The Art of Perfumery by G. W. Septimus Piesse


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Page 1

19 St. James Street.


By universal consent, the physical faculties of man have been divided
into five senses,--seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. It
is of matter pertaining to the faculty of Smelling that this book mainly
treats. Of the five senses, that of smelling is the least valued, and,
as a consequence, is the least tutored; but we must not conclude from
this, our own act, that it is of insignificant importance to our welfare
and happiness.

By neglecting to tutor the olfactory nerve, we are constantly led to
breathe impure air, and thus poison the body by neglecting the warning
given at the gate of the lungs. Persons who use perfumes are more
sensitive to the presence of a vitiated atmosphere than those who
consider the faculty of smelling as an almost useless gift.

In the early ages of the world the use of perfumes was in constant
practice, and it had the high sanction of Scriptural authority.

The patrons of perfumery have always been considered the most civilized
and refined people of the earth. If refinement consists in knowing how
to enjoy the faculties which we possess, then must we learn not only how
to distinguish the harmony of color and form, in order to please the
sight, the melody of sweet sounds to delight the ear; the comfort of
appropriate fabrics to cover the body, and to please the touch, but the
smelling faculty must be shown how to gratify itself with the
odoriferous products of the garden and the forest.

Pathologically considered, the use of perfumes is in the highest degree
prophylactic; the refreshing qualities of the citrine odors to an
invalid is well known. Health has often been restored when life and
death trembled in the balance, by the mere sprinkling of essence of
cedrat in a sick chamber.

The commercial value of flowers is of no mean importance to the wealth
of nations. But, vast as is the consumption of perfumes by the people
under the rule of the British Empire, little has been done in England
towards the establishment of flower-farms, or the production of the raw
odorous substances in demand by the manufacturing perfumers of Britain;
consequently nearly the whole are the produce of foreign countries.
However, I have every hope that ere long the subject will attract the
attention of the Society of Arts, and favorable results will doubtless
follow. Much of the waste land in England, and especially in Ireland,
could be very profitably employed if cultivated with odor-bearing

The climate of some of the British colonies especially fits them for the
production of odors from flowers that require elevated temperature to
bring them to perfection.

But for the lamented death of Mr. Charles Piesse,[A] Colonial Secretary
for Western Australia, I have every reason to believe that flower-farms
would have been established in that colony long ere the publication of
this work. Though thus personally frustrated in adapting a new and
useful description of labor to British enterprise, I am no less sanguine
of the final result in other hands.

Mr. Kemble, of Jamaica, has recently sent to England some fine samples
of Oil of Behn. The Moringa, from which it is produced, has been
successfully cultivated by him. The Oil of Behn, being a perfectly
inodorous fat oil, is a valuable agent for extracting the odors of
flowers by the maceration process.

At no distant period I hope to see, either at the Crystal Palace,
Sydenham, at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, or elsewhere, a place to
illustrate the commercial use of flowers--eye-lectures on the methods of
obtaining the odors of plants and their various uses. The
horticulturists of England, being generally unacquainted with the
methods of economizing the scents from the flowers they cultivate,
entirely lose what would be a very profitable source of income. For many
ages copper ore was thrown over the cliffs into the sea by the Cornish
miners working the tin streams; how much wealth was thus cast away by
ignorance we know not, but there is a perfect parallel between the old
miners and the modern gardeners.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 10th Jul 2020, 13:53