Page images

Tranfactions. And the relation of Leo Africanirc, who defcribes, as an" eye witnefs, the making of tar on mount Atlas, agrees in fubftance, with the methods ufed by the Macedonians of old, and the people of New England at this day.

18. Jonftonus in his Dendrographia, is of opinion, that pitch was anciently made of cedar, as well as of the pine and fir grown old and oily. It fhould feem indeed that one and the fame word was ufed by the ancients in a large fenfe, fo as to comprehend the juices ifluing from all thofe trees. Tar and all forts of exfudations from evergreens are, in a general acceptation, included under the name refin. Hard coarfe refin or dry pitch is made from tar, by letting it blaze till the moifture is fpent. Liquid refin is properly an oily vifcid juice oozing from the bark of evergreen trees, either fpontaneoufly or by incifion. It is thought to be the oil of the bark infpiflated by the fun. As it ifiues from the tree it is liquid, but becomes dry and hard being condenfed by the fun or by fire.

19. According to Theophraftus, refin was obtained by ftripping off the bark from pines, and by incifions made in the filver fir and the pitch pine. The inhabitants of mount Ida, he tells us, ftripped the trunk of the pine on the funny fide two or three cubits from the ground. He obferves that a good pine might be made to yield refin every year; and indifferent every other year; and the weaker trees once in three years; and that three runnings were as much as a tree could bear. It is remarked by the fame author, that a pine doth not at once produce fruit and refin, but the former only in its youth, the latter in its old age.

20. Turpentine is a fine refin. Four kinds of this are in ufe. The turpentine of Chios or Cyprus

prus which flows from the turpentine tree; the Venice turpentine which is got by piercing the Larch tree; the Strafburgh Turpentine which Mr. Ray informs us is procured from the knots of the filver fir; it is fragrant and grows yellow with 'age: The fourth kind is common turpentine, neither tranfp.ircnt, nor fo liquid as the former; and this Mr. R.iy taketh to flow from the mountain pine. All thele turpentines are ufcful in the fame intentions. Theophraftus faith the bed refiu or turpentine is got from the Terebinthus growing in Syria and feme of the Greek iflands. The next beft from the Giver fir and pitch pine,

21. Turpentine is on all hands allowed to have great medicinal virtues. Tar and it's infufion contain thofe virtues. Tar water is extremely pectoral and reftorative, and, if 1 may judge from what experience I have had, it poflefleth the moft valuable qualities afcribed to the feverai balfams of Peru, ofTolu, ofCapivi, and even to the balm of Gikad; fiich is it's virtue in afthmas and pleurifies, in obltruftions and ulcerous erofions of the inward parts. Balfams, as hath been already obfcrved, are apt xo offend the ftomach. But tar-water may be taken without offending the ftomach: For the ftrengthening whereof it is the beft medicine I have ever tried.

22. The folly of man rateth things by their fcarcenefs, but Providence hath made the moft ufeful things moft common. Among thofe liquid oily extracts from trees and Ihrubs which are termed balfams, and valued for medicinal virtues, tar may hold it's place as a moft valuable balfam. It's fragrancy fheweth, that it is poffefled of active qualities, and it's oilinefs, that it is fitted to retain them. This excellent balfam may be purB 2 chafed chafed for a penny a pound, whereas the balfam of Judsa, when moft plenty, was fold on the very fpot that produced it, for double it's weight in filver, if we may credit Pliny; who alfo informs us that the beft balfam of Judsea flowed only from the bark, and that it was adulterated with refin and oil'of turpentine. Now comparing the virtues I have experienced in tar, with thofe I find afcribed to the precious balm of Judza, of Gilead, or of Mecha (as it is diverfly called) I am of opinion, that the latter is not a medicine of more value or efficacy than the former.

23. Pliny fuppofed amber to be a refin, and to from fome fpecies of pine, which he gathered from it's fmell. Neverthelefs it's being dug out of the earth fhews it to be a foflil, though of a very different kind from other foffils. But thus much is certain, that the medicinal virtues of amber are to be found in the balfamic juices of pines and firs. Particularly the virtues of the moft valuable preparation, I mean falt of amber, are in a great degree anfwered by tar-water, as a detergent, diaphoretic, and diuretic.

24. There is, as hath been already obferved, more or lefs oil and balfam in all evergreen trees, which retains the acid fpirit, that principle of life and verdure; the not retaining whereof in fufficient quantity, caufeth other plants to droop and wither. Of thefe evergreen trees productive of refin, pitch, and tar, Pliny enumerates fix kinds in Europe; Jonftonus reckons up thrice that number of the pine and fir family. And indeed, their number, their variety, and their likenefs makes it difficult to be exact.

25. It is remarked both by Theophraftus and Jonftoniis, that trees growing in low and fhady places do not yield fo good tar, as thofe which

grow grow in higher and more expofed fitimions. And Theophraftus further obferves, that the inhabitants of mount Ida in Afia, who diftinguifh the Idasan pine from the maritime, affirm, that the rar flowing from the former is in greater plenty, as well as more fragrant than the other. Hence it fhould feem, the pines or firs in the mountains of Scotland, might be employed that way, and rendred valuable; even where the timber, by it's remotenefs from water-carriage, is of fmall value. What we call the Scotch fir is tiilfly fo called, being in truth a wild foreft pine, and (as Mr. Rny informs us) agreeing much with the defcription of a pine growing on mount Olympus in Phrygia, probably the only place where it is found out of thefe iflands; in which of late years it is fo much planted and cultivated with fo little advantage, while the cedar of Lebanon might perhaps be raifed, with little more trouble, and much more profit and ornament.

26. The pines which differ from the firs in the length and difpofition of their leaves and hardnefs of the wood, do not, in Pliny's account, yield fo much refin as the fir trees. Several fpecies of both are accurately defcribed and delineated by the naturalifts. But they all agree fo far as to feem related. Theophraftus gives the preference to that refin which is got'from the filver fir and pitch tree (i\»rn and tmuf) before that yielded by the pine, which yet, he faith, is in greater plenty. Pliny, on the contrary, affirms that the pine produceth the fmalleft quantity. It Ihou'd feem therefore that the interpreter of Theophraftus might have been miftaken, in rendering sn£'x>j by pinus, as well as Jonftonus, who likewife takes the pine for the ar<5l''xij of Theophraftus. Hardouin will have the pinus of Pliny to have been by others called «r<&'x>j, but by Theophraftus ar/ruy. Ray thinks the common fir, or picea of the Latins, to be the male fir of Theophraftus. This was probably the fpruce fir; for the picea, according to Pliny, yit Ids much rcfin; loves a cold and mountainous fituation, and is diftinguifhed, tonfili facilitate, by ii's fitnefs to be ihorn, which agrees with the fpruce fir, whereof I have feen dole fhorn hedges.

27. There feems to have been fome confufion in the naming of thefe trees, as well among the ancients as the moderns. The ancient Greek and Latin names are by later authors applied very differently. Pliny himfelf acknowledged, it is not eafy even for the flcilrul to diltinguifii the trees by their leaves, and know their fcxcsand kinds: and that difficulty is fince much encreafed, by the difcovery of many new fpecies of that evergreen tribe, growing in various parts of the globe. But defcriptions are not fo eafily mifapplied as names. Theophraftus tells us, that an'ruj differcth from snsG'm, among other things, in that it is neither fo tall nor fo ftreight, nor hath fo large a leaf. The fir he diftinguifheth into male and female: the latter isfofter timber than the male, it is alfo a taller and fairer tree, and this is probably the filver fir.

28. To fay no more on this obfcure bufincfs which I leave to the critics, I fhall obferve that according to Theophraltus not only the turpentine trees, the pines, and the firs yield refin or tar, buc alfo the cedars and palm trees; and the words pix and refina are taken by Pliny in fo large a fenfe as to include the weepings of the lentifcus and cyprefs, and the balms of Arabia and Judsea; all which perhaps are near of kin, and in their moft ufeful qualities concur with common tar, efpecially the Norvegian, which is the moll liquid and beft for medicinal ufes of any that I have experienced. Thofe uees that grow on mountains, cxpofed to


« EelmineJätka »