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AT supper we were commending Aristio's cook, who, amongst other dishes that he had dressed very curiously, brought a cock to table just killed as a sacrifice to Hercules, as tender as though it had been killed a day or two before. When Aristio told us that this was no wonder, —seeing such a thing might be very easily done, if the cock, as soon as he was killed, was hung upon a fig-tree, —we began to enquire into the reason of what he asserted. Indeed, I must confess, our eye assures us that a fig-tree sends out a fierce and strong spirit; which is yet more evident, from what we have heard said of bulls. That is, a bull, after he is tied to a fig-tree, though never so mad before, grows presently tame, and will suffer you to touch him, and on a sudden all his rage and fury cool and die. But the chiefest cause that works this change is the sharp acrimonious quality of the tree. For of all trees this is the fullest of sap, and so are its figs, wood, and bark; and hence it comes to pass, that the smoke of fig-wood is most offensive to the eyes; and when it is burned, its ashes make the best lye to scour withal. But all these effects proceed from heat. Now there are some that say, when the sap of this tree thrown into milk curds it, that this effect does not arise from the irregular figures of the parts of the milk, which the sap unites and (as it were) glues into one body, the smooth and globose parts being squeezed out, but that by its heat it loosens the unstable and watery parts of the liquid body. And we may use as an argument the unprofitableness of the sap of this tree, which, though it is very sweet, yet makes the worst [p. 362] liquor in the world. For it is not the inequality in the parts that affects the smooth part, but what is cold and raw is contracted by heat. And salt helps to produce the same effect; for it is hot, and works in opposition to the uniting of the parts just mentioned, causing rather a dissolution; for to it, above all other things, Nature has given a dissolving faculty. Therefore the fig-tree sends forth a hot and sharp spirit, which cuts and boils the flesh of the bird. The very same thing may be effected by placing the flesh upon a heap of corn, or near nitre; the heat will produce the same that the fig-tree did. Now it may be made manifest that wheat is naturally hot, in that wine, put into a hogshead and placed among wheat, is presently consumed.
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