Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

The very dress of the Consuls, to say nothing of the Cæsars, tells of the luxurious tendencies of the age, the cloak (toga picta) richly embroidered, the tunic striped with purple (trabea), the shoes of cloth of gold (calcei aurati), all products of various nations. The old Republican simplicity was no more, Carthage with her armies had sent her luxuries, (Attalus, King of Pergamus, who died B.C. 133, left the bequest of tapestries,) the vanquished had conquered the conquerors, Greece by art, Antioch by pleasure, Alexandria by refinement; the "Serpent of Old Nile" though dead, had not forgotten its sting. What Rome borrowed from Egypt, or rather what Egypt had of which to be despoiled, is told in the words of Shakespeare, anent the progress of Cleopatra:

[ocr errors]

The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne

Burned on the water;

Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that

The winds were love-sick with them; she did lie
In her pavilion, cloth of gold, of tissue.

So when Augustus reigned, monarch of the world, the once brave Romans were "feeble vassals of wine and anger and lust; "the sword was still there, but its edge was blunted, the hands that once wielded it were nerveless, the steel had rusted in its golden scabbard. But as the barbarians, the forestieri of the day, had not yet learned their own power, so the older civilizations had felt the prowess of their common masters, and thus all alike contributed of their substance to the glory of their conquerors. Britain, famous for its cloth even in those days, furnished the woollens whose tints were the envy of strangers; from the Egyptians, skilful " in combing and weaving fine linen," came the "byssus" cloth; Cos supplied gauzes like to the "wovenwind " of India, of which Seneca spoke, saying, "I behold silken garments, if garments they can be called, which are a protection neither for the body "nor for shame." Pliny, touching on cloth of gold, states, "Gold may be spun or woven like wool, without any wool being mixed with it." Pope ridicules the "charming chintz and Brussels lace" that "wrapped the cold "limbs and framed the lifeless face;" the Imperial Romans were, however, much more luxurious, they not only flaunted in golden robes when living, but even in death were wrapped in golden shrouds. Sometimes even martyrs as well as masters had their golden death robes-instance St. Cecily, martyred A.D. 230-whose shroud when discovered in the ninth century was found drenched in her life's blood, in the language of heraldry gules and or; and the robe of the wife of the Emperor Honorius, untouched even by the hand of alldevouring Time, for dead in the first year of the fifth century, her grave

remained unopened till 1544, and her poor bones were found weighted with no less than thirty-six pounds of golden dross for upwards of 1,100 years; nor was all this the climax of golden splendour, for recent excavations in the catacombs of Rome prove that the goldsmiths of Tarentum had revived in their jewellery the buried treasures of dead Etruria. Bref, each display was doubtless a compendium of all that could manifest the resources or set forth the wealth of the Empire of the World.

But invasion followed division, and the Empires of the East and West alike went down before Hun, Goth, and Moslem, and dark days came when the sword was Lord.

For many subsequent centuries such an idea as a collective display of articles of either art or industry would have seemed a chimera beyond even the wildest dream of the most visionary enthusiast, for though the process of collection might and doubtless would have been tedious and uncertain, that of distribution would have been as rapid and effective as a high-handed process of annexation by some robber band or neighbouring potentate could make it. Nor could even a strong body of troops have been depended on to guard such treasures, for the greatest difficulty of all would have been "to guard the guards themselves."

It is not, therefore, till the year 1268 that any trace can be found of the barest attempt to illustrate the industries of any country by means of mutual association. In that year, however, Lorenzo Tiepolo being Doge, a strange blending of pageantry and utility was presented in Venice, then in truth Queen City of the Seas. The display was threefold, comprehending a water fête, a procession of the trades, and an Industrial Exhibition.

Da Canale, the historian of the scene, describes at length the parade of the navy, destined for the defence of the Venetian commerce in the Mediterranean, through the silent highways of the city, gay with flags, and reinforced by the galleys and gondolas of nobles and wealthy citizens, and as "old and young thronged her three hundred bridges," the splendid pageant moved on in procession through the canals until all were massed in front of the Ducal Palace, when choruses were sung in honour of the new Doge. The first act of the drama brought to an end, the second opened with an array of the various guilds, who defiled through narrow streets and narrower lanes to concentrate in force on the Piazza San Marco. Tanners and Tailors, the professors of the sartorial art magnificent in white mantles trimmed with fur, passed on, to be followed by Smiths and Skinners, the latter clad in taffeta,

lined with their most costly specimens, to be again succeeded by the Hosiers, Mercers, Weavers, and Drapers, these last for some occult reason bearing olive branches; then came the Glass-Blowers, Workers in Gold Cloth, habited in the choicest products of their skill, Fishmongers, Butchers, and Victuallers; and a brave show they must have made in blue and white, crimson and gold, green, scarlet and yellow, as, preceded by banners and the trophies of their respective callings, the artisans of Venice wound their devious way through street and lane, by bridge and postern, till they attained their goal. Here the low comedy element came into force in an episode recalling Don Quixote de la Mancha, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance and the Helmet of Mambrino, as the delegates of the Barbers, two in number, and attired as Knights Errant, caracolled into the ducal presence on, what must have appeared the greatest marvel of the day to the Venetian populace, two real destriers.

These valiant knights were accompanied by four damsels, as fancifully apparelled as their protectors, and as they took their places they told, in magniloquent phrases and truest language of chivalry, a heart-rending story of manly devotion and womanly weakness; how by perilous adventure they had rescued the maidens from unheard-of dangers, and how, true to their knighthood, they were prepared, in place of drawing the blood of their customers, to shed the last drop of their own in the defence of the ladies. To all this the Doge fittingly replied, praying them rather to live and devote their manhood to the defence of the commonweal. At this shouts of "Long live Our Prince Lorenzo Tiepolo, the noble Doge of Venice!" were raised, as the masters of the guilds stepped forward and requested the Dogaressa to inspect the exhibition of their various works set out in the apartments of the Palace.

No catalogue exists, and the historian is silent on the subject of the collection; but as he tells us that the Dogaressa expressed her delight at all she saw, and in token of her pleasure thereat graciously partook of sweetmeats and other refreshments, we may consider that, judging by what we know of Venetian taste in the past and present, the gathering amply represented the skill of the day, and so ended this most original of exhibitions, a success doubtless, but a display which, looking at it with our lights, must, we fear, be regarded rather as a "private view" than a "World's Fair."

Thus much for this first and most unique of Exhibitions, though we opine that the true germ of International gatherings, whether known as Exhibitions, Expositions, or Weltausstellungs, must be looked for in the great International Fairs of the middle ages. The enterprise of travel begotten by the

Crusades had permeated from the soldier to the trader, and as security was found in society, the merchants of those days made commercial pilgrimages and interchanged merchandise at certain times and given places of resort. Some of these fairs survive to our days, the most notable being those of Leipzig and Nijni-Novgorod.

The former of these traces back its origin to the 12th century, when license was granted by the Kaisers to hold biennial fairs at Easter and Michaelmas. A third annual fair was first inaugurated with the new year of 1458, and the right to hold three fairs annually was confirmed by an edict of Maximilian the First in 1508. Leipzig is thus linked with trade, poetry, education, and history with trade in its well-known fairs, with poetry in Goëthe's "Faust" and Gounod's music, with education in its world-known University, and with history in the names of Napoléon and Poniatowski; and even to those travellers who may ignore all these, the claims of the Auerbach Keller will assert themselves through its wines and suppers; the former famous as in the days when

Doctor Faustus, on that tyde,
From Auerbach's cellar away ryde
Upon a wine-cask speedilie,

As many a mother's son did see.

In France a great impetus was given to trade in the fifteenth century, when silk manufactories were first established in Lyons in the year 1450, nor did individual enterprise remain idle, for to the Marquis de Fulvy is due the inception of the great porcelain factory of Sèvres, his speculation at Vincennes being the parent of that sold to the Fermiers Généraux, to be removed to Sèvres, and destined eventually to become, under King, Republic, Consul, Emperor, or President, one of the national glories of France. The great Colbert, too, has not only left his mark in the "Gobelins" (taking its name from the Flemish Brothers Gobelin, whose dyeing house was in the Rue Mouffetard)and the taste which prompted him to appoint Lebrun as the first designer yet survives in its masterpieces of tapestry-but to him is also due the "Académie Royale de Peinture, d'Architecture et de Sculpture," founded in 1664, into the inner circle of which not only painters, architects, and sculptors, but also designers of woodwork, ornament or furniture were admissible.

The doctrine of the survival of the fittest is manifested in the annually recurring fair of Nijni-Novgorod, extending over nearly two months. This dates back to the year 1648, when at Makarieff a fair was instituted lasting

but five days. The facilities for foreign trade were increased, however, in 1691, and in a little more than half a century the concourse of visitors had so increased in number that in 1750 a wooden edifice capable of containing 800 booths was erected. This in turn proved so inadequate that in 1809 another building, also of wood, but holding 1,400 shops, was built, to be further supplemented round the main bazaar by 1,800 sheds. When, however, this latest erection was burnt down, the locale of the fair was removed by an Imperial Ukase to Nijni-Novgorod, where at present an iron structure (with open galleries carried on iron columns forming ways of communication), and having 48 blocks, comprising in all 2,500 shops, affords accommodation for the motley mixture of merchants drawn not only from the realm of "All the Russias," but even from China, Thibet, and Persia, to all of whom it serves as an annual magnet of attraction.

There is another fair as noteworthy, though not so noted, as Leipzig, as respectable too in its antiquity, for it can trace its origin back to the fifth Crusade, the thirteenth century, the defeat of the Crusaders, and the capture of Louis, Saint and King, and this is the great Egyptian Fair of Tantah. Held at Midsummer and lasting for a week, more picturesque in its surroundings than either Leipzig or Nijni-Novgorod, it is to the full as International in its concourse and commerce. Seated in the heart of the Delta, on the direct railway route from Alexandria to Cairo, at the junction of the branch line to Mansourah and Damietta (the former the place where the Cross went down before the Crescent), and inhabited mostly by "fellahs," Tantah has neither houses to receive travellers nor bazaars to display goods, so the vast plain on either side of the railway is, in fair-time, studded by thousands of tents. During the day a motley multitude surges through the canvas streets, some to buy, some to sell, Levantines in their baggy Bretonlike pantaloons, Albanians in "fustanellas" of myriad plaits and snowy whiteness, their greaves and jackets gay with gold embroidery, bearing an armoury of yataghans and silver-mounted pistols in their belts, keen-eyed Armenians in showy satin vests and frock-like coats with bright silk-lined hanging sleeves, Persians in black Astrachan "kalpacs," Greek merchants in fezes, and wealthy "Fellahs" in snow-white turbans jostle against Bedawins in bournous with guns slung over their shoulders, Turkish ladies, with their gay silk costumes, covered by the black "habbáras," Turks in quaker-collared coats, their swarthy necks unrelieved by even a glimpse of white, Syrians clad in costly "abbayáhs," Polish Jews in greasy gaberdines,

« EdellinenJatka »