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At last she enters the dressing-room, where her arrival has been perhaps for hours expected by a regiment of slaves and attendants. Her first nod is to the slave that watches the door, (the Janitrix, as she is called,) and then she asks after the billets-doux, bills, letters, messages, milliners, &c. that have arrived before she has got up. But who might be admitted to gaze with uninitiated eyes upon such a scene as this? Sabina has read the precepts of the great master in the art of love, and she forgets not his precepts.
"Non tamen expositas mensâ deprendat
O quoties pellex culcita facta mea est."
Lib. xiv. 119. The only relic of this barbarity seems to be perceived in the after-dinner fashions of the English gentlemen. The employment of slaves, however, in such ministrations, was shocking even to the ancients. We read in Plutarch (see Laconica Apophthegmata in variis, 35. tom. i. pt. ii. p. 934, Wyttenbach,) of a young Spartan slave who killed himself from the feeling of this degradation; and a serious debate is to be found in Arrian, (i. 2. 8.) whether or no a slave should submit to it. In another passage of the same work, we hear of the emperors having a servant expressly T8 λασανε. This abominable degradation was revived in modern France, where a court lady of high rank took her title from the Cabinet d'aisance. See Soulavie's Memoires Historiques du regne de Louis XVI., vol. iii. p. 48.
Cur mihi nota tuo caussa est candoris in ore? Claude forem thalami; quid rude prodis opus ?
Multa viros nescire decet. Pars maxima Offendat, si non interiora tegas.”
the admission of any young gentleman Sabina is aware what consequences she guards effectually against it. She to this privacy might produce, and remembers the story of Psyche, who put love to flight by the injudicious introduction of the torch.
Scarcely has the Domina entered the numerous circle of her damsels and the zeal of rivalry, betakes her to her tire-women, ere each of them, with part. As of old, among the Egyptians, each part of the human body had its peculiar physician, so that the eardoctor, the eye-doctor, the tooth-doctor, the clyster-doctor, the foot-doctor-each had his own little unapproachable division of the general victim to deal with, as it might seem good to his fancy,-here too the surface of Sabina is portioned out among a vast variety of petty governors. Every bit of the smoothened, polished, painted, pranked body, thanks a different artist for its ornament. The slaves are arranged into troops and sub-divisions like a legion.*
The first file consists of the painters, the layers-on of white and red, the stainers of the eye-brows, and the scrubbers of the teeth. The whole materials made use of by this class, were combined under the general Greek term of Cosmetic, for the rage of the Roman ladies was in these days to call every thing by Greek names, exactly as it has been the rage of German ladies, in our own times, to call every thing by French. From the lover, down to the tooth-brush, every thing had its endearing appellation in Greek. The maids occupied with this great department were called kosmeta. The first who begins to operate is Scaphion, who, with a basin of lukewarm asses milk, washes from the face the nocturnal incrustation of bread. This mass was called καταπλασματος
the soaps and essences which were applied after its removal, σμίγματα. To enumerate all the names of these would require a treatise, and a dull one; the ancients, so far as chemical skill was not absolutely necessary, were nowise inferior to the moderns in this species of invention. Varro, a contemporary of Cicero, calls one of these salves by which wrinkles were removed, tentipellum-humorously liking it to the stretchers used by tanners. The second slave is Phiale her care is the pallet alone, it is her's to clothe with white and red the clean washen and smoothed visage of the Domina. Before, however, she presumes to apply her colours, she breathes on a metallic mirror, and gives it to her lady, who smells the breath. The state of the saliva of the maiden is by this ascertained-a circumstance of mighty import in the mixing of the colours.*
The ointments and colours, and the whole apparatus wherewith, as Hamlet says, they disguised God's handiwork, was contained in two caskets of ivory and crystal work, which formed, in these days, the chief ornaments of the female toilette, and were known by the Greek name, Narthekia. Our fair readers may be excused for wishing to have a glimpse of the interior of these repositories; but let our gentlemen take warning from the fate of "Peeping Tom of Coventry." We may, however, mention this much in general, that with the exception of the ancient and saturnian white lead, which was then quite as fashionable as it is now, the greater part of the ancient paints were derived from the comparatively innocent animal and vegetable kingdoms. The Roman ladies were in this respect wiser than ours.
The word Fard is derived, not from fucus, as Menage thinks, but from the Italian farda-saliva. The sublimate of mercury was always moistened by saliva before it was mixed up with the colours. To this Ariosto alludes, in his first satire: "Voglio che si contenti della faccia Non sa ch'il liscio e fatto con salvo Delle Guidee ch'il vendon, ne con tempre Di muschio ancor perde l'odor cattivo."
See Triller de remediis veterum cosmeticis eorumque noxiis, vit. 1757, 4.
Also, an amusing article in the European Magazine, 1797, "the Adventures of Mer
While Phiale is busy with her pencils and pallet, a third slave, whose nom-de-toilette is Stimmi, is getting ready a little pot with pounded black lead (which they called, very appropriately, fuligo) and water. In her other hand she has a very delicate pencil or needle, for laying on this tincture; for in those days the Greek and Roman ladies universally made use of methods for increasing the lustre and depth of their eye-lashes and eyebrows, very similar to the surmé still employed for the same purposes by the Oriental fair. The common mixture was called Stibium (a slight alteration of the Greek ruu, an eye-brow), and it might either be formed, as we have already described it, from lead, or from antimony or bismuth, the very materials still in fashion among the easterns. Stimmi, with her calliblepharon (for this too was another name for it, and the most elegant of all), soon transfers Sabina into some resemblance of the ox-eyed hero of Homer.* The eye-brows also are delicately touched. Next comes Mastiche to her post, the dentist of the toilette. She applies to the Domina that Chian martix from which she derives her own name, and which was the customary dentifrice of the day. From the corner of her beautiful mastix-box she next produces a little onyx phial, containing the urine of an infant, and a golden shell, containing finely pounded pumicestone, which, from the mixture of a de
The best description of this operation is Juvenal's:
Illa supercilium madida fuligine tactum Obliquâ producita cu, pingitque trementes Attollens oculos.
Petronius also speaks of "Supercilia proferre de pyxide." What Juvenal calls the obliqua acus is called by Galen, in speaking of the ladies of his time, (άι οσημέραι ειμ μouvas gurasxes) pnλn, i. e. specillum.
The word mastix itself (asuv, maxilla, macheoire) shews how universal was this practice. The substitute of the rich, when any substitute was used, was a silver picker spina argentca. (See Petron. c. 33. p. 128.) The poor then, as they still do in the east, were obliged to employ a false species of mastich, the attractilis gummifera Linn. In old times the tree itself, however, was sedulously cultivated both in Italy and the Levant. Sonnini has several curious remarks concerning it, and the trade arising out of it. See Voyage en Grece et Turquie vol. ii. p. 126.
licate marble, sparkles with every variety of colour. But perhaps all this is mere show. The teeth which are contained in the little box of Mastiche have no real occasion for tooth powder, dentifrice, or pearl essence. These are easily placed with all their beauty in the hollow jaws, and no powder or brush can do any good to the few and ragged remnants of the aboriginal stumps. The truth is, that the invention of ivory teeth and golden sprigs is as old as the twelve tables.*
Martial often speaks in a manner which proves the universality of the use of false teeth in his times; for instance, in the following, when he introduces the tooth-powder as speaking;
Quid mecum est tibi? me Puella sumat,
The goddess Fashion had in these times not only as many worshippers, but was adored by them with the same incense and morning offerings as now. To many a Sabina of that day a portrait-painter might have made the same excuse which Lord Chesterfield has
put in the mouth of Liotard, "I never copy any body's work but my own and God Almighty's."+
Let us hear the address of Martial to one of his own countrywomen: Cum sis ipsa domi mediâque ornere Suburâ Fiant absentes et tibi Galla Comæ Nec dentes aliter quam Serica nocte reponas, Et jaceas centum condita pyxidibus. Nec tecum facies tua dormiat, innuis illo Quod tibi prolatum est mane, supercilio. Sixteen centuries later, La Bruyere speaks much in the same way of his countrywomen: "I have collected the voices of the men, and they were almost all of my opinion, that it is almost as odious a thing to see a woman with white lead on her face, as with false teeth in her gums, or waxen plumpers in her cheeks. They protested, that before God and man, no part of this deceit and treachery could be laid to their charge." +
* Cicero de legg. ii. 24. It is forbidden to bury gold with the dead, but where an express exception is made concerning those who were buried with false teeth fastened with gold in this way.
+ The World, No 105.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRESSING-BOX
"COULD we but see one of the rougeboxes in the Museum of Portici! Has no dressing-box been found among all their excavations? Learned men used to be buried with a copy of Homer or Cicero under their heads-did no fair and luxurious Domina ever take her toilette apparatus with her to her grave?" So we can easily imagine one of our fair readers to express herself, after perusing the first scene of our Sabina.
By a happy accident, there was discovered, some years ago, the complete toilette of a Roman larly of the first rank, in a tomb of the imperial city. It is true, that the agc of this precious monument is some few centuries later than that of our Sabina; and it is also true, that our Herculanean lady can scarcely be supposed to have rivalled the magnificent equipage of the consular lady Asteria; but, nevertheless, we may gain at least some light from examining that interesting relic of antiquity. But first a few words on the mode of its discovery.
In the spring of 1794, some labourers digging for a well in the garden of a monastery, not far from the Saburra, at the foot of the Equiline hill, came upon a large subterranean chamber filled with crumbled ruins, from which, after some time, they succeeded in extricating a chest filled with a variety of ancient articles of dress. At first, however, this discovery was looked upon as so unimportant, that government, although legally entitled prize, without difficulty, to the perto all things so dug up, made over the sons in whose garden it had been found. These sold the whole to a
German connoisseur, the Baron von Schellersheim, then residing in Rome, who was indefatigable in picking up all antique rarities discovered during his stay; and who, upon a closer ining, that he had thus got into his posvestigation, had no difficulty in findsession one of the most precious remains of Roman antiquity which had ever been dug from the earth, both by reason of its materials and its workmanship. He shortly after shewed
his prize to the learned Abbate Visconti, at that time inspector of the Museum Po-Clementinum, who made its value known to the world by a letter addressed to the Prelate Jomaglia. The whole of the articles found with this casket are of massy silver, and their total weight amounts to one thousand and twenty-nine ounces. The whole pieces of wrought silver of antiquity (coin excepted) which have as yet been discerned, would scarcely equal the weight of this single treasure; an moreover, a very great proportion of ts component parts are silver-gilt. The other important remains of this kind which have been found have all been in single pieces, such as, the silver shield found in the Rhone not far from Avignon; another shield found in the Arve, near Genf; a third shield, which has been described in the 9th volume of the Memoires de Litterature; the great silver key at the Vatican, and the Aldaburian Patera, which has been described by the Abbate Braschi. But however great the metallic weight of some of these single pieces may be, no one of them can be put into any kind of comparison with this casket and its contents, by any one who has the smallest tincture of true antiquarian learning. Here are to be seen at once, almost all the articles in use in the toilette of a distinguished Roman lady of the fourth century; the history of luxury and fashions possesses no monument which can be compared with it.
The most remarkable piece is the silver toilette, or dressing-box itself, two feet in length, a foot and a half in breadth, and one foot in height. The form, the workmanship, the figures upon its exterior, are all of the most elaborate and exquisite kind. The quadrangular box consists of two equal parts, of which the one forms the box, properly speaking, and the other the lid. The box is thickest at the place where these join; from that point upwards and downwards it is shaped in a pyramidal fashion; and it terminates both above and below in a small oblong tablet. The earlier taste of antiquity would have rejected this form as too artificial; but it is to be seen in several lids of urns, &c. of the age of Constantine, among others, in the two urns supposed to have contained the ashes of St Helena
and Constantia. As to the destination of this box there can remain no doubt, after the slightest examination of the relievos and inscriptions with which it is covered. Upon the tablet, at the top, which may be supposed to be the most honourable place, there is a halflength relievo of a man and a woman. The lady stands on the right of her husband, and holds in her hand a half unfolded roll. This is often to be seen on old monuments where a marriage is the subject of representation, and the roll has been supposed by some of the most erudite antiquarians, to be the marriage-contract. It is probable that the box itself was the wedding gift of the bridegroom to his bride. The head-dress of the lady is elevated to a great height, with curls and ringlets after the fashion commonly met with in the coins of the age of the Empress Helena. The bridegroom has a short curled beard, like the heads in the coins of Maximus, Julius, and Eugenius.Over his shoulders he has a mantle, (the chlamys)* which is fastened, as usual, above the right arm, with a clasp of considerable size. The two busts are surrounded with a common border of sufficiently intelligible description. It is a garland of myrtle twigs, held at either extremity by a flying genius—a symbol of the unity of the pair.
Three of the four declining sides of the lid are adorned with beautiful representations of the goddess of love. One of these is particularly charming, wherein Venus is pictured as making her progress over the calm waves, + attended by a group of Tritons and a whole procession of Cupids. One of the Tritons leans forward, and presents to the goddess an oval mirror; a group often seen, with some little variation, on ancient gems and medals.
*The chlamys, originally entirely confined to military dress, had, in the 3d and 4th centuries, almost superseded the use of the proper toga. The clasps were continually increasing in size, and in elaborate workmanship. See Rhodius, de acia c. 5. p. 56 and Smetius, Antiquitates Neomag. p. 86.
The Venus Marina, a favourite subject both of sculptors and painters. A fine passage in the beautiful poem of Claudian, De Nupt. Hon. et Mar. seems to have been composed with reference to some such representation as the present. See v. 151,
The drapery of the figures on all these three sides is strongly gilt. In these later times, this gilding of silver was the universal taste. The scene on the fourth side is also worthy of much attention, although Venus is not visibly introduced. It represents the festal home-bringing of the bride to her husband's house. The shape of the house, with its wreathed pillars, is one of familiar occurrence in medals. The bride moves between her two bridesmaidens, the one of whom holds a tambourin in her hand. At a little distance there are some more figures, a woman with two children, all bringing boxes, vases, ewers, and other articles of furniture. The figures are in some measure separated from each other by a pillar which stands in the middle, covered with garlands, and wreathed like those already mentioned, in the corrupt fashion of architecture then prevalent.
Another very interesting representation is that on one of the sides of the box-paper, where the lady whom we have just seen introduced to the house is set forth in the retirement of her toilette or dressing-room. She is seated on a splendid stool, while her slaves are busied about her. The stool is hung round with golden chains and ornaments, and is therefore a cathedra. The lady holds in one hand a casket, containing probably her wedding-jewels; with the other she is fastening a band upon her head. Right before her stands one of the attendant slaves, with a silver mirror of the common oval shape in her hand, which she is holding up to her mistress. Another stands by her with a dressing-box, containing probably the rouge and the other cosmetic apparatus. A third holds a rectangular casket high up, and has an ewer at her feet. This probably is the psecas, the slave whose vocation it is to sprinkle the odoriferous Indian essences over the hair and dress of her lady. The casket which she holds is probably the proper narthezium, or salve-casket, filled with alabaster vases, oil flasks, onyx phials, &c.; and the water ewer below is
The use of the word ducere is evidently derived from this practice. Processions of the same kind are still used among the inhabitants of European Turkey. See Tournefort, Voyage du Levant, vol. ii. p. 51. (edit. Amst. 1718. 4.) VOL. IV.
intimately connected with the use of all these. A fourth slave holds a basin of a semicircular form. A fifth holds a ring, from which depends a small box pyramidically shaped in its cover, but flat below. In addition to all this rich work, there are still two female figures more, which seem to perform the parts of candelabra: probably this may refer to the well-known nuptial torch-bearing. The subject of this piece, then, is not, it would seem, any ordinary dressing, but the formal and solemn attiring of a bride. The chamber wherein the figures are placed has in its back-ground a row of pillars, every two figures separated by one of them. The unwearied invention of the artist has placed by each of the extreme columns a peacock in the full splendour of his expanded plumage ;* the whole of the gay scene being most fitly terminated on either side by one of the emblems of that imperial Juno, who has no emblems but those of pride and splendour.
This then is a dressing-boxt exactly of the same nature with those which modern ladies use. The only difference is, that our ladies are in common satisfied with boxes of atlas or rose-wood, inlaid with brass or silver, while the ancient fair condescended not below silver materials and the workmanship of a sculptor.-As to the name of the owner, no doubt can exist. On the smooth summit of the lid, the following words are still distinctly visible: Secunde et Projecta vivatis. Secundus is the bridegroom, Projecta is the name of his bride. A prayer for the happiness of both is the meaning of the legend. On some of the smaller pieces there is found, although not so entire, the name Projecta Turci. Now, in the history of the fourth and fifth centuries, several of the first dignities in Rome were held by men bearing the name of Turcius Asterius Secundus; so that there seems to be no reason to doubt that this splendid box was possessed by a Projecta, wife of one of these Asterii.
* Gloriosum animal, gemmantes laudatus expandit colores." Plin. x. 20.
Its proper name was Pyxis, which shews of what materials it was originally formed.
There were two prefects of the Gens Turcia in the years 339 and 362. G