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A Table Containing the General Heads of Natural Magick

"Preface To The Reader"

The Eleventh Book of Natural Magick

 John Baptista Porta

(Giambattista della Porta)


"Of Perfuming"

"The Proeme"

Chapter I - "Of perfuming Waters."

Chapter II - "To make sweet water by Infusion."

Chapter III - "How to make Sweet Oils."

Chapter IV- "How to extract Water and Oil out of Sweet Gums by Infusion."

Chapter V - "How to perfume Skins."

Chapter VI - "How to make Sweet Powders."

Chapter VII - "How to make sweet compounds."

Chapter VIII - "How to make sweet perfumes."

Chapter IX - "How to adulterate Musk."

The Proeme

After Distillation, we proceed to Unguents and sweet smells.  It is an art next of kin to the other, for it provides of the same things, compounds and mingles of Unguents, that they may send forth pleasant scents every way, very far.  This art is noble, and much set by, by kings and great men.  For it teaches to make waters, oils, powders, march panes, fumes, and to make sweet skins that shall hold their scent for a long time.  And may be bought for little money.  Not the common and ordinary way, but such as are rare, and known to very few.


Chapter I

"Of perfuming Waters."

Have in the former book shown how sweet waters may be Distilled out of flowers and other things, as the place dedicated to Distillation did require.  Here now I will teach how to compound sweet waters and flowers, that may cast forth odoriferous scents.  As first,

"To make a most sweet perfumed water."

Take three pounds of Damask Roses, as much of Musk and red Roses, two of the flowers of Orange, as many of Myrtle, half a pound of Garden claver, an ounce and a half of Cloves, three Nutmegs, ten Lilies.  Put all these in an Alimbeck, in the nose of which you must fasten of Musk three parts, of Amber one, of Civet half a one, tied up together in a Clout.  And put the nose into the Receiver, and tie them close with a cloth dipped in bran and the white of an Egg mixed.  Set a gentle fire under it, until it be all Distilled.


Take two pounds of Rosewater, of Lavender half one, of Cretan Wine thirteen Drachms, of the flowers of Gilliflowers, Roses, Rosemary, Jasmine, the leaves of Marjoram, wild Betony, Savory, Fennel, and Basil Gentle, half a pound.  An ounce of Lemon peel, a Drachm of Cinnamon, Benjamin, Storax and Nutmegs.  Mix them, and put them in a glass, and set them out in the Sun for four days, then Distil them with a gentle fire.  And unless you put Musk in the nose of the Alimbeck, tie it up in a rag, hang it by a thread in the water, while it stands sunning for a month.  Set it in the Sun, to take away the scurvy favor of the distilling, if by chance it conceive any.

"Aqua Nanfa."

Take four pounds of Rose water, two of Orange flowers, one of Myrtle, three ounces of sweet Trifoil, one of Lavender .  Add to these, two ounces of Benjamin, one of Storax, the quantity of bean of Labdanum, as much of Mace and Cloves, a Drachm of Cinnamon, Sanders, and Lingnum Aloes, an ounce of Spikenard.  Let these all be grossly beaten, and boiled in a varnished earthen Pipkin over a gentle fire, for the space of an hour, then let them cool.  Strain them through a Linen cloth, and set it up in a glass close stopped.  But tie up the Cinnamon, Cloves, Lingnum Aloes and Sanders in a thin Linen cloth, and so put them into the pot, and boil them, as I said before, and afterwards take out the bundle.  For after the boiling of the water, the remaining dust may be formed into pills, and made into cakes, which may used in perfuming, as I shall reach hereafter.  This water is made diverse ways, but I have set down the best.  Yet in the boiling, it will turn colored, and become red, so that handkerchiefs or white Linen, if they be wetted in it, are stained, although they are made wonderfully sweet.  Which makes many forebear the use of it.  Wherefore, if we would have,

"Aqua Nafa clarified,"

Take the former water, and put it into a glass Retort, and set it in Balneo, over a gentle fire.  The water will become clear, and almost of the same scent.  Only a little weaker.  Keep the water, and lay aside the rest of the Foeces for sweet cakes.  


Chapter II

"To make Sweet Water by Infusion."


Now, I will teach how to make perfumed Liquors, and what Liquors they are, which will receive odors best, for water is unapt to keep scent.  Oil is better, and Wine, (we may assign the reason out of Theophrastus:   For water is thin, void of taste or scent, and so fine, that it can gather no scent)  and those Liquors which are thick, savory, and have a strong scent.  Wine, although is be not sweet of itself, yet being placed nigh an odor, it will draw it, because it is full of heat, which does attract.  Water, being cold by nature, can neither attract, nor receive, nor keep any scent.  For it is so fine, slender and thin, that the odor flies out again, and vanishes away, as if there were no foundation whereon it could fix and settle, as there is in Wine and Oil, who are more tenacious of scent, because they are of a more dense and callous body.  Oil is the best preserver and keeper of scent, because it is not changeable.  Wherefore perfumers steep their perfumes in Oil, that it may suck out their sweetness.  We use Wine to Extract the scent of flowers, and especially, Aqua Vita, for Wine, unless distilled, infects the water too much with its own scent.

"Musk Water"

This water sets off all others and makes them richer, wherefore, it is first to be made.  Take the best Aqua Vita, and put into it some grains of Musk, Amber and Civit, and set them in the sun for some days.  But stop the vessel very close, and Lute it, for that will add very much to the fragrancy of it.  A drop of this put into any other water, will presently make it smell most pleasantly of Musk.  You may do the same with rose water and fountain water often Distilled, that it may obtain a thinness and heat, which is very necessary for the Extraction of Essences.

"Water of Jasmine, Musk Roses, Gilliflowers, Violets, and Lilies"

Is Extracted the same way.  For these flowers send forth but a thin odor, which dwells not in the substance of them, but only lies scattered on their surfaces, so that if they remain too long on the fire, or in their Menstruum, their sweetness degenerates from its former pleasantness, and is washed off by the mixture of the stinking ill favored part of their substance.  Wherefore we must lay their leaves only in the best Aqua Vita, that is, the leaves of Lilies, Jasmine, Musk Roses, and the rest, hanging them on a thread, that when the water has sucked out their odor, we may pluck them out, because their odor lies only on their Superficies.  So that if they lay long in the Aqua Vita, it would penetrate too deep into them, and draw out the scent, which would not only destroy their former sweetness, but taint them with an ill favor which accompanies those inward parts.  After these leaves are taken out, supply them with fresh, until you perceive their scent is also Extracted.  But take out the Violets and the Gilliflowers sooner then the rest, lest they color the water.  This water, being mixed with others, takes away the scurvy scent of the Wine.

"A Sweet compounded Water"

Take a great glass Receiver, and fill the third part almost of it with Aqua Vita.  Put into it Lavender flowers, Jasmine, Roses, Orange and Lemon flowers.  Then add roots of Iris, Cypress, Sanders, Cinnamon, Storax, Labdanum, Cloves, Nutmegs, Calamus Aromaticus, with a little Musk, Amber and Civit. Fill the glass, and stop it well.  But after you have filled the glass with the flowers, they will wither and sink down.  Wherefore fill it up with more. Set it in a very hot sun or in Balneo, until their sweetness be all Extracted.  Then strain out the water and one drop of it in Rose water, or of Myrtle flowers, will perfume it all with a most fragrant smell.

Chapter III

"How to make Sweet Oils."

How to Extract Oil out of Spices and sweet things, is declared before. Now I will show how to draw scents out of other things with Oil.  Or, as I said before, to make Oil the ground in which odors may be kept and preserved a long time.  Which is done either by imbibing the Oil with odors, or the Almonds out of which we afterwards express the Oil.

"How to make Oil of Ben,"

Which is the sweetest Oil of all, used by the Genois. take an ounce of Ben, a Drachm of Musk, as much Amber, half a Drachm of Civit.  Put them in a glass bottle well stopped, and set it in the sun for twenty days, then you may use it.  But be sure that it be close stopped.  For the nature of odors being volatile and fugitive, it quickly decays, loses its fragrancy, and smells dully.

"A way to make odoriferous Oil of flowers,"

It is a common thing but very commodious for perfumers, and may be used for other things.  He that knows how to use it rightly and properly, will find it an oil very profitable . Blanch   your Almonds, and bruise them, and lay them between two rows of flowers.  When the flowers have lost their scent, and fade, remove them, and add fresh ones. Do this so long as the flowers are in season.  When they are past, squeeze out the Oil with a press, and it will be most odoriferous.  You may draw a scent with this way, out of those flowers, from whom you cannot draw sweet water.  Oil of Lilies, Jasmine, Musk Roses, Crowsfoot, Gilliflowers, Roses, and Orange flowers, and of others, being made this way, smell most fragrantly.  Oil of Musk, Amber and Civit, may be thus made also.  Cut the Almonds, being blanched from the top to the bottom, into seven or eight slices, and enclose them in a leaden box with these perfumes for six days, until they have imbibed the scent. Then press them, and they will yield a most sweet Oil, and yet perhaps not make the musk much worse.

Chapter IV

"How to extract Water and Oil out of sweet Gums by Infusion."


We may Extract sweet waters by another art that we spoke of before, out of Gums, by Infusion and Expression.  As for example,

"A sweet water of Storax, Benjamin, and Labdanum,"

We may do this, by beating and mixing these Gums with Oil of  Almonds or of Ben, and Macerating them in Balneo for a month.  Then draw out the Oil either by a Retort or by Expression, which is better.  It will yield a most fragrant odor, that you can hardly perceive whether it were drawn out of the Gums themselves by a Retort.  Ben, called in Latin, Glans Unguentaria, is used in precious ointments instead of Oil.  Pliny called it Morobolane.  So also Martial,

"What not in Virgil nor in Homer's found,

Is of Sweet Oil and Acorn the compound."

It is without any scent, and therefore fitter to receive them, and when it does receive, them, to reserve them, for it never grows .


Chapter V

"How to perfume Skins."

Now we will discourse of the perfuming of skins, which is performed several ways, either by sweet waters, or rubbing them with Oils, or laying them in flowers, so that they may attract their odor.  And first,

"How to wash Skins,"

That they may lose the scent of beasts and flesh.  The manner is this, first wash them in Greek Wine, and let them lie wet for some hours.  Then dry them, and if the scent continues in them still, wash them again.  That being taken away, wash them in sweet waters.  Take four parts of Rosewater, three of Myrtle, or Orange flowers two, of sweet Trifoil one, of Lavender half one.  Mix them, and put them into a wide mouthed earthen vessel, and steep the skins in them for a day.  Then take them out, and hang them up in the shade to dry.  But when they are almost dry, stretch and smooth them with your hands, that they may not be wrinkled.  Do this thrice over, till they favor of the sweet waters, and lose their own stink.  Next,

"How to perfume Skins with Flowers."

They must be rubbed over with Oil.  For, as I have told you, that is the foundation of all scents, both to attract them, and retain them in a greasy body.  It may be done with common Oil, but better with Oil of Ben, because it is without any scent of his own.  Best of all with the Oil of Eggs, which I have taught before how to make.  The manner is thus.  Anoint your gloves or skins with a sponge on the inward side, and especially, in the seams.  When that is done, you may make them attract the scent of any flowers.  Violets and Gilliflowers blow first in the Spring.  Gather them in the morning, and lay them on both sides of your skins for a day.  When they grow dry sooner or later, fling them away, and lay on new, stirring or moving them thrice or four times in a day, lest they make the skins damp, and grow musty.  When these flowers are past, lay on Orange flowers and Roses in the same manner.  And last of all, Jasmine, which will continue until Winter.  I mean, Garden Jasmine, for it flourishes two or three months.  Thus your skins or gloves will become very sweet in a years space.  The odor will quickly fade and die.  But if you do the same the second time, it will continue much longer, and preserve their pleasantness.  It very much preserves their fragrancy, to keep them in a close place, in either a wooden or leaden box.  But if you lay them among Linen, it will suck out their odor, and dull their scent.

"How to perfume skins."

If you add Musk, Amber and Civit to the aforesaid skins, they will smell much more sweet and gratefully.  Or take four parts of Western Balsam, one of Musk, as much of Amber, and rub it on your gloves with a sponge, and they will smell very sweet.  I will add one more excellent composition.  Take eight parts of Iris, one of Sanders, two of Benjamin, four of Rose Powder, and one and a half of Lingnum Aloes, half a one of Cinnamon, or rather less, soften them all with Rose water and Gum-Tragacanth, and grind them on a Porphyretick Marble.  Then anoint your gloves with it in a sponge, and take three grains of Musk, two of Amber, one of Civit .  Mingle them, and rub them also on.

"How to take the scent out of gloves."

If you repent yourself of perfuming them, or would make sport of anyone, boil a little Rose water or Aqua Vita, and while they be hot, put the gloves in, and let them remain there awhile.  This will take away their scent.  And if you steep other gloves in it, and dry them, they will imbibe it.


Chapter VI

"How to make Sweet Powders."

Now we come to making sweet Powders, which are either simple or compound.  They are used in stuffing sweet bags and in perfuming skins and compositions.  Learn therefore,

"How to make Cyprian Powder."

Take Moss of the Oak, which smells like Musk.  Gather it clean, in December, January, or February.  Wash it five or six times in sweet water, that it may be very clean.  Then lay it out in the Sun and dry it.  Afterwards, Steep it in Rosewater for two days, and dry it in the Sun again.  This you must iterate oftentimes.  For the more you wash it, the sweeter it will smell.  When it is dried, grind it into powder in a Brass Mortar, and Seirce it.  Then put it into the Sieve, and cover it.  Make a fire, and set some sweet waters to boil over it.  Or cast some perfumed cakes, and let the fume arise up into the Sieve.  The more often you do this, the stronger and more lasting the scent will be imbibed by the powder.  When you perceive it to have attained a sufficient odor, take one pound of the powder, a little Musk and Civet powdered, and a sufficient quantity of Sanders and Roses.  Beat them in a Brass Mortar.  First putting in the Musk, and then by degrees casting in the powder to mingle them well.  At last, put the powders into a glass close stopped, that the sent may not transpire and grow dull.  There are several compositions of this powder, which would be too tedious to recount.  It may be made wither white, or black, or brown.  The white is made of crude Parget washed in Rosewater, or other sweet water.  And adding Musk, Amber, Civet, and suchlike, it will smell at a good distance.


Chapter VII

"How to make sweet compounds."

There may be made diverse kinds of sweet compounds, of which are made Beads, which some use to reckon their prayers by, and others to trim their cloths with.  Also Wash-Balls to cleanse and sweeten the hands.  And first,

"How to make sweet balls."

With small charge, which yet shall seem to be very costly and sweet.  Take one ounce of Cyprian Powder, and Benjamin of the best mixture, which is brought out of Turkey. Half an ounce of Clover.  A sufficient quantity of Illyrian Iris.  First, melt some Gum Traganth in Rosewater.  Then with the former powder make it into a mass, and roll it up in little balls.  Bore them through, and fix every one on a several tent upon the table.  Then take four grains of Musk, dissolve it in Rosewater, and wash the outside of the balls with it.  Then let them dry.  Afterwards wet them again, for three or four times.  So will they cast forth a most pleasant scent round about, which they will not quickly lose. But if you would bestow more cost, and have a greater scent, I will show,

"How to make them another way."

Take one ounce of Storax, of Amber half one, a fourth part of Labdanum cleansed, one