ePub 版


turies after they had been celebrated in the poems CH A Po of Homer *. The annual powers of vegetation, instead of being exhausted by two thousand harvests, were renewed and invigorated by skilful husbandry, rich manure, and seasonable repose. The breed of domestic animals was infinitely multiplied. Plantations, buildings, and the instruments of labour and luxury, which are more durable than the term of human life, were accumulated by the care of successive generations. Tradition preserved, and experience simplified, the humble practice of the arts : society was enriched by the division of labour and the facility of exchange; and

e; and every Roman was lodged, clothed, and subsisted, by the indus. try of a thousand hands. The invention of the loom and distaff has been piously ascribed to the gods. In every age, a variety of animal and ve, getable productions, hair, skins, wool, flax, cotton, and at length silk, have been skilfully manufactured to hide or adorn the human body; they were stained with an infusion of permanent colours; and the pencil was successfully employed to improve the labours of the loom. In the choice of those colours † which imitate the beauties of nature, the freedom of taste and fashion was indulged; but the


* Homer's Iliad, vi. 289. These veils, Trio Trape frotxilor, were the work of the Sidonian women. But this passage is more honourable to the manufactures than to the navigation of Phe. nicia, from whence they had been imported to Troy in Phrygian bottoms,

+ See in Ovid (de Arte Amandi, iii. 269, &c.) a poetical list of twelve colours borrowed from flowers, the elements, &c. But it is almost impossible to discriminate by words all the nice and various shades both of art and nature.


[ocr errors]

CHA P. deep purple * which the Phænicians extracted

from a shell-fish, was restrained to the sacred person and palace of the emperor; and the penalties of treason were denounced against the ambitious subjects, who dared to usurp the prerogative of the

thronet. The use of I need not explain that silk † is originally spun Bilken by the from the bowels of a caterpillar, and that it comRomans poses the golden tomb from whence a

whence a worm emerges in the form of a butterfly. Till the reign of Justinian, the silk worms who feed on the leaves of the white mulberry-tree, were confined to China; those of the pine, the oak, and the ash, were common in the forests both of Asia and Europe ; but as their education is more difficult, and their

produce more uncertain, they were generally neglected, except in the little island of Ceos, near the

coast * By the discovery of Cochineal, &c. we far surpass the colours of antiquity. Their royal purple had a strong stell, and a dark cast as deep as bull's blood-obscuritas rubens (says Cassiodorius, Var. 1, 2.) nigredo sanguinea. The president Goguet (Origine des Loix et des Arts, part ii. 1. ii.c. 2. p. 184– 215.) will amuse and satisfy the reader. I doubt whether his book, especially in England, is as well known as it deserves to be.

+ Historical proofs of this jealousy have been occasionally introduced, and many more might have been added : but the arbitrary acts of despotism were justified by the sober and general declarations of law (Codex Theodosian. 1. x. tit. 21. leg. 3. Codex Justinian. l. xi. tit. 8. leg. 5.). An inglorious permission, and necessary restriction, was applied to the mime, the female dancers (Cod. Theodos. l. xv. tit. 7. leg. 11.).

I In the history of insects (far more wonderful than Ovid's metamorphoses) the silk-worm holds a conspicuous place. The bombyx of the isle of Ceos, as described by Pliny (Hist. Natur. xi. 26, 27. with the notes of the two learned Jesuits, Hardouin and Brotier), may be illustrated by a similar species in China (Memoires sur les Chinois, tom. ii. p. 575-598.); but our silk-worm, as well as the white mulberry-tree. were unknown to Theophrastes and Pliny.

coast of Attica. A thin gauze was procured from CHA P. their webs, and this Cean manufacture, the inven- XL., tion of a woman, for female use, was long admired by both in the East and at Roine. Whatever suspi. cions may be raised by the garments of the Medes and Assyrians, Virgil is the most ancient writer, who expressly mentions the soft wool which was combed from the trees of the Seres or Chinese *; and this natural error, less marvellous than the truth, was slowly corrected by the knowledge of a valuable insect, the first artificer of the luxury of nations. That rare and elegant luxury was censured, in the reign of Tiberius, by the gravest of the Romans; and Pliny, in affected, though forcible language, has condemned the thirst of gain, which explored the last confines of the earth, for the pernicious purpose of exposing to the public eye, naked draperies and transparent matrons t. A dress which shewed the turn of the limbs, and colour of the skin might gratify vanity, or provoke desire; the silks which had been closely woven in China, were sometimes unravelled by the Phæni. cian women, and the precious materials were multiplied by a looser texture, and the intermixture of



* Georgic. ii. 121. Serica quando venerint in usum planissime non scio : suspicor tamen in Julii Cæsaris ævo, nam ante non invenio, says Justus Lipsius (Excursus i. ad Tacit. Annal. ü. 32.). See Dion Cassius (1. xliii. p. 358. edit. Rai. mar), and Pausanias (l. vi. p. 519.), the first who describes, however strangely, the Seric insect.

+ Tam longinquo orbe petitur, ut in publico matrona transluceat .... ut denudet fæminas vestis (Plin.. vi. 20. xi. 21.). Varro and Publius Syrus had already played on the Toga vi. trea, ventus texilis, and nebula linea (Horat. Sermon.i. 2. 101. with the notes of Torrentius and Dacier).

[ocr errors]

CHA P. linen threads * Two hundred years after the age XL. of Pliny, the use of pure or even of mixed silkş

was confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalus, the first who, by this effeminate 'habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and a man. Aurelian complained, that a pound of silk was sold at Rome for twelve ounces of gold: but the supply increased with the demand, and the price diminished with the supply. If accident or monopoly sometimes raised the value even above the standard of Aurelian, the manufacturers of Tyre and Berytus were sometimes compelled, by the operation of the same causes, to content themselves with a ninth part of that extravagant rate f. A law was thought necessary to discriminate the dress of comedians from that of senators; and of the silk exported from its native country, the far greater part was consumed by the subjects of Justinian. They were still more intimately acquainted with a shell-fish of the Mediterranean, şurnamed the silk-worm of the sea : the fine wool or hair by which the motherof-pearl affixes itself to the rock, is now manufac. tured for curiosity rather than use; and a robe


On the texture, colours, names, and use of the silk, half silk, and linen garments of antiquity, see the profound, diffuse, and obscure researches of the great Salmasius (in Hist. August. p. 127. 309, 310. 339. 341, 342. 344. 388-391.395. $13.), who was ignorant of the most common trades of Dijon or Leyden.

+ Flavius Vopiscus in Aurelian. c. 45. in Hist. August. p. 224. Sce Salmasius ad Hist. Aug. p. 392. and Plinian. Exercitat. in Solinum, p. 694, 695. The Anecdotes of Procopius (c. 25.) state a partial and imperfect rate of the price of silk in the time of Justinkin.

obtained from the same singular materials, was the CHA P gift of the Roman emperor to the satraps of Arme- XL. nia*.

tion from


A valuable merchandize of small bulk is ca- Importa. pable of defraying the expence of land carriage; China by and the caravans traversed the whole latitude of land and Asia in two hundred and forty-three days from the Chinese ocean to the sea-coast of Syria. Silk was immediately delivered to the Romans by the Persian merchants †, who frequented the fairs of Armenia and Nisibis: but this trade, which in the intervals of truce was oppressed by avarice and jealousy, was totally interrupted by the long wars of the rival monarchies. The great king might proudly number Sogdiana, and even Serica, among the provinces of his empire; but his real dominion was bounded by the Oxus, and his useful intercourse with the Sogdoites, beyond the river, depended on the pleasure of their conquerors, the white Huns, and the Turks, who successively reigned over that industrious people. Yet the most savage dominion has not extirpated the seeds of agriculture and commerce, in a region which is celebrated as one of the four gardens of Asia; the cities of Samarcand and Bochara are advantageously seated for the exchange of its various productions; and their merchants purchased

* Procopius de Edif. 1. iii. c. 1 These pinnes de mer are found near Smyrna, Sicily, Corsica, and Minorca; and a pair of gloves of their silk was presented to Pope Benedict XIV.

+ Procopius Persic. 1. i. c. 20. 1. ii. c. 25. Gothic. 1. iv. c. 17. Menander in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107. Of the Parthian or Persian empire, Isidore of Charax (in Stathmis Parthicis, p. 7, 8. in Hudson, Geograph. Minor. tom. ii.) has marked the roads, and Ammianus Marcellinus (1. xxiii. c. 6. p. 400.) has enumerated the provinces.

« 上一頁繼續 »