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But why mention such trifles as these, when I am sensible that no greater inroads have been made upon our morals, and no more rapid advances have been made by luxury, than those effected through the medium of shell-fish? Of all the elements that exist, the sea is the one that costs the dearest to the belly; seeing that it provides so many kinds of meats, so many dishes, so many exquisite flavours derived from fish, all of which are valued in proportion to the danger undergone by those who have caught them.

(35.) But still, how insignificant is all this when we come to think of our purple, our azure,1 and our pearls; it was not enough, forsooth, for the spoils of the sea to be thrust down the gullet—But they must be employed as well to adorn the hands, the ears, the head, the whole body, in fact, and that of the men pretty nearly as much as the women. What has the sea to do with our clothes?2 What is there in com- mon between waves and billows and a sheep's fleece? This one element ought not to receive us, according to ordinary notions, except in a state of nakedness. Let there be ever so strong an alliance between it and the belly, on the score of gluttony, still, what can it possibly have to do with the back? It is not enough, forsooth, that we are fed upon what is acquired by perils, but we must be clothed, too, in a similar way; so true it is, that for all the wants of the body, that which is sought at the expense of human life, is sure to please us the most.

1 Ajasson says, that the words "purpuras, conchylia," here signify not the fish themselves, but the various tints produced by them; the purpura and the conchylium being, in fact, exactly the same fish, though, as will be explained in c. 60 of the present Book, by various modes of treatment, various colours were extracted from them. See also B. xxi. c. 22.

2 Dalechamps notices here an ancient proverb, which says, "Qui nare vult, se exuit." "He who wishes to swim, takes off his clothes."

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