| Alberti, Leone Battista Architecture 1755, tr. Leoni, James |
affirmed that the Cypress never suffers either
by Worms or Age, and never splits of its own
For this Reason Plato was of Opinion,
that the publick Laws and Statutes should be
carved in sacred Tables of Cypress, believing
they would be more lasting than Tables of
This Topick naturally leads me to give
an Account of what I myself remember to
have read and observ'd of this Wood.
It is re
lated that the Gates of the Temple of Diana,
at Ephesus, being of Cypress, lasted four hun
dred Years, and preserved their Beauty in such
a Manner that they always seemed to be new.
In the Church of St. Peter at Rome, upon the
repairing of the Gates by Pope Eugenius, I
found, that where they had not been injured
by the Violence of the Enemy in stripping a
way the Silver with which they were formerly
covered, they had continued whole and sound
above five hundred and fifty Years; for if we
examing the Annals of the Roman Pontiffs, so
long it is from the Time of Hadrian the Third,
who set them up, to Eugene the Fourth.
fore, though the Fir is very much commended
for making Rafters, yet the Cypress is prefer
red before it, perhaps only upon this one Ac
count, namely, that it is more lasting; but
then it is heavier than the Fir.
The Pine and
Pitch Trees also are valued, for the Pine is
supposed to have the same Quality as the Fir,
of rising against the Weight that is laid upon
it: But between the Fir and the Pine there is
this Difference, among others, that the Firs is
less injured by Worms, because the Pine is of a
sweeter Juice than the Fir.
I do not know
any Wood that is to be preferred to the Larch,
or Turpentine Tree, which, within my Obser
vation, has supported Buildings perfectly strong,
and to a very great Age, in many Places, and
particularly in those very ancient Structures in
the Market-place at Venice, and indeed this one
Tree is reckoned to be furnished with the Con
veniences of all the Rest; it is nervous, tena
cious of its Strength, unmoveable in Storms,
not molested with Worms; and it is an anci
ent Opinion, that against the Injuries of Fire
it remains invincible, and in a Manner unhurt,
insomuch that they advise us, on whatever Side
we are apprehensive of Fire, to place Beams of
Larch by Way of Security.
It is true I have
seen it take Fire and burn, but yet in such a
Manner that it seemed to disdain the Flames,
and to threaten to drive them away.
indeed one Defect, which is, that in Sea-wa
ter it is very apt to breed Worms.
the Oak and Olive are accounted improper,
because of their Heaviness, and that they give
Way beneath the Weight that is laid upon
them, and are apt to warp even of themselves;
besides, all Trees that are more inclinable to
break into Shivers than to split, are unfit for
Beams; such are the Olive, the Fig, the Lin
den, the Sallow, and the like.
It is a surpriz
ing Property which they relate of the Palm
Tree, that it rises against the Weight that is
laid upon it, and bends upwards in spite of all
For Beams and Coverings ex
posed to the open Air, the Juniper is greatly
commended; and Pliny says it has the same
Properties as the Cedar, but is sounder.
Olive too is reckoned extreamly durable, and
the Box is esteemed as one of the Best of all.
Nor is the Chesnut, though apt to cleave and
split, rejected for Works to the open Air.
the wild Olive they particularly esteem sor the
same Reason as the Cypress, because it never
breeds Worms, which is the Advantage of all
Trees that have oily and gummy Juices, espe
cially if those Juices are bitter.
never enters into such Trees, and it is certain
they exclude all Moisture from without.
trary to these are supposed to be all Woods
that have Juices of a sweet Taste, and which
easily take Fire; out of which, nevertheless,
they except the sweet as well as the wild Olive.
Vitruvius says, that the Holm Oak and Beech
are very weak in their Nature against Storms,
and do not endure to a great Age. Pliny says,
that the Mast-holm soon rots.
But the Fir,
and particularly that which grows in the Alps,
for Uses within Doors, as for Bedsteads, Ta
bles, Doors, Benches, and the like, is excel
lent; because it is, in its Nature, very dry, and
very tenacious of the Glue.
and Cypress also are very good for such Uses;
the Beech for other Service is too brittle, but
does mighty well for Coffers and Beds, and
will saw into extreme thin Planks, as will like
wise the Scarlet-Oak.
The Chesnut, on the
Contrary, the Elm, and the Ash are reckoned
very unfit for Planks, because they easily split,
and though they split slowly, they are very in
clinable to it; though else the Ash is account
ed very obedient in all Manner of Works.
I am surprized the Ancients have not celebra
ted the Nut Tree; which, as Experience shews
us, is extremely tractable, and good for most
Uses, and especially for Boards or Planks,
They commend the Mulberry-Tree, both for
its Durableness, and because by Length of