be wrought : It is also excellent for beams, and other timber-work in houses, being both light, and exceedingly strong, and therefore of very good use for bars, and bolts of doors, as well as for doors themselves, and for the beams of coaches, a board of an inch and half thick, will carry the body of a coach with great ease, by reason of a natural spring which it has, not easily violated. You shall find, that of old they made carts and other carriages of it ; and for piles to superstruct on in boggy grounds ; most of Venice, and Amsterdam is built upon them, with so excessive charge, as some report, the foundations of their houses cost as much, as what is erected on them ; there being driven in no fewer than 13659 great masts of this timber, under the new Stadt-house of Amsterdam. For scaffolding also there is none comparable to it ; and I am sure we find it an extra-ordinary saver of oak, where it may be had at reasonable price. I will not complain what an incredible mass of ready money, is yearly exported into the northern countries for this sole commodity, which might all be saved were we industrious at home, or could have them out of Virginia, there being no country in the whole world stor’d with better ; besides, another sort of wood which they call cypress, much exceeding either fir or pine for this purpose ; being as tough and springy as yew, and bending to admiration ; it is also lighter than either, and everlasting in wet or dry ; so as I much wonder, that we enquire no more after it : In a word, not only here and there an house, but whole towns, and great cities are, and have been built of fir only ; nor that alone in the north, as Mosco, &c. where the very streets are pav’d with it, (the bodies of the trees lying prostrate one by one in manner of a raft) but the renowned city of Constantinople ; and nearer home Tholose in France, was within little more than an hundred years, most of fir, which is now wholly marble and brick, after Soo houses had been burnt, as it often chances at Constantinople ; but where no accident even of this devouring nature, will at all move them to re-edifie with more lasting materials. To conclude with the uses of fir, we have most of our pot-ashes of this wood, together with torch, or funebral-staves ; nay, and of old, spears of it, if we may credit Virgil’s Amazonian combat.
Lastly, the very chips, or shavings of deal-boards, are of other use than to kindle fires alone : Thomas Bartholinus in his Medicina Danorum Dissert. 7, &C. where he disclaims the use of hops in beer, (as pernicious and malignant, and from several instances how apt it is to produce and usher in infections, nay, plagues, &c.) would substitute in its place, the shavings of deal-boards, as he affirms, to give a grateful odor to the drink ; and how soveraign those resinous-woods, the tops of fir, and pines, are against the scorbut, gravel in the kidneys, &c. we generally find : It is in the same chapter, that he commends also wormwood, marrubium, chamelaeagnum, sage, tamarisc, and almost any thing, rather than hops. The bark of the pine heals ulcers ; and the inner rind cut small, contus’d, and boil’d in store of water, is an excellent remedy for burns and scalds, washing the sore with the decoction, and applying the softned bark : It is also soveraign against frozen and benumb’d limbs : The distill’d water of the green cones takes away the wrinkles of the face, dipping cloaths therein, and laying them on it becomes a cosmetic not to be despis’d. The pine, or picea buried in the earth never decay : From the latter transudes a very bright and pellucid gum ; hence we have likewise rosin ; also of the pine are made boxes and barrels for dry goods ; yea, and it is cloven into (scandulae) shingles for the covering of houses in some places ; also hoops for wine-vessels, especially of the easily flexible wild-pine ; not to forget the kernels (this tree being always furnish’d with cones, some ripe, others green) of such admirable use in emulsions ; and for tooth-pickers, even the very leaves are commended : In sum, they are plantations which exceedingly improve the air, by their odoriferous and balsamical emissions and, for ornament, create a perpetual Spring where they are plentifully propagated. And if it could be proved that the almugim-trees, recorded 1 1 Reg. 11 , 12. (whereof pillars for that famous temple, and the royal palace, harps, and psalteries, &c. were made) were of this sort of wood (as some doubt not to assert) we should esteem it at another rate ; yet we know Josephus affirms they were a kind of pine-tree, though somewhat resembling the fig-tree wood to appearance, as of a most lustrous candor. In the 2 Chron. 2, 8. there is mention of almug-trees to grow in Lebanon; and if so, methinks it should rather be (as Buxtorf thinks) a kind of cedar ; (yet we find fir also in the same period) for we have seen a whiter sort of it, even very white as well as red ; though some affirm it to be but the sap of it (so our cabinet-makers call it) I say, there were both fir and pine-trees also growing upon those mountains, and the learned Meibomius, (in that curious treatise of his De Fabrica Triremium) shews that there were such trees brought out of India, or Ophir. In the mean time, Mr. Purchas informs us, that Dr. Dee writ a laborious treatise almost wholly of this subject, (but I could never have the good hap to see it) wherein, as commissioner for Solomon’s timber, and like a learned architect and planter, he has summon’d a jury of twelve sorts of trees ; namely, i . the fir, 2. box, 3. cedar, 4. cypress, 5. ebony, 6. ash, 7. juniper, 8. larch, 9. olive, 10. pine, 11, oak, and 12. sandal-trees, to examine which of them were this almugim, and at last seems to concur with Josephus, in favour of pine or fir ; who possibly, from some antient record, or fragment of the wood it self, might learn something of it ; and ’tis believ’d, that it was some material both odoriferous to the scent, and beautiful to the eye, and of fittest temper to refract sounds ; besides its serviceableness for building ; all which properties are in the best sort of pine or thyina, as Pliny calls it ; or perhaps some other rare wood, of which the Eastern Indies are doubtless the best provided ; and yet I find, that those vast beams which sustain’d the roof of St. Peter’s church at Rome, laid (as reported) by Constantine the Great, were made of the pitch-tree, and have lasted from anno 336, down to our days, above 1300 years.
15. But now whilst I am reciting the uses of these beneficial trees,1 Mr. Winthorp presents the Royal Society with the process of making the tar and pitch in New-England, which we thus abbreviate. Tar is made out of that sort of pine-tree, from which naturally turpentine extilleth ; and which at its first flowing out, is liquid and clear ; but being hardned by the air, either on the tree, or where-ever it falls, is not much unlike the Burgundy pitch ; and we call them pitch-pines out of which this gummy substance transudes : They grow upon the most barren plains, on rocks also, and hills rising amongst those plains, where several are found blown down, and have lain so many ages, as that the whole bodies, branches, and roots of the trees being perished, some certain knots only of the boughs have been left remaining intire, (these knots are that part where the bough is joyn’d to the body of the tree) lying at the same distance and posture, as they grew upon the tree for its whole length. The bodies of some of these trees are not corrupted through age, but quite consum’d, and reduc’d to ashes, by the annual burnings of the Indians, when they set their grounds on fire ; which yet has, it seems, no power over these hard knots, beyond a black scorching ; although being laid on heaps, they are apt enough to burn. It is of these knots they make their tar in New-England, and the country adjacent, whilst they are well impregnated with that terebinthine, and resinous matter, which like a balsom, preserves them so long from putrefaction. The rest of the tree does indeed contain the like terebinthine sap, as appears (upon any slight incision of bark on the stem, or boughs) by a small crystalline pearl which will sweat out ; but this, for being more watery and undigested, by reason of the porosity of the wood, which exposes it to the impress-ions of the air and wet, renders the tree more obnoxious ; especially, if it lie prostrate with the bark on, which is a receptacle for a certain intercutaneous worm, that accelerates its decay. They are the knots then alone, which the tar-makers amass in heaps, carrying them in carts to some convenient place not far off, where finding clay or loam fit for their turn, they lay an hearth of such ordinary stone as they have at hand : This, they build to such an height from the level of the ground, that a vessel may stand a little lower than the hearth, to receive the tar as it runs out : But first, the hearth is made wide, according to the quantity of knots to be set at once, and that with a very smooth floor of clay, yet somewhat descending, or dripping from the extream parts to the middle, and thence towards one of the sides, where a gullet is left for the tar to run out at. The hearth thus finish’d, they pile the knots one upon another, after the very same manner as our colliers do their wood for charcoal ; and of a height proportionable to the breadth of the hearth ; and then cover them over with a coat of loam, or clay, (which is best) or in defect of those, with the best and most tenacious earth the place will afford ; leaving only a small spiracle at the top, whereat to put the fire in ; and making some little holes round about at several heights, for the admission of so much air, as is requisite to keep it burning, and to regulate the fire, by opening and stopping them at pleasure. The process is almost the same with that of making charcoal, as will appear in due place ; for, when it is well on fire, that middle hole is also stopp’d, and the rest of the registers so govern’d, as the knots may keep burning, and not be suffocated with too much smoak ; whilst all being now through-heated, the tar runs down to the hearth, together with some of the more watry sap, which hasting from all parts towards the middle, is convey’d by the foremention’d gutter, into the barrel or vessel placed to receive it : Thus, the whole art of tar-making is no other, than a kind of rude distillation per descensum, and might therefore be as well done in furnaces of large capacity, were it worth the expence. When the tar is now all melted out, and run, they stop up all the vents very close ; and afterwards find the knots made into excellent charcoal, preferr’d by the smiths before any other whatsoever, which is made of wood ; and nothing so apt to burn out when their blast ceaseth ; neither do they sparkle in the fire, as many other sorts of coal do ; so as, in defect of sea-coal, they make choice of this, as best for their use, and give greater prices for it. Of these knots likewise do the planters split out small slivers, about the thickness of one’s finger, or somewhat thinner, which serve them to burn instead of candles ; giving a very good light. This they call candle-wood, and it is in much use both in New-England, Virginia, and amongst the Dutch planters in their villages ; but for that it is something offensive, by reason of the much fuliginous smoak which comes from it, they commonly burn it in the chimney-corner, upon a flat stone or iron ; except, occasionally, they carry a single stick in their hand, as there is need of light to go about the house. It must not be conceiv’d, by what we have mention’d in the former description of the knots, that they are only to be separated from the bodies of the trees by devouring time, or that they are the only materials, out of which tar can be extracted : For there are in these tracts, millions of trees which abound with the same sort of knots, and full of turpentine fit to make tar : But the labour of felling these trees, and of cutting out their knots, would far exceed the value of the tar ; especially, in countries where work-men are so very dear : But those knots above-mention’d, are provided to hand, without any other labour, than the gathering only. There are sometimes found of those sort of pine-trees, the lowest part of whose stems towards the root is as full of turpentine, as the knots ; and of these also may tar be made : But such trees being rarely found, are commonly preserved to split into candle-wood ; because they will be easily riven out into any lengths, and scantlings desir’d, much better than the knots. There be, who pretend an art of as fully impregnating the body of any living pine-tree, for six or eight foot high ; and some have reported that such an art is practis’d in Norway : But upon several experiments, by girdling the tree (as they call it) and cutting some of the bark round, and a little into the wood of the tree, six or eight foot distant from the ground, it has yet never succeeded ; whether the just season of the year were not observ’d, or what else omitted, were worth the disquisition ; if at least there be any such secret amongst the Norwegians, Swedes, or any other nation. Or tar, by boiling it to a sufficient height, is pitch made : And in some places where rosin is plentiful, a fit proportion of that, may be dissolv’d in the tar whilst it is boiling, and this mixture is soonest converted to pitch ; but it is of somewhat a differing kind from that which is made of tar only, without other composition. There is a way which some ship-carpenters in those countries have us’d, to bring their tar into pitch for any sudden use ; by making the tar so very hot in an iron-kettle, that it will easily take fire, which when blazing, and set in an airy place, they let burn so long, till, by taking out some small quantity for trial, being cold, it appears of a sufflcient consistence : Then, by covering the kettle close, the fire is extinguish’d, and the pitch is made without more ceremony. There is a process of making rosin also, out of the same knots, by splitting them out into thin pieces, and then boiling them in water, which will educe all the resinous matter, and gather it into a body, which (when cold) will harden into pure rosin. It is moreover to be understood, that the fir, and most coniferous trees, yield the same concretes, lachrymae, turpentines, and there is a fir which exstills a gum not unlike the balm of Gilead, and a sort of tus ; rosins, hard, naval stone, liquid pitch, and tar for remedies against the cough, arthritic and pulmonic affections ; are well known, and the chyrurgion uses them in plaisters also ; and in a word, for mechanic and other innumerable uses ; and from the burning fuliginous vapour of these, especially the rosin, we have our lamp, and printers black, &c. I am perswaded the pine, pitch and fir trees in Scotland, might yield His Majesty plenty of excellent tar, were some industrious person employ’d about the work ; so as I wonder it has been so long neglected. But there is another process not much unlike the former, which is given us by the present archbishop of Samos, Joseph Georgirenes, in his description of that, and other islands of the AEgaean.
Their way of making pitch (says he) is thus : They take sapines, that is, that part of the fir, so far as it hath no knots ; and shaving away the extream parts, leave only that which is nearest to the middle, and the pith : That which remains, they call dad’. (from the old Greek word oaFS, whence the Latin, taeda) : These they split into small pieces, and laying them on a furnace, put fire to the upper part, till they are all burnt, the liquor in the mean time running from the wood, and Iet out from the bottom of the furnace, into a hole made in the ground, where it continues like oyl : Then they put fire to’t, and stir it about till it thicken, and has a consistence : After this, putting out the fire, they cast chalk upon it, and draw it out with a vessel, and lay it in little places cut out of the ground, where it receives both its form, and a firmer body for easie transportation : Thus far the archbishop ; but it is not so instructive and methodical as what we have describ’d above.
Other processes for the extracting of these sub-stances, may be seen in Mr. Ray’s Hist. Plant., already mentioned, lib. xxix. cap. 1. And as to pitch and tar, how they make it near Marselles, in France, from the pines growing about that city, see Philos. Trans. n. 213. p. 291. an. 1696, very well worthy the transcribing, if what is mentioned in this chapter were at all defective.
I had in the former editions of Sylva, plac’d the larix among the trees which shed their leaves in Winter (as indeed does this) but not before there is an almost immediate supply of fresh ; and may there-fore, both for its similitude, stature, and productions, challenge rank among the coniferous : We raise it of seeds, and grows spontaneously in Stiria, Carinthia, and other Alpine Countries : The change of the colour of the old leaf, made an ignorant gardiner of mine erradicate what I had brought up with much care, as dead ; let this therefore be a warning : The leaves are thin, pretty long and bristly ; the cones small, grow irregular, as do the branches, like the cypress, a very beautiful tree, the pondrous branches bending a little, which makes it differ from the Libanus cedar, to which some would have it ally’d, nor are any found in Syria. Of the deep wounded bark, exsudes the purest of our shop-turpentine, (at least as reputed) as also the drug agaric : That it flourishes with us, a tree of good stature (not long since to be seen about Chelmsford in Essex) sufficiently reproaches our not cultivating so useful a material for many purposes, where lasting and substantial timber is required : For we read of beams of no less than 120 foot in length, made out of this goodly tree, which is of so strange a composition, that ’twill hardly burn ; whence Mantuan, et robusta larix igni impenetrabile lignum : for so Caesar found it in a castle he besieg’d, built of it ; (the story is recited at large by Vitruvius, 1. 2. C. 9.) but see what Philander says upon the place, on his own experience : Yet the coals thereof were held far better than any other, for the melting of iron, and the lock-smith ; and to say the truth, we find they burn it frequently as common fuel in the Valtoline, if at least it be the true larix, which they now call melere. There is abundance of this larch timber in the buildings at Venice, especially about the palaces in Piazza San Marco, where I remember Scamozzi says he himself us’d much of it, and infinitely commends it. Nor did they only use it in houses, but in naval architecture also : The ship mention’d by Witsen (a late Dutch writer of that useful art) to have been found not long since in the Numidian Sea, twelve fathoms under water, being chiefly built of this timber, and cypress, both reduc’d to that induration and hardness, as greatly to resist the fire, and the sharpest tool ; nor was any thing perished of it, though it had lain above a thousand and four hundred years submerg’d : The decks were cover’d with linnen, and plates of lead, fixed with nails guilt, and the intire ship (which contain’d thirty foot in length) so stanch, as not one drop of water had soaked into any room. Tiberius we find built that famous bridge to his Naumachia with this wood, and it seems to excel for beams, doors, windows, and masts of ships, resists the worm : Being driven into the ground, it is almost petrified, and will support an incredible weight ; which (and for its property of long resisting fire) makes Vitruvius wish, they had greater plenty of it at Rome to make goists of, where the Forum of Augustus was (it seems) built of it, and divers bridges by Tiberius ; for that being attempted with fire, it is long in taking hold, growing only black without ; and the timber of it is so exceedingly transparent, that cabanes being made of the thin boards, when in the dark night they have lighted candles in them, people, who are at a distance without doors, would imagine the whole room to be on fire, which is pretty odd, considering there is no material so (as they pretend) unapt to kindle. The larix bears polishing excellently well, and the turners abroad much desire it : Vitruvius says ’tis so ponderous, that it will sink in the water : It also makes everlasting spouts, pent-houses, and featheridge, which needs neither pitch or painting to preserve them ; and so excellent pales, posts, rails, pedaments and props for vines, &c. to which add the palats on which our painters separate and blend their colours, and were (till the use of canvas and bed-tike came) the tables on which the great Raphael, and most famous artists of the last age, eterniz’d their skill.