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But no sooner have we finished with one branch of this subject than we have to begin upon another, for we find that it is made quite a matter of sport to create expense; and not only this, but the sport must be doubled by making new mixtures and combinations, and falsifying over again what was a falsification of the works of Nature already; such, for instance, as staining tortoise-shell,1 alloying gold with silver for the purpose of making electrum,2 and then adding copper to the mixture to make Corinthian metal.3

(41.) It was not sufficient to have borrowed from a precious stone the name of "amethyst" for a dye, but when we have obtained this colour we must drench it over again with Tyrian tints,4 so that we may have an upstart name5 compounded of both, and at the same moment a two-fold display of luxury; for as soon as ever people have succeeded in obtaining the conchyliated colour, they immediately begin to think that it will do better as a state of transition to the Tyrian hues. There can be little doubt that this invention is due to some artist who happened to change his mind, and alter a tint with which he was not pleased: hence a system has taken its rise, and spirits, ever on the rack for creating wonders, have transformed what was originally a blunder into something quite desirable; while, at the same time, a double path has been pointed out to luxury, in thus making one colour carry another, and thereby become, as they say, softer and more mellow. And what is even more than this, human ingenuity has even learned to mingle with these dyes the productions of the earth, and to steep in Tyrian purple fabrics already dyed crimson with the berry of the kermes, in order to produce the hysginian6 tint. The kermes of Galatia, a red berry which we shall mention when we come to speak7 of the productions of the earth, is the most esteemed of all, except, perhaps, the one that grows in the vicinity of Emerita,8 in Lusitania. However, to make an end, once for all, of my description of these precious dyes, I shall remark, that the colour yielded by this grain9 when a year old, is of a pallid hue, and that if it is more than four years old, it is quickly discharged: hence we find that its energies are not developed either when it is too young or when old.

I have now abundantly treated of an art, by means of which men, just as much as women, have an idea that their appearance may be set off to the greatest possible advantage.

1 This is mentioned more fully in B. xvi. c. 84.

2 See B. xxxiii. c. 23. Electrum was an artificial metal, resembling amber in colour, and consisting of gold alloyed with one-fifth part of silver.

3 See B. xxxiv. c. 3. It was a mixture of gold, silver, and copper.

4 Described at the end of c. 62.

5 "Nomen imprubum."

6 From the Greek ὕσγινος, after the herb hysge, which was used in dyeing. Judging from the present passage, it would almost appear to have been the colour now known as puce. See B. xxi. c. 36 and c. 97; and B. xxxv. c. 26.

7 See B. xvi. c. 8, and B. xxiv. c. 4.

8 See B. iv. c. 35.

9 This is in reality the Coccus ilicis of Linnæus, a small insect of the genus Coccus, the female of which, when impregnated, fastens itself to a tree from which they derive nourishment, and assumes the appearance of a small grain: on which account they were long taken for the seeds of the tree, and were hence called grains of kermes. They are used as a red and scarlet dye, but are very inferior to cochineal, which has almost entirely superseded the use of the kermes. The colour is of a deep red, and will stand better than that of cochineal, and is less liable to stain.

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