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Of The Lime-tree

( Originally Published Late 1800's )



1. Tilia the lime-tree, or [linden] is of two kinds ; the male (which some allow to be but a finer sort of elm) or maple rather, is harder, fuller of knots, and of a redder colour ; but producing neither flower, nor seed, (so constantly and so mature with us) as does the female, whose blossom is also very odoriferous, perfuming the air, the leaf larger ; the wood is like-wise thicker, of small pith, and not obnoxious to the worm ; so as it seems Theophrastus de Pl. I. 3. c. i o. said true, that though they were of both sexes, as to their form. We send commonly for this tree into Flanders and Holland, (which indeed grow not so naturally wild with us) to our excessive cost, whiles our own woods do in some places spontaneously pro-duce them, and though of somewhat a smaller leaf, yet altogether as good, apt to be civiliz'd, and made more florid : From thence I have received many of their berries ; so as it is a shameful negligence, that we are no better provided of nurseries, of a tree so choice, and universally acceptable : For so they may be rais'd either of the seeds in October, or (with better success) by the suckers and plants, which are treated after the same method, and in as great abundance as the elm, like to which it should be cultivated. You may know whether the seeds be prolific, by searching the husk ; if biting, or cutting it in sunder it be full and white, and not husky, as sometimes we find the foreigners : Be sure to collect your seed in dry weather, airing it in an open room, and reserving it in sand, (as has been taught) till mid-February, when you may sow it in pretty strong, fresh and loamy mould, kept shaded, and moist as the season requires, and clear of weeds, and at the period of two years, plant them out, dress'd and prun'd as discretion shall advise. But not only by the suckers and layers, at the roots, but even by branches lopp'd from the head, may this tree be propagated ; and peeling off a little of the bark, at a competent distance from the stem or arms, and covering it with loam mingled with rich earth, they will shoot their fibers, and may be seasonably separated : But to facilitate this and the like attempts, it is advisable to apply a ligature above the place, when the sap is ascending, or beneath it, when it (as they say vulgarly) descends. From June to November you may lay them ; the scrubs and less erect, do excellently to thicken copp'ces, and will yield lusty shoots, and useful fire-wood.

2. The lime-tree affects a rich feeding loamy soil ; in such ground their growth will be most for speed and spreading. They may be planted as big as ones leg ; their heads topp'd at about six or eight foot bole ; thus it will becone (of all other) the most proper, and beautiful for walks, as producing an upright body, smooth and even bark, ample leaf, sweet blossom, the delight of bees, and a goodly shade at distance of eighteen, or twenty five foot. They are also very patient of pruning ; but if it taper aver much, some of the collateral boughs would be spar'd, or cut off, to check the sap, which is best to be done about Midsummer ; and to make it grow upright, take off the prepondering branches with discretion, and so you may correct any other tree, and redress its obliquity.

The root in transplanting would not be much lopp'd; and this (says Mr. Cook) is a good lesson for all young planted trees.

3. The Prince Elector did lately remove very great lime-trees out of one of his forests, to a steep hill, exceedingly expos'd to the heat of the sun, at Heidelberg ; and that in the midst of summer : They grow behind that strong tower on the south-west, and most torrid part of the eminence ; being of a dry, reddish barren earth ; yet do they prosper rarely well : But the heads were cut off, and the pits into which they were transplanted, were (by the industry and direction of Monsieur de Son, a French-man, and admirable mechanician, who himself related it to me) fill'd with a composition of earth and cow-dung, which was exceedingly beaten, and so diluted with water, as it became almost a liquid pap : It was in this, that he plunged the roots, covering the surface with the turf : A singular example of removing so great trees at such a season, and therefore by me taken notice of here expresly. Other perfections of the tree (besides its unparallel'd beauty for walks) are that it will grow in almost all grounds : That it lasts long ; that it soon heals its scars ; that it affects uprightness ; that it stoutly resists a storm ; that it seldom becomes hollow.

4. The timber of a well-grown lime is convenient for any use that the willow is ; but much to be preferr'd, as being both stronger, and yet lighter whence Virgil calls them tilias leves ; and therefore fit for yokes, and to be turn'd into boxes for the apothecaries ; and Columella commends arculas tiliaceas. And because of its colour, and easy working, and that it is not subject to split, architects make with it models for their designed buildings ; and the carvers in wood, not only for small figures, but large statues and intire histories, in bass, and high relieve witness (besides several more) the lapidation of St. Stephen, with the structures and elevations about it The trophies, festoons, frutages, encarpa, and other sculptures in the frontoons, freezes, capitals, pedestals, and other ornaments and decorations, (of admirable invention and performance) to be seen about the choir of St. Paul's and other churches ; royal palaces, and noble houses in city and countrey. All of them, the works and invention of our Lysippus, Mr. Gibbons comparable, and for ought appears, equal to any thing of the antients ; having had the honour (for so I account it) to be the first who recommended this great artist to his Majesty, Charles the II. I mention it on this occasion, with much satisfaction. With the twigs, they made baskets and cradles, and of the smoother side of the bark, tablets for writing ; for the antient Philyra is but our Tilia ; of which Munting affirms, he saw a book made of the inward bark, written about 1000 years since. Such another was brought to the Count of St. Amant, Governor of Arras, 1662, for which there was given 8000 ducats by the Emperor, and that it contain'd a work of Cicero, De Ordinanda Repullica, &f De Inveniendis Orationum Exordiis : A piece inestimable, never publish'd ; is now in the library at Vienna, after it had formerly been the greatest rarity in that of the late Cardinal Mazarine : Other papyraceous trees are mention'd by West-Indian travellers, especially in Hispaniola, Java, &c. which not only exceed our largest paper for breadth and length, and may be written on on both sides, but is comparable to our best vellum. Bellonius says, that the Grecians made bottles of the tilia, which they finely rozin'd within-side, so likewise for pumps of ships, also lattices for windows : Shooemakers use dressers of the plank to cut leather on, as not so hard as to turn the edges of their knives ; and even the coursest membrane, or slivers of the tree growing 'twixt the bark and the main body, they now twist into bass-ropes ; besides, the truncheons make a far better coal for gun-powder than that of alder it self ; Scriblets for painters first draughts are also made of its coals ; and the extraordinary candor and lightness, has dignify'd it above all the woods of our forest, in the hands of the Right Honourable the White-Stave officers of His Majesty's Imperial Court. Those royal plantations of these trees in the parks of Hampton-court, and St. James's, will sufficiently instruct any man how these (and indeed all other trees which stand single) are to be govern'd, and defended from the injuries of beasts, and sometimes more unreason-able creatures, till they are able to protect themselves. In Holland (where the very high-ways are adorn'd with them) they frequently clap three or four deal-boards (in manner of a close trunk) about them ; but it is not so well ; because it keeps out the air, which should have free access and intercourse to the bole, and by no means be excluded from flowing freely about them, or indeed any other trees ; provided they are secur'd from cattel, and the violence of impetuous winds, &c. as His Majesty's are, without those close coffins, in which the Dutch-men seem rather to bury them alive: In the mean time, is there a more ravishing or delightful object, than to behold some intire streets, and whole towns planted with these trees, in even lines before their doors, so as they seem like cities in a wood ? this is extreamly fresh, of admirable effect against the epilepsie, for which the delicately scented blossoms are held prevalent, and skreen the houses both from winds, sun, and dust ; than which there can be nothing more desirable where streets are much frequented. For thus eighteen or twenty. For a most prodigious tree of this kind, see Chap. 39. sect. 10. The berries reduc'd to powder, cure the dysentery and stop blood at the nose : The distill'd-water is good against the epilepsy, apoplexy, vertigo, trembling of the heart, gravel ; Schroder commends a mucilage of the bark for wounds, repellens urinam, & menses ciens, &c. And I am told, the juice of the leaves fixes colours.

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