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Title: A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins, Volume II (of 2)
Author: Beckman, Johann
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins, Volume II (of 2)" ***

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  _Sir W. Beechy._       _I. J. Hinchliff._

_James Watt._]




  Fourth Edition,

  J. W. GRIFFITH, M.D., F.L.S.,

  VOL. II.




  The Steam-Engine, and Discoveries of James Watt              v
  Lending and Pawnbroking                                      1
  Chemical Names of Metals                                    23
  Zinc                                                        32
  Carp                                                        46
  Camp-mills                                                  55
  Mirrors                                                     56
  Glass-cutting. Etching on Glass                             84
  Soap                                                        92
  Madder                                                     108
  Jugglers, Rope-dancers, Automata, etc.                     115
  Artificial Ice. Cooling Liquors                            142
  Hydrometer                                                 161
  Lighting of Streets                                        172
  Night-watch                                                185
  Plant-skeletons                                            195
  Bills of Exchange                                          203
  Tin. Tinning                                               206
  Sowing-machines                                            230
  Manganese                                                  235
  Prince Rupert’s Drops. Lacrymæ Vitreæ                      241
  Fire-engines                                               245
  Indigo                                                     258
  Vanes. Weathercocks                                        281
  Gilding                                                    290
  Fur Dresses                                                296
  Steel                                                      324
  Stamping-works                                             333
  Kitchen Vegetables                                         336
  Knitting Nets and Stockings. Stocking-Loom                 355
  Hops                                                       376
  Black Lead                                                 388
  Sal-Ammoniac                                               396
  Forks                                                      407
  Lottery. Tontine                                           414
  Bologna Stone                                              429
  Foundling Hospitals                                        434
  Orphan Houses                                              449
  Infirmaries. Hospitals for Invalids. Field Lazarettos      454
  Cock-fighting                                              473
  Saltpetre. Gunpowder. Aquafortis                           482
  Book-censors                                               512
  Exclusive Privilege for Printing Books                     518
  Catalogues of Books                                        522
  Ribbon-Loom                                                527
  Guns. Gun-Locks                                            533



Although the plan of this new edition of Beckmann’s ‘History of
Inventions and Discoveries’ was to confine it to the subjects treated
of in the original work, yet we feel it imperative to make an exception
in favour of the _Steam-Engine_, the most important of all modern

The power of steam was not entirely unknown to the ancients, but
before the æra rendered memorable by the discoveries of JAMES WATT,
the steam-engine, which has since become the object of such universal
interest, was a machine of extremely limited power, inferior in
importance and usefulness to most other mechanical agents used as
prime movers. Hero of Alexandria, who lived about 120 years before the
birth of Christ, has left us the description of a machine, in which a
continued rotatory motion was imparted to an axis by a blast of steam
issuing from lateral orifices in arms placed at right angles to it.
About the beginning of the seventeenth century, a French engineer, De
Caus, invented a machine by which a column of water might be raised
by the pressure of steam confined in the vessel, above the water to
be elevated; and in 1629, Branca, an Italian philosopher, contrived a
plan of working several mills by a blast of steam against the vanes;
from the descriptions, however, which have been left us of these
contrivances, it does not appear that their projectors were acquainted
with those physical properties of elasticity and condensation on which
the power of steam as a mechanical agent depends.

In 1663, the celebrated Marquis of Worcester described in his Century
of Inventions, an apparatus for raising water by the expansive force
of steam only. From this work we extract the following short account
of the first steam-engine. “68. An admirable and most forcible way to
drive up water by fire; not by drawing or sucking it upwards, for that
must be as the philosopher calleth it, _intra sphæram activitatis_,
which is but at such a distance. But this way hath no bounder, if the
vessel be strong enough: for I have taken a piece of whole cannon,
whereof the end was burst, and filled it three-quarters full of water,
stopping and screwing up the broken end as also the touch-hole; and
making a constant fire under it, within twenty-four hours it burst and
made a great crack; so that having a way to make my vessels so that
they are strengthened by the force within them, and the one to fill
after the other, I have seen the water run like a constant stream,
forty feet high: one vessel of water rarefied by fire, driveth up forty
of cold water; and a man that tends the work is but to turn two cocks,
that one vessel of water being consumed, another begins to force and
refill with cold water, and so successively; the fire being tended
and kept constant, which the self-same person may likewise abundantly
perform in the interim, between the necessity of turning the said

The next name to be mentioned in connection with the progressive
history of the invention of the steam-engine, is that of Denis Papin, a
native of France, who, being banished from his country, was established
Professor of Mathematics at the University of Marburg, by the Landgrave
of Hesse. He first conceived the important idea of obtaining a
moving power by means of a piston working in a cylinder (1688), and
subsequently (1690) that of producing a vacuum in the cylinder by the
sudden condensation of steam by cold. In accordance with these ideas
he constructed a model consisting of a small cylinder, in which was
inserted a solid piston, and beneath this a small quantity of water;
on applying heat to the bottom of the cylinder, steam was generated,
the elastic force of which raised the piston; the cylinder was then
cooled by removing the fire, when the steam condensed and became again
converted into water, thus creating a vacuum in the cylinder, into
which the piston was forced by the pressure of the atmosphere; there
is, however, no evidence of his having carried that or any other
machine into practical use, before machines worked by steam had been
constructed elsewhere.

The first actual working steam-engine of which there is any record, was
invented by Captain Savery an Englishman, to whom a patent was granted
in 1698 for a steam-engine to be applied to the raising of water, &c.
This gentleman produced a working-model before the Royal Society, as
appears from the following extract from their Transactions:--“June
14th, 1699. Mr. Savery entertained the Royal Society with showing a
small model of his engine for raising water by help of fire, which
he set to work before them: the experiment succeeded according to
expectation, and to their satisfaction.” This engine, which was used
for some time to a considerable extent for raising water from mines,
consisted of a strong iron vessel shaped like an egg, with a tube or
pipe at the bottom, which descended to the place from which the water
was to be drawn, and another at the top, which ascended to the place
to which it was to be elevated. This oval vessel was filled with steam
supplied from a boiler, by which the atmospheric air was first blown
out of it. When the air was thus expelled, and nothing but pure steam
left in the vessel, the communication with the boiler was cut off, and
cold water poured on the external surface. The steam within was thus
condensed and a vacuum produced, and the water drawn up from below in
the usual way by suction. The oval steam-vessel was thus filled with
water; a cock placed at the bottom of the lower pipe was then closed,
and steam was introduced from the boiler into the oval vessel above the
surface of the water. This steam being of high pressure, forced the
water up the ascending tube, from the top of which it was discharged;
and the oval vessel being thus refilled with steam, the vacuum was
again produced by condensation, and the same process was repeated by
using two oval steam-vessels, which would act alternately; one drawing
water from below, while the other was forcing it upwards, by which an
uninterrupted discharge of water was produced. Owing to the danger of
explosion, from the high pressure of the steam which was used, and from
the enormous waste of heat by unnecessary condensation, these engines
soon fell into disuse.

Several ingenious men now turned their attention to the improvement of
the steam-engine, with a view to reduce the consumption of fuel, which
was found to be so immense as to preclude its use except under very
favourable circumstances; and in 1705, Thomas Newcomen, a blacksmith
or ironmonger, and John Cawley, a plumber and glazier, patented their
atmospheric engine, in which at first condensation was effected by
the affusion of cold water upon the external surface of the cylinder,
which was introduced into a hollow casing by which it was surrounded.
Having accidentally observed that an engine worked several strokes
with unusual rapidity without the supply of condensing water, Newcomen
found, on examining the piston, a hole in it through which the water
poured on to keep it air-tight issued in the form of a little jet,
and instantly condensed the steam under it; this led him to abandon
the casing and to introduce a pipe furnished with a cock, into the
bottom of the cylinder, by which water was supplied from a reservoir.
Newcomen’s engine required the constant attendance of some person to
open and shut the regulating and condensing valves, a duty which was
usually entrusted to boys, called _cock-boys_. It is said that one of
these boys, named Humphrey Potter, wishing to join his comrades at
play, without exposing himself to the consequences of suspending the
performance of the engine, contrived by attaching strings of proper
length to the levers which governed the two cocks, to connect them with
the beam, so that it should open and close the cocks as it moved up and
down, with the most perfect regularity. By this simple contrivance the
steam-engine for the first time became an automaton.

It was in repairing a working model of a steam-engine on Newcomen’s
principle for the lectures of the professor of natural philosophy
at the University of Glasgow, that James Watt directed his mind to
the prosecution of those inventions and beautiful contrivances, by
which he gave to senseless matter an almost instinctive power of
self-adjustment, with precision of action more than belongs to any
animated being, and which have rendered his name celebrated over the

At the time of which we speak, Newcomen’s engine was of the last and
most approved construction. The moving power was the weight of the air
pressing on the upper surface of a piston working in a cylinder; steam
being employed at the termination of each downward stroke to raise the
piston with its load of air up again, and then to form a vacuum by its
condensation when cooled by a jet of cold water, which was thrown into
the cylinder when the admission of steam was stopped. Upon repairing
the model, Watt was struck by the incapability of the boiler to produce
a sufficient supply of steam, though it was larger in proportion to
the cylinder than was usual in working engines. This arose from the
nature of the cylinder, which being made of brass, a better conductor
of heat than cast-iron, and presenting, in consequence of its small
size, a much larger surface in proportion to its solid content than
the cylinders of working engines, necessarily cooled faster between
the strokes, and therefore at every fresh admission consumed a greater
proportionate quantity of steam. But being made aware of a much greater
consumption of steam than he had imagined, he was not satisfied without
a thorough inquiry into the cause. With this view he made experiments
upon the merits of boilers of different constructions; on the effect
of substituting a less perfect conductor, as wood, for the material of
the cylinder; on the quantity of coal required to evaporate a given
quantity of water; on the degree of expansion of water in the form of
steam: and he constructed a boiler which showed the quantity of water
evaporated in a given time, and thus enabled him to calculate the
quantity of steam consumed at each stroke of the engine. This proved to
be several times the content of the cylinder. He soon discovered that,
whatever the size and construction of the cylinder, an admission of
hot steam into it must necessarily be attended with very great waste,
if in condensing the steam previously admitted, that vessel had been
cooled down sufficiently to produce a vacuum at all approaching to a
perfect one. If, on the other hand, to prevent this waste, he cooled it
less thoroughly, a considerable quantity of steam remained uncondensed
within, and by its resistance weakened the power of the descending
stroke. These considerations pointed out a vital defect in Newcomen’s
engine; involving either a loss of steam, and consequent waste of fuel;
or a loss of power from the piston’s descending at every stroke through
a very imperfect vacuum.

It soon occurred to Watt, that if the condensation were performed in a
separate vessel, one great evil, the cooling of the cylinder, and the
consequent waste of steam, would be avoided. The idea once started, he
soon verified it by experiment. By means of an arrangement of cocks, a
communication was opened between the cylinder, and a distinct vessel
exhausted of its air, at the moment when the former was filled with
steam. The vapour of course rushed to fill up the vacuum, and was there
condensed by the application of external cold, or by a jet of water;
so that fresh steam being continually drawn off from the cylinder
to supply the vacuum continually created, the density of that which
remained might be reduced within any assignable limits. This was the
great and fundamental improvement.

Still, however, there was a radical defect in the atmospheric engine,
inasmuch as the air being admitted into the cylinder at every stroke,
a great deal of heat was abstracted, and a proportionate quantity of
steam wasted. To remedy this, Watt excluded the air from the cylinder
altogether; and recurred to the original plan of making steam the
moving power of the engine, not a mere agent to produce a vacuum. In
removing the difficulties of construction which beset this new plan,
he displayed great ingenuity and powers of resource. On the old plan,
if the cylinder was not bored quite true, or the piston not accurately
fitted, a little water poured upon the top rendered it perfectly
air-tight, and the leakage into the cylinder was of little consequence,
so long as the injection water was thrown into that vessel. But on the
new plan, no water could possibly be admitted within the cylinder;
and it was necessary, not merely that the piston should be air-tight,
but that it should work through an air-tight collar, that no portion
of the steam admitted above it might escape. This he accomplished by
packing the piston and the stuffing-box, as it is called, through which
the piston-rod works, with hemp. A further improvement consisted in
equalising the motion of the engine by admitting the steam alternately
above and below the piston, by which the power is doubled in the same
space, and with the same strength of material. The vacuum of the
condenser was perfected by adding a powerful pump, which at once drew
off the condensed and injected water, and with it any portion of air
which might find admission; as this would interfere with the action
of the engine if allowed to accumulate. His last great change was to
cut off the communication between the cylinder and the boiler, when a
portion only, as one-third or one-half, of the stroke was performed;
leaving it to the expansive power of the steam to complete it. By this,
œconomy of steam was obtained, together with the power of varying the
effort of the engine according to the work which it has to do, by
admitting the steam through a greater or smaller portion of the stroke.

These are the chief improvements which Watt effected at different
periods of his life. He was born June 19, 1736, at Greenock, where
he received the rudiments of his education. Having at an early age
manifested a partiality for the practical part of mechanics, he went in
his eighteenth year to London to obtain instruction in the profession
of a mathematical instrument-maker, but remained there little more than
a year, being compelled to return home on account of his health. In
1757, shortly after his return home, he was appointed instrument-maker
to the University of Glasgow, and accommodated with premises within the
precincts of that learned body. In 1763 he removed into the town of
Glasgow, intending to practise as a civil engineer. His first patent is
dated June 5, 1769, which parliament extended in 1775 for twenty-five
years in consideration of the national importance of the inventions,
and the difficulty and expense of introducing them to public notice.
He died at his house at Heathfield in the county of Stafford, on the
25th of August, 1819, at the advanced age of eighty-four, after having
realized an ample fortune, the well-earned reward of his industry and

To enter into the history of the various applications of the
steam-engine to the different branches of industry would carry us
beyond the bounds of this work. “To enumerate its present effects,”
says a well-known writer on the steam-engine[1], “would be to count
almost every comfort and every luxury of life. It has increased the sum
of human happiness, not only by calling new pleasures into existence,
but by so cheapening former enjoyments as to render them attainable by
those who before could never have hoped to share them: the surface of
the land, and the face of the waters are traversed with equal facility
by its power; and by thus stimulating and facilitating the intercourse
of nation with nation, and the commerce of people with people, it
has knit together remote countries by bonds of amity not likely to
be broken. Streams of knowledge and information are kept flowing
between distant centres of population, those more advanced diffusing
civilization and improvement among those that are more backward. The
press itself, to which mankind owes in so large a degree the rapidity
of their improvement in modern times, has had its power and influence
increased in a manifold ratio by its union with the steam-engine. It is
thus that literature is cheapened, and by being cheapened, diffused;
it is thus that reason has taken the place of force, and the pen has
superseded the sword; it is thus that war has almost ceased upon the
earth, and that the differences which inevitably arise between people
and people are for the most part adjusted by peaceful negotiation.”


[1] Dr. Lardner.





It appears singular to us at present that it should have been once
considered unlawful to receive interest for lent money; but this
circumstance will excite no wonder when the reason of it is fully
explained. The different occupations by which one can maintain a family
without robbery and without war, were at early periods neither so
numerous nor so productive as in modern times; those who borrowed money
required it only for immediate use, to relieve their necessities or to
procure the conveniences of life; and those who advanced it to such
indigent persons did so either through benevolence or friendship. The
case now is widely different. With the assistance of borrowed money
people enter into business, and carry on trades, from which by their
abilities, diligence, or good fortune, so much profit arises that
they soon acquire more than is requisite for their daily support; and
under these circumstances the lender may undoubtedly receive for the
beneficial use of his money a certain remuneration, especially as he
himself might have employed it to advantage; and as by lending it he
runs the risk of losing either the whole or a part of his capital, or
at least of not receiving it again so soon as he may have occasion for

Lending on interest, therefore, must have become more usual in
proportion as trade, manufactures, and the arts were extended; or
as the art of acquiring money by money became more common: but it
long continued to be detested, because the ancient abhorrence against
it was by an improper construction of the Mosaic law converted into
a religious prejudice[2], which, like many other prejudices more
pernicious, was strengthened and confirmed by severe papal laws.
The people, however, who often devise means to render the faults of
their legislators less hurtful, concealed this practice by various
inventions, so that neither the borrower nor lender could be punished,
nor the giving and receiving of interest be prevented. As it was of
more benefit than prejudice to trade, the impolicy of the prohibition
became always more apparent; it was known that the new-invented
usurious arts under which it was privately followed would occasion
greater evils than those which had been apprehended from lending on
interest publicly; it was perceived also that the Jews, who were not
affected by papal maledictions, foreigners, and a few natives who had
neither religion nor conscience, and whom the church wished least of
all to favour, were those principally enriched by it.

In no place was this inconvenience more felt than at the Romish court,
even at a time when it boasted of divine infallibility; and nowhere
was more care employed to remove it. A plan, therefore, was at length
devised, by which the evil, as was supposed, would be banished. A
capital was collected from which money was to be lent to the poor for
a certain period on pledges without interest. This idea was indeed not
new; for such establishments had long before been formed and supported
by humane princes. The emperor Augustus, we are told, converted into
a fund the surplus of the money which arose to the State from the
confiscated property of criminals, and lent sums from it, without
interest, to those who could pledge effects equal to double the
amount[3]. Tiberius also advanced a large capital, from which those
were supplied with money for three years, who could give security on
lands equivalent to twice the value[4]. Alexander Severus reduced the
interest of money by lending it at a low rate, and advancing sums to
the poor without interest to purchase lands, and agreeing to receive
payment from the produce of them[5].

These examples of the ancients were followed in modern Italy. In order
to collect money, the popes conferred upon those who would contribute
towards that object a great many fictitious advantages, which at
any rate cost them nothing. By bulls and holy water they dispensed
indulgences and eternal salvation; they permitted burthensome vows
to be converted into donations to lending-houses; and authorised the
rich who advanced them considerable sums to legitimate such of their
children as were not born in wedlock. As an establishment of this kind
required a great many servants, they endeavoured to procure these also
on the same conditions; and they offered, besides the above-mentioned
benefits, a great many others not worth notice, to those who would
engage to discharge gratis the business of their new undertaking; but
in cases of necessity they were to receive a moderate salary from the
funds. This money was lent without interest for a certain time to the
poor only, provided they could deposit proper pledges of sufficient

It was, however, soon observed that an establishment of this kind
could neither be of extensive use nor of long duration. In order to
prevent the secret lending of money, by the usurious arts which had
begun to be practised, it was necessary that it should advance sums
not only to those who were poor in the strictest sense of the word,
but to those also who, to secure themselves from poverty, wished to
undertake and carry on useful employments, and who for that purpose
had need of capitals. However powerful the attractions might be,
which, on account of the religious folly that then prevailed, induced
people to make large contributions, they gradually lost their force,
and the latter were lessened in proportion, especially as a spirit of
reformation began soon after to break out in Germany, and to spread
more and more into other countries. Even if a lending-house should not
be exhausted by the maintenance of its servants, and various accidents
that could not be guarded against, it was still necessary, at any rate,
to borrow as much money at interest as might be sufficient to support
the establishment. As it was impossible that it could relieve all the
poor, the only method to be pursued was to prevent their increase, by
encouraging trade, and by supplying those with money who wanted only
a little to enable them to gain more, and who were in a condition
and willing to pay a moderate interest. The pontiffs, therefore,
at length resolved to allow the lending-houses to receive interest,
not for the whole capitals which they lent, but only for a part,
merely that they might raise as much money as might be sufficient to
defray their expenses; and they now, for the first time, adopted the
long-established maxim, that those who enjoy the benefits should assist
to bear the burthen--a maxim which very clearly proves the legality
of interest. When this opening was once made, one step more only was
necessary to place the lending-houses on that judicious footing on
which they would in all probability have been put by the inventor
himself, had he not been under the influence of prejudice. In order
that they might have sufficient stock in hand, it was thought proper to
give to those who should advance them money a moderate interest, which
they prudently concealed by blending it with the unavoidable expenses
of the establishment, to which it indeed belonged, and which their
debtors, by the practice a little before introduced, were obliged to
make good. The lending-houses, therefore, gave and received interest.
But that the odious name might be avoided, whatever interest was
received, was said to be _pro indemnitate_; and this is the expression
made use of in the papal bull.

All this, it must be confessed, was devised with much ingenuity: but
persons of acuteness still discovered the concealed interest; and a
violent contest soon arose respecting the legality of lending-houses,
in which the greatest divines and jurists of the age took a part; and
by which the old question, whether one might do anything wicked, or
establish interest, in order to effect good, was again revived and
examined. Fortunately for the pontifical court, the folly of mankind
was still so great that a bull was sufficient to suppress, or at least
to silence, the spirit of inquiry. The pope declared the holy mountains
of piety, “sacri monti de pietà,” to be legal; and threatened those
with his vengeance who dared to entertain any further doubts on the
subject. All the cities now hastened to establish lending-houses; and
their example was at length followed in other countries. Such, in a
general view, is the history of these establishments: I shall now
confirm it by the necessary proofs.

When under the appellation of _lending-house_ we understand a public
establishment where any person can borrow money upon pledges,
either for or without interest, we must not compare it to the
_tabernæ argentariæ_ or _mensæ nummulariæ_ of the Romans. These were
banking-houses, at which the state and rich people caused their
revenues to be paid, and on which they gave their creditors orders
either to receive their debts in money, or to have the sums transferred
in their own name, and to receive security for them. To assign over
money and to pay money by a bill were called _perscribere_ and
_rescribere_; and an assignment or draft was called _attributio_. These
_argentarii_, _mensarii_, _nummularii_, _collybistæ_ and _trapezitæ_
followed the same employment, therefore, as our cashiers or bankers.
The former, like the latter, dealt in exchanges and discount; and in
the same manner also they lent from their capital on interest, and gave
interest themselves, in order that they might receive a greater. Those
who among the ancients were enemies to the lending of money on interest
brought these people into some disrepute; and the contempt entertained
for them was probably increased by prejudice, though those _nummarii_
who were established by government as public cashiers held so exalted a
rank that some of them became consuls. Such banking-houses existed in
the Italian States in the middle ages, about the year 1377. They were
called _apothecæ seu casanæ feneris_[6], and in Germany _Wechselbanke_,
banks of exchange; but they were not lending-houses in the sense in
which I here understand them.

Equally distinct also from lending-houses were those banks established
in the fourteenth century, in many cities of Italy, such, for example,
as Florence, in order to raise public loans. Those who advanced money
on that account received an obligation and monthly interest, which on
no pretext could be refused, even if the creditor had been guilty of
any crime. These obligations were soon sold with advantage, but oftener
with loss; and the price of them rose and fell like that of the English
stocks, but not so rapidly; and theologists disputed whether one could
with a safe conscience purchase an obligation at less than the stated
value, from a proprietor who was obliged to dispose of it for ready
specie. If the State was desirous or under the necessity of repaying
the money, it availed itself of that regale called by Leyser _regale
falsæ monetæ_, and returned the capital in money of an inferior value.
This establishment was confirmed, at least at Florence, by the pontiff,
who subjected those who should commit any fraud in it to ecclesiastical
punishment and a fine, which was to be carried to the papal treasury:
but long before that period the republic of Genoa had raised a loan
by mortgaging the public revenues. I have been more particular on
this subject, because Le Bret[7] calls these banks, very improperly,
lending-houses; and in order to show to what a degree of perfection the
princely art of contracting and paying debts was brought so early as
the fourteenth century.

Those who have as yet determined the origin of lending-houses with the
greatest exactness, place it, as Dorotheus Ascanius, that is Matthias
Zimmermann[8], does, in the time of Pope Pius II. or Paul II., who
filled the papal chair from 1464 to 1471; and the reason for supposing
it to have been under the pontificate of the latter is, because Leo X.
in his bull, which I shall quote hereafter, mentions that pope as the
first who confirmed an establishment of this kind. As the above account
did not appear to me satisfactory, and as I knew before that the oldest
lending-houses in Italy were under the inspection of the Franciscans, I
consulted the Annals of the Seraphic Order, with full expectation that
this service would not be omitted in that work; and I indeed found in
it more materials towards the history of lending-houses than has ever
been collected, as far as I know, by any other person.

As complaints against usury, which was practised by many Christians,
but particularly by the Jews, became louder and more public in Italy
in the fifteenth century, Barnabas Interamnensis, probably of Terni,
first conceived the idea of establishing a lending-house. This man was
originally a physician; had been admitted to the degree of doctor; was
held in great respect on account of his learning; became a Minorite, or
Franciscan; acquired in that situation every rank of honour, and died,
in the first monastery of this order at Assisi (_in monte Subasio_[9]),
in the year 1474. While he was employed in preaching under Pope Pius
II. at Perugia, in the territories of the Church, and observed how much
the poor were oppressed by the usurious dealings of the Jews, he made
a proposal for raising a capital by collections, in order to lend from
it on pledges to the indigent, who should give monthly, for the use of
the money borrowed, as much interest as might be necessary to pay the
servants employed in this establishment, and to support it. Fortunatus
de Copolis, an able jurist of Perugia, who after the death of his wife
became also a Franciscan, approved of this plan, and offered to assist
in putting it into execution. To be assured in regard to an undertaking
which seemed to approach so near to the lending on interest, both
these persons laid their plan before the university of that place,
and requested to know whether such an establishment could be allowed;
and an answer being given in the affirmative, a considerable sum was
soon collected by preaching, so that there was a sufficiency to open a
lending-house. Notwithstanding this sanction, many were displeased with
the design, and considered the receiving of interest, however small it
might be, as a species of usury. Those who exclaimed most against it
were the Dominicans (_ex ordine Prædicatorum_): and they seem to have
continued to preach in opposition to it, till they were compelled by
Leo X. to be silent; while the Franciscans, on the other hand, defended
it, and endeavoured to make it be generally adopted. The dispute
became more violent when, at the end of a year, after all expenses were
paid, a considerable surplus was found remaining; and as the managers
did not know how to dispose of it, they at length thought proper to
divide it amongst the servants, because no fixed salaries had been
appointed for them. Such was the method first pursued at Perugia; but
in other places the annual overplus was employed in a different manner.
The particular year when this establishment began to be formed I have
nowhere found marked; but as it was in the time of Pius II., it must
have been in 1464, or before that period[10]. It is very remarkable
that this pontiff confirmed the lending-house at Orvieto (_Urbs Vetus_)
so early as the above year; whereas that at Perugia was sanctioned,
for the first time, by Pope Paul II. in 1467. It is singular also
that Leo X., in his confirmation of this establishment, mentions Paul
II., Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII., Alexander VI. and Julius II.; but
not Pius II. Pope Sixtus IV., as Wadding says, confirmed in 1472 the
lending-house at Viterbo, which had, however, been begun so early as
1469, by Franciscus de Viterbo, a Minorite[11].

In the year 1479 Sixtus IV. confirmed the lending-house which had been
established at Savona, the place of his birth, upon the same plan
as that at Perugia. The bull issued for this purpose is the first
pontifical confirmation ever printed[12]; for that obtained for Perugia
was not, as we are told by the editor, to be found in the archives
there in 1618, the time when the other was printed. I have never found
the confirmation of those at Orvieto and Viterbo. Ascianus sought for
them, but without success, in Bullarium Magnum Cherubini, and they are
not mentioned by Sixtus. This pontiff, in his bull, laments that the
great expenses to which he was subjected did not permit him to relieve
his countrymen with money, but that he would grant to the lending-house
so many spiritual advantages, as should induce the faithful to
contribute towards its support; and that it was his desire that money
should be lent from it to those who would assist gratis during a year
in the business which it required. If none could be found to serve on
these conditions, a moderate salary was to be given. He added a clause
also respecting pledges; but passed over in silence that the debtors
were to contribute anything for the support of the institution by
paying interest, which Barnabas, whose name does not occur in the bull,
introduced however at Perugia, and which the pope tacitly approved.

The greater part of the lending-houses in Italy were established in the
fifteenth and following centuries by the Minorites Marcus Bononiensis,
Michael a Carcano[13], Cherubinus Spoletanus, Jacobus de Marchia,
Antonius Vercellensis, Angelus a Clavasio, and above all, Bernardinus
Tomitano, named also _Feltrensis_ and _Parvulus_. This man was born
at Feltri, in the country of Treviso, in the year 1439. His father
was called Donato Tomitano, and his mother Corona Rambaldoni; they
were both of distinguished families, though some assert that he was
of low extraction, and a native of Tomi, a small place near Feltri,
on which account he got the name of Tomitano. The name of _Parvulus_
arose from his diminutive stature, which he sometimes made a subject of
pleasantry[14]. This much at any rate is certain, that he had received
a good education. In 1456, when seventeen years of age, he suffered
his instructors, contrary to the inclination of his father, to carry
him to Padua, to be entered in the order of the Minorites; and on this
occasion he changed his christian-name Martin into Bernardinus. As he
was a good speaker, he was employed by his order in travelling through
Italy and preaching. He was heard with applause, and in many parts
the people almost paid him divine honours. The chief object of his
sermons was to banish gaming, intemperance, and extravagance of dress;
but he above all attacked the Jews, and excited such a hatred against
them, that the governments in many places were obliged to entreat or
to compel him either to quit their territories or not to preach in
opposition to these unfortunate people, whom the crowds he collected
threatened to massacre; and sometimes when he visited cities where
there were rich Jews and persons who were connected with them in trade,
he was in danger of losing even his own life. Taking advantage of this
general antipathy to the Jews, he exerted himself, after the example
of Barnabas, his brother Minorite, to get lending-houses established,
and died at Pavia in the year 1494. The Minorites played a number of
juggling tricks with his body, pretending that it performed miracles,
by which means they procured him a place in the catalogue of the
saints; and to render his name still more lasting, some of his sermons
have been printed among the works of the writers of the Franciscan

The lending-houses in Italy, with the origin of which I am acquainted,
are as follows:--The lending-house at Perugia was inspected in 1485 by
Bernardinus, who enlarged its capital.

The same year he established one at Assisi, which was confirmed by Pope
Innocent, and which was visited and improved by its founder in 1487[16].

In the year 1486, after much opposition, he established a lending-house
at Mantua, and procured for it also the pope’s sanction[17]. Four years
after, however, it had declined so much, that he was obliged to preach
in order to obtain new donations to support it.

At Florence he met with still more opposition; for the rich Jews bribed
the members of the government, who wished in appearance to favour
the establishment of the lending-house, to which they had consented
eighteen years before, while they secretly thwarted it; and some boys
having once proceeded, after hearing a sermon, to attack the houses of
the Jews, the Minorites were ordered to abstain from preaching and to
quit the city[18]. It was however completely established; but by the
Dominican Hieronymus Savonarola[19].

In the year 1488 Bernardinus established a lending-house at Parma, and
procured for it the pope’s sanction, as well as for one at Cesena,
where the interest was defined to be “pro salariis officialium et aliis
montis oneribus perferendis.” About the conclusion of this year he was
at the other end of Italy, where he re-established the lending-house at
Aquila in the kingdom of Naples[20].

In the year following he established one at Chieti (_Theate_) in the
same kingdom, another at Rieti (_Reate_) in the territories of the
Church, a third at Narni (_Narnia_)[21]; and a fourth at Lucca, which
was confirmed by the bishop, notwithstanding the opposition of the
Jews, who did every thing in their power to prevent it.

In the year 1490 a lending-house was established at Piacenza
(_Placentia_) by Bernardinus, who at the same time found one at
Genoa which had been established by the before-mentioned Angelus a
Clavasio[22]. At this period also a lending-house was established at
Verona[23], and another at Milan by the Minorite Michael de Aquis.

In 1491 a lending-house was established at Padua, which was confirmed
by Pope Alexander VI. in 1493[24]; and another was established at

In 1492 Bernardinus reformed the lending-house at Vicenza, where, in
order to avoid the reproach of usury, the artifice was employed of not
demanding any interest, but admonishing the borrowers that they should
give a remuneration according to their piety and ability. As people
were by these means induced to pay more interest than what was legally
required at other lending-houses, Bernardinus caused this method
to be abolished[26]. He established a lending-house also the same
year in the small town of Campo S. Pietro, not far from Padua, and
expelled the Jews who had lent upon pledges. At this period there were
lending-houses at Bassano, a village in the county of Trevisi, and also
at Feltri, which he inspected and improved[27].

In the year 1493 Bernardinus caused a lending-house to be established
at Crema, in the Venetian dominions; another at Pavia, where he
requested the opinion of the jurists, whom he was happy to find
favourable to his design; and likewise a third at Gubbio, in the
territories of the Church. At the same time another Franciscan
established at Cremona a _mons frumenti pietatis_, from which corn was
lent out on interest to necessitous persons; and it appears that there
had been an institution of the like kind before at Parma[28].

In the year 1494, Bernardinus, a short time before his death,
assisted to establish a lending-house at Montagnana, in the Venetian
territories[29], and to improve that at Brescia, which was likely to
decay, because the servants had not fixed salaries[30]. The same year
another Franciscan established the lending-house at Modena.

In the year 1506 Pope Julius II. confirmed the lending-house at
Bologna. That of Trivigi was established in 1509; and in 1512,
Elizabeth of the family of Gonzaga, as widow of duke Guido Ubaldus,
established the first lending-house in the duchy of Urbino at Gubbio,
and procured permission for it to coin money[31].

The historical account I have here given, displays in the strongest
light the great force of prejudice, and particularly of the prejudice
of ecclesiastics. Notwithstanding the manifest advantages with which
lending-houses were attended, and though a great part of them had
been already sanctioned by the infallible court of Rome, many, but
chiefly Dominicans, exclaimed against these institutions, which they
did not call _montes pietatis_, but _impietatis_. No opposition gave
the Minorites so much uneasiness as that of the Dominican Thomas de
Vio, who afterwards became celebrated as a cardinal under the name
of Cajetanus. This monk, while he taught at Pavia in 1498, wrote a
treatise De Monte Pietatis[32], in which he inveighed bitterly against
taking pledges and interest, even though the latter was destined for
the maintenance of the servants. The popes, he said, had confirmed
lending-houses in general, but not every regulation that might be
introduced into them, and had only given their express approbation of
them so far as they were consistent with the laws of the church. These
words, he added, had been wickedly left out in the bulls which had been
printed; but he had heard them, and read them, in the confirmation
of the lending-house at Mantua. I indeed find that these words are
not in the copy of that bull given in Wadding, which is said to have
been taken from the original; nor in the still older confirmation of
the lending-house at Savona. But even were they to be found there,
this would not justify Cajetan’s opposition, as the pope in both
these bulls recommended the plan of the lending-house at Perugia to
be adopted, of which receiving interest formed a part. Bernardinus de
Bustis[33], a Minorite, took up the cause in opposition to Cajetan,
and, according to Wadding’s account, with rather too much vehemence.
Among his antagonists were Barrianus and Franc. Papafava, a jurist of
Padua[34]. As this dispute was revived with a great deal of warmth in
the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was at length terminated by
Pope Leo X., who in the tenth sitting of the council of the Lateran
declared by a particular bull that lending-houses were legal and
useful; that all doubts to the contrary were sinful, and that those who
wrote against them should be placed in a state of excommunication[35].
The whole assembly, except one archbishop, voted in favour of this
determination; and it appears from a decree of the council of Trent,
that it also acknowledged their legality, and confirmed them[36].
Notwithstanding this decision, there were still writers who sometimes
condemned them; and who did not consider all the decrees, at least
the above one of the Lateran council, as agreeable to justice. Among
these was Dominicus de Soto, a Dominican. All opposition, however, in
the course of time subsided, and in the year 1565, Charles Borromeo,
the pope’s legate at the council of Milan, ordered all governments and
ecclesiastics to assist in establishing lending-houses[37].

Of the lending-houses established after this period in Italy, I shall
mention those only of Rome and Naples. It is very remarkable that
the pope’s capital should have been without an institution of this
kind till the year 1539, and that it should have been formed by the
exertions of Giovanni Calvo, a Franciscan. Paul III., in his bull of
confirmation, ordered that Calvo’s successors in rank and employment
should always have the inspection of it, because the Franciscans had
taken the greatest pains to endeavour to root out usury[38].

The lending-house at Naples was first established in 1539 or 1540.
Two rich citizens, Aurelio Paparo, and Leonardo or Nardo di Palma,
redeemed all the pledges which were at that time in the hands of the
Jews, and offered to deliver them to the owners without interest,
provided they would return the money which had been advanced on them.
More opulent persons soon followed their example; many bequeathed large
sums for this benevolent purpose; and Toledo, the viceroy, who drove
the Jews from the kingdom, supported it by every method possible. This
lending-house, which has indeed undergone many variations, is the
largest in Europe; and it contains such an immense number of different
articles, many of them exceedingly valuable, that it may be considered
as a repository of the most important part of the moveables of the
whole nation. About the year 1563, another establishment of the like
kind was formed under the title of _banco de’ poveri_. At first this
bank advanced money without interest, only to relieve confined debtors;
afterwards, as its capital increased, it lent upon pledges, but not
above the sum of five ducats without interest. For larger sums the
usual interest was demanded[39].

At what time the first lending-house was established at Venice I have
not been able to learn[40]. This State seems to have long tolerated the
Jews; it endeavoured to moderate the hatred conceived against these
people, and gave orders to Bernardinus to forbear preaching against
them[41]. It appears to me in general, that the principal commercial
cities of Italy were the latest to avail themselves of this invention;
because they knew that to regulate interest by law, where trade was
flourishing, would be ineffectual or useless; or because the rich Jew
merchants found means to prevent it.

The name _mons pietatis_, of which no satisfactory explanation has been
as yet given, came with the invention from Italy, and is equally old,
if not older. Funds of money formed by the contributions of different
persons, for some end specified, were long before called _montes_. In
the first centuries of the Christian æra, free gifts were collected
and preserved in churches by ecclesiastics, partly for the purpose of
defraying the expense of divine service, and partly to relieve the
poor. Such capitals, which were considered as ecclesiastical funds,
were by Prudentius, in the beginning of the fifth century, called
_montes annonæ_ and _arca numinis_[42]. Tertullian calls them _deposita
pietatis_[43]; and hence has been formed _montes pietatis_. At any
rate I am of opinion that the inventor chose and adopted this name in
order to give his institution a sacred or religious appearance, and to
procure it more approbation and support.

I find however that those banks employed in Italy, during the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, to borrow money in the name of
States, for which the public revenues were mortgaged and interest
paid, were also called _montes_[44]. In this sense the word is used by
Italian historians of much later times; and those are greatly mistaken,
who, with Ascian and many others, consider all these _montes_ as real
lending-houses. These loan-banks or _montes_ received various names,
sometimes from the princes who established them, sometimes from the
use to which the money borrowed was applied, and sometimes from the
objects which were mortgaged. Of this kind were the _mons fidei_, or
loan opened by Pope Clement VII. in the year 1526, for defending his
capital[45]; the _mons aluminarius_, under Pope Pius IV., for which the
pontifical alum-works were pledged; the _mons religionis_, under Pius
V., for carrying on the war against the Turks; and the _montes farinæ_,
_carnium_, _vini_, &c., when the duties upon these articles were
pledged as a security. To facilitate these loans, every condition that
could induce people to advance money was thought of. Sometimes high
interest was given, if the subscribers agreed that it should cease,
and the capital fall to the bank after their death; and sometimes
low interest was given, but the security was heritable and could be
transferred at pleasure. The former were called _montes vacabiles_, and
the latter _montes non vacabiles_. Sometimes the State engaged to pay
back the capital at the end of a certain period, such for example as
nine years, as was the case in regard to the _mons novennalis_, under
Paul IV.; or it reserved to itself the option of returning the money
at such a period as it might think proper, and sometimes the capital
was sunk and the interest made perpetual. The first kind were called
_montes redimibiles_, and the second _irredimibiles_[46]. One can here
clearly discover the origin of life-rents, annuities, tontines, and
government securities; but the further illustration of this subject I
shall leave to those who may wish to employ their talents on a history
of national debts. I have introduced these remarks, merely to rectify
a mistake which has become almost general, and which occasioned some
difficulties to me in this research; and I shall only observe further,
that the popes gave to their loans, in order to raise their sinking
credit, many of those spiritual advantages which they conferred on the
_montes pietatis_. This error therefore was more easily propagated, as
both were called _montes_; and hence it has happened that Ascianus and
others assert that many lending-houses were misapplied by the popes in
order to raise public loans.

From the instances here adduced, one may see that the first
lending-houses were sanctioned by the pontiffs, because they only
could determine to the Catholics in what cases it was lawful for
them to receive interest. This circumstance seems to have rendered
the establishment of them out of Italy difficult. At any rate the
Protestants were at first averse to imitate an institution which
originated at the court of Rome, and which, according to the prevailing
prejudice of the times, it alone could approve; and from the same
consideration they would not adopt the reformation which had been made
in the calendar.

The first mention of a lending-house in Germany, which I have as yet
met with, is to be found in the permission granted by the emperor
Maximilian I. to the citizens of Nuremberg, in the year 1498, to
drive the Jews from the city, and to establish an exchange-bank. The
permission further stated, “That they should provide for their bank
proper managers, clerks, and other persons to conduct it according
to their pleasure, or as necessity might require; that such of their
fellow-citizens as were not able to carry on their trades, callings,
and occupations without borrowing and without pledging their effects,
should, on demand, according to their trade and circumstances, receive
money, for which pledges, caution and security should be taken; that at
the time of payment a certain sum should be exacted by way of interest;
that the clerks and conductors of the bank should receive salaries for
their service from the interest; and that if any surplus remained it
should be employed for the common use of the city of Nuremberg, like
any other public fund.”

It here appears that the lending-houses in Germany were first known
under the name of exchange-banks, by which was before understood any
bank where money was lent and exchanged; but it does not thence follow,
as Professor Fischer thinks[47], that they were an Italian invention.
The citizens of Nuremberg had not then a lending-house, nor was one
established there till the year 1618. At that period they procured
from Italy copies of the regulations drawn up for various houses of
this kind, in order to select the best. Those of the city of Augsburg
however were the grounds on which they built, and they sent thither
the persons chosen to manage their lending-house, that they might
make themselves fully acquainted with the nature of the establishment
at that place[48]. In the year 1591, the magistrates of Augsburg had
prohibited the Jews to lend money, or to take pledges; at the same time
they granted 30,000 florins as a fund to establish a lending-house, and
the regulations of it were published in 1607[49].

In the Netherlands, France and England, lending-houses were first known
under the name of _Lombards_, the origin of which is evident. It is
well known that in the thirteenth and following centuries many opulent
merchants of Italy, which at those periods was almost the only part
of Europe that carried on an extensive trade, were invited to these
countries, where there were few mercantile people able to engage deeply
in commerce. For this reason they were favoured by governments in most
of the large cities; but in the course of time they became objects of
universal hatred, because they exercised the most oppressive usury,
by lending at interest and on pledges. They were called _Longobardi_
or _Lombardi_, as whole nations are often named after a part of their
country, in the same manner as all the Helvetians are called Swiss,
and the Russians sometimes Moscovites. They were, however, called
frequently also Caorcini, Caturcini, Caursini, Cawarsini, Cawartini,
Bardi, and Amanati; names, which in all probability arose from some
of their greatest houses or banks. We know, at any rate, that about
those periods the family of the Corsini were in great consideration at
Florence. They had banks in the principal towns for lending money; they
demanded exorbitant interest; and they received pledges at a low value,
and retained them as their own property if not redeemed at the stated
time. They eluded the prohibition of the church against interest when
they found it necessary, by causing the interest to be previously paid
as a present or a premium; and it appears that some sovereigns borrowed
money from them on these conditions. In this manner did Edward III.
king of England, when travelling through France in the year 1329,
receive 5000 marks from the bank of the Bardi, and give then in return,
by way of acknowledgement, a bond for 7000[50]. When complaints against
the usurious practices of these Christian Jews became too loud to be
disregarded, they were threatened with expulsion from the country, and
those who had rendered themselves most obnoxious on that account, were
often banished, so that those who remained were obliged to conduct
themselves in their business with more prudence and moderation. It is
probable that the commerce of these countries was then in too infant a
state to dispense altogether with the assistance of these foreigners.
In this manner were they treated by Louis IX. in 1268, and likewise
by Philip the Bold; and sometimes the popes, who would not authorise
interest, lent their assistance by prohibitions, as was the case in
regard to Henry III. of England in 1240.

In the fourteenth century, the Lombards in the Netherlands paid to
government rent for the houses in which they carried on their money
transactions, and something besides for a permission. Of this we have
instances at Delft in 1313, and at Dordrecht in 1342[51]. As in the
course of time the original Lombards became extinct, these houses
were let, with the same permission, for the like employment[52]; but
governments at length fixed the rate of interest which they ought
to receive, and established regulations for them, by which usurious
practices were restrained. Of leases granted on such conditions, an
instance occurs at Delft in the year 1655. In 1578, William prince of
Orange recommended to the magistrates of Amsterdam Francis Masasia,
one of the Lombards, as they were then called, in order that he
might obtain for him permission to establish a lending-house[53], as
many obtained permission to keep billiard-tables, and Jews letters
of protection. In the year 1611, the proprietor of such a house at
Amsterdam, who during the latter part of his lease had gained by his
capital at least thirty-three and a half per cent., offered a very
large sum for a renewal of his permission; but in 1614, the city
resolved to take the lombard or lending-house into their own hands, or
to establish one of the same kind. However odious this plan might be,
a dispute arose respecting the legality of it, which Marets[54] and
Claude Saumaise endeavoured to support. The public lending-house or
lombard at Brussels was established in 1619; that at Antwerp in 1620,
and that at Ghent in 1622. All these were established by the archduke
Albert, when he entered on the governorship, with the advice of the
archbishop of Mechlin; and on this occasion the architect Wenceslaus
Coberger was employed, and appointed inspector-general of all the
lending-houses in the Spanish Netherlands[55]. Some Italians assert
that the Flemings were the first people who borrowed money on interest
for their lending-houses; and they tell us that this practice began in
the year 1619[56]. We are assured also, that after a long deliberation
at Brussels, it was at length resolved to receive money on interest at
the lending-houses. It however appears certain that in Italy this was
never done, or at least not till a late period, and that the capitals
of the lending-houses there were amassed without giving interest.

This beneficial institution was always opposed in France; chiefly
because the doctors of the Sorbonne could not divest themselves of the
prejudice against interest; and some in modern times who undertook
there to accommodate people with money on the like terms, were punished
by government[57]. A lending-house however was established at Paris
under Louis XIII., in 1626; but the managers next year were obliged to
abandon it[58]. In 1695, some persons formed a capital at Marseilles
for the purpose of establishing one there according to the plan of
those in Italy[59]. The present _mont de piété_ at Paris, which has
sometimes in its possession forty casks filled with gold watches
that have been pledged, was, by royal command, first established in

[The following is the rate of profit or interest which pawnbrokers in
this country are entitled to charge per calendar month. For 2_s._ 6_d._
one halfpenny; 5_s._ one penny; 7_s._ 6_d._ three halfpence; 10_s._
twopence; 12_s._ 6_d._ twopence halfpenny; 15_s._ threepence; 17_s._
6_d._ threepence halfpenny; £1 fourpence; and so on progressively and
in proportion for any sum not exceeding 40_s._ For every sum exceeding
40_s._ and not exceeding 42_s._ eightpence; and for every sum exceeding
42_s._ and not exceeding £10, threepence to every pound, and so on in
proportion for any fractional sum. Where any intermediate sum lent
on a pledge exceeds 2_s._ 6_d._ and does not exceed 40_s._, a sum
of fourpence may be charged in proportion to each £1. Goods pawned
are forfeited on the expiration of a year, exclusive of the date of
pawning. But it has been held that the property is not transferred,
but that the pawnbroker merely has a right to sell the article; and
consequently that, on a claim after this period, with tender of
principal and interest, the property must be restored if unsold (Walker
_v._ Smith, 5 _Barn._ and _Ald._ 439). Pledges must not be taken from
persons intoxicated or under twelve years of age. In Great Britain
pawnbrokers must take out a license, which costs £15 within the limits
of the old twopenny-post, and £7 10_s._ in other parts. No license
is required in Ireland. A second license, which costs £5 15_s._, is
required to take in pledge articles of gold and silver.

From 1833 to 1838 the number of pawnbrokers in the metropolitan
district increased from 368 to 386; in the rest of England and Wales,
from 1083 to 1194; and in Scotland, from 52 to 88; making a total of
1668 establishments, paying £15,419 for their licenses, besides the
licenses which many of them take out as dealers in gold and silver. The
business of a pawnbroker was not known in Glasgow until August 1806,
when an itinerant English pawnbroker commenced business in a single
room, but decamped at the end of six months; and his place was not
supplied until June 1813, when the first regular office was established
in the west of Scotland for receiving goods in pawn. Other individuals
soon entered the business, and the practice of pawning had become so
common, that in 1820, in a season of distress, 2043 heads of families
pawned 7380 articles, on which they raised £739 5_s._ 6_d._ Of these
heads of families 1375 had never applied for or received charity of
any description; 474 received occasional aid from the relief committee,
and 194 were paupers. The capital invested in this business in 1840
was about £26,000. Nine-tenths of the articles pledged are redeemed
within the legal period. There are no means of ascertaining the exact
number of pawnbrokers’ establishments in the large towns of England.
In 1831, the number of males above the age of twenty employed in those
at Manchester was 107; at Liverpool, 91; Birmingham, 54; Bristol, 33;
Sheffield, 31.

The following curious return was made by a large pawnbroking
establishment at Glasgow to Dr. Cleland, who read it before the British
Association in 1836. The list comprised the following articles:--539
men’s coats, 355 vests, 288 pairs of trowsers, 84 pairs of stockings,
1980 women’s gowns, 540 petticoats, 132 wrappers, 123 duffies, 90
pelisses, 240 silk handkerchiefs, 294 shirts and shifts, 60 hats, 84
bed-ticks, 108 pillows, 262 pairs of blankets, 300 pairs of sheets,
162 bed-covers, 36 tablecloths, 48 umbrellas, 102 _bibles_, 204
watches, 216 rings, and 48 _Waterloo medals_. There were about thirty
pawnbrokers in Glasgow in 1840. In the manufacturing districts, during
the prevalence of strikes, or in seasons of commercial embarrassment,
many hundreds of families pawn the greater part of their wearing
apparel and household furniture. The practice of having recourse to
the pawnbrokers on such occasions is quite of a different character
from the habits of dependence into which many of the working classes
suffer themselves to fall, and who, “on being paid their wages on the
Saturday, are in the habit of taking their holiday clothes out of
the hands of the pawnbroker to enable them to appear respectably on
the Sabbath, and on the Monday following they are again pawned and a
fresh loan obtained to meet the exigencies of their families for the
remainder of the week.” It is on these transactions and on such as
arise out of the desire of obtaining some momentary gratification that
the pawnbrokers make their large profits. It is stated in one of the
reports on the poor laws that a loan of threepence, if redeemed the
same day, pays annual interest at the rate of 5200 per cent.; weekly,
866 per cent.;

   4_d._, annual interest 3900 per cent., or 650 p. c. weekly;
  12_d._, annual interest 1300 per cent., or 216 p. c. weekly.

It is stated that on a capital of sixpence thus employed (in weekly
loans), pawnbrokers make in twelve months 2_s._ 2_d._; on five
shillings they gain 10_s._ 4_d._; on ten shillings, 22_s._ 3¼_d._; and
on twenty shillings lent in weekly loans of sixpence, they more than
double their capital in twenty-seven weeks, and should the goods pawned
remain in their hands for the term of twelve months (which seldom
occurs), they then frequently derive 100 per cent.[61]]


[2] J. D. Michaelis, in Syntagma Commentationum, ii. p. 9; and his
Mosaisches Recht. iii. p. 86.

[3] Sueton. Vita Augusti, cap. 41.

[4] Taciti Annal. vi. 17.--Sueton. Vita Tiberii, cap. 48.--Dio Cassius,
lviii. 21.

[5] Ælius Lamprid. Vita Alex. Severi, cap. 21.

[6] M. Manni circa i sigilli antichi dei secoli bassi, vol. xxvii. p.
86. The author here quotes from an ancient city-book the following
passage:--“Franciscus fenerator pro se et _apotheca seu casana
fenoris_, quam tenebat in via Quattro Pagoni,” &c.

[7] Algemeine Welthistorie, xlv. p. 10.

[8] This theologian, born at Eperies in Hungary in 1625, was driven
from his native country on account of his religion, and died
superintendant at Meisse in 1689. He wrote, besides other works,
Dorothei Asciani Montes Pietatis Romanenses, historice, canonice, et
theologice detecti. Lipsiæ, 1670, 4to. This book is at present very
scarce. I shall take this opportunity of mentioning also the following,
because many who have written on lending-houses have quoted it, though
they never saw it:--Montes Pietatis Romanenses, das ist, die Berg der
Fromheit oder Gottesforcht in der Stadt Rom. Durch Elychnium Gottlieb.
Strasburg, 1608, 8vo. It contains nothing of importance that may not be
found in Ascianus.

[9] Of this Barnabas I know nothing more than what I have here
extracted from Waddingii Annales Minorum, tom. xiv. p. 93. Wadding
refers to Marian. lib. v. c. 40. § 17; and Marc. 3. p. lib. 5. cap.
58. The former is Marianus Florentinus, whose Fasciculus Chronicoram
Ordinis Minorum, which consists of five books, was used in manuscript
by Wadding, in composing his large work, and in my opinion has never
been printed. Marc. is Marcus Ulyssoponensis, whose Chronica Ordinis
Minorum I have not been able to procure, though it is translated into
several languages. See Waddingii Scriptores Ordinis Minorum. Romæ 1650,
fol. pp. 248, 249.

[10] This is confirmed by M. B. Salon, in t. 2. Contr. de Justit.
et Jure, in ii. 2 Thom. Aquin. qu. 88. art. 2. controv. 27: “Hujus
modi mons non erat in usu apud antiquos. Cœpit fere a 150 annis,
tempore Pii II.” In C. L. Richard’s Analysis Conciliorum Generalium et
Particularium, Venetiis, 1776, 4 vol. fol. iv. p. 98, I find that the
first lending-house at Perugia was established in the year 1450; but
Pius II., under whose pontificate it appears by various testimonies to
have been founded, was not chosen pope till the year 1458.

[11] Bussi, Istoria della città di Viterbo. In Roma, 1742, fol. p. 271.

[12] It may be found in Bolle et Privilegi del Sacro Monte della Pietà
di Roma. In Roma, 1618: ristampati l’anno 1658. This collection is
commonly bound up with the following work, which was printed in the
same year and again reprinted: Statuti del Sacro Monte della Pietà di
Roma. This bull is inserted entire by Ascianus, p. 719, but in the
Collection of the pontifical bulls it is omitted.

[13] This Michael travelled and preached much in company with
Bernardinus, and died at Como in 1485.--Wadding, xiv. p. 396.

[14] The Piccolimini, nephews of the pope, having once paid their
respects to him at Siena, he told them he was their namesake.--Wadding,
xiv. p. 447.

[15] Waddingii Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, p. 58. Fabricii Biblioth.
Mediæ et Infimæ Æt. i. p. 586.

[16] Wadding, xiv. pp. 398, 433.

[17] It may be found entire in Wadding, xiv. p. 411. It was ordered
that the pledges should be worth double the sum lent, and that they
should be sold if not redeemed within a year.

[18] Wadding, xiv. p. 446.

[19] D. Manni circa i Sigilli Antichi, tom. xxvii. p. 92, where much
information respecting this subject may be found.

[20] Wadding, xiv. p. 451.

[21] Ibid. pp. 462, 465.

[22] Ibid. xiv. pp. 480, 481.

[23] Ibid. p. 517.

[24] Ibid. xiv. pp. 93, 482.

[25] Ibid. p. 514.

[26] Ibid. xv. pp. 6, 65.

[27] Wadding, xv. pp. 7, 9, 12.

[28] Ibid. xv. pp. 37, 45, 46.

[29] Ibid. xv. 67.

[30] Ibid. xv. p. 68. Bernardinus considered the giving of wages as a
necessary evil.

[31] Della Zecca di Gubbio, e delle Geste de’ Conti e Duchi di Urbino;
opera di Rinaldo Reposati. Bologna, 1772, 4to.

[32] It is to be found in the well-known large collection of juridical
writings quoted commonly under the title Tractatus Tractatuum.
Venetiis, 1584, fol. p. 419, vol. vi. part 1. It has also been printed

[33] His works were printed together, in folio, at Brescia in 1588.

[34] The work of the former appeared in 1496. The writings of both are
printed in the work of Ascianus, or Zimmermann, which has been often
quoted already.

[35] This bull, which forms an epoch in the history of lending-houses,
may be found in S. Lateranen. Concilium Novissimum. Romæ, 1521, fol.
This scarce work, which I have now before me, is inserted entire in
Harduini Acta Conciliorum, tom. ix. Parisiis, 1714, fol. The bull may
be found p. 1773. It may be found also in Bullarium Magnum Cherubini,
i. p. 560; Waddingii Annal. Minor. xv. p. 470; Ascianus, p. 738; and
Beyerlinck’s Theatrum Vitæ Hum. v. p. 603.

[36] This is the conclusion formed by Richard, in Analysis Conciliorum,
because in sess. 22, cap. 8, lending-houses are reckoned among the _pia
loca_, and the inspection of them assigned to the bishops.

[37] Waddingii Annal. Minor. xv. p. 471.

[38] Ibid. xvi. p. 444; Ascianus, p. 766.

[39] (Summonte) Historia de Napoli, 1749, 4to, vol. iv. p.
179.--Giannone, vol. iv.--De’ Banchi di Napoli, da Michele Rocco. Neap.
1785, 3 vols. 8vo, i. p. 151.

[40] Vettor Sandi, in Principi di Storia civile della Republica di
Venezia. In Venezia 1771, 4to, vol. ii. p. 436. The author treats
expressly of the institution of this bank, but the year when it
commenced is not mentioned.

[41] Waddingii Annal. Minor. xv. p. 67.

[42] Hymnus ii. honorem Laurentii. The poet relates, that in the third
century the pagan governor of the city demanded the church treasure
from Laurentius the deacon.

[43] This passage, with which Senkenberg was not acquainted, may be
found in Tertullian’s Apolog. cap. 39, edition of De la Cerda, p. 187.

[44] This word however is not to be found in the Glossarium Manuale.

[45] See the bull in Bullarium Magnum, n. 17.

[46] See Petr. Gregorius Tholosanus de Republica. Francof. 1609, 4to,
lib. xiii. c. 16, p. 566; and Ascianus, p. 753.

[47] Geschichte des Teutschen Handels, ii. p. 454.

[48] Gokink’s Journal für Teutschland, 1784, i. p. 504, where may be
found the first and the newest regulations respecting the lending-house
at Nuremberg.

[49] Stettens Geschichte der Stadt Augsburg. Frankf. 1742, 2 vols. 4to,
i. p. 720, 789, 833.

[50] Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 387.

[51] Beschryving der Stadt Delft. 1729, fol. p. 553.

[52] Salmasius de Fœnore trapezitico. Lugd. 1640, 8vo, p. 744.

[53] De Koophandel van Amsterdam. Rott. 1780, 8vo, i. p. 221.

[54] S. de Marets Diss. de trapezitis.

[55] Beyerlinck, Magnum Theatrum Vitæ, tom. v. p. 602.

[56] Richard, Analysis Concilior. iv. p. 98.

[57] Turgot, Mem. sur le prêt à intérest, &c. Par. 1789, 8vo.

[58] Sauval, Hist. de la Ville de Paris.

[59] Rufel, Hist. de la Ville de Marseille; 1696. fol. ii. p. 99.

[60] Tableau de Paris. Hamb. 1781. 8vo, i. p. 78.

[61] Waterston’s Cyclopædia of Commerce.


As those metals earliest known, viz. copper, iron, gold, silver, lead,
quicksilver and tin, received the same names as the nearest heavenly
bodies, which appear to us largest, and have been distinguished by
the like characters, two questions arise: Whether these names and
characters were given first to the planets or to the metals? When,
where, and on what account were they made choice of; and why were the
metals named after the planets, or the planets after the metals? The
latter of these questions, in my opinion, cannot be answered with any
degree of certainty; but something may be said on the subject, which
will not, perhaps, be disagreeable to those fond of such researches,
and who have not had an opportunity of examining it.

That the present usual names were first given to the heavenly bodies,
and at a later period to the metals, is beyond all doubt; and it is
equally certain that they came from the Greeks to the Romans, and from
the Romans to us. It can be proved also that older nations gave other
names to these heavenly bodies at much earlier periods. The oldest
appellations, if we may judge from some examples still preserved, seem
to have originated from certain emotions which these bodies excited in
the minds of men; and it is not improbable that the planets were by the
ancient Egyptians and Persians named after their gods, and that the
Greeks only adopted or translated into their own language the names
which those nations had given them[62]. The idea that each planet was
the residence of a god, or that they were gods themselves, has arisen,
according to the most probable conjecture, from rude nations worshiping
the sun, which, on account of his beneficent and necessary influence
over all terrestrial bodies, they considered either as the deity
himself, or his abode, or, at any rate, as a symbol of him. In the
course of time, when heroes and persons who by extraordinary services
had rendered their names respected and immortal, received divine
honours, particular heavenly bodies, of which the sun, moon and planets
seemed the fittest, were also assigned to these divinities[63]. By what
laws this distribution was made, and why one planet was dedicated to
Saturn and not to another, Pluche did not venture to determine: and on
this point the ancients themselves are not all agreed[64]. When the
planets were once dedicated to the gods, folly, which never stops where
it begins, proceeded still further, and ascribed to them the attributes
and powers for which the deities, after whom they were named, had been
celebrated in the fictions of their mythologists. This in time laid
the foundation of astrology; and hence the planet Mars, like the deity
of that name, was said to cause and to be fond of war; and Venus to
preside over love and its pleasures.

The next question is, Why were the metals divided in the like manner
among the gods, and named after them? Of all the conjectures that can
be formed in answer to this question, the following appears to me the
most probable. The number of the deified planets made the number seven
so sacred to the Egyptians, Persians and other nations, that all those
things which amounted to the same number, or which could be divided by
it without a remainder, were supposed to have an affinity or a likeness
to and connexion with each other[65]. The seven metals, therefore, were
considered as having some relationship to the planets, and with them
to the gods, and were accordingly named after them. To each god was
assigned a metal, the origin and use of which was under his particular
providence and government; and to each metal were ascribed the powers
and properties of the planet and divinity of the like name; from which
arose, in the course of time, many of the ridiculous conceits of the

The oldest trace of the division of the metals among the gods is to
be found, as far as I know, in the religious worship of the Persians.
Origen, in his Refutation of Celsus, who asserted that the seven
heavens of the Christians, as well as the ladder which Jacob saw in his
dream, had been borrowed from the mysteries of Mithras, says, “Among
the Persians the revolutions of the heavenly bodies were represented
by seven stairs, which conducted to the same number of gates. The
first gate was of lead; the second of tin; the third of copper; the
fourth of iron; the fifth of a mixed metal; the sixth of silver, and
the seventh of gold. The leaden gate had the slow tedious motion of
Saturn; the tin gate the lustre and gentleness of Venus; the third
was dedicated to Jupiter; the fourth to Mercury, on account of his
strength and fitness for trade; the fifth to Mars; the sixth to the
Moon, and the last to the Sun[66].” Here then is an evident trace of
metallurgic astronomy, as Borrichius calls it, or of the astronomical
or mythological nomination of metals, though it differs from that used
at present. According to this arrangement, tin belonged to Jupiter,
copper to Venus, iron to Mars, and the mixed metal to Mercury. The
conjecture of Borrichius, that the transcribers of Origen have, either
through ignorance or design, transposed the names of the gods, is
highly probable: for if we reflect that in this nomination men at first
differed as much as in the nomination of the planets, and that the
names given them were only confirmed in the course of time, of which I
shall soon produce proofs, it must be allowed that the causes assigned
by Origen for his nomination do not well agree with the present
reading, and that they appear much juster when the names are disposed
in the same manner as that in which we now use them[67].

This astrological nomination of metals appears to have been conveyed
to the Brahmans in India; for we are informed that a Brahman sent to
Apollonius seven rings, distinguished by the names of the seven stars
or planets, one of which he was to wear daily on his finger, according
to the day of the week[68]. This can be no otherwise explained than
by supposing that he was to wear the gold ring on Sunday; the silver
one on Monday; the iron one on Tuesday, and so of the rest. Allusion
to this nomination of the metals after the gods occurs here and there
in the ancients. Didymus, in his Explanation of the Iliad, calls the
planet Mars the iron star. Those who dream of having had anything to do
with Mars are by Artemidorus threatened with a chirurgical operation,
for this reason, he adds, because Mars signifies iron[69]. Heraclides
says also in his allegories, that Mars was very properly considered as
iron; and we are told by Pindar that gold is dedicated to the sun[70].

Plato likewise, who studied in Egypt, seems to have admitted this
nomination and meaning of the metals. We are at least assured so by
Marsilius Ficinus[71]; but I have been able to find no proof of it,
except where he says of the island Atlantis, that the exterior walls
were covered with copper and the interior with tin, and that the walls
of the citadel were of gold. It is not improbable that Plato adopted
this Persian or Egyptian representation, as he assigned the planets
to the demons; but perhaps it was first introduced into his system
only by his disciples[72]. They seem, however, to have varied from
the nomination used at present; as they dedicated to Venus copper,
or brass, the principal component part of which is indeed copper; to
Mercury tin; and to Jupiter electrum. The last-mentioned metal was a
mixture of gold and silver; and on this account was probably considered
to be a distinct metal, because in early periods mankind were
unacquainted with the art of separating these noble metals[73].

The characters by which the planets and metals are generally expressed
when one does not choose to write their names, afford a striking
example how readily the mind may be induced to suppose a connexion
between things which in reality have no affinity or relation to each
other. Antiquaries and astrologers, according to whose opinion the
planets were first distinguished by these characters, consider them
as the attributes of the deities of the same name. The circle in the
earliest periods among the Egyptians was the symbol of divinity and
perfection; and seems with great propriety to have been chosen by
them as the character of the sun, especially as, when surrounded by
small strokes projecting from its circumference, it may form some
representation of the emission of rays. The semicircle is in like
manner the image of the moon, the only one of the heavenly bodies that
appears under that form to the naked eye. The character ♄ is supposed
to represent the sythe of Saturn; ♃ the thunderbolts of Jupiter; ♂ the
lance of Mars, together with his shield; ♀ the looking-glass of Venus;
and ☿ the caduceus or wand of Mercury.

The expression by characters adopted among the older chemists agrees
with this mythological signification only in the character assigned to
gold. Gold, according to the chemists, was the most perfect of metals,
to which all others seemed to be inferior in different degrees. Silver
approached nearest to it; but was distinguished only by a semicircle,
which, for the more perspicuity, was drawn double, and thence had a
greater resemblance to the most remarkable appearance of the moon; the
name of which this metal had already obtained. All the other metals,
as they seemed to have a greater or less affinity to gold or silver,
were distinguished by marks composed of the characters assigned to
these precious metals. In the character ☿ the adepts discover gold
with a silver colour. The cross placed at the bottom, which among the
Egyptian hieroglyphics had a mysterious signification[74], expresses,
in their opinion, something I know not what, without which quicksilver
would be silver or gold. This something is combined also with copper,
the possible change of which into gold is expressed by the character ♀.
The character ♂ declares the like honourable affinity also; though the
half-cross is applied in a more concealed manner; for, according to the
most proper mode of writing, the point is wanting at the top, or the
upright line ought only to touch the horizontal, and not to intersect
it. Philosophical gold is concealed in steel; and on this account it
produces such valuable medicines. Of tin one-half is silver, and the
other consists of the something unknown: for this reason the cross with
the half moon appears in ♃. In lead this something is predominant, and
a similitude is observed in it to silver. Hence in its character ♄ the
cross stands at the top, and the silver character is only suspended on
the right-hand behind it.

The mythological signification of these characters cannot be older
than the Grecian mythology; but the chemical may be traced to a much
earlier period. Some, who consider them as remains of the Egyptian
hieroglyphics[75], pretend that they may be discovered on the table of
Isis, and employ them as a proof of the high antiquity, if not of the
art of making gold, at least of chemistry. We are told also that they
correspond with many other characters which the adepts have left us as
emblems of their wisdom.

If we are desirous of deciding without prejudice respecting both these
explanations, it will be found necessary to make ourselves acquainted
with the oldest form of the characters, which in all probability, like
those used in writing, were subjected to many changes before they
acquired that form which they have at present. I can, however, mention
only three learned men, Salmasius[76], Du Cange[77], and Huet[78], who
took the trouble to collect these characters. As I am afraid that my
readers might be disgusted were I here to insert them, I shall give
a short abstract of the conclusion which they form from them; but I
must first observe that the oldest manuscripts differ very much in
their representation of these characters, either because they were not
fully established at the periods when they were written, or because
many supposed adepts endeavoured to render their information more
enigmatical by wilfully confounding the characters; and it is probable
also that many mistakes may have been committed by transcribers.

The character of Mars, according to the oldest mode of representing
it, is evidently an abbreviation of the word Θοῦρος, under which
the Greek mathematicians understood that deity; or, in other words,
the first letter Θ, with the last letter ς placed above it. The
character of Jupiter was originally the initial letter of Ζεύς; and in
the oldest manuscripts of the mathematical and astrological works of
Julius Firmicus the capital Ζ only is used, to which the last letter
ς was afterwards added at the bottom, to render the abbreviation
more distinct. The supposed looking-glass of Venus is nothing else
than the initial letter, a little distorted, of the word Φωσφόρος,
which was the name of that goddess. The imaginary sythe of Saturn
has been gradually formed from the first two letters of his name
Κρόνος, which transcribers, for the sake of dispatch, made always
more convenient for use, but at the same time less perceptible. To
discover in the pretended caduceus of Mercury the initial letter of
his Greek name Στίλβων, one needs only look at the abbreviations in
the oldest manuscripts, where they will find that the Σ was once
written as Ϲ; they will remark also that transcribers, to distinguish
this abbreviation still more from the rest, placed the C thus, ◡; and
added under it the next letter τ. If those to whom this deduction
appears improbable will only take the trouble to look at other Greek
abbreviations, they will find many that differ still further from the
original letters they express than the present character ☿ from the
Ϲ and τ united. It is possible that later transcribers, to whom the
origin of this abbreviation was not known, may have endeavoured to
give it a greater resemblance to the caduceus of Mercury. In short,
it cannot be denied that many other astronomical characters are real
symbols, or a kind of proper hieroglyphics, that represent certain
attributes or circumstances, like the characters of Aries, Leo, and
others quoted by Salmasius.

But how old is the present form of these characters? According to
Scaliger[79], they are of great antiquity, because they are to be
found on very old gems and rings. If the ring No. 104 in Goræus be
old and accurately delineated, this must indeed be true; for some of
these characters may be very plainly distinguished on the beazel[80].
We are told by Wallerius that they were certainly used by the ancient
Egyptians, because Democritus, who resided five years in Egypt, speaks
of them in the plainest terms. I do not know whence Wallerius derived
this information, but it proves nothing. He undoubtedly alludes to
the laughing philosopher of Abdera, who lived about 450 years before
our æra, but no authentic writings of his are now extant. Fabricius
says that we have a Latin translation of a work of his, De Arte Sacra,
Patavii, 1572, which, however, is certainly a production of much later
times. I have it now before me from the library of our university; and
I find that it is not the whole book, but only an abstract, and written
in so extravagant a manner that the deception is not easily discovered.
It contains chemical processes, but nothing of the characters of
metals; which is the case also with the letters of Democritus,
published by Lubbinus[81].

[By way of contrast to the seven metals with which the ancients were
acquainted, we may enumerate those known at the present day. They are
as follows:--

   1. Gold                              ☉
   2. Silver                            ☽
   3. Iron                              ♂
   4. Copper                            ♀
   5. Mercury                           ☿
   6. Lead                              ♄
   7. Tin                               ♃
   8. Antimony     Basil Valentine   1490.
   9. Bismuth      Agricola          1530.
  10. Zinc        (Paracelsus?)      1530.
  11. Arsenic    } Brandt            1733.
  12. Cobalt     }
  13. Platinum     Wood              1741.
  14. Nickel       Cronstedt         1751.
  15. Manganese    Gahn              1774.
  16. Tungsten     D’Elhujart        1781.
  17. Tellurium    Müller            1782.
  18. Molybdenum   Hjelm             1782.
  19. Uranium      Klaproth          1789.
  20. Titanium     Gregor            1791.
  21. Chromium     Vauquelin         1797.
  22. Columbium    Hatchett          1802.
  23. Palladium  } Wollaston         1803.
  24. Rhodium    }
  25. Iridium   }  Tennant           1803.
  26. Osmium    }
  27. Cerium       Hisinger          1804.
  28. Potassium  }
  29. Sodium     }
  30. Barium     } Davy              1807.
  31. Strontium  }
  32. Calcium    }
  33. Cadmium      Stromeyer         1818.
  34. Lithium      Arfwedson         1818.
  35. Silicium   } Berzelius         1824.
  36. Zirconium  }
  37. Aluminum  }
  38. Glucinum  }  Wöhler            1828.
  39. Yttrium   }
  40. Thorium      Berzelius         1829.
  41. Magnesium    Bussy             1829.
  42. Vanadium     Sefström          1830.
  43. Didymium   } Mosander          1842.
  44. Lanthanium }
  45. Erbium    }  Mosander          1843.
  46. Terbium   }
  47. Pelopium   } H. Rose           1845.
  48. Niobium    }
  49. Ruthenium    Claus             1845.
  50. Norium       Svanberg          1845.]


[62] See Goguet, Origines. Bailly, Hist. de l’Astron. Ancienne.

[63] Jablonski, Pantheon Ægypt. 1750, p. 49.

[64] These contradictions are pointed out by Goguet, in a note, p.
370. A better view of them may be found in Hygini Astronom. (ed. Van
Staveren), xlii. p. 496.

[65] Jablonski, Panth. p. 55. Vossius de Idololatria, ii. 34, p. 489.
Bruckeri Histor. Philosoph. i. p. 1055.

[66] Origenes Contra Celsum, lib. vi. 22. I expected to have received
some explanation of this passage from the editors of Origen, and in
those authors who have treated expressly on the religious worship
of the Persians; but I find that they are quoted neither by Hyde;
Philip a Turre, whose Monumenta Veteris Antii is printed in Thesaurus
Antiquitat. et Histor. Italiæ; nor by Banier in his Mythology.

[67] Borrichius arranges the words in the following manner: “Secundam
portam faciunt Jovis, comparantes ei stanni splendorem et mollitiem;
tertiam Veneris æratam et solidam; quartam Martis, est enim laborum
patiens, æque ac ferrum, celebratus hominibus; quintam Mercurii propter
misturam inæqualem ac variam, et quia negotiator est; sextam Lunæ
argenteam; septimam Solis auream.”--Ol. Borrichius De Ortu et Progressu
Chemiæ.” Hafniæ, 1668, 4to, p. 29. Professor Eichhorn reminded me, as
allusive to this subject, of the seven walls of Ecbatana, the capital
of Media, the outermost of which was the lowest, and each of the rest
progressively higher, so that they overtopped each other. Each was of
a particular colour. The outermost was white; the second black; the
third purple; the fourth blue; the fifth red, or rather of an orange
colour; and the summit of the sixth was covered with silver, and that
of the seventh, or innermost, with gold. Such is the account given by
Herodotus, i. 98; and it appears to me not improbable that they may
have had a relation to the seven planets, though nothing is hinted on
that subject by the historian.

[68] Philostrat. Vita Apollonii, iii. 41, p. 130. How was the ring for
Wednesday made? Perhaps it was hollow, and filled with quicksilver.
Gesner, in Commentaria Societat. Scien. Gotting. 1753, iii. p. 78,
thinks that these rings might have been made or cast under certain

[69] Oneirocritica, v. 37.

[70] Isthm. Od. ver. 1. Of the like kind are many passages in
Eustathius on Homer’s Iliad, b. xi., and also the following passages
of Constantinus Manasses, where he describes the creation of the
stars, in his Annales (edit. Meursii, Lugd. 1616), p. 7, and p. 263:
“Saturnus nigricabat, colore plumbeo; Jupiter ut argentum splendebat;
Mars flammeus conspiciebatur; Sol instar auri puri lucebat; (Venus
uti stannum;) Mercurius instar æris rubebat; Luna in morem glaciei
pellucida suam et ipsa lucem emittebat,” &c.

[71] In his Preface to Critias. Platonis Opera; Francof. 1602, fol. p.

[72] It is probable that Ficinus had in view a passage in Olympiodori
Commentar. in Meteora Arist. Ven. 1551, fol. lib. iii. p. 59.

[73] This distribution, which is ascribed to the Platonists, may be
found also in the scholiasts on Pindar, at the beginning of the fifth
Isthmian Ode, p. 459.

[74] Jablonski, Pantheon Ægypt. i. p. 282, 283, 287; and ii. p. 131.
This author makes it the representation of something which cannot be
well named. Kircheri Œdipus Ægypt. t. ii. pars ii. p. 399. Romæ, 1653,

[75] Goguet, ii. pp. 370, 371, considers them as remains of the
original hieroglyphics; but he is of opinion that we received them in
their present form from the Arabians.

[76] Plinianæ Exercitat. in Solinum, p. 874.

[77] Gloss. ad Script. Med. et Infimæ Græcitatis.

[78] In his Annotations on Manilii Astronomicon (in usum Delphini).
Par. 1679, 4to, p. 80.

[79] In his Annotations on Manilii Astron. Strasb. 1665, 4to, p. 460.

[80] In Gorii Thesaurus Gemmarum antiquarum astriferarum, Florent.
1750, 3 vols. fol., I found nothing on this subject. Characters of the
moon and of the signs in the zodiac often occur; but no others are to
be seen, except in tab. 33, where there is a ring, which has on it
the present characters of Mars and Venus. In general the planets are
represented by seven small asterisks, or by six and the character of
the moon. Besides, the antiquity of this gem cannot be ascertained.

[81] See the collection of Greek letters of Eilh. Lubbinus. Commelin.
1601, 8vo.


Zinc is one of those metals which were not known to the Greeks[82],
Romans, or Arabians. This we have reason to conjecture, because it
has not been distinguished by a chemical character like the rest; but
it is fully proved, by our not finding in the works of the ancients
any information that appears even to allude to it. I know but of one
instance where it is supposed to have been found among remains of
antiquity. Grignon pretends that something like it was discovered
in the ruins of the ancient Roman city in Champagne[83]. Such an
unexpected discovery deserved to have been investigated with the
utmost minuteness; but it seems to have been examined only in a very
superficial manner; and as that was the case, it is impossible to
guess what kind of a metal or metallic mixture this author considered
as zinc.

It is not surprising that this metal should have remained so long
unknown, for it has never yet been found in the metallic state. Its
ores are often and in a great degree mixed with foreign ingredients;
and when they are melted, it sublimes in a metallic form, and is found
adhering above to the cool sides of the furnace; but a particular
apparatus is necessary, else the reduced metal partly evaporates,
and is partly oxidized, by which means it appears like an earth, and
exhibits to the eye no traces of metal.

That mixture of zinc and copper called at present brass, tomback,
pinchbeck, princes-metal, &c., and which was first discovered by ores,
abundant in zinc, yielding when melted not pure copper, but brass,
was certainly known to the ancients. Mines that contained ores, from
which this gold-coloured metal was produced, were held in the highest
estimation; when exhausted, the loss of them was regretted; and it
was supposed that the metal would never be again found. In the course
of time it was remarked, no one knows by what accident, that an ore,
which must have been calamine, when added to copper while melting, gave
it a yellow colour. This ore was therefore used, though it was not
known what metal it contained, in the same manner as oxide of cobalt
was employed in colouring glass before mineralogists were acquainted
with that metal itself. Aristotle and Strabo speak of an earth of that
kind, the use of which in making brass has been retained through every
century. Ambrosius, bishop of Milan, in the fourth century; Primasius,
bishop of Adrumetum in Africa, in the sixth; and Isidore, bishop of
Seville, in the seventh, mention an addition by which copper acquired
a gold colour, and which undoubtedly must have been calamine. When in
course of time more calamine was discovered, the ancient method of
procuring brass from copper-ore that contained zinc was abandoned; and
it was found more convenient first to extract from it pure copper, and
then to convert it into brass by the addition of calamine.

Those desirous of inquiring further into the knowledge which the
ancients had of this metal must examine the meaning of the word
_cadmia_, which seems to have had various significations. This task I
have ventured to undertake; and though I cannot clear up everything
that occurs respecting it, I shall lay before my readers what
information I have been able to obtain on the subject, because perhaps
it may amount to somewhat more than is to be found in the works of old
commentators. _Cadmia_ signified, then, in the first place, a mineral
abounding in zinc, as well as any ore combined with it, and also that
zinc-earth which we call calamine. Those who should understand under
it only the latter, would not be able to explain the greater part of
the passages in the ancients where it is mentioned. It is probable
that ore containing zinc acquired this name, because it first produced
brass[84]. When it was afterwards remarked that calamine gave to copper
a yellow colour, the same name was conferred on it also. It appears,
however, that it was seldom found by the ancients[85]; and we must
consider _cadmia_ in general as signifying ore that contained zinc.
Gold-coloured copper or brass was long preferred to pure or common
copper, and thought to be more beautiful the nearer it approached to
the best _aurichalcum_. Brass therefore was supposed to be a more
valuable kind of copper; and on this account Pliny says that _cadmia_
was necessary for procuring copper, that is brass. Copper, as well as
brass, was for a great length of time called _æs_, and it was not till
a late period that mineralogists, in order to distinguish them, gave
the name of _cuprum_ to the former[86]. Pliny says that it was good
when a large quantity of _cadmia_ had been added to it, because it not
only rendered the colour more beautiful, but increased the weight. In
the like manner a quintal of copper in Hungary produces a hundred and
fifty pounds of brass. The same author remarks also that the _cadmia_
(_fossilis_) was not used in medicine: this however is to be understood
only of the raw ore, for some physicians prepared oxide of zinc from
ore that contained zinc, as he afterwards tells us; and Galen extols
the calamine found in Cyprus on account of its superior effects,
because, perhaps, the oxide could be obtained from it much purer.

In the second place, _cadmia_, among the ancients, was what we call
(_ofenbruch_) furnace-calamine, or what in melting ore that contains
zinc, or in making brass, falls to the bottom of the furnace, and
which consists of more or less calcined zinc. As this furnace-calamine
assumes various appearances, according to the manner of melting, and
according to many other circumstances that in part cannot be defined,
and as the ancients comprehend all its varieties under the general
name of _cadmia_, and give to each variety, according to its form,
consistence and colour, a particular name also, a confusion of names
has hence arisen which cannot now be cleared up, especially as it is
not thought worth while to distinguish all its incidental variations.
Our physicians esteem only the pure oxide of zinc; and as they know
how to obtain it, they are not under the necessity of using impure
furnace-calamine. In our melting-houses it is employed, without much
nicety in the choice, for making zinc or brass[87].

What here appears to me most singular is, that the ancients should have
given the same names to furnace-calamine as they gave to ores that
contained zinc. The affinity of these substances they could conjecture
only from their effects, or perhaps they were induced to do so from
observing that furnace-calamine was not produced but when the different
kinds of _cadmia_, as they were called, were melted; that is, when
yellow and not red copper was obtained. _Ofenbruch_ got the name of
furnace-calamine at Rammelsberg, when it was observed that it could be
employed instead of native calamine for making brass[88]. Were the
ancients then in any measure acquainted with this use of it? Galen
and Dioscorides speak only of its use in medicine, and say nothing of
its being employed in the preparation of brass. The Arabian writers,
particularly the translators of the Greek physicians, speak in a much
clearer manner of the preparation of brass; but the appellations which
they employ are so indeterminate in their signification, that an
answer to the above question cannot be deduced from them. _Climia_,
which some pronounce _calimia_ and from which the modern Greeks made
_kelimia_, and the Latins _lapis calaminaris_, seems to have entirely
the same meaning as _cadmia_. _Tutia_, which occurs first in the
eleventh century, in Avicenna, and which the Greeks write _toutia_,
or perhaps more properly _thouthia_, signifies sometimes _pompholyx_;
but in common it seems to express also minerals that contain zinc, and
likewise furnace-calamine[89]. Could it be proved that the _tutia_
of the Arabs and later Greeks was furnace-calamine, or the _tutia_
of our druggists, the oldest account with which I am acquainted of
furnace-calamine, employed in making brass, would occur in Zosimus,
who, according to every appearance, lived in the fifth century[90].
This author tells us, that in order to make brass, Cyprus copper must
be melted, and pounded _tutia_ must be strewed over it. Salmasius
suspects that Zosimus here means only calamine: but however this may
be, his receipt has been retained till the present time in books on the
arts; for these recommend not calamine, but _tutia_[91].

We can with more certainty affirm that this use of furnace-calamine, in
making brass, was known to Albertus Magnus in the thirteenth century;
for he says, first, that yellow copper was made by the addition of
calamine, which he calls _lapis calaminaris_. He tells us afterwards,
that Hermes taught how to give a gold colour to copper by throwing
pounded _tutia_ into the melted metal. _Tutia_, says he, which is
used in the transmutation of metals, is not a native mineral, but
an artificial mixture, produced in the furnace when copper-ore is
melted; and he advises glass-gall to be strewed over the ore, otherwise
calamine and _tutia_ will lose their force in the fire[92]. It would
appear that the last-mentioned name, in the thirteenth century,
signified only furnace-calamine, and that its use for making brass was
at that period known.

For many centuries, however, the _ofenbruch_ (furnace-calamine), with
which, as we are told, the furnaces at Rammelsberg overflowed, was
thrown aside as useless, till at length, in the middle of the sixteenth
century, Erasmus Ebener first showed that it might be used instead
of native calamine for making brass. This Ebener, descended from the
noble family of that name at Nuremberg, was a man of great learning,
and an able statesman. He was employed by his native city, and by
foreign princes, on occasions of the highest importance. In 1569 he
was privy-counsellor to Julius duke of Brunswick, and died in 1577,
at Helmstadt, where he was buried. I regret much that I can give no
further account of this important discovery; the time even when it was
made is not known with certainty. Lœhneyss says that it was sixty years
before the period when he wrote. But at what period did he write? The
oldest edition, with which I am acquainted, of his treatise on mines,
is of the year 1617, so that this discovery would fall about the year
1557[93]. Calvör caused to be printed an old account of the Rammelsberg
mines, which was said to have been published in 1565. According to that
work, Ebener made the above-mentioned observation at Nuremberg, about
seventeen years before, that is, about the year 1548. Schluter assigns
as the period about 1550, and Honemann about 1559. We may therefore
very safely place it in the middle of the sixteenth century, and
probably the discovery happened in 1553, at which time Ebener was sent
to duke Henry, with whom he continued a long time, as we are expressly
told by Doppelmayer. This use of calamine refuse induced the managers
of the profitable brass-works in the Harz forest to pick up carefully
that which before had been thrown aside. Duke Julius, who endeavoured
to improve every branch of manufacture, and particularly what related
to metallurgy, and who, agreeably to the then prevailing mode of
princes, suffered himself to be duped with the hopes of making gold,
improved the brass-works at Buntheim, below Harzburg, and by these
means brought a great revenue to the electoral treasury.

Another production of zinc, artificial white vitriol, was also long
prepared, used and employed in commerce before it was known that it was
procured from this metal. That it was not known before the middle of
the sixteenth century, and that it was first made at Rammelsberg, may
with confidence be affirmed. Schluter ascribes the invention of it to
duke Julius, and places it in the year 1570: but it must be somewhat
older than the above-quoted account of Rammelsberg; for the author,
who wrote about 1565[94], relates, that in his time one citizen only,
whom he calls Henni Balder, boiled white vitriol; and it appears that
this person kept the process a secret. That the invention was not then
new, is evident from his adding, that what its effects might be in
medicine had not been examined; but that its use in making eye-water
had been known almost as early as the time when it was discovered. This
agrees with another account, according to which the method of boiling
white vitriol was found out at the time when Christopher Sander, whose
service to the Harz is well-known, was tithe-gatherer. Honemann says
that Sander was tithe-gatherer at the mines of the Upper Harz before
the year 1564, but that in this year he was principal tithe-gatherer
and director of the mines and melting-houses at Goslar. Sander himself,
in a paper dated August 3, 1575, seems to ascribe the invention of
white vitriol to duke Julius[95].

At first this salt was called _Erzalaun_, a name occasioned by its
likeness to alum, but afterwards it was more frequently known by those
of _Gallitzenstein_, _Golitzenstein_, and _Calitzenstein_. The latter
names however appear to be older than white vitriol itself; as we
find that green vitriol, even before the year 1565, was called green
_Gallitzenstein_. May not the word be derived from _gallæ_; because it
is probable that vitriol and galls were for a long time the principal
articles used for making ink and in dyeing? I am of opinion that the
white vitriol, which is produced in the mines of Rammelsberg in the
form of icicles, gave rise to the discovery and manufacture of this
salt. The former, so early as the year 1565, was called white native
vitriol, or white _Gogkelgut_, and was packed up in casks, and in that
manner transported for sale[96]. I shall not here enter into the old
conjectures respecting the origin and component parts of this vitriol;
but it deserves to be remarked, that Henkel and Neumann[97] observed
in it a mixture of zinc, by which Brandt, a member of the Swedish
council of mines, was led to prove, that, when pure, it consists of
vitriolic acid and oxide of zinc; and this was afterwards confirmed by

I come now, in the last place, to the history of this metal, which,
when furnace-calamine was used, could not remain long unobserved, as
it is sometimes found amongst it uncalcined in metallic drops. It is
worthy of remark, that Albertus Magnus, who first described the use
of furnace-calamine in making brass, is the oldest author in whose
works mention is made of zinc. He calls it _marchasita aurea_. This
was properly a stone, the metallic particles of which were so entirely
sublimated by fire, that nothing but useless ashes remained behind.
It contained fixed quicksilver, communicated a colour to metals, on
which account it was well known to the alchemists, burned in the fire,
and was at length entirely consumed. It was found in various parts,
but that at Goslar was the best, because the copper it contained
seemed to have in it a mixture of gold. To give this copper however
a still greater resemblance to gold, some tin was added to it, by
which means it became more brittle. This marchasita also rendered
copper white as silver. Thus far Albertus. It obtained without doubt
the name of _marchasita aurea_, because zinc communicates a yellow
colour to copper; and for the same reason the Greeks and the Arabians
called _cadmia_ golden or _aurea_. But how could Albertus say that
marchasite made copper white? Did he commit a mistake, and mean tin?
To me this appears not probable, as at one time he seems to call it
_argentea_. I imagine that he knew that copper, when mixed with as much
zinc as possible, that is, according to Scheffer, eighty-nine pounds
to a hundred, became white; and it appears that by this he wished to
establish its affinity with quicksilver.

The next author who gives an intelligible account of this metal is
Theophrastus Paracelsus, who died in 1541. I do not however imagine
that it was forgotten in this long interval, at least by those who were
called alchemists. I am rather of opinion, that on account of the great
hopes which it gave them by the colouring of copper, they described it
purposely in an obscure manner, and concealed it under other names,
so that it was not discovered in their works. There are few who would
have patience to wade through these, and the few who could do so, turn
their attention to objects of greater importance than those which
occupy mine. Gold and silver excepted, there is no metal which has had
formerly so many and so wonderful names as zinc[99]. For this reason,
chemists long believed that zinc was not a distinct metal, but only a
variety of tin or bismuth; and with these perhaps it may hence have
been often confounded.

The name zinc occurs first in Paracelsus. He expressly calls it a
distinct metal, the nature of which was not sufficiently known; which
could be cast, but was not malleable, and which was produced only in
Carinthia. Was he then unacquainted with the zinc of Goslar, which was
known at an earlier period to Albertus Magnus[100]? George Agricola,
who wrote about the year 1550, speaks however of the Goslar zinc,
but he calls it _liquor candidus_, and in German _conterfey_[101].
Mathesius, who published his sermons in 1562, says, “at Freyberg there
is red and white zinc.” Perhaps he did not mean the metal, but minerals
that contained zinc. George Fabricius, who died in 1571, conjectures
that _stibium_ is what the miners call _cincum_, which can be melted,
but not hammered.

It is seen by these imperfect accounts that this metal must have been
scarce, even in the middle of the sixteenth century, and that it was
not in the collection of Agricola, which was considerable for that
period. Libavius, who died in 1616, mentions it several times, but he
regrets, in one of his letters, that he had not been able to procure
any of it[102]. Was this owing to the prohibition of duke Julius, by
which it was forbidden to be sold? This prohibition is quoted by Pott
from Jungii Mineralogia, with which I am unacquainted; but as Pott has
already, by his unintelligible quotations, made me spend many hours to
no purpose, I shall not waste more in searching for it. The prohibition
alluded to is mentioned neither by Rehtmeier nor by any other author.
The foolish taste for alchemy, which prevailed then at the duke’s
court, makes it not altogether improbable that one was issued[103];
and if that was really the case, it was occasioned not so much by any
dread of this metal being misused, as Pott thinks, but by the high
hopes which were entertained of its utility in making gold. The first
accurate and certain account of the method of procuring zinc at Goslar,
is, as far as I know, given by Lœhneyss, in 1617, though he considers
it to be the same as bismuth[104]. Joh. Schrœder of Westphalia, who
died in 1664, calls it _marcasita pallida_.

The first person who purposely procured this metal from calamine, by
the addition of some inflammable substance, was undoubtedly Henkel, who
gave an account of his success in the year 1741, though he concealed
the whole process[105]. After him, Dr. Isaac Lawson, a Scotsman, seems
to have made experiments which proved the possibility of obtaining
zinc in this manner on a large scale; and in 1737 Henkel heard that it
was then manufactured in England with great advantage. Of this Lawson
I know nothing more than what is related by Dr. Watson[106]. Anthony
von Swab, member of the Swedish council of mines, procured this metal
afterwards from calamine by distillation, in 1742; as did Marggraf in
1746, who appears however not to have been acquainted with the Swedish
experiment. In the year 1743, one Champion established zinc works at
Bristol, which were continued by his successor James Emerson, who
established works of the like kind at Henham, in the neighbourhood.
The manner in which the metal was procured, has been described by Dr.
Watson in his Chemical Essays.

The greater part of this metal, used in Europe, was undoubtedly brought
from the East Indies. The Commercial Company in the Netherlands,
between the years 1775 and 1779, caused to be sold, on their account,
above 943,081 pounds of it[107]. In the year 1780, the chamber of
Rotterdam alone sold 28,000 pounds; and I find, by printed catalogues,
that the other chambers, at that period, had not any of it in their
possession. If the account given by Raynal be true, the Dutch East
India Company purchased annually, at Palimbang, a million and a half
of pounds[108]. In 1781, the Danish Company at Copenhagen purchased
153,953 pounds of tutenage, which had been carried thither in two
vessels, at the rate of from four and one-eighth to four and a quarter
schillings Lubec per pound. It is probable that the English and Swedes
import this article also. It would be of some consequence if one could
learn in what part of India, when, and in what manner this metal was
first procured, and in what year it was first carried thence to Europe.
According to the scanty information which we have on the subject, it
comes from China, Bengal, Malacca[109], and the Malabar coast, from
which copper and tin are also imported. In the oldest bills of lading
of ships belonging to the Netherlands I find no mention of zinc; but it
is possible that it may be comprehended under the name of Indian tin;
for so it was at first called. Savot, who died about the year 1640,
relates, on the authority of a contemporary writer[110], that some
years before the Dutch had taken from the Portuguese a ship laden with
this metal, which was sold under the name of _speautre_. It is probable
therefore that it was brought to Europe so early as the beginning of
the seventeenth century. Indian tin is mentioned by Boyle.

It is probable that this metal was discovered in India before anything
of the European zinc had been known in that country; but we are still
less acquainted with the cause of the discovery than with the method of
procuring the metal. We are told that an Englishman, who, in the above
century, went to India, in order to discover the process used there,
returned with an account that it was obtained by distillation _ver

Respecting the origin of the different names of this metal, I can
offer very little. _Conterfey_ signified formerly every kind of metal
made in imitation of gold[111]. Frisch says it was called _zink_, from
which was formed first _zinetum_, and afterwards _zincum_, because
the furnace-calamine assumes the figure of (_zinken_ or _zacken_)
nails or spikes; but it is to be remarked that these names do not
occur before the discovery of this metal, though _ofenbruch_ was known
long before. Fulda speaks of the Anglo-Saxon _sin_, _zink_, which he
translates _obryzum_. _Spiauter_, _speauter_, and _spialter_, from
which Boyle made _speltrum_, and also _tutaneg_ or _tuttanego_, came
to us from India with the commodity. Under the last-mentioned name
is sometimes comprehended a mixture of tin and bismuth. _Calaem_ is
also an Indian appellation given to this metal, and has a considerable
likeness to calamine; but I am of opinion with Salmasius that the
latter is not derived from the former, as _lapis calaminaris_ occurs
in the thirteenth century, and _calaem_ was first brought to us by the
Portuguese from India.

[Most of the zinc works in this country are situated in the
neighbourhood of Birmingham and Bristol; a few furnaces also exist
in the neighbourhood of Sheffield, among the coal-pits surrounding
that town; there is also one at Maestag in Glamorganshire. The ores
worked at Bristol and Birmingham are principally obtained from the
Mendip-hills and Flintshire; those at Sheffield from Alston Moor. The
greater part however of the zinc used in this country is imported in
ingots and plates from Silesia, by way of Hamburg, Antwerp, Dantzic,
&c. We receive annually from 100,000 to 170,000 cwts. from Germany; of
this quantity, about 80,000 cwt. are entered for home consumption, and
the rest is exported for India.

From its moderate price and the ease with which it can be worked,
zinc is now extensively used for making water-cisterns, baths, pipes,
covering of roofs, and a great many architectural purposes. It has also
of late been employed in the curious art of transferring printing,
known under the name of _Zincography_, but owing to the ease with
which this metal becomes coated with a film of oxide or carbonate,
by exposure to the air, the plates cannot be preserved for any great
length of time.]


[82] [It has been observed by an anonymous reviewer (British and
Foreign Medical Review, vol. viii. p. 361) that a passage in Strabo
authorises the belief that the ancients were acquainted with this metal
in its separate state, and that it is the _false silver_, ψευδάργυρον,
of that ancient geographer.]

[83] Bulletin des fouilles d’une ville Romaine, p. 11.

[84] Plin. lib. xxxiv. sect. 22.

[85] Zinc-ore, besides being mentioned by Aristotle and Strabo, is
mentioned by Galen, De Simplic. Medicam. Facultatibus, lib. ix. p. 142.
As he found no furnace-calamine when he resided in Cyprus, he procured
from the overseer of the mines some raw _cadmia_, which had been found
in the mountains and rivulets, and which certainly must have been

[86] At first it was called _æs cyprium_, but in the course of time only
_cyprium_; from which was at length formed _cuprum_. It cannot however
be ascertained at what periods these appellations were common. The
epithet _cupreus_ occurs in manuscripts of Pliny and Palladius; but one
cannot say whether later transcribers may not have changed _cyprius_
into _cupreus_, with which they were perhaps better acquainted. The
oldest writer who uses the word _cuprum_ is Spartian; who says, in
the Life of Caracalla, “cancelli ex ære vel cupro.” But may not the
last word have been added to the text as a gloss? Pliny, book xxxvi.
26, says, “Addito cyprio et nitro;” which Isidore, xvi. 15, p. 393,
expresses by the words _adjecto cupro et nitro_. The superiority of the
Cyprian copper gave occasion to this appellation; as the best iron or
steel was called _chalybs_, from the _Chalybes_ (a people of Galatia)
who prepared the finest, and carried on the greatest trade with it.
But in what did the superiority of this Cyprian copper consist? In its
purity, or in its colour, which approached near to that of gold? That
island produced a great deal of ore which contained zinc, and abounded
also with calamine. Pliny says, “in Cypro prima fuit æris inventio.”
Red copper however had been known there from the earliest periods, so
that the honour of its invention must be allowed to that island without
any contradiction; and Pliny must undoubtedly allude in the above
passage to some particular kind.

[87] Dioscorides, book v. c. 84, first mentions some sorts of _cadmia_,
βοτρυίτις, πλακωτὴ and ὀστρακῖτις. These, according to Galen and
Pliny, are undoubtedly certain kinds of (_ofenbruch_) furnace-calamine;
but Salmasius in his book De Homonymis, p. 230, and Sarracen in his
Annotations, p. 113, are of opinion that Dioscorides considered them
as native kinds of _cadmia_, or minerals abundant in zinc. I cannot
however allow myself to believe that Dioscorides, who was so careful,
and who immediately after describes the artificial preparation of
_cadmia_ clearly and properly, should have thus erred. Besides, every
kind of _ofenbruch_ (furnace-calamine) must have discovered its origin
from fire to such a good judge of minerals as Dioscorides. I am
convinced that he, as well as Galen and Pliny, considered the above
kinds as furnace-calamine.

Pompholyx was the name of the white flowers of zinc which Dioscorides,
v. 85, p. 352, compares to wool, and which by chemists were formerly
called _lana philosophica_. The ancients collected these flowers when
produced by the melting of zinc-ore; but they obtained them also by
an apparatus which is fully described by Dioscorides and Galen, and
which approaches near to that used for collecting arsenic in the poison
melting-houses, as they are usually called.

[88] This however I will not with certainty affirm. As _calmey_ and
_galmey_ have probably taken their rise from _cadmia_ or _calimia_, and
as both these words signified proper calamine, as well as _ofenbruch_,
the latter, perhaps, may at an earlier period have signified

[89] Proofs respecting this subject may be found in Salmasius De

[90] It is not certainly known when this Zosimus Panopolitanus lived.
His works, which must contain abundance of information respecting the
history of chemistry, have never yet been printed. The greater part
of them were preserved in the king’s library at Paris. The receipt to
which I allude has been inserted by Salmasius, p. 237.

[91] We read in Observations sur la Physique, vi. p. 255, that for many
years _tutia_ has been collected and sold in the bishopric of Liege.
Lehmann endeavours to show that it was made by the Jews in Poland.
Novi Comment. Acad. Petrop. xii. p. 381. As the use of tutia [which is
an impure oxide of zinc found in the chimneys of the furnaces in which
zinc-ores are roasted, or in which zinciferous lead-ores are smelted]
has been almost abandoned, because physicians prefer pure flowers of
zinc, and because those who make pinchbeck employ purified zinc, it is
probable that this substance will soon be entirely neglected.

[92] De Mineralibus. Coloniæ, 1569, 12mo, p. 350, lib. iv. cap. 5; and
lib. v. cap. 7, p. 388.

[93] The other edition was printed at Stockholm and Hamburg, by
Liebezeit, and is the same as that mentioned by H. Gatterer, in
Anleitung den Harz zu bereisen, i. p. 313, and ii. p. 13.

[94] “White vitriol also is made at Goslar, but by one citizen only,
named Henni Balder. It is not procured by the evaporation of copper
like other vitriol; but when large quantities of ore are roasted in
the furnaces, a red substance is from time to time collected on the
refuse of the ore, and found in some places half an ell thick. This
substance, which is saltish, is formed into a lye, and boiled in small
leaden pans. The rest of the process I do not know, but I observed that
it crystallizes like saltpetre, but is stronger and whiter. It is also
cast into small cakes about the thickness of one’s hand. This vitriol
is employed by the leather-dressers, and may be used for many things
instead of alum; but it cannot be used in dressing white skins, because
it makes them yellowish.”

[95] Bruckmann, ii. p. 446. [Schwartze, in his Pharm. Tabell. 2nd edit.
p. 779, states that white vitriol was known towards the end of the
thirteenth or at the commencement of the fourteenth century.]

[96] Calvor, Historische Nachricht, p. 199 and 200. Properly it is
written and pronounced _jöckel_. It is very remarkable that in Iceland
this word at present signifies icicles.

[97] Chemie, von Kessel, iv. 2, p. 832, where may be found the old
opinions on this subject.

[98] Brandt, in Acta Upsaliens. 1735. Hellot, in Mémoires de l’Acad.
des Sciences, Paris, 1735, p. 29. [Sulphate of zinc or white vitriol
is at present manufactured in considerable quantity for pharmaceutical
purposes, and for the calico-printer.]

[99] A great many may be found collected in Fuchs, Geschichte des
Zinks. Erfurt, 1778, 8vo.

[100] Paracelsi Opera. Strasb. 1616, fol. I shall here transcribe the
principal passage. Of zinc:--There is another metal, zinc, which is in
general unknown. It is a distinct metal of a different origin, though
adulterated with many other metals. It can be melted, for it consists
of three fluid principles, but it is not malleable. In its colour it is
unlike all others, and does not grow in the same manner; but with its
_ultima materia_ I am as yet unacquainted, for it is almost as strange
in its properties as _argentum vivum_. It admits of no mixture, will
not bear the _fabricationes_ of other metals, but keeps itself entirely
to itself.

[101] De Re Metallica, lib. ix. p. 329.

[102] In J. Hornung’s Cista Medica. Lipsiæ.

[103] How much duke Julius, who in other respects did great service to
his country, suffered himself to be duped by the art of making gold,
appears from an anecdote given by Rehtmeier, p. 1016. Of this anecdote
I received from M. Ribbentrop an old account in manuscript, which one
cannot read without astonishment. There is still shown, at the castle
of Wolfenbuttle, an iron stool, on which the impostor, Anna Maria
Zieglerinn, named Schluter Ilsche, was burnt, February 5, 1575.

[104] Page 83:--“When the people at the melting-houses are employed
in melting, there is formed under the furnace, in the crevices of the
wall, among the stones where it is not well plastered, a metal which is
called zinc or _conterfeht_; and when the wall is scraped, the metal
falls down into a trough placed to receive it. This metal has a great
resemblance to tin, but it is harder and less malleable, and rings like
a small bell. It could be made also, if people would give themselves
the trouble; but it is not much valued, and the servants and workmen
only collect it when they are promised drink-money. They however scrape
off more of it at one time than at another; for sometimes they collect
two pounds, but at others not above two ounces. This metal, by itself,
is of no use, as, like bismuth, it is not malleable; but when mixed
with tin, it renders it harder and more beautiful, like the English
tin. This zinc or bismuth is in great request among the alchemists.”

[105] Kieshistorie, p. 571, and particularly p. 721.

[106] Pott refers to Lawson’s Dissert. de Nihilo, and quotes some
words from it; but I cannot find it; nor am I surprised at this, as it
was not known to Dr. Watson.--See Chemical Essays, iv. p. 34. Pryce,
in Mineral. Cornub., p. 49, says, “The late Dr. J. Lawson, observing
that the flowers of _lapis calaminaris_ were the same as those of
zinc, and that its effects on copper were also the same with that
semi-metal, never remitted his endeavours till he found the method of
separating pure zinc from that ore.” The same account is given in the
supplement to Chambers’s Dictionary, 1753, art. _calm._ and _zinc_;
and in Campbell’s Political Survey of Britain, ii. p. 35. The latter
however adds, that Lawson died too early to derive any benefit from his

[107] Ricards Handbuch der Kaufleute, i. p. 57.

[108] Raynal says that the company purchase it at the rate of
twenty-eight florins three-quarters per hundred weight, and that this
price is moderate. At Amsterdam, however, the price was commonly
from seventeen to eighteen florins banco. According to a catalogue
which I have in my possession, the price, on the 9th of May, 1788,
was seventeen florins, and on the 22nd of January, 1781, it was only

[109] Linschoten, b. ii. c. 17. The author calls it _calaem_, the name
used in the country. It is a kind of tin.

[110] De Nummis Antiquis; in Grævii Thes. Antiq. Rom. xi. p. 1195.

[111] Matthesius, Pred. v. p. 250.--“_Conterfeil_ is a metal of little
value, formed by additions and colouring substances, so that it
resembles gold or silver, as an image, or anything counterfeited, does
its archetype. Thus copper is coloured by calamine and other mixtures,
in such a manner that it appears to be pure gold.” In the police
ordinance issued at Strasburg in 1628, young women are forbidden to
wear gold or silver, or any _conterfaite_, and everything that might
have the appearance of gold or silver.


So obscure is the ichthyology of the ancients, or so little care has
been taken to explain it, that the question whether our carp were known
to Aristotle, Pliny, and their contemporaries, cannot with any great
degree of probability be determined. Besides, that subject is attended
with much greater difficulties than the natural history of quadrupeds.
Among four-footed animals there is a greater variety in their bodily
conformation, which at any rate strikes the eye more, and can be more
easily described than that of fishes, which in general are so like in
shape, that an experienced systematic naturalist finds it sometimes
difficult to determine the characters of the genera and species. It is
not surprising therefore that the simple descriptions of the ancients,
or rather the short accounts which they give us of fish, do not afford
information sufficient to enable us to distinguish with accuracy the
different kinds. Quadrupeds may terrify us by their ferocity, or
endeavour to avoid us by shyness and craft; but it is still possible to
observe their sexes, their age, and their habits, and to remark many
things that are common to one or only a few species. Fishes, on the
other hand, live in an element in which we cannot approach them, and
which for the most part conceals them from our observation. The chase,
since the earliest periods, and in modern times more than formerly,
has been the employment of idle persons, who bestow upon it greater
attention the fewer those objects are which can attract their curiosity
or employ their minds: but fishing has almost always been the laborious
occupation of poor people, who have no time to make observations,
as they are obliged to follow it in order to find a subsistence;
and mankind in general seldom see fish except on their tables or in
collections of natural history. On this account those properties of
fish by which their species could be determined, were less known. The
descriptions of four-footed animals which have been handed down to us
from the time of the Greek and Roman writers, give us, at any rate,
some information; but from those of fishes, which are more uncommon,
we can scarcely derive any; unless one were as acute or easy of belief
as many collectors of petrefactions, who imagine that they can
distinguish each species of fish in the impressions which they see in
stones. More however might be done towards elucidating the ichthyology
of the ancients than has hitherto been attempted. It would be necessary
only to make a beginning by collecting the species and names which
can with certainty be determined, together with the authorities, and
separating them from the rest; and an abstract should be formed of what
is said in the ancients respecting the unknown species, or whatever
may in any measure serve to make us acquainted with them; but mere
conjectures ought never to be given as proofs, nor ought the opinions
of commentators, or the explanations of dictionaries to be adopted
without sufficient grounds. If these are to be believed without further
examination, the names _cyprini_ and _lepidoti_ must be considered as
those of carp; and the proposed question would be soon answered: but
that opinion has scarcely probability in its favour when one searches
after proofs.

I shall not here lay before the reader everything completely that the
ancients have said respecting the _cyprini_, and which is in part so
corrupted by transcribers, that no certain meaning can be drawn from
it. Were I to treat of the ichthyology of the ancients, it might be
necessary; but as that is not the case, I shall only quote such parts
of it as have been employed by Rondelet and others to prove that they
were our carp. Their principal grounds seem to be, that among all the
fish of the ancients no others occur which can with any probability be
considered as carp. If the _cyprini_ therefore were not carp, these
must not have been named by the ancients; and that undoubtedly will not
readily be admitted. It is well known what a high value the ancients,
particularly the Orientals, set upon fish, of which they had a great
variety; and it appears that they preferred them to all dishes prepared
from four-footed animals or fowls. Fish seem to have been the choicest
delicacies of voluptuaries, and in that respect they are oftener
mentioned by historians than fowls. Physicians also, to whom the most
sumptuous tables have in all ages been of the greatest benefit, speak
of fish oftener in their writings than of dishes made of the flesh of
other animals. In the ancient cookery, the number of dishes prepared
from fish is indeed great in comparison of those dressed from fowls.
_Turdi_ and _attagines_ are much praised; but had pheasants, snipes,
partridges, and others, been as much esteemed then as they are now,
these would not have been forgotten, or would have occurred oftener.
Fish at present form the principal food in Greece, as well as at
Constantinople, and a great abundance and variety of them may be found
there in the markets; but fowls which have been caught or shot are
seldom exposed for sale. When the Egyptian and Greek monks wished
to distinguish themselves by abstinence and temperance, they denied
themselves all kinds of fish, as the richest delicacies, in the same
manner as pretended devotees among the Europeans deny themselves flesh.
But though all this may be true, it does not prove that our carp must
occur in the writings of the ancients. The Roman voluptuaries, indeed,
left very little untried that was likely to gratify their appetite; but
it was impossible for them to make a trial of everything. There may
have been particular reasons which prevented them from meeting with
carp; and who will venture to affirm that all the knowledge of the
ancients must be contained in those few of their writings which have
been preserved to us by accidents?

If one, freed from these prejudices, should now ask why the _cyprinus_
must be our carp, the answer will be, because what we read of the
tongue and scales of the _cyprini_ cannot be applied with so much
propriety to any species of fish as to the _Cyprinus carpio_ of
Linnæus. Aristotle informs us that the _cyprini_ had properly no
tongue, but that their soft fleshy palate might very readily be taken
for one[112]. Athenæus affirms that they had a tongue, but that it
lay in the upper part of the mouth or palate; and in confirmation of
this he refers to Aristotle[113]. This assertion of Athenæus however
is very dubious; for these words are not to be found in the works of
Aristotle which have been preserved, though the same meaning might be
indeed forced, in case of necessity, from the passage first quoted. It
is possible that Athenæus, as Casaubon[114] has already conjectured,
may here, as well as in other parts, allude to some book of Aristotle
not now extant. Besides, he calls the fish of which he speaks, not
_cyprinus_, but _cyprianus_; and a question therefore arises, whether
he may not have meant some other kind. This much at any rate appears
certain from the passage of Aristotle, that the _cyprinus_ had a thick
fleshy palate; and that indeed is the case with our carp, so that the
head, on account of the delicacy and agreeable taste of the palate, is
reckoned the most relishing part. By that circumstance however nothing
is proved; as it is not peculiar to carp alone, but common to every
species of the same family, such as the bream, tench, &c. Fish of this
kind, says Bloch, have properly no tongue; that which appears to be
one is merely a cartilaginous substance which projects through those
band-like parts that enclose it on each side. This proof would have
more weight, did we find it related, that in the time of Aristotle,
the tongue was considered as an exquisite morsel: but that is not
mentioned; and H. Krunitz is mistaken, when he says that Heliogabalus,
to satisfy his luxurious appetite, was induced to try a fricassee of
the tongues of carp: it consisted only of the tongues of peacocks and
nightingales[115]. Had the ancients really used carp on their tables,
we must have ascribed to them the discovery of these delicious fish.

The other proof which is brought from the scales consists in what is
said by Dorion, in Athenæus[116], that the _cyprianus_ was called also
by some _lepidotus_, or scaly. As nearly all fish have scales, the
scales of this species must have been extremely large, as they got that
name by way of eminence; and it must be indeed allowed, that the above
epithet would suit our carp exceedingly well, as their scales are very
large. But this circumstance alone proves nothing, as the _Mullus_
and _Mugil_ have still larger scales; and to the first genus belonged
one of the fish most esteemed by the ancients[117]. Strabo mentions
the _lepidotus_ among the sacred fish of the Nile; but whether it be
the same as that of which Dorion speaks, cannot be determined. It is
certain that the Nile contains carp still; for Norden saw them caught
at the waterfall near Essuane, which is the ancient Syene. Did we know
that the modern Greeks at present call carp _cyprini_, this would prove
more; for it is an undoubted fact that the ancient names have for the
most part been retained in Greece. We are assured by Massarius[118],
that the Greeks still use the name _cyprinus_; but Gyllius says that
it is employed only by a few: and this is confirmed by Bellon, who
mentions all the names of carp which he heard in Greece, and which
are entirely different from the ancient[119]; but he adds, that carp
in Ætolia are still called _cyprini_. Both the before-mentioned
circumstances respecting the _cyprini_ agree extremely well with our
carp; but as they will suit other kinds equally well, they afford no
complete proof, but only a probability which amounts to this, that
among the large-scaled fish, carp in particular have a fleshy palate;
and it is readily admitted that the ancients were acquainted with all
kinds, and chose names for them with more foundation than is done at

In opposition to this probability it may be said that Oppian and Pliny
reckon the _cyprini_ among the sea-fish, to which kind our carp do not
belong. This reply however, which some have indeed made, is not of
great weight. In the first place, both these writers seem to have been
in an error; for what Pliny says of the _cyprini_ is evidently taken
from Aristotle, and the latter does not tell us that these fish live
in the sea, but rather the contrary. The Roman author, as Dalechamp
remarks, added the words _in mari_, if they were not added by some
transcriber. Oppian as a poet does not always adhere strictly to truth;
and he makes more of the freshwater fish of Aristotle to be inhabitants
of the sea. In the second place, I consider the distinction made
between sea-fish, freshwater fish and those kept in ponds, to be not
always very certain or well founded. Who knows whether the greater part
of the last may not have been originally sea-fish? This is the more
probable in regard to carp, as Professor Foster says that carp are
sometimes caught in the harbour at Dantzic[120].

In order to answer the question here proposed, another point may be
considered. As all nations at present give these fish the same name,
it is probable that it was brought with them from that country where
they were first found, and from which they were procured. Cassiodorus,
who lived in the sixth century, is the oldest author as yet known in
whom that name has been observed[121]. In a passage where he speaks
of the most delicate and costly fish, which at that time were sent
to the tables of princes, he says, “Among these is the _carpa_,
which is produced in the Danube.” In the earliest Latin translation
of Aristotle, the word _cyprinus_, as Camus says, is expressed by
_carpra_. In the thirteenth century this fish was called by Vincentius
de Beauvais[122] _carpera_, and by Cæsarius _carpo_; and it is highly
probable that both these names allude to our carp. By the above passage
of Cassiodorus, the opinion that these fish were the _cyprini_ of the
ancients obtains a new, but at the same time a very feeble proof;
for the _cyprinus_ was found also in the Danube, as we learn from
Ælian[123], who among the fish of the Ister, mentions black _cyprini_;
and these, according to the conjecture of Professor Schneider, were
the black fish of the Danube which Pliny considers as unhealthful or
poisonous, and like which there were some in Armenia. Our carp indeed
are not poisonous, but Pliny alludes to a particular variety, and what
he says was only report, to which something must have given rise,
as also to the idea of carp with a death’s head, and the head of a
pug-dog, as some have been represented by writers of the sixteenth
century. The _carpo_ of Cæsarius appears to have been our carp, because
its scales had a very great resemblance to those of the latter; for we
are told in the work already quoted, that the devil, once indulging
in a frolic, appeared in a coat of mail, and had scales like the fish
_carpo_. The _carpera_ of Vincent de Beauvais is still less doubtful,
as the same craft in avoiding rakes and nets is ascribed to that fish
as is known to be employed by our carp. Sometimes they thrust their
heads into the mud and suffer the net to pass over them; and sometimes
they join the head and tail together, and separating them suddenly,
throw themselves towards the surface of the water, and springing often
four or five feet above the net, make their escape.

But whence did this name arise? The origin assigned by Vincentius,
or the anonymous author of the lost books De Natura Rerum, like
another mentioned in ridicule by Gesner, is too silly to be repeated.
More learned at any rate is the derivation of Menage, who traces it
from _cyprinus_, which was afterwards transformed into _cuprinus_,
_cuprius_, _cuprus_, _cupra_, _curpa_, and lastly into _carpa_. For my
part, I am more inclined to derive it from a dialect which was spoken
on the banks of the Danube, and to believe that it was brought with the
fish from the southern part of Europe; but I am too little acquainted
with that dialect to be able to render my conjecture very probable;
and the etymologists I consulted, such as Wachter, Ihre, Johnson, &c.,
afforded me no assistance. Fulda gave me some hopes, as he allows the
word to be of German extraction; but I must confess that his derivation
is too far-fetched, and like the chemistry of the adepts, to me not
perfectly intelligible.

It may perhaps not be superfluous here to observe that one must not
confound _carpa_ and _carpo_, or our carp, with _carpio_. The latter
belongs to the genus of the salmon and trout; and in the Linnæan system
is called _Salmo carpio_. It is found chiefly in the Lago di Garda, the
ancient Lacus Benacus, on the confines of Tyrol. The oldest account of
this fish is to be found in works of the sixteenth century, such as
the poems of Pierius Valerianus, and in Jovius de Piscibus. According
to Linnæus, it is found in the rivers of England; but that is false.
This celebrated naturalist suffered himself to be misled by Artedi,
who gives the char or chare, mentioned by Camden in his description of
Lancashire, as the _Salmo carpio_. Pennant however, by whom it is not
mentioned among the English fish, says expressly that the char is not
the _carpio_ of the Lago di Garda, but rather a variety of the _Salmo

That our carp were first found in the southern parts of Europe, and
conveyed thence to other countries, is undoubtedly certain. Even at
present they do not thrive in the northern regions, and the further
north they are carried the smaller they become[125]. Some accounts of
their transportation are still to be found. If it be true that the
Latin poem on the expedition of Attila is as old as the fifth or sixth
century, and if the fish which Walther gave to the boatman who ferried
him over the Rhine, and which the latter carried to the kitchen of
Gunther king of the Franks, were carp, this circumstance is a proof
that these fish had not been before known in that part of France
which bordered on the Rhine[126]. The examination of this conjecture
I shall however leave to others. D’Aussy quotes a book never printed,
of the thirteenth century, entitled Proverbes, and in which is given
an account of the best articles produced at that time by the different
parts of the kingdom, and assures us that a great many kinds of fish
were mentioned in it, but no carp, though at present they are common
all over France.

It appears also that there were no carp in England in the eleventh
century, at least they do not occur in the Anglo-Saxon Dictionary
of Ælfric, who in 1051 died archbishop of York[127]. We are assured
likewise that they were first brought into the kingdom in the fifth
year of the reign of Henry VIII., or in 1514, by Leonard Mascal of
Plumsted in Sussex[128]. What we read in the Linnæan System, that these
fish were first brought to England about the year 1600, is certainly
erroneous. Where that celebrated naturalist, under whom I had the
pleasure of studying, acquired this information, I do not know.

Denmark is indebted for these fish to that celebrated statesman Peter
Oxe, who introduced them into the kingdom as well as cray-fish, and
other objects for the table. He died in the year 1575.

We are told that these fish were brought from Italy to Prussia, where
they are at present very abundant, by a nobleman whose name is not
mentioned. This service however may be ascribed with more probability
to the upper burg-grave, Caspar von Nostiz, who died in 1588, and who
in the middle of the sixteenth century first sent carp to Prussia from
his estate in Silesia, and caused them to be put into the large pond at
Arensberg not far from Creuzburg. As a memorial of this circumstance,
the figure of a carp, cut in stone, was shown formerly over a door at
the castle of Arensberg. This colony must have been very numerous in
the year 1535, for at that period carp were sent from Königsberg to
Wilda, where the archduke Albert then resided. At present (1798) a
great many carp are transported from Dantzic and Königsberg to Russia,
Sweden, and Denmark. It appears to me probable that these fish after
that period became everywhere known and esteemed, as eating fish in
Lent and on fast-days was among Christians considered to be a religious
duty, and that on this account they endeavoured to have ponds stocked
with them in every country, because no species can be so easily bred in
these reservoirs.

I shall observe in the last place, that the _Spiegel-carpen_,
mirror-carp, distinguished by yellow scales, which are much larger,
though fewer in number, and which do not cover the whole body, are
not mentioned but by modern writers. Bloch says that they were first
described by Johnston under the name of royal carp. The passage where
he does so I cannot find; but in plate xxix. there is a bad engraving,
with the title _Spiegel-karpen_, which however have scales all over
their bodies, and cannot be the kind alluded to. On the other hand, the
_Spiegel-karpen_ are mentioned by Gesner, who, as it appears, never
saw them. In my opinion, Balbinus, who wrote in the middle of the
sixteenth century, was the first person who gave a true and complete
description of them; and according to his account, they seem to have
come originally from Bohemia. The first correct figure of them is to be
found in Marsigli.


[112] Histor. Animal. lib. iv. cap. 8.

[113] Lib. vii. p. 309.

[114] Animadvers. vii. 17, p. 540.

[115] Lampridii Vita Heliogab. c. 20.

[116] Lib. vii. p. 309.

[117] This fish was a first-rate article of luxury among the Romans,
and was purchased at a dear rate. Juvenal says, “Mullum sex millibus
emit, æquantem sane paribus sestertia libris.” See Plin. lib. ix. c.
17. The Italians have a proverb, “La triglia non mangia chi la piglia,”
which implies, that he who catches a mullet is a fool if he eats it and
does not sell it. When this fish is dying, it changes its colours in a
very singular manner till it is entirely lifeless. This spectacle was
so gratifying to the Romans, that they used to show the fish dying in a
glass vessel to their guests before dinner.

[118] Fr. Massarii in ix. Plinii. libr. Castigat. Bas. 1537, 4to.

[119] A great service would be rendered to the natural history of the
ancients, if some able systematic naturalist would collect all the
Greek names used at present. Tournefort and others made a beginning.

[120] Philosophical Transact. vol. lxi. 1771, part i. 310.

[121] Variorum, p. 380.

[122] Speculum Naturale.

[123] De Nat. Anim. xiv.--Plin. xxxi. sect. 19.--Antig. Car. c. 181.

[124] British Zoology, vol. iii. p. 259.

[125] Pontoppidan, Natürliche Historie von Norwegen, ii. p. 236.

[126] De Prima Expedit. Attilæ, ed. Fischer. Lips. 1780, 4to.

[127] Printed at the end of Somneri Dict. Saxonicum.

[128] See Anderson’s Hist. of Commerce, and Pennant’s Zoology, p.
300. Both these authors refer to Fuller’s British Worthies. [The carp
existed in England before the year 1486: for in Dame Juliana Berners’
work on Angling, which was published at St. Albans (hence called the
Book of St. Albans) in 1486, we find the following passage: speaking
of the carp, she says “That it is a deyntous fysshe, but there ben but
few in Englonde. And therefore I wryte the lesse of hym. He is an euyll
fysshe to take. For he is so stronge enarmyd in the mouthe, that there
maye noo weke harnays hold him.”]


Under this appellation are understood portable or moveable mills,
which can be used, particularly in the time of war, when there are
neither wind- nor water-mills in the neighbourhood, and which on that
account formerly accompanied armies in the same manner as camp-ovens
and camp-forges. Some of these mills have stones for grinding the corn,
and others are constructed with a notched roller like those of our
coffee-mills. Some of them also are so contrived that the machinery is
put in motion by the revolution of the wheels of the carriage on which
they are placed; and others, and perhaps the greater part of those
used, are driven by horses or men, after the wheels of the carriage are
sunk in the ground, or fastened in some other manner.

To the latter kind belongs that mill of which Zonca[129] has given a
coarse engraving, but without any description. He says it was invented
by Pompeo Targone, engineer to the well-known marquis Ambrose Spinola;
and he seems to place the time of the invention about the end of the
sixteenth century. This mill is the same as that described by Beyer in
his Theatrum Machinarum Molarium, and represented in the twenty-seventh
plate of that work[130]. Beyer remarks that it was employed by Spinola.

The inventor, as his name shows, was an Italian, who made himself
known, in particular, at the celebrated siege of Rochelle, under Louis
XIII., at which he was chosen to assist, because in the year 1603, when
with Spinola, who was consulted respecting the operations at Rochelle,
he had helped by means of a mole to shut the harbour of Ostend during
the tedious siege of that place. He was likewise in the French service,
as _intendant des machines du roi_; but his numerous and expensive
undertakings did not succeed according to his expectations[131]. He
invented also a particular kind of gun-carriages, and a variety of
warlike machines[132].

Another old figure of such a mill was shown to me by Professor Meister,
in Recueil de Plusieurs Machines Militaires, printed in 1620. This
machine was driven by the wheels of the carriage; but whether it was
ever used the author does not inform us.

Lancellotti[133] ascribes this invention to the Germans, about the year

Carriages for transporting camp-forges and mill-machinery are mentioned
by Leonard Fronsperger[134], but he does not say whether complete mills
were affixed to them.


[129] Novo Teatro di Machine ed Edificii, di Vittorio Zonca. Padoua,
1621, and reprinted in 1656, fol. The greater part of the machines
delineated in this scarce book are engines for raising heavy bodies;
but many of them are used in various trades and manufactures, and may
serve in some measure to illustrate the history of them.

[130] J. M. Beyer’s Schauplatz der Mühlen-Bau-kunst. Leipzig, 1735,
fol. Reprinted at Dresden, 1767.

[131] All those authors who have written expressly on the fate of the
Huguenots, the History of Richelieu, Louis XIII., and the siege of
Rochelle, make mention of Targone.

[132] Histoire de la Milice Françoise, par Daniel. Amst. 1724, i. p.

[133] L’Hoggidi, overo gl’Ingegni non inferiori a’ passati. Ven. 1636,

[134] Kriegsbuch, Frankf. 1596, fol. p. 9.


It is highly probable that a limpid brook was the first mirror[136],
but we have reason to think that artificial mirrors were made as
mankind began to exercise their art and ingenuity on metals and
stones. Every solid body, capable of receiving a fine polish, would
be sufficient for this purpose; and indeed the oldest mirrors
mentioned in history were of metal. Those which occur in Job[137]
are praised on account of their hardness and solidity; and Moses
relates[138], that the brazen laver, or washing-basin, was made
from the mirrors of the women who had assembled at the door of the
tabernacle to present them, and which he caused them to deliver
up. As the women appeared in full dress at divine worship, it was
necessary for them to have looking-glasses after the Egyptian manner.
With these the washing-basins, according to the conjecture of most
interpretators, were only ornamented, covered, or perhaps hung round;
and Michaelis[139] himself was once of this opinion. But why should
we not rather believe that the mirrors were melted and formed into
washing-basins? As soon as mankind began to endeavour to make good
mirrors of metal, they must have remarked that every kind of metal was
not equally proper for that use, and that the best could be obtained
only from a mixture of different metals. In the mirrors however which
were collected by Moses, the artists had a sufficient stock of speculum
metal, and were not under the necessity of making it themselves; and
for this reason they could much more easily give to the whole basin
a polished surface, in which the priests, when they washed, might
survey themselves at full length. At any rate such a basin would not
be the only one employed instead of a mirror. Artemidorus[140] says
that he who dreams of viewing himself in a basin, will have a son
born to him by his maid. Dreams indeed are generally as groundless as
this interpretation; but one can hardly conjecture that Artemidorus
would have thought of such a dream, had it not been very common for
people to contemplate themselves in a basin. There were formerly a
kind of fortune-tellers, who pretended to show in polished basins to
the simple and ignorant, what they wished to know[141]. The ancients
also had drinking-vessels, the inside of which was cut into mirrors,
so disposed that the image of the person who drank from them was seen
multiplied[142]. Vopiscus mentions, among the valuable presents of
Valerian to the emperor Probus, when a tribune, a silver cup of great
weight, which was covered on the inside with mirrors of this sort[143].

Menard and others conjecture that mirrors in the time of Homer were
not much used, because he mentions them on no occasion, not even where
he describes in so circumstantial a manner the toilet of Juno[144]. In
answer to this, however, I have two things to observe. In the first
place, it is not to be expected that Homer should have mentioned every
article with which he was acquainted; and secondly, we are assured
by Callimachus, where he evidently has imitated the passage of Homer
before-quoted[145], that neither Juno nor Pallas employed a mirror when
they dressed. Mythology therefore did not allow the poet to introduce
a mirror upon the toilet of that deity. Polydore Vergilius, Boccace,
Menard, and others have all fallen into the error of making Æsculapius
the inventor of mirrors, though Cicero[146] seems to say the same
thing; but the best commentators have long since observed very justly,
that the Roman philosopher alludes not to a mirror but to a probe, the
invention of which we may allow to the father of medicine, who was at
first only a surgeon.

When one reflects upon the use made of metal mirrors, particularly
at Rome, to add to magnificence and for other purposes, and how
many artists, during many successive centuries, were employed in
constructing them, and vied to excel each other in their art, one
cannot help conjecturing that this branch of business must at those
periods have been carried to a high degree of perfection. It is
therefore to be regretted that they have not been particularly
described by any writer, and that on this account the art was
entirely lost after the invention of glass mirrors, which are much
more convenient. No one at that time entertained the least suspicion
that circumstances would afterwards occur which would render these
metal mirrors again necessary, as has been the case in our days by
the invention of the telescope. Our artists then were obliged to make
new experiments in order to discover the best mixture for mirrors of
metal; and this should be a warning to mankind, never to suffer arts
which have been once invented and useful to become again unknown. A
circumstantial description of them should at any rate be preserved for
the use of posterity, in libraries, the archives of human knowledge.

When we compare metals in regard to their fitness for mirrors, we shall
soon perceive that the hardest of a white colour possess in the highest
degree the necessary lustre. For this reason platina is preferable
to all others, as is proved from the experiments made by the Count
von Sickengen. Steel approaches nearest to this new metal, and silver
follows steel; but gold, copper, tin and lead, are much less endowed
with the requisite property. I have however observed among the ancients
no traces of steel mirrors; and it is probable they did not make any
of that metal, as it is so liable to become tarnished, or to contract
rust. An ancient steel-mirror is indeed said to have been once found,
but as some marks of silvering were perceived on it, a question arises
whether the silvered side was not properly the face of the mirror[147].
Besides, every person knows that a steel mirror would not retain its
lustre many centuries amidst ruins and rubbish.

The greater part of the ancient mirrors were made of silver, not on
account of costliness and magnificence, as many think, but because
silver, as has been said, was the fittest and the most durable of
all the then known unmixed metals for that use. In the Roman code of
laws, when silver plate is mentioned, under the heads of heirship
and succession by propinquity, silver mirrors are rarely omitted;
and Pliny[148], Seneca[149], and other writers, who inveigh against
luxury, tell us, ridiculing the extravagance of the age, that every
young woman in their time must have a silver mirror. These polished
silver plates may however have been very slight, for all the ancient
mirrors, preserved in collections, which I have ever seen, are only
covered with a thin coat of that expensive metal; and in the like
manner our artists have at length learned a method of making the cases
of gold and silver watches so thin and light, that every footman and
soldier can wear one. At first the finest silver only was employed for
these mirrors, because it was imagined that they could not be made of
that which was standard; but afterwards metal was used of an inferior
quality. Pliny tells us so expressly, and I form the same conclusion
from a passage of Plautus[150]. Philematium having taken up a mirror,
the prudent Scapha gives her a towel, and desires her to wipe her
fingers, lest her lover should suspect by the smell that she had been
receiving money. Fine silver however communicates as little smell to
the fingers as gold; but it is to be remembered that the ancients
understood much better than the moderns how to discover the fineness
of the noble metals by the smell, as many modes of proof which we use
to find out the alloy, were to them unknown. Money-changers therefore
employed their smell when they were desirous of trying the purity of
coin[151]. The witty thought of Vespasian, who, when reproached on
account of his tax upon urine, desired those who did so to smell the
money it produced, and to tell him whether it had any smell of the
article which was the object of it, alludes to this circumstance. In
the like manner many savage nations at present can by their smell
determine the purity of gold[152].

We are informed by Pliny, that Praxiteles, in the time of Pompey the
Great, made the first silver mirror, and that mirrors of that metal
were preferred to all others. Silver mirrors however were known
long before that period, as is proved by the passage of Plautus
above-quoted. To reconcile this contradiction, Meursius remarks that
Pliny speaks only of his countrymen, and not of the Greeks, who had
such articles much earlier, and the scene in Plautus is at Athens.
This therefore seems to justify the account of Pliny, but of what he
says afterwards I can find no explanation. Hardouin is of opinion,
that mirrors, according to the newest invention, at that period,
were covered behind with a plate of gold, as our mirrors are with an
amalgam. But as the ancient plates of silver were not transparent, how
could the gold at the back part of them produce any effect in regard to
the image? May not the meaning be, that a thin plate of gold was placed
at some distance before the mirror in order to throw more light upon
its surface? But whatever may have been the case, Pliny himself seems
not to have had much confidence in the invention.

Mirrors of copper, brass and gold, I have found mentioned only by the
poets, who perhaps employed the names of these metals because they
best suited their measure, or because they wished to use uncommon
expressions, and thought a golden mirror the noblest. By the brass ones
perhaps are to be understood only such as were made of mixed copper.
Did golden mirrors occur oftener, I should be inclined to refer the
epithet rather to the frame or ornaments than to the mirror itself; for
at present we say a gold watch, though the cases only may be of that

Mirrors seem for a long time to have been made of a mixture of copper
and tin, as is expressly said by Pliny[153], who adds, that the best
were constructed at Brundisium. This mixture, which was known to
Aristotle, produces a white metal, which, on account of its colour, may
have been extremely proper for the purpose, and even at present the
same mixture, according to the careful experiments made by Mr. Mudge,
an Englishman[154], produces the best metal for specula. It appears
that the ancients had not determined the proportion very accurately;
for Pliny assures us twice that in his time mirrors of silver were
preferred. It is indeed not easy to ascertain the quantity of each
metal that ought to be taken, and the most advantageous degree of heat;
upon which a great deal depends. One of the principal difficulties is
to cast the metal without blisters or air-holes, and without causing
any part of the tin to oxidize, which occasions knots and cracks, and
prevents it from receiving a fine polish. A passage of Lucian[155],
which no one as yet has been able to clear up, alludes certainly, in my
opinion, to these faults. A mixture of copper and tin is so brittle,
that it is very liable to crack; and a mirror formed of it, if not
preserved with great care, soon becomes so dim, that it cannot be used
till it has been previously cleaned and polished. For this reason a
sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally suspended, from the
ancient mirrors, and they were kept likewise in a case or box, as may
be seen by the greater part of those still extant. Mirrors of silver
were less subject to this inconvenience, and I am inclined to think
that the latter on this account made the former be disused, as we are
informed by Pliny.

As ancient mirrors of metal are still to be found in collections of
antiquities, it might be of some importance to the arts if chemical
experiments were made on their composition. Those who have hitherto
given us any account of them have contented themselves with describing
their external figure and shape. Count Caylus[156] is the only person,
as far as I know, who caused any chemical experiments to be undertaken
on this subject. They were made on a mirror found near Naples, by M.
Roux, who asserts that the composition was a mixture of copper and
regulus of antimony, with a little lead. Antimony however was not known
to the ancients. If that metal was really a component part, the mirror
must have been the work of more modern times, or it must be allowed
that the artist had metal combined with antimony without knowing it;
but the latter is not probable. The experiments made by Roux do not
seem to me to have proved in a satisfactory manner the presence of
regulus of antimony; moreover, no certain information can be derived
from them, for the antiquity of the mirror was not ascertained; nor was
it known whether it ought to be reckoned amongst the best or the worst
of the period when it was made.

Those mirrors, which were so large that one could see one’s self
in them at full length, must, in all probability, have consisted
of polished plates of silver; for to cast plates of such a size of
copper and tin would have required more art than we can allow to those
periods; and I do not know whether our artists even now would succeed
in them[157].

We read in various authors, that, besides metals, the ancients formed
stones into mirrors, which were likewise in use. It is undoubtedly
certain that many stones, particularly of the vitreous kind, which are
opake and of a dark colour, would answer exceedingly well for that
purpose; but let the choice have been ever so good, they would not, in
this respect, have been nearly equal to metals. These of all mineral
bodies have the most perfect opacity; and for that reason the greatest
lustre: both these properties are produced by their solidity; and hence
they reflect more perfectly, and with more regularity, the rays of
light that proceed from other bodies. Our glass mirrors, indeed, are
properly metallic. Stones, on the other hand, have at any rate some,
though often hardly perceptible, transparency; so that many of the rays
of light are absorbed, or at least not reflected. Mention of stone
mirrors occurs also so seldom in the ancients, that we may conclude
they were made rather for ornament than real utility. In general, we
find accounts only of polished plates or panels of stone, fixed in the
walls of wainscoted apartments, which were celebrated on account of
their property of reflection.

Pliny[158] praises in this respect the obsidian stone, or, as it is
now called, the Icelandic agate. Everything that he says of it will be
perfectly intelligible to those who are acquainted with this species of
stone or vitrified lava. The image reflected from a box made of it,
which I have in my possession, is like a shadow or silhouette; but with
this difference, that one sees not only the contour, but also the whole
figure distinctly, though the colours are darkened. To form it into
images and utensils, which Pliny speaks of, must have been exceedingly
difficult, on account of its brittleness. I saw at Copenhagen, among
other things made of it, a drinking-cup and cover, on which the artist
had been employed four years.

Domitian, when he suspected that plots were formed against him, caused
a gallery, in which he used to walk, to be lined with _phengites_,
which by its reflection showed everything that was done behind his
back[159]. Under that appellation we are undoubtedly to understand
a calcareous or gypseous spar, or selenite, which is indeed capable
of reflecting an image; but we cannot therefore pretend to say that
the ancients formed mirrors of it; nor do I explain what Pliny says,
where he speaks of the _phengites_, as if whole buildings had been
once constructed of it[160]. That kind of stone, for various reasons,
and particularly on account of its brittleness, is altogether unfit
for such a purpose. At those periods, the windows of houses were open,
and not filled up with any transparent substance, but only covered,
sometimes by lattices or curtains. It is probable, therefore, that
those openings of the walls of the building mentioned by Pliny, where
the windows used to be, were filled up with _phengites_, which, by
admitting a faint light, prevented the place from being dark even when
the doors were shut; so that Pliny might say, “It appeared as if the
light did not fall into the building, but as if it were inclosed in it.”

I might be accused of omission did I not here mention also a passage
of Pliny[161], where he seems to speak of a mirror made of an
emerald, which Nero used to assist him to see the combats of the
gladiators. Cary asserts that Nero was short-sighted, and that his
emerald was formed like a concave lens. The former is expressly
said by Pliny[162], but the latter, though by Abat considered not
improbable[163], I can scarcely allow myself to believe, because such
an interpretation of Pliny’s words is too forced, and because they
can be explained much better in another manner. As no mention of such
an excellent help to short-sighted people is to be found in any other
ancient author, we must allow, if Cary’s opinion be adopted, that
this property of the concave emerald was casually remarked, and that
no experiments were made to cut any other natural or artificial glass
in the same form for the like use, because people imagined that this
property was peculiar to the emerald alone, which was then commonly
supposed to be endowed with the power of greatly strengthening the
eye-sight. Much more probable to me is the explanation of an Italian,
which Abat also does not entirely reject, that the emerald had a smooth
polished surface, and served Nero as a mirror[164]; and the passage of
Pliny alluded to seems to have been thus understood by Isidore[165]
and Marbodæus. It may here be objected, that real emeralds are too
small to admit of being used as mirrors; but the ancients speak of some
sufficiently large for that purpose, and also of artificial ones[166];
so that we may with certainty conclude, that they classed among the
emeralds fluor-spar green vitrified lava, or the green Icelandic
agate as it is called, green jasper, and also green glass. The piece
of green glass in the monastery of Reichenau, which is seven inches
in length, three inches in thickness, and weighs twenty-eight pounds
three-quarters; and the large cup at Genoa, which is however full of
flaws[167], have been given out to be emeralds even to the present time.

Mirrors were made also of rubies, as we are assured by Pliny[168], who
refers to Theophrastus for his authority; but this precious stone is
never found now of such a size as to render this use possible; and Gary
and the anonymous Italian before-mentioned have proved very properly
that Pliny has committed a gross mistake, which has not been observed
by Hardouin. Theophrastus, in the passage alluded to[169], does not
speak of a ruby, but of the well-known black marble of Chio, though he
calls both _carbunculus_, a name given to the ruby on account of its
likeness to a burning coal, and to the black marble on account of its
likeness to a quenched coal or cinder; and the latter, as well as the
obsidian stone, was used sometimes for mirrors.

The account how mirrors were formed by the native Americans, before
they had the misfortune to become acquainted with the Europeans, is
of considerable importance in the history of this art. These people
had indeed mirrors which the Europeans could not help admiring. Some
of them were made of black, somewhat transparent, vitrified lava,
called by the Spaniards _gallinazo_, and which is of the same kind as
the obsidian stone employed by the Romans for the like purpose. Of
this substance the Americans had plane, concave, and convex mirrors.
They had others also made of a mineral called the Inca’s stone[170],
which, as has been already said by Bomare, Sage, Wallerius, and other
mineralogists, was a compact pyrites or marcasite, susceptible of a
fine polish; and on that account often brought to Europe, and worn
formerly in rings under the name of the stone of health. Ulloa says the
Inca’s stone is brittle, opake, and of a somewhat bluish colour; it
has often veins which cannot be polished, and where these veins are it
frequently breaks. The mirrors formed of it, which he saw, were from
two to three inches in diameter; but he saw one which was a foot and a
half. The opinion which some have entertained, that these mirrors were
cast, has no other foundation than the likeness of polished marcasite
to cast brass. This mineral is very proper for reflecting images; and
I am inclined to think that the Peruvians had better mirrors than the
Greeks or the Romans, among whom we find no traces of marcasite being
employed in that manner. It appears, however, that the Indians had
mirrors also of silver, copper, and brass[171].

I come now to the question in what century were invented our glass
mirrors, which consist of a glass plate covered at the back with
a thin leaf of metal. This question has been answered by some with
so much confidence, that one might almost consider the point to be
determined; but instead of real proofs, we find only conjectures or
probabilities; and I must here remark, that I cannot help thinking
that they are older than has hitherto been supposed, however desirous
I may be to separate historical truth from conjecture. When I have
brought together everything which I know on the subject, I would say,
that attempts were even made at Sidon to form mirrors of glass; but
that they must have been inferior to those of metal, because they did
not banish the use of the latter. The first glass mirrors appear to me
to have been of black-coloured glass, or an imitation of the obsidian
stone; and to have been formed afterwards of a glass plate with some
black foil placed behind it[172]. At a much later period, blown glass,
while hot, was covered in the inside with lead or some metallic
mixture; and still later, and, as appears, first at Murano, artists
began to cover plates of glass with an amalgam of tin and quicksilver.
The newest improvements are, the casting of glass-plates, and the art
of making plates equally large by blowing and stretching, without the
expensive and uncertain process which is required for casting.

That glass mirrors were made at the celebrated glass-houses of Sidon,
is mentioned so clearly by Pliny that it cannot be doubted[173].
When I read the passage, however, without prejudice, without taking
into consideration what others have said on it, and compare it with
what certain information the ancients, in my opinion, give on the
same subject, I can understand it no otherwise than as if the author
said, that the art of manufacturing glass various ways was invented,
principally, at Sidon, where attempts had been made to form mirrors
of it. He appears therefore to allude to experiments which had not
completely succeeded; and to say that such attempts, at the time when
he wrote, had been entirely abandoned and were almost forgotten.
Had this circumstance formed an epoch in the art, Pliny, in another
place, where he describes the various improvements of it so fully,
would not have omitted it; but of those experiments he makes no
further mention[174]. All the inventions which he speaks of, evidently
relate to metal mirrors only, of which the silver, at that time,
were the newest. Had the Sidonian mirrors consisted of glass plates
covered at the back, those of metal, the making of which was, at any
rate, attended with no less trouble, which were more inconvenient
for use on account of their aptness to break, their requiring to
be frequently cleaned and preserved in a case, and which were more
unpleasant on account of the faint, dull image which they reflected,
could not possibly have continued so long in use as they really did;
and circumstances and expressions relative to glass mirrors must
certainly have occurred. Though glass continued long to be held in high
estimation, particularly at Rome; and though many kinds of glass-ware
are mentioned in ancient authors, among costly pieces of furniture,
mirrors are mentioned only among articles of silver plate. I am
acquainted with no certain trace of glass mirrors from the time of
Pliny to the thirteenth century; but after that period, at which they
are spoken of in the clearest manner, we find them often mentioned in
every century; and mirrors of metal at length entirely disappear.

How the Sidonian mirrors were made, is not known; but if I may
be allowed a conjecture, I am of opinion that they consisted of
dark-coloured glass, which had a resemblance to the obsidian stone.
Such is the usual progress of inventions. At those periods one had no
other representation of glass mirrors than that afforded by natural
glass or vitreous stones. When artists wished to make mirrors of
glass, they would try to imitate the latter. After the invention
of printing, people endeavoured to render printed books as like as
possible to manuscripts; because they imagined that this invention
was to be approved only so far as it enabled them to imitate these,
without observing that it could far excel the art of writing. But the
Sidonian glass mirrors were so much surpassed by the silver or brass
ones, which perhaps were invented about the same time, that on this
account they were never brought into use. Glass mirrors, perhaps, would
have been invented sooner, had mankind employed at an earlier period
glass-windows, which often, when they are shut on the outside so
that no light can pass through them, reflect images in a much better
manner than the best mirrors of metal. This observation, which may be
made daily, would then, in all probability, have been sooner turned to

No one has employed a greater profusion of words to maintain an opinion
opposite to mine, than Abat; but when his proofs are divested of their
ornaments, they appear so weak that one has very little inclination
to agree with him. “The observation,” says he, “that a plate of
glass is the best mirror, when all other rays of light, except those
reflected back from the glass, are prevented, by a metallic covering
placed behind it, from falling on the eye, is so easy, that it must
have been made immediately after the invention of glass.” Who does
not think here of Columbus and his egg? Instances occur in history of
many having approached so near an invention, that we are astonished
how they could have missed it; so that we may exclaim with a certain
emperor, “Taurum toties non ferire difficile est[175].” “The Sidonian
invention,” continues he, “would not have been worth mentioning, had it
not produced better mirrors than those which the ancients had before
of the obsidian stone. But these even are mentioned only once, in so
short and abrupt a manner, and as it were out of ridicule, that one may
easily perceive they were not much esteemed.” “If the Sidonians,” adds
he, “were not the inventors, let some other inventor be mentioned;”
and he assures us that he had sought information on this subject, in
Neri, Kunkel, and Merret, but without success. That I believe; but Abat
does not remark that by the same manner of reasoning we may ascribe to
the Sidonians the invention of watches, and many other articles, the
inventors of which are not to be found in books where they ought as
much to be expected as the inventor of glass in Neri. The grounds on
which many old commentators of the Bible, Nicholas de Lyra and others,
have supposed that glass mirrors were known so early as the time of
Moses, are still weaker. If quoting the names of writers who entertain
a like opinion be of any weight, I could produce a much greater number
of learned men, who, after an express examination of the question, deny
altogether that glass mirrors were used by the ancients.

Dr. Watson[176] also has endeavoured to support the opinion of Abat,
but with less confidence and with more critical acumen. His grounds,
I think, I have weakened already; but one observation here deserves
not to be overlooked, because it suggests an idea that may serve to
illustrate a passage of Pliny, which, as I before remarked, has never
yet been explained. “If we admit,” says he, “that Pliny was acquainted
with glass mirrors, we may thus understand what he says respecting
an invention, which was then new, of applying gold behind a mirror.”
Instead of an amalgam of tin, some one had proposed to cover the back
of the mirror with an amalgam of gold, with which the ancients were
certainly acquainted, and which they employed in gilding[177]. He
mentions, also, on this occasion, that a thought had once occurred to
Buffon, that an amalgam of gold might be much better for mirrors than
that used at present[178]. This conjecture appears, at any rate, to be
ingenious; but when I read the passage again, without prejudice, I can
hardly believe that Pliny alludes to a plate of glass in a place where
he speaks only of metallic mirrors; and the overlaying with amalgam
requires too much art to allow me to ascribe it to such a period
without sufficient proof. I consider it more probable that some person
had tried, by means of a polished plate of gold, to collect the rays of
light, and to throw them either on the mirror or the object, in order
to render the image brighter.

Professor Heeren showed me a passage in the Ecloga of Stobæus, which,
on the first view, seems to allude to a glass mirror[179]. It is
there said, Philolaus the Pythagorean believed that the sun was a
vitreous body, which only received the rays of the æthereal fire and
reflected them to us like a mirror. When we compare, however, the words
of Stobæus with those by which Plutarch[180], Achilles Tatius[181],
Eusebius[182], and others, express the same thing, that meaning
cannot be drawn from them. It appears, at first, as if Philolaus had
considered the sun to be transparent, and supposed that the rays
passed through it, and came condensed to our earth, in the same manner
as they are brought to a focus by a glass globe. Some commentators have
explained the passage in this manner; and on account of the affinity of
the Greek words have thought also of a funnel. In that case, however,
the comparison of the sun with a mirror would not have been just; and
if it be admitted that Philolaus considered the sun as a bright body
endowed with the property of reflection, what he says of rays passing
or transmitted through it, and of the pores of the sun’s body, will
become unintelligible. But even if we adopt the last explanation, that
Philolaus imagined the sun to be a mirror, it does not follow that he
had any idea of a glass one[183]; and besides, he only speaks of a body
capable of reflecting a strong light; and that glass, under certain
circumstances, is fit for that purpose, may have been remarked as soon
as it was invented, though men might not find out the art of forming
it into proper mirrors by placing some opake substance behind it[184].
Empedocles also said, that the sun was a mirror, and that the light
received by our earth was the reflection of the æthereal fire, which
Eusebius compares to the reflection made by water[185].

In the problems ascribed to Alexander of Aphrodisias, glass mirrors,
covered on the back with tin, are clearly mentioned; but this
information does not lead us one step further in the history of the
art; as it is proved that the above Alexander, who lived in the
beginning of the third century, could not have written that work. The
author, who must have been a physician, maintains the immortality of
the soul, which Alexander of Aphrodisias, with Aristotle, denies. Some
therefore have ascribed these problems to Alexander Trallianus, who
practised physic in the middle of the sixth century; but this is only
a conjecture which no one has as yet rendered probable, especially as
there have been many physicians of the name of Alexander. The problem
to which I allude is not to be found in every manuscript and edition;
so that it is doubtful whether it may not be the production of a later
author than that of the rest of the book, particularly as it is certain
that many who had it in their possession added problems of various
kinds according to their pleasure. However this may be, it is evident
that the author of this problem was acquainted with mirrors covered at
the back; and the expression which he uses does not merely imply that
a leaf of tin was placed behind the glass plate, but that the tin in
a liquid state was rubbed over it. The old French translator thinks
that the author speaks of windows; but that opinion is undoubtedly

Of as little importance as the above passage of Alexander, is another
of Isidore, often quoted in support of the antiquity of glass mirrors.
On the first view it appears to be a testimony of great weight; but
when closely examined it becomes reduced to very little. “Nothing,”
says he, “is so fit for mirrors as glass[187].” Abat and others, who
have considered these words as decisive, make less hesitation to
ascribe to the sixth century, in which Isidore lived, a knowledge
of mirrors covered on the back with tin and quicksilver, as the same
writer, in another place, observes, that quicksilver can be kept in no
vessel but one of glass[188]. It is very true that a glass filled with
that metal will form a very good mirror; but I am of opinion that this
may have been long known, before people thought of making an amalgam of
tin and quicksilver in order to cover the backs of mirrors. The first
passage, which is properly the one of any consequence, loses its force
when we see that it is taken from Pliny and copied incorrectly. The
latter says, that one can give to glass every kind of shape and colour,
and that no substance is more ductile, or fitter to be moulded into any
form[189]. Isidore, as is usual, says the same thing, and in the same
words, except, that instead of _sequacior_ he substitutes _speculis
aptior_; so that the mention of a mirror is altogether unexpected, and
so little suited to what goes before and what follows, that one must
believe that this alteration, occasioned perhaps by the similitude of
the words, or by an abbreviation, was not made by Isidore, but by some
transcriber. But even if we believe that Isidore himself spoke of glass
being used at that period for mirrors, we are not able to comprehend,
from what he says, how glass mirrors were made in the sixth century.

I have met with no information respecting this subject in the whole
period between the age of Isidore and the eleventh century. About the
year 1100, at least as is supposed not without probability, Alhazen the
Arabian wrote his well-known treatise on Optics, in which I conjectured
that I should find mention made of glass mirrors; but I searched that
work in vain, though I must confess I did not read it through entirely.
Where he begins his catoptrical lessons, he however often speaks of
iron mirrors, by which we may understand mirrors of the best steel. In
explaining a certain phænomenon, he says, that the cause of it cannot
be in the darkness of the iron mirror, because if a mirror of silver be
used, the same effects will be produced. Would he not on this occasion
have introduced glass mirrors, had he been as well-acquainted with them
as with those already mentioned? At first, he never speaks of mirrors
without adding of iron, of silver; but he mentions them afterwards
without any epithet of the kind.

All these mirrors I find also in the Optics of Vitello, who wrote
in the middle of the thirteenth century, in Italy, a country which
was at that time almost the only one where the arts flourished[190].
That author has, indeed, borrowed a great deal from Alhazen, though
there are many things of his own, and he gives an account of some
experiments on the refracting power of glass; but he never, as far as
I have observed, mentions glass mirrors. Whether Jordanus Nemorarius,
or Nemoratius, who also wrote, in the thirteenth century, a book _De
Speculorum Natura_, makes mention of them, I do not know, because I
have never had an opportunity of seeing that work. I am of opinion it
was never printed.

It is in the thirteenth century, that I find the first undoubted
mention of glass mirrors covered at the back with tin or lead. Johannes
Peckham, or Peccam, an English Franciscan monk, who taught at Oxford,
Paris, and Rome, and who died in 1292, wrote about the year 1279 a
treatise of optics, which was once printed, with the title of Johannis
Pisani Perspectiva Communis[191]. In this work, besides mirrors made of
iron, steel, and polished marble, the author not only speaks often of
glass mirrors, but says also that they were covered on the back with
lead, and that no image was reflected when the lead was scraped off.
Vincentius Bellovacensis[192] speaks in a manner still clearer, for
he tells us that lead was poured over the glass plate while hot. To
the same century also belong the concurrent testimonies of Raimundus
Lullius[193], Roger Bacon[194], Antonius di Padua[195], and Nicephorus
Gregoras[196], who died after the year 1360[197].

That this invention cannot be much older we have reason to conclude,
because glass mirrors were extremely scarce in France even in the
fourteenth century, while mirrors of metal were in common use; and
we are told that the mirror of Anne de Bretagne, consort of Louis
XII., was of the latter kind[198]. Metal mirrors also were made and
employed in Persia and the East, where indeed ancient usages continued
longest, and glass mirrors were not known there till the commencement
of the European trade with these remote regions. The former are still
preferred in those countries, because they are not so liable to break,
and can be preserved better in a dry hot climate than the amalgam of
the latter.

Respecting the progress of this art, I know nothing more than what
follows:--At first, melted lead, or perhaps tin, was poured over the
glass plate while yet hot as it came from the furnace. This process
agrees with that which, since very early periods, has been employed
in or around Nuremberg for making convex mirrors by blowing with the
pipe into the glass-bubble whilst still hot a metallic mixture, with a
little resin or salt of tartar, which prevents oxidation and assists
the fusion. When the bubble is covered all over in the inside, and
after it has cooled, it is cut into small round mirrors. This art is
an old German invention, for it is described by Porta and Garzoni, who
both lived in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and who both
expressly say, that it was then common in Germany. Curious foreigners
often attempted to learn it, and imagined that the Germans kept it
a secret. Boyle made various experiments in order to discover the
process; and the secretary of the Royal Society endeavoured, by means
of the ambassador from Charles II., who, perhaps about 1670, resided
at Frankfort, to obtain a knowledge of it; but did not succeed, as we
are told by Leibnitz[199]. It was called the art of preparing mirrors
without foil; and it was highly esteemed, because it was supposed that
it might be useful to those fond of catoptrics, by enabling them to
form convex and concave mirrors themselves. This account of Leibnitz
seems to have led Von Murr into a slight error, and induced him to
believe that the art of making convex mirrors without foil was first
found out at Nuremberg in 1670. I introduce this remark because I
flatter myself he will not be displeased that I make the above service,
rendered by his native city, to be a century and a half older. These
small convex mirrors, which reflect a diminished, but a clearer image
than our usual mirrors, are perhaps made still, though they are not
now carried round so frequently for sale in Germany as they were
thirty years ago, at which time, if I remember right, they were called
(_Ochsen-augen_) ox-eyes. They were set in a round painted board, and
had a very broad border or margin. One of them, in my possession,
is two inches and a half in diameter. It is probable that the low
price of plane mirrors, when glass-houses began to be more numerous,
occasioned these convex ones to be little sought after. The mixture
employed in making them was, according to Porta, antimony, lead, and
colophonium; but according to Garzoni, it was _una mistura di piombo,
stagno, marchesita d’argento, e tartaro_, which in the German edition
is translated very badly, “lead, tin, flint, silver, and tartar.” The
following observation perhaps is not altogether useless: Colophonium,
which is employed on many other occasions for soldering, was formerly
called mirror-resin, and was sold under that name even in the beginning
of the present century. Frisch assigns no reason for this appellation,
and Jacobson gives a wrong one, viz. its having a bright shining
surface when broken. The true reason was the above-mentioned use; and
as that is now very little known, it is called from that to which it is
principally applied, violin-resin.

It appears that, instead of pouring melted metal over plates of glass,
artists for some time applied to them the before-mentioned amalgam
of tin, or covered them in some other manner, perhaps in the same way
as Boyle covered concave glasses in the inside. Porta however saw
almost the same process employed at Murano as that which is still
followed at present. The tin, hammered to thin leaves, was spread
out very smoothly; and quicksilver was poured over it, and rubbed
into it, either with the hand or a hare’s foot; and when the tin was
saturated it was covered with paper. The glass, wiped exceedingly
clean, was then laid above it; and while the workman pressed it down
with his left hand, he drew out very carefully with his right the
paper that lay between the tin and the glass, over which weights were
afterwards placed. This much at any rate is certain, that the method of
covering with tin foil was known at Murano so early as the sixteenth
century[200], and therefore it is much older than J. M. Hoffmann
supposes. To conclude, whether this ingenious invention belongs to the
Venetians, as several later, and particularly Italian, writers assert,
I can neither prove nor contradict; but it is well known that till
about the end of the seventeenth century their mirrors were sold all
over Europe and in both the Indies. After that period the glass-houses
in other countries were improved, and new ones established; and the
discovery made in France, that glass, like metal, could be cast into
much larger plates than had been before prepared by blowing and
rolling, was in more than one respect prejudicial to the sale of those
made at Venice.

So early as the year 1634, attempts were made in France to establish
glass-houses for manufacturing mirrors, and Eustache Grandmont obtained
a patent for that purpose; but his undertaking was not attended with
success. As Colbert exerted himself very much to promote manufactures
of every kind, Nicholas de Noyer proposed to make mirrors according to
the Venetian method. This plan was adopted by Charles Rivière, sieur
du Freni, valet-de-chambre to the king; and having procured the royal
permission, he sold it afterwards for a large sum to De Noyer, who,
in 1665, received a confirmation of the patent, and an advance of
12,000 livres for four years, on condition of his procuring workmen
from Venice, who, after serving eight years in the kingdom, were to
be naturalized. De Noyer was joined by several more, who entered
into partnership with him, and particularly by one Poquelin, who had
hitherto carried on the greatest trade in Venetian mirrors, and who
engaged workmen from Murano. The glass-houses were erected at the
village of Tourlaville, near Cherbourg, in Lower Normandy. After the
death of Colbert, who was succeeded by Louvois, the charter of the
company was in 1684 renewed for thirty years longer, and at that period
Pierre de Bagneux was at the head of it.

Scarcely had five years of this period elapsed, when, in 1688, Abraham
Thevart made a proposal to the court for casting glass mirrors of
a much larger size than any ever before made. This plan, after an
accurate investigation, was approved; and in the same year he received
the royal permission to use his invention for thirty years, but it was
not registered till 1693 or 1694. The first plates were cast at Paris,
and astonished every artist who saw them. They were eighty-four inches
in height, and fifty in breadth. In order to lessen the excessive
expense, the glass-houses were erected at St. Gobin, in Picardy; and
to prevent all dispute with the old privileged company, Thevart was
expressly bound to make plates at least sixty inches in length and
forty in breadth, whereas the largest of those made before had never
exceeded forty-five or fifty inches in length. On the other hand, the
old company were allowed to make plates of a smaller size, and were
prohibited from employing any of the instruments or apparatus invented
by Thevart. These however had not been so accurately defined as to
remove all cause of litigation between the companies, and for that
reason permission was at length granted, in 1695, for both to be united
into one, under the inspection of François Plastrier, to whom the king,
in 1699, sold the palace of St. Gobin. After this they declined so
rapidly, that in 1701 they were not able to pay their debts, and were
obliged to abandon several of the furnaces. To add to their misfortune,
some of the workmen whom they had discharged retired to other
countries, which were already jealous of the French invention, and
wished to turn it to their advantage. The French writers assert that
their attempts never succeeded, and that most of the workmen returned
again to France, when a new company was formed in 1702, under the
management of Antoine d’Agincourt, who by prudent œconomy improved the
establishment, so as to render the profit very considerable. At present
mirrors are cast as well as blown, both at St. Gobin and at Cherbourg;
and in 1758 the price of them was greatly reduced, in order probably to
weaken the competition of the foreign glass-houses, among which there
are many not inferior to the French.

This short history of the glass manufactories in France is collected
from Savary[201] and Expilly[202]. A more particular account perhaps
may be expected of the inventor, of his first experiments, and of their
success; but notwithstanding a strict search, I have not been able to
find any further information on the subject. We are told only that his
name was sieur Abraham Thevart, though the historians who record that
circumstance have filled their pages with uninteresting anecdotes, and
even with the vices of many of the courtiers of the same period.

The principal benefit which has arisen to the art from this invention,
properly is, that much larger mirrors can be obtained than formerly;
for when attempts were made to blow very large plates, they were always
too thin. Casting, however, besides great expense in apparatus[203],
requires so many expert workmen, and so tedious and severe labour, and
is accompanied with so much danger, that it is only seldom that plates
of an extraordinary size succeed, and the greater part of them must be
cut into smaller plates which might have been blown. Those cast are
never so even and smooth as those that have been blown; they require
therefore a great deal of polishing, and on that account must be very
thick. The monstrous mass requisite for a mirror of the largest size,
stands ready melted in a very frail red-hot earthen pot, which is taken
from the furnace and placed upon an iron plate, strongly heated, that
the mass may be cast upon it into a glass plate. The latter must then
be speedily conveyed to the cooling-furnace, and if it be found free
from faults, it is ground, polished and silvered; but the last part
of the process is generally done at the place where a purchaser can
be found for so expensive an article, in order that less loss may be
sustained in case it should happen to break by the way.

These great difficulties, which have excited the astonishment of every
one who has seen the process, and that of finding sale for so expensive
and magnificent wares, have obliged artists to return to the old method
of blowing; and many have been so fortunate in improving this branch of
manufacture, that plates are formed now by blowing, sixty-four Flemish
inches in height and twenty-three in breadth, which it was impossible
to make before but by casting.

The mass of matter necessary for this purpose, weighing more than a
hundred pounds, is by the workman blown into the shape of a large bag;
it is then reduced to the form of a cylinder, and being cut up, is, by
stretching, rolling it with a smooth iron, and other means, transformed
into an even plane.

[All but the very commonest mirrors are now made of plate-glass; which
is also used to a great extent for window-panes, and is manufactured
by casting, rolling and polishing. The enormous plates of glass which
are seen in many of the large shops of this city are well-calculated
to excite the astonishment of those who are not yet aware of the
late improvements in this branch of manufacture. An idea of what may
be accomplished by blowing was given in 1845, at the Exhibition at
Vienna, where a blown glass 7 feet in length and 3½ in breadth was
exhibited; and which was of sufficient thickness to admit of polishing.
Nevertheless, the casting of plate-glass is now managed with such
comparative ease, that there appears to be no limit to the size to
which the plates can be brought, so that the blowing of large panes
of glass is given up in this country. Private houses may now be seen
decorated with single sheets of glass upwards of 20 feet in height and
10 in width.

A patent for a very ingenious process for silvering glass was taken
out in November 1843 by Mr. Drayton. It consists in depositing silver,
from a solution, upon glass, by deoxidizing the oxide of silver in
solution, so that the precipitate will adhere to the glass, without the
latter having been coated with metallic or other substances. This is
effected by mixing 1 oz. of coarsely powdered nitrate of silver with
½ oz. of spirits of hartshorn and 2 oz. of water; after standing for
24 hours, the mixture is filtered (the deposit on the filter, which
contains silver, being preserved), and an addition is made thereto of
3 oz. of spirit (by preference, spirit of wine) at 60° above proof, or
naphtha; from 20 to 30 drops of oil of cassia are then added, and after
remaining for about 6 hours longer, the solution is ready for use. The
glass to be silvered must have a clean and polished surface; it is to
be placed in a horizontal position, and a wall of putty formed around
it, so that the solution may cover the surface of the glass to the
depth of from ⅛th to ¼th of an inch. After the solution has been
poured on the glass, from 6 to 12 drops of a mixture of oil of cloves
and spirit of wine (in the proportion of 1 part by measure of the oil
to 3 of spirit of wine) are dropped into it at different places; or
the diluted oil of cloves may be mixed with the solution before it is
poured upon the glass; the more oil of cloves used, the more rapid
will be the deposition of the silver, but the patentee prefers that
it should occupy about two hours. When the required deposit has been
obtained, the solution is poured off; and as soon as the silver on the
glass is perfectly dry, it is varnished with a composition, formed by
melting together equal quantities of bees’ wax and tallow. The patentee
states that, by experiment, he has ascertained that about 18 grs. of
nitrate of silver are used for each square foot of glass.

It has been urged as an objection to this process, that in the course
of a few weeks the surfaces of the mirrors formed by it become dotted
over with small brownish-red spots, which greatly injures their
appearance. Dr. Stenhouse states that these spots are caused by the
metallic silver, whilst being deposited on the surface of the glass,
carrying down with it mechanically small quantities of a resinous
matter, resulting most probably from the oxidation of the oil. This
subsequently acts upon the metallic surface with which it is in
contact, and produces the small brown spots already mentioned. Mr.
Drayton, however, states that the brown spots only occur when the oil
employed is old and unfit for use.]


[135] The works in which this subject has been already treated are the
following:--Eberhartus de Weihe, de Speculi origine, usu et abusu.
A compilation formed without taste, of which I gave some account
in the Article on Chimneys.--Spanhemii Obs. in Callimachi hymn.
lavacr. Palladis, p. 615.--Académie des Inscriptions, t. xxiii. p.
140.--Recherches sur les Miroirs des Anciens, par Menard. A short
paper, barren of information.--Saggi di Dissertazioni Accad. dell’
Accad. Etrusca dell’ città di Cortona, vii. p. 19: Sopra gli Specchi
degli Antichi, del Sig. Cari. A translation from the French, with
the figures of some ancient mirrors. It contains an explanation of
some passages in Pliny, where he seems to speak of a mirror formed
of a ruby, and some conjectures respecting the mirror of Nero. An
anonymous member of the Academy, in an appendix, confirms the former,
and considers the latter, very properly, as improbable.--Caylus,
Recueil d’Antiquités, iii. p. 331, and v. p. 173. A description and
figures of ancient mirrors, with some chemical experiments on their
composition.--Amusemens Philosophiques. Par le père Bonaventure Abat.
Amst. 1763, 8vo, p. 433: Sur l’Antiquité des Mirroirs de Verre.
A dissertation worthy of being read on account of the author’s
acquaintance with the ancient writers, and his knowledge of technology;
but he roves beyond all proof, and employs too much verbosity to
decorate his conjectures.

[136] Passages of the poets, where female deities and shepherdesses are
represented as contemplating themselves in water instead of a mirror,
may be found in the notes to Phædri Fab. i. 4, in the edition of

[137] Chap. xxxvii. ver. 18.

[138] Exodus, chap. xxxviii. ver. 8.

[139] Historia Vitri apud Judæos, in Comment. Societat. Scient.
Gotting. iv. p. 330. Having requested Professor Tychsen’s opinion on
this subject, I received the following answer:--“You have conjectured
very properly that the mirrors of the Israelitish women, mentioned
Exod. xxxviii. 8, were not employed for ornamenting or covering the
washing-basins, in order that the priests might behold themselves in
them; but that they were melted and basins cast of them. The former
was a conceit first advanced, if I am not mistaken, by Nicol. de Lyra,
in the fourteenth century, and which Michaelis himself adopted in
the year 1754; but he afterwards retracted his opinion when he made
his translation of the Old Testament at a riper age. In the Hebrew
expression there is no ground for it; and mirrors could hardly be
placed very conveniently in a basin employed for washing the feet.
I must at the same time confess that the word (מראת) which is here
supposed to signify a mirror, occurs nowhere else in that sense.
Another explanation therefore has been given, by which both the women
and mirrors disappear from the passage. It is by a learned Fleming,
Hermann Gid. Clement, and may be found in his Dissertatio de Labro
Æneo, Groning. 1732, and also in Ugolini Thesaurus, tom. xix. p. 1505.
He translates the passage thus: Fecit labrum æneum et operculum ejus
æneum cum _figuris ornantibus_, quæ ornabant ostium tabernaculi. This
explanation however is attended with very great difficulties; and as
all the old translators and Jewish commentators have here understood
mirrors; and as the common translation is perfectly agreeable to the
language and circumstances, we ought to believe that Moses, not having
copper, melted down the mirrors of his countrywomen and converted them
into washing-basins for the priests.”

[140] Oneirocrit. lib. iii. cap. 30. p. 176.

[141] Joh. Sarisberiensis, i. cap. 12.

[142] Plin. lib. xxxiii. cap. 9. Seneca, Quæst. Nat. i. cap. 5.

[143] Vita Probi, cap. iv. p. 926: “Patinam argenteam librarum decem
specillatam.” Salmasius chooses rather to read _specellatam_. I am
inclined to think that this word ought to be read in Suetonius instead
of _speculatum_, where he speaks of an apartment which Horace seems to
have been fond of. That historian, in his Life of Horace, says, “Ad
res venereas intemperantior traditur: nam _speculato_ cubiculo scorta
dicitur habuisse disposita, ut quocunque respexisset, ibi ei imago
coitus referretur.” Lessing, who in his Miscellanies (Vermischten
Schriften, Berlin 1784, 12mo, iii. p. 205) endeavours to vindicate
the poet from this aspersion, considers the expression _speculatum
cubiculum_, if translated _an apartment lined with mirrors_, as
contrary to the Latin idiom, and thinks therefore that the whole
passage is a forgery. Baxter also before said that this anecdote had
been inserted by some malicious impostor. This I will not venture to
contradict, but I am of opinion that _specillatum_ or _specellatum
cubiculum_ is at any rate as much agreeable to the Roman idiom as
_patina specillata_. This expression Salmasius and Casaubon have
justified by similar phrases, such as _opera filicata_, _tesselata_,
_hederata_, &c. The chamber in which Claudian makes Venus ornament
herself, and be overcome by the persuasion of Cupid, was also covered
over with mirrors, so that whichever way her eyes turned, she could
see her own image. Did Claudian imagine that this goddess knew how to
employ such an apartment, not only for dressing, but even after she was
undressed, as well as Horace? I have seen at a certain court, a bed
entirely covered in the inside with mirrors.

[144] Iliad. lib. xiv. ver. 166.

[145] Hymnus in Lavacrum Palladis, v. 15, 21. It was however customary
to ascribe a mirror to Juno, as Spanheim on this passage proves; and
Athanasius, in Orat. contra Gentes, cap. xviii. p. 18, says that she
was considered as the inventress of dress and all ornaments. Should
not therefore the mirror, the principal instrument of dress, belong to
her? May it not have been denied to her by Callimachus, because he did
not find it mentioned in the description which Homer has given of her

[146] De Natur. Deorum, iii. 22.

[147] Licetus de Lucernis Antiq. lib. vi. cap. 92.

[148] Lib. xxxiv. cap. 17, p. 669.

[149] Quæst. Nat. at the end of the first book.

[150] Mostell. act i. sc. 3. v. 101.

[151] Arrianus in Epictet. i. cap. 20, p. 79.

[152] Among the remaining passages of the ancients with which I am
acquainted, in which mention is made of silver mirrors, the following
deserves notice. Chrysostom, Serm. xvii. p. 224, who, in drawing a
picture of the extravagance of the women, says, “The maid-servants
must be continually importuning the silversmith to know whether
their lady’s mirror be yet ready.” The best mirrors therefore were
made by the silversmiths. It appears that the mirror-makers at Rome
formed a particular company; at least Muratori, in Thesaur. Inscript.
Clas. vii. p. 529, has made known an inscription in which _collegium
speculariorum_ is mentioned. They occur also in Codex Theodos. xiii.
tit. 4, 2. p. 57, where Ritter has quoted more passages in which they
may be found. But perhaps the same name was given to those who covered
walls with polished stones, and in latter times to glaziers.

[153] Lib. xxxiii. c. 9. p. 627, and lib. xxxiv. c. 17, p. 669.

[154] Philosophical Transactions, vol. lxvii. p. 296.

[155] Quomodo Historia sit conscrib. cap. 51, Bipont edition, iv. p.
210, 535. Commentators have found no other way to explain κέντρον (a
word which occurs in Lucian’s description of the mirror), than by the
word _centre_, to which, according to their own account, there can be
here no allusion. In my opinion κέντρον signifies those faulty places
which are not capable of a complete polish, on account of the knots or
cracks which are found in them. Lucian therefore speaks of a faultless
mirror which represents the image perfect, as he afterwards informs us.

[156] As the account of these experiments is given only in an expensive
work, which may not often fall into the hands of those who are best
able to examine it, I insert it here. “The ancient mirror, which I
examined, was a metallic mixture, very tender and brittle, and of a
whitish colour inclining to grey. When put into the fire, it remained
a long time in a state of ignition before it melted. It was neither
inflammable nor emitted any smell like garlic, which would have been
the case had it contained arsenic. It did not either produce those
flowers which are generally produced by all mixtures in which there is
zinc. Besides, the basis of this mixture being copper, it would have
been of a yellow colour had that semi-metal formed a part of it. I took
two drams of it and dissolved them in the nitrous acid. A solution was
speedily formed, which assumed the same colour as solutions of copper.
It precipitated a white powder, which I carefully edulcorated and
dried. Having put it into a crucible with a reductive flux, I obtained
lead very soft and malleable.

“Having filtered the solution, I took a part of it, upon which I poured
an infusion of gall-nuts, but it produced no change. A solution of
gold, which I poured upon another part, made it assume a beautiful
green colour; but no precipitate was formed: which is sufficient to
prove that there was neither iron nor tin in the mixture.

“On the remaining part of the solution I poured a sufficient quantity
of the volatile alkali to dissolve all the copper that might be
contained in it. The solution became of a beautiful sapphire blue
colour, and a white precipitate was formed. Having decanted the liquor,
and carefully edulcorated the precipitate, I endeavoured to reduce
it; but whether it was owing to the quantity being too small, or to
my not giving it sufficient heat, I could not succeed. I had recourse
therefore to another method.

“I took the weight of two drams of the mixture, which I brought to
a high state of ignition in a cuppel. When it was of a whitish-red
colour, I threw upon it gradually four drams of sulphur, and when the
flame ceased, I strengthened the fire in order to bring it to complete
fusion. By these means I obtained a tender brittle regulus, whiter
than the mixture, in which I observed a few small needles. Being
apprehensive that some copper might still remain, I sulphurated it a
second time, and then obtained a small regulus which was almost pure

“It results from these experiments, that the metal of which the
ancients made their mirrors was a composition of copper, regulus of
antimony, and lead. Copper was the predominant, and lead the smallest
part of the mixture; but it is very difficult, as is well known, to
determine with any certainty the exact proportion of the substances
contained in such compositions.”

[In the examination of an Etruscan mirror, which was placed in my hands
for analysis by Professor Gerhardt of Berlin, it was found to consist,
in 100 parts, of 67·12 copper, 24·93 tin, and 8·13 lead, approximating
closely to an alloy of eight parts of copper to three of tin and one of
lead. The oxide of tin obtained in the course of analysis was carefully
examined, before the blowpipe, for antimony, but I did not succeed in
detecting a trace of that metal. A similar mirror had been likewise
analysed by Klaproth; he found 62 per cent. copper, 32 tin, and 6 per
cent. lead, but no trace of antimony.--W. F.]

[157] Of such large mirrors Seneca speaks in his Quæst. Nat. lib. i.
Of the like kind was the mirror of Demosthenes mentioned by Plutarch,
Lucian, and Quintilian.--Institut. Orat. xi. 3, 68, p. 572.

[158] Lib. xxxvi. c. 26, p. 758.

[159] Sueton. in Vita Domit. cap. xiv. p. 334.

[160] Lib. xxxvi. 22, p. 752.--“Cappadociæ lapis, duritia marmoris,
candidus atque translucidus, ex quo quondam templum constructum
est a quodam rege, foribus aureis, quibus clausis claritas diurna
erat.”--Isidor. Origin. 16, 4. Our spar is transparent, though clouds
and veins occur in it, like the violet and isabella-coloured, for
example, of that found at Andreasberg. Compare this explanation with
what Salmasius says in Exercitat. Plin. p. 184.

[161] Lib. xxxvii. cap. 5, p. 774.

[162] Lib. xi. cap. 37, p. 617.

[163] This dissertation of Abat may be found translated in Neuen
Hamburg. Magazin. i. p. 568.

[164] Academia di Cortona, vii. p. 34.

[165] Origin. xvi. 7.

[166] Goguet, ii. p. 111. Fabricii Biblioth. Græca. vol. i. p. 70.

[167] Keyssler, i. pp. 17 and 441.

[168] Lib. xxxvii. cap. 7.

[169] De Lapid. § 61.

[170] [This stone acquired its name from its being much used in
ornaments by the Incas or Princes of Peru.]

[171] De la Vega, ii. 28.

[172] Montamy in Abhandlung von den Farben zum Porzellan, Leipzig,
1767, 8vo, p. 222, asserts that he saw, in a collection of antiquities,
glass mirrors which were covered behind only with a black foil.

[173] Lib. xxxvi. cap. 26, p. 758.

[174] Lib. xxxiii. cap. 9, p. 627.

[175] Trebell. Pollio, Vita Gallien. cap. 12.

[176] Chemical Essays, vol. iv. p. 246.

[177] Plin. lib. xxxiii.: Æs inaurari argento vivo, aut certe
hydrargyro, legitimum erat. The first name here seems to signify
native quicksilver, and the second that separated from the ore by an
artificial process.

[178] Hist. Nat. Supplem. i. p. 451.

[179] Stob. Eclog. Antv. 1575, fol. p. 56.

[180] De Placitis Philos. ii. cap. 20.

[181] In Aratum, cap. 19.

[182] Lib. i. cap. 8.

[183] It is undoubtedly certain, that ὕαλος, which is translated
_vitreous_ or _glassy_, means any smooth polished body capable of
reflecting rays of light. Originally it signified a watery body; and
because watery bodies have a lustre, it was at length used for glass.
See Salmas. ad Solin. p. 771.

[184] More observations respecting the opinion of Philolaus may be
found in the edition of Plutarch’s work De Placitis Philosophorum by
Ed. Corsinus, Flor. 1750, 4to, p. 61, and p. 23.

[185] Professor Heeren having given me his opinion on this passage of
Stobæus, I shall here insert it for the satisfaction of the learned
reader. The critics, says he, will hardly be persuaded that the words
καὶ τὸ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ πυροειδὲς κατὰ τὸ ἐσοπτροειδὲς are correct, as they
can be translated different ways. With regard to the explanation of
the matter, I build only on the plain meaning of the words. The author
tells us, that Philolaus thought the sun to be a mirror; but we must
conclude that he speaks of a mirror such as were then in use; a smooth
plate of metal, and not a globe. In this case the first explanation of
a glass globe falls to the ground. This is confirmed by Eusebius, who
calls it ὑαλοειδὴς δίσκος, though it is possible that the latter word
may be a gloss added by some grammarian, or by Eusebius himself. If
we enter further into the explanation, we must adopt the plain idea,
that the rays of the sun fall upon this plate, and are reflected to us.
I am however of opinion, that ὕαλος ought to be translated _glass_,
ὑαλοειδὴς _glassy_ or _vitreous_; for the intention of Philolaus
evidently was to define the substance of the sun’s body. The result of
the whole is, Philolaus considered the sun as a plain plate of glass
which reflected the rays or brightness of the æthereal fire. But that
he was acquainted with a proper glass mirror does not thence follow
with certainty.

[186] Pourquoy reluient les fenestres de verre si fort? Pourtant que
la nature de l’estain, duquel elles sont basties par dedans, fort
clere, meslée avec le verre cler aussi de lui mesme reluyst d’avantage;
et le quel estain outrepassant ses raïons par les petits pores du
verre, et augmentant doublement la face extérieure du dit verre, la
rend grandement clere.--Problemes d’Alexandre Aphrod., traduit par M.
Herret. Paris 1555, 8vo, p. 50.

[187] Origin. lib. xvi. 15, p. 394.

[188] Origin. lib. xvi. 18, p. 396.

[189] Lib. xxxvi. cap. 26, p. 759.

[190] Bayle, Diction. Histor. vol. iv. p. 462.

[191] Printed at Leipzig, 1504, in small folio. There is an edition
also printed at Cologne in 1624, and Fabricius quotes a Venetian
edition. Pisanus seems to have been a by-name given by some one to

[192] Specul. Natur. ii. 78, p. 129.

[193] Ars Magna, cap. lxvii. p. 517, in Lullii Opera. Argent. 1607, 8vo.

[194] Opus Majus, ed. Jebb. Lond. 1733, fol. p. 346.

[195] Franc. Assisiatis et Ant. Paduani Opera. Lugd. 1653, fol.

[196] Nicephori Schol. in Synesium, in Synesii Op. Par. 1612, fol. p.

[197] In the collection of antiquities at St. Denis, an ancient mirror
was shown, which was said to have belonged to Virgil. It was oval, and
before Mabillon let it fall, was fourteen inches in length and twelve
in breadth, and weighed thirty pounds. It is transparent, and of a
brownish-yellow colour. According to experiments made on purpose, it
was found to consist of artificial glass, mixed with a considerable
portion of lead; and as it had been preserved in the above collection
from the earliest periods, the practice of adding lead to glass must be
very old. But whether this mirror was covered at the back, and how it
was covered, though these are the most important points, I find nowhere
mentioned. In the collection of the Grand Duke of Tuscany there is a
piece of the same kind, said also to have been the mirror of Virgil.
See Le Veil, Kunst auf Glas zu malen, Nurnb. 1779, 4to, p. 23, and
Hist. de l’Acad. des Sciences, 1737, p. 412.

[198] Villaret, Hist. de France. Par. 1763, xi. p. 142.

[199] In Miscellanea Berolinensia, i. p. 263; but nothing further
is said respecting the art, than that it was daily used in the
glass-houses. Had I an opportunity, I should make experiments of every
kind in order to discover a method of forming plane mirrors also in the
like manner.

[200] Wecker, in his book De Secretis, lib. x. p. 572, seems to say,
that one must lay the saturated tin leaf so carefully on the glass
plate, that no air can settle between them. According to Garzoni, the
tin leaf is spread out on a smooth stone table, and after it has been
rubbed over with quicksilver, the glass is placed above it.

[201] Tome iii. p. 87, art. _Glace_.

[202] Dict. Géog. de la France. Amst. 1762, fol. v. pp. 415, 672.

[203] A furnace for casting large glass plates, before it is fit to be
set at work, cost, it is said, 3500_l._ It seldom lasts above three
years, and even in that time it must be repaired every six months. It
takes six months to rebuild it, and three months to repair it. The
melting-pots are as big as large hogsheads, and contain above 200 cwt.
of metal. If one of them burst in the furnace, the loss of the matter
and time amounts to 250_l._--TRANS.


I do not here mean to enter into the history of engraving on stone,
as that subject has been already sufficiently illustrated by several
men of learning well acquainted with antiquities. I shall only
observe, that the ancient Greek artists formed upon glass both raised
and engraved figures; as may be seen by articles still preserved in
collections, though it is probable that many pieces of glass may
have been moulded like paste; for that art also is of very great
antiquity[204]. It appears likewise that they cut upon plates of
glass and hollow glass vessels all kinds of figures and ornaments,
in the same manner as names, coats of arms, flowers, landscapes, &c.
are cut upon drinking-glasses at present[205]. If we can believe that
learned engraver in stone, the celebrated Natter, the ancients employed
the same kind of instruments for this purpose as those used by the
moderns[206]. They undoubtedly had in like manner a wheel which moved
round in a horizontal direction above the work-table, or that machine
which by writers is called a lapidary’s wheel.

If this conjecture be true, what Pliny says respecting the various
ways of preparing glass is perfectly intelligible. It is turned, says
he, by the wheel, and engraven like silver. In my opinion we are to
understand by the first part of this sentence, that the glass was
cut by the wheel, like stone, both hollow and in relief, though it
is possible that drinking-cups or vessels may have been formed from
the glass metal by means of the wheel also[207]. In the latter part
of the sentence we must not imagine that Pliny alludes to gravers
like those used by silversmiths, for the comparison will not apply to
instruments or to the manner of working, which in silver and glass must
be totally different; but to the figures delineated on the former,
which were only cut out on the surface in a shallow manner; and such
figures were formed on glass by the ancient artists, as they are by our
glass-cutters, by means of a wheel.

Many, however, affirm that the art of glass-cutting, together with
the necessary instruments, was first invented in the beginning of the
seventeenth century. The inventor is said to have been Casper Lehmann,
who originally was a cutter of steel and iron; and who made an attempt,
which succeeded, of cutting crystal, and afterwards glass, in the like
manner. He was in the service of the emperor Rodolphus II., who, in the
year 1609, besides presents, conferred on him the title of lapidary and
glass-cutter to the court, and gave him a patent by which every one
except himself was forbidden to exercise this new art. He worked at
Prague, where he had an assistant named Zacharias Belzer; but George
Schwanhard the elder, one of his scholars, carried on the same business
to a far greater extent. The latter, who was a son of Hans Schwanhard,
a joiner at Rothenburg, was born in 1601; and in 1618 went to Prague to
learn the art of glass-cutting from Lehmann. By his good behaviour he
so much gained the esteem of his master, who died a bachelor in 1622,
that he was left his heir; and obtained from the emperor Rodolphus
a continuation of Lehmann’s patent. Schwanhard, however, removed to
Nuremberg, where he worked for many of the principal nobility; and by
these means procured to that city the honour of being accounted the
birth-place of this new art. In the year 1652 he worked at Prague and
Ratisbon by command of the emperor Ferdinand III., and died in 1667,
leaving behind him two sons, who both followed the occupation of the
father. The elder, who had the same christian name as the father, died
so early as 1676; but the other, Henry, survived him several years.
After that period Nuremberg produced in this art more expert masters,
who, by improving the tools and devising cheaper methods of employing
them, brought it to a much higher degree of perfection[208].

That the art is of so modern date seems to be confirmed by Zahn,
who speaks of it as of a new employment carried on at that time,
particularly at Nuremberg. He describes the work-table as well as the
other instruments; and gives a figure of the whole, which he appears
to have considered as the first[209]. It may be seen, however, from
what I have already quoted, that this invention does not belong
entirely to the moderns; and, to deny that the ancients were altogether
unacquainted with it, would be doing them an injustice. It was
forgotten and again revived; and this is the opinion of Caylus.

I must here remark, that before this invention there were artists,
who, with a diamond, cut or engraved figures on glass, which were
everywhere admired. Without entering, however, into the history of
diamonds, which would require more materials than I have yet been able
to collect, I will venture to assert that the ancient artists employed
diamond dust for polishing or cutting other kinds of stones. Pliny[210]
speaks of this in so clear a manner that it cannot be doubted. The same
thing has been repeated by Solinus[211], Isidore[212], and Albertus
Magnus[213], in a manner equally clear, and Mariette[214] considers
it as fully proved; but it does not appear that the ancients made any
attempts to cut this precious stone with its own dust; I mean to give
it different faces and to render it brilliant. Whether they engraved on
it in that manner I cannot pretend to decide, as the greatest artists
are not agreed on the subject. Mariette[215] denies that they did;
whereas Natter[216] seems not to deny it altogether, and Klotz[217]
confidently asserts it as a thing certain. But the last-mentioned
author knew nothing more of this circumstance than what he had read in
the above-quoted writers.

The question which properly belongs to my subject is, whether the
Greeks and the Romans used diamond pencils for engraving on other
stones. That many ancient artists assisted their labour by them, or
gave their work the finishing touches, seems, according to Natter,
to be shown by various antique gems. But even allowing this to have
been the case (for at any rate I dare not contradict so eminent a
connoisseur), I must confess that I have found no proofs that the
ancients cut glass with a diamond. We are however acquainted with the
means employed by the old glaziers to cut glass: they used for that
purpose emery, sharp-pointed instruments of the hardest steel, and
a red-hot iron, by which they directed the rents according to their

The first mention of a diamond being used for writing on glass occurs
in the sixteenth century. Francis I. of France, who was fond of the
arts, sciences, and new inventions, wrote the following lines with his
diamond ring upon a pane of glass, at the castle of Chambord, in order
to let Anne de Pisseleu, duchess of Estampes, know that he was jealous:

  Souvent femme varie,
  Mal habil qui s’y fie.

The historian recorded this not so much on account of the admonition,
which is not new, as because it was then thought very ingenious
to write upon glass[218]. About the year 1562, festoons and other
ornaments, cut with a diamond, were extremely common on Venetian
glasses, which at that period were accounted the best. George
Schwanhard the elder was a great master in this art[219]; and in more
modern times, John Rost, an artist of Augsburg, ornamented in a very
curious manner with a diamond pencil, some drinking-glasses which were
purchased by the emperor Charles VI.

I now come to the art of etching on glass, which properly was the
subject of this article. As the acid which dissolves siliceous earth,
and also glass, was first discovered in the year 1771, by Scheele
the chemist[220], in fluor-spar, one might imagine that the art of
engraving with it upon glass could not be older. It has indeed been
announced by many as a new invention[221]; but it can be proved that
it was discovered as early as the year 1670, by the before-mentioned
artist Henry Schwanhard. We are told that some aquafortis having fallen
by accident upon his spectacles, the glass was corroded by it; and
that he thence learned to make a liquid by which he could etch writing
and figures upon plates of glass[222]. How Schwanhard prepared this
liquid I find nowhere mentioned; but at present we are acquainted with
no other acid but that of fluor-spar which will corrode every kind of
glass; and it is very probable that his preparation was the same as
that known to some artists as a secret in 1721. The inventor however
employed it to a purpose different from that for which it is used at

At present the glass is covered with a varnish, and those figures which
one intends to etch are traced out through it; but Schwanhard, when the
figures were formed, covered them with varnish, and then by his liquid
corroded the glass around them; so that the figures, which remained
smooth and clear, appeared when the varnish was removed, raised from a
dim or dark ground. He perhaps adopted this method in order to render
his invention different from the art known long before of cutting the
figures on the glass as if engraven. Had he been able to investigate
properly what accident presented to him, he might have enriched the
arts with a discovery which gave great reputation to a chemist a
hundred years after.

I mentioned this old method of etching in relief to our ingenious
Klindworth, who possesses great dexterity in such arts, and requested
him to try it. He drew a tree with oil varnish and colours on a plate
of glass, applied the acid to the plate in the usual manner, and
then removed the varnish. By these means a bright, smooth figure was
produced upon a dim ground, which had a much better effect than those
figures that are cut into the glass. I recommend this process, because
I am of opinion that it may be brought to much greater perfection; and
M. Renard, that celebrated artist of Strasburg, whose thermometers with
glass scales, in which the degrees and numbers are etched, have met
with universal approbation, was of the same opinion, when I mentioned
the method to him while he resided here, banished from his home by the
disturbances in his native country.

It is probable that Schwanhard and his scholars kept the preparation
of this liquid a secret, as the receipt for that purpose was not
made known till the year 1725, though it is possible that one older
may be found in some of those books which treat on the arts. In the
above-mentioned year, Dr. John George Weygand, from Goldingen in
Courland, sent to the editor of a periodical work a receipt which had
been written out for him by Dr. Matth. Pauli of Dresden, then deceased,
who had etched, in this manner on glass, arms, landscapes, and figures
of various kinds[223]. We find by it that a strong acid of nitre was
used, which certainly disengages the acid of fluor-spar, though the
vitriolic acid is commonly employed for that purpose[224]. That the
Bohemian emerald or _hesphorus_, mentioned in the receipt, is green
fluor-spar, cannot be doubted, and will appear still more certain from
the history of this species of stone, as far as I am acquainted with
it, which I shall here insert.

In the works of the old mineralogists, fluor-spar is either not
mentioned, or is classed among their natural glasses and precious
stones; and in those of the first systematic writers it is so mingled
with quartz and calcareous and gypseous spars, that it is impossible to
discover it. The old German miners, however, distinguished it so early
as the sixteenth century, and called it _fluss_; because they used it
to accelerate the fusion of ores that were difficult to be reduced to
that state. Agricola, who first remarked this, changed the German name
into _fluor_, an appellation, which, like many others, formed by him
from German words, such for example as _quarzum_ from _quarz_, _spatum_
from _spat_, _wismuthum_, _zincum_, _cobaltum_, &c., became afterwards
common. If a passage of the ancients can be quoted that seems to allude
to fluor-spar, it is that of Theophrastus, where he says that there
are certain stones which, when added to silver, copper, and iron ores,
become fluid[225]. The first systematic writer who mentioned this kind
of stone as a particular genus, was Cronstedt.

Besides being known by its metallurgic use, fluor-spar is known also
by having the colours of some precious stones, so that it may be sold,
or at least shown as such to those who are not expert judges; because
the first time when heated in the dark it shines with a bluish-green
lustre. It is possible that fluor-spar may have been among the
number of that great variety of stones which the ancients, with much
astonishment, tell us shone in the dark; though it is certain that the
principal part of them were only light-magnets, as they are called, or
such as retain for a certain period the light they have absorbed in the
day-time. The observation, however, that fluor-spar emits light after
it is heated, seems to have been first made when artificial phosphorus
excited the inquiry of naturalists and chemists; and when they began
to search in their own country for stones which, in the property of
emitting light, might have a resemblance to the Bologna spar, made
known about the year 1630. It is well known that the latter is prepared
for that purpose by calcination. Stones of the like kind were sought
for; and among these fluor-spar, which is not scarce in Germany.

In my opinion, the observation was made in the year 1676; for in that
year Elsholz informed the members of the Society for investigating
Nature, that he was acquainted with a phosphorus which had its light
neither from the sun nor from fire, but which, when heated on a metal
plate over glowing coals, shone with a bluish-white lustre; so that by
strewing the powder of it over paper, one might form luminous writing.
I doubt much whether this experiment was ever tried; at least I find
no further account of it in the papers of the Society, nor in the
re-publication of the above author’s first dissertation, which appeared
in 1681[226].

As far as I know, Kirchmaier, professor at Wittenberg, was the first
who disclosed the secret, in the year 1679[227]. Both call this
phosphorus the smaragdine; because the ancients speak much of luminous
emeralds, and because green fluor-spar is often exhibited as an
emerald. Kirchmaier calls this mineral also _hesperus_ and _vesperugo_;
and these names have been often given since to fluor-spar, as in
the receipt before-mentioned for making a liquid to etch on glass.
Kirchmaier’s information, however, must have been very little known;
for the Jesuit Casatus, who, in 1684, wrote his Treatise on Fire, was
not acquainted with it, as he has inserted only the words of Elsholz.
This observation must have been new to Leibnitz himself, and to the
Academy of Sciences at Berlin, in 1710; for the former then mentioned
it to the Society as a philosophical novelty[228].

I shall remark, in the last place, that the manufacturing of vessels
and ornaments of every kind from solid fluor-spar was begun in
Derbyshire in the year 1765[229]. The articles formed of it are
in England called spar ornaments, and sometimes _blue John_. Many
beautiful colours must, as is said, be brought forward by means of
fire. But the heat must be applied with great caution; for fluor-spar,
as is well known, by a strong and particularly a sudden heating,
cracks, and loses its transparency. Since writing the above, I find
that M. Raspe[230] denies this bringing forward of colours by fire.


[204] Mariette, Traité des Pierres gravées. Par. 1750, fol.

[205] The two ancient glasses found at Nismes, and described in Caylus’
Recueil d’Antiquités, ii. p. 363, were probably of this sort.

[206] Natter, Traité de la Méthode antique de graver en Pierres fines,
comparé avec la Méthode moderne. Lond. 1754, fol.

[207] Of this kind were the _calices audaces_ of Martial, xiv. 94, and
those cups which often broke when the artist wished to give them the
finishing touch.

[208] See Sandrart’s Teutsche Akademie, vol. i. part 2, p. 345, where
there is much valuable information respecting the German artists.
Compare also Doppelmayer’s Nachricht von Nürnberg. Künstlern.

[209] Oculus Artificial. iii. p. 79.

[210] Lib. xxxvii.

[211] Cap. 52, p. 59.

[212] Origin. xvi. 8.

[213] De Miner. lib. ii. 2.

[214] Traité des Pierres gravées, i. pp. 90, 156.

[215] Ibid. p. 156.

[216] In the preface, p. 15.

[217] Ueber den Nutzen d. geschnitt. Steine. Altenb. 1768, p. 42.

[218] Le Veil, iii. p. 19. This anecdote however is not mentioned by
Mezeray, Castelnau, or Laboureur; and Bayle must have been unacquainted
with it, or he would have introduced it into his long article on the
Duchesse d’Estampes.

[219] Doppelmayer, p. 232.

[220] Abhandlungen der Schwed. Akad. xxxiii. p. 122.

[221] Halle, Fortgesetzte Magie. Berlin, 1788, 8vo, i. p. 516. This
author says that the invention came from England, where it was kept
very secret; but the honour of the second invention belongs to H.

[222] Schwanhard, by the acuteness of his genius, proved what was
before considered as impossible, and found out a corrosive so powerful
that the hardest crystal glass, which had hitherto withstood the force
of the strongest spirits, was obliged to yield to it, as well as
metals and stones. By these means he delineated and etched on glass,
figures of men, some naked and some dressed, and all kinds of animals,
flowers, and plants, in a manner perfectly natural; and brought them
into the highest estimation.--Sandrart, Teutsche Akademie, i. 2, p.
346.--Doppelmayer, p. 250, says, “After 1670 he accidentally found out
by the glass of his spectacles, upon which some aquafortis had fallen,
becoming quite soft, the art of etching on glass.”

[223] Breslauer Sammlung zur Natur- und Medicin-Geschichte. 1725,
January, p. 107. “Invention of a powerful acid by which figures of
every kind, according to fancy, can be etched upon glass.--When
_spiritus nitri per distillationem_ has passed into the recipient,
ply it with a strong fire, and when well dephlegmated, pour it, as it
corrodes ordinary glass, into a Waldenburg flask; then throw into it a
pulverised green Bohemian emerald, otherwise called _hesphorus_ (which,
when reduced to powder and heated, emits in the dark a green light),
and place it in warm sand for twenty-four hours. Take a piece of glass
well cleaned and freed from all grease by means of a lye; put a border
of wax round it, about an inch in height, and cover it all equally over
with the above acid. The longer you let it stand the better, and at the
end of some time the glass will be corroded, and the figures, which
have been traced out with sulphur and varnish, will appear as if raised
above the plane of the glass.” This receipt has been inserted by H.
Krunitz in his Œkonomische Encyclopedie, xi. p. 678.

[224] Klindworth covers the glass with the etching ground of the
engravers; but in the Annals of Chemistry for 1790, ii. p. 141, a
solution of isinglass in water, or a turpentine oil varnish, mixed
with a little white lead, is recommended. Complete instructions for
acquiring this art may be found there also.

[225] De Lapidibus, sect. 19.

[226] See Ephemerid. ac Nat. Cur. 1676, Dec. 1, obs. 13, p. 32; and
Elsholtii De Phosphoris Observationes, Berol. 1681, 4to.

[227] G. C. Kirchmaieri De Phosphoris et Natura Lucis, necnon de Igne,
Commentatio Epistolica. Wittebergæ, 1680, 4to.

[228] Miscellanea Berolin. 1710, vol. i. p. 97. The fluor-spar earth,
or phosphoric earth, as it is called, which in later times has been
found in marble quarries, and which some at present consider as an
earth saturated with phosphoric acid, is mentioned by the Swede Hierne,
in Prodromus Hist. Nat. Sueciæ. Henkel had never seen it.

[229] Watson’s Chemical Essays, ii. p. 277.

[230] Descriptive Catalogue of Tassie’s Engraved Gems, Lond. 1791, 2
vols. 4to, i. p. 51.


That the first express mention of soap occurs in Pliny and Galen, and
that the former declares it to be an invention of the Gauls, though he
prefers the German to the Gallic soap[231], has already been remarked
by many. Pliny says that soap[232] was made of tallow and ashes; that
the best was made of goats’ tallow and the ashes of the beech-tree, and
that there were two kinds of it, hard and soft. The author of a work on
simple medicines, which is ascribed to Galen, but which however does
not seem to have been written by that author, and of which only a Latin
translation has been printed, speaks of soap being made by a mixture
of oxen, goats’, or sheep’s tallow, and a lye of ashes strengthened
with quicklime. He says the German soap was the purest, the fattest,
and the best, and that the next in quality was the Gallic[233]. This
account corresponds more exactly with the process used in Germany at
present; whereas the French use mineral alkali, and instead of tallow,
employ oil, which appears to be a later invention. Pliny in his
description does not speak of quicklime; but as he mentions a mixture
of goats’ tallow and quicklime a little before, it is probable that
the use of the latter was then known at Rome. Gallic and German soap
are often mentioned by later writers[234], as well as by the Arabians,
sometimes on account of their external use as a medicine, and sometimes
on account of their use in washing clothes. The latter purpose is that
for which soap is principally employed in modern times; but it does not
seem to have been the cause of German soap being introduced at Rome.
Washing there was the occupation of indigent scourers, who did not give
themselves much trouble concerning foreign commodities. The German
soap, with which, as Pliny tells us, the Germans coloured their hair
red, was imported to Rome for the use of the fashionable Roman ladies
and their gallants. There is no doubt that the _pilæ Mattiacæ_, which
Martial recommends as a preventive of gray hair[235]; the _caustica
spuma_ with which the Germans dyed their hair[236]; and the Batavian
froth or lather which the Romans employed for colouring theirs[237],
were German soap. It is probable that the Germans tinged it with those
plants which were sent to Rome for dyeing the hair[238]; and according
to the modern manner of speaking, it was more properly a kind of pomade
than soap.

It appears that the Romans at first considered hair-soap as an ointment
made from ashes; for we read in various passages of ancient authors,
that the hair was dyed by means of ashes, or an ointment made of ashes
and a certain kind of oil. It is however possible that they may have
had such an ointment, which undoubtedly would be of a saponaceous
nature, before they were acquainted with the German soap, or that they
imitated the German pomade with different variations[239].

As soap is everywhere used for washing at present, a question arises
what substitutes were employed before it was invented. Those with which
I am acquainted I shall mention and endeavour to illustrate. They are
all still used, though not in general; and they are all of a soapy
nature, or at least have the same effects as soap; so that we may say
the ancients used soap without knowing it.

Our soap is produced by a mixture of lixivious salts and tallow, by
which means the latter becomes soluble in water. The greater part of
the dirt on our linen and clothes consists of oily perspiration or
grease, or dust which that grease attracts, and which either cannot
be washed out, or, but very imperfectly, by water alone. But if warm
water, to which lixivious salts have in any manner been added, be
taken, and if dirty cloth be rubbed in it, the greasy dirt unites with
the salts, becomes saponaceous, and is so far soluble in water that it
may be washed out. There are also natural juices which are of a soapy
quality, in the state in which we find them, and which can be employed
in the stead of artificial soap. Of this kind is the gall of animals
and the sap of many plants. The former being less strong in its effects
on account of its slimy nature, is used at present particularly for
coloured stuffs, the dye of which is apt to fade. As far as I know,
however, it was not employed by the ancients[240], but it is certain
that in washing they used saponaceous plants.

In the remotest periods it appears that clothes were cleaned by being
rubbed or stamped upon in water, without the addition of any substance
whatever. We are told by Homer, that Nausicaa and her attendants washed
their clothes by treading upon them with their feet in pits, into which
they had collected water[241]. The epithet black, which the poet gives
to the water, might induce one to conjecture that it had been mixed
with ashes, which would convert it into a lye; but where were the ashes
to be found? Had they brought them along with them, the bard, where
he before enumerates everything that they carried with them, and even
oil, would not have failed to mention them; and such a conjecture is
rendered entirely groundless by his applying the same epithet to pure
water, in other places, where nothing can be supposed to have coloured
it[242]. Water, when it stands in deep pits, reflects so few rays of
light, that in a poetical sense it may very properly be called black.

We find however mention made at later periods of ashes, and a lye of
ashes employed for washing; but I think very seldom, and I do not know
how old the use of them may be. According to Julius Pollux, _konia_,
mentioned by Aristophanes and Plato, was a substance used for washing;
and he says expressly, that we are to understand by it a lye of ashes.
This I mention for the sake of those, who, like me, place little
confidence in the terms of art given in dictionaries. With the above
lye, oil- and wine-jars were cleaned[243]; and it was employed also for
washing the images of the gods[244]. The method of strengthening the
lye by means of unslaked lime was known, at any rate, in the time of
Paulus Ægineta; but it appears that the Romans were not acquainted with
the salt itself, which is procured by dissolving common wood-ashes in
water: I mean, they did not understand the art of producing it in a dry
solid form, or of boiling potashes.

On the other hand, that fixed lixivious salt, the mineral which nature
presents in many of the southern countries, was long known and used in
washing. This was the _nitrum_, or, as the people of Attica pronounced
it, the _litrum_, of the ancients, as has already been remarked by
others[245]. It would however be worth the trouble to investigate the
proofs still further. By examining them with more mineralogical and
chemical knowledge than have hitherto been employed for that purpose,
they might be further strengthened, and serve to illustrate many
obscure passages. For my part, I have neither leisure nor room here
to undertake such a task, though I have collected many observations
relative to that subject. It is certain at any rate, that the ancients
employed _nitrum_ for washing, and it is evident from the testimony of
various authors, that it was much used in the baths[246].

That the people of Egypt, in the time of Pliny, made mineral alkali
also from the ashes of some plants, we have reason to conclude, because
he says that it was necessary to put the Egyptian nitre into vessels
well-corked, else it became liquid. Natural alkali is never liable to
do so, unless it be very much burnt; and as no reason is assigned for
its assuming that form, we may believe that the Egyptian alkali was the
strongly burnt ashes of those plants which are still used in Egypt for
making salt, and perhaps the same with which the Spaniards were made
acquainted by the Arabians, and which they cultivate for making soda.

Strabo speaks of an alkaline water in Armenia, which was used by the
scourers for washing clothes[247]. Of this kind also must have been
the lake Ascanius, which is mentioned by Aristotle[248], Antigonus
Carystius[249], and Pliny[250]. It is worthy of remark, that the
ancients made ointments of this mineral alkali and oil, but not hard
soap, though by these means they approached nearer to the invention
than the old Germans in their use of wood-ashes; for dry solid soap
can be made with more ease from the mineral than the vegetable alkali;
and when Hungarian, French, and German soap are of equal goodness, the
last does more credit to the manufacturers because they cannot employ
the mineral alkali. I shall here observe, that this alkali was used for
washing by the Hebrews, and that it occurs in the sacred writings under
the name of _borith_[251].

The cheapest however, and the most common article used for washing,
was the urine of men and animals. When this excrement becomes old, the
alkali disengages itself, which may be perceived by its fœtid smell;
and such alkalised urine being warmed, and employed to wash greasy
clothes, produces the same effects as the _nitrum_ of the ancients. It
is still used for the like purpose in our cloth manufactories.

To procure a supply of it, the ancient washers and scourers placed at
the corners of the streets, vessels which they carried away after they
had been filled by the passengers, who were at liberty to use them; and
the practice of having such conveniences was certainly more decent than
that of employing the walls of churches and other buildings, which the
police of Dresden forbade some years ago, but with no effect. At Rome,
that which at present spoils and renders filthy our noblest edifices,
was converted to use. When clothes were washed, they were trod upon
with the feet, as was the case in the cloth manufactories at Leeds,
Halifax, and other places of England, where the urine was collected
by servants, and sold by measure to the manufacturers under the name
of _old lant_. On account of the disagreeable smell attending their
employment, scourers at Rome were obliged to reside either in the
suburbs or in some of the unfrequented streets[252].

My readers here will undoubtedly call to remembrance the source of
taxation devised by the emperor Vespasian, who, as his historians tell
us, _urinæ vectigal commentus est_[253]. It is not certainly known
in what manner this impost was regulated. Did the emperor declare
that article, which was not _subterraneum rarius_, to be a regale as
a _res derelicta_, so that the scourers were obliged to pay him what
he thought a reasonable sum proportioned to the benefit which they
derived from it? Or was it imposed only as a poll-tax? For every tax
upon anything indispensably necessary to all, is, to speak in the
language of finance, the same as what is called a poll-tax, or a tax
paid by every one who has a head. The latter conjecture is the most
probable, especially as this tax continued two centuries, till the time
of Anastasius, and as we read also of _vectigal pro urina jumentorum et
canum_, which was exacted from every person who kept cattle. Vespasian
therefore was not fortunate in the choice of a name for his tribute,
which on that account must have been undoubtedly more detested. A
poll-tax at present is called by those who do not speak favourably of
it, the Turkish-tax, because the Turks impose it on all unbelievers.
When it was introduced by Louis XIV. in 1695, he called it _la

Of plants with a saponaceous juice, the ancients, at any rate, used one
instead of soap; but it is difficult or rather impossible to define
it. I shall not therefore content myself merely with transcribing the
passages where it is mentioned, but I shall arrange whatever I can find
respecting it in such a manner, as, according to my opinion, the names
of plants ought to be explained in dictionaries.

Στρουθίον, Struthium, Latinis Herba lanaria, et Plinio etiam Radicula.

    1. Est planta spinosa, _Theophrastus_, _Plinius_.

    2. Grata aspectu, sed sine odore, _Theophrastus_, _Plinius_.

    3. Folio oleæ, _Plinius_; vel papaveris Heraclei, _Theophrastus_.

    4. Caule ferulaceo, tenui, lanuginoso, eduli, _Plinius_.

    5. Radice magna, acri, medicinali, _Plinius_, _Dioscorides_;
       spumescente, _Lucian_.

    6. Floret æstate, _Theophrastus_. _Plinius_; sed semen nullum,

    7. Nascitur saxosis et asperis locis, _Plinius_.

    8. Sponte, præcipue in Asia Syriaque; trans Euphratem laudatissima;
       sativa ubique, _Plinius_.

    9. Radix conditur ad lanas lavandas, _Theophrastus_, _Plinius_,
       _Dioscorides_, _Columella_, et alii.

    10. Herba ovibus lac auget, _Plinius_.

The above is all that the ancients have told us respecting this plant.
The information is indeed very scanty, and at the same time it is not
altogether certain; but even if it were, it would be sufficient only
to confute some conjectures, but not to establish the systematic name
of the plant. I call the properties of it described to us uncertain:
first, because I do not know whether Pliny did not mean to distinguish
the wild plant from that which was cultivated, and many have understood
as alluding to the former that which I have applied to both: secondly,
because the words of Theophrastus, being in one passage evidently
corrupted, will admit of various constructions; and because in another,
on account of some exceptions, of which he speaks, they appear at
least to me unintelligible: thirdly, because Pliny, who gives us the
best account of it, is the only author who calls the _struthium_ or
soap-plant _radicula_, a name by which is rather to be understood a
dye-plant of the same kind as madder. We have reason therefore to
suspect that he has confounded the properties of the two plants,
especially as the fourth property was ascribed by others to a _Rubia_,
_Asperula_, or _Galium_, which was cultivated in Syria, and named
often _radicula Syriaca_. On the other hand, this diminutive is very
ill-suited to a root which Pliny himself calls large.

The words of that author, “tingenti, quicquid sit cum quo decoquatur,”
have been by some explained as if he meant that the _struthium_ was
a dye-plant, though as a soapy plant it must have been destitute of
colour; and they have hence deduced a proof that Pliny confounded the
_struthium_ with the _radicula_ used in dyeing. On the other hand,
Hardouin reads _unguentis_ instead of _tingenti_. He assures us that he
found the former in manuscripts, and is of opinion that the sap of the
_struthium_ was used also for ointments.

In my opinion, however, _tingenti_ must be retained; and the meaning
is that when cloth was to be dyed it was necessary to prepare it
for that purpose by soaking it and washing it with the sap of this
plant. This he expressly tells us himself; “tingentibus et radicula
lanas præparat.” It is probable that the ancient dyers mixed their
dye-liquors with the juice of the _struthium_, for the same purpose as
bran and the seeds of fenugreek are added to dye-liquors at present;
that is, to render them thicker and more slimy, in order that the
colouring particles may be longer and more equally suspended in or
diffused through them[254]. The words _quidquid sit cum quo decoquatur_
will now become intelligible. Whatever may be employed for dyeing, says
the author, the addition of the juice of the _struthium_ is serviceable.

As what has been said contains nothing that can enable us to determine
the genus of the _struthium_ according to the rules of botany, we may
be allowed to conjecture that it was one of those plants still used
for the like purpose in Italy and other neighbouring countries. Fuchs
thinks it must have been the _Saponaria officinalis_ (soap-wort), the
roots of which indeed contain a saponaceous juice that readily changes
the saliva into froth. The root was employed for that purpose by the
impostor in Lucian; and the juice is used at present for cleaning wool
and cloth. In the Helvetian Alps, the sheep, before they are shorn, are
washed with a decoction of the plant and its roots; and with a mixture
of ashes it serves for cleaning linen. The taste of it is so sharp,
that it is compared by some to that of the small burnet-saxifrage.

This _Saponaria officinalis_ however differs too much from the
remaining properties[255] of the _struthium_. Its root is as thick
only as a quill, or at most as one’s finger. The stem, which is three
feet in height, throws out many branches, and cannot be called _caulis
ferulaceus, tenuis_. It is not rough and prickly, and, instead of
growing in poor rocky soil, it is rather fond of deep ground and the
borders of corn-fields.

We may therefore conjecture with more probability that the _Gypsophila
Struthium_, Linn.[256], a plant still used for washing in the lower
part of Italy and Spain, is the _struthium_ of the ancients. This
opinion acquires some strength by its being adopted among the Italians
and Spaniards; and because the plant, as Pliny says, grows in a rocky
soil and on the mountains. It is also still called _lanaria_ by the
Calabrian peasants. It has a tender stem; its leaves are so like those
of the olive-tree that they might be compared to them by those who
are not botanists; and its root is large, but it is neither rough nor
prickly. This contradiction may be accounted for by supposing that
Pliny, through a mistake, of which I have already accused him, ascribed
falsely to the soap-plant the prickly or rough leaves of the dye-plant
which had an affinity to madder. But even after this explanation there
still remains to be got over a dubious passage of Theophrastus, who
indeed seems to make the plant prickly also.

I do not therefore place entire confidence in this opinion; but suspect
rather that we shall receive from the East an account of a plant, still
used there, which will correspond more exactly with the soap-plant
described by Pliny. I am inclined to think that I have already found
some precursory information respecting it in Bauhin, who says that in
Syria there is another kind of soap-plant, which has prickly leaves
like the thistle, and a thick root of a sharp acrid taste. The root, he
adds, was employed for washing clothes and wool; and the confectioners
of Damascus formed of it, with honey and wine, a kind of sweetmeat
which appeared as white as if it had been made of the finest flour and
sugar, and which was so hard that it could scarcely be broken with the
teeth. This plant seems to belong to those, the cultivation of which
was abandoned in Europe, after the use of them was rendered superfluous
by newer discoveries.

That the ancients employed their _struthium_ for washing wool is
confirmed by various authorities; but I do not remember to have found
any evidence of its being used for cleaning clothes which had been
worn. Salmasius however quotes a passage from the works, unfortunately
never printed, of the old chemist Zosimus, in which he gives directions
for restoring, by means of the soap-plant, the lustre of pearls which
have become yellow[257].

The meal of many kinds of seeds may be used for washing, as well as
various kinds of bran. That of almonds, which on account of its oil is
remarkably soft, is employed at present for washing the hands by those
who are desirous of having a white delicate skin. Cloth, the colours of
which easily fade, and which will neither endure soap nor hard rubbing,
may be washed extremely well with bran. Our fullers, therefore, and
stocking manufacturers use oat-, barley- and bean-meal, especially when
they wish the cloth to be slowly milled. Whether the ancients employed
bran in the same manner I have not had an opportunity of examining.
I am rather inclined to think that they did; and there is a passage
of Galen which seems to allude to the use of bean-meal[258]. In all
probability the beans of the ancients were the smallest and roundest
variety of our horse-beans, or those used as fodder.

In the last place, the ancients, at those periods of which I speak,
used fullers-earth much oftener than it is used at present. Till the
countries where it was procured be described by travellers who unite
a knowledge of antiquities with skill in mineralogy, the species of
this earth, mentioned in the works of ancient authors, cannot be
distinguished with accuracy. But from the purposes to which they were
applied, we can with certainty conclude that they must have been partly
of the nature of marl and partly of the nature of soapstone.

According to the then usual method of washing, by which the clothes
were stamped with the feet, the _cretæ fulloniæ_, as Pliny[259]
calls them, acted in the same manner as our fullers-earth employed
at present, partly by scouring and partly by absorbing the greasy
dirt. The ancients, after their manner, gave them names only from the
countries where they were produced; and hence we find mention made
of _terra Cimolia_[260], _Chia_[261], _Lemnia_[262], _Sarda_[263],
_Umbria_[264], _Samia_, _Tymphæa_[265], and others. Many of them, like
that brought from Sardinia, could not be used in cleaning coloured
stuffs; and for this reason, perhaps, because some colours would not
stand hard scouring, or endure their caustic nature.

The fullers, however, did not use these earths merely for washing, but
also for whitening many kinds of cloth. This was done by rubbing fine
white earth into the cloth, in the same manner as soldiers do to give
some parts of their dress a brighter appearance. A like process is
employed by glovers and those who wash or clean leather. The earth used
by the latter is a yellowish-white iron-ochre, called from the purpose
to which it is applied collar-earth[266]. When a perfect white was
required, a kind of white potters-clay or marl was employed; and the
closer it adhered to the cloth, and the less easily it could be rubbed
out, it was so much the better. The poor at Rome rubbed it over their
clothes on festivals, in order that they might appear brighter[267].

It deserves here to be particularly remarked, that some of these
earths, such as that of Chios, were employed in the baths instead of
nitrum; and this is the case in the Levant still. De la Valle extols
in this respect a kind of reddish earth, and says that people of the
first distinction never bathe without it. Perfumes are often mixed with
it; and it is formed into small balls, which when used are suffered to
dissolve in the water. Different kinds of vessels, and particularly
those in which wine and oil had been kept, were cleansed with these
earths also[268]. Glass flasks which have had oil in them, cannot be
cleansed better or more speedily than by shaking in them a mixture
of fullers-earth or potters-clay. When these are not to be had,
blotting-paper may be used. The oil is absorbed by the earth or the
paper, and with them can be easily washed out.

To render cloth perfectly white, it was also fumigated with sulphur by
the fullers, who were not ignorant that many colours were destroyed by
its vapours[269]. We are told by Apuleius that the wife of a scourer
concealed her gallant under a vessel of basket-work, over which cloth
used to be laid to whiten by the effects of sulphur kindled under it.
Our washer-women employ a cask in this mode of bleaching, and our
clothiers a small close apartment, in which the wet cloth is suspended
upon hooks.

Pliny has described the method of washing used at Rome, but many
things respecting it appear to me obscure[270]. The cloth was first
washed with Sardian earth; it was then fumigated with sulphur, and
afterwards rinsed with real Cimolian earth. The word _desquamatur_ was
undoubtedly a term of art, which cannot be further explained, because
we are unacquainted with the operation to which it alludes. Pliny seems
to have been particular in mentioning real Cimolian earth, because the
false kind became black by the steam of the sulphur which the cloth
absorbed. Was it adulterated with some metallic oxide or with white
lead? It was dear enough to induce people to mix it with such articles;
and in that case it must necessarily have become black.

The expression _funditur sulphure_ seems to be attended with no
less difficulty. In comparing the different readings, I find that
the oldest editions have _offunditur_, which has been changed into
_effunditur_, and lastly into _funditur_. It is probable however that
instead of _offunditur_ we ought to read _offenditur_, which would
make the whole clear. I am much surprised that this reading was not
adopted by Hardouin. As Pliny says in other parts of his work “offendit
stomachum,” and “offendit aciem oculorum,” he might undoubtedly have
applied that word to the earth and its colour.

Fast colours, which the acid of sulphur might render pale, but could
not entirely destroy, would by washing with Cimolian earth be improved
or rather restored, as the earth would absorb and carry off the acid.
There was also another kind of earth (_saxum_) which was useful in the
preparation of cloth fumigated with sulphur, but which injured the
dye, probably because it was too calcareous, and which was perhaps our
common chalk.

I do not intend to treat here of the whole art of Roman fullers, which
belongs rather to the history of weaving or manufacturing cloth in
general; but I hope I shall be forgiven if I add the few following
observations. The fullers received the cloth as it came from the loom,
in order that it might be scoured, walked and smoothed. It was walked
by being stamped upon with the feet. The rough wool raised by this
operation was combed off, partly with the skin of a hedgehog, and
partly with the tops of some plants of the thistle kind, in order to
give the cloth a nap. Shearing seems not then to have been known: I
have at least met with no passage where it is mentioned: and the case
is the same with the use of presses; which, in my opinion, were not
invented till the sixteenth century. The whole process of smoothing
seems to have consisted in making the wool or nap lie as evenly as
possible one way, which certainly must have given to the cloth a much
better appearance.

As cloth at present is more dressed and shorn on one side than another,
the ancient fullers prepared theirs in the like manner; so that clothes
could be turned, after the inside of them had been new dressed. Whether
they made felt, also, I have not yet inquired; but I conjecture that
the manufacturing it was the occupation of those called _lanarii_,
_coactores_, and _coactilarii_.

The occupation of the fullers was at Rome very extensive, and afforded
employment to a great number of people, but it at length entirely
decayed. Schöttgen is of opinion that it belongs to those arts which
have been lost. But other writers have declared arts which are
exercised now in greater perfection than formerly to be lost, merely
because they were not acquainted with them; or because, on account of
the alterations they have undergone, they did not know where to find
them. All the different operations of fulling have become so complex by
new methods, improvements, and inventions, that they can no longer be
conducted by one man; and the whole business has for that reason been
separated or divided into several distinct branches.

The scouring of cloth when it comes from the loom, was, together with
walking, separated from the rest, after the invention of the walk-mill.
How old that invention may be, I cannot accurately determine; but we
find it mentioned in the beginning of the thirteenth, and even at the
end of the tenth century. Such a mill formerly was call _fullencium_,
or _molendinum cum fullone_[271]. The dressing and smoothing of cloth,
since the invention of shearing and pressing, requires so much art,
that these operations can be performed only by skilful workmen, who are
called cloth-shearers or cloth-dressers. The scouring of cloth dirtied
in manufacturing, is by the invention of soap, bleaching, and other
processes, become so easy that it can be performed by women. The Romans
for the most part wore a white dress made in the form of a cloak; which
indeed, as shirts were not then used, must have often stood in need of
being cleaned[272]. We, on the other hand, wear in general short close
clothes of coloured cloth; which by the fashion in which they are made,
are less exposed to be dirtied; and we are more accustomed also to use
clothes of linen or cotton, which can be washed with much less labour.
Felt, which is employed almost for hats alone, is manufactured by our
hat-makers. Whoever takes a general view of all these employments
together, will be readily convinced that they maintain more people, and
in a better manner, than the whole _ars fullonia_ did at Rome.

[The principal kinds of soap manufactured in this country are,--white
soap, composed chiefly of tallow and soda, but for some purposes of
olive oil and soda; yellow soap, made of tallow, rosin and soda,
a little palm oil being occasionally added; mottled soap, formed
of tallow, kitchen stuff and soda, its peculiar appearance being
communicated by dispersing the lees through it towards the end of the
operation; brown soap, made from palm oil, rosin and soda. Soft soap is
made with potash and drying oils, either alone or mixed with tallow,
and other coarse fatty matters. The fatty matter is mixed with the
alkaline ley, and the whole boiled gently for some time, until the fat
is completely saponified, which may be known by its becoming clear and
transparent, and its susceptibility of being drawn into long threads.
A quantity of common salt is then added to the boiling mixture, until
the soap loses its thready character, and drops from the spatula in
short thick lumps. The soap is then removed, either after cooling, or
at once ladled out. Common fatty matters, as tallow, fat-oils, &c.,
are compounds of a fatty acid with a base, thus resembling salts; the
base is a peculiar sweet principle, glycerine; by ebullition with
the caustic lye, the neutral fatty compound is decomposed, the fatty
acid combining with the base soda, and forming the soap, whilst the
glycerine with the excess of alkali remains in the liquid.

The so-called _silicated_ soap, of which large quantities are now
manufactured, is made by combining silicate of soda with hard soap
in the hot and pasty state; in this way from 10 to 30 per cent. of
the silicate may be introduced. Such soap possesses, according to
Dr. Ure, very powerful detergent qualities, but it is apt to feel
hard and somewhat gritty in use. The silicated soda is obtained by
boiling ground flints in a strong caustic lye. Many substances are
used to adulterate soap, such as potatoe-starch, clay, &c., for which
_improvements_, as they are termed, numerous patents have been granted
in this country.

In Great Britain the hard kind of soap is chiefly made at Liverpool
and London, but in considerable quantities also at Runcorn, Bristol,
Brentford, Hull, Bromsgrove, Plymouth and Sethwick, and at Glasgow and
Leith in Scotland; the soft soap is made principally at Liverpool,
Glasgow and Bradford; and silicated soap is likewise extensively
manufactured at Liverpool.

From the excise returns, it appears that 140,712,535 pounds of hard,
9,788,851 pounds of soft, and 3,921,862 pounds of silicated soap were
made in England in 1841; and 10,708,464 pounds of hard, and 4,535,030
pounds of soft soap in Scotland; making in all 169,666,742 pounds,
which is an increase of about 30 per cent. since 1832[273].

The excise duty on soap was first imposed in Great Britain in 1711,
when it was fixed at 1_d._ per pound. It was raised in 1713 to 1½_d._
per pound; and again, in 1782, when hard and soft soap were first
distinguished, the former being rated at 2¼_d._, and the latter at
1¾_d._ per pound. In 1816, that on hard soap was increased to 3_d._
per pound. But since May 31, 1833, the duty has been 1½_d._ per pound
on hard soap, and 1_d._ per pound on soft. In 1839, the number of soap
manufacturers in England was 177; in Scotland 19; and in Ireland 183.
Each requires an annual license, costing 4_l._

An allowance of duty is made on soap used in the woollen, silk, flax,
and cotton manufactures, which in 1841 was granted on 10,190,160 pounds
of hard, and 9,090,184 pounds of soft soap; the allowances amounting
to 78,112_l._ In the same year the net amount yielded by the soap-duty
to the public revenue was 815,864_l._ Ireland is not subject to the

The soap-maker was formerly subjected to an arbitrary and vexatious
interference from the excise; but of late years the regulations have
been greatly improved, and there is now no superintendence of the
process of manufacture, which may be conducted in any way and of any


[231] Plin. xviii. 12, sect. 51, p. 475.

[232] It is beyond all doubt that the words _sapo_ and σάπων were
derived from the German _sepe_, which has been retained in the
Low German, the oldest and original dialect of our language. In
the High German this derivation has been rendered a little more
undistinguishable by the _p_ being changed into the harder _f_. Such
changes are common, as _schap_, _schaf_; _schip_, _schiff_, &c.

[233] De Simplicibus Medicaminibus, p. 90, G.

[234] According to Aretæus De Diuturnis Morbis, ii. 13, p. 98, soap
appears to have been formed into balls.

[235] Mart. xiv. 27. This soap acquired the epithet of _Mattiacum_ from
the name of a place which was in Hesse.


  Caustica Teutonicos accendit spuma capillos,
    Captivis poteris cultior esse comis.--Mart. xiv. 26.

These lines are generally explained in this manner:--“Dye thy hair with
soap, and it will become more beautiful than that of the Germans.” But
in this case all the wit of the advice is lost; and the expression,
“eris cultior quam comæ captivæ,” seems to me to be very improper. I
should rather translate them as follows:--“Let the Germans dye their
hair with pomade; as they are now subdued, thou mayst ornament thyself
better with a peruke made of the hair of these captives.” This was a
piece of delicate flattery to Domitian and the Roman pride. That prince
thought he had conquered the Germans; and the most beautiful German
hair, that which was not dyed, could be procured, therefore, at Rome,
much easier than before. If the title of this epigram was written by
Martial himself, it contains the first mention of the word _sapo_.


  Fortior et tortos servat vesica capillos,
    Et mutat Latias spuma Batava comas.--Mart. viii. 23, 19.

The first line of the above proves that people then covered their
heads, in the night-time, with a bladder to keep their hair, after it
was dressed, from being deranged; and a bladder was undoubtedly as fit
for that use as the nets and cauls employed for the like purpose at


  Femina canitiem Germanis inficit herbis.
                            Ovidius De Arte Amandi, iii. 163.


  Valer. Max. i. 5, p. 135: Capillos cinere rutilarunt.
    Ad rutilam speciem nigros flavescere crines,
    Unguento cineris prædixit Plinius auctor.
                                Q. Serenus, De Medic. iv. 56.

Serenus seems to allude to a passage of Pliny, xxiii. 2, p. 306, where
he speaks of an ointment made from the burnt lees of vinegar and _oleum
lentiscinum_. The same thing is mentioned in Dioscorides, v. 132, p.
379. Servius, Æn. iv. quotes the following words from Cato: “Mulieres
nostræ cinere capillum ungitabant, ut rutilus esset crinis.” Alex.
Trallianus, 1, 3, gives directions how to make an ointment for gray
hair from soap and the ashes of the white flowers of the _Verbascum_.
The _Cinerarii_, however, of Tertullian, lib. ii. _ad uxor._ 8, p. 641,
seem to have been only hair-dressers, who were so called because they
warmed their curling-irons among the hot ashes.

[240] Pliny says that spots of the skin may be removed by ox-gall.

[241] Odyss. vi. 91.

[242] Iliad, ix. 14, and xvi. 4.

[243] Geopon. vii. 6.--Plin. xiv. cap. 21.--Columella, xii. 50. 14.

[244] Arnobius, vii. p. 237.

[245] The word λίτρον in Pollux ought not to have been translated

[246] Cicer. Ep. Fam. viii. 14.--Pollucis Onom. viii. 9, 39; x.
135.--Ovid. De Medicam. Faciei, ver. 73 et 85.--Phavorini Dictionar. p.
527. Gynesius calls clothes washed with _nitrum_, νιτρούμενα, _nitro

[247] Lib. xi. p. 801.

[248] De Mirabil. Auscult. c. 54.

[249] Hist. Mirab. c. 162, p. 216.

[250] Lib. xxxi. 10, p. 564.

[251] J. D. Michaelis Commentationes, 4to, p. 151. I must mention also
C. Schoettgenii Antiquitates Fulloniæ, Traj. 1727, 8vo. My readers will
do me a pleasure if they compare the above work with this article. No
one will accuse me of vanity when I pretend to understand the theory
of washing better than the learned Schöttgen; but if I have explained
the passages which he quotes in a more satisfactory manner, and turned
them to more advantage, I must ascribe this superiority to my knowledge
of that art. I shall here take occasion to remark, that there is no
subject, however trifling, which may not be rendered useful, or at
least agreeable, by being treated in a scientific manner; and to turn
such into ridicule, instead of displaying wit, would betray a want of

[252] Plin. xxviii. 6; xxviii. 8.--Martial. vi. ep. 93.--Athenæus, xi.
p. 484. Macrobius, ii. 12, speaking of drunken people, “Dum eunt, nulla
est in angiporto amphora, quam non impleant, quippe qui vesicam plenam
vini habeant.” This passage is quoted also in Joh. Sarisberg. Polior.
viii. 7, p. 479.

[253] Sueton. in Vita Vespas. viii. 23.

[254] Porner’s Anleitung zur Farbekunst, p. 31.

[255] Those numbered 3, 4, 5, 6.

[256] This plant was sent by Imperati to Casp. Bauhin, under the name
of _lanaria veterum_; and the latter made it first known in his Pinax
Plant. iv. p. 206. The former described it himself, and gave a bad
engraving of it, in Hist. Nat. p. 871. Löffling found this plant on the
Spanish mountains, as well as in the neighbourhood of Aranjuez; and
he relates, that in the province of La Mancha the people boil clothes
that are to be washed with the root of this plant _instead of soap_.
Linnæus did not hesitate to declare the _struthium_ of the ancients
and the _struthium_ of his system to be the same plant; and he gave
his countrymen reason to hope that their _Gypsophila fastigiata_,
which has a great resemblance to it, might be employed in the like
manner.--Amœnitat. Academ. v. p. 329.

[257] Salmas. ad Solin. p. 818. a.

[258] De Alimentor. Facultate, i. cap. 19. in Op. vol. iv. p. 315.

[259] Lib. xvii. 18.

[260] Pollux.--Plin.

[261] Dioscor.

[262] This _terra Lemnia_ is entirely different from sealing-earth. See
Galen. De Simplic. Med.

[263] Plin.

[264] Plin. The _Sarda_ was cheap, and purchased by measure; the
_Umbria_ was dearer, and sold by weight.

[265] Theophrast. Dioscor.

[266] I here mean that it got its name from being employed to clean
that piece of armour, formerly used, which covered only the breast and
the back, and which was called a _koller_. The Swedes also call yellow
iron-ochre _kiöllerfärg_ or _kyllerfarg_.

[267] See Taubmann’s Annotations to Plauti Aulular. iv. sc. 9, 6.

[268] Geopon. vii. 6.--Plin. xiv. cap. 21.--Columella, xii. 50, 14.

[269] Pollux, vii. 11, 41, 715.--Plin. xxxv. 17, p. 719; and xxxv. 15,
p. 714.--Isidor. Origin. xvi. 1.

[270] Lib. xxxv. cap. 17, sec. 57.

[271] Du Cange in his Glossarium.

[272] I acknowledge myself one of those who cannot form a proper idea
of the Roman _toga_. It is certain that the weavers made each piece
of cloth only large enough to be fit for this article of dress; or
that when one _toga_ was wove, it was cut from the loom, in order
that another might be begun. On this account we find so often the
expressions _texere vestes_, _texere togas_. It appears, also, that the
_toga_, when it came from the hands of the weaver, was quite ready for
use; and we therefore never read of tailors, but when torn clothes were
to be mended. The _toga_ had no sleeves, and perhaps no seam. If it
was stitched along the edges before, half-way up, the assistance of a
tailor would not be necessary for that purpose. It was bound round the
body with a girdle, and fastened with clasps. Such a mantle could be
easily made and easily scoured. One may now readily comprehend why the
Roman authors never mention cloth manufactories, or cloth, among the
articles of commerce, but speak only of clothes; and why we never read
of cloth being measured.

[273] Waterston’s Encyclopædia of Commerce.


This plant, the root of which is either dried and bruised, or used
fresh, for dyeing red, has a weak, square, jointed stem; and rises to
the height of eight feet when supported, otherwise it creeps along the
ground. At each joint there are from four to six leaves, about three
inches in length, almost an inch broad in the middle, and pointed at
both ends. The upper side of the leaves is smooth; but the middle nerve
of the under side is armed with small rough prickles; and others of
the same kind may be found on the stem. On this account, the leaves,
which drop annually, adhere readily to other bodies, like those of the
_asperugo_. The branches, which in June bear flowers divided into four
yellow leaves, proceed from the joints. The fruit, a kind of berry,
which, towards the time of its ripening, though that seldom happens
among us, is first of a brownish colour, and then black, contains a
round seed. The roots grow sometimes to the thickness of one’s finger,
push themselves deep into the earth, are surrounded by many small
fibres, have a yellowish-red pith, and are covered with a black bark
or rind. This plant grows wild in the Levant, as well as in Italy, the
southern parts of France, and in Switzerland. The cultivated kind is
well known, and is propagated with much advantage in various countries
of Europe.

When one compares this short description with what Dioscorides says of
a plant which he calls _ereuthodanon_, it will be readily seen that he
meant our madder. He even compares its long square stem, armed with
a great many hooks, to that of the _asperugo_; and he tells us that
the leaves stand in the form of a star around the joints. The fruit
was at first green, then red, and lastly black. The thin long roots,
adds he, which are red, serve for dyeing; and on that account the
cultivated kind (he must therefore have been acquainted with the wild
sort) is reared with much benefit in Galilee, around Ravenna in Italy
and in Caria, where it is planted either among the olive-trees, or in
fields destined for that purpose. It is remarked in some manuscripts,
that this plant had a name given it by the Romans, which, as Marcellus
Virgil observes, meant the same thing as _Rubia sativa_, and that
it was called in Etruria _Lappa minor_, doubtless because, like the
bur, it adhered to other bodies. On account of the colour which it
communicated, it was called also sometimes _cinnabaris_[274].

In opposition to this asserted identity I find only one doubt; namely,
that among those plants which, on account of the position of their
leaves, were called _stellatæ_, and which were all so like that we must
reduce them to one natural order, there are more sorts, the roots of
which dye red, and which on that account are very improperly called
wild madder. Why, therefore, should the plant of Dioscorides be our
madder, and not some other plant of the like nature? For this reason,
in my opinion: because the ancients, who were acquainted with all these
plants, which grew wild in their lands, were equally prudent as the
moderns, and cultivated that kind only which was the most productive or
beneficial, viz. our _Rubia tinctorum_.

This opinion will be strengthened by comparing the accounts given
of that plant by other ancient writers. Theophrastus agrees almost
perfectly with Dioscorides; and adds, that it did not grow upright,
but was fond of reclining. The comparison, therefore, with the leaves
of ivy cannot be just; but that I shall leave to the critics. Pliny
says expressly, that the _erythrodanum_ or _ereuthodanum_ was in his
mother-tongue called _rubia_; and that its red roots were used to dye
wool and leather red[275].

In the middle ages this plant was called _varantia_, a name which must
have arisen from _verantia_. The latter means the real, genuine dye;
as _aurantia_ signified a golden yellow. Till the year 1736, this
plant was little regarded, except among dyers, farmers and merchants,
who purchased it from the farmers, in order to sell it to the dyers
with profit; and among a few herb-dealers and physicians, who, on the
authority of the ancients, ascribed to it eminent virtues, which others
doubted or altogether denied. In the above year, however, a property of
it was discovered by accident, as usual, which rendered it an object of
more attention. John Belchier, an English surgeon, having dined with a
cotton-printer, observed that the bones of the pork which was brought
to the table were red. As he seemed surprised at this circumstance, his
host assured him that the redness was occasioned by the swine feeding
on the water mixed with bran in which the cotton cloth was boiled, and
which was coloured by the madder used in printing it. Belchier[276], to
whom this effect was new, convinced himself by experiments that the red
colour of the bones had arisen from the madder employed in printing the
cotton, and from no other cause; and he communicated his discovery to
the Royal Society, in a paper which was printed in their Transactions.

This singularity was now soon known to all the naturalists, several
of whom made new experiments, the result of which brought to light
many truths useful to physiology. Besides the roots of madder, those
of the _Galium_ (yellow ladies-bed-straw) and other plants which
have an affinity to madder, produce the like effects; but this is the
case neither with saffron nor woad, nor with many others much used in
dyeing. The colouring takes place soonest in young animals; and is
strongest where the bones are hardest and thickest. On the other hand,
it does not reach the soft parts; appears only a little in the milk;
and in general is not perceptible in the animal juices[277].

As the English calico-printers were acquainted with this effect of
madder before it was known to naturalists, it is not improbable that it
was known much sooner in other places, where the plant has been much
cultivated and used since the earliest periods. From what J. E. Stief
says, we have reason to believe that the people in the neighbourhood
of Breslau, his native city, who gave the stalks of the madder plant
to their cows instead of straw, must have first discovered that it
possessed the property of communicating a red colour to the bones[278].

As many truths not yet investigated by means of new experiments, and
which on that account have not yet been acknowledged, are concealed
among the evidently false assertions to be found in the works of the
ancients, and as these works were thrown aside too early, before their
contents were properly examined, I was induced to suspect that some
hints of this colouring property might also be mentioned in them, which
indeed is the case.

We learn from the works of Galen and Dioscorides, that the ancient
physicians remarked that the use of certain roots, which they
administered to their patients, communicated a colour to their urine
and excrements; and this observation has been repeated by Cardan,
Thurneisser, Porta, Castor, Durantes, and others. Had those ancient
physicians, who often prescribed these roots, and paid attention to the
colour of the excrements of their patients, been accustomed to open
their bodies when they died under their hands, they would have perhaps
remarked, in human bones, what was observed long after in the bones of
animals, when the roots were no longer used in medicine; and what, if
I am not mistaken, was never yet observed in the bones of the human

Böhmer, who made researches respecting the antiquity of this
observation, found it neither in Rombert. Dodonæus, Mich. Ettmuller,
Morin, Will. Salmon, nor others, who, however, speak of coloured urine.
In his opinion the oldest writer who speaks of coloured bones is
Mizaldus; but what he relates is all taken from the treatise of Lemnius
De Miraculis Occultis Naturæ; and the latter therefore is the oldest
writer that I at present can mention as acquainted with this property.
He was a physician in Zealand, where madder has been cultivated since
the earliest ages, and where he had an opportunity of remarking it.
He says that the bones of animals became red, as had been observed
when the flesh was dressed, by their eating only the leaves, and not
the roots. In the first edition of the above work, printed in octavo,
in the year 1559, which consists of two books, this information will
not be found; but it may be contained in the second of 1564, which
comprehends four books.

[The madder plant is much cultivated in Holland, but Macquei observes
that the Dutch were first indebted to the Flemish refugees for their
knowledge of the method of preparing this plant. Its culture has often
been attempted in England, but always without success[280]. It is
also largely cultivated in Alsace and Provence in France, especially
near Avignon, in Asiatic Turkey, and in Italy; from which places it
is largely exported. The Turkey and Provence madder is procured from
_Rubia peregrina_; the remainder from _R. tinctorum_. To prepare the
root, which is the part used in dyeing, it is removed from the ground,
picked, dried and ground.

Madder contains three distinct colouring principles; two of these are
red, viz. alizarine and purpurine, and one, xanthine, is yellow.

Since 1836, two new products have been introduced into commerce,
which are destined to replace madder in the operations of dyeing and
calico-printing; one is called garancine, the other colorine. Garancine
is prepared by washing and macerating madder, and filtering through
linen. The grounds are then crushed and mixed with sulphuric acid,
equal to half the amount of madder first employed; the acid should be
somewhat dilute. It is then poured hot upon the madder, agitated, and
when the mixture appears intimate, the temperature is raised to 212°,
and maintained for about an hour. It is then again mixed with water,
filtered, and thoroughly washed. It is finally pressed, dried and
passed through the sieve. This is the process patented by MM. Lagier,
Robiquet and Colin, in 1828.

It was first introduced into commerce by the house of Lagier and
Thomas, at Avignon, in 1829.

The great advantage of garancine over madder is that it does not change
the white, and that the bleaching of the stuffs dyed with it is reduced
to a mere nothing. Hot water or bran are the only means used for
clearing them. Madder is an adjective colour, that is to say, one which
requires to be combined with some basic substance or mordant to render
its fixture upon the dye-stuff permanent.]


[274] Some also may with equal propriety have called it _sandyx_;
and I am of opinion that under this name we are to understand our
madder, at least in a passage of Virgil, Eclogue iv. 45, where he
says, “Sponte sua sandyx pascentes vestiet agnos.” As the wool of the
sheep became red by eating the madder which grew in the fields, it
could be immediately manufactured, without dyeing it artificially. We
manufacture the wool of our brown sheep in its natural colour, and this
was done also by the ancients. Cloths of this kind were the _panni
nativi coloris_, as they are called by Pliny, xxxvi. 7; and the words
of Martial, xiv. 133, allude to a dress made of such cloth:

  Non est lana mihi mendax, nec mutor aëno,
  ... me mea tinxit ovis.

I shall here take occasion to remark, that the word _lutum_, in
the line preceding the above passage of Virgil, must be translated
_yellow-weed_, and not _woad_. The former, _Reseda luteola_, dyes
yellow; but the latter, _Isatis_, dyes blue. _Lutum_, however, in
Cæsar De bello Gallico, v. 14, seems to have been _woad_: “Omnes
se Britanni luteo inficiunt, quod et cæruleum efficit colorem.” It
appears, therefore, that both names were liable to be confounded in the
Latin, as they are in the German; unless Davis be right, who, instead
of _luteo_, reads _vitro_. That _sandyx_, in Virgil, signifies a plant
rather than a mineral, is to me far more probable. The author speaks of
plants which the sheep ate while feeding (_pascentes_); and both the
above-mentioned dye-plants, yellow-weed and woad, grow wild in Italy.
The opinion of Pliny, who understood the passage so, is not to be
despised; and therefore the poetical account, that the pasture dyed the
wool, is not altogether without foundation; especially as not only the
roots, but also the leaves of madder, communicate a colour to the solid
parts of animal bodies. I will however allow that most people readily
fall into the error of being led away by imagination; and often suppose
that they find in passages of ancient authors more than others can
discover, or perhaps even than they contain.

[275] Lib. xxiv. 9, p. 341.

[276] The first account of this circumstance may be found in the
Philosophical Transactions, vol. xxxix. n. 442, p. 287; n. 443, p. 299.
Among the principal experiments made on this subject, are those of
the Italian Matth. Bazanus, in Comment. Bononiens. and of J. H. Benj.
Böhmer, in a dissertation entitled Radicis Rubiæ tinctorum effectus in
Corpore Animali, Lips. 1751. Other works and observations relative to
this singularity are mentioned in Haller’s Elementa Physiologiæ, v. p.

[277] That the _Rubia_ colours the milk has been denied by many, who
are mentioned in Haller’s Physiol. viii. p. 328. Young, in his Treatise
De Lacte, says only that it has no effect on carnivorous animals.
Being once engaged in making experiments on the madder dye, I gave
the plant to a cow for several days, and I found that the milk became
reddish and streaked with veins which were of a darker colour than the
other parts. That well-known farmer, Gugenmus, gave the madder-plant,
formed into hay, to his cows, who ate it readily. Their milk was
somewhat reddish, and the butter and cheese acquired by these means
in winter an agreeable colour. Perhaps the effects do not take place
when the animals get other food at the same time. Or may not the state
of their health occasion some difference? This much is certain, that
_Chelidonium_ (swallow-wort) makes the milk of cows that are weak
appear bloody, while the same effect does not follow, or at least
immediately, in those that are strong. Ruellius, De Natura Stirpium,
Basiliæ, 1543, fol. p. 572, says of the Rubia, “Folia capillum
tingunt.” If he meant that the hair became red by eating the leaves, he
committed a mistake.

[278] Dissertatio de Vita Nuptiisque Plantarum. Lipsiæ, 1741, p. 11.

[279] I do not know that any one ever remarked human bones to have been
dyed by madder, though the proposal for using the roots of it against
the rachitis might have given occasion to make observations on that
subject. See G. L. Hansen, Diss. de Rachitide. Gottingæ, 1762, p. 36.
Professor Arnemann, who has a very numerous and valuable collection of
skeletons, and who carefully examined many of the like kind during his
travels, assured me that he never saw any bones that had been dyed by
madder in the human body.

[280] On Vegetable Substances, by the Society for the Diffusion of
Useful Knowledge.


Under this title I comprehend not only those properly called jugglers,
who, for the sake of money, by quick and artful motions of their hands,
bodies, and limbs, and by various preparations, delude the senses in an
agreeable manner, or practise an innocent deception on the spectators,
so that they think they hear and see what they do not really hear and
see, but also rope-dancers; people who place their bodies in positions
according to all appearance dangerous; and those who for pay exhibit
animals taught to perform uncommon tricks, as well as automata, which
by their concealed construction seem to produce wonderful effects.

But is it worth while to inquire into the antiquity of all these arts,
unprofitable to the public, which form the favourite amusements of
the populace? The selfish question _cui bono_, which is often thrown
out by way of reproach to men of letters, but oftener to naturalists,
and even to jurists, when, in their researches, they advance beyond
the beaten track, I might easily get rid of by civilly telling the
querists to pass over this article if they think they are not likely to
derive benefit from it. I might also apologise for employing my time
and labour on this subject, by using the words of a certain historian:
“Frivola hæc fortassis cuipiam et nimis levia esse videantur, sed
curiositas nihil recusat.” I shall however adopt neither of these
methods; as I flatter myself that this essay may afford as much
amusement as many that are read daily; and that therefore it may not
only be excused, but even justified.

Those arts and employments which are most necessary in life were
undoubtedly the earliest, and they have still continued to be the most
important; but when these were sufficiently occupied, or carried on
by as many persons as could live by them, the rest, who were excluded
from them, conceived the idea of amusing the former when tired with
their labour, that by these means they might obtain from them a part of
the fruits of their industry. I request my readers to reflect how many
occupations have been devised for no other purpose. They will find that
several of these have acquired a pre-eminence over the necessary or
useful arts; and to the same class belong jugglers.

All political writers tell us, as a fundamental principle of
government, that population ought to be increased. This maxim however
is just only under certain circumstances; that is, when employment can
be procured to a greater number of inhabitants than a country already
possesses. Of beggars we have to maintain too many. All our trades and
occupations are not only filled up with workmen, but overflow. Our
farmers can employ no more labourers, and our manufacturers no more
hands than they have at present; our regiments are full; and in every
employment there are more candidates and more supernumeraries than is
consistent with the good of the public. Must it not therefore give us
pleasure, when necessity invents new means of acquiring a livelihood,
although they could be dispensed with? It is much better that those who
have learned no useful art; who have lost their youth in the service
of others; or who are destitute, through any other cause, should gain
their bread by amusing their fellow-citizens, than that they should
either beg or steal.

These arts are indeed not unprofitable, for they afford a comfortable
subsistence to those who practise them; but their gain is acquired
by too little labour to be hoarded up; and, in general, these roving
people spend on the spot the fruits of their ingenuity; which is an
additional reason why their stay in a place should be encouraged. I
have however known some who saved so much from their earnings, that,
in their old age, they were enabled to enter into some business more
certain as well as more profitable.

People of this description will never want encouragement and support
while they exhibit with confidence anything uncommon, and know how to
suit the nature of their amusements to the taste of the spectators.
The greater part of mankind love deception so much, that they reward
liberally those who impose on their senses, as is proved by the ready
sale of gilt articles, artificial gems, and a thousand other things
which are not in reality what they appear to be. I do not know whether
Montagne is right in considering it as a sign of the weakness of our
judgement, that we take a pleasure in beholding objects on account of
their rarity, novelty, or the difficulty that attends them, though they
may be subservient to no useful purpose[281]. This appears to me to
proceed from that innate curiosity which serves as a spur to incite us
to enlarge our knowledge, and to engage in researches and undertakings
that often lead to discoveries of greater importance.

Jugglers indeed seldom exhibit anything that can appear wonderful to
those acquainted with natural philosophy and mathematics; but these
even often find satisfaction in seeing truths already known to them
applied in a new manner; and they readily embrace every opportunity
of having them further illustrated by experiments. Many however are
too precipitate, and attempt to explain before they have sufficiently
examined, of which the golden tooth at the end of the sixteenth
century, the conjuring-rod at the end of the seventeenth, and the
chess-player and speaking-machine at the end of the eighteenth, may
serve as instances. But it often happens, that what ignorant persons
first employ, merely as a show, for amusement or deception, is
afterwards ennobled by being applied to a more important purpose. The
machine with which a Savoyard, by means of shadows, amused children
and the populace, was by Lieberkühn converted into a solar microscope;
and to give one example more, which may convince female readers, if
I can hope for such, the art of making ice in summer, or in a heated
oven, enables guests, much to the credit of their hostess, to cool the
most expensive dishes. The Indian discovers precious stones, and the
European, by polishing, gives them a lustre.

But if the arts of juggling served no other end than to amuse the most
ignorant of our citizens, it is proper that they should be encouraged
for the sake of those who cannot enjoy the more expensive deceptions
of an opera. They answer other purposes however than that of merely
amusing; they convey instruction in the most acceptable manner, and
serve as a most agreeable antidote to superstition, and to that popular
belief in miracles, exorcism, conjuration, sorcery, and witchcraft,
from which our ancestors suffered so severely. Wherever the vulgar were
astonished at the effects of shadows, electricity, mirrors, and the
magnet, interested persons endeavoured by these to frighten them; and
thus misapplied the powers of nature to promote their own advantage.
The pontiffs and their clergy ought, undoubtedly, to be detested for
discouraging experimental philosophy. That science they considered as a
formidable enemy; and they thought they gained no small advantage when
they induced the house of Medici, by granting it the cardinalship, to
suppress the Academy del Cimento. When Gasner exhibited his deceptions,
some one proposed to him to try his art at Berlin or Göttingen, and to
drive out there if it were only the smallest of all the devils; but
these cities were not theatres where he was likely to succeed, and he
never ventured to appear in them[282]. It is however better that the
populace, if they will absolutely pay for being deceived, should be
exposed to a momentary deception from jugglers than to a continual
deception from priests. As the former are not covered with the sacred
cloak of religion, their deceptions are more easily seen through and
detected; and they consequently soon cease to be hurtful. So late as
the year 1601, a horse, which had been taught to perform a number of
tricks, was tried, as possessed by the devil, and condemned to be
burnt[283]. At present horses of this kind are so often exhibited
publicly in the heretical countries of Europe, that the Spanish
Inquisition, perhaps, will soon be ashamed of considering such proofs
of the docility of these animals, and of the patient dexterity of their
teachers, as the work of the devil, as they did at the above period.
Those who view the art of the juggler in the same light as I do, will,
I hope, forgive me for introducing these observations, and allow me to
continue them while I inquire into the antiquity of this employment;
especially as I shall endeavour by these means to illustrate more fully
my subject.

Had that book which Celsus wrote against the Magi been preserved, we
should have been much better acquainted with the art of the ancient
conjurors or jugglers. This Celsus, without doubt, is the same author
whose virulent attack against the Christians was refuted by Origen; and
we have, therefore, greater cause to regret that a work on the above
subject, by so learned and acute a philosopher, should have been lost.
He is mentioned with respect by Lucian, and even by Origen; and the
former derived from him the account which he gives of Alexander the
impostor[284]. More ancient authors also wrote upon the same subject.
Some of them are mentioned by Diogenes Laërtius in his preface; and
Suidas quotes the Magicon of Antisthenes, though neither of these
speaks of Celsus; but of all those writings none are now extant.

The deception of breathing out flames, which at present excites in a
particular manner the astonishment of the ignorant, is very ancient.
When the slaves in Sicily, about a century and a half before our æra,
made a formidable insurrection, and avenged themselves in a cruel
manner for the severities which they had suffered, there was amongst
them a Syrian named Eunus[285], a man of great craft and courage, who,
having passed through many scenes of life, had become acquainted with
a variety of arts. He pretended to have immediate communication with
the gods; was the oracle and leader of his fellow-slaves; and, as is
usual on such occasions, confirmed his divine mission by miracles.
When, heated by enthusiasm and desirous of inspiring his followers
with courage, he breathed flames or sparks among them from his mouth
while he was addressing them. We are told by historians, that for
this purpose he pierced a nut-shell at both ends, and, having filled
it with some burning substance, put it into his mouth and breathed
through it. This deception, at present, is performed much better. The
juggler rolls together some flax or hemp, so as to form a ball about
the size of a walnut; sets it on fire; and suffers it to burn till it
is nearly consumed; he then rolls round it, while burning, some more
flax; and by these means the fire may be retained in it for a long
time. When he wishes to exhibit, he slips the ball unperceived into his
mouth and breathes through it; which again revives the fire, so that
a number of weak sparks proceed from it; and the performer sustains
no hurt, provided he inspire the air not through the mouth, but the

By this art the rabbi Bar-Cocheba, in the reign of the emperor Hadrian,
made the credulous Jews believe that he was the hoped-for Messias[287];
and two centuries after, the emperor Constantius was thrown into great
terror, when Valentinian informed him that he had seen one of the
body-guards breathing out fire and flames in the evening[288].

For deceptions with fire the ancients employed also naphtha, a liquid
mineral oil, which kindles when it only approaches a flame. Galen
informs us, that a person excited great astonishment by extinguishing
a candle and again lighting it, without any other process than holding
it immediately against a wall or a stone. The whole secret of this
consisted in having previously rubbed over the wall or stone with
sulphur. But as the author, a few lines before, speaks of a mixture of
sulphur and naphtha, there is reason to think that he alludes to the
same here. Plutarch[289] relates how Alexander the Great was astonished
and delighted with the secret effects of naphtha, which were exhibited
to him at Ecbatana. The same author, as well as Pliny, Galen, and
others, has already remarked, that the substance with which Medea
destroyed Creusa, the daughter of Creon, was nothing else than this
fine oil[290]. She sent to the unfortunate princess a dress besmeared
with it, which burst into flames as soon as she approached the fire of
the altar. The blood of Nessus, wherein the dress of Hercules, which
took fire likewise, had been dipped, was undoubtedly naphtha also[291];
and this oil must have been always employed when offerings caught fire
in an imperceptible manner[292]. In all periods of the world priests
have acted as jugglers to simple and ignorant people.

In modern times, persons who could walk over burning coals or red-hot
iron, or who could hold them in their hands and their teeth, have often
excited wonder. In the end of the seventeenth century, an Englishman,
named Richardson, who, as we are assured, could chew burning coals,
pour melted lead upon his tongue, swallow melted glass, &c., rendered
himself very famous by these extraordinary feats[293]. Laying aside the
deception[294] practised on the spectators, the whole of this secret
consists in rendering the skin of the soles of the feet and hands so
callous and insensible, that the nerves under them are secured from all
hurt, in the same manner as by shoes and gloves. Such callosity will
be produced if the skin is continually compressed, singed, pricked, or
injured in any other manner. Thus do the fingers of the industrious
sempstress become horny by being frequently pricked; and the case is
the same with the hands of fire-workers, and the feet of those who walk
bare-footed over scorching sand[295].

In the month of September, 1765, when I visited the copper-works at
Awestad, one of the workmen, for a little drink-money, took some of
the melted copper in his hand, and after showing it to us, threw it
against a wall[296]. He then squeezed the fingers of his horny hand
close to each other; put it a few minutes under his armpit, to make
it sweat, as he said; and, taking it again out, drew it over a ladle
filled with melted copper, some of which he skimmed off, and moved his
hand backwards and forwards, very quickly, by way of ostentation. While
I was viewing this performance, I remarked a smell like that of singed
horn or leather, though his hand was not burnt. The workmen at the
Swedish melting-houses showed the same thing to some travellers in the
seventeenth century; for Regnard saw it in 1681, at the copper-works
in Lapland. It is highly probable that the people who hold in their
hands red-hot iron, or who walk upon it, as I saw done at Amsterdam,
but at a distance, make their skin callous before, in the like manner.
This may be accomplished by frequently moistening it with oil of
vitriol; according to some the juice of certain plants will produce the
same effect; and we are assured by others that the skin must be very
frequently rubbed, for a long time, with oil, by which means, indeed,
leather also will become horny.

Of this art, traces may be found also in the works of the ancients.
A festival was held annually on Mount Soracte, in Etruria, at which
the Hirpi, who lived not far from Rome, jumped through burning coals;
and on this account they were indulged with peculiar privileges by
the Roman senate[297]. Women also, we are told, were accustomed to
walk over burning coals at Castabala in Cappadocia, near the temple
dedicated to Diana[298]. Servius remarks, from a work of Varro now
lost, that the Hirpi trusted not so much to their own sanctity as to
the care which they had taken to prepare their feet for that operation.

I am not acquainted with everything that concerns the trial by ordeal,
when persons accused were obliged to prove their innocence by holding
in their hands red-hot iron; but I am almost convinced that this also
was a juggling trick of the priests, which they employed as might
best suit their views. It is well known that this mode of exculpation
was allowed only to weak persons, who were unfit to wield arms, and
particularly to monks and ecclesiastics, to whom, for the sake of
their security, that by single combat was forbidden. The trial itself
took place in the church entirely under the inspection of the clergy;
mass was celebrated at the same time; the defendant and the iron were
consecrated by being sprinkled with holy water; the clergy made the
iron hot themselves; and they used all these preparatives, as jugglers
do many motions, only to divert the attention of the spectators. It
was necessary that the accused persons should remain at least three
days and three nights under their immediate care, and continue as long
after. They covered their hands both before and after the proof; sealed
and unsealed the covering: the former, as they pretended, to prevent
the hands from being prepared any how by art; and the latter to see if
they were burnt.

Some artificial preparation was therefore known, else no precautions
would have been necessary. It is highly probable that during the first
three days the preventive was applied to those persons whom they
wished to appear innocent; and that the three days after the trial
were requisite to let the hands resume their natural state. The sacred
sealing secured them from the examination of presumptuous unbelievers;
for to determine whether the hands were burnt, the last three days
were certainly not wanted. When the ordeal was abolished, and this
art rendered useless, the clergy no longer kept it a secret. In the
thirteenth century an account of it was published by Albertus Magnus,
a Dominican monk[299]. If his receipt be genuine, it seems to have
consisted rather in covering the hands with a kind of paste than in
hardening them. The sap of the _Althæa_ (marsh-mallow), the slimy seeds
of the flea-bane, which is still used for stiffening by the hat-makers
and silk-weavers, together with the white of an egg, were employed to
make the paste adhere; and by these means the hands were as safe as
if they had been secured by gloves. The use of this juggling trick is
very old, and may be traced back to a pagan origin. In the Antigone of
Sophocles, the guards placed over the body of Polynices, which had been
carried away and buried contrary to the orders of Creon, offered, in
order to prove their innocence, to submit to any trial: “We will,” said
they, “take up red-hot iron in our hands, or walk through fire[300].”

The exhibition of balls and cups, which is often mentioned in the
works of the ancients as the most common art of jugglers, is also of
great antiquity. It consists in conveying speedily and with great
dexterity, while the performer endeavours by various motions and cant
phrases to divert the attention of the simple spectators from observing
his movements too narrowly, several light balls, according to the
pleasure of any person in company, under one or more cups; removing
them sometimes from the whole; and conveying them again back in an
imperceptible manner. In general, three leaden cups are used, and as
many balls of cork; and to prevent all discovery by their slipping from
the thumbs of the juggler, or making a noise, as he must lay hold of
them with much quickness, the table before which he sits is covered
with a cloth.

These small balls were by the ancients called _calculi_; and the cups
_acetabula_, or _paropsides_. Casaubon[301] has already quoted most of
those passages in ancient authors which relate to this subject; and
they have been repeated by Bulenger[302]; but neither of these writers
makes mention of the fullest and clearest description given in the
letters of Alciphron[303]. We have there an account of a countryman who
came to town, and was conducted by a merchant to the theatre, where he
saw with great astonishment the exhibition of cups and balls. “Such an
animal,” says he, “as the performer I would not wish to have near me
in the country; for in his hands my property would soon disappear.”
The art of oratory, because it deceives the auditors, is frequently
compared to that of balls and cups. From the Latin word _gabata_,
mentioned by Martial, together with _paropsides_, the French have made
_gobelets_ and hence their common expressions _jouer des gobelets_, and
_joueur des gobelets_, which they use when speaking of jugglers.

In all ages of the world there have been men who excited great wonder
by extraordinary strength. Instances of this have been already
collected; but they do not belong to my present subject[304]. I can,
however, prove that above fifteen hundred years ago there were people
who, by applying a knowledge of the mechanical powers to their bodies,
performed feats which astonished every ignorant spectator; though it
is certain that any sound man of common strength could perform the
same by employing the like means. Of these one may say with Celsus,
“Neque hercule scientiam præcipuam habent hi, sed audaciam usu ipso

About the beginning of the last century, such a strong man, or Samson,
as he called himself, a native of Germany, travelled over almost all
Europe; and his pretended art has been mentioned by so many writers,
that we may conclude it had not been often exhibited before; and that
it was then considered as new. His name was John Charles von Eckeberg;
he was born at Harzgerode in Anhalt; and at that time was thirty-three
years of age. When he fixed himself between a couple of posts, on any
level place, two or more horses were not able to draw him from his
position; he could break ropes asunder, and lift a man up on his knee
while he lay extended on the ground. But what excited the greatest
astonishment was, that he suffered large stones to be broke on his
breast with a hammer, or a smith to forge iron on an anvil placed above

This last feat was exhibited even in the third century, by Firmus or
Firmius, who, in the time of Aurelian, endeavoured to make himself
emperor in Egypt. He was a native of Seleucia in Syria; espoused the
cause of Zenobia, the celebrated queen of Palmyra; and was at length
executed publicly by order of the emperor Aurelian. It is of this
Firmus, and not of another, who a century after was overcome in Africa
by the father of the emperor Theodosius, that Vopiscus speaks where he
relates that he could suffer iron to be forged on an anvil placed on
his breast. For this purpose he lay on his back; but he put himself in
such a position, by resting with his feet and shoulders against some
support, that his whole body formed an arch; so that he seemed rather
to be suspended than to lie at full length[305]. This art, which is
explained and illustrated by Desaguliers[306] and Professor Kuhn[307]
of Dantzic, has now become so common that it is often exhibited without
occasioning much surprise.

In the works of the ancients, rope-dancers are frequently mentioned.
The passages where they occur have been collected by various authors,
though never completely; and I am inclined to think that those who have
seen many performers of this kind would be able to clear up some that
are obscure. I have seen many myself; but I have forgot the greater
part of what I observed; and there are other reasons also which prevent
me from undertaking that task: I dread the reproach of “multum agendo
nihil agis.” That I may not, however, pass over this subject entirely,
I shall present the reader with what follows[308]. We meet with
various appellations given to rope-dancers, which do not, as some have
imagined, point out different kinds, but allude only to new-invented
arts, leaps, or dexterities, which, while recommended by novelty, were
much wondered at, though they were afterwards imitated by all. To
these belong the _schœnobatæ_, _oribatæ_, _neurobatæ_, _petaminarii_,
_funambuli_, &c. Some of the ancient rope-dancers seem to have used
a balancing-pole, or at least to have had weights in their hands to
preserve an equipoise[309]. It is certain also that rope-dancers were
not wanting in the middle ages. In the year 1237 they were very common
in Italy[310]; and in 1393 there were some of them at Augsburg, who
exhibited their dexterity on the rope, and received from each spectator
three German halfpence[311].

To place men upon the shoulders of each other in such a manner that
every row consists of a man fewer, till they form a pyramid ending
in a single person, upon whose head a boy often stands with his feet
upwards, is likewise an ancient piece of dexterity. This exhibition
is varied many ways; and on that account it is difficult to form even
conjectures respecting it, especially as the description given of it by
a Roman poet is very unintelligible[312].

I am however still less acquainted with an art in which hoops
and wheels were employed by the _petauristæ_, who excited great
astonishment among the populace. The first part of the art may have
consisted in nothing more than the varied contortions and tumbling
which we still see practised by children trained for that purpose.
Cilano explains a well-known passage of Manilius, as if the performers
had darted through suspended iron hoops, made often red-hot. Of this
I entertain less doubt than how we ought to understand the _corpora
jactata petauro_ of Juvenal[313]; and the _corpora valido excussa
petauro_ of Manilius[314], which many have attempted to explain
already. At any rate this wheel was different from that upon which a
female dancer, as mentioned by Xenophon, wrote and read while it turned
round with great velocity[315].

The art of exhibiting various feats of horsemanship, which has been
practised so much in modern times, seems to have come first from the
East. At any rate, those performers in that way who, in the thirteenth
century, were at the Byzantine court, and who travelled all over
Europe, came from Egypt. They could stand on the horses when at a
gallop; mount and dismount while on full speed at the chase; tumble
on horseback, and do many other things equally extraordinary[316]. At
the end of the sixteenth century, an Italian, who had learned this art
while a slave in Turkey, went about exhibiting his dexterity in various
parts of Europe. Montagne saw him at Rome in 1581[317]; and the year
following he was at Paris[318]. Some of these feats were performed by
the ancient _desultores_.

Whether the ancients taught horses, dogs, birds, and other animals,
to perform various tricks which are frequently exhibited at present
for money, I do not know; but it is certain that what they made the
elephant, which undoubtedly is the most sagacious and tractable of all
animals, perform, exceeds everything yet known of the kind. Without
repeating what has been so often related, I shall only mention the
elephant which walked upon a rope backwards and forwards, as well as
up and down; and which Galba first caused to be shown to the Roman
people. After this, so much confidence was placed in the dexterity of
the animal, that a person sat on an elephant’s back while he walked
across the theatre upon a rope extended from the one side to the other.
Lipsius, who has collected the testimonies, thinks they are so strong
that they cannot be doubted[319].

The training of horses to obey a private signal, imperceptible to the
most attentive spectator, and to perform actions which appear, to
those unacquainted with the art, to display rational faculties, I have
never found mentioned in the works of the ancients. That the Sybarites
however taught their horses to dance to the sound of music, is asserted
by a variety of authors[320]. In the sixteenth century, dogs trained in
the like manner excited great wonder[321].

In the year 1766, an Englishman, named Wildman, made himself much
known by taming or training bees, in such a manner that they not only
followed him wherever he went, but settled even on his face and hands
without stinging him, and seemed as if obedient to his orders[322].
Some years after, a person who practised the like art, travelled about
through Germany, and gave himself out to be Wildman; but M. Riem
proved that he was not Wildman, and published the secret by which he
acquired so much power over these insects[323]. I cannot say whether
the ancients were acquainted with this art; but I shall here remark,
that it was known in the kingdom of Galam, at Senegal, a hundred years
before Wildman; for when Brue, a Frenchman, was there in 1698, he was
visited by a man who called himself the king of the bees[324]. “Let
his secret,” says that traveller, “consist in what it may, this much
is certain; that they followed him wherever he went, as sheep do their
shepherd. His whole body, and particularly his cap, was so covered with
them that they appeared like a swarm just settled. When he departed
they went along with him; for besides those on his body, he was
surrounded by thousands which always attended him[325].”

In modern times, persons destitute of arms and hands, or who have these
limbs formed very imperfectly, but who possess the art of supplying
that want by the use of their feet and toes, show themselves sometimes
for money; and as they entertain the spectators by exciting their
wonder, they deserve from them that support which they are not able to
obtain in any other manner. Instances of such people who had acquired
this art, have been very common within the last two centuries[326]; but
in the works of the ancients I have found only one. An Indian king,
named Porus, sent to the emperor Augustus an embassy with presents,
among which were some rare animals, and a man without arms, who with
his feet, however, could bend a bow; discharge arrows; and put a
trumpet to his mouth and blow it. Dio Cassius confesses that he did
not know how this was possible; but Strabo refers for his authority to
Nicolaus of Damascus, who saw all the presents as they passed through
Antioch[327]. Had this deformed person, whom Strabo compares to a
Hermes, travelled about, according to the modern practice, as a show,
he would have been better known, and in all probability his example
would have induced others to imitate his art[328]. Manilius says,
however, that there were people, who, in playing at ball, could use
their feet with as much dexterity as their hands, who could catch the
ball with them, and again throw it back; but the poet, perhaps, did not
allude to the small hand-ball, but to the large one which is struck
with the fist, and which may be stopped also by the foot. Besides, the
passage is read and explained different ways[329].

Figures or puppets, which appear to move of themselves, were employed
formerly to work miracles; but they could hardly be used for that
purpose at present in any catholic country of Europe, though they still
serve to amuse the vulgar. Among these are the _marionettes_[330],
as they are called, the different parts of which are put in motion
imperceptibly by a thread. Of a still more ingenious construction are
those which are moved by the turning of a cylinder, as is the case
in the machines with which some of the old miners in Germany earn a
livelihood; but the most ingenious of all are those which are kept
in continual movement for a certain time, by the help of wheels with
a weight or spring. The latter are called _automata_; and, when they
represent human figures, _androides_. Under the former general name are
comprehended our watches, the most useful of all, and also jacks[331],
with many others. The latter appellation is given to small puppets,
which, when their inner works have been wound up, run upon the table or
pavement, and as they advance move their head, eyes, and hands. They
have been exhibited sometimes under the name of _courrante Margarethe_,
which gave rise perhaps to the word _marionette_.

The proper _marionettes_ are very old. They were common among the
Greeks, and from them they were brought to the Romans. They were known
by the name of _neurospasta_, and were much used at their shows.
Aristotle speaks of some which moved their head, eyes, hands and limbs
in a very natural manner[332]. They are mentioned with equal precision
by Galen, Xenophon, Antoninus, Horace, Gellius, and others. To these
belong the _phalli_, which were carried round during the festivals of
Osiris and Bacchus, and of which one member only, that properly meant
by the name, and which was almost as large as the whole body, moved
upon certain threads being pulled[333]. Count Caylus has given an
engraving of the body of a small puppet, made of ivory or bone; but
he requires too much when he desires us to consider that fragment,
merely on his word, as a piece of Greek or Roman antiquity. He at least
ought to have informed us where it was found, and by what means he
procured it. In regard to such articles, it is as easy to deceive as
to be led into an error; and objects of bone are certainly of no great

The question concerning the antiquity of automata, properly so called,
which are moved by wheels, weights and springs, I shall leave to
those who have read the works of the ancient mathematicians, and who
may be desirous of writing on the history of mechanics. As far as I
know, the ancients were not acquainted with the art of making them,
unless some propositions of Ctesibius, mentioned by Vitruvius, allude
to that subject. When clocks were brought to perfection, some artists
added to them figures, which at the time of striking performed various
movements; and as they succeeded in these, some attempted to make,
detached from clocks, single figures, which either moved certain
limbs, or advanced forward and ran. In the middle of the sixteenth
century, when Hans Bullmann[335], a padlock-maker at Nuremberg,
constructed figures of men and women which moved backwards and forwards
by clock-work, beat a drum, and played on the lute according to musical
time, they excited universal astonishment as a new invention. It was
about the same period that watches came into use. The accounts however
which speak of much older automata deserve to be examined with more

The most ancient of all are undoubtedly the tripods constructed by
Vulcan[336], which being furnished with wheels, advanced forwards to be
used, and again returned to their places. But what was impossible to
the gods of Homer? An unbeliever might conjecture that these tripods,
which are mentioned also by Aristotle[337], and which perhaps were only
a kind of small tables or dumb-waiters, had wheels so contrived that
they could be put in motion and driven to a distance on the smallest
impulse, like the fire-pans in our country beer-houses, at which the
boors light their pipes.

That Dædalus made statues which could not only walk, but which it
was necessary to tie, in order that they might not move, is related
by Plato[338], Aristotle, and others. The latter speaks of a wooden
Venus, and remarks that the secret of its motion consisted in
quicksilver having been poured into it. What the author here means I
cannot comprehend; but I do not imagine that this Venus threw itself
topsy-turvy backwards, like the Chinese puppets. However this may
be, it is astonishing that the Chinese should have fallen upon the
invention of giving motion to puppets by means of quicksilver, and in
so ingenious a manner, that Muschenbroek[339] thought it worth his
while to describe their whole construction, and to illustrate it by
figures. But before this method was known in Europe, Kircher had an
idea of putting a small waggon in motion by adding to it a pipe filled
with quicksilver, and heating it with a candle placed below it[340].
The account of Aristotle is more mysterious, for he does not inform us
how the quicksilver acted.

Callistratus, another writer, who was the tutor of Demosthenes, gives
us to understand that the statues of Dædalus were made to move by the
mechanical powers[341]. But what has been asserted by Palæphatus, and
by Gedoyn[342], Banier, Goguet, and others among the moderns, is most
probable. The first statues of the Greeks were imitations of those
of the Egyptians, for the most part clumsy figures, with their eyes
shut, their arms hanging down close to the body on each side, and their
feet joined together. Those made by Dædalus had their eyes open, as
well as their feet and hands free; and the artist gave them such a
posture, that they seemed either reclining, or appeared as if ready
to walk or to run. As Anacreon[343], struck with wonder, exclaimed
when he saw a waxen image of his favourite object, “Begone, wax, thou
wilt soon speak!” the astonished Greeks in like manner cried out, when
they beheld the statues of Dædalus, “They will soon walk.” The next
generation affirmed that they really walked; and their posterity,
adding still to what was told them, asserted that they would have run
had they not been bound.

Equally imperfect is the account given of the wooden pigeon constructed
by Archytas of Tarentum. We are informed that it flew; but when it
had once settled, it could not again take flight. The latter is not
incredible; but even if we allow that aërostatic machines were then
known, it is impossible to believe the former. At present one cannot
determine with any probability, what piece of mechanism gave rise to
this relation[344]. The head of Albertus Magnus, which is said not only
to have moved, but to have spoken, is too little known for any opinion
to be formed concerning it. The construction of it must have been very
ingenious and complex, if it be true that he was employed upon it
thirty years[345].

In the fourteenth and following centuries, automata, as I have said,
were frequently made. Among these was the iron fly of John Müller or
Molitor, or, as he is sometimes called, Regiomontanus, which is said
to have flown about; and his artificial eagle, which flew to meet the
Emperor Maximilian on his arrival at Nuremberg, June the 7th, 1470.
None of the contemporary writers, however, though they often speak
of this very learned man, make the least mention of these pieces of
mechanism; and it is probable that the whole tale originated with
Peter Ramus[346], who never was at Nuremberg till the year 1571. J. W.
Baier[347] endeavours to prove that the above-mentioned fly, moved by
wheel-work, leaped about upon a table; and that the eagle perched upon
the town-gate, stretched out its wings on the emperor’s approach, and
saluted him by an inclination of its body. We know that Charles V.,
after his abdication, amused himself during the latter period of his
life with automata of various kinds[348].

The most ingenious, or at least the most celebrated automata, were
those made by Vaucanson, which he exhibited publicly at Paris, for the
first time, in 1738. One of them, which represented a flute-player
sitting, performed twelve tunes, and, as we are assured, by wind
issuing from its mouth into a German-flute, the holes of which it
opened and shut with its fingers. The second was a standing figure,
which in the like manner played on the Provençal shepherd’s pipe, held
in its left hand, and with the right beat upon a drum or _tambour de
Basque_. The third was a duck, of the natural size, which moved its
wings, exhibited all the gestures of that animal, quacked like a duck,
drank water, ate corn, and then after a little time let drop behind it
something that resembled the excrement of a duck[349]. These pieces
must have been often imitated. I saw some of the like kind in the year
1764, at the palace of Zarsko-Selo, near Petersburg, and was told that
they had been purchased from Vaucanson[350]. As far as I can remember,
the tambourin was damaged. I saw there also a regiment of soldiers,
which went through their exercise, moved by wheel-work[351].

In the year 1752, one Du Moulin, a silversmith, travelled about through
Germany with automata like those of Vaucanson. In 1754, he wished to
dispose of them to the margrave of Bayreuth; but he was obliged to
pawn them in Nuremberg, at the house of Pfluger, who offered to sell
them for 3000 florins, the sum lent upon them. They were afterwards
purchased by counsellor Beireis, at Helmstadt, who kindly showed them
to me. It is much to be regretted that the machinery of them is greatly
deranged; the flute-player emits only some very faint tones; but the
duck eats, drinks, and moves still. The ribs, which are of wire, had
been covered with duck’s feathers, so as to imitate nature; and as
these are now lost, one can see better the interior construction;
respecting which I shall only observe, that the motion is communicated
by means of a cylinder and fine chains, like that of a watch, all
proceeding through the feet of the duck, which are of the usual size.
Nicolai[352] says that Du Moulin came to Petersburg in 1755, and died
at Moscow in 1765. It is probable that he made the automata which I
saw in Russia. Those which he left behind him at Nuremberg seem either
not to have been completed, or to have been designedly spoiled by him;
for they appeared to have defects which could not be ascribed to any
accident. M. Beireis however has begun to cause them to be repaired.

Of all these automata, the duck I confess appeared to me the most
ingenious; but I can prove that like pieces of mechanism were made
before the time of Vaucanson. We are told by Labat[353], that the
French general De Gennes, who, about the year 1688, defended the
colony of St. Christopher against the English, constructed a peacock
which could walk about, pick up from the ground corn thrown before
it, digest it, according to appearance, and afterwards drop something
that resembled excrement. This man was of an ancient noble family in
Brittany, which had however been so reduced, that the father carried on
a handicraft. The son became acquainted with the marquis de Vivonne,
who, on account of his promising talents, bred him to the sea. He
rose to be commander of a vessel, conducted a squadron to the Straits
of Magellan, where it was intended to form a colony, and obtained in
Cayenne a tract of land, which he got erected into a county, under
the name of Oyac. He invented machines of various kinds useful in
navigation and gunnery, and, as we are told, constructed clocks that
moved without weights or springs.

The flute-player also of Vaucanson was not the first of its kind. In
the beginning of the sixteenth century, the anonymous author of that
well-known poem Zodiacus Vitæ, saw at Rome a figure made in the like
manner by a potter. It is much to be regretted that no account is given
of its construction.

  Vidi ego dum Romæ, decimo regnante Leone,
  Essem, opus a figulo factum, juvenisque figuram,
  Efflantem angusto validum ventum oris hiatu[354].

I shall here beg leave to say a few words respecting an object of
juggling, which, however old it may be, still excites astonishment, and
has often imposed upon the credulity of men of learning[355]: I mean
those speaking machines, which, according to appearance, answer various
questions proposed to them, sometimes in different languages, sing,
and even blow a huntsman’s horn. The figure, or only a head, is often
placed upon a box, the forepart of which, for the better deception, is
filled with a pair of bellows, a sounding-board, cylinder, and pipes,
supposed to represent the organs of speech. At other times the machine
is only like a peruke-maker’s block, hung round with a Turkish dress,
furnished with a pair of arms, and placed before a table, and sometimes
the puppet stands upon the table, or against a wall. The sounds are
heard through a speaking-trumpet, which the figure holds in its mouth.

Many jugglers are so impudent as to assert that the voice does not
proceed from a man, but is produced by machinery, in the same manner
as the music of an organ. Some, like the last whom I saw, are more
modest or timorous, and give evasive answers to the questions asked
them respecting the cause of the voice, with as much art as those
who exhibit with balls and cups. Concerning these speaking machines,
however, different opinions are entertained. Some affirm that the
voice issues from the machine; others, that the juggler answers
himself, by speaking as ventriloquists do, or by having the power to
alter his voice; and some believe that the answers are given by a
man somewhere concealed. The violence with which these opinions are
maintained exposes the juggler often to the danger of losing his life;
for, when the illusion is detected, the populace, who in part suffer
themselves willingly to be deceived, and who even pay the juggler for
his deception, imagine that they have a right to avenge themselves for
being imposed on. The machines are sometimes broken; and the owners of
them are harshly treated as impostors. For my part, I do not see why a
juggler, with a speaking machine, is a more culpable impostor than he
who pretends to breathe out flames and to swallow boiling oil, or to
make puppets speak, as in the Chinese shadows. The spectators pay for
the pleasure which they receive from a well-concealed deception, and
with greater satisfaction the more difficult it is for them to discover
it. But the person who speaks or sings through a puppet, is so well
hid, that people of considerable penetration have imagined that such
concealment was impossible. At present this art is well known.

Either a child or a woman is concealed in the juggler’s box; or some
person, placed in a neighbouring apartment, speaks into the end of a
pipe which proceeds through the wall to the puppet, and which conveys
the answers to the spectators. The juggler gives every necessary
assistance to the person by signs previously agreed on. I was once
shown, in company with M. Stock, upon promising secrecy, the assistant
in another apartment, standing before the pipe, with a card in his hand
on which the signs were marked; and he had been brought into the house
so privately that the landlady was ignorant of the circumstance. The
juggler, however, acknowledged that he did not exhibit without fear;
and that he would not venture to stay long at a place like Göttingen,
or to return with his Turks, though the populace were so civil as to
permit him to depart peaceably with what he had gained.

The invention of causing statues to speak by this method seems so
simple, that one can scarcely help conjecturing that it was employed in
the earliest periods to support superstition; and many have imagined
that the greater part of the oracles spoke in the same manner[356].
This, however, is false, as has been proved by the Jesuit Baltus,
and the anonymous author of a Reply to Fontenelle’s History of
Oracles[357]. It appears that the pagan priests, like our jugglers,
were afraid that their deceptions, if long practised, might be
discovered. They considered it therefore as more secure to deliver the
answers themselves; or cause them to be delivered by women instructed
for that purpose, or by writing, or by any other means. We read,
nevertheless, that idols[358] and the images of saints once spoke; for
at present the latter will not venture to open their mouths. If their
votaries ever really heard a voice proceed from the statue, it may have
been produced in the before-mentioned manner.

Whether the head of Orpheus spoke in the island of Lesbos, or, what
is more probable, the answers were conveyed to it by the priests,
as was the case with the tripod at Delphi, cannot with certainty be
determined. That the impostor Alexander, however, caused his Æsculapius
to speak in this manner, is expressly related by Lucian[359]. He
took, says that author, instead of a pipe, the gullet of a crane, and
transmitted the voice through it to the mouth of the statue. In the
fourth century, when bishop Theophilus broke to pieces the statues
at Alexandria, he found some which were hollow, and placed in such a
manner against a wall that a priest could slip unperceived behind them,
and speak to the ignorant populace through their mouths[360]. I am
acquainted with a passage which seems to imply that Cassiodorus, who,
it is well known, constructed various pieces of mechanism, made also
speaking machines; but I must confess that I do not think I understand
the words perfectly[361].

That people ventured more than a hundred years ago to exhibit speaking
machines for money, has been proved by Reitz in his annotations
to Lucian, where he produces the instance of one Thomas Irson, an
Englishman, whom he himself knew, and whose art excited much wonder in
king Charles II. and his whole court. When the astonishment, however,
became general, one of the pages discovered, in the adjoining chamber,
a popish priest who answered in the same language, through a pipe, the
questions proposed to the wooden head by whispering into its ear. This
deception Irson often related himself[362].

I shall now add only a few observations respecting the Chinese shadows,
which I have occasionally mentioned before. This ingenious amusement
consists in moving, by pegs fastened to them, small figures cut out of
pasteboard, the joints of which are all pliable, behind a piece of fine
painted gauze placed before an opening in a curtain, in such a manner
as to exhibit various scenes, according to pleasure; while the opening
covered with gauze is illuminated, towards the apartment where the
spectators sit, by means of light reflected back from a mirror; so that
the shadows of the pegs are concealed. When it is requisite to cause
a figure to perform a variety of movements, it is necessary to have
several persons, who must be exceedingly expert. When a snake is to be
represented gliding, the figure, which consists of delicate rings, must
be directed at least by three assistants.

This amusement, which one can hardly see the first time without
pleasure, is really a Chinese invention. Many years ago, I have seen
Chinese boxes on which such moveable figures were apparent only when
the box was held against the light. In China, these shadows are used
at the well-known feast of lanterns; and a description of them may be
found in the works of some travellers. That they were common also in
Egypt, we are informed by Prosper Alpinus[363], who admired them much;
but he was not able to discover the method by which they were produced,
as it was kept a secret. I was told by an Italian, who exhibited them
at Göttingen some years ago, that they were first imitated, from the
Chinese, at Bologna.


[281] Essais, i. 54.

[282] The juggler mentioned in Xenophon requested the gods to allow him
to remain only in places where there was much money and abundance of

[283] Le Siècle de Louis XIV. Berlin, 1751, 12mo, i. p. 44. This horse
was seen in the above-mentioned year by Casaubon, to whom the owner,
an Englishman, discovered the whole art by which he had been trained.
See Casauboniana, p. 56. We are assured by Jablonski, in his Lexicon
der Künste und Wissenschaften, p. 547, that he was condemned to the
flames at Lisbon. In the year 1739, a juggler in Poland was tortured
till he confessed that he was a sorcerer, and without further proof he
was hanged. The whole account of this circumstance may be found in the
Schlesischen gelehrten Neuigkeiten for the year 1739.

[284] See Luciani Opera, ed. Bipont. v. pp. 388, 407.

[285] Florus, iii. 19, 4.

[286] Directions for performing this trick may be found in various
works, such as Joh. Wallbergen’s Zauberkünste, Stuttgard, 1754, 8vo,
and Natürliches Zauberbuch, Nurnberg, 1740, 8vo.

[287] See Bayle’s Diction. i. p. 450, art. Barchochebas.

[288] Philostorgii Hist. Eccles. vii. 7, p. 93.

[289] Vita Alexandri, p. 687.

[290] Galen, _l. c._

[291] Ovid. Met. lib. ix. 160.

[292] Instances may be found collected in Huetii Alnetanæ Quæstion.
lib. ii. and in Bayle’s Dictionary, art. Egnatia.

[293] Journal des Sçavans, 1667, pp. 54, 222; and 1680, p. 292.
Deslandes, Mémoires de Physique, ii. and Bremenscher Magazin, i. p.
665. See also Busbequii Omnia, Basil, 1740, 8vo, p. 314.

[294] [Deception might have been easily practised in this case.
Fusible metal, as suggested by Sir David Brewster, Nat. Magic, p. 301,
which consists of mercury, tin and bismuth, and which melts at a low
temperature, might easily have been substituted in place of lead; and
fluids, the boiling-point of which is lower than water, might easily
have been substituted for that liquid.

A solution of spermaceti in sulphuric æther, tinged with alkanet root,
which solidifies at 50° F., and melts and boils with the heat of the
hand, is supposed to be the substance which is used at Naples, when the
dried blood of St. Januarius melts spontaneously and boils over the
vessel which contains it.

The experiments of M. Tillet, Dr. Fordyce and Sir Charles Blagden,
will show the great heat which may be endured by the human body. Some
of these gentlemen remained in a room where the heat was one or two
degrees above 260° F. for eight minutes; a beaf-steak was cooked in the
same atmosphere, and was overdone in thirty-three minutes; when the
steak was blown upon with a pair of bellows, it was found to be pretty
well done in thirteen minutes. But Sir F. Chantry exposed himself to
a still greater heat in the furnace used for drying his moulds. When
raised to its highest temperature, the thermometer indicated 350° F.,
and the iron floor was red-hot. The workmen often entered it at 340°.
On one occasion Sir F., accompanied by five or six of his friends,
entered the furnace, and after remaining two minutes, they brought out
a thermometer which indicated 320°. Some of the party experienced sharp
pains in the tips of their ears, and in the septum of the nose, whilst
others felt a pain in their eyes.--Brewster, _l. c._]

[295] [The peculiar property of minerals and various salts, as alum, in
forming and protecting articles of dress, &c. from the effects of fire,
has long been known. But the art of practically applying it, is due to
the ingenuity of the Chevalier Aldini of Milan. His dress consisted of
a strong cloth covering which had been steeped in a solution of alum,
for the body, arms and legs; whilst the head-dress was a large cap
enveloping the whole head down to the neck, with holes for the nose,
eyes and mouth; the covering for the feet was composed of asbestos,
or amianthus cloth. The stockings and cap were single, but the gloves
were double, to enable the fireman to take burning or red-hot bodies
into his hands. A metallic dress was added to this, consisting of a
cap, with a mask, leaving a space between it and the asbestos cap; a
cuirass; a piece of armour for the trunk and thighs; a pair of boots of
double wire-gauze; and an oval shield five feet long by two and a half
wide, made by stretching the wire-gauze over a slender frame of iron.
All these pieces were made of wire-gauze.

It was found, that when armed with this apparatus, a man could walk
upon hot iron, in the midst of high flames, keep his head over a pan
of flaming fire, &c. for several minutes, and this in some cases where
the heat was so intense that bystanders were obliged to stand at the
distance of eight or ten yards. This was remarkably shown in 1829, in
the yard of the barracks of St. Jervais. Two towers were erected, two
stories high, and were surrounded with heaps of inflamed faggots and
straw. One of the firemen, with a child on his back, in a wicker basket
covered with metallic gauze, and having a cap of amiantheric cloth,
rushed into a narrow place, where the flames were raging eight yards
high. The violence of the fire was so great that he could not be seen,
while a thick black smoke spread around, throwing out a heat which was
insupportable to the spectators. The man remained so long invisible
that serious doubts were entertained of his safety. He at length,
however, issued from the fiery gulf uninjured.]

[296] The same thing was performed by Schreber in 1760.

[297] Plin. vii. 11.--Virg. Æn. xi.--Silius Ital. v.--Strabo, v.

[298] Strabo, xii.

[299] In his work De Mirabilibus Mundi, at the end of his book De
Secretis Mulierum, Amstelod. 1702, 12mo, p. 100.

[300] Antigone, 270.

[301] Animad. in Athen. lib. i. 15.

[302] De Theatro, lib. i. 40, in Grævii Thes. Ant. Rom. ix.

[303] Lib. iii. epist. 20.--Seneca, Epist. 45. Compare Suidas, Pollux,
and Athenæi Deipn. 4. It is probable that Quintilian alludes to this
art in his Institut. x. 7, 11.

[304] Plin. vii. 20, p. 385.--Martial. v. 12.--Suidas, speaking of
Theogenes Thasius.--Haller, Elem. Physiol. iv. p. 486.

[305] Vopiscus, Vita Firmi. See the figure in Desaguliers, tab. xix.
fig. 5. He describes the position thus:--The pretended Samson puts
his shoulders (not his head, as he used to give out) upon one chair,
and his heels upon another (the chairs being made fast), and supports
one or two men standing on his belly, raising them up and down as he
breathes, making with his backbone, thighs and legs, an arch whose
abutments are the chairs.

[306] A course of Experimental Philosophy. Lond. 1745, 4to, i. p. 266.
[A popular account of these extraordinary feats, with illustrations and
explanations of the principles on which they depend, is given by Sir
David Brewster in his interesting volume on Natural Magic, p. 246.]

[307] Versuche und Abhandl. der Naturforsch. Geselsch. in Danzig.

[308] A great many of these passages of the ancients have been
collected by Bulenger, in his work De Theatro, i. cap. 41. See also Des
Camps in a dissertation contained in Recherches Curieuses d’Antiquité,
par Spon. A Lyon 1683.--Mercurialis De Arte Gymnast. and Fabricii
Biblioth. Antiq. p. 995.

[309] An epigram, ascribed to Petronius, at page 542 of the edition of
Hadrianides, belongs to this subject.

[310] Muratori Antiquit. Ital. Med. Ævi, ii. p. 846.

[311] Von Stetten, Kunstgeschichte von Augsburg, ii. p. 177.

[312] Claudian. de Mallii Consul. 320. In Cilano’s Römischen
Alterthümer, ii. fig. 8, there is a representation like what I have
often seen exhibited. But the most dangerous and the most curious is
that of which an engraving is given in Splendor Urbis Venetiarum, to be
found in Grævii Thesaurus Antiquit. Italiæ, v. 3. p. 374.

[313] Sat. xiv. 265.

[314] Lib. v. 433.

[315] Symposium, p. 655, edition of Basle, 1555. fol. Εἰσεφέρετο τῇ
ὀρχηστρίδι τροχὸς τῶν κεραμεικῶν ἐφ’ οὗ ἔμελλε θαυμασιουργήσειν. In the
old edition of J. Ribittus, this passage is thus translated: “Allata
est saltatrici orbis saltatorius, in quo admiranda erat editura.” The
first question that arises is, what was τροχὸς τῶν κεραμεικῶν. The
last word alluded to a place at Athens where wrestling was exhibited
every year; and on that account Aristophanes uses the expression
πληγαὶ κεραμεικαί. This however affords no explanation. Bulenger,
who quotes the same passage, translates it in the following manner:
“Illata est saltatrici figularis rota, per quam se trajiceret, et
miracula patraret.” He means here therefore a potter’s wheel, the
invention of Anacharsis, but that was always called κεραμικὸς τροχὸς,
and not τροχὸς τῶν κεραμεικῶν. But even allowing that a potter’s
wheel is meant, it is wrong to add _per quam se trajiceret_; for the
potter’s wheel is not like a hoop, but like a plate or dish; and when
turned round revolves not vertically, but horizontally. Besides, how
the performer could write or read on a wheel that she jumped through,
he has not thought proper to explain. “Scribere et legere in rota
dum versatur, mirabile quiddam est.” If a potter’s wheel be meant, I
consider it as certainly possible for a person to stand upon it whilst
it revolves with the greatest velocity, and even to read or write; but
it would be necessary to lift up the legs, in turn, with the utmost

[316] Nicephorus Gregor. viii. 10. p. 215. This company of rope-dancers
came from Egypt. They travelled through the greater part of Asia, and
all Europe, as far as the extremity of Spain. At Constantinople they
extended the ropes, on which they first exhibited their art, between
the masts of ships. One is almost induced to believe that stupid
superstition did not then prevail so much in Europe as at the beginning
of the last century. The historian says that the company at first
consisted of forty persons; but that the half of them were cast away
on their passage to Constantinople. He does not, however, tell us that
they or their horses were anywhere burnt as conjurors, or possessed
with the devil.

[317] See the German translation of his Travels, ii. p. 238.

[318] Journal du Règne de Henri III. p. 57.--Recueil de Pièces servant
à l’Hist. de Henri III. Cologne, 1666, 12mo.

[319] Epistolarum Selectarum Centuria. Antverpiæ, 1605, 4to, i. epist.
50. p. 59.--Plin. viii. 1 and 3.--Seneca, epist. 86.--Suetonii Vit.
Galbæ.--Dio Cassius. A great many also may be found collected in
Hartenfels Elephantographia, Erfordiæ, 1715, 4to. It appears that in
the thirteenth century some ventured to ride a horse upon a rope. See
the Chronicle Alberichi Monachi Trium-Fontium, inserted by Leibnitz in
Accessiones Historicæ, vol. ii., where a description is given of the
solemnities at the wedding of Robert, brother to the king of France, in
the year 1237.

Several instances of the dexterity of the elephant may be found in
Lipsii Laus Elephantis, inserted in Dissertat. Ludicrarum et Amœnitatum
Scriptores varii, Lugd. Bat. 1638.--TRANS.

[320] Æliani Hist. An. xvi. 23. vi. 10.--Athenæus, lib. xii.--Plinius.

[321] One instance may be found in Theophanis Chronographia, which was
printed at Paris 1655, fol. It occurred in the seventeenth year of the
reign of Justinian, or 543.

[322] Universal Magazine, 1766, October, p. 217.

[323] Der entlarvte Wildman, Betrüger grosser Höfe. Berlin, 1774,
8vo. See also Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeig. 1775, p. 816. The name of
_impostor_ given to Wildman was, however, too harsh; for I do not think
that he who performs anything extraordinary, never done by any one
before, becomes an impostor when another discovers his art.

[324] The voyage of Brue is in Labat’s Afrique Occidentale, iv.

[325] [A curious exhibition of this kind has been made public for
several years in the Strand, viz. the “industrious fleas.” These
noxious animals are here seen to draw and drive a coach and four; fire
off a small cannon; and various other performances of a similar kind.]

[326] Several instances of the like kind may be found also in
Monstrorum Historia Memorabilis a J. G. Schenkio a Grafenberg filio,
Francof. 1609, 4to, p. 28 _et seq._ One of the most curious is that
of Thomas Schweicker, born at Halle in Prussian Saxony, in the year
1586. Camerarius saw him not only write, but even make a pen with his

[327] Strabo, lib. xv. p. 1048. ed. Almel.--Dio Cassius, lib. liv. p.
739. Suetonius, Eutropius, Eusebius and Orosius, speak of this embassy,
but make no mention of the presents.

[328] [In modern times the idle portion of the public has been
gratified by the exhibition of the Siamese twins; the diminutive
monster Tom Thumb; and quite recently a child with three legs. The
birth of such monsters is equivalent to a legacy or fortune to the
parents, who by their exhibitions realise large sums: the morbid taste
of the public, especially the weaker portion, for such sights is truly

[329] Man. Astron. lib. v. 165.

[330] Frisch derives this word from _morio_, a fool or buffoon.

[331] This piece of kitchen furniture was known in the middle of the
sixteenth century. Montagne saw one at Brixen, in Tyrol, in the year
1580, and wrote a description of it in his Journal, as a new invention.
He says it consisted entirely of wheels; that it was kept in motion
by a heavy piece of iron, as clocks are by a weight, and that when
wound up in the like manner, it turned the meat for a whole hour. He
had before seen, in some other place, another driven by smoke.--Reise,
i. pp. 155, 249. The latter kind seem to be somewhat older. Scappi,
cook to pope Pius V., gave a figure of one in his book Opera di M.
Bartolomeo Scappi, printed at Venice 1570, which is exceedingly scarce.
I lately saw a copy, which, instead of eighteen, had twenty-four
engravings. It was printed twice afterwards at the same place, viz. in
1571 and 1605, in quarto. The third edition says, “con due aggiunte,
cio é il Trinciante et il Maestro di casa.” Bayle seems to confound
this book with that of Platina De Honesta Voluptate, or to think that
the latter was the real author of it. This however cannot be, as there
were more than a hundred years between the periods when Scappi and
Platina lived. Platina died in 1481, and not in 1581, as we read in

[332] De Mundo. cap. vi.

[333] Herodot. ii. 48. p. 127.--Lucian. de Syria Dea, 16, ed. Bipont.
ix. p. 99.

[334] Recueil des Antiquit. iv. p. 259.

[335] Doppelmayer, p. 285.

[336] Iliad, xviii. 373. It deserves to be remarked, that there
were also such τρίποδες αὐτόματοι at the banquet of Iarchas. See
Philostrat. Opera, ed. Olearii, pp. 117, 240.

[337] Polit. i. 3.

[338] In his Menon, p. 426.--Euthyphron, pp. 8, 11.

[339] Introd. in Philos. Nat. i. p. 143.

[340] Physiologia Kircheriana, fol. p. 69.

[341] In Philostrati Opera, ed. Olearii, p. 899.

[342] In Mém. de l’Acad. des Inscr. xiii. p. 274.

[343] Ode xxvii.

[344] Aulus Gellius, x. 12.

[345] See Naudé’s Apology, Bayle’s Dictionary, &c. Thomas Aquinas is
said to have been so frightened when he saw this head, that he broke
it to pieces, and Albertus thereupon exclaimed, “Periit opus triginta

[346] Schol. Mathemat. lib. ii. p. 65.

[347] Dissertat. de Regiomontani Aquila et Musca Ferrea. Altorfi,
1709.--See Mémoires de Trevoux, 1710, Juillet, p. 1283.--Doppelmayer,
p. 23.--Fabricii Bibl. Med. Ætat. iv. p. 355.--Heilbronner Hist. Math.
p. 504.

[348] Strada De Bello Belgico. Mogunt. 1651, 4to, p. 8. He calls the
artist Jannellus Turrianus Cremonensis.

[349] In the year 1738, Le Méchanisme du Fluteur Automate, par
Vaucanson, was printed at Paris, in a thin 4to. It contains only
a short description of the flute-player, which is copied into the
Encyclopédie, i. p. 448, under the article Androide. The duck, as far
as I know, has been nowhere described.

[350] Vaucanson died at Paris in 1782.

[351] [The publisher is in possession of an elegantly formed mechanical
bird-cage, in which two artificial bullfinches wheel about on a perch,
flutter their wings, and move their beaks, while emitting musical
sounds in imitation of their natural note. A fountain constructed of
spiral glass plays in the centre. Beneath the cage is a clock which
sets the whole in motion hourly, for three or four minutes; but it may
be set going independently, like a musical snuff-box. It is presumed to
have been made by Vaucanson about a hundred years ago, and was at one
time a principal attraction at Weeks’s celebrated Museum, where that
singular piece of mechanism the Tarantula spider was first exhibited.]

[352] Nicolai, Reise, i. p. 287.

[353] Nouveau Voyage aux Iles de l’Amerique. A la Haye 1724, 2 vols.
4to, ii. pp. 298, 384. From his county he was called Count de Gennes.

[354] Zodiacus Vitæ, xi. 846.

[355] See a small treatise Ueber H. D. Muller’s Redende Maschine,
und über redende Maschinen überhaupt. Nurnberg, 1788, 8vo.--Algem.
Teutsches Biblioth. vol. lxxxvii. p. 473. The Speaking Figure and the
Automaton Chess-player exposed and detected. London, 1784, 8vo.--[This
celebrated chess-playing automaton, invented by M. Vankempelin, was
repaired and exhibited in London in 1820, by the ingenious mechanician
Maelzel, with considerable success. The figure and machinery were
always submitted to the inspection of the visitors, and shifted along
the floor in various directions before the game commenced, and the
deception was so adroitly managed as to escape the detection of the
most scrutinizing. The proprietor always took care to secure the best
chess-player in the town before he commenced operations, the wonder
therefore was greatly increased by the superiority of the automaton’s
play. Mr. Lewis directed it in London. It is now generally admitted
that a boy was concealed inside.]

[356] Van Dale De Oraculis. Amstelod. 1700, 4to, i. 10, p. 222.

[357] Réponse à l’Histoire des Oracles de M. de Fontenelle.

[358] A few instances are related by Livy, Valerius Maximus, and
Plutarch. Among the fables of the Christian church they are more

[359] Vol. v. p. 90. editio Bipont.

[360] Theodoreti Hist. Eccles. v. 22.

[361] Cassiodori Variar. i. ep. 45.

[362] [_Speaking Automaton._--There is a piece of mechanism now
exhibiting to the public at the Egyptian Hall--the work of Professor
Faber, of Vienna, and the result, as he states, of twenty-five years
of labour and preparation. The name which he has given to this product
of his ingenuity is the Euphonia; and the work, as that name implies,
is another of those many combinations which have attempted, by the
anatomical and physiological study of the structures that contribute
to the human voice, to attain to an imitation of that organ as regards
both sound and articulation. As an example of inductive and mechanical
skill this exhibition is well deserving of attention. The professor
himself, by an arrangement of bellows-pipes, pedal and keys, which
he plays somewhat like the keys of a piano, prompts the discourse of
his automaton; which certainly does enunciate both sounds and words.
When we entered the room we found it singing to a select society. It
requires all our sense of the ingenuity and perseverance which have
been bestowed on the work to induce our assent to the proposition which
calls the voice human; but undoubtedly it is a remarkable result of
contriving skill and scientific patience.--_Athæneum._]

[363] Historia Ægypti Natural. Lugd. Bat. 1735, 4to, p. 60.


The art of preserving snow for cooling liquors during the summer,
in warm countries, was known in the earliest ages. This practice is
mentioned by Solomon[364], and proofs of it are so numerous in the
works of the Greeks and the Romans, that it is unnecessary for me to
quote them, especially as they have been collected by others[365]. How
the repositories for keeping it were constructed, we are not expressly
told; but what I know on the subject I shall here lay before the reader.

That the snow was preserved in pits or trenches, is asserted by
many[366]. When Alexander the Great besieged the city of Petra, he
caused thirty trenches to be dug and filled with snow, which was
covered with oak branches, and which kept in that manner for a long
time[367]. Plutarch says that a covering of chaff and coarse cloth is
sufficient[368]; and at present a like method is pursued in Portugal.
Where the snow has been collected in a deep gulf, some grass or green
sods, covered with dung from the sheep-pens, is thrown over it; and
under these it is so well preserved, that the whole summer through it
is sent the distance of sixty Spanish miles to Lisbon[369].

When the ancients therefore wished to have cooling liquors, they either
drank the melted snow or put some of it in their wine, or they placed
jars filled with wine in the snow, and suffered it to cool there as
long as they thought proper. It appears that in these trenches it could
not remain long clean; on the contrary, it was generally so full of
chaff, that the snow-water was somewhat coloured with it, and had a
taste of it, and for this reason it was necessary to strain either it
or the wine that had been cooled by it[370].

That ice also was preserved for the like purpose, is probable from the
testimony of various authors[371]; but it appears not to have been used
so much in warm countries as in the northern. Even at present snow is
employed in Italy, Spain, and Portugal; but in Persia, ice[372]. I have
never anywhere found an account of Grecian or Roman ice-houses. By the
writers on agriculture they are not mentioned.

Mankind however soon conceived the idea of cooling water without snow
or ice, from having remarked that it became cold more speedily when
it had been previously boiled, or at least warmed, and then put in a
vessel among snow, or in a place much exposed to the air. Pliny seems
to give this as an invention of Nero[373]; and a jocular expression
in Suetonius[374] makes it at any rate probable that he was fond of
water cooled by this method; but it appears to be much older. It seems
to have been known even to Hippocrates: at least Galen[375] believes
so. And Aristotle[376] was undoubtedly acquainted with it; for he says
that some were accustomed, when they wished water to become soon cold,
to place it first in the sun and suffer it to grow warm. He relates
also that, the fishermen near the Black Sea poured boiling water over
the reeds which they used in fishing on the ice to cause them to freeze
sooner. Galen[377] on this subject is still more precise. He informs us
that the above practice was not so much used in Italy and Greece, where
snow could be procured, as in Egypt and other warm countries, where
neither snow nor cool springs were to be found. The water after it had
been boiled was put into earthen vessels or jars, and exposed in the
evening on the upper part of the house to the night air. In the morning
these vessels were put into the earth (perhaps in a pit), moistened
on the outside with water, and then bound round with fresh or green
plants, by which means the water could be preserved cool throughout
the whole day. Athenæus[378], who gives a like account from a book of
Protagorides, remarks, that the pitchers filled with water, which had
become warm by standing all day long in the sun, were kept continually
wet during the night, by servants destined to that office, and in the
morning were bound round with straw. In the island of Cimolus[379],
water which had become warm in the day-time was put into earthen jars,
and deposited in a cool cellar, where it grew as cold as snow. It was
generally believed therefore, that water which had been warmed or
boiled, was soonest cooled, as well as acquired a greater degree of
refrigeration; and on this account boiled water is mentioned so often
in the works of the ancients[380].

The same opinion prevails at present in the southern countries of Asia,
and people there still let their water boil before they expose it to
the air to cool[381]. The experiments however which have been made on
this subject by philosophers, have proved very different in the result.
When one indeed places boiling and cold water, all other circumstances
being equal, in frosty air, the latter will become ice before the
former has cooled; but when one exposes to the cold, water that has
been boiled, and unboiled water of equal temperatures, the former will
be converted into ice somewhat sooner.

The experiments made by Mariotte[382], Perrault[383], the Academy del
Cimento[384], Marian[385] and others, showed no perceptible difference
in the time of freezing, between boiled and unboiled water; but the
former produced ice harder and clearer, the latter ice more full
of blisters. In later times, Dr. Black of Edinburgh has, from his
experiments, asserted the contrary. Boiled water, he says, becomes ice
sooner than unboiled, if the latter be left at perfect rest; but if the
latter be stirred sometimes with a chocolate stick, it is converted
into ice as soon as the former. This difference he explains in the
following manner:--Some motion promotes congelation; this arises in
the boiled water through its re-imbibing air; and therefore it must
necessarily freeze before the unboiled, provided the latter be kept
at perfect rest. Fahrenheit had before remarked that water not moved,
would show a cold several degrees below the freezing-point, without
becoming ice[386].

M. Lichtenberg, with whom I conversed on these contradictory results,
assured me that he was not surprised at this difference in the
experiments. The time of congelation is regulated by circumstances,
with which philosophers are not yet sufficiently acquainted. A
certain, but not every degree of stirring hastens it; so that every
icy particle which is formed on the side of the vessel, or which falls
from the atmosphere, may convert the water sufficiently cooled into ice
instantaneously; and such unavoidable accidents must, where all other
circumstances are equal, cause a great difference in the period of

I am inclined to think that the cooling of water, in ancient times,
of which I have already spoken, is not to be ascribed so much to the
boiling as to the jars being kept continually wet, and to the air to
which it was exposed. A false opinion seems therefore to have prevailed
respecting the cause; and because it was considered to be the boiling,
many have not mentioned the real cause, which appeared to them only
to afford a trifling assistance, though it has been remarked both by
Galen and Athenæus. We know at present that coolness is produced by
evaporation. A thermometer kept wet in the open air falls as long as
evaporation continues[387]. With sulphuric æther, and still better
with that of nitre, which evaporates very rapidly, water may be made
to freeze even in the middle of summer; and Cavallo saw in summer a
Fahrenheit’s thermometer, which stood at 64°, fall in two minutes, by
means of æther, to +3, that is to 29° below the freezing-point[388].

On this principle depends the art of making ice at Calcutta and other
parts of India, between 25° 30′ and 23° 30′ of north latitude, where
natural ice is never seen unless imported. Trenches two feet deep,
dug in an open plain, are strewed over with dry straw; and in these
are placed small shallow unglazed earthen pans, filled with water
at sunset. The ice which is produced in them is carried away before
sunrise next morning, and conveyed to an ice-cellar fifteen feet deep;
where it is carefully covered with straw to be preserved from the
external heat and air. A great deal, in this process, depends upon
the state of the atmosphere. When calm, pure and serene, it is most
favourable to the congelation; but when the winds are variable, or the
weather heavy and cloudy, no ice is formed; and the same is often the
case when the nights are raw and cold[389].

It was once believed that this freezing was occasioned principally by
the water having been boiled; but it seems to be owing much rather to
evaporation[390]. It is not however said that the vessels are kept
continually wet on the outside, but that they are unglazed, and so
porous or little burnt, that the water oozes through them; and on
that account their exterior surface appears always moist[391]. By
vessels of this kind the trouble of wetting is saved. What has been
said respecting the influence of the weather serves, in some measure,
to confirm my conjecture. The more it favours evaporation, the ice is
not only formed more easily, but it is better; and when evaporation is
prevented by the wind or the weather, no ice is produced. The latest
accounts how ice is made at Benares, say expressly that boiled water
is not employed; and that all those vessels, the pores of which are
stopped by having been used, do not yield ice so soon or so good. In
porcelain vessels none is produced; and this is the case also when the
straw is wet[392].

Another method of cooling water also seems to have been known to
Plutarch. It consisted in throwing into it small pebbles or plates of
lead[393]. The author refers to the testimony of Aristotle; but this
circumstance I cannot find in the works of that philosopher which
have been preserved. It seems to be too unintelligible to admit of any
opinion being formed upon it; and the explanation given by Plutarch
conveys still less information than the proposition itself. This is the
case, in general, with almost all the propositions of the ancients.
We indeed learn from the questions that they were acquainted with
many phænomena; but the answers scarcely ever repay the trouble which
one must employ in order to understand them. They seldom contain any
further illustration; and never a satisfactory explanation.

It appears that the practice of cooling liquors, at the tables of the
great, was not usual in any country besides Italy and the neighbouring
states, before the end of the sixteenth century. In the middle of that
century there were no ice-cellars in France; for when Bellon relates,
in the Account of his travels, in 1553, how snow and ice were preserved
at Constantinople throughout the whole summer, for the purpose of
cooling sherbet, he assures us that the like method might be adopted
by his countrymen; because he had found ice-cellars in countries
warmer than France. The word _glacière_ also is not to be met with in
the older dictionaries; and it does not occur even in that of Monet,
printed in 1635[394]. Champier, the physician who attended Francis I.
when he had a conference with the emperor Charles V. and pope Paul III.
at Nice, saw the Spaniards and Italians put snow, which they caused to
be brought from the neighbouring mountains, into their wine in order
to cool it. That practice, which excited his astonishment, he declared
to be unhealthful; and this proves that in his time it had not been
introduced at the French court[395].

Grand d’Aussy quotes an anecdote, related by Brantome, from which
he forms the same conclusion. The dauphin, son of Francis I., being
accustomed to drink a great deal of water at table, even when he was
overheated, Donna Agnes Beatrix Pacheco, one of the ladies of the
court, by way of precaution, sent to Portugal for earthen vessels,
which would render the water cooler and more healthful; and from which
all the water used at the court of Portugal was drunk. As these vessels
are still used in Spain and Portugal, where the wine is cooled also
with snow, both methods might have been followed in France. I have in
my collection of curiosities, fragments of these Portuguese vessels;
they are made of red bole; are not glazed, though they are smooth, and
have a faint gloss on the surface like the Etruscan vases. They are so
little burnt that one can easily break them with the teeth; and the
bits readily dissolve to a paste in the mouth. If water be poured into
such vessels, it penetrates their substance; so that, when in the least
stirred, many air-bubbles are produced; and it at length oozes entirely
through them[396]. The water that has stood in them acquires a taste
which many consider as agreeable; and it is probable that it proceeds
from the bark of the fir-tree, with which, as we read, they are burnt.
When the vessels are new, they perform their service better; and they
must then also have a more pleasant smell. If they really render water
cold, or retain it cool, that effect, in my opinion, is to be ascribed
to the evaporation. Their similarity to those in which the Indians make
ice is very apparent.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, under the reign of Henry
III., the use of snow must have been well known at the French court,
though it appears that it was considered by the people as a mark of
excessive and effeminate luxury. In the witty and severe satire on
the voluptuous life of that sovereign and his favourites, known under
the title of L’Isle des Hermaphrodites[397], a work highly worthy
of notice but which is exceedingly scarce, we find an order of the
Hermaphrodites that large quantities of ice and snow should everywhere
be preserved, in order that people might cool their liquors with them,
even though they might occasion extraordinary maladies, which, it
seems, were then apprehended. In the description of an entertainment we
are told that snow and ice were placed upon the table before the king;
and that he threw some of them into his wine; for the art of cooling it
without weakening it was not then known. The same method was practised
even during the whole first quarter of the seventeenth century[398].

Towards the end of the above century this luxury must have been very
common in France. At that period there were a great many who dealt in
snow and ice; and this was a free trade which every person might carry
on. Government, however, which could never extort from the people
money enough to supply the wants of an extravagant court, farmed out,
towards the end of the century, a monopoly of these cooling wares.
The farmers, therefore, raised the price from time to time; but the
consumption and revenue decreased so much that it was not thought worth
while to continue the restriction; and the trade was again rendered
free. The price immediately fell; and was never raised afterwards but
by mild winters or hot summers.

The method of cooling liquors by placing them in water in which
saltpetre has been dissolved, could not be known to the ancients,
because they were unacquainted with that salt. They might however, have
produced the same coolness by other salts which they knew, and which
would have had a better effect; but this, as far as I have been able to
learn, they never attempted. The above property of saltpetre was first
discovered in the first half of the sixteenth century; and it was not
remarked till a long period afterwards, that it belongs to other salts

The Italians at any rate were the first people by whom it was employed;
and about the year 1550, all the water, as well as the wine, drunk
at the tables of the great and rich families at Rome, was cooled in
this manner. Blasius Villafranca, a Spaniard, who practised physic in
that capital, and attended many of the nobility, published, in the
before-mentioned year, an account of it, in which he asserts, more
than once, that he was the first person who had made the discovery
publicly known. In his opinion it was occasioned by the remark that
salt water in summer was always cooler than fresh water. According to
his directions, which are illustrated by a figure, the liquor must be
put into a bottle or globular vessel with a long neck, that it may
be held with more convenience; and this vessel must be immersed in
another wide one filled with cold water. Saltpetre must then be thrown
gradually into the water; and while it is dissolving, the bottle must
be driven round with a quick motion on its axis, in one direction.
Villafranca thinks that the quantity of saltpetre should be equal to a
fourth or fifth part of the water; and he assures us, that when again
crystallized, it may be employed several times for the same use, though
this, before that period, had by many been denied. Whether other salts
would not produce the like effect, the author did not think of trying;
but he attempts to explain this of saltpetre from the principles of
Aristotle; and he tells his noble patrons what rules they should
observe for the preservation of their health, in regard to cooling

Towards the end of the sixteenth century this method of cooling liquors
was well known, though no mention is made of it by Scappi, in his
book on cookery. Marcus Antonius Zimara, however, speaks of it in his
Problems[399]. I do not know at what time this Appulian physician
lived. In a list of the professors of Padua, his name is to be found
under the year 1525, as _Explicator philosophiæ ordinariæ_; and because
another is named under the year 1532, we have reason to conjecture that
he died about that time. But in that case the physician Villafranca
would probably have been acquainted with the Problemata of Zimara; and
would not have said that no one had spoken of this use of saltpetre
before him.

Levinus Lemnius[400] also mentions the art of cooling wine by this
method so much, that the teeth can scarcely endure it. We are informed
by Bayle that the earliest edition of his work, which has been often
reprinted, was published at Antwerp, in the year 1559, in octavo. It
contains only the first two books; but as the above account occurs in
the second book, it must be found in this edition.

Nicolaus Monardes, a Spanish physician, who died about the year 1578,
mentions this use of saltpetre likewise. It was invented, as he says,
by the galley-slaves; but he condemns it as prejudicial to health. From
some expressions which he uses, I am inclined to think that he was not
sufficiently acquainted with it; and that he imagined that the salt
itself was put into the liquor. At a later period we find some account
of it in various books of receipts; such as that written by Mizaldus in
1566, and which was printed for the first time the year following[401].

In the Mineralogy of Aldrovandi, first printed in 1648, this process
is described after Villafranca; but where the editor, Bartholomæus
Ambrosianus, speaks of common salt, he relates that it was usual in
countries where fresh water was scarce to make deep pits in the earth;
to throw rock-salt into them; and to place in them vessels filled with
water, in order that it might be cooled. This remark proves that the
latter salt was then employed for the same purpose; but it has led the
editor into a very gross error. He thinks he can conclude from it, that
the intention of potters, when they mix common salt with their clay,
is not only to render the vessel more compact, but also to make it
more cooling for liquors. But the former only is true. The addition of
salt produces in clay, otherwise difficult to be fused, the faintest
commencement of vitrification; a cohesion by which the vessel becomes
so solid that it can contain fluids, even when unglazed; but for this
very reason it would be most improper for cooling, which is promoted by
the evaporation of the water that oozes through.

The Jesuit Cabeus, who wrote a voluminous commentary on the
Meteorologica of Aristotle, which were printed at Rome in 1646, assures
us that with thirty-five pounds of saltpetre one can not only cool a
hundred pounds of water, by quickly stirring it, but convert it also
into solid ice; and for the truth of this assertion he refers to an
experiment which he made. Bartholin says that for the above account
he can give him full credit[402]; but the truth of it is denied by
Duhamel, who suspects that this Jesuit took the shooting crystals of
the salt to be ice[403].

Who first conceived the idea of mixing snow or ice with saltpetre and
other salts, which increases the cold so much, that a vessel filled
with water, placed in that mixture, is congealed into a solid mass of
ice that may be used on the table, I cannot with certainty determine;
but I shall mention the earliest account of it that I have been able
to find. Latinus Tancredus, a physician and professor at Naples, whose
book De Fame et Siti was published in 1607, speaks of this experiment;
and assures us that the cold was so much strengthened by saltpetre,
that a glass filled with water, when quickly moved in the above
mixture, became solid ice[404].

In the year 1626, the well-known commentary on the works of Avicenna,
by Sanct. Sanctorius, was published at Venice. The author in this work
relates, that in the presence of many spectators, he had converted
wine into ice, not by a mixture of snow and saltpetre, but of snow and
common salt[405]. When the salt was equal to a third part of the snow,
the cold was three times as strong as when snow was used alone.

Lord Bacon, who died in 1626, says that a new method had been found
out of bringing snow and ice to such a degree of cold, by means of
saltpetre, as to make water freeze. This, he tells us, can be done
also with common salt; by which it is probable he meant unpurified
rock-salt; and, he adds, that in warm countries, where snow was not to
be found, people made ice with saltpetre alone; but that he himself
had never tried the experiment[406]. Boyle, who died in 1691, made
experiments with various kinds of salts; and he describes how, by means
of salt, a piece of ice may be frozen to another solid body[407].
Descartes says that in his time this was a well-known phænomenon, but
highly worthy of attention[408].

Since that period the art of making ice has been spoken of in the
writings of all philosophers where they treated on heat and cold, and
with many other experiments has been introduced into various books of
receipts. It was then employed merely for amusement[409]; and no one
suspected that it would ever form an important item of luxury. In the
like manner Fugger’s first bills of exchange were said to be useful
only for gambling, and gunpowder was called a trifling discovery.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, drinking-cups made of ice
and iced fruit were first brought to the table; but towards the end of
that century it appears that the French began to congeal in this manner
all kinds of well-tasted juices, which were served up as refreshments
at the tables of the great and wealthy[410]. This was a grand invention
for the art of cookery; which became common among the German cooks,
both male and female, about the middle of the last century; and since
that time our confectioners sell single glasses of iced articles at
balls and in the theatres.

I am acquainted with no older information respecting this invention
than what is contained in Barclay’s Argenis, which is, indeed, a
romance; but the author’s account makes the possibility of its being
used so clear, that we may certainly conclude it was then employed;
especially as he mentions it several times. Arsidas finds in the middle
of summer, at the table of Juba, fresh apples, one-half of which was
encrusted with transparent ice. A basin, made also of ice and filled
with wine, was handed to him; and he was informed that to prepare all
these things in summer was a new art. Snow was preserved throughout
the whole year in pits lined with straw. Two cups made of copper were
placed the one within the other, so as to leave a small space between
them, which was filled with water; the cups were then put into a pail,
amidst a mixture of snow and unpurified salt coarsely pounded, and
the water in three hours was converted into a cup of solid ice, as
well-formed as if it had come from the hands of a pewterer. In the like
manner apples just pulled from the tree were covered with a coat of ice.

The first edition of the Argenis was printed at Paris in 1621, and in
that year the author died at the age of thirty-nine.

After brandy, from being a medicine, came into general use as a liquor
at table, and was drunk in common by the populace, the Italians, above
all, endeavoured to render it weaker and more pleasant by various
mixtures; and by raising its value to make it more respectable, and
at the same time more useful to people of the first rank. That their
wares might be distinguished with more certainty, they gave them the
name of _liquori_; and under that appellation sold them to foreign
nations. The French were the first who adopted the use of these
articles; particularly after the marriage of Henry II., when duke of
Orleans, with Catharine de Medici, in the year 1533. This event brought
to France great numbers of Italians, who made the French acquainted
with these delicacies of their native country; and who taught them
to prepare and to use them. They were the first, therefore, who made
and sold the fine _liqueurs_ at Paris; and in order to serve those
who could not bear heating liquors, or rather to serve themselves by
filling their pockets with money, their successors in this business
invented about the year 1630 or 1633 that beverage called _lemonade_,
because the juice of lemons or oranges was its chief component part.
This liquor soon came into high repute, as it not only served for
cooling and refreshing people during the sultry heats of summer, but
was even recommended by physicians against putrid diseases.

The _limonadiers_, or venders of lemonade, endeavoured to increase
the first property, which occasioned the far greatest consumption, by
the means of ice; and one of them, Procope Couteaux, an Italian from
Florence, about the year 1660, conceived the happy idea of converting
such beverage entirely into ice, by a process which had been before
employed only by jugglers. The ready sale which he found for his
invention induced others to make articles of the like kind. His
example, therefore, was followed by Le Fevre and Foi; and these three
for some years enjoyed a monopoly of this new-fashioned commodity.
About the year 1676, liquors cooled by, or changed into ice, must
however have been the principal things sold by the _limonadiers_;
for being then formed into a company, the following delicacies were
mentioned in the patent which they received on that occasion: “Eaux
de gelée et glaces de fruits et de fleurs, d’anis et de canelle,
franchipanne, d’aigre de cetre, du sorbec,” &c. There were at that time
in Paris two hundred and fifty masters in this employment. In 1690,
when De la Quintiny wrote, iced liquors were extremely common[411].

People, however, long imagined that such articles could be used
only during the hot months of summer. In the year 1750, Dubuisson,
successor to the celebrated Procope, _au café de la rue des Fossés de
S. Germain des Près_, and author of the Art du Déstillateur, began to
keep ready prepared, the whole year through, ices of every kind for the
use of those who were fond of them. At first they were little called
for, except in the dog-days; but some physicians recommended them in
certain disorders. Have the physicians then, by their opinion, done
most service to the venders of _liqueurs_ and to cooks, or the latter
to the physicians? This would make a fine subject for an inaugural
dissertation. It is, however, certain, for we are told so by Dubuisson
himself, that after two cures, in which ices had been of the greatest
service, the _more discerning_ part of the public made use of them in
every season of the year. That this part of the public might never lose
their conceit, the venders of _liqueurs_ always employed their thoughts
upon new inventions. Among the latest is that of iced butter, which
acquired its name on account of some likeness to that substance. It
was first known at the Parisian coffee-house (_caveau_) in 1774. The
Duke de Chartres often went thither to enjoy a glass of iced liquor;
and the landlord, to his great satisfaction and surprise, having one
day presented him with his arms formed of eatable ice, articles of a
similar kind immediately became fashionable.

[Ice is now used extensively for a variety of œconomical purposes, such
as packing salmon, cooling liquors, &c. Of late years it has become a
regular article of commerce. In September 1833, a cargo of ice, shipped
at Boston, was discharged at Calcutta. It was sold at threepence per
pound, while the native ice fetched sixpence. It was packed in solid
masses, within chambers of double planking, with a layer of refuse
tan or bark between them. The quantity shipped was 180 tons, of which
about 60 wasted on the voyage, and 20 on the passage up the river
to Calcutta. Thousands of tons are now annually shipped from Boston
(United States) to our East Indies, to the West Indian Archipelago,
and to the Continent of South America, and quite recently ‘The Wenham
Lake Ice Company’ have erected extensive ice-houses in London and at
Liverpool, and arranged for the transportation to this country of
thousands of tons of ice. One surprising circumstance connected with
the trade, is the fact that their ice, though transported to this
country in the heat of summer, is scarcely reduced in bulk. The masses
are so large that they expose a very small surface to atmospheric
action in proportion to their weight, and therefore do not suffer from
exposure to it, as the smaller and thinner fragments do, which are
obtained in our own or other warmer climates. It appears, also, that
ice frozen upon very deep water, is more hard and solid than ice of
the same thickness obtained from shallow water; and even when an equal
surface is exposed, melts more slowly. In this country, the collection
of ice, even by those largely engaged in the trade, is an occasional
and fitful undertaking; depending, both as to time and quantity, upon
the accidental occurrence of severe frost; and when the process of
collection is carried on, it is with very few artificial aids. In
America, on the other hand, this labour can be regularly carried on
through the whole winter; while the adjuncts of machinery for cutting
and storing, and of steam for transporting it, are brought extensively
into action.

The details connected with this trade, as carried on in America, are so
novel and so interesting, that we lay them before our readers with the
confident belief that the result of our labours will prove attractive
to them. Wenham Lake, whence a large proportion of the ice now
imported to this country is obtained, is eighteen miles from Boston, in
the State of Massachusets; it occupies a very elevated position, and
lies embosomed in hills of majestic height and bold rugged character.
The lake has no inlet whatever, but is fed solely by the springs which
issue from the rocks at its bottom, a depth of 200 feet from its
surface. The ice-house, which is capable of storing 20,000 tons of ice,
is built of wood, with double walls, two feet apart, all around; the
space between which is filled with sawdust; thus interposing a medium,
that is a non-conductor of heat, between the ice and the external air;
the consequence of which is, that the ice is scarcely affected by
any condition or temperature of the external atmosphere, and can be
preserved without waste for an indefinite time.

The machinery employed for cutting the ice is very curious, and was
invented for that express purpose. It is worked by men and horses in
the following manner:--From the time when the ice first forms, it is
carefully kept free from snow until it is thick enough to be cut; that
process commences when the ice is a foot thick. A surface of some two
acres is then selected, which at that thickness will furnish about 2000
tons, and a straight line is then drawn through its centre from side to
side each way. A small hand-plough is pushed along one of these lines,
until the groove is about three inches deep and a quarter of an inch
in width, when the ‘Marker’ is introduced. This implement is drawn
by two horses, and makes two new grooves, parallel with the first,
twenty-one inches apart; the gauge remaining in the original groove.
The marker is then shifted to the outside groove, and makes two more.
Having drawn these lines over the whole surface in one direction, the
same process is repeated in a transverse direction, marking all the ice
out into squares of 21 inches. In the meantime, the ‘Plough,’ drawn
by a single horse, is following in these grooves, cutting the ice to
a depth of 6 inches. One entire range of blocks is then sawn out, and
the remainder are split off toward the opening thus made with an iron
bar. This bar is shaped like a spade and of a wedge-like form. When
it is dropped into the groove, the block splits off; a very slight
blow being sufficient to produce that effect, especially in very cold
weather. The labour of ‘splitting’ is slight or otherwise, according
to the temperature of the atmosphere. ‘Platforms,’ or low tables of
frame-work, are placed near the opening made in the ice, with iron
slides extending into the water, and a man stands on each side of this
slide, armed with an ice-hook. With this hook the ice is caught and by
a sudden jerk thrown up the ‘slide’ on to the ‘platform.’ In a cold day
everything is speedily covered with ice by the freezing of the water on
the platforms, slides, &c., and the enormous blocks of ice, weighing
some of them more than two cwt., are hurled along these slippery
surfaces, as if they were without weight. Beside this platform,
stands a ‘sled’ of the same height, capable of containing about three
tons; which, when loaded, is drawn upon the ice to the front of the
store-house, where a large stationary platform of exactly the same
height, is ready to receive its load; which, as soon as discharged, is
hoisted block by block, into the house.

Forty men and twelve horses will cut and stow away 400 tons a day. In
favourable weather 100 men are sometimes employed at once. When a thaw
or a fall of rain occurs, it entirely unfits the ice for market, by
rendering it opake and porous; and occasionally snow is immediately
followed by rain, and that again by frost, forming snow-ice, which
is valueless, and must be removed by the ‘plane.’ The operation of
‘planing’ is somewhat similar to that of ‘cutting.’ A plane gauged to
run in the grooves made by the ‘marker,’ and which shaves the ice to
the depth of three inches, is drawn by a horse, until the whole surface
of the ice is planed. The chips thus produced are then scraped off;
and if the clear ice is not reached, the process is repeated. If this
makes the ice too thin for cutting, it is left in _statu quo_, and a
few nights of hard frost will add below as much as has been taken off
above. In addition to filling their ice-houses at the lake and in the
large towns, the company fill a large number of private ice-houses
during the winter, all the ice for these purposes being transported
by railway. It will easily be believed, that the expense of providing
tools, building houses, furnishing labour, and constructing and keeping
up the railway, is very great; but the traffic is so extensive, and the
management of the trade so good, that the ice can be furnished, even in
England, at a very trifling cost[412] (it is retailed at twopence per


[364] Proverbs, xxv. ver. 13.

[365] Bartholini de Nivis Usu Medico Observationes, Hafn. 1661.

[366] Seneca, Quæst. Natur. iv. 13.

[367] Athenæus, iii. p. 124.

[368] Sympos. vi. quæst. 6.--Augustinus De Civitate Dei, xxi. 4, p. 610.

[369] Mémoires Instructifs pour un Voyageur. How the snow repositories
at Constantinople are constructed, is related by Bellon in his
Observat. iii. 22.

[370] The dissipated Heliogabalus caused whole mounts of snow to be
heaped up in summer in order to cool the air. See Lampridius, Vita
Heliogab. cap. 23.

[371] Plin. xix. 4.--Latinus Pacatus in Panegyr. Theodos.

[372] De la Valle, iii. p. 60, where the Persian ice-pits are
described, as well as in Chardin, iv. p. 195.

[373] Hist. Nat. xxxi. 3, 23, p. 552.

[374] Vita Neronis, cap. 48: Hæc est Neronis decocta.

[375] In lib. vi. Hippocrat. de Morbis Vulgar. comment. 4, 10.

[376] Meteorol. i. cap. 12.

[377] In the place before quoted.

[378] Deipnos. iii. p. 124.

[379] Ibid. p. 123.

[380] See Pitisci Lex. Antiq. Rom. under the word Decocta.

[381] Philosoph. Transact. vol. lxv. part i. p. 126.

[382] Traité du Mouvement des Eaux.

[383] Du Hamel, Hist. de l’Academ. l. i. c. 3, p. 99.

[384] Tentamina Experimentorum Acad. del Cim. p. 183.

[385] Dissertation sur la Glace. Paris, 1749, 12mo, p. 187.

[386] Philosoph. Transact. vol. lxv. part i. p. 124.

[387] [In India, one mode of cooling wines, is to suspend the bottle
in a thick flannel bag, or folds of blotting-paper, kept constantly
wetted, and placed in the sun’s rays, or a current of air, or both;
by which means the evaporation, and therewith intense coldness, is

[388] Philosoph. Transact. vol. lxxi. part ii. p. 511. [M. Boutigny’s
beautiful experiment of making ice in a red-hot crucible is a striking
phænomenon of this kind. It is thus performed:--A deep crucible of
platinum is heated to a glowing red heat; liquid sulphurous acid, which
has been preserved in the fluid state by a freezing mixture, and some
water are then at the same instant poured into the crucible. The rapid
evaporation of the volatile sulphurous acid, which boils below the
freezing-point of water, produces such an intense degree of cold as to
freeze the water, which is then thrown out of the crucible as a solid

[389] Philosoph. Transact. vol. lxxi. part ii. p. 252: the process of
making ice in the East Indies; by Robert Barker.

[390] [There is no question that this refrigeration is caused by the
evaporation of a portion of the water, whereby a very large quantity of
heat becomes latent in the vapour. A clear serene sky being necessary
for the success of the production of the ice, would tend to show that
the further loss of heat by radiation, which always ensues to a great
extent at nights, when the sky is clear, is necessary.]

[391] ... a number of small, shallow, earthen pans. These are unglazed,
scarce a quarter of an inch thick, about an inch and a quarter in
depth, and made of an earth so porous, that it was visible from
the exterior part of the pans, the water had penetrated the whole
substance. [Our ordinary wine-coolers, which consist of extremely
porous vessels, act from evaporation. A portion of the water, which is
placed in the interior of the cooler, evaporates through its pores, and
produces cold by rendering a considerable amount of heat latent.]

[392] See the account of Lloyd Williams, in the Universal Magazine,
June 1793, p. 410. Thin unglazed vessels are employed at present in
Egypt also for cooling water, as we are told in several books of

[393] Sympos. vi. 5, p. 690.

[394] The word however may be found in Dictionnaire par Richelet,
Genève 1680, 4to.

[395] J. B. Campegii Libri xxii. de re cibaria, xvi. 9, p. 669.

[396] Most vessels of this kind in Portugal are made at Estremos, in
the province of Alentejo. The description given of them by Brantome is
as follows:--“Cette terre étoit tannée, si subtile et si fine qu’on
diroit proprement que c’est une terre sigillée; et porte telle vertu,
que quelque eau froide que vous y mettiez dedans, vous la verrez
bouillis et faire de petits bouillons, comme si elle estoit sur le
feu; et si pourtant elle n’en perd sa froideur, mais l’entretient, et
jamais l’eau ne fait mal à qui la boit, quelque chaud qu’il fasse, ou
quelque exercice violent qu’il fasse.” This clay seems to be the same
as that which the ladies in Spain and Portugal chew for the sake of
its pleasant taste, though to the prejudice of their health. They are
so fond of it that their confessors make them abstain from the use of
it some days by way of penance for their transgressions. See Madame
D’Aunoi, Voy. en Espagne, ii. pp. 92, 109. Mémoires Instructifs pour un
Voyageur. A vessel of the above kind is called _bucaro_ and _barro_.
See Diccion. de la Lengua Castellana, Madrid, 1783, fol.

[397] This curious work contains so much valuable information
respecting the French manners in the sixteenth century, that some
account of it may not prove unacceptable to my readers. The title is,
Déscription de L’Isle des Hermaphrodites, nouvellement découverte
... pour servir de Supplement au Journal de Henri III. The preface,
to which there is no signature, says that the book was printed for
the first time in 1605. In the first editions neither date nor place
is mentioned; but one edition is dated 1612. It appears to have
been written in the reign of Henry IV., after the peace of Vervins,
concluded in 1598, which the author mentions in the beginning. Henry
IV. would not suffer any inquiry to be made respecting the author that
he might be punished, because, he said, though he had taken great
liberty in his writing, he had written truth. He is not therefore
known. Some have conjectured that it was the production of cardinal
Perron, and others of sieur d’Emery, Thomas Artus. But the former would
not have chosen to lash vices such as those mentioned in this satire,
with so much wit and severity; and the latter could not have done it.
The one was too vicious, and the other too vehement. The cardinal
must have delineated his own picture; and Artus have exceeded what
he was capable of. The same opinion respecting Artus is entertained
by Marchand, in his Dict. Historique. The frontispiece, which in
many editions is wanting, represents an effeminate voluptuary with a
womanish face, dressed half in men’s and half in women’s clothing.
Marchand says the inscription is Les Hermaphrodites. In some editions
however it is much more cutting: “Pars est una patris; cætera matris
habet.” This pentameter is taken from Martial, lib. xiv. ep. 174. The
whole work is inserted also in Journal de Henri III., par Pierre de
l’Estoiles, à la Haye 1744, 8vo, iv. p. 1. For further information on
this subject see Le Long, Bibliothèque Historique de la France, ii. p.
326, n. 19128.

[398] In the Contes de Gaillard, printed in 1620, it is said, “Il alla
un jour d’esté souper chez un voluptueux, qui lui fit mettre de la
glace en son vin.”

[399] Problema 102. These Problemata are often printed with the
Problemata Aristotelis, Alexandri Aphrodis. and others. The collection
which I have was printed at Amsterdam, 1685, 12mo.

[400] De Miraculis, libri iv. Colon. 1581, 8vo, p. 288.

[401] Centuriæ ix Memorabilium. Francof. 1599, 12mo, p. 67.

[402] De Nive, p. 38.

[403] J. B. Du Hamel, Opera Philosophica, Norimb. 1681, 4to.

[404] L. Tancredi de Fame et Siti libri tres. Ven. 1607, 4to, lib. iii.

[405] When snow or ice is mixed with salt, both begin to be liquid.
This process is employed in Russia to clean windows covered with frost.
They are rubbed with a sponge dipped in salt, and by these means they
become immediately transparent. [The _rationale_ of this appears to
consist in the salt absorbing water and deliquescing, and in this fluid
the snow subsequently dissolves, the mixture requiring a much lower
temperature for its assuming the solid state.]

[406] Historia Vitæ et Mortis, § 44.--De Augmentis Scient. v. 2.--Silva
Silvarum, cent. i.

[407] History of Cold, title i. 17; title v. 3; title xv. 7. [The
method of making one or two freezing or cooling mixtures will not
perhaps be without interest here. Where snow is not at hand, a mixture
of 5 parts of powdered nitre and 5 of powdered sal-ammoniac may be
mixed with 16 parts of water. This reduces the thermometer from +50°
to about +10° F., or, 9 parts of phosphate of soda, 6 of nitrate of
ammonia, and 4 of dilute nitric acid, reduce the thermometer from +50°
to -21°; 5 parts of common salt, 5 of nitrate of ammonia and 12 of
snow, reduce it from the ordinary temperature to -28°. The most intense
degree of cold, probably known, has been produced by Dr. Faraday in
his experiments upon the liquefaction of gases. This was effected by
placing solid carbonic acid mixed with æther, under the air-pump, and

[408] Des Cartes Specimina Philosophiæ. Amst. 1650, 4to, p. 216.

[409] Von Hohberg says, in his Adliches Landleben, “The following,
which serves more for amusement than use, is well-known to children. If
one put snow and saltpetre into a jug, and place it on a table, over
which water has been poured, and stir the snow and salt well round in
the jug with a stick, the jug will be soon frozen to the table.” This
baron, therefore, who, after he had sold his property in Austria on
account of the persecution against the Protestants, wrote at Regensburg
(Ratisbon), where he died in 1688, at the age of seventy-six, was not
acquainted with iced delicacies. Had they been known to him, he would
have certainly mentioned them where, in his Book of Cookery, he gives
ample directions for laying out a table of the first rank.

[410] [The application of ice to the purposes of confectionary, has,
within the last few years, become much more extensive; encouraged, no
doubt, by the facility with which it is now procurable at all seasons
of the year, and in any quantity. Imitations of peaches, nectarines,
apricots, and other fruits, are now produced in ice paste in such
perfection, as at first sight to deceive the most practised eye; and
such elegances are no longer confined to the tables of the wealthy.]

[411] Instruction pour les Jardins. Paris, 1730, 4to, i. p. 263. The
author says that ice in summer is indeed useful; but, as a gardener, he
wishes that frost could be prevented; and that ice might be imported
from the North, as olives and oranges are from the South. Some years
ago, as no ice could be procured on account of the great mildness of
the preceding winter, the merchants at Hamburg sent a ship to Greenland
for a load of it, by which they acquired considerable profit.

[412] For the above account of the mode of collecting the ice at Wenham
Lake, we are indebted to the ‘Illustrated London News’ for May 17, 1845.


This instrument, called in Latin _hydrometrum_, _hygroscopium_,
_hygrobaroscopium_, _hydroscopium_, _areometrum_, and _baryllion_,
serves to determine the weight or specific gravity of different fluid
masses, by the depth to which it sinks in them.

The laws respecting the comparative specific gravity of fluids and
solid bodies immersed in them were discovered by Archimedes, when he
tried the well-known experiment, by order of Hiero king of Sicily,
to find the content of a golden crown, made for that sovereign. Upon
these is founded the construction of the hydrometer; and it is not
improbable that Archimedes, who was killed in the year 212 before the
Christian æra, was the inventor of it, though no proofs to warrant this
conjecture are to be found in the writings of that great man, or in
those of any other author.

The oldest mention of the hydrometer occurs in the fifth century, and
may be found in the letters of Synesius to Hypatia. Of the lives of
these two persons I must here give some anecdotes, as they deserve
to be known on account of the singular fate which attended them.
Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a well-known mathematician of
Alexandria, some of whose writings are still extant. By her father she
was instructed in mathematics, and from other great men, who at that
time abounded in Alexandria, she learned the Platonic and Aristotelian
philosophy, and acquired such a complete knowledge of these sciences,
that she taught them publicly with the greatest applause. She was young
and beautiful, had a personable figure, was sprightly and agreeable
in conversation, though at the same time modest; and she possessed
the most rigid virtue, which was proof against every temptation. She
conducted herself with so much propriety towards her lovers, that
they never could obtain more than the pleasure of her company and of
hearing her discourse; and with this, which they considered as an
honour, they were contented. Those who wished to intrude further were
dismissed; and she destroyed the appetite of one who would not suffer
her to philosophise, by means of some strong preparation, which, as far
as I know, remained a secret. She was not baptized, and with all her
knowledge, adopted the blind superstition of paganism. Had she been a
Christian, and suffered a cruel death from heathen persecution, she
would have merited a place in the martyrology of the saints: but the
case was reversed; for, by the conduct of the Christians towards her,
she became entitled to have her name enrolled in the martyrology of the

The patriarch of Alexandria, at the time when she lived, was Cyril,
whose family for a hundred years before had produced bishops, who were
of more service to their relations than to the church. This prelate
was a proud, litigious, vindictive and intolerant man, who thought
every thing lawful which he conceived to be for the glory of God; and
who, as prosecutor and judge, condemned Nestorius without hearing his
defence. In the city of Alexandria, which was then very flourishing on
account of its commerce, the emperor allowed greater toleration than
he imagined could be justified to the clergy in any other place; and
it contained a great many Jews, who carried on an extensive trade, as
well as a number of pagan families who were of service to the city, or
at least did it no harm. This, in the eyes of Cyril, was not proper;
he would have the sheep-fold clean, and the Jews must be banished.
Orestes, however, the governor, who was a man of prudence, and better
acquainted with the interests of the city, opposed a measure that was
likely to be attended with mischief, and he even caused to be condemned
to death a Christian profligate, who had done some injury to the Jews.
This malefactor was, by the order of Cyril, buried in the church
as a martyr; and he immediately collected five hundred monks, who
ill-treated Orestes in the streets, and excited an insurrection among
the people, who plundered the unfortunate Jews, and expelled them from
a city in which they had lived since the time of Alexander the Great.

Cyril, observing one day a great number of horses and servants
belonging to persons of the first rank, before a certain house in the
city, inquired the cause of their being assembled in that manner.
He was informed that the house was the habitation of the celebrated
female philosopher Hypatia, who, on account of her extensive learning
and eminent talents, was visited not only by people of the highest
distinction, but even by the governor himself. This was sufficient to
excite the bishop’s jealousy against the unbelieving Hypatia, and he
resolved to effect her ruin. As he had instigated the people against
the Jews, he in like manner encouraged them to attack Hypatia. They
seized her in the street, hurried her to the church, stripped off her
clothes, tore her flesh to pieces with potsherds, dragged her mangled
limbs about through the city, and at length burned them. This bloody
tragedy, which took place in the year 415, could tend only to inspire
the heathens with a greater hatred to Christianity, and to make
sensible Christians ashamed of the conduct of their brethren. To Cyril,
however, it occasioned no shame; on the contrary, he endeavoured to
divert the emperor from punishing those who had been guilty of so gross
a violation of the principles of justice, and in this he was assisted
by his numerous adherents and friends. In some circumstances of this
relation historians are not agreed, but they all concur in bestowing
praise on Hypatia, whose memory was honoured and preserved by her
grateful and affectionate scholars[413].

Among these was Synesius, of a noble pagan family, who cultivated
philosophy and the mathematics with the utmost ardour, and who had
been one of her most intimate friends and followers. On account of his
learning, talents, and open disposition, he was universally esteemed,
and he had been employed with great success on public occasions of
importance. The church at Ptolemais at length wished to have him
for their bishop. After much reluctance he accepted the office, but
on condition that they should not require him to acknowledge the
resurrection of the dead, which he doubted. The people having consented
to allow him this indulgence, he suffered himself to be baptized,
and became their bishop. He was confirmed by the orthodox patriarch
Theophilus, the predecessor of Cyril, to whose jurisdiction Ptolemais
belonged; and he afterwards renounced his errors, and declared himself
convinced of the truth of the resurrection. This learned man showed his
gratitude to Hypatia, by the honourable mention which he made of her in
some letters that are still preserved among his writings.

In his fifteenth letter, he tells Hypatia that he was so unfortunate,
or found himself so ill, that he wished to use a _hydroscopium_, and
he requests that she would cause one to be constructed for him. “It is
a cylindrical tube,” adds he, “of the size of a reed or pipe. A line
is drawn upon it lengthwise, which is intersected by others, and these
point out the weight of water. At the end of the tube is a cone, the
base of which is joined to that of the tube, so that they have both
only one base. This part of the instrument is called _baryllion_. If it
be placed in water, it remains in a perpendicular direction, so that
one can discover by it the weight of the fluid.”

Petavius, who published the works of Synesius in the year 1640,
acknowledges in his annotations, that this passage he did not
understand. An old scholiast, he says, who had added some illegible
words, seemed to think that it referred to a water-clock; but this he
considers improbable, as a clepsydra was not immersed in water, but
filled with it. He conjectures, therefore, that it may allude to some
such instrument as that which Vitruvius calls _chorobates_. The latter
however was employed for leveling; and it appears that Synesius, who
complains of the bad state of his health, could not think of leveling.
Besides, no part of the description in Vitruvius agrees with that which
is given in so clear a manner by Synesius.

Petau published his edition of the works of this philosopher in the
time of Peter de Fermat, conseiller au parlement de Toulouse, a man of
great learning, who was an excellent mathematician, and well-acquainted
with antiquities and the works of the ancients. We have by the latter a
commentary upon some obscure passages of Athenæus, annotations on the
writings of Theon of Smyrna, and emendations from a manuscript to the
Stratagemata of Polyænus, which may be found also in his Miscellanies.
Mursinna, in his edition of the same author, has added them to the end
of the preface. As Fermat was often consulted respecting difficult
passages of the ancients, he could not be unacquainted with that in
the new edition of Synesius. He drew up an explanation of it, and gave
it to a friend who was then about to publish a French translation of
Bened. Castelli’s book, Della Misura dell’Acque Correnti, and who
caused it to be printed along with that work. Fermat died in the year
1665. After his death his son published some of his writings under
the title of Varia Opera Mathematica[414]; and in this collection is
inserted his short treatise on the _hydroscopium_, from which I have
extracted the following explanation.

It is impossible, says he, that the _hydroscopium_ could be the
level or _chorobates_ of Vitruvius, for the lines on the latter were
perpendicular to the horizon, whereas the lines on the former were
parallel to it. The _hydroscopium_ was undoubtedly a hydrometer of
the simplest construction. The tube may be made of copper, and open
at the top; but at the other end, which, when used, is the lowest, it
must terminate with a cone, the base of which is soldered to that of
the tube. Lengthwise, along the tube, are drawn two lines, which are
intersected by others, and the more numerous these divisions are, the
instrument will be so much more correct. When placed in water, it sinks
to a certain depth, which will be marked by the cross lines, and which
will be greater in proportion to the lightness of the water. A figure,
which is added, illustrates this explanation more than was necessary.
When a common friend of Fermat and Petavius showed it to the latter, he
considered it to be so just, that he wished to have an opportunity of
introducing it in a new edition.

Mersenne, on the other hand, entertains some doubt[415] respecting
this instrument, though he does not mention Fermat, with whom he
was well-acquainted; for in the dispute which the latter had with
Descartes, Mersenne was the bearer of the letters that passed
between them, as we learn from the Life of Descartes, by Baillet.
His objections however are of little weight. Why should Synesius,
asks Mersenne, consider himself unfortunate, because he had not a
hydrometer? It may be here replied, that he was in an infirm state,
and that the physicians seem to have ordered him to drink no water
but what was pure and light. We know that in former times, when so
many artificial liquors were not in use, people were accustomed, more
than at present, to good water. We read in the works of the ancient
physicians, such as Galen and Celsus, directions how to examine the
lightness and purity of water. He might have tried it, says Mersenne,
with a common balance. He indeed might, but not so conveniently. That
Synesius was in a bad state of health is apparent from several of his
letters; otherwise one might say that in a letter many expressions may
be only jocular, respecting some circumstance known to the friend to
whom one writes; and that every expression is not to be taken according
to its literal meaning. One might confess also, without weakening a
received explanation, not to know what Synesius alludes to in the first
line of his letter. But even if we allow that the instrument was not a
hydrometer, but a water-clock, or a level; it may be asked how the want
of these could make him unfortunate? Mersenne thinks further, that the
cone, added to the end of the tube, would have been unnecessary in a
hydrometer; but it serves to keep the instrument with more ease in a
perpendicular direction in the water. Such is the opinion of H. Klugel,
whom I shall soon have occasion to quote.

For the explanation of Fermat one may produce a still stronger
testimony, with which he seems not to have been acquainted. It can be
proved that this instrument was used in the next, or at least in the
sixth century. Of that period, we have a Latin poem on weights and
measures, which contains a very just description of a hydrometer. The
author, in manuscripts, is called sometimes _Priscianus_, and sometimes
_Rhemnius Fannius Palæmon_; but we know, from grounds which do not
belong to this subject, that the former was his real name. Two persons
of that name are known at present. The one, Theodore Priscian, was a
physician, and lived in the time of the emperor Valentinian, towards
the end of the fourth century. As more physicians have written on
weights and measures, with which it is indispensably necessary they
should be acquainted, one might conjecture that this Priscian was the
author of the above poem. The rest of his writings, however, still
preserved, are in so coarse and heavy a style, that one can scarcely
ascribe to him a work which is far from being ill-written; especially
as it is nowhere said that he was a poet. With much more probability
may we consider as the author the well-known grammarian Priscian, who
died about the year 528.

This poem has been often printed, and not unfrequently at the end of
Q. Sereni Samonici De Medicina Præcepta. The best edition is that
inserted by Wernsdorf in the fifth part of the first volume of his
Poetæ Minores, where an account may be found of the other editions.

Be the author who he may, this much is evident, that he was acquainted
with the hydrometer of Synesius, and has described it in a very clear

“Fluids,” says he, “are different in weight, as may be proved by the
specific gravity of oil and honey compared with that of pure water;”
and the given proportion agrees almost with that found by modern
experiments. “This,” adds he, “may be discovered by an instrument,”
which he thus describes:--“It consists of a thin metallic cylinder made
of silver or copper, about as large as the joint of a reed between two
knots, to the end of which is added a cone. This cone makes the lower
end so heavy, that the instrument, without sinking or floating on the
surface, remains suspended perpendicularly in the water. Lengthwise,
upon the cylinder, is drawn a line, which is divided by cross lines
into as many parts as are equal to the weight of the instrument in
_scripla_. If placed in light fluids, more of the divisions will be
covered than when put into heavy fluids; or it sinks deeper into those
which are light than into those which are heavy. This difference of
gravity may be found also,” continues he, “by filling vessels of equal
size with the fluids and weighing them; for the heavier must then weigh
most; but when one takes an equal weight of two fluids, the lighter
will occupy more space than the heavier. If twenty-one divisions of
the instrument are covered in water, and twenty-four in oil, and if
one take twenty-four _scripla_ of water, twenty-one _scripla_ of oil
only can be contained in the space occupied by the water.” Such is the
manner in which Professor Klugel has conjectured the meaning of the
author from hydrostatic principles; though neither he nor Wernsdorf
has ventured to give a literal translation of the words which ought to
convey this explanation. But however obscure they may be, it evidently
appears that they allude to a hydrometer.

This poem was once published together with Celsus De Re Medica, in
1566, by Robert Constantin, who died at an advanced age in 1605, and
who added a few, but excellent notes, which have been inserted by
Wernsdorf in his edition. This Constantin seems to have known that the
instrument of Priscian and the _hydroscopium_ of Synesius were the
same; and that they were used for determining the weight of fluids. He
explains the use of them very properly; but is mistaken in supposing
the cone to have been of wood, though it served to render the lower
part of the instrument heavier, as the poet himself says: “cui cono
interius modico pars ima gravatur.” I am almost induced to think that
_interius_ implies that additional weight was given to the cone by
throwing some small heavy bodies into it, through the opening above;
and at present grains of leaden shot are employed for that purpose.
It appears therefore that the honour of having first given a good
explanation of the before-quoted passage of Synesius belongs rather to
Constantin than to Fermat; but I can readily believe that the latter
was not acquainted with the observations made on it by the former.
Before I conclude the history of this instrument among the ancients,
I shall add two remarks further. It is evidently wrong when one, with
Muschenbroek and others, whose opinion I adopted before I engaged in
this research, considers Hypatia as the inventress of the hydrometer.
It was known at her time, and was made at Alexandria; but it seems not
to have been very common, as Synesius wrote to Hypatia to procure him
one, and even thought it necessary to give her a description of it.

Those are mistaken likewise, who say that this instrument was called
also _baryllium_. That word, as far as I have been able to learn,
occurs only in Synesius, who expressly tells us that the small heavy
cone alone was meant by it. In the same manner has it been understood
by Constantin. In the Dictionary of Basle it is said to be _hydroscopii
pars_; and in Stephen’s Dictionary it is explained by _pondusculum_,
as well as in that of Ernest, where it is given as the diminutive of
_baros_. It signified therefore the heavy part of the hydrometer only.

It is equally erroneous when one says, with Muschenbroek and others,
that those who among the Romans made it their employment to examine
the quality of water with the hydrometer, were called _baryllistæ_
or _barynilæ_. These words do not occur in the works of the ancient
Latin authors, nor in any of the completest dictionaries. We read
only the following passage in some editions of the Commentary of
Servius upon Virgil: “Scrutatores et repertores aquarum (aquilices
dicuntur) barinulas dixerunt[416].” If these words were really written
by Servius, who lived in the fifth century, he either confounded the
water-searchers, _aquilices_, those who sought for springs, with those
who examined the nature of water when found, as the hydrometer was of
no service to the former in their business; or both employments must at
that time have been followed by the same people, and these must have
acquired their name from a part only of one instrument they used, which
is not at all probable.

I think we may with certainty believe that the hydrometer was not
known to Seneca, Pliny, or Galen, who died about the end of the second
century. Were not this the case, it would certainly have been mentioned
by the first, where he speaks so minutely of the specific gravity of
hard and fluid bodies[417]; by the second, where he says that the
weight of water was ascertained by a common balance[418]; and by the
last, where he gives directions how to discover its lightness. Galen
adds, that in his time a method had been invented of determining the
quality of salt-lye by placing an egg in it, and observing whether it
floated[419]. Have we not reason to think that on this occasion the
hydrometer must have occurred to him had it been then used?

But however well-known it may have been in the fifth century, it seems
that it was afterwards entirely forgotten, and that towards the end of
the sixteenth it was again for the first time revived or invented anew.
To George Agricola it was scarcely known; for where he speaks of the
weight of different kinds of water, and particularly of that of salt
springs[420], he does not mention it. Constantin, however, who lived at
the same time, must have been acquainted with it, else he could not
have explained the before-mentioned passages of Synesius and Priscian.

I am inclined to think that the first account of the hydrometer being
again brought into use must be found in the oldest German books on
salt-works. It is at any rate certain that from these the modern
philosophers became first acquainted with it. One of the earliest
who has described it is the Jesuit Cabeus, who wrote about the year
1644[421]; but he confesses that he acquired his information from a
German treatise by Tholden, whom Kircher[422] calls a German artist.
He was however not properly an artist. He was a native of Hesse; a
good chemist for his time; and resided about the year 1600 or 1614 as
overseer of the salt-works at Frankenhausen in Thuringia. His treatise,
which Cabeus had in his possession, was entitled Tholden’s Haligraphia,
printed at Leipsic in 1603. Another edition, printed at the same place
in 1613, is mentioned by Draudius; but at present I have not been able
to find it; and can say only from Cabeus and Leupold, that Tholden’s
hydrometer had a weight suspended to it; and that he speaks of the
instrument not as a new but a well-known invention, and on that account
has described it only imperfectly.

Kircher, whose works were generally read, seems to have principally
contributed towards making it publicly known; and Schott[423],
Sturm[424] and others, in their account of it, refer to his writings.
The artists at Nuremberg, who worked in glass, and who constructed a
great many hydrometers which were everywhere sold, assisted in this
likewise. One, above all, made by Michael Sigismund Hack, was highly
valued about the beginning of the last century, as we are told by J.
Henry Muller, professor at Altorf. Of this artist, often mentioned by
Sturm and other philosophers, an account has been given by Doppelmayer.
He died in 1724.

Many improvements, or perhaps only alterations, have been made in
this instrument in later times by a variety of artists. The task of
collecting these completely in chronological order with explanations,
I shall leave to others; and only mention a few of them. One of the
first who endeavoured to adapt the hydrometer for determining the
specific gravity and purity of metals was Monconys. Almost about the
same period Cornelius Mayer and Boyle seem to have conceived the idea
of facilitating the weighing of solid bodies by a weighing-scale
added to the instrument. The former affirms that this improvement
was invented by him as early as the year 1668[425]; whereas Boyle
did not make his known till 1675[426]. Besides these the following
also are worthy of notice: Feuille[427], Fahrenheit, Clark[428], and
Leutmann[429], whose improvements have been described by Wolf[430],
Leupold[431], Gesner, Weigel and others.

[The principal hydrometer now in use is that of Sykes, this is adopted
in estimating excise duties on liquids. That of Baumé is principally
employed abroad. Those of Beck or Cartier are but rarely used.
These instruments differ merely in their graduation. Sykes’s plan
of increasing the extent of the indications without enlarging the
instrument is ingenious. It is effected by means of a number of weights
which may be appended as collars to the stem of the instrument.

A useful method of ascertaining specific gravities for commercial
purposes, consists in using a series of glass beads, previously
adjusted and numbered. When thrown into any liquid, the heavier ones
sink and the lighter float on the surface; but the one which has the
same density as the liquid will remain indifferent, or perhaps slightly
below the surface. The specific gravity is then found by the number
with which it is marked.]


[413] A fuller account of Hypatia may be found in Menagii Histor.
Mulier. Philosoph. Lugd. 1690; Bruckeri Hist. Crit. Philos. ii. p. 351;
and Wolfii Fragmenta Mulierum Græc. Gott. 1739, 4to.

[414] Varia Opera Mathematica D. Petri de Fermat, Tolosæ, 1679, folio.

[415] Cogitata Physico-Mathem. Par., 1644, and in Phænomena Hydraulica.

[416] On Georg. i. 109. These words are quoted by Emmenessius, the
editor of the Variorum edition of Virgil, but in the edition of
Servius, Venetiis, 1562, fol., they are not to be found. The Commentary
of Servius may at present be no longer indispensable for explaining
Virgil; but it deserves to be printed once more as completely and
accurately as possible. It contains much useful information, as well as
many fragments of works now lost; and on this account cannot well be
entirely dispensed with.

[417] Quæst. Nat. iii. 25, p. 726.

[418] Hist. Nat. xxxi. 3, sect. 23, p. 552.--Athen. ii. p.
46.--Plutarchi Quæst. Nat. 7.

[419] De Simplic. Med. Facultatibus, iv. 20.

[420] De Natura eorum quæ effluunt ex Terra, lib. ii. p. 124.

[421] Philosophia Experimentalis, sive Commentaria in Aristotelis
Meteorolog. lib. ii. textus 26, quæst. 2, tom. ii. p. 158, b.

[422] Mundus Subterraneus, vol. i. p. 254.

[423] Cursus Mathemat. p. 455, icon. 20.

[424] Collegii Experiment. pars ii. Norimb. 1715, 4to.

[425] Nuovi Ritrovamenti. Roma, 1696, fol.

[426] Philosoph. Transact. 1675: where an engraving is given of all the

[427] Journal des Observations Physiques et Math. Par. 1714, 4to.

[428] Philosoph. Transact. No. 384, p. 140; and No. 413, p. 277.

[429] Comment. Acad. Petrop. v. p. 274.

[430] In his Versuchen. Halle, 1737, 8vo, i. p. 556.

[431] Theatrum Hydrostaticum.


The lighting of streets, while it greatly contributes to ornament
our principal cities, adds considerably also to the convenience and
security of the inhabitants. But of whatever benefit it may be, it
is generally considered as a modern invention. M. St. Evremond says,
“The invention of lighting the streets of Paris during the night, by a
multitude of lamps, deserves that the most distant nations should go
to see what neither the Greeks nor the Romans ever thought of for the
police of their republics.” This opinion appears to be well-founded;
for I have never yet met with any information which proves that the
streets of Rome were lighted. Some passages, indeed, in ancient
authors rather indicate the contrary; and according to my ideas, the
Romans would not have considered the use of flambeaux and lanterns so
necessary on their return from their nocturnal visits, as they seem to
have done, had their streets been lighted; though I will allow that the
public lighting of the streets in our cities does not render links or
lanterns altogether superfluous. Whoever walked the streets of Rome at
night without a lantern, was under the necessity of creeping home in
perfect darkness, and in great danger[432], like Alexis in Athenæus.
Meursius endeavours to make it appear that the streets of Rome were
lighted; and in support of this opinion quotes Ammianus Marcellinus,
and the Life of Julius Cæsar in Suetonius; but his arguments to me are
far from being convincing[433]. That Naples was not lighted, appears
from the return of Gito in the night-time, mentioned by Petronius[434].
Some circumstances however related by ancient authors make it probable
that Antioch, Rome and a few other cities had public lanterns, if not
in all the streets, at least in those which were most frequented.

Libanius, who lived in the beginning of the fourth century, says in his
Panegyric[435], where he praises his native city Antioch, “The light
of the sun is succeeded by other lights, which are far superior to the
lamps lighted by the Egyptians on the festival of Minerva of Sais. The
night with us differs from the day only in the appearance of the light:
with regard to labour and employment everything goes on well. Some
work continually; but others laugh and amuse themselves with singing.”
I cannot allow myself to imagine that the sophist here considers
it as a subject of praise to his native city, that the inhabitants
after sun-set did not sit in darkness, but used lights to work by. It
appears, therefore, that he alludes to the lighting of the streets.

In another passage, in the oration to Ellebichus[436], the same author
tells us, that the ropes from which the lamps that ornamented the
city were suspended, had been cut by some riotous soldiers, not far
from a bath. “Proceeding,” says he, “to a bath not far off, they cut
with their swords the ropes from which were suspended the lamps that
afforded light in the night-time, to show that the ornaments of the
city ought to give way to them.” This quotation indicates, at any rate,
that there were lamps suspended from ropes near the baths and places
of greatest resort. The following passage of Jerome, however, seems
to make it probable, or rather certain, that the streets of Antioch
were lighted. In the altercation between a Luciferan and an Orthodox,
he relates that an adherent of the schismatic Lucifer disputed in the
street with a true believer till the streets were lighted, when the
listening crowd departed; and that they then spat in each other’s face,
and retired.

In the elegant edition of the works of that father, by Dominicus
Vallarsius, we have a short dissertation on the time when this
unmannerly dispute took place; and the editor shows that it happened at
Antioch in the year 378[437].

Basilius the Great, in a letter to Martinianus, giving an account of
the miserable situation of his native city Cæsarea, in Cappadocia,
in the year 371, says they had nights without lights (_noctes non
illustratas_). Most commentators explain this passage as if it meant
that the lamps in the streets had not been lighted[438].

That the streets, not only of Antioch, but also of Edessa, in Syria,
were lighted in the fifth century, seems proved by a passage in the
History of Jesue Stylites. It is there expressly said, that Eulogius,
governor of Edessa, about the year 505, ordered lamps to be kept
burning in the streets during the night; and that he employed for that
purpose a part of the oil which was before given to the churches and

With regard to the public lighting of whole cities on festivals,
and particularly on joyful occasions, which we call illuminations,
that practice seems to be of great antiquity. Of this kind was a
particular festival of the Egyptians[440], during which lamps were
placed before all the houses throughout the country, and kept burning
the whole night[441]. During that festival of the Jews, called _festum
encæniorum_, the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, which,
according to common opinion, was celebrated in December, and continued
eight days, a number of lamps were lighted before each of their houses.
A passage in Æschylus shows that such illuminations were used also in
Greece. At Rome, the forum was lighted when games were exhibited in
the night-time; and Caligula, on a like occasion, caused the whole
city to be lighted[442]. As Cicero was returning home late at night,
after Catiline’s conspiracy had been defeated, lamps and torches were
lighted in all the streets in honour of that great orator. The emperor
Constantine caused the whole city of Constantinople to be illuminated
with lamps and wax candles on Easter eve[443]. The fathers of the
first century frequently inveigh against the Christians, because, to
please the heathens, they often illuminated their houses, on idolatrous
festivals, in a more elegant manner than they. This they considered
as a species of idolatry[444]. That the houses of the ancients were
illuminated on birth-days, by suspending lamps from chains, is too well
known to require any proof[445].

Of modern cities, Paris, as far as I have been able to learn, was
the first that followed the example of the ancients by lighting its
streets. As this city, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, was
much infested with street robbers and incendiaries, the inhabitants
were, from time to time, ordered to keep lights burning, after nine in
the evening, before the windows of all the houses which fronted the
street. This order was issued in the year 1524, and renewed in 1526
and 1553[446]; but in the month of October 1558, _falots_ were erected
at the corners of the streets, or, when the street was so long that
it could not be lighted by one, three were erected in three different
parts of it. These lights had, in a certain measure, a resemblance to
those used in some mines; for we are told, in the Grand Vocabulaire
François[447], that _falot_ is a large vase filled with pitch, rosin,
and other combustibles, employed in the king’s palace and houses of
princes to light the courts. At that period there were in Paris 912
streets; so that the number of lights then used must have been less
than 2736.

In the month of November, the same year, these lights were changed for
lanterns of the like kind as those used at present. The lighting of
the streets of Paris continued, however, for a long time to be very
imperfect, till the abbé Laudati, an Italian of the Caraffa family,
conceived the idea of letting out torches and lanterns for hire. In
the month of March 1662, he obtained an exclusive privilege to this
establishment for twenty years; and he undertook to erect, at certain
places, not only in Paris, but also in other cities of the kingdom,
booths or posts where any person might hire a link or lantern, or, on
paying a certain sum, might be attended through the streets by a man
bearing a light. He was authorised to receive from every one who hired
a lantern to a coach, five sous for a quarter of an hour; and from
every foot-passenger, three sous. To prevent all disputes in regard
to time, it was ordered that a regulated hour-glass should be carried
along with each lantern.

In 1667, however, the lighting of the city of Paris was put on that
footing on which it is at present. At the same time the police was
greatly improved, and it afterwards served as a pattern to most of the
other cities in Europe. Affairs of judicature, and those respecting
the public police, instead of being committed, as before, to one
magistrate, called the “Lieutenant civil du prevost de Paris,” were
by a royal edict, of the month of March in the above year, divided
between two persons. One of them, who had the management of judicial
affairs, retained the old title; and the other, who superintended the
police, had that of “Lieutenant du prevost de Paris pour la police,”
or “Lieutenant général de police.” The first lieutenant of police
was Nicholas de Reynie, a man who, according to the praises bestowed
on him by French writers, formed an epoch in the history of modern
police. In the History of Paris, so often already quoted, he is called
an enlightened, upright, and vigilant magistrate, as zealous for the
service of the king as for the good of the public, and who succeeded
so well in this new office, that we may say, adds the author, it is
to him, more than to any other, that we are indebted for the good
order which prevails at present in Paris. The first useful regulation
by which La Reynie rendered a service to the police, was that for
improving the (_guet_) night-watch, and the lighting of the streets.
I can find no complete account of the changes he introduced; but four
years after, that is, on the 23rd of May 1671, an order was made that
the lanterns every year should be lighted from the 20th of October till
the end of March in the year following, and even during moonlight;
because the latter was of little use in bad weather, and even in fine
weather was not sufficient to light some of the most dangerous streets.

Before this period the streets were lighted only during the four
winter months; and on account of the numberless atrocities committed
in the night-time, when there were no lights, the Parisians offered to
contribute as much money as should be sufficient to defray the expense
of keeping the lamps lighted throughout the whole winter. The lamps
employed by La Reynie were, on account of their likeness to a bucket,
called _lanternes à seau_, and succeeded those invented by one Herault,
called _lanternes à cul-de-lampe_.

When De Sartines held the office of lieutenant de police, a premium
was offered to whoever should discover the most advantageous means of
improving the lighting of the streets; and the Academy of Sciences
were to decide on the different plans that might be proposed. In
consequence of this offer, a journeyman glazier, named Goujon, received
a premium of 200 livres, and Messrs. Bailly, Le Roy, and Bourgeois de
Chateaublanc 2000 livres. To the last-mentioned gentleman is ascribed
the invention of the present reverberating lamps, described by La
Vieil, which were introduced in 1766.

In a small work, called an Essay on Lanterns, by a society of literary
men[448], which, though written to ridicule antiquarian researches
and certain persons at Paris, contains some authentic information
respecting the lighting of the streets, we are told that reverberating
lamps were invented by an abbé P., who therefore, says the author
humorously, is the second abbé who can boast of having enlightened
the first city in the world. The superiority of these lamps cannot
be denied; but, besides their expense, they are attended with this
disadvantage when they hang in the middle of the street, that they
throw a shade over it, so that one cannot be known by those who pass.
In cities also, where people walk principally in the middle of the
streets, or where the streets are broad, they are not very convenient,
and they occasion a stoppage when it is necessary to clean them.

In the year 1721, the lamps in Paris are said to have amounted to 5772;
but in the Tableau de Paris, printed in 1760, the number is reckoned to
be only 5694, and in the Curiosités de Paris, 1771, they are stated to
be 6232.

In 1777, the road between Paris and Versailles, which is about nine
miles in length, was lighted at the yearly expense of 15,000 livres by
the same contractors who lighted Paris. The city of Nantes was lighted
the same year; and in 1780 had 500 lamps. Strasburg began to be lighted
in 1779.

If what Maitland says in his history[449] be true, that in the year
1414 an order was issued for hanging out lanterns to light the streets,
and if that regulation was continued after the above period, which I
very much doubt, then must it be allowed that London preceded Paris in
this useful establishment. Maitland refers for his authority to Stow’s
Survey of London; but in the edition of that work published in 1633,
I find only, where a list of the magistrates is given, the following
information:--“1417, Mayor, Sir Henry Barton, skinner. This Henry
Barton ordained lanthorns with lights to bee hanged out on the winter
evenings, betwixt Hallontide and Candlemasse.” Nothing more occurs in
the edition by Strype, published in 1720.

In the year 1668, when several regulations were made for improving
the streets, the Londoners were reminded that they should hang out
lanterns duly at the accustomed time[450]. In the year 1690 this order
was renewed, and every housekeeper was required to hang out a light
or lamp every night as soon as it was dark, between Michaelmas and
Lady-day; and to keep it burning till the hour of twelve at night.
In the year 1716 it was ordained by an act of common council, that
all housekeepers, whose houses fronted any street, lane, or public
passage, should, in every dark night, that is, every night between the
second night after every full moon till the seventh night after every
new moon, set or hang out one or more lights, with sufficient cotton
wicks, that should continue to burn from six o’clock at night till
eleven o’clock of the same night, under the penalty of one shilling.
All these regulations, however, seem to have been ineffectual, owing to
bad management. The city was lighted by contract, and the contractors
for liberty to light it were obliged to pay annually to the city the
sum of six hundred pounds. Besides, the contractors received only six
shillings per annum from every housekeeper whose rent exceeded ten
pounds; and all persons who hung out a lantern and candle before their
houses were exempted from paying towards the public lamps. The streets
were lighted no more than one hundred and seventeen nights; and as this
gave great opportunity to thieves and robbers to commit depredations in
the night-time, the lord mayor and common council judged it proper, in
the year 1736, to apply to parliament for power to enable them to light
the streets of the city in a better manner; and an act was accordingly
passed, by which they were empowered to erect a sufficient number of
such sort of glass lamps as they should judge proper, and to keep them
burning from the setting to the rising of the sun throughout the year.
Instead therefore of a thousand lamps, the number was now increased
to 4679; but as these even were not sufficient, several of the wards
made a considerable augmentation, so that the whole could amount to no
less than 5000. This, however, was not the amount of all the lamps in
London, but of those in what is properly called the city and liberties.
As this division forms only a fifth part of London, Maitland reckons
the whole number of public and private lamps to have been, even at that
period, upwards of 15,000. The time of lighting also, which before had
been only 750 hours annually, was increased to 5000. In our cities of
Lower Saxony, the streets of which are not so dark as those of London,
the lighting continues 1519 hours.

In the year 1744, owing to the great number of robberies committed
in the streets during the night, it was found necessary to apply for
another act of parliament to regulate still farther the lighting of
the city; and at that period this establishment was placed upon that
footing on which it now stands.

The lamps of London, at present (1786), are all of crystal glass; each
is furnished with three wicks; and they are affixed to posts placed at
the distance of a certain number of paces from each other. They are
lighted every day in the year at sunset. Oxford-street alone is said
to contain more lamps than all Paris. The roads, even, seven or eight
miles round London, are lighted by such lamps; and as these roads
from the city to different parts are very numerous, the lamps seen
from a little distance, particularly in the county of Surrey, where a
great many roads cross each other, have a beautiful and noble effect.
Birmingham was lighted, for the first time, in 1733, with 700 lamps.

It appears that the streets of Amsterdam were lighted by lanterns as
early as 1669; for in the month of February that year, the magistrates,
who in 1665 had forbidden the use of torches, issued an order against
destroying the lamp-posts, to which it was customary to fasten horses.
This order, as well as the instructions given to the lamp-lighters
in 1669, may be found in a work called the Privileges of the city
of Amsterdam. The lanterns were not of glass, but of horn; for the
lamp-lighters were ordered, in their instructions, to wipe off every
day the smoke of the train-oil which adhered to the horn of the

At the Hague an order was issued in the month of October 1553, that the
inhabitants should place lights before their doors during dark nights;
and afterwards small stone buildings were erected at the corners of the
principal streets, in which lights were kept burning; but in the year
1678 lamps were fixed up in all the streets.

The streets of Copenhagen were first lighted by lamps in 1681; and on
the 16th of July 1683 new regulations were made, by which the plan was
much improved, as well as that of the night-watch.

The streets of Rome are not yet lighted. Sixtus V. was desirous
to introduce this improvement in the police, but he met with
insurmountable obstacles. That the benefit of lighting might be enjoyed
in some measure, he ordered the number of the lights placed before the
images of saints to be augmented. De la Lande says, in his Travels,
that Venice had been lighted for some years before the period when he
wrote, by 3000 lamps. Messina and Palermo, in Sicily, are both lighted.

Madrid, which till lately was the dirtiest of all the capital cities of
Europe, is at present as well lighted as London[451]. Valencia in Spain
was some years ago indebted for this improvement to Joachim Manuel Fos,
then inspector of the manufactories. Barcelona is lighted also[452].
Lisbon however has no lights.

The streets of Philadelphia are lighted, and on each side there is a

In the year 1672 the council of Hamburg made a proposal to the citizens
for lighting the streets. The year following this proposal was
accepted, but the lamps were not fixed up till two years after, that is
to say in 1675.

In the year 1679, Berlin had advanced so far towards this improvement,
that the inhabitants were obliged in turns to hang out a lantern with
a light at every third house. In 1682, the Elector Frederick William
caused lamp-posts with lamps to be erected, notwithstanding the
opposition made by the inhabitants on account of the expense. In a
petition which they presented in 1680, they stated that the lamps cost
5000 dollars, and that 3000 were required yearly to keep them lighted.
At present Berlin has 2354 lamps, which are kept lighted from September
till May, and at the king’s expense. Potsdam has 590[453].

Vienna began to be lighted in the year 1687. The lights were hung
out in the evening on a signal given by the fire-bell. In 1704 lamps
were introduced; but at first the light which they afforded was very
imperfect, as the lamps burned badly, and because, to save the expense
of lamp-lighters, every housekeeper was obliged daily to remove the
empty lamps, to carry them to the lamp-office to be filled, and to
light them again on a signal given with a bell. In 1776, the lamps,
which before amounted to 2000, were increased to 3000, and a contract
was entered into for lighting them at the rate of 30,000 florins.
These lamps were invented by counsellor Sonnenfels, and amounted in
1779 to 3445. They are made of white glass, in a globular form, and
have a covering of tin-plate, painted red on the outside and polished
within. They are supported by lamp-irons, fixed in the houses at the
height of fifteen feet from the earth. Each lantern is only sixteen
paces distant from the other, so that the streets are completely
illuminated. They are kept lighted both summer and winter, whether the
moon shines or not; and this is more necessary at Vienna than anywhere
else, on account of the height of the houses and the narrowness and
crookedness of the streets. The lamp-lighters wear an uniform, and are
under military discipline. In 1783 the yearly expense of the lamps was
estimated at only 17,000 florins[454].

Leipzig was lighted in 1702, and Dresden in 1705. In 1766, the number
of lamps at the latter amounted only to 728, for the lighting of which
oil of rape-seed was employed.

In Cassel the streets began to be lighted under the Landgrave Charles,
in 1721; but as regulations were not made sufficient to support this
improvement, it was at length dropped. It was however revived in 1748,
and in 1778 the number of the lamps was increased to 1013, besides
those at the landgrave’s palace.

Hanover was lighted in 1696, Halle in 1728, and Göttingen in 1735.
Brunswick since 1765 has had 1565 lamps. Zurich has been lighted since
1778, but the lamps are very few in number.

[Such was the state of street-lighting towards the end of the last
century, and many of the readers of this work will remember the round
glass lamps and their dismal oil-light, which long after the streets of
London were illuminated with gas, still continued to be employed in the
outskirts of this immense metropolis. How changed is all this now, and
how surprising must it appear, that a thing so simple as the employment
of the combustible gases produced in the distillation of coal and other
bodies of organic origin should date from so recent a period! But such
is the case with most of the improvements which tend to the comfort and
happiness of the human race; slow and by degrees they progress towards
perfection,--a fact most admirably illustrated by numerous articles
contained in these volumes.

The first idea of applying coal-gas to œconomical purposes is generally
attributed to Mr. William Murdoch, who in 1792 employed coal-gas for
lighting his house and offices at Redruth in Cornwall, and in 1798
constructed the apparatus for the purpose of lighting Boulton and
Watt’s celebrated manufactory at Soho, near Birmingham, which on the
occasion of the peace in 1802 was publicly illuminated by the same
means. This display vastly attracted public attention to the subject,
and soon after several manufacturers whose works required light and
heat adopted the use of gas; a button manufactory at Birmingham used
it largely for soldering; Halifax, Manchester and other towns soon
followed. A single cotton-mill in Manchester used above 900 burners,
and had several miles of pipe laid down to supply them. Mr. Murdoch,
who erected the apparatus used in this mill, sent a detailed account
of his operations to the Royal Society in 1808, and received the gold
medal of that body. It appears, however, from an interesting paper by
R. C. Taylor on the coal-fields of China[455], that the Chinese, if
not manufacturers, are nevertheless gas consumers and employers on a
grand scale, and have evidently been so ages before the knowledge of
its application was acquired by Europeans. Beds of coal are frequently
pierced by the borers for salt water; and the inflammable gas is forced
up in jets twenty or thirty feet in height. From these fountains the
vapour has been conveyed to the salt-works in pipes, and there used
for the boiling and evaporation of the salt; other tubes convey the
gas intended for lighting the streets and the larger apartments and
kitchens. As there is still more gas than required, the excess is
conducted beyond the limits of the salt-works, and there forms separate
chimneys or columns of flame. But this, like many other discoveries
of the Chinese, remained, owing to their exclusive habits, unknown
to us till within a recent period, and the world may fairly be said
to be indebted to Mr. Winsor, for the vast benefit conferred upon it
by gas-illumination. After several experiments, this gentleman in
1803-1804 lighted the Lyceum theatre, and shortly afterwards, in 1807,
one side of Pall-Mall with gas distilled from coal. Soon after that
period companies were formed for carrying on the manufacture of gas
upon an extensive scale, oil-lamps were banished from all the great
thoroughfares of the metropolis, and in the course of fifteen years not
only was every street and alley illuminated from the same source, but
it was generally introduced into shops and houses, was carried into
the suburbs, and has now become general in every town and city of the

It would lead us too far to enter into minute details concerning the
structure, uses and arrangement of the various apparatus employed in
the production of gas; it will suffice to observe that when coal is
heated to redness in a close vessel, it yields a variety of products
which may be classed under three heads, as,--1st, permanent gases;
2ndly, vapours condensable into the liquid or solid state by cooling;
and 3rdly, the residuary matter, coke, which remains in the retort. The
object of gas manufacture is to separate these from each other, and to
purify the gaseous products by washing and other means, so as to render
them fit for combustion.

The following particulars, taken from Brande’s Dictionary of Science,
may serve to give an idea of the quantity of gas annually consumed
in London. The oldest of the London gas-works is the establishment
belonging to the original chartered company. They have three stations;
the largest situated in Peter-street, Westminster; the second in
Brick-lane, St. Luke’s, and the third in the Curtain-road, Shoreditch.
This company consumes 50,000 chaldrons of coals annually, the produce
of which in gas may be estimated at about six hundred million cubic
feet, or about eighteen million seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds
_weight_ of gas. It may be assumed that each chaldron of coals weighs
2880 lbs., and yields an average produce of 12,000 cubic feet of
purified gas. The prime cost of gas is about four or five shillings per
1000 cubic feet; the usual retail price is from seven to ten shillings
per 1000 cubic feet.

The chartered company probably supplies about a fifth part of the
whole of the gas consumed in London and the suburbs; so that the total
annual consumption of coal employed for this important manufacture
in the London district only, probably exceeds two hundred and fifty
thousand chaldrons, and the quantity of gas produced for the supply of
this district amounts annually to three thousand million cubic feet.
The _weight_ of this quantity of gas exceeds seventy-five millions of
pounds; and the _light_ produced by its combustion may be considered
as equivalent to that which would be obtained by the combustion of one
hundred and sixty millions of pounds of mould-candles of six to the

The operations of the London Gas-light Company, which was established
in the year 1833, are also on a scale of great magnitude. Their works,
situated at Vauxhall, are not only the most powerful, but the most
complete in arrangement of any in the world. From this point their
mains ramify to a prodigious extent in Middlesex as well as Surrey,
and by the admirable mode in which they are laid, aided by the power
of their works, they are enabled to supply gas at Highgate Hill (seven
miles distance) with the same precision and in the same abundance as at
Vauxhall. The extent of their pipes exceeds one hundred and fifty miles.

The cost of light equivalent to that of seven mould candles (six to the
pound) is in coal-gas three farthings per hour, in an Argand oil-lamp
3_d._ per hour, in mould candles 3½_d._ per hour, and in wax candles
1_s._ 2_d._ per hour.

Gas has also been manufactured from oil, rosin and other substances.
Oil-gas is procured abundantly by the decomposition of oil, trickled
into a red-hot retort, half-filled with coke or brick. It contains no
sulphuretted hydrogen, requires no purification, and is much richer in
carburetted hydrogen than coal-gas. Its expense has however led nearly
to the entire disuse of this kind of gas.

In London there are eighteen public gas establishments and twelve
companies; the capital invested in works and apparatus is estimated at


[432] Athen. Deipn. vi. 8. p. 236.

[433] Joh. Meursii Opera, ex recensione Joannis Lami. Florent. 1745,
fol. v. p. 635.

[434] Pet. cap. lxxix. That the author here speaks of Naples, I
conclude from cap. lxxxi., where the city is called _Græca urbs_.
Others, however, with less probability, are of opinion that _Capua_ is

[435] Libanii Opera, Lutet. 1627, fol. ii. p. 387.

[436] Ib. 526.

[437] See vol. ii. p. 170.

[438] Valesius informs us, in his observations on Ammianus Marcellinus,
that to denote public sorrow, on occasions of great misfortune, it was
customary not to light the streets; and in proof of this assertion
he quotes a passage of Libanius, where it is said that the people of
Antioch, in order to mitigate the anger of the emperor, bethought
themselves of lighting either no lamps or a very small number.

[439] Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis. Romæ, 1719, fol. i. p. 281.

[440] It was called by the Greeks λυχνοκαία.

[441] Herodot. lib. ii. cap. 62.

[442] Suet. Vita Calig. c. 18.

[443] Euseb. lib. iv. De Vita Constantini, cap. 22. Compare with the
above Greg. Naz. Orat. 19, and Orat. 2, where the author alludes to the
festival of Easter.

[444] Tertuliian. de Idololatria, cap. xv. p. 523. See also his
Apologet. cap. 35, p. 178. In both places La Cerda quotes similar
passages from other writers. In Concilio Eliberitano, cap. 37, it was
decreed “prohibendum etiam ne lucernas publice accendant.” See also
Joh. Ciampini Vetera Monumenta, in quibus musiva opera illustrantur.
Romæ, 1690, 2 vols. fol. i. p. 90, where, on a piece of mosaic work,
said to be of the fifth century, some lamps are represented hanging
over a door.

[445] J. Lipsii Electa, lib. ii. cap. 3.

[446] This order may be seen in that large and elegant work, entitled
Histoire de la Ville de Paris, Felibien, revue, augmentée par Lobineau,
Paris, 1725, 5 vols. folio. See vol. ii. pp. 951, 977, and vol. iv. pp.
648, 676, 764.

[447] Paris, 1770, x. p. 265.

[448] Essai sur les Lanternes. A Dole, 1775.

[449] History of London. London, 1756, 2 vols. fol. i. p. 186.

[450] Noorthouck’s History of London. Lond. 1773, 4to, p. 233. For the
safety and peace of the city, all inhabitants were ordered to hang out
candles duly at the accustomed hour.

[451] See Twiss and Dalrymple’s Travels.

[452] Swinburne’s Travels through Spain, 1779, 4to.

[453] Nicolai Beschreibung von Berlin und Potsdam, pp. 308, 971.

[454] Nicolai Beschreibung einer Reise, iii. pp. 212, 214.

[455] Philosophical Magazine for March, 1846.


The establishment of those people who are obliged to keep watch in the
streets of cities during the night, belongs to the oldest regulations
of police. Such watchmen are mentioned in the Song of Solomon, and
they occur also in the book of Psalms. Athens and other cities of
Greece had at least sentinels posted in various parts; and some of the
_thesmothetæ_ were obliged to visit them from time to time, in order to
keep them to their duty[456]. At Rome there were _triumviri nocturni_,
_cohortes vigilum_, &c.

The object of all these institutions seems to have been rather the
prevention of fires than the guarding against nocturnal alarms or
danger; though in the course of time attention was paid to these also.
When Augustus wished to strengthen the night-watch, for the purpose of
suppressing nocturnal commotions, he used as a pretext the apprehension
of fires only. The regulations respecting these watchmen, and the
discipline to which they were subjected, were almost the same as those
for night-sentinels in camps during the time of war; but it does not
appear that the night-watchmen in cities were obliged to prove their
presence and vigilance by singing, calling out, or by any other means.
Signals were made by the patroles alone, with bells, when the watchmen
wished to say anything to each other. Singing by sentinels in time of
war was customary, at least among some nations; but in all probability
that practice was not common in the time of peace[457].

Calling out the hours seems to have been first practised after the
erection of city gates, and, in my opinion, to have taken its rise
in Germany; though indeed it must be allowed that such a regulation
would have been very useful in ancient Rome, where there were no
clocks, and where people had nothing in their houses to announce the
hours in the night-time. During the day people could know the hours
after water-clocks had been constructed at the public expense, and
placed in open buildings erected in various parts of the city. The
case seems to have been the same in Greece; and rich families kept
particular servants both male and female, whose business it was to
announce to their masters and mistresses certain periods of the day, as
pointed out by the city clocks. These servants consisted principally
of boys and young girls, the latter being destined to attend on the
ladies. It appears, however, that in the course of time water-clocks
were kept also in the palaces of the great: at any rate Trimalchio,
the celebrated voluptuary mentioned in Petronius, had one in his
dining-room, and a servant stationed near it to proclaim the progress
of the hours, that his master might know how much of his lifetime was
spent; for he did not wish to lose a single moment without enjoying

I have not read everything that has been written by others on the
division of time among the ancients; but after the researches I
have made, I must confess that I do not know whether the hours were
announced in the night-time to those who wished and had occasion to
know them. There were then no clocks which struck the hours, as has
been already said; and as water-clocks were both scarce and expensive,
they could not be procured by labouring people, to whom it was of most
importance to be acquainted with the progress of time[458]. It would
therefore have been a useful and necessary regulation to have caused
the watchmen in the streets to proclaim the hours, which they could
have known from the public water-clocks, by blowing a horn, or by
calling out.

It appears, however, that people must have been soon led to such an
institution, because the above methods had been long practised in
war. The periods for mounting guard were determined by water-clocks;
at each watch a horn was blown, and every one could by this signal
know the hour of the night[459]; but I have met with no proof that
these regulations were established in cities during the time of
peace, though many modern writers have not hesitated to refer to
the night-watch in cities what alludes only to nocturnal guards in
the time of war. On the contrary, I am still more strongly inclined
to think that ancient Rome was entirely destitute of such a police
establishment. The bells borne by the night watchmen were used only
by the patroles, as we are expressly told, or to give signals upon
extraordinary occasions, such as that of a fire, or when any violence
had been committed. Cicero, comparing the life of a civil with that of
a military officer, says, “The former is awaked by the crowing of the
cock, and the latter by the sound of the trumpet.” The former therefore
had no other means of knowing the hours of the night but by attending
to the noise made by that animal[460]. An ancient poet says that the
cock is the trumpeter which awakens people in the time of peace[461].
The ancients indeed understood much better than the vulgar at present,
who are already too much accustomed to clocks, how to determine the
periods of the night by observing the stars; but here I am speaking of
capital cities, and in these people are not very fond of quitting their
beds to look at the stars, which are not always to be seen.

Without entering into further researches respecting watchmen among
the ancient Greeks and Romans, I shall prove, by such testimonies as
I am acquainted with, that the police establishment of which I speak
is more modern in our cities than one might suppose. But I must except
Paris; for it appears that night-watching was established there, as
at Rome, in the commencement of its monarchy. De la Mare[462] quotes
the ordinances on this subject of Clothaire II., in the year 595,
of Charlemagne, and of the following periods. At first the citizens
were obliged to keep watch in turns, under the command of a _miles
gueti_, who was called also _chevalier_. The French writers remark on
this circumstance, that the term _guet_, which occurs in the oldest
ordinances, was formed from the German words _wache_, _wacht_, the
guard, or watch; and in like manner several other ancient German
military terms, such as _bivouac_, _landsquenet_, &c.[463] have been
retained in the French language. In the course of time, when general
tranquillity prevailed, a custom was gradually introduced of avoiding
the duty of watching by paying a certain sum of money, until at length
permanent _compagnies de guet_ were established in Paris, Lyons,
Orleans, and afterwards in other cities.

If I am not mistaken, the establishment of single watchmen, who go
through the streets and call out the hours, is peculiar to Germany,
and was copied only in modern times by our neighbours. The antiquity
of it however I will not venture to determine[464]. At Berlin, the
elector John George appointed watchmen in the year 1588[465]; but
in 1677 there were none in that capital, and the city officers were
obliged to call out the hours[466]. Montagne, during his travels in
1580, thought the calling out of the night-watch in the German cities a
very singular custom. “The watchmen,” says he, “went about the houses
in the night-time, not so much on account of thieves as on account of
fires and other alarms. When the clocks struck, the one was obliged
to call out aloud to the other, and to ask what it was o’clock, and
then to wish him a good night[467].” This circumstance he remarks also
when speaking of Inspruck. Mabillon likewise, who made a literary
tour through Germany, describes calling out the hours as a practice
altogether peculiar to that country.

The horn of our watchmen seems to be the _buccina_ of the ancients,
which, as we know, was at first an ox’s horn, though it was afterwards
made of metal[468]. Rattles, which are most proper for cities, as
horns are for villages, seem to be of later invention[469]. The common
form, “Hear, my masters, and let me tell you,” is very old. I am not
the only person to whom this question has occurred, why it should not
rather be, “Ye people, or citizens.” The chancellor von Ludwig deduces
it from the Romans, who, as he says, were more liberal with the word
Master, like our neighbours with Messieurs, than the old Germans; but
the Roman watchmen did not call out, nor yet do the French at present.
If I may be allowed a conjecture on so trifling an object, I should say
that the city servants or beadles were the first persons appointed to
call out the hours, as was the case at Berlin. These therefore called
out to their masters, and “Our masters” is still the usual appellation
given to the magistrates in old cities, particularly in the central
and southern portions of Germany, and in Switzerland. At Göttingen the
ancient form was abolished in the year 1791, and the watchmen call out
now, “The clock has struck ten, it is ten o’clock.”

Watchmen who were stationed on steeples by day as well as by night,
and who, every time the clock struck, were obliged to give a proof of
their vigilance by blowing a horn, seem to have been first established
on a permanent footing in Germany, and perhaps before watchmen in the
streets. In England there are none of these watchmen; and in general
they are very rare beyond the boundaries of Germany. That watchmen were
posted on the tops of towers, in the earliest ages, to look out for the
approach of an enemy, is well known. In the times of feudal dissension,
when one chief, if he called in any assistance, could often do a great
deal of hurt to a large city, either by plundering and burning the
suburbs and neighbouring villages, or by driving away the cattle of the
citizens, and attacking single travellers, such precaution was more
necessary than at present. The nobility therefore kept in their strong
castles watchmen, stationed on towers; and this practice prevailed
in other countries besides Ireland and Burgundy[470]. It appears by
the laws of Wales, that a watchman with a horn was kept in the king’s
palace[471]. The German princes had in their castles, at any rate in
the sixteenth century, tower-watchmen, who were obliged to blow a horn
every morning and evening.

At first, the citizens themselves were obliged to keep watch in turns
on the church-steeples, as well as at the town-gates; as may be seen
in a police ordinance of the city of Einbeck[472], in the year 1573.
It was the duty of these watchmen, especially where there were no town
clocks, to announce certain periods, such as those of opening and
shutting the city-gates. The idea of giving orders to these watchmen to
attend not only to danger from the enemy but from fire also, and, after
the introduction of public clocks, to prove their vigilance by making a
signal with their horn, must have naturally occurred; and the utility
of this regulation was so important, that watchmen on steeples were
retained, even when cities, by the prevalence of peace, had no occasion
to be apprehensive of hostile incursions.

After this period persons were appointed for the particular purpose
of watching; and small apartments were constructed for them in the
steeples. At first they were allowed to have their wives with them;
but this was sometimes prohibited, because a profanation of the church
was apprehended. In most, if not in all cities, the town-piper, or
as we say at present, town-musician, was appointed steeple-watchman;
and lodgings were assigned to him in the steeple; but in the course of
time, as these were too high and too inconvenient, a house was given
him near the church, and he was allowed to send one of his servants
or domestics to keep watch in his stead. This is the case still at
Göttingen. The city musician was called formerly the _Hausmann_,
which name is still retained here as well as at the Hartz, in Halle,
and several other places; and the steeple in which he used to
dwell and keep watch was called the _Hausmann’s Thurm_[473]. These
establishments, however, were not general; and were not everywhere
formed at a period equally early, as will be shown by the proofs which
I shall here adduce.

If we can credit an Arabian author, whose Travels were published by
Renaudot, the Chinese were accustomed, so early as the ninth century,
to have watchmen posted on towers, who announced the hours of the
day as well as of the night, by striking or beating upon a suspended
board. Marco Paulo, who, in the thirteenth century, travelled through
Tartary and China, confirms this account; at least in regard to a city
which he calls Quinsai, though he says that signals were given only
in cases of fire and disturbance. Such boards are used in China even
at present[474]; and in Petersburg the watchmen who are stationed
at single houses or in certain parts of the city, are accustomed to
announce the hours by beating on a suspended plate of iron. Such
boards are still used by the Christians in the Levant to assemble
people to divine service, either because they dare not ring bells or
are unable to purchase them. The former is related by Tournefort of
the inhabitants of the Grecian islands, and the latter by Chardin of
the Mingrelians. The like means were employed in monasteries, at the
earliest periods, to give notice of the hours of prayer, and to awaken
the monks[475]. Mahomet, who in his form of worship borrowed many
things from the Christians of Syria and Arabia, adopted the same method
of assembling the people to prayers; but when he remarked that it
appeared to his followers to savour too much of Christianity, he again
introduced the practice of calling out.

The steeple-watchmen in Germany are often mentioned in the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries. In the year 1351, when the council of Erfurt
renewed that police ordinance which was called the _Zuchtbrief_, letter
of discipline, because it kept the people in proper subjection, it
was ordered, besides other regulations in regard to fire, that two
watchmen should be posted on every steeple. A watchman of this kind was
appointed at Merseburg and Leisnig so early as the year 1400. In the
beginning of the seventeenth century the town-piper of Leisnig lived
still in apartments in the steeple. In the year 1563, a church-steeple
was erected in that place, and an apartment built in it for a permanent
watchman, who was obliged to announce the hours every time the clock

In the fifteenth century the city of Ulm kept permanent watchmen in
many of the steeples. In the year 1452 a bell was suspended in the
tower of the cathedral of Frankfort-on-the-Maine, which was to be
rung in times of feudal alarm, and all the watchmen on the steeples
were then to blow their horns and hoist their banners. In the year
1476, a room for the watchman was constructed in the steeple of the
church of St. Nicholas. In the year 1509, watchmen were kept both on
the watch-towers and steeples, who gave notice by firing a musket
when strangers approached. The watchman on the tower of the cathedral
immediately announced, by blowing a trumpet, whether the strangers
were on foot or on horseback; and at the same time hung out a red flag
towards the quarter in which he observed them advancing. The same
watchman was obliged, likewise, to blow his horn on an alarm of fire;
and that these people might be vigilant day and night, both in winter
and summer, the council supplied them with fur-cloaks, seven of which,
in the above-mentioned year, were purchased for ten florins and a half.

In the year 1496, the large clock was put up in the steeple of
Oettingen, and a person appointed to keep watch on it[476]. In 1580,
Montagne was much surprised to find on the steeple at Constance a man
who kept watch there continually; and who, on no account, was permitted
to come down from his station.

[One of the greatest improvements of modern times, in this country,
is the establishment of that highly efficient body, the new police.
The first introduction of the police was made by the magistrates of
Cheshire in 1829, under an authority from parliament (Act 10 Geo. IV.
c. 97). The first metropolitan establishment was also made in 1829.
Before this time the total old force of the metropolitan watchmen
consisted of 797 parochial day officers, 2785 night-watch, and upward
of 100 private watchmen; including the Bow-street day and night patrol,
there were about 4000 men employed in the district stretching from
Brentford Bridge on the west to the river Lea on the east, and from
Highgate on the north to Streatham on the south, excluding the city
of London. The act of parliament creating the new police force (10
Geo. IV. c. 44) placed the control of the whole body in the hands of
two commissioners, who devote their whole time to their duties. The
total number of the metropolitan police in January 1840 consisted of
3486 men. These are arranged in divisions, each of which is employed
in a distinct district. The metropolis is divided into “beats” and
is watched day and night. Since August 1839, the horse-patrol,
consisting of seventy-one mounted men, who are employed within a
distance of several miles around London, has been incorporated with
the metropolitan police. The Thames police consists of twenty-one
surveyors, each of whom has charge of three men and a boat when on
duty. The establishment is under the immediate direction of the
magistrates of the Thames police-office.

The police affairs of the city of London are still under its own
management. In 1833, the number of persons employed in the several
wards of the city was,--ordinary watchmen, 500; superintending
watchmen, 65; patrolling watchmen, 91; beadles, 54; total, 710. There
are about 400 men doing duty in the city at midnight. In addition to
the paid watchmen, about 400 ward-constables are appointed. The expense
of the day-police, consisting of about 120 men, amounts to about £9000
a year, and is defrayed by the corporation: and the sum levied on the
wards for the support of the night-watch averages about £42,000 per

The police of the metropolis and the district within fifteen miles
of Charing Cross (exclusive of the city) is regulated by the acts 10
Geo. IV. c. 44, and 2 and 3 Vict. c. 47. In nearly all the boroughs
constituted under the Municipal Reform Act, a paid police force has
been established on the same footing as the metropolitan police.]


[456] They were called bell-bearers or bellmen, because while going
the rounds they gave a signal with their bells, which the sentinels
were obliged immediately to answer. See the Scholiasts on the _Aves_ of
Aristophanes, ver. 841. Dio Cassius, lib. liv. 4, p. 773, says, “The
watchmen in the different quarters of the city have small bells, that
they may make signals to each other when they think proper.” The bells
therefore did not serve for announcing the hours, as some have imagined.

[457] The Persian sentinels sung in this manner when they were
surprised in the city by the Romans.--Ammianus Marcell. xxiv. 15.

[458] That the servants in many houses were wakened by the ringing of a
bell, appears from what Lucian says in his treatise, De iis qui mercede
conducti in divitum familiis vivunt, cap. xxiv. p. 245, and cap. xxxi.
p. 254, Bipont edition, vol. iii. It does not however follow that there
were then striking or alarm-clocks, as some have thence concluded. See
Magius De Tintinnabulis, cap. 6, in Sallengre, Thesaurus Antiquit. ii.
p. 1177.

[459] Vegetius De Re Milit. iii. 8. That Cæsar had such clocks may be
concluded from the observation which he makes in his Commentaries,
on the length of the day in the islands near Ireland, lib. v. 13.
Maternus, in Romische Alterthümer, iii. p. 47, endeavours to prove by
what Suetonius relates of Domitian, cap. 16, that this prince had in
his palace neither a sun-dial nor a water-clock. But what kind of
a proof! Domitian asked what the hour was, and some one answered,
the sixth. Such insignificant _dicta probantia_ have been banished
from philosophy by the moderns, and ought they not to be banished
from antiquities likewise? The often-quoted passage also of Valerius
Maximus, viii. 7, 5, proves nothing, unless we first adopt the
amendment of Green. Carneades, it is said, was so engaged in the study
of philosophy, that he would have forgot his meals had not Melissa put
him in mind of them. Green reads _monitrix domestica_; but Valerius
says, “Melissa, quam uxoris loco habebat.” See Sallengre, Thes. Antiq.
Rom. i. p. 721. A passage likewise in Pliny’s Epistles, iii. 1, p.
181, “ubi hora balinei nunciata est,” does not properly prove that
it alludes to one of those boys who announced the hours. That such
servants however were kept, is evident from the undoubted testimony of
various authors. Martial, viii. ep. 67.--Juven. Sat. x. 216.--Seneca
De Brevit. Vitæ, c. 12.--Alciphron, Epist. lib. iii. p. 282.--Sidon.
Apollin. ii. ep. 9, p. 120.

[460] Cic. Orat. pro Muræna, cap. 22.

[461] Sil. Ital. vii. 155.

[462] Traité de la Police, vol. i. in the Index under the word _Guet_.

[463] _Bivouac_, from the German _beiwacht_, is an additional
night-guard during a siege, or when an army is encamped near the enemy.
_Lansquenets_ were German soldiers added by Charles VIII. of France to
his infantry, and who were continued in the French army till Francis I.
introduced his legions.--TRANS.

[464] [With respect to the institution of night-watch in this country,
Stow says, “For a full remedy of enormities in the night, I read, that
in the year 1253 Henry III. commanded watches in the cities and borough
towns to be kept, for the better observing of peace and quietness
among his people.... And further, by the advice of them of Savoy,
he ordained, that if any man chanced to be robbed, or by any means
damnified by any thief or robber, he to whom the charge of keeping that
country, city, or borough, chiefly appertained, where the robbery was
done, should competently restore the loss. And this was after the use
of Savoy, but yet thought more hard to be observed here than in those
parts; and therefore, leaving those laborious watches, I will speak of
our pleasures and pastimes in watching by night.” (Survey of London,
Thoms’s edition, 1842, p. 39.) He then describes the marching watches
which were instituted in the months of June and July, on the vigils and
evenings of festival days; with the cresset lights, &c. But he does not
state whether these watches were continued in his time; nor does he
state the author of the information which he gives us from his reading.
The statute of Winchester, 13 Edward I. c. 4, enforces a continuation
of the watches as they had previously been made, from Ascension-day to
Michaelmas-day; the night-watch from sun-set to sunrise, in every city
by six men at each gate, in every borough by twelve men, in every open
town by six or four men.]

[465] Nicolai Beschreib. von Berlin, i, p. 38.

[466] Ib. p. 49.

[467] Iter Germanicum. Hamburgi, 1717, 8vo, p. 26.

[468] Lipsius De Milit. Rom. iv. 10, p. 198.--Bochart. Hierozoic. i.

[469] From the name of this instrument, called in some places of
Germany a _ratel_, arose the appellation of _ratelwache_, which was
established at Hamburg in 1671. In the Dutch language the words
_ratel_, _ratelaar_, _ratelen_, _ratelmann_, _ratelwagter_ (a
night-watchman), are quite common.

[470] Stanihurst De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis, lib. i. p. 33.

[471] Leges Walliæ. Lond. 1730, fol.

[472] The person whose turn it was to watch at the gates, was obliged
to perform the duty himself, or to cause it to be performed by a fit
and proper young citizen. Those who attended to trade and neglected the
watch, paid for every omission one mark to the council. The case was
the same with the watch on the tower in the market-place.

[473] In the Berlin police ordinance of the year 1580, it was
ordered that the _Raths-thurn oder Hausmann_, steeple-watchman or
city-musician, should attend at weddings with music for the accustomed
pay, but only till the hour of nine at night, in order that he might
then blow his horn on the steeple, and place the night-watch.

[474] Martini Atlas Sinens. p. 17. Matches or links, to which alarums
are sometimes added, are employed in China to point out the hours; and
these are announced by watchmen placed on towers who beat a drum. See
Kæmpfer’s Japan, where the mention of matches is omitted. Thunberg
says, “Time is measured here not by clocks or hour-glasses, but by
burning matches, which are plaited like ropes, and have knots on them.
When the match burns to a knot, which marks a particular lapse of time,
the hour is announced, during the day, by a certain number of strokes
on the bells in the temples; and in the night by watchmen who go round
and give a like signal with two pieces of board, which they knock
against each other.”

[475] A great deal of important information, which is as yet too little
known, has been collected on this subject by Reiske, on Constantini
Lib. de Ceremoniis Aulæ Byzant. ii. p. 74.

[476] This is related in the Oettingisches Geschichts-almanach, p. 7,
on the authority of an account in the parish books of Oettingen, said
to be extracted from an ancient chronicle of that town. The author of
this almanac, which is now little known, was, as I have been told,
Schablen, superintendant at Oettingen.


Plants, as well as animals, are organised bodies, and like them their
parts may be dissected and decomposed by art; but the anatomy of the
former has not been cultivated so long and with so much zeal and
success as that of animals. Some naturalists, about the beginning of
the last century, first began to make it an object of attention, to
compare the structure of plants with that of animals; and for that
purpose to employ the microscope. Among these, two distinguished
themselves in a particular manner; Marcellus Malpighi, an Italian;
and Nehemiah Grew, an Englishman; who both undertook almost the same
experiments and made them known at the same time; so that it is
impossible to determine which of them was the earlier. It appears,
however, that Grew published some of his observations a little sooner;
but Malpighi was prior in making his known in a complete manner. But
even allowing that the one had received hints of the processes of the
other, they are both entitled to praise that each made experiments of
his own, and from these prepared figures, which are always more correct
the nearer they correspond with each other.

Among the various helps towards acquiring a knowledge of the anatomy
of plants, one of the principal is the art of reducing to skeletons
leaves, fruit and roots; that is, of freeing them from their soft,
tender and pulpy substance, in such a manner, that one can survey alone
their internal, harder vessels in their entire connexion. This may be
done by exposing the leaves to decay for some time soaked in water, by
which means the softer parts will be dissolved, or at least separated
from the internal harder parts, so that one, by carefully wiping,
pressing and rinsing them, can obtain the latter alone perfectly
entire. One will possess then a tissue composed of innumerable woody
threads or filaments, which, in a multiplicity of ways, run through
and intersect each other. By sufficient practice and caution one may
detach, from each side of a leaf, a very thin covering, between which
lies a delicate web of exceedingly tender vessels. These form a woody
net-work, between the meshes of which fine glandules are distributed.
This net is double, or at least can be divided lengthwise into halves,
between which may be observed a substance that appears as it were to be
the marrow of the plant. Persons who are expert often succeed so far,
with many leaves, as to separate the external covering on both sides
from the woody net, and to split the latter into two, so that the whole
leaf seems to be divided into four.

One might conjecture that this method of reducing leaves to skeletons
must have been long known, as one frequently finds in ponds leaves
which have dropped from the neighbouring trees, and which by
decomposition, without the assistance of art, have been converted into
such a woody net-work, quite perfect and entire. It is however certain
that a naturalist, about the year 1645, first conceived the idea of
employing decomposition for the purpose of making leaf-skeletons, and
of assisting it by ingenious operations of art.

This naturalist, Marcus Aurelius Severinus, professor of anatomy and
surgery at Naples, was born in 1580, and died of the plague in 1656.
In his Zootomia Democritæa, printed in 1645, he gave the figure, with
a description of a leaf of the _Ficus Opuntia_ reduced to a skeleton.
Of the particular process employed to prepare this leaf, the figure
of which is very coarse and indistinct, he gives no account. He says
only that the soft substance was so dissolved that the vessels or
nerves alone remained; and that he had been equally successful with
a leaf of the palm-tree. A piece of a leaf of the like kind he sent
by Thomas Bartholin to Olaus Wormius, who caused it to be engraved on
copper, in a much neater manner, without saying anything of the method
in which it had been prepared[477]. The process Severin kept secret;
but he communicated it to Bartholin, in a letter, on the 25th of
February 1645, on condition that he would not disclose it to any one.
At that period, however, it excited very little attention, and was soon
forgotten, though in the year 1685 one Gabriel Clauder made known that
he had reduced vine-leaves, the calyx of the winter cherry, and a root
of hemlock, to a net or tissue by burying them in sand during the heat
of summer, and hanging them up some months in the open air till they
were completely dried.

This art was considered to be of much more importance when it was again
revived by the well-known Dutchman, Frederick Ruysch. That naturalist
found means to conduct all his undertakings and labours in such a
manner as to excite great wonder; but we must allow him the merit of
having brought the greater part of them to a degree of perfection
which no one had attained before. By the anatomy of animals, in which
he was eminently skilled, he was led to the dissection of plants; and
as it seemed impossible to fill their tender vessels, like those of
animals, with a coloured solid substance[478], he fell upon a method of
separating the hard parts from the soft, and of preserving them in that

For this purpose he first tried a method which he had employed with
uncommon success, in regard to the parts of animals. He covered the
leaves and fruit with insects, which ate up the soft or pulpy parts,
and left only those that were hard. But however well these insects,
which he called his little assistants, may have executed their task,
they did not abstain altogether from the solid parts, so that they
never produced a complete skeleton. He dismissed them, therefore, and
endeavoured to execute with his own fingers what he had before caused
the insects to perform, after he had separated the soft parts from the
hard by decomposition. In this he succeeded so perfectly, that all who
saw his skeletons of leaves or fruit were astonished at the fineness of
the work and wished to imitate them.

I cannot exactly determine the year in which Ruysch began to prepare
these skeletons. Trew thinks that it must have been when he was in a
very advanced age, or at any rate after the year 1718; for when he was
admitted to Ruysch’s collection in that year, he observed none of these
curiosities. Rundmann, however, saw some of them in his possession in
the year 1708[479]. At first Ruysch endeavoured to keep the process
a secret, and to evade giving direct answers to the questions of the
curious. We are informed by Rundmann, that he attempted to imitate his
art by burying leaves at the end of harvest in the earth, and leaving
them there till the spring, by which their soft parts became so tender
that he could strip them off with the greatest ease. He produced also
the same effect by boiling them.

The first account which Ruysch himself published of his process,
was, as far as I know, in the year 1723. After he had sufficiently
excited the general curiosity, he gave figures of some of his
vegetable skeletons, related the whole method of preparing them, and
acknowledged that he had accidentally met with an imperfect engraving
of a leaf-skeleton in the Museum of Wormius, which had at one time
occasioned much wonder[480]. It is not improbable that he knew how the
Italian, whom he does not mention, though he is mentioned by Wormius,
and though he must certainly have been acquainted with his Zootomia,
prepared his skeletons. I must however observe, that it is remarked by
those who knew Ruysch, that he had read few books, and was very little
versed in the literature of his profession.

In the year following, Ruysch described more articles of the like kind,
and gave figures of some pears prepared in this manner. In 1726, when
Vater, professor at Wittenberg, expressed great astonishment at the
fineness of his works, he replied, in a letter written in 1727, that he
had at first caused them to be executed by insects, but that he then
made them himself with his fingers[481]. He repeated the same thing
also in 1728, when he described and gave engravings of more of these
curious objects[482]. The progress of this invention is related in the
same manner by Schreiber, in his Life of Ruysch.

When the method of producing these skeletons became publicly known,
they were soon prepared by others; some of whom made observations,
which were contrary to those of Ruysch. Among these in particular
were J. Bapt. Du Hamel, who, so early as the year 1727, described and
illustrated with elegant engravings the interior construction of a
pear[483]; Trew[484], in whose possession Keysler saw such skeletons
in 1730; P. H. G. Mohring[485]; Seba[486]; Francis Nicholls[487],
an Englishman; Professor Hollmann[488] at Göttingen, Ludwig[489],
Walther[490], Gesner[491] and others. Nicholls seems to have been the
first who split the net of an apple- or a pear-tree leaf into two equal
parts, though Ruysch split a leaf of the opuntia into three, four, and
even five layers, as he himself says.

In the year 1748, Seligmann, an engraver, began to publish, in
folio plates, figures of several leaves which he had reduced to
skeletons[492]. As he thought it impossible to make drawings
sufficiently correct, he took impressions from the leaves or nets
themselves, with red ink, and in a manner which may be seen described
in various books on the arts. Of the greater part he gave two figures,
one of the upper and another of the under side. He promised also to
give figures of the objects as magnified by a solar microscope; and two
plates were to be delivered monthly. Seligmann however died soon after,
if I am not mistaken; and a lawsuit took place between his heirs, by
which the whole of the copies printed were arrested, and for this
reason the work was never completed, and is to be found only in a very
few libraries.

Cobres says that eight pages of text, with two black and twenty-nine
red copper-plates, were completed. The copy which is in the library of
our university has only eight pages of text, consisting partly of a
preface by C. Trew, and partly of an account of the author, printed in
Latin and German opposite to each other. Trew gives a history of the
physiology of plants and of leaf-skeletons; and Seligmann treats on
the methods of preparing the latter. The number of the plates however
is greater than that assigned by Cobres. The copy which is now before
me contains thirty-three plates, printed in red; and besides these,
two plates in black, with figures of the objects magnified. Of the
second plate in red, there is a duplicate with this title, “Leaves of
a bergamot pear-tree, the fruit of which is mild;” but the figures in
both are not the same; and it appears that the author considered one
of the plates as defective, and therefore gave another. The leaves
represented in the plates are those of the orange-tree, lemon-tree,
shaddock-tree, butcher’s-broom, walnut-tree, pear-tree, laurel,
lime-tree, ivy, medlar, chestnut-tree, maple-tree, holly, willow, white
hawthorn, &c.

I shall take this opportunity of inserting here the history of the art
of raising trees from leaves. The first who made this art known was
Agostino Mandirola, doctor of theology, an Italian minorite of the
Franciscan order. In a small work upon Gardening, which, as I think,
was printed for the first time at Vicenza, in duodecimo, in the year
1652, and which was reprinted afterwards in various places, he gave
an account of his having produced trees from the leaves of the cedar-
and lemon-tree[493]; but he does not relate this circumstance as if
he considered it to be a great discovery. On the contrary, he appears
rather to think it a matter of very little importance. His book was
soon translated into German; and his account copied by other writers,
such as Böckler[494] and Hohberg[495], who were at that time much read.
A gardener of Augsburg, as we are told by Agricola, was the first who
imitated this experiment, and proved the possibility of it to others.
He is said to have tried it with good success in the garden of count de
Wratislau, ambassador at Ratisbon from the elector of Bohemia.

But never was this experiment so often and so successfully repeated as
in the garden of baron de Munchhausen, at Swobber. A young tree was
obtained there from a leaf of the _Limon a Rivo_, which produced fruit
the second year. It was sent to M. Volkamer, at Nuremberg, who caused
a drawing to be made from it, which was afterwards engraved, in order
that it might be published in the third volume of his Hesperides; but
as the author died too early, it was not printed. The exact drawing, as
it was then executed at Nuremberg, and an account of the whole process
employed in the experiment at Swobber, have been published by the baron
de Munchhausen himself, from authentic papers in his grandfather’s own

No one, however, excited so much attention to this circumstance as the
well-known George Andrew Agricola, physician at Ratisbon, who, with
that confidence and prolixity which were peculiar to him, ventured
to assert that trees could be propagated in the speediest manner by
planting the leaves, after being steeped in a liquor which he had
invented; and for the truth of his assertion he referred to his own
experiments[497]. Among the naturalists of that period none took more
trouble to examine the possibility of this effect than Thummig[498],
who endeavoured to prove that not only leaves with eyes left to them,
could, in well-moistened earth, throw out roots which would produce
a stem, but that leaves also without eyes would grow up to be trees.
Baron Munchhausen, on the other hand, assures us, that according to the
many experiments made in his garden, one can only expect young plants
from the leaves of those trees which do not bring forth buds; that
experiments made with the leaves of the lemon-tree had alone succeeded,
but never those made with the leaves of the orange- or lime-tree; and
that Agricola and Thummig had erroneously imagined that the leaves
themselves shot up into trees, their middle fibre (_rachis_) becoming
the stem, and the collateral fibres the branches. But the leaf decays
as soon as it has resigned all its sap to the young tree, which is
springing up below it.

To conclude: It is probable that the well-known multiplication of the
Indian fig, or _Opuntia_, gave the first idea of this experiment; for
every joint of that plant, stuck into the earth, and properly nurtured,
throws out roots and grows. As these joints were commonly considered to
be leaves, people tried whether other leaves would not grow in the like
manner. Luckily, those of the lemon-tree were chosen for this purpose;
and what was expected took place. Thus from a false hypothesis have new
truths often been derived; and thus was Kepler, by a false and even
improbable opinion, led to an assertion, afterwards confirmed, that
the periodical revolutions of the planets were in proportion to their
distance from the sun. But the raising of trees from leaves was too
rashly declared to be a method that might be generally employed; for it
is certain that it now seldom succeeds.

[Beckmann certainly overrates the value of these plant-skeletons in
assisting the acquirement of a knowledge of the anatomy of plants. By
macerating plants in water, all but the woody fibres are decomposed
by the putrefactive fermentation which ensues. From an examination of
these, a knowledge of structure merely is attainable, which may be
now truly said to be thoroughly understood. It gives us no insight
into its functions. The modern microscope has revealed to us the
structure of all the components of vegetable tissues, and has most
materially assisted in developing the functions of several; many,
however, remain in the hands of the physiologist. Nevertheless, these
plant-skeletons exhibit the true course and arrangement of the woody
fibres, and form most beautiful objects. The leaves are not the only
parts which can be thus prepared; the petals of many plants are even
more delicate and beautiful in their ligneous structure, as evidenced
in the hydrangea and several others. Their preparation is exceedingly
simple, but tedious, and can only be well effected by maceration in
water, which frequently requires to be considerably prolonged. The
pulpy half-decomposed portions are gradually removed by a camel-hair
pencil, or other means, with great delicacy and care; they are finally
washed and bleached, if necessary, with chloride of lime or soda. By
washing in considerably diluted muriatic acid and water, all traces of
this reagent are removed; they are then dried, and will keep for an
indefinite period.]


[477] Museum Wormianum. Lugd. Bat. 1655, fol. p. 149.

[478] The well-known Sir John Hill, an Englishman, has proved, however,
in later times, the possibility of injecting a substance into the
vessels of plants also. He dissolved sugar of lead in water, suspended
in it bits of the finest wood, so that one-half of them was under water
and the other above it, and covered the vessel in which they were
placed with an inverted glass. At the end of two days he took the bits
of wood out, cut off the parts which had been immersed in the water,
dipped them in a warm lye made of unslaked lime and orpiment, like
what was used formerly for proving wine; and by these means the finest
vessels, which had been before filled with sugar of lead, acquired
a dark colour, and their apertures became much more distinct. This
process he describes himself in his work on the Construction of Timber.

[479] Rariora Naturæ et Artis. Breslau and Leipsic, 1737, fol. p. 421.

[480] Adversariorum decas iii. in Ruyschii Opera Omnia Anat. Med.

[481] A. Vateri Epist. ad Ruyschium de Musculo Orbiculari, 1727. Of
employing different kinds of insects, particularly the _dermestes_,
as they are called, for reducing animal and vegetable bodies to
skeletons, Hebenstreit has treated in Program. de Vermibus Anatomicorum
administris. Lips. 1741. Figures of the insects and of some of their
preparations are added.

[482] Acta Eruditorum, 1729, Febr. p. 63.

[483] Mémoires de l’Acad. des Sciences, ann. 1730, 1731, 1732.

[484] Commerc. Litter. Norim. 1732, p. 73.

[485] Ib.

[486] Phil. Transact. 1730, ccccxvi. p. 441.

[487] Ib. ccccxiv. p. 371.

[488] Ib. cccclxi. p. 789, and cccclxiii. p. 796.--Commerc. Litter.
Norimb. 1735, p. 353.

[489] Institutiones Regni Vegetabil. In the part on Leaves.

[490] Programma de Plantarum Structura. Lips. 1740, 4to, § 5, 6.

[491] Dissertat. Phys. de Vegetabilibus, printed with Linnæi Orat. de
Necessitate Peregrinat. intra Patriam. Lugd. B. 1743.

[492] Die Nahrungs-Gefässe in den Blättern der Bäume. Nurnb. 1748.

[493] Many editions of this book may be found mentioned in Halleri
Bibl. Botan. i. p. 484; Böhmeri Bibl. Hist. Nat. iii. p. 679.

[494] Haus- und Feld-Schule, i. 26.

[495] Georgica Curiosa, i. p. 787.

[496] Hausvater, vol. v. p. 662.

[497] Versuch der Universal-vermehrung aller Bäume. Regensb. 1716,
fol., or the edition by Brauser. Regensb. 1772.

[498] Thummigii Meletemata. Brunsw. 1727, 8vo, p. 5.


I shall not here repeat what has been collected by many learned men
respecting the important history of this noble invention, but only
lay before my readers an ordinance of the year 1394, concerning the
acceptance of bills of exchange, and also two bills of the year 1404,
as they may serve to illustrate further what has been before said on
the subject by others. These documents are, indeed, more modern than
those found by Raphael de Turre[499] in the writings of the jurist
Baldus[500], which are dated March 9, 1328; but they are attended with
such circumstances as sufficiently prove that the method of transacting
business by bills of exchange was fully established so early as the
fourteenth century; and that the present form and terms were even then
used. For this important information I am indebted to Von Martens,
who found it in a History, written in Spanish, of the maritime trade
and other branches of commerce at Barcelona, taken entirely from the
archives of that city, and accompanied with documents from the same
source, which abound with matter highly interesting[501].

Among these is an ordinance issued by the city of Barcelona in the year
1394, that bills of exchange should be accepted within twenty-four
hours after they were presented; and that the acceptance should be
written on the back of the bill[502].

In the year 1404, the magistrates of Bruges, in Flanders, requested the
magistrates of Barcelona to inform them what was the common practice,
in regard to bills of exchange, when the person who presented a bill
raised money on it in an unusual manner, in the case of its not being
paid, and by these means increased the expenses so much that the drawer
would not consent to sustain the loss. The bill which gave occasion
to this question is inserted in the memorial. It is written in the
short form still used, which certainly seems to imply great antiquity.
It speaks of usance; and it appears that first and second bills were
at that time drawn, and that when bills were not accepted, it was
customary to protest them.

[It may not, perhaps, be uninteresting to the reader to give a short
account of the present mode of conducting transactions of bills of
exchange; this we condense from Waterston’s Encyclopædia of Commerce,
which contains the most recent and practical account.

The individual who issues the bill is called the drawer, the person to
whom it is addressed the drawee, until he consent to honour the draft
or obey the order or bill, by writing his name on the face of it, after
which he is called the acceptor. The bill may be passed from hand to
hand by delivery or _indorsation_, and in the latter case the person
who makes over is called the indorser, and the person who receives
the indorsee. The indorser commonly puts his name on the back, with
or without a direction to pay to a particular person. He who is in
legal possession of the bill and the obligation contained in it, is
called the holder or the payee. There is no particular form for a bill
of exchange required by law, further than that the mandate to pay in
money be distinct, and the person who is to pay, the person who is to
receive, and the time of payment shall be ascertainable beyond a doubt.
By special statute in England, all bills under 20_s._ are void; and
those between that sum and £5 must be made payable within twenty-one
days after date, contain the name and description of the payee, and
bear date at the time of making. Bills of exchange must be on a proper

Bills, though they are of the nature of a “chose in action,” which
is not strictly assignable, may be transferred from hand to hand or
negociated. To allow of this, there must be negotiable words, as “or
order” or “bearer.” The various parties upon a bill, besides the
acceptors, indorsers, drawers and others, become liable for its payment
on failure of the acceptor.

Bills of exchange cease in England to be documents of debt on the
expiration of six years from the time named for payment.

In foreign bills, the term “usance” is sometimes employed to express
the period of running in foreign bills. It means a certain time fixed
by custom, as between any two places. An usance between this kingdom
and Rotterdam, Hamburg, Altona, or Paris, or any place in France, is
_one_ calendar month from the date of the bill; an usance between us
and Cadiz, Madrid or Bilboa, _two_; an usance between us and Leghorn,
Genoa, or Venice, _three_.]


[499] Disp. i. quæst. 4. n. 23.

[500] Consil. 348.

[501] Memorias Historicas sobre la Marina Commercio, etc. de Barcelona,
por D. Ant. de Capmany. Madrid, 1779, 2 vols. 4to. The following
important articles will be found in this work:--A custom-house tariff,
written in Latin, of the year 1221, in which occur a great number of
remarkable names and articles of merchandise not explained. Another of
the like kind, of the year 1252. Letters of power to appoint consuls in
distant countries, such as Syria, Egypt, &c., dated in the years 1266,
1268, and 1321. An ordinance of the year 1458, respecting insurance,
which required that under-writing should be done in the presence of a
notary, and declared _polices o scriptures privades_ to be null and
void. A _privilegium_ of the emperor Andronicus II. to the merchants of
Barcelona, written in Greek and Spanish, in 1290. Account of the oldest
Spanish trade with wool, silk, salt, and saffron; and of the oldest
guilds or incorporated societies of tradesmen at Barcelona, &c.

[502] Vol. ii. p. 382.


It is generally believed that the metal called at present tin was
known and employed in the arts, not only in the time of Pliny, but as
early as that of Herodotus, Homer, and Moses. This I will not venture
to deny; but I can only admit that it is probable, or that the great
antiquity of this metal cannot be so fully proved as that of gold,
silver, copper, iron, lead, and quicksilver.

Tin is one of those minerals which hitherto have been found in quantity
only in a few countries, none of which ever belonged to the Greeks
or the Romans[503], or were visited, at an early period, by their
merchants. As it never occurs in a native state[504], the discovery
of it supposes some accident more extraordinary than that of those
metals which are commonly, or at any rate, often found native. I
cannot, however, attach much importance to this circumstance, as the
ancients became acquainted with iron at an early period, though not so
early as with copper. I must also admit that tin might have been more
easily discovered, because it is frequently found near the surface of
the earth; does not require a strong heat or artificial apparatus for
fusing it, and therefore can be more easily won than copper.

But if tin was known so early as has hitherto been believed, it must,
on account of the circumstance here first remarked, have been scarce
and therefore exceedingly dear. In this manner the aurichalcum or
Corinthian brass, according to the expression of Plautus, was “auro
contra carum.” The metal of the ancients, however, which is believed to
have been tin, was not so rare and costly. Vessels of it are not often
mentioned, in general; but they never occur among valuable articles.
The circumstance also, that vessels of tin have never or very seldom
been found among Greek or Roman antiquities, and that when discovered
the nature of the metal has been very doubtful, though tin is not apt
to change from the action of the air, water, or earth, and at any rate
far surpasses in durability copper and lead, ancient articles made
of which are frequently found, appears to me worthy of attention. It
possesses also so many excellent properties, that it might be expected
that the people of every age, to whom it was known, would have employed
it in a great variety of ways. It recommends itself by its superior
silvery colour; its ready fusion; the ease with which it can be
hammered and twisted; its lightness, and its durability. It is not soon
tarnished; it is still less liable to rust or to become oxidized; it
retains its splendour a long time, and when it is lost easily recovers
it again. It is not so soon attacked by salts as many other metals;
and this till lately has been considered a proof of its being less
pernicious than it possibly may be. After an accurate investigation,
should everything said by the ancients of their supposed tin be as
applicable to a metallic mixture as to our tin, my assertion, that it
is probable, but by no means certain, that the ancients were acquainted
with our tin, will be fully justified.

The oldest mention of this metal, as generally believed, is to be
found in the sacred scriptures. In the book of Numbers, chap. xxxi.
ver. 22, Moses seems to name all the metals then known; and, besides
gold, silver, brass (properly copper), iron, and lead, he mentions
also _bedil_, which all commentators and dictionaries make to be
tin. When Ezekiel, chap. xxvii. ver. 12, gives an account of the
commerce of Tyre, he names, among the commodities, silver, iron,
copper, and _bedil_. In Zechariah, chap. iv. ver. 10, the plummet of
the builder or architect is said to be made of the _bedil_ stone. In
Isaiah, chap. i. ver. 25, the word occurs in the plural number, and
appears there to denote either scoriæ, or all those inferior metallic
substances which must be separated from the noble metals. In the old
Greek versions of these Hebrew books, _bedil_ is always translated
by _cassiteros_, except in the passage of Isaiah, where no metal is
mentioned. In Zechariah, the translator calls the _bedil_ stone τὸν
λίθον κασσιτέρινον. There can hardly be a doubt, that for the purpose
here mentioned, people would employ, not the lighter metal tin, but
lead, and that the plummet was called the lead-stone, because at first
a stone was used.

It seems, however, probable that in the first-quoted passage _bedil_
is our tin; but must it not appear astonishing that the Midianites,
in the time of Moses, should have possessed this metal? Is it not
possible that the Hebrew word denoted a metallic mixture or artificial
metal, which formerly was an article of commerce, as our brass is at

The Greek translators considered _bedil_ to be what they called
_cassiteros_; and as the moderns translated this by _stannum_, these
words have thus found their way into the Latin, German, and other
versions of the Hebrew scriptures, which therefore can contribute very
little towards the history of this metal. The examination of the word
_cassiteros_ would be of more importance; but before I proceed to it, I
shall make some observations on what the ancients called _stannum_.

This, at present, is the general name of our tin; and from it seem
to be formed the _estain_ of the French, the _tin_ of the Low German
and English, and the _zinn_ of the High German. It can, however, be
fully proved that the _stannum_ of the ancients was no peculiar metal;
at any rate not our tin, but rather a mixture of two other metals,
which, like our brass, was made into various articles and employed
for different purposes, on which account a great trade was carried on
with it. This, at least, may with great certainty be concluded from a
well-known passage of Pliny[506]; though to us, because we are not
fully acquainted with the metallurgic operations of the ancients, it
is not sufficiently intelligible. What I have been able to collect,
however, towards illustrating the passage, with the assistance of my
predecessors, and by comparing myself the account of the Roman with our
works, I shall here lay before the reader; and perhaps it may induce
others to improve and enlarge it.

But I must first observe, that there can be no doubt that the _nigrum
plumbum_ of the ancients was our lead. This metal, according to Pliny’s
account, they obtained in two ways. First, from their own lead mines or
lead ore, which immediately on its fusion gave pure or saleable lead.
To comprehend this, it is necessary to know that most kinds of lead ore
contain also silver, and many of them in such quantity that they might
with more propriety be called silver ores, or rather argentiferous lead
ores or plumbiferous silver ores. Those which contain no silver are so
scarce, that I am ignorant whether any other has yet been found, except
that of Bleyberg, not far from Villach, in Carinthia. As Villach lead,
according to some experiments made on a large scale, is entirely free
from silver, it is well-known, and particularly useful for assaying.

It may therefore appear singular that the ancients had lead of this
kind in such abundance that Pliny was able to make of it a particular
division. But it is to be observed, that in ancient times people paid
little attention to a small admixture of silver; and that they were
accustomed to separate this metal only when it was capable, by the old
imperfect process of smelting, to defray the expenses, which certainly
would not be the case, when a quintal of ore contained only a few
ounces, or even a pound of silver. Strabo says this expressly of some
Spanish ores. Such poor ores were then used merely for lead; and our
silver refiners, without doubt, would separate silver with considerable
advantage from the lead of the ancients. Hence has arisen the common
opinion, that lead and also copper, with which some of the oldest
buildings are covered, had in the course of time become argentiferous.
This is impossible; but it is possible for us to separate from them the
noble metal, which the ancients either could not do, or did not think
it worth the trouble to attempt.

Secondly, the ancients obtained, as we do, a great deal of lead from
argentiferous ores, from which they separated the silver and revived
the lead. The ore was pounded very fine, or, as we say, stamped; it
was then washed and roasted, and formed into a powder or paste. This
was then put into the furnace, and by the first fusion gave a regulus
consisting of silver and lead, which was called _stannum_, and was
the same substance as that known to our metallurgists by the name
of _werk_. If it was required to separate the silver, it was again
fused, not in the first furnace, but in a particular refining furnace
with a hearth of lixiviated ashes. This circumstance Pliny has not
mentioned; perhaps it appeared to him unnecessary; perhaps he did not
fully understand every part of the process; and were one inclined to
say anything in his defence, modern travels and other works might be
quoted, in which metallurgic operations are described in a manner no
less imperfect. The produce obtained by the second fusion, called
in German _treiben_ or _abtreiben_, was silver, and besides that
half-vitrified lead, _glätte_, which in part falls into the hearth.
This substance, called by Pliny _galena_, a word which denotes also
_molybdæna_[507], was once more fused or revived, and then gave lead.
In this manner were obtained three different productions, which were
all used in commerce, namely, _stannum_, _argentum_ and _galena_, or
revived lead, _plumbum nigrum_. These Pliny seems to have considered as
component parts of lead ore; but not indeed according to the present

Though it must be confessed that this passage of Pliny cannot be
fully understood by any explanation, it proves to conviction that the
_stannum_ of the ancients was neither our tin nor a peculiar metal,
but the _werk_ of our smelting-houses. This was long ago remarked by
those writers who were acquainted with metallurgy, of whom I shall
here mention Agricola[509], Encelius[510], Fallopius[511], Savot[512],
Bernia[513], and Jung[514].

The ancients used, as a peculiar metal, a mixture of gold and silver,
because they were not acquainted with the art of separating them, and
afterwards gave it the name of _electrum_. In the like manner they
employed _werk_ or _stannum_, which was obtained almost in the same
manner in the fusion of silver. In all probability it was employed
before people became acquainted with the art of separating these two
metals, and continued in use through habit, even after a method of
separating them was discovered. If the ore subjected to fusion was
abundant in silver, this mixture approached near to the noble metals;
if poor in silver, it consisted chiefly of lead. When it consisted of
silver and lead only, it was soft and ductile; but if other metals,
difficult of fusion, such as copper, iron, or zinc, were intermixed, it
was harder and more brittle, and in that case approached nearer to what
the German silver refiners call _abzug_ and _abstrich_.

That this _stannum_ was employed as an article of commerce, and that
the ancients made of it vessels of various kinds, cannot be doubted.
The _vasa stannea_ however may be considered as vessels which were
covered with tin only in the inside; for that this was customary I
shall prove hereafter. In general, these _vasa stannea_ are named where
mention is made of saline or oily things, or such as would readily
acquire a taste and smell from other metals, were they boiled or
preserved in them for any length of time[515].

It has been long ago remarked that most of the Roman vessels were
made of copper, and that these people were acquainted with the art of
tinning or silvering them; but that tinned vessels have never been
found, and silvered ones very rarely. Hence so many things appear
to have been made of what is called _bronze_, which is less liable
to acquire that dangerous rust or oxide, known under the name of
verdigris, than pure copper. This bronze is sometimes given out as
Corinthian and sometimes Syracusan brass, as the gold-coloured coins of
the first size were considered to be Corinthian brass also. But in my
opinion, a great and perhaps the greater part of all these things were
made of _stannum_, properly so called, which by the admixture of the
noble metals, and some difficult of fusion, was rendered fitter for use
than pure copper. We are told by Suetonius, that the emperor Vitellius
took away all the gold and silver from the temples and substituted in
their stead _aurichalcum_ and _stannum_[516].

Whether the Greeks worked _stannum_, and under what name, I do not
know: perhaps we ought to class here the κασσιτέρινα of the oldest
times, of which I shall speak hereafter.

What I have already said in regard to _werk_ will be rendered more
certain by the circumstance, that even two centuries ago, vessels of
all kinds called _halbwerk_ were made of it in Germany. This we are
told by Encelius[517] as a thing well-known in his time, which however
I should wish to see further examined. I have searched in vain for
this name in a great many works of the sixteenth century; but I have
long entertained an idea, which I shall take this opportunity of
mentioning:--Among the oldest church vessels I have seen some articles
which I considered to be _vasa stannea_, I mean such as when newly
scoured and polished had a silvery brightness, and when they remained
long without being cleaned acquired a dull gray colour, and a greater
weight than bronze. Those who show these things commonly say that the
method of composing the metal is lost; but that it contains silver, and
according to the assertion of many, even gold. Such articles deserve,
undoubtedly, to be examined by our chemists.

I shall further remark, on this subject, that the _abstrich_, as it
is called, which in many respects has a resemblance to _stannum_, and
contains also lead and silver, but at the same time metals difficult
of fusion, is employed in the arts, and collected for the use of the
letter-founders[518]. For this purpose it is well-adapted, on account
of its hardness and durability; and in want of it lead must be mixed
with regulus of antimony. At the Lower Harze the workmen began so early
as 1688 to revive this _abstrich_ in particular; and as the lead thence
obtained, on account of its hardness, could not be disposed of like
common lead, it was sold to the letter-founders at Brunswick, at first
at the rate of a hundred weight for two and a half dollars, and in the
year 1689 for three dollars. But in Schlüter’s time a small quantity of
it only was made annually, because the _abstrich_ could be used with
more advantage for other purposes. This lead, says Schlüter, had the
appearance of bronze, and was so brittle, that a piece of it broke into
fragments when struck[519].

_Speise_ also, which is obtained at the blue colour-works, can be
employed in the same manner. Under this term is understood a metallic
mixture deposited during the preparation of blue glass, and which is
composed of various metals combined with cobalt, but particularly
nickel, iron, copper, arsenic, and perhaps also bismuth. It is hard,
brittle, sonorous, and assumes a good polish, though it is not always
of the same quality in all manufactories. As it contains some colouring
particles, it is in general again added to the glass residuum. But when
I lately paid a visit to the colour-mill at Carlshafen, M. Birnstein
the inspector told me, that the _speise_ was manufactured at Halle
into buttons of every kind. This probably is the case there in those
button-manufactories established by G. H. Schier, in which buttons of
all patterns are made annually to the value of 30,000 dollars[520]. The
ancients, in my opinion, employed in a similar manner the _werk_ of
their silver smelting-houses.

I shall now proceed to examine that metal which the Greeks named
κασσίτερος, or, as Pliny says, _Cassiteron_, and which he expressly
adds was called by the Latins _plumbum candidum_ (white lead). I have
no new hypothesis to recommend; my sole object is truth. I wish for
certainty, and, when that is not to be obtained, probability; at the
same time, however, I cannot rest satisfied with the judgement given
by the compilers of dictionaries, and the translators and commentators
of ancient authors, because I firmly believe that they never made any
researches themselves on the subject.

That the ancients were acquainted with our tin as early as we find
the word _cassiteros_ mentioned by them, I am not able to prove, and
I doubt whether it is possible to do so; the contrary seems to me to
be more probable. In my opinion, it was impossible for the Phœnicians,
at so early a period, to obtain this metal from Portugal, Spain, and
England, in such quantity that it could be spread all over the old
world. The carriage of merchandise was not then so easy. If all the
_cassiteron_ was procured from the north-west parts of Europe, it
appears to me that it must have been much dearer than it seems to have
been in the oldest times, to judge from the information that has been

In my opinion, the oldest _cassiteron_ was nothing else than the
_stannum_ of the Romans, the _werk_ of our smelting-houses, that is,
a mixture of lead, silver, and some other accidental metals. That this
has not been expressly remarked by any Greek writer, is to me not
at all surprising. The works of those who might be supposed to have
possessed knowledge of this kind have not been handed down to us. We
should not have known what _stannum_ was, had not the only passage of
Pliny which informs us been preserved. I am as little surprised that
Herodotus should say he did not know where _cassiteron_ was obtained.
How many modern historians are ignorant of the place from which zinc,
bismuth, and tombac are brought! and however easy it might be for our
historians to acquire knowledge of this kind if they chose, it was
in the same degree difficult for Herodotus, in whose time there were
not works on mineralogy, technology, and commerce, to furnish such
information. At the period when he lived, _cassiteron_ perhaps was
no metallurgic production of any neighbouring mines, but a foreign
commodity, a knowledge of which, mercantile people endeavoured in those
early ages, much more than is the case in modern times, to conceal, and
which also could be better concealed than at present.

That real tin was afterwards known to the Greeks, I readily believe;
but I find no proof of it, nor can I determine the time at which they
first became acquainted with this metal. It is not improbable that
they considered it only as a variety of their old _cassiteron_, or the
_stannum_ of the Romans, as the latter declared both to be a variety of
lead. It might be expected that the Greeks would have given a peculiar
name to the new tin, in order to distinguish it from the old, as the
Romans really did; but this appears not to have been the case. I think,
however, to have remarked that, so early as the time of Aristotle, real
foreign tin was called the Tyrian or Celtic, because Tyre undoubtedly
was, at that period, the market for this commodity.

According to the conjectural accounts hitherto given, there is no
necessity for believing the word _cassiteron_ to be Phœnician or
Celtic. The Greeks seem to have used it before they had Phœnician tin;
and because they afterwards considered the Phœnician ware as a kind of
their _cassiteron_, and at the same time heard of islands from which it
was brought, they named these islands the _Cassiterian_, as Herodotus
has done, though he expressly says that he did not know where they
were situated. This ancient historian seems to have entertained nearly
the same opinion in regard to the origin of the name, for he adds, “At
any rate the name Eridanus is not foreign, but originally Greek[521].”
It is, however, very possible that every thing said of these islands,
in the time of Herodotus, was merely a fabrication of the Greek
merchants, none of whom had the least knowledge of the Phœnician trade
to England[522]. In this case the _bedil_ of the Hebrews might be
only _stannum_, and thus would be removed the wonder of Michaelis,
how the Midianites could have obtained tin so early[523]. I will not,
however, deny that the contrary of what has been here stated is equally
possible. The Greeks might have obtained real tin at a very early
period by trade, and along with it the foreign name, from which was
formed _cassiteros_. The art of preparing _stannum_ may not have been
known among them, and therefore under the _cassiteron_ of the Greeks
we must undoubtedly understand tin. In this case one could comprehend
why _stannum_ is not mentioned in the works of the Greeks; and if the
_plumbum album_ of Pliny be our tin, of which there can be scarcely
a doubt, his testimony that the _cassiteron_ of Homer was the same
belongs to this place.

In regard to the question, which opinion seems the most probable, I
will not enter into any dispute; but I must maintain that, in regard to
the periods of Homer and Herodotus, no certainty can be obtained. To
justify this assertion, I shall here point out everything I have found
relating to _cassiteron_, and, as far as possible, in the original
words, quoting the different works in the manner in which all the words
for dictionaries of natural history ought to be arranged.

I. Vocatur Latinis _plumbum candidum_[a] sive _album_[a][b], et Græcis
jam Iliacis temporibus teste Homero _cassiteron_[a].

II. _Mineræ_ (calculi) coloris nigri, quibus eadem gravitas quæ auro[a].

III. Non nascitur cum argento, quod ex nigro fit[a].

IV. Nascitur summa tellure arenosa[a]; sed etiam ex profunda

V. Arenæ istæ lavantur a metallicis, conflatæque in album plumbum

VI. Plumbum candidum est pretiosius nigro[a].

VII. Facile in igne fluit, ita ut plumbi albi experimentum in charta
sit, ut liquefactum pondere videatur, non calore rupisse[a][c].
_Celticum_ citius quam plumbum fluit, atque adeo in aqua; colore
inficit, quæcunque tangat[c].

VIII. Nulli rei sine mixtura utile[a].

IX. Adulteratur plumbo nigro[d].

X. Stannum adulteratur addita æris candidi tertia portione in plumbum

XI. Incoquitur æris operibus, Galliarum invento, ita ut vix discerni
possit ab argento, eaque _incoctilia_ vocant[a].

XII. Adhibetur ad ocreas heroum[p]; ad thoraces exornandos[q][r]; ad
scuta ornanda[s][t]; ad specula[y].

XIII. Ex eo nummos percussit Dionysius tyrannus Syrac.[u][v].

XIV. Secum jungi nequit sine plumbo nigro, nec plumbum nigrum inter se
jungi potest sinealbo[a][x].

XV. Gignitur in _Hispania_[h]; Lusitania[a][h] Gallæcia[a], in
Iberia[k][l], apud Artabros[h], in _Britannia_[j]: in insulis quæ
Cassiterides dictæ sunt Græcis[e][f][h][k][w], in insula quam Mictim
vocat Timæus, et a Britannia sex dierum navigatione abesse refert[g];
in insulis Hesperidibus[m][n][o] apud _Drangas_ populos Persicos
regionis Arianæ[i].[524]

To this I shall add the following illustration. The name _cassiteron_
is supposed, in general, to be derived from the Phœnician or
Chaldaic[525]; but on this point I am not able to decide. Mela,
where he explains the name of the Cassiterian islands, calls it only
_plumbum_, without the addition of any epithet, unless it has been
lost in transcribing. But Pliny himself says[526], “Cassiterides dictæ
Græcis a fertilitate plumbi.” It is possible, therefore, that the
leaden vessels, which are often mentioned in the works of the ancients,
were in part tin; but I cannot possibly agree with Millin[527], who
makes the _cyanos_ of Homer to be tin. This word evidently denotes
mountain-green, or some species of stone coloured by it, which in
former times, like the lapis lazuli at present, was employed for making
various kinds of ornaments. Besides, _cyanos_ and _cassiteros_ are
mentioned in the Iliad[528] as two different things[529].

What Pliny says of the colour and weight of those minerals that
produced tin, corresponds exceedingly well with tin ore, which, as is
well known, is among the heaviest of minerals, though the specific
gravity of the metal itself is but small. It is also true that lead is
seldom found without silver; and tin perhaps has never been found with
the latter. What we read in regard to the obtaining of tin ore, agrees
very well with our washing-works. Even at present the greater part of
the tin ores are found in fragments and washed.

The smelting of this metal, even when all the rules of art are not
employed, is attended with little difficulty, though Goguet is of a
different opinion. As of all metals it melts easiest in the fire, it
requires only a small degree of heat and no artificial furnace; but
as it is readily calcined, and after repeated reduction loses its
malleability, care must be taken that the reduced metal can immediately
flow off; and on that account our furnaces have an aperture always kept
open. It is probable that the ancients, in their small furnaces, could
easily make a similar arrangement.

Tin at all times must have been dearer than lead, as the latter was
found in abundance, but the former in small quantities. In England at
present tin costs about four times as much as lead. At Hamburg, in
1794, a pound of English block tin cost eleven schillings and a half,
and tin in bars thirteen schillings; but a hundred pounds of English
lead were worth at that time only fourteen marks, and Goslar lead
eleven and a half marks ready money.

That tin melts easier than lead is very true. According to the latest
experiments the former fuses at 442°, whereas lead requires 612° of
Fahrenheit’s thermometer. Both metals can be fused in paper when it
is closely wrapped round them. Aristotle and Pliny meant to say the
same thing of their paper; and the latter adds that the paper, even
when it became torn, was not burnt. What the first says of melting in
water, some have too inconsiderately declared to be a fable; but it is
not entirely false. Tin, when mixed with lead and bismuth in certain
proportions, is so fusible that it melts in boiling water, because it
requires less heat to be fused than water does to be brought to a state
of ebullition. That the Celtic tin contained a great deal of lead,
appears from the observation, that when rubbed it made the fingers
black; an effect which would not have been produced by pure tin.

That tin in the time of Pliny was mixed with lead, and in various
proportions, we are told by himself. At that period a mixture of
equal parts tin and lead was called _argentarium_; and that of two
parts lead and one part tin, _tertiarium_. Others mixed the latter
composition with an equal quantity of tin, and named the mixture also
_argentarium_, and this was commonly used for tinning.

I must, however, acknowledge that the last words of Pliny I do not
fully comprehend. They have not indeed been noticed by any commentator;
but I do not on that account believe that I am the only person to whom
they have been in part unintelligible. Savot and Watson[530], who were
undoubtedly capable of giving some decisive opinion on them, have
purposely left that part, which to me appears obscure, untranslated and
without any explanation. Pliny says, “Improbiores ad tertiarium additis
æquis partibus albi, argentarium vocant, et eo quæ volunt, incoquunt.”
He seems here to throw out a reproach against those who melted together
equal quantities of _tertiarium_ and pure tin, and then gave it the
name of _argentarium_, as if it had been of an inferior quality to the
_argentarium_ first named. But equal quantities of _tertiarium_ and
pure tin produced a mixture, in which for _one_ part of lead there
were _two_ of tin. How then could those who made this mixture be called
_improbiores_? To answer this question I shall venture to give my
conjecture. Pliny perhaps meant to say, that tinning properly ought to
be done with pure tin, but that unprincipled artists employed for that
purpose tin mixed with lead. If this be the true meaning, his reproach
was not unfounded. On the same account, because all tin was then
adulterated with lead, Galen gives cautions against the use of tinned
vessels, and advises people to preserve medicines rather in glass
or in golden vessels. But why does Pliny add, “ideo album nulli rei
sine mixtura utile?” In using these words, it is possible he may have
alluded, not to tinning, but to things cast of tin, which, according
to the ideas of that time or the nature of the tin, if of that metal
alone, would be too brittle. This seems to be said by the preceding
words, to which the _ideo_ refers: “albi natura plus aridi habet,
contraque nigri tota humida est, ideo album....” I hope the reader
will forgive me for entering so deeply into criticism; but if Pliny’s
valuable work is ever to become intelligible, occasional contributions
of this kind must not be despised.

Of the process employed in tinning in ancient times, we have no
account; but the words of Pliny _incoquere_ and _incoctilia_ seem
almost to denote that it was performed, as in tinning our iron wares,
by immersing the vessels in melted tin. It appears also to have
been done at an early period in a very perfect manner, both because
the tinned articles, as Pliny says, could scarcely be distinguished
from silver, and because the tinning, as he adds, with an expression
of wonder, did not increase the weight of the vessels. The metal,
therefore, was applied so thin that it could make no perceptible
addition to the weight. This is the case still, when the work has
been skilfully executed; and it affords a remarkable proof of the
astonishing divisibility of metal. Dr. Watson caused a vessel, the
surface of which contained 254 square inches, and which weighed
twenty-six ounces, to be tinned, and found that the weight was
increased only half an ounce; consequently half an ounce of tin was
spread over 254 square inches.

But, notwithstanding all this dexterity, which must be allowed to
the Romans, they appear to have employed tinning at any rate for
kitchen utensils and household furniture very seldom. It is scarcely
ever mentioned, and never where one might expect it, that is to say,
in works on cookery and domestic œconomy, where the authors give
directions for preparing and preserving salt provisions. When they
speak of the choice of vessels, they merely say that new earthen ones
should be employed. Some of the physicians only have had the foresight
to recommend tinned vessels. It does not appear indeed that the Romans,
though copper vessels were in general use among them, employed any
precautions to prevent them from being injurious to the health. Pliny
only says that a coating of _stannum_ improved the taste of food, and
guarded against verdigris. The former part is to be thus understood;
that the bad taste occasioned by copper was prevented; but he does not
say that the health was secured by it. The term also _incoctilia_,
usual in the time of Pliny, is found in his works alone. It is likewise
remarkable, that among the numerous vessels found at Herculaneum, as
I have already remarked, the greater part of them were of copper or
_stannum_, few of which were silvered, and none tinned. Had tinning
been then as much used as at present, some tinned vessels must have
been found.

I shall further remark, that Pliny ascribes the invention of tinning to
the Gauls; and that he extols in particular the work of the Bituriges,
the old inhabitants of the province of Berry, and those articles made
at Alexia or Alegia, which is considered to have been Alise in Auxois;
that he speaks of tinning copper and not iron, and that according to
his account not only tin was used for that purpose, but also _stannum_.
By the passages already quoted, it is proved that in the time of Homer
_cassiteron_ was employed for ornamenting shields and certain kinds of
dresses; but the further illustration of them I shall leave to others.
The shields perhaps were inlaid with tin; and it is not improbable that
threads were then made of this metal, and used for embroidering. That
this art was at that period known may be readily believed, since the
women of Lapland embroider their dresses, and particularly their fur
cloaks, in so delicate and ingenious a manner, with tin threads drawn
out by themselves, as to excite astonishment[531].

What Pliny says is true, that lead cannot be soldered without tin, or
tin without lead. For this operation a mixture of both metals, which
fuses more readily than each of them singly, is employed. Instead
of oil, mentioned by Pliny, workmen use at present in this process
colophonium, or some other resin.

That vessels were made of cast tin at an early period is highly
probable; but I do not remember to have seen any of them in collections
of antiquities. I am acquainted only with two instances of their being
found, both of which occurred in England. In the beginning of the last
century some pieces of tin were discovered in Yorkshire, together with
other Roman antiquities[532]; and in 1756 some tin vessels of Roman
workmanship with Roman inscriptions were dug up in Cornwall[533].

I shall pass over the history of the tin trade of the Phœnicians, the
Greeks, the Gauls and the Romans, respecting which only scanty and
doubtful information is to be found in the works of the ancients, but
in those of the moderns a greater number of hypotheses. The situation
even of the Cassiterides islands cannot with certainty be determined,
though it is supposed in general, and not without probability, that
they were the Scilly islands, which lie at the distance of about thirty
miles from the most western part of the English coast; that is, the
extremity of Cornwall, or, as it is called, the Land’s End. At the same
time we must adopt the opinion of Ortelius, that under that appellation
were included the coasts of Cornwall and Devonshire[534]. To those
who are on the Scilly islands, Cornwall, as Borlase remarks, appears
to be an island; and as it is impossible that the Scilly islands,
which were called also _Silures_, could furnish tin sufficient for the
ancient trade, especially as few and very small traces of old works
are observed in them, it is more probable that the greater part of
the metal was obtained from Cornwall. That the Phœnicians themselves
worked mines there, cannot be proved; it is rather to be supposed that
they procured the metal from the inhabitants by barter; but, on the
other hand, there is reason to believe, from various antiquities, that
the Romans dug up the ore themselves from the mine, and had works for
extracting the metal.

The island Ictis of Diodorus Siculus, to which the ancient Britons
carried tin, and from which it was conveyed by the Gallic merchants,
is generally considered as the Isle of Wight; but Borlase remarks
very properly[535], that Ictis, according to the account of the
ancients, must have been much nearer to the coast of Cornwall. He
conjectures therefore, and with great probability, that this word was
the general appellation of a peninsula, or bay, or a place of depôt for
merchandise[536]. If the Mictis of Timæus and the Vectis of Pliny are
not this island Ictis, it will be difficult to find them. It is very
singular, that Dionysius, a later writer, and his follower Priscian,
and Avienus, call the _Cassiterides_ islands the _Hesperides_[537].

That the Drangians had tin mines appears to me highly improbable;
Strabo is the only writer who says so, in a few words; and nothing of
the kind is to be found in any other author. If Drangiana be considered
as a part of Persia, to which that district belongs at present, it is
stated by all modern travellers that tin is not to be found anywhere in
the Persian empire[538]. If we reckon it a part of India, Pliny asserts
that no tin-works were then known in that country. In his time, this
metal was sent thither as an article of commerce, and was purchased
with precious stones and pearls. This last circumstance has by some
been considered as a proof of the high price of the metal at that
period; but he says nothing further than that tin was among the imports
of India at that time, and that jewels and pearls formed a part of the
exports. It may be said that the inhabitants of the Spanish colonies
in America gave their silver for our linen, but we cannot thence prove
that it bears a high price.

That the word _stannum_, in the time of Pliny, did not signify tin but
a compounded metal, is as certain as that in later times it became the
common name of tin. Hence arises the question, Since what time has our
tin been known under the appellation of _stannum_?

This question, as far as I know, has never yet been examined; and this,
I hope, will be a sufficient excuse if I should not be able to give an
answer completely satisfactory. The first author in whom I find the
Greek word _cassiteros_ translated by _stannum_ is Avienus, in the free
translation of Dionysius; who, as proved by Wernsdorf, lived about the
middle of the fourth century. The next who translates the Greek word in
the same manner, is Priscian; who, according to the grounds alleged by
Wernsdorf, must have lived in the beginning of the sixth century.

From what I already know, I suspect that the long and improper name
_plumbum candidum_ began in the fourth century to be exchanged
for _stannum_; and it is probable that, at that time, tin was so
abundant that it banished the old _stannum_, to which it might have
a resemblance. In later centuries, then, _stannum_ always signified
tin; and in the middle ages various words were arbitrarily formed from
it which do not occur in the Latin authors. The _stannea tecta_, or
roof of the church at Agen, on the Garonne, in Guienne, described by
the ecclesiastical poet Fortunatus[539], about the end of the sixth
century, consisted undoubtedly of tinned plates of copper. _Stagnare_
occurs often for tinning, as _stagnator_ does for a tin-founder. In
the thirteenth century, Henry III. of England gave as a present a
_stagnarium_ or a _stannaria_, a tin mine or tin work, or as others
say, _fodina stanni_. In the fourteenth century, there was in England,
under Edward III., a _stannaria curia_; and in the same century,
besides various other ornaments, _lunulæ stanneatæ_ were forbidden to
the clergy. In a catalogue of the year 1379, the following articles
occur: “tria parva stanna modici valoris ... item unum stannum parvum
... item duo magna stanna[540].”

In regard to the tin trade of the Spaniards, I can unfortunately say
nothing: the tin-works in Spain, we are told, were abandoned under the
government of the Moors. England, as is generally asserted, enjoyed an
exclusive trade in this metal till the thirteenth century, when the
tin mines were discovered and worked in Bohemia. But the exact time
when this took place I am not able to determine. The Bohemian works, in
all probability, are older than the Saxon; but it is still more certain
that the account given by Hagec, that they were known so early as the
year 798, is entirely void of foundation[541].

When the English writers[542] treat on the history of this metal, they
seldom fail to repeat what has been said on the subject by Matthew
Paris. This Benedictine monk, who was by birth an Englishman, and
died in 1259, relates, in his History of England, that a Cornish-man
having fled to Germany, on account of a murder, first discovered tin
there in the year 1241. He adds, that the Germans soon after furnished
this metal at so cheap a rate, that they could sell it in England,
on which the price there fell, very much to the loss of Richard Earl
of Cornwall, so well known by his having been elected king of the
Romans[543]. Since Matthew relates this as an event which took place
in his time, it would perhaps be improper to doubt it; but it still
appears strange that no mention is to be found of this circumstance in
the Bohemian or German Annals. Gmelin also must not have met with any
account of it, else he would have announced it. Peithner likewise is
silent respecting it: on the contrary, he says that the tin mines in
the neighbourhood of the town of Grauppen were discovered as early as
the year 1146, by a peasant named Wnadec, belonging to the village of
Chodicze. Of the antiquity of the Saxon mines I can give no account:
had any information on that subject existed, it would certainly have
been noticed by Gmelin.

Brusch, who was murdered by two noblemen in 1559, seems to place
the discovery of the tin mines at Schlackenwalde, which he says
are younger than those of Schönfeld, in the thirteenth or twelfth
century[544]. Albertus Magnus, who died in 1280, says that in his time
a great deal of tin was dug up in various parts of Germany. At present
the principal tin works are at Geyer, Ehrenfriedersdorf and Altenberg.

The art of tinning plate-iron was invented either in Bohemia or
Germany, and introduced at a later period into England, France, and
other countries. But as the whole history of the German mines is
very defective and uncertain, the period when this useful and highly
profitable branch of business was begun is not known. Yarranton, an
English writer, of whom I shall speak more hereafter, relates that
the first tinning of this kind was made in Bohemia; that a Catholic
clergyman, who embraced the Lutheran religion, brought the art, about
the year 1620, to Saxony, and that since that time all Europe has been
furnished with tin-plate from Germany.

This much, however, is certain, that the tinning of iron is more
modern than the tinning of copper. The first articles made by the
bottle-makers were flasks of copper tinned, which in old times were
used in war and on journeys, like the _stagnone_, still employed in
Spain and Portugal, in which all kinds of distilled waters are sent
from Malta[545].

Among the English, who formerly had a monopoly of the tin trade, and
who still possess the best and richest tin mines, the introduction of
this art of employing their native production did not at first succeed;
and this circumstance afforded Becher a subject for raillery[546]. But
about the year 1670, a company sent to Saxony, at their expense, an
ingenious man named Andrew Yarranton, in order to learn the process of
tinning. Having acquired there the necessary knowledge, he returned to
England with some German workmen, and manufactured tin-plate, which
met with general approbation. Before the company, however, could carry
on business on an extensive scale, a man of some distinction, having
made himself acquainted with Yarranton’s process, obtained a patent
for this art; and the first undertakers were obliged to give up their
enterprise, which had cost them a great deal of money, and yet no use
was made of the patent which had been obtained[547].

About the year 1720, which, on account of the many new schemes and
the deceptive trade carried on in consequence of them, will ever be
memorable in the history of English folly, among the many _bubbles_, as
they were then called, was an establishment for making tin-plate; and
this was one of the few speculations of that period which were attended
with advantage. The first manufactory of this kind was established in
Monmouthshire, perhaps at the village of Pontypool, where tin-plate was
at any rate made so early as 1730[548]. In France, the first experiment
to introduce this branch of manufacture was made under Colbert, who
procured workmen, some of whom were established at Chenesey, in
Franche-Comté, and others at Beaumont-la-Ferriere in the Nivernois.
But the want of skill and proper support rendered this expensive
undertaking fruitless. Some manufactories, however, were brought to be
productive in the last century; the oldest of which was established at
Mansvaux in Alsace, in the year 1726. This was followed, in 1733, by
another at Bain in Lorraine, which obtained its privilege from Duke
Francis III., and this was confirmed by Stanislaus in 1745[549].

That tin, in modern times, has been brought from the East Indies to
Europe is well-known; but I have never been so fortunate as to discover
when this trade began. It is, however, known, that at the commencement
of the sixteenth century a good deal of information had been obtained
in Europe in regard to East Indian tin. Louis Barthema, who was
then in India, speaks of Malacca tin[550], as does also F. Mendez
Pinto, who was there in 1537, and Odoard Barbosa mentions that which
was carried from Caranguor to Malacca. Barbosa wrote in 1516[551].
Munster, Mercator, and other old geographers relate, that before the
establishment of the Portuguese dominion in India, large tin coins were
in circulation in the island of Sumatra.

The greater part of the East-Indian tin comes from Siam, Malacca,
and Banca. In the last-mentioned place, which is an island near the
south-east coast of Sumatra, the mines are said to have been discovered
in 1711. In 1776 there were ten pits, which were worked by Chinese, on
account of the king of Palimbang. One hundred and twenty-five pounds
cost him only five rix dollars; and for this quantity he received from
the Dutch East-India company, to whose government he was subject, from
thirteen to fifteen dollars. The greater part went to China, or was
used in India; but in the year 1778 the company sent 700,000 pounds to
Europe, which was sold at the rate of a hundred pounds for forty-two
florins. Malacca furnishes yearly about three or four hundred thousand
pounds; but the principal part of it remains in India. In the year 1778
the company sold 100,000 pounds in Amsterdam. A great deal of tin is
sold also in its factory at Siam. All the tin sold by it at Amsterdam
between the years 1775 and 1779 amounted to 2,421,597 pounds.

[Tin occurs native in two forms, as peroxide and as sulphuret of tin
and copper. The last is rare; the former constitutes the great source
of tin, and in its native state mixed with arsenic, copper, zinc and
tungsten, is called tin-stone; but when occurring in rounded masses,
grains, or sand in alluvial soil, is called stream-tin. The metal
reduced from the tin-stone forms block-tin; whilst that from the
stream-tin, and which is the purest, is called grain-tin.

The annual produce of the tin mines and works of Cornwall is
estimated at 4000 tons, worth from £65 to £80 a ton. About 30,000
cwt. of unwrought tin are annually exported from Britain, chiefly
to France, Italy and Russia; which is, exclusive of tin and pewter
wares and tin-plates, in declared value nearly £400,000, sent to the
United States, Italy, Germany, France, the colonies, &c. Moreover,
from 10,000 to 30,000 cwt. of Banca and Malay tin are imported for
re-exportation to the continent and the United States.

An important enamel has lately been patented for lining the interior of
cast iron vessels and utensils used in cooking, chemical operations,
&c., which will probably replace tinned articles in a great degree.
To apply the process, the vessels are cleansed with weak sulphuric
acid, then washed and dipped into a thin paste made with quartz first
melted with borax, felspar and clay free from iron, then reduced to an
impalpable powder, and sufficient water added to form thinnish paste.
The vessels are then powdered inside with a linen bag, containing a
very finely powdered mixture of felspar, carbonate of soda, borax, and
a little oxide of tin. The articles are then dried and heated in an
enamelling furnace. The coating is very white, bears the action of fire
without cracking, and completely resists acid or alkaline solutions.]


[503] [Tin-stone however occurs in Spain and Portugal; and Watson, in
his Chemical Essays, states that Spain furnished the ancients with
considerable quantities of tin.]

[504] Native tin never, or at any rate, very rarely occurs. In the
year 1765 a piece was supposed to be found, of which an account may
be seen in the Phil. Trans. vol. lvi. p. 35, and vol. lix. p. 47. But
the truth of this was denied by most mineralogists, such for example
as Jars in Mémoires de l’Acad. à Paris, année 1770, p. 540. Soon after
the above-mentioned piece of tin was found in Cornwall, some dealers
in minerals sold similar pieces to amateurs at a very dear rate; but
all these had been taken from roasting-places, where the tin exudes;
and very often what is supposed to be tin is only exuded bismuth, as is
proved by some specimens in my collection.

I shall here observe, that it may not be improper, in the history of
tin, to show that it was believed more than two hundred years ago that
this metal was found in a native state.

[505] Having requested Professor Tychsen, to whose profound knowledge
of Oriental history, languages, and literature I have been already
indebted for much assistance, to point out the grounds on which _bedil_
is considered to be our tin, I received the following answer, with
permission to insert it in this place.

“_Bedil_, בדיל, according to the most probable derivation,
means _the separated_. It may therefore, consistent with etymology, be
what Pliny calls _stannum_, not tin, but lead from which the silver has
not been sufficiently separated. The passage in Isaiah, chap. i. ver.
25, appears to afford a confirmation, because the word there is put in
the plural, equivalent to scoriæ, as something separated by fusion.

“Others derive _bedil_ from the meaning of the Arabic word بدل _badal_,
that is, _substitutum_, _succedaneum_. In this case indeed it might
mean tin, which may be readily confounded with silver.

“The questions, why _bedil_ has been translated tin, and how old this
explanation may be, are answered by another: Is κασσίτερος tin? If
this be admitted, the explanation is as old as the Greek version of
the seventy interpreters, who in most passages, Ezekiel, chap. xxii.
ver. 18 and 20, and chap. xxvii. ver. 12, express it by the word
κασσίτερος. In the last-mentioned passage, tin and iron have exchanged
places. The Targumists also call it tin; and some, with the Samaritan
translation, use the Greek word, but corrupted into _kasteron_,
_kastira_. It is also the usual Jewish explanation, that _bedil_ means
tin, as _oferet_ does lead.

“In the oldest passage, however, where _bedil_ occurs, that is in
Numbers, chap. xxxi. ver. 22, the Seventy translate it by μόλιβος,
lead, and the Vulgate by _plumbum_, and _vice versâ_, the Seventy for
_oferet_ put κασσίτερος, and the Vulgate _stannum_. This, as the
oldest explanation which the Latin translator found already in the
Septuagint, is particularly worthy of notice. According to it, one
might take בדיל, μόλιβος, _stannum_, for the _stannum_ of Pliny, lead
with silver; the gradation of the metals still remains; the κασσίτερος
of the Seventy may be tin or real lead. It may have denoted tin and
lead together, and perhaps the Seventy placed here κασσίτερος, in
order that they might have one metal more for the Hebrew _oferet_. But
from this explanation it would follow that Moses was not acquainted
with tin.

“The East has still another name for lead and tin, אנך, _anac_, which
occurs only in Amos, chap. vii. ver. 7 and 8, but is abundant in the
Syriac, Chaldaic, and Armenian, and comprehends _plumbum_, _nigrum_,
and _candidum_.

“In the Persian tin is named _kalai_, _resâs_, _arziz_, which are all
of Arabic, or, like _kalai_, of Turkish extraction. None of these have
any affinity to κασσίτερος and _bedil_.

“As tin is brought from India, it occurred to me whether the oldest
name, like _tombak_, might not be Malayan. But in the Malayan, _tima_
is the name for tin and lead. Relandi Dissertat. Miscell. iii. p. 65.
It would indeed be in vain to look for Asiatic etymologies in regard to
κασσίτερος, since, according to the express assertion of Herodotus,
the Greeks did not procure tin from Asia, but from the Cassiterides
islands. The name may be Phœnician; and though Bochart has not ventured
to give any etymology of it, one, in case of necessity, might have been
found equally probable as that which he has given of Britannia. But
it appears to me more probable that the word is of Celtic extraction,
because similar names are found in Britain, such as _Cassi_, an old
British family; _Cassivelaunus_, a British leader opposed to Cæsar;
_Cassibelanus_, in all probability, the same name in the time of
Claudius. _Cassi-ter_, with the Greek termination ος, seems to be
a Celtic compound, the meaning of which might perhaps be found in
Pelletier, Bullet, &c.”

[506] Plin. lib. xxxiv. cap. 16, § 47, p. 669.

[507] The last meaning is found in Pliny, xxxiii. 6, § 31, and xxxiv.
18, § 53:--“Est et molybdæna, quam alio loco galenam vocavimus,
vena argenti plumbique communis. Adhærescit et auri et argenti
fornacibus; et hanc metallicam vocant.” Here then there are both the
significations, first _bleyglanz_, secondly _ofenbruch_. The name
_galena_ seems to have been borrowed from foreign metallurgic works,
perhaps from the Spanish, as was conjectured by Agricola in Bermannus,
p. 434. This, at any rate, is more probable than the derivation of
Vossius from γέλειν, _splendere_, especially as the Greeks have not
the word _galena_.

[508] I explain the passage in this manner, but I acknowledge that
difficulties still remain. I have however thought that it might perhaps
be thus understood; that in the process of fusion, as then used, the
_galena_ formed the third part of the weight of the ore or paste, and
lead a third part of the _galena_; though I doubt whether the products
of metallic works were then so accurately weighed. I shall leave the
reader to determine whether the two explanations of Savot are better.
He supposes either that Pliny gives three ways of obtaining lead,
namely, from lead ore, argentiferous ore, and _galena_; or that he says
that silver forms a third, lead a third, and slag the remaining third.
But if the first opinion be correct, why did Pliny say “Plumbi origo

[509] Bermannus, pp. 450, 485.

[510] De Re Metallica, lib. iii. Franc. (1551), 8vo.

[511] De Metallis, cap. 22. Franc. 1606, fol. i. p. 322.

[512] Discours sur les médailles antiques par Louis Savot. Paris, 1627,
4to, ii. 2, p. 48. This work contains valuable information in regard to
the mineralogy of the ancients.

[513] In Aldrovandi Musæum Metallicum. Bonon. 1648, fol. p. 181.

[514] J. Jungii Doxoscopia, Hamb. 1662, cap. 5, _de metalli speciebus_.

[515] I shall here point out a few passages where such vessels
are mentioned. Dioscorides, ii. 84, p. 109.--Plin. xxix. 2, § 20;
xxx. 5, § 12, and xxx. 7, § 19.--Columella, xii. 41.--Vegetius, i.
16.--Scribonius Largus Composit. Med. Patavii, 1655, 4to, § 230.

[516] Sueton. Vitell. 6, p. 192; where it is said tin, which was of a
white colour, was to serve instead of silver.

[517] In the work already quoted, i. cap. 32, p. 64: “Vides stannum
Plinio esse quiddam de plumbo nigro, nempe primum fluorem plumbi
nigri;” so that when our lead ore is fused, the first part that flows
would be the _stannum_ of Pliny. “Et hoc docet Plinius adulterari
plumbo candido;” with our tin, and properly considered the _stannum_ of
Pliny is merely our _halbwerk_, of which those cans called _halbwerk_
are made.

Entzel deserves that I should here revive the remembrance of him. He
was a native of Salfeld; preacher, _pastor Osterhusensis_, and a friend
of Melancthon, who recommended the book for publication to Egenholf, a
bookseller of Frankfort, in a letter dated 1551, in which year it was
first printed. It was reprinted at the same place in 1557, and at Basle
in 1555, 8vo.

[518] The French letter-founders take four-fifths of lead and one-fifth
regulus of antimony; those of Berlin use eleven pounds of antimony,
twenty-five of lead, and five of iron. Many add also tin, copper, and
brass. [Those of England use three parts of lead and one of antimony.]

[519] Von Hutten-werken, p. 376.

[520] A good account of this manufactory may be found in the Journal
für Fabrik, Manufact. Handlung und Mode, 1793. We are told there that
the buttons were made of a composition which had a white silver-like
colour, and was susceptible of a fine polish. [This was probably some
alloy of nickel, one of the principal constituents of German silver.]

[521] Lib. iii. p. 254.

[522] That the merchants, in the oldest periods, endeavoured by false
information to conceal the sources of their trade, might be proved by
various instances.

[523] Supplementa in Lexica Hebraica p. 151.

[524] The authors here quoted, corresponding to the above letters, are
as follows:--

  [a] Plinius, xxxiv. 16, p. 668.

  [b] Cæsar De Bello Gallico, v. 12.

  [c] Aristot. Auscult. Mirab. cap. 51, p. 100.

  [d] Galenus De Antidot. i. 8. p. 209. ed. gr. Basil. vol. ii. p. 431.

  [e] Plin. iv. 22. p. 630.

  [f] Herodot. lib. iii. p. 254. edit. Wess.

  [g] Plin. iv. 16, p. 223.

  [h] Strabo, lib. iii. p. 219. ed. Almel.

  [i] Strabo, lib. xv. p. 1055.

  [j] Diodor. Sic. lib. v. p. 347. ed. Wess.

  [k] Diod. Sic. lib. v. p. 361.

  [l] Stephan. Byzant. v. Tartessus, p. 639.

  [m] Dionys. Periegesis, v. 563.

  [n] Prisciani Perieg. v. 575.

  [o] Avienus Descript. Urbis, v. 743.

  [p] Homeri Iliad. xviii. 612.

  [q] Iliad. xi. 25.

  [r] Iliad. xxiii. 561.

  [s] Iliad. xviii. 565, 574.

  [t] Hesiod. Scut. Herculis, v. 208.

  [u] Aristot. Œconom. lib. ii. p. 594.

  [v] Pollux Onomast. p. 1055.

  [w] Pomp. Mela, iii. 6, 24, p. 275.

  [x] Plin. xxxiii. 5, p. 621.

  [y] Plin. xxxiv. 17, § 48, p. 669; and lib. xxxiii. § 45: Optima
      specula apud majores fuerant Brundisiana stanno et ære
      mixtis. From a similar mixture the best metallic specula are
      cast at present.

[525] Borlase’s Antiquities of Cornwall. Ox. 1754, fol. p. 29.

[526] Lib. iv. cap. 22, p. 230.

[527] Minéralogie Homerique, Par. 1790, 8vo. A small treatise much

[528] Lib. xi. 24, 25.

[529] See what I have already said, vol. i. p. 472.

[530] Savot, p. 53.--Watson’s Chemical Essays, iv. p. 187.

[531] Schefferi Lapponia, Francof. 1673, 4to, pp. 210, 261, where a
figure is given of a Lapland woman drawing threads.

[532] Phil. Trans. 1702, 1703, vol. xxiii. p. 1129.

[533] Phil. Trans. 1759, vol. li. p. 13, where figures of the vessels
are given. Whitaker’s Hist. of Manchester, i. p. 306.

[534] Borlase’s Cornwall, p. 30; and his Observations on the Islands of
Scilly. Oxf. 1756, 4to.

[535] Natural Hist. of Cornwall, p. 177.

[536] In the Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 394: _Ik_, _yk_, _ick_, a
common termination of creeks in Cornwall, as _Pordinik_, _Pradnik_.

[537] Dionysii Orbis Descriptio. Londini, 1679, 8vo, p. 220, where
Hill’s observations deserve to be read.

[538] Voyages de Chardin. Rouen, 1723, 12mo, iv. 65, where it is
expressly said that Persia has no tin, but that it obtains it from
India. The same thing is confirmed by Tavernier.

[539] Fortunati Opera. Romæ, 1786, 4to, i. p. 14, lib. i. cap. 8.

[540] Proofs may be found in Dufresne.

[541] Wencesl. Hagec Böhmische Chronik. Nürnb. 1697, fol. p. 53.

[542] For example, Borlase in Natur. Hist.--Speed’s Theatre of Great
Britain.--Camden’s Britannia.--Anderson’s Hist. of Commerce, &c.

[543] This metal, however, must have remained long dear; for it is
remarked in the Archæologia, vol. iii. p. 154, from an expense-book
of the Earls of Northumberland, that vessels of tin, about the year
1500, in consequence of their dearness, had not become common. This is
confirmed also by a regulation respecting the household of Henry VIII.,
printed also in the Archæologia, where it is said, “Officers of the
squillery to see all the vessels, as well silver as pewter, be kept and
saved from stealing.”

[544] C. Bruschii redivivi Beschreib. des Fichtelberges. Nürnb. 1683.

[545] See Gegenwärtiger Staat von England, Portugal, und Spanien (by
Theodore King of Corsica), ii. p. 25.

[546] Narrisch Weisheit, p. 51.

[547] Yarranton’s England’s Improvement by Sea and Land, 1698.

[548] Watson’s Chem. Essays, iv. p. 203.--Anderson’s Commerce.

[549] This is related by Diderot in his article _Fer-blanc_ in the
Encyclopédie. That the _Fer-blanc_ of the French is tin plate every
one knows; but what are we to understand by _ferrum candidum_, a
hundred talents of which were given as a present to Alexander in India?
No commentator has noticed this appellation. In the index, however,
to Snakenburg’s Curtius, I find the conjecture that it may mean the
_ferrum Indicum_, which, lib. xvi. § 7. _ff_ de Publicanis, or Digest.
xxxix. 4, § 16, 7, is named among the articles liable to pay duty; but
some editions in this passage have _ebenum Indicum_. The reader is
referred also to Photii Biblioth. p. 145, where Ctesias relates a fable
in regard to Indian iron. Pliny, xxxiv. 14, p. 667, mentions _ferrum
Sericum_, which in his time was considered as the best; but still it
may be asked, why is the epithet white applied in particular to the
Indian iron? Compare Aristot. de Mirab. Auscult. pp. 96, 426.

[550] Ramusio, fol. i. p. 166. c.

[551] Ib. i. p. m. 317. d.


That under the terms sowing-machine, _semoir_, drill-plough, _macchine
per seminare_, are understood implements by which the seeds of those
plants cultivated on a large scale, and particularly the different
species of corn, can be regularly deposited in the earth, and at any
distance from each other, at pleasure, is at present generally known.
The principal part of the machine consists of a box, having within it
a cylinder furnished with cogs, which forms the axes of two wheels,
and which, as it revolves, assists the seed put into the box to escape
through holes formed at a proper distance from each other in the bottom.

At first, these machines were exceedingly simple, and had only in the
fore-part a ploughshare; but afterwards a harrow was applied behind, so
that with such an apparatus one could plough, sow, and harrow at the
same time. It was attended, however, with the common fault of all very
complex machines; it was too artificial, too expensive, and too easily
deranged. The greater part, therefore, of those lately made have only a
harrow behind them.

Since the beginning of the last century so many machines of this kind
have been invented, that to give a complete catalogue of them would be
difficult. The invention, however, does not belong either to our period
or to the English, who have hitherto paid the greatest attention to the
improvement and employment of it. I have somewhere read that a proposal
for a machine of this kind occurs in Theophrastus; but I have not yet
been able to discover the passage. I am much rather inclined, from the
information I have hitherto obtained, to place this invention in the
sixteenth century, and to ascribe the merit of it to the Italians.
By our oldest writers on agriculture, Heresbach, Colerus, Florinus,
Hohberg and others, it is not mentioned.

Joseph Locatelli, of whom, however, very little is known, is commonly
considered as the inventor. That he was a nobleman of Carinthia, but
not a count, as he is called in Iöcher’s Dictionary of Learned Men,
is proved by a small work consisting of two sheets in quarto, now in
my possession[552]. It is there stated, that experiments were made
with a machine of this kind by the emperor’s order, at the imperial
palace and market of Laxenburg, in the presence of a commissioner,
named Pietro Bonaventura von Crollolanza, appointed for that purpose.
These experiments succeeded so well, that a crop of sixty for one was
obtained from land not manured, and subject to frequent inundation.
On this account the emperor rewarded the inventor, and sent him with
letters of recommendation to the king of Spain.

In this small work no date is mentioned but on the title-page; and if
that be correct, the invention must be placed in the last year of the
sixteenth or the first of the seventeenth century, consequently in
the reign of the emperor Rudolphus II., who had a great fondness for
mechanical inventions. This treatise is certainly the same which, as
Reinman says, was printed in 1690 without any place being mentioned,
and according to Haller, at Jena, 1690; but the author of it cannot
have been the inventor, as asserted by Iöcher, who adds, that the tract
in question was printed at Vienna in the year above-mentioned.

The date 1603, however, can hardly be correct; it ought rather to
be 1693, and in that case the tract might have been three times
printed between that period and 1690. The date in the title-page of
my copy appears properly to have in it a 9, which resembles a zero,
only because the compositor used a type on which the lower part of
the figure was broke. That this conjecture is true, I have, I think,
sufficiently proved; though Munchhausen, Haller, and others read the
date 1603.

In the year 1669, John Evelyn gave to the Royal Society of London a
complete description of Locatelli’s invention[553]. He there says
that the inventor went with his machine to Spain, where he proved
the advantage of it by public experiments, and described them in a
Spanish work, dedicated to Geronimo de Camargo, member of the _Consejo
real de Castilla_, who was commissioned by the king to make known and
promote the use of this machine, the sale of which was secured to the
inventor at a price fixed in his patent. This Spanish work, from which
Evelyn made an extract, was printed with the Austrian approbation of
Crollolanza, and the date Aug. 1st, 1663. Locatelli must immediately
after have gone to Spain, for it is there stated that his machines were
made and sold in great abundance at Madrid, in 1664. The invention
belongs, therefore, to the year 1663.

This machine was exceedingly simple. The seed-box, the cylinder of
which was furnished with two small wheels, required only to be hooked
or fastened, by means of ropes, to the stilt of the plough. A figure
of it may be found in the before-mentioned German tract; also in the
Philosophical Transactions, and thence copied into Duhamel’s Traité de
la Culture des Terres[554].

The Italians, however, dispute with Locatelli the honour of the
invention. They assert that one of their countrymen, named M. Giovanni
Cavallina, of Bologna, proposed such a sowing-machine a century and a
half before; and they refer for a proof to the account preserved by
Gio Battista Segni in his work upon Scarcity. This book I have never
seen. Haller gives the title from Seguier, and says that it was first
printed at Bologna, in 1602; but Zanon states 1605, and says that this
Segni, who is not noticed by Iöcher, was a _canonicus regularis_[555].
Of Cavallina I have not been able to find any further account; not even
in the large and full work of Fantuzzi. I can therefore give only the
description of Segni as transcribed by Zanon[556]. From this it appears
that the machine alluded to had also a seed-box with two wheels, and
might be compared to a bolting-mill, but below each hole of the bottom
board there seems to have been an iron funnel, which before was shaped
like a plough-share. The machine, therefore, seems to have formed as
many small furrows as it dropped grains of corn; and, as far as can be
judged, there was in the bottom only one row of holes. It appears also
that each grain of corn, as soon as it dropped, was covered with earth
by the machine. Whether Locatelli took advantage of this invention,
and gave it out, with some alteration, as his own, cannot be easily

Soon after Locatelli’s invention another sowing-machine was proposed
at Brescia, by the Jesuit Lana, who seems to have had no knowledge of
the preceding ones; at least he makes no mention of them. The case
with Lana was perhaps the same as with many ingenious men, who possess
great powers of invention. As they never read, but only think, they
are unacquainted with what others have done before them, and therefore
consider every idea which comes into their mind as new. He proposed a
harrow, the spikes of which should make holes in the earth, in the same
manner as gardeners do with their bean-planter, and the grains of corn
were to fall into these holes from a box pierced like a sieve, and
placed over the harrow[557].

I do not know whether this, at present, could be called a
sowing-machine; but it is not improbable that an apparatus of this kind
would facilitate the planting, or, as it is termed, setting of wheat,
which in modern times has been revived in England, and particularly
in Suffolk. For this purpose holes are made three inches apart, in
rows four inches distant from each other, with a bean-planter, by men
and women. Each labourer is followed by three children, who throw
two or three grains of seed into each hole. One labourer in a second
can make four holes, and in two or three days plant an acre. For
this he obtained nine shillings, one-half of which was given to the
children[558]. By these means there is a saving of one-half the seed;
and this defrays the expenses. The wheat also, when it grows up, is
cleaner as well as more beautiful; and this method, besides, affords
employment to a great number of persons.

However minute and ridiculous this method of planting may appear to
our practical farmers, it is nevertheless true that it has been found
beneficial in Upper Lusatia[559].

The objection that corn when planted in this manner may throw out too
many stems, which will not all ripen at the same time, can be true only
when the grains are placed at too great a distance from each other. The
German mode of farming however is still too remote from horticulture to
admit of our attaching great value to the advantages with which this
method is attended.

I shall here remark, that Sir Francis Bacon says that in his time, that
is, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, attempts had been
made to plant wheat, but being too laborious it was again abandoned,
though he declares it to be undoubtedly advantageous[560]. In the most
populous districts of China almost all the corn is set, or it is first
sown in forcing-beds, and then transplanted. The English call the
labour with the sowing-machine _drilling_, and the planting of wheat
they name _dibbling_.

[Several sowing-machines have been invented, and patents taken out
for them in late years. As it is very difficult to give a description
of them, and still more so for the reader to comprehend them without
figures, we refer to the Penny Cyclopædia, art. “Sowing-machine,” for
an account of the more important.]


[552] The title is, Beschreibung eines neuen Instruments mit welchem
das Getraide zugleich geackert und gesäet werden kan; erfunden von
Locatelli, Landmann im Erz-Herzogthum Cärndten. Anno 1603. Without the
name of any place, printer, or publisher.

[553] Phil. Trans. vol. v. No. 60, p. 1056.

[554] Paris, 1753, 12mo, i. p. 368, tab. 6. Duhamel has committed a
double error. He speaks of the invention as if the first experiments
were made in Spain, and as if those in Austria had been later. He
says also, that the latter were made _dans le Luxembourg in Istria_.
The English account also says erroneously Luxembourg, instead of
Lachsenburg or Laxemburg, which is in Austria, and not in Istria.

[555] Of Segni an account may be found in Notizie degli Scrittori
Bolognesi raccolte da Giovanni Fantuzzi. In Bologna 1784-1794, 9 vols.
4to, vii. p. 377. Segni, who died in 1610, wrote a great many ascetic
books, the names of which are there given.

[556] Dell’ agricultura, dell’ arti e del commercio. Lettere di Antonio
Zanon. In Venezia 1764, 8vo, vol. iii. p. 325.

[557] Prodromo, overo saggio di alcune inventioni nuove, premesso
all’ arte maestra. In Brescia 1670, fol. p. 96, fig. 26.

[558] See the excellent account of the agriculture in Suffolk in my
Journal, the Beytragen zur Oekonomie, &c., i. p. 1. It was written by
M. F. Wild, of Durlach, who in the year 1767 was one of my pupils, and
afterwards became teacher in the Institute of Education at Colmar. But
alas! I do not know whither he has now been swept by the vortex of the

[559] Leske Reise durch Sachsen. Leipzig, 1785, 4to, p. 319.

[560] Sylva Sylvarum, cent. 5, § 442.


That the art of glass-making may have arisen from an accident, such as
that mentioned by Pliny[562], I am ready to admit; but by what accident
were artists made acquainted with the use of manganese, a mineral
the outward appearance of which seems to announce nothing that could
be useful to the glass-maker? It is not found in such abundance as
to allow us to suppose that it naturally presented itself; nor do we
know that any older application of it may have induced the ancients to
employ and examine it in such a manner that the present use of it might
be accidentally discovered. In general, it resembles some kinds of
iron-stone, which it was considered to be till a very late period. That
iron, however, colours glass must have been very early remarked; and
therefore it could occur to no one to employ manganese for depriving
frit[563] of its colour. It produces this decoloration only when it is
added sparingly, and according to a determinate proportion; otherwise
it gives to the glass a violet colour, something similar to that of the

The application of manganese was certainly taught by accident, and
not by theory. But in regard to the question, why it frees glass from
its dirty colour, it must be admitted, if we readily acknowledge the
truth, that we can offer only hypotheses; as the old chemists called
in the aid of phlogiston, and the new that of oxygen[564]. Did a false
hypothesis, then, conduct to this discovery? That this was the case,
has been asserted by old as well as more modern writers, and is no
doubt possible. Thus Kepler, from an erroneous hypothesis in regard to
the revolution of the planets, discovered the ratio of their motion,
according to their distance from the sun; and such instances may be
adduced in favour of hypotheses which have done more harm than good.
But, in my opinion, in examining the origin of the ancient arts, we
ought not to give credit to any cause assigned for an invention until
no other can be found. In regard to the art in question, I think I can
mention one which, at any rate, has probability in its favour, and
which I shall here submit to the reader’s decision.

That it was observed at an early period that metallic oxides, and
particularly that of iron, which most frequently occurs, communicate
various colours to glass, has been already proved[565]. It needs
therefore excite no wonder that men should be induced to make
experiments on colouring glass with various minerals, and especially
such as contained iron. Now, since manganese, as already said, has a
great resemblance to iron-stone, it was also occasionally employed;
and it was soon found that this supposed species of iron-stone,
according as it is used in greater or less quantity, gives to glass
many beautiful shades of a violet, red, and dark brown colour. As it
was necessary that the artist should weigh the manganese, in order to
proportion it to the vitreous mass, according to the required colour,
it is possible that the glass, when a very small quantity had been
added, was found to be colourless. This observation must have been made
with the greater satisfaction, and more readily turned to advantage,
the higher colourless glass, which approached nearest to rock crystal,
was at that time esteemed[566].

The period however when this great improvement in one of the most
useful arts was fortunately introduced, cannot with certainty be
determined; but it is very probable that it was practised in the time
of Pliny. Were not this the case, what should have induced him, more
than once, to remark that the magnet was employed in glass? Under
this name the ancients certainly comprehended manganese; which, in
general, had a resemblance to the magnet, and was considered as such by
Agricola, Kircher, and others, at a more modern period. Pliny[567], in
one passage, speaks of a kind of magnet which was found in Cantabria,
not in veins, but interspersed or in nuclei; and he adds that he did
not know whether it was useful in glass-making, because no one had
ever tried it. This use of manganese then must at that time have been
very common, since it occurred so readily to a writer in speaking of a
supposed magnet.

Another passage of Pliny has been supposed to allude to manganese,
but in my opinion with much less probability. It is that where
he says _Alabandicus_ flows in the fire, and is fused at the
glass-houses[568]. But by that term he seems to understand a kind
of marble, according to the opinion of Isidorus, by whom the word
is repeated. As a calcareous earth it was perhaps added to promote
the fusion of the sand. Camillus Leonardus, however, considered the
_Alabandicus_ as manganese[569].

It is not improbable that the ancients employed manganese, if not for
glazing, at any rate for painting their pottery or earthenware, as soon
as they became acquainted at the glass-houses with its susceptibility
of being converted into a coloured vitreous mass.

But this is far from being proved, though count Caylus, Genssane and
others positively assert that the so-called Etruscan vases and lamps
were painted with the same manganese that we use for our earthen-ware.

Those who attempt to trace out the history of the arts must be very
cautious not to admit, without sufficient proof, that what the ancients
accomplished was effected by the same means as those employed by us
for the same purpose. This, in some cases, may be true; but in many
others false. Thus, they made a beautiful kind of blue and red glass,
without being acquainted with our cobalt and mineral purple; and they
performed very long sea voyages without our compass. It is the duty
of the historian either to point out the means which the ancients
employed, whether they were the same or not as those used at present,
or to acknowledge that their processes are unknown to us. Those who
invariably follow this rule will sometimes discover that, in ancient
times, men were able to accomplish the same objects and to produce the
same effects, by means totally different from those used at present;
and then the question will sometimes arise, Which of the means, the old
or the new, are the cheapest, the most convenient, and the surest? This
leads to technological problems, the solution of which, notwithstanding
the great superiority we possess in those auxiliaries of the arts,
natural history, chemistry, &c., is impossible. I have indulged in
these observations, in mentioning the celebrated Caylus, because I well
know that he has often erred in not attending to them. I acknowledge
and respect the service of this eminent man; but I am convinced that by
the boldness of his assertions he acquired greater confidence and more
celebrity than he deserved.

The colours on the Etruscan vases have a resemblance indeed to those
on our stone-ware, but it is also true that they might be produced by
oxide of iron.

The substances used by the ancient potters can be determined only by
the testimony of the ancients or by experiments; but the former is not
to be found; and the latter have never been made, though they would not
be difficult to any chemist who might choose to sacrifice a few vessels
of that kind.

The question how the use of manganese was first found out, occurred
even to Pliny; and his opinion on that subject deserves to be quoted,
especially as it was long considered as true by Albertus Magnus,
Caneparius, and many later writers. To understand it one must know
that it was at first believed that the magnet, as it attracts iron,
could attract other bodies also; and it was conjectured that other
minerals might possess a similar property. Some imagined that they
had found magnets for gold and silver. In the oldest times men had so
erroneous an opinion of the art of glass-making, that they conceived
that glass was obtained from sand, as metal from its ore; and Pliny
thinks that they then conjectured that a magnet could attract glass as
well as it does iron. Now as manganese, on account of its similarity,
was considered to be a magnet, it was consequently subjected to
experiments, which gave rise to the beneficial discovery that it
renders glass colourless.

This use of it then has been retained through every age to the present
time, and it is mentioned by all those authors who have written on
glass-making. Avicenna[570] makes so complete a distinction between it
and the magnet, that he treats of each in a particular section, though
he says nothing of its employment in the glass-houses; but indeed as
a physician he had no opportunity of doing so. Albertus Magnus[571],
however, who lived a century later, Roger Bacon, Basilius Valentine,
Camillus Leonardus, Biringoccio, Mercati, Neri and many others have
spoken in the plainest terms of this application.

It is seen by the words quoted from different authors, that the name,
which as far as I know occurs first in Albertus Magnus, was written
in a great many different ways: _magnesia_, _magnosia_, _magnasia_,
_manganensis_, _mangadesum_, and in French _magalaise_, _méganaise_,
_magnese_. One might imagine that it is derived from magnet, partly
on account of the similarity of the two substances, and partly on
account of its supposed power to attract glass. Besides, its other name
_sidera_ seems to have a reference to the Greek word for iron. Mercati,
however, deduces the term from _mangonizare_, because potters besmear
their wares with this mineral; but I suspect that the name was common
before that use of the substance was known. It is to be observed that
to this word various other significations have been given. Sometimes
it seems to denote common iron-stone, and sometimes pyrites. What the
gold-makers understood by it will be best discovered by consulting
the works of their followers. _Braunstein_ also, the German name, the
earliest mention of which occurs perhaps in the writings of Basilius
Valentine, denoted at first every kind of ferruginous earth employed
by the potters for painting. Thus Schwenkfeld gave the name of
_Braunstein_ and _Braunfarbe_ to a kind of bloodstone[572].

For a long time the manganese imported from Piedmont was in Germany
accounted the best, and therefore was much sought after by the artists
of Nuremberg. Afterwards, a kind brought from Perigord, a place in
Guyenne, and named _pierre de Périgueux_, or _lapis petracorius_, was
highly esteemed. Wallerius gives this as a peculiar species; and in
my opinion he is right. Its distinguishing characters are, that it
resembles a burnt coal or cinder; has a somewhat shining surface, and
on the fracture appears to be finely striped and a little coloured.
A piece which I have in my possession exhibits all these marks. This
species has been mentioned by very few of the new mineralogists.
Germany, however, for some centuries past has employed its own
manganese, which even in the time of Biringoccio was sent as an article
of commerce to Italy.

[The distinctness of the metal contained in the manganese of commerce
from iron was first proved by the experiments of Pott in 1740, by Kaim
and Winterl in 1770, and by Scheele and Bergman in 1774. Soon after
this the metal itself was obtained in an isolated state by Gahn, who
gave to it the name of _magnesium_, which term however was subsequently
applied to the metal contained in magnesia, and the word _manganese_
has been adopted to designate both the metal and the black ore. In
addition to its application in the manufacture of glass, it is now very
extensively used in the decomposition of common salt for the production
of chlorine for bleaching. Some salts of the lower oxides of manganese
have lately been used in calico-printing as a source of brown colours.]


[561] [The word manganese, strictly speaking, designates the metal
itself, the peroxide of which is understood by the author whenever the
word manganese occurs in the text.]

[562] Lib. xxxvi. 26, § 25.--See Hambergeri Vitri Historia, in Comment.
Societ. Götting. tom. iv. anni 1754, p. 487.

[563] Under this appellation, writers on the art of glass-making
understand a mixture of sand or siliceous earth and alkaline salts,
which at the German glass-houses, where the above word is seldom heard,
is called _Einsatz_. It appears to have been brought to us, along with
the art, from Italy, where it is written at present _fritta_, and to be
derived from _fritto_, which signifies something broiled or roasted.
It seems to be the same word as _freton_, which occurs in Thomas
Norton’s Poem, Crede mihi, sive Ordinale, where it however signifies a
particular kind of solid glass, fused together from small fragments.
This Englishman lived about the year 1477. His treatise was several
times printed.

[564] [The action of peroxide of manganese (the only compound of
the metal used in the manufacture of glass) is simple and clearly
understood. The sand (silica) used in the manufacture of glass
frequently contains iron, which by the heat necessary for the fusion
of the glass becomes reduced to the state of protoxide, giving the
glass a greenish or yellowish colour; also, if any organic substance be
present in the materials (and where sulphate of soda is used, charcoal
is added), the glass is not colourless. When peroxide of manganese
is added, it parts with some of its oxygen, becoming reduced to the
protoxide, which remains colourless in the glass, the protoxide of
iron absorbing the oxygen, becomes at the same time converted into the
peroxide, which also imparts no colour to the glass, which is thus
rendered colourless. If more of the peroxide of manganese be added than
the carbon or protoxide of iron can reduce, it will tinge the glass of
an amethyst colour, as stated in the text.]

[565] See the History of Ruby-glass in vol. i. p. 123.

[566] Plin. xxxvi. 26, p. 759, and lib. xxxvii. cap. 6, p. 769; he says
that artists could make glass vessels nearly similar to those of rock
crystal; but he remarks that the latter had nevertheless risen in price.

[567] Lib. xxxvii. 24, § 66.

[568] Plin. xxxvi. 8, § 13, p. 735.

[569] Speculum Lapidum, Parisiis, 1610, 8vo, p. 71. It may not be
superfluous here to remark, that this _Alabandicus_ of Pliny must not,
as is often the case, be confounded with the precious stone to which
he gives the same name, lib. xxxvii. cap. 8. The name properly denotes
only a stone from Alabanda in Caria. It occurs, but much corrupted,
as the name of a costly stone, in writings of the middle ages. See in
Du Cange Alamandinæ, Alavandinæ, Almandinæ; and even in our period so
fertile in names, a stone which is sometimes classed with the ruby
and sometimes with the garnet, and which is sometimes said to have
an affinity to the topaz and hyacinth, is called _Alamandine_ and
_Alabandiken_. See Brückman on Precious Stones, who in the second
continuation, p. 64, deduces the word from _Allemands_, without
recollecting the proper derivation, which he gives himself, i. p. 89
according to Pliny.

[570] Canon Medicinæ, lib. ii. tract. 2, cap. 470, de Magnete; and cap.
472, de Magnesia.

[571] In his book De Mineralibus, lib. ii. tract. 2, cap. 11.

[572] Stirpium et Fossilium Silesiæ Catalogus, Lipsiæ, 1600, 4to, p.


It is more than probable that these drops, and the singular property
which they possess, have been known at the glass-houses since time
immemorial. All glass, when suddenly cooled, becomes brittle, and
breaks on the least scratch. On this account, as far back as the
history of the art can be traced, a cooling furnace was always
constructed close to the fusing furnace. A drop of fused glass falling
into water[573] might easily have given rise to the invention of these
drops; at any rate this might have been the case in rubbing off what
is called the navel[574]. It is however certain that they were not
known to experimental philosophers till the middle of the seventeenth
century. Their withstanding great force applied at the thick end, and
even blows; and on the other hand, bursting into the finest dust when
the smallest fragment is broken off from the thin end, are properties
so peculiar that they must excite the curiosity of philosophers, and
induce them to examine these effects, especially at a time when mankind
in general exert themselves with the greatest zeal to become better
acquainted with the phænomena of natural bodies. On this account
they have been noticed in almost every introduction to experimental
philosophy. To determine the time then in which they were first made
known, seems to be attended with little difficulty; but it still
remains doubtful by whom and in what country.

It appears certain that the first experiments were made by philosophers
with these drops in the year 1656. Monconys[575], who travelled at that
period, was present when such experiments were made at Paris, before a
learned society, which assembled at the house of Mommor, the well-known
patron of Gassendi; and the same year he saw similar experiments made
by several scientific persons at London. He tells us expressly that
Chanut, the Swedish resident, procured glass drops for the first
Parisian experiments, and that these drops were brought from Holland.

It appears, therefore, that the first glass drops were made in Holland;
yet Montanari, who was professor of mathematics at Bologna, says that
the first were not made by the Dutch, but by the Swedes. The grounds,
however, on which he rests his assertion are exceedingly weak. Because
a Swedish resident procured those used for the first experiments,
it does not follow that they were made at Swedish glass-houses,
especially as it is positively said that they were brought from
Holland. It was indeed stated so early as 1661, by Henry Regius or Van
Roy, professor at Utrecht, that these glass drops came from Sweden;
but may not this have been a lapse of memory, occasioned by the
circumstance that the first drops used by the natural philosophers of
Paris were procured by a Swedish resident.

Monconys, whose relation indeed bears evident marks of great haste as
well as credulity, calls Chanut _Résident de Suède_, and seems to have
considered him as a Swedish resident at the French court; an opinion
in which he has been followed by many literary men. But Pierre Chanut
was French resident at Stockholm, and at that time so well-known that
Monconys could hardly be unacquainted with his quality. He was resident
from the year 1645 to 1649; and he was afterwards envoy for adjusting
the disputes between Sweden and Poland, which were to be settled at
Lubec. He is often mentioned in Puffendorf’s book De Rebus Suecicis,
and the printed account of his missions and negociations contain
important materials towards a history of queen Christina, with whom he
was a great favourite. He superintended the funeral of Descartes, who
was interred with great honour. He was born in 1601; but with the time
of his death I am unacquainted. He was celebrated as a man of great
learning, and particularly an able mathematician; and it is neither
improbable nor even impossible that he may have sent the first glass
drops to Paris from Sweden; but why does Monconys add that they were
brought from Holland?

It deserves to be mentioned, that about fifteen years before, that is
in 1641, the first glass-houses were established in Sweden, and in all
probability by Germans. It is possible that when the blowing of glass
was first seen, glass drops may have excited an attention which they
had not met with in Germany, where no one expected anything new in
glass-houses, which were there common and had long been established. It
can nevertheless be proved that they were known to our glass-blowers at
a much earlier period.

In 1695, John Christian Schulenburg, subrector of the cathedral school
of Bremen, published there a German Dissertation on glass drops and
their properties, in which he says that he was informed by glass-makers
worthy of credit, that these drops had been made more than seventy
years before at the Mecklenburg glass-houses, that is to say, about the
year 1625.

Samuel Reyher, professor at Kiel, says that Henry Sievers, teacher of
mathematics in the gymnasium of Hamburg, had assured him that such
glass drops were given to his father by a glass-maker so early as the
year 1637; and that his father had exhibited them in a company of
friends, who were much astonished at their effects. Reyher adds, that
he himself had seen at Leyden, in 1656, the first of these glass drops,
which had been made at Amsterdam, where he afterwards purchased some
of the same kind; but in 1666 he procured for a very small sum a great
many of them from the glass-houses in the neighbourhood of Kiel. It is
worthy of remark, that Huet[576], who paid considerable attention to
the history of inventions, says that the first glass drops, which he
had seen also in the society held at the house of Mommor, were brought
to France from Germany. According to Anthony Le Grand they came from

The first glass drops were brought to England by the well-known Prince
Rupert, third son of the elector Palatine, Frederic V., and the
princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I.; and experiments, described by
Rupert Moray, were made with them in 1661 by command of his majesty.
This is expressly stated by Merret[578]; and therefore what some
English writers have supposed, that Prince Rupert himself was the
inventor, is entirely erroneous[579]. The services which he rendered to
the useful arts were too great and too numerous to be either lessened
or increased by such trifles.

I shall take this opportunity of remarking, that those small glasses
hermetically sealed and containing a drop of water, which when placed
on hot coals burst with a loud report, and therefore are called in
German _knallgläser_, fulminating glasses, were known before 1665.
Hooke speaks of them in his Micrographia[580] printed in that year, and
they were mentioned by Reyher in 1669, in his Dissertation already
quoted. In Germany they are made chiefly by Nuremberg artists; one of
the most celebrated of whom was Michael Sigismund Hack. He learnt the
art of glass-blowing in England, and in 1672 returned to Nuremberg,
where he was born in 1643[581].


[573] It is not always necessary that the water should be cold; these
drops will be formed also in warm water, as well as in every other
fluid, and even in melted wax. See Redi’s experiments in Miscellan.
Naturæ Curios. anni secundi, 1671, p. 426. They succeed best with
green glass, yet I have in my possession some of white glass, which in
friability are not inferior to those of green.

[574] The navel, in German _nabel_, is that piece of glass which
remains adhering to the pipe when any article has been blown, and which
the workman must rub off. These navels, however, are seldom in so fluid
a state as to form drops.

[575] Journal des Voyages de M. Monconys, Lyon, 1666, 4to, ii. p. 162.

[576] Commentarius de rebus ad eum pertinentibus, Lips. 1719.

[577] Historia Naturalis. Edit. secunda, Londini 1680, 4to, p. 37.

[578] In his Observations on Neri Ars Vitraria, Amstel. 1668, 12mo.

[579] This is said, for example, by Grainger in his Biographical
History of England. London, 1769, vol. ii. part 2, p. 407.

[580] This book was only once printed, but the title-page has the date
1667. See Biographia Britannica, iv. p. 2654.

[581] Doppelmayer, p. 276.


The invention of pumps I shall leave to those who undertake to write
the history of hydraulics, and here only remark that, on the testimony
of Vitruvius[582], it is in general ascribed to Ctesibius, on which
account they are called _machinæ Ctesibicæ_; and that Ctesibius
lived at Alexandria in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Ptolemy
Euergetes I., consequently two centuries before the Christian æra. My
present object extends no further than to state what I know in regard
to the question, At what time were these machines first employed for
extinguishing fires?

For this purpose, however, it was necessary that the pump-work employed
at first only for raising water should undergo some alteration. To use
it for extinguishing fires, it was requisite that the water should be
speedily driven from the upper aperture as high as possible; whereas
for the first purpose, it is enough if the water be thrown out in
sufficient quantity to be conveyed to the place of its destination.
More additional parts necessary for extinguishing fires would then be
an imperfection; as the power which gives the water a needless velocity
might be employed with more advantage to raise a greater quantity of it.

In my opinion it is highly probable that Ctesibius had an idea
of converting his pump into a fire-engine, for his scholar, Hero
of Alexandria, speaks expressly of this use, and describes the
construction of a forcing-pump with two cylinders[583]; but it is very
doubtful whether this application of it soon became general, and
whether this advantageous machine was known to the ancient Romans. What
I have been able to learn on the subject is as follows.

Pliny the younger, after telling the emperor Trajan, in one of his
letters, that the town of Nicomedia in Bithynia had been almost
entirely destroyed by a fire, adds, that the devastation had been
increased by a violent storm which took place at the time; by the
laziness of the inhabitants, and by the want of machines or apparatus
proper for extinguishing the flames[584]. The word _sipho_, which the
author here uses, was certainly the fire-engine of Ctesibius; though
some under this term understand only aqueducts, canals, and pipes for
distributing water throughout the city. I will not deny that this word
may have signified such pipes, particularly on account of a passage
in Strabo[585], where he speaks of the subterranean conduits of Rome,
and says that almost all the houses had cisterns, _siphones_, or
water-pipes, and running streams. But Pliny at the same time mentions
water-buckets, which may be considered as an appendage absolutely
necessary to a fire-engine. It is also hardly possible to believe that
a town, immediately situated on an arm of the sea, should be destitute
of water[586].

I can however produce from a contemporary writer, a strong proof that
Pliny alluded here to a fire-engine, and I do not find that the passage
has been before quoted. Apollodorus, the architect, who was employed
by the emperor Trajan in constructing the celebrated bridge over the
Danube, and erecting some large works at Rome, and who was put to death
by his successor Adrian, out of revenge for a jeering answer which he
received from him, as we are told by Dio Cassius, describes in the
fragment of his book on warlike machines, how assistance may be given
when the upper part of a building is on fire, and the machine called
_sipho_ is not at hand. In this case leathern bags filled with water
are to be fastened to long pipes in such a manner, that by pressing the
bags the water may be forced through the pipes to the place which is
in flames[587]. The _sipho_, therefore, was a machine by which water
might be easily projected to a considerable height, to extinguish a
place on fire that could not be reached by any other means.

That in the fourth century at least a fire-engine, properly so called,
was understood under the term _sipho_, is fully proved by Hesychius,
and also by Isidorus, who lived in the beginning of the seventh
century[588]. As the latter remarks that such engines were employed in
the East for extinguishing fires, there is reason to conclude that they
were not then used in the west.

The question still remains, at what time this apparatus for
extinguishing fires was introduced at Rome. From the numerous
ordinances for preventing accidents by fire, and in regard to
extinguishing fires, which occur in the Roman laws[589], there is
reason to conjecture that this capital was not unprovided with those
useful implements and machines, of the want of which in a provincial
town Pliny complains, and which he himself had supplied. This
conjecture, however, I am not able to prove; and instances both in
ancient and modern times show that the good police establishments of
small towns are not always to be found in capitals. Antioch and several
other towns were provided with lanterns, which were wanting even in the
proud Rome. But what excites some doubt is, that fire-engines are never
mentioned in the numerous accounts given of the fires which took place
in that city. At present it is impossible to speak of a misfortune of
this kind without stating whether a sufficient number of engines were
assembled, and what they effected, as Pliny has not failed to do in his
short account of the fire at Nicomedia.

One passage, however, in Ulpian is commonly quoted as a proof that in
his time there were fire-engines at Rome. Where he enumerates those
things which ought to belong to a house when sold, he mentions,
besides other articles used for extinguishing fires, _siphones_[590].
But if this word means here fire-engines, the passage seems to
prove too much; for it must then be admitted that each house had a
fire-engine of its own. These implements therefore must have been small
hand-engines, such as are kept in many houses at present; and in that
case the passage cannot be adduced as a proof of public engines, such
as Pliny regrets the want of at Nicomedia. But it is much more probable
that Ulpian alludes only to those _siphones_ which, according to the
account of Strabo, were to be found in every house at Rome; that is,
pipes which conveyed water to it for domestic purposes.

From the total want of fire-engines, or the imperfect manner in
which they were constructed, what Seneca says must have been true,
namely, that the height of the houses at Rome rendered it impossible
to extinguish them when on fire[591]. That the buildings there were
exceedingly high, and the lanes, the bridges and even the principal
streets remarkably narrow, is well-known[592]. It is supposed by
Archenholz and others, that the houses at Rome were built of such a
height on account of the great heat in that warm climate; but the chief
reason was undoubtedly that assigned by Vitruvius[593], which still
produces a like effect. For want of room on the earth, the buildings
were extended towards the heavens; so that at last the greatest height
of an edifice was fixed by law at seventy, and afterwards at sixty
feet. In Hamburg, at present, where ground is dear and daily becoming
more valuable, the greater part of the houses are little less than
sixty feet in height; a few even are seventy; and that it is thereby
rendered difficult, if not impossible, notwithstanding the perfection
of the German engines, to extinguish fires, is proved by the melancholy
instance of Gera, where the houses are now built lower. With Neubert’s
engine, which was tried at Hamburg in 1769, eight firemen threw
eleven and a half cubic feet of water to the height of sixty-two or
sixty-three feet.

In the East engines were employed not only to extinguish but to
produce fires. The Greek fire, invented by Callinicus, an architect
of Heliopolis, a city afterwards named Balbec, in the year 678, the
use of which was continued in the East till 1291[594], and which was
certainly liquid[595], was employed in many different ways; but chiefly
on board ship, being thrown from large fire-engines on the ships of
the enemy. Sometimes this fire was kindled in particular vessels,
which might be called fire-ships, and which were introduced among a
hostile fleet; sometimes it was put into jars and other vessels, which
were thrown at the enemy by means of projectile machines[596], and
sometimes it was squirted by the soldiers from hand-engines; or, as
appears, blown through pipes. But the machines with which this fire
was discharged from the fore-part of ships, could not have been either
hand-engines or such blow-pipes. They were constructed of copper and
iron, and the extremity of them sometimes resembled the open mouth and
jaws of a lion or other animal; they were painted and even gilded,
and it appears that they were capable of projecting the fire to a
great distance[597]. These machines by ancient writers are expressly
called spouting-engines. John Cameniata, speaking of the siege of his
native city, Thessalonica, which was taken by the Saracens in the
year 904, says that the enemy threw fire into the wooden works of the
besieged, which was blown into them by means of tubes, and thrown
from other vessels[598]. This passage, which I do not find quoted in
any of the works that treat on the Greek fire, proves that the Greeks
in the beginning of the tenth century were no longer the only people
acquainted with the art of preparing this fire, the precursor of our
gunpowder. The emperor Leo, who about the same period wrote his art of
war, recommends such engines, with a metal covering, to be constructed
in the fore-part of ships[599], and he twice afterwards mentions
engines for throwing out Greek fire[600]. In the East one may easily
have conceived the idea of loading some kind of pump with the Greek
fire; as the use of a forcing-pump for extinguishing fires was long
known there before the invention of Callinicus.

At what time the towns in Germany were first furnished with
fire-engines I am not able to determine. In my opinion they had
regulations in regard to fires much earlier than engines; and the
former do not seem to be older than the first half of the sixteenth
century. The oldest respecting the city of Frankfort-on-the-Maine,
with which I am acquainted, is of the year 1460. The first general
ordinance respecting fires in Saxony was issued by Duke George in 1521.
The first for the city of Dresden, which extended also to the whole
country, was dated 1529. In many towns, the first regulations made by
public authority for preventing fires will no doubt be found in the
general regulations in regard to building, which seem to be somewhat
older than the particular ordinances concerning fires. At Augsburg an
express regulation in regard to building was drawn up and made publicly
known as early as 1447. In turning over old chronicles, it is remarked
that great fires began to occur less frequently in the sixteenth
century; and this is undoubtedly to be ascribed to the improved mode
of building[601], the precautions enjoined by governments to prevent
fires, and the introduction of apparatus for extinguishing them. But
by the invention of fire-engines, every thing in this respect was so
much changed, that a complete revision of the regulations in regard to
the extinguishing of fires became necessary; and therefore the first
mention of town fire-engines will in all probability be found in the
new fire ordinances of the sixteenth and following century.

It has been remarked by Von Stetten, that in the building accounts of
the city of Augsburg, fire-engines are first mentioned in the year
1518. They are called there _instruments for fires_, _water syringes_
useful at fires; and these names seem to announce that the machine
was then in its infancy. At that time they were made by a goldsmith
at Friedberg, named Anthony Blatner, who the same year became a
citizen of Augsburg. From the account added,--that the wheels and
levers were constructed by a wheelwright, and from the greatness of the
expense,--there is reason to conclude that these were not small, simple
hand-engines, but large and complex machines. In that respectable
dictionary entitled Maaler’s Teutschsprach, Zurich, 1561, I find
fire-hooks and fire-ladders, but no instrument similar to a fire-engine.

In the year 1657, the well-known jesuit Caspar Schott was struck
with admiration on seeing at Nuremberg a fire-engine, which had been
made there by John Hautsch. It stood on a sledge, ten feet long and
four feet broad. The water-cistern was eight feet in length, four
in height, and two in width. It was moved by twenty-eight men, and
forced a stream of water an inch in diameter to the height of eighty
feet[602]; consequently over the houses. The machine was drawn by
two horses. Hautsch distributed throughout Germany an engraving of
it, with an offer of constructing similar ones at a moderate price,
and teaching the use of them; but he refused to show the internal
construction of it to Schott, who however readily conjectured it.
From what he says of it, one may easily perceive that the cylinders
did not stand in a perpendicular direction, but lay horizontally in a
box, so that the pistons moved horizontally, and not vertically, as at
present. Upright cylinders therefore seem to belong to the more modern
improvements. Schott adds, that this was not a new invention, as there
were such engines in other towns; and he himself forty years before,
and consequently in 1617, had seen one, but much smaller, in his
native city. He was born, as is well-known, in 1608, at Königshofen,
not far from Würzburg. George Hautsch also, son of the above artist,
constructed similar engines, and perhaps with improvements, for
Wagenseil[603] and others have ascribed to him the invention.

The first regulations at Paris respecting fires, as far as is known,
were made to restrain incendiaries, who in the fourteenth century,
under the name of _Boutefoux_, occasioned great devastation, not
only in the capital, but in the provinces. This city appears to have
obtained fire-engines for the first time in the year 1699; at any
rate the king at that period gave an exclusive right to Dumourier
Duperrier to construct those machines called _pompes portatives_; and
he was engaged at a certain salary to keep in repair seventeen of
them, purchased for Paris, and to procure and to pay the necessary
workmen. In the year 1722 the number of these engines was increased
to thirty, which were distributed in different quarters of the city;
and at that time the contractors received annually 20,000 livres. The
city, however, besides these thirty royal engines, had a great many
others which belonged to the Hotel de Ville, and with which the Sieur
Duperrier had nothing to do[604].

In the middle of the seventeenth century fire-engines indeed were
still very imperfect. They had neither an air-chamber nor buckets, and
required a great many men to work them. They consisted merely of a
sucking-pump and forcing-pump united, which projected the water only
in spurts, and with continual interruption. Such machines, on each
movement of the lever, experience a stoppage, during which no water
is thrown out; and because the pipe is fixed, it cannot convey water
to remote places, though it may reach a fire at no great distance,
where there are doors and windows to afford it a passage. At the
same time the workmen are exposed to danger from the falling of the
houses on fire, and must remove from them to a greater distance.
Hautsch, however, had adapted to his engine a flexible pipe, which
could be turned to any side as might be necessary, but certainly not
an air-chamber, otherwise Schott would have mentioned it. In the time
of Belidor there were no other engines in France, and the same kind
alone were used in England in 1760. Professor Busch at least concludes
so[605], from the account then given by Ferguson, who called Newsham’s
engine, which threw the water out in a continued stream, a new
invention. In Germany the oldest engines are of this kind.

Who first conceived the idea of applying to the fire-engine an
air-chamber, in which the included air, by compressing the water,
forces it out in a continued stream, is not known. According to
a conjecture of Perrault, Vitruvius seems to speak of a similar
construction; but Perrault himself acknowledges that the obscure
passage in question[606] might be explained in another manner. The
air-chamber in its action has a similarity to Hero’s fountain, in which
the air compressed by the water obliges the latter to ascend[607].

I can find no older fire-engine constructed with an air-chamber than
that of which Perrault has given a figure and description. He says it
was kept in the king’s library at Paris, and during fires could project
water to a great height; that it had only one cylinder, and yet threw
out the water in one continued jet. He mentions neither its age nor the
inventor; and I can only add that his book was printed in 1684. The
principle of this machine, however, seems to have been mentioned before
by Mariotte, who on this account is by some considered as the inventor;
but he does not appear to have had any idea of a fire-engine, at least
he does not mention it.

It is certain that the air-chamber, at least in Germany, came into
common use after it was applied by Leupold to fire-engines, a great
number of which he manufactured and sold. He gave an account of it in
a small work, consisting of four sheets quarto, which was published
in 1720, but at first he kept the construction a secret. The engines
which he sold consisted of a strong copper box closely shut and
well-soldered. They weighed no more than sixteen pounds, occupied
little room, had only one cylinder; and a man with one of them could
force up the water without interruption to the height of from twenty
to thirty feet. About 1725 Du Fay saw one of Leupold’s engines at
Strasburg, and discovered by conjecture the construction of it, which
he made known in the Transactions of the Academy of Sciences at Paris
for that year. It is very singular that on this occasion Du Fay says
nothing of Mariotte, or of the engine in the king’s library. Leupold,
however, had some time before, that is in 1724, given a description
and figure in his Theatrum Machinarum Hydraulicarum[608], with which
undoubtedly Du Fay was not acquainted.

Another improvement, no less useful, is the leather hose added to the
engine, which can be lengthened or shortened as necessary, and to which
the fire-pipe is applied, so that the person who directs the jet of
water can approach the fire with less danger. This invention, it is
well known, belongs to two Dutchmen, both named Jan van der Heide[609],
who were inspectors of the apparatus for extinguishing fires at
Amsterdam. The first public experiments made with it took place in
1672; and were attended with so much success, that at a fire next
year, the old engines were used for the last time, and the new ones
introduced in their stead. In 1677, the inventor obtained an exclusive
privilege to make these engines during the period of twenty-five years.
In 1682, engines on this construction were distributed in sufficient
number throughout the whole city, and the old ones were entirely
laid aside. In 1695 there were in Amsterdam sixty of these engines,
the nearest six of which were to be employed at every fire. In the
course of a few years they were common throughout all the towns in the

All these circumstances have been related by the inventor in a
particular work; which, on account of the excellent engravings it
contains, is exceedingly valuable[610]. Of these, the first seven
represent dangerous conflagrations at which the old engines were used,
but produced very little effect. One of them is the fire which took
place in the stadthouse of Amsterdam in the year 1652. The twelve
following plates represent fires which were extinguished by means of
the new engines, and exhibit, at the same time, the various ways in
which the engines may be employed with advantage. According to an
annexed calculation, the city of Amsterdam lost by ten fires, when the
old apparatus was in use, 1,024,130 florins; but in the following five
years, after the introduction of the new engines, the loss occasioned
by forty fires amounted only to 18,355 florins; so that the yearly
saving was ninety-eight per cent. Of the internal construction of these
engines no description or plates have been given; nor do I remember to
have read a passage in any author from which it can be concluded that
they were furnished with an air-chamber, though in the patents they
were always called _spouting-engines_, which threw up one continued jet
of water. The account given even of the nature of the pipe or hose is
short and defective, probably with a view to render it more difficult
to be imitated. It is only said that it was made of leather in a
particular manner; and that, besides being thick, it was capable of
resisting the force of the water.

The conveyer or bringer was invented also about the same time by these
two Dutchmen. This name is given at present to a box which has on the
one side a sucking-pump, and on the other a forcing-pump. The former
serves to raise the water from a stream, well, or other reservoir,
by means of a stiff leathern pipe, having at the extremity a metal
strainer pierced with holes to prevent the admission of dirt, and
which is kept suspended above the mud by a round piece of cork. The
forcing-pump drives the water thus drawn up through a leathern pipe
into the engine, and renders the laborious conveyance of water by
buckets unnecessary.

At first, indeed, this machine was exceedingly simple. It consisted
only of a leathern pipe screwed to the engine, the end of which widened
into a bag supported near the reservoir, and kept open by means of a
frame, while the labourers poured water into it from buckets. A pump,
however, to answer this purpose was soon constructed by the Van der
Heides, who named it a _snake-pump_. By its means they were able to
convey the water from the distance of a thousand feet; but I can find
no account of the manner in which it was made. From the figure, I
am inclined to think that they used only one cylinder with a lever.
Sometimes also they placed a portable pump in the water, which was
thus drawn into a leathern hose connected with it, and conveyed to
the engine. Every pipe or hose for conveying water in this manner
they called a _wasserschlange_, water-snake, and this was not made of
leather, like the hose furnished with a fire-pipe, but of sail-cloth.
They announced, however, that it required a particular preparation,
which consisted in making it water-tight by means of a proper cement.
The pipe also, through which the water is drawn up, must be stiffened
and distended by means of metal rings; otherwise the external air, on
the first stroke of the pump, would compress the pipe, so that it could
admit no water. It is here seen that pipes made of sail-cloth are not
so new an invention as many have supposed. That our present apparatus
for conveying water to the fire-engine is much more ingenious, as well
as convenient, must be allowed; but I would strongly recommend that in
all cities there should be pumps, or running wells of water, to the
spout of which pipes having one end screwed to a fire-engine might be
affixed. The Van der Heides, among the advantages of their invention,
stated that this apparatus rendered it unnecessary to have leathern
buckets, which are expensive, or at any rate lessened their number, as
well as that of the workmen.

From this account, the truth of which cannot be doubted, one may
readily believe that engines with leathern hose were certainly not
invented by Gottfried Fuchs, director of the fire apparatus at
Copenhagen, in the year 1697, as publicly announced in 1717, with the
addition, that this invention was soon employed both in Holland and at
Hamburg. Fuchs seems only to have made known the Dutch invention in
Denmark, on occasion of the great fire which took place on the 19th
of April 1689, at the Opera-house of Amalienburg, when the beautiful
palace of that name, and more than 350 persons were consumed. At any
rate we are told in history, that, in consequence of this calamity,
an improvement was made in the fire establishment, by new regulations
issued on the 23rd of July 1689, and that engines on the Dutch
construction, which had been used more than twelve years at Amsterdam,
were introduced.

Hose or pipes of this kind for conveying water were however not
entirely unknown to the ancients. At least the architect Apollodorus
says, that to convey water to high places exposed to fiery darts, the
gut of an ox, having a bag filled with water affixed to it, might
be employed; for on compressing the bag, the water would be forced
up through the gut to the place of its destination[611]. This was a
conveyer of the simplest kind.

Among the latest proposals for improving the hose is that of weaving
one without a seam. In 1720, some of this kind were made of hemp at
Leipsic, by Beck, a lace-weaver, as we are told by Leupold, in his
before-mentioned work on fire-engines, which was printed the same
year. After this they were made by Erke, a linen-weaver of Weimar; and
at a later period they were made of linen at Dresden, and also in
Silesia[612]. In England, Hegner and Ehrliholzer had a manufactory at
Bethnal-green, near London, where they made water-tight hose without
seams[613]. Some of the same kind are made by M. Mögling on his estate
near Stutgard, on a loom of his own invention, and are now used in many
towns of the duchy of Wirtemberg. I shall here remark, that Braun had a
loom on which shirts could be wove without a seam, like those curious
works of art sometimes brought from the East Indies, and of which he
has given a full description with an engraving[614].

In the last place, I shall observe, that notwithstanding the belief of
the Turks in predestination, fire-engines are in use at Constantinople,
having been introduced by Ibrahim Effendi.

[The fire-engines now in use are made upon the air-chamber principle
above-described. Mr. Braithwaite has applied steam-power to the working
of fire-engines. On this principle a locomotive and a floating engine
have been constructed. The former was first employed at a fire in the
Argyle Rooms in 1830. It required eighteen minutes to elapse before the
water in the boiler was raised to 212°, and threw up from thirty to
forty tons of water per hour, to a height of ninety feet. Two others
have been constructed by the same engineer, one of which threw up
ninety tons of water per hour, and one made for the king of Prussia
threw up about 61¾ tons per minute. In the steam floating engine which
lies in the Thames, the machinery either propels the vessel, or works
the pumps as required. The pipes used for conveying the water from the
plugs to the engines are now constructed of leather, the seams being
either sewed up or fastened with metallic rivets.]


[582] Lib. x. cap. 12, p. 347. Compare lib. ix. cap. 9. p. 321.

[583] In that book entitled Πνευματικὰ, or Spiritualia. It may be
found Greek and Latin in Veterum Mathematicorum Opera, Parisiis 1693,
fol. p. 180.

[584] Epist. 42, lib. x.

[585] Lib. v. edit. Almel. p. 360.

[586] Plin. lib. v. cap. ult.

[587] Poliorcetica, p. 32, in Veterum Mathematicorum Opera.

[588] Orig. xx. 6. Fire-engines are used in many towns to wash the
windows in the upper stories, which cannot be taken out.

[589] See Digest. i. tit. 15, where all persons are ordered to have
water always ready in their houses. Also Digest. 47, tit. 9. Many
things relating to this subject may be found in L. A. Hambergeri
Opuscula, Jenæ et Lips. 1740, 8vo, p. 12; in the Dissertation de
Incendiis. Further information respecting the police establishment
of the Romans in regard to fires, is contained in two dissertations,
entitled G. C. Marquarti de Cura Romanorum circa Incendia. Lips. 1689,
4to. And Ev. Ottonis Dissertat de Officio Præfecti Vigilum circa
Incendia. Ultrajecti 1733.

[590] Digest. xxxiii. 7, 18. Dier. Genial. v. 24.

[591] Controvers. 9, libri ii.

[592] In Germany also the roads and the distance between the ruts made
by cart-wheels were in old times very narrow. Some years ago, when the
new tile-kiln was built before the Geismar gate at Göttingen, there
was found at a great depth, a proof of its antiquity, a street or road
which had formerly proceeded to the city with so small a space marked
out by carriage-wheels, that one like it is not to be seen in Germany.

[593] Lib. ii. cap. 8.

[594] Hanovii Disquisitiones. Gedani 1750, 4to, p. 65.

[595] Annæ Comnenæ Alexiad. lib. 16. p. 385; πῦρ ὑγρόν.

[596] A projectile machine of this kind is mentioned by Joinville, p.

[597] See the passage of Anna Comnena quoted by Hanov. p. 335.

[598] In Leonis Allatii Σύμμικτα. Colon. 1653, 8vo, p. 239.

[599] Cap. 19, § 6, p. 322.

[600] Pp. 344, 346.

[601] Thus in the year 1466 straw thatch, and in 1474 the use of
shingles were forbidden at Frankfort.--Lersner, ii. p. 22.

[602] Doppelmayer says that the water was driven to the height of a
hundred feet.

[603] Doppelmayer, p. 303.

[604] Contin. du Traite de la Police, par De la Mare, p. 137.

[605] Mathematik zum Nutzen und Vergnügen, 8vo, p. 396.

[606] Lib. x. cap. 12.

[607] Spiritualia, 36, p. 35.

[608] Vol. i. p. 120, tab. 45, fig. 2.

[609] In the patent, however, they were named _Jan_ and _Nicholas van
der Heyden_.

[610] Beschryving der nieuwliiks uitgevonden Slang-Brand-Spuiten, Jan
van der Heide, Amst. 1690, folio.

[611] Poliorcet. page 32.

[612] Leipziger Intelligenzblatt, 1775, p. 345; and 1767, p. 69.
Teutscher Merkur, 1783.

[613] Lysons’s Environs of London.

[614] Vestitus Sacerdotum Hebræorum. Amst. 1701, 4to, i. p. 273. Much
useful information in regard to various improvements in the apparatus
for extinguishing fires may be found in Aug. Niemann Uebersicht der
Sicherungsmittel gegen Feuersgefahren. Hamb. und Kiel, 1796, 8vo.


It is more than probable that indigo, so early as the time of
Dioscorides and Pliny, was brought to Europe, and employed there in
dyeing and painting. This I shall endeavour to show; but under that
name must be understood every kind of blue pigment, separated from
plants by fermentation, and converted into a friable substance by
desiccation; for those who should maintain that real indigo must be
made from those plants named in the botanical system _Indigofera
tinctoria_, would confine the subject within too narrow limits; as the
substance which our merchants and dyers consider as real indigo is
prepared, in different countries, from so great a number of plants,
that they are not even varieties of the same species.

Before the American colonies were established, all the indigo employed
in Europe came from the East Indies; and till the discovery of a
passage round the Cape of Good Hope, it was conveyed, like other Indian
productions, partly through the Persian Gulf, and partly by land to
Babylon, or through Arabia and up the Red Sea to Egypt, from which
it was transported to Europe. Considering this long carriage, as the
article was not obtained, according to the Italian expression, _a
drittura_, that is, in a direct manner, it needs excite no surprise,
that our knowledge, in regard to its real country and the manner of
preparing it, should be exceedingly uncertain and imperfect. Is it
astonishing that articles, always obtained through Arabia, should be
considered as productions of that country; and that many commodities
which were the work of art, should be given out to be productions of
nature? For more than a hundred years the Dutch purchased from the
Saxons cobalt, and smalt made from it, and sold them again in India;
and the Indians knew as little where and in what manner the Dutch
obtained them, as the Saxons did the people who were the ultimate
purchasers and consumers. The real nature of indigo was not generally
known in Europe till the Europeans procured it from the first hand;
yet long after that period, and even in the letters-patent obtained
on the 23rd of December 1705, by the proprietors of the mines in the
principality of Halberstadt and the county of Reinstein, indigo
was classed among minerals on account of which works were suffered
to be erected; but this only proves the individual ignorance of the
undertakers, and also of their superiors, when they read what they had
written, and confirms the justness of Ovid’s advice,

  Disce bonas artes, moneo, Germana juventus;
    Non tantum trepidos ut tueare reos.

What Dioscorides calls _Indicon_, and Pliny and Vitruvius _Indicum_,
I am strongly inclined to believe to have been our indigo[615]. It
was a blue pigment brought from India, and used both in painting and
in dyeing. When pounded it gave a black powder, and when suspended in
water it produced an agreeable mixture of blue and purple. It belonged
to the costly dye-stuffs, and was often adulterated by the addition
of earth. On this account, that which was soft without any roughness,
and which resembled an inspissated juice, was esteemed the best. Pliny
thinks[616] that pure indigo may be distinguished from that which is
adulterated by burning it, as the former gives an exceedingly beautiful
purple flame, and emits a smell similar to that of sea-water. Both he
and Dioscorides speak of two kinds, one of which adheres to reeds,
in the form of slime or scum thrown up by the sea; the other, as
Dioscorides says, was scraped from the sides of the dye-pans in the
form of a purple-coloured scum; and Pliny expressly remarks, that it
was collected in this manner in the establishments for dyeing purple.
The former relates also, that _Indicum_ belonged to the astringent
medicines; that it was used for ulcers and inflammations, and that it
cleansed and healed wounds.

This is all, as far as I know, that is to be found in the works of
the ancients respecting _Indicum_. I have given it at full length, as
accurately as possible, and I have added, in order that the reader may
be better able to compare and judge, references to the original words
of the authors. _Indicon_, it is true, occurs in other passages; but
it was certainly different from the one already mentioned. I allude,
for example, to the black _Indicon_ of Arrian and the _Indicon_ of
Hippocrates. Of the former I shall treat in particular hereafter;
and in regard to the latter, I refer to the author quoted in the note
below[617]. It is not at all surprising that these names should be
applied to more Indian commodities, since at present we give to many
kinds of fruit, flowers, fowls and other things, the appellation of
Indian. The ancients, indeed, were not so careful as to distinguish
always, by a proper addition, the many articles to which they gave
the name of _Indica_; and they had reason to expect that their
contemporaries would readily comprehend by the connexion, the kind that
was properly meant. Their commentators, however, in later times have
for the most part thought only of one species or thing, and by these
means they have fallen into mistakes which I shall here endeavour to

Everything said by the ancients of _Indicum_ seems to agree perfectly
with our indigo. The proper country of this production is India; that
is to say, Gudscharat or Gutscherad, and Cambaye or Cambaya, from which
it seems to have been brought to Europe since the earliest periods.
It is found mentioned, from time to time, in every century; it is
never spoken of as a new article, and it has always retained its old
name; which seems to be a proof that it has been used and employed in
commerce without interruption.

It is true, as the ancients say, that good indigo, when pulverized,
is of a blackish colour. The tincture, however, is partly blue and
partly purple; but under the latter term we must understand an
agreeable violet, and not, as is often the case, our scarlet. It is
true also that good indigo is soft or smooth to the touch[618] when
pounded; it floats on water, and at present, as in the time of Pliny,
is adulterated and rendered heavier by the admixture of some earth,
which in general, as appears, is fine pounded slate[619]. It is further
true that the purity of it can be discovered by burning it. Indigo
free from all foreign bodies leaves but little ash, while that which
is impure leaves a large quantity of earth. Pliny, perhaps, did not
rightly understand this test by fire, and added from conjecture, what
he says in regard to the colour of the flame and the smell of the
smoke, that this proof might not remain without an explanation. It is,
however, possible that those who considered indigo to be sea-slime,
imagined that they perceived in it a smell of sea-water. A naturalist
of modern times, who refers petrifactions to Noah’s flood, believed
that he could smell sea-water in them after the lapse of so many
thousand years.

_Indicum_, on account of its long carriage by land, must have been
dear, and therefore it was one of those pigments which the ancient
painters, who were often poor slaves, were not accustomed to keep in
any quantity by them, and with which it was necessary they should be
supplied by those for whom they executed paintings[620]. Our indigo was
also exceedingly dear till it was cultivated in the West Indies, where
the value of it decreased as long as good land was plentiful and the
price of labour was lessened by the slave-trade.

That indigo, which at present is used only by dyers, should have been
employed also for painting, needs excite no surprise. It was applied to
this purpose till the invention of painting in oil, and the discovery
of Prussian blue, smalt and other pigments of a superior quality. It is
even still used by landscape-painters to produce a pale gray; but it
will not harmonise with oil. As to the medical properties of indigo,
I can at any rate show that the experiments made with it at the end
of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century fully
confirm the high encomium bestowed by Dioscorides upon his _Indicum_.
There was a time when the former was much prescribed and recommended.
At present our physicians are acquainted with purer and more powerful
remedies than indigo, the internal use of which, as the fermented mass
is prepared in copper vessels, must be attended with suspicion.

That the author, so often mentioned already, was not acquainted with
the preparation of indigo, cannot be denied. It would, indeed, have
been extraordinary had the account of it reached the Greeks and the
Romans undisguised by fables, added either to answer the purposes of
the interested merchant, or accidentally in the course of its long
journey, in passing through so many countries and languages. It appears
to me, however, that through these it may still be discovered; and in
all probability we should be better able to form some idea of it were
the oldest method of making indigo still known. In the slime deposited
on the reeds, I think I can remark the first degree of fermentation, or
commencement of putrefaction, without which the pigment could not be
separated. Who knows whether the indigo plants in the earliest times
were not deposited in pits or in stagnant water, in the same manner
as our flax and hemp? Who knows whether after putrefaction they were
not taken out, and the colouring parts adhering to them washed off
and collected? The quantity indeed obtained by this process would not
be great, and at present a much better method is employed; but the
improvements made in every art have been gradual. The old inhabitants
of the Canary islands scratched their land with the horns of oxen,
because they were not acquainted with the spade, and far less with the
plough. The above conjecture will appear much more probable, when it
is known that in many parts of India the plants were formerly placed
in large pits; and in Malta, where indigo was still cultivated in
the seventeenth century, they were put into reservoirs or basins in
order to ferment[621]. If this was usual in the oldest times, it may
be easily seen how fabulous accounts might arise. Indigo was a slime
attracted from the water by a reed, which the indigo plant, stripped of
its bark, was considered to be.

Dioscorides speaks of another kind of indigo, which was the dried
purple-coloured scum of the dye-pans. My predecessors, considering this
account as an error, which might have arisen either from conjecture or
misconception, or which was purposely occasioned by merchants, did not
think it worthy of further examination. I cannot, however, refrain from
remarking, that a blue pigment, and even a very fine one, if the proper
preparations had been made for that purpose, might have been obtained
in this manner. It was not indeed indigo, in the proper sense of the
word, but a pigment of a similar nature. That fine high-priced powder
sold, at present, under the name of blue carmine, is made from the
separated scum of a dye-liquor, in which the finest colouring particles
remain suspended. The scum or flower of a blue pan[622] which floats
on the surface exhibits a play of many colours; and as among these the
ancient purple is frequently observed, it may therefore very properly
be said to have a purple colour[623]. In my opinion, there is no reason
to disbelieve Dioscorides, when he says that in his time a blue pigment
named indigo was made in this manner, especially as it can be proved
that the woad-dyers, at the end of the sixteenth century, separated
from their pans a colouring substance, which they sold instead of
indigo, an article at that time exceedingly dear[624]. Besides, we
read that in the establishments for dyeing black, the scum was in like
manner collected in old times in the form of a black pigment, and this
practice, as appears, was usual in all the dye-houses in general.
Pliny, who says that this indigo was made in the purple dye-houses,
seems either to have misunderstood Dioscorides, or to have been too
precipitate; but it is certain that the scum in the purple dye-houses
may have been collected and dried into a purple-coloured carmine.

As the Europeans did not become acquainted with the nature of indigo
till modern times, it needs excite no astonishment that the old
commentators should have erred in explaining the passages to which I
here allude; and their opinion can therefore be of little weight in
opposition to mine. Those who have approached nearest to the truth,
Sarazen, Mathioli, Salmasius, &c., speak as if indigo were made from
our woad, which however does not grow in India. Dioscorides speaks
also of woad in a particular section. Marcellus Vergilius says, that
Dioscorides meant indigo is certain; and this article is so generally
known that it is not worth while to mention it. But he himself seems
not to have been acquainted with it, else he would have amended the
erroneous passage which speaks of _Indian stone_[625]. This arose from
the ignorance of the old transcribers, who being unacquainted with
_Indicum_ thought only of _gemma Indica_, mentioned by Pliny[626]. But
Vergilius was right in this, that the purple lake, spoken of by Pliny,
and not by Dioscorides as he believes, can no longer be produced.

I have long made it a rule, and prescribed it to others, in explaining
any object mentioned by the ancients, never to admit, without the
strongest proofs, that the same article is denoted by different
appellations. This, it is true, has been often done. By these means
the small knowledge we possess of a thing that occurs under one name
only may be increased. A wider field may thus be opened for conjecture,
and more latitude may be given to the imagination; but at the same
time one may fall into groundless explanations, and hazard assertions,
which, with whatever caution and learning proposed, will, on closer
examination, be found either false or highly improbable. According
to this rule, I have carefully endeavoured not to suffer myself to
be so far misled by the respectability of my predecessors, as to
consider the _Indicum_ and _Indicum nigrum_ of the ancients to be the
same substance. On further research I find that the latter not only
appears by the epithet to be different from indigo, but that it is
China, or, as the Dutch call it, Indian ink. To prove this, I must
refer to the passage of Pliny[627] on which my assertion is founded;
and perhaps the short illustrations added will render this minuteness
less tedious to those who are fond of such disquisitions. In the
passage referred to, Pliny enumerates all the materials which in his
time were used for black ink. He therefore mentions two vitriolic
substances, a slime or sediment (_salsugo_), and a yellow vitriolic
earth (called also _misy_). Such minerals continued in use as long
as men were unacquainted with the art of lixiviating the salt, and
causing it to crystallize; or in other words, as long as they had no
vitriol-manufactories. He speaks also of lamp-black being made in huts
built for the purpose, which are described by Vitruvius, and from which
the smoke of burning pine-wood was conveyed into a close apartment. The
article was certainly adulterated, when soot, taken from the baths and
other places where an open fire was maintained with wood of all kinds,
was intermixed with it. It is very remarkable that black from burnt
refuse of grapes, _noir de vigne_, which at present our artists, and
particularly our copper-plate printers, consider as the most beautiful
black, was made even at that period. Germany hitherto has obtained the
greater part of this article from Mentz, through Frankfort, and on that
account it is called Frankfort black. Some is made also at Kitsingen,
Markbreit, and Munich. For this purpose the refuse of the grapes is
charred in a close fire, and being then finely pounded is packed into
casks. Pliny observes, that it was asserted that from this substance
one could obtain a black which might be substituted for indigo. Another
pigment was bone-black, or burnt ivory, which is highly esteemed even
at present. Besides these, continues he, there is obtained from India
what is called _Indicum_, the preparation of which I have not yet been
able to learn: but a similar pigment is made from the black scum of
the dye-pans, in places for dyeing black, and another kind is obtained
from charred fir-wood finely pulverized. The cuttle-fish (_sepia_)
likewise gives a black; but that however has nothing to do with the
present question. He remarks, in the last place, that every kind of
black pigment is improved, or rather the preparation of it completed,
by exposure to the sun[628]; that is to say, after gum has been added
to that intended for writing, and size to that destined for painting.
But that which was made with vinegar was more durable, and could not
be easily effaced by washing. All this is very true. Our ink acquires
a superior quality when exposed to the light of the sun in flat
vessels. That vinegar renders black colours faster, is well known to
our calico-printers; and those who wish to have good ink must employ in
making it the brightest vinegar of beer. It is equally true, that every
black pigment mixed up with gum or size can be sooner and easier washed
out again with water[629].

A considerable part of what has hitherto been quoted from Pliny, may
be found also in Vitruvius[630]. The latter, in like manner, mentions
huts for making lamp-black; he speaks also of ivory-black, and says
expressly, that when it is properly made it not only forms a good
colour and excellent ink, but approaches very near to _Indicum_.

Now I might here ask, whether it is at all probable that the learned
Pliny and the practical connoisseur of painting, the architect
Vitruvius, could consider and describe our blue indigo as a pigment
which, like lamp-black, could be employed as a black colour and
as ink? Is it credible that Pliny, if he meant blue indigo in the
before-mentioned passage, would have said that he was not able to
learn the preparation of it, when he expressly describes it, as he
believed it to be, in the course of a few lines further? Would Pliny
and Vitruvius, had they been acquainted with black indigo only, remark
immediately after, that, when costly indigo could not be obtained,
earth saturated with woad, consequently a blue earth, might be used in
its stead? Is not allusion here made to a blue pigment, as was before
to a black one? Is it not therefore evident, that the name of _Indicum_
was given to a black and also to a blue pigment brought from India? And
if this be the case, is it not highly probable that the black _Indicum_
was what we at present call Indian ink, which approaches so near to
the finest ivory-black, and black of wine lees, that it is often
counterfeited by these substances, a preparation of which is frequently
sold as Indian ink to unwary purchasers? Indian ink is in general use
in India, and has been so in all probability since the earliest ages.
In India all artificial productions are of very great antiquity; and
therefore I will venture to say, that it is not probable that Indian
ink is a new invention in India, although it may probably have been
improved, and particularly by the Chinese.

To confound the two substances, however, called indigo (_indicum_)
at that period was not possible, as every painter and dealer in
colours would know that there were two kinds, a blue and a black. It
has, nevertheless, occurred to me, that in the works of the ancients
obscurity may have sometimes been avoided by the addition of an
epithet; and I once thought I had found in Pliny an instance of this
foresight; that is, where he names all kinds of colours--_purpurissum_,
_Indicum cæruleum_, _melinum_, _auripigmentum_, _cerussa_[631]. I
conceived that in this passage our indigo was distinguished from
the black _indicum_ by the epithet _cæruleum_. But my joy at this
discovery was soon damped by Hardouin, who places between _Indicum_ and
_cæruleum_ a comma, which is not to be found in many of the oldest and
best editions. I cannot, therefore, get rid of this comma; for it is
beyond all dispute that _cæruleum_ was the common appellation of blue
copper ochre, that is, mountain blue. I shall now proceed to examine
whether my observation be true, that the Greeks frequently used the
term black _indicum_, when they meant to denote the black, and not the

The term _nigrum Indicum_ occurs in Arrian, Galen, Paulus Ægineta,
and perhaps in the works of other Greek physicians; and as the Latin
writers were acquainted with an _Indicum_ which dyed black, there is
reason to conjecture that this was the _Indicum nigrum_ of the Greeks,
though I should rather be inclined to translate this appellation by the
words Indian black, in the same manner as we may say Berlin blue, Roman
red, Naples yellow, Brunswick green, Spanish brown, &c.; or I should as
readily translate it Indian ink. Arrian introduces it along with other
Indian wares. I do not indeed find that he makes any mention of indigo
properly so called; but a complete catalogue of merchandise is not to
be expected from him. _Indicum_, however, occurs once more in this
author; but in the passage where it is found it is only an epithet to
another article. Speaking of cinnabar, he adds, that he means that kind
called Indian, which is obtained from a tree in the same manner as gum.
I am inclined to think that he alludes to dragon’s blood, which on
account of its colour was at that time called cinnabar.

Some have conjectured that what in Arrian is named _laccos chromatinos_
was our indigo, which indeed might be classed among the lakes,
according to the present meaning of that word. Others understand by it
gum-lac[632]. But I am unacquainted with any proofs that gum-lac was
known at so early a period. I much doubt whether this meaning of the
word lac be so old; and I must confess that the opinion of Salmasius
appears to me highly probable, namely, that Arrian alluded to a kind of
party-coloured garment: for besides the grounds adduced by Salmasius,
it deserves to be remarked, that in the passage in question different
kinds of clothes, and no other articles are mentioned. Besides, the
epithet _chromatinos_ is applied by the same writer, in the same sense,
to other kinds of clothing. It cannot therefore be said that Arrian
mentions our gum-lac, the origin of which word Salmasius endeavours to

In the works of Galen, which have not yet been sufficiently
illustrated, I have found _Indicum nigrum_ only four times. In a place
where he speaks of diseases of the eyes[633], he extols it on account
of its cleansing quality; and says it can be used for wounds, when
there is no inflammation. In another place[634], it occurs in three
prescriptions for eye-salves. I have however endeavoured, but without
success, to find in this excellent writer an explanation of what he
calls _Indicum_; though he has explained almost all the different
articles then used in the Materia medica. It appears therefore that the
Greeks gave the name of _Indicum_ to our indigo, and also to Indian
black or Indian ink.

It however cannot be denied that, in opposition to this opinion,
considerable doubts arise. Many who think that the black indigo
(_nigrum Indicum_) of Pliny and Vitruvius was not ink, but our
indigo, remark, that things of a dark blue or dark violet colour were
by the Greeks and the Romans frequently named black; and therefore
that the blue indigo might in this manner be called black[635]. But
the examples adduced as proofs are epithets applied by the poets
to dark-coloured flowers. Because nature produces no black flowers,
the poets, who are fond of everything uncommon, extraordinary, and
hyperbolic, call flowers black, when they are of so dark a tint as to
approach nearly to black. Thus clear and deep water is called black. It
is however hardly credible that painters and dyers, who must establish
an accurate distinction between colours, should have spoken in so vague
a manner. Salmasius suspects that _Nil_ and _Nir_, the Arabic names of
indigo, have arisen from the Latin word _niger_.

The objection, that Paulus Ægineta, the physician, in a passage where
he refers to Dioscorides for the medical virtues of _Indicum_, applies
to it the epithet black, seems to have more weight[636]. It may be
added also, that the virtues, in general, which Galen ascribes to the
_Indicum nigrum_, appear to be similar to those ascribed by Dioscorides
to _Indicum_; and the latter in one place[637], where he speaks of
the healing of wounds, uses only the expression _Indicum_, and not
_Indicum nigrum_. It is particularly worthy of remark, that Zosimus,
the chemist, declares the hyacinth colour of the ancients, that of
woad, and the _Indicum nigrum_, to be the same[638] or similar. But to
those who know on how slight grounds the ancient physicians ascribed
medicinal qualities to many substances, it will not perhaps appear
strange, that, in consequence of the same name, they should ascribe
the same qualities to two different things. It is not improbable
that in cases of external injury, for which the _Indicum nigrum_ was
recommended, indigo and Indian ink might produce as much or as little
effect. I should consider of far greater importance the opinion of the
chemist Zosimus; but unfortunately his writings have not yet been
printed. The period in which he lived is still uncertain, and it is not
known whether all the chemical manuscripts which bear that name were
written by the same author.

From what has been said, I think it may, at any rate, be inferred, that
in the time of Vitruvius and Pliny, indigo, as well as Indian ink, was
procured from India, and that both were named _Indicum_. It is less
certain that the Greeks called indigo _Indicum_, and Indian ink _Indian
black_. Nay, it appears that indigo, on account of the very dark blue
colour which it exhibits both when dry and in the state of a saturated
tincture, was often named Indian black. In my opinion, it is proved
also that, in the old dye-houses, the workmen collected the scum thrown
up by the dye-pans, and dried it into a kind of lake or carmine.

I shall now prove what I have already asserted, that indigo was at all
times used, and continued without interruption to be imported from
India. I shall quote mention made of it in various centuries; but I am
convinced that attentive readers may find instances where it occurs in
many other writers.

The Arabian physicians, it is probable, all speak of indigo; but it is
unfortunate that in this point we must depend upon very incorrect Latin
translations. It appears also that they often repeat the information
of the Greeks, in regard to articles of the Materia medica, without
having been acquainted with them themselves. Rhases, who lived at
the end of the tenth century[639], mentions, “Nil, alias Indicum.”
Avicenna, who died in 1036, often speaks of indigo[640]; but in the
margin of the wretched translation it is remarked, that under the term
_Indicum_, alum (or much rather green vitriol) is to be understood.
In a passage, however, where he speaks of dyeing the hair black, he
certainly alludes to indigo, which, according to the translation,
produced _colorem pavonaceum_, or a violet colour. In the Latin we find
“Indicum indum bonum,” and this awkward expression Salmasius explains
by remarking, that the words in the Arabic are _Alusma Alhendia_, that
is, Indian woad. In the same place he mentions _Indicum carmenum_, a
kind of indigo which did not dye so much a violet colour as a black,
that is to say with the addition of green vitriol. Carmania, indeed,
bordered on Gedrosia, which is the proper country of indigo, where the
best is still prepared at Guzerat. In the explanation of some Arabic
words, printed in my copy of Avicenna, _Indicum_ is translated _granum
Nil_. Serapion, about the end of the eleventh century, mixed together,
as appears, every thing that the Greeks have said in regard to indigo
and woad. Averroes, in the middle of the twelfth century, mentions the
medicinal qualities of indigo as given by the Greeks, and adds, that it
was much used for dyeing.

Muratori gives a treaty, written in Latin, of the year 1193, between
the citizens of Bologna and Ferrara, which contains a list of those
articles subject to pay duty. Among these occurs _indigum_[641]. In the
thirteenth century, the celebrated Marco Polo, who spent twenty-six
years in travelling through Asia, and even some parts of China, relates
that he saw indigo, which the dyers used, made in the kingdom of Coulan
or Coilum; and he describes the process for preparing it[642]. Much
curious information in regard to the trade with this article, in the
middle of the fourteenth century, is contained in the valuable work of
Francesco Balducei Pegolotti[643]. We there find the names of different
kinds, such as _Indaco di Baldacca detto buccaddeo_, in all probability
from Bagdad, a city which in many old books of travels is called
Baldach or Baldac; also _Indaco del Golfo_, _Indaco di Cipri_, _Indaco
Rifanti_. Indigo, at that time, was imported in hides (_cuojo_), or in
leather bags (_otre_), and also in boxes (_casse_). What this traveller
says in regard to the signs by which its goodness may be known, is
very remarkable. Nicolo Conti, who travelled through India before the
year 1444, mentions _endego_ among the merchandise of Camboia[644].
That the expression _color indicus_ was used in the middle ages to
denote blue mixed with violet, is proved by Du Cange. It appears to me
therefore highly improbable that indigo should not be known to Rosetti,
as Professor Bischof supposes[645]. In that important work on dyeing,
however, which I mentioned long ago[646], it occurs several times, and
always under the name _endego_.

I shall here make one observation, which is of some importance in
the history of dyeing. It is found that in the middle ages the Jews
maintained in the Levant a great many establishments for dyeing, and
were the principal people who carried on this branch of business.
Benjamin the Jew, who died in 1173, says in his travels, in speaking of
some places, that “a Jew lived there who was a dyer;” or he remarks,
in regard to others, that “most of the Jews followed the occupation of
dyeing.” A scarlet-dyer lived at Tarento, and a purple-dyer at Thebes.
At that period the Jews at Jerusalem had hired from the king a place
particularly well-fitted for dyeing, on the express condition that no
person besides themselves should be suffered to carry on there the
same business[647]. I am fully aware that well-founded doubts have
been entertained in regard to the credit which ought to be given to
Benjamin’s narration, and Jewish vanity is everywhere well-known; but
I do not see why he ought not to be believed in regard to this point;
for it may very naturally be asked, why he should have falsely ascribed
this occupation to his countrymen and no other? He speaks only once of
a Jew glass-maker, a woollen- and a silk-weaver. To this may be added,
that it is frequently stated in various authors, that the business
of dyeing was carried on in Italy by the Jews. Thus, in the eleventh
century, among the branches of revenue arising to the popes from
Benevento, mention is made of the taxes paid by the Jews on account of
their dye-houses. In the middle ages princes seem to have maintained
dye-houses on their own account. Instances occur of their giving away,
as presents, such establishments with all their apparatus[648]. A place
of this kind was called _tincta_, _tingta_, or _tintoria_. This dye
regale is to be deduced perhaps from the old establishments for dyeing
purple, which could be formed only by sovereigns, and not by private
individuals. Along with these _tinctæ_ the Jews are often mentioned,
so that it appears probable they were employed there as workmen.

There is reason therefore to conjecture that the Jews learned this
art in the East, and that they employed in Italy the same pigments
as were used in the dye-houses of the Levant. It is not improbable
also, that in the room of woad, which was then cultivated in Italy,
they introduced indigo, a substance richer in colouring matter, or at
any rate, rendered it more common. The Italians were the first people
in Europe who brought this art to a greater degree of perfection, as
they did many others; and it can be proved that the knowledge of it
was thence diffused to other countries. In the same proportion as this
took place, indigo, in my opinion, banished the native woad, which was
neither so advantageous, nor communicated so beautiful a colour as the
Italians were able to dye with the former. The use of it became more
extended when the productions of the East Indies were brought to Europe
by sea, and particularly after it could be obtained from America at a
much cheaper rate.

The first Portuguese ship, that commanded by Vasco de Gama, returned
from the East Indies in the year 1499, and was soon followed by several
more, all laden with the most valuable merchandise of the East. I
have never yet been able to find any invoice of the cargoes of these
vessels; and, unfortunately, we have no account of the early trade
carried on by the Portuguese with Indian productions. I have no means,
therefore, of proving that indigo was among the commodities first
imported. Spices, which in consequence of the general prevalence of
luxury, sold at that time exceedingly dear, together with precious
stones, formed, no doubt, the first articles of trade; but it is
not improbable that they were soon followed by indigo, for all the
travellers who about that period visited India, speak of it as one of
the most current articles.

Barbosa, a Portuguese, who collected there in 1516 valuable information
in regard to geography and trade, who afterwards accompanied Magelhaens
on his voyage round the world, and perished with him at the island of
Zebu, has given a price-current of the merchandise at Calecut, in which
the value of good indigo at that time is stated[649]. Corsali also, in
his letters written from India in 1516, mentions indigo among the wares
of Camboya. Louis Guicciardini, who wrote first in 1563, and died in
1589, speaking of the merchandise obtained by Antwerp from Portugal,
mentions _anil_ among that of the East Indies[650].

It is however certain that the trading company established in the
Netherlands in 1602, who learned at an early period the art of
rendering indispensably necessary to the Europeans cottons, tea, sago,
and other things of which they could always hope to find a sufficient
supply in India, carried on the greatest trade with these articles. The
first German writers who complain of indigenous woad being banished
by indigo, and those sovereigns who, by public orders, endeavoured to
prevent this change, ascribe the fault to the Netherlanders. Niska, who
wrote in 1630, says indigo had been introduced into Germany only thirty
years; and an order of the emperor Ferdinand III., dated 1654, says
that it had been imported into Germany from Holland some years before
that period.

That the importation at this time was very great, is proved by the
cargoes of the ships which arrived in Holland from the East Indies
in 1631. The first had 13,539 pounds of Sirches indigo; the second
82,734 pounds of Guzerat indigo; the third 66,996 pounds of the same;
the fourth 50,795 pounds of Bajano indigo; the fifth 32,251 pounds
of Chirches indigo; the sixth 59,698 pounds of Bejana indigo; and
the seventh 27,532 pounds of Chirches. I have mentioned these so
particularly, as one may thence see the different kinds, and the places
where made. These seven vessels, therefore, brought to Europe 333,545
pounds, which, at a low valuation, were worth five tons of gold, or
500,000 dollars. In the month of April 1633, three ships brought home
4092 _kartel_ of indigo, which were worth 2,046,000 rix-dollars.

The profit attending this trade induced people, soon after the
discovery of America, to manufacture indigo in that country; and
they were the more encouraged to do so by observing that the native
Americans, before they had the misfortune to become known to the
Christians, tinged their bodies and faces of a blue-violet colour, by
means of indigenous plants, which resembled the indigo plant of Asia.

Whether the two plants are of the same genus, or whether the American
is different from that used in the other quarters of the globe, has
not yet, as far as I can find, been with certainty determined[651]. It
is however proved, that the assertion of Raynal and others, that this
plant was first conveyed to the new world from Asia by the Europeans,
is entirely erroneous. It is mentioned by Francis Colon (or Columbus),
in the Life of his father[652], among the valuable productions of the
island of Hispaniola or St. Domingo. Francis Hernandes reckons it among
the natural plants of Mexico, and says that the Americans used it for
dyeing their hair black. He adds, that they made from it a pigment
which they named _Mohuitli_ and _Tleuohuilli_, the same as the Latins
named _cæruleum_, and he describes also the method of preparing it.
This is confirmed by Clavigero in his account of Mexico.

This plant therefore must be reckoned among the few which are
indigenous in three-quarters of the globe. It is, however, highly
probable that the Europeans, in the course of time, introduced a better
species or variety into America, where several kinds are actually
cultivated at present.

In the history of the American indigo, I must here leave a considerable
hiatus, which perhaps may be one day filled up from books of travels
and topography. All that I know at present is, that the first indigo
brought to Europe was procured from Guatimala, consequently from
Mexico, and that this article was supplied at first, and for a long
time, by none of the West India islands but St. Domingo alone.

Krunitz says[653], but on what authority I do not know, that Lopez
de Gomes relates, that in his time a very fine sky-blue colour was
prepared in Hispaniola. If the person here alluded to be Lopez de
Gomara, who accompanied Ferdinand Cortez as chaplain[654], this
would be the oldest testimony that could be expected, and would
correspond with the account given by Labat. But I shall leave the
further investigation of this subject to others, and observe, that the
cultivation of indigo was begun in Carolina in 1747, and according to
Anderson, was encouraged the year following by premiums.

This article, therefore, was brought from both the Indies to Europe,
and recommended itself so much by the superiority and richness of its
dye, by the facility with which it could be used, and the advantages
attending it, that it suddenly banished from all dye-houses the
European woad, which was cultivated, in particular, in Thuringia in
Germany, in Languedoc in France, and in the neighbourhood of Rieti
in the dominions of the church. At first, a small quantity of indigo
only was added to the woad, by which the latter was improved; more was
afterwards gradually used, and at last the quantity became so large,
that the small admixture of woad served only to revive the fermentation
of the indigo, but was not capable itself of communicating any colour.
It was soon observed that every yard of cloth could be dyed somewhat
cheaper when indigo was used along with woad, than when the latter was
employed alone, according to the ancient method. Germany then lost a
production by which farmers, merchants, carriers, and others, acquired
great riches.

In the sixteenth century people began, in many countries, to make
considerable improvements in dyeing. For this purpose, new dye-stuffs,
both indigenous and foreign, were subjected to experiment, and trials
were made with salts which had never before been employed. In this
manner dyers sometimes obtained colours which pleased by their novelty
and beauty; but it needs excite no surprise that many new methods of
dyeing did not produce the desired effect. Many communicated colours
which were agreeable to the eye, but they soon faded; and some rendered
the dyed cloth so tender that it soon rotted on the shopkeepers’
shelves. Governments conceiving it then necessary to do something for
the security of the purchaser, considered the imperfection of the art
as a premeditated deception; and as it was at that time supposed that
some pigments could give durable and genuine colours, and others fading
or false ones; and also that the pernicious effects of salts could not
be prevented or moderated, they, in general, prohibited the use of all
new materials from which hurtful consequences had been observed to

Legislators are neither almighty, omniscient, nor infallible. With the
best views, and a firm determination to discharge their duty, they may
recommend things hurtful, and prohibit others that might be attended
with advantage. Were their commands and prohibitions inviolable,
insuperable, and irresistible, they would often confine the progress of
the arts and sciences, and render useful inventions impossible. But the
people, when they have not entirely become machines, know how to elude,
even at great personal hazard, faulty regulations, and by prohibited
ways to obtain greater advantages than those which formed the object of
the orders issued by their government. This was the case in regard to
the art of dyeing in the sixteenth century.

A recess of the diet held in 1577, prohibited, under the severest
penalties, the newly invented pernicious, deceitful, eating, and
corrosive dye called the _devil’s dye_, for which vitriol and other
eating substances were used instead of woad. This prohibition was
renewed in 1594 and 1603, with the addition of this remark, that, in
consequence of the weight of the bad dyes, a pound of undyed silk for
sewing or embroidery would produce two or three pounds of dyed[655].

Allusion seems to be made here to black, which at that time was the
colour of the higher orders. It appears that at this period astringent
juices and green vitriol began to be used more than they had been
formerly, and cloth when too long boiled with these substances, becomes
exceedingly tender: black cloth is even sometimes spoilt in this manner
at present. It is also true that cloth receives the greatest addition
in weight when dyed black, and the next greatest when dyed blue. I am
not acquainted with accurate experiments in regard to the weight which
cloth acquires by dyeing; but one may safely assert, that it is stated
far too high in the recess of the diet. Fifteen ounces of raw silk
lose by that kind of scouring which the French call _décruement_, four
ounces; consequently white silk weighs eleven ounces, but after it is
dyed black its weight is increased to thirteen ounces. In general, a
black dye increases the weight of cloth a fifth more than bright dyes.

As indigo after this soon became common, and the sale of woad was
injured, the first prohibition against the former was issued by Saxony
in the year 1650; and because government well knew how much depends on
a name, when one wishes to render an object odious or estimable, the
prohibition was couched in terms which seemed to show that indigo was
included among those eating substances, termed in the recess already
mentioned _devil’s dyes_. In the year 1652, Duke Ernest the Pious
caused a proposal to be made to the diet by his envoy, Dr. Hœnnen,
that indigo should be entirely banished from the empire, and that an
exclusive privilege should be granted to those who dyed with woad. This
was followed by an imperial prohibition on the 21st of April 1654, in
which every thing ordered in regard to the _devil’s dyes_ is repeated,
with this addition, that great care should be taken to prevent the
private introduction of indigo, by which the trade in woad was
lessened, dyed articles injured, and money carried out of the country.
The elector took the earliest opportunity the same year to make known
and enforce this prohibition with great severity in his dominions[656].

The people of Nuremberg, who at that time cultivated woad, went still
further. They made a law that their dyers should annually take an oath
not to use indigo; and at present they are obliged to do the same
thing, though indigo is as necessary to them as to others; a most
indecent disregard to religion, which, however, is not without example.
In the French monarchy, where all offices were purchased and sold,
every counsellor of parliament, on his entrance, was obliged to swear
that he had not obtained his place by money, until at length some one
had the courage to refuse taking a false oath. Thus also in Germany
many placemen must swear that they will observe all the orders of
government, yet many of them are daily violated, and indeed cannot be
observed, or at any rate, not without great mischief and confusion.

What was done in Germany in regard to Thuringia, was done in France
in regard to Languedoc. In consequence of an urgent representation by
the states of that province, the use of indigo was forbidden in 1598;
and this prohibition was afterwards repeated several times. But in the
well-known edict of 1669, in which Colbert separated the fine from the
common dyers, it was stated that indigo should be used without woad;
and in 1737 dyers were left at liberty to use indigo alone, or to
employ a mixture of indigo and woad[657].

In England, where, I believe, woad was not at that time cultivated,
the first mention of indigo in the laws occurs in the year 1581, under
the reign of Elizabeth, not, however, on account of a blue but a black
dye. No woollen articles were to be dyed black with the gall-nut,
madder or other materials, till they had received the first ground, or
been rendered blue by woad, or woad and indigo together[658]. In like
manner it was long believed that no durable black could be produced
unless the article were first dyed in a blue pan. Hats also were not
considered to be properly dyed unless traces of a blue tint could be
discovered on the place where they were cut[659]. At present our dyers
can communicate a durable black without a blue ground, as well as dye
a fixed blue without woad; and in every part of Europe foreign indigo
will continue to be the most common material for dyeing, till its high
price render it necessary to obtain a similar pigment from indigenous

[The dye-stuff of indigo is obtained from the plant by allowing it to
ferment with water; during this process it subsides in the form of a
blue deposit, which is collected and dried. As it occurs in commerce,
it contains several impurities, such as lime, silica, alumina, and
oxide of iron, in addition to the colouring matters, which are three in
number, a brown, red and blue; as also some glutinous matter.

The chief localities of the indigo-plant at present are Bengal and
Guatimala, though of late years the exportation from the latter has
been materially checked by the disturbed state of Central America.
In the early period of our occupation of India, indigo formed a
leading branch of the Company’s trade; but the rude manufacture of
the native population was in the course of time expelled from the
markets of Europe by the more skilfully prepared drug of America and
the West Indies. Soon after the peace of 1783, the West Indian process
of manufacture was introduced into Bengal, and the directors having
relaxed their prohibitory system so far as to permit the application
of British capital and skill to the cultivation of the plant on the
alluvial depositions of the Ganges, the exportations were gradually
increased, and the American and West Indian indigo almost entirely
driven from the market. The manufacture was also introduced into
Oude and the other north-western districts of the great plain of the
Ganges; and in later periods into some of the Madras provinces, into
Java and the Philippine Islands. The indigo produced everywhere else
is, however, very secondary both in quantity and quality to that of
Bengal and Bahar, the soil and climate of which seem to be particularly
congenial to the plant. The average supply of indigo at present may
be estimated as follows:--Bengal provinces, 34,500 chests, or about
9,000,000 lbs.; other countries, including Madras and Guatimala, 8500
chests; total, 43,000 chests. Of this there are consumed in the United
Kingdom, 11,500 chests, or about 3,000,000 lbs.; France, 8000 chests;
Germany and the rest of Europe, 13,500 chests; Persia, 3500 chests;
India, 2500 chests; United States, 2000 chests; other countries,
2000 chests; total, 43,000 chests, or upwards of 11,000,000 lbs. The
quantity imported into the United Kingdom in 1840 amounted to 5,831,269
lbs., and the quantity entered for home consumption amounted to
3,011,990 lbs. Upwards of four-fifths of the imports are from the East
Indies; the remainder chiefly from the West Indies, Guatimala, Peru
and the Philippine Islands. The surplus imported beyond the quantity
consumed is re-exported to Germany, Russia, Italy, Holland and other
parts of the continent of Europe. France and the United States derive
their main supplies by direct importation from Calcutta.]


[615] Dioscor. lib. v. cap. 107, p. 366. Περὶ Ἰνδικοῦ.

[616] Plin. lib. xxxv. cap. 6, § 27, p. 688; and Isidorus, Origin. lib.
xix. cap. 7, p. 464.

[617] Foesii Œconomia Hippocratis. Francof. 1588, fol. p. 281.

[618] Ἔγχυλον means also juicy, or something that has a taste. Neither
of these significations is applicable here, where the subject relates
to a substance which is dry and insipid, or at any rate which can
possess only a small degree of astringency. It must in this place
denote an inspissated or dried juice; but I can find no other passage
to support this meaning.

[619] In Pliny’s time people coloured a white earth with indigo, or
only with woad, _vitrum_, in the same manner as coarse lakes and
crayons are made at present, and sold it for indigo. One of them he
calls _annularia_, and this was one of the sealing earths, of which I
have already spoken in the first volume. In my opinion it is the same
white pigment which Pliny immediately after calls _annulare_: “Annulare
quod vocant, candidum est, quo muliebres picturæ illuminantur.”
These words I find nowhere explained, and therefore I shall hazard a
conjecture. Pliny, I think, meant to say that “this was the beautiful
white with which the ladies painted or ornamented themselves.”

[620] Plin. lib. xxxv. § 12, p. 684.--Vitruv. lib. vii. cap. 14.

[621] Tavernier, ii. p. 112. We are told so in Malta Vetus et Nova a
Burchardo Niederstedt adornata. Helmest. 1659, fol. lib. iv. cap. 6, a
work inserted in Grævii Thesaurus Ital. vi. p. 3007. This man brought
home with him to Germany, after his travels, a great many Persian
manuscripts, which were purchased for the king’s library at Berlin.
Niederstedt, however, is not the only person who speaks of indigo being
cultivated in Malta. Bartholin, Epist. Med. cent. i. ep. 53, p. 224,
says the same.

[622] It is entirely different from the molybdate of tin, the laborious
preparation of which is described by J. B. Richter in his Chemie, part
ii. p. 97.

[623] It deserves to be remarked, that the Greek dyers, speaking of a
fermenting dye-pan covered with scum, used to say, like our dyers, that
it had its flower, ἐπάνθισμον. In Hippocrates the words ἐπάνθισμα
ἀφρῶδες denote a scum which arises on the surface. Among the Latins
_flos_ in this sense is very common.

[624] Caneparius de Atramentis, Rot. 1718, 4to, v. 2. 17.--Valentini
Museum Museor. i. p. 225.--Pomet, i. p. 192.

[625] See his edition of Dioscorides, Colon. 1529, fol. p. 667.

[626] Lib. xxxvii. 10. sect. 61, p. 791.

[627] Lib. xxxv. cap. 6.

[628] _Perfici_ is a term of art which is often used to express
the finishing or last labour bestowed upon any article: _Vasa sole
perficiuntur_. When vessels of earthen-ware have been formed, they must
be suffered to dry and become hard in the sun. See Hardouin’s index to

[629] Gum and gummy substances of every kind used to make ink thicker
and give it more body, were called _ferrumen_. See Petronius, cap. 102,

[630] Vitruv. vii. 10, p. 246.

[631] Lib. xxxv. cap. 7.

[632] Exercitat. Plin. p. 816, b. And in the Annotationes in Flavium
Vopiscum, p. 398, in Historiæ Augustæ;, Paris, 1620, fol.

[633] De Composit. Pharmac. secundum locos, lib. iv. cap. 4. Edit.
Gesn. Class. v. p. 304.

[634] Lib. iv. cap. 7.

[635] Salmasii Exercitat. Plin. p. 908, a.

[636] Pauli Æginetæ libri vii. Basiliæ, 1538, fol. p. 246, lib. vii.

[637] Parabilium lib. i. 161, p. 43.

[638] Salmasius in Homonymis Hyl. Iatr. p. 177, a; and in Exercitat.
Plin. p. 810, b; and p. 936, b. In regard to the manuscripts of the
work of Zosimus, which is commonly called Panopolita, see Fabricii
Bibl. Græca, vol. vi. pp. 612, 613; and vol. xii. pp. 748, 761. I wish
I may be so fortunate as to outlive the publication of it; it will
certainly throw much light on the history of the arts. It is remarkable
that Zosimus calls indigo-dyers λαχωταὶ and ἰνδικοβάφοι, in order
perhaps to distinguish them from the dyers with woad. The distinction
therefore between indigo-dyers and those who dyed with woad must be
very old.

[639] In the edition of some Arabian physicians, published by Brunfels,
at Strasburg, 1531, fol.

[640] Avicennæ Canon. Med.... Venet. 1608, fol. ii. p. 237.

[641] Antiquitates Italiæ Medii Ævi, ii. p. 894.

[642] Lib. iii. cap. 31, p. 150.

[643] Lisbona e Lucca, 1766, 4to.

[644] Ramusio Viaggi, 1613, i. p. 342.

[645] Geschichte der Farberkunst. Stendal, 1780, 8vo, p. 69.

[646] Anleitung zur Technologie, fourth edit. p. 123. I can now add,
that Roso, in Memorie della Societa Italiana, Verona, 1794, 4to, vii.
p. 251, quotes also the edition per Francesco Rampazetto, 1540, 4to.

[647] Itinerarium Benjaminis, Lugd. Bat. 1633, 8vo.

[648] Du Cange quotes a diploma of the emperor Frederick II., dated
1210, and under the word _Tintoria_, a diploma of Charles II. king of

[649] Ramusio, i. p. 323.

[650] Totius Belgii Descript. Amst. 1660, 12mo, i. p. 242.

[651] [They both belong to the same genus but are specifically
distinct, the species cultivated in India being principally the
_Indigofera tinctoria_, and that in America the _Indigofera anil_.]

[652] This work has been several times printed. It is also in Barcia
Historiadores primitivos de las Indias Occidentales. Madrid, 1749,
fol. vol. i. At p. 61, we find among the productions of the above
island, _minas de cobre_, _anil_, _ambar_, &c. An English translation
in Churchill’s Collection, ii. p. 621, renders these words _mines of
copper, azure, and amber_.

[653] Encyclop. vol. xxix. p. 548.

[654] His works may be found in Barcia’s Collection, vol. ii.

[655] All these prohibitions may be found in Schreber’s Beschreibung
des Waidtes. Halle, 1752, 4to, in the appendix, pp. 1, 2.

[656] Schreber _ut supra_, p. 11.

[657] See Mémoires de l’Acad. à Paris, année 1740.

[658] Statutes at Large, vol. ii. Lond. 1735, p. 250. [Dr. Ure,
however, says that indigo was actually denounced as a dangerous drug,
and forbidden to be used by our Parliament in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth. An Act was passed authorizing searchers to burn both it and
logwood in every dye-house where they could be found. This Act remained
in full force till the time of Charles II., that is, for a great part
of a century.]

[659] Marperger’s Beschreibung des Hutmacher-handwerks. Altenburg,
1719, 8vo, p. 85.

[660] [This observation has been verified; for tolerably large
quantities of indigo are now extracted from the _Polygonum tinctorium_,
which is cultivated in some parts of France and Belgium for that


If the poet Seneca was well informed, mankind, in the infancy of
navigation, had no particular names for distinguishing the principal
winds[661]. This is not at all incredible; because with their rafts and
floats, which were the first vessels, they for a long time ventured
out to sea only so far that they could easily return to the shore; and
therefore while navigation continued in this state, they had little
reason to trouble themselves about the direction of the winds. It is
more certain that those nations respecting whom we have the oldest
information, distinguished by names the four principal winds only. This
is generally proved by a passage in Homer, where he intends to mention
all the winds, and names only four[662]; but this proof is of little
weight; for what poet at present would, with the like view, think of
boxing the compass, or of introducing into a poem the names of all the
thirty-two points? Would he not rather be satisfied with the names
of the four chief winds alone? If more names, therefore, were usual
in Homer’s time, he would not consider it necessary to name them. In
another passage he names only two winds[663]; and from these some have
endeavoured to prove that no more were then known; but this assertion
indeed is completely refuted by the passage first quoted. It can,
however, be easily proved, that for a long time names were given to the
four principal winds only.

It is easily seen what at first gave rise to this distinction. The sun
at noon stands always over one point of the horizon, which appears
to the observer as a circle, having the place where he himself is at
its centre. This point is called the meridian or south, and the one
opposite to it the north. If the observer turns his face towards the
north, he will have on his right-hand the east, and on his left the
west. The space between these principal winds contains ninety degrees,
or a right angle. The number, however, must soon have been raised to
eight, and this division was usual in the time of Aristotle[664].
Afterwards twelve points in the heavens were adopted, also as many
winds; and in the time of Vitruvius twenty-four were distinguished and
named, though this division was very little used. To determine the
names, however, employed in the last two divisions is attended with
some difficulties; and it almost appears as if writers did not always
apply to them the same meaning.

The Greeks considered Æolus as the first person who made navigators
acquainted with the winds. He is said to have ruled over the Volcanic
islands, afterwards named the Æolian; and if this be true, he would
certainly have a good opportunity of observing the weather, and marking
the winds by the smoke continually rising up there from burning
volcanoes. This celebrated personage, who received Ulysses on his
return from the Trojan war, by the knowledge thus obtained may have
assisted navigators, who afterwards made known the services which he
rendered to them.

The antiquity of the division into thirty-two points, used at
present, I am not able to determine. Riccioli thinks that they have
been employed since the time of Charles the Great, but I do not know
whether this can be proved. That assertion perhaps is founded only on
the opinion, that this emperor gave German names to the winds and the
quarters of the world. This indeed is stated by his historian Eginhart,
who mentions the names, which I shall here insert, together with the
Latin names added by Eginhart, and those usual at present[665].

  Subsolanus         _Ostroniwind_       EAST.
  Eurus              _Ostsundroni_       East-south-east.
  Euroauster         _Sundostroni_       South-east.
  Auster             _Sundroni_          SOUTH.
  Austroafricus      _Sundwestroni_      South-south-west.
  Africus            _Westsundroni_      South-west.
  Zephyrus           _Westroni_          WEST.
  Corus              _Westnordroni_      West-north-west.
  Circius            _Nordwestroni_      North-west.
  Septemtrio         _Nordroni_          NORTH.
  Aquilo             _Nordostroni_       North-north-east.
  Vulturnus          _Ostnordroni_       North-east.

It has however been long since remarked, that these names are much
older than Charles the Great[666]; and it is highly probable that
they were only more accurately defined, or publicly confirmed by this
prince, or that in his time they came into general use. How often have
early inventions been ascribed to sovereigns, though they were only
made in their reign! Even whole nations have been said to be descended
from those princes under whom they first became known to foreigners;
as, for example, the Poles from Lech, and the Bohemians from Zech.

Charles, however, did not give names to thirty-two, but to twelve
winds. Nor was he the first who added to the four cardinal points eight
others, for the same thing is asserted of many. But it deserves to
be remarked, that in Charles’s names one can discover traces of that
ingenious mode of denoting all the winds with four words; that is to
say, by different combinations of East, West, South, and North. It is
certain that the names of the different points and winds used by all
the European nations, the Italians only excepted, are of German origin,
as well as the greater part of the terms of art employed in navigation
and naval architecture.

It appears to me not improbable that the division used at present was
introduced soon after the invention of the magnetic needle; at least
Honorius, surnamed _Augustodunensis_[667], who must have flourished
before the year 1125, speaks only of twelve winds; as do also Gervasius
in 1211, and Vincent de Beauvois in the middle of the thirteenth
century, who gives from Isidorus, who lived about the year 636, the
twelve Latin names used by Eginhart[668].

It can scarcely be doubted that means for indicating the winds were
invented at a very early period. I here allude to vanes, flags, and
every other apparatus by which the direction of the wind can be
conveniently and accurately discovered, and similar to those erected
at present on many private houses, on most of our church steeples, and
on board ships. I must however confess that I have hitherto scarcely
observed any trace of them among the Greeks and the Romans. I can
find no account of them in works where all the parts of edifices are
named; where ships and everything belonging to them are expressly
described; nothing in Pollux, and nothing in any of the poets. I
am unacquainted also with any old Greek or Latin word that can be
applied to an apparatus for pointing out the wind. In the edition
of Kirsch’s German and Latin Dictionary, printed in 1754, we find
_Wetterhahn_ (a weathercock) _petalum_, _triton_; but the latter
term is borrowed from the tower of Andronicus, of which I shall have
occasion to speak hereafter; and neither this word nor _petulum_,
or _petulæ_, _arum_, which Kirsch gives also, occurs in this sense
in any ancient author; and the case is the same with _pinnacella_,
_ventilogium_, _aurologium_, and other names which are to be found in
some dictionaries.

I am acquainted with no older information in regard to an apparatus for
observing the winds, than what is given by Vitruvius respecting the
tower built at Athens by Andronicus Cyrrhestes, that is, of Cyrrhus, a
town in Syria. This tower, which was built of marble, in an octagonal
form, had on each side a representation of that wind opposite to which
it was placed. Its summit terminated in a small spire, on which was a
copper triton, made to turn in such a manner as to present its front to
the wind, and to point with a rod held in its right-hand to the image
of the wind blowing at the time[669]. This tower is still standing; and
a description and figure of it may be seen in the travels of Spon and
Wheeler, and in those also of Pocock[670]. The figures representing the
winds, which are larger than the life, are executed in basso-relievo,
and correspond to the seasons at which they generally blow. At the
top of each side, under the architrave, the name of the wind is
inscribed in Greek characters. Boreas, the North wind, holds in his
hand a mussel-shell, which seems to denote his peculiar power over the
sea. The Zephyr has its bosom full of flowers, because it prevails in
March, at the time when the flowers chiefly blow in Greece; and similar
attributes are assigned to the rest.

Varro had an apparatus of the same kind at his farm[671]. Within the
building was a circle, in which the eight winds were represented, and
an index, like that of a clock, pointed to that wind which was blowing
at the time. Nothing therefore was necessary but to look at the ceiling
to know from what quarter the wind came. I have seen an apparatus of
the same kind on some exchange, either at Lubec or Rotterdam. Varro
calls the tower of Andronicus _horologium_, a word which Salmasius
wishes to change into _aurologium_. But it contained also a sun-dial,
as we are assured by Pocock, who observed the necessary hour-lines; and
therefore it is not improbable, that the people, who through the want
of clocks would oftener look to the dial than to the weathercock, gave
to the tower a name alluding to the former rather than to the latter.

Du Cange says, that a triton, by way of weathercock, was placed on the
temple of Androgeus at Rome; but I am unacquainted with the source from
which he derived this information, and of that temple I have not been
able to obtain any account[672]. Whether the tritons placed on the
temple of Saturn at Rome were indicators of the wind, or whether they
had a learned signification, as Macrobius asserts, I will not venture
to determine[673]. It is probable that the pillar, some remains of
which were found at Gaeta (_Cajeta_), in the kingdom of Naples, and on
which the names of the winds were cut out in Greek and Latin, served as
a wind indicator also.

But it is more than probable that an apparatus for pointing out the
wind, similar to that at Athens, was erected also at Constantinople.
At least I consider as such what was called by some _anemodulium_, and
by others _anemoderium_; the information respecting which has not,
as I conceive, been hitherto understood, not even by Banduri. In my
opinion it was not a building or tower, but a column furnished with a
vane, somewhat similar to what is still seen in many places on the sea
coast, where a high pole is erected with a flag. This pillar, if I may
be allowed the expression, consisted entirely of copper; it was square,
and in height not inferior to the loftiest columns in the city. Its
summit formed a pyramid, and, as I conjecture, an octagonal one, upon
which stood a female figure that turned round with every wind, and
consequently was a vane, only not a triton, as at Athens. Below it,
on each side of the pyramid, were seen a great many figures, which
I will venture to assert were attributes or images of the winds, to
which the female figure pointed. Nicetas says, that there were observed
among them birds, agricultural implements, the sea with shipping,
fishing-boats, and naked cupids sporting with apples, which in my
opinion denoted the different seasons in which each wind was accustomed
to blow[674].

It is not improbable that the whole pillar was constructed of different
pieces of copper, cast singly and then joined together; and it appears
that neither Nicetas, nor Cedrenus, nor the Latins, who in the
thirteenth century pulled down and melted the numerous objects of art,
plundered from various cities by the emperor Constantine to ornament
his capital, were acquainted with the purpose for which this pillar
was originally destined, or the meaning of the emblematical figures
represented upon it. Nay, there is even reason to think that the Greeks
themselves, at this time, were so ignorant as to believe such objects
to be the productions of magic. According to Cedrenus, this costly wind
indicator was erected by Theodosius the Great, and according to others
by Leo Isauricus. Were the first assertion true, it would belong to
the fourth century, and in the second case to the eighth; but I cannot
help suspecting that it was constructed before the time of Theodosius.
The female figure which indicated the wind, was, according to Nicetas,
called _anemodoulon_, but according to Cedrenus _anemoderion_. The
former denotes a person who belongs to the wind; the latter one who
contends with the wind; and both these appellations are well suited to
a vane or wind indicator. If my explanation be correct, this work of
art at Constantinople had nothing in common with the statue of Jupiter
constructed by Lysippus at Tarentum[675]. The latter was forty cubits
in height; and what excited great astonishment was, that though it
would shake when pushed with the hand, it withstood the force of the
most violent storms. I should rather compare the statue of Lysippus to
those moveable masses of rock which are mentioned by various authors,
both ancient and modern.

It is not improbable that there may have been wind indicators of
this kind in other places, and that more passages alluding to them,
not hitherto remarked, may be found in different authors. Professor
Michaelis, who was desirous to assist me in my researches, pointed out
to me an account, undoubtedly written before the year 1151[676], in
which it is stated that there was at Hems, in Syria, formerly called
Emessa, a high tower, on the summit of which was a copper statue of
a horseman that turned with every wind. It is worthy of remark, that
under the vane there were figures, among which was that of a scorpion;
in all probability the emblem of some season.

In Europe, the custom of placing vanes on the summits of the
church-steeples is very old; and as these vanes were made in the figure
of a cock, they have thence been denominated _weathercocks_. In the
Latin, therefore, of the middle ages, we meet with the words _gallus_
and _ventilogium_. The latter is used by Radulphus, who wrote about
the year 1270[677]. Mention of weathercocks occurs in the ninth[678],
eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth[679] centuries. There is no doubt that
the cock was intended as an emblem of clerical vigilance. In the ages
of ignorance the clergy frequently styled themselves the cocks of the
Almighty, whose duty it was, like the cock which roused Peter, to call
the people to repentance, or at any rate to church[680]. The English,
therefore, are mistaken when they suppose that the figure of a cock
was first made choice of for vanes in the fourteenth century, under the
reign of Edward III., in order to ridicule the French, with whom they
were then at war; and that the custom of _cock-throwing_, that is to
say, of throwing sticks at a cock exposed with his wings tied, as then
practised, took its rise at the same time.

In France, in the twelfth century, none but noblemen were allowed to
have vanes on their houses; nay, at one time this was the privilege of
those who, at the storming of a town, first planted their standards
on the ramparts. These vanes were painted with the knights’ arms,
or the arms were cut out in them, and in that case they were called

Flags or vanes on ships occur very early, but they are always mentioned
on account of their use in making signals. They were of various forms
and colours; were sometimes drawn up, and sometimes taken down; placed
sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left side of the ship, and
were changed in various other ways, directions for which may be seen in
the Tactics of the emperor Leo. They were named _vexilla_, _flammulæ_,
also _flammula_ and _banda_, and the last two appellations occur in the
works of the younger Greek writers[682].

But though the oldest writers on the art of naval warfare, such as
Vegetius, recommend a knowledge of the winds, I have not yet met with
any certain account of apparatus for determining the direction of them
on board a ship. Before the discovery of the magnetic needle, such
accuracy as is necessary at present would have been superfluous; yet
naval commanders must long before have had some means of distinguishing
at least the twelve winds then defined, though no traces of them are to
be found in the works which have been accidentally preserved to us.

Scheffer[683], who, as is well-known, collected from the works of the
ancients all the terms of art applicable to navigation, thinks that the
band, _tænia_, affixed to a pole at the stern of the ship[684], did not
serve so much for an ornament as to indicate the course of the wind.
He is, however, able to produce no other authority for this opinion
than a passage in one of Cicero’s letters, which has been changed and
amended, till it at length seems to say that Cicero had resolved to
embark, because the vanes had announced a favourable wind[685].

I must acknowledge that at present I can produce no older information
in regard to vanes used on board ship, to indicate the course of the
wind, than of the eleventh century, taken from the life of Emma, the
consort of Canute the Great, king of Denmark, Norway and England, the
author of which was an eye-witness of what he relates. Describing the
magnificent Norman fleet sent to England in the year 1013, he says that
birds, which turned round with the wind, were placed on the top of the

At that time, therefore, instead of the flags used at present, a vane,
shaped like a bird, was placed at the summit of the mast; perhaps also
the figure of a cock, as the emblem of vigilance, but in this case not
of clerical vigilance. In the cathedral of Bayeux, in France, is a
piece of tapestry, representing the actions of William the Conqueror,
executed with the needle, either by his consort or under her direction,
in which vanes are seen at the top of the masts in many of the

[Anemoscopes, or instruments for showing the direction of the wind, are
now in constant use in meteorological establishments; the indications
are made upon dials, and the apparatus does not differ in principle
from that described by Beckmann.

Anemometers, or instruments for measuring the power or force of the
wind, have also been contrived of various kinds. The first was invented
by Wolf. In this the wind acted upon four sails somewhat resembling
those of a windmill, the motion being communicated by cog-wheels to a
lever loaded with a weight. When the wind acted upon the sails, the
bar rose, this motion continuing until the increased leverage of
the weight counterpoised the moving power of the wind. Others on a
different principle have been made by Lind, Regnier, Martin, and a very
beautiful instrument for this purpose, constructed by Mr. Dent, may be
seen at Lloyd’s room in the Royal Exchange.]


[661] Medea, ver. 316.

[662] Odyss. v. 295.

[663] Iliad, ix. 5.

[664] Aristot. Meteorol. ii. cap. 5 et 6. On this account, as Salmasius
remarks, the book De Mundo cannot belong to Aristotle, as mention is
made in it of twelve winds.

[665] De Vita et Gestis Caroli Magni. Traj. 1711, 4to, pp. 132, 133.

[666] Adelung’s Wörterbuch, under the word _East_.

[667] Of the writings of this monk, whom I shall again have occasion to
quote, separate editions are scarce. They are however to be found in
Maxima Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. xx.

[668] Speculum Natur. iv. 34, p. 254.

[669] Vitruv. i. 6, p. 41.

[670] See Stuart’s Antiquities of Athens, i. 3, tab. i.--xix.

[671] Varro De Re Rust. iii. 5. 17. Our common weathercocks and vanes,
when well made, and preserved from rust, show the point from which the
wind proceeds, but do not tell their names. By the vanes on church
steeples, one knows that our churches stand in a direction from east
to west, and that the altar is placed in the eastern end. On other
buildings an arrow, which points to the north, is placed under the vane.

[672] Du Cange refers to Anonymus de Arte Architectonica, cap. 2.

[673] Saturn. i. 8, p. 223.

[674] The passage of Nicetas may be found in Fabricii Biblioth. Græca,
vi. p. 407, and in Banduri Imperium Orientale, Par. 1711, fol. tom. i.
lib. vi. p. 108. Nicetas speaks of it again in lib. ii. de Andronico,
Venet. 1729, fol. p. 175. He there says that the emperor was desirous
of placing his image on the _anemodulium_, where the cupids stood.
Another writer, in Banduri Imper. Orient. i. p. iii. lib. i. p. 17,
says expressly that the twelve winds were represented on it, and that
it was erected with much astronomical knowledge by Heliodorus, in the
time of Leo Isauricus.

[675] Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiv. 7. sect. 18. p. 647.

[676] Geographia Nubiensis. Parisiis, 1619, 4to, p. 118.

[677] In Vita S. Richardi Cicestrensis. See also Du Cange.

[678] In Ughelli Italia Sacra, Romæ, 1652, fol. iv. p. 735, we
find the following inscription on a weathercock then existing at
Brixen:--“Dominus Rampertus Episc. gallum hunc fieri præcepit an. 820.”

[679] Raynerus; cap. 5.

[680] Ambrosius, v. cap. 24.--Vossius de Idol. iii. cap. 86.--Pierii
Valeriani Hieroglyphica. Franc. ad M. 1678, p. 288.

[681] Dictionnaire à Trevoux, 1704, fol. article Girouette.

[682] Hirtius de Bello Alexand. cap. 45.--Tacit. Annal. 22.--Livius,
lib. xxxvii. cap. 24.--Leonis Tactica, cap. 19, § 40, 42, pp. 342, 343,
edit. Meursii. Lugd. Bat. 1612, 4to.

[683] De Milit. Navali. Upsaliæ, 1654.

[684] Pollux, i. 9, § 90, p. 61.

[685] Epist. ad Atticum, v. 12.

[686] The Encomium Emmæ is printed in Du Chesne, Historiæ Normannor.
Scriptor. Paris, 1619, fol.

[687] This honourable memorial of the last half of the eleventh century
is explained and illustrated by a figure in Mémoires de l’Academ. des
Inscript. Paris, 1733, 4to, vol. viii. p. 602.


The astonishing extensibility of gold, a property in which it far
surpasses all other metals, induced mankind, at an early period, to
attempt beating it into thin plates, as the value of it led them to
the art of covering or gilding things of every kind with leaves of
it. It is proved by Herodotus, that the Egyptians were accustomed to
gild wood and metals[688]; and gilding is frequently mentioned in the
books of the Old Testament[689]. The gold plates, however, used for
this purpose, as may be readily conceived, were not so thin as those
made at present; and for this reason, the gilding on statues, which
have lain many centuries in the earth, appears to be still entire.
Winkelmann says[690], that among the ruins of two apartments in the
imperial palace, on the palatine hill, in the Villa Farnese, the gold
ornaments were found to be as fresh as if they had been newly applied,
though these apartments, in consequence of being buried under the
earth, were exceedingly damp. The circular bands of sky-blue, with
small figures in gold, could not be seen without admiration. The
gilding also is still preserved in the ruins of Persepolis.

But, in the time of Pliny, the art of gold-beating was carried so
far at Rome, that an ounce of gold could be beat into seven hundred
and fifty leaves and more, each four square inches in size[691]. I
shall not compare this result with what the art can do at present,
because the account of Pliny is not the most accurate, and because
the conversion of the old measures into the modern standard is
always attended with uncertainty. Buonarotti, however, who made some
researches on this subject[692], is of opinion that the gold used
at Rome for fire-gilding in his time, that is, at the end of the
seventeenth century, was beat six times as thin; and that the gold
employed for gilding wood and other things, without the application
of fire, was twenty-two times as thin as the gold leaf made at Rome
in the time of Pliny. But this Italian author, as appears to me, has,
through too great precipitation, translated the words “septingenæ et
quinquagenæ bracteæ” fifty and seventy. Gold, however, at that time,
was beat so thin at Rome, that Lucretius compares it to a spider’s web,
and Martial to a vapour[693].

I have, however, not yet met with any information in regard to the
method in which the ancient artists beat the gold, or the instruments
and apparatus they employed for that purpose. But the German monk
Theophilus, whose real name seems to have been Rüger, and who, as
Lessing thinks, lived in the ninth, but, according to Morelli, in the
twelfth century, describes the process nearly as it is at present[694].
The gold, at that time, was beat between parchment, in the same manner
as is still practised; and the artists knew how to prevent the gold
from adhering to the parchment, by covering it over with burnt ochre
reduced to a very fine powder, and then rubbing it smooth with a tooth.
With the like view, our gold-beaters rub over with a fine bolus the
thin paper used for making the books into which they put their gold
leaf, in order to preserve it. But the flatting-mills, between the
steel rollers of which cast and hammered ingots of gold are at present
reduced to thin leaves, seem not to have been then known, at least this
monk makes no mention of them. Lessing, to whom we are indebted for
this curious fragment of Theophilus, is of opinion that each artist
at that time was obliged to beat the gold leaf which he used, because
gold-beating was not then a distinct branch of business. This I will
not controvert; but it is no proof of it, that the monk taught the
art to his brethren; for in convents the clergy endeavoured to make
everything they used, in order that they might purchase as little as

During the progress of the art, it being found that parchment was too
thick and hard for the above purpose, workmen endeavoured to procure
some finer substance, and at length discovered that the skin of an
unborn calf was the most convenient. By means of this improvement, gold
leaf was made much thinner than it had ever been before possible; but
the art was brought to still greater perfection by employing that fine
pellicle which is detached from the gut of an ox or a cow. Lancellotti,
who wrote in the first half of the seventeenth century[695], says
that this invention was made by the German gold-beaters, when, in
consequence of the war, they were not able to obtain from Flanders the
skins of unborn calves.

I have often heard that the preparation of this pellicle, which the
French call _baudruche_ and the Dutch _liezen_, and which is so thin
that two of them must be pasted together, is a secret, and that the
best is obtained from England. But in the year 1785, when I paid a
visit to a very ingenious gold-beater at Hamburg, he assured me that
he prepared this substance himself, and that the case was the same
with most of the gold-beaters in Germany. Even in England, in the year
1763, this art was known only to two or three persons, who practised it
as a business, but kept it so secret that Lewis was not able to obtain
a proper account of it[696]. In Ireland also this skin is prepared
and sent to England[697]. When the French, in the beginning of the
revolutionary war, hoped to out-manœuvre the Germans by the use of
aerostatic machines, it became of some importance to them to obtain a
supply of these skins. On this account, the _Commission des armes et
poudres_ drew up instructions for preparing them, which they caused to
be printed and distributed to all the butchers. At Strasburg they were
printed in French, and at the same time in German, but in many parts
faulty and unintelligible.

About the year 1621, Mersenne excited general astonishment, when he
showed that the Parisian gold-beaters could beat an ounce of gold into
1600 leaves, which together covered a surface of 105 square feet. But
in 1711, when the pellicles, discovered by the Germans, came to be used
in Paris, Reaumur found that an ounce of gold, in the form of a cube,
five and a quarter lines at most in length, breadth, and thickness,
and which covered only a surface of about twenty-seven square lines,
could be so extended by the gold-beaters as to cover a surface of more
than one hundred and forty-six and a half square feet. This extension,
therefore, is nearly one-half more than was possible about a century

When these skins are worn out by the hammer of the gold-beater, they
are employed, under the name of English skin, for plasters, or properly
to unite small wounds. By the English they are called _gold-beaters’
skin_[698]; but, since silk covered with isinglass and Peruvian balsam,
which in Germany is named English plaster, for the Germans at present
call every thing English, has become the mode, this skin is much
less used[699]. I mention this that I might have an opportunity of
remarking, that in the middle of the twelfth century, in the Levant at
least, a very thin pellicle was in like manner used for wounds. For
when the emperor, John Comnenus, accidentally wounded himself in the
hand with a poisoned arrow while hunting, a piece of skin, which, from
the name and description may be considered the same as that used at
present by the gold-beaters, was applied to the wound. The emperor,
however, died in consequence of this wound, after it had become
inflamed under the pellicle, which, in large wounds, and when the skin
is suffered to remain too long, is commonly the case, though the poison
alone would have been a sufficient cause of death. Reaumur and others
are astonished that artists should have sought for and found a part of
their apparatus in the bowels of an ox; but I am of opinion that this
pellicle, which is sometimes separated in washing and cleaning the
bowels, was first observed by the butchers, and made known by them as a
plaster; and that it came into request among the German gold-beaters,
as the finest of all the pellicles then known, in the beginning of the
seventeenth century.

The art of gilding, and particularly unmetallic bodies, was much
facilitated by the invention of oil-painting; but it must be
acknowledged that the process employed by the ancients in cold-gilding
was nearly the same as that used at present. Pliny says[700] that
gold leaves were applied to marble with a varnish, and to wood with
a certain kind of cement, which he calls _leucophoron_. Without
entering into any research respecting the minerals employed for this
cement, one may readily conceive that it must have been a ferruginous
ochre, or kind of bole, which is still used as a ground (_poliment_,
_assiette_)[701]. But gilding of this kind must have suffered from
dampness, though many specimens of it are still preserved. Some of the
ancient artists, perhaps, may have employed resinous substances, on
which water can produce very little effect.

That gold-leaf was affixed to metals by means of quicksilver, with
the assistance of heat, in the time of Pliny, we are told by himself
in more places than one. The metal to be gilded was prepared by salts
of every kind, and rubbed with pumice-stone in order to clean it
thoroughly, and to render the surface a little rough[702]. This process
is similar to that used at present for gilding with amalgam, by means
of heat, especially as amalgamation was known to the ancients. But,
to speak the truth, Pliny says nothing of heating the metal after the
gold is applied, or of evaporating the quicksilver, but of drying
the cleaned metal before the gold is laid on. Had he not mentioned
quicksilver, his gilding might have been considered as that with
gold-leaf by means of heat, _dorure en feuille à feu_, in which the
gold is laid upon the metal after it has been cleaned and heated,
and strongly rubbed with blood-stone, or polished steel. Felibien
was undoubtedly right when he regretted[703] that the process of the
ancients, the excellence of which is proved by remains of antiquity,
has been lost.

False gilding, that is, where thin leaves of a white metal, such as tin
or silver, are applied to the article to be gilded, and then rubbed
over with a yellow transparent colour, through which the metallic
splendour appears, is much older than I believed it to be in the year
1780. The process for this purpose is given by the monk Theophilus,
whose fragments were first printed in 1781[704]. According to his
directions, tin beat into thin leaves was to be rendered of a golden
yellow colour by a vinous tincture of saffron, so that other pigments
could be applied over it. The varnish or solution of resin in spirit
of wine or oil, used for this purpose at present, appears not then to
have been known. But in the sixteenth century this art was very common;
and instructions respecting it were given by Garzoni[705], Cardan[706],
Caneparius[707] and others in their writings. About the same period a
pewterer at Nuremberg, named Melchior Koch, was acquainted with the art
of communicating a golden colour, in the like manner, to tin goblets
and dishes. He died in 1567; and with him, as Doppelmayer says, the
art was lost. A method of applying a white metal to paper, and then
drawing over it a gold varnish, has been known in China since the
earliest periods[708]. At present this method of gilding is practised
more in Sicily than in any other country. It appears also to have been
used, at an early period, for gilding leather and leather tapestry; and
this perhaps was first attempted at Messina, as we are told by John
Matthæus[709], who, however, in another place ascribes the invention to
a saint of Lucca, named Cita. But gilt leather was made as early as the
time of Lucian, who conjectures that Alexander the impostor had a piece
of it bound round his thigh[710]. The dress of the priests, on the
festival of Bacchus, was perhaps of the same kind[711].


[688] Herodot. lib. ii. 63. See Winkelmann Hist. de l’Art.--Caylus,
Recueil d’Antiquités, i. p. 193. Gori seems to have had in his
possession two Egyptian gilt figures. See Mus. Etr. t. i. p. 51.

[689] In the books of the Old Testament gilding and gold plates are
clearly mentioned. Moses caused several parts of the sanctuary to be
overlaid with gold. 1st. The ark of shittim wood was covered with gold
both on the outside and inside, Exodus, chap. xxv. ver. 11; also the
staves, ver. 13. 2nd. The wooden table with its staves, ver. 23 and 28.
3rd. The altar of burnt incense, chap. xxx. ver. 3. 4th. The boards
which formed the sides of the tabernacle, chap. xxvi. ver. 29.

Solomon caused various parts of the temple to be overlaid with gold.
1st. The whole inside of the house, 1 Kings, chap. vi. ver. 21 and
22. 2nd. The altar of burnt incense, ver. 20 and 22. 3rd. The wooden
cherubim above seventeen feet in height, ver. 28. 4th. The floor, ver.
30. 5th. The doors of the oracle, on which were carved cherubims,
palm-trees and open flowers, ver. 32 and 35, so that the gold
accurately exhibited the figures of the carved work.

Now the question is, whether all these were gilt, or covered, or
overlaid with gold plates. But when the passages are compared with each
other, I am inclined to think that gilding is denoted.

“The Hebrews probably brought the art of gilding with them from Egypt,
where it seems to have been very old, as gilding is found not only on
mummies, the antiquity of which indeed is uncertain; but, if I am not
mistaken, in the oldest temples, on images. It appears also, that in
the time of Moses the Hebrews understood the art both of gilding and of
overlaying with plates of gold, and expressed both by the general term

[690] Page 534.

[691] Lib. xxxiii. 3. The thicker gold-leaf was called, at that time,
bractea Prænestina; the thinner, bractea quæstoria.

[692] Osservazioni Istoriche sopra alcum Medaglioni Antichi. In Roma,
1698, fol. p. 370.

[693] Lucret. iv. 730.--Martial. viii. 33.

[694] Lessing zur Geschichte und Litteratur, iv. p. 309.

[695] L’oggidi overo gl’ingegni non inferiori à passati. Venet. 1636.

[696] Zusammenhang der Künste. Zurich, 1764, 8vo, i. p. 75. For further
information see Traité des Monnoies, par Abot de Bazinghen. Paris,
1764, 4to, i. p. 102.

[697] Rutty’s Natural History of Dublin, 1772, 2 vols. 8vo, i. p. 264.

[698] Von Uffenbach Reisen, iii. p. 218.

[699] I was told that Professor Pickel of Würzburg prepares
gold-beaters’ skin by means of a varnish, which renders it fitter for
use; and that a student of that place had found out the art of making
it transparent, in order that the wound might be seen.

[700] Lib. xxxiii. § 20, p. 616.

[701] Plin. lib. xxxv. § 17, p. 685.

[702] Lib. xxxiii. § 32, p. 622. “Cum æra inaurantur, sublitum bracteis
pertinacissime retinet. Verum pallore detegit simplices aut prætenues
bracteas. Quapropter id furtum quærentes ovi liquore candido usum
eum adulteravere.” See also sect. 42, p. 626. I acknowledge that
this passage I do not fully comprehend. It seems to say that the
quicksilver, when the gold was laid on too thin, appeared through it,
but that this might be prevented by mixing with the quicksilver the
white of an egg. The quicksilver then remained under the gold; but
this is impossible. When the smallest drop of quicksilver falls upon
gilding, it corrodes the noble metal, and produces an empty spot. It
is therefore incomprehensible to me how this could be prevented by
the white of an egg. Did Pliny himself completely understand gilding?
Perhaps Pliny only meant to say, that many artists gave out the
cold-gilding, where the gold-leaf was laid on with the white of an egg,
as gilding by means of heat. I shall here remark, that the reader may
spare himself the trouble of turning over Durand’s Histoire Naturelle
de l’Or et d’Argent, Londres 1729, fol. This Frenchman did not
understand what he translated.

[703] Principes de l’Architecture. Paris, 1676, 4to, p. 280.

[704] Lessing zur Geschichte und Litteratur, vi. p. 311.

[705] Piazza Universale. Venet. 1610, 4to, p. 281.

[706] De Rerum Var. xiii. cap. 56.

[707] De Atramentis.

[708] Mémoires concernant les Chinois, xi. p. 351.

[709] De Rerum Inventoribus, Hamb. 1613, 8vo, pp. 41, 37.

[710] Luciani Opera, ed. Bipont. v. p. 100.

[711] Plutarchi Sympos. iv. _in fine_.


As long as mankind lived under palm-trees in their original country,
between the tropics, they had no occasion to provide either food or
clothing: the former was spontaneously supplied by the earth, that
is, without care or labour; and the latter in that warm climate was
superfluous. The art of cultivating plants, and that of preparing
clothes, were not innate, but first taught by necessity; and this did
not exist till men, in consequence of their increase, were obliged to
spread towards both the poles. In proportion as they removed from
their former abode, provisions became scarcer, and the climate colder.
Hence arose the breeding of cattle, as well as agriculture; and men
then first ventured on the cruelty of killing animals, in order that
they might devour them as food, and use their skins to shelter them
against the severity of the weather.

At first these skins were used raw, without any preparation; and many
nations did not till a late period fall upon the art of rendering
them softer, and making them more pliable, durable, and convenient.
As long as mankind traded only for necessaries, and paid no attention
to ornaments, they turned the hairy side towards the body; but as the
art of dressing skins was not then understood, the flesh side must
have given to this kind of clothing, when the manners of people began
to be more refined, an appearance which could not fail of exciting
disgust. To prevent this the Ozolæ inverted the skins, and wore the
hair outwards; and in this manner some account for the bad smell which
exhaled from their bodies[712]. This custom, however, was so general,
that Juvenal, where he describes a miserly person, says, “to guard
himself against the cold he does not wear the costly woollen clothing
of the luxurious Romans, but the skins of animals, and these even
inverted, that is to say, with the hairy side turned inwards, without
caring whether the appearance be agreeable or not[713].” In what manner
the art of tanning was afterwards found out, Goguet has endeavoured
to conjecture from the accounts given by travellers, in regard to the
savages in the northern parts of America and Asia, but particularly
in regard to the Greenlanders. The far more ingenious method of
manufacturing wool, first into felt and then into cloth, seems to have
been discovered by the inhabitants of temperate districts, where the
mildness of the winter rendered fur dresses unnecessary.

The sheep came from Africa; but in that country it has hair and not
wool; and it is only in colder climates that the former acquires a
woolly nature. If it be true that a Hercules first brought this species
of animal from Africa to Greece[714], that improvement may have first
been effected in the latter country; in which case it is probable that
the first attempts to manufacture wool were made by the Athenians,
that is to say, among the Greeks; for this art was before known to the
Egyptians, who ascribe the invention of it to their Isis.

It may be readily comprehended that many centuries must have elapsed
before the tender sheep could be conveyed to and reared in the northern
countries, where thick and immense forests produced in abundance a
great variety of those animals which were capable of supplying the
best furs; where mankind increased but slowly; applied to hunting till
a later period; and were not so soon compelled to employ artificial
methods of obtaining the most necessary productions; and where they
also lived too widely scattered to be soon conducted to the arts by
a communication of experience and inventions. The northern nations,
therefore, clothed themselves in the raw skins of animals, a long
time after the southern tribes were acquainted with the spinning and
weaving of wool, flax, and cotton; and on this account the former were
astonished at the appearance of the latter.

When the Greeks give us a picture of these barbarians, they scarcely
ever fail to state how disgusting they were on account of their dress;
which however, by the acknowledgement of their historians, was long
worn by their own forefathers[715]. The heroes even of the Grecian
fabulous history clothed themselves in the skins of the most terrible
animals[716], such as lions and tigers, and on these they also slept.
When the Romans wished to describe the manners of their ancestors, and
to exhibit the difference between them and their own, they commonly
mentioned the use of skins. Thus Propertius calls the senators of the
earliest periods the _pelliti_[717], and Valerius Maximus says[718],
speaking of the luxury of his time, that no one in imitation of Cato
would use goat skins as a covering to his bed. But it appears that
the Greeks and the Romans, at the time of their prosperity, when the
arts and sciences were cultivated among them, made little use of fur
clothing. It was worn at that period only on certain festivals, and
merely by the poorer classes and rustics[719], or employed in the time
of war[720]. At any rate, it is not mentioned among the dresses of the
rich, or articles of magnificence and ornament.

The ancient physicians, where they treat on the influence which
clothing has on the health, and the choice of it for winter and summer,
make no mention of furs. Suetonius, describing the manner in which the
emperor Augustus dressed in winter, names various articles of clothing,
but no furs; which the emperor, who was so sensible of cold, would
certainly have worn, had they been usual. They no doubt would have
been much more convenient and answered the purpose better, than the
four _tunicæ_ drawn over each other, and the thick _toga_, the woollen
shirt and breast-cloth, and all the other articles mentioned. Martial
ridicules a _petit-maître_, who wished for the arrival of winter and
for severe weather in that season, in order that he might exhibit his
costly winter dresses. Had furs, at that period, been the fashionable
and principal winter clothing, the poet certainly would not have
omitted to mention them. At present the _baccaræ_ for the like reason
make their appearance as soon as the first frost takes place, along
with large muffs, which leave scarcely any part of the body to be seen
but the head and the feet. Had furs been employed by way of ornament
in the time of Pliny, he no doubt would have noticed this use of them,
especially as he mentions and ridicules so many superstitious ways of
applying the skins of animals; but I do not remember to have read in
the works of this naturalist any account of fur clothing. He relates
that an attempt had been made to manufacture the fur of the hare; but
it had not succeeded, because the fur, on account of its shortness, as
he supposes, would not adhere, or, as we say at present, could not be
felted[721]. He, however, says nothing of hare’s fur being employed
to line clothes. It appears also that furs do not often occur as
clothing in the sacred scriptures[722]. In the third, or perhaps even
the second century of the Christian æra, fur dresses seem to have
been known to the Romans, and to have been much esteemed by them. The
numerous northern tribes, who at that time advanced towards the south,
were clothed in furs; but they were not all raw, dirty, and disgusting,
like those which had before been in use. It may with certainty be
supposed that the chief men among them had the most beautiful furs;
and that in general they were so well acquainted with the art of
preparing them, and wearing them in the most graceful manner, that they
by these means recommended them to the notice of the young Romans.
For that all those warlike tribes who attacked the Roman empire, and
in part subdued it, are not to be considered as uncultivated, savage
barbarians, unacquainted with the arts or the sciences, addicted
to plundering and murder, who overturned governments and destroyed
public happiness and trade, has been lately remarked, when the French
applied the term Vandalism to the horrid cruelties committed during the
late revolution[723]. It can be proved that the Romans adopted from
their uninvited guests those kinds of dress; that furs soon became
fashionable among them, and were an object of luxury and of commerce;
and it appears that skins were the first article which occasioned a
trade from Italy to the most distant parts of the North, as in the
fifteenth century they were the cause of the discovery and conquest of

The later the art of manufacturing wool, and of converting the noble
metals into lace and other ornaments, was known, in the northern
countries, and the later the inhabitants became acquainted with cotton,
silk, and precious stones, the earlier and the more they exerted
themselves to find out and prepare the most beautiful furs, and to trim
and to border with them their dresses; and it needs excite no surprise
that the southern nations, though their climate did not require it,
adopted this magnificence; especially as the distance and scarcity of
furs made them dear enough to be considered by the rich and people of
rank as a luxurious mark of distinction. This, in my opinion, will be
proved by what follows.

When historians speak of those northern nations with whom the Romans
carried on long and for the most part unfortunate wars, they scarcely
ever forget to mention their fur clothing; and this is the case in
particular with those writers who lived at the time. We are told by
Herodotus, that the people near the Caspian sea clothed themselves in
seal-skins. The same thing is related by Strabo of the Massagetæ; and
Cæsar and Sallust both assert, that the skin of the rein-deer formed
in part the clothing of the ancient Germans. I allude here to those
dresses which they call _renones_. That this word is derived from the
animal named at present by the Swedes _Ren_; that the rein-deer was
common in ancient Germany, when, in consequence of its being covered
with forests and marshes, it had a much colder climate and produced
more rein-deer moss than at present; and that Cæsar, where he describes
the most remarkable things of Germany, mentions the rein-deer under
the name of _bos cervi figura_, I think I have proved in my juvenile
production on the ancient animals of that country. _Reno_ is also
_Lappmud_, or the rein-deer skin, which is still worn in Sweden,
which I have worn there myself, and which is handsome and costly. The
objection of Wachter[724] to this opinion is of very little weight. How
is it possible to believe, says he, that these animals were formerly
so numerous, that all the Germans and Gauls could clothe themselves in
their skins? But on this occasion he does not recollect what he has
often proved by examples, that the name of a species is often given
to the whole genus. Because a great many wore _renones_, of which the
Romans perhaps were fondest, they gave the name of _renones_ to all
these fur dresses of the Germans. The proofs, in ancient authors, in
regard to the fur clothing of the Scythians, the Goths, the Getæ, and
Huns, are too numerous to be collected. I shall therefore refer only to
those passages which I have occasionally remarked, and which I shall
soon employ for another purpose[725].

It can easily be proved that the Germans and other northern nations,
in consequence of their intercourse with the Romans, gradually left
off the use of furs, and became more and more accustomed to woollen
clothing; and, on the other hand, that the Romans adopted the state
dress of their conquerors. Even in the time of Tacitus, those Germans
who lived on the Rhine and the Danube, and consequently who were
nearest to the Romans, set much less value on furs than those who,
residing further within the country, were at a greater distance from
intercourse with foreigners and from trade[726]. The latter had the
most costly furs, which they knew how to ornament and variegate with
trimmings of every kind, in the same manner perhaps as our furriers
at present ornament white fur with the tail of the ermine[727]. These
people possessed no other articles of luxury, and had no other means
of distinguishing themselves among their countrymen, but by the rarity
and costliness of their furs. Such was the case with the Spartans
when Lycurgus deprived them of all their superfluities. They then
ornamented, and thereby enhanced the value of the necessary articles
they had left, beds, tables and wooden bowls, from which they drank
water, and to such a degree, that at length these things were as
capable of gratifying the taste of luxury as the foreign wares they had
before purchased at so dear a rate[728].

The same thing has been remarked by the Danish and Swedish historians.
When these nations, by their sea voyages, piratical expeditions and
trade, became acquainted with foreign manners, and more convenient
kinds of clothing, they accustomed themselves to wool, cotton and silk;
yet, in so slow a manner, that the use of these wares was introduced as
an extravagant luxury. Harold Härdrät Sigurdson, or Harold IV. king
of Norway, in the middle of the eleventh century, who had collected
great riches in the Levant, wore a red mantle lined with white furs. In
the twelfth century the principal men at the Danish court were clothed
in sheep-skins[729]; and when Duke Canute, or Canute Laward, the son
of Eric Eiegod, who was assassinated in the year 1131, appeared at a
festival at Ripe in a dress of red cloth, he excited attention and
envy, and was subjected to the mortification of hearing the most bitter
sarcasms from Henry Skatteler, or rather Skokal, that is, the lame, who
wore a native sheep-skin[730].

That furs were considered by the Getæ as objects of magnificence, and
that as such they were worn by their kings and the principal men at
court, is proved by the passages I have quoted. The reproach thrown
out by Claudian against Rufinus, that he was not ashamed to wear Getic
furs, proves that the Romans adopted the manners of their conquerors,
and that this practice was censured by their patriots. It is worthy of
remark also, that the jurists, Ulpian and Paulus, reckon furs among
articles of dress, to which before their time they did not belong[731].

Acron, an old commentator on Horace, whose period, as far as I know,
has not yet been determined, says that in his time the senators and
principal men, when they appeared in their official dresses, wore
costly furs obtained from foreign countries, and Tertullian[732]
indignantly inveighs against the female dresses bordered and trimmed
with furs, which seem to be mentioned also by bishop Maximus in the
fifth century.

In the year 397, the emperor Honorius forbade Gothic dresses, and in
particular furs, to be worn either in Rome or within the jurisdiction
of the city; but that such orders against fashions had very little
effect appears from this circumstance, that these laws, extended as
well as rendered more severe, were renewed in 399 and 416, and yet
were not obeyed. Even the Goths themselves were forbidden to use such
dresses. The Gothic servants, who at that time were kept in most
families, were to be subjected to corporal punishment, and those of
higher rank to a fine, in case they transgressed this prohibition. But
Synesius, who lived at that period, and as a good patriot lamented the
use of these outlandish dresses, which afforded a melancholy presage
that the dominion of the Goths would at length prevail, relates, that
the principal men among these people appeared at Rome in the Roman
dress, but on their return home they exchanged it for their native
clothing, and again assumed their furs.

Furs, however, were not the only part of the Gothic costume which
became modish among the Romans; for they adopted also their breeches
or hose. That such articles of dress were not used before that time,
either by the Greeks, the Romans, or the Hebrews, has been proved by
many. On this account mention is so often made of indecent postures,
as when the Scotch Highlanders _rendent les armes_, by which parts are
exposed that modesty requires to be concealed. This is considered by
Theophrastus as one of the marks of clownishness[733]. Thus, a posture
inadvertently assumed, exposed Philip to reproach, as we are told by
Plutarch[734]; and to guard against a similar indecorum, Cæsar, as he
fell, collected his robes around him. Hence, as is well known, the
expression retained by Luther, _seine Füsse bedecken_, “to cover one’s
feet,” or as the Greeks say, “to compose one’s clothes[735].” Persons
who laboured under weakness or indisposition, wrapped bandages around
their legs; and in the time of Quintilian, the use of these could be
excused only by sickness[736]. They, however, became afterwards more
common, so that by Ulpian they are reckoned among the ordinary articles
of dress[737]. They formed a step towards breeches, properly so called,
which, as is well known, covered for many centuries the loins, thighs
and legs, as may be seen on seals and carved work of the thirteenth
century[738]. That the Batavians, Gauls, Germans, Sarmatians, Getæ,
Goths, &c. had such articles of clothing, is proved by many passages
in ancient authors, already quoted by others, and by the well-known
appellation _Gallia braccata_. The _anaxurides_ also of the Persians
were breeches, which the Romans adopted, not from these people, but
from the northern nations, yet without the approbation of the patriots,
who exclaimed against them, as they had before done against furs. At
first they seem to have been used only on journeys and in war. When
the Gothic costume was forbidden by Honorius, breeches were expressly
mentioned; and Ovid reproaches the people of Tomi, on the Pontus
Euxinus, that though they wished to be thought of Greek extraction,
they were not ashamed to wear Persian breeches[739].

As furs for dresses of ceremony were either not used at all by the
Greeks and the Romans, or were adopted only at a late period and seldom
employed, an account of the fur trade is not to be expected in their
writings. I am well aware that Isaac Vossius had an idea that the
history of the golden fleece might be considered as the oldest trace
of it[740], and therefore asserted that the object of the Argonautic
expedition to Colchis was a commercial speculation, as was the case
with the voyages of the English to Nootka Sound. It is also true that
this opinion met with some approbation; but it has no more probability
than that entertained by the alchymists in regard to the same
expedition since the time of Suidas. That the Colchi, indeed, carried
on a very extensive trade is sufficiently proved by the testimony of
Pliny and Strabo; but the latter, in the catalogue of wares, mentions
timber for ship-building, pitch, wax, linen and hemp, but not furs,
which at that time could not be an article much sought after in foreign

Another account which we read in Pliny seems much rather to refer to
the fur trade. I here allude to that quoted by Böttiger[741], from
which it appears that furs were reckoned among the articles obtained
at that time from the Seres[742]. I, however, freely confess that I
cannot readily admit this single word of Pliny as a complete proof. As
far as I have yet been able to find, other writers, among the articles
furnished by the Chinese, mention iron, pearls, silk, cotton, and silk
or cotton clothes, but say nothing of furs; and it is very improbable
that a country which produced silk or cotton could supply such furs as
would be worth conveying to so great a distance. The only thing I can
admit is, that the furs were brought by a transit trade to Europe; that
is to say, the Seres obtained them from the fur countries, properly
so called, or those which at present furnish sables, and again sold
them to the Romans. Now this was a very circuitous route, whether we
consider _Serica_ to have been China, Siam, or the Lesser Bucharia;
yet not so circuitous as that by which the Chinese obtained from the
English, through Russia, the best beaver-skins brought from Canada and
Hudson’s Bay.

Were we to reckon among the _pelles Serum_ of Pliny the _lucida
vellera_, _tactu mollia Serum_, mentioned by Seneca, Boethius and
others, we should undoubtedly be in an error; for these may be
explained by the false information which at that time was obtained
partly in regard to cotton, and partly in regard to silk, and which
may be seen in Solinus[743] and others. Is it not possible that these
_lucida vellera_ may have been meant likewise by Pliny?

I have some doubts also respecting a passage of Strabo, where he
relates that among the wares brought by the nomadic tribes of Europe
and Asia to the Tanais, or present Azoph, at the mouth of the Don,
there were slaves and furs[744]. It is certain that _dermata_ may
signify, not only furs, but also tanned skins. If Strabo here meant
furs, I am inclined to conjecture that they were disposed of in the
nearest countries, but did not come into the European trade; and
the case, perhaps, was the same with the slaves mentioned in the
same passage. Polybius also, among the wares brought from Pontus to
Byzantium, mentions _dermata_[745]. I must, however, confess, that if I
found that the Romans actually obtained _dermata_ from Asia, I should
carefully examine whether under that term skins, or even dyed leather,
were not rather meant. Skins, and particularly for military purposes,
they indeed procured from very distant places. Thus the Frieslanders,
instead of a tax, were obliged to supply ox-hides[746]; and it may be
proved by the testimony of various writers, that the art of giving a
beautiful dye to leather is very old in Asia; and therefore that many
kinds of what we call morocco was at an early period brought from
thence to Europe.

On the other hand, from what is said by Ælian[747], I entertain no
doubt that in his time a trade in furs was carried on with Persia. To
that country were sent, he says, the soft skins of the Pontic mouse,
which, when sewed together, formed warm dresses. I am convinced also
that more proofs might be found of the use of fur-clothing among
the Persians. They employed furs likewise instead of mattresses and
bolsters. Thus we are told by Plutarch[748] that Pharnabazus reclined
upon soft furs: and it is not improbable that the rough or thick
winter gloves of the Persians, mentioned by Xenophon, were of the same
material[749]. It is stated by modern travellers, that at present sable
and ermine skins are among the most common and valuable ornaments of
the Persians; and it is well known that the costume of these people is
very old, because they are not exposed as we are to the influence of
fickle fashion.

But the Persian skins, _pelles Parthicæ_ or _Persicæ_, which are often
extolled, especially in later times, on account of their beauty, do
not belong to this head; though Vossius, Brisson and Gesner, consider
them to have been sables. They were undoubtedly different kinds of
dyed leather, of which shoes were made for princes and opulent persons.
In the time of the emperor Maximianus, a Roman soldier having found
a leathern purse which contained real pearls, threw away the latter
and retained only the purse, because it had a beautiful colour[750].
Of the same kind of leather was that dyed with kermes, mentioned by
Zosimus[751]; and that which by Constantine Porphyrogenetes, where he
mentions all those wares which the northern nations obtained through
Constantinople, is expressly named highly-dyed Persian leather.

Of a similar kind, as appears, was the Babylonian leather. Zonaras[752]
speaks of a costly tent made of it; and in the time of St. Jerome
it was considered as an object of luxury. As Persian and Babylonian
leather are mentioned at the same time, there is reason to think that
a distinction was made in commerce between these two kinds[753]. The
emperor Constantine, among the persons charged to furnish articles
for the imperial wardrobe at Constantinople, and who on that account
enjoyed certain immunities, mentions the _parthicarii_, _particarii_,
or _parthiarii_[754]; and though we are uncertain in regard to the
orthography, it may be readily conceived that these words do not
allude, as Vossius says, to furriers, but to merchants who dealt in
costly dyed, and perhaps painted skins, which they procured from
Persia. It is well-known that at present the Persians understand the
art of preparing and dyeing many kinds of leather in a more beautiful
manner than the Europeans; and among these in particular are shagreen
and morocco, which are still imported from the East[755].

From the grounds here adduced, I am led to conjecture that the trade in
furs to the southern parts of Europe had its commencement during the
expeditions of the northern tribes to Italy; and I must acknowledge
that I have found no older information on this subject than that
furnished by Jordanes or Jornandes, who lived in the sixth century.
This writer, speaking of the northern nations, mentions the _Suethans_,
and says[756], that these are the people who send to the Romans the
celebrated furs; which, however, passed necessarily through the hands
of many intermediate tribes. These Suethans, according to his account,
inhabited a part of _Scanzia_, and that under this name he included
Sweden, Norway, Lapland, Finland, &c. has been already proved by
Mascou[757]. Soon after he mentions also _Hanugari_, whom he reckons
among the Scythians; these he says were known on account of their trade
with mouse-skins[758].

It is too well known to require any proof, that in the oldest periods
the whole riches of the northern countries consisted in furs; that
these, if not the only, were the principal wares exported, and that
all taxes were paid with them. Other, who lived in the ninth century,
states the number of marten, rein-deer, bear and otter skins, which
were delivered annually by the Finlanders and Norwegians[759]. When
Thorolf, in the year 878, sent a ship to England with merchandise,
there were among it _pelles mustelinæ albæ_[760]. I shall remark
also, that so early as the third century skins and leather began to be
counted by _decuriæ_; from which is derived the appellation _decher_,
adopted into the English, Swedish and Danish languages, as well as the
word _dacra_ or _dacrum pellium_[761], used in the middle ages. Sables
and ermines, however, are still sold by _zimmern_; and this appellation
also is very old. A _timber_ of hare-skins occurs about the year 1300,
and _unum timbrium martrinarum_ as early as 1207. At present a _zimmer_
makes four _dechers_ or twenty pairs, and in the time of George
Agricola sable-skins were sold in this manner, forty in one lot[762].
But a _zimmer_ has not always been the same in all countries and at
all times; at any rate in France a _zimmer_, _timbre_, was reckoned to
contain sixty skins.

Before I proceed further, I must endeavour to explain the different
names of furs which occur in the works of the ancients; but in this
attempt I can scarcely hope to attain to great probability. The
information of the ancients in regard to those species of animals
with the country of which they were not acquainted, is exceedingly
defective. What they relate was obtained from the accounts of
merchants; and these, in all probability, through a principle of
self-interest, falsified the little that they really knew. Besides,
the ancient writers do not always accurately distinguish the names of
the different furs, nor affix to them the same meaning; which is the
less surprising, as few know how to give proper names to the principal
kinds of furs even at present. It is probable that the skins of the
ermine, marten, and squirrel, became at a very early period objects of
commerce, and formed the chief articles in this branch of trade; but
from the little known on this subject, no zoologist would venture to
determine with certainty the species. He must be so candid as to admit
all conjectures which he is not able to refute.

If I am not mistaken, the skin of the mouse, and particularly the
Pontic or Caspian mouse, is that of which the first and most frequent
mention occurs in the oldest times. That the name _mus_ denoted at
first not only that animal to which we apply it, but also all small
warm-blooded quadrupeds, has been long ago remarked. In the same manner
every large animal was formerly called _bos_. When the Romans first
saw elephants they gave them the name of _boves lucæ_. Pausanias also
calls the rhinoceros the Ethiopian ox; and Cæsar names the rein-deer,
the ox with stag’s horns. The ox was the largest, as the mouse was the
smallest, warm-blooded animal with which the ancients were acquainted,
and therefore they called all large animals oxen, and all small ones
mice[763]. It is to be observed, in explaining the ancient names of
animals, that at first they had a much more extensive signification,
and one must endeavour to conjecture what the animals comprehended
under them had in common with each other, according to the ideas of
the ancients. To words of this kind _formica_ seems to belong, and
perhaps the principal idea related to collecting and laying up; and
perhaps in this manner one might be able to explain the fable of the
gold-searching ants, mentioned by Herodotus. It is however often
difficult to conjecture what the principal idea was. What idea did the
ancients affix to the term _passer_ (sparrow), when they called the
ostrich the large Libyan or Arabian sparrow? We learn nothing more
therefore from the words _pelles murium_, than that they were not the
skins of large animals. The epithets Pontic and Caspian only show, that
these wares, like many others, were brought from Pontus and the Caspian
sea. From such epithets were we to determine the original country of
any article used in commerce, or the place where it was first produced,
we should often fall into error. Wares were frequently called Syrian,
Turkish and Arabian, though it is certain that they were brought from
very different countries.

What further information I have been able to find in regard to this
species of animal, merely is, that its skin was exceedingly soft;
that it formed a good defence against the wind, and that a great many
of them were sewed together in order to make a garment[764]. Now, if
credit be given to the account of Aristotle and Pliny, that the Pontic
mouse belongs to the ruminating class of animals, how can anything
characteristic be deduced from it?

Those who wish to afford more room for conjecture might, from a
passage of St. Jerome, render it probable that this kind of fur had
the same smell as musk. Musk indeed was then known; but is it not
possible that this father may have considered the musk animal to be
a mouse, as Conrad Gesner suspected? To me it is more probable that
he was acquainted with the musk bags used in commerce, and named them
_peregrini muris olentes pelliculæ_. It however cannot be proved by
this passage, that the skin of the musk animal was purchased for fur
clothing on account of its smell. For, in the first place, the skin
of this animal, with the hair on it, has not a musky smell; and this
is known not only from the description given of it, but is proved by
a skin which I obtained in a very fresh state. In the second place,
this animal is as large as a deer half a year old; the size therefore
will not warrant the use of the diminutive _pellicula_. And, in the
third place, the skin does not afford valuable fur. The hair is thick;
almost bristly, and so tender that it breaks with the least force.
These skins are used only by the natives of the country where they are
produced, for caps and winter clothing; but when they have been freed
from the hair, and tanned white, they form leather exceedingly soft and
fine. Those who are satisfied with an appearance of probability may
recollect, in reading the passage of Jerome, that the sable, when daily
used, throws out a faint and not unpleasant smell of musk, and assert
that the Pontic mouse was the sable.

Far more probable is the conjecture of our great zoologist, that
_mus Ponticus_ was the name given at first to the earless marmot,
_M. catili_, and that it was afterwards applied to the squirrel and
ermine[765]. This opinion he supports by the observation, that the
torpidity in winter, the rumination, and the affinity to the alpine
mouse, _M. alpinus_, which Pliny seems to acknowledge[766], agree
better with the _M. catili_ than any other animal. To this may be
added, that it is said by Hesychius and Phavorinus, that the Parthian
name of the animal was _simoor_; and that the earless marmot is still
named by the Tartars _symron_, and by the Calmucks _dshymbura_. The
similarity is indeed great, and this opinion is further confirmed
by the skins of the earless marmot being used at present by some of
the Siberian tribes for summer clothing, and sent as articles of
commerce, with other furs, to China, though they belong only to the
cheapest kinds, so that a thousand of them cost scarcely eight or ten

Amidst this scanty information, were I allowed to offer a conjecture,
I should be inclined rather to the opinion of those who consider the
Pontic mouse to have been our ermine. For, in the first place, this
animal is very abundant in the countries from which the ancients
obtained their beautiful furs; and it seems almost impossible that they
should not at an early period have remarked the superiority of its skin
to that of the earless marmot. Secondly, it appears that the Pontic
mouse has been commonly considered as the ermine, since that name in
general was known; and there is reason to think that our forefathers
could not err in the name of an article which has been uninterruptedly
employed in commerce.

The name ermine occurs very often in works of the middle ages,
and written in various ways, such as _Harmellina_, _Harmelinus_,
_Ermelinus_, _Harminiæ_ and _Arminiæ_ or _Armerinæ_ or _hereminiæ
pelles_, _Ermena_, _Erminea_ and _erminatus_, ornamented with ermine;
all which words Du Cange supports by proofs. At what time these names
were first used I am not able to determine; but they are to be found,
at any rate, as early as the eleventh century, in the letters of Peter
Damiani[768]. Du Cange asserts that they came from Armenia, in which
country this kind of fur was in old times highly esteemed, as is proved
by a passage in Julius Pollux; and this appears the more probable, from
the circumstance that the words _Hermenia_ and _Hermenii_ were formerly
used and written instead of _Armenia_ and _Armenii_[769]. Fischer has
rejected this opinion too inconsiderately, because the ermine was not
procured from Armenia, but sent through it, from the northern countries
to Europe. The same thing is said by Du Cange; but he gives it to be
understood that this commodity was among the Armenian productions; and
even if he has erred in this respect, his derivation still remains the
most probable. Marco Polo, the celebrated traveller of the thirteenth
century, mentions the ermine among the most expensive ornaments of the
Tartars, and says that it was brought from the northern countries to

The sable seems to have been known much later than the ermine. Its
real country is the most northern part of Asia, to which commerce
was not extended till a late period; yet it is probable that it was
known before the Russians became acquainted with Siberia, by means
of the Permians, Woguls and Samoeides, at the end of the fifteenth
century. It is also fully proved that the fine furs of Siberia were
the production which induced the Russians to make a conquest of that
country[770]. Besides, sables existed formerly in Permia, where at
present they are very scarce. The numerous remains of antiquity still
found in Siberia prove that at a very early period it was inhabited by
a people who carried on commerce, and were well-acquainted with the

Conrad Gesner believed that the name sable occurs for the first time in
Albertus Magnus, who wrote in the thirteenth century, under the word
_Cebalus_, or _Chebalus_. In the same century Marco Polo mentions,
at least in the Latin translation, _zibellina pellis_, as a valuable
kind of fur. But if _sabelum_ be the sable, as the similarity of the
word seems to show, it must have been known in the twelfth century,
and even earlier. The name _sabelum_ occurs in Alanus Insulanus, and
Du Cange found _sabelinæ pelles_ as early as the year 1138, though
_sabelum_ perhaps means the marten. _Gebellinica pellis_, _gibelini_
or _gibellini martores_, were mentioned in the eleventh century, and
_sabellinæ_ and _gebellinicæ pelles_ were undoubtedly the same[771].
I shall not however enter further into this inquiry, which it appears
would be endless, and at the same time of little benefit.

The marten, the fur of which approaches nearest to that of the sable,
appears to be first mentioned by Martial, who says, speaking of an
unsuccessful hunting excursion, that the hunter was overjoyed if he
caught only a marten[772]. But the reading is very doubtful; for many,
instead of _martes_, read _meles_; and the latter occurs in Varro,
Pliny, and other writers, whereas the former is found nowhere else.
In the middle ages, however, or at any rate in the twelfth century,
_martures_, _mardrini_, and _marturinæ vestes_ frequently occur; and
I can see no reason why they may not be considered as marten skins, a
name which has been retained in all the European languages.

With as little certainty can it be determined what our forefathers
meant by the words _vares_, _varii_, _vairus_, _vajus_, _varus_,
_vayrus_, _veyrus_ or the _vair_ of the French, and under _griseum_
and _grisum_. That they belong to costly kinds of fur is universally
admitted. Sometimes _varium_ and _griseum_ appear to be the same; and
sometimes the former seems to be more valuable than the latter. That
the former was spotted, or parti-coloured, is apparently announced by
the name; for both the leopard and panther are by Pliny called _variæ_.
What in heraldry is named by the French _vair_, and the Germans
_eisenhütlein_, _vellus varium_, and which is considered by the former
as the skin of an animal gray on the back and white on the belly[773],
alludes to this also. Sometimes, however, it seems to signify a fur
dress composed of differently-coloured pieces of fur sewed together.
Most writers are of opinion that it means _grauwerk_, _petit-gris_,
_vech_, _veh_, _vech_, _vehwammen_, also the squirrel; and there
is certainly a species of that animal which might justify the name
_varius_, as its skin is at present employed for variegated bordering
or trimming; but I do not know whether _grauwerk_[774] could be so
dear as _varium_ is said to have been, as it is among the productions
of Europe, though the best at present comes from Siberia. The word
_veeh_ is derived, as Frisch says, from the Italian _vaio_; the latter,
according to Muratori[775], is formed from _varius_, and even at
present a dress lined with fur is called _roba vaja_.

_Cirogillinæ pelles_, named by the council of Paris in the year 1212,
were rabbit skins[776]. Rabbit warrens, so early as the thirteenth
century, were not scarce in England; for in a letter of grace
respecting the forests, in 1215, every proprietor was permitted to
establish them on his own lands[777].

By the term _cattinæ pelles_[778], which are also often named, must
undoubtedly be understood cats’ skins. In France, in the twelfth
century, the skins of native animals were considered as of little
value; but the Spanish and Italian were highly prized. The skins of
the black fox, which at present are the dearest kind of furs, as a
single one in Russia is often sold for six hundred and even a thousand
roubles, occur in the thirteenth century, among the wares which were
sent from the most northern countries to Europe[779]; and without doubt
these were meant by Damiani in the passage above quoted[780].

Clothing made of the beaver skin occurs much earlier. It seems to be
mentioned by Claudian[781] in the fourth century; and it is spoken of
by Ambrosius[782], who lived at the same period. Sidonius Apollinaris,
in the fifth century, called those who wore it _castorinati_. The
scholiast of Juvenal, who indeed belongs to an unknown but much later
period, has also _pelles bebrinæ_ or _beverinæ_. As the ermine was
called the Pontic mouse, the beaver was named the Pontic dog.

I however firmly believe that this castor clothing was no more fur
clothing, than our beaver hats are fur hats. At that time the hair was
spun and wove; and Claudian, in my opinion, speaks of a worn-out beaver
dress, which had nothing more left of that valuable fur but the name.
This method of manufacturing beavers’ hair seems not to have been known
in the time of Pliny; for though he speaks much of the castor, and
mentions _pellis fibrina_[783] three times, he says nothing in regard
to manufacturing the hair, or to beaver fur. As attempts, however, had
then been made to manufacture the fur of the hare, it is probable that
beaver hair began to be worn soon after. Isidorus, who lived nearly
about that period, as he died in 636, reckons beaver hair, which he
calls _fibrinum_, among the materials employed for making cloth[784];
and where he enumerates the different kinds of cloth, he mentions also
_vestis fibrina_, and says that the warp was of beaver, and the woof of
goats’ hair, perhaps the so-called camel hair[785]. An upper garment
of this cloth was worn by the emperor Nicephorus II. Phocas, at his
coronation in the year 963, which undoubtedly was not a castor pelisse;
because fur clothing, as I shall soon prove, was not fashionable at the
court of the Greek emperors[786].

It deserves here to be remarked, that furs began to be dyed so early
as the twelfth century; and it appears that the colour was chiefly
red, for we find _pelles rubricatæ arietum_, that is, sheep-skins dyed
red; but Du Cange thinks he can prove that the skins of the marten and
ermine were dyed of the same colour. This I can believe in regard to
the ermine; but to dye the dark fur of the marten and sable would, in
my opinion, be hardly possible. St. Bernard[787] says, that such red
dyed leather in the twelfth century was called _gulæ_, which, with
_Hermin engolé_ of the old poets, seems to signify the same thing,
ermine skins dyed red.

When fur dresses became fashionable in Italy, they were soon spread
all over Europe. At first the best indigenous furs were employed;
but afterwards those of foreign countries, as being superior; and
the dearer they were, the more they were esteemed. At every court
they formed the state costume of the reigning family, and in a little
time that of the richest nobility. In particular, the mantle, _cottes
d’armes_ of the knights, which they drew over their cuirass or harness,
was bordered with the costliest furs. It had no sleeves, and resembled
the dress of ceremony worn by our heralds. On this account, as is
well known, ermine and other kinds of fur became parts of the oldest
coats of arms. Sometimes magnificence, in this respect, was carried
to such an extravagant length, that moralists declaimed against it,
while governments endeavoured to limit the use of furs by laws, and the
clergy to prohibit them entirely. Many kinds, therefore, were retained
only by the principal nobility, and others were forbidden.

Charlemagne, however, wore in winter a pelisse which covered his
shoulders and breast; but being an enemy to all foreign dress, he
employed only the furs of his native country; and, according to the
statement of some manuscripts, otter skins alone[788]. It nevertheless
appears that the costly oriental furs were then known at his court; for
having gone out hunting with his suite, on a cold rainy holiday, he
himself wore only a sheep’s skin; but the dresses of his attendants,
who had become acquainted in Italy with the valuable articles in which
the Venetians then dealt, consisted of foreign cloth and furs. These,
when thoroughly drenched and dried at the fire, crumbled to pieces.
The emperor then caused his sheep’s skin when dried to be rubbed,
and showing it to his courtiers ridiculed them on their foreign fur
dresses, which though expensive were of little use[789]. The imperial
princesses, however, on holidays wore dresses ornamented with precious
stones, gold, silver and silk, and also foreign furs; at any rate the
princess Berta had a valuable mantle or tippet of ermine, which Alcuin
calls _murina_[790].

Fur gloves were at that time usual also. The monks, at least, in winter
wore gloves of sheep’s skin, which were called _muffulæ_; whereas the
summer gloves were named _wanti_[791].

In the Welsh laws of Hywel Dda, who reigned in the tenth century, the
skin of an ox, a deer, a fox, a wolf and an otter, are estimated at
the same price, that is, eight times as dear as the skin of a sheep
or a goat. The skin of a white weazle was eleven times as dear, that
of a marten twenty-four times, and that of a beaver one hundred and

In the year 1001 the emperor Otto III. sent an ambassador to
Constantinople, whose attendants were clothed in costly furs[793]. Adam
of Bremen, who lived in the same century, says, in his description of
the countries bordering on Poland and Russia, that from these districts
were procured those costly furs which were so eagerly purchased by the
luxurious[794]. When Godfrey of Bouillon, in the year 1096, paid a
visit to the emperor Alexius at Constantinople, what the latter chiefly
admired was the rich and costly dresses of the Europeans bordered with
furs[795]. In the beginning of the twelfth century the canons of a
cathedral suffered themselves to be corrupted by beautiful furs[796].
The use of them, however, was forbidden to the clergy at one of the
councils. According to that of London, in 1127, the abbesses and nuns
were to wear those only made of lamb-skins and cat-skins[797]. In the
year 1187, when the Christians were beaten near Tiberias, count Raimond
having treacherously gone over to the Turks, the latter found among the
plunder of the Christian camp a complete assortment of furs[798]. At
the end of the twelfth century, Gottfried or Gaufred, prior of Vigeois,
complained that no one would any longer wear sheep-skins and fox-skins,
which before had been worn by barons and the principal clergy[799].

We however find that princes sometimes endeavoured by the most
effective means to restrain this magnificence. When Philip II. of
France and Richard I. of England, about the end of the twelfth century,
undertook a crusade to the Holy Land, they resolved that neither of
them should wear ermine, sable, or other costly furs[800]. It appears
that a similar resolution was adopted by St. Louis (Louis IX.) in
the following century; for the historians, speaking of his crusade,
expressly say that he avoided all magnificence, and wore no costly
furs[801]. In the year 1336, in the reign of Edward III., king of
England, when foreign articles imported into the kingdom began to be
taxed, it was enacted, that no person whose yearly income did not
amount to a hundred pounds should wear furs, under the penalty of
losing them[802].

In Germany, in 1497, citizens who did not belong to the nobility or
equestrian order were forbidden to wear lining of sable or ermine.
According to an ordinance of 1530, common citizens, tradesmen, and
shopkeepers were to wear no trimmed clothes, nor to use marten or
other costly lining, and the rich were to wear lining made only of
lamb-skins, or those of the cow, fox, weasel, and the like. Merchants
and tradespeople were not to wear marten, sable, or ermine, and at
most weasel-skins; and their wives were to wear the fur only of the
squirrel. Counts and lords were allowed all kinds of lining, sable and
such like expensive kinds excepted. The latter permission was repeated,
word for word, in the year 1548.

When one considers how much the use of fur dresses was spread all over
Europe, it must excite astonishment that they were not introduced
at the court of Byzantium. No traces of them are to be found in any
of the Byzantine historians; not even in that work in which the
emperor Constantine describes the whole ceremonial of his court, and
in which dresses of various kinds are named, as Reiske has already
remarked[803]. Furs are nowhere represented on Grecian statues, in
paintings, or other works of art; and it will be seen in the passages
quoted, that in the magnificence which the European princes displayed
in the time of the crusades at the court of Constantinople, nothing
attracted so much attention as the different kinds of fur dresses. This
seems the more astonishing, as a great trade was carried on at that
time between Constantinople and those countries from which these wares
were sent to Europe.

Over one of the gates of Milan is an image cut out in stone of the
twelfth century, representing an emperor whose mantle is ornamented
with small triangular patches of fur. Flamma believed that this carving
was intended to represent one of the Greek emperors; but Giulini justly
remarks, in opposition to this opinion, that furs never occur in any
of the Greek sculpture. Besides, that image was evidently formed to
ridicule the emperor, as is proved by the hideous monster seated
close to him. But at that time the Milanese certainly had no cause
to offend the Greek emperor, with whom they were in alliance; and
Giulini has proved, in a very satisfactory manner, that the Milanese
erected this image to ridicule the emperor Frederick I., who was their
bitterest enemy[804]. On another image at Milan, cut out in stone, of
the thirteenth century, which represents the emperor of Germany on his
throne, surrounded by the electors, the latter have small mantles,
which are ornamented with triangular patches of fur of the same

[Since the discovery and settlement of Canada, furs or peltries have
mostly been obtained from the northern parts of America, some from the
states of Rio de la Plata, a few from Germany, Holland, &c.

The success obtained by the French after their settlement in Canada in
1608, induced the formation of the English Hudson’s Bay Company, which
was chartered by Charles II. in 1670, with the exclusive privilege of
trading with the Indians in the vast territories adjoining Hudson’s
Bay. But their charter never having been confirmed by parliament,
hunting in those regions was still considered as open to all British
subjects, and many engaged in it. In 1766, private adventurers began to
traffic from Michillimakinac, whose success incited others to follow
their example; and independent traders gradually spread over every
part of the country, until 1787, when these scattered parties were
united into one great body, under the name of the “North-west Company.”
The rivalry of these associations had the effect of inspiriting and
extending the trade, and led to constant and furious disturbances
between the two. At length, in 1821, the two concerns united, under
the title of the “Hudson’s Bay Fur Company,” with much advantage to
the peace of the fur countries, and perhaps to the permanent interests
of the trade. The skins collected by this company are all shipped to
London, mostly from their factories of York Fort and Moose Fort in
Hudson’s Bay; others from Fort Vancouver, on the river Columbia, and
from Montreal.

On the part of the United States, the fur trade is chiefly prosecuted
by the North American Fur Company, whose principal establishment is
at Michillimakinac, where it receives skins from the posts depending
on that station and from those on the Mississippi, Missouri and
Yellowstone rivers, and the great range of country extending thence
to the Rocky Mountains. Of other associations in the United States,
the most celebrated are Ashley’s Company from St. Louis, and Captain
Bonneville’s, formed at New York in 1831; which last has pushed its
enterprises into tracts between the Rocky Mountains and the coasts of
Monterrey and Upper California. Indeed the whole of the districts from
the Mississippi to the Pacific, and from the Arctic Sea to the Gulf
of Mexico, are now traversed in every direction by the hunter. Almost
all the American furs which do not belong to the Hudson’s Bay Company
find their way to New York, where they are either distributed for home
consumption, or exported chiefly to London.

The fur trade is also extensively pursued by the Russians in the north
of Asia and the north-west coast of America. Their chief association is
the Russian American Company of Moscow; and the principal markets for
their furs are the fairs of Kiachta, Novgorod and Leipsic.

London is the principal emporium of the fur trade: the vessels of the
Hudson’s Bay Company arrive here about September; the public sales are
held in March, and are attended by a great many foreign merchants,
whose purchases are chiefly sent to the great fairs of Leipsic, whence
they are distributed to various parts of the continent.]


[712] Pausan. x. 38. p. 895.

[713] Sat. xiv. 185.

[714] Varro De Re Rust. lib. i. 1, 6.

[715] Diodor. Siculus, Pausanias, Propertius.

[716] Virg. Æneid. viii. 177, 368; ix. 306; xi. 576. To the same
purpose are various passages in the Odyssey.

[717] Eleg. iv, 1. 12.

[718] Lib. iv. 3, 11.

[719] See Ferrarius De Re Vestiar. iv. 2. 2. in Thesaurus Antiquitat.
Roman. vi. p. 908. Aristophan. Nubes, 1, 1, 73.

[720] Livius, v. 2. p. 11.--Florus, 1. 12.--Tacit. Annal. 14.
38.--Corn. Nepos, Agesil. cap. 8.--Lipsius De Militia Rom. lib. v.
dial. 1, p. 313.

[721] Lib. viii. 55, p. 483. The hair of this animal seems to have been
an article of trade, and comprehended under the head of wool, as we
find by the Roman code of laws. L. 70. § 9.--De Legat. 3, or Digest.
lib. xxxii. leg. 70. 9. Cushions however were stuffed with it. See
Waarenkunde, i. p. 271.

[722] For the following information on this subject I am indebted to
the friendship of Professor Eichorn:--“Of furs being used as dresses of
magnificence I find very faint traces. I shall however quote all the
passages where allusion is made to furs.

“In Genesis, chap. xxv. ver. 25, Esau is said to have felt to the touch
like a hairy garment, אדרת שער. A fur dress must here be meant; for
Rebecca endeavoured to make Jacob like his brother, by binding pieces
of goats’ skins around his hands and neck.--Genesis xxvii. ver. 16.

“In Joshua, chap. vii. ver. 21, the true reading is אדות שכער,
and signifies a Babylonian mantle, consequently one made of wool,
respecting which many passages have been collected by various authors,
and particularly Fischer in Prolus. de Vers. Græc. Vet. Test. p.
87. One manuscript, according to Kennicot, has however אדרת שעו, a
hairy mantle or fur; but this has arisen either through an error in
transcribing, one consonant, נ _Nun_, being omitted; or from the
conjecture of some Jewish copyist, who was acquainted with costly furs
but not with a Babylonian mantle. If the reading of Kennicot is to be
retained, it would, on account of the price, be an important passage,
in regard to costly furs.

“Among the Hebrews, the prophets wore fur dresses, if not in general,
at any rate very often.

“The mantle of Elijah, 2 Kings, chap. ii. ver. 8, 13, 14, was of fur;
because on account of his clothing he was called a hairy man, 2 Kings,
chap. i. ver. 8.

“A hairy mantle, as a mark of distinction, is mentioned in the book of
Zechariah, chap. xiii. ver. 4.

“In 1 Maccabees, chap. xiii. ver. 37, the high priest Simon obtained
from king Demetrius βαίνη, which is certainly a false reading for
βαίτα, or βαίτη. The only question is, whether βαίτη, which was
merely a shepherd’s dress, consequently made of sheep skins, signified
also a dress of state, as there is reason to conjecture from the
persons who sent and who received it as a present. See Theocrit. Idyll.
iii. 25. et ibi Schol. Furs, as a present, in the hot climate of
Bassorah, are mentioned by Niebuhr.”

[723] The best refutation of this supposed Vandalism is to be found in
Schlözer’s Essay, in the second edition of F. I. L. Mayers Fragmenten
aus Paris. Hamb. 1798, 8vo, ii. p. 353. Nowhere do we find that the
works of art were destroyed by the Goths or Vandals; on the contrary,
it appears that they had sufficient culture to hold them in just
estimation. Genseric carried away works of art from Rome, in the same
manner as the Romans had done from Greece; but they were carefully
packed up and not destroyed; he did therefore what Bonaparte did in
those countries which were unable to withstand the force of his armies.
If the epithet of Vandalism is to be applied to modern events, it seems
most applicable to those who carried away works of art from countries
into which the conquerors promised to introduce the rights of man,
liberty, and happiness. The Christian writers, even, and among these
St. Augustine, admit that the Goths after their victories were not so
cruel and rapacious as the Romans. Orosius, who lived in the beginning
of the fifth century, relates, that a Goth of high rank, after the
taking of Rome, having found in a house some gold and silver vessels
which had been plundered from the church of St. Peter, gave notice
to Alaric, and that the latter caused them to be sent back safe to
the church. The account given of the arms and accoutrements of these
northern tribes proves also that they were acquainted with the arts,
and that they employed them to ornament their clothing. The fur dresses
therefore may have been very handsome.

[724] Glossarium, p. 1282.

[725] Virgilii Georg. iii. 381.--Ovid. Trist. iii. 10, 19; v. 7,
49.--Ex Ponto, iv. 10, 1.--Justinus, ii. 2, p. 43.--Seneca, epist.
90.--Rutilii Itiner. ii. 49.--Claudian, viii. 466; xxvi. 481.--Ammian.
Marcell. xxxi. 2.--Prudentius in Symmachum, ii. 695.--Isidor. Origin.
xix. 23.--Sidon. Apollin. epist. i. 2, where he describes Theodoric II.
king of the Goths, the son of Theodoric I. and brother of Thorismundus:
_pellitorum turba satellitum_. In epist. vii. 9, the kings of the Goths
are called _pelliti reges_.

[726] Tacitus De Moribus German. 17.

[727] Variegated furs of this kind sewed together are mentioned by
Pollux, vii. 60, p. 729.

[728] Plutarchus in Lycurgo. In like manner, the savages in the South
Seas are acquainted with the art of giving more beauty and value to
their ornaments made of feathers, shells, and the teeth of their
enemies killed in battle.

[729] Lagerbring Svea Rikes Hist. Part 2. p. 88.

[730] At this period the Danes appear to have spent in eating and
drinking the treasure they obtained in plundering; they employed their
time only in hunting and breeding cattle, and clothed themselves in
the skins of their sheep; but Canute endeavoured to introduce among
them the Saxon manners and dress. He had invited into his kingdom from
Lower Saxony, which at that time was considered the seat of the arts
and sciences, and refined manners, a great many workmen and artists, a
colony of whom he established in Roeskild, the capital.

[731] Digestor. lib. xxxiv.

[732] De Habitu Muliebri, cap. i. p. 551.

[733] Charact. cap. 5 et 12.

[734] Apophthegm.

[735] See Herodian, ix. 13.

[736] De Institut. Orat. xi. 3, 144.

[737] Lex. 25, De Auro, Argento, Mundo.

[738] See the instances quoted by G. S. Treuer in Anastasis Veteris
Germani Germanæque Feminæ. Helmst. 1729, 4to.

[739] Trist. v. 10, 31. For a complete history of their dress the
reader must consult the authors quoted in Fabricii Bibliograph.
Antiquaria, p. 861; and in Pitisci Lex. Antiq. v. Bracca.

[740] In his Annotations on Catullus, p. 100.

[741] In that learned and ingenious work, Erklärung der Vasengemälde,
i. 3, p. 186.

[742] Lib. xxxiv. cap. 14, § 41, p. 667.

[743] Cap. 50, § 3.

[744] Lib. xi. p. 755: ἀνδρόποδα καὶ δέρματα.

[745] Histor. lib. iv. p. 306.

[746] Tacitus, Annal. iv. 72.

[747] Hist. Animal. xviii. 17. The singular word καναυτᾶνες,
respecting which a great deal has been said by Pauw in his annotations
to Phile de Animal. 48, p. 246, has lately been translated by Böttiger
very happily, by the word _kaftane_, a kind of Turkish robe. In the
present day these dresses of ceremony are of cotton, with flocks of
silk worked into them, and for the most part are whitish, with a few
rudely-formed pale yellow flowers: but the word formerly may have
signified clothes in general, or fur clothing in particular, and
perhaps the silk flocks may have been at first intended to represent
fur. That furs at present are employed at Bassorah as presents, is
proved by Professor Eichorn.

[748] Vita Agesilai, p. 602. See also Hellenica, lib. iv.

[749] Cyropædia, lib. viii., where he mentions χειρίδας δασείας. The
Greeks and the Romans, however, did not wear gloves.

[750] Ammian. Marcell. xxii. 5, p. 232.

[751] Lib. v. 41.

[752] Annal. lib. xiii. In Athenæus, Deipnos. v. p. 197, Callixenus
describes Persian counterpanes with figures representing animals, but
I do not know whether I ought not, with Valois, to consider them as
painted leather, or rather worked tapestry.

[753] Digest. lib. xxxix. tit. 4, 16, 7, or L. ult. § 7, de publicanis.
In Gronovii Geographia Antiqua, p. 261, it is said that a great trade
was carried on in Cappadocia with Babylonian leather. The _vestes
leporinæ_ appear to have been made of the hair of the Angora rabbits.

[754] L. 7, C. de excus. mun. or Cod. lib. 10, tit. 47, 7.

[755] Chardin, iv. p. 245.

[756] De Rebus Geticis, cap. 3, p. 612.

[757] History of the Germans, vol. ii.

[758] Cap. 5, p. 616.

[759] Langebek Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, fol. ii. p. 111.

[760] Torfæi Hist. Norveg. P. 2, p. 34. Compare Schlözer’s Nordische
Geschichte in Algem. Welthistor. vol. xxxi. pp. 445, 458.--Having heard
from M. Schlözer that the first certain traces of the Russian fur trade
were to be found in the Russian Chronicles, works never yet used, I
requested him, as the only person in Germany who could draw from these
sources, to transmit to me what he had remarked on that subject. I am
indebted to him, therefore, for the following valuable information, the
result of a laborious comparison of various manuscript chronicles, for
which he will no doubt receive the reader’s thanks.

“The following passages are taken from the ten Russian Chronicles, the
greater part of them still in manuscript, as a proof that from the
ninth century tribute in furs was demanded from the people in Russia by
their conquerors.

I. “In the year 859, the Waringians, who came by sea, had tribute from
the Tschudi, the Slavi, the Meri, and the Kriwitsches, a squirrel per
man. The Chazares (in the Crimea) had tribute from the Poles (the
inhabitants of the Ukrain), the Severians and the Wæitsches, a squirrel
for each fireplace or hearth.

“The squirrel _Sciurus vulgaris_ had in the old and new Russian
language the five following names:--1st. ‘Bēla.’ This primitive word
has been lost in the new Russian language, but is still preserved in
the Chronicles, and in the adjectives ‘bēlij’ and ‘bēliczij mēch,
Grauwerk’ (squirrel-skins). ‘Bēl’ in all the Sclavonic dialects
signifies white. Can any connexion be discovered between the squirrel
and a white colour? 2nd. ‘Bēlka,’ the diminutive of the former, is at
present generally current. 3rd. ‘Wēkscha,’ from which is derived, 4th.
‘Wēkschitza,’ the diminutive. 5th. ‘Weweritza’ is old, but still exists
in the Polish.

“The variations of these words which occur in manuscripts are abundant,
and some of them exceedingly laughable. One transcriber has ‘bēla;’
most of the rest add ‘wēkscha,’ ‘wēkschitza’ or ‘weweritza,’ as if
‘bēla’ were the adjective white. Two manuscripts say expressly, ‘bēla,’
that is ‘wēkscha.’ In one, however, from ‘bēla weweritza’ has been made
‘bēla ‘dewitza,’ a fair or beautiful maid.

II. “In the year 883 Oleg went against the Drewians and Severians, whom
he obliged to pay tribute, each a black marten.

“‘Po czernē kunē’ stands in all the manuscripts; one only has the
diminutive ‘kunitzē.’ Another bad manuscript, which has ‘konē,’ a black
horse, is not worthy of any remark.

III. “In 969 Svātoslav spoke to his mother and boyars: ‘I am not fond
of Kief; I will reside in Pereyaslawetz on the Danube. There I shall be
in the middle of my lands, to which every thing good in my territories
flows: from the Greeks gold and _pavoloki_ (silk-stuffs?), and wine
and fruit of every kind; from the Tscheches (Bohemians) and Hungarians
silver and horses; from Russia _skora_, wax, honey, and servants.’
_Skora_, _skura_, furs (according to the Great Lexicon of the Russian
Academy), from which is derived _skornak_, similar furs prepared. That
coarse skins or furs (in Russian _schurka_), such as the _terga boum_,
imposed by the Romans on the Frieslanders, are not here meant, is
proved by a passage in the Chronicle of Nicon, vol. ii. p. 15, where it
is related of a savage people, who lived far to the north on the Ural,
that they gave _skora_ for a knife and a hatchet.

“That marten-skins, as well as pieces of them (_mortki_) and of
squirrel-skins, were used as money in Novogorod, till the year 1411, is
well-known from Saml. Russ. Geschichte, vol. v. p. 430.”

[761] Du Cange Glossarium.

[762] De Animantibus Subter. p. 490.

[763] Varro De Ling. Lat. lib. vi. p. 51.

[764] Seneca, epist. 90.

[765] Pallas, Novæ Species Quadr. e Glirium ord. 1778, p. 120.

[766] Lib. viii. 37.

[767] Pallas, p. 142. I shall here take occasion to remark, that the
use of this animal’s skin, as well as the name, occurs in the eleventh
century, in Bernardus Sylvester.

[768] Lib. ii. ep. 2.

[769] See a dissertation De l’Origine des Couleurs et des Métaux dans
les Armoiries, added by Du Cange to his edition of Joinville. Paris,
1668, fol. p. 127. See also the article _Hermine_, in his Glossary to
Geoffroy de Ville-Hardouin’s Conqueste de Constantinople; or the same
in Diction. Etymolog.

[770] Mullers Samlung Russischer Geschichte, vi. p. 491. Fischers
Sibirische Geschichte. St. Petersb. 1768, 8vo, p. 290.

[771] Du Cange, in his observations on Joinville, p. 137, thinks that
the _zebelinæ_ or _sabelinæ pelles_ came from Zibel or Zibelet, a
maritime town in Palestine, formerly called _Biblium_, because the
skins were sent from it to Europe. This author meant _Byblus_, at
present _Gibelet_ or _Gibeletto_; but this derivation appears to me
highly improbable.

[772] Epigram. x. 37, 18.

[773] Trier’s Wapen-Kunst, p. 62.--Gatterers Heraldik. p. 41.

[774] _Grauwerk veh_ or _feh_ means properly a kind of fur, composed of
that of the Siberian squirrel and the marten joined together.--TRANS.

[775] Antiquit. Ital. Medii Ævi, ii. p. 413.

[776] See the passages quoted by Du Cange, and what Gesner has said in
Histor. Animal. under the head _Cuniculus_.

[777] Rapin’s England.

[778] See this article in Du Cange and Hoffmann’s Lexicon.

[779] Marco Polo.

[780] Lib. ii. epist. 2.

[781] Epig. 92: de birro castoreo.

[782] De dignitate sacerdotali, cap. 5.

[783] Lib. xvii. cap. 28. § 47; xxxii. cap. 9 and 10.

[784] Lib. xix. cap. 27, p. 474.

[785] Lib. xix. cap. 22.

[786] Constantin. de Ceremoniis Aulæ Byzantinæ, i. p. 254: σκαραμάγγων
καστώριον. The editor, Reiske, thinks that it may have been a pelisse,
because Herodotus, iv. 109, speaks of the beaver’s skin being used for
clothing. But how different must the old Sarmatian manners have been
from the Byzantine!

[787] Epist. 42.

[788] Eginhartus, Vita Caroli Magni, cap. 23.

[789] This anecdote is related by the monk of St. Gall, whose name is
supposed to be Notker, in his book De Gestis Caroli Magni, ii. 27,
printed in Bouquet, Historiens de la Gaule, v. p. 152. Whether Notker
was the author of this chronicle or not, there can be no doubt that it
was written after the year 883 and before 887, as has been proved by
Basnage. _Pavontalis vestis_, a term used in this passage, does not
always signify cloth wove or painted so as to resemble the colours of
the peacock; the skin of the peacock was used for ornament; the people
of all nations indeed decorated themselves with feathers till they
became acquainted with dyeing. The art of those who prepared feathers
was banished by that of the dyers.

[790] Carmen De Carolo Magno, in Op. ii. p. 453, v. 225.

[791] At the council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 817, where the dress of
the monks was defined, it was ordered, “abbas provideat, unusquisque
monachorum habeat ... _wantos_ in æstate, _muffulas_ in hieme
vervecinas.” See Sirmond’s Concil. Antiq. Galliæ, Paris, 1629, fol. i.
p. 442. _Wantus_ is still retained in the Netherlandish dialect, where
_want_ signifies a glove without fingers, having only a place for the
thumb; perhaps it is the same word as _want_, _wand_, or _gewand_,
which formerly denoted every kind of woollen cloth. Hence is derived
the French word _gand_; for _gwantus_ and _gantus_ were formerly used
instead of _wantus_. It is equally certain that _muffula_ is of German
extraction; _mouw_ at present in Dutch signifies a sleeve. But at what
time that covering came into use into which both hands are thrust at
present to secure them from the frost, and which according to the size
now fashionable covers the whole body and is called a _muff_, I am not
able to determine.

[792] Leges Wallicæ, ed. Wottoni. Londini, 1730, fol. p. 261.

[793] Landulphus, lib. ii. c. 18, in Murat. Rer. Ital. Script., tom. iv.

[794] Adam Bremensis in Lindenbrogii Script. Rer. Germ., p. 67.

[795] Albertus Aquensis, in Gesta Dei per Francos, i. p. 203.

[796] Ivo Carn. Epistolæ 104.

[797] Canon 12.

[798] Albertus Aquensis, in Gesta Dei per Francos, i. p. 321.

[799] In Labbei Biblioth. Nova, tom. ii.

[800] Wilhelmus Neubrigensis, lib. iii. cap. 22.

[801] Wilhelmus de Nangis, p. 346. Gottfr. de Bello Loco, cap. 8.
Joinville Hist. de St. Louis, p. 118.

[802] Barrington’s Obs. on the more Ancient Statutes, 4to, p. 216.

[803] Constantini lib. de Ceremoniis Aulæ Byzantinæ, 1754.

[804] Giulini, Mem. della Città di Milano, vi. p. 407.

[805] Ib. viii. p. 443.


Steel is a carburet of iron, and possesses some remarkable properties,
by which it is distinguished from common iron. It is of such a superior
degree of hardness, that it is capable of filing the latter; it strikes
fire with siliceous stones, and scratches the hardest glass; it is
heavier, emits a stronger sound, exhibits on fracture a finer grain,
assumes a brighter white lustre when polished, is susceptible of
greater elasticity; becomes more slowly magnetic, but retains that
power longer; does not so easily acquire rust; in the fire it assumes
various strong tints, and when heated is speedily cooled in cold water,
but is then harder, more brittle and less pliable. In consequence of
these qualities it is fit for many uses to which common iron either
cannot be applied, or is less proper.

It is certain that the invention of steel is of very great antiquity.
In the Old Testament, however, the mention of it is very doubtful,
according to Professor Tychsen, whose remarks on this subject I subjoin
in a note below[806]; but it appears that it was used as early as the
time of Homer, and that the Greeks gave to it different names, one of
the most common of which was _stomoma_, though it seems certain that
this word did not so much denote steel itself as the steeled part of
an instrument, or the operation of steeling. The name _chalybs_ was
given to steel from the Chalybes, a people on the southern shore of the
Pontus Euxinus, between Colchis and Paphlagonia, who had considerable
mines, and in particular iron and steel works: though others, on the
contrary, derive the name of the people from the principal article of
their commerce. This derivation appears the more probable, as Justin
says that a river of Spain, on which there were steel works, was named
_Chalybs_, but at a much later period. Some also have ascribed to the
Chalybes the invention of iron, which however is much older.

But it seems to be less known that _adamas_ also at first denoted
steel. This is expressly said by Hesychius, and many epithets derived
from _adamas_ are applied to articles made of steel or of iron. Among
these may be mentioned the helmet of Hercules, in Hesiod[807], and the
so-called adamantine chains, gates, and bars of the poets, which in
dictionaries are always explained as consisting of precious stones.

It was not till a late period that this word was applied to the most
costly of all the precious stones. In this sense it occurs neither in
Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Orpheus, nor Dioscorides, though the first
of these writers often describes various kinds of valuable ornaments.
Goguet and others thence conclude that the diamond was not then known.
At present I cannot enter into the history of this stone; but I must
own, that I consider the knowledge of it to be older, and suspect that
it was first introduced under another name, and is mentioned by Orpheus
and some others under that of jasper (jaspis). This poet compares his
jaspis to rock crystal, and says that it kindles fire in the same
manner. That he knew how to use rock crystal as a burning-glass, he
expressly tells us himself; but he certainly could not procure a
diamond of such a size as to be able to burn with it. From its vitreous
nature however he conjectured, and very properly, that it might be
employed for that purpose. He calls the jaspis transparent, compares
it to glass, and says that it had that sky colour which at present is
named _color hyalinus_. This is probably the reason why Dioscorides
and others call some kinds of jasper transparent and sky-coloured.
The jaspis in the Revelation of St. John[808], described as a costly
transparent crystalline kind of stone, was perhaps our diamond, which
afterwards was everywhere distinguished by that name.

The Romans borrowed from the Greeks the word _chalybs_; and in
consequence of a passage in Pliny[809], many believe that they gave
also to steel the name of _acies_, from which the Italians made their
_acciajo_, and the French their _acier_. The word _acies_, however,
denoted properly the steeled or cutting part only of an instrument.
From this, in later times, was formed _aciarium_, for the steel which
gave the instrument its sharpness, and also _aciare_ to steel[810].

At present there are two methods of making steel; the first of which
is by fusion either from iron-stone or raw iron, and the second by
cementation. I have never found in the works of the ancients any
traces of steel prepared by cementation; nor am I acquainted with the
antiquity of that process, though the ancients, without knowing it,
employed it for brass. Spielman says[811], that Pliny in one part calls
it _tostio_; but this word occurs neither in Pliny nor in any ancient
writer. It is however possible that the word _torrere_ may somewhere
signify cementation, but I have not yet met with an instance of it.

The preparation however by fusion, as practised by the Chalybes,
has been twice described by Aristotle; but as I have already given
in another work[812] everything I was able to collect towards an
explanation of these passages, I shall not here repeat it. I shall
only remark, that the steel of the ancients, in consequence of not
being cemented, suffered itself to be hammered, and was not nearly so
brittle as the hardest with which we are acquainted at present.

On the other hand, the singular method of preparing steel employed by
the Celtiberians, in Spain, deserves to be here described. According
to the account of Diodorus[813] and Plutarch[814], the iron was buried
in the earth, and left in that situation till the greater part of it
was converted into rust. What remained, without being oxydized, was
afterwards forged and made into weapons, and particularly swords, with
which they could cut asunder bones, shields, and helmets. However
improbable this may appear, it is nevertheless the process still used
in Japan; and Swedenborg has introduced it among the different methods
of making steel[815].

The art of hardening steel by immersing it suddenly, when red-hot,
in cold water, is very old[816]. Homer says, that when Ulysses bored
out the eye of Polyphemus with a burning stake, it hissed in the same
manner as water when the smith immerses in it a piece of red-hot
iron, in order to harden it[817]. Sophocles uses the comparison of
being hardened like immersed iron[818]; and Salmasius[819] quotes a
work of an old Greek chemist, who treats on the method of hardening
iron in India. It is also a very ancient opinion, that the hardening
depends chiefly on the nature of the water. Many rivers and wells were
therefore in great reputation, so that steel works were often erected
near them, though at a considerable distance from the mines. Instances
of this may be found in Pliny[820] and in Justin[821]. The more
delicate articles of iron were not quenched in water, but in oil.

An opinion, it is well known, long prevailed, that there were various
fluids and mixtures which communicate to steel different degrees of
hardness, and every artist thought he knew a peculiar hardening kind
of water, the preparation of which he kept a secret. This notion is
by some still maintained[822]; because there are often found stones
cut by the ancients, which the moderns, on account of their hardness,
as is believed, have seldom ventured to touch. Of this kind is the
hardest porphyry. There are people who still endeavour to find out that
hardening kind of water, in which the ancients prepared their tools for
cutting such stones. According to Vasari[823], that water was actually
discovered by the archduke Cosmo, in the year 1555. Among a large
collection of stones he had a block of porphyry, from which he wished
a bason to be made for a well, but was told by the most experienced
artists that it was impossible. On this, says Vasari, in order to
render the work possible, he prepared from certain herbs, which he does
not name, a water wherein the red-hot tools were quenched, and by these
means so hardened, that they were capable of cutting porphyry. With
tools tempered in this manner the artist Francesco del Tadda not only
made the required bason, but various other curious articles[824].

Winkelman, therefore, does injustice to Vasari when he says, “Vasari,
in pretending that Cosmo archduke of Tuscany discovered a water for
making porphyry soft, betrays childish credulity.” On the contrary, he
very properly asserts that there is no water of such a quality as to
soften porphyry; though Porta and many old writers imagined that they
were acquainted with one capable of producing on that stone, which they
considered as a species of marble, the same effects as an acid does on
the latter. But Vasari says nothing of the kind.

After Tadda’s death, the art of cutting porphyry came to Raphael
Curradi, who communicated to Dominico Corsi this secret, which was
afterwards employed by Cosimo Silvestrini[825]. I, however, agree in
opinion with Winkelman and Fiorillo, our learned connoisseur in the
arts, that the method of working porphyry was known in every age, even
in the most barbarous, though artists, no doubt, preferred working on
other stones which were less brittle and hard. We know however from
the latest researches, that all the kinds of hardening water hitherto
invented are in nothing superior to common water; and that in hardening
more depends on the nature of the steel, or rather on the degree of
heat, than on the water; although it is true that the workman does
right when he adds to the water a thin cake of grease, or pours over it
hot oil, through which the steel must necessarily pass before it enters
the water, for by these means it is prevented from acquiring cracks and

The invention of converting bar iron into steel by dipping it into
other fused iron, and suffering it to remain there several hours, is
commonly ascribed to Reaumur[826]. But this process is mentioned by
Agricola, Imperati and others, as a thing well-known and practised in
their time.

Pliny, Daimachus[827] and other ancient writers mention various
countries and places which, in their time, produced excellent steel.
Among the dearest kinds were the _ferrum Indicum_ and _Sericum_. The
former appears to be the _ferrum candidum_, a hundred talents of
which were given as a present to Alexander in India[828]. Is it not
probable that this was the excellent kind of steel still common in that
country, and known under the name of _wootz_, some pieces of which
were sent from Bombay in the year 1795 to the Royal Society of London?
Its silver-coloured appearance when polished may have, perhaps, given
occasion to the epithet of _candidum_. The method of preparing it is
still unknown, but it is supposed to be a kind of fused steel[829].
This however is a mere conjecture, unsupported by any proofs[830]. At
what time was damasked steel obtained from the Levant?

[Three kinds of steel are now principally manufactured; bar or
blistered steel, shear steel and cast steel.

The bar or blistered steel is made by the process of cementation: this
consists in putting bars of the purest malleable iron alternately
with layers of charcoal or soot into a proper furnace; the air being
carefully excluded and the whole kept at a red heat for several days.
By this process the carbon combines with the iron, altering its texture
from fibrous to granular or crystalline, and rendering the surface
blistered. The action of the carbon occasions fissures and cavities in
the substance of the bars, rendering them unfit for tool-making, until
they are condensed and rendered uniform by the operation of _tilting_,
i. e. compression by a powerful hammer worked by machinery.

Shear steel is made by breaking up bars of blistered steel into lengths
of about 18 inches, and binding four or six of them together with a
steel rod, and then heating them to a full welding heat, the surface
being covered with fine clay or sand to prevent oxidation. They are
then drawn out into a bar, hammered, tilted and rolled. In this state
it is susceptible of a much finer polish, and is also more tenacious
and malleable, and fit for making strong springs, knives, &c.

Cast steel, which was first made by Mr. Huntsman at Attercliff,
Sheffield, in 1770, is made by melting blistered steel, casting it
into ingots and rolling it into bars. In this condition its texture is
much more uniform, closer and finer grained. The different degrees of
hardness required for steel are given by the process called tempering,
which is effected by heating the steel up to a certain temperature, and
then quenching it suddenly in cold water. Its hardness and brittleness
are thus much increased, but it may be again softened by exposure to
heat simply.]


[806] In regard to the hardening of iron and the quenching of it in
water, nothing, as far as I know, occurs in the Hebrew text of the
Scriptures. The passages where it seems to be mentioned are, Isaiah,
chap. xliv. ver. 12. “The smith bends the iron, works it in a fire of
coals, and forms it with the hammer; he labours on it with a strong
arm,” &c. according to the translation of Michaelis. It may indeed be
translated otherwise, but it certainly alludes to the formation of an
image of metal. The words, chap. liv. ver. 16, are still more general.

Iron, _barzel_, often occurs, and in some passages indeed steel may be
understood under this name; for example, in Ezekiel, chap. xxvii. ver.
19, _ferrum fabrefactum_, or, according to Michaelis and others, sabre
blades from Usal (Sanaa in Yemen). A pretty clear indication of steel
is given in Jeremiah, chap. xv. ver. 12: “Iron from the north,” which
is described there as the hardest. To the north of Judæa was situated
Chalybia, the ancient country of steel. It appears that the Hebrews had
no particular name for steel, which they perhaps comprehended under
the term _barzel_, or distinguished it only by the epithet Northern,
especially as the later Jews have for it no other name than אסטמא,
_istoma_, which however is nothing else than the Greek στόμωμα, and
signifies rather steeling or hardening.

_Chalamisch_ is certainly a hard kind of stone; granite or porphyry,
according to Michaelis, who treats expressly of it in Supplem. ad Lex.
Hebr. N. 740.

[807] Scutum Herculis, x. 137.

[808] Chap. xxi. ver. 11, 18, 19.

[809] Lib. xxxiv. sect. 41. p. 666. “Stricturæ vocantur hæ omnes,
quod non in aliis metallis a stringenda acie vocabulo imposito. Et
fornacum maxima differentia est; nucleus quidem ferri excoquitur in
his ad indurandam aciem; aliquæ modo ad densandas incudes, malleorumve
rostra.” According to my opinion, _stricturæ_ was the name given to
pieces of steel completely manufactured and brought to that state which
rendered them fit for commerce. At present steel comes from Biscay in
cakes, from other places in bars, and both these formerly were called
_stricturæ_, because they were employed chiefly for giving sharpness
to instruments or tools, that is, for steeling them. In speaking of
other metals, Pliny says that the finished productions at the works
were not called _stricturæ_ (this was the case, for example, with
copper), though sharpness could be given to instruments with other
metals also. The words of Pliny last quoted are read different ways,
and still remain obscure. I conjecture that he meant to say that some
steel works produced things which were entirely of steel, and that
others were employed only in steeling. I shall here remark that the
_stricturæ ferri_ remind us of the _strigiles auri_: such was the name
given to native pieces of gold, which without being smelted were used
in commerce.--Plin. xxxiii. 3. p. 616.

[810] See Vossii Etymol. and Martinii Lex. Philolog.

[811] Institut. Chimiæ, p. 252. He refers to lib. xxxiii. cap. 4.

[812] In my observations on Aristot. Auscult. Mirab. cap. 49.

[813] Diod. lib. v. cap. 33.

[814] Plut. de Garrul.

[815] De Ferro, i. p. 194. See also Watson’s Chem. Essays, i. p. 220.
Of the iron works in Japan I know nothing further than what has been
said by Thunberg in his Travels. That country possesses very little of
this metal: but the sabres made there are incomparable; without hurting
the edge one can easily cut through a nail with them; and, as the
Japanese say, cleave asunder a man at one blow. These sabres are often
sold for fifty, seventy, and even a hundred dollars.

[816] Lord Bacon seems not to have been of this opinion; see his Silva
Silvarum, cent. i. § 86. But this method of hardening was usual in
the eleventh or twelfth century; for it is described by Theophilus
Presbyter, lib. iii. cap. 19.

[817] Odyss. ix. 391.

[818] Ajax, 720.

[819] Exercitat. Plin. p. 763.

[820] Lib. xxxiv. 14, p. 666.

[821] Lib. xliv. p. 620.

[822] [There can be no question that the hardening or tempering effect
produced by the sudden immersion of heated steel in fluids has no
relation to the quality of the fluid, save as regards its conducting
power of heat. The more suddenly the heat is abstracted from the metal,
the greater is the amount of hardness and brittleness. Mercury has been
found superior to any other fluid for this purpose, undoubtedly because
it is so good a conductor of heat.]

[823] Le Vite de Pittori. Bologna, 1681, 4to, i. p. 11.

[824] Some account of this artist is given in J. C. Bulengeri de
Pictura, lib. ii. cap. 7, in Gronovii Thesaurus Antiq. Græc. ix. p.
875. On the other hand, Sturm says, in that part of the Ritterplatzes
which relates to architecture, p. 18: “An archduke at Florence
discovered again the art of working porphyry, but suffered it to die
with him in the year 1556.”

[825] Florillo Gesch. der Zeichnenden Künste, 8vo, i. p. 461.

[826] Art de convertir le Fer en Acier, p. 245.

[827] Stephanus de Urbibus, under the word Λακεδαίμων, p. 413.

[828] Clemens Alexandr. in Pædagog. ii. p. 161, edit. Cologne, 1688,
fol. says, speaking of luxury, “One can cut meat without having Indian

[829] Philos. Transact. 1795, ii. p. 322.

[830] [The manner in which iron ore is smelted and converted into wootz
or Indian steel, by the natives at the present day, is probably the
very same that was practised by them at the time of the invasion of
Alexander; and it is a uniform process, from the Himalaya Mountains to
Cape Comorin. The furnace or bloomery in which the ore is smelted, is
from four to five feet high; it is somewhat pear-shaped, being about
two feet wide at bottom and one foot at top; it is built entirely of
clay, so that a couple of men may finish its erection in a few hours,
and have it ready for use the next day. There is an opening in front
about a foot or more in height, which is built up with clay at the
commencement, and broken down at the end, of each smelting operation.
The bellows are usually made of a goat’s skin, which has been stripped
from the animal without ripping open the part covering the belly. The
apertures at the legs are tied up, and a nozzle of bamboo is fastened
in the opening formed by the neck. The orifice of the tail is enlarged
and distended by two slips of bamboo. These are grasped in the hand,
and kept close together in making the stroke for the blast; in the
returning stroke they are separated to admit the air. By working
a bellows of this kind with each hand, making alternate strokes,
a tolerably uniform blast is produced. The bamboo nozzles of the
bellows are inserted into tubes of clay, which pass into the furnace
at the bottom corners of the temporary wall in front. The furnace is
filled with charcoal, and a lighted coal being introduced before the
nozzles, the mass in the interior is soon kindled. As soon as this is
accomplished, a small portion of the ore, previously moistened with
water, to prevent it from running through the charcoal, but without
any flux whatever, is laid on the top of the coals, and covered with
charcoal to fill up the furnace. In this manner ore and fuel are
supplied, and the bellows are urged for three or four hours, when the
process is stopped, and the temporary wall in front broken down; the
bloom is removed with a pair of tongs from the bottom of the furnace.
In converting the iron into steel, the natives cut it into pieces to
enable it to pack better in the crucible, which is formed of refractory
clay, mixed with a large quantity of charred husk of rice. It is seldom
charged with more than a pound of iron, which is put in with a proper
weight of dried wood, chopped small, and both are covered with one or
two green leaves; the proportions being in general ten parts of iron
to one of wood and leaves. The mouth of the crucible is then stopped
with a handful of tempered clay, rammed in very closely, to exclude the
air. As soon as the clay plugs of the crucibles are dry, from twenty
to twenty-four of them are built up in the form of an arch in a small
blast furnace; they are kept covered with charcoal, and subjected to
heat urged by a blast for about two hours and a half, when the process
is considered to be complete. The crucibles being now taken out of
the furnace and allowed to cool, are broken, and the steel is found
in the form of a cake, rounded by the bottom of the crucible.--Ure’s
Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures, art. STEEL.]


In order to separate metallic ores from the barren rock or stones with
which they occur, and to promote their fusion, it is necessary that
the pieces of rock or stone should be reduced to small fragments by
stamping them. For those ores which occur in a sandy form, this is
unnecessary; and in regard to rich silver ore, which contains very
little or no lead and other metals, this process might be hurtful; for
with dry stamping a great deal would fly off in dust, and with wet
stamping a considerable part would be washed away by the water.

However imperfect the knowledge of the ancients may have been in
regard to the fusion of ores, they were acquainted with the benefit of
stamping; but the means they employed for that purpose were the most
inconvenient and expensive. They reduced the ore to coarse powder,
by pounding it in mortars, and then ground it in hand-mills, like
those used for corn, till it acquired such a degree of fineness that
it could be easily washed. This is proved by the scanty information
which we find in Diodorus Siculus[832] and Agatharcides[833], in
regard to the gold mines of the Egyptians; in Hippocrates, respecting
the smelting-works of the Greeks[834], and in Pliny in regard to the
metallurgy of the Romans[835]. Remains of such mortars and mills as
were used by the ancients have been found in places where they carried
on metallurgic operations; for instance, in Transylvania and the
Pyrenees. The hand-mills had a resemblance to our mustard-mills[836];
and for washing the mud they employed a sieve, but in washing
auriferous sand they made use of a raw hide. From the latter, Count von
Veltheim has explained, in a very ingenious manner, the fable of the
ancients concerning the ants which dug up gold[837].

Our works for pounding ore, at present, are stamping-mills, which
consist of heavy stampers shod with iron. These stampers are put
in motion by a cylinder furnished with cogs, which is driven by a
water-wheel, and pound the ore in troughs lined with iron. When the
ore subjected to this operation is poor, water is introduced into the
troughs, which running through grates in the bottoms of them, carries
with it the pounded matter into a gutter, where it becomes purified,
and deposits the mud mixed with sand.

One might conjecture that this apparatus was invented soon after the
invention of cylinders with cogs; but this was not the case, though I
am not able to determine the antiquity of these cylinders. At any rate,
it is certain that mortars and sieves were used in Germany throughout
the whole of the fifteenth century; and in France, to which the art
of mining was conveyed in general from that country at a late period,
they were still employed about the year 1579[838]. In the oldest times
men were not acquainted with the art of employing water at mines in so
advantageous a manner as at present. The bellows were worked by men;
and those aqueducts raised on posts, by which distant water may be made
to act on machines, was not yet invented. On this account, remains
of ore are found in places where the moderns, in consequence of that
indispensable article water, would not be able to maintain metallurgic
works[839]. According to the researches which I have hitherto had
an opportunity to make, our stamping-mills were invented about the
beginning of the sixteenth century, and, as appears, in Germany; but I
cannot determine with certainty either the name of the inventor or his
country. Those who established or introduced the first stamping-works
in Saxony and the Harz are only mentioned; and these, as usual, have
been considered as the inventors.

In the year 1519 the processes of sifting and wet-stamping were
established in Joachimsthal by Paul Grommestetter, a native of
Schwarz, named on that account the Schwarzer, whom Melzer praises as
an ingenious and active washer; and we are told that he had before
introduced the same improvements at Schneeberg. Soon after, that is
in 1521, a large stamping-work was erected at Joachimsthal, and the
process of washing was begun. A considerable saving was thus made, as
a great many metallic particles were before left in the washed sand,
which was either thrown away or used as mortar for building. In the
year 1525 Hans Pörtner employed at Schlackenwalde the wet method of
stamping, whereas before that period the ore there was ground.

In the Harz this invention was introduced at Wildenmann by Peter
Philip, who was assay-master there, soon after the works at the Upper
Harz were resumed by Duke Henry the younger about the year 1524. This
we learn from the papers of Herdan Hacke or Hæcke, who was preacher
at Wildenmann in 1572. As far as can be concluded from his imperfect
information, the first stamping-work there consisted only of a stamper
raised by means of two levers fixed to the axis of a wheel. The pounded
ore was then thrown into a sieve, called in German the _sachs_[840],
and freed from the coarser parts. But as this stamping was performed
in the dry manner, it produced so much dust that the labourers were
impeded by it, and the ore on that account could not be properly
smelted. The business however was not given up; new improvements were
made, and soon after Simon Krug and Nicholas Klerer introduced the wet
method, and fortunately brought it to perfection[841].

It is said in several modern works that wet stamping was invented in
1505, by a Saxon nobleman named von Maltitz. This assertion has been
so often repeated, that it was known to Gobet[842], who adopted it as
truth. I have not however been able to find the historian on whose
testimony it is founded; but it appears by Gauhen’s Dictionary of
Nobility that Sigismund Maltitz was chief surveyor of forests at the
Erzgebürge, to the electorate of Saxony in the sixteenth century.


[831] I shall refer those desirous of being acquainted with the
nature of this labour, to Gatterer’s Anleitung den Harz zu bereisen.
Göttingen, 1785, 8vo. i. p. 101. [Figures of the stamping-works may be
seen in Ure’s Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures, pp. 818 and 1119.]

[832] Diodor. iii. 13, p. 182.

[833] Photii Bibl. p. 1342.

[834] Hippocrates de Victus Rat. lib. i. sect. 4.

[835] Plin. xxxiii. 4, sect. 21.

[836] Gensane Traité de la Fonte des Mines. Par. 1770, i. p. 14.

[837] Von d. goldgrabenden Ameisen u. Greiffen der Alten. Helmst.
1799. This dissertation may be found also in a valuable collection of
different pieces by the same author, printed at Helmstadt, 1800.

[838] See François Garrault, Des Mines d’Argent trouvées en France,
Paris 1579, where mention is made only of mortars, mills and sieves.
This Garrault is the first French writer on mining. His work, which
is scarce, was printed by Gobet in the first part of the Anciens
Minéralogistes de France, Paris 1779, 8vo.

[839] At the Nertschinsk works in Siberia, the machinery must be still
driven by men or cattle, because all the dams and sluices are destroyed
by the frost, and the water converted into ice. Some of the works there
however have machinery driven by water during the few summer months.

[840] _Sachs_ or _sæx_ in old times denoted a cutting or stabbing
instrument, such for example as _schaar-sachs_, a razor;
_schreib-sachs_, a penknife. See Fritsch’s Wörterbuch, who derives
_sachs_ from _secare_. May not the word σάλαξ, which in Pollux
means the sieve used at smelting-works, be of the same origin? I
conjecture also that the coulter of the plough, which cuts the earth
in a perpendicular direction, had the name of _sech_, and that the
words _säge_ and _sichel_ have an affinity to it. If this derivation
be right, the High but not the Low German must have of _sachs_ made
_sech_. The latter would have said _sas_ or _ses_, as it says instead
of _sechs_, _ses_; instead of _wachs_, _was_; instead of _flachs_,
_flas_; and instead of _fuchs_, _fos_. _Sech_ is named also _kolter_,
as in the Netherlands _kouter_, which words have arisen no doubt from

[841] Calvör Maschinenwesen, ii. p. 74.

[842] Anciens Minéral., i. p. 225.


The greater part of our kitchen vegetables, that is to say those plants
which, independently of the corn kinds, are cultivated as food in our
gardens, are partly indigenous and partly foreign. Of the former many
at present grow wild, such as asparagus; but by continued cultivation,
through a long series of years, they have produced numerous varieties,
which differ as much from the wild plants as the European females from
those of New Zealand. Many of our indigenous vegetables are collected
for food, but are not reared expressly for that purpose; and these
even, in all probability, might be improved by culture. Some indeed are
here and there reared in an artificial manner, though we reckon them
among our weeds; for example, dandelion, _Leontodon taraxacum_, the
first leaves of which in spring are employed in the northern countries
as salad. In some parts of England this plant is sown throughout the
whole summer; and its leaves being blanched, it is used in winter as
endive. Culture frees many plants from their harsh taste, makes them
tender, larger and more pulpy, and produces them at a season when the
wild ones have become unfit for use.

Our foreign kitchen vegetables have, for the most part, been procured
from the southern countries, but chiefly from Italy; and the number
of them has increased in an uncommon degree in the course of the last
two centuries. Many of them require laborious attention to make them
thrive in our severe climate. On the other hand, some grow so readily,
and increase so much without culture, even in the open fields, that
they have become like indigenous weeds, as is the case with hops, which
at present abound in our hedges. Some plants, however, both indigenous
and foreign, which were formerly raised by art and used at the table,
are no longer cultivated, because we have become acquainted with others
more beneficial. Many of them served our forefathers in the room of
foreign spices, to the use of which trading companies have accustomed
us, much to their advantage and to our hurt. It is true also that many
have been banished merely by fashion; for this tyrant, which rules with
universal sway, commands the taste as well as the smell to consider as
intolerable articles to which our ancestors had a peculiar attachment.

In the oldest times mankind were so fond of sweet things, that the
goodness and agreeable taste of every kind of food was determined
according to the degree of its sweetness; and such is the manner of
judging even at present throughout all the East, in Africa, and in
America. This is the case also among us with the greater part of the
lower classes, who are not able to follow the mode of richer tables.
In the northern countries this taste is almost everywhere prevalent.
Thus the Swedes spoil, by the addition of sugar, costly Rhenish wine,
sour kraut, and other articles, the agreeable tartness of which is
gratifying to other nations. In proportion to their population and
luxury, the Swedes seem to use more sugar than the Germans, and
the Germans more than the English or French; and one might almost
suspect that a taste for sweet things were in the inverse ratio of
civilization[843]. At any rate, one can thus explain why many vegetable
productions, which some centuries ago were reckoned among the most
agreeable dishes, appear to us to be nauseously sweet. Skirret, which
the emperor Tiberius caused to be brought for the use of his table from
the Rhine, is little relished at present; and the case is the same with
parsnips, some kinds of apples, and several other things.

Fashion sometimes recalls into use species long forgotten, and with
the greatest success, when they are introduced under a different name.
Thus, after an interval of many years, some began to cultivate again
monks-rhubarb[844], and to recommend this sourish plant instead of
the more savoury spinage. According to Bock, it was transplanted in
the middle ages by the monks from the woods into gardens, to which it
has been again brought back under the imposing appellation of English

Before the commencement of the Christian æra, when the use of sensual
enjoyments was not so well-regulated and modified by religious and
political principles, many vegetables and other dishes were praised
and recommended by writers on agriculture and cookery, as well as
by the most favourite poets and eminent authors, on account of
effects which cannot at present be named, except in the writings of
physicians, without disgusting the reader and incurring the imputation
of indelicacy. When this mode of thinking began to prevail, people
detested to see in their gardens or on their tables plants which,
in consequence of indecent properties, were generally known; and by
being thus disused, the knowledge of them was at length so much lost,
that we know only their old names, and what the ancients have related
respecting them. In this manner, many receipts in Apicius are totally
unintelligible, because we are no longer acquainted with the things
for the preparation of which he gives directions. Of this kind are
the numerous bulbous roots (_bulbi_), which formed the most favourite
dishes of the Greeks and the Romans, and which at present no botanist,
much less commentator, would be able to determine. They belong to the
lost arts, but not to those which were abandoned because better ones
were found to supply their place. The American vanilla, which perhaps
was indebted only to its high price for the permission of being mixed
with chocolate, does not certainly supply the place of the ancient
Megarean bulbs, as our gunpowder does that of the Greek fire.

Among those kitchen vegetables which were formerly cultivated, but at
present are no more esteemed, are the following:--Winter-cresses[845],
an indigenous plant, the young leaves of which, like water-cresses,
may be eaten in winter as salad; also common alexanders[846], which
in the seventeenth century was used instead of celery; bulbous
chærophyllum[847], the roots of which are still brought to market at
Vienna, where people well know what is good, and where they are boiled
and eaten as salad with vinegar and oil. Rampion[848] was formerly used
in the like manner. The earth-nut[849], which grows wild in many parts
of Germany, is still cultivated in Holland and in some districts on the
Rhine. Rocket (_Eruca sativa_), the young leaves of which were readily
eaten by our forefathers as salad, is no longer esteemed, partly on
account of its harsh taste, and partly on account of its nauseous
smell, which resembles that of rancid bacon; it has however been still
retained in Italy, “excitet ut Veneri tardos eruca maritos[850].”
Vetches (_Lathyrus sativus_, and _Cicer_) are now banished from our
gardens, as experience has shown that they are prejudicial to the
health. When pepper was so dear, that to promise a saint yearly a
pound of it was considered as a liberal bequest, economical housewives
seasoned their dishes with the leaves of pepper-wort (_Lepidium
latifolium_), which on this account is called at present in England
_poor man’s pepper_.

Borage (_Borago officinalis_), since the fourteenth, or at least the
fifteenth century, has been sown not only for medicinal purposes,
but for the use of the kitchen. The young leaves, which however soon
become hard, rough, and unfit for the table, were used in soup, and the
beautiful blue flowers were put into salad and wine. This plant was
not known to the ancients; for the conjecture that it was what they
called _buglossum_, is not very probable. As far as I have been able to
learn, Nicholas Myrepsus, who lived in the beginning of the fourteenth
century, is the first who uses the name πουράκιον, which certainly
means _borago_. But who knows whence this writer, who introduces in
his works a great many new inexplicable names, some of them formed
from the Greek, Latin, and Italian, obtained that appellation? Some
of the old botanists have conjectured that it is derived from the
word _corago_, which Apuleius, whose period is uncertain, gives as a
synonym of _buglossum_. Some think that the reading in Apuleius ought
to be _borago_; and others assert that _corago_ is the true name, and
arose from the quality which the plant has of strengthening the heart;
consequently we ought properly to read _corago_, and not _borago_[851].
It is probable that our forefathers, under the idea that their borage
was the _buglossum_ of the ancients, and therefore had the property
of strengthening the heart, threw the flowers into wine, that their
spirits might by these means be more enlivened. Our borage is certainly
a foreign plant, and Cæsalpinus said that it was brought from other
countries to Italy. Linnæus[852] positively states that it first came
from Aleppo; but I have not yet been able to find on what authority
this assertion is founded. At present borage, at least in the German
cookery, is no longer used.

Among the kitchen vegetables of which no certain traces are to be found
in the works of the ancients, is spinage (_Spinacea oleracea_). Its
native country is unknown; but the name is new, and certainly derived
from the nature of its prickly seeds. As far as I know, it first occurs
in the year 1351, among the food used by the monks on fast-days[853];
and at that time it was _Spinargium_ or _Spinachium_. Meursius found
in the middle ages σπινάκιον, in a poem which he has often mentioned,
but not defined with sufficient accuracy[854]. This plant seems to have
been made known from Spain; for many of the old botanists, such for
example as Bock, call it _olus Hispanicum_. Ruellius and others name
it _Atriplex Hispaniensis_; and the latter adds, that the Arabians
or Moors called it _Hispanach_, which signifies Spanish plant; it is
however well known that formerly everything foreign was styled Spanish.
None of the kitchen vegetables of the ancients seem to approach nearer
to spinage than their _Blitum_, which Rondolet considered to be the
same. But all the properties assigned to this vegetable production,
namely, that it was insipid, and that on this account it was necessary
to render it palatable by the addition of vinegar, pepper, and other
things; that it readily multiplied; that it was indigestible and
gently aperient; perfectly correspond, not only with our spinage, but
with many other plants, such, for example, as our beet and orach, and
the good king Henry (_Chenopodium bonus Henricus_), the young leaves
of which are still dressed as spinage. It is also possible that the
_blitum_ of the ancients may have been a kind of _Amaranthus_, some
species of which are certainly eatable. _Blitum_, therefore, will
remain as difficult to be defined as the _malva_, which was used at the
same time.

The _Brassicæ_ of the ancients belonged certainly to the cabbage genus;
yet no one, as far as I know, has examined botanically what is said
of them, and completely proved their identity. It would however be
fruitless labour to attempt to apply our modern names to the cabbage
kinds of the ancients, and search out in the writings of the Greeks and
the Romans those which we use at present; for by continued culture,
through so many ages and in so many countries, new varieties have from
time to time arisen, and old ones must have become lost; so that it
is impossible for us to have all the varieties of the ancients, as
it was for them to be acquainted with the whole of those produced in
our times. I cannot therefore venture to assert that we still possess
that kind of cabbage which the ancients, to prevent intoxication, ate
raw like salad[855]. We can dress in this manner cabbage heads when
they are chopped fine, but we do not know with certainty whether the
ancients were acquainted with our cabbage; though Ruellius, not without
probability, considered as such that species which in the time of Pliny
was known under the name of _lacuturris_[856].

But even if this be admitted as true, we nowhere find any traces of
that excellent preparation of cabbage called by the Germans sour kraut;
though the ancients were acquainted with the art of preparing turnips
in the same manner[857]. I should have been inclined to consider
sour kraut as a German invention, first made in Lower Saxony, which
our neighbours learnt from us in modern times, had not Bellon[858]
related that the Turks are accustomed to pickle cabbage for winter
food. It appears, however, that these people take the whole heads, as
in Germany, but particularly in Upper more than Lower Saxony, some
preserve _kumskohl_, a name which, as well as _compost_ and the French
word _compote_, Frisch derives with great probability from _compositum_

The ancients were acquainted with curled cabbage, and even with some of
those kinds which we call _broccoli_. Under this term is understood all
those species, the numerous young flowery heads of which, particularly
in spring and autumn, can be used like cauliflowers. Such young shoots
are called _cymæ_, but not _turiones_; for the latter term denotes
the first shoots that arise, like those of hops, asparagus, and other
esculent plants. The _broccoli_ used at present was however first
brought from Italy to France, together with the name, about the end of
the sixteenth century[859].

Our cauliflower, about the end of the same century, was first brought
from the Levant to Italy; and in the end of the seventeenth was
transplanted thence to Germany. For a long time the seeds were procured
annually from Cyprus, Candia, and Constantinople, by the Venetians and
Genoese, who sent them to every part of Europe, because at that time
the art of raising seed was not understood[860]. Prosper Alpinus, in
the year 1588, found abundance of this vegetable in Egypt, and from
his account there is reason to conjecture that it was then very little
known in Europe. Conrad Gesner seems not to have been acquainted
with it; at any rate it is not mentioned by him in a list of the
cabbage kind of plants[861]. Even in the time of Bauhin it must have
belonged to those vegetables which were scarce; because he has been so
particular in naming the garden in which he saw it. Von Hohberg, who
wrote about 1682, says that cauliflower, a few years before, had been
brought to Germany for the first time[862].

It would be difficult to define all the species of the cabbage
kind, the leaves and flowers of which were used by the ancients as
food; but it would be a task still more arduous to determine those
which have esculent roots. To render this clear, and to show what
information I have been able to obtain on the subject by my researches,
I must venture to indulge in a little botanical criticism. Our
plant-connoisseurs have unfortunately not yet condescended to examine
the class of kitchen vegetables; though it would certainly be rendering
a far greater service to botany, and promote its utility much more, to
describe and delineate all the species, varieties, and deviations, than
to give new names to a dozen of new genera from Polynesia. According
to the Linnæan system, we have at present the following species of the
cabbage, which have been adopted by all botanists, without further

First, _Brassica oleracea_, to which belong all those kinds the leaves
and flowers of which are eaten. It is certainly probable that all these
have been gradually produced from one parent stock, which it is now
impossible perhaps to find in its original wild state. A similarity
is remarked between all these kinds; and with a little ingenuity one
might form a genealogical tree of them, as Buffon has done in regard
to the race of dogs; but a genealogical tree without proofs is of as
little value in natural history as in claims for hereditary titles or
estates. At present, in our system, we must admit that such plants as
always grow up from their seeds, without variation, and do not pass
into other forms, are peculiar species; but this will not prove that
these supposed species were not originally produced from one maternal
stem; for the variation of the succeeding plants took place gradually;
and the later ones always deviated more and more from the parent stock.
Who knows how many steps and gradations were necessary before cabbage,
savoys, and cauliflower were produced from our common colewort? Not
fewer, perhaps, than were required to produce white men from Moors, or
the terrier and lap-dog from the bull-dog.

I shall call the mother plant, or original species, A, which by unknown
causes has produced B, and the latter by continued and frequently
changed culture has become C; from this has been produced D, and from
this E, and from this F, &c. Now as we are unacquainted with the art of
changing A into F, and F into A, we believe that F is a species really
different from A. As we here compare two distant links of a chain,
the various parts of which increase very gradually, we find them so
different, that it is impossible for us to consider them as the same.
But sometimes, perhaps, F changes again into E; E into D; D into C;
and C into B or into A. Perhaps also B may be again produced from A,
or F from E. Had a botanist observed this by experience, he probably
would have no hesitation to consider B, C, D, E, and F as varieties of
A. But such observations seldom occur; we have not the power of making
them according to our pleasure, for we do not know all the causes by
which these numerous variations are produced. The few observations
which have been made no one has yet collected, compared, and employed
for establishing any certain conclusions. The division, therefore, of
the cultivated plants into species and varieties would be a fruitless
and uncertain undertaking, respecting which one ought not to dispute
without sufficient proofs.

It is needless to refer to the form, colour, smell, and taste of the
leaves, flowers, and roots. That the indented leaves, such as those
which all the cabbage species have, are most liable to change, is shown
by experience. The colour is no less variable; and Reichard, who had
a great belief in the perpetuity of the species of plants, asserts,
that in the same country and climate he could produce from the seeds of
red cabbage and black radishes, white cabbage and white radishes[863].
The production and change of the hermaphrodite plants is so well known
that it is only necessary to mention them. The smell, for example; but
the musky smell of cabbage establishes no essential difference. Nay, a
plant may entirely lose its odorous principle, _spiritus rector_, and
yet retain its old form, as well as all its other component parts and
properties[864]. In sandy soil the smell of plants is often entirely
lost; and the taste is frequently changed, according to the nature
of the land and the manure. The most powerful medicinal plants are
those which grow wild in their native country, and not those reared
in rich gardens, where many poisonous plants become eatable. Even the
duration does not always determine the difference of the species.
Thus it is certain that winter and summer rape are the same plants,
though the former is a biennial and the latter an annual. Where then
are the proofs in regard to the cabbage kind, and, in general, those
which show that different plants are species of one genus, and others
only varieties? Precision or certainty in systems can be expected
only by novices; but in botany the case is the same as in every other
science, mathematics excepted; the more we learn, the more uncertainty
we discover, and the more circumscribed is the real knowledge which we
acquire. It is necessary that this should be known to those who may
take the trouble to examine the history of kitchen vegetables and other
œconomical plants; and therefore I shall offer no apology for having
entered into this botanical disquisition.

To the _Brassica oleracea_ belong two plants which are used in the same
manner as turnips or roots. The first is the turnip-cabbage, _kohlrabi_
above the earth (_Brassica gongylodes_), the stem of which swells
out, above the earth, into a thick pulpy turnip-like tubercle, which
is dressed and eaten in the same manner as turnips. It is a monstrous
excrescence of the stem, which is hereditary, like the broad stem of
the Italian fennel. This turnip-cabbage was certainly not known to
the ancients; it occurs for the first time among the botanists of the
sixteenth century. Spielmann conjectures that it was brought from the
Levant during the crusades; but it was known at too late a period to
warrant this opinion.

Still newer is that variety called _kohlrabi_, subterranean or
turnip-rooted cabbage, the stem of which produces a similar tubercle
at the surface of the earth or immediately under it. In my opinion, it
was first described by Caspar Bauhin, in the year 1620, under the name
_napo-brassica_, which it still retains, as a new species, to which
he was not able to assign any synonyms. He says that this turnip was
cultivated on the Bohemian frontiers, where it was called _Dorsen_
or _Dorschen_; and the same name is given to it there at present,
as is confirmed by Mehler, in whose work there is a good figure of
it[865]. In Germany it is commonly called _Steckrübe_, and, as is
said, was first made known there about the year 1764 by the Bohemian

The second cabbage species in the Linnæan system is the _Brassica
napus_, a plant which grows wild on the sandy sea-coasts of England, as
well as in the island of Gothland, and which in many of the northern
countries is cultivated for the oil obtained from the seeds, under the
name of winter and summer rape. When thinly planted in a nourishing
soil it produces esculent roots, which have a somewhat harsh taste,
and properly in German it ought to be called _Steckrübe_. Such is the
name given to it in the works of all the old writers by whom it was
first mentioned; and it is called so at present in Bohemia, where it is
cultivated, as well as _kohlrabi_ under the earth, which in some parts
of Germany is improperly named _Steckrübe_, and a proper distinction
is made between the two species[866]. This kind, the real _Steckrübe_,
is never very thick, being only of the size of those which grow in
the Mark. The leaves arise immediately from the roots, but in the
_gongylodes_ and _napo-brassica_ they proceed from the stem.

This species of turnip I did not expect to find among the ancients.
I conceived that it might perhaps have been produced in the northern
countries, since rape began to be cultivated for oil. Afterwards this
plant may have become so much domesticated among us, as to be found not
unfrequently in a wild state. Some person may then have easily remarked
the pulpy roots of plants growing in a manured soil, and making a trial
of them found them well-tasted. When first cultivated, it must have
been observed that their harsh taste was moderated, sometimes more and
sometimes less, in a sandy soil, and rendered in some degree aromatic;
by which means they acquired so great a superiority to the common and
almost insipid rape, that they were brought to the first-rate tables
under the name of the Markish, Teltow, Borsfeld, Bobenhäuser and
Wilhelmsburg rapes. In each country they were named after those places
where they acquired the best savour; and this was the case only where
the soil consisted of clay mixed with more or less sand. From such
districts large quantities of them were sent to a great distance; but
perhaps never in more abundance than from Teltow, in the Middle Mark,
which small town sold to the amount of more than two thousand dollars,
chiefly to Berlin and Hamburg; and from Hamburg these agreeable roots
were frequently sent to both the Indies. Around Stendal also, in the
Old Mark, they were raised in considerable quantity, but the seeds are
procured there from Teltow[867]. If we wish to introduce them into our
gardens, we must either mix much sand with the soil, or procure fresh
seeds annually.

The Greeks and the Romans had little occasion for cultivating rape.
They had other vegetables, from the seeds or fruit of which they could
obtain a better oil, and in more abundance. Where the olive would not
thrive, they cultivated, as at present, sesamum; or expressed oil from
the nuts and seeds of the turpentine tree[868], without speaking of the
many essential oils which they used for salves.

But however probable this may appear, I am inclined to suspect, that
under βουνιὰς and _napus_ our _steckrüben_ are to be understood, as
most of the old botanists have admitted; and that the roots of them
were used for food, before the seeds were employed for making oil.
The _napus_ of the ancients had long thin roots, which were so small
that they could be preserved without being cut into slices; on the
other hand, the _rapa_ had large conical roots, which could not be
preserved till they were sliced. The _napus_, because the roots grew
chiefly downwards, were sown thicker than the _rapum_. The _napus_
was cultivated only for the use of man; but the _rapum_ was raised in
great abundance as fodder for cattle. Of the _napus_ there were many
known varieties, of different degrees of goodness, which, as is the
case at present with _steckrüben_, were named from the place where they
chiefly grew. When sown late in the season, they were injured by the
earth-flea; to prevent which, the young plants were strewed over with
soot. Both the _napi_ and _rapa_ were buried in the earth, where they
were kept in a fresh state during the winter. The former, to prevent
them from degenerating, required careful cultivation; and indeed
there are few kitchen vegetables which so easily change their state,
according to the nature of the soil, as the _steckrüben_.

But what opinion can be formed of the assertion, often repeated,
that _brassica napus_, and _rapum_, or _rapa_, readily change into
each other; consequently are only varieties or deviations of the
same species[869]? I am not disposed to declare this assertion to
be altogether false; though I will not vouch for the possibility of
converting our Markish rapes into turnips or cabbage. I conjecture that
in the oldest times, when these three plants were not so far separated
from each other by intermediate species or degrees of degeneration, as
they had a greater resemblance to each other, and were all nearer to
the original species, such transitions were easier than they possibly
could be at present.

The third species of cabbage in the Linnæan system, belonging to this
place, is the _Brassica rapa_, or turnip, the roots of which, more or
less conical, differ in figure, colour and taste[870]. That these roots
are the same as those called by the Romans _rapa_, and by the Greeks
γογγύλη or γογγυλὶς, appears to be subject to no doubt, though at
present we may have a greater number of varieties.

[The turnip was well-known to the Romans, and all that can be gathered
on this subject from the writings of the ancients renders it probable
that it occupied nearly the same place in Roman culture as it does in
British husbandry at the present day. Columella[871] recommended that
the growth of turnips should be abundant, because those which were not
required for human food could be given with much advantage to cattle;
and both he and Pliny concur in their testimony, that this produce
was esteemed next to corn in utility and value. The best grew in the
country of the Sabines, and were worth at Rome a sestertius, or 2_d._

It is stated that the Roman method of cultivation must have been
superior to that of the moderns, since Pliny relates that some single
roots weighed as much as forty pounds, a weight far surpassing any
which has been obtained by the most skilful modern agriculturists. It
is very probable that the garden culture of the turnip was introduced
by the Romans into this country, and that, like some of the fruit
trees which they had transplanted here, though neglected, it was never
altogether lost. There is no doubt that this root was in cultivation
in the sixteenth century. Whether revived by native industry, or
introduced at that period by the Flemings, is a question differently
answered by different writers. Towards the latter end of the sixteenth
century it is mentioned by more than one writer. Cogan, in his Haven of
Health, published in 1597, says, that “although many men love to eat
turnips, yet do swine abhor them.” Gerarde, who published in the same
year, and who had rather more rational views on the subject of plants,
leads us to conclude that more than one variety was cultivated in the
environs of London at that time. “The small turnips,” says he, “grown
by a village near London, called Hackney, in a sandie ground, and
brought to the crosse in Cheapside by the women of the village to be
solde, are the best that I ever tasted.” Gerarde is silent concerning
the field culture of turnips; neither is this mentioned by Parkinson,
who wrote in 1629. We do not find any account of the root being grown
in any part of the country until the close of the seventeenth century
(_loc. sup. citat._). Turnips sometimes attain a very large size in
this country; Tull[873] speaks of some weighing as much as nineteen
pounds, and of often meeting with others of sixteen pounds. One was dug
up in Surrey, in July 1828, which weighed twenty-one pounds, and was
one yard in circumference[874]. Our more immediate ancestors appear to
have applied the turnip to more extensive uses as an esculent than is
done at present. It is stated, that in 1629 and 1630, when there was a
dearth in England, very good, white, lasting and wholesome bread was
made of boiled turnips, deprived of their moisture by pressure, and
then kneaded with an equal quantity of wheaten flour. The same was had
recourse to in Essex in 1693[875].]

The question whether the Greeks and the Romans were acquainted with
our carrots[876], seems to be attended with more difficulties than
might be expected. Whoever wishes to answer it fully, and at the same
time explain the information of the ancients, and examine the opinions
of the botanists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (for the
modern botanists give themselves very little trouble in regard to such
researches), must enter into a disquisition of such length as might be
agreeable perhaps to few readers. I shall however here state what I
think I know, and however little it may be, it will perhaps afford some
assistance to those who are desirous to illustrate the works of the
ancient physicians and agriculturists.

Dioscorides, who, next to Theophrastus among the Greeks, possessed the
greatest share of botanical knowledge, was certainly acquainted with
our carrot, and gave it the name of _staphylinos_. For this plant, he
says, like dill, bears _umbellæ_ consisting of white flowers, which
in the middle are of a purple red or almost saffron red colour. Our
carrots, it is well known, have these characteristics, before the
_umbellæ_, towards the time of their ripening, form themselves into a
_nidus_. The plant meant by Dioscorides grew wild, but was reared in
gardens, on account of its esculent root; and our carrots are certainly
descended from plants which grew wild, though Miller, author of the
Gardener’s Dictionary, could not succeed in rendering the small pungent
roots eatable by culture.

We must believe Columella and Pliny, that the _staphylinos_ of the
Greeks was, in their time, called _pastinaca_; though they give no
information from which it can be concluded that their _pastinaca_ was
our carrot. The former speaks of it as a plant useful to bees, which is
the case also with our wild and cultivated carrots. Afterwards he tells
us that it was cultivated like _siser_. Those therefore have erred who
consider _siser_ and _pastinaca_ as the same plant, and believe it to
be our liquorice.

That _staphylinus_, or _patinaca_, or our carrot, was by the Greeks
called also _daucus_, is asserted by Pliny, as well as Galen; and
in the Geoponica, _daucon_ is named among the kitchen vegetables.
But Dioscorides seems to make a difference between _staphylinus_ and
_daucon_, as he treats of them in different sections. He however says
that _daucon_ is like _staphylinus_, and has also a white umbella.
_Daucon_ perhaps may have signified a peculiar variety of carrot.

In the last place, that the _pastinacæ_, or carrots, were named
also _carotæ_, is mentioned by Apicius. This word is derived perhaps
from κάρτον, which in Athenæus denotes the large roots of the
_staphylinus_, and also from κέρας, which occurs in Hesychius and
Apuleius as a synonym of _pastinaca_, _staphylinus_, and _daucion_;
but it is possible that all these words may have been corrupted by
transcribers. The Germans and French however have thence formed the
appellation _carrottes_. But κάρος, a plant which Galen[877] names
along with the roots of the _staphylinus_ and _daucus_, signified,
undoubtedly, our caraway (_Carum Carvi_). Dioscorides says that the
spicy aromatic seeds of the κάρος were used, and that the roots also
were boiled and eaten like carrots. Pliny calls the plant _careum_.
The Greeks and the Romans therefore were acquainted with our carrots;
but in my opinion they were far less used in cookery and as fodder
for cattle than they are at present, otherwise they must have more
frequently occurred in the works of the ancients.

But whether, under the term _pastinaca_, the ancients did not sometimes
understand our parsnip, I will not venture to determine. I can only
assert, with some degree of probability, that the latter is by
Dioscorides called _elaphoboscon_, a name which occurs also in Pliny.
The former says expressly that this plant had _umbellæ_ with yellow
flowers, and large white sweet roots fit to be eaten. Now among our
umbelliferous plants, besides dill, fennel and lovage, the parsnip is
the only one which has yellow flowers; at any rate I know of no other
with yellow flowers and esculent roots. If the parsnip had no other
names among the Greeks and the Romans, it must have been very little
used by them; for it is mentioned only by Dioscorides and Pliny. At
present we know that it forms excellent fodder for black cattle, sheep
and swine.

It needs however excite little wonder that it is so difficult to
discover these plants in the works of the Greeks and the Romans.
They all belong to one natural order, the species of which can with
difficulty be distinguished by the most expert botanist. I mean to
say, that all the umbelliferous plants are so like to each other,
that they may be readily confounded. This difficulty is still further
increased by the old physicians, who used a great many plants of this
kind, and named them after the kitchen vegetables to which they had
a resemblance, so that by these means plants totally different occur
under the same name. To distinguish these, it is necessary first to
examine which of them was a kitchen vegetable, and which was used in

Among our kitchen vegetables, as among the spices, there are many
kinds which, at first, were known only on account of their medicinal
properties, but afterwards were esteemed and cultivated on account of
their good taste. Of this kind is the scorzonera[878], which became
first known in the middle of the sixteenth century, in Spain, where it
was considered as an antidote to the poison of a snake called there
_scurzo_. A Moor, who had learnt this property of it in Africa, cured
with the juice of the leaves and the roots a great many peasants bitten
by snakes while mowing; but he would not discover the plant, that he
might retain all the advantage to himself. Some persons, however, who
followed him to the mountains, where he collected it, observed that it
was the _Scurzonera_, or _Scorzonera hispanica_, so called from the
name of the snake. Petrus Cannizer transmitted the plant, together with
a drawing of it, to John Odorich Melchior, physician to the queen of
Bohemia; and the latter sent what he had obtained to Matthioli, who at
that time was not acquainted with it[879]. Soon after the roots were
extolled in a particular tract by Nicholas Monardes, as a powerful
remedy for the poison of snakes[880]. It is probable also that these
roots were first used in Spain as food, and about the beginning of the
sixteenth century were carried thence to France. The anonymous author
of the well-known work Le Jardinier François, who was a gardener, and
dealt in trees and seeds at Paris, boasts of having been the first who
introduced these roots into the French gardens. The first edition of
his book, which greatly contributed to improve gardening in France, was
printed in 1616. At present the roots of the scorzonera are to be found
in most gardens, but no one places faith in their medicinal virtue; and
when they are occasionally prescribed by any physician for a ptisan
perhaps, the other kind, the _Scorzonera humilis_, is preferred,
though in the apothecaries’ shops the Spanish, taken from the gardens,
is used in its stead[881].

Among our species of the _Allium_ genus, shallots, in consequence of
their mild taste, are preferred. There can be no doubt that this name,
as well as the French _échalotte_, is derived from _Ascalonia_; and
the above species in the system is called _Allium ascalonicum_[882].
Theophrastus, Pliny, Columella, Apicius, and others, speak of a species
called _ascalonia_, brought from the city of Ascalon, in Palestine, as
we are told by Pliny, Strabo, and Stephanus. The last-mentioned author
states it as a report, that the first bulbs were observed in that
neighbourhood. These names are found in the oldest catalogues of the
German garden vegetables. There is sufficient reason also to conjecture
that our shallots were the _ascaloniæ_ of the ancients, and that they
came originally from Palestine; especially as Hasselquist found the
same species growing there wild. An important doubt, however, against
this opinion arises from what is said by Theophrastus and Pliny;
namely, that their _ascaloniæ_ could not be propagated by bulbs, but
by seeds[883]; on the other hand, our shallots in Germany, and perhaps
in every other part of Europe, never come to flower, and are obtained
only by the bulbs; so that Linnæus procured the first flowers, through
Hasselquist, from Palestine. But why should not all the other allium
species be propagated by planting the bulbs?

[The kitchen-gardens of England were as scantily supplied with
vegetables, until about the end of the sixteenth century, as the
pleasure-grounds were with shrubs and flowers. “It was not,” says
Hume, “till the end of the reign of Henry VIII. that any salads,
carrots, turnips or other edible roots were produced in England; the
little of these vegetables that was used was imported from Holland and
Flanders. Queen Catherine, when she wanted a salad, was obliged to
despatch a messenger thither on purpose.” Hume is not however quite
correct in this point. Our ancestors, before Henry VIIIth’s time, had
always their winter-cresses and water-cresses, and common Alexanders,
which served them for celery; they had rampion and rocket; borage for
their cool tankard, and amaranthus and goose-foot, or good Henry with
sprout-kales, which they used as greens. Their fruits were neither
numerous nor good, being chiefly confined to gooseberries, currants
and strawberries; the apples and pears were generally indifferent, and
their plums and cherries bad; although the latter are supposed to have
been planted in this country so early as the year 800, at which time
they were brought from Italy.

The most important of kitchen vegetables of the present day is
certainly the potato. There is scarcely a doubt of the potato being
a native of South America, and its existing in a wild state in
elevated places in the tropical regions and in the more temperate
districts of the western coast of that country. It appears probable
that it was first brought into Europe from the mountainous parts of
South America in the neighbourhood of Quito, to Spain, early in the
sixteenth century; they were here called _papas_. From Spain they were
carried to Italy, and there received the same name as the truffle,
_taratoufli_. From Italy they went to Vienna, through the governor of
Mons in Hainault, who sent some to Clusius in 1598. The potato arrived
in England from North America, being brought from Virginia by the
colonists sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, and who returned
in July 1586, and in all probability brought back the potato with
them. Such is the opinion of Sir Joseph Banks; moreover, in De Bry’s
Collection of Voyages[884], he describes a plant called _openawk_,
which is in all probability identical with the potato. Gerarde, in his
herbal, published in 1597, figures the potato, under the name of the
potato of Virginia, whence he says he received the roots. The potato
was first cultivated in Ireland by the grandfather of Sir Robert
Southwell, from tubers given him by Sir W. Raleigh. Some time after,
they were grown in Lancashire, as some say, being conveyed there
through a shipwreck; thence their culture has gradually diffused itself
throughout the country.

The great dependence for nourishment placed in the potato by so many
of the poor, has been lately exhibited in the great distress caused
by the disease of the crops. In addition to its use as a direct
article of food, the potato is applied to furnish starch, which is not
unfrequently substituted for arrow-root and sugar.

In the year 1619, the common market-price of the potato was 1_s._ per


[843] [The very reverse of this is now generally admitted, and the
prosperity of a country may be judged of from the amount of sugar
consumed in it.]

[844] Rumex patientia. Kerner, tab. 720.

[845] Barbarea plantaginea. Kerner’s Œkonom. Pflanzen, tab. 562.

[846] Smyrnium olusatrum. Kerner, 356.

[847] Chærophyllum bulbosum. Kerner, tab. 299. Jacquin, Flora
Austriaca, i. tab. 63.

[848] Phyteuma spicata. Kerner, tab. 153.

[849] The tuberous roots of the Lathyrus tuberosus. Kerner, tab. 328.

[850] Columella. x. 109. Virgil, Moretum, 85.

[851] Apuleius de Virtute Herbar. cap. 41. Plinius, xxv. 8.

[852] Spec. Plantarum.

[853] Du Cange.

[854] Meursii Glossar. Anonymus de vulpe et lupo. In p. 657, he says
that this poem was printed, but where we are not told.

[855] See the passages quoted by Niclas in Geopon. v. 11. 3, p. 345.

[856] Plin. xix. 8. sect. 41. The same species is mentioned by
Columella, x. 138. But of red cabbage no account is found in any
ancient author.

[857] Columella, xii. 54. Pallad. Decem. 5. Nicander in Athenæus, iv.

[858] Bellonii Obs. Itin. iii. 27.

[859] Menage, Dict. v. Broccoli.

[860] This is stated in Vincenzo Tanaro Economica del Cittadino in
Villa. This book, written about the year 1642, was often printed; but
I have never been so fortunate as to meet with a copy. The eleventh
edition, being the latest, was printed at Venice in 1745, 4to. In
Nonnii Diæteticon, p. 49, the first edition of which was printed in
1627, it is said that the seeds of cauliflower were brought from
Italy to Antwerp, where no seed was raised, or such only as produced
degenerate plants.

[861] In Horti Germaniæ, at the end of Cordi Opera, p. 250, B.

[862] Georgica Curiosa, Nurnberg, 1716, fol. i. p. 643.

[863] Land- und Gartenschatz, p. 84.

[864] See the ingenious experiments of Dalibert in Mémoires présentées
sur les Mathématiques et la Physique, tom. i. Strong-smelling
plants lose their smell in a sandy soil, and do not recover it when
transplanted into a rich soil. On this Rozier founds his proposal for
improving rape-oil.

[865] Mehler, p. 16, tab. vi.--Kerner, tab. 312.

[866] A good figure is given by Mehler, tab. viii.

[867] See a figure of the Teltow rapes in Kerner, tab. 534.

[868] Geopon. lib. ix. 18, p. 611. The oil of turpentine of the present
day is obtained from the resin by distillation, a process with which
the ancients were unacquainted.

[869] Columella, ii. 10, 22-25; xi. 3, 60; xii. 54.--Plinius, xx. 4;
and xix. 10 and 5. That I may not be too prolix, I shall leave the
confusion which occurs in the works of the ancients untouched.

[870] See the figure of the _Mayrübe_ in Kerner, tab. 553; of the
_Guckelrübe_, tab. 516; and Mehler’s tab. vii. (or 37.)

[871] De Re Rustica, lib. ii. cap. 10.

[872] Hist. Nat. lib. xviii. c. 13; lib. xix. c. 5.

[873] Tull’s Horse-Hoeing Husbandry.

[874] Gard. Magaz.

[875] Lib. Entert. Knowledge, VEGETABLE SUBSTANCES.

[876] Kerner’s Œkonom. Pflanzen, tab. 319.--Mehler, tab. x. (or 40.)

[877] De Aliment. Facult. ii. 67. Galen has ἡ καρὼ, not κάρος.

[878] Kerner, tab. 91.

[879] Matthioli Epist. Med. v. p. 209; in Opera, Basil. 1674, fol.

[880] A translation, printed for the first time in Spanish in 1569, is
in Clusii Exotica, p. 15.

[881] Murray, Apparat. Med. i. p. 160.

[882] Kerner, tab. 307.

[883] _Cepæ fissiles_, or _scissiles_, or _schistæ_, are leeks, as
Theophrastus tells us himself, which, when the leaves become yellow,
are taken from the earth, and being freed from the leaves, are
separated from each other, then dried, and in spring again put into the
ground. If we believe that the _ascaloniæ_ can be propagated only by
seed, we must certainly read in Theophrastus μόνα γἀρ οὐ σχιστὰ, as
Scaliger has already remarked.

[884] Vol. i. p. 17.


In the art of weaving, the woof is thrown or made to pass through the
numerous threads of the warp[885], and is retained by them; but in
knitting there is only one thread, which is entwined in so ingenious
a manner that it produces a tissue approaching near to cloth, both in
its use and appearance, though it cannot be called cloth, because it is
formed without warp and woof. I will not, however, quarrel in regard to
names: the spider’s web is produced by only one thread, but in a manner
indeed which differs as much from weaving as it does from knitting; and
it is not known with certainty whether Arachne found out the art of
weaving cloth or of making nets[886].

There are two methods of knitting, essentially different from each
other; the one employed in making nets, and the other in knitting
stockings. In the former the twine is knotted into meshes by means of
a knitting-needle; whereas in the knitting of stockings the meshes
are produced without knots. Hence it may be readily comprehended why
knit stockings can be so easily and so speedily un-knit, in order
that the thread may be employed for new work; and why in nets this is
impossible. The knots which prevent it render it on the other hand
possible for nets to be cut or torn asunder, without destroying
more meshes than those immediately exposed to the force applied. One
may easily see also the cause why things knit in the same manner as
stockings can be stretched without being torn, and, like elastic
bodies, again contract as soon as the action of the distending force
ceases. On this account no kind of cloth has yet been found fitter
for gloves, stockings, garters and bandages. When not too closely
knit, single parts can be extended without injury, as the threads in
the neighbouring meshes give way, and the meshes become narrow or
contracted. This, on account of the knots, is not possible in knitting
of the first kind, which however produces the best nets, as the meshes
suffer the water and mud, together with the fish that are too small, to
pass through them, and retain only the fish that are larger. A captured
fish, in order to escape, must tear to pieces, after each other, as
many meshes as are equal to the circumference of its body. Were the net
formed in the same manner as a stocking, a single mesh, if torn, would
suffer it to pass through[887].

It is to be reckoned among the advantages of the present age, that a
readiness in knitting is required as a part of female education in
all ranks; and it may be easily acquired even by children, with the
assistance of an expert and indulgent instructress. It is however
astonishing that this art has not been banished by the refinement of
modern manners, especially as so much of the time of young females
is employed in the reading of novels and romances. But it is to
be observed, that this occupation, which, with a little practice,
becomes so easy that it may be called rather an amusement, does not
interrupt discourse, distract the attention or check the powers of
the imagination. It forms a ready resource when a vacuity occurs in
conversation, or when a circumstance takes place which ought to be
heard or seen, but not treated with too much seriousness: the prudent
knitter then hears and sees what she does not wish to seem to hear or
to see. Knitting does no injury either to the body or the mind, the
latter of which suffers from romances. It occasions no prejudicial or
disagreeable position, requires no straining of the eye-sight, and can
be performed with as much convenience when standing or walking as when
sitting. It may be interrupted without loss, and again resumed without
trouble; and the whole apparatus for knitting, which is cheap, needs
so little room, and is so light, that it can be kept and gracefully
carried about in a basket, the beauty of which displays the expertness,
or at any rate the taste, of the fair artist. Knitting belongs to
the few useful occupations of old persons, who have not lost the use
of their hands. Those who wish to reproach the fair sex for the time
they waste in endeavouring to please the men, ought not to forget
that the former know how to occupy those moments which the latter
devote, not to labour, but to social enjoyment or pleasure, or which
would be otherwise lost--the time in which the male sex are able to do
nothing that is useful. No one, however, will seriously object this
to the male sex, whose daily occupations tend so much to exhaust the
spirits; but is it not to be regretted that those who, in consequence
of their situation, perform properly no work, who are scarcely under
the necessity of thinking, and who rather become corrupted through
idleness, do not employ their vacant hours in knitting, in order to
gain money? What I mean to say is, should not servants, soldiers,
shepherds, and the male children of the peasants who are unfit for hard
labour, learn to knit, that they might earn something for themselves
and their families? A sale for knit articles, stockings, mitts, caps,
nets and fine lace can never be wanting. My panegyric, however, on
knitting is applicable, strictly speaking, to the second kind only,
which surpasses the first in utility, but is a much more modern
invention; for fishing and hunting were the oldest occupations, and
mention of nets occurs in the earliest writings.

It is not improbable that the people who resided on the banks of rivers
abundant in fish, endeavoured to catch them at first with baskets, such
as those which most of the Indians know how to make, or with other
vessels which suffered the water to run through them; but that in the
course of time a piece of thin cloth was employed, and at a still
later period, what was far more convenient, nets. Mention however of
fishing and hunting nets occurs very often in the Scriptures; and in
some passages it is clearly proved that we are to understand by them
such as were knit. But I shall leave commentators to determine whether
gins composed of ropes or cords[888] are not often meant where the
translators have introduced nets. The former are certainly older than
the latter; they were long used both in hunting and in war, and are
still employed among some savage tribes who are not acquainted with

That nets, however, should be invented at an early period needs excite
no wonder, for they have been found in modern times among very rude
nations. Wafer[889] saw some among the American savages which were made
of the bark of a tree; and the Greenlanders made some of the same kind
of the hair of the whale’s beard, and of the sinews of other animals.
I shall omit here what has been said in regard to nets in the works
of the ancients, and particularly in those which treat on fishing and
hunting. The Latins say _texere retia_; and Pliny calls the yarn or
twine of which nets were made _stamen_; yet I am inclined to believe,
that both the Greeks and the Romans made their nets in the same manner
as we do at present.

Weaving, properly so called, is out of the question; and it appears
that these words were used in a very general sense, because there was
then no term of art to denote knitting. At any rate, I cannot believe
that the far more ingenious process by which our lace-weavers prepare
the netted scarfs used by military officers was then known, as Braun
seems to think[890]. Meshes were called by the Latins _maculæ_ and
_nodi_; but I as little understand what Pliny says, “retia succino
nodantur,” as the supposed explanation of Hardouin, “retia nodos
e succino habebant[891].” The author alludes here perhaps to some
ornament added to those nets which were drawn round the boxes or seats
of the senators. Some manuscripts read _notantur_: I should have
preferred _ornantur_.

The art of making nets of fine yarn, silk, or cotton, by the process of
knitting, and employing them as articles of dress or ornament, is not
an invention of modern luxury. I remember to have seen in old churches
retiform hangings, and on old dresses of ceremony borders or trimming
of the same kind, which fashion seems alternately to have banished and
recalled. That in the middle ages the mantles of the clergy had often
coverings of silk made in the same manner as fishing-nets, has been
proved by Du Cange[892]. I suspect also that the transparent dresses
used by the ladies, more than four hundred years ago, to cover those
beauties which they still wished to be visible, were nets of this

Far more ingenious and of much later invention is that art which
was undoubtedly first employed in making stockings, and on that
account called stocking-knitting. That the Romans and most of the
ancient nations had no particular clothing for the lower part of the
body, is so well known, that it is unnecessary for me to repeat the
proofs. Their legs however did not suffer more from the cold than our
hands when they are not covered by gloves, or than the feet of the
Franciscans at present; and what is common is not indecent. It is well
known that the northern nations first had hose or trowsers, which
covered not only the legs but the thighs and loins; and it was not till
a few centuries ago, that from this article of dress people began to
make two; the upper part retained the old name, and the lower, that
which covered the legs, was called in German _strumpf_, _truncus_,
which word Maler in his Dictionary explains by _halbhosen_, half-hose,
and _hosenstrumpf_. The diminutive _strümpfle_ signifies, according
to this author, hose that reach to the calf of the leg. The first
stockings were of cloth, and made by the tailors; consequently they
were not so commodious as our knit-stockings, which, for the reason
already mentioned, become closely contracted, without pressing the foot
or impeding a person in walking.

It is more than probable that the art of knitting stockings was first
found out in the sixteenth century, but the time of the invention is
doubtful; it is also uncertain to what people we are indebted for it,
and the name of the inventor is entirely unknown. Savary appears to
be the first person who hazarded the conjecture[894], that this art
is a Scottish invention, because the French stocking-knitters, when
they became so numerous as to form a guild, made choice of St. Fiacre,
a native of Scotland, to be their patron; and besides this, there is
a tradition, that the first knit stockings were brought to France
from that country. However this may be, it is certain that the first
letter of foundation for this guild, named “la Communauté des Maitres
Bonnetiers au Tricot,” is dated the 16th, or, as others say, the 26th
of August 1527. St. Fiacre, I shall here remark, was the second son of
Eugenius, who is said to have been king of Scotland in the beginning
of the seventh century; he lived as a hermit at Meaux in France,
and his name in the sacred calendar stands opposite to the 30th of
August[895]. It must however be acknowledged that Savary’s conjecture
rests only on a very slight foundation.

Somewhat more probable is an opinion, which has been long prevalent
in England, and is supported by the testimony of respectable writers.
Howell, in his History of the World, printed in 1680, relates that
Henry VIII., who reigned from 1509 to 1547, and who was fond of show
and magnificence, wore at first woollen stockings; till by a singular
occurrence he received a pair of knit silk stockings from Spain. His
son Edward VI., who succeeded him on the throne, obtained by means
of a merchant named Thomas Gresham, a pair of long Spanish knit silk
stockings; and this present was at that time highly prized. Queen
Elizabeth, in the third year of her reign, that is in 1561, received by
her silk-woman, named Montague, a pair of black silk knit stockings,
and afterwards would not wear any other kind[896].

This information is confirmed by another account. It is related in
Stow’s Chronicle, that the earl of Pembroke was the first nobleman
who wore worsted knit stockings. In the year 1564, William Rider, an
apprentice of Master Thomas Burdet, having accidentally seen in the
shop of an Italian merchant a pair of knit worsted stockings, procured
from Mantua, and having borrowed them, made a pair exactly like them,
and these were the first stockings knit in England of woollen yarn.

From this testimony, it has been hitherto believed in England that knit
stockings were first made known there under Henry VIII.; that they were
brought from Spain to that country; and that the invention belongs,
in all probability, to the Spaniards. Were this really the case, one
might conjecture that the first knit stockings known in England were of
silk, though the imitations made by Rider were of wool. For under Henry
VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth, silk stockings only are mentioned;
and at that period silk, and not woollen articles, were imported from
Italy and Spain. Did the invention belong to the Spaniards, I should be
inclined to conjecture that these people obtained it from the Arabians,
to whom we are indebted for many useful and ingenious arts. But at
any rate the conjecture of Savary falls to the ground; for as the
French had a stocking-knitters’ guild as early as 1527, it is highly
improbable that the English, forty years after, or about the year 1564,
should have been unacquainted with the invention of their nearest
neighbours, the Scots.

Some years ago, however, several learned men in England were led,
by a singular circumstance, to collect information in regard to the
antiquity of the art of knitting stockings. I here allude to the
forgeries of Thomas Chatterton, who was born on the 20th of November
1752, and terminated his unfortunate life by suicide on the 24th
of August 1770. This ingenious youth published some poems which he
pretended were written by Thomas Rowley, who lived in the reign of
Edward IV., that is about the year 1461. Many literary men denied
the authenticity of these poems, though they possessed great beauty;
proclaimed Chatterton to be a second Psalmanasar; and justified their
opinion by the circumstance of knit stockings being mentioned in
them. This they said was an anachronism, as the invention of knitting
stockings, according to Howell and Stow, must be a century later than
the supposed poet Rowley. Others, who supported the genuineness of
these poems, endeavoured on that account to make the invention older,
and collected information in regard to the history of it, from which I
have made the following extract[897].

In the beginning of the sixteenth century the people of Scotland
had breeches, in the proper sense of the word, and wore a kind of
stockings; for Hector Boethius, who was professor at Aberdeen in 1497,
relates that the Scots wore hose which reached only to the knee,
consequently stockings made of linen or woollen, and breeches chiefly
of hemp[898].

These particular articles of dress were usual at that time even in
England; for in the year 1510 king Henry VIII. appeared, on a public
occasion, with his attendants, in elegant dresses, in the description
of which breeches and hose are particularly mentioned[899].

In the year 1530, the word _knit_, applied to stockings, must have been
common in England; for at that time John Palsgrave, French master to
the Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII., published a grammar, in
which he stated that this word in French was applied to the making of
nets as well as of caps and stockings.

From a household book of a noble family in the time of Henry VIII., we
learn that knit stockings, both for grown-up people and children, were
sold at so low a price that it cannot be supposed they were foreign

In the reign of Edward VI. various kinds of knit articles must have
been made in England, as appears by some regulations relating to trade
and manufactures issued in 1552[901].

It nevertheless can be proved, that in the fifth year of the reign
of queen Mary, that is in 1558, there were many who wore stockings
of cloth; for Dr. Sands, who was afterwards archbishop of York, sent
for a tailor to measure him for a pair of hose[902]. This might serve
to confirm the assertion of Stow, that stockings were not knit in
England till six years after. But according to the testimonies already
produced, this cannot be true. It is much more credible, that the
clergy and old people, who are not ready to adopt new modes, wore
some years later the old-fashioned stockings of cloth, which in all
probability were similar to our gaiters.

It might be mentioned, as a further proof, if necessary, of breeches
and stockings being considered, long before the reign of queen
Elizabeth, as separate parts of dress, that in the catalogue then drawn
up of the revenue of the bishop of St. Asaph, it is stated that he
received as a perquisite, on the death of every clergyman who had a
living, his best breeches and stockings[903].

About 1577, that is ten years after the period of the invention as
given by Stow, knitting must have been common throughout all England,
and practised even in villages. The bark of the alder was used by
the wives of the peasants for dyeing the stockings which they had

According to the well-known poet George Gascoigne[905], the greatest
ornaments in dress, about the year 1576, were knit silk stockings and
Spanish leather shoes.

About 1579, and not 1570 as stated in the Gentleman’s Magazine, when
queen Elizabeth was at Norwich, several female children appeared before
her, some of whom were spinning worsted yarn, and others knitting
worsted yarn hose[906].

The art of knitting stockings would be much older in Germany than in
France or in England; and Chatterton, at any rate, would be freed from
the charge of committing an anachronism, were it true, as Micrælius
wrote in the year 1639, that the consort of the duke of Pomerania,
who died in 1417, when she could no longer sew or embroider amused
herself with knitting[907]. But it is very probable that this good man
committed an anachronism, like Chatterton; and, in order to show the
industry of the duchess, named those occupations which were usual in
his own time.

In Germany, as far as I know at present, stocking-knitters occur for
the first time about the middle of the sixteenth century, under the
name of _hosenstricker_, a term which in Lower Saxony is still not
uncommon. At Hamburg the people say _hasenknütter_, and use the word
_hase_ for stockings. In Berlin there were stocking-knitters about the
year 1590. In many countries they had a particular guild; and this
is the case at present in the duchy of Wirtemberg, where they are
entirely different from those who work at the loom, and who are called
_stocking-weavers_. Each have their own regulations, in which it is
ordered that the stocking-knitters shall wear no articles wove, that
is knit, in a loom, and the stocking-weavers no articles knit with
the hand. That knitting however may be left free, as an occasional
occupation to every one, the following words are inserted in the
regulations of the stocking-knitters:--“Poor people, who through want
of other means procure a subsistence by knitting stockings, and those
who at the gates keep watch for themselves or others, and at the same
time knit, shall be at liberty to wear whatever they make with their
own hands.”

The German terms of art which relate to knitting are older than the art
itself, for they are all borrowed from the making of nets; _knütten_,
_knüteisen_, _knütholz_, _knütspan_, _stricken_ and _stricknadel_, and
also _maschen_, are all terms which occur in the fishing-regulations of
Brandenburg for the year 1574, and no doubt earlier. The _tricoter_ of
the French had the same origin as the German word _stricken_: _Trica_
was a lock of hair, a noose; and _tricare_ signified to entangle, and
deceive. _Lacer_ is derived from _laqs_, a rope, a noose; and this
comes from _laqueus_. The English word _stocking_ is derived from
_stock_, _truncus_, the trunk of a tree, a word still retained by the
German foresters, who in the Low German speak of rooting out _stocks_.

Silk stockings, however, in consequence of their high price, were
for a long time used only on very grand occasions. Henry II., king
of France, wore such stockings for the first time at the marriage of
his sister with the duke of Savoy in 1559[908]. In the reign of Henry
III., who ascended the throne in 1575, the consort of Geoffroy Camus
de Pontcarre, who held a high office in the state, would not wear silk
stockings given to her by a nurse, who lived at court, as a Christmas
present, because she considered them to be too gay. In the year 1569,
when the privy-counsellor Barthold von Mandelsloh, who had been envoy
to many diets and courts, appeared on a week-day at court with silk
stockings which he had brought from Italy, the margrave John of Custrin
said to him, “Barthold, I have silk stockings also; but I wear them
only on Sundays and holidays.” The celebrated Leonard Thurneisser,
however, who lived at the court of Brandenburg about the end of the
sixteenth century, wore silk stockings daily, and in general dressed
very magnificently in silk and velvet.

Knitting with wires, the method of which I have hitherto spoken, has
always appeared to me so ingenious, that I conceived the inventor of
it must have had a pattern to serve as a guide. This pattern I think
I have discovered. Wire-workers, and other artists who used wire,
exercised their ingenuity some centuries ago, more than at present,
in making wire-screens in various ways; and it must be confessed that
many of them produced articles, which even at present, though not
suited to the modern taste, deserve admiration. Works of this kind
may still be found in old churches. The art of making them has often
been considered as too difficult for human hands; and hence popular
tradition has asserted that the artists were assisted by the devil. A
tale of this kind is still related, though no longer believed, to those
whose curiosity induces them to view the wire-screen which surrounds
the baptismal font in St. Mary’s church at Wismar, and which is plaited
or wove in so ingenious a manner, as if with ropes, that neither the
beginning nor end of the wires can be observed. A similar legend is
told to strangers when shown the screen around the pulpit in the
cathedral of Lubec, which, according to the inscription, was made in
1572. It is not improbable that, among works of this kind, some may be
found made with meshes, as if formed by knitting. Our pin-makers can
construct some much more ingenious. That I might be better able in my
technological lectures to convey to my pupils an idea of knitting, I
made a drawing on the subject, and caused a pin-maker to weave for me a
small screen of brass wire. This work is easy, because it is executed
in a frame of strong but pliable wire. I suspect therefore that some
one first tried to make an imitation of such a wire-net with yarn, and
in one expanded piece, for which only two or three small sticks would
be necessary. Instead of having a frame, the inventor, it is probable,
fastened to his clothes the stick on which the meshes were made, or
on which he knitted; but afterwards employed a sheath to perform that
service. Thus, most of the Wirtemberg stocking-knitters, at present,
knit with two wires and a sheath. Hence their stockings, like those
wove in the stocking-loom, are sewed or have a seam behind.

Among the master-pieces of the Wirtemberg stocking-knitters, a carpet
of beautiful flower-work and figures is mentioned in their regulations.
It is milled, and when spread out measures three ells in length and one
and a half in breadth. It is probable that some person, by repeated
trials, found out the method of knitting in a circular form; but for
this purpose several wires would be necessary. In order to render this
improved art of knitting similar to the old method, the meshes were so
arranged that the stockings seemed to have a seam, for which however
there was no occasion. The sheath, which was fastened to the left side,
was long retained by our knitters; but as it retarded the work, and
as it was necessary to keep the body in an uneasy posture, injurious
to the growth of young and industrious persons, means were devised to
dispense with it and to knit with much less restraint. In this manner
the art was brought to its present perfection; and it must excite no
small astonishment when it is considered that it was invented all at
once, and by one person.

The invention of the stocking-loom is worthy of more admiration,
when one reflects that it was not a matter of accident, like most
of the great discoveries, but the result of talents and genius. It
is a machine exceedingly complex, consisting of two thousand parts,
which, in a moment almost, can make two hundred meshes of loops,
without requiring much skill or labour in the workman. There are few
descriptions of this machine; and those published do not fully answer
the purpose[909]. But my object is merely the question, Who was the
inventor, in what country, and at what time did he live? and I can say,
that after the most diligent research, it does not appear subject to
any doubt, as some have hitherto believed.

Under the administration of Cromwell, the stocking-knitters of London
presented a petition, in which they requested permission to establish
a guild. In this petition they gave to the Protector an account of the
rise, progress, and importance of their art or trade; and there can be
no doubt that this well-written document contains the oldest authentic
information in regard to this invention, which was then scarcely
fifty years old. Every thing must then have been fresh in the memory
of those by whom it was drawn up; every circumstance could easily
be examined; and the petitioners must have been sensible that their
misrepresentations, for which however they had no reason, could easily
be contradicted. However unimportant my research may appear, it gave me
much pleasure to find a copy of this petition in Deering’s Account of
Nottingham, already mentioned, in which the author has collected many
authentic circumstances from the records of that town, where the loom
was first employed and enriched many families, and whence the use of it
was spread all over England and Europe[910].

From these it appears that the real inventor was William Lee, whose
name in the petition is written Lea, a native of Woodborough, in
Nottinghamshire, a village about seven miles distant from the town
of Nottingham. He was heir to a considerable freehold estate, and a
graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge. It is reported, that being
enamoured of a young country-girl, who during his visits paid more
attention to her work, which was knitting, than to her lover and his
proposals, he endeavoured to find out a machine which might facilitate
and forward the operation of knitting, and by these means afford more
leisure to the object of his affection to converse with him. Love
indeed is fertile in inventions, and gave rise, it is said, to the art
of painting; but a machine so complex in its parts and so wonderful
in its effects, would seem to require longer and quieter reflection,
more judgement, and more time and patience, than can be expected in a
lover. But even if the cause should appear problematical, there can be
no doubt in regard to the inventor, whom most of the English writers
positively assert to have been William Lee.

Aaron Hill seems to make the stocking-loom younger, and relates the
circumstance in the following manner. A student of Oxford was so
imprudent as to marry at an early period, without money and without
income. His young wife, however, was able to procure the necessaries of
life by knitting; but as the natural consequences of love, an increase
of family, was likely to render this soon insufficient, the husband
invented a machine by which knitting could be performed in a speedier
and more profitable manner. Having thus completed a stocking-loom, he
became by its means a man of considerable wealth[911]. But Hill, in his
account, gives neither names, date, nor proofs; and as he seems to have
formed it from an imperfect remembrance of what he had heard or read in
regard to Lee, it is not worthy of further examination.

Deering says expressly, that Lee made the first loom in the year 1589;
and this account has been adopted by Anderson and most of the English
writers. In the stocking-weavers’ hall, at London, is an old painting,
in which Lee is represented pointing out his loom to a female knitter,
who is standing near him; and below it is seen an inscription with the
date 1589, which was the year of the invention[912]. Other accounts
make it somewhat later. Thus Howell, after relating that Queen
Elizabeth obtained the first stockings in 1561, says that thirty-nine
years after the loom was invented by Lee, in which case the period
would be 1600[913]. In the petition of the stocking-knitters it is
stated, that the loom, at that time, had been found out about fifty
years. It is to be regretted that this document has no date; but as
Cromwell reigned from 1653 to 1658, the invention would fall in the
beginning of the seventeenth century. It is more probable, however,
that it belongs to the end of the sixteenth.

Lee instructed his brother James in the use of the loom, and took
apprentices and assistants, with whom he carried on business for some
years at Calverton, a village five miles distant from Nottingham. On
this account, Calverton has by some been considered as his birth-place.
He showed his work to Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1603, and requested
from that princess some support or remuneration; but he obtained
neither, and was impeded rather than assisted in his undertaking.
Under these circumstances, Lee accepted an invitation from Henry IV.
king of France, who had heard of this invention, and promised to give
a handsome reward to the author of it. He therefore carried nine
journeymen and several looms to Rouen in Normandy, where he worked
with great approbation; but the king being assassinated, and internal
commotions having taken place, Lee fell into great distress, and died
soon after at Paris. Two only of his people remained in France, one of
whom was still alive when the before-mentioned petition was presented
to Cromwell. Seven of them returned to England; and these, with a
person named Aston, who at first was a miller at Thoroton, the place of
his birth[914], but afterwards an apprentice of Lee, by whom he had
been left behind in England, where he made some improvements in the
loom, laid the foundation of the stocking-manufactory in that country.
The number of masters increased there in the course of fifty years so
much, that it was found necessary to unite them into one guild; for
which Cromwell, however, in consequence of reasons not known, refused
the proper sanction; but in 1663 they received letters patent, which
gave them certain privileges to the extent of ten miles round London.

In the year 1614, the Venetian ambassador, Antonio Correr, persuaded an
apprentice, Henry Mead, by the promise of five hundred pounds sterling,
to go with a loom to Venice for a stated time, and to teach there the
use of it. Mead met with a favourable reception in that city, and was
much admired; but the loom becoming deranged, and no person at Venice
being able to repair it, when the time of his agreement was expired,
he returned to England. The Venetians had not resolution enough to
continue the attempt; and sent the damaged loom, together with some bad
imitations of it, to London, where they were sold for a mere trifle.
Such is the account given in the petition before-mentioned.

Zano, however, an Italian writer[915], asserts, on the authority of
information preserved in manuscript among family documents, that Correr
carried two stocking-weavers with looms to Venice; that he immediately
placed under them four apprentices, and when they went back to England
sent with them a boy, who returned to Venice well-instructed in the
art, and who continued to carry on business there with great success.
Giambattista Carli of Gemona, a smith who worked in steel, saw the loom
at Venice, which had been made after the model of those brought from
England and sold to Francesco Alpruni of Udina. In a short time a great
many stockings were manufactured there, and sent for sale, chiefly to
Gradisca in Austria. But, in consequence of the poverty of the Venetian
stocking-knitters, an order was issued that Carli should make no more
looms; and this productive branch of business at Udina was so much
deranged, that the masters removed with their looms to Gradisca, where
the inhabitants of Udina were obliged to purchase such stockings as
they had occasion to use.

Some years after the stocking-loom had been introduced at Venice,
Abraham Jones, who understood stocking-weaving and the construction
of the loom, though never regularly taught, went with some assistants
to Amsterdam, where he worked on his own account two or three years,
till he and his people were carried off by a contagious disease. The
looms, because no one could use them, were sent to London and sold for
a low price. In the petition to Cromwell the masters state, with great
satisfaction, that in this manner the trade had remained in England;
and, that it may be exclusively retained in their native country, they
wish for the establishment of a privileged company.

It appears to me therefore proved beyond all doubt, that the
stocking-loom was invented by William Lee, an Englishman, about the end
of the sixteenth century; and this is admitted by some French writers,
such as Voltaire[916] and the editor of the first Encyclopédie, whom
the author of the Encyclopédie Méthodique however finds fault with.
Other French writers, who are the more numerous party, wish to ascribe
the honour of this invention to one of their own countrymen; but the
proofs they bring are so weak that they scarcely deserve notice. Savary
perhaps is the first person who publicly ventured to support this
instance of Gallic vanity; at any rate he is quoted by the more modern
writers as their authority when they wish to contradict the English.

According to his account, a Frenchman, of whom however he knows
nothing further, invented the stocking-loom; but not being able to
obtain the exclusive privilege of using it in his own country, went
with it to England. The utility of it being soon discovered there,
it was forbidden, under pain of death, to carry a loom or a model of
it out of the kingdom. But another Frenchman, respecting whom he is
equally ignorant, having seen the loom, the form of it made so deep
an impression on his memory, that on his return he copied it exactly;
and from this loom all the others used in France and Holland were
constructed. Savary adds, did the invention belong to the English,
who are accustomed to pay due honour to those who discover useful
things, they undoubtedly could tell the name of the inventor, which
however they are not able to do. It is very strange that this should be
written by a Frenchman, who himself did not know the name of the French
inventor, or of the person who carried back the invention. No order
to prevent the exportation of the stocking-loom was issued in England
so early, else it would certainly have been mentioned in the petition
presented to Cromwell. It was not till the eighth year of the reign of
William III., that is 1696, when looms were everywhere common, that
the exportation of them was forbidden; probably because the best were
made in England, and it was wished that the gradual improvement of them
should be kept secret. The penalty also was not death, but a fine and
confiscation of the looms.

Some have endeavoured to give an air of probability to this assertion
of Savary, by the relation of an apothecary in the Hotel-Dieu at Paris.
This person is said to have declared that the inventor was a journeyman
locksmith of Lower Normandy, who gave a pair of silk stockings, his own
workmanship, to Colbert, in order that they might be presented to Louis
XIV.; but as the _marchands bonetiers_, who dealt in articles knit
according to the old manner, caused several loops of these stockings
to be cut by some of the servants at court, whom they had bribed for
that purpose, they did not meet with approbation. The inventor was so
hurt by this disappointment, that he sold the loom to an Englishman,
and died an old man in the Hotel-Dieu, where the apothecary became
acquainted with him. It was necessary to expose the lives of many
workmen, and even of some men of learning, in order to bring back a
loom to France. Romè de la Platière adds, that he heard at Nimes, that
in the time of Colbert a person of that place, named Cavellier, carried
the first loom to France; and that, in the course of fifty years, the
number of the looms in that town and neighbourhood increased to some
thousands. It appears much more certain that the stocking manufactory,
as Savary asserts, was established at the castle of Madrid in the Bois
Boulogne near Paris, in the year 1656, under the direction of John

I do not know at what time the first loom was brought to Germany; but
it is certain that this branch of manufacture was spread chiefly by the
French refugees who sought shelter in that country after the revocation
of the edict of Nantes. Winkelmann says expressly, that they carried
the first looms to Hesse. This is not at all improbable, because our
stocking manufacturers give French names to every part of their looms,
as well as to their different kinds of work. Becher boasts of having
introduced the loom at Vienna, and of having first constructed looms
of wood. At present many wooden ones are made at Obernhau in the
Erzgebürge, and sold at the rate of twenty-eight dollars; whereas iron
ones, of the most inferior kind, are sold in Vogtland for sixty or

[In 1663 a charter was granted by Charles II. to the Frame-work
Knitters’ Society of London (stocking-makers), which had been refused
to them a few years before by Oliver Cromwell. Six years afterwards
the number of stocking-frames in England amounted to 700, employing
1200 workmen, three-fifths of whom made silk stockings, and the others
worsted; for cotton was not then ranked among English manufactures. By
1714 the number of frames had increased to 8000 or 9000. Some years
after this, the Frame-work Knitters’ Company attempted to control both
the manufacture itself, and the making and selling of the stockings;
but the project failed. By the year 1753 the number of frames in
England was 14,000. In 1758 a machine for making ribbed stockings was
patented by Mr. Strutt of Belper.

In 1838 stocking-frames with a rotatory action, and worked by steam,
were successfully brought into use in Nottingham. Of the present extent
and value of the hosiery manufacture, perhaps the best estimate is
that made a few years ago by Mr. Felkin of Nottingham. This gentleman
calculates the value of cotton hosiery annually made at £880,000, that
of worsted at £870,000, and that of silk at £241,000. He estimates
the number of stockings annually manufactured at 3,510,000 dozens;
and in the production of these there are used 4,584,000 lbs. of raw
cotton, value £153,000; 140,000 lbs. of raw silk, value £91,000; and
6,318,000 lbs. of English wool, value £316,000; making the total value
of the materials £560,000, which are ultimately converted into the
exchangeable value of £1,991,000. The total number of persons employed
is 73,000.]


[885] [It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader that the _warp_
consists of the _longitudinal_ threads of a woven fabric, which are
crossed by the _transverse_ threads or woof.]

[886] Ovidii Metamorph. vi. 5-145. Plin. Hist. Nat. vii. 56.

[887] An Englishman, named J. W. Boswel, invented a machine on which
sixty-eight meshes, with perfect knots, could be knit at the same time:
it could be adapted also to fine works, and to lace. A description of
it may be seen in the Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement
of the Arts, vol. xiv.

[888] Many commentators on the Greek and Roman writers have fallen
into mistakes respecting these noose-ropes, because they were not
acquainted with the nature of them. Their use among the Parthians is
confirmed by Suidas, under the word σειραὶ, p. 303; where he says that
on that account they were called σειροφόροι. Josephus asserts that
they were employed by the Alani, and relates that Tiridates would have
been caught in this manner, had he not quickly cut to pieces the rope.
Under the same head may be comprehended the _retiarii_ and _laquearii_,
in the bloody spectacles of the Romans, whose method of fighting is
said to have been found out by Pittacus. See Diogen. Laert. i. 74. To
this subject belong the snares of the devil, pestilence, and death, in
the Scriptures, and particularly in Psalm xviii. ver. 5. The _laquei
mortis_ of Horace, Carm. iii. 24, 8, were hence to be explained, and
not by a Hebraism, as some of the old commentators have imagined. In
the ordeals of the ancient Germans, when a man was obliged to combat
with a woman, the latter had a rope with a noose, which she threw over
her antagonist, who stood in a pit, in order that she might more easily
overcome him. That such ropes are still employed among various nations
is proved by Vancouver. In Hungary the wild horses at present are said
to be caught by ropes of this kind.

[889] Wafer’s Voyage. Anderson’s Iceland. The author says that the
beards are cut into slips; but these slips were fish-bone, which could
be made into baskets but not into nets. He certainly meant the hair on
the beard, which in Holland is used for wigs.

[890] De Vest. Sac. Hebr. p. 100.

[891] Hist. Nat. lib. xxxvii. cap. 3.

[892] Rete, id est ornamentum sericum ad instar retis contextum.--Acta
S. Deodati, tom. iii. Junii, p. 871.

[893] In the Limpurg Chronicle, which may be found in Von Hontheim,
Hist. Trevirensis, vol. ii. p. 1084, is the following passage: “The
ladies wore new _weite hauptfinstern_, so that the men almost saw
their breasts;” and Moser, who quotes this passage in his Phantasien,
conjectures that the _hauptfinstern_ might approach near to lace. I
never met with the word anywhere else; but Frisch, in his Dictionary,
says, “_Vinster_ in a Vocabularium of the year 1492 is explained by the
words _drat_, _schudrat_, thread, coarse thread.” May it not be the
word _fenster_, a window? And in that case may it not allude to the
wide meshes? _Fenestratum_ meant formerly, perforated or reticulated;
and this signification seems applicable to those shoes mentioned by Du
Cange under the name of _calcei fenestrati_. At any rate it is certain
that the article denoted by _hauptfinstern_ belonged to those dresses
mentioned by Seneca in his treatise De Beneficiis, 59. Pliny says that
such dresses were worn, “ut in publico matrona transluceat.”

[894] Dict. de Commerce. Copenh. 1759, fol. i. pp. 388, 576.

[895] Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. liii. 1783, p. 38. In the Heiligen
Lexicon St. Fiacre is improperly called the son of an Irishman of

[896] Howell, in speaking of the trade in the oldest times, says,
p. 222, “Silk is now grown nigh as common as wool, and become the
cloathing of those in the kitchin as well as the court; we wear it
not onely on our backs, but of late years on our legs and feet, and
tread on that which formerly was of the same value with gold itself.
Yet that magnificent and expensive prince, Henry VIII., wore ordinarly
cloth-hose, except there came from Spain, by great chance, a pair of
silk stockins. K. Edward, his son, was presented with a pair of long
Spanish silk stockins by Thomas Gresham, his merchant, and the present
was taken much notice of. Queen Elizabeth in the third year of her
reign was presented by Mrs. Montague, her silk-woman, with a pair of
black knit silk stockins, and thenceforth she never wore cloth any

[897] The lines which allude to this subject are in the tragedy of

  “She sayde, as herr whytte hondes whyte hosen were knyttinge,
  Whatte pleasure ytt ys to be married!”

[898] In his Description of Scotland, according to the old translation,
in Hollingshed, “Their hosen were shapen also of linnen or woolen,
which never came higher than their knees; their breeches were for the
most part of hempe.”

[899] “The king and some of the gentlemen had the upper parts of
their hosen, which was of blue and crimson, powdered with castels and
sheafes of arrows of fine ducket gold, and the nether parts of scarlet,
powdered with timbrels of fine,” &c.... There is reason however to
suppose that the upper and nether parts of the hose were separate
pieces, as they were of different colours. This description stands
in the third volume of Hollingshed’s Chronicles, p. 807, where it is
said, speaking of another festival, “The garments of six of them were
of strange fashion, with also strange cuts, everie cut _knit_ with
points of fine gold, and tassels of the same, their hosen cut in and
tied likewise.” What the word _knit_ here signifies might perhaps be
discovered if we had an English Journal of Luxury and Fashions for the
sixteenth century.

[900] Gentleman’s Magazine, 1782, vol. lii. p. 229. From an authentic
and curious household book kept during the life of Sir Tho. L’Estrange,
Knt. of Hunstanton in Norfolk, by his lady Ann, daughter of the lord
Vaux, are the following entries:--

  1533. 25 H. 8. 7 Sept. Peyd for 4 peyr of knytt hose  VIII s.
  1538. 30 H. 8. 3 Oct.  ........ two peyr of knytt hose   I s.

It is to be observed, that the first-mentioned were for Sir Thomas and
the latter for his children.

[901] The act made on this occasion is not to be found in any of the
old or new editions of the Statutes at Large. It is omitted in that
published at London, 1735, fol. ii. p. 63, because it was afterwards
annulled. Smith, in Memoirs of Wool, Lond. 1747, 8vo, i. p. 89, says
it was never printed; but it is to be found in a collection of the
acts of king Edward VI., printed by Richard Grafton, 1552, fol. The
following passage from this collection, which is so scarce even in
England that it is not named in Ames’s Typographical Antiquities, is
given in the Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. liii. part 1, p. 127:--“In this
acte limitinge the tymes for buieing and sellyng of wolles, mention is
made of chamblettes, wolstende, saies, stamine, _knitte hose_, _knitte
peticotes_, _knitte gloves_, _knitte slieves_, hattes, coives, cappes,
arrasse, tapissery, coverlettes, girdles, or any other thing used to be
made of woolle.”

[902] This account is to be found in Hollingshed’s Chronicles. “Dr.
Sands at his going to bed in Hurleston’s house, had a paire of hose
newlie made, that were too long for him. For while he was in the Tower,
a tailor was admitted to make him a pair of hose. One came in to him
whose name was Beniamin, dwelling in Birchin-lane; he might not speak
to him or come to him to take measure of him, but onelie to look upon
his leg; he made the hose, and they were two inches too long. These
hose he praied the good wife of the house to send to some tailor to cut
two inches shorter. The wife required the boy of the house to carrie
them to the next tailor, which was Beniamin that made them. The boy
required him to cut the hose. He said I am not the maister’s tailor.
Saith the boy, because ye are our next neighbour, and my maister’s
tailor dwelleth far off, j come to you. Beniamin took the hose and
looked upon them, he took his handle work in hand, and said, these are
not thy maister’s hose, but Dr. Sands, them j made in the Tower.”

[903] “Item, his best coat, jerkin, doublet and breeches. Item, his
hose or nether stockings, shoes and garters.”--Survey of the Cathedral
of St. Asaph, by Browne Willis, 1720, 8vo.

[904] Hollingshed’s Chronicle, 1577, p. 213.

[905] In his satyre called The Steel of Glass:--“In silk knitt hose,
and Spanish leather shoes.”

[906] In Hollingshed, third part, p. 1290:--“Upon the stage there stood
at the one end eight small women children, spinning worsted yarne, and
at the other as manie knitting of worsted yarn hose.”

[907] Buch des Alten Pommerlandes, 1639, 4to, p. 388:--“Duke Bogislaus
VIII. suffered himself at length to be overcome by love, and married
Sophia, daughter of Procopius margrave of Moravia, who was a very
prudent and moderate lady. In her old age, when her sight became bad,
so that she was incapable of sewing or embroidering, she never put the
knitting-needle out of her hands, as is written in our chronicles. The
rhymes which she always had in her mouth are remarkable:--

  Nicht beten, gern spatzieren gehn,
  Oft im Fenster und vorm Spiegel stehn,
  Viel geredet, und wenig gethan,
  Mein Kind, da ist nichts Fettes an.

‘Never to pray; to be fond of walking; to stand often at the window and
before the looking-glass; to talk much and do little; is not, my child,
the way to be rich.’”

[908] Mezeray, where he speaks of the silk manufactories under Henry IV.

[909] The first description of the stocking-loom illustrated by
figures, with which I am acquainted, is in Deering’s Nottingham, 1751,
4to, but it is very imperfect. A much better is to be found in the
second volume of the Encyclopédie, printed at Paris, 1751, fol. p.
94-113. The figures are in the first volume of the second part of the
Planches, and make eleven plates, eight of which are full sheets. [The
reader will also find a very good description of the stocking-loom
illustrated with woodcuts in Ure’s Dictionary, art. HOSIERY.]

[910] The following passage occurs in the petition, p. 302: “Which
trade is properly stiled framework-knitting, because it is direct and
absolute knit-work in the stitches thereof, nothing different therein
from the common way of knitting (not much more antiently for publick
use practised in this nation than this), but only in the numbers
of needles, at an instant working in this, more than in the other
by an hundred for one, set in an engine or frame composed of above
2000 pieces of smith, joiners, and turners work, after so artificial
and exact a manner, that, by the judgement of all beholders, it far
excels in the ingenuity, curiosity, and subtility of the invention and
contexture, all other frames or instruments of manufacture in use in
any known part of the world.”

[911] This account is given by Aaron Hill in his Rise and Progress of
the Beech-oil Invention, 1715, 8vo.

[912] The inscription may be found in Seymour’s Survey of London,
1733, fol. vol. i. p. 603: “In the year 1589 the ingenious William
Lee, Master of Arts of St. John’s College, Cambridge, devised this
profitable art for stockings (but being despised went to France) yet of
iron to himself, but to us and others of gold; in memory of whom this
is here painted.”

[913] In his History of the World, already quoted, p. 171: “Nine
and thirty years after was invented the weaving of silk stockings,
westcoats, and divers other things, by engines, or steel looms, by
William Lee, Master of Arts of St. John’s College in Cambridge, a
native of Nottingham, who taught the art in England and France, as his
servants in Spain, Venice, and Ireland; and his device so well took,
that now in London his artificers are become a company, having an hall
and a master, like as other societies.”

[914] Of this Aston the following account is to be found in Thoroton’s
Nottinghamshire, 1677, fol. p. 297: “At Calverton was born William
Lee, Master of Arts in Cambridge, and heir to a pretty freehold here;
who seeing a woman knit, invented a loom to knit, in which he or his
brother James performed and exercised before Queen Elizabeth, and
leaving it to ... Aston his apprentice, went beyond the seas, and was
thereby esteemed the author of that ingenious engine, wherewith they
now weave silk and other stockings. This ... Aston added something to
his master’s invention; he was some time a miller at Thoroton, nigh
which place he was born.”

[915] Dell’ Agricoltura, dell’ Arti, e del Commercio. Ven. 1763, 8vo.

[916] Le Siècle de Louis XIV.


My object, in this article, is not to give a history of beer, because
for that purpose it would be necessary to define accurately the
different kinds of grain mentioned in the writings of the Greeks and
the Romans; and this would be a tedious, as well as difficult, and
to me a very unpleasant labour; as I should be obliged to controvert
a great many received opinions. I shall only endeavour to answer the
question, Where and at what time did hops begin to be used as an
addition to beer? This subject has already engaged the attention of two
learned men[917], whose researches I shall employ and enlarge by my own

Hops at present are so well known, that a formal description of them
would be superfluous. I think it necessary, however, for the sake of
perspicuity, to state what follows. This plant at present grows wild in
the greater part of Europe, and in Germany is common in the hedges and
fences. It clings to the trunks of trees, and often climbs round poles,
if long enough, to the height of twenty or thirty feet. It is almost
everywhere rough and sharp to the touch, and sometimes clammy. The
leaves are generally divided into three, and often into five indented
lobes; but the upper ones are shaped like a heart and undivided. The
male plants bear flowers, like those of the currant-bush or of the
male hemp; the female plants produce their flowers in cones, which are
not unlike those of the fir, except that the latter are woody, while
the former are foliaceous. These cones only are used for beer; on that
account the female plants alone are cultivated, and from these they
are picked and dried as soon as they begin to become pulverulent. They
are transplanted or propagated by means of seedlings, in hop-grounds
properly prepared, where the cones become larger and better than those
of the wild plants, which however are not entirely useless. They are
added to beer to render it more palatable, by giving it an agreeable
bitter taste; and, at the same time, to make it keep longer; and it
must indeed be confessed, that of the numerous and various additions
which since the earliest periods have been tried, none has better
answered the purpose, or been more generally employed.

Among the botanists of the last two centuries, who perused the writings
of the Greeks and the Romans, and endeavoured to discover those plants
which they meant to describe, many imagined that they found in them
hops. But when one takes the trouble to examine without prejudice their
opinions, nothing appears but a very slight probability; and some
even of these learned botanists, such as Matthioli and others, have
acknowledged that it cannot be proved that the Greeks and the Romans
were acquainted with our hops.

The plant which perhaps has been chiefly considered as the hop is the
_Smilax aspera_[918] of Dioscorides[919], the same no doubt as that
described by Theophrastus under the name of _smilax_, without any
epithet[920]. That the description agrees for the most part with our
hops cannot be denied; but it is equally true that it might be applied,
with no less propriety, to many other creeping plants, and certainly
with the greatest probability to that which in the Linnæan system has
retained the name _Smilax aspera_. What the Grecian writer says of the
fruit is particularly applicable to this plant; but, on the other hand,
it differs from the fruit of the hop.

One might with more probability conjecture that hops occur in
Pliny[921], under the name _Lupus salictarius_. But the whole of what
he says of this plant is, that it was esculent, and grew in the willow
plantations. This is undoubtedly true of hops, for that the young
shoots are eaten in spring as salad is well known; but the name _lupus_
alone has induced the commentator to apply all this, though equally
applicable to other plants, to our hop, which at present is called
_lupulus_. Much more unfounded is the conjecture, that the hop is that
wild plant which, according to the account of Cato, was used as fodder
for cattle[922]. But the word in manuscripts is differently written,
and consequently uncertain; besides, there are many plants which might
be employed in the place of straw.

It is certainly possible that hops might have been in use among the
northern nations, at the time of these writers, without their having
any knowledge of them; for the Romans were acquainted with beer only
from the accounts given of the Germans and their manners[923], and they
considered that beverage merely as an unsuccessful imitation of their
wine. But I agree in opinion with Conring, Meibomius, and others, that
hops were not used till a much later period. The names _humulus_ and
_lupulus_ also are of no great antiquity. The former is the oldest, and
seems to belong to the people who first added this improvement to beer.
The _humble_ and _humle_ of the Swedes and Danes, the _chumel_ of the
Bohemians, the _houblon_ of the French and the Spanish, Hungarian and
Persian appellations, all seem to be derived from the same origin, as
well as the Latin names of later times, _humelo_, _humolo_, _humulo_,
_humlo_[924]. _Lupulus_ does not occur till a much later period. The
German word, which the English also have adopted, appears first to have
been written _hoppe_, from which was formed afterwards in High German
_Hopfen_, by converting, as it commonly does, the double _p_ into the
harder _pf_. Thus from _toppe_ it has made _topf_, and from _koppe_,
_kopf_, &c. As far as I know, this word is found, for the first time,
in a dictionary which seems to be of the tenth century[925], and which
has _Timalus_, _Hoppe_ and _Brandigabo Feldhoppe_. According to my
conjecture, _timalus_ has been erroneously printed for _humulus_;
but in regard to _brandigabo_ I can give no explanation. It is
derived perhaps from _brace_ or _bracium_. The former was known to
Pliny[926]; and the latter occurs in the same dictionary along with the
translation, malt.

No mention is made of hops either in Walafrid Strabo, who died in
849, or in Æmilius Macer, who cannot have lived earlier than the year
850; in the laws of the old Franks, in which beer and malt are often
mentioned, or in the Capitulare de Villis Imperatoris, which are
ascribed to Charles the Great. Had beer been then used and brewed in
Germany, it would certainly have been at any rate mentioned by the
emperor. Haller says[927] it is related by Isidorus that the experiment
of adding hops to beer was first made in Italy. Were this the case, it
would be the oldest mention of that circumstance, for Isidorus died in
the year 636. It is however not only highly improbable that the use
of hops should be discovered in Italy, which is a wine country, but
it can be proved to be false. Not the smallest notice of it is to be
found in the whole work of Isidorus; and in the Bibliotheca Botanica,
when Haller had the book before him and extracted from it many things
remarkable, he does not repeat this assertion[928]. The passage which
has given rise perhaps to this error, appears to be that where the
author describes a kind of beer called by him _celia_, and where the
germination of corn, the shooting of malt, and the sweet wort made
from it, together with its fermentation, are clearly mentioned, but
not hops[929]. Some one perhaps thought that hops also ought to be
supposed in this passage, else beer would not acquire that strong taste
and intoxicating quality spoken of by Isidorus, who very properly
ascribes both to fermentation. The same account has been repeated
by Vincentius[930], without any change or addition. But as Isidorus
scarcely contains anything which is not borrowed from earlier writers,
I endeavoured to discover the source of that information, and at length
found it in the history of Orosius[931], who, as is well known, lived
in the fifth century.

In the Latin translation of the works of the Arabian physician
Mesue[932] is a description, but as is commonly the case, a defective
one, of a creeping plant, with rough indented leaves under the name of
_lupulus_, which indeed corresponds exceedingly well with our hops.
The cones in particular are exactly described. The author, however,
speaks there only of the medicinal qualities of the plant, and makes
no mention of its application to beer. Mesue lived about the year 845,
consequently is the first who uses the term _lupuli_. But we have only
a wretched old translation of the writings of this physician; it is
probable that the word _lupulus_ comes only from the translator. This
passage therefore can prove nothing.

It is however certain that hops were known in the time of the
Carolingian dynasty, for a letter of donation by King Pepin speaks
of _humolariæ_, which without doubt must have been hop-gardens[933].
In like manner Adelard, abbot of Corbey, in the year 822, freed the
millers belonging to his district from all labour relating to hops,
and on this occasion employed the words _humlo_ and _brace_, by which
is to be understood corn and malt used for beer. In the Frisingen
collection of ancient documents, there are many which were written
in the time of Ludovicus Germanicus, consequently in the middle of
the ninth century; and in some of these, hop-gardens, which were then
called _humularia_, are mentioned[934]. In the tax registers of the
two following centuries, among the articles delivered to churches and
monasteries, _modii_ and _moldera humuli_ are very often named[935].
Hop-fields and the delivery of hops occur much oftener in the
thirteenth century, under the appellations _humuleta_, _humileta_,
and _humularia_[936]. In the Sachsenspiegel[937] and the municipal
law of Magdeburg (Weichbildsrechte[938]), there is an order in regard
to the hop-plants which grew over hedges. I shall omit the still more
numerous instances where they occur in the fourteenth century as well
as the proofs that hops were then cultivated in many parts of Germany;
and it is perhaps true, as said by Möhsen, and after him by Fischer,
on whose bare word however I do not entirely rely, that many towns in
Germany were indebted for the great sale of their beer to the use of
hops (which undoubtedly appears to be a German discovery), and to their
peculiar goodness. However, it is certain that this method of seasoning
beer was adopted at a much later period by our neighbours the English,
Dutch, Swedes, and others.

If the two passages above quoted, where the word _lupuli_ occurs, be
rejected because they are doubtful, I must consider this name of hops
to be more modern than the word _humulus_; and if this be true, it is
impossible to believe, with Du Cange, that the latter was formed from
the first by throwing away the initial letter. As yet I had not found
the name _lupulus_ given to hops earlier than the thirteenth century.

About this time lived Simon of Genoa, commonly called _Johannes de
Janua_ or _Januensis_, who also had the surname of _Cordus_. He was
physician to Pope Nicholas IV.; afterwards chaplain and sub-deacon
to Pope Boniface VIII.; and therefore flourished at the end of the
thirteenth century. Of his writings none is better known, or was
formerly more esteemed, than his Catholicon, a book in which he
describes, in alphabetical order, all the substances then used in
medicine, and on which, as he says himself, he was employed thirty
years. In this dictionary, which is commonly considered as the first
of the Materia medica, there is an article under the head _lupulus_,
copied however from the before-mentioned Latin translation of Mesue,
but with the addition, that this plant by the French and Germans is
named _humilis_, and that the flowers of it were used in a beverage
which he calls _medo_[939]. This Italian, however, does not seem
to have been properly acquainted with the subject; for he tells us
himself[940], that under the name _medo_ or mead, is understood a
beverage made of diluted honey, for which hops are never employed.
In Italy also, at that time, hops were not in use. About the same
period, Arnold de Villanova, in his commentary on the work on Regimen,
published by John of Milan, in the name of the celebrated school of
Salerno, mentions _lupuli_, and the use of them in brewing beer[941].

Professor Tychsen, to whose friendship I have been frequently indebted
for assistance in my researches, suggested to me the conjecture that
_lupulus_ perhaps is derived from _lupinus_, because Columella says
that the bitter seeds of this plant were added, in Egypt, to beer in
order to moderate its sweetness[942]. This use is confirmed also by G.
W. Lorsbach, from the Arabic historian Ebn Chalican[943]. At any rate,
this proves that in Egypt at that time bitter things began to be added
to beer. It is also well known that in Italy lupines were rendered
fit for the use of man as well as of animals, by macerating them in
water[944]; and I am of opinion, that on this account Varro required
water to be in the neighbourhood of a farm-yard[945]. Lupines softened
in water are still employed for making dough. But if _lupulus_ was
formed from _lupinus_, it must however be proved that the use of it for
beer was common beyond the boundaries of Egypt. Even if we admit with
Schöttgen, that the poet employs _zythum_ for beer in general, this
beverage was never used in Italy, and I have met with no other mention
of lupines in brewing.

In the breweries of the Netherlands, hops seem to have been first
known in the beginning of the fourteenth century; for about this time
we find many complaints that the new method of brewing with hops
lessened the consumption of _gruit_, and also the income arising from
_gruitgeld_. The word _gruit_ seems to have many meanings: in the first
place it signifies malt; but though I formerly considered this as the
proper meaning, and though some approved my opinion, I must confess
that on further examination I am not able fully to prove it. In the
second place, it signified a certain tax paid at each time of brewing:
thirdly, a certain addition of herbs used for beer in the fourteenth
century: and in the last place, the beer brewed with it was itself
sometimes called _gruit_.

That this word always denoted malt is impossible; for it is said
that after hops were introduced, less _gruit_ was used and sold than
formerly had been the case. But how could hops be employed instead of
malt? John, bishop of Liege and Utrecht, complained to the emperor
Charles IV., that for thirty or forty years a new method of brewing,
that is to say, with the addition of a certain plant called _humulus_
or _hoppa_, had been introduced, and that his income arising from
_gruitgeld_ had been thereby much lessened. The emperor, therefore,
in the year 1364, permitted him, for the purpose of making good his
loss, to demand a _groschen_ for each cask of hops; and this right was
confirmed to bishop Arnold by pope Gregory[946]. By this and similar
accounts I am induced to conjecture that a beverage composed of
different herbs was at that time prepared, and that the sale of this
mixture and of _gruit_ was converted into a so-called _regale_. Nay, it
almost appears that _gruit_ was a fermenting substance, indispensably
necessary to beer, instead of the yeast used at present.

According to every appearance the ancient beer could not be long kept;
and beer fit to be preserved seems to have come into use after the
introduction of hops. The oldest writers who treat of the good and
bad effects of hops, reckon among the latter, that they dried up the
body and increased melancholy; but among their good qualities, they
praise their property of preserving liquors from corruption[947]. It
was soon remarked also, that the keeping of beer depended a great deal
on the season in which it was brewed; for M. Anton quotes from the
Ilm statutes of 1350, that people were permitted to brew only from
Michaelmas to St. Walpurgis’ day[948]; at other times it was forbidden
under certain penalties. At that period various kinds of beer seem
to have been in use, and perhaps became fashionable instead of wine,
coffee, and tea. Thus M. Anton quotes, from a Hervord document of the
year 1144, _cervisia mellita_ and _non mellita_. However, even at
present, honey is used for many kinds of beer; such for example as
that brewed at Nimeguen, which has an extensive sale under the name of
_moll_, a word derived no doubt from _mollig_, mild; which is applied
also to wine. In the same manner the English used liquorice.

In England, the use of hops seems to have been introduced at a much
later period; but it is said that they were at first considered as a
dangerous production, and that the planting of them was forbidden in
the reign of Henry VI., about the middle of the fifteenth century[949].
This I will not venture to deny, though I very much doubt it. I have
found no proof of it in any English writer, and I have searched in vain
for the prohibition among the orders of that prince, in which however
there occurs one in regard to malt[950]. On the contrary, many English
historians assert that the use of hops was first made known in England
by some people from Artois, in the reign of Henry VIII., or about the
year 1524[951]. It is nevertheless true, that this sovereign, in an
order respecting the servants of his household, in the twenty-second
year of his reign, that is in 1530, forbade brewers to put into
ale hops and sulphur[952]. But perhaps his majesty was not fond of
hopped beer. Even at present, most of the dictionaries call ale, beer
brewed without hops; and an English physician says expressly that the
difference between ale and beer is, that hops are not employed for the
former[953]. But according to the English instructions for brewing,
hops are required for ale also.

In the English laws hops are mentioned for the first time in the fifth
year of the reign of Edward VI., that is in 1552, at which period some
privileges were granted to _hop-grounds_. The cultivation of hops
however, which, like the art of brewing, has in England been carried
to the greatest perfection, was very limited even in the beginning of
the seventeenth century; for James I., in the fifth year of his reign,
that is in 1603, found it necessary to forbid, under severe penalties,
the introduction and use of spoilt and adulterated hops. At that time,
therefore, England did not produce a quantity sufficient for its own

In Sweden, at least in the fifteenth century, hops seem not to have
been very common[954]; for at that time sweet gale (_Myrica gale_) was
employed for beer; and so generally, that king Christopher, in 1440,
confirmed the old law, that those who collected this plant before a
certain period, on any common or on another person’s land, should be
subjected to a fine. A similar punishment however was appointed for the
too early picking of hops; and the cultivation of them was so strongly
enforced, that every farmer who had not forty poles with hops growing
round them was punished, unless he could show that his land was unfit
for producing them[955].

But it was long doubted in Sweden whether this plant would thrive in
the cold climate of that country; in which however it grows wild. In
the time of Gustavus I., who became king in 1523, Sweden was obliged to
give for the foreign hops it used 1200 _schifpfunds_ of iron, which was
about the ninth part of all the iron made in the kingdom. In the year
1558 the king complained, in an edict, that a pound of hops cost as
much as a barrel of malt, and on that account was desirous to encourage
the cultivation of the hop-plant. But his exertions were attended with
so little effect, that even under the reign of queen Christina, that
is, in the middle of the seventeenth century, all the hops used in the
kingdom were imported from Germany, and particularly from Brunswick
and Saxony. The queen had some hop plantations as rarities in her
garden; yet the cultivation of hops was begun under this princess, and
carried so far that German hop farmers, who before had been accustomed
to travel to Sweden every three years, to receive payment and take new
orders, returned very much dissatisfied, and suffered a part of their
hop-grounds to run to waste. Under Charles XI., however, who reigned
from 1660 to 1697, the cultivation of hops was first brought to a state
of considerable improvement.

In the year 1766, Linnæus hazarded a conjecture that hops, spinage,
chenopodium, tarragon, and many other garden vegetables were brought
to Europe by the Goths, during their periods of emigration, from
Russia and particularly the Ukraine, because the old writers make no
mention of these plants, and because in those districts they all grow
wild at present[956]. It however appears certain that hops belong
to our indigenous plants, as they grow everywhere wild in Germany,
Switzerland, England, and Sweden, and even in countries into which the
cultivation of them has never yet been introduced, and where it cannot
be supposed that they accidentally became wild by being conveyed from
hop-fields and gardens. The want of information in works older than
the emigrations of the northern tribes, is no proof that a plant did
not then exist. At that time there was no Linnæus to transmit plants
to posterity, as Hipparchus, according to the expression of Pliny, did
the stars. Such vegetable productions only as had become remarkable
on account of their utility or hurtful qualities, or by some singular
circumstance, occur in the works of the ancients. Many others remained
unknown, or at least without names, till natural history acquired
a systematic form; and even at present botanists have often the
satisfaction to discover some plant not before observed.

Is it probable that the Chinese even are acquainted with our hops?
They have a kind of beer made from barley and wheat, which is called
_tarasun_; and according to the account of J. G. Gmelin, who purposely
made himself acquainted with the preparation of it, hops formed by
pressure into masses, shaped like a brick, are added to it[957]. It
is well known that the Chinese have also a kind of tea formed into
cakes by strong pressure. Our hops are compressed in the same manner
in Bohemia; and in that state will keep without losing any of their
strength for fifty years. They are put into a sack or bag of coarse
canvass, and subjected to a press. A square sewed bag, each side of
which is two ells, contains fifty bushels of hops prepared in this
manner; and when any of them are required for brewing, the bag is made
fast to a beam, and as much as may be necessary is cut out with an axe.
The whole mass is of a brown colour, and has a resemblance to pitch, in
which not a single hop-leaf can be distinguished. Whether the Chinese
conceived the idea of employing our common hops for the like purpose,
is a question of some importance in regard to the history of them; but
at present I am not able to answer it.

[Hops are extensively cultivated in Kent, Sussex, and Herefordshire;
and to a less extent in Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Hampshire,
Gloucestershire, Surrey, and several other counties.

From 50,000 to 60,000 acres of land are covered in England with
hop-gardens, about one-half being in Kent; an excise duty of 18_s._
8_d._ per cwt. is levied upon their produce. British hops are exported
to Hamburg, Antwerp, St. Petersburg, New York, Australia, and other
places. A trifling quantity is also imported, principally from
Flanders. The duty on hops of the growth of Great Britain produced in
1842, £260,979.]


[917] One of these, in particular, is J. F. Tresenreuter, in A
Dissertation on Hops, which was printed at Nuremberg, 1759, 4to, with a
preface by J. Heumann.

[918] Σμίλαξ τραχεῖα.

[919] Dioscor., iv. 244.

[920] Hist. Plant. iii. 18.

[921] xxi. 15, sect. 50.

[922] Cato De Re Rustica, xxxvii. p. 55.

[923] Most of the passages in ancient authors which relate to beer have
been collected by Dithmar in his edition of Tacitus De Moribus German.
cap. xxiii.; and by Meibom De Cerevisiis Veterum in Gronovii Thes.
Antiq. Græc., ix. p. 548.

[924] [The word _humulus_ is derived from _humus_, fresh earth, the hop
only growing in rich soils.--Loudon and Sir W. Hooker.]

[925] This valuable monument of antiquity is to be found in (Nyerup)
Symbolæ ad Literaturam Teutonicam, sumtibus A. F. Suhm, Havniæ 1787,
4to, pp. 331, 404.

[926] Lib. xviii. cap. 7.

[927] Histor. Stirpium, ii. p. 290.

[928] Biblioth. Botan. i. p. 161.

[929] Originum lib. xx. 3, p. 487.

[930] Speculum Naturale, lib. xi. 109.

[931] Lib. v. cap. 7.

[932] Joh. Mesuæ Opera. Venetiis, 1589, fol.

[933] Du Cange Doublet Hist. Sandionys. i. 3, p. 669.

[934] In C. Meichelbeck’s Histor. Frising. I. Instrument. p. 359.

[935] See the works quoted by Tresenreuter, p. 15: Pezii Thesaur.
Anecdot. i. P. 3, pp. 68, 72.--J. C. Harenberg Histor. Gandersheim. p.
1350.--Eccard Origin. Saxon. p. 59.--Leukfeld Antiquit. Poeldens. p. 78.

[936] F. G. de Sommersberg Silesiac. Rer. Scriptor. i. pp. 801, 829,
857.--Von Ludwig Reliq. Histor. v. p. 425.--Tresenreuter, p. 20, quotes
later information in the fourteenth century.

[937] L. ii. art. 52.

[938] Art. 126.

[939] For an account of the author and his works, which are now scarce,
see Haller’s Bibliotheca Botan. i. p. 222.

[940] Article Ydromel.

[941] This celebrated work, known as the Schola Salernitatis, was
first printed in 1649, and has since been frequently republished and
translated into various languages. A very complete edition, with an
English version and a history of the book, was given by the late Sir
Herbert Croft. The history of this book may also be found in Giannone’s
History of Naples.

[942] [Loudon observes in his Encycl. Plants, that _lupulus_ is a
contraction of _Lupus salictarius_, the name by which it was, according
to Pliny, formerly called, because it grew among the willows, to which,
by twining round and choking up, it proved as destructive as the wolf
to the flock.]

[943] Columella, x. 116. The root (radish?) was sliced and put into the
Egyptian beer along with steeped lupines, in order to render it more
palatable. Lorsbach über eine Stelle des Ebn Chalican. Marburg, 1789,
8vo, p. 21.

[944] Plin. xviii. 14, sect. 36.--Geopon. ii. 39, p. 189, and the
passages quoted there by Niclas: Galen. de Fac. Simpl. Med. vi. 144:
and Alim. Fac. i. 30.

[945] De Re Rustica, i. 13, 3.

[946] This document is in Matthæi Analecta Vet. Ævi, iii. p. 260. See
also Du Cange, under the word _Grutt_, and its derivatives.

[947] St. Hildegard in Physicæ, lib. ii. cap. 74. Petro Crescentio
d’Agricoltura, lib. vi. cap. 56. This writer lived in the thirteenth

[948] A celebrated female saint of the eighth century, said to have
been a native of England, but canonised in Germany, where she was
abbess of a nunnery at Heidensheim in Thuringia.--TRANS.

[949] This is asserted in the Götting. Gel. Anzeigen, 1778, p. 323.

[950] Statutes at Large, vol. i. p. 591.

[951] Husbandry and Trade Improved, by J. Houghton. Lond. 1727, 8vo.
ii. p. 457.--Anderson’s Hist. of Commerce. [The fermented liquor
anciently in use in this country is usually termed ale, but we have in
fact no certain account of its composition, and all that is now known
respecting it is, that it was a pleasant but intoxicating liquor. Our
Saxon ancestors were so far addicted to its use, that so far back
as the time of king Edgar, it was found necessary to order marks to
be made in their cups at a certain height, beyond which they were
forbidden to fill, under a severe penalty. This probably gave rise to
the _peg tankard_, of which there are a few still remaining. It held
two quarts, and had on the inside a row of eight pegs, one above the
other, from top to bottom, so that the space between each contained
half a pint. The law of compotation was, that every one who drank was
to empty the exact space between peg and peg, and if he either exceeded
or fell short of his measure, he was bound to drink down to the next.
In archbishop Anselm’s canons, made in the council of London, A.D.
1102, we find an order, by which priests were enjoined not to go to
drinking bouts, nor to drink to pegs.]

[952] Archæologia, vol. iii. p. 157. [Indeed, at a much later period,
the common council of the city of London petitioned parliament against
the use of hops, “in regard that they would spoyl the taste of drinks
and endanger the people.”--See Walter Blithe in his Improver Improved,
published in 1649.]

[953] Hamburgisches Magazin, xxxiii. p. 465.

[954] Instead of this plant, which grows wild in Sweden, another wild
plant in Germany called _post_, and by botanists _Ledum palustre_,
was in old times used for beer by poor people in its stead; but it
occasioned violent headaches.--See Linnæi Amœnitat. Acad. viii. p.
270. [This plant is still extensively used in the northern parts of
Germany for imparting a bitter flavour to beer, although, owing to
its deleterious nature, it is strictly forbidden by the laws. In this
country _Cocculus indicus_ is sometimes employed for a like purpose.]

[955] This law is said to have been made as early as the reign of
Magnus Smeek; but it was confirmed by king Christopher in 1440, and
by the command of Charles IX. was printed at Stockholm, in folio, in
1608, in a work entitled Swerikes Rijkes Landz-lagh. The passage which
belongs to this subject stands in Bygninga Balker, cap. 49 and 50, p.
xl. a.

[956] Linnæi Amœnitat. Academ. vii. p. 452.

[957] Gmelin’s Reise durch Sibirien. Gött. 1752, 8vo, iii. p. 55.


To ascertain how old the use of black lead is for writing might be of
some importance in diplomatics, as the antiquity of manuscripts ruled
or written with this substance, or of drawings made with it, could then
be determined.

I allude here to pencils formed of that mineral called, in common,
_plumbago_ and _molybdæna_, though a distinction is now made between
these names by mineralogists. The mineral used for black-lead pencils
they call _reissbley_, _plumbago_, or _graphites_; but under the term
_wasserbley_ and _molybdæna_ they understand a mineral once considered
to be the same as the former, but which, however like it may be in
appearance, differs from it in being heavier, occurring much seldomer,
and containing a new metal, almost of a steel-grey colour, exceedingly
brittle, and named _molybdænum_. Plumbago, which is the substance here
meant, when exposed to an open fire, is almost entirely consumed,
leaving nothing but a little iron and siliceous earth. It contains
no lead; and the names _reissbley_ and _bleystift_ have no other
foundation than the lead-coloured traces which it leaves upon paper.
The darker, finer, and cleaner the lines it makes are, the fitter it is
for drawing and writing. These lines are durable, and do not readily
fade; but when one chooses, they may be readily rubbed out. Black
lead, therefore, can be used with more convenience and speed than any
coloured earth, charcoal, or even ink.

It is well known that transcribers, more than a thousand years ago,
when they wished their writing to be in a particular manner beautiful
and regular, drew fine parallel lines, which they followed in writing.
These lines may be still clearly distinguished in old manuscripts.
In many instances, they have only been impressed on the parchment by
some hard, sharp body; but they often exhibit a leaden colour; from
which one might suppose that they had been drawn with our plumbago,
and consequently believe that the use of this substance is as old as
we must consider, from certain marks, the oldest ruled manuscripts.
But, on a little reflection, one will be convinced that this would be a
very fallacious conclusion. For lines so like those made with plumbago,
that the eye can scarcely perceive the difference, may be made with

It can be proved that the ancients drew their lines with lead; and this
could be done with more convenience, as this soft metal was easily
rubbed off by the parchment, which, being harder and rougher than our
paper, had therefore more body. It is well known that, formerly, when
people wished to draw lines, a small round plate of lead, which could
not so readily cut the parchment or become bent as a leaden style, was

Old manuscripts, ruled with lead-coloured lines, have been pointed
out by modern diplomatists. Our learned Professor Schönemann, who was
unfortunately hurried off by a premature death, has given a description
of the Codex Berengaris Turonensis, of the eleventh or twelfth century,
and the Codex Theophyli Presbyteri de Temperamento Colorum of the
latter century, both preserved in the library of Wolfenbuttel; and
remarks that lines are drawn on the first partly with a style and
partly in a light manner with lead; but he says of the other, that it
exhibits very fine lines drawn with a black-lead pencil[960]. Le Moine
quotes a document of the year 1387, which is ruled with black lead,
and at the same time says that the custom of ruling ceased about the
year 1421 and 1424. The lines, therefore, after that period, became
crooked and oblique[961].

But the antiquity of black-lead pencils cannot be determined by the
help of diplomatic documents. It might be traced out with more ease
were it known by what mineralogical writer _plumbago_, and the uses of
it, were first mentioned. The following is what I have remarked on this
subject; but I suspect that there must be some older mention of it than
any I have yet been able to find. I do not, however, believe that those
who require more than bare conjecture will discover this mineral in the
works of the Greeks and the Romans; for it cannot possibly be proved
that it is to be understood under the terms _plumbago_, _galena_,
_molybdæna_, and _molybdoides_, as has been confidently asserted by
many, who, were it not superfluous, might easily be refuted. But in
whatever obscurity these names may be involved, one can with certainty
discover that they sometimes denote _galena_, or a real lead ore, or
else some production of lead works.

The first author in whose writings I have as yet found certain mention
of _plumbago_ is Conrad Gesner, whose name I can never pronounce
without respect. In his book on fossils, printed at Zurich in 1565,
he says that people had pencils for writing which consisted of a
wooden handle, with a piece of lead, or, as he believed, an artificial
mixture, called by some _stimmi Anglicanum_. Such pencils must at
that time have been scarce, because he has given a figure of them in
a wood-cut. To judge by this, the pencil seems to have had a wooden
sheath or covering.

Thirty years after, Cæsalpinus gave a more complete account of this
mineral, which he calls _molybdoides_, because he thinks it was so
named by Dioscorides. He says that it was a lead-coloured shining
stone, as smooth as if rubbed over with oil; it gave to the fingers
an ash-grey tint, with a plumbeous lustre, and pointed pencils were
made of it for the use of painters and draftsmen. He adds, that it was
called Flanders’ stone, because it was brought from the Netherlands to

Three years after Cæsalpinus, a still better description was given by
Imperato. The latter calls the black lead _grafio piombino_, and says
that it is much more convenient for drawing than pen and ink, because
the marks made with it appear not only on a white ground, but, in
consequence of their brightness, show themselves also on black; because
they can be preserved or rubbed out at pleasure; and because one can
retrace them with a pen, which drawings made with lead or charcoal will
not admit[963]. This mineral is smooth; appears greasy to the touch,
and has a leaden colour, which it communicates with a sort of metallic
lustre. It can resist for a long time the strongest fire; it even
acquires in it more hardness, and therefore has been considered as a
kind of talc. Sometimes it is foliaceous, and may be crumbled to pieces
in scales; but it is frequently found denser and stronger, and in this
case writing-pencils are made of it. The first kind was mixed with that
clay called _rubrica_, and manufactured into crucibles, which were
exceedingly durable in the fire. It is here seen that these Italians,
at that time, were well acquainted with this mineral. It has been
reckoned a species of talc by Justi, by Wallerius in the first edition
of his mineralogy, and also by others. Its durability in resisting heat
is certainly manifested, when it is kept in a close fire and between
coals. But it is proved by the experiments of modern mineralogists,
that in an open, strong, and long-continued fire, it becomes almost
entirely consumed.

Bartholomew Ambrosinus, in the continuation of Aldrovandi’s Musæum
Metallicum, printed at Bologna in 1648, uses the name _lapis
plumbarius_. The short account which he gives of it has been borrowed
from the two Italians last mentioned; but it deserves to be remarked,
that even then he thought it worth his while to give Gesner’s figure

In the works of Albertus Magnus, George Agricola, Encelius, Cæsius,
Kircher, and many other old mineralogists, I have found no mention of
black lead. But as the advantageous use of it for crucibles was known
to Imperato, and as the crucibles made at Ips, which till very lately
were employed by all the mints in Europe, and even in other parts,
derived their superiority from plumbago being mixed with the blue
clay, and as these crucibles are introduced more than once by Agricola
without any mention of the addition, it must either at that time have
not been usual, or it must have escaped the notice of this diligent
man. How old then are the pits at Leizersdorf, which furnish plumbago
for the crucibles of Ips or Passau? I know of one mineralogist only who
has described that district, but on this subject he has given us no

I am equally unacquainted with the time when the pits in Cumberland,
which, as is well known, produce the best plumbago, were discovered.
They are situated on the Borrowdale mountains, about ten miles from the
town of Keswick. The families to whom these pits belong, according to
an established regulation, can open them only once every seven years,
and take out but a certain quantity of the mineral, in order to keep
up the price, and prevent the pits from being exhausted[964]. This
production is called there _black lead_, _kellow_ or _killow_, _wad_
or _wadt_, which words properly mean black[965]. I have found no older
information in regard to these pits than that of Merret, who wrote in
the year 1667, and who calls this mineral _nigrica fabrilis_, because
it had then no Latin name[966]. Pettus remarked, in his Fleta Minor,
published 1683, that the pencils made from it were inclosed in fir or
cedar. It is related by Robinson[967] and others, that at first the
country-people around Keswick marked their sheep with it. Afterwards
the art was discovered of employing it for earthenware, and for
preserving iron from rust. The last-mentioned author says also, that it
is used by the Dutch in dyeing, in order to render black more durable,
and that it is bought up by them in large quantities for that purpose.
But this is only a pretence. I am inclined to think that they prepare
from it black-lead pencils.

The greater part of the plumbago at present used in commerce, but
which, as far as I know, is fit only for iron-black, comes from Spain,
where it is dug up in the neighbourhood of Ronda, a town in Grenada,
a few miles distant from the sea; but, in regard to the antiquity of
these pits, I have found no information. In commerce, it is called
_potloth_; and the mills, such as those at Bremen, where it is
ground fine, are named _potloth_ mills, an appellation which in all
probability has been borrowed from the Dutch, among whom _potloot_
signifies as much as potters’ lead. From this word the French have made
_potelot_, which however in many dictionaries is omitted. If I am not
mistaken, this mineral was first found in France at a very late period
in Upper Provence, near Curban, and not far from the river Durance,
between Sisteron and Gap, from which it is sent to Marseilles.

It appears to me probable, that in the sixteenth century the use of
plumbago was first introduced into Italy, a country which abounds with
draftsmen and drawing-schools; where other minerals had been long used
for drawing, and where the best kinds had been carefully sought out.
It is likely, therefore, that some one may have made a trial with
plumbago, induced by its appearance; and indeed nothing but a trial
was necessary to show its superiority to charcoal, and to black and
red chalk. I am inclined to think also, that the earliest mention of
it will be found in the oldest Italian works on drawing, rather than
in those on mineralogy, to the authors of which this substance first
became known by its use. For a long time, all the black-lead pencils
employed in Germany and in the neighbouring countries were made at
Nuremberg. I shall here observe, that the very convenient method of
wiping out writing made with a black-lead pencil, by means of Indian
rubber, was discovered about twenty or thirty years ago, and, as I
believe, first in England.

After I had completed this article, Professor Fiorillo, who as an
artist has studied the master-pieces, and as a man of letters the
writings of the Italians, communicated to me, at my request, the
following information, which at any rate will form an additional
fragment towards the history of drawing. The pencils first used in
Italy for drawing were composed of a mixture of lead and tin fused
together, and the proportion was two parts of the former and one of the
latter[968]. To obliterate a drawing or piece of writing, it was rubbed
over with crumbs of bread. A pencil of this kind was called _stile_.
Petrarch has immortalized a painter named Simone Memmi by a couple of
sonnets, out of gratitude for a picture of his beloved Laura[969].
In these he says that the artist made the drawing with a _stile in
carte_. The author here evidently alludes to a drawing-pencil, and not
to a graver, as some have supposed. Boccacio, a scholar of Petrarch,
celebrates an artist who was equally expert at drawing with the
_stile_, the pen, and the pencil. Michael Angelo also, who died in
1564, says, in a sonnet on Vasari, quoted by Fiorillo, “Se con lo stile
e co’ colori avete.” Such pencils were long used also in Germany; and
formerly they were found at the most common writing-desks.

The use of red and black chalk seems to be more modern. The former
is called by the Italians _matita rossa_, and the latter _matita
nera_. This name is derived from _hæmatites_. Vasari celebrates Baccio
Bondinelli, who died in the middle of the sixteenth century, because
he could handle equally well _lo stile, e la penna, e la matita rossa
e nera_. Baldinucci says, that the best red chalk comes from Germany;
good black chalk from France; but the very best from Spain, whence that
of the first quality is obtained at present.

I can, however, point out no mention of our plumbago in the works
of the old Italian artists. Armenini, who wrote at the end of the
sixteenth century, relates how pupils were taught to draw a hundred
years before his time[970]. He says that they made the first sketches
with _piombo over cannella col lapis nero_, and afterwards filled them
up with a pen. But when his whole description is read, there can remain
no doubt that the substance here meant is black chalk. Baldinucci,
who did not write till 1681, has introduced particularly into his
dictionary _matita rossa_, _nera_, and also _lapis piombino_; and says
that the last-mentioned is an artificial production, which gives a
leaden colour, and is employed for drawing. It is evident therefore
that the author here alludes to plumbago, which was then very common.
But when Bottari says[971] that artists first began to use red and
black chalk in the time of Vasari, whereas _lapis piombino_ only was
employed before that period, he has named _plumbago_, commonly used in
his time, instead of the metallic pencil which was called _stile_. If
I am not mistaken, the Italians have no proper appellation for black
lead, but call it sometimes _matita_ and sometimes _piombino_.

[Great difficulty was formerly experienced in protecting the Borrowdale
black-lead mine from robbery. At present, the treasure is protected by
a strong building, consisting of four rooms upon the ground floor; and
immediately under one of them is the opening, secured by a trap-door,
through which workmen alone can enter the interior of the mountain.
In this apartment, called the dressing-room, the miners change their
ordinary clothes for their working-dress as they come in; and after
their six hours, post or journey, they again change their dress, under
the superintendence of the steward, before they are allowed to go out.
In the innermost of the four rooms two men are seated at a large table,
sorting and dressing the plumbago, who are locked in while at work, and
watched by the steward from an adjoining room, who is armed with two
loaded blunderbusses. In some years the net produce of the _six weeks’_
annual working of the mine has, it is said, amounted to from 30,000_l._
to 40,000_l._

An inferior kind of plumbago is imported from Mexico and Ceylon; and a
composition with which more common pencils are manufactured is made of
a mixture of plumbago-powder, lamp black and clay.

A useful and convenient application of the black lead in the form of
minute cylinders which slightly projected from a cylindrical cone, and
which was fitted to a pencil-case, was patented in 1822 by Mr. Mordan,
and has come into general use: the cylindrical form of the plumbago
is produced by passing square strips of it through holes in a ruby,
somewhat in the manner of wire-drawing. It is stated that the supply
of plumbago from the Cumberland mine is almost exhausted; fortunately,
a process has been devised by which the same firmness and equality
may be communicated to the powder by compression. This is effected by
carefully washing and grinding the dust obtained in sawing plumbago
into thin plates, sifting it through spaces less than the 1/50000th
part of an inch, and placing it under a powerful press, on a strong die
or bed of steel, with air-tight fittings. The air is then pumped from
the dust, and while thus freed from air, a plunger descends upon it and
it becomes solidified. The power employed to perform this operation is
estimated at 1000 tons, several blows having been given, each of this
power. This process was invented by Mr. W. Brockedon, the talented
draftsman of Alpine and Italian scenery.]


[958] Plin. lib. xxxiii. 3, sect. 19.

[959] A plate of this kind was called παράγραφος, also τροχαλὸς,
γυρὸς, κυκλοτερὴς, which last appellation denotes the form. The
Romans, at least those of later times, named this lead _præductal_. The
ruler by which the lines were drawn was called κανὼν and κανονίς.
Thus the ruled sheet which Suffenus filled with wretched verses is
styled by Catullus _membrana directa plumbo_. Pollux has παραγράφειν
τῇ παραγραφίδι. See Salmasius ad Solinum, p. 644, where some passages,
in which these leaden plates are described, are quoted from the

[960] Versuchs e. System d. Diplomatik. Hamb. 1802, 8vo, ii. p. 108.

[961] Diplomatique-pratique: à Metz, 1765, 4to, p. 62.

[962] De Metallicis, lib. iii. Rome, 1596, or Norib. 1602.

[963] This, however, is not exactly the case. With ink somewhat thick
one may indeed write on a piece of paper which has been rubbed over
with black lead.

[964] [This was formerly the case, but for a considerable number of
years past the mine has been constantly open. The whole of the produce
is sent up to London (Essex Street, Strand), where it is disposed of by
public auction, held once a month.]

[965] In the Cumberland dialect, _killow_ or _collow_, as well as
_wad_, means black. Therefore when the manganese earth, which is found
chiefly at Elton not far from Winster, and when burnt is employed as an
oil-colour, but particularly for daubing over ships, is called _black
wad_, that expression signifies as much as _black black_. See Pennant’s
Tour in Scotland, i. p. 42. Gentleman’s Magazine, 1747, p. 583.

[966] Pinax Rerum Natural. London, 1667, 8vo, p. 218.

[967] Natural Hist. of Westm. and Cumberland, 1709, 8vo, p. 74. See
also Gent.’s Mag. xxi. 1751, p. 51, where there is a map of this
remarkable district.

[968] Borghini, il Riposo. Artists used sometimes also silver pencils.
Baldinucci’s Vocab. dell’ arte del Disegno: Stile.

[969] These sonnets are the 57th and 58th. Of Simon and his drawings an
account may be found in Fiorillo Gesch. der zeichnenden Künste, Gött.
1798, 8vo, i. p. 269.

[970] De’ veri precetti della pittura. Ravenna, 1587, 4to, p. 53.

[971] In his observations on Vasari, iii. p. 310.


It is not very probable that Dioscorides, Pliny, and others who lived
nearly about the same time, were acquainted with sal-ammoniac, or
mentioned it in their works; for no part of mineralogy was then so
defective as that which is the most important, and which treats of
salts. The art of lixiviating earths and causing saline solutions to
crystallize was then so little known, that, instead of green vitriol,
vitriolic minerals, however impure, were employed in making ink,
dye-liquors, and other things. Places for boiling vitriol were not
then established, and therefore Pliny beheld with wonder blue vitriol,
which in his time was made only in Spain, as a thing singular in its
kind, or which had not its like. On this account those salts only were
known which occur in a native state, or which crystallize as it were
of themselves, without any artificial preparation, as is the case with
bay salt. But that neutral salt, formed of muriatic acid and ammonia,
occurs very seldom in a native state, and almost exclusively among the
productions of volcanoes. I do not, however, suppose that this volcanic
sal-ammoniac was the first known, but that it was first considered
to be sal-ammoniac after that salt had been long obtained by another
method, and long used.

But even if it should be believed that our sal-ammoniac was known
to the ancients, how are we to discover it with certainty in their
writings? This salt has little or nothing by which these writers could
characterize it. Neither its external form nor taste is so striking
that it could be described by them with sufficient precision. The use
of it also could not at that time be so important and necessary, as to
enable us to determine whether they were acquainted with it; whereas,
on the other hand, green vitriol and alum can easily be distinguished
among the materials for dyeing.

Nay, if this salt had been then made, as it is made at present in
Egypt, and if any allusion to it were found, one might readily
conjecture that sal-ammoniac were really meant. But even though it
must be admitted that traces of sublimation being employed occur in
the writings of Dioscorides and others, who lived nearly at the same
period, we are not authorized to suppose that the knowledge of it was
sufficient for the preparation of this salt.

Besides, there are two properties with which the ancients might have
accidentally become acquainted, and which in that case would have
been sufficient to make known or define to us this salt. In the first
place, by an accidental mixture of quicklime, the strong smell or
unsupportable vapour diffused by the volatile alkali separated from the
acid might have been observed. In the second place, it is very possible
that the complete volatilization of this salt on burning coals may have
been remarked; for it had been long known that common salt decrepitates
in the fire. This excited wonder, and in examining other salts people
were accustomed to observe whether they possessed that property also.
Had any one, with this view, thrown a bit of sal-ammoniac on a burning
coal, he must have seen with astonishment that instead of decrepitating
it became entirely volatilized. For this experiment, however, very pure
sal-ammoniac would have been necessary. Had a little common salt been
mixed with it, decrepitation would not have been altogether prevented;
and if the sal-ammoniac had been rendered impure by earthy particles,
as is almost always the case with the volcanic, some earth at least
would have remained behind on the coals.

The name _sal-ammoniacus_ is indeed old; but as those who, in
consequence of the name, considered the _alumen_ of the ancients to be
our alum, and their _nitrum_ to be our saltpetre, were in an error, we
should be equally so were we to consider their sal-ammoniac to be the
same as ours. Our forefathers believed that the ancient writers were
acquainted with all minerals, as well as with all plants; and when
they discovered a new one, they searched in old books till they found
a name which would suit it, or which at any rate had not been given to
another. Our sal-ammoniac, in all probability, acquired in the same
manner its name, which is not often to be found in the writings of the

When everything they have said of it is collected and impartially
examined, no proofs will be found that under that name they understood
our sal-ammoniac. On the contrary, one will soon be convinced that
_sal-ammoniacus_ was nothing else than impure marine salt. As the
ancients were not acquainted with the art of separating salts, of
refining and crystallising them, they gave to each variety or kind in
the least different, which was distinguished either by the intermixture
of some foreign substance or by an accidental formation, a particular
name; and, considering the wants of that period, this method was not
so bad. For among the impure saline substances, there were always
some which were found to be fitter than others for certain purposes.
On this account they distinguished with so much care _misy_, _sory_,
_chalcitis_ and _melanteria_, instead of which we use a substance
contained in all these minerals, that is to say, green vitriol. Our
apothecary shops however have at present the lixivious salt under the
name of various plants, from which it is extracted, with different
degrees of purity.

When this is known, it will excite no wonder that the _sal-ammoniacus_
of the ancients was nothing else than our common salt. Dioscorides and
Pliny speak of it expressly as a kind of this salt; and Columella[973],
in a prescription for an eye-salve, recommends rock-salt, either
Spanish, Ammoniacal, or Cappadocian. Pliny says[974] that
_sal-ammoniacus_ was found in the dry sandy deserts of Africa, as far
as the oracle of Ammon. It is stated, both by him and Dioscorides[975],
that this salt can be split or broken into smooth pieces; and the
former adds, that the best are white and transparent; that it however
has an unpleasant taste, but can be used in medicine. In like manner
later physicians, when they wish to prescribe common salt, recommend in
particular the ammoniac. Thus Aetius, who lived in the fifth century,
remarks, that when fossil, or as we say at present native salt, is
employed, ammoniac or Cappadocian ought to be chosen.

From what is said by Pliny, it may with certainty be concluded that
this salt was dug up from pits or mines in Africa; for he relates,
that it appeared wonderful that a piece of it, which in the pit was
very light, became, on exposure to the open air, much heavier. Without
repeating the explanation which he gives of this phænomenon, I shall
only remark, that many kinds of rock-salt, taken from the mines of
Wieliczka, experience the same change in the air; so that blocks which
a labourer can easily carry in the mine, can scarcely be lifted by him
after they have been some time exposed to the air. The cause here is
undoubtedly the same as that which makes many kinds of artificial salt
to become moist and to acquire more weight. In this case it is owing to
some impurity, such as muriate of lime, which is called _sal-ammoniacus
fixus_[976], and which attracts from the atmosphere so much moisture,
that it deliquesces in it to the so-called oil of lime.

Synesius, who was born in Egypt in the fifth century, in the
Pentapolitan town Cyrene, and who resided as bishop in Ptolemais,
the capital of the district, says, in a letter wherein he describes
many rarities of his native country, that what was called
_sal-ammoniacus_[977], both according to its appearance and taste, was
a salt of a good quality, fit for use; that it lay under a soft kind of
stone which covered it like a crust, and that it could be easily dug
up when this stone was removed.

Herodotus, Strabo, Arrian, and others, speak of rock-salt which was dug
up in Ammonia, and carried thence as an article of merchandise. The
first mentions a hill of salt; and we are told by the last, that native
salt was brought to Egypt as a present to the king and others, from the
neighbourhood of the oracle of Ammon, by the priests of that place,
in boxes made of palms worked together. Many pieces were three inches
in length; and because this substance was purer than bay salt, and as
clear as crystal, it was particularly employed in sacrifices. This salt
is certainly that which, under the name of _sal-ammoniacus_, was sent
from Egypt to the king of Persia, like the water of the Nile, as is
related by Athenæus from an historian long since lost[978].

It is also certain that the old Arabian physicians, Avicenna and
Serapion, who both lived in the eleventh century, under the name
_sal-ammoniacus_ understood nothing else than rock-salt. The former
says that it ought to split easily, and to be clear and transparent
like crystal; and the latter states that this salt is cut from the
solid rock, and that it is sometimes clear as crystal, sometimes
reddish, sometimes blackish, sometimes of another colour, sometimes
hard, and sometimes friable, or, as the translator expresses it,
pulverulent. All these colours and properties are not uncommon
in rock-salt, and always proceed, no doubt, from an admixture of
ferruginous earth. Serapion says that this salt was obtained from
Corasini. I shall leave it to others to determine where this country
was situated. He often names it, and says that _mala granata_ and
_bezaar_ were obtained from it. But who knows how the name was written
in the original? And the Arabian author perhaps did not mention the
place where the salt was dug up, but that from which, in his time, it
was procured[979].

In regard to the purpose to which the ancients applied their
_sal-ammoniacus_, it appears that it required only common salt and
not sal-ammoniac. It is oftenest mentioned by the physicians, because
it was the purest table salt that could then be procured. On that
account it has been praised by Scribonius Largus, who lived in the
first century, and by Aetius who lived in the fifth, as well as by
Avicenna, Serapion, and others. I have however not yet met with it
in the writings of Hippocrates or Galen. In the works of the Greek
agriculturists it occurs in a recipe for the preparation of a cement
employed to close up wine vessels[980]. According to a recipe of
Apicius, in his book on cookery, _sal-ammoniacus_ was to be roasted.
By these means this rock-salt lost its water of crystallization and
became stronger. On this account, in Transylvania, Siberia, and other
countries, before it is brought to the table it is pounded and roasted.
Of our sal-ammoniac, however, were it roasted, very little would
remain. But whether the _ammonium_ which Palladius recommends for a
cement[981] be that salt, I will not pretend to determine. On the other
hand, I have no hesitation to contradict the old commentator on Ovid,
who, in a passage where the poet recommends _sal-ammoniacus_ in making
a cosmetic water, understands the resin or gum of that name. Ovid
however had no intention that young women should lacker themselves.

For the reasons therefore already mentioned, I am convinced that
the _sal-ammoniacus_ of the ancients was rock-salt, and not our
_sal-ammoniac_. The oldest commentators also on these writers had no
idea of any other than rock-salt; and it was not till a later period,
when our sal-ammoniac was introduced into commerce, and acquired that
name, that the most learned commentators began expressly to remark,
that the new sal-ammoniac, notwithstanding its appellation, was
different from the _sal-ammoniacus_ of the ancients. As this could not
then be obtained, people used the former, which they considered only
as an artificial substitute for the latter, though it was incapable of
supplying its place. But in more modern times, when our sal-ammoniac
became common, and physicians and mineralogists no longer took the
trouble to read the works of the ancients, some of them, if not the
greater part, spoke in such a manner as if our sal-ammoniac had
been the _sal-ammoniacus_ of the ancients; and it was then generally
believed that it had been, at any rate, known and used since the time
of Dioscorides and Pliny.

No one has maintained this with greater confidence and zeal than F. I.
W. Schröder[982], whose judgement however was perverted by alchemistic
conceits. According to his assertion, the Egyptians practised from the
earliest periods the art of making sal-ammoniac, but they kept it a
secret; and he obscurely hints at the purpose for which these great
chemists used so much salt. He refers, on this occasion, to what Pliny
says of _flos salis_[983], in which he thinks he can find the martial
sal-ammoniac[984] flowers of our chemists, or the so-called _flores
salis ammoniaci martiales_. Those who cannot make this discovery he
declares to be ignorant and blind. This decision, however, when the
character of the person who gives it is considered, cannot dissipate a
single doubt. It is certain that what Dioscorides and Pliny call _flos
salis_ has never yet been defined. It was moist, oily, and saline;
and in the vessels, in which it was sent from Egypt, was grey at the
top, saffron-coloured at the bottom, and emitted a bad smell. The most
ingenious conjecture was that of Cordus[985], who thought that it might
be _sperma ceti_; but though I should prefer this opinion to that of
Schröder, I must confess that, on the grounds adduced by Matthioli and
Conrad Gesner, it has too much against it to be admitted as truth.

The first distinct traces of our sal-ammoniac which I have yet met
with are to be found in the works of the Arabians[986]. In a writing
of Geber, there is a prescription how to purify sal-ammoniac by
sublimation, and in another a receipt for making it; so that there
can be no doubt that the author was acquainted with our salt. But
this furnishes very little towards the history of it. The period when
that celebrated chemist lived is uncertain. If, as Leo says[987], he
flourished a hundred years after Mahomet, that is to say in the eighth
century, his works must have been interpolated with many additions,
which criticism has not yet been able to separate. Many of them cannot
be of great antiquity; and the uncertainty is increased by some of
the editions differing from each other in important passages. Whole
sections, which some have, are wanting in others; and the titles and
order of the books and sections are different almost in each. When the
same circumstances are found in several editions, it is observed that
they essentially differ. What, therefore, is now found in the writings
of Geber, as they are called, was certainly not all known in the eighth

The same uncertainty prevails in regard to the chemical works of
Avicenna, who lived in the beginning of the eleventh century, and who
certainly treats of sal-ammoniac. But when these are compared with the
medical works of this author, which are subject to no doubt, it is
evidently perceived that the former must have been the production of a
very different and much younger writer. In the works of the physician
Avicenna, _sal-ammoniacus_ means always rock-salt. It is worthy of
remark, that Avicenna the chemist says, that sal-ammoniac comes from
Egypt, India, and Forperia.

We know with more certainty that Albucasis, or Bulcasis, was acquainted
with sal-ammoniac, as well as the method of preparing it, which he
describes, and also the preparation of medicines in general, in his
book often printed under the title of _Liber servitoris_[988]. However
unintelligible the translation often is, one can easily discover in
what manner sublimation was formerly performed in earthen vessels. But
the period when this Arabian writer lived is doubtful, though it is
generally admitted that he died in the year 1122.

But whence did Europe obtain this salt, in the twelfth and succeeding
centuries? When and in what manner was the preparation of it found
out in Egypt? For what purpose was it first used by our ancestors? I
have not yet met with any information to enable me to answer these
questions, though it is probable that it might be found in old books
of travels, and particularly in the works of Arabian writers. In the
valuable but not altogether intelligible book of Pegolotti[989], from
which I have learned many things respecting the trade of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries, nothing is said in regard to the place where
it was obtained, but that it was procured in white, hard, and opake
cakes. It is mentioned in the custom-house tariff of Pisa for the year

Biringoccio, who lived in the end of the fifteenth and beginning of
the following century[990], knew nothing more than that, according to
report, it came from Cyrene or Armenia. Cæsalpin, his contemporary,
gave, for the preparation of it, a prescription which is undoubtedly
borrowed from the Arabians. This author says, very properly, that it is
obtained in white transparent cakes, blackish on the outside; but adds,
erroneously, that it comes from Germany, though the same thing has been
repeated by Brasavolus and Matthioli. Porta says, with more truth, that
it comes from the East. He asserts also, that he was the first person
who found real sal-ammoniac on volcanic mountains, and he wishes that
his discovery might be confirmed by skilful naturalists[991]. This
may serve as an additional proof, were such necessary, in opposition
to those who think that the first real sal-ammoniac introduced into
commerce was the volcanic. Imperato considers Porta’s observation
as generally acknowledged, but without naming him. The former has
described, in a fuller and more correct manner than any of his
predecessors, the properties of sal-ammoniac[992]; and he states, as
does also Agricola[993], that it is entirely dissipated in the fire. He
adds, that it promotes the production of a celestial blue colour, and
in all probability he here alludes to a solution of copper.

Without attempting to examine at what time the art was discovered
of converting the nitric acid into aqua regia by the addition of
sal-ammoniac, I shall only remark that, at any rate, it was known in
the sixteenth century; for Imperato says that sal-ammoniac is employed
in the solution of gold; and Biringoccio[994], who is older, recommends
nitrous acid prepared with sal-ammoniac for dissolving metals, and
particularly gold. I will not either determine how old the use of this
salt is in soldering and tinning; but I must observe, that it was known
to Agricola[995] and Imperato. I however doubt whether it was very
common, because Biringoccio[996] recommends borax for that purpose,
without so much as mentioning sal-ammoniac; though it is possible that
I may have overlooked it.

We are now arrived at the modern history, which I shall give in as
brief a manner as I can, because it has been already fully treated on
by others. What was long ago shown by the celebrated Mr. Boyle was
proved in the year 1716 by Geoffroy the younger, that sal-ammoniac was
composed of the muriatic acid and volatile alkali, and that it could
be thence prepared in Europe by sublimation[997]. In the same year
the jesuit Sicard gave the first certain account of the sal-ammoniac
manufactories at Damayer, in the Delta, and described in what manner
this salt was prepared there, by sublimation in glass vessels, from
the soot of the burnt dung of camels and cows, which is used in Egypt
for fuel, with the addition of sea salt and urine[998]. In the year
1719, the Academy of Sciences at Paris received from Lemere, the
French consul at Cairo, an account of the process employed; but it
contained no mention either of sea salt or of urine[999]. Afterwards
this information was in part confirmed, and in part rectified and
enlarged, by Paul Lucas[1000], Granger, or, as he was properly called,
Tourtechot[1001], and the celebrated travellers Shaw, Pocock, Norden,
Hasselquist, Niebuhr, and Mariti.

Several writers have asserted that sal-ammoniac comes also from the
East Indies. It is mentioned by Tavernier among the wares which in
his time were brought from Amadabat, in the territories of the Mogul,
to Surat; and Geoffroy states, that when the trade of Marseilles
was interrupted by the plague, the French obtained from Holland
sal-ammoniac, which was shaped like a truncated cone, and was given out
to be Indian[1002]. Pomet also says, that some of the same kind was
formerly procured from Venice and Holland. But Gaubius asserts that he
was never able to hear of any such sal-ammoniac in Holland[1003]; nor
is it to be found in the price currents of the East India Company. I
am almost inclined to suspect that these truncated cones were formed
by the merchants from broken pieces or fragments of the Egyptian
sal-ammoniac, by solution and imperfect crystallization or sublimation.
In this manner the merchants at Marseilles convert the refuse of the
Egyptian sal-ammoniac into cakes by a new sublimation, in order that
it may become more saleable, though it is not readily purchased by
artists. Gaubius, however, has described a kind of sal-ammoniac which
he obtained from India, with the information that it was made in
Hindostan from the soot of animal dung; but in my opinion this requires
further confirmation[1004].

Where and at what time the first works for making sal-ammoniac were
established in Europe, I am not able to determine. The account given
by Thurneisser, that the first sal-ammoniac was made in the Tyrol in
the ninth century, is truly ridiculous. It is not worth the trouble to
inquire where he or Paracelsus found this foolish assertion. One might
be almost induced to believe, that in the time of Boyle there were
manufactories of sal-ammoniac in Europe[1005]. But perhaps there may
be no other foundation for all this than the before-mentioned assertion
of Cæsalpinus, that this salt came from Germany. At Bamberg, the
Germans were long accustomed to boil the sediment of the salt-pans with
old urine, and to sell it cheap for sal-ammoniac; and Weber asserts
that some of the same kind is still made at Vienna. The hundred weight
costs from twenty to thirty florins, but the refuse may be purchased
for a mere trifle. If I am not mistaken, the first real manufactories
of sal-ammoniac were established in Scotland; and the oldest of these,
perhaps, was that erected by Dovin and Hutton at Edinburgh in 1756,
and which, like many in England, manufactures this salt on a large
scale[1006]. Among the later undertakings of this kind is Gravenhorst’s
manufactory at Brunswick, and that which in the neighbourhood of
Gothenburg manufactures sal-ammoniac from the refuse left in making
train oil.

[Sal-ammoniac is now prepared either by the destructive distillation of
bones or coal. The gas-liquor supplies, we believe, the largest part.
This fluid contains hydrosulphuret and carbonate with some other salts
of ammonia. It is decomposed with sulphuric acid, and on evaporation
the sulphate of ammonia is obtained in a crystalline state. This is
then mixed with common salt and the mixture heated in iron vessels,
whereupon the muriate of ammonia sublimes.

Sal-ammoniac is exported in considerable quantities to Russia and other
parts of the continent and to the United States.]


[972] It is indeed a matter of indifference whether the name be derived
from αμμος, _arena_, or rather from _Ammonia_, the name of a district
in Libya, where the oracle of Jupiter Ammon was situated. The district
had its name from sand. An H also may be prefixed to the word. See
Vossii Etymol. p. 24. But _sal-armoniacus_, _armeniacus_, sal-armoniac,
is improper.

[973] De Re Rust. vi. 17, 7.

[974] Lib. xxxi. cap. 7, sect. 39.

[975] Lib. v. cap. 126.

[976] This name was first used by Js. Holland.

[977] Synesii Opera, ep. 147.

[978] Athen. lib. ii. cap. 29, p. 67.

[979] I am fully of opinion that a town named in the new maps Kesem,
and which lies in Arabia Felix, opposite to the island of Socotora, is
here meant. It has a good harbour. See Büsching’s Geography, where the
name _Korasem_ also occurs.

[980] Geopon. lib. vi. cap. 6.

[981] Pallad. i. tit. 41.

[982] Bibliothek d. Naturwiss. u. Chemie. Leip. 1775, 8vo, i. p. 219.

[983] Lib. xxxi. cap. 7, sect. 42.

[984] [The double chloride of ammonium and iron].

[985] Liber de holosantho in C. Gesner’s treatise De omni Rerum
Fossilium Genere. Tiguri 1565, 8vo, p. 15.

[986] What a noble people were the Arabs! we are indebted to them
for much knowledge and for many inventions of great utility; and we
should have still more to thank them for were we fully aware of the
benefits we have derived from them. What a pity that their works should
be suffered to moulder into dust, without being made available! What
a shame that those acquainted with this rich language should meet
with so little encouragement! The few old translations which exist
have been made by persons who were not sufficiently acquainted either
with languages or the sciences. On that account they are for the most
part unintelligible, uncertain, in many places corrupted, and besides
exceedingly scarce. Even when obtained, the possessors are pretty much
in the same state as those who make their way with great trouble to a
treasure, which after all they are only permitted to see at a distance,
through a narrow grate. Had I still twenty years to live, and could
hope for an abundant supply of Arabic works, I would learn Arabic. But
ὁ βίος βραχὺς, ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή.

[987] Africæ Descriptio, iii. p. 136, b.

[988] This book is often printed along with Mesue. See Haller’s
Biblioth. Botan. i. p. 201. Biblioth. Chirur. i. p. 137.

[989] Della decima, iii. pp. 298, 373; and iv. pp. 59, 191.

[990] Pirotechnia, 1550, 4to, p. 36, a.

[991] Magia Natur. lib. x. cap. 20. Porta was born in 1545, and died in

[992] Lib. iii. cap. 8.

[993] De Natura Fossil, lib. iii. p. 212.

[994] Lib. ix. cap. 6, p. 131, b: also lib. ix. cap. 10, p. 141, b.

[995] De Natura Fossil. lib. iii. p. 215; in which he speaks of iron
pins with tinned heads.

[996] Page 135, a and b, pp. 136, 375.

[997] Mémoires de l’Acad. 1720, p. 195. Basil Valentine had before
taught how to separate the volatile alkali from sal-ammoniac by means
of the fixed alkali.

[998] Nouveaux Mémoires des Missions de la Compag. de Jesus, ii.

[999] Mémoires de l’Acad. 1720, p. 191.

[1000] Voy. au Levant.

[1001] Mémoires de l’Acad. 1735, p. 107.

[1002] Mém. de l’Acad. 1723, p.