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intercourse with those last mentioned countries themselves, Dr. Robertson supposes this to have been one of the reasons why silks continued to bear such iminense prices at Rome, even in the time of Aurelian,* above two hundred years after it was first introduced there. This observation is founded on a belief entertained by the learned author, that silk, at that time, was produced in China only; and that the price of what was brought to Rome, was enhanced by the charges of such circuitous course, and by the profits of the different merchants through whom it was procured. But the opinion that the silk-worm was peculiar to China, is unquestionably erro
In the laws of Menu two classes of persons are mentioned as specially appropriated to the care of the silk-worm and the spinning of silk; they had names expressive of their occupations, and they yet continue to follow them from father to
* Aurelian was elected Emperor in the year
son in the same manner as is observed by the Hindūs in all other avocations. In the ancient Sanscrit language there are names for the silk-worm and silk. On the first acquaintance of the Greeks with the Hindūs, we find silks mentioned, when speaking of their dresses. Sir William Jones observes, that “ silk was fabricated immemorially by the Indians.”* The author of Remarks on the husbandry and internal commerce of Bengal, when speaking of the culture of the mulberry, and the process of the Hindūs in regard to silk, mentions silk obtained from wild worms, which feed on other plants besides the mulberry. He says, “ much silk of this kind supplies home consumption; much is brought from the countries situated on the N. E. border of Bengal, and on the southern frontier of Benares; much is exported wrought and unwrought to the western parts of India; and some enters into manufactures which
* See Sir Wm. Jones's Third Discourse to the Asiatic Society. (Works, vol. iii. p. 42.)
are said to be greatly in request in Europe." He speaks of five kinds of silk-worms, but adds, that the one called Desi, or native, is preferred. He estimates the export of raw silk from Bengal, at from 150 to 200 tons annually, but observes that it might be greatly increased.*
* After speaking of silk, he says: “ The manufacture of indigo appears to bave been known and practised in India at the earliest period. From this country, whence the dye obtains its name, Europe was anciently supplied with it, until the produce of America engrossed the market. Within a very late period, the enterprise of a few Europeans in Bengal has revived the exportation of indigo, but it has been mostly manufactured by themselves. The nicety of the process, by whieh the best indigo is made, demands a skilful and experienced eye. It is not from the practice of making some pounds from a few roods of land that competent skill can be attained: yet such was the management of the natives. Every peasant individually extracted the dye from the plants which he had cultivated on a few biswas of ground; or else the manufacture was undere taken by a dyer, as an occasional en ployment connected with his profession. The better management of the Americans in this respect, rather than any essential difference in the process, transferred the supply of the market to America; for, it is wow well ascertained that the indigo of Bengal, so far as its natural quality may be solely considered, is superior to that of North America, and equal to the best of South America.”— See Remarks on the Husbandry and internal Commerce of Bengal, published at Calcutta in 1804, republished at London in 1806, p. 154.
But if the commerce with India became a source of fortune to the industrious trader, and an important branch of revenue to the government, the introduction of the products of the East also tended to stimulate and increase the already excessive luxury which prevailed at Rome. In the Periplus of the Erythrean sea by the navigator Arrian,* an account is given of the imports from India, and in the Roman Digests the articles subject to duties to the government are enumerated. *
* This Arrian must not be confounded with Flavius Arrian, the historian of the Expedition of Alexander. The author of the Periplus appears to have been a trading navigator in the seas described by him, and to have personally visited the coasts of the Red Sea, part of those of Arabia, Africa, and Malabar in India. There are some things in the Periplus contradictory to what is said by the other Arrian. He supposes Alexander to have advanced to the banks of the Ganges: whereas, according to Flavius Arrian, he never even crossed the Jumna. The time of the existence of the author of the Periplus has not been ascertained, but it must have
The imports from the East consisted of Cotton cloths, white and coloured; Muslins, plain, flowered, striped, and embroidered; Silks; and, though shawls are not specified, yet Marucorum Lana, which Dr. Vincent supposed to be the wool of which the shawls are made, is mentioned; Medicinal drugs; Ferrum Indicum, tempered iron or steel ; Spices and Aromatics,t in the
been after the Romans had conquered Egypt, and before Arrian the historian. See Vincent, vol. i. p. 45.
* Digest, lib. xxxix. tit. iv. Doctor Vincent, in an Appendix to the second volume of his work on the navigation to India, gives a list of the articles mentioned in both the Periplus and Digest.
† Amongst the aromatics, the Nardi Stachys, mentioned in the Digest, and the Nardi Spica in the Periplus, appears to have been what is named by Roxburgh and others, Spikenard. Dr. Vincent observes, that no Oriental aromatic has caused such controversy among the writers on natural history, and that it is only within these few years that we have arrived at the true knowledge of it, by means of the inquiries of Sir William Jones and