Fine Woods. Some woods, such as ebony, box, mahogany, calambo, cedar, etc. are valued on account of their extraordinary hardness, beautiful polish, brilliant colours, or agreeable smell, and are made into cabinets, tables, combs, beads. etc.
Ebony. The wood of the Amerimnum Ebe-nus of Linnaeus, is brought from the Indies; it is exceedingly hard and heavy, capable of a very fine polish ; and on that account it is used in inlaid works, toys, and Mosaic. (Mosaic works are an assemblage of marble, shells, stones, glass, etc., of various colours, ; cut square and cemented, or inlaid.) This is sometimes done with wood, and the ancients were used to adorn their richest furniture with a mosaic of ivory, ebony, and the finest woods. Of ebony there are several kinds, blade, red, green, etc, all of which are found in Madagascar. The island of Mauritius likewise, furnishes part of the ebony used in Europe. M. Flacourt, who resided in Madagascar as. governor, assures us that it grows very high and big ; its bark black, and its leaves resembling those of our myrtle, of a deep, dusky green colour. Tavernier says, that the islanders take care to bury their trees, when cut down, to make them the blacker. Candia, also, bears a little shrub called Ebenus Cretica. Pliny and Dioscorides say the best ebony comes from Ethiopia, and the worst from India: Theophrastus prefers that of India. The best ebony is a jet black, free from veins and rind, very heavy, and of a sharp pungent taste. Its rind was supposed good for some disorders. Ebony yields an agreeable perfume when laid on the coals; and even when green it readily takes fire. The Indians make statues of their gods, and sceptres for their princes of this wood. Since the discovery of dyeing woods, ebony has been less employed than formerly. Green ebony is produced by a tree, less lofty, and more bushy than that which yields the black: it grows in Madagascar, the Mauritius, the Antilles, and especially in Tobago: this is used in dyeing, and yields a fine green tincture. Of red ebony we know but little. Cabinet-makers, in layers, etc, make pear tree and other wood spass for ebony, by washing them with a hot decoction of galls, etc.
Box is of long duration Its wood is extremely hard and smooth, and therefore well adapted to the use of the turner. Button-moulds, knife-handles, combs, and mathematical instruments are made of it, and it may be very properly used as a substitute for ebony.
The efficacy of box-wood, in making the hair grow, is thus stated in the Ephemerides of the curious. A young woman of Gunberg. in Lower Silesia, having had a malignant disease, which occasioned the falling off of all her hair, was advised by a person some time after her recovery, to wash her head all over with a decoction of box-wood: this she readily did, without the addition of any other drug. Hair of a chestnut colour grew on her head, as she was told it would do; but having used no precaution to secure her neck and face, they became covered with red hair to such a degree, that she; seemed little different from an ape or a monk This effect, however, has not been experienced by others, and the box-tree now yields no medicinal or chemical preparation.