OBSERVATIONS UPON THE GROWTH AND CULTURE OF VINES AND OLIVES:
the PRODUCTION OF SILK:
the PRESERVATION OF FRUITS.
Written at the Request of The EARL of SHAFTSBURY.
To whom it is inscribed.
(First published in M.DCC.LXVI.)
THE EDITOR TO THE READER.
At this time, when every improvement of the garden is so much the study and delight of our countrymen; when artificial means have been discovered to supply every defect of climate, and the vegetable productions of every other region of the globe have been raised in our own soil; it is presumed the following small tract, printed from a manuscript very neatly written by Mr. John Locke, with his usual accuracy, will be no unwelcome present to the public.
Subjects of curiosity and instruction, to the inquisitive philosopher and his noble patron, will, doubtless, be entertaining to every reader.
Should it gain a passage to America, it will be of far more extensive use both to that country and to Britain.
No union, no alliance, is so firm and lasting as that which is founded upon the solid basis of a mutual interest.
Necessity, natural or artificial, is the real cause and support of trade and navigation. Our commerce with Spain and Portugal, and other countries, will subsist under every change of government or inhabitants, whilst we are in want of the productions of their soil and industry.
Politicians, who ought to know how commerce, and consequently naval force, has fluctuated in the world, will take care not to oppress, by very heavy and improvident taxations, their manufactures, and other articles of trade at home, nor such commodities imported from abroad, as may dispose other nations to cultivate those very articles among themselves, which they have hitherto received from us.
However populous and great, industrious and rich, the settlements in the vast continent of America may hereafter become, this the mother-country may for ever be connected with it more intimately than the southern nations, by encouraging the growth and produce of vines and olives, silk and fruits, which cannot advantageously be raised in England: and sound policy will always engage the subjects in England and America not to be rivals in trade, by setting up such manufacturers in one country as must necessarily distress the other.
The wisdom of this country will instruct governors to do all that is possible to promote the linen manufacture in Ireland; and the wise and good in both kingdoms will never desire such use of their wool and their ports as must be directly prejudicial to England.
The most perfect harmony will subsist between Great Britain and her colonies, as long as British subjects, cemented by blood, by mutual interest and commerce, continue friends to liberty and the protestant religion, and succession in the present royal family; this is a true and lasting family-compact: all which inestimable blessings will be rendered permanent and inviolable by the fleets of England, which, whilst the British empire is united, will be superiour to all other powers in the world.
The editor cannot take his leave of the reader without observing, that very important services have been done to America, by a plan of government drawn up for the province of Carolina by Mr. Locke, under the direction of that eminent and able statesman the first earl of Shaftsbury; and by the present earl of Shaftsbury, as an active and zealous trustee for the colony of Georgia; from which, in time, we may expect a considerable quantity of raw silk will be imported into England.
Vines are natural to the soil of many parts in America; and, if olive-trees are planted in such provinces as are most proper for the growth of them, the planters will soon be enriched, and England relieved in several articles made from this profitable fruit, and which are necessary to the support of every individual and every manufacture in the kingdom.
Temple, March 1766.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
ANTHONY EARL OF SHAFTSBURY.
THE country, where these observations were made, hath vanity enough to over-value every thing it produces; and it is hard to live in a place, and not take some tincture from the manners of the people. Yet I think I should scarce have ventured to trouble your lordship with these French trifles, had not your lordship yourself encouraged me to believe, that it would not be unacceptable to you, if I took this way (for I ought all manner of ways) to express that duty and observance wherewith I am,
Your lordship’s most humble,
and most obedient servant,
Ch. Ch. Feb. 1,
In Languedoc they plant their vineyards in February; and they choose the quarter before the full, as the fittest time of the moon to do it in.
They set the cuttings they plant exactly in quincunx, and the rows at four and a half, five, and six pans distance.—A pan is 9 [Editor: illegible number]/6 inches.
About Tholoun in Provence, and also about Bourdeaux, I have seen vines and corn interchangeably; viz. two or three rows of vines, and then a ridge or two of corn.
They set their plants about a spit deep, and always leave two knots above ground.
In setting the vines, they dig the ground sometimes all over, sometimes only in trenches.
They plant their vineyards both in plains and on hills, with indifferency; but say that on hills, especially opening to the east or south, the wine is best; in plains they produce most. The soil about Frontignan, where the best muscat grows, is so stony, that one can see no earth at all. And the vine de Pontac, so much esteemed in England, grows on a rising open to the west, in a white sand mixed with a little gravel, which one would think would bear nothing; but there is such a particularity in the soil, that at Mr. Pontac’s, near Bourdeaux, the merchants assured me that the wine growing in the very next vineyards, where there was only a ditch between, and the soil, to appearance, perfectly the same, was by no means so good. The same also they observe about Montpelier, where two vineyards, bounding one upon another, constantly produce the one good and the other bad wine.
A vineyard, from its planting, will last fifty, eighty, or an hundred years. The older the vineyard, the fewer the grapes, but the better the wine. New planted vineyards produce more, but the wine not so good: it is generally green, i. e. more inclining to verjuice.
The vineyard thus planted, the next year at pruning they cut them, so that (if conveniently there can) there may be four shoots next year, near the ground, at least three, spreading several ways, which may come to be so many standing branches, out of which the shoots are to sprout. There being thus left the beginnings of three or four branches spreading different ways, ever afterwards, when they come to prune, they leave about an inch of that last year’s shoot, which grew strait out of the top of each of the four standing branches; all the rest they cut off clean to the old stock.
If by chance they find (when they are pruning) a vine decayed, or gone in any place, they dig a trench from the next stock to that place, and laying the old stock along in the trench, order it so that one last year’s shoot of the said stock shall come out just where the laid stock grew, and another where there was one wanting: these they cut off about eight or nine inches above the ground, which being fed by the great old root (which they move not when they lay the old stock, but so loosen it only as it may let the old stock be gently bent down, and so be buried in the trench) will bear the next vintage: whereas, if they planted a cutting in the place where they found a stock wanting, it would not bear in three or four years. By these young plants, they stick in a good strong branch, a pretty deal longer than the plant, which they leave there to defend it.
They prune their vines in December, January, February, and March; they that do it so late as the latter end of February, or the month of March, are such as have vineyards apt to shoot early in the spring; and, if cold weather nip the young shoots, they have the fewer grapes at the vintage. And in pruning their vines they observe to do it in one year in the new and another in the old of the moon, or else they say they will grow too much to wood.
They turn the ground of their vineyards twice a year; about the end of February or in March, and again in May; they do it either by ploughing betwixt the rows of vines, or, which they count better, by digging, in which they sometimes use little spades, but most commonly large houghs, the usual way of delving in this country; in which way they turn up the earth as deep and much faster than our men do with spades in England.
Pigeons dung and hens dung they make use of in their vineyards, as an improvement that will increase the quantity without injuring the goodness of their wine: but horse dung, or that of any beast, they say, spoils the goodness of their wine. This they have so strong an opinion of at Galliac, a place about thirty leagues from Montpelier, that, if a peasant there should use any but birds dung about his vines, his neighbours would burn his house; because they would not have the wine of that place lose its reputation.
I have been told that a sheep’s horn buried at the root of a vine will make it bear well even in barren ground. I have no great faith in it, but mention it, because it may so easily be tried.
But I suppose the husbandry in their vineyards differs much, both according to the fashion of several countries, and the difference of soil; for I remember that, at Mr. Pontac’s vineyard near Bourdeaux, the vines in some parts of the vineyard grew four or five feet high, and were tied to stakes; and in another part of the same vineyard they were directed along upon the ground, not above a foot from it, between little low stakes or laths, so that the old branches stand on each side the root like a pair of arms spread out, and lying open towards the south. The reason of this different way of culture I could not learn of the labourers for want of understanding Gascoin. In Languedoc they use no stakes at all to support their vines, but they trust them to the strength of their own growth, pruning them as I have above mentioned; which makes them say in the more northerly parts of France, that in Languedoc they have wine without taking pains for it.
When the grapes are ready to turn, they go into the vineyards, and there taking four, five, or six of the neighbour shoots, twist them together at the top; and thus the shoots all through the vineyard, being as it were tied together, stand upright, whereby the grapes have more sun, and perhaps the sap too is hindered from running into the wood and leaves.
They have about Montpelier these following sorts of grapes:
- 1. Epiran.
- 2. Espiran verdau.
- 3. Tarret.
- 4. Barbarous.
- 5. Grumeau negre.
- 6. Grumeau blanc.
- 7. Grumeau blanc muscat.
- 8. Laugeby.
- 9. L’ougré.
- 10. Raisin de St. Jean.
- 11. Marroquin.
- 12. Marroquin gris.
- 13. Marroquin bleu.
- 14. Clarette.
- 15. Clarette rouge.
- 16. Ovilla de negre.
- 17. Ovilla de blanc.
- 18. Covilla de Gal.
- 19. Ramounen.
- 20. Unio negro.
- 21. Unio blanquo.
- 22. Corinth.
- 23. Effouimu.
- 24. Iragnou.
- 25. Piquepoul.
- 26. Farret.
- 27. Piquardan.
- 28. Musquat negre.
- 29. Musquat blanc.
- 30. Musquat d’Espagne.
- 31. Palofedo.
- 32. Servan.
- 33. Damas violet.
- 34. Raison de la fon.
- 35. Sadoulo boyyier.
- 36. Sergousan.
- 37. L’ambrusque.
- 38. Rovergas.
- 39. Coltort.
- 40. Masquadassas.
- 41. Crispata.
These are the names of grapes they have about Montpelier, as they are called in the pattoy of that country.
1. The espiran, a round, black, very sweet and very wholesome grape: they eat them in great quantities when thorough ripe (which is about the middle of August stylo novo) without any fear of surfeit; and they are often prescribed by physicians to be eaten plentifully. I think them one of the best fruits in the world. These alone, of all the red grapes, make good wine by themselves; but they plant them not in so great quantities as the other sorts, because in hot and dry seasons they will dry up before they are ripe.
2. Espiran verdau, or the green espiran, called so from its colour; an admirable grape also to eat, though not altogether so delicate as the black espiran; but its excellency is, that it will keep long in the winter for eating; and I have eat very good of them at Christmas. Their way of keeping them is to gather them when ripe, and so hang them up, every bunch single, to the roof of a close room.
3. Tarret is a black, very large, but not very sweet grape, and therefore used only for wine; wherein it gives a very large quantity, but not much strength.
5. Grumeau negre, or the black grumeau, is an excellent large grape, very fleshy, and well enough tasted, of the fashion of a pear. I have seen one single grape of this sort which was in compass above 3½ inches English measure, and in compass the long way 3¾, and weighed of their weights [Editor: illegible character]ss. Эj. gr. iij. and all the rest of the grapes of the same bunch proportionable; but I have not observed them ordinarily planted in their vineyards.
10. Raisin de St. Jean is a sort of grape which they have only at the physic-garden at Montpelier: it came from India; it is a black grape, very good, ripe at Midsummer (and therefore called St. John’s grape) two months before any of the other sorts.
11. Marroquin, a very black, large, fleshy, round grape, very good to eat, but seldom used in wine.
14. Clarette, white, longish, middle-sized, sweet, good to eat, and good for wine.
19. Ramounen, black, very sweet, middle-sized, good for wine, and eating.
22. Corinth; this we have in England; and I do not find they use it much there for wine.
25. Piquepoul, black and very sweet, good for wine and for eating.
27. Piquardan, white, long, large, very sweet, with a very little of the muscat taste in it; makes very good wine alone or mingled.
29. Musquat blanc, or white muscat; this is usually planted and pressed alone, and makes the wine we usually call Frontiniac, from Frontignan, a town on the Mediterranean, near two or three leagues from Montpelier, where the most and best sort of this wine is made. It is a pleasant grape, and early ripe, before the ordinary sorts; but they are not near so good to eat as the espiran, being apt to fume to the head and make it ache.
32. Servan, a long, large, white, fleshy, sweet grape, called so, because they keep well, and you have of these always latest in winter.
41. Crispata: this I saw no-where but in the physic-garden at Montpelier: a good sweet white grape; called so from its jagged leaves, and I suppose the same with our parsley grape in England.
At Marmoustier, the great abbey of benedictins near Tours, I saw in their garden a sort of grapes pretty ripe, which they called raisins de Ste. Magdalene, because they used to be ripe about that time, which is the 22d of July.
Upon the skilful mixture of these several sorts of grapes, as well as on the propriety of the soil, depends in a great measure the goodness of their wine: though, as far as I could observe, it was not so far improved as it might; nor any other great care taken, but that there should be always a mixture of white grapes when they made their red wine, which will otherwise be too thick and deep-coloured: and therefore, if they have a sufficient quantity of claret or piquardin grapes in their vineyards, they seem not over curious of an exact proportion of the other sorts, which are planted there promiscuously.
When their grapes are ripe, and they have leave, they cut them, carry them home, and tread them immediately; for they will not keep without spoiling: this is the reason they must have leave; for, the parson being to have his tithe, and of that make his wine, if the parishioners were not obliged to vintage all at the same time, he could not make wine of his share, since one parcel of grapes could not stay till the other was cut to be pressed with them.
The grapes being brought in great tubs, either on mules or men’s backs, to the place where the wine is to be made, they put them in a kind of grate over the kuve, and there tread them till they are all broken, and then they throw them husks, stalks, and all, into the kuve: and thus till all their whole crop of grapes are trod.
When all the mass is in the kuve, they let it work there one, two, or three days, as they think fit to have their wine: the longer it works, and the more stalks are in it (for sometimes they put them not all in) the rougher and deeper-coloured will the wine be, but keep the longer.
When it has wrought its time in the kuve, they put it into buts, and there let it work as long as it will, filling up the working vessel every day with some of the same must kept on purpose, for it wastes much in working.
Of the marc (which is husks, stalks, and other sediment, left at the bottom of the kuve when the must is taken out) they make a worse and coarse sort of wine for the servants, and this they press as we do our apples, to make cyder.
The stones, after pressing, some people cleanse from the rest of the marc, and sell for food for pigeons: the stalks also cleansed they use in making of verdigris. And in some places they take the remaining marc after pressing, put it in great tubs, and cover it with water, keeping the marc down with weights, and of this they give to their horses, which very much cools and refreshes them there in the hot season. This may give one reason to consider, whether any such use might be made of the marc of our apples, after making cyder.
When they have a mind to have their wine fine sooner than ordinary, they put into the cask a pretty good quantity of shavings of fir, and in some places of hazel, and with it they sometimes put some whole white grapes.
A little bread or oil (they say ever so little, and therefore they are very careful in this point) mixed with the must, turns the wine to vinegar; and so does thunder: but they say iron laid upon the vessels will keep wine from souring by thunder.
The kuve is, in some places, a great vessel made of wood (witness the great kuve that is yet to be seen at Marmoustier, which, they say, will hold two hundred tun of wine), as our brewers vessels for the working of their kuve is in England. But, at Montpelier, it is usually a place made in the ground in some part of the house, proportionably big accordingly to the quantity they ordinarily make, and lined with plaster of Paris, to keep it from leaking. In the kuve (which is made use of but once a year) as well as all other parts of their making wine, they are, according to their manner, sufficiently nasty: the grapes often are also very rotten, and always full of spiders. Besides that, I have been told by those of the country, that they often put salt, dung, and other filthiness, in their wine to help, as they think, its purging. But, without these additions, the very sight of their treading and making their wine (walking without any scruple out of the grapes into the dirt, and out of the dirt into grapes they are treading) were enough to set one’s stomach ever after against this sort of liquor.
In some parts of Languedoc, out of the great roads, their wine is so cheap, that one may ordinarily buy three pints a penny.
It is usual to set fig-trees, pear-trees, &c. up and down in their vineyards, and sometimes I have seen olive-trees. Here at Montpelier, as in other parts of France, it is no discredit for any man to hang out a bush at his door, and sell his wine by retail, either to those that fetch it out of doors, or will come and drink it at his house; for which they usually, for that time, set apart a room or quarter of the house, and have a servant on purpose to attend it. This I have known both gentlemen and churchmen do. But, whoever, in Languedoc, sells his own wine at his house, must not afford his customers so much as a bit of bread, or any thing else, to eat with it; for then it will come under the notion of a cabaret, or common drinking-house, and their tax or excise overtake them. I mention Languedoc, because in other parts of France they who sell their own wine by retail, are not excused from paying the king a part of what they sell it for. At Saumur, I remember I was told, they then sold their wine (which is a very good sort of white wine) at their bushons, i. e. private houses, for 18 deniers per pint, which is more than our quart; out of which 18d. the king had 10d. and the proprietor the remaining 8d.
THE sorts of olives, as well as grapes, are very various about Montpelier: the names of some of them are as followeth:
- 1. Groosau, a large olive.
- 2. Pichulina, little.
- 3. Verdal, middle-sized.
These three sorts are good to eat, and the last also is good for oil, and a great bearer.
- 4. Olivera. }
- 5. Corneau. } Good bearers.
- 6. Salierna. }
- 7. Clarmontesa. }
- 8. Redonau. }
- 9. Bootiliau.
- 10. Argentau.
- 11. Moorau.
- 12. Marsiliesa.
- 13. Pigau.
All these are little olives, and used only for oil: they plant them promiscuously in their olive-yards, and mingled the olives in making oil. That which they principally regard in the plants is, that they be of the sorts that are the best bearers, and if they have not enough of those, they plant others, and inoculate them. The slips will grow, but they commonly use off-sets from the roots.
Their time of planting is February, March, and April. Their olive-trees last to a great age; they say two hundred years. When the old stocks are faulty or decayed, they let up young off-sets from the roots round about, and when they are grown up to any considerable bigness, cut away the old stock close to the ground; and when the remaining young trees have not room to spread, because of their neighbourhood, they transplant them, till they leave at last but one standing.
They set their olive-trees ordinarily in quincunx, the rows at thirty or forty feet distance in their arable ground; for this hinders them not from ploughing and sowing corn in the same ground.
They dig about their olive-trees every year, and about the same time they dig their vineyards, and sometimes at others; and lay soil in the trenches they open about their roots; this is usually done in March, and the soil they use is horse-dung.
In pruning their olive-trees, which they do about the beginning of March, I observed them to cut off the top branches, I suppose to make them spread.
About the beginning of October they gather the olives, yet green, that they intend to pickle for eating, (for about the end of October they turn black;) and having carefully picked out those that have worms, they soak the sound ones, in the strongest ley they can get, four, six, or eight hours, according as they design to eat them sooner or later: the longer they soak in the ley, the more of their bitterness is taken away, but they will keep the less while. This ley they buy for this purpose at the soap-boilers. After they have been soaked in ley, they put them into water, which, for the three or four first days, they change two or three times a day, and afterwards once; in all a fortnight: this they do to take away the taste of the ley. The ley and water they use both cold. When this is done, they put them into pickle of salt and water, and so keep them.
I have been told, that cutting each olive in two or three places to the stone, and so soaking them in fair water seven or eight days, changing it every day, will take away their bitterness, and prepare them well enough for the pickle: but they count the ley the better way.
They often pickle them also after they are turned black, cutting them in two or three places to the stone, and then soaking them about a fortnight in water changed every day, and then boiling them in salt and water, which is the pickle they keep them in. These have a much worse taste than the green, having no very pleasant mixture of bitter and oily: but the good housewives think they will go much farther, (for they are oftener food than sauce there,) and so in their private families are commonly used.
They count their olives ripe enough for oil about St. Catharine’s day, the 25th of November; and about that time they begin to gather them: though I have seen them let them hang on the trees, and not gathered till the latter end of January.
In the gathering there will be leaves and branches mixed with them; to separate these they lay them down in a heap in a field, and a workman, taking up a few in a shovel, throws them into a winnowing sheet set up at a good distance from him, whither the olives come alone, the leaves and branches falling by the way.
The manner of making oil is this;
They take four septiés of olives a little heaped, and put them into a mill, which is drawn by a mule, where they grind them, as tanners grind bark, to a fine pulp, one standing by as the mill goes round, and shovelling in a little of the olives or pulp towards the centre, and clearing a part of the stone at the bottom, where he stands with a shovel, which he doth so by degrees and in succession, that I believe the mule goes round forty or fifty times for his once.
They being sufficiently ground, they put them into a stone trough, two whereof stand between the mill and the press; out of these troughs they take the pulp, and put it into frails, and spread it in them equally, so that they may lay them plain one upon another. Of these frails there were, when I saw them press, twenty-four upon each pedestal; viz. in all forty-eight; in which were contained ten septiés of olives. Sometimes they press twelve septiés of olives at once, and then they use more frails proportionably.
The frails being filled with pulp, and placed evenly and upright upon the two pedestals in equal number, they set the press a-working, first lifting up the screw end, and so the other end of the beam, sinking upon the hinder pile of frails, and pressing them, may make way for the putting in the wedges into the great mortise, and discharge the wedge in a little mortise, which, whilst they were placing the frails upon the pedestals, supported the beam; which being taken out, they work the screw the other way, and so bringing down the screw end of the beam press both on the fore and hinder pile of frails; a man attending in the mean time at each pile of frails with a lever in his hand, which resting in the groove or gutter where the oil runs, he thrusts against the side of the pile of frails, whenever he perceives it begin to swell out on any side, and thus keeps it upright from leaning any way whilst it is pressing, especially at the beginning; another man in the mean time not ceasing to turn the screw till the great stone at the end of it be clear off from the ground.
When the oil ceases to run, or but in small quantity, they lift up the screw end of the beam, and then putting a wedge in the little mortise, bring down the screw end of the beam again, and so lift up the great end that pressed the frails, and so bringing the beam to a level (the whole weight whereof lies upon the wedge in the little mortise, which supports it in the middle) discharge it clear from the frails.
Then they take off all the frails, except the eight or ten lower, on each pedestal, and stirring the pulp in one of the frails taken off, replace it again upon those that remained still on the pedestal; and then one pours on it a bucket of scalding water; after which he stirs the pulp again, and lays it flat and equal as at first, and then stirs and puts on another frail as before, with a bucket of scalding water poured on it; and so they serve them all, till all the frails that were taken off are replaced on the two piles as at first; and then they set the press a-working again as long as any quantity will run; and then lifting up the beam again, take off all the frails, stir the pulp, and pour on fresh hot water upon every frail, a little bucket-full as at first, and then press as long as any thing will run, screwing the stone up clear from the ground, and letting it hang so a good while. When not one jot more of liquor will be pressed from the frails, and they perfectly cease running, they let down the stone, and that pressing is done; and then one with a broad, but very shallow skimming-dish of brass, skims off the oil from the water, puts it into a brass vessel like a tumbler, but holding, as I guess, about three pints, and out of that pouring it into the vessels of the owners by a brass funnel.
When the oil is well skimmed off from the water, they pull out a stopple in the bottom of the cistern, and so let go the water, which runs into a great cistern, called hell, which is locked up and out of sight; into this hell all the water that hath served in pressing the oil runs, and is made so, that though it be always full of this water, yet the water alone runs out, and the oil that swims on top stays behind, by which means all the oil that escaped the skimming-dish is here caught: but this I suppose belongs to the master of the oil-press, for every body’s water runs in here to the former oil and water.
1°. That the mill which grinds the olives is much after the same fashion with that which our tanners use to grind bark, only with some difference.
As 1°, that in the centre of the oil-mill there stands up a round stone, very smooth and true wrought, about two feet English in diameter, and about the same height, which the inside of the great grinding stone touches in its going round about it, so that no olives can escape the great stone towards the centre, nor get beside it that way.
2°. That the floor of the mill, upon which the great turning stone bears in its turning round, is also of hard stone and smooth, and a little shelving, the declivity being towards the centre; to answer which, the edge of the turning stone which is to grind the olives, that it may bear in its whole breadth upon the stones in the floor, is not cut with a direct perpendicular to the sides, but the line of the inside of the said grinding stone, and of the edge or circumference, make an angle something less than a right one, and on the outside there is left no angle, but it is cut off with a round; by which means, I suppose the great grinding stone slides constantly towards and is kept close to the round stone that stands fixed in the centre described N° 1°, upon which the perpendicular turning beam stands.
3°. So much of the floor or inside of the mill as the grinding stone does not touch, or is a little without his breadth, is covered with boards lying more shelving than the stone-floor within it; on which board-floor the olives to be ground are at first laid, which are not thrown all at once under the grinding stone, but are by small parcels shovelled down under the grinding stone by the man that attends the mill; every passing round of the stone a few; and here lies also the pulp which the stone works out in its grinding, which is also shovelled in its turn; for the floor of the mill, where the grinding stone bears on it, has always very little upon it, its great weight working is still out towards the circumference of the floor, for the stone in the middle hinders it from going inwards.
4°. The grinding stone is about six feet diameter, and about eleven inches thick, and on the edge and inside is wrought very smooth, and stands upright without leaning, that I could perceive; though, as I have said, the edge be not square to the sides, which is recompensed in the sinking of the floor towards the centre. The stone whereof it is made seems to be very hard, and it need be hard and heavy to break olive-stones and grind them to powder.
II°. That the shovels which they use to shovel in the pulp under the grinder, and when it is fine enough to take it out, and put it in the stone troughs, and then into the frails, are more like bakers peels than shovels, and there is not any iron upon any of them.
III°. That there are between the mill and the press two great stone troughs to put the pulp in when ground; two pedestals and two stone cisterns, into which the oil runs from the two pedestals by distinct passages, so that two peoples oil may be pressed at once, without the danger of mingling a drop.
IV°. The press is made thus: there are two pedestals about nineteen or twenty inches asunder, which lie just under the great end of the great beam; that which I call a pedestal is a round plain stone about twenty-six inches diameter, round about which is cut a groove or little trench in the same stone nine or ten inches broad; from the groove of each pedestal there is made a distinct passage for the oil to run to the two cisterns: upon these pedestals the frails are laid, and into these grooves or trenches the oil runs when pressed out of the frails, and so is conveyed separately to the two cisterns.
V°. Behind the hindmost pedestal stand erect in the ground two great beams, well fastened in the ground, as far on sunder from each other as the breadth of the pressing beam which is to pass up and down between them. From the nearest side of the nearest pedestal to the middle of the thickness of these beams horizontally is about twenty-nine inches: in the middle of each of these beams, in respect of their thickness, is cut a mortise or slit quite through, about forty-four or forty-five inches long, and about five or six inches broad; the bottom of this mortise is about forty-four inches higher than the pedestal.
VI°. This which I call the great mortise, they fill with several pieces of wood reaching quite athwart from outside to outside, and more, of the two erect beams; these pieces of wood, or, as I call them, wedges, are as thick as just easily to go into the mortise, and somewhat broader; with these they fill up this mortise when this end of the pressing beam is sunk below the lowest part of it, and thereby pin down the great end of the said beam to keep it down upon the frails, when the other end is drawn down by the screw; for by more or less of the wedges put into this mortise, they keep down the great end of the beam to the height that is fittest to press with.
VII°. The pressing beam is thirty-eight pans, or about thirty-two feet long, and about thirty-four inches broad; and, to increase its weight and strength, another great beam was fastened to it all along with bands of iron.
VIII°. At the little end is a screw, whereof the very screw (for it standing upright I could not measure it) was, as I guess, about thirteen or fourteen feet; the square of it, wherein the holes for the levers were cut, something above a yard; and at the bottom was a great round stone, in which this lower end of the screw is fastened with iron-work, so as to have the liberty to turn. The screw, when it is turned faster than this end of the pressing beam sinks, lifts up this great stone from the ground, which is as broad, thick, and heavy as an ordinary mill-stone.
IX°. Between the screw and the two erect beams placed behind the pedestals before described, stand two other beams, erect as the former, with a mortise in them long enough to hold only one wedge; this I call the little mortise, the top whereof is higher than the level of the highest frail, when they lay on most: upon this wedge the beam is to rest, when they are laying in or taking out the frails. So that the length of the great beam is thus divided: behind the pinning wedges three pans, from the pinning to the supporting wedge twenty pans, from the supporting wedge to the screw fifteen pans.
There is a piece of wood fastened on to the great beam, cross it, hanging over on each side, and placed just by the middle erect beams on the side towards the pedestals, to keep the great beam from sliding towards the screw.
X°. The ground where the great screw-stone lies is much lower than the level of the pedestals, which affords also a convenience for the placing the two cisterns, which are just under the great beam, and a little distance from the outmost pedestal.
XI°. The matter of the frails they use in pressing, and the texture, is the same with the frails that bring raisins to England; but the figure just the same with that of an hat-case, the crown being taken away: they are exactly all of a breadth, and scarce discernibly narrower than the pedestal; the whole to put in the pulp about one third of the breadth or diameter.
XII°. The oil that runs at first pressing, before the mixture of water, they call virgin oil, which is better than the other; but they all say it will not keep, but spoil in a month or two, unless you put to it salt or sugar, salt is the better of the two, and then it will keep six months: as much as you can hold in your two hands is enough to put into a septié of oil.—A septié is thirty-two pots, and their pot is more than our quart.
XIII°. They usually, therefore, let the virgin and other oil, of the second and third pressing, mingle all together in the cistern, which being afterwards put up in jars, and kept in cool cellars, will keep good seven years: but the mingling of some of the hot water, after pressing with the virgin oil, will not preserve it. So that it seems to be something either in the skins or stones of the olives, that comes not out but by the mixture of hot water and hard pressing, that serves to preserve it.
XIV°. They begin to gather their olives, as I have said, about St. Catharine’s day, i. e. the 25th of November.
XV°. All confess that oil is better which is made of olives fresh gathered, than those that have keen kept a month or two: but some tell me they delay so long (for when I saw them making oil, it was almost the middle of February) because olives that are kept yield the more oil; others say, the reason why they are not pressed sooner is, because every body’s grist cannot be ground at once, and they must stay till they can get a turn; and by keeping, they say also, they grind better, for the new gathered spirt away from the mill.
XVI°. After they have gathered their olives, they lay them in heaps in the corner of a cellar, or some such other place, upon little faggots of dried vine branches (a good part of the fuel of the country) between the olives and the ground, where sometimes a black water will run from them; this they call purging them. In these heaps they lie till they press them; none lie less than fifteen days; but, for the reasons above mentioned, they sometimes lie two months.
XVII°. Though they begin to gather their olives about the end of November, as has been said; yet they never set their mills on work till after Twelfth-day, or New-year’s-day, at soonest: the reason whereof is this: the master of the mill hires a great many men, for the time that oil is made, who keep the mill going day and night. Those whose oil is making give these workmen meat and drink, whilst they are employed about their olives; so that if the master should entertain them before Christmas, he must not only pay them for so many holidays, whilst they stand still, but maintain them too.
XVIII°. Four septiés of olives usually yield one septié of oil; but I observed they were somewhat heaped.
XIX°. The goodness of the oil depends exceedingly on the property of the soil; this makes the oil of Aramont in Provence, not far from Avignon, the best in France.
XX°. When they are either filling the frails, or new stirring the pulp in them, there are two men at work at each pedestal, besides a fifth, that takes the pulp out of the trough thereby, wherein it lies ready ground, and with a shovel puts it into the frails as they bring them; or else lades boiling water out of the furnace (which is also by, and the top of it level with the ground, with a trap-door over) and pours it into the frails as they are ready for it.
XXI°. When the oil is made, carried home, and has settled, they usually take three-fourths of the upper part; this they call the flower, and put it into earthen pots for eating; the remainder, being thicker, is kept for lamps and such other uses: and the very thick sediment they put in the sun, to get as much oil out as they can.
XXII°. The pulp, that is left after all the pressing and affusion of boiling water, belongs to the master of the mill, who sells it for a groat, or five-pence a mill-full, to others, who press it again, and make a coarse oil for soap, and other such uses.
XXIII°. The remaining pulp the bakers use to throw a little of it into their ovens as they are heating, it making a very violent fire.
XXIV°. Oil they count one of the best and surest commodities of their country. The ordinary rate of good oil at Montpelier is some years three, some four, and some years four livres and a half per quartal, i. e. one fourth of a septié, or eight pots.
The best plums are,
- 1. Perdrigon.
- 2. D’Apricot.
- 3. Diapré.
- 4. Ste. Catherine.
- 5. Vert & long.
- 6. Damar violett.
- 7. Roche corbon.
- 8. Mirabell.
- 9. Catalane.
Of these the best to dry is the roche corbon, a large red plum; and the next to that the Ste. Catherine, large and yellow; because they are large and fleshy: not but that they dry of the other sorts too.
The way they take in drying them is this:
1°. They let them be so ripe, they drop off from the tree of themselves, which is best; or else fall with a little shaking.
2°. When you have them thus ripe, the best way (though not always observed) is to put them two or three days in the hot sun-shine, which will dry up gently some part of the superfluous moisture.
3°. When they have been thus a little dried in the sun, you must heat the oven gently; one little brush faggot is enough the first time; and having placed them singly upon wicker driers about two feet broad, and four or five feet long, (or of a round figure so large as will go into the oven’s mouth,) put them into the oven, and so let them dry there till the oven is cold; and then they must be taken out and turned, whilst the oven is heating again. The oven may be thus heated twice a day, at eight in the morning, and at eight at night.
4°. The second time the oven may be made a little hotter than the first; and thus the heating of the oven, and turning the plums, be repeated till they are dry enough, which is when they are of a due consistence and brownish colour.
5°. When they are so far dried as to be capable of pressing, the best way is to press them gently with the fingers, not into a flat, but round figure, for that way they keep best.
6°. The great care to be taken is in the first putting them into the oven, that the oven be not too hot; for if it be, it makes them crack their skins and run out, which makes them much worse.
After the same manner one dries peaches, with this difference, that after the first time they have been in the oven, one peels them with a knife, for the skin will easily strip; and the stone then is to be taken out, and, if one will, a little peach thrust into its place, which makes the other large and better. This also they often do in drying their plums, when they take out the stone of a great one, thrust a little plum into the place of it.
Thus also pears are to be dried; but that the oven may be made a little hotter for pears than plums; they are to be stripped also after their first coming out of the oven.
The best pears to be dried, are the rouselette de Champagne.
The pears in most esteem amongst them about Tours and Saumur (for this is the part of France where are the best pears, plums, peaches, and melons) are,
- 1. Moule bouche.
- 2. Vigoleuse.
- 3. Martin sec.
- 4. Double fleur.
- 5. Rouselette.
- 6. Colmar.
- 7. St. Marsiac.
- 8. Vert & long.
- 9. Burée Blanche.
- 10. Rouselette de Champagne.
- 11. La poire de citron.
- 12. La citron de carmes.
- 13. La poire de monsieur.
- 14. La verate.
- 15. L’amadote musquée.
- 16. La muscate d’Almagne.
The 10, 11, 12, 13, are their best summer pears.
|The Virgoleuse,||Amadote musquée,|
are their best winter pears.
In the recollets garden at Saumur there is abundance of good fruit, amongst the rest a sort of pear, which they call,
17. Poire sans peau,
which is ripe at the same time cherries are. They told me it was a very good pear, and a great bearer. Before the middle of August, when I was there, they were all gone.
They have in the same garden another pear, which they call
18. Poire de jasmin,
which, as they say, hath something of the flavour of jasmin.
The melons of Langers (a town upon the Loire, six leagues above Saumur) are counted the best in France; and from hence the court is supplied with them. Here, and at Saumur (where they are loth to give any preference to the melons of Langers), they set them in the common earth of their gardens without dung, or any other art, but barely nipping the tops of the branches when the young melons are knit, to hinder the sap from running too much into leaves and branches.
The prunes we have from France are a great black plum, that grows about Montauban and those parts: they dry them as much as they can in the sun, and what wants to dry them perfectly, they make out by the heat of the oven.
Prunellas, or rather brignols, are a sort of plums that grow in Provence, not far from Aix: they gather them thorough ripe, and having stripped off the skins, they stick them on scuers about six inches long, and very slender; they take care not to put them too close to one another on these scuers. These little spits, loaded thus with plums, they fasten one above another, either in a cane, or a rope of straw like that we make for onions; and as we hang them up in our houses to keep, so do they those in the sun to dry.
When they are a little hardened, or half dry, they take out the stones, and press them with their fingers into that flat figure we see them, wetting their fingers a little to hinder them from sticking to them in handling: when this is done, they put them to dry again in the sun till they are quite cured; some say on the scuers again, others on boards. Those that grow at Brignol are the best, and hence they have their name.
They sometimes dry them with their stones in, and so they are better, as some that have eaten of them have told me.
THEY usually put the eggs a hatching in the holy week, i. e. the week before Easter; but that which best regulates the time is the budding of the mulberry-trees, that when the worms are hatched, they may have food.
To hatch them, they commonly wrap them up in a linen rag, and so wear them in some warm place about them night and day till they are hatched, which will be in about three days.
When they are hatched, they feed them with the leaves of the white mulberry-tree: the leaves of the young trees are best whilst the worms are young; but when they are grown pretty big, and towards the latter end of their feeding, they must be fed with the leaves of old trees, else they will not be strong to get up into the branches to work. The leaves of young trees given them in the beginning make the silk the finer: they take care also not to give them yellow or withered leaves; but to avoid the trouble of gathering fresh leaves, every day, they will keep two or three days well enough in an earthen pot covered, or in a cellar.
They take great care also that no wet leaves or other moisture come to them, for that will kill them; and in feeding them they throw away the tender deep coloured young leaves at the top of the branches, because these, they say, will make the worms very big and yellow, and die also without working.
Whilst they are young, they keep them up in some box or chest from the cold, which will kill them: they say also that thunder will kill them, if it happen when they begin to work.
They change their skins four times, from ten days to ten days, or thereabouts; this they call their sickness; for about the time they change their skins they forbear to eat, and therefore they feed them but once a day; but at other times they give them fresh leaves oftener. At the time also of their sickness they change them, taking away the cake of dry leaves and dung that was under them, by removing them with fresh leaves, which they will stick to: but after the fourth sickness is over, they change them every day till they begin to work, which is about ten days after.
The woman of the house where I lay, put her eggs to hatch on Good Friday, April the 3rd; they were hatched the Monday following, and they began to work on Tuesday, June the 2nd: so that, allowing one day for every sickness, it fell out pretty near according to their reckoning.
When the worms are ripe as they call it, they cull out the ripe ones, i. e. those that are ready to work, from among those that are feeding, and put them upon shelves, where they are to work. They know those that are ripe by their clearness; for if you hold them up against the light with their bellies upwards, you will find them clear about the fore legs, some yellow, some white, according to the several colours of the silk they will spin; and by this clearness one may easily distinguish them from those that are not yet ripe.
The shelves they put them on to work are thus ordered: they place deal shelves one over another, as if they were for books; they make them about thirty inches broad, and the distance between them is about twenty-two inches: betwixt these shelves they set rows of a small brushy plant, somewhat like our heath, which reaching from one shelf to another are at the top turned partly one way, partly the other; so that the tops of the branches of these several rows or partitions reaching to one another touch, so that the whole length of each shelf is by these branches divided as it were into so many little caves, each of about nine or ten inches breadth; for the rows of branches that are set up to make these caves, which are as deep as the shelves are broad, are set at that distance. Into one of these caves they put the worms that are first ripe, which creeping up the branches find amongst the little twigs places to work in. When one cave has as many of these spinners as it hath well room for, they fill the next, and so on.
They never give them any leaves of the red mulberry-tree when they are young, because it being a strong nourishment, will hurt them; but if one give them red mulberry-leaves towards the latter end, they will be the stronger, and mount the branches the better, which when they are weak they cannot do; and the silk of those that thus eat red mulberry-leaves is as good as the other.
About a fortnight after they begin to work, they take the cocons (i. e. the pods of silk they have wrought) out of the branches; if you take them down too soon, they will not have done working, and if you stay too long, they will have eat their way out of the pods, and the silk will be spoiled. It is time to take them down out of the branches as soon as any of the papilions, i. e. the flies that come out of the pods, appear amongst them.
As many of the cocons as they think necessary to keep for a breed for the next year they strip off the loose silk from, and then thread them; but pass the needle warily through the side of the cocon, so as it may be sure not to hurt the worm within. They count that a pound of cocons will yield an ounce of eggs. The cocons, thus threaded, they hang up or lay in a convenient room, that so the papilions may come out, and make love to one another, and then lay their eggs on white paper laid there on purpose.
From the remaining cocons they presently either wind off the silk, or if they cannot do that (for it is not every body can do it) they either with the heat of the sun, or oven, or hot water, kill the worms in the cocons, so that they may keep them without having them spoiled by the worm, till they can get their silk wound.
Eight pounds of cocons usually yield one pound of silk.
The way of winding silk off from the cocons is a thing that cannot be taught without seeing; and there are but few amongst them that can do it well, it lying in a dexterity not easy to be learnt, as they say: they put the cocons in hot water, and so stirring them about with a kind of rod, the ends of the silk twires of the cocons stick to it, which they laying on upon a turning reel draw off from the cocons, which lie all the while in the hot water; but the great skill is to have such a number of these single twires of the cocons running at a time, as may make the thread of silk which they compose of a due bigness; for in turning (which they do apace) many of the twires of the cocons break, and so by degrees the silk thread, made of sundry of these drawn together, grows too little, and then the woman that is winding stirs her rod or little besom again with her left hand amongst the cocons, to get new ends of twires to add to the thread, which all this while keeps running. To know when to make this addition of new twires and in what quantity, so as to keep an even thread all along, is the great skill of these winders; for they do it by guess, and keep the real turning and the thread running all the while; for should they, as oft as is occasion, stand still to count the twires or consider the thread, and how many new twires were fit to be added, it would be an endless labour, and they could never make wages.
The engines also that they use for twisting this silk afterwards are too curious to be described, but by a model. I have seen one where one woman has turned a hundred and thirty-four spindles, and twisted as many threads at a time; and I have seen another wherein two women going in a wheel, like that of a crane, turned three hundred and sixty.
The mulberry-trees, where they stand near towns, yield them good profit; I have known the leaves of four white mulberry trees (some whereof were not very large) sold for a pistole, i. e. between sixteen and seventeen shillings sterling.