Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

different colours require very elaborate preparations. My delign is not to enter into a particular detail of all the colours which may have been 'then in use, nor to examine the different operations they used in dying the stuffs. I fhall only speak of those which deserve a particular atterrtion. I begin with purple, that colour so valuable, and fo famous with the ancients.

It was to chance alone, according to the tradition of all antiquity, that they owed the discovery of this beautiful colour. A shepherd's dog, pressed by hunger, having broken a fell on the sea-shore, the blood which ran from it stained the dog's mouth such a colour as struck the admi. ration of those that saw it. They endeavoured to apply it to stuffs, and succeded . There is some variety aniong the authors in the circumstances of this event. Some place this discovery in the reign of Phenix second King of Tyre r, that is to say, a little more than 500 years before Christ*. Others, at the time that Minos the Firft reigned in Crete , about 1439 years before the Christian æra. But the greatest number agree to give the honour to the Tyrian Hercules of the invention of dying stuffs in purple. He gave his first trials to the King of Phænicia. That prince, they say, was so jealous of the beauty of this new colour, that he forbade the use of it to all his subje&s; reserving it for Kings, and the presumptive heir of the crown a.

Some authors bring love into the discovery of purple. Hercules, say they, being taken with the charms of a nymph called Tyros; his dog one day finding on the sea. fhore a shell, broke it, and stained his mouth with purple. The nymph observed it: charmed at figlit with the beauty of the colour, she declared to her lover, that the would see him no more till he brought her a suit dyed the fame colour. Hercules thought of a way to satisfy his mstress. He got together a great number of shells, and succeeded to stain a robe the colour the nymph had demanded .

> Caffiodor. variar. I. 1. ep. 2. p.4. ; Achill. Tat. de Clitophon. & Leucipr. amor. l. 2. p. 87., Palaephat. in chron. Paschal. p. 43. C.

y Palaephat. loco cit. ; Cedren. p. 18. D.

* Phoenix was son of Agenor, and brother of Cadmus. Apollodor. 1. g. 129. Cadmus came into Greece 1519 years before Christ. Suid. in tice Hrærnis, t. 2. p. 73. à Autor. supra, laudati.

Such are the different traditions the ancients give out of the origin of purple dye. We perceive very plainly that all these recitals are accompanied with fabulous episodes. I have nevertheless thought proper to relate them, as they may serve to fix the epoch of this discovery *. I think we may place it about the times I have indicated. We fee that Mofes made a great use of purple stuffs t, as well for the habits of the high priest, as for the ornaments of the tabernacle. This is a proof that then the art of preparing purple was not absolutely new; for there must have been some time to bring this colour to its degree of perfection. They could not attain to that but after many essays and trials.

The testimony of Homer serves still more to confirm the antiquity of this discovery. This great poet, an exact observer of customs, gives purple ornaments to heroes who lived about the ages c where I place the discovery of this dye. We might quote more testimonies d.

It is more easy to fix the epoch when they began first to

Þ Pollux, 1. 1. C.4. p. 35.

Bocliart. Hieroz. part. 2. 1. 5. C. II. explains very well this little novel, He news that in the Syriac the same word fignifies a dog and a dyer, from whence the Greeks took occasion to say that it was a dog who had discovered purple

* Palaephat, & Cedren, locis citat. were very ill informed when they said, that, before the discovery of purple, they were ignorant of dying. The contrary is proved by the Bible. See Gen. chap. 38. v. 27.

+ It is not quite certain, according to M. Huet, that the word 1011* Argamai, of the Hebrew text which all the interpreters translate by purpura, means in reality that colour. This bishop observes, that Argaman comes from 17 Arag, textuit, and from 11 Manah, praeparavit. It should follow, according to his opinion, that Argaman should signify rather a sort of work and a tissue, not a colour. Rec. de Tilladet, t. 2. dissert. 22. p. 255. & 256.

But this reasoning ought not to deftroy the common translation, because the word Argaman is used in the Bible, as the word purpura with profane writers, to design the robes of Kings.

clliad.'1.6. V. 219.
d See Appollon. Rhod. Argon. l. 1. v. 723. 1. 4. V. 424. & 425.
VOL. II,
N

knorr

know purple, than to give a clear and precise idea of the 1 procedure of the ancients to give to their stuffs this so much fought after colour. This is all that remains that one carr depend upon on this subject.

The purple dye was drawn from many sorts of sea-shells * The best were found near the ille where new Tyre was built e, They fished for them in other places of the Medi. terranean. The coasts of Africa were famous for the purple of Getulia. The coasts of Europe supplied the purple of Laconia which they had in great esteem 5. Pliny ranges in two classes all the forts of teftaceous filh which served to dye purple; the buccinums, or trumper-fish, and the Mells called purples, from the name of the colour they furnish. These last were particularly sought after. They found, by the account of the ancients, in the throat of the fith, a white vein which contained a dark red colouri. This was the ground of purple dye. All the rest of the shell was useless k. The essential point was to take these fishes alive; for the moment of their death they lost this precious liquor . They collected it carefully. After having left it to macerate in sale for three days, they mixed it with a certain quantity of water. They boiled the whole in a leaden pot over a flow and moderate fire for ten days. They afterwards put in the wool, being well washed, cleansed, and properly prepared m. At first they left it to soak for five hours ; they ilien took it out, carded it, and put it again into the boil.

* 'Tis for this reason that the Latins called purple habits conchiliatae vestes. e Plin. 1:9. sect. 63. p. 524. f Ibid. 1. 5. fect. 1. p. 242.1. 9. sect. 63. p. 524.

8 Ibid. sect. 63. p. 524. 525. ; Paufan. l. 3. c. 21. p. 294. 1. 10. c. 37. p. 893.; Horat, carmin. 1.2. od. 18. v.8.

h 1.9. sect. 61. p. 525,
i Arift. hist. aniinal. I. 5.č. 15. p. 844.; Plin. l. 9. sect. 65. p. 524.,
k Aristotle and Pliny, locis cit.; Vitruv.1.4.C. 13.

Aristotle and Pliny observe, that it was only in the large fells that they took the vein. As to the small ones, they crushed them with millstones. This purple was not in such esteem as the former.

1 Ibid. locis cit.; Ælian. de animal. 1. 7. C. 1.

M. de Jussieu, in a memoir which we Mall speak of below, observes the same thing with respect to the fish that furnishes the purple of Panaina. * Cicero philor. frag. 1. 3. p. 424.

er

er till all the dye was drank up and consumed. They were obliged to mix different forts of shells to make purpleo. They added to it various forts of ingredients, as nitre, human urine, water, salt, and fucus, a sea-plant, of which the best fort is found in abundance on the rocks of the ille of Crete p.

The Tyrians, by the confession of all antiquity, succeeded the best in dying stuffs purple. Their operation differed a little from wisat I have related above. They used nothing to make their colour, but purple shells, raken out at sea. They made a bath of the liquor they drew from these fishes. They steeped their wool in this a certain time. They afterwards took it out, and put it into another boiler where there was nothing but buccina or trumpet-fish 9. This is all that the ancients tell us of the practice of the Tyrians. In Solomon's song there is also mentioned a royal purple which the dyers dipt in the canals, after having tied it in small bundles. We shall give a glimpse in these few words, of some partiticular preparations, an exact account of which we cannot obtain *.

We know that the purple stuffs the most esteemed were those which were twice dyed. This preparation was very ancient. The purple stuffs which Mofes used for the worhip of the Almighty, had been dyed twices. It was thus that they made this colour so valuable, that it vied even

Plin. l. 9. fect. 62. p. 526. o Id. ibid. p Ibid. locis cit. p. 526. sect. 64. p. 527. 1. 13. sect. 48. p.700. 1. 26. feét. 66. 1. 31. sect. 46. p. 565. 1. 32. fedt. 22. p.581.; Plut. t. 2. p. 133. B.; Theoph. hift. plant. 1.4. C. 7. p. 82. See also Turneb. adverfar. 1. 9.c. 5. i Plin. I. 9. sect. 62. p. 526.

Chap. 7. V. 5. * I Mall only offer some conjectures.

The best way of washing wools, after they are dyed, is to plunge them in running water. Probably the sacred author had this practice in view, when he said they Thould dip the royal purple in canals. As to what he adds, after being tied in little bundles, or packets, one may conclude from this circunstance, that instead of making the cloth with white wool, and afterwards putting the whole picce into the dye, as we do now, they then followed another method. They began by dying the wool in keins, and inadci: aftcrvårds into purple stuff's * Exod. ch. 25. 1. 4.

103196

with gold it self. One ought not to be surprised at it. The vein of the shell-fish from whence they got the purple, only furnished a very small quantity of liquor. Besides, it must he collected before the death of the fish, without reckon. ing the other preparations which required much time and precaution *, and without mentioning the risk they ran in fishing for these shells at the bottom of the sea u. I shall confine myself to this short exposition of the preparations the ancients made use of to dye stuffs purple. Those who desire a more particular account, may consult the modern authors who have applied themselves to find out, in the writings of the ancients, all the facts that have any relation to this matter ..

We find in Aristotle and Pliny some details of the preparation of purple; but they are not sufficiently circumstantial. As Aristotle and Pliny writ in the times when this practice was very common, what they have said was then sufficient to give an idea of it ; but it is too little to clear it up to us now, as they have left off the use of this dye for many ages. Accordingly, in spite of all the writings which have appeared on the subject of this operation, it has been long doubted whether we are perfectly instructed in the species of thell. fishes from which the ancients drew purple y; they have even thought this secret absolutely lost; but yet it is certain it has been found again.

They have discovered, as well on the coasts of England, as on those of Poitou e and Provence 6, thells which have all the character; by which the ancients describe the fishes which yielded the purple. We see many in the cabinets

[ocr errors]

+ See Arift. hist. animal. 1. 5. C. 15. p. 844. A.; Plin. 1.9. sect. 63. p. 527.; Athen. I. 12. p.526. D.

It is very probable that the ancients had some secret to keep in solution.' in a proper liquor, the blood of purple fishes till they wanted to ufe it. See Acad. des scienc. for 1736, hift. p.8.

u Plin. I. 22. sect. 3.
* See Fabius Colunna, and his commentator Daniel Major.
y Acad. des scien. an. 1711. mem. p. 166. & 167.
> Journal des scav. Aout 1686. p. 195. &c.
* Acad. des scien. ann. 1711. mem. p. 163. & 179.
ibidl. ann. 1736. mem. p.:19.

of

« ElőzőTovább »