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Of The Quick-beam

( Originally Published Late 1800's )



1. The quick-beam [ornus, or as the pinax more peculiarly, fraxinus bubula ; others, the wild sorb] or (as some term it) the witchen, is a species of wild-ash. The Berries which it produced in October, may then be sown ; or rather the sets planted : I have store of them in a warm grove of mine, and 'tis of singular beauty : It rises to a reasonable stature, shoots upright, and slender, and consists of a fine smooth bark. It delights to be both in mountains and woods, and to fix it self in good light grounds ; Virgil affirms, 'twill unite with the pear.

2. Besides the use of it for the husbandman's tools, goads, &c. the wheelright commends it for being all heart ; if the tree be large, and so well grown as some there are, it will saw into planks, boards and timber, (vide Chap xxx. Sect. 1o.) and our fletchers commend it for bows next to yew ; which we ought not to pass over, for the glory of our once right English ancestors : In a Statute of HEN. 8. you have it mention'd : It is excellent fuel ; but I have not yet observed any other use, save that the blossoms are of an agreeable scent, and the berries such a tempting bait for the thrushes, that as long as they last, you shall be sure of their company. Some highly commend the juice of the berries, which (fermenting of it self) if well preserv'd, makes an excellent drink against the spleen and scurvy : Ale and beer brew'd with these berries, being ripe, is an incomparable drink, familiar in Wales, where this tree is reputed so sacred, that as there is not a church-yard without one of them planted in them (as among us the yew) so on a certain day in the year, every body religiously wears a cross made of the wood, and the tree is by some authors call'd fraxinus Cambro-Britannica ; reputed to be a preservative against fascinations and evil-spirits ; whence, perhaps, we call it witchen ; the boughs being stuck about the house, or the wood used for walking-staves.

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