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I need not explain that silk" is originally spun from the bowels of a caterpillar, and that it composes the golden tomb from whence a worm emerges in the form of a butter. fly. Till the reign of Justinian, the silk-worms who feed on the leaves of the white mulberry-tree were confined to China; those of the pine, the oak, and the ash, were common in the forests both of Asia and Europe; but as their education is more difficult, and their produce more uncertain, they were generally neglected, except in the little island of Ceos, near the coast of Attica. A thin gauze was procured from their webs, and this Cean manufacture, the invention of a woman, for female use, was long admired both in the East and at Rome. Whatever suspicions may be raised by the garments of the Medes and Assyrians, Virgil is the most ancient writer, who expressly mentions the soft wool which was combed from the trees of the Seres or Chinese ; * and this natural error, less marvellous than the truth, was slowly corrected by the knowledge of a valuable insect, the first artificer of the luxury of nations. That rare and elegant luxury was censured, in the reign of Tiberius, by the gravest of the Romans; and Pliny, in affected, though forcible language, has condemned the thirst of gain, which explores the last confines of the earth, for the pernicious purpose of exposing to the public eye naked draperies and transparent matrons.”* A dress which showed the turn of the limbs, and color of the skin, might gratify vanity, or provoke desire; the silks which had been closely woven in China were sometimes unravelled by the Phoenician women, and the precious materials were multiplied by a looser texture, and the intermixture of linen threads." Two hundred years after the age of Pliny, the use of pure, or even of mixed silks, was confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalus, the first who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and a man. Aurelian complained, that a pound of silk was sold at Rome for twelve ounces of gold; but the supply increased with the demand, and the price diminished with the supply. If accident or monopoly sometimes raised the value even above the standard of Aurelian, the manufacturers of Tyre and Berytus were sometimes compelled, by the operation of the same causes, to content themselves with a ninth part of that extravagant rate." A law was thought necessary to discriminate the dress of comedians from that of senators; and of the silk exported from its native country the far greater part was consumed by the subjects of Justinian. They were still more intimately acquainted with a shell-fish of the Mediterranean, surnamed the silkworm of the sea; the fine wool or hair by which the motherof-pearl affixes itself to the rock is now manufactured for curiosity rather than use; and a robe obtained from the same singular materials was the gift of the Roman Emperor to the satraps of Armenia." A valuable merchandise of small bulk is capable of defraying the expense of land-carriage; and the caravans traversed the whole latitude of Asia in two hundred and forty-three days from the Chinese Ocean to the sea-coast of Syria. Silk was immediately delivered to the Romans by the Persian merchants," who frequented the fairs of Armenia and Nisibis; but this trade, which in the intervals of truce was oppressed by avarice and jealousy, was totally 64 On the texture, colors, names, and use of the silk, half-silk, and limen garments of antiquity, see the profound, diffuse, and obscure, researches of the great Salmasius (in Hist. August. pp. 127, 309,310,339, 341, 342, 344, 388-391, 395, 513), who was ignorant of the most common trades of Dijon or fleyden. 65 Flavius Vopiscus in Aurelian. c. 45, in Hist. August. p. 224. See Salmasius ad Hist. Aug. p. 392, and Plinian. Exercitat, in Solinum, pp. 694,695. The Anecdotes of Procopius (c. 25) state a partial and imperfect rate of the price of silk in the time of }. & Procopius de Edit. l. iii. c. 1. These pinnes de mer are found near Smyrna, Sicily, Corsica, and Minorca; and a pair of gloves of their silk was presented to Pope Benedict XIV. of Procopius, Persic. l. i. e. 20, 1. ii. c. 25; Gothic. l. iv. c. 17. Menander in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107. Of the Parthian or Persian empire, Isidore of Charax (in Stathmis Parthicis, pp. 7, 8, in Hudson, Geograph. Minor. tom. ii.) has marked interrupted by the long wars of the rival monarchies. The great king might proudly number Sogdiana, and even Serica, among the provinces of his empire; but his real dominion was bounded by the Oxus; and his useful intercourse with the Sogdoites, beyond the river, depended on the pleasure of their conquerors, the white Huns, and the Turks, who successively reigned over that industrious people. Yet the most savage dominion has not extirpated the seeds of agriculture and commerce, in a region which is celebrated as one of the four gardens of Asia; the cities of Samarcand and Bochara are advantageously seated for the exchange of its various productions; and their merchants purchased from the Chinese,” the raw or manufactured silk which they transported into Persia for the use of the Roman empire. In the vain capital of China, the Sogdian caravans were entertained as the suppliant embassies of tributary kingdoms, and if they returned in safety, the bold adventure was rewarded with exorbitant gain. But the difficult and perilous march from Samarcand to the first town of Shensi, could not be performed in less than sixty, eighty, or one hundred days: as soon as they had passed the Jaxartes they entered the desert; and the wandering hordes, unless they are restrained by armies and garrisons, have always considered the citizen and the traveller as the objects of lawful rapine. To escape the Tartar robbers, and the tyrants of Persia, the silk caravans explored a more southern road; they traversed the mountains of Thibet, descended the streams of the Ganges or the Indus, and patiently expected, in the ports of Guzerat and Malabar, the annual fleets of the West.” But the dangers of the desert were found less intolerable than toil, hunger, and the loss of time; the attempt 68 The blind admiration of the Jesuits confounds the different periods of the Chinese history. They are more critically distinguished by M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. part i. in the Tables, part ii. in the Geography. Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxxii. xxxvi. xlii. xliii.), who discovers the gradual progress of the truth of the annals and the extent of the monarchy, till the Christian aera. He has searched, with a curious eye, the connections of the Chinese with the nations of the West : but these connections are slight, casual, and obscure ; nor did the Romans entertain a suspicion that the Seres or Sinae possessed an empire not inferior to their own.” 60 The roads from China to Persia and Hindostan may be investigated in the relations of Hackluyt and Thevenot, the airbassadors of Sharokh, Anthony Jenkinson, the Père Greuber, &c. See likewise Hanway's Travels, vol. i. pp. was seldom renewed, and the only European who has passed that unfrequented way, applauds his own diligence, that, in nine months after his departure from Pekin, he reached the mouth of the Indus. The ocean, however, was open to the free communication of mankind. From the great rior to the tropic of Cancer, the provinces of China were subdued and civilized by the emperors of the North ; they were filled about the time of the Christian aera with cities and men, mulberry-trees and their precious inhabitants; and if the Chinese, with the knowledge of the compass, had possessed the genius of the Greeks or Phoenicians, they might have spread their discoveries over the southern hemisphere. I am not qualified to examine, and I am not disposed to believe, their distant voyages to the Persian Gulf, or the Cape of Good Hope; but their ancestors might equal the labors and success of the present race, and the sphere of their navigation might extend from the Isles of Japan to the Straits of Malacca, the pillars, if we may apply that name, of an Oriental Hercules.” Without losing sight of land, they might sail along the coast to the extreme promontory of Achin, which is annually visited by ten or twelve ships laden with the productions, the manufactures, and even the artificers of China; the Island of Sumatra and the opposite peninsula are faintly delineated * as the regions of gold and silver; and the trading cities named in the geography of Ptolemy may indicate, that this wealth was not solely derived from the mines. The direct interval between Sumatra and Ceylon is about three hundred leagues: the Chinese and Indian navigators were conducted by the flight of birds and periodical winds; and the ocean might be securely traversed in square-built ships, which, instead of iron, were sewed together with the strong thread of the cocoa-nut. Ceylon, Serendib, or Taprobana, was divided between two hostile princes; one of whom possessed the mountains, the elephants, and the luminous carbuncle, and the other enjoyed the more solid riches of domestic industry, foreign trade, and the capacious harbor of Trinquemale, which re. ceived and dismissed the fleets of the East and West. In this hospitable isle, at an equal distance (as it was computed) from their respective countries, the silk merchants of China, who had collected in their voyages aloes, cloves, nutmeg, and sandal wood, maintained a free and beneficial commerce with the inhabitants of the Persian Gulf. The subjects of the great king exalted, without a rival, his power and magnificence; and the Roman, who confounded their vanity by comparing his paltry coin with a gold medal of the emperor Anastasius, had sailed to Ceylon, in an AEthioplan ship, as a simple passenger.” As silk became of indispensable use, the emperor Jus. tinian saw with concern that the Persians had occupied by land and sea the monopoly of this important supply, and that the wealth of his subjects was continually drained by a nation of enemies and idolaters. An active government would have rescored the trade of Egypt and the navigation of the Red Sea, which had decayed with the prosperity of the empire; and the Roman vessels might have sailed, for the purchase of silk, to the ports of Ceylon, of Malacca, or even of China. Justinian embraced a more humble expedient, and solicited the aid of his Christian allies, the AEthiopians of Abyssinia, who had recently acquired the arts of navigation, the spirit of trade, and the seaport of Adulis,” still decorated with the trophies of a Grecian conqueror. Along the African coast, they penetrated to the equator in search of gold, emeralds, and aromatics; but they wisely declined an unequal competition, in which they must be always prevented by the vicinity of the Persians to the markets of India; and the emperor submitted to the disappointment, till his wishes were gratified by an unexpected event. The gospel had been preached to the Indians; a bishop already
tit.21, leg. 3. Codex Justinian, 1. xi. tit. 8, leg. 5). An inglorious permission, and niecessary restriction, was applied to the mimae, the female dancers (Cod. Theodos. l. xv. tit. 7, leg. 11).
61 In the history of insects (far more wonderful than Ovid's Metamorphoses} the silk-worm holds a conspicuous place. The bombyx of the Isle of Ceos, as described by Pliny (Hist. Natur. xi. 26, 27, with the notes of the two learned Jesuits. Hardouin and Brotier), may be illustrated by a similar species in China (Mémoires sur les Chinois, tom. ii. pp. 515-598); but our silk-worm, as well as the white mulberry-tree, were unknown to Theophrastus and Pliny.
"2 Georgic. § 121. Serica quando venerint in usum planissime non scio; sus
icor tamen in Julii Caesaris aevo, nam ante non invenio, says Justus Lipsius
Excursus i.ad Tacit. Annal. ii. 32). See Dion Cassius (1... xliii. p. 358, edit. Reimar), and Pausanius (1. vi. p. 519), the first who describes, however strangely, the Seric insect.
63 Tam longinquo orbe petitur, ut in publico matrona transluceat . . . . . . ut denudet foeminas vestis (Plin. vi. 20, xi. 21). Varro and Publius Syrus had already played on the Toga vitrea, ventus texilis, and nebula linea (Horat. Sermom, i. 2,101, with the notes of Torrentius and Dacier).
* Gibbon must have written transparent draperies and naked matrons. Though sometimes affected, he is never inăggūrate.--M.
the roads, and Ammianus Marcellinus (l. xxiii. c. 6, p.400) has enumerated the provinces.”
* See St. Martin, Mém. sur l'Armenie, vol. ii. p. 41.—M.
345-357. A communication through Thibet has been lately explored by the English sovereigns of Bengal.
* An abstract of the various opinions of the learned modern writers. Gosselin, Mannert, Lelewel, Malte-Brun, Heeren, and La Treille, on the Serica and the Thinae of the ancients, may be found in the new edition of Malte-Brun, vol. wi. pp. 368, 333.--M.
70 For the Chinese navigation to Malacca and Achin, perhaps to Ceylon, see Renaudot (on the two Mahometan Travellers, pp. 8-11, 13–17, 141-137); Dampier (vol. ii. p. 136); the Hist. Philosophique des deux Indes (tom. i. p. 98), and Hist. Générale des Voyages (tom. vi. p. 201).
11 The knowledge, or rather ignorance, of Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Arrian Marcian, &c., of the countries eastward of Cape Comorin, is finely illustrated by D'Anville (Antiquité Géographique de l’Inde, especially pp., 161-198). Our geography of India is improved by commerce and conquest; and has been illusfo the excellent maps and memoirs of Major Rennel. If he extends the sphere of his inquiries with the same critical kinowledge and sagacity, he will succeed, and may surpass, the first of modern geographers. -
12 The Taprobane of Pliny (vi. 24), Solinus (c. 53), and Salmas. Plinianae Exercitat. (pp. 781, 782), and most of the ancients, who often confound the islands of Ceylon and Sumatra, is more clearly described by Cosmas Indicopleustco ; yet even the Christian topographer has exaggerated its dimensions. His information on the Indian and Chinese trade is rare and curious (l. ii. p. 133, l. xi. pp. 337, 338, edit. Montfaucon).
18 See Procopius, Persic. (1, ii. c. 20). Cosmas affords some interesting knowledge of the port and inscription of Adulis. (Topograph. Christ...l. ii. pp. 38,140: 143), and the trade of the Axumites along the African coast of Barbaria or Zingi (pp. 138, 139), and as far as Taprobane (l. xi. p. 339).
* Mr. Salt obtained information of considerable ruins of an ancient town near Zulla, called Azoole, which answers to the position of Adulis. Mr. Salt was prevented by illness, Mr. Stuart, whom ho sent, by the jealousy of the natives, from investigating these ruins ; of their existence there seems ino doubt. Salt's 2d Journey, p. 452.-M.