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statements in a tabular form, by which the whole facts, hitherto dispersed in a thousand directions, seem like scattered rays concentrated into a single focus, so as to reflect the strongest possible light on the progress of commercial enterprise.
The most important part of the work consists of six very comprehensive Tables, comprising the sum and substance of the British silktrade for about half a century past; viz. from 1786 to 1823. But before entering upon them, we shall advert to the introductory part, which presents a brief sketch of the rise and progress of the silk-trade in all parts of the world, but particularly in England, from the earliest periods of history. Many of the facts here detailed are too interesting and important to be passed over unnoticed. Aristotle himself, that prince of antient philosophers, has described the silk-worm, or But, as "a horned worm, which passes through several transformations in the course of six months," and produces a substance called bombykia, which was first woven by Pamphila, a woman of Cos, an island near the coast of Caria. The prophet Ezekiel, in describing the commercial glory of Tyre when at its meridian, about the end of the fifth century before our era, enumerates raw and wrought silks among the objects of its rich merchandise. From the fourteenth year of Christ to nearly the end of the eighteenth century, we have a chronological view of the rise and progress of the silk-trade, which shows that this manufacture has been held in the highest estimation in the earliest ages. In the latter part of the third century, the Emperor Aurelian, when his wife begged of him to allow her "but one single gown of purple silk," refused it, saying, that he would not buy it at the price of gold. (Vopiscus in Aur. c. 4.) And by the Rhodian naval laws, preserved in the eleventh book of the Digests,' it is also proved, that this queen of manufactures, as it may well be called, held as high a rank in men's estimation as the king of metals. Silk, and likewise a fine species of linen called byssinus, sold for their weight in gold. Under the date of A.D. 73, the author says:—
Silk still kept up so extravagant a price, that it was customary to decompose the most expensive kind, called the Assyrian bombycina, untwist the threads, thereby reducing the stuff to a raw material, and then respin it very small, and re-weave it of so thin a fabric (probably like the modern slight silks called Persians) that it was too transparent to conceal what was under it. (Plin. 1. vi. c. 17.; l. xi. c. 22.) For upwards of a century the moralists and satirists of Rome had execrated and ridiculed the indecent exposure of the person by such gowns of glass, such transparent clothing, "if, indeed, it might be called clothing," when a woman dressed in it " could scarcely swear that she was not naked," and yet it still kept its ground.
Nor were the gentlemen of Rome free from blame in their attachment to silk habiliments. In summer, some of them wore a silk dress, (manufactured from a species of worm in the island of Cos,) of an inferior quality to that used by the ladies, but so effeminate, that we are told it was censured by the graver people, and actually forbidden by the senate in the reign of Tiberius.
We now come to an important epoch in the history of silk. About the middle, or rather, in the earlier part of the sixth century, "two Persian monks, inspired by religious zeal or curiosity, had travelled to Serindah, the country of the Seres, and lived there long enough to make themselves acquainted with the whole process of the silk manufacture. On their return to the westward, instead of communicating their knowledge to their own countrymen, they proceeded to Constantinople, induced to do so, perhaps, by the sameness of their religion, and imparted to the Emperor the secret hitherto so well preserved by the Seres, that silk was produced by a species of worms, the eggs of which might be transported with safety, and propagated in his dominions, By the promise of a great reward, they were engaged to return to Serindah, whence they actually brought off a quantity of the silk-worms' eggs, concealed in a hollow cane, and conveyed them safely to Constantinople (anno 552). The precious eggs were hatched, in the proper season, by the warmth of a dunghill, and the worms produced from them were fed with the leaves of the mulberry-tree, spun their silk, and propagated their race under the protection of the monks, who also taught the Romans the whole mystery of the manufacture." (Procop. Theophan. Byzan, &c.)
From this caneful of eggs, as if the little ark of this insect race, sprung the progenitors of all the silk-worms in Europe and the western parts of Asia. The infant manufacture was made a subject of state monopoly; and in the time of Procopius, the imperial treasurer, who compelled the worms to work exclusively for his master, sold the silks at the enormous price of six pieces of gold for the ounce, of those dyed with common colours, and twenty-four pieces for those tinged with purple, the imperial hue. This monopoly severely distressed the silk-manufacturers of Tyre and Berytus, and drove the inhabitants, who had depended upon them, to emigrate to the Persian dominions. About the middle of the ninth century, silk is reported to have been universally worn in China. A hundred years later, it is stated, that large quantities of silk were produced in the countries bordering on the Caspian, the most esteemed being those of Meru and Khorasan. In Greece, or the eastern empire, the manufacture continued to flourish unrivalled in any other part of Europe, till the middle of the twelfth century, when Roger, the Norman king of Sicily, invaded Greece with a fleet of seventy galleys, plundered Athens, Thebes, and Corinth of their wealth, and, among other things, carried off a great number of silk-weavers, whom he settled in Palermo, his capital city. These Grecian prisoners having, by the king's order, taught his Sicilian subjects to rear silk-worms, and weave all the varieties of silk stuffs then known, the manufacture appears in a very short time to have been completely established there; for about twenty years after, the fabrics of Sicily are spoken of as excelling in richness of colour and variety of pattern, some being intermixed with gold, and adorned with figures or pictures, others embellished with pearls.
The existence of a sufficient taste for silk finery in England, if not skill in its manufacture, about the middle of the thirteenth century, is
plausibly inferred from the display of magnificence at the marriage of the daughter of Henry III. to Alexander III. of Scotland, on which occasion a thousand English knights, attired in habits of silk, honoured the ceremony with their presence, and next day appeared in new robes of another fashion. A little before this time, the Annals of Waverley' mention, that in 1242, the streets of London were canopied with silk, for the reception of Richard, the king's brother, on his return from the Holy Land. But whatever progress luxury may have made in the west of Europe up to this period, and till the close of the century, the manufacture flourished chiefly in the Levant, in Persia, and other countries of the East. However, it gradually extended westward between 1300 and 1327, when the Venetians and Genoese had become masters of the chief seats of the silk-trade in the Mediterranean, it is supposed to have been in consequence introduced into Italy. Modena was first celebrated above other cities of Lombardy, for the quality of its manufacture; and in 1327, to encourage the production, a law was made, that every proprietor of an enclosure in the city's territory, should plant, at least, three mulberrytrees. But the Bolognians enjoyed over them the advantage of possessing, exclusively, the proper machinery for twisting the silk, till the beginning of the sixteenth century, when that art extended to Modena, and thence to other parts of Italy. From the year 1300, the manufacture, according to some authorities, flourished chiefly at Florence; according to others, in Lucca only, (which thence acquired great wealth,) till the year 1314, when the pillage of that place dispersed the workmen, with their art, to other cities of Italy, particularly Venice, Florence, Milan, and Bononia; and some even to Germany, France, and Bretagne.
Hitherto, England had made no figure in this art, which appears, however, to have begun to be cultivated here early in the fifteenth century; for about the middle of this period it appears to have made considerable progress. In 1455, the silk-women of London complained to Parliament, that the Lombards, and other foreigners, were supplanting them in the market, by importing the manufactured goods, instead of unwrought silks, as formerly. It was, in consequence, enacted, that during the five ensuing years, no wrought silks should be imported; and here commenced that system of protection and prohibition, which, by fostering indolence and imperfection, has kept our silkmanufacture at the present day, as much behind that of the rest of Europe, as we excel them in other branches of industry. Again, in 1482, in consequence of similar complaints, that our manufacturers were thrown out of bread by foreign competition, an act was passed to prohibit the importation of certain kinds of silk goods for four years. About twenty years afterwards, (1504,) for the encouragement of the smaller silk-manufactures in England, the importation of ribands, laces, girdles, and corses, composed wholly, or in part, of silk, was prohibited on pain of forfeiture; but all other kinds of silk, raw or wrought, were freely admitted. At this period, there seems to have been no broad manufacture of silk in England.
In France, where it has since grown to so much importance, the silk-manufacture appears to have been introduced about a century later than in this country. It was in the year 1521 that the French began the trade, having procured workmen from Milan while in possession of that duchy; and their manufactures made a very quick progress, principally at Lyons and other parts of the south of France, so as to be soon able to supply many parts of Europe with silk goods. Yet it was long after this time they acquired the method of producing the silk from the worm, which shows that the possession of this art is by no means essential to the success of the trade.
In 1554, so great had been the increase of luxury among the lower classes of the people of England, or of tyranny and ignorance in their rulers, that a law was passed of the following extraordinary tenor:
Whoever shall wear silk in or upon his hat, bonnet, girdle, scabbard, hose, shoes, or spur leather, shall be imprisoned for three months, and forfeit 107., excepting magistrates of corporations, and persons of higher rank. And if any person knowing his servant to offend against this law do not put him forth of his service within fourteen days, or shall retain him again, he shall forfeit 100%.
This absurd and despotic enactment was continued throughout the whole reign of the "Good Queen Bess," that most esteemed and enlightened patron of the Inquisition; but abolished in the first year of King James I., the commencement of the hated Stuart dynasty.
About the middle of the 16th century, (1554,) Mr. Anthony Jenkinson, agent for the Russia Company, a person of great activity and enterprise, opened a new channel of trade for this country through Russia and Persia. Having sailed down the Wolga, and across the Caspian, at the opulent and celebrated city of Bokhara he met with merchants from Persia, India, and Cathay (China); after which, he returned by the same route to England, in 1760. However, though he performed this voyage seven times, either from the state of the Eastern market being not sufficiently favourable, or the carriage too dangerous and expensive, the trade was in a few years completely dropped. Long after, in 1741, it was revived by an act of Parlia ment, enabling the Russia Company to trade into Persia; upon which considerable quantities of raw silk were for a time brought by the same road which had been formerly opened by Jenkinson.
In the beginning of the 17th century, following the example of Henry IV. of France, who had greatly extended the production of silk in his dominions, King James I. of England made great efforts to introduce the silk-worm in this country. All these attempts, then and afterwards, proved abortive in this less genial climate, but the manufacture of silk goods from the raw material was effectually promoted; that important branch of the trade, the broad silk fabrics, having begun about this time, (1621).
So important had the manufacture in London now become, that the silk-throwsters (formerly united in a fellowship in 1562) were, in 1629, formed into a corporation; and, in 1661, it is stated they had no less than forty thousand persons in their employment. The better
to secure the profit and emolument of those already engaged in the trade, it was enacted, that no one should set up in it without having served seven years apprenticeship, and becoming free of the corpora- tion. We shall here introduce an extract, which shows, in the chronological order of events, how the manufactures of England began to be affected by our connexion with India:
About this time the English Levant, or Turkey Company, began to complain of the East India Company, on account of the great quantities of raw silk they imported from India, which had formerly been imported solely from Turkey. And in the year 1681 the Turkey Company made a formal complaint to the King's council, whereupon a hearing ensued. The substance of that Company's allegations on this head, and the East India Company's answers, being printed this year, are as follows, viz.
The calicoes and wrought silks being wrought in India, are an evident damage to the poor of England, and the raw silks are an infallible destruction to the Turkey trade; for, as Turkey does not yield a sufficient quantity of other merchandise to return for one-fourth part of our manufactures carried thither, the remaining three-fourths are wholly paid for by raw silk. If that is supplanted by India silk, the most considerable part of the Turkey importations, and consequently the cloth-trade of England, must fail.
They have sent over to India throwsters, weavers, and dyers, and have actually set up there a manufacture of silk; which, by instructing the Indians in these manufactures, and by importing them so made into England, is an unspeakable impoverishment of the working people of this kingdom. The East India Company's answer, before the Privy Council, was to the following effect:
It will be found, by the entries at the Custom-house, that the Turkey Company do send out yearly, besides their cloth, great quantities of pieces of eight from England for the purchase of raw silk in Turkey; as well as great quantities of the like species of bullion from France, Spain, and Italy, which otherwise would come to England.
As for raw silk, it is so essential for the good of the kingdom, that it may well hold comparison with our sheep's wool and cotton wool.
Since our importation thereof, our silk manufactures have increased from one to four.
With respect to the quality of our Indian raw silk, it is the same as with all other commodities on earth, some good, some bad, and some indifferent.
Plain wrought silks from India are known to be the strongest and most durable, as well as the cheapest, that come from any part of the world, and are generally re-exported from England to foreign parts.
Wrought India silks, flowered and striped, do, we confess, a little impede the growth of our own silk manufactures, but not to that degree, in any measure, as the raw silk imported from India doth advance it.
If they could be effectually forbidden from all parts, the East India Company would be glad to further an Act of Parliament for that purpose, and also for the suppression of French silks, so much in wear in England, though against a law in being.
Wrought India silks, mixed with gold and silver, are not imported by us, but merely by our permission; because, if we should not permit them, they would come in, as much as now, by stealth, and without paying the King's custom.
With respect to our sending to India throwsters, weavers, and dyers, the whole is a mistake, excepting only as to one or two dyers usually sent to Bengal, and to no other part of India, and this for the nation's as well as