LuxuryLuxury may be defined as indulgence in such costly pleasures as magnificent equipages and furniture, splendid dresses, exquisite food, and old wine. The rich Romans at the end of the Republic and under-the Empire, were famous or notorious for their extravagant luxury.
They spent fabulous sums on sumptuous banquets and drank wine out of gold cups studded with precious stones. The wealth they had acquired by the conquest of the world was squandered in the purchase of magnificent villas, Greek work of art, Babylonian carpets, and slaves carefully educated to minister to all their pleasures.
The rich had few opportunities of wasting much money on luxuries, as owing to want of commerce, every nation had to content itself for the most part with its own productions. So the great nobles spent their surplus wealth on the building of strong castles and the maintenance of numerous retainers.
But with the spread of commerce at the time of Renaissance, a taste for luxury was developed, such as we see exemplified in the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold.
Owing to the increase of trade and progress in the mechanical arts, the desire for comfort has become much more general during the last two or three centuries: and many things that in the fifteenth century were regarded as luxuries are now necessaries of life, which even the poorest labourer could not fore go without feeling a sense of deprivation.
we hear of immense sums of money being spent on the pleasures of the intellect and of the senses, and the cultivation of luxury in the nineteenth century probably exceeds the most lavish expenditure of all previous periods of the world's history.
. The wealthy and refined successors of the hardy warriors live in a style of luxury that would be condemned as effeminacy, if it were not often combined with love of field sports and great political energy .
brown and gold.
On the railways the wealthy travel in Pullman cars, which are repetitions on wheels of their own luxurious drawingrooms, and they cross the ocean in steamers like floating places. At the great hotels which they patronise on their travels they can buy every comfort and convenience that modern science and art have invented. They bathe in marble baths, dine and read by the mellow light of electric lamps, and are saved by hydraulic lifts from the trouble of walking up and down stairs.
Such are some of the broader and more striking features of modern luxury; but they give only a faint idea of the immense variety of the luxuries that wealth can purchase in the great centres of civilisation.