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WE have described the trees which grow spontaneously on land and in the sea,1 and it now remains for us to speak of those which owe their formation, properly speaking, rather than birth, to art and the inventive genius of man.2 Here, however, I cannot but express my surprise, that after the state of penury in which man lived, as already described,3 in primitive times, holding the trees of the forest in common with the wild beasts, and disputing with them the possession of the fruits that fell, and with the fowls of the air that of the fruits as they hung on the tree, luxury has now attached to them prices so enormous.

The most famous instance, in my opinion, of this excess, was that displayed by L. Crassus and Cneius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Crassus was one of the most celebrated of the Roman orators; his house was remarkable for its magnificence, though in some measure surpassed even by that of Q. Catulus,4 also upon the Palatine Hill; the same Catulus, who, in conjunction with C. Marius, defeated the Cimbri. But by far the finest house of all that period, it was universally acknowledged, was that of C. Aquilius, a Roman of Equestrian rank, situate upon the Viminal Hill; a house, indeed, that conferred a greater degree of celebrity upon him than even his acquaintance with the civil law. This, however, did not prevent Crassus being reproached with the magnificence of his. Crassus and Domitius, members, both of them, of the most illus- trious families, after holding the consulship,5 were appointed jointly to the censorship, in the year from the building of the City 662, a period of office that was fruitful in strife, the natural result of their dissimilarity of character. On one occasion, Cneius Domitius, naturally a man of hasty temper, and inflamed besides by a hatred that rivalry only tends to stimulate, gravely rebuked Crassus for living, and he a Censor too, in a style of such magnificence, and in a house for which, as he said, he himself would be ready to pay down ten millions of sesterces. Crassus, a man who united to singular presence of mind great readiness of wit, made answer that, deducting six trees only, he would accept the offer; upon which Domitius replied, that upon those terms he would not give so much as a single denarius for the purchase. "Well then, Domitius," was the rejoinder of Crassus, "which of the two is it that sets a bad example, and deserves the reproof of the censorship; I, who live like a plain man in a house that has come to me by inheritance, or you, who estimate six trees at a value of ten millions of sesterces?"6 These trees were of the lotus7 kind, and by the exuberance of their branches afforded a most delightful shade. Cæcina Largus, one of the grandees of Rome, and the owner of the house, used often to point them out to me in my younger days; and, as I have already made mention8 of the remarkable longevity of trees, I would here add, that they were in existence down to the period when the Emperor Nero set fire to the City, one hundred and eighty years after the time of Crassus; being still green and with all the freshness of youth upon them, had not that prince thought fit to hasten the death of the very trees even.

Let no one, however, imagine that the house of Crassus was of no value in other respects, or that, from the rebuke of Domitius, there was nothing about it worthy of remark with the exception of these trees. There were to be seen erected in the atrium four columns of marble from Mount Hymettus,9 which in his ædileship he had ordered to be brought over for the decoration of the stage;10 and this at a time, too, when no public buildings even as yet possessed any pillars made of that material. Of such recent date is the luxury and opulence which we now enjoy, and so much greater was the value which in those days trees were supposed to confer upon a property! A pretty good proof of which, was the fact that Domitius even, with all his enmity, would not keep to the offer he had made, if the trees were not to be included in the bargain.

The trees have furnished surnames also to the ancients,11 such, for instance, as that of Fronditius to the warrior who swam across the Volturnus with a wreath of leaves on his head, and distinguished himself by his famous exploits in the war against Hannibal; and that of Stolo12 to the Licinian family, such being the name given by us to the useless suckers that shoot from trees; the best method of clearing away these shoots was discovered by the first Stolo, and hence his name. The ancient laws also took the trees under their protection; and by the Twelve Tables it was enacted, that he who should wrongfully cut down trees belonging to another person, should pay twenty-five asses for each. Is it possible then to imagine that they, who estimated the fruit-trees at so low a rate as this, could ever have supposed that so exorbitant a value would be put upon the lotus as that which I have just mentioned? And no less mar- vellous, too, are the changes that have taken place in the value of fruit; for at the present day we find the fruit alone of many of the trees in the suburbs valued at no less a sum than two thousand sesterces; the profits derived from a single tree thus being more than those of a whole estate in former times. It was from motives of gain that the grafting of trees and the propagation thereby of a spurious offspring was first devised, so that the growth of the fruits even might be a thing interdicted to the poor. We shall, therefore, now proceed to state in what way it is that such vast revenues are derived from these trees, and with that object shall set forth the true and most approved methods of cultivation; not taking any notice of the more common methods, or those which we find generally adopted, but considering only those points of doubt and uncertainty, in relation to which practical men are most apt to find themselves at a loss: while, at the same time, to affect any scrupulous exactness in cases where there is no necessity for it, will be no part of our purpose. In the first place, however, we will consider in a general point of view, those influences of soil as well as weather which are exercised upon all the trees in common.


Trees are fond of a site more particularly that faces the north-east;13 the breezes rendering their foliage more thick and exuberant, and imparting additional solidity to the wood. This is a point, however, upon which most people are very greatly deceived; thus in vineyards, for instance, the props ought not to be placed in such a position as to shelter the stems from the wind in that quarter, it being only against the northern blasts that this precaution should be taken. Nay, even more than this —if the cold weather only comes on in due season, it contributes very materially to the strengthening of the trees, and promotes the process of germination; while, on the other hand, if at that period the southern14 breezes should caress them, they will grow weak and languid, and more particularly so, if the blossom is just coming on. If rainy weather, too, should happen to follow close upon blossoming, the total destruction of the fruit is the necessary result: indeed, if the weather should be only cloudy, or south winds happen to prevail, it is quite sufficient to ensure the loss of the fruit in the almond and the pear.15 Rains, if prevalent about the rising of the Vergiliæ,16 are most injurious to the vine and the olive,17 as it is at that season that germination18 is commencing with them; indeed, this is a most critical four days for the olive, being the period at which the south wind, as we have already19 stated, brings on its dark and lowering clouds. The cereals, too, ripen more unfavourably when south winds prevail, though at the same time it proceeds with greater rapidity. All cold, too, is injurious to vegetation, which comes with the northern winds, or out of the proper season. It is most advantageous to all plants for north-east winds20 to prevail throughout the winter.

In this season, too, showers are very necessary, and the reason is self-evident—the trees, being exhausted by the fruit they have borne, and weakened by the loss of their leaves, are, of course, famished and hungry; and it is the showers that constitute their aliment. Experience has led us to believe that there is nothing more detrimental than a warm winter; for it allows the trees, the moment they have parted with their fruits, to conceive again, or, in other words, to germinate, and then exhaust themselves by blossoming afresh. And what is even worse than this, should there be several years of such weather in succession, even the trees themselves will die; for there can be little doubt that the effort must of necessity be injurious, when they put forth their strength, and are at the same time deprived of their natural sustenance. The poet21 then, who has said that serene winters are to be desired, certainly did not express those wishes in favour of the trees. And no more does rain, if prevalent at the summer-solstice, conduce to the benefit22 of the vine: while, at the same time, to say that a dusty winter produces a luxuriant harvest, is certainly the mistake of a too fertile imagination. It is a thing greatly to be wished, too, both in behalf of the trees as well as the cereals, that the snows should lie for a considerable time upon the ground; the reason being that they check the escape of the spirit of the earth by evaporation, and tend to throw it back again upon the roots of the plants, adding greatly to their strength thereby; and not only this, but they afford a gradual supply of moisture as well, that is both pure and of remarkable lightness, from the fact that snow is only the foam of the waters of heaven. Hence it is that the moisture of snow does not drench and engulph everything all at once, but gradually trickles downwards, in proportion to the thirst of the plant, nurturing it as though from the breast, instead of producing an inundation. The earth, too, ferments under this influence, and becomes filled with her own emanations: not exhausted by the seeds in her bosom, swollen as they are with milk,23 she smiles in the warm and balmy hours, when the time comes for opening it. It is in this way, more particularly, that corn fattens apace, except, indeed, in those climates in which the atmosphere is always warm, Egypt for example; for there the continuance of the same temperature and the force of habit are productive of the same effects as the modifications of temperature in other countries.

At the same time it is equally necessary in every climate that there should be no noxious influence in existence. Thus, for instance, in the greater part of the world, that precocious germination which has been encouraged by the indulgent temperature of the weather, is sure to be nipped by the intense colds that ensue. Hence it is that late winters are so injurious, and such they prove to the trees of the forest even; indeed, these last are more particularly exposed to the ill effects of a late winter, oppressed as they are by the density of their foliage, and human agency being unable to succour them; for it would be quite impossible to cover24 the more tender forest trees with wisps of straw. Rains, then, are favourable to vegetation-first of all, during the winter season, and next, just previously to germination; the third period for them being that of the formation of the fruit, though not immediately, and only, in fact, when the produce of the tree shows itself strong and healthy.

Those trees which are the slowest in bringing their fruits to maturity, and require a more prolonged supply of nutriment, receive benefit also from late rains, such as the vine, the olive, and the pomegranate, for instance. These rains, however, are required at different seasons by the different trees, some of them coming to maturity at one period and some at another; hence it is that we see the very same rain productive of injury to some trees and beneficial to others, even when they are of the very same species, as in the pear for instance: for the winter pear stands in need of rain at one period, and the early pear at another, though at the same time they, all of them, require it in an equal degree. Winter precedes the period of germination, and it is this fact that makes the north-east wind more beneficial than the south, and renders the parts that lie in the interior preferable to those near the coast,-the former being generally the coldest,-mountainous districts better than level ones, and rain at night better than showers in the day. Vegetation, too, receives a greater degree of benefit from the water when the sun does not immediately soak it up.

Connected, too, with this subject is the question of the best situation for planting vines, and the trees which support them. Virgil25 condemns a western aspect, while there are some persons, again, who prefer it to an easterly one: I find, however, that most authors approve of the south, though I do not think that any abstract precepts26 can be given in relation to the point. The most careful attention on the part of the cultivator ought to be paid to the nature of the soil, the character of the locality, and the respective influences of climate. The method of giving to the vine a southern aspect, as practised in Africa and * * * * is injurious to the tree, as well as unhealthy for the cultivator, from the very circumstance that the country itself lies under a southern meridian: hence it is, that he who selects for his plants there a western or a northerly aspect, will combine on the most advantageous terms the benefits of soil with those of climate. When Virgil condemns a western aspect, there can be no doubt that he includes in his censure a northern aspect as well: and yet, in Cisalpine Italy, where most of the vineyards have an aspect to the north, it has been found by experience that there are none that are more prolific.

The winds are also a very important consideration. In the provinces of Gallia Narbonensis, and in Liguria and part of Etruria, it is considered a proof of great want of skill to plant the vine on a site that lies in the teeth of the wind Circius,27 while, on the other hand, it is a mark of prudence to catch its breezes in an oblique direction; it is this wind, in fact, that modifies the heat in those countries, though at the same time it is usually so violent, as to sweep away the roofs of the houses.

(3.) There are some persons who employ a method of making the question of weather dependent upon the nature of the soil; thus in the case of a vineyard, for instance, in a dry locality, they give it an eastern or a northern aspect; but where it is planted on a humid site, it is made to face the south. From the varieties of the vine also, they borrow various modifications in reference to site; taking care to plant the early vine in a cold locality, in order that the fruit may ripen before the frosts come on; while such fruit trees and vines as have an antipathy to dews are exposed to the east, that the sun may carry off their humidity at the earliest moment. On the other hand, such as manifest a partiality to dews are planted with a western or even a northern aspect, to give them an opportunity of enjoying them all the longer. Others, again, borrowing their notions pretty nearly from Nature, have recommended that vines and trees should be planted facing the north-east; indeed Democritus is of opinion, that by so doing the fruit will be all the more odoriferous.

(4.) We have already spoken, in the Second Book,28 of the points of the north-east and other winds, and shall have occasion in the succeeding one to make mention of several more of the heavenly phænomena. In the mean time, however, we may observe that it would appear to be a manifest proof of the salubrity of a north-east site, that the leaves are always the first to fall in the trees that have an aspect towards the south.29 A similar reason exists, too, in the maritime districts; in certain localities the sea breezes are detrimental, though in most they are nutritious. For some plants, again, it is pleasant to behold the sea at a distance, while at the same time they will gain nothing by approaching closer to its saline exhalations. The same, too, is the influence exercised by rivers and lakes; they will either scorch the vegetation by the fogs they emit, or else modify by their coolness the excess of heat. We have already mentioned30 the plants that thrive in the shade, and in the cold even; but in all these matters experience will be found the best of guides.


Next after the influences of the heavens, we have to treat of those of the earth, a task that is in no way more easy than the previous one. It is but rarely that the same soil is found suited to trees as well as corn: indeed, the black31 earth which prevails in Campania is not everywhere found suited to the vine, nor yet that which emits light exhalations, or the red32 soil that has been so highly praised by many. The cretaceous earth that is found in the territory of Alba Pompeia, and an argillaceous soil, are preferred to all others for the vine, although, too, they are remarkably rich, a quality that is generally looked upon as not suited to that plant. On the other hand, again, the white sand of the district of Ticinum, the black sand of many other places, and the red sand as well, even though mixed with a rich earth, will prove unproductive.

The very signs, also, from which we form our judgment are often very deceptive; a soil that is adorned with tall and graceful trees is not always a favourable one, except, of course, for those trees. What tree, in fact, is there that is taller than the fir? and yet what other plant could possibly exist in the same spot? Nor ought we always to look upon verdant pastures as so many proofs of richness of soil; for what is there that enjoys a greater renown than the pastures of Germany? and yet they consist of nothing but a very thin layer of turf, with sand immediately beneath. Nor yet is the soil which produces herbage33 of large growth always to be looked upon as humid; no, by Hercules! no more than a soil is to be looked upon as unctuous and rich, which adheres to the fingers—a thing that is proved in the case of the argillaceous earths.34 The earth when thrown back into the hole from which it has just been dug will never35 fill it, so that it is quite impossible by that method to form any opinion as to its density or thinness. It is the fact, too, that every36 soil, without exception, will cover iron with rust. Nor yet can we determine37 the heaviness or lightness of soils in relation to any fixed and ascertained weight: for what are we to understand as the standard weight of earth? A soil, too, that is formed from the alluvion38 of rivers is not always to be recommended, for there are some crops that decay all the sooner in a watery soil; indeed, those soils even of this description which are highly esteemed, are never found to be long good for any kind of vegetation but the willow.

Among other proofs of the goodness of soil, is the comparative thickness of the stem in corn. In Laborium, a famous champaign country of Campania, the stalk is of such remarkable thickness, that it may be used even to supply the place of wood:39 and yet this very soil, from the difficulty that is everywhere experienced in cultivating it, and the labour required in working it, may be almost said to give the husbandman more trouble by its good qualities than it could possibly have done by reason of any defects. The soil, too, that is generally known as charcoal earth, appears susceptible of being improved by being planted with a poor meagre vine: and tufa,40 which is naturally rough and friable, we find recommended by some authors. Virgil,41 too, does not condemn for the vine a soil which produces fern:42 while a salted earth43 is thought to be much better entrusted with the growth of vegetation than any other, from the fact of its being comparatively safe from noxious insects breeding there. Declivities, too, are far from unproductive, if a person only knows how to dig them properly; and it is not all44 champaign spots that are less accessible to the sun and wind than is necessary for their benefit. We have already45 alluded to the fact, that there are certain vines which find nutriment in hoar frosts and fogs.

In every subject there are certain deep and recondite secrets, which it is left to the intelligence of each to penetrate. Do awe not, for instance, find it the fact, that soils which have long offered opportunities for a sound judgment being formed on their qualities have become totally altered? In the vicinity of Larissa, in Thessaly, a lake was drained;46 and the consequence was, that the district became much colder, and the olive-trees which had formerly borne fruit now ceased to bear. When a channel was cut for the Hebrus, near the town of Ænos, the place was sensible of its nearer approach, in finding its vines frost-bitten, a thing that had never happened before; in the vicinity, too, of Philippi, the country having been drained for cultivation, the nature of the climate became entirely altered. In the territory of Syracuse, a husbandman, who was a stranger to the place, cleared the soil of all the stones, and the consequence was, that he lost his crops front the accumulation of mud; so that at last he was obliged to carry the stones back again. In Syria again, the plough- share which they use is narrow, and the furrows are but very superficial, there being a rock beneath the soil that in summer scorches up the seeds.

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