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From the larch, and still more the fir, after it has been cut, a liquid1 flows for a considerable period: these are the loftiest and straightest of all the trees. The fir is preferred for making the masts and sailyards of ships, on account of its comparative lightness. It is a common feature with these trees, in common with the pine, to have four rows of veins running along the wood, or else two, or sometimes only one. The heart2 of these trees is peculiarly well adapted for joiners' work, and the best wood of all is that which has four layers of veins, it being softer than the rest: men of experience in these matters can instantly form a judgment of the quality from the bark. That part in the fir which is nearest to the ground is free from knots: when soaked in river water in the way we have already mentioned,3 and then barked, the wood of this part is known4 as sappinus; while that of the upper part, which is harder and knotty, goes by the name of "fusterna." In trees, the side which looks towards the northeast is the most robust, and it is universally the case, that those which grow in moist and damp localities are of inferior quality, while in those which grow in warm and sunny spots, the wood is more compact and durable; hence it is, that at Rome the fir is preferred that grows on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea to that of the shores of the Adriatic.

There are also considerable differences in the qualities of these trees according to the country of their growth: the most esteemed are those of the Alps and the Apennines; in Gaul, those of Jura5 and Mount Vogesus; those also of Corsica, Bithynia, Pontus, and Macedonia; while the firs of Ænea6 and Arcadia are of inferior quality. Those, however, of Parnassus and Eubœa are the worst of all, the trees being branchy and knotted, and the wood very apt to rot. As for the cedar, those of Crete, Africa, and Syria are the most esteemed. Wood, if well rubbed with oil of cedar, is proof against wood-worm and decay. The juniper, too, has the same7 virtues as the cedar; in Spain it grows to a very considerable size, in the territory of the Vacæi8 more particularly: the heart of this tree, too, is universally more firm and solid than cedar even. A general fault in all wood is that known as cross-grain, which is formed by contortions of the knots and veins.9 In the wood of some trees there are to be found knurs,10 like those in marble; these knurs are remarkably hard, and offer a resistance like that of a nail, to the great injury of the saw: in some cases, also, they are formed accidentally, from either a stone, or the branch of another tree lodging there, and being absorbed in the body of the tree.

In the Forum at Megara there long stood a wild olive upon which warriors who had distinguished themselves by their martial powers had been in the habit of suspending their arms. In the lapse of time the bark of this tree had closed, and quite concealed these arms from view. Upon it, however, depended the fate of the city; for it had been announced by an oracle, that when a tree there should bring forth arms, the fall of the city would be close at hand: and such, in fact, was the result, when the tree was cut down and greaves and helmets were found within the wood.11 It is said that stones found under these circumstances have the property of preventing abortion.

(40.) It is generally thought that the largest12 tree that has ever been seen, was the one that was exhibited at Rome, by Tiberius Cæsar, as an object of curiosity, upon the bridge of the Naumachia previously mentioned.13 It had been brought thither along with other timber, and was preserved till the construction of the amphitheatre of the Emperor Nero:14 it was a log of larch, one hundred and twenty feet long, and of an uniform thickness of a couple of feet. From this fact we can form an estimate of the original height of the tree; indeed, measured from top to bottom it must have been originally of a length that is almost incredible. In our own time, too, in the porticos of the Septa,15 there was a log which had been left there by M. Agrippa, as being equally an object of curiosity, having been found too large to be used in the building of the vote office16 there: it was twenty feet shorter than the one previously mentioned, and a foot-and-a-half in thickness. There was a fir, too, that was particularly admired, when it formed the mast of the ship, which brought from Egypt, by order of the Emperor Caius,17 the obelisk18 that was erected in the Vaticanian Circus, with the four blocks of stone intended for its base. It is beyond all doubt that there has been seen nothing on the sea more wonderful than this ship: one hundred and twenty thousand modii of lentils formed its ballast; and the length of it took up the greater part of the left side of the harbour at Ostia. It was sunk at that spot by order of the Emperor Claudius, three moles, each as high as a tower, being built upon it; they were constructed with cement19 which the same vessel had conveyed from Puteoli. It took the arms of four men to span the girth of this tree, and we not unfrequently hear of the price of masts for such purposes, as being eighty thousand sesterces or more: rafts, too, of this wood are sometimes put together, the value of which is forty thousand. In Egypt and Syria, it is said, the kings, for want of fir, used to employ cedar20 for building their ships: the largest cedar that we find mentioned is said to have come from Cyprus, where it was cut to form the mast of a galley of eleven tiers of oars that belonged to Demetrius: it was one hundred and thirty feet in length, and took three men to span its girth. The pirates of Germany navigate their seas in vessels formed of a single tree hollowed21 out: some of these will hold as many as thirty men.

Of all woods, the most compact, and consequently the hea- viest, are the ebony and the box, both of them of a slender make. Neither of these woods will float in water, nor, indeed, will that of the cork tree, if the bark is removed; the same is the case, too, with the wood of the larch. Of the other woods, the driest is that of the tree known at Rome as the lotus,22 and next, that of the robur, when the white sap has been removed. The wood of the robur is dark, and that of the cytisus23 still more so, approaching, in fact, the nearest of all to the colour of ebony; though there are not wanting writers who assert that the wood of the Syrian terebinth is darker.24 An artist of the name of Thericles is highly spoken of for his skill in turning goblets from the wood of the terebinth: and, indeed, that fact is a proof of the goodness of the wood. Terebinth is the only wood that requires to be rubbed with oil, and is im- proved thereby. Its colour is imitated remarkably well with the walnut and the wild pear, which have its peculiar tint imparted to them by being boiled in colouring liquid. The wood of all the trees of which we have here made mention is firm and compact. Next after them comes the cornel, although it can hardly be looked upon as timber, in consequence of its remarkable slimness; the wood of it, in fact, is used for hardly any other purpose than the spokes of wheels, or else for making wedges for splitting wood, and pins or bolts, which have all the hardness of those of iron. Besides these, there are the holm-oak, the wild and the cultivated olive, the chesnut, the yoke-elm, and the poplar. This last is mottled similarly to the maple, and would be used for joiners' work if wood could be good for anything when the branches are so often lopped: that acting upon the tree as a sort of castration, and depriving it of its strength. In addition to these facts, most of these trees, but the robur more particularly, are so extremely hard, that it is quite impossible to bore the wood till it has been soaked in water; and even then, a nail once driven home cannot be drawn out again. On the other hand, a nail has no25 hold in cedar. The wood of the lime is the softest of all, and, as it would appear, the hottest by nature; a proof of this, they say, is the fact that it will turn the edge of the adze sooner than any other wood.26 In the number, also, of the trees that are hot by nature, are the mulberry, the laurel, the ivy, and all those woods from which fire is kindled by attrition.

1 Terebinthine or turpentine.

2 "Ad fabrorum intstina opera medulla seetilis " This passage is pro- bably corrupt.

3 In c. 74.

4 With reference to the fir, namely.

5 B. iii. c. 5.

6 B. iv. c. 3.

7 An additional proof, perhaps, that the cedar of the ancients is only one of the junipers, and that, as Fée says, they were not acquainted with the real cedar.

8 B. iii. c. 4.

9 "Spiras." It seems to have been the opinion of the ancients that the internal knots of the wood are formed spirally. Such is not the fact, as they consist of independent layers.

10 Centra.

11 He takes this account from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. v. c. 3.

12 The greatest height, Fée says, of any tree known, is that of the palm, known as ceroxvlon; it sometimes attains a height of 250 feet. Adanson speaks of the baobab as being 90 feet in circumference.

13 In c, 74.

14 See B. xix. c. 6.

15 A spot enclosed in the Campus Martius, for the resort of the people during the Comitia, and when giving their votes.

16 "Diribitorium." This was the place, probably, where the diribitores distributed to the citizens the tabellæ, with which they voted in the Comitia, or else, as Wunder thinks, divided the votes, acting as "tellers," in the modern phrase.

17 Caligula.

18 B. xxxvi. c. 14.

19 See B. xxxvi. c. 14. This was a mortar made of volcanic ashes, which hardened under water. It is now known as Pozzuolane.

20 The Pinus cedrus of Linnæus.

21 The canoes were formed probably of the fir.

22 The Celtis australis of Linnæus.

23 See B. xiii. c 27.

24 This, Fée says, is not the case, if the Syrian terebinth is the same as the Pistacia terebinthus of Linnæus.

25 This is not the case; a nail has a firm hold in all resinous woods.

26 This is evidently a puerile absurdity: but it is borrowed from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. v. c. 4.

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