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Before the tulip season was over, more roots were sold and purchased, bespoke and promised to be delivered, than in all probability were to be found in the gardens of Holland; and when Semper Augustus was not to be had, which happened twice, no species perhaps was oftener purchased and sold. In the space of three years, as Munting tells us, more than ten millions were expended in this trade in only one town of Holland.
To understand this gambling traffic, it may be necessary to make the following supposition. A nobleman bespoke of a merchant a tulip-root, to be delivered in six months, at the price of florins. During these six months the price of that species of tulip must have risen or fallen, or remained as it was. We shall suppose that at the expiration of that time the price was florins; in that case the nobleman did not wish to have the tulip, and the merchant paid him florins, which the latter lost and the former won. If the price was fallen when the six months were expired, so that a root could be purchased for florins, the nobleman then paid to the merchant florins, which he received as so much gain; but if the price continued the same, that is florins, neither party gained or lost.
In all these circumstances, however, no one ever thought of delivering the roots or of receiving them. Henry Munting, in , sold to a merchant at Alkmaar, a tulip-root for florins, to be delivered in six months; but as the price during that time had fallen, the merchant paid, according to agreement, only ten per cent.
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In proportion as more gained by this traffic, more engaged in it; and those who had money to pay to one, had soon money to receive of another; as at faro, one loses upon one card, and at the same time wins on another. The tulip-dealers often discounted sums also, and transferred their debts to one another; so that large sums were paid without cash, without bills, and without goods, as by the Virements at Lyons.
The 29 whole of this trade was a game at hazard, as the Mississippi trade was afterwards, and as stock-jobbing is at present. The only difference between the tulip-trade and stock-jobbing is, that at the end of the contract the price in the latter is determined by the Stock-exchange; whereas in the former it was determined by that at which most bargains were made.
High- and low-priced kinds of tulips were procured, in order that both the rich and the poor might gamble with them; and the roots were weighed by perits, that an imagined whole might be divided, and that people might not only have whole, but half and quarter lots. Whoever is surprised that such a traffic should become general, needs only to reflect upon what is done where lotteries are established, by which trades are often neglected, and even abandoned, because a speedier mode of getting fortunes is pointed out to the lower classes.
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In short, the tulip-trade may very well serve to explain stock-jobbing, of which so much is written in gazettes, and of which so many talk in company without understanding it; and I hope, on that account, I shall be forgiven for employing so much time in illustrating what I should otherwise have considered as below my notice At length, however, this trade fell all of a sudden. Among such a number of contracts many were broken; many had engaged to pay more than they were able; the whole stock of the adventurers was consumed by the extravagance of the winners; new adventurers no more engaged in it; and many, becoming sensible of the odious traffic in which they had been concerned, returned to their former occupations.
By these means, as the value of tulips still fell, and never rose, the sellers wished to deliver the roots in natura to the purchasers at the prices agreed on; but as the latter had no desire for tulips at even such a low rate, they refused to take them or to pay for them. To end this dispute, the tulip-dealers of Alkmaar sent in the year deputies to Amsterdam; and a resolution was passed on the 24th of February, that all contracts made prior to the last of November should be null and void; and that, in those made after that date, purchasers should be free on paying ten per cent.
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The more people became disgusted with this trade, the 30 more did complaints increase to the magistrates of the different towns; but as the courts there would take no cognizance of it, the complainants applied to the states of Holland and West Friesland. These referred the business to the determination of the provincial council at the Hague, which on the 27th of April declared that it would not deliver its opinion on this traffic until it had received more information on the subject; that in the mean time every vender should offer his tulips to the purchaser; and, in case he refused to receive them, the vender should either keep them, or sell them to another, and have recourse on the purchaser for any loss he might sustain.
It was ordered also, that all contracts should remain in force till further inquiry was made. But as no one could foresee what judgement would be given respecting the validity of each contract, the buyers were more obstinate in refusing payment than before; and venders, thinking it much safer to accommodate matters amicably, were at length satisfied with a small profit instead of exorbitant gain; and thus ended this extraordinary traffic, or rather gambling.
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It is however certain, that persons fond of flowers, particularly in Holland, have paid, and still pay, very high prices for tulips, as the catalogues of florists show This may be called the lesser Tulipomania, which has given occasion to many laughable circumstances. When John Balthasar Schuppe was in Holland, a merchant gave a herring to a sailor who had brought him some goods. The sailor, seeing some valuable tulip-roots lying about, which he considered as of little consequence, thinking them to be onions, took some of them unperceived, and ate them with his herring. No less laughable is the anecdote of an Englishman who travelled with Matthews.
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Lipsius of the Tulipomania 55 ; but if by this word we understand that gambling traffic which I have described, the accusation is unfounded. Lipsius was fond of scarce and beautiful flowers, which he endeavoured to procure by the assistance of his friends, and which he cultivated himself with great care in his garden; but this taste can by no means be called a mania Other learned men of the same age were fond of flowers, such as John Barclay 57 , Pompeius de Angelis, and others, who would probably have been so, even though the cultivation of flowers had not been the prevailing taste.
It however cannot be denied, that learned men may be infected with epidemical follies. In the present age, many have become physiognomists because physiognomy is in fashion; and even animal magnetism has met with partisans to support it. Greece abounds with narcissuses and hyacinths, which have a remarkably fragrant smell: it is, indeed, so strong as to hurt those who are not accustomed to it.
The tulipan, however, have little or no smell, but are admired for their beauty and variety of their colour.
The Turks pay great attention to the cultivation of flowers; nor do they hesitate, though by no means extravagant, to expend several aspers for one that is beautiful. I received several presents of these flowers, which cost me not a little. Minores alicubi in Gallia Narbonensi nasci feruntur. It appears that this species is earlier than the common Tulipa Gesneriana , though propagated from it.
Tiguri, , 8vo, p. Amsterdam, , 12mo. Amsterdam, , folio, p. Leyden en Utrecht, , folio, p. A Rouen, , 4to, p. Funcii Orbis Politicus, p. In the German catalogues none of the prices are so high. The name Semper Augustus is not once to be found in new catalogues. Hogg, a moderate collection of choice bulbs cannot now be purchased for a sum much less than l.
Here, at a distance from civil tumult, with a cheerful countenance and placid eye, he sauntered through his plants and flowers, contemplating sometimes one declining, sometimes another springing up, and forgetting all his cares amidst the pleasure which these objects afforded him. See the Life of Lipsius, prefixed to the edition of his works printed at Antwerp in This is confirmed by what Lipsius says himself in his book De Constantia, ii. These flowers were not known about thirty years before, nor had they been ever seen at Rome, but lay neglected in the Alps.
See also Freheri Theatrum, p. This little bird, highly esteemed for its song, which is reared with so much care, particularly by the fair sex, and which affords an innocent amusement to those who are fond of the wild notes of nature, is a native of those islands from which it takes its name.
As it was not known in Europe till the fifteenth century, no account of it is to be met with in any of the works of the old ornithologists. Bellon, who about the year described all the birds then known, does not so much as mention it. At that period it was brought from the Canary Islands. It was therefore so dear that it could be procured only by people of fortune, and those who purchased were even often imposed on It was called the sugar-bird, because it was said to be fond of the sugar-cane, and that it could eat sugar in great abundance.
This circumstance seems to be very singular; for that substance is to many birds a poison. Experiments have shown, that a pigeon to which four drachms of sugar were given died in four hours, and that a duck which had swallowed five drachms did not live seven hours after. It is certain, therefore, that the power of poison is relative. The first figure of this bird is given by Aldrovandus, but it is small and inaccurate. That naturalist reckons the Canary bird among the number of those which were scarce and expensive, as it was brought from a distant country with great care and attention.
The first good figure of it is to be found in Olina 59 : it has been copied by both Johnston and Willughby. In the middle of the seventeenth century these birds began to be bred in Europe, and to this the following circumstance, related by Olina, seems to have given occasion. A vessel, which, among other commodities, was carrying a number of Canary birds to Leghorn, was wrecked on the coast of Italy; and these birds, being thus set at liberty, flew to the nearest land, which was the Island of Elba, where they found the climate so favourable, that they multiplied, and perhaps would 33 have become domesticated, had they not been caught in snares; for it appears that the breed of them there has been long since destroyed.
Olina says that the breed soon degenerated; but it is probable that these Canary birds, which were perhaps all males, did at the Island of Elba what the European sailors do in India. By coupling with the birds of the island, they may have produced mules. Such hybrids are described by Gesner and other naturalists The breeding of these birds was at first attended with great difficulty; partly because the treatment and attention they required were not known, and partly because males chiefly, and few females, were brought to Europe.
We are told that the Spaniards once forbade the exportation of males, that they might secure to themselves the trade carried on in these birds, and that they ordered the bird-catchers either to strangle the females or to set them at liberty But this order seems to have been unnecessary; for, as the females commonly do not sing, or are much inferior in the strength of their notes to the males, the latter only were sought after as objects of trade. In the like manner, as the male parrots are much superior in colour to the females, the males are more esteemed, and more of them are brought to Europe than of the females.
It is probable, therefore, that in our system of ornithology, many female parrots belonging to species already well-known are considered as distinct species. It was at first believed that those Canary birds bred in the Canary Islands were much better singers than those reared in Europe; but this at present is doubted In latter times various treatises have been published in different languages, on the manner of breeding these birds, and many people have made it a trade, by which they have acquired considerable gain. It does no discredit to the industry of the Tyrolese that they have carried it to the greatest extent.
At Ymst there is a company who, after the breeding season is over, send out persons to different parts of Germany and Switzerland to purchase birds from those who breed them.
About sixteen hundred are brought every year to England; where the dealers in them, notwithstanding the considerable expense they are at, and after carrying them about on their backs, perhaps a hundred miles, sell them for five shillings apiece. The principal food of these birds is the Canary seed, which, as is commonly affirmed, and not improbably, was first brought, for this purpose, from the Canary Islands to Spain, and thence dispersed all over Europe. Most of the old botanists, however, are of opinion that the plant which produces it is the same as that called Phalaris by Dioscorides Should this be true, it will follow that this kind of grass must have grown wild in other places besides the island it takes its name from; which is not improbable.
But those who read the different descriptions which the ancients have given of Phalaris , will, in my opinion, observe that they may be equally applied to more plants; and Pliny seems to have used this name for more than one species of grass However this may be, it is certain that this seed, when it was used as food for these birds, began to be cultivated first in Spain, and afterwards in the southern parts of France. At present it is cultivated in various parts, and forms no inconsiderable branch of trade, particularly in the island of Sicily, where the plant is called Scagliuola , or Scaghiola.
The seed is sold principally to the French and the Genoese. In England, the industrious inhabitants of the Isle of Thanet, particularly those around Margate and Sandwich, gain considerably by this article, as they can easily transport it to London by water. That this plant might be cultivated with little trouble 35 in Germany, is shown by the yearly experience of those who raise it in their gardens, and by its having become so naturalized in some parts of Hesse, that it propagates by seed of itself in the fields.
The use of the seed might also be extended, for it yields a good meal; but the grains are not easily freed from the husks. I shall here take occasion to remark, that Savary 65 has been guilty of an error, when he says that archil is cultivated in the Canary Islands in order to be sold as food for Canary birds. Tiguri, , fol.