Page images

list of which all those now brought from India are to be found; frankincense; odoriferous gums, woods, and ointments; sugar, called honey from canes ;* tortoiseshell; ivory; porcelain; precious stones and gems of various kinds, as emeralds, sapphires, topazes, amethysts, hyacinths,

Dr. Roxburgh. See Vincent, vol. ii. p. 742.-Asiatic Researches, vol. ii. p. 405, and vol. iv. pp. 97 and 433. -And Roxburgh's Plants of the coast of Coromandel, in which there are beautiful coloured drawings of the Spikenard.

* Lotos Honey is also mentioned, which it is difficult to account for: we do not conceive that sugar could be procured from the berry of the Ramnus Lotus, which is a farinaceous plant, and we know that the Nymphæa Lotus is held sacred by the Hindūs, and preserved with religious care. (See vol. i. p. 151-157.) This article is not in the Digest, but in the Periplus only, the author of which says that it was brought from Barugaza. I am inclined to think that the name Lotus must be an error, arising either from the ignorance of the author, or an inadvertency in copying; for if sugar could be extracted from the Nymphæa, and it were even permitted by the Hindus, the quantity procured from so rare a plant, must have been too inconsiderable to furnish an article for exportation.

and diamonds, which were brought to a great amount; the ruby is not specifically mentioned, but it seems improbable that it should have been neglected, and may, perhaps, have been confounded with other red coloured stones both in the Digest and in the Periplus; what is named Alabanda in the Digest, Dr. Vincent, on the authority of Dutens,* calls a stone between a Ruby and Amethyst. To these are to be added the Lapis Callainus, or Callain stone, a species of Emerald.+ Various kinds of what are called Fine Stones to distin

* Des Pierres précieuses, et des Pierres fines, par M. L. Dutens.

+ See Dutens, c. vii. p. 36. This author denies that the ancients had any knowledge of the true emerald; and says that the green gems, called Smaragdus, were of an inferior quality to the emeralds brought from Brazil and Peru. I conceive, however, that in this respect he is mistaken. Had I attended to the circumstance sooner, I should have mentioned it to him; and as he was ever open to conviction, I think he would have admitted his error. Unfortunately, we have now to regret his loss. Emeralds of great beauty are seen in India; I possessed one such myself, which I procured there they are to be found, I believe, in Pegu and


guish them from what are termed Precious Stones, were also brought from India; the Onyx and Cornelian were principally employed for engravings; the Sardonyx, and other Agates, in works of curiosity and drinking cups; but stones of sizes fit for these being extremely rare, and much admired, bore proportionately high prices. The Onyx is mentioned as being brought from Tagara, and fine Onyxes are now found in that part of the Deckan, more frequently, I believe, than in any other part of India.

But it appears that the gems, most esteemed by the Roman ladies, were Pearls, which were purchased with eagerness, and when of great size and beauty, at a prodigious expense. The sum paid by Julius Cæsar for one that he gave to Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, is stated at fortyeight thousand four hundred and fifty pounds sterling; and the famous pearl ear-rings of Cleopatra have been valued at one hundred and sixty-one thousand four hundred and fifty-eight pounds. Pliny observes, that the prices of pearls exceeded those of any other

gems; that there was not a female without some pearl ornament, saying, they were as necessary to a woman when she appeared in public, as the Lictor to the magistrate; that not only the knots, but the whole of the shoes were to be found covered with them; and he mentions having seen Lollia Paulina, the wife of the Emperor Caius,* not at a festival, or public ceremony, but at a common marriage supper, with pearls and emeralds which had cost forty millions of Sesterces:† and these were not, says the author, jewels

* Caligula, son of Germanicus, and successor of Tiberius.

+ The common, or small Sesterce, has by some been valued so low as two French sols, or a penny English ; by others more.

"Le sestertius nummus des Romains," says the learned Chevalier Visconti, in a communication to the author, "valoit deux As et demi de leur monnoie; mais il ne faut pas inférer de cette valeur que le sesterce Romain, doit être évalué à deux sous et demi, monnoie de France. Une infinité d'anciens Denarius Romains existent en nature: la plupart sont connus sous le nom de Médailles de famille en argent. Il est certain que ces Denarius contiennent autant d'argent pur que nos francs actuels en contiennent. Or si le Denarius qui valoit dix As, équivaut à peu-près à un franc, le Sestertius qui formoit

given to her by the profuse Caius, but came to her from her grandfather, Marcus Lollius.

Silks were for a long time used by the women only. Besides the expense of a silk dress, it was judged too effeminate for men. The Greeks and Romans, as long as they preserved their ancient character, wore nothing but woollen garments. But some must have put on silk so early as about the third year of the reign of Tiberius, or seventeenth year of the Christian æra: for we find in a motion made in the senate, for passing a law to restrain the excessive luxury that prevailed, a prohibition for men from using silk dresses.* The dissolute

la quatrième partie du Denarius, sera l'équivalent de cinq sous."

If therefore the Sesterces here mentioned be taken at five sols French money, it will make those jewels amount to ten millions of francs, or about 416,666 pounds sterling.

* Decretumque ne vasa auro solido ministrandis cibis fierent; ne vestis serica viros fœdaret.--Tacit. Ann. lib. ii. c. 33.

« PreviousContinue »