Saturday, July 15, 2006

BPAL Project: Saint-Germain


"We begin to take up people . . . the other day they seized an odd man who goes by the name of Count Saint-Germain. He has been here these two years, and will not tell who he is, or whence, but professes that he does not go by his right name. He sings, plays on the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad, and not very sensible. He is called an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole; a somebody that married a great fortune in Mexico, and ran away with her jewels to Constantinople; a priest, a fiddler, a vast nobleman. The Prince of Wales has had unsatiated curiosity about him, but in vain. However, nothing has been made out against him; he is released, and, what convinces me he is not a gentleman, stays here, and talks of his being taken up for a spy."

Horace Walpole, 1745

If Comte Saint-Germain wore pomade in his hair I rather doubt he would have acquired it from the local barber--rather he would have made it up himself in his apothecary's lab and invested great meaning and purpose into every ingredient. Straight from the alabaster jar this hair pomade would have smelled like any man's cologne, fresh with lavendar and brisk. But combed thickly into the hair and warmed by the scalp Saint-Germain's pomade would soon give off the somewhat dirty scent of powdered roots, roots Saint-Germain believed would increase his intellect. The emollient would settle into something warm and aged, dry but still with the aromas of lavendar. Carnation, geranium, mosses; herbaceous and dead things sifted together into a promise of special erudition to the wearer. Secretly Saint-Germain would inhale his own creation. To the modern observer an element of foppishness is inescapable, but to an elaborate creative creature such as Saint-Germain his scent is an alchemy adding to both his powers and his mien.

"gilded amber, hypnotic lavender, brash carnation and deep mosses."

1 comment:

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