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The most favourable season for taking these fish is after the rising of the Dog-star, or else before spring; for when they have once discharged1 their waxy secretion, their juices have no consistency: this, however, is a fact unknown in the dyers' workshops, although it is a point of primary importance. After it is taken, the vein is extracted, which we have2 previously spoken of, to which it is requisite to add salt, a sextarius3 about to every hundred pounds of juice. It is sufficient to leave them to steep for a period of three days, and no more, for the fresher they are, the greater virtue there is in the liquor. It is then set to boil in vessels of tin,4 and every hundred amphoræ5 ought to be boiled down to five hundred pounds of dye, by the application of a moderate heat; for which purpose the vessel is placed at the end of a long funnel, which communicates with the furnace; while thus boiling, the liquor is skimmed from time to time, and with it the flesh, which necessarily adheres to the veins. About the tenth day, generally, the whole contents of the cauldron are in a liquified state, upon which a fleece, from which the grease has been cleansed, is plunged into it by way of making trial; but until such time as the colour is found to satisfy the wishes of those preparing it, the liquor is still kept on the boil. The tint that inclines to red is looked upon as inferior to that which is of a blackish hue. The wool is left to lie in soak for five hours, and then, after carding it, it is thrown in again, until it has fully imbibed the colour. The juice of the buccinum is considered very inferior if employed by itself, as it is found to discharge its colour; but when used in conjunction with that of the pelagiæ, it blends6 with it very well, gives a bright lustre to its colour, which is otherwise too dark, and imparts the shining crimson hue of the kermes-Berry, a tint that is particularly valued. By the admixture of their respective virtues these colours are thus heightened or rendered sombre by the aid of one another. The proper proportions for mixing are, for fifty pounds of wool, two hundred pounds of juice of the buccinum and one hundred and eleven of juice of the pelagiæ. From this combination is produced the admirable tint known as amethyst colour.7 To produce the Tyrian hue the wool is soaked in the juice of the pelagiæ while the mixture is in an uncooked and raw state; after which its tint is changed by being dipped in the juice of the buccinum. It is considered of the best quality when it has exactly the colour of clotted blood, and is of a blackish hue to the sight, but of a shining appearance when held up to the light; hence it is that we find Homer speaking of "purple blood."8

1 "Quum cerificavere." Cuvier remarks that Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 14, says, that these shell-fish make "waxen combs," meaning thereby collections of cells, similar to those formed by the bee; and it is to this notion that Pliny refers in the use of the word "cerificavere." It is the fact, Cuvier says, that the univalve sea shell-fish, and more particularly the buccini and the murices, envelope their eggs with glutinous vesicles of varied forms, according to the respective species; which, when massed together, may be not inappropriately termed "combs."

2 In c. 60. As Cuvier remarks, with considerable justice, this description by Pliny of the process of dyeing in purple, is very difficult to explain, seeing that the art is now entirely lost. Reaumur, he says, made some attempts at dyeing with a small buccinum found off the French coasts, the Buccinum lapillus of Linnæus; but without any result.

3 About twenty ounces.

4 Because iron or brazen vessels might impart a tinge to the colour. The same would probably be the case if the word "plumbo "were to be considered as signifying "lead." As, however, Pliny uses this word in the signification of "tin," it is most probable that that is his meaning. Littré, however, translates the word "plombe," "lead."

5 Hardouin says, that the weight of the contents of the amphora would be about eighty pounds: it would therefore take eight thousand pounds of material, to make five hundred pounds of dye. The passage, however, which runs as follows, "Fervere in plumbo, singulasque amphoras centenas ad quingentenas medicaminis libras aequari," may be rendered, "It is then set to boil in vessels of tin, and every hundred amphoræ of water ought to he proportioned to five hundred pounds of the material;" indeed, this is probably the correct translation, though Littré, who is generally very exact, adopts that given in the text.

6 "Alligatur:" which word may also mean, that mixed with the buccinum, it will hold fast, and not speedily fade or wash out.

7 So called from the gem of that name; see B. xxxvii. c. 40.

8 αἵματι πορφυρέῳ. II. P. 1. 360, for instance.

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