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Precious Stones - Superstitions

( Originally Published 1880 )



FROM the East, that fertile pasturage for vivid imaginations, originated the fictions about precious stones, which, transmitted through after ages, with all the embroidery of oriental fancy, set the brains of ancient story-tellers in a blaze of delightful bewilderment.

Throughout the East the belief in mysterious powers resident in jewels has been always universal. Form and system were all that it required under the magianism of Persia and of Babylon, but it was with this systematized shape that the western nations became acquainted with it.

No people were more credulous in this respect than the Jews and the nations bordering upon them.

Eastern writers pretend that wise King Solomon, amongst a variety of physiological compositions, wrote one upon "gems," a chapter of which treated upon those which resist or repel evil genii. They suppose that Aristotle stole philosophy from Solomon's books.

" The magii of the East," observes Warton, " believing that the preternatural discoveries obtained by means of the Urim and Thummin, a contexture of gems on the breastplate of the Mosaic high-priest, were owing to some virtues inherent in the stones, adopted the knowledge of occult properties of gems as a branch of their magical system." The shekinah in the breast-plate gleamed with a sombre darkness that came over the stones (in one account it was a special stone, the sapphire, that was the sensitive agent of this manifestation) when the anger of the Lord was kindling; but when He was at peace with His people, the light of heaven shone brightly on the stones of the sacred vestment. The minute description of the jewels in the twenty-eighth chapter of Exodus indicates the symbolical reverence attached to them even by the Israelites.

It became a peculiar profession of one class of their sages to investigate and interpret the various shades and coruscations of gems, and to explain to a moral purpose the different colours, the dews, clouds, and imageries which gems, differently exposed to the sun, moon, stars, fire, and air, at particular seasons, and inspected by persons peculiarly qualified, were seen to exhibit. The gems corresponding to the different months, and also to the twelve Jewish tribes, were the following :

January Hyacinth Dan
February Amethyst Gad
March Jasper Benjamin
April Sapphire Issachar
May Agate Naphtali
June Emerald Levi
July Onyx Zebulun
August Carnelian Reuben
September Chrysolite Asher
October Bery Joseph
November Topaz Simeon
December Ruby Judah

Artists have made certain changes in some of the gems corresponding to the months, and the tribes represented in the Urim and Thummim. They consider May to be represented by the emerald.

The twelve apostles were represented symbolically by precious stones, and they were called the "Apostle" gems : jasper, St. Peter ; sapphire, St. Andrew ; chalcedony, St. James ; emerald, St. John ; sardonyx, St. Philip ; carnelian, St. Bartholomew ; chrysolite, St. Matthew ; beryl, St. Thomas ; chrysoprase, St. Thaddeus; topaz, St. James the Less; hyacinth, St. Simeon; amethyst, St. Matthias.

The superstitions of the Jews with regard to precious stones became engrafted into the Arabian philosophy, from which they were propagated all over Europe, and continued to operate so late as the visionary experiments of the famous Drs. Dee and Kelly, in the last quarter of the sixteenth century.

It is not at all improbable that the Druidical doctrines concerning the virtues of precious stones were derived from the Magii, and they are still to be traced among the traditions of the vulgar in those parts of Britain and Ireland where Druidism retained its latest established haunts. Some curious remarks on this subject may be found in Toland's " History of the Druids." To return to the Arabians, according to one of their traditions, Ishmael, by God's command, undertook to rebuild the Kaaba, or Kaaba (from the Arabic " Square house"), the name of a great oblong stone building within the great mosque of Mecca, on the precise site of the original tabernacle of radiant clouds, which, on the supplication of Adam, our first parent, was lowered down, a heaven-descended shrine, by the hands of angels, and placed immediately below its present prototype in the celestial paradise. In this pious work he was assisted by his father, Abraham. A miraculous stone served the latter as a scaffold, rising and sinking with him as he built the walls of the sacred edifice.

While Abraham and Ishmael were thus occupied, the angel Gabriel brought them a stone, about which traditional accounts are greatly at variance : by some it is said to have been one of the precious stones of paradise, which fell to the earth with Adam, and was afterwards lost in the slime of the Deluge, until retrieved by the angel Gabriel. " The more received tradition," observes Washington Irving, " is that it was originally the guardian angel appointed to watch over Adam in paradise, but changed into a stone, and ejected thence with him at his fall, as a punishment for not having been more vigilant." This stone Abraham and Ishmael received with proper reverence, and inserted it in one of the corner walls of the Kaaba. When first fixed in the wall, it was, we are told, a single jacinth of dazzling whiteness, but became gradually blackened by the kisses of sinful mortals. At the Resurrection it will recover its angelic form, and stand forth a testimony before God in favour of those who have performed the rites of pilgrimage to Mecca.

The still-subsisting reverence for the Kaaba stone at Mecca probably originated in the same sentiment that, a few years ago, made the great meteoric stone that fell at Parnallee, in Madras, now in the British Museum, an object of adoration to many thousands of Hindoos.

In the Koran we have many instances of the supernatural effect of precious stones. In the famous nocturnal journey of Mahomet with the Archangel Gabriel, we are informed that after leaving the fifth heaven, the golden abode of the avenging angel who presided over fire, they mounted to the sixth heaven composed of a transparent stone called Hasala, which may be rendered "carbuncle."

Among the Arabians, serpents, either from the brilliancy of their eyes, or because they inhabit the cavities of the earth, were supposed to possess precious stones of inestimable virtue. This belief was current through many ages. Matthew Paris relates a story of a miserly Venetian, named Vitalis, who was rescued from a terrible death (having fallen into a pitfall in which were a lion and a serpent) by a wood-cutter, to whom he promised half his property for this deliverance. The lion and the serpent, who take advantage of the ladder by which Vitalis was brought to the sur-face, also testify their gratitude to the wood-cutter by crouching at his feet. While the poor man is having his humble repast in his little hut, the lion enters with a dead goat as a present. The serpent also enters bringing in his mouth a precious stone, which he lays in the countryman's plate. He next goes to Venice, and finds Vitalis in his palace feasting with his neighbours in joy for his deliverance. On being reminded of his promise, the rich man denies having ever seen the wood-cutter, and orders his servants to cast him into prison ; but, before this could be effected, the rustic escapes and tells his story to the judges of the city. At first they are incredulous, but on showing the jewel, and proving further the truth by conducting them to the dens of the lion and serpent, where the animals again fawn on their benefactor, Vitalis is compelled to perform his promise.

This story, adds Matthew Paris, was told by King Richard to expose the conduct of ungrateful men.

In Timberlake's "Discourse of the Travels of Two English Pilgrims to Jerusalem, Gaza, etc." (1611), we find an account of the great jewel taken from the serpent's head, and used in conjuring. " Among other stones, there is one in the possession of a conjurer, remarkable for its brilliancy and beauty, but more so for the extraordinary manner in which it was found. It grew, if we may credit the Indians, in the head of a monstrous serpent, whose retreat was by its brilliancy discovered ; but a great number of snakes attending him, he being, I suppose, by his diadem of a superior rank among the serpents, made it dangerous to attack him. Many were the attempts made by the Indians, but all frustrated, till a fellow more bold than the rest, casing himself in leather impenetrable to the bite of the serpent, or his guards, and watching a convenient opportunity, surprised and killed him, tearing the jewel from his head, which the conjurer had kept hid for many years, in some place unknown to all but two women, who have been offered large presents to destroy it, but steadily refused, lest some signal judgment or mischance should follow. That such a stone exists, I believe, having seen many of great beauty, but I cannot think it could answer all the encomiums the Indians bestow upon it. The conjurer, I suppose, hatched the account of its discovery."

In Alphonso's " Clericalis disciplina " a serpent is mentioned with eyes of real jacinth. In the romantic history of Alexander, he is said to have found serpents in the Vale of Jordan, " with collars of huge emeralds growing on their backs." Milton gives his serpent eyes of carbuncle. A marvellous stone was said to be found in the brain, but in order to insure its lustre and potent influences, it was to be extracted from the living animal. This was an adventure worthy of the prowess of ancient heroes, considering that the stout arm had to achieve what might be now safely left to saltpetre. Philostratus tells us how these wonderful dragons were captured " by the exhibition of golden letters and a scarlet robe," for these dreadful monsters had an eye for rich colouring, as our modern ladies have for a soldier's coat. The men spread them out before the serpent's den, " but first of all they magically " (and, I may add, prudently) " in-fuse a soporific quality into these letters, whereby the dragon has his eyes overcome, losing all power to turn them away. They also sing over him many spells of mystic art, whereby he is drawn forth, and putting his neck outside the den falls asleep upon the letters : " as a schoolboy does over his spelling-book, but, happily, without the same result, a smart birching generally refreshing his intellects. " Then the Indians assail him as he lies, cut off his head, and make prizes of the gem within it," not always, however, the charm not being probably of the right sort. " Often doth the dragon seize the Indian's axe, charms, and all, and escapes with him into his hold, all but making the mountain tremble."

The Draconius, described by Albertus Magnus as of a black colour and pyramidal form, was brought from the East, and taken out of the heads of dragons while they lay panting, the virtue of the precious stone being lost if it remained in the head any time after the death of the dragon. " Some bold fellows," remarks Leonardus Camillus (1502), " in those eastern parts, search out the dens of the dragons, and in them they throw grass mixed with soporiferous medicaments, which the dragons, when they return to their dens, eat, and are thrown into a sleep, and in that condition their heads are cut off, and the stone extracted. It has a rare virtue of absorbing all poisons, especially that of serpents. It also renders the possessor bold and invincible, for which reason the kings of the East boast of having such a stone."

The Bishop of Ardfert, in Ireland, gave to St. Alban's Abbey, amongst other things, " a stone of a light airy colour, marked with white spots, called the ` Serpent's Stone,' thought to be very efficacious against lunacy. It was square in form and encompassed with silver."

We read that when Geoffrey, the sixteenth Abbot of St. Alban's, was completing the shrine of the patron saint, for which the treasury of the church was employed, a precious stone was brought, so large that a man could not grasp it in his hand, said to help women in childbirth, and therefore it was not fixed to the shrine because it might be serviceable to save women's lives. On it was carved an image, as of one in ragged clothes, holding a spear in one hand, with a snake winding itself up it, and in the other hand a boy bearing a buckler. At the feet of the image was an eagle with wings expanded, and lifted up. This stone was the gift of King Ethelred.

Ahmed Ben Abdalaziz, in his "Treatise on Jewels," says that if a snake or serpent fix his eyes on the lustre of emeralds, he immediately becomes blind. Thus Moore, in " Lalla Rookh " :

"Blinded like serpents when they gaze
Upon the emerald's virgin blaze."

Pliny asserts that a marble lion with emerald eyes was placed on the tomb of a petty king called Hermias, in the island of Cyprus, near the fisheries. Such was the extraordinary brilliancy of the emeralds, and so far out at sea did they shine, that the frightened fish fled to a great distance. The fishermen, having ascertained the cause of the scarcity of their prey, removed the emeralds, and thus induced the fish to return.

A miraculous solution of the origin of emeralds is given in " Forbes' Oriental Memoir." A person was watching a swarm of fire-flies in an Indian grove, one moonlight night. After hovering for a time in the moonbeams, one particular fire-fly, more brilliant than the rest, alighted on the grass and there remained. The spectator, struck by its fixity, and approaching to ascertain the cause, found, not an insect, but an emerald, which he appropriated, and afterwards wore in a ring.

The Shah of Persia has a little casket of gold studded with emeralds, which is said to have been blessed by Mahomet, and has the property of rendering the royal wearer invisible as long as he remains celibate. A diamond set in a scimitar and a dagger render him invincible. He has also a talismanic five-pointed star, supposed to have been worn by Rustem, called " Merzoum," and believed to make conspirators instantly confess their crimes. To test its efficacy, it was shown to the Shah's brother, who was accused of treason some time ago. He immediately confessed his fault, and implored mercy.

As a potent amulet, the Princess Badoura carried a red carnelian in a purse attached to her girdle. When the curiosity of the luckless Camaralzaman prompted him to open the purse, he found the precious stone, which was engraved with unknown figures and characters. " This carnelian," says the prince to himself, "must have something extraordinary in it, or my princess would not be at the trouble to carry it with her." And, indeed, it was Badoura's talisman, or a scheme of her nativity, drawn from the constellations of heaven, which the Queen of China had given her daughter as a charm that would keep her from any harm as long as she had it about her. The amulet, however, was snatched from the grasp of the prince by a bird of ill-omen. He, however, eventually recovers it, " and having first kissed the talisman, wrapped it in a piece of ribbon, and tied it carefully about his arm."

Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, when at Oxford, invented charms for expelling diseases, words for exorcising fiends, and mysterious characters of wonderful power, which were inscribed on valuable gems.

Pierre de Boniface, a great alchemist, and much versed in magic, who died in 1323, is the reputed author of a manuscript poem on the virtues of gems, of which the celebrated Nostradamus gives the following pretended extract :—" The Diamond renders a man invisible ; the Agate of India or Crete, eloquent and prudent, amiable and agreeable ; the Amethyst resists intoxication ; the Carnelian appeases anger ; the Hyacinth provokes sleep ; and various properties are in a similar manner ascribed to other kinds."

It was for these reasons that King John was a great admirer and collector of gems.

A topaz was said to have been presented to a monastery by the noble Lady Hildegarde, wife of Theodoric, Count of Holland, which at night emitted so brilliant a light that, in the chapel where it was kept, prayers were read without the aid of a lamp.

According to the " Honest Jeweller," a German writer of the seventeenth century, "the virtue and internal strength of the topaz are said to increase and decrease with the moonlight, and consist in the fact that when thrown into boiling water, it at once deprives it of its heat."

To the Snake-stone a popular superstition is still attached in the East. In the narrative of a voyage in H.M.S. " Samarang," Captain Sir Edward Belcher says :—" At my last interview with the Sultan (of Guning Taboor), at which he would only permit Tuan Hadji and our interpreter to be present, he conveyed into my hand (suddenly closing it with great mystery) what they term here the Snake-stone. This is a polished globe of quartz, about the size of a musket-ball, which he described as of infinite value, an heir-loom, and reported to have been extracted from the head of an enchanted snake. At first I suspected it to be a bezoar stone, but on inspection found it to be merely quartz, the grinding and polishing of which in a globular form must have required some art."

Allusions to serpents' stones are frequent by the early writers ; in the " Gesta Romanorum " (chapter cv.), we read that the Emperor Theodosius the Blind ordained that the cause of any injured person should be heard on ringing a bell, placed in a public part of his palace. A serpent had a nest near the spot where the bell-rope hung. In the absence of the serpent a toad took possession of her nest ; the serpent, twisting itself round the rope, rung the bell for justice, and by the emperor's special command the toad was killed. A few days afterwards, as the emperor was reposing on his couch, the serpent entered the chamber bearing a precious stone in its mouth, and crawling up to the emperor's face laid it on his eyes, and glided out of the apartment ; the monarch was immediately restored to sight.

The Toad-stone was supposed to possess virtues which found firm believers in many ages. Philosophers taught that " the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head."

Leonardus Camillus mentions this stone as being found in the brain of a newly-killed toad. There were, it was pretended, two kinds of these miraculous stones, of which the white was the best. Tennant, writing of the Roman fables respecting the toad-stone, says it was a principal ingredient in the incantations of nocturnal hags :

"Toad that under the cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one,
Sweltered venom, sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charméd pot."

Lupton, in his " Book of Notable Things," instructs his readers how to procure the toad-stone : " You shall knowe whether the tode stone be the ryghte or perfect stone or not. Holde the stone before a tode so that he may see it, and if it be a ryght and true stone, the tode will leape towarde it, and make as though he would snatch it. He envieth so much that none should have that stone."

If swallowed, it was a certain antidote against poison, probably on the homoeopathic principle, and it was usual to take it as a precautionary pill (rather a hard one) before eating. Erasmus, in his " Perigrinatio Religionis ergo," describes a famous toad-stone set at the feet of " Our Lady of Walsingham," as a gem " to which no name has been given by the Greeks and Romans, but the French have named it after the toad, inasmuch as it represents the figure so exactly that no art of man could do as well. And the wonder is so much the greater that the stone is very small. The figure of the toad does not project from the sur-face, but shines through, as if enclosed in the stone itself. And some—no mean authorities—add, that if the stone be put into vinegar the toad will swim therein and move its legs."

This account would almost induce the belief that the stone in question was a lump of amber, enclosing some large insect. It is painful to think of the number of toads which must have been sacrificed in by-gone days, in hopes of finding the mysterious precious stone it was supposed to possess by treasure-seekers, " midnight hags," and others.

In the " Philosophical Transactions " (vol. vi. p. 21), we find that the toad-stone was supposed, in the Highlands, to prevent the burning of houses, and the sinking of boats, and if a commander in the field had one about him, he would either be sure to win the day, or all his men would die on the spot.

The Bezoar, Bezuar, or Beza, was a stone pro-cured from the kidneys of the Cervicabra, a wild animal of Arabia, partaking of the nature of the deer and the goat, somewhat larger than the latter. This stone was supposed to have been formed of the poison of serpents, which had bitten her produce, combined with the counteracting matter with which nature had furnished it. It was a strong belief in the Middle Ages that the bezoar was a potent charm against the plague and poison, hence the origin of the name from the Persian Pad--zahr, expelling poison, or Bâd--zahr, the same meaning. Concretions of various kinds are found in the stomachs of herbivorous quadrupeds, very gene-rally having for their nucleus some small indigestible substance which has been taken into the stomach. The value of the bezoar being supposed to increase with its size, the larger ones have been sold for superstitious purposes, particularly in India, for very great prices.

In the inventory of the jewels of the Emperor Charles V., made at Yuste after his death, is the entry of "a box of black leather lined with crimson velvet, containing four bezoar stones, variously set in gold, one of which the Emperor directed to be given to William Van Male, his gentleman of the chamber, being sick (as it was suspected) of the plague." In the same inventory is mentioned " a blue stone with two clasps of gold, good for the gout."

In the warrant of indemnity for the delivery of jewels to King James I., sent into Spain to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Buckingham (1623), mention is made of " one great Bezar stone, sett in gould which was Queene Elizabethes," and " one other large Bezar stone, broken in peeces, delivered to our owne handes, by the Lord Brooke."

In the possession of Miss Levett is a silver box (of early sixteenth century work) in the form of an egg, of exquisitely pierced work, representing birds and scrolls, lined throughout with silver, and opening in the middle. This was intended to hold the " bezoar " stone.

A similar silver box for the same purpose, and about the same date, formerly belonged to Horace Walpole, and is now in the possession of J. Rainey, Esq.

At the execution of Louis de Luxembourg, Constable of France in the reign of Louis XI. (remarks Monstrelet), he said, addressing Master John Sordun, " Reverend father, here is a stone that I have long worn round my neck, and which I loved much for its virtue of preserving the wearer from all poisons and pestilence ; which stone I beg you to bear to my young son, to whom you will say that I entreat he will be careful of it, for love of me." The friar promised to obey his wishes. After the execution, however, the stone, by order of the chancellor, was delivered to the King.

The virtues of these stones fell short in the power of preserving its wearer from a violent death.

Faith in the virtues of certain precious stones for the cure of diseases was transmitted from early ages to a comparatively late period. In the church of Old St. Paul's, London, was a famous sapphire given by Richard de Preston, citizen and grocer of that city, for the cure of infirmities in the eyes of all those thus afflicted who might resort to it. In reference to Queen Elizabeth's assumed power of healing scrofulous patients by the royal touch, it was said by Vaughan, Bishop of Chester, that " she did it by virtue of some precious stone in the possession of the crown of England, that possessed such a miraculous gift." " But," observes Harrington, drily, " had Queen Elizabeth been told that the bishop ascribed more virtue to her jewels (though she loved them well) than to her person, she would never have made him Bishop of Chester."

A wonderful stone was supposed to be found in the brain of a Vulture, which gave health to the possessor, and successful results to those who petitioned for favours. The eagle-stone was another lusus naturæ as to its supposed virtue and origin, being only found in the nests of eagles which could not breed without their aid. Dioscorides gives us a curious account of its use in the detection of larceny ; all the suspected persons being called together, flour was kneaded up in their presence, sprinkled with the powder of the stone ; a certain incantation was to be repeated at the same time. The paste was then rounded into balls as large as eggs, and then given to each with a little drink, the guilty person found it impossible to swallow a mouthful, and choked in the attempt. It is singular that the Hindoos still employ a similar ordeal, in which rice is the test. The guilty conscience, has, no doubt, more to do with this miracle than the bolus itself. The eagle-stone, which is de-scribed as of a scarlet colour, rendered its owner amiable, sober, and rich, and preserved him from adverse casualties.

In the " Mercurius Rusticus " is the following entry :—" Among other things valuable for rarity and use, the rebels took from Mr. Bartlett a cock-eagle's stone, for which thirty pieces had been offered by a physician."

In the curious catalogue of Dr. Bargrave's Museum (seventeenth century), printed by the Camden Society, is mentioned the Aetites, Lapis aquilaris, or the eagle-stone " which I bought of an Armenian at Rome. They differ sometimes in colour. This is a kind of a rough, dark, sandy colour, and of the bigness of a good wallnut. It is rare and of good value, because of its excellent qualities and use, which is by applying it to child-bearing women, and to keep them from miscarriages. It is so useful that my wife can seldom keep it at home, and therefore she hath sewed the strings to the knitt-purse in which the stone is, for the convenience of the tying of it to the patient on occasion ; and bath a box, she bath, to put the purse and stone in. It were fitt that either the dean's, or vice-dean's wife (if they were marryed men) should have this stone in their custody for the public good as to neighbour-hood ; but still, that they have a great care into whose hands it be committed, and that the midwives have a care of it, so that it still be the Cathedral Church's stone."

Dr. John Bargrave, Dean of Canterbury, was born in 161o, and bequeathed his museum to Christchurch, Canterbury, 1676.

A stone in the brain of a Tortoise was said to have the efficacy of a fire-annihilator in extinguishing flames ; whoever did, at a proper time (having first washed his mouth), carry it under his tongue felt a divine inspiration to foretell future events. The time for this was the whole day of the first new moon, and the fifteen succeeding days during the lunar ascension, every day from sunrise to six o'clock, but in the decrease it poured forth its virtue in the night.

Cabot, a stone in a particular fish, possessed the power of foretelling weather, being clear and shiny when the skies were favourable, and cloudy when portending storms.

The pretty little Swallow was in former times a greater conjurer than it is considered at present, having, it was believed, two precious stones in the stomach—a red one for curing insanity, and a black one, ensuring " good luck " to its fortunate possessor. Tied about the neck in a yellow linen cloth, they pre-vented fevers and cured the jaundice. According to some writers, the stones were to be wrapt in the skin of a calf or a hart, and bound to the left arm. The stones were to be extracted while the' young brood stood in their nest, and if taken in the month of August they would be more perfect, provided the young birds did not touch the earth, nor their mothers be present when they were extracted.

The Alectorius, a stone worn by the wrestler Milo, was so called from being taken out of the gizzard of a fowl.

The Aspilates, a fiery stone, was said by Democritus to be found in the nests of Arabian birds.

A stone like a crystal, as large as a bean, extracted from a Cock, was affirmed by the Romans to render its possessor invisible. In the Middle Ages, for this fiction was substituted another, that the wearer of the stone would never feel thirsty (like a dryad), and the proper cock that had the stone was to be discovered by his never drinking with his food, like other fowls !

The Wag-tail came in for a share of preternatural distinction, but to develop the potent virtues of the stone it was believed to possess, it was necessary to wear it in an iron ring.

A man might make himself invisible whenever he pleased if he possessed a Raven-stone, a talisman which is procured in New Pomerania in the following manner. When you have discovered' a raven's nest, you must climb the tree, and take your chance that the parent birds are at least a hundred years old, for otherwise you will have your trouble for nothing. You are then to kill one of the nestlings, which must be a male bird, and not more than six weeks old. Then you may descend the tree, but be very careful to mark well the spot where it stands, for by-and-by it will become invisible, as soon as the raven comes back and lays a raven-stone in the throat of its dead nestling. When it does, you may go up again and secure the stone.

The Hyena was very properly hunted, not, how-ever, for its ferocious propensities, but for a precious stone in one of its eyes, which, when placed under the tongue of its fortunate finder, enabled him to unriddle the future. It was also a preservative from the ague and the gout.

AElian relates a curious story about the Carbunculus (ruby), how a certain widow, Heraclea, had tended a young stork that, having fallen from its nest before it was fully fledged, had broken its leg, and how the grateful bird, on returning from its annual migration, dropped into her lap, as she sat at the door, a precious stone, which, on her awaking at night, had lighted up her chamber like a blazing torch. Philostratus speaks of the Lychnis stone, as placed by the stork in its neck, as an amulet against serpents.

The fabulous animal called the " Carbunculo," said to have been seen in some parts of Peru, is represented to be about the size of a fox, with long black hair, and is only visible at night, when it slinks slowly through the thickets. If followed, it is said to open a flap or valve in the forehead, from under which an extraordinary and brilliant light issues. The natives believe that the light proceeds from a precious stone, and that any foolhardy person who may venture to grasp at it rashly is blinded ; then the flap is let down, and the animal disappears in the darkness. Such are the stories related by the Indians ; and it appears that the belief in the existence of the Carbunculo has prevailed in Peru from the earliest times, and certainly before the Conquest ; so that its introduction cannot be attributed to the Spaniards. It is even prevalent among most of the wild Indians, by whom the early missionaries were told the stories, which they, in their turn, repeated about the animal. As yet, nobody has been able to capture one ; the Spaniards always showed themselves very anxious to obtain possession of the precious jewel ; and the viceroy, during the Spanish occupation, in the official instructions to the missionaries, placed the Carbunculo in the first order of desiderata. What animal may have served as a foundation for these fabulous stones, it is difficult to say ; probably one that seeks its prey by night, and the flashing of whose eyes, when excited, may have led to such a fable.

Alardus (i 539) describes the stone mentioned in page 14 as a topaz, to have been a carbuncle :

"Amongst other stones of the most precious quality, and therefore beyond all price, and not to be estimated by any equivalent of human riches, the gift of that most noble lady Hildegarde, formerly wife of Theodoric, Count of Holland, which she had caused to be set in a gold tablet of truly inestimable value, and which she had dedicated to St. Adalbert, the patron of the town of Egmund : among these gems, I say, there was a Chrysolampis, commonly called an Osculan, which in the night-time so lighted up the entire chapel on all sides, that it served instead of lamps for the reading of the hours late at night, and would have served the same purpose to the present day, had not the hope of gain caused it to be stolen by a run-away Benedictine monk, the most greedy creature that ever went on two legs. He threw it into the sea close by Egmund, for fear of being convicted of sacrilege by the possession of such a gem. Some traces of this stone still remain in the upper border of the before-mentioned tablet."

A stone extracted from the Wild Ass was esteemed a cure for epilepsy, and made its possessor unconquered in battle ; t taken with wine, it drove away quartan ague.

Corvia was the name of a stone obtained from the nest of a crow. Leonardus Camillus, in his " Mirror of Stones," explains how this precious stone was obtained :—" On the calends of April, boil the eggs taken out of a crow's nest until they are hard, and being cold, let them be placed in the nest, as they were before. When the crow knows this, she flies a long way to find the stone, and returns with it to her nest, and the eggs being touched with it, they become fresh and prolific. The stone must immediately be snatched out of the nest. Its virtue is to increase riches, to bestow honours and foretell future events."

The Doriatides was a black and shining stone, found in the head of a cat, suddenly cut off, which conferred the gratification of every wish to its fortunate possessor.

A precious stone, the Lyncurium, was generated by the lynx : among other virtues, it cured the king's evil.

The Lippares, or Liparia, was a stone to which all kinds of animals came of their own accord, as it were by a natural instinct, and found in Lybia. It was supposed to have a wonderful power in defending animals; and when a beast was pursued by the hunters, it hastened to find out this stone for protection, for as long as the animal looked upon the stone, no hunts-man could see his victim.

A stone extracted from the head of a Snail without a shell, of a white colour, small, and like a piece of a human nail, cured fever when hung around the neck.

The Quirinus, or Quirus, a juggling stone found in the nest of the hoopoe, when laid upon the breast of a sleeping person, forced him to discover his rogueries.

The Epistides, a red glittering stone, when fastened over the heart with magical bands, and on repeating certain verses for the occasion, kept a man safe from every misfortune. It drove away locusts and mischievous birds, blighting winds and storms. The Exebonos, a white stone, being bruised and drank, cured insanity. The Eumetis, the colour of flint, when put under the head of a sleeping person, rendered him prophetic. The Emere, of a grassy colour, was by the Assyrians consecrated to their gods, and was a "superstitious " gem. The Elopsides, when hung about the neck, cured headache.

Filaterius, a stone of the colour of the chrysolite, dispersed terrors and melancholic passions, rendered the bearer complaisant and comforted the spirits. A red Fongites, if carried in the hand, removed all ailments of the body and assuaged anger.

The Granati, of a dark red, or reddish violet, cheered the heart, and protected the wearer from pestilential diseases. The Galactides, known under different names by magicians, was declared by them to render magical writings to be heard, and ghosts called up to return answers to questions. It also possessed the far more valuable qualities of burying quarrels and mischief in oblivion, and reuniting in love those who had been at variance. If held in the mouth, it would let the owner know what opinions were formed of him by others. A test of its genuineness was to smear one's body with honey, and then expose it to the flies ; if the stone was true, the flies and bees kept off.

The Gargates, which Solinus affirms were found in large quantities in our country, on being heated with rubbing, would drive away devils with the smoke, dissolve spells and enchantments, and helped the dropsical. They healed the bites of serpents when mixed with the marrow of a stag, and fastened loose teeth. The Gasidana, a stone of a swan colour, was said to have the power of generating within itself on being shaken. The Glosopetra, a stone like the human tongue, was believed to fall from heaven in the wane of the moon, and, according to the magicians, excited lunar motions.

The Hamonis, a stone of a gold colour, was numbered among the most sacred gems, and had the shape of a ram's horn. It was found in Ethiopia. If a man holding this stone placed himself in an attitude of contemplation, his mind became divinely inspired.

A stone called Demonius was a preservative against agues, and rendered the wearer invisible. The Diadochus, described like the beryl in colour, disturbed devils, and if thrown into water with a charm repeated, it showed various images of devils, and gave answers to those who questioned it ; being held in the mouth, any spirit from the "vasty deep" might be summoned. It was only deprived of its virtues on touching a dead body.

The Heliotrope (Sun-turner), called by necromancers the Babylonian gem, if inscribed with certain characters, would enable its owner to foretell future events, and if rubbed over with the juice of the herb of its own name, it rendered the wearer invisible. It secured safety and long life ; poisons submitted to it ; and it was supposed to collect clouds and raise tempests. In the Middle Ages, the heliotropes which contained many red spots were highly valued, from a belief that the blood of Christ was diffused through the stone.

In a "Booke of the Thinges that are brought from the West Indies " (published in 1574, translated from the Spanish in 1580), we read :—" They doo bring from the New Spain a stone of great virtue, called the Stone of the Blood. The Bloodstone is a kind of jasper of divers colours, somewhat dark, full of sprinkles like to blood, being of colour red, of the which stones the Indians dooth make certayne Hartes, both great and small. The use thereof both there and here is for all fluxe of blood, and of wounds. The stone must be wet in cold water, and the sick man must take him in his right hand, and from time to time wet him in cold water. In this sort the Indians doe use them. And as touching the Indians, they have it for certain, that touching the same stone in some part where the blood runneth, that it doth restrain, and in this they have great trust, for that the effect hath been seen."

The jacinth possessed extraordinary properties, driving away fever and dropsy, clearing the sight, expelling noxious fancies, restraining luxury, rendering the wearer victorious, powerful, and agreeable ; if set in gold, these virtues were greatly increased. The Kynocetus had power to cast out devils. The Lignite conferred prophetic powers, and was a preservative against witches.

The Moonstone, popularized in a work of fiction by Wilkie Collins was, as its name implies, an object of special veneration from its supposed lunar attraction. It is one of the prettiest, though most common of precious stones in Ceylon. Pliny describes it as shining with a yellow lustre from a colourless ground, and containing an image of the moon, " Which, if the story be true," he observes, " daily waxes or wanes according to the state of that luminary." Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes, in the eleventh century, who wrote a treatise on the miraculous virtues of precious stones, describes similarly this stone, and terms it " sacred."

Coral beads were worn in India as amulets ; the Romans tied little branches round their children's necks to keep off the evil eye. Orpheus, the gem-poet of the Greeks, attributes wonderful powers to coral, the gift of Minerva ; it baffled witchcraft, counteracted poisons, protected from tempests and from robbers, and mixed in powder with seed-corn (rather an expensive agricultural agent) secured growing crops from thunder-storms, blight, caterpillars, and locusts—in fact, it was a true farmer's friend.

Amber, which was prettily defined to be the tears of the Electrides dropped on the death of their brother, Phaëthon, was also worn by children as an amulet, and by adults as a charm against insanity ; worn round the neck it cured the ague.

The Shah of Persia wears around his neck a cube of amber reported to have fallen from heaven in the time of Mahomet, and which has the property of rendering him invulnerable. Ground up with honey and rose oil it was a specific against deafness, and mixed with Attic honey prevented dimness of sight.

Tacitus describes the amber-gatherers as a sacred nation worshipping the mother of the gods, Hertha.

The learned professor of Copenhagen, Olaus Worm, alludes to the popular notions and superstitions current respecting amber. By his account it would seem to have been received as a panacea, sovereign for asthma, dropsy, toothache, and a multitude of diseases. Bartholomaeus Glanvilla, in his work, " De Proprietatibus Rerum," who seems to regard amber as a kind of jet, describes it as driving away adders, and contrary to friends.

Chalcedony hung about the neck dispersed melancholy ; if a person carried one perforated, with the hair of an ass run through it, he would overcome all contentions, and be preserved from tempests and sinister events.

Crystal hung about the neck of sleepers, kept off bad dreams and dissolved spells of witchcraft. The Chrysoprasus gave assiduity in good works, banished covetousness, and made the heart glad. The Chrysolite expelled phantoms, and, what was more service-able, rid people of their follies ; bound round with gold and carried in the left hand, it dispersed night hags. The Citrini (yellow corundum) protected the wearer from dangers in travelling, secured him from pestilential vapours, and gave him favour with princes.

The Onyx was believed in the Middle Ages to expose its owner to the assaults of demons, ugly dreams by night, and, worse than these, law-suits by day ; a Sard worn with it, however, was said to counteract these mischievous influences. Great virtues were ascribed to the Opal by our ancestors, of which superstition Sir Walter Scott availed himself in the episode of the Baroness Hermione of Arnheim, in " Anne of Geierstein," when the opal worn by the lady on which a drop of holy water had rested shot out a brilliant spark like a falling light, and then became lightless and colourless as a common pebble. Marbodus tells us that the opal conferred the gift of invisibility on the wearer. Opalus was supposed to be only another form of ophthalmius, " eye-stone," whence sprang these notions of its virtue. So far was the opal from being considered unlucky in the Middle Ages, that it was believed to possess united the special virtue of every gem with whose distinctive colour it was emblazoned. Petrus Arlensis (temp. Henry IV.) says, " The various colours in the opal tend greatly to the delectation of the sight."

If a Russian of either sex or of any rank, should happen to see an opal among goods submitted for purchase, he or she will buy nothing that day, for the opal is, in the judgment of the subjects of the Czar, the embodiment of the "evil eye." It is probable the same superstition will be found in other countries.

The .Jasper was a charmer of scorpions and spiders, and was used as a talisman by the Roman athlete. The Granatus (an imperfect kind of ruby) Burton tells us in his " Anatomy of Melancholy," " if hung about the neck, or taken in drink, much resisteth sorrow and recreates the heart." The same qualities were ascribed to the hyacinth and topaz.

The crystal has been the most popular of all oracles. The favourite stone was a Beryl. The custom was to consecrate or " charge" them, as the modern term is, for which purpose set forms were used. Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft," gives that for St. Helen, whose name was to be written on the crystal with olive oil, under a cross marked in the same manner, while the operator was turned eastward. A child, born in wedlock, and perfectly innocent, was then to take the crystal in his hands, and the operator, kneeling behind him, was to repeat a prayer to St. Helen, that whatsoever he wished might become evident in that stone. In fine, the saint herself would appear in the crystal in an angelic form, and answer any question put to her. This charm was directed to be tried just at sunrising, and in fine clear weather.

" A Berill" (says Aubrey, in his "Miscellanies") " is a kind of crystal that has a weak tincture of red. In this magicians see visions. There are certain formulas of prayer to be used before they make the inspection, which they term a ` call: James Harrington (author of ` Oceana') told me that the Earl of Denbigh, then ambassador at Venice, did tell him that one did show him three several times in a glass things past and to come. When Sir Marmaduke Langdale was in Italy, he went to one of these magi, who did show him a glass, where he saw himself kneeling before a crucifix. He was then a Protestant; afterwards he became a Roman Catholic."

The celebrated crystal of that prince of magical quackery, Dr. Dee, is still preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. The infatuation of seeing things in a beryl was very popular in the reign of James I., and is alluded to by Shakspeare.

Among the MSS. belonging to John Guthrie, Esq., of Guthry, Scotland, is a tiny duodecimo volume, in a parchment cover, and in writing of the seventeenth century, filled with prayers and conjurations for revealing of secrets and exorcising evil spirits. There are many diagrams and drawings of figures to be used in these processes, some of them with reference to lunar and stellar observations. Among much curious matter we find, " An Experiment to be scene in a Christall Stone.—Take a Chris-tall stone or glasse, most clear, without a craise, and wrape about it a pece of harte's lether, saying, `In the name of the Holy Trinity, and of the hey (sic) Deity. Amen.' Then holde the cristalle in the beam when the O is most bright, at the hottest of the day, and say these con(jurations) subscribed, and by and by you shall sie the spirite peradventer, appeiring himselfe ; then say to him—' I con( jure) thee, spirit, by the vertue of all things aforesayd, that thou deperte out of this christall, and bring with thee thy fellowes in any honest and decente forme apparelled, some in blew and some in yealowe.'

" For som tyme he commeth alone, hiding his head, sometime in a cloke, some tyme in a gowne ; then commande him or them, if you worke for thefte, to goe out of the cristall, and that they come againe, bringing or representing the forme or shape of the thefe or theves and things stolne, or which shall be stolne—et fiat—and he will bringe with him the theves, and will shewe them with his finger, and their names, if thou wilt ; also thou maiest aske and be certified of Treasure hid under the ground, how thoumaiest have it, when it was laid there ; and so you may be certified of parents, frindes, or enemyes being far or neare distant, or what other thing you will require."

The Ruby, bruised in water, relieved infirmities of the eyes, and helped disordered livers : if the four corners of a house, garden, or vineyard, were touched with it, they would be preserved from lightning, tempests, and worms : it also dispersed infectious air : when worn, it was impossible to conceal it, as its lustre would show itself beneath the thickest clothes.

Powdered Agate, mixed with water, counteracted the poison of serpents. This stone was in great re-quest among the Romans for its medicinal and talismanic properties. Pliny quotes the magii as teaching in Persia that storms could be averted by burning agates. The tree-agate of the ancients, or the light green, mottled with yellow, jasper of our time, was supposed to insure fertile crops if tied around the ploughman's arm or the horns of the oxen that ploughed the field. Galen says that the green jasper benefits the chest, if tied upon it. The virtues of the agate descended to the days of Queen Elizabeth, who received from no less an eminent personage than Archbishop Parker, the present of one, with an inscription on parchment detailing its miraculous properties. In the reign of James VI. of Scotland (1622) we find enumerated among the valuables left by George, Earl Marischal, " ane jaspe stane for steming of bluid." The belief in the medicinable virtues of stones was not uncommon at this period.

The Amethyst was in great requisition among the Greek and Roman topers, from a belief that it had the power of preventing intoxication, made them vigilant and expert in business, expelled poison, gave victory to soldiers, and secured an easy capture of wild beasts and birds. The Peruvians believed that if the names of the sun and moon were engraved upon it, and it was hung round the neck with the hair of a baboon or the feathers of a swallow, it was a charm against witchcraft. The Sapphire had the useful virtues ascribed to it of healing boils, restoring impaired sight, extinguishing fires, and mending the manners of its wearer. The Emerald was also a strengthener of the eyes, and the ancients were never tired of looking at their rings when garnished with this jewel. A similar property was said to be possessed by the Turquoise, which was also a cheerer of the soul, and diverted the consequences of any fall that might happen to the wearer. Mediaeval writers ascribe other wonderful virtues to the turquoise, a list of which is given by De Boot : it grew paler as its owner sickened, lost its colour entirely at his death, but recovered it when placed upon the finger of a new and healthy possessor ; suspended by a string within a glass, it told the hour by the exact number of strokes against the sides. " Whoever," says Van Helmont, " wears a turquoise, so that it or its gold setting touches the skin, `vel non, perinde est,' may fall from any height ; and the stone attracts to itself the whole force of the blow, so that it cracks, and the person is safe."

The Marquis of Villena had a fool, who, on being asked by a knight what were the properties of a turquoise, replied, " Why, if you have a turquoise about you, and should fall from the top of a tower and be dashed to pieces, the stone would not break ! "

The author of the Orphic poem on stones mentions one in the possession of Helenus, which not only uttered oracular responses, but was perceived to breathe (ver. 339 et seq.). Photius (coll. 242, p. 1062, from the Life of Isidorus by Damascius) mentions another in the possession of a certain Eusebius.

Precious stones gave a miraculous power of adopting a small or a large stature at will. Such is ascribed to King Laurin in the " Little Garden of Roses " :

"Little was King Laurin, but from many a precious gem
His wondrous strength and power and his bold courage came;
Tall at times his stature grew with spells of gramarye,
Then to the noblest princes fellow might he be."

The Romans regarded the Diamond with superstitious reverence : fastened on the left arm so as to touch the skin, all nocturnal fears were said to be pre-vented. Pliny tells us that it baffles poison, keeps off insanity, and dispels vain fears. It could only be broken by steeping it in goat's milk. " The diamond," observes Ben Mansur, alluding to its electric properties, "has an affinity for gold, small particles of which fly towards it. It is also wonderfully sought after by ants, which crowd over it, as though they would swallow it up." The diamond was considered to possess the power of counteracting poison, and this belief, current through ages, continued to a comparatively late period.

A diamond ring was given to Mary, Queen of Scots, by Ruthven, as a talisman against danger. After the assassination of Rizzio, the Queen asked Ruthven what kindness there was between him and Moray (her natural brother), for the latter had told her Ruthven was a sorcerer, and endeavoured to persuade her to punish him for his diabolic acts. Ruthven, on being thus questioned, admitted that the ring had no more virtue than another ring.

"Remember you not," said the Queen, "that it had a virtue in it to keep me from poison ? "

" Liketh your Grace, I said so much," answered Ruthven, " that the ring had that virtue, but I take that evil opinion out of your head."

On the other idea, a superstitious belief prevailed that the diamond itself was the most dangerous of poisons. Benvenuto Cellini, in his strange "Memoirs," relates how his life was preserved by the roguery of an apothecary, who, being employed to pulverize a diamond with the intention of poisoning him, and in-tended to be mixed in a salad, substituted in its place a piece of beryl, as cheaper. The diamond is also enumerated among the poisons administered to Sir Thomas Overbury, when a prisoner in the Tower. In the inventory of Queen Mary's jewels at Fotheringay Castle, two precious stones are mentioned—" one medicinable and against poison," the other " medicinable for the collicke."

Sir John Mandeville has some singular notions on diamonds, partly, however, derived from Pliny. He says :—" They grow together, male and female, and are nourished by the dew of heaven ; and they en-gender commonly, and bring forth small children that multiply and grow all the year. I have oftentimes tried the experiment, that if a man keep them with a little of the rock, and wet them with May-dew often, they shall grow every year, and the small will grow great, for right as the fine pearl congeals and grows great by the dew of heaven, right so doth the true diamond ; and right as the pearl of its own nature takes roundness, so the diamond, by virtue of God, takes squareness. And a man should carry the diamond on his left side, for it is of greater virtue than on the right side ; for the strength of their growing is toward the north, that is the left side of the world ; and the left part of the man is, when he turns his face towards the east. And if you wish to know the virtues of the diamond (as men may find in the ` Lapidary,' with which many men are not acquainted) I shall tell you as they beyond the sea say and affirm, from whom all science and philosophy comes. He who carries the diamond upon him, it gives him hardiness and manhood, and it keeps the limbs of his body whole. It gives him victory over his enemies, in court and in war, if his cause is just ;* and it keeps him that bears it in good wit ; and it keeps him from strife and riot ; from sorrows and enchantments ; and from phantasies and illusions of wicked spirits. And if any cursed witch or enchanter would bewitch him that bears the diamond, all that sorrow and mischance shall fall to the offender, through virtue of that stone, and also no wild beast dare assail the man who bears it on him. Also, the diamond should be given freely, with-out coveting and without buying, and then it is of a greater virtue ; and it makes a man stronger and firmer against his enemies ; and heals him that is a lunatic, and those whom the fiend pursues or torments. And if venom or poison be brought in presence of the diamond, anon it begins to grow moist and sweat. Nevertheless, it happens often that the good diamond loses its virtue by sin, and for incontinence of him who bears it ; and then it is needful to make it recover its virtue again, or else it is of little value."

With regard to the indestructibility of the diamond, Ben Mansur tells us that one laid upon an anvil, instead of breaking, is drawn into the anvil, so that the only plan of reducing it is to wrap it in lead, " which is fabulous," says Leonardus, " for I have seen many broke with a blow of the hammer." Boethius de Boot, speaking of precious stones as " the abode of angels," states that the diamond is not only proof against fire, but actually improves by exposure to its action for several days !

In ages succeeding those of the Greek and Roman philosophers, superstitious notions regarding precious stones were current. Chemical science was wanting to explain in its simple and natural way many perplexities and uncertainties. We find St. Jerome gravely writing that the sapphire conciliates to its wearer the condescension of princes, quells his enemies, disperses sorcery, sets free the captive, and even assuages the wrath of God Himself! This was no transient fancy or superstition of an individual writer, rather it formed part of a system handed on from age to age with undiminished vitality, as may be seen from reading the work on precious stones by Bishop Marboeuf, of Rennes, in the eleventh century, when he versified their talismanic efficacy. Among whole pages of similarly astounding nonsense, he gravely asserts that the heliotrope endows its bearer with the gift of prophecy, and is an immunity from poison, besides, with requisite ceremonies, rendering him in-visible.

The mysterious virtues ascribed to precious stones are mentioned in the annals of Richard I., who, in 1191, took the island of Cyprus, and is said to have found the castle filled with rich furniture of gold and silver—" Necnon lapidibus pretiosus, et plurimum virtutem habentibus."

Camillus Leonardus, whom I have several times quoted, a physician of Pisaro, in Italy, wrote " The Mirror of Stones " (i 502), dedicated to C usar Borgia, his patron, and treating upon the virtues of jewels, remarks : " Whatever can be thought of as beneficial to mankind may be confirmed to them by the virtue of stones. Yet this is to be noted that in precious stones there is sometimes one virtue, sometimes two, sometimes three, and sometimes many, and that these virtues are not caused by the beauty of the stone, since some of them are most unsightly, and yet have a great virtue, and sometimes the most beautiful have none at all, and, therefore, we may safely conclude, with the most famous doctors, that there are virtues in stones, as well as in other things, but how this is effected is variously controverted."

In the alliterative poem of Richard of Maidstone on the deposition of King Richard the Second (preserved among the Digby Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford), we find the virtues of precious stones thus described. The monarch was—

" Crouned with a croune, that Kyng under hevene
Might not a better have boute as I trowe;
So ffull was it ffilled with vertuous stones,
With perlis of prise to punnysshe the wrongis,
With rubies rede the right for to deme,
With gemmes and juellis joyned to-gedir,
And pees amonge the peple ffor peyne of thi lawis.
It was full goodeliche y-grave with gold al aboute ;
The braunchis above boren grett chanre;
With diamauntis derne y-dountid of all
That wroute ony wrake within or withoute ;
With lewte and love y-loke to thi peeris,
And sapheris swete that soughte all wrongis,
Y-poudride wyth pete ther it be oughte,
And traylid with trouthe, and trefle al aboute,
Ffor ony cristen Kynge a croune well y-makyd."

A marvellous curative power was supposed to exist in a diamond belonging to the Rajah of Matara in the Island of Borneo, the Malays believing that the drinking water in which it had been placed would remove every disease. So greatly was it esteemed that the Governor of Batavia offered the Rajah an enormous sum of money for it, besides two ships of war, fully equipped ; but this was refused, not only from the faith in its healing properties, but it was also believed that the safety of the dynasty depended upon its safe custody. In this latter respect the famous Koh-i-noor, in the possession of Queen Victoria, is regarded in a similar manner by the natives of India, who consider its transfer to denote the downfall of their former rulers.

Even in the seventeenth century, a writer, in some respects ingenuous, thus expatiates on the wonderful efficacy of certain precious stones : " No one will attribute these faculties to jewels as natural to them, but only to the spirits to whom God hath permitted and committed the exercise of such faculties. Perhaps the substance of the jewels, in consequence of their beauty, their lustre and their dignity, are considered suitable for the dwelling and receptacle of good spirits, and thus when marvellous effects are operated by precious stones, such are not to be attributed to their natural qualities, but to the spirits."

Reginald Scot, in his " Discoverie of Witchcraft " (1584), devotes several chapters to the enumeration of the superstitious properties ascribed to precious stones in his time, dealing heavy blows at the popular credulity. " Various magicians affirme," he says, " that these stones receive their virtues altogether of the planets and heavenlie bodies, and have not onelie the verie operation of the planets, but sometimes the verie images and impressions of the starres naturalie engraffed in them, and otherwise ought always have graven upon them the similitudes of such monsters, beasts, and other devises as they imagine to be both internallie in operation, and externallie in view, expressed in the planets. As, for example, upon the agate are graven serpents or venemous beasts, and sometimes a man riding on a serpent, which they know to be Esculapius, which is the celestial serpent, whereby are cured (they saie) poisons and stingings of serpents and scorpions. These grow in the river of Achates, where the greatest scorpions are ingendred, and their noisomnes is thereby qualified, and by the force of the scorpions the stone's vertue is quickened and increased. . . . The desires of the mind are consonant with the nature of the stones, which must also be set in rings, and upon foiles of such metals as have affinitie with those stones, through the operation of the planets whereunto they are addicted, whereby they may gather the greater force of their working. As, for example, they make the images of Saturn in lead, of Sol in gold, of Luna in silver. Marrie, there is no small regard to be had for the certeine and due times to be observed in the graving of them ; for so are they made with more life, and the influences and configurations of the planets are made thereby the more to abound in them. As if you will procure love, you must worke in apt, proper, and friendlie aspects as in the houre of Venus, &c. ; to make debate, the direct contrarie order is to be taken. If you determine to make the image of Venus, you must expect to be under Aquarius or Capricornis ; for Saturn, Taurus, and Libra must be taken heed of. Manie other observations there be, as to avoid the unfortunate seate and place of the planets, when you would bring a happie thing to passe, and speciallie that it be not donne in the end, declination, or hale (as they term it) of the course thereof ; for then the planet moneth and is dull.

" Such signes as ascend in the daie, must be taken in the daie ; if in the night they increase, then must you go to worke by night ; for in Aries, Leo, and Sagittarie is a certeine triplicitie, wherein the Sunne hath dominion by daie, Jupiter by night, and in the twielight, the cold star of Saturne. But because there shall be no excuse wanting for the faults espied herein. they saie that the virtues of all stones decaie through tract of time ; so as such things are not now to be looked for in all respects as are written. Howbeit Jaunes and Jambres were living in that time, and in no inconvenient place, and therefore not unlike to have that helpe towardes the abusing of Pharao.

" Cardane saith that although men attribute no small force unto such scales ; as to the scale of the sunne,* authorities, honors, and favors of princes ; of-Jupiter, riches and friends ; of Venus, pleasures ; of Mars, boldness ; of Mercury, diligence ; of Saturne, patience and induring of labour ; of Luna, favour of people ; I am not ignorant (saith he) that stones doo good, and yet I knowe the scales or figures do none at all. And when Cardane had shewed fullie that art, and the follie thereof, and the manner of those terrible, prodigious, and deceitful figures of the planets with their characters, &c., he saith that those were deceitfull inventions devised by couseners, and had no vertue indeed, nor truth in them. But because we spake somewhat even now of signets and scales, I will shew you what I read reported by Vincentius in suo speculo, where making mention of the jasper stone whose nature and propertie Marbodeus Gallus describeth in the verses following :

"`Seven kinds and ten of jasper stones reported are to be,
Of many colours this is knowne which noted is by me,
And said in manie places of the world for to be seene,
Where it is bred ; but yet the best is thorough shining greene,
And that which prooved is to have in it more vertue plast ;
For being borne about of such as are of living chaste,
It drives awaie their ague fits, the dropsy thirsting dry,
And put unto a woman weake in travell which dooth lie,
It helps, assists, and comforts her in pangs when she dooth crie.
Againe it is beleeved to be a safegard franke and free,
To such as weare and beare the same ; and if it hallowed bee
It makes the parties gratious and mightie too that have it,
And noysome fansies las they write that ment not to deprave it)
It dooth displace out of the mind ; the force thereof is stronger
In silver, if the same be set, and will endure the longer.'

" But (as I said) Vincentius, making mention of the jasper stone, touching which (by the waie of a parenthesis) I have inferred Marbodeus, his verses, he saith that some jasper stones are found having in them the livelie image of a naturall man, with a sheeld at his necke, and a speare in his hand, and under his feete a serpent ; which stones so marked and figured, he preferreth before all the rest, because they are antidotaries, or remedies, notablie resisting poison. Othersome are also found figured and marked with the forme of a man bearing on his necke a bundle of hearbs and flowers, with the estimation and value of them noted, that they have in them a facultie or power restrictive, and will in an instant or moment of time staunch blood. Such a kind of stone (as it is reported) Galen wore on his finger. Othersome are marked with a crosse, as the same author writeth, and these be right excellent against inundations or overflowings of waters. I could hold you long occupied. in declarations like unto these, wherein I laie before you what other men have published and set forth to the world, choosing rather to be an academical discourser, than an universall determiner, but I am desirous of brevities.'

" Herein," observes Reginald Scot, in another chapter, " consisteth a part of witchcraft and common cousenage used sometimes by the Lapidaries for gaines : sometimes of others for cousening purposes."

The Marbodeus,, quoted by Scot, was Marboeuf, Bishop of Rennes, who wrote a Latin poem between I067-1081, the " Lapidarium," a tissue of marvels, charms, and talismans in connection with precious stones, as already mentioned.

In the Journal of Sir Jerome Horsey, employed as a messenger between Ivan the Terrible and Queen Elizabeth, referred to in Dean Stanley's " Eastern Churches," is a curious account of the superstitious notions prevalent at that period (1584).

" The old Emperor," writes Horsey, " was carried every day in his chair to his Treasury. One day he beckoned me to follow. I stood among the rest venturously, and heard him call for some precious stones and jewels. Told the princes and nobles present before and about him, the vertue of such and such which I observed, and do pray I may a little digress to declare for my own memory's sake. ` The load-stone you all know hath great and hidden virtue, with-out which the seas that encompass the world, are not navigable, nor the bounds nor circle of the earth can-not be known. Mahomet, the Persians' prophet, his tomb of steel hangs on their Rapetta at Darbent, most miraculously.'

" Caused the waiters to bring a chain of needles touched by the loadstone—hanged all one by the other. ` This fair coral and this fair turcas you see : take it in your hand ; of his nature are orient colours, put them on my hand and arm. I am poisoned with disease, you see they show their virtue by the change of their pure colour into pale ;—declares my death. Reach out my staff royal, an unicorn's horn, garnished with very fair diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones that are rich in value, cost 70,000 marks sterling of David Gower, from the fowlkers of Ousborghe ; seek out for some spiders.'

" Caused his physician Johannes Lloff, to scrape a circle thereof, on the table ; put within it one spider, and so one other, and died, and some other without that ran alive apace from it. ` It is too late, it will not preserve me.'

" ` Behold these precious stones. This diamond is the Orient's richest and most precious of all others. I never affected it. It restrains fury and luxury, (gives ?) abstinence and chastity. The least parcel of it in powder will poison a horse given in drink, much more a man.' Points at the ruby. ` Oh, this is most comfortable to the heart, brain, vigour, and memory of man, clarifies congealed and corrupt blood.' Then at the emerald. ` The nature of the rainbow, this precious stone is an enemy to uncleanness. The sapphire I greatly delight in ; it preserves and increaseth courage, joys the heart, pleasing to all the vital senses, precious and very sovereign for the eyes, cheers the sight, takes away blood-shot, and strengthens the muscles and strings thereof.' Then takes the onyx in hand. ` All these are God's wonderful gifts, secrets in nature, and yet reveals them to man's use and contemplation as friends to grace and virtue, and enemies to vice. I faint, carry me away till another time.' "

This monster of wickedness, who murdered his eldest son, in 1584, in a barbarous manner, had him buried in Michaela Sweat (St. Michael) Archangel Church, with jewels, precious stones, and apparel, put into his tomb with his corpse, worth £50,000, watched by twelve citizens, every night, by change.

The Eastern fictions respecting precious stones were transmitted through many ages, and were the delight of old writers in our own country. In the Middle Ages, perhaps none attracted a more reverential and poetic feeling than the San Graal, Gral, or Greal (a word derived, probably, from the old French, perhaps Celtic gréai, Provençal grazal, mediæval Latin gradalis, signifying a kind of dish). In. the legends and poetry of the Middle Ages we find many notices of this miraculous object, which was represented as a chalice, made of a single precious stone, sometimes said to be an emerald, which possessed the power of preserving chastity, prolonging life, and other wonderful properties. This chalice was believed to have been first brought from Heaven by angels, and was one from which Christ drank at the Last Supper. It was pre-served by St. Joseph of Arimatha, and in it were caught the last drops of the blood of Christ as He was taken from the Cross. This holy chalice, thus trebly sanctified, was guarded by angels, and then by the Templises, a society of knights chosen for their chastity and devotion, who watched over it in a temple-like castle on the inaccessible mountain Montsalvage. The legend, as it grew, appears to have combined Arabian, Jewish, and Christian elements, and it became the favourite subjects of the poets and romancers of the Middle Ages. The eight centuries of warfare between the Christians and Moors in Spain, and the foundation of the Order of the Knights Templars, aided in its development. The stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, so beautifully enchased in English poesy by Tennyson, were connected with this legend. About 1170, Chrétien of Troyes, and after him other troubadours, sang of the search for the holy graal by the Knights of the Round Table, in which they met with extraordinary adventures—a subject revived in all the beauty of poetry and romance, seven hundred years afterwards, by our poet laureate :

" The cup, the cup itself, from which our Lord
Drank at the last sad supper with His own.
This, from the blessed land of Aromat—
After the day of darkness, when the dead
Went wandering o'er Moriah—the good saint
Arimathæan Joseph, journeying brought
To Glastonbury, where the winter thorn
Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord.
And there awhile it bode ; and if a man
Could touch or see it, he was healed at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappear'd."

The metropolitan cathedral of Saint Lawrence at Genoa claims a very dubious possession of the reputed valuable emerald dish, known to the Catholic world as Il Sacro Catino. Its history, making due allowance for questionable tradition, is that at the siege of Palestine in i 101, the Genoese selected this as the choicest prize. Until i 809, they kept it almost sacredly ; the French then took it away, but were compelled to restore it in 1815, but it was returned in a broken state. From its size, as an emerald, it was invaluable when perfect, and the legend stated that our Saviour had eaten the Paschal lamb off it with His disciples, and that it was one of the presents of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, who had preserved it in the Temple. Unfortunately for all these invaluable influences, the emerald dish, once in the power of the French, was subjected to chemical analysis, and was found to be a spurious composition of green glass.

In the Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève for September, 1839, the San Graal is said to have been " une pièrre précieuse qui se détacha de la couronne de Satan lorsqu'il fut précipité du ciel."

In the latter part of the thirteenth century, Marco Polo relates that the inhabitants of Zipangu, in the Indian Seas, had certain stones of a charmed virtue inserted between the skin and the flesh of their right arms, which through the power of diabolical enchantments rendered them invulnerable.

The miraculous virtues of precious stones are alluded to by Chaucer, in his " Romaunt de la Rose," and he refers, in "The House of Fame," to the treatise on gems called " The Lapidary," renowned at that time: __

" And thei were sett as thicke of onchis
Five of the finest stories faire
That men redin in the Lapidaire."

The book here mentioned is, probably, that mentioned by Montfaucon as in the Library at Paris, " Le Lapidaire de la Vertu des Pièrres."

Gower, whose birth is supposed to have been about 1320, in his " Confessio Amantis " (first printed in 1483), gives a description of the chariot and crown of the sun, in which the Arabian ideas respecting precious stones are interwoven with Ovid's fictions and the classical mythology : ___

" Of goldè glistrende spoke and whele
The Sonne his carte hath, faire and wele;
In which he sit, and is croned
With bright stones environed;
Of which if that I speke shall
There be tofore in speciall,
Set in the front of his corone,
Thre stones, which no persone
Hath upon erth ; and the first is
By name cleped Leucachatis ;
The other two cleped thus,
Astroites and Ceraunus,
In his corone ; and also byhynde,
By olde bokes, as I fynd,
There ben of worthy stones three,
Set eche of hem in his degree ;
Whereof a Cristelle is that one,
Which that corone is sett upon ;
The second is an Adamant ;
The third is noble and avenant,
Which cleped is Idriades—
And over this yet natheless,
Upon the sidis of the werke,
After the writynge of the clerke,
There sitten five stones mo ;
The Smaragdine is one of tho,
Jaspis, and Helitropius,
And Vandides and Jacinctus.
Lo! thus the corone is beset
Whereof it shineth wel the bet."



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