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480. FIRST therefore, all plants that do draw much nourishment from the earth, and so soak the earth and exhaust it, hurt all things that grow by them; as great trees, especially ashes, and such trees as spread their roots near the top of the ground. So the colewort is not an enemy, though that were anciently received, to the vine only; but it is an enemy to any other plant, because it draweth strongly the fattest juice of the earth. And if it be true, that the vine when it creepeth near the colewort will turn away, this may be, because there it findeth worse nourishment; for though the root be where it was, yet, I doubt, the plant will bend as it nourisheth.
481. WHERE plants are of several natures, and draw several juices out of the earth, there, as hath been said, the one set by the other helpeth: as it is set down by divers of the ancients, that rue doth prosper much, and becometh stronger, if it be set by a figtree; which, we conceive, is caused not by reason of friendship, but by extraction of a contrary juice: the one drawing juice fit to result sweet, the other bitter. So they have set down likewise, that a rose set by garlic is sweeter: which likewise may be, because the more fetid juice of the earth goeth into the garlic, and the more odorate into the rose.
482. THIS We see manifestly, that there be certain corn-flowers which come seldom or never in other places, unless they be set, but only amongst corn; as the blue bottle, a kind of yellow marygold, wild poppy, and fumitory. Neither can this be, by reason of the culture of the ground, by ploughing or furrowing; as some herbs and flowers will grow but in ditches new cast; for if the ground lie fallow and unsown, they will not come so as it should seem to be the corn that qualifieth the earth, and prepareth it for their growth.
483. THIS observation, if it holdeth, as it is very probable, is of great use for the meliorating of taste in fruits and esculent herbs, and of the scent of flowers. For I do not doubt, but if the fig-tree do make the rue more strong and bitter, as the ancients
have noted, good store of rue planted about the fig tree will make the fig more sweet. Now the tastes that do most offend in fruits, and herbs, and roots, are bitter, harsh, sour, and waterish, or flashy. It were good therefore to make the trials following:
484. TAKE Wormwood, or rue, and set it near lettuce, or coleflory, or artichoke, and see whether the lettuce, or the coleflory, etc. become not the sweeter. 485. TAKE a service-tree, or a cornelian-tree, or an elder-tree, which we know have fruits of harsh and binding juice, and set them near a vine, or fig-tree, and see whether the grapes or figs will not be the sweeter.
486. TAKE cucumbers, or pumpions, and set them, here and there, amongst musk-melons, and see whether the melons will not be more winy, and better tasted. Set cucumbers, likewise, amongst radish, and see whether the radish will not be made the more biting.
487. TAKE sorrel, and set it amongst rasps, and see whether the rasps will not be the sweeter.
488. TAKE common brier, and set it amongst violets or wall-flowers, and see whether it will not make the violets or wall-flowers sweeter, and less earthy in their smell. So set lettuce or cucumbers amongst rosemary or bays, and see whether the rosemary or bays will not be the more odorate or aromatical.
489. CONTRARIWISE, you must take heed how set herbs together, that draw much the like juice. And therefore I think rosemary will lose in sweetness, if it be set with lavender, or bays, or the like. But yet if you will correct the strength of an herb, you shall do well to set other like herbs by him to take him down; as if you should set tansey by angelica, it may be the angelica would be the weaker, and fitter for mixture in perfume. And if you should set rue by common wormwood, it may be the wormwood would turn to be liker Roman wormwood.
490. THIS axiom is of large extent; and therefore would be severed, and refined by trial. Neither must you expect to have a gross difference by this kind of culture, but only farther perfection.
491. TRIAL would be also made in herbs poisonous and purgative, whose ill' quality, perhaps, may be
discharged, or attempered, by setting stronger poisons or purgatives by them.
492. It is reported, that the shrub called our ladies' seal, which is a kind of briony, and coleworts, set near together, one or both will die. The cause is, for that they be both great depredators of the earth, and one of them starveth the other. The like is said of a reed and a brake: both which are succulent; and therefore the one deceiveth the other. And the like of hemlock and rue; both which draw strong juices.
493. SOME of the ancients, and likewise divers of the modern writers, that have laboured in natural magic, have noted a sympathy between the sun, moon, and some principal stars, and certain herbs and plants. And so they have denominated some herbs solar, and some lunar; and such like toys put into great words. It is manifest that there are some flowers that have respect to the sun in two kinds, the one by opening and shutting, and the other by bowing and inclining the head. For marygolds, tulips, pimpernel, and indeed most flowers, do open and spread their leaves abroad when the sun shineth serene and fair and again, in some part, close them, or gather them inward, either towards night, or when the sky is overcast. Of this there needeth no such solemn reason to be assigned; as to say, that they rejoice at the presence of the sun, and mourn at the absence thereof. For it is nothing else but a little loading of the leaves, and swelling them at the bottom, with the moisture of the air; whereas the dry air doth extend them; and they make it a piece of the wonder, that garden clover will hide the stalk when the sun sheweth bright: which is nothing but a full expansion of the leaves. For the bowing and inclining the head, it is found in the great flower of the sun, in marygolds, wart-wort, mallow flowers, and others. The cause is somewhat more obscure than the former; but I take it to be no other, but that the part against which the sun beateth waxeth more faint and flaccid in the stalk, and thereby less able to support the flower.
494. WHAT a little moisture will do in vegetables,
even though they be dead and severed from the earth, appeareth well in the experiment of jugglers. They take the beard of an oat; which, if you mark it well, is wreathed at the bottom, and one smooth entire straw at the top. They take only the part that is wreathed, and cut off the other, leaving the beard half the breadth of a finger in length. Then they make a little cross of a quill, longways of that part of the quill which hath the pith; and cross-ways of that piece of the quill without pith; the whole cross being the breadth of a finger high. Then they prick the bottom where the pith is, and thereinto they put the oaten beard, leaving half of it sticking forth of the quill then they take a little white box of wood, to deceive men, as if somewhat in the box did work the feat; in which, with a pin, they make a little hole, enough to take the beard, but not to let the cross sink down, but to stick. Then likewise, by way of imposture, they make a question; as, Who is the fairest woman in the company? or, Who hath a glove or card? and cause another to name divers persons: and upon every naming they stick the cross in the box, having first put it towards their mouth, as if they charmed it; and the cross stirreth not; but when they come to the person that they would take, as they hold the cross to their mouth, they touch the beard with the tip of their tongue, and wet it; and so stick the cross in the box; and then you shall see it turn finely and softly three or four turns; which is caused by the untwining of the beard by the moisture. You may see it more evidently, if you stick the cross between your fingers instead of the box; and therefore you may see, that this motion, which is effected by so little wet, is stronger than the closing or bending of the head of a marygold.
495. It is reported by some, that the herb called rosa solis, whereof they make strong waters, will, at the noon-day, when the sun shineth hot and bright, have a great dew upon it. And therefore that the right name is ros solis: which they impute to a delight and sympathy that it hath with the sun. Men favour wonders. It were good first to be sure, that
the dew that is found upon it, be not the dew of the morning preserved, when the dew of other herbs is breathed away; for it hath a smooth and thick leaf, that doth not discharge the dew so soon as other herbs that are more spongy and porous. And it may be purslane, or some other herb, doth the like, and is not marked. But if it be so, that it hath more dew at noon than in the morning, then sure it seemeth to be an exudation of the herb itself. As plums sweat when they are set into the oven: for you will not, I hope, think, that it is like Gideon's fleece of wool, that the dew should fall upon that and no where else. L 496. It is certain, that the honey dews are found more upon oak leaves, than upon ash, or beech, or the like: but whether any cause be from the leaf itself to concoct the dew; or whether it be only that the leaf is close and smooth, and therefore drinketh not in the dew, but preserveth it, may be doubted. It would be well inquired, whether manna the drug doth fall but upon certain herbs or leaves only. Flowers that have deep sockets, do gather in the bottom a kind of honey; as honeysuckles, both the woodbine and the trefoil, lilies, and the like. And in them certainly the flower beareth part with the dew.
497. THE experience is, that the froth which they call woodseare, being like a kind of spittle, is found but upon certain herbs, and those hot ones; as lavender, lavender-cotton, sage, hyssop, etc. Of the cause of this inquire farther; for it seemeth a secret. There falleth also mildew upon corn, and smutteth it; but it may be, that the same falleth also upon other herbs, and is not observed.
498. IT were good trial were made, whether the great consent between plants and water, which is a principal nourishment of them, will make an attraction at distance, and not at touch only. Therefore take a vessel, and in the middle of it make a false bottom of coarse canvass: fill it with earth above the canvass, and let not the earth be watered; then sow some good seeds in that earth; but under the canvass, some half a foot in the bottom of the vessel, lay a great sponge thoroughly wet in water; and let it lie