Page images

These, when thoroughly drenched and dried at the fire, crumbled to pieces. The emperor then caused his sheep's skin when dried to be rubbed, and showing it to his courtiers ridiculed them on their foreign fur dresses, which though expensive were of little use1. The imperial princesses, however, on holidays wore dresses ornamented with precious stones, gold, silver and silk, and also foreign furs; at any rate the princess Berta had a valuable mantle or tippet of ermine, which Alcuin calls murina2.

Fur gloves were at that time usual also. The monks, at least, in winter wore gloves of sheep's skin, which were called mujffulce; whereas the summer gloves were named wanti3.

In the Welsh laws of Hywel Dda, who reigned in the tenth century, the skin of an ox, a deer, a fox, a wolf and an otter, are estimated at the same price, that is, eight times as dear as the skin of a sheep or a goat. The skin of a white weazle was eleven times as dear, that of a marten twenty-four times, and that of a beaver one hundred and twenty4.

In the year 1001 the emperor Otto III. sent an ambassador

1 This anecdote is related by the monk of St. Gall, whose name is supposed to be Notker, in his book De Gestis Caroli Magni, ii. 27, printed in Bouquet, Historiens de la Gaule, v. p. 152. Whether Notker was the author of this chronicle or not, there can be no doubt that it was written after the year 883 and before 887, as has been proved by Basnage. Pavontatts vestis, a term used in this passage, does not always signify cloth wove or painted so as to resemble the colours of the peacock; the skin of the peacock was used for ornament; the people of all nations indeed decorated themselves with feathers till they became acquainted with dyeing. The art of those who prepared feathers was banished by that of the dyers.

3 Carmen De Carolo Magno, in Op. ii. p. 453, v. 225.

* At the council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 817, where the dress of the monks was defined, it was ordered, " abbas provideat, unusquisque monachorum

habeat wantos in sestate, muffulas in hieme vervecinas." See Sir

niond's Concil. Antiq. Galliae, Paris, 1629, fol. i. p. 442. Wantus is still retained in the Netherlandish dialect, where want signifies a glove without fingers, having only a place for the thumb; perhaps it is the same word as want, wand, or gewand, which formerly denoted every kind of woollen cloth. Hence is derived the French word gand; for gviantus and gantus were formerly used instead of wantus. It is equally certain that muffula is of German extraction; mouw at present in Dutch signifies a sleeve. But at what time that covering came into use into which both hands are thrust at present to secure them from the frost, and which according to the size now fashionable covers the whole body and is called a muff, I am not able to determine.

4 Leges Wallicse, ed. Wottoni. Londini, 1730, fol. p. 261.

to Constantinople, whose attendants were clothed in costly furs1. Adam of Bremen, who lived in the same century, says, in his description of the countries bordering on Poland and Russia, that from these districts were procured those costly furs which were so eagerly purchased by the luxurious2. When Godfrey of Bouillon, in the year 1096, paid a visit to the emperor Alexius at Constantinople, what the latter chiefly admired was the rich and costly dresses of the Europeans bordered with furs3. In the beginning of the twelfth century the canons of a cathedral suffered themselves to be corrupted by beautiful furs4. The use of them, however, was forbidden to the clergy at one of the councils. According to that of London, in 1127, the abbesses and nuns were to wear those only made of lamb-skins and cat-skins5. In the year 1187, when the Christians were beaten near Tiberias, count Raimond having treacherously gone over to the Turks, the latter found among the plunder of the Christian camp a complete assortment of furs6. At the end of the twelfth century, Gottfried or Gaufred, prior of Vigeois, complained that no one would any longer wear sheep-skins and fox-skins, which before had been worn by barons and the principal clergy7.

We however find that princes sometimes endeavoured by the most effective means to restrain this magnificence. When Philip II. of France and Richard I. of England, about the end of the twelfth century, undertook a crusade to the Holy Land, they resolved that neither of them should wear ermine, sable, or other costly furs8. It appears that a similar resolution was adopted by St. Louis (Louis IX.) in the following century; for the historians, speaking of his crusade, expressly say that he avoided all magnificence, and wore no costly furs9. In the year 1336, in the reign of Edward III., king of England, when foreign articles imported into the kingdom began to be taxed, it was enacted, that no person whose yearly in

1 Landulphus, lib. ii. c. 18, in Murat. Her. Ital. Script., tom. iv. •
8 Adam Bremensis in Lindenbrogii Script. Rer. Germ., p. 67.
'Albertus Aquensis, in Gesta Dei per Francos, i. p. 203.
4 Ivo Cam. Epistote 104. * Canon 12.

* Albertus Aquensis, in Gesta Dei per Francos, i. p. 321.

* In Labbei Biblioth. Nova, tom. ii.

8 Wilhelmus Neubrigensis, lib. iii. cap. 22.

9 Wilhelmus de Nangis, p. 346. Gottfr. de BelloLoco, cap. 8. Joinville Hist, de St. Louis, p. 118.

VOL. ii. f

come did not amount to a hundred pounds should wear furs, under the penalty of losing them'.

In Germany, in 1497, citizens who did not belong to the nobility or equestrian order were forbidden to wear lining of sable or ermine. According to an ordinance of 1530, common citizens, tradesmen, and shopkeepers were to wear no trimmed clothes, nor to use marten or other costly lining, and the rich were to wear lining made only of lamb-skins, or those of the cow, fox, weasel, and the like. Merchants and tradespeople were not to wear marten, sable, or ermine, and at most weasel-skins; and their wives were to wear the fur only of the squirrel. Counts and lords were allowed all kinds of lining, sable and such like expensive kinds excepted. The latter permission was repeated, word for word, in the year 1548.

When one considers how much the use of fur dresses was spread all over Europe, it must excite astonishment that they were not introduced at the court of Byzantium. No traces of them are to be found in any of the Byzantine historians; not even in that work in which the emperor Constantine describes the whole ceremonial of his court, and in which dresses of various kinds are named, as Reiske has already remarked2. Furs are nowhere represented on Grecian statues, in paintings, or other works of art; and it will be seen in the passages quoted, that in the magnificence which the European princes displayed in the time of the crusades at the court of Constantinople, nothing attracted »o much attention as the different kinds of fur dresses. This seems the more astonishing, as a great trade was carried on at that time between Constantinople and those countries from which these wares were sent to Europe.

Over one of the gates of Milan is an image cut out in stone of the twelfth century, representing an emperor whose mantle is ornamented with small triangular patches of fur. Flamma believed that this carving was intended to represent one of the Greek emperors; but Giulini justly remarks, in opposition to this opinion, that furs never occur in any of the Greek sculpture. Besides, that image was evidently formed to ridicule the emperor, as is proved by the hideous monster seated

1 Harrington's Obi. on the more Ancient Statutes, 4to, p. 216.
3 Coustantini lib. de Ceremoniis Aulie Byzantine, 1754.

close to him. But at that time the Milanese certainly had no cause to offend the Greek emperor, with whom they were in alliance; and Giulini has proved, in a very satisfactory manner, that the Milanese erected this image to ridicule the emperor Frederick I., who was their bitterest enemy1. On another image at Milan, cut out in stone, of the thirteenth century, which represents the emperor of Germany on his throne, surrounded by the electors, the latter have small mantles, which are ornamented with triangular patches of fur of the same kind 2.

[Since the discovery and settlement of Canada, furs or peltries have mostly been obtained from the northern parts of America, some from the states of Rio de la Plata, a few from Germany, Holland, &c.

The success obtained by the French after their settlement in Canada in 1608, induced the formation of the English Hudson's Bay Company, which was chartered by Charles II. in 1670, with the exclusive privilege ot trading with the Indians in the vast territories adjoining Hudson's Bay. But their charter never having been confirmed by parliament, hunting in those regions was still considered as open to all British subjects, and many engaged in it. In 1766, private adventurers began to traffic from Michillimakinac, whose success incited others to follow their example; and independent traders gradually spread over every part of the country, until 1787, when these scattered parties were united into one great body, under the name of the "North-west Company." The rivalry of these associations had the effect of inspiriting and extending the trade, and led to constant and furious disturbances between the two. At length, in 1821, the two concernsunited, under the title of the " Hudson's Bay Fur Company," with much advantage to the peace of the fur countries, and perhaps to the permanent interests of the trade. The skins collected by this company are all shipped to London, mostly from their factories of York Fort and Moose Fort in Hudson's Bay; others from Fort Vancouver, on the river Columbia, and from Montreal.

On the part of the United States, tne fur trade is chiefly prosecuted by the North American Fur Company, whose principal establishment is at Michillimakinac, where it re

i Giulini, Mem. della Citta di Milano, vi. p. 407. 3 Ib., vin. p, 443.

ceives skins from the posts depending on that station and from those on the Mississippi, Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, and the great range of country extending thence to the Rocky Mountains. Of other associations in the United States, the most celebrated are Ashley's Company from St. Louis, and Captain Bonneville's, formed at New York in 1831; which last has pushed its enterprises into tracts between the Rocky Mountains and the coasts of Monterrey and Upper California. Indeed the whole of the districts from the Mississippi to the Pacific1, and from the Arctic Sea to the Gulf of Mexico, are now traversed in every direction by the hunter. Almost all the American furs which do not belong to the Hudson's Bay Company find their way to New York, where they are either distributed for home consumption, or exported chiefly to London.

The fur trade is also extensively pursued by the Russians in the north of Asia and the north-west coast of America, Their chief association is the Russian American Company of Moscow; and the principal markets for their furs are the fairs of Kiachta, Novgorod and Leipsic.

London is the principal emporium of the fur trade: the vessels of the Hudson's Bay Company arrive here about September; the public sales are held in March, and are attended by a great many foreign merchants, whose purchases are chiefly sent to the great fairs of Leipsic, whence they are distributed to various parts of the continent.]


Steel is a carburet of iron, and possesses some remarkable properties, by which it is distinguished from common iron. It is of such a superior degree of hardness, that it is capable of filing the latter; it strikes fire with siliceous stones, and scratches the hardest glass; it is heavier, emits a stronger Bound, exhibits on fracture a finer grain, assumes a brighter white lustre when polished, is susceptible of greater elasticity;

« PreviousContinue »