Fur clothing

As long as mankind lived under palm-trees in their original country, between the tropics, they had no occasion to provide either food or clothing: the former was spontaneously supplied by the earth, that is, without care or labour; and the latter in that warm climate was superfluous. The art of cultivating plants, and that of preparing clothes, were not innate, but first taught by necessity; and this did not exist till men, in consequence of their increase, were obliged to spread towards both the poles. In proportion as they removed from their former abode, provisions became scarcer, and the climate colder. Hence arose the breeding of cattle, as well as agriculture; and men then first ventured on the cruelty of killing animals, in order that they might devour them as food, and use their skins to shelter them against the severity of the weather.

At first these skins were used raw, without any preparation; and many nations did not till a late period fall upon the art of rendering them softer, and making them more pliable, durable, and convenient. As long as mankind traded only for necessaries, and paid no attention to ornaments, they turned the hairy side towards the body; but as the art of dressing skins was not then understood, the flesh side must have given to this kind of clothing, when the manners of people began to be more refined, an appearance which could not fail of exciting disgust. To prevent this the Ozolæ inverted the skins, and wore the hair outwards; and in this manner some account for the bad smell which exhaled from their bodies 712. This custom, however, was so general, that Juvenal, where he describes a miserly person, says, “to guard himself against the cold he does not wear the costly woollen clothing of the luxurious Romans, but the skins of animals, and these even inverted, that is to say, with the hairy side turned inwards, without caring whether the appearance be agreeable or not 713.” In what manner the art of tanning was afterwards found out, Goguet has endeavoured to conjecture from the accounts given by travellers, in regard to the savages in the northern parts of America and Asia, but particularly in regard to the Greenlanders. The far more ingenious method of manufacturing wool, first into felt and then into cloth, seems to have been discovered by the inhabitants of temperate districts, where the mildness of the winter rendered fur dresses unnecessary.

The sheep came from Africa; but in that country it has hair and not wool; and it is only in colder climates that the former acquires a woolly nature. If it be true that a Hercules first brought this species of animal from Africa to Greece 714 , that improvement may have first been effected in the latter country; in which case it is probable that the first attempts to manufacture wool were made by the Athenians, that is to say, among the Greeks; for this art was before known to the Egyptians, who ascribe the invention of it to their Isis.

It may be readily comprehended that many centuries must have elapsed before the tender sheep could be conveyed to and reared in the northern countries, where thick and immense forests produced in abundance a great variety of those animals which were capable of supplying the best furs; where mankind increased but slowly; applied to hunting till a later period; and were not so soon compelled to employ artificial methods of obtaining the most necessary productions; and where they also lived too widely scattered to be soon conducted to the arts by a communication of experience and inventions. The northern nations, therefore, clothed themselves in the raw skins of animals, a long time after the southern tribes were acquainted with the spinning and weaving of wool, flax, and cotton; and on this account the former were astonished at the appearance of the latter.

When the Greeks give us a picture of these barbarians, they scarcely ever fail to state how disgusting they were on account of their dress; which however, by the acknowledgement of their historians, was long worn by their own forefathers 715. The heroes even of the Grecian fabulous history clothed themselves in the skins of the most terrible animals 716 , such as lions and tigers, and on these they also slept. When the Romans wished to describe the manners of their ancestors, and to exhibit the difference between them and their own, they commonly mentioned the use of skins. Thus Propertius calls the senators of the earliest periods the pelliti 717 , and Valerius Maximus says 718 , speaking of the luxury of his time, that no one in imitation of Cato would use goat skins as a covering to his bed. But it appears that the Greeks and the Romans, at the time of their prosperity, when the arts and sciences were cultivated among them, made little use of fur clothing. It was worn at that period only on certainfestivals, and merely by the poorer classes and rustics 719 , or employed in the time of war 720. At any rate, it is not mentioned among the dresses of the rich, or articles of magnificence and ornament.

The ancient physicians, where they treat on the influence which clothing has on the health, and the choice of it for winter and summer, make no mention of furs. Suetonius, describing the manner in which the emperor Augustus dressed in winter, names various articles of clothing, but no furs; which the emperor, who was so sensible of cold, would certainly have worn, had they been usual. They no doubt would have been much more convenient and answered the purpose better, than the four tunicæ drawn over each other, and the thick toga, the woollen shirt and breast-cloth, and all the other articles mentioned. Martial ridicules a petit-maître, who wished for the arrival of winter and for severe weather in that season, in order that he might exhibit his costly winter dresses. Had furs, at that period, been the fashionable and principal winter clothing, the poet certainly would not have omitted to mention them. At present the baccaræ for the like reason make their appearance as soon as the first frost takes place, along with large muffs, which leave scarcely any part of the body to be seen but the head and the feet. Had furs been employed by way of ornament in the time of Pliny, he no doubt would have noticed this use of them, especially as he mentions and ridicules so many superstitious ways of applying the skins of animals; but I do not remember to have read in the works of this naturalist any account of fur clothing. He relates that an attempt had been made to manufacture the fur of the hare; but it had not succeeded, because the fur, on account of its shortness, as he supposes, would not adhere, or, as we say at present, could not be felted 721. He, however, says nothing of hare's fur being employed to line clothes. It appears also that furs do not often occur as clothing in the sacred scriptures 722. In the third, or perhaps even the second century of the Christian æra, fur dresses seem to have been known to the Romans, and to have been much esteemed by them. The numerous northern tribes, who at that time advanced towards the south, were clothed in furs; but they were not all raw, dirty, and disgusting, like those which had before been in use. It may with certainty be supposed that the chief men among them had the most beautiful furs; and that in general they were so well acquainted with the art of preparing them, and wearing them in the most graceful manner, that they by these means recommended them to the notice of the young Romans. For that all those warlike tribes who attacked the Roman empire, and in part subdued it, are not to be considered as uncultivated, savage barbarians, unacquainted with the arts or the sciences, addicted to plundering and murder, who overturned governments and destroyed public happiness and trade, has been lately remarked, when the French applied the term Vandalism to the horrid cruelties committed during the late revolution 723. It can be proved that the Romans adopted from their uninvited guests those kinds of dress; that furs soon became fashionable among them, and were an object of luxury and of commerce; and it appears that skins were the first article which occasioned a trade from Italy to the most distant parts of the North, as in the fifteenth century they were the cause of the discovery and conquest of Siberia.

The later the art of manufacturing wool, and of converting the noble metals into lace and other ornaments, was known, in the northern countries, and the later the inhabitants became acquainted with cotton, silk, and precious stones, the earlier and the more they exerted themselves to find out and prepare the most beautiful furs, and to trim and to border with them their dresses; and it needs excite no surprise that the southern nations, though their climate did not require it, adopted this magnificence; especially as the distance and scarcity of furs made them dear enough to be considered by the rich and people of rank as a luxurious mark of distinction. This, in my opinion, will be proved by what follows.

When historians speak of those northern nations with whom the Romans carried on long and for the most part unfortunate wars, they scarcely ever forget to mention their fur clothing; and this is the case in particular with those writers who lived at the time. We are told by Herodotus, that the people near the Caspian sea clothed themselves in seal-skins. The same thing is related by Strabo of the Massagetæ; and Cæsar and Sallust both assert, that the skin of the rein-deer formed in part the clothing of the ancient Germans. I allude here to those dresses which they call renones. That this word is derived from the animal named at present by the Swedes Ren ; that the rein-deer was common in ancient Germany, when, in consequence of its being covered with forests and marshes, it had a much colder climate and produced more rein-deer moss than at present; and that Cæsar, where he describes the most remarkable things of Germany, mentions the rein-deer under the name of bos cervi figura, I think I have proved in my juvenile production on the ancient animals of that country. Reno  is also Lappmud, or the rein-deer skin, which is still worn in Sweden, which I have worn there myself, and which is handsome and costly. The objection of Wachter 724  to this opinion is of very little weight. How is it possible to believe, says he, that these animals were formerly so numerous, that all the Germans and Gauls could clothe themselves in their skins? But on this occasion he does not recollect what he has often proved by examples, that the name of a species is often given to the whole genus. Because a great many wore renones, of which the Romans perhaps were fondest, they gave the name of renones  to all these fur dresses of the Germans. The proofs, in ancient authors, in regard to the fur clothing of the Scythians, the Goths, the Getæ, and Huns, are too numerous to be collected. I shall therefore refer only to those passages which I have occasionally remarked, and which I shall soon employ for another purpose 725.

It can easily be proved that the Germans and other northern nations, in consequence of their intercourse with the Romans, gradually left off the use of furs, and became more and more accustomed to woollen clothing; and, on the other hand, that the Romans adopted the state dress of their conquerors. Even in the time of Tacitus, those Germans who lived on the Rhine and the Danube, and consequently who were nearest to the Romans, set much less value on furs than those who, residing further within the country, were at a greater distance from intercourse with foreigners and from trade 726. The latter had the most costly furs, which they knew how to ornament and variegate with trimmings of every kind, in the same manner perhaps as our furriers at present ornament white fur with the tail of the ermine 727. These people possessed no other articles of luxury, and had no other means of distinguishing themselves among their countrymen, but by the rarity and costliness of their furs. Such was the case with the Spartans when Lycurgus deprived them of all their superfluities. They then ornamented, and thereby enhanced the value of the necessary articles they had left, beds, tables and wooden bowls, from which they drank water, and to such a degree, that at length these things were as capable of gratifying the taste of luxury as the foreign wares they had before purchased at so dear a rate 728.

The same thing has been remarked by the Danish and Swedish historians. When these nations, by their sea voyages, piratical expeditions and trade, became acquainted with foreign manners, and more convenient kinds of clothing, they accustomed themselves to wool, cotton and silk; yet, in so slow a manner, that the use of these wares was introduced as an extravagant luxury. Harold Härdrät Sigurdson, or Harold IV. king of Norway, in the middle of the eleventh century, who had collected great riches in the Levant, wore a red mantle lined with white furs. In the twelfth century the principal men at the Danish court were clothed in sheep-skins 729 ; and when Duke Canute, or Canute Laward, the son of Eric Eiegod, who was assassinated in the year 1131, appeared at a festival at Ripe in a dress of red cloth, he excited attention and envy, and was subjected to the mortification of hearing the most bitter sarcasms from Henry Skatteler, or rather Skokal, that is, the lame, who wore a native sheep-skin 730.

That furs were considered by the Getæ as objects of magnificence, and that as such they were worn by their kings and the principal men at court, is proved by the passages I have quoted. The reproach thrown out by Claudian against Rufinus, that he was not ashamed to wear Getic furs, proves that the Romans adopted the manners of their conquerors, and that this practice was censured by their patriots. It is worthy of remark also, that the jurists, Ulpian and Paulus, reckon furs among articles of dress, to which before their time they did not belong 731.

Acron, an old commentator on Horace, whose period, as far as I know, has not yet been determined, says that in his time the senators and principal men, when they appeared in their official dresses, wore costly furs obtained from foreign countries, and Tertullian 732  indignantly inveighs against the female dresses bordered and trimmed with furs, which seem to be mentioned also by bishop Maximus in the fifth century.

In the year 397, the emperor Honorius forbade Gothic dresses, and in particular furs, to be worn either in Rome or within the jurisdiction of the city; but that such orders against fashions had very little effect appears from this circumstance, that these laws, extended as well as rendered more severe, were renewed in 399 and 416, and yet were not obeyed. Even the Goths themselves were forbidden to use such dresses. The Gothic servants, who at that time were kept in most families, were to be subjected to corporal punishment, and those of higher rank to a fine, in case they transgressed this prohibition. But Synesius, who lived at that period, and as a good patriot lamented the use of these outlandish dresses, which afforded a melancholy presage that the dominion of the Goths would at length prevail, relates, that the principal men among these people appeared at Rome in the Roman dress, but on their return home they exchanged it for their native clothing, and again assumed their furs.

Furs, however, were not the only part of the Gothic costume which became modish among the Romans; for they adopted also their breeches or hose. That such articles of dress were not used before that time, either by the Greeks, the Romans, or the Hebrews, has been proved by many. On this account mention is so often made of indecent postures, as when the Scotch Highlanders rendent les armes, by which parts are exposed that modesty requires to be concealed. This is considered by Theophrastus as one of the marks of clownishness 733. Thus, a posture inadvertently assumed, exposed Philip to reproach, as we are told by Plutarch 734 ; and to guard against a similar indecorum, Cæsar, as he fell, collected his robes around him. Hence, as is well known, the expression retained by Luther, seine Füsse bedecken, “to cover one's feet,” or as the Greeks say, “to compose one's clothes 735.” Persons who laboured under weakness or indisposition, wrapped bandages around their legs; and in the time of Quintilian, the use of these could be excused only by sickness 736. They, however, became afterwards more common, so that by Ulpian they are reckoned among the ordinary articles of dress 737. They formed a step towards breeches, properly so called, which, as is well known, covered for many centuries the loins, thighs and legs, as may be seen on seals and carved work of the thirteenth century 738. That the Batavians, Gauls, Germans, Sarmatians, Getæ, Goths, &c. had such articles of clothing, is proved by many passages in ancient authors, already quoted by others, and by the well-known appellation Gallia braccata. The anaxurides  also of the Persians were breeches, which the Romans adopted, not from these people, but from the northern nations, yet without the approbation of the patriots, who exclaimed against them, as they had before done against furs. At first they seem to have been used only on journeys and in war. When the Gothic costume was forbidden by Honorius, breeches were expressly mentioned; and Ovid reproaches the people of Tomi, on the Pontus Euxinus, that though they wished to be thought of Greek extraction, they were not ashamed to wear Persian breeches 739.

As furs for dresses of ceremony were either not used at all by the Greeks and the Romans, or were adopted only at a late period and seldom employed, an account of the fur trade is not to be expected in their writings. I am well aware that Isaac Vossius had an idea that the history of the golden fleece might be considered as the oldest trace of it 740 , and therefore asserted that the object of the Argonautic expedition to Colchis was a commercial speculation, as was the case with the voyages of the English to Nootka Sound. It is also true that this opinion met with some approbation; but it has no more probability than that entertained by the alchymists in regard to the same expedition since the time of Suidas. That the Colchi, indeed, carried on a very extensive trade is sufficiently proved by the testimony of Pliny and Strabo; but the latter, in the catalogue of wares, mentions timber for ship-building, pitch, wax, linen and hemp, but not furs, which at that time could not be an article much sought after in foreign commerce.

Another account which we read in Pliny seems much rather to refer to the fur trade. I here allude to that quoted by Böttiger 741 , from which it appears that furs were reckoned among the articles obtained at that time from the Seres 742. I, however, freely confess that I cannot readily admit this single word of Pliny as a complete proof. As far as I have yet been able to find, other writers, among the articles furnished by the Chinese, mention iron, pearls, silk, cotton, and silk or cotton clothes, but say nothing of furs; and it is very improbable that a country which produced silk or cotton could supply such furs as would be worth conveying to so great a distance. The only thing I can admit is, that the furs were brought by a transit trade to Europe; that is to say, the Seres obtained them from the fur countries, properly so called, or those which at present furnish sables, and again sold them to the Romans. Now this was a very circuitous route, whether we consider Serica  to have been China, Siam, or the Lesser Bucharia; yet not so circuitous as that by which the Chinese obtained from the English, through Russia, the best beaver-skins brought from Canada and Hudson's Bay.

Were we to reckon among the pelles Serum  of Pliny the lucida velleratactu mollia Serum, mentioned by Seneca, Boethius and others, we should undoubtedly be in an error; for these may be explained by the false information which at that time was obtained partly in regard to cotton, and partly in regard to silk, and which may be seen in Solinus 743  and others. Is it not possible that these lucida vellera  may have been meant likewise by Pliny?

I have some doubts also respecting a passage of Strabo, where he relates that among the wares brought by the nomadic tribes of Europe and Asia to the Tanais, or present Azoph, at the mouth of the Don, there were slaves and furs 744. It is certain that dermata  may signify, not only furs, but also tanned skins. If Strabo here meant furs, I am inclined to conjecture that they were disposed of in the nearest countries, but did not come into the European trade; and the case, perhaps, was the same with the slaves mentioned in the same passage. Polybius also, among the wares brought from Pontus to Byzantium, mentions dermata 745 . I must, however, confess, that if I found that the Romans actually obtained dermata  from Asia, I should carefully examine whether under that term skins, or even dyed leather, were not rather meant. Skins, and particularly for military purposes, they indeed procured from very distant places. Thus the Frieslanders, instead of a tax, were obliged to supply ox-hides 746 ; and it may be proved by the testimony of various writers, that the art of giving a beautiful dye to leather is very old in Asia; and therefore that many kinds of what we call morocco was at an early period brought from thence to Europe.

On the other hand, from what is said by Ælian 747 , I entertain no doubt that in his time a trade in furs was carried on with Persia. To that country were sent, he says, the soft skins of the Pontic mouse, which, when sewed together, formed warm dresses. I am convinced also that more proofs might be found of the use of fur-clothing among the Persians. They employed furs likewise instead of mattresses and bolsters. Thus we are told by Plutarch 748  that Pharnabazus reclined upon soft furs: and it is not improbable that the rough or thick winter gloves of the Persians, mentioned by Xenophon, were of the same material 749. It is stated by modern travellers, that at present sable and ermine skins are among the most common and valuable ornaments of the Persians; and it is well known that the costume of these people is very old, because they are not exposed as we are to the influence of fickle fashion.

But the Persian skins, pelles Parthicæ or Persicæ, which are often extolled, especially in later times, on account of their beauty, do not belong to this head; though Vossius, Brisson and Gesner, consider them to have been sables. They were undoubtedly different kinds of dyed leather, of which shoes were made for princes and opulent persons. In the time of the emperor Maximianus, a Roman soldier having found a leathern purse which contained real pearls, threw away the latter and retained only the purse, because it had a beautiful colour 750. Of the same kind of leather was that dyed with kermes, mentioned by Zosimus 751 ; and that which by Constantine Porphyrogenetes, where he mentions all those wares which the northern nations obtained through Constantinople, is expressly named highly-dyed Persian leather.

Of a similar kind, as appears, was the Babylonian leather. Zonaras 752  speaks of a costly tent made of it; and in the time of St. Jerome it was considered as an object of luxury. As Persian and Babylonian leather are mentioned at the same time, there is reason to think that a distinction was made in commerce between these two kinds 753. The emperor Constantine, among the persons charged to furnish articles for the imperial wardrobe at Constantinople, and who on that account enjoyed certain immunities, mentions the parthicariiparticarii, or parthiarii 754 ; and though we are uncertain in regard to the orthography, it may be readily conceived that these words do not allude, as Vossius says, to furriers, but to merchants who dealt in costly dyed, and perhaps painted skins, which they procured from Persia. It is well-known that at present the Persians understand the art of preparing and dyeing many kinds of leather in a more beautiful manner than the Europeans; and among these in particular are shagreen and morocco, which are still imported from the East 755.

From the grounds here adduced, I am led to conjecture that the trade in furs to the southern parts of Europe had its commencement during the expeditions of the northern tribes to Italy; and I must acknowledge that I have found no older information on this subject than that furnished by Jordanes or Jornandes, who lived in the sixth century. This writer, speaking of the northern nations, mentions the Suethans, and says 756 , that these are the people who send to the Romans the celebrated furs; which, however, passed necessarily through the hands of many intermediate tribes. These Suethans, according to his account, inhabited a part of Scanzia, and that under this name he included Sweden, Norway, Lapland, Finland, &c. has been already proved by Mascou 757. Soon after he mentions also Hanugari, whom he reckons among the Scythians; these he says were known on account of their trade with mouse-skins 758.

It is too well known to require any proof, that in the oldest periods the whole riches of the northern countries consisted in furs; that these, if not the only, were the principal wares exported, and that all taxes were paid with them. Other, who lived in the ninth century, states the number of marten, rein-deer, bear and otter skins, which were delivered annually by the Finlanders and Norwegians 759. When Thorolf, in the year 878, sent a ship to England with merchandise, there were among it pelles mustelinæ albæ760 . I shall remark also, that so early as the third century skins and leather began to be counted by decuriæ; from which is derived the appellation decher, adopted into the English, Swedish and Danish languages, as well as the word dacra  or dacrum pellium 761 , used in the middle ages. Sables and ermines, however, are still sold by zimmern ; and this appellation also is very old. A timber  of hare-skins occurs about the year 1300, and unum timbrium martrinarum  as early as 1207. At present a zimmer  makes four dechers  or twenty pairs, and in the time of George Agricola sable-skins were sold in this manner, forty in one lot 762. But a zimmer  has not always been the same in all countries and at all times; at any rate in France a zimmertimbre, was reckoned to contain sixty skins.

Before I proceed further, I must endeavour to explain the different names of furs which occur in the works of the ancients; but in this attempt I can scarcely hope to attain to great probability. The information of the ancients in regard to those species of animals with the country of which they were not acquainted, is exceedingly defective. What they relate was obtained from the accounts of merchants; and these, in all probability, through a principle of self-interest, falsified the little that they really knew. Besides, the ancient writers do not always accurately distinguish the names of the different furs, nor affix to them the same meaning; which is the less surprising, as few know how to give proper names to the principal kinds of furs even at present. It is probable that the skins of the ermine, marten, and squirrel, became at a very early period objects of commerce, and formed the chief articles in this branch of trade; but from the little known on this subject, no zoologist would venture to determine with certainty the species. He must be so candid as to admit all conjectures which he is not able to refute.

If I am not mistaken, the skin of the mouse, and particularly the Pontic or Caspian mouse, is that of which the first and most frequent mention occurs in the oldest times. That the name mus  denoted at first not only that animal to which we apply it, but also all small warm-blooded quadrupeds, has been long ago remarked. In the same manner every large animal was formerly called bos. When the Romans first saw elephants they gave them the name of boves lucæ. Pausanias also calls the rhinoceros the Ethiopian ox; and Cæsar names the rein-deer, the ox with stag's horns. The ox was the largest, as the mouse was the smallest, warm-blooded animal with which the ancients were acquainted, and therefore they called all large animals oxen, and all small ones mice 763. It is to be observed, in explaining the ancient names of animals, that at first they had a much more extensive signification, and one must endeavour to conjecture what the animals comprehended under them had in common with each other, according to the ideas of the ancients. To words of this kind formica  seems to belong, and perhaps the principal idea related to collecting and laying up; and perhaps in this manner one might be able to explain the fable of the gold-searching ants, mentioned by Herodotus. It is however often difficult to conjecture what the principal idea was. What idea did the ancients affix to the term passer  (sparrow), when they called the ostrich the large Libyan or Arabian sparrow? We learn nothing more therefore from the words pelles murium, than that they were not the skins of large animals. The epithets Pontic and Caspian only show, that these wares, like many others, were brought from Pontus and the Caspian sea. From such epithets were we to determine the original country of any article used in commerce, or the place where it was first produced, we should often fall into error. Wares were frequently called Syrian, Turkish and Arabian, though it is certain that they were brought from very different countries.

What further information I have been able to find in regard to this species of animal, merely is, that its skin was exceedingly soft; that it formed a good defence against the wind, and that a great many of them were sewed together in order to make a garment 764. Now, if credit be given to the account of Aristotle and Pliny, that the Pontic mouse belongs to the ruminating class of animals, how can anything characteristic be deduced from it?

Those who wish to afford more room for conjecture might, from a passage of St. Jerome, render it probable that this kind of fur had the same smell as musk. Musk indeed was then known; but is it not possible that this father may have considered the musk animal to be a mouse, as Conrad Gesner suspected? To me it is more probable that he was acquainted with the musk bags used in commerce, and named them peregrini muris olentes pelliculæ. It however cannot be proved by this passage, that the skin of the musk animal was purchased for fur clothing on account of its smell. For, in the first place, the skin of this animal, with the hair on it, has not a musky smell; and this is known not only from the description given of it, but is proved by a skin which I obtained in a very fresh state. In the second place, this animal is as large as a deer half a year old; the size therefore will not warrant the use of the diminutive pellicula. And, in the third place, the skin does not afford valuable fur. The hair is thick; almost bristly, and so tender that it breaks with the least force. These skins are used only by the natives of the country where they are produced, for caps and winter clothing; but when they have been freed from the hair, and tanned white, they form leather exceedingly soft and fine. Those who are satisfied with an appearance of probability may recollect, in reading the passage of Jerome, that the sable, when daily used, throws out a faint and not unpleasant smell of musk, and assert that the Pontic mouse was the sable.

Far more probable is the conjecture of our great zoologist, that mus Ponticus  was the name given at first to the earless marmot, M. catili, and that it was afterwards applied to the squirrel and ermine 765. This opinion he supports by the observation, that the torpidity in winter, the rumination, and the affinity to the alpine mouse, M. alpinus, which Pliny seems to acknowledge 766 , agree better with the M. catili  than any other animal. To this may be added, that it is said by Hesychius and Phavorinus, that the Parthian name of the animal was simoor ; and that the earless marmot is still named by the Tartars symron, and by the Calmucks dshymbura. The similarity is indeed great, and this opinion is further confirmed by the skins of the earless marmot being used at present by some of the Siberian tribes for summer clothing, and sent as articles of commerce, with other furs, to China, though they belong only to the cheapest kinds, so that a thousand of them cost scarcely eight or ten roubles 767.

Amidst this scanty information, were I allowed to offer a conjecture, I should be inclined rather to the opinion of those who consider the Pontic mouse to have been our ermine. For, in the first place, this animal is very abundant in the countries from which the ancients obtained their beautiful furs; and it seems almost impossible that they should not at an early period have remarked the superiority of its skin to that of the earless marmot. Secondly, it appears that the Pontic mouse has been commonly considered as the ermine, since that name in general was known; and there is reason to think that our forefathers could not err in the name of an article which has been uninterruptedly employed in commerce.

The name ermine occurs very often in works of the middle ages, and written in various ways, such as HarmellinaHarmelinusErmelinusHarminiæ and Arminiæ or Armerinæ or hereminiæ pellesErmenaErminea and erminatus, ornamented with ermine; all which words Du Cange supports by proofs. At what time these names were first used I am not able to determine; but they are to be found, at any rate, as early as the eleventh century, in the letters of Peter Damiani 768. Du Cange asserts that they came from Armenia, in which country this kind of fur was in old times highly esteemed, as is proved by a passage in Julius Pollux; and this appears the more probable, from the circumstance that the words Hermenia  and Hermenii  were formerly used and written instead of Armenia and Armenii 769 . Fischer has rejected this opinion too inconsiderately, because the ermine was not procured from Armenia, but sent through it, from the northern countries to Europe. The same thing is said by Du Cange; but he gives it to be understood that this commodity was among the Armenian productions; and even if he has erred in this respect, his derivation still remains the most probable. Marco Polo, the celebrated traveller of the thirteenth century, mentions the ermine among the most expensive ornaments of the Tartars, and says that it was brought from the northern countries to Europe.

The sable seems to have been known much later than the ermine. Its real country is the most northern part of Asia, to which commerce was not extended till a late period; yet it is probable that it was known before the Russians became acquainted with Siberia, by means of the Permians, Woguls and Samoeides, at the end of the fifteenth century. It is also fully proved that the fine furs of Siberia were the production which induced the Russians to make a conquest of that country 770. Besides, sables existed formerly in Permia, where at present they are very scarce. The numerous remains of antiquity still found in Siberia prove that at a very early period it was inhabited by a people who carried on commerce, and were well-acquainted with the arts.

Conrad Gesner believed that the name sable occurs for the first time in Albertus Magnus, who wrote in the thirteenth century, under the word Cebalus, or Chebalus. In the same century Marco Polo mentions, at least in the Latin translation, zibellina pellis, as a valuable kind of fur. But if sabelum  be the sable, as the similarity of the word seems to show, it must have been known in the twelfth century, and even earlier. The name sabelum  occurs in Alanus Insulanus, and Du Cange found sabelinæ pelles  as early as the year 1138, though sabelum  perhaps means the marten. Gebellinica pellisgibelini  or gibellini martores, were mentioned in the eleventh century, and sabellinæ and gebellinicæ pelles  were undoubtedly the same 771. I shall not however enter further into this inquiry, which it appears would be endless, and at the same time of little benefit.

The marten, the fur of which approaches nearest to that of the sable, appears to be first mentioned by Martial, who says, speaking of an unsuccessful hunting excursion, that the hunter was overjoyed if he caught only a marten 772. But the reading is very doubtful; for many, instead of martes, read meles ; and the latter occurs in Varro, Pliny, and other writers, whereas the former is found nowhere else. In the middle ages, however, or at any rate in the twelfth century, marturesmardrini, and marturinæ vestes  frequently occur; and I can see no reason why they may not be considered as marten skins, a name which has been retained in all the European languages.

With as little certainty can it be determined what our forefathers meant by the words varesvariivairus,vajusvarusvayrusveyrus  or the vair  of the French, and under griseum  and grisum. That they belong to costly kinds of fur is universally admitted. Sometimes varium  and griseum  appear to be the same; and sometimes the former seems to be more valuable than the latter. That the former was spotted, or parti-coloured, is apparently announced by the name; for both the leopard and panther are by Pliny called variæ. What in heraldry is named by the French vair, and the Germans eisenhütleinvellus varium, and which is considered by the former as the skin of an animal gray on the back and white on the belly 773 , alludes to this also. Sometimes, however, it seems to signify a fur dress composed of differently-coloured pieces of fur sewed together. Most writers are of opinion that it means grauwerkpetit-grisvechvehvechvehwammen, also the squirrel; and there is certainly a species of that animal which might justify the name varius, as its skin is at present employed for variegated bordering or trimming; but I do not know whether grauwerk 774  could be so dear as varium  is said to have been, as it is among the productions of Europe, though the best at present comes from Siberia. The word veeh  is derived, as Frisch says, from the Italian vaio ; the latter, according to Muratori 775 , is formed from varius, and even at present a dress lined with fur is called roba vaja.

Cirogillinæ pelles, named by the council of Paris in the year 1212, were rabbit skins 776. Rabbit warrens, so early as the thirteenth century, were not scarce in England; for in a letter of grace respecting the forests, in 1215, every proprietor was permitted to establish them on his own lands 777.

By the term cattinæ pelles 778 , which are also often named, must undoubtedly be understood cats' skins. In France, in the twelfth century, the skins of native animals were considered as of little value; but the Spanish and Italian were highly prized. The skins of the black fox, which at present are the dearest kind of furs, as a single one in Russia is often sold for six hundred and even a thousand roubles, occur in the thirteenth century, among the wares which were sent from the most northern countries to Europe 779 ; and without doubt these were meant by Damiani in the passage above quoted 780.

Clothing made of the beaver skin occurs much earlier. It seems to be mentioned by Claudian 781  in the fourth century; and it is spoken of by Ambrosius 782 , who lived at the same period. Sidonius Apollinaris, in the fifth century, called those who wore it castorinati. The scholiast of Juvenal, who indeed belongs to an unknown but much later period, has also pelles bebrinæ or beverinæ. As the ermine was called the Pontic mouse, the beaver was named the Pontic dog.

I however firmly believe that this castor clothing was no more fur clothing, than our beaver hats are fur hats. At that time the hair was spun and wove; and Claudian, in my opinion, speaks of a worn-out beaver dress, which had nothing more left of that valuable fur but the name. This method of manufacturing beavers' hair seems not to have been known in the time of Pliny; for though he speaks much of the castor, and mentions pellis fibrina 783 three times, he says nothing in regard to manufacturing the hair, or to beaver fur. As attempts, however, had then been made to manufacture the fur of the hare, it is probable that beaver hair began to be worn soon after. Isidorus, who lived nearly about that period, as he died in 636, reckons beaver hair, which he calls fibrinum, among the materials employed for making cloth 784 ; and where he enumerates the different kinds of cloth, he mentions also vestis fibrina, and says that the warp was of beaver, and the woof of goats' hair, perhaps the so-called camel hair 785. An upper garment of this cloth was worn by the emperor Nicephorus II. Phocas, at his coronation in the year 963, which undoubtedly was not a castor pelisse; because fur clothing, as I shall soon prove, was not fashionable at the court of the Greek emperors 786.

It deserves here to be remarked, that furs began to be dyed so early as the twelfth century; and it appears that the colour was chiefly red, for we find pelles rubricatæ arietum, that is, sheep-skins dyed red; but Du Cange thinks he can prove that the skins of the marten and ermine were dyed of the same colour. This I can believe in regard to the ermine; but to dye the dark fur of the marten and sable would, in my opinion, be hardly possible. St.Bernard 787  says, that such red dyed leather in the twelfth century was called gulæ, which, with Hermin engolé of the old poets, seems to signify the same thing, ermine skins dyed red.

When fur dresses became fashionable in Italy, they were soon spread all over Europe. At first the best indigenous furs were employed; but afterwards those of foreign countries, as being superior; and the dearer they were, the more they were esteemed. At every court they formed the state costume of the reigning family, and in a little time that of the richest nobility. In particular, the mantle, cottes d'armes  of the knights, which they drew over their cuirass or harness, was bordered with the costliest furs. It had no sleeves, and resembled the dress of ceremony worn by our heralds. On this account, as is well known, ermine and other kinds of fur became parts of the oldest coats of arms. Sometimes magnificence, in this respect, was carried to such an extravagant length, that moralists declaimed against it, while governments endeavoured to limit the use of furs by laws, and the clergy to prohibit them entirely. Many kinds, therefore, were retained only by the principal nobility, and others were forbidden.

Charlemagne, however, wore in winter a pelisse which covered his shoulders and breast; but being an enemy to all foreign dress, he employed only the furs of his native country; and, according to the statement of some manuscripts, otter skins alone 788. It nevertheless appears that the costly oriental furs were then known at his court; for having gone out hunting with his suite, on a cold rainy holiday, he himself wore only a sheep's skin; but the dresses of his attendants, who had become acquainted in Italy with the valuable articles in which the Venetians then dealt, consisted of foreign cloth and furs. 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 use 789. 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 murina 790 .

Fur gloves were at that time usual also. The monks, at least, in winter wore gloves of sheep's skin, which were called muffulæ; whereas the summer gloves were named wanti 791 .

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 twenty 792.

In the year 1001 the emperor Otto III. sent an ambassador to Constantinople, whose attendants were clothed in costly furs 793. 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 luxurious 794. 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 furs 795. In the beginning of the twelfth century the canons of a cathedral suffered themselves to be corrupted by beautiful furs 796. 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-skins 797. 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 furs 798. 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 clergy 799.

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 furs 800. 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 furs 801. 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 income did not amount to a hundred pounds should wear furs, under the penalty of losing them 802.

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 remarked 803. 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 so 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 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 enemy 804. 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 805.

[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 of 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 concerns united, 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, the fur trade is chiefly prosecuted by the North American Fur Company, whose principal establishment is at Michillimakinac, where it receives 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 Pacific, 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.]


712  Pausan. x. 38. p. 895.

713  Sat. xiv. 185.

714  Varro De Re Rust. lib. i. 1, 6.

715  Diodor. Siculus, Pausanias, Propertius.

716  Virg. Æneid. viii. 177, 368; ix. 306; xi. 576. To the same purpose are various passages in the Odyssey.

717  Eleg. iv, 1. 12.

718  Lib. iv. 3, 11.

719  See Ferrarius De Re Vestiar. iv. 2. 2. in Thesaurus Antiquitat. Roman. vi. p. 908. Aristophan. Nubes, 1, 1, 73.

720  Livius, v. 2. p. 11.—Florus, 1. 12.—Tacit. Annal. 14. 38.—Corn. Nepos, Agesil. cap. 8.—Lipsius De Militia Rom. lib. v. dial. 1, p. 313.

721  Lib. viii. 55, p. 483. The hair of this animal seems to have been an article of trade, and comprehended under the head of wool, as we find by the Roman code of laws. L. 70. § 9.—De Legat. 3, or Digest. lib. xxxii. leg. 70. 9. Cushions however were stuffed with it. See Waarenkunde, i. p. 271.

722  For the following information on this subject I am indebted to the friendship of Professor Eichorn:—“Of furs being used as dresses of magnificence I find very faint traces. I shall however quote all the passages where allusion is made to furs.

“In Genesis, chap. xxv. ver. 25, Esau is said to have felt to the touch like a hairy garment, אדרת שער. A fur dress must here be meant; for Rebecca endeavoured to make Jacob like his brother, by binding pieces of goats' skins around his hands and neck.—Genesis xxvii. ver. 16.

“In Joshua, chap. vii. ver. 21, the true reading is אדות שכער, and signifies a Babylonian mantle, consequently one made of wool, respecting which many passages have been collected by various authors, and particularly Fischer in Prolus. de Vers. Græc. Vet. Test. p. 87. One manuscript, according to Kennicot, has however אדרת שעו, a hairy mantle or fur; but this has arisen either through an error in transcribing, one consonant, נ Nun, being omitted; or from the conjecture of some Jewish copyist, who was acquainted with costly furs but not with a Babylonian mantle. If the reading of Kennicot is to be retained, it would, on account of the price, be an important passage, in regard to costly furs.

“Among the Hebrews, the prophets wore fur dresses, if not in general, at any rate very often.

“The mantle of Elijah, 2 Kings, chap. ii. ver. 8, 13, 14, was of fur; because on account of his clothing he was called a hairy man, 2 Kings, chap. i. ver. 8.

“A hairy mantle, as a mark of distinction, is mentioned in the book of Zechariah, chap. xiii. ver. 4.

“In 1 Maccabees, chap. xiii. ver. 37, the high priest Simon obtained from king Demetrius βαίνη, which is certainly a false reading for βαίτα, or βαίτη. The only question is, whether βαίτη, which was merely a shepherd's dress, consequently made of sheep skins, signified also a dress of state, as there is reason to conjecture from the persons who sent and who received it as a present. See Theocrit. Idyll. iii. 25. et ibi Schol. Furs, as a present, in the hot climate of Bassorah, are mentioned by Niebuhr.”

723  The best refutation of this supposed Vandalism is to be found in Schlözer's Essay, in the second edition of F. I. L. Mayers Fragmenten aus Paris. Hamb. 1798, 8vo, ii. p. 353. Nowhere do we find that the works of art were destroyed by the Goths or Vandals; on the contrary, it appears that they had sufficient culture to hold them in just estimation. Genseric carried away works of art from Rome, in the same manner as the Romans had done from Greece; but they were carefully packed up and not destroyed; he did therefore what Bonaparte did in those countries which were unable to withstand the force of his armies. If the epithet of Vandalism is to be applied to modern events, it seems most applicable to those who carried away works of art from countries into which the conquerors promised to introduce the rights of man, liberty, and happiness. The Christian writers, even, and among these St. Augustine, admit that the Goths after their victories were not so cruel and rapacious as the Romans. Orosius, who lived in the beginning of the fifth century, relates, that a Goth of high rank, after the taking of Rome, having found in a house some gold and silver vessels which had been plundered from the church of St. Peter, gave notice to Alaric, and that the latter caused them to be sent back safe to the church. The account given of the arms and accoutrements of these northern tribes proves also that they were acquainted with the arts, and that they employed them to ornament their clothing. The fur dresses therefore may have been very handsome.

724  Glossarium, p. 1282.

725  Virgilii Georg. iii. 381.—Ovid. Trist. iii. 10, 19; v. 7, 49.—Ex Ponto, iv. 10, 1.—Justinus, ii. 2, p. 43.—Seneca, epist. 90.—Rutilii Itiner. ii. 49.—Claudian, viii. 466; xxvi. 481.—Ammian. Marcell. xxxi. 2.—Prudentius in Symmachum, ii. 695.—Isidor. Origin. xix. 23.—Sidon. Apollin. epist. i. 2, where he describes Theodoric II. king of the Goths, the son of Theodoric I. and brother of Thorismundus: pellitorum turba satellitum. In epist. vii. 9, the kings of the Goths are called pelliti reges.

726  Tacitus De Moribus German. 17.

727  Variegated furs of this kind sewed together are mentioned by Pollux, vii. 60, p. 729.

728  Plutarchus in Lycurgo. In like manner, the savages in the South Seas are acquainted with the art of giving more beauty and value to their ornaments made of feathers, shells, and the teeth of their enemies killed in battle.

729  Lagerbring Svea Rikes Hist. Part 2. p. 88.

730  At this period the Danes appear to have spent in eating and drinking the treasure they obtained in plundering; they employed their time only in hunting and breeding cattle, and clothed themselves in the skins of their sheep; but Canute endeavoured to introduce among them the Saxon manners and dress. He had invited into his kingdom from Lower Saxony, which at that time was considered the seat of the arts and sciences, and refined manners, a great many workmen and artists, a colony of whom he established in Roeskild, the capital.

731  Digestor. lib. xxxiv.

732  De Habitu Muliebri, cap. i. p. 551.

733  Charact. cap. 5 et 12.

734  Apophthegm.

735  See Herodian, ix. 13.

736  De Institut. Orat. xi. 3, 144.

737  Lex. 25, De Auro, Argento, Mundo.

738  See the instances quoted by G. S. Treuer in Anastasis Veteris Germani Germanæque Feminæ. Helmst. 1729, 4to.

739  Trist. v. 10, 31. For a complete history of their dress the reader must consult the authors quoted in Fabricii Bibliograph. Antiquaria, p. 861; and in Pitisci Lex. Antiq. v. Bracca.

740  In his Annotations on Catullus, p. 100.

741  In that learned and ingenious work, Erklärung der Vasengemälde, i. 3, p. 186.

742  Lib. xxxiv. cap. 14, § 41, p. 667.

743  Cap. 50, § 3.

744  Lib. xi. p. 755: ἀνδρόποδα καὶ δέρματα.

745  Histor. lib. iv. p. 306.

746  Tacitus, Annal. iv. 72.

747  Hist. Animal. xviii. 17. The singular word καναυτᾶνες, respecting which a great deal has been said by Pauw in his annotations to Phile de Animal. 48, p. 246, has lately been translated by Böttiger very happily, by the word kaftane, a kind of Turkish robe. In the present day these dresses of ceremony are of cotton, with flocks of silk worked into them, and for the most part are whitish, with a few rudely-formed pale yellow flowers: but the word formerly may have signified clothes in general, or fur clothing in particular, and perhaps the silk flocks may have been at first intended to represent fur. That furs at present are employed at Bassorah as presents, is proved by Professor Eichorn.

748  Vita Agesilai, p. 602. See also Hellenica, lib. iv.

749  Cyropædia, lib. viii., where he mentions χειρίδας δασείας. The Greeks and the Romans, however, did not wear gloves.

750  Ammian. Marcell. xxii. 5, p. 232.

751  Lib. v. 41.

752  Annal. lib. xiii. In Athenæus, Deipnos. v. p. 197, Callixenus describes Persian counterpanes with figures representing animals, but I do not know whether I ought not, with Valois, to consider them as painted leather, or rather worked tapestry.

753  Digest. lib. xxxix. tit. 4, 16, 7, or L. ult. § 7, de publicanis. In Gronovii Geographia Antiqua, p. 261, it is said that a great trade was carried on in Cappadocia with Babylonian leather. The vestes leporinæ appear to have been made of the hair of the Angora rabbits.

754  L. 7, C. de excus. mun. or Cod. lib. 10, tit. 47, 7.

755  Chardin, iv. p. 245.

756  De Rebus Geticis, cap. 3, p. 612.

757  History of the Germans, vol. ii.

758  Cap. 5, p. 616.

759  Langebek Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, fol. ii. p. 111.

760  Torfæi Hist. Norveg. P. 2, p. 34. Compare Schlözer's Nordische Geschichte in Algem. Welthistor. vol. xxxi. pp. 445, 458.—Having heard from M. Schlözer that the first certain traces of the Russian fur trade were to be found in the Russian Chronicles, works never yet used, I requested him, as the only person in Germany who could draw from these sources, to transmit to me what he had remarked on that subject. I am indebted to him, therefore, for the following valuable information, the result of a laborious comparison of various manuscript chronicles, for which he will no doubt receive the reader's thanks.

“The following passages are taken from the ten Russian Chronicles, the greater part of them still in manuscript, as a proof that from the ninth century tribute in furs was demanded from the people in Russia by their conquerors.

I. “In the year 859, the Waringians, who came by sea, had tribute from the Tschudi, the Slavi, the Meri, and the Kriwitsches, a squirrel per man. The Chazares (in the Crimea) had tribute from the Poles (the inhabitants of the Ukrain), the Severians and the Wæitsches, a squirrel for each fireplace or hearth.

“The squirrel Sciurus vulgaris  had in the old and new Russian language the five following names:—1st. ‘Bēla.' This primitive word has been lost in the new Russian language, but is still preserved in the Chronicles, and in the adjectives ‘bēlij' and ‘bēliczij mēch, Grauwerk' (squirrel-skins). ‘Bēl' in all the Sclavonic dialects signifies white. Can any connexion be discovered between the squirrel and a white colour? 2nd. ‘Bēlka,' the diminutive of the former, is at present generally current. 3rd. ‘Wēkscha,' from which is derived, 4th. ‘Wēkschitza,' the diminutive. 5th. ‘Weweritza' is old, but still exists in the Polish.

“The variations of these words which occur in manuscripts are abundant, and some of them exceedingly laughable. One transcriber has ‘bēla;' most of the rest add ‘wēkscha,' ‘wēkschitza' or ‘weweritza,' as if ‘bēla' were the adjective white. Two manuscripts say expressly, ‘bēla,' that is ‘wēkscha.' In one, however, from ‘bēla weweritza' has been made ‘bēla ‘dewitza,' a fair or beautiful maid.

II. “In the year 883 Oleg went against the Drewians and Severians, whom he obliged to pay tribute, each a black marten.

“‘Po czernē kunē' stands in all the manuscripts; one only has the diminutive ‘kunitzē.' Another bad manuscript, which has ‘konē,' a black horse, is not worthy of any remark.

III. “In 969 Svātoslav spoke to his mother and boyars: ‘I am not fond of Kief; I will reside in Pereyaslawetz on the Danube. There I shall be in the middle of my lands, to which every thing good in my territories flows: from the Greeks gold and pavoloki  (silk-stuffs?), and wine and fruit of every kind; from the Tscheches (Bohemians) and Hungarians silver and horses; from Russia skora, wax, honey, and servants.' Skoraskura, furs (according to the Great Lexicon of the Russian Academy), from which is derived skornak, similar furs prepared. That coarse skins or furs (in Russian schurka ), such as the terga boum, imposed by the Romans on the Frieslanders, are not here meant, is proved by a passage in the Chronicle of Nicon, vol. ii. p. 15, where it is related of a savage people, who lived far to the north on the Ural, that they gave skora  for a knife and a hatchet.

“That marten-skins, as well as pieces of them (mortki ) and of squirrel-skins, were used as money in Novogorod, till the year 1411, is well-known from Saml. Russ. Geschichte, vol. v. p. 430.”

761  Du Cange Glossarium.

762  De Animantibus Subter. p. 490.

763  Varro De Ling. Lat. lib. vi. p. 51.

764  Seneca, epist. 90.

765  Pallas, Novæ Species Quadr. e Glirium ord. 1778, p. 120.

766  Lib. viii. 37.

767  Pallas, p. 142. I shall here take occasion to remark, that the use of this animal's skin, as well as the name, occurs in the eleventh century, in Bernardus Sylvester.

768  Lib. ii. ep. 2.

769  See a dissertation De l'Origine des Couleurs et des Métaux dans les Armoiries, added by Du Cange to his edition of Joinville. Paris, 1668, fol. p. 127. See also the article Hermine, in his Glossary to Geoffroy de Ville-Hardouin's Conqueste de Constantinople; or the same in Diction. Etymolog.

770  Mullers Samlung Russischer Geschichte, vi. p. 491. Fischers Sibirische Geschichte. St. Petersb. 1768, 8vo, p. 290.

771  Du Cange, in his observations on Joinville, p. 137, thinks that the zebelinæ or sabelinæ pelles  came from Zibel or Zibelet, a maritime town in Palestine, formerly called Biblium, because the skins were sent from it to Europe. This author meant Byblus, at present Gibelet  or Gibeletto ; but this derivation appears to me highly improbable.

772  Epigram. x. 37, 18.

773  Trier's Wapen-Kunst, p. 62.—Gatterers Heraldik. p. 41.

774  Grauwerk veh  or feh  means properly a kind of fur, composed of that of the Siberian squirrel and the marten joined together.—Trans.

775  Antiquit. Ital. Medii Ævi, ii. p. 413.

776  See the passages quoted by Du Cange, and what Gesner has said in Histor. Animal. under the head Cuniculus.

777  Rapin's England.

778  See this article in Du Cange and Hoffmann's Lexicon.

779  Marco Polo.

780  Lib. ii. epist. 2.

781  Epig. 92: de birro castoreo.

782  De dignitate sacerdotali, cap. 5.

783  Lib. xvii. cap. 28. § 47; xxxii. cap. 9 and 10.

784  Lib. xix. cap. 27, p. 474.

785  Lib. xix. cap. 22.

786  Constantin. de Ceremoniis Aulæ Byzantinæ, i. p. 254: σκαραμάγγων καστώριον. The editor, Reiske, thinks that it may have been a pelisse, because Herodotus, iv. 109, speaks of the beaver's skin being used for clothing. But how different must the old Sarmatian manners have been from the Byzantine!

787  Epist. 42.

788  Eginhartus, Vita Caroli Magni, cap. 23.

789  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. Pavontalis 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.

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

791  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 æstate, muffulas  in hieme vervecinas.” See Sirmond's Concil. Antiq. Galliæ, 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 gwantus  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.

792  Leges Wallicæ, ed. Wottoni. Londini, 1730, fol. p. 261.

793  Landulphus, lib. ii. c. 18, in Murat. Rer. Ital. Script., tom. iv.

794  Adam Bremensis in Lindenbrogii Script. Rer. Germ., p. 67.

795  Albertus Aquensis, in Gesta Dei per Francos, i. p. 203.

796  Ivo Carn. Epistolæ 104.

797  Canon 12.

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

799  In Labbei Biblioth. Nova, tom. ii.

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

801  Wilhelmus de Nangis, p. 346. Gottfr. de Bello Loco, cap. 8. Joinville Hist. de St. Louis, p. 118.

802  Barrington's Obs. on the more Ancient Statutes, 4to, p. 216.

803  Constantini lib. de Ceremoniis Aulæ Byzantinæ, 1754.

804  Giulini, Mem. della Città di Milano, vi. p. 407.

805  Ib. viii. p. 443.