John Baptista Porta
(Giambattista della Porta)
The Eleventh Book of Natural Magick
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."
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.
"Of perfuming Waters."
I 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
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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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
"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.
"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
"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 .
"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.
"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.
"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 Drachm of Lingnum Aloes and Cinnamon, an eighth part of Musk.
Beat the Gum, Storax and Amber in a Brass Mortar with an Iron Pestle, being
both hot. When these are well mixed, cast in the other powders, and mix
them all together. At last add the Musk. And before they grow cold, form
what you please of them. I will add also,
Very necessary in a time of Plague, which will not only refresh the brains
with its sweet odor, but will preserve it against infection. Take three
ounces of Labdanum, as much of Storax, one of Benjamin, an ounce and a half
of Cloves, an ounce of Sanders, three of Camphire, one of Lingnum Aloes,
Calamus Aromaticus, and juice of Valerian, a Drachm of Amber. Mix all these
in the juice of Balm, Rosewater, and Storax dissolved. But to wash the face
and hands. I will set down a noble composition.
"Of Washing balls or Musk-balls."
Take the fat of a Goat and purify it in this manner. Boil a Lye with the
Pills of Citron in a Brass kettle. Let the fat remain in it for an hour.
Then strain it through a Linen cloth into cold water, and it will be
purified. Make the Lye of two parts of the ashes of the Ceruse tree, one of
Lime, and half a Porringer of Alom. Mingle them, an put them in a wooden
bowl with two holes in the bottom, stopped with Straw. Then pour in water,
that it may cover them three fingers over, and strain it out through the
holes. When the first is run out, add another quantity of water, and so the
third time, while the water does receive any saltiness. Keep these several
runnings asunder, and add some of the second and third unto the first, while
a new Egg will swim in it. For it if sinks and goes to the bottom, it will
be too weak. Therefore add some of the first running. If it swims on the
top, and lie upon the surface of the water, put in some of the second and
third running, until it descend, so that scarce any part of it be seen above
the water. Heat twenty pounds of this water in a Brass kettle, and put into
it two of the fat. Then strain it out into broad platters, and expose it to
the hot Sun, mixing it often every day. When it is grown hard, make
Pomanders of it, and reserve them. You may thus perfume them. Put two
pounds of the Pomanders into a bowl, and with a wooden spoon, mix it with
Rosewater, till it be very soft. When it has stood still a while, and is
grown hard, add more water, and set it in the Sun. Do this for ten days.
Then take half a Drachm of Musk, somewhat less Civet, and as much of
Cinnamon well beaten. Mix them, and if you add a little Rose Powder, it
will smell much sweeter. Then judge of it by your nose. If the scent be
too weak, add more of the perfumes. If too strong, more of the Soap.
"How to make Soap, and multiply it."
Since we are fallen upon the discourse of Soap, we will not pass it over
this. Take Soap Geta, and reduce it into a small powder. Set it on the fire
in a Brass kettle full of Lye of a moderate strength. So that in three
hundred pounds of Lye, you may put fourscore of Soap. When the water begins
to boil up in bubbles, stir it with a wooden ladle. And if the Lye does
fail in the boiling, add new. When the water is evaporated, take the kettle
from the fire, and cast in six pounds of ordinary Salt well beaten. And
with an Iron ladle empty it out, and let it cool all night. In the mean
time, prepare a Brine, so sharp that it will bear an Egg. In the morning,
cut the Soap into slices, and put it into a broad vessel, and pour the Brine
on it. There let it stand one quarter of a day, and it will become very
hard. If you put some Sal Alchali into the Brine, it will make it much
"How to make sweet Perfumes."
It remains, that we speak of Perfumes. For they are very necessary for the
scenting of skin, cloths, and Powders. And to enrich noblemen's chambers,
with sweet odors in winter. They are make either of Waters or Powders.
"How to make Perfumes of Waters ."
Take four parts of Storax, three of Benjamin. Of Labdanum, Lingnum Aloes,
and Cinnamon, one. An eighth part of Cloves, a little Musk and Amber. Beat
them all grossly, and put them in a Brass pot with an ounce and a half of
Rosewater. Set the pot over the fire, or hot ashes, that it may be hot, but
not boil. It will cast forth a pleasant odor. When the water is consumed,
put in more. You may also add what you have reserved in making Aqua Nanfa.
For it will send out a very sweet fume.
Take three parts of Cloves, two of Benjamin, one of Lingnum Aloes, as much
Cinnamon, Orange Pill and Sanders, an eighth of Nutmeg. Beat them and put
them into a pot, and pour into them some Orange flower water, Lavender, and
Myrtle water, and so heat it.
Express and strain the juice of Lemon. Into which put Storax, Camphire,
Lingnum Aloes, and empty Musk Cods. Macerate them all in Balneo for a week
in a glass bottle close stopped. When you would Perfume your chamber, cast
a drop of this Liquor in a Brass pot full of Rosewater. And let it heat
over warm ashes, it will smell most pleasantly.
"Excellent Pomanders for perfuming."
Take out of the Decoction for Aqua Nanfa, Lingnum Aloes, Sanders, Cinnamon
and Cloves. And of the remaining Powders make a mass, which you may form
into cakes, which being burnt on hot ashes, smell very sweetly. I take out
the Cinnamon and the woods, because in burning they cast forth a stink of
Take one pound and a half of the coals of Willow, ground into dust and
Seirced. Four ounces of Labdanum, three Drachms of Storax, two of Benjamin,
one of Lingnum Aloes. Mix the Storax, Benjamin, and Labdanum in a Brass
Mortar with an Iron Pestle heated. And put to them the Coal and Lingnum
Aloes powdered. Add to these half an ounce of liquid Storax. Then dissolve
Gum Traganth in Rosewater, and drop it by degrees into the Mortar. When the
powders are mixed into the form of an Unguent, you may make it up into the
shape of birds, or any other things, and dry them in the shade. You may
wash them over with a little Musk and Amber upon a Pencil. And when you
burn them, you will receive a most sweet fume from them.
Anoint the Pill of Citron or Lemon with a little Civet. Stick it with
Cloves and Races of Cinnamon. Boil it in Rosewater, and it will fill your
chamber with an odoriferous fume.
"How to adulterate Musk."
These Perfumes are often counterfeited by impostors. Wherefore I will
declare how you may discern and beware of these cheats. For you must not
trust whole Musk Cods of it, there being cunning impostors, who fill them
with other things, and only mix Musk enough to give its sent to them. Black
Musk inclining to a dark red, is counterfeited with Goat's blood a little
roasted, or toasted Bread. So that three or four parts of them beaten with
one of Musk, will hardly be discovered. The Imposture may be discerned only
thus. The Bread is easy to be crumbed and the Goat's blood looks clear and
bright within when it is broken. It is counterfeited by others in this
manner. Beat Nutmegs, Mace, Cinnamon, Cloves, Spikenard, of each one
handful, and Seirce them carefully. Then mix them with the warm blood of
Pigeons, and dry them in the Sun. Afterward beat them again, and wet them
with Musk-Water and Rosewater. Dry them, beat them, and moisten them very
many times. At length, add a fourth part of pure Musk, and mix them well.
And wet them again with Rosewater and Musk-Water. Divide the mass into
several parts, and roll them in the hair of a Goat which grows under his
tail. Others do it,
"Another way, and,"
Mingle Storax, Labdanum, and powder of Lingnum Aloes. Add to the
composition, Musk and Civet, and mingle all together with Rosewater. The
Imposture is discovered by the easy dissolving of it in water. And it
differs in color and scent. Others augment Musk by adding roots of
Angelica, which does in some sort imitate the scent of Musk. So also they
"To adulterate Civet,"
Hang it in a Jakes among stinks. For by striving against those ill favors,
it excites its own virtue, revives, and recovers its lost sent.
The end of The Eleventh Book of Natural Magick