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them very hot, and putting his hand into one of them beiveen the plaits, it burnt him. The supervisor being immediately acquainted with this accident, caused the bales to be brought out into the air, and upon opening them they sent out a thick smoke: some pretended that they saw a flame, but it is probable that they saw only the sun's rays reflected from the smoke.
It was at first suspected that these bales had been set on fire; the grating was therefore taken up; but after the strictest search, no appearance of fire was found, and it appeared that the suspicion was wholly groundless upon a farther inspection of the bales, for the fire had manifestly beguin in the centre of each bale, the outward parts of them having received no injury: the plaits that had been pressed closest by the cord were most damaged, being burnt to a cinder, so as to crumble between the fingers.
Some of the old workmen declared, that the same thing had happened many years ago; but that, conceiving it impossible for the bales to take fire of themselves, they had concealed the accident, for fear of being taxed with negligence, and punished accordingly.
That hay, put up wet, will take fire, is well known to our farmers; and many fires have happened by fain falling on unslacked lime,
XXXIII. On the prodigious Growth of Trees,
THERE are giants in the vegetable, as well as the animal kingdom. For proof of which, I shall here recite what I have observed in my reading, concerning monstrous trees, that have deserved the particular notice of travellers and naturalists.
Thevenot, in his Travels, A. D. 1656, Part I. Chap. 71, tells us, thạt in the island of Coos, which the Turks call Stranchio, and Lango, or Isola Longa, there is a tree of such . a vast extent, that it can easily cover two thousand men, and that the branches of it are supported by several stone and wooden pillars, there being under it several barber's-shops, coffee-houses, and such like, with many benches to sit on. This tree is like a sycamore, but the fruit it bears is like a chesnut, and serves for tanning of leather.
Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, Chap. vi. says, that there was, A.D. 1636, an apple tree within the moat at the parsonage house at Leigh, in that county, that spread about 54 yards in circumference, which, allowing four sqnare feet for a man, would shelter 500 footmen under its branches, This, indeed, is but small in comparison of the tree abovementioved by Thevenot, provided he was exact in the measuring of it, and observed the same proportion for the standing of his men; but it is an amazing growth for an apple tree.
A pearmain, in New England, at a foot from the ground, measured ten feet and four inches round, and it bore one year 38 bushels. See Eames's Abridg. Phil. Trans. Part II.
The dimensions, likewise, of the Witch-Elm that grew at Field, in Staffordshire, are really wonderful; of which Dr. Plot, in the aforesaid history of that county, in the 6th chapter, gives us the following particulars: 1. That it fell 120 feet, or 40 yards in length. 2. That the stool, or butend, was 5 yards and 2 feet in diameter, and 17 yards in circumfereiice. 3. That it was 8 yards 18 inches, or 25 feet and a half about by girth measure in the middle. 4. That it contained 100 ton at least of neat timber, but as far as I can inform myself Fir-trees grow the highest of any; for we are told, that in the Canton of Bern, in Switzerland, there are some above 76 yards high. I have not read nor heard of any other trees, or in any other place, that really equal these in tallness.
Pliny says, in his Nat. Hist. lib. vi. c. 32. that in the Fortunate Islands, (now called the Canaries) there are trees that grow to the height of 144 feet. But he does not tell us wliat kind of trees they are; yet, in another place, viz. Nat. Hist. lib. xvi. c. 39. he says that the Larch-tree and l'ir-tree, grow to be the tallest and straightest of all trees. What he mentions in the next chapter of trees, so thick that they require three or four men to grasp them, is a very indeterminate way
of speaking, neither can we easily credit what he reports of the German pirates, that they used boats made hollow out of one single tree, that would each of them hoid thirty men; at least, we must conceive them to be made out of trees of a prodigious trunk. It also appears by this, that canoes were in use in the northern climates long before America was discovered. There seems likewise a little too much of the marvellous, where he informs us (Nat. Hist. lib. vii. ch. 2.) that in India there are trees of such a height, that a man cannot shoot an arrow to the top of them; and that a troop of horse may be ranged under one of their Fig: trees.
But let us come nearer home, and we may find trees that are really wonderful, without any exaggeration. In Mr. J. Ray's Life, by Dr. Derham, published by George Scott, F. R. S. we have the following remarkable paragraph:• Octob. 14, 1669, (says he) we rode to see the famous firtrees, some two miles and a half distant from Newport, in a village called Wareton, in Shropshire, in the land of Mr. Skrimshaw. There are of them 35 in number, very tall and straight, without any boughs till towards the top. The greatest, which seems to be the mother of the rest, we found by measure to be fourteen feet and a half round the body, and they say 56 yards high, which to me seemed not incredible.'
At Torworth, (alias Tamworth) in Gloucestershire, there is a chesnut-tree, which, in all probability, is the oldest, if not the largest in England, being 52 feet round. This tree is said to have stood there ever since the reign of King Stephen, A.D. 1150.
Keysler, in his Travels, Vol. IV. p. 459, tells us, that there is a Hazel-tree to be seen (A.D. 1731) in Mr. Hassel's garden, in the city of Frankfort, of which their annals make mention above 200 years ago. The lower part of its trunk is seven Frankfort ells* in circumference; its height is equal to that of the houses near it, and it still bears nuts every year, but the tree now begins to decay,
Yours, 1763, Aug.
XXXIV. On Archbishop Secker's Death, and the brittleness of
Human Bones in Frosts,
MR. URBAN, ACCORDING to the excellent memoirs you have given us of Abp. Secker, in your last number, a very extraordinary accident befel him but a few days before he died. The ac. count goes thus, that as he was turning himself on his couch, he broke his thigh bone. It was immediately set, but it
* A Frankfort ell is about 2 feet 3 inches,
soon appeared there were no hopes of his recovery. After his death it was found, that the thigh bone was quite carious, and that the excruciating pains he so long felt, were owing to the gradual corrosion of this bone, by some acrimonious humour.
The Archbishop was in his seventy-fisth year. Now it is related in the Life of Dr. Ralph Bathurst, who died in his eighty-fourth year, that his death was occasioned by the like accident of breaking his thigh, while he was walking in his garden. And it is added on the occasion, “It is said that at first, and for some time, he refused to submit to the operations of the surgeon, declaring, in his tortures, that there was no marrow in the bones of an old nan*.” Dr. Bathurst was bred a physician, and was of great eminence in his profession, insomuch that some regard, as it should seem, ought to be paid to a declaration of this kind coming from him, and ve I vehemently suspect the truth of it, on account of what here follows. At Christinas, 1767, an old gentlewoman confined to her bed by illness, and in the 85th year of her age, had occasion in the night to make use of the basin, and being very weak and helpless, she tumbled upon the floor as she was endeavouring to reach it, and broke her
She had a fever upon her at the time, and yet this notwithstanding, as likewise notwithstanding her weakness and extreme old agent the arm was set and united well, and in a reasonable time; and she had tolerable good use of it for many months before she died, which was on the 20th of October last. In short, the affirmation or supposition rather, of Dr. Bathurst, appears to me to be a subject that ought to be inquired into by those who have opportunities of making the wal.
MR. URBAN, It is a common notion, and in all parts, for I have heard it from many mouths, and in many places, that our bones are brittlest in frosty, weather. This is a difficult matter, at best, to prove, and I imagine the observation las nothing to support it, but the frequency of fractures at such seasons. But now, Sir, if this be the whole foundation of it, this one particular will scarcely bear the weight that is laid upon it.
* Warton's Life of Ralph Bathurst, page 182. 4. She wa; older, you observ., than eiti er the Archbishop or Ir. Bathurst.
For first, men are most liable to slip then, and consequently more fall than common. Secondly, falls are violent upon sudden slips. Thirdly, the limbs are often thrown into un. natural positions by such slips; and lastly, the ground in frosts is hard, and impiuging with force against it when it is in such a state, must endanger the bones more than at any other time, and occasion the more fractures. In short, the external constitution of the air may have effect on the surface of our bodies, as to the pores, and the affections of heat and cold, but that the internal stamina of the bones and the substance of them should be altered in respect of cohesion, of induration on one part, and pliableness on the other, is a thing difficult to conceive. And quære, whether a degree of cold sufficient to effect that would not immediately induce death? For my part I cannot apprehend how the flesh, the periosteum, the blood, and even some of the vital parts could stand it. I will not pretend to say how the case may be with a dry, dead, uncovered bone, lying exposed to the ambient air in a severe frost; but surely, if the substance of a human bone can be so penetrated by an excess of cold, as to suffer an alteration in the cohesion of its parts, the marrow of such bone must be in a manner damaged and destroyed.
It is true the bones of old people do break with the greatest facility, and from the slightest causes, as appears from the two cases of Archbishop Secker and Dr. Bathurst, reported in your Magazine of November 1768, but then this fragility may be supposed to arise from an internal cause, to wit, the aridity or dryness of old men's bones, tenacity or toughness depending mainly upon a competent degree of moisture. And this I presume was the case with that great man, Archbishop Laud. At 54 years of age, his Grace strained, or rather broke the great ligament of his foot, the tendon Achillis, and when he was 68, as he was walking up and down his chamber at the Tower, the sinew of his right leg gave a great crack, without any slip or treading awry, and brake asunder in the same place where he had broken it before. His Grace, however, recovered it, and could go strongly upon plain ground. See his Diary, pag. 42, 63, 191. The event, you observe, was not very bad, but that is not the meaning of my introducing this fracture; for my design is to shew, by this, how easily dryness in the limbs of old persons disposes them to break.
But this, I apprehend, is by no means the case with our bones in frosty seasons, which I presume are so fenced and secured against the external injuries of weather, by the periosteum, the flesh, and