Page images

prus which flows from the turpentine tree; the Venice turpentine which is got by piercing the Larch tree; the Strasburgh Turpentine which Mr. Ray informs us is procured from the knots of the silver fir; it is fragrant and grows yellow with age: The fourth kind is common turpentine, neither transparent, nor so liquid as the former ; and this Mr. Ray taketh to flow from the mountain pine. All these turpentines are useful in the same intentions. Theophraftus faith the best resin or turpentine is got from the Terebinthus growing in Syria and fome of the Greek inands. The next best from the silver for and pitch pine.

21. Turpentine is on all hands allowed to have great inedicinal virtues.

Tar and it's infusion contain those virtues. Tar water is extremely pectoral and restorative, and, if I may judge from what experience I have had, it possessech the most valuable qualities ascribed to the several balsams of Peru, of Tolu, of Capivi, and even to the balm of Gilead; such is it's virtue in asthmas and pleurisies, in obstructions and ulcerous erosions of the inward parts. Tar in substance, mix'd with honey, I have found an excellent medicine for coughs. Balfams, as hath been already observed, are apt to offend the stomach. But tar-water may be taken without offending the stomach: For the strengthening whereof it is the best medicine I have ever tried.

22. The folly of man rateth things by their scarceness, but Providence hath made the most useful things most common. Among those liquid oily extracts from trees and shrubs which are termed balsams, and valued for medicinal virtues, tar“may hold it's place as a most valuable balsam. It's fragrancy sheweth, that it is poffefsed of active qualities, and it's oiliness, that it is fitted to retain them. This excellent balsam may be purB 2


chased for a penny a pound, whereas the balsam of Judæa, when most plenty, was fold on the very spot that produced it, for double it's weight in silver, if we may credit Pliny; who also intorms us that the best balsam of Judæa 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 those I find ascribed to the precious balm of Judæa, of Gilead, or of Mecha (as it is diversly called) I am of opinion, that the latter is not a mediciñe of more value or efficacy than the former,

23. Pliny supposed amber to be a resin, and to diftil from fome species of pine, which he gathered from it's smell. Nevertheless it's being dug out of the earth shews it to be a foffil, 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 balsamic juices of pines and firs. Particularly the virtues of the most valuable preparation, I mean falt of amber, are in a great degree answered by tar-water, as a detergent, diaphoretic, and diuretic.

24. There is, as hath been already observed, more or less oil and balsam in all evergreen trees, which retains the acid spirit, that principle of life and verdure ; the not retaining whereof in sufficient quantity, causeth other plants to droop and wither. Of these evergreen trees productive of resin, pitch, and tar, Pliny enumerates six kinds in Europe ; Jonstonus reckons up thrice that number of the pine and fir family. And indeed, their number, their variety, and their likeness makes it difficult to be exact.

25. It is remarked both by Theophrastus and Jonstonus, that trees growing in low and shady places do not yield so good tar, as those which


[ocr errors]

grow in higher and more exposed situations. And Theophrastus further observes, that the inhabitants of mount Ida in Asia, who distinguish the Idæan pine from the maritime, affirm, that the tar fowing from the former is in greater plenty, as well as more fragrant than the other. Hence it should seem, the pines or firs in the mountains of Scotland, might be employed that way, and rendred valuable; even where the timber, by it's remoteness from water-carriage, is of small value. What we call the Scotch fir is falsly so called, being in truth a wild forest pine, and (as Mr. Ray informs us) agreeing much with the description of a pine growing on mount Olympus in Phrygia, probably the only place where it is found out of these isands; in which of late years it is so much planted and cultivated with so little advantage, while the cedar of Lebanon might perhaps be raised, with little more trouble, and much more profit and ornament.

26. The pines which differ from the firs in the length and disposition of their leaves and hardness of the wood, do not, in Pliny's account, yield so much resin as the fir trees. Several species of both are accurately described and delineated by the naturalists. But they all agree so far as to seem related, Theophrastus gives the preference to that resin which is got from the silver fir and pitch tree (ελάτη and πίτυς) before that yielded by the pine, which


he faith, is in greater plenty. Pliny, on the contrary, affirms that the pine produceth the smallest quantity. It shou'd seem therefore that the interpreter of Theophraftus might hav been mistaken, in rendering worn by pinus, as well as Jonstonus, who likewise takes the pine for the worn of Theophrastus. Hardouin will have the pinus of Pliny to have been by others called woun, but by Theophrastus wítus. Ray thinks the common

fir, or picea of the Latins, to be the male fir of Theophrastus. This was probably the spruce fir; for the picea, according to Pliny, yields much resin, loves a cold and mountainous situation, and is distinguished, tonfili facilitate, by it's fitness to be fhorn, which agrees with the spruce fir, whereof I have seen close shorn hedges.

27. There seems to have been some confusion in the naming of these trees,

as well among the ancients as the moderns. The ancient Greek and Latin names are by later authors applied very differently. Pliny himself acknowledgeth, it is not eafy even for the skilful to distinguish the trees by their leaves, and know their fexes and kinds: and that difficulty is since much encreased, by the difcovery of many new species of that evergreen tribe, growing in various parts of the globe. But defcriptions are not so easily misapplied as names. Theophrastus tells us, that witus differeth from worn, among other things, in that it is neither so tall nor fo ftreight, nor hath so large a leaf. The fir he distinguisheth into male and female: the latter is fofter timber than the male, it is also a taller and fairer tree, and this is probably the silver fir.

28. To say no more on this obfcure business which I leave to the critics, I shall observe that according to Theophrastus not only the turpentine trees, the pines, and the firs yield resin or tar, but also the cedars and palm trees; and the words pix and resina are taken by Pliny in so large a sense as to include the weepings of the lentiscus and cypress, and the balms of Arabia and Judæa; all which perhaps are near of kin, and in their most useful qualities concur with common tar, especially the Norvegian, which is the most liquid and best for medicinal uses of any that I have experienced. Those trees that grow on mountains, exposed to


the sun or the north wind, are reckoned by Theophrastus to produce the best and purest tar: And the Idæan pines were distinguished from those growing on the plain, as yielding a thinner, sweeter, and better scented tar, all which differences I think I have observed, between the tar that comes from Norway, and that which comes from low and swampy countries.

29. Agreeably to the old observation of the Pe. ripatetics, that heat gathereth homogeneous things and disperseth such as are heterogeneous, we find chemistry is fitted for the analysis of bodies. But the chemistry of nature is much more perfect than that of human art, inasmuch as it joineth to the power of heat that of the most exquisite mechanism. Those who have examined the structure of trees and plants by microscopes, have discovered an admirable variety of fine capillary tubes and vessels, fitted for several purposes, as the imbibing or attracting of proper nourishment, the distributing thereof through all parts of the vegetable, the discharge of superfluities, the secretion of particular juices. They are found to have ducts answering to the tracheæ in animals, for the conveying of air; they have others answering to lacteals, arteries, and veins. They feed, digest, respire, perspire and generate their kind, and are provided with organs nicely fitted for all those uses.

30. The sap vessels are observed to be fine tubes running up through the trunk from the root. Secretory vessels are found in the bark; buds, leaves, and flowers. Exhaling vessels for carrying off excrementitious parts, are discovered throughout the whole surface of the vegetable. And (though this point be not so well agreed) doctor Grew in his Anatomy of plants, thinks there appears

« EelmineJätka »