Precious Stones - Romance and Poetry
( Originally Published 1880 )
IN the days of romance and chivalry, jewels were among the valuable objects presented to the knights, as favours, by ladies. It is stated in "Pierceforest," that at the end of one tournament the ladies were so stripped of their head attire (love-locks, jewels, etc.), that the greatest part of them were bare-headed, and appeared with their hair spread over their shoulders, "yellower than the finest gold."
Elayne, the fair maiden of Astolat, gives Sir Launcelot " a reed sleeve of scarlet, wel embroudred with grete perlys," which he wore for a token on his helmet. The Chevalier Bayard being declared victor at the tournament of Carignan, at Piedmont, refused, from extreme delicacy, to receive the award assigned to him, saying, " The honour he had gained was solely owing to the sleeve which a lady had given him, adorned with a ruby worth one hundred ducats." The sleeve was brought back to the lady, who said, " The ruby shall be given to the knight who was next in feat of arms to the chevalier ; but since he does meso much honour as to ascribe his victory to my sleeve, for the love of him I will keep it all my life."
In 1465, Anthony Woodville, brother of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, forwarded articles of combat, and an enamelled jewel of Forget-me-not, to the Count de la Roche, by a herald, requesting him " to touch the flower with his worthy and knightly hand, in token of his acceptance of the challenge."
At the tournament held in the reign of Henry VII. (1494), a proclamation was put forth, " That hoo soo ever justith best in the justys roiall schall have a ryng of gold, with a ruby of the value of a m' scuttes, or under ; and hoo soo ever torneyeth the best, and fairyst accumplishit his strokkis, schall have a ryng of gold, with a diamant of like value."
It appears that John Peche received from the Lady Margarete, " the kyngis oldeste doughter, a ryng of gold with a ruby." Thomas Brandon, Earl of Suffolk, obtained also " a ryng of gold with a rubee ;" and the Earl of Essex, " a ryng of gold with an emerauld." Queen Elizabeth, in 1594, gave a jewel set with seventeen diamonds and four rubies, valued at one hundred marks, as a prize for fighting at the barriers.
The virtues of the Carbuncle in emitting a wonderful light was a favourite subject of the old writers.
In the " Gesta Romanorum " (chap. cvii.) there is a story of a subtle clerk, who goes to see an image in the city of Rome, which stretched forth its right hand, on the middle finger of which was written, " Strike here." No one could tell the meaning of this ; but the clerk observed, as the sun shone against it, the shadow of the inscribed finger on the ground at some distance. He took a spade, and began to dig on the spot. He came at length to a flight of steps, and, descending, entered a hall, where he saw a king and queen sitting at table with their nobles and a multitude of people, all clothed in rich garments, but no person spoke a word. A polished carbuncle illuminated the whole room. In the opposite corner he perceived the figure of a man standing, having a bended bow, with an arrow, in his hand, as prepared to shoot. On his forehead was written, " I am, who am. Nothing can escape my stroke, not even yonder carbuncle, which shines so bright."
The clerk beheld all with amazement, and entering a chamber, saw the most beautiful ladies working at a loom, in purple. But all was silence. He next entered a room filled with most excellent horses and asses ; he touched some of them, and they were instantly turned into stone. He next surveyed all the apartments in the palace :
" Rayled in the roofe with rubyes ryche,
He again visited the hall, and began to reflect how he should return. " But," says he, " my report of all these wonders will not be believed until I carry something back with me." He therefore took from the principal table a golden cup and knife, and placed them in his bosom, when the man who stood in the corner with the bow immediately shot at the carbuncle, which he shattered into a thousand pieces. At that moment the hall became dark as night, and not being able to find his way, the clerk soon died a miserable death, and thus suffered for his avarice in taking what was not his own.
This story was originally invented of the necromancer, Pope Gerbert, or Sylvester II., who died in 1003.
Golding, in his translation of Ovid's " Metamorphoses " (1575), says :
"The princely pallace of the sun stood gorgeous to behold,
In Googe's translation of Palingenius (1565) a city of the moon is thus described :
" The loftie walles of diamonde strong,
Concerning Seilan, or Ceylon, Marco Polo tells us " of the most precious article that exists in the world. You must know that rubies are found in this island, and in no other country in the world but this. They find there also sapphires and topazes and amethysts, and many other stones of price. And the king of this island possesses a ruby which is the finest and biggest in the world. I will tell you what it is like. It is about a palm in length, and as thick as a man's arm ; to look at it is the most resplendent object upon earth ; it is quite free from flaw, and is as red as fire. Its value is so great that a price for it in money could hardly be named at all. You must know that the Great Kaan sent an embassy and begged the king as a favour greatly desired by him to sell him this ruby, offering to give for it the ransom of a city, or in fact what the king. would. But the king replied that on no account whatever would he sell it, for it had come to him from his ancestors."
Colonel Yule in " The Book of Ser Marco Polo " observes, "there seems to have been always afloat among Indian travellers, at least from the time of Cosmas (sixth century), some wonderful story about the ruby or rubies of the King of Ceylon. With Cosmas, and with the Chinese Hwen Thsang, in the following century, this precious object is fixed at the top of a pagoda, a hyacinth, they say, of great size and brilliant ruddy colour, as big as a great pine-cone ; and when 'tis seen from a distance flashing, especially if the sun's rays strike upon it, it is a glorious and incomparable spectacle." Our author's contemporary, Hayton, had heard of the great ruby : " The king of the island of Celan hath the largest and finest ruby in existence. When his coronation takes place this ruby is placed in his hand, and he goes round the city on horseback holding it in his hand, and thenceforth all recognize and obey him as their king." Odoric, too, speaks of the great ruby and the Kaan's endeavours to get it, though by some bungle the circumstance is referred to Nicoveran, instead of Ceylon. Ibn Batuta saw in the possession of Arya Chakravarti, a Tamul chief ruling at Patlam, a ruby bowl as big as the palm of one's hand. Friar Jordanus speaks of two great rubies belonging to the King of Sylen, each so large that when grasped in the hand it projected a finger's breadth at either side. The fame, at least, of these survived to the sixteenth century, for Andrea Corsali (1515) says : " They tell that the king of this island possesses two rubies of colours so brilliant and vivid that they look like a flame of fire."
Sir E. Tennent, on this subject, quotes from a Chinese work a statement that early in the fourteenth century the Emperor sent an officer to Ceylon to purchase a carbuncle of unusual lustre. This was fitted as a ball to the Emperor's cap ; it was upwards of an ounce in weight, and cost one hundred thousand strings of cash. Every time a grand levée was held at night the red lustre filled the palace, and hence it was designated " the Red Palace Illuminator."
Mandeville, in his " Travels," says, " the Emperor hath in his chamber a pillar of gold, in which is a ruby and carbuncle a foot long, which lighteth all his chambers by night."
Lydgate calls St. Edmund,. " The precious charboncle of martir's aile."
In the adventures of the " Golden Fleece" the hall of King Priam is described as illuminated at night by a prodigious carbuncle, placed among sapphires, rubies, and pearls on the crown of a golden statue of Jupiter, fifteen cubits high.
In Hawe's "Pastyme of Pleasure" (1517), "Graunde Amoure " enters a hall in the Tower of Chastity, with a golden roof, in the midst of which was a carbuncle of enormous size which lighted the room.
Chaucer, in the " Romaunt of the Rose," describes Richesse as crowned with the costliest gems :
"But all before full subtilty
In the Romance, or Lay of " Syr Launfal," a pavilion is described, having on the top an eagle :
" Of bournede golde, ryche and good,
Shakspeare alludes to the carbuncle in " Titus Andronicus " .
"Upon his bloody finger he doth wear,
Milton describes the cobra
Crested aloof, and carbuncle his. eyes."
The supernatural lustre of the carbuncle has an Arabian source. In the " History of the Seven Champions of Christendom "—containing some of the most capital fictions of the old Arabian romance—in the story of the " Enchanted Fountain," the knights entering a dark hall, " tooke off their gauntlets from their left hands, whereon they wore marvellous great and fine diamonds, that gave so much light, that they might plainly see all things that were in the hall, the which was very great and wide."
In the "Pyramidographia" of Mr. Greaves it is mentioned (on the authority of an Arabian author) that the Pyramid of Egypt, attributed to Cheops, was entered, about ten centuries ago, by Almamon, the renowned Caliph of Babylon. It is added that the explorer found in it, towards the top, a chamber w a hollow stone, in which there was a statue like a man, and within it the body of a man, upon which was a breastplate of gold set with jewels. Upon this breastplate there was a sword of inestimable value, and at his head a carbuncle of the bigness of an egg, shining like the light of the day.
Chalkhill, in his " Thealma and Clearchus," de-scribing the cell of the witch Orandra, mentions the door as "interwove with ivys flattering twines"
" Through which the carbuncle and diamond shines ;
John Norton, an alchemist in the reign of Ed-ward IV., wrote a poem called the " Ordinal," or a manual of the chemical art. One of his projects was a bridge of gold over the Thames, crowned with pinnacles of gold, which, being studded with carbuncles, would diffuse a blaze of light in the dark :
"Wherefore he would set up in height,
The extravagances of description in which precious stones are specially noted by the old writers, are singularly wild and imaginative; many such instances are in Guido de Colonna, who lived when this mode of fabling was at its height, and of whose romance, " Historia Trojana," Lydgate's "Troy Book" (completed in 1420, and written by command of Henry' V.), in a translation, or paraphrase, the city of Troy is curiously described. It was three days' journey in length and breadth ; the walls two hundred cubits high, of marble and alabaster, and machicolated. At every angle was a crown of gold, set with the richest gems. There were great gems in the towers. On each turret were figures of savage and monstrous beasts in brass. The gates were of brass, and a portcullis to each. The houses were all uniform, and of marble, sixty cubits high. Of Priam's palace
" Al the wyndowes and eche fenestrall
With regard to the last circumstance, according to Leland, part of the windows of Sudeley Castle, in Gloucestershire, " were glazed with berall," though this has been doubted."
Lydgate describes Hector as being buried in the principal church at Troy (!), near the high altar, within a magnificent oratory erected for that purpose, exactly resembling the Gothic shrine of our cathedrals, yet charged with many romantic decorations :
" Al the rofe and closure envyrowre,
Chaucer, in his " House of Fame," describes the floor and roof of the hall, as covered with thick plates of gold, studded with the costliest gems.
In Spenser's " Faërie Queene," Mammon leads Sir Guyon into the subterranean realm
" He brought him in. The rowme was large and wyde,
Among the marvellous stories related of Presbyter Joannes, or Prester John, the mythical Indian king, is that relating to a letter which he is said by Albericus to have sent, in the twelfth century, to Manuel, of Constantinople, and Frederick, the Roman Emperor, besides others, the wonderful contents of which are alluded to in chronicles and romances, and which, indeed, were turned into rhyme and sung all over Europe by minstrels and trouvères.
The following is a description of the magnificent abode of this fabulous monarch :—" The palace in which our Supereminency resides, is built after the pattern of the castle built by the Apostle Thomas for the Indian King Gundoforus. Ceilings, joists, and architrave, are of sethym wood ; the roof of ebony, which can never catch fire. Over the gable of the palace are, at the extremities, two golden apples, in which are two carbuncles, so that the gold may shine by day, and the carbuncles by night. The greater gates of the palace are of sardius, with the horn of the horned snake inwrought, so that no one can bring poison within. The other portals are of ebony. The windows are of crystal ; the tables are partly of gold, partly of amethyst, and the columns supporting the tables are partly of ivory, partly of amethyst. The court in which we watch the jousting is floored with onyx, in order to increase the courage of the combat-ants. In the palace, at night, nothing is burned for light but wicks supplied with balsam. . . . Before our palace stands a mirror, the ascent to which consists of five-and-twenty steps of porphyry and serpentine." After a description of the gems adorning this mirror, which is guarded night and day by three thousand armed men, he explains its use :—" We look therein, and behold all that is taking place in every province and region subject to our sceptre."
In the adventures of the " Golden Fleece," the palace of Priam (to which I have alluded) " seemed to be founded by Fayrie, or enchantment, and was paved with crystal, built with diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, and supported by ivory pillars, surmounted by golden images."
In a description of an enchanted city in the romance of Bevis of Hampton, we find :
" At the brygge ende stondeth a towre,
In one of the British Lais, " La Lai du Corne," a story of King Arthur's Court, and which probably existed before the year 1300, a magical horn is de-scribed, richly garnished with precious stones, a fairy work, which is brought by a beautiful boy, riding on a fleet courser to a sumptuous feast held at Carleon by King Arthur, in order to try the fidelity of the knights and ladies, who are in number sixty thousand. Those who are false, in drinking from this horn, spill their wine. The horn is described as having four bandages of gold, made of ivory engraved with trifoire (a rich, ornamented edge or border). Many precious stones were set in the gold—beryls, sardonyces, and rich chalcedonies, etc.
In the chapter on " Superstitions," I have alluded to the wonderful virtues ascribed to serpent-stones. In the wide region of romance there are numerous instances in which these animals take a conspicuous part, whether for good or for evil. It is in the former sense that the following story is given in the " Gesta Romanorum " (chap. cxix.). A king had an oppressive seneschal, who, passing through a forest, fell into a deep pit, in which were a lion, an ape, and a serpent. A poor man who gathered sticks in the forest, hearing his cries, drew him up, with the animals. The seneschal returned home, promising to reward the poor man, but neglected to do so on his application, and even had him cruelly beaten. As a recompence, the lion drove ten asses, laden with gold, to the poor man's house ; the serpent brought him a precious stone of three colours ; and the ape laid him heaps of wood in the forest. The poor man, in consequence of the serpent's precious stone, which he sold, arrived at the dignity of knighthood, and acquired ample possessions. He afterwards found that the precious stone had been placed in his chest, and presented it to the king, who, having heard the whole story, ordered the seneschal to be put to death for his ingratitude, and promoted the poor man to his office.
In the romance by Lodge, " A Margarite of America " (printed in 1596), it states, that in the chamber of Margarite were seen " all the chaste ladies of the world, inchased out of silver, looking through fair mirrours of chrysolites, carbuncles, sapphires, and greene emeraults."
Golden vines, with grapes of precious stones, are not unfrequently mentioned by old writers. Sir John Mandeville, the unveracious traveller, describes a vine " that hath many bunches of grapes, some white, all the red being of rubies." In Hawe's " Pleasure of Pastyme," it is said that " Grande Amoure " enters a hall of jasper, its windows crystal, and its roof overspread with a' golden vine, whose grapes are represented by rubies.
Such stories recall the marvels of the " Arabian Nights," and Aladdin's visit to the enchanted' garden, where jewels of inestimable value and lustre grew on the trees instead of fruit.
In the fabulous " Life of Alexander the Great," printed towards the close of the fifteenth century, the hero, after having jousted with Porus for his kingdom, and overthrown him, found in the palace of the vanquished monarch immense treasures, and amongst others, a vine of which the branches were gold, the leaves emeralds, and the fruit other precious stones—a fiction which seems to have been suggested by the golden vine which Pompey carried away with him from Jerusalem.
Lydgate, in his " Troy Book," mentions a tree made by magic in the court of King Priam's palace, the trunk of which was twelve cubits high ; the branches, which overshadowed distant plains, were alternately of solid gold and silver, blossoming with gems of various hues, which were renewed every day.
Spenser describes a wondrous vine in Mammon's subterranean isle :
"So fashioned a porch with rare device,
In Herodotus (book vii. chap. 26, 29), we read of the golden vine given by Pythius the Lydian to Darius, which was said to have. been the work of Theodore the Samian. The bunches of grapes were imitated by means of the most costly precious stones. It over-shadowed the couch on which the king slept.
A wonderful tree is mentioned by Abulfeda (A.D. 917), among the magnificent decorations of the palace of the Caliph Almamon. It was of gold and silver, spreading into eighteen large branches, on which, and on the lesser boughs, sat a variety of birds, made of the same precious metals, as well as the leaves of the tree. While the machinery effected spontaneous motions, the several birds warbled their natural harmony.
In " Amadis of Gaul " is a pretty story in connection with precious stones. " King Lisuarte was so content with the tidings of Amadis and Galavor which the dwarf had brought him, that he determined to hold the most honourable court that had ever been held in Great Britain. Presently three knights came through the gate, two of them armed at all points, the third, unarmed, of good stature and well proportioned, his hair grey, but of a green and comely old age. He held in his hand a coffer, and having enquired which was the king, dismounted from his palfrey, and kneeled before him, saying, ` God preserve you, sir, for you have made the noblest promise that ever king did, if you hold it.' ` What promise was that ?' quoth Lisuarte. ` To maintain chivalry in its highest honour and degree. Few princes now-a-days labour to that end, therefore are you to be commended.' ` Certes, knight, that promise shall hold 'while I live.' ` God grant you life to complete it,' quoth the old man, `and because you have summoned a great court to London, I have brought something here which becomes such a person for such an occasion.' Then he opened the coffer and took out a crown of gold, so curiously wrought, and set with pearls and gems that all were amazed at its beauty, and it well appeared it was only fit for the brow of some mighty lord.
" ` Is it not a work which the most cunning artists would wonder at ?' said the old knight. Lisuarte answered, ` In truth it is so.' ` Yet,' replied the knight ` it bath a virtue more to be esteemed than its rare work and richness. Whatever king bath it on his head shall always increase his honour ; this it did for him for whom it was made till the day of his death ; since then no king bath worn it ; I will give it to you, sir, for one boon.'
" ` You, also, lady,' said the knight, ` should purchase a rich mantle that I bring,' and he took from the coffer the richest and most beautiful mantle that ever was seen, for besides the pearls and precious stones with which it was beautified, there were figured on it all the birds and beasts in nature, so that it looked like a miracle.
" ` On my faith,' said the queen, ` this cloth could only have been made by that lord that can do every-thing.' ` It is the work of man,' replied the old knight, ` but rarely will one be found to make its fellow. It should belong to wife rather than maiden, for all that wear it shall never have dispute with her husband.' Britna answered, ` If that be true it is above all price. I will give for it whatsoever you ask.' And Lisuarte bade him demand what he would for the mantle and crown."
In the " Cento Novelle Antiche," a composition prior to that of the " Decameron " of Boccaccio, is the story of a Greek king who is informed by one of the most learned of his subjects, whom he had imprisoned, that there was a worm in one of his most precious jewels. The gem being dashed to pieces the animal is found, and the captive gratified with a whole loaf each day. At length the king asks him, " Whose son am I ? " He is answered that he sprang from a baker ; a piece of unexpected intelligence, which is confirmed by the queen-mother on her being sent for, and compelled by threats to confess the truth. Being finally asked how he came to know all these things, the wise man replies that the heat of the gem had suggested his answer, and he had discovered his majesty's pedigree from the gifts of bread he had received for this and other answers.
A similar story to this is in the " Arabian Tales," where three sharpers introduce themselves to a sultan, the first as a skilful lapidary, to whom a precious stone is shown, in which he declares there is a flaw ; the jewel being cut in two a blemish is discovered.
Another story is taken from the " Gesta Romanorum," where the Emperor Leo commands three statues of females to be made ; one has a golden ring on her finger, pointing forwards ; another, the orna-ment of a golden beard ; the third, a golden cloak and purple tunic : whoever should steal any of these ornaments was to be punished by an ignominious death. (See " Gower's Confessio Amantis," lib. v.)
Among the romantic episodes in connection with precious stones, which abound in the pages of old travellers, none can exceed in interest those recorded by the famous Messer Marco Polo (died 1323), who spent six-and-twenty years in exploring the Asiatic continent ; first of Europeans, he penetrated into the Celestial Empire, into India, across the Ganges, and into the great Indian Archipelago—regions previously unknown to Europe, and concealed in the deep shadows of ignorance, superstition, and fable. What he saw, he described with simplicity and exactness. Later research has but confirmed his accuracy, and in so doing justified his fame. " He was the creator," says Malte-Brun, "of the modern geography of Asia ; he was the Humboldt of the thirteenth century ; and his travels will always remain-monumentum aere perennius—an imperishable monument of his genius, truth-fulness, and courage,"
Many of the strange stories related by Marco Polo have been considered extravagant or fictitious, and when the work first appeared it was ridiculed as such. After his death, the same feeling of incredulity prevailed, and he was personated (à la Munchausen) at masquerades by some wit or droll. Many learned men of past times have borne testimony to his character, and most of the substantial parts of his work have been authenticated by subsequent travellers. A most able and ample vindication of Marco Polo is in the English translation of his works by William Marsden, F.R.S., and especially in the exhaustive " Book of Ser Marco Polo," by Colonel Henry Yule, C.B.
Marco Polo, writing of the kingdom of Mutfili (Motupallé), tells us " how diamonds are got." Among the mountains, "there are certain great and deep valleys, to the bottom of which there is no access. Wherefore the men who go in search of the diamonds take with them pieces of flesh, as lean as they can get, and these they cast into the bottom of a valley. Now there are numbers of white eagles that haunt these mountains, and feed upon the serpents. When the eagles see the meat thrown down, they pounce upon it, and carry it up to some rocky hill-top, where they begin to rend it. But there are men on the watch, and as soon as they see that the eagles have settled, they raise a loud shouting to drive them away. And when the eagles are thus frightened away, the men recover the pieces of meat, and find them full of diamonds, which have stuck to the meat down at the bottom. For the abundance of diamonds down there in the depths of the valleys is astonishing, but nobody can get down, and if one could, it would be only to be incontinently devoured by the serpents which are so rife there.
" There is also another way of getting the diamonds. The people go to the nests of those white eagles, of which there are many, and in their drop-pings they ,find plenty of diamonds which the birds have swallowed in devouring the meat that was cast into the valleys. And when the eagles are taken, diamonds are found in their stomachs." " The strange legend related here," observes Colonel Yule, in his " Travels of Messer Marco Polo," "is very ancient and very widely diffused. Its earliest known occurrence is in the Treatise of St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, concerning the twelve jewels in the Rationale, or breastplate of the Hebrew high-priest, a work written before the end of the fourth century, wherein the tale is told of the jacinth. It is distinctly alluded to by Edrisi, who assigns its locality to the land of the Kirkhir (probably Khirghiz), in Upper Asia. It appears in Kazwini's ` Wonders of Creation,' and is assigned by him to the Valley of the Moon, among the mountains of Serendib. Sindbad the Sailor relates the story, as is well known, and his version is the closest of all to our author's. It is found in the Chinese Narrative of the Campaigns of Hulaku, translated by both Rémusat and Pauthier. It is told in two different versions, once of the diamond and again of the jacinth of Serendib, in the work on Precious Stones by Ahmed Taifâshi. Nicolo Conti relates it of a mountain called Albenigaras, fifteen days' journey in a northerly direction from Vijayanagar ; and it is told again, apparently after Conti, by Julius Cæsar Scaliger. It is related of diamonds and balasses in the old Genoese MS. called that of Usodimare. A feeble form of the tale is quoted contemptuously by Garcias from one Francisco de Tamarra; and Haxthausen found it a popular legend in Armenia."
Marco Barbaro, in his account of the Polo family, gives the following tradition :—" From ear to ear the story has passed till it reached mine, that when the three kinsmen arrived at their home, they were dressed in the most shabby and sordid manner, insomuch that the wife of one of them gave away to a beggar that came to the door one of those garments of his, all torn, patched, and dirty, as it was. The next day he asked his wife for that mantle of his, in order to put away the jewels that were sewn up in it ; but she told him she had given it to a poor man, whom she did not know. Now, the stratagem that he employed to recover it was this. He went to the bridge of Rialto, and stood there turning a wheel, to no apparent purpose, but as if he were a madman, and to all those who crowded round to see what prank was this, and asked him why he did it, he answered, ` He'll come if God pleases.' So after two or three days he recognized his old coat on the back of one of those who came to stare at his mad proceeding, and got it back again. Then, indeed, he was judged to be quite the reverse of a madman ! And from those jewels he built in the contrada of S. Giovanni Grisotomo a very fine palace for those days, and the family got among the vulgar the name of the Cc Million, because the report was that they had jewels to the value of a million of ducats ; and the palace has kept that name to the present day—viz., 1566."
Ramusio, in his account of Marco Polo, gives, on traditional authority, a romantic story of the arrival of the Polos at Venice, laden with riches, but so changed in appearance and dress that they were not recognized. " They repaired to their own house, which was a noble palace, and found several of their relations still living in it, who, not knowing of their wealth, and probably considering them, from their coarse and common attire, poor adventurers returned to be a charge upon their families. The Polos, however, took an effectual mode of quickening the memories of their friends, and insuring a loving reception. They invited them all to a grand banquet. When their guests arrived, they received them richly dressed in garments of crimson satin of oriental fashion. When water had been served for the washing of hands, and the company summoned to table, the travellers, who had retired, appeared again in still richer robes of crimson damask. The first dresses were cut up and distributed among the servants, being of such length that they swept the ground, which was the mode in those days with dresses worn within doors. After the first course they again returned, and came in dressed in crimson velvet, the damask dresses being likewise given to the domestics ; and the same was done at the end of the feast with their velvet robes, when they appeared in the Venetian dress of the day.
" The guests were lost in astonishment, and could not comprehend the meaning of this masquerade. Having dismissed their attendants, Marco Polo brought forth the coarse Tartar dresses in which they had arrived. Slashing them in several places with a knife, and ripping open the seams and the linings, there tumbled forth rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and other precious stones, until the whole table glittered with inestimable wealth acquired from the munificence of the Grand Khan, and conveyed in this portable form through the perils of their long journey. The company were out of their wits with amazement, and now clearly perceived what they had first doubted, that these were in very truth those honoured gentlemen, the Polos, and accordingly paid them great respect and reverence.
"When the fame of this banquet and the wealth of the travellers became known throughout Venice, all the city, noble and simple, crowded to do honour to the extraordinary merit of the Polos. Marco was the hero of the day, and, as he always spoke of the wealth of the Grand Khan in round numbers, he was called Messer Marco Millioni."
Sir John Mandeville's account of " the Great Chan of Cathay, of the Royalty of his Palace, and how he sits at meat ; and of the great number of officers that serve him," borders on the romantic and the incredible.
He prepares the reader, however, in his " Prologue " for what is in store for him. He says, " I, John Mandeville, Knight, albeit I be not worthy, who was born in England, in the town of Saint Albans, passed the sea in the year 1232, on the day of St. Michael ; and hitherto have been a long time over the sea, and have seen and gone through many divers lands, and many provinces and kingdoms, and isles, and have passed through Tartary, Persia, Ermony (Armenia) the Little and the Great ; through Libya, Chaldea, and a great part of Ethiopia ; through Amazonia, India, the Less and the Greater, a great part ; and throughout many other isles that are about India ; where dwell many divers folks, and of divers manners and laws, and of divers shapes of men."
He describes the palace of the Great Chan at Caydon, and his " mountour " in the middle of it, " all wrought of gold, and of precious stones, and great pearls, and at the four corners are four serpents of gold ; and all about there are made large nets of silk and gold, and great pearls hanging all about it... . the hall of the palace is full nobly arrayed, and full marvellously attired on all parts, in all things that men apparel any hall with. And first, at the head of the hall is the emperor's throne very high, where he sits at meat. It is of fine precious stones, bordered all about with purified gold, and precious stones, and great pearls. And the steps up to the table are precious stones, mixed with gold. And at the left side of the emperor's seat is the seat of his first wife, one step lower than the emperor ; and it is of jasper, bordered with gold and precious stones. And the seat of his second wife is lower than his first wife ; and is also of jasper bordered with gold, as that other is. And the seat of the third wife is still lower, by a step, than the second wife ; for he has always three wives with him wherever he is. And after his wives, on the same side, sit the ladies of his lineage, still lower, according to their ranks. And all those that are married, have a counterfeit, made like a man's foot, on their heads, a cubit long, all wrought with great, fine, and orient pearls The emperor has his table, alone by himself, which is of gold and precious stones ; or of crystal, bordered with gold, and full of precious stones ; or of amethysts, or of lignum aloes, that comes out of paradise ; or of ivory, bound and bordered with gold.
" At great feasts men bring before the emperor's table great tables of gold, and thereon are peacocks of gold, and many other kinds of different fowls, all of gold, and richly wrought and enamelled ; and they make them dance and sing, clapping their wings together, and making great noise ; and whether it be by craft or necromancy I know not, but it is a goodly sight to behold Also above the emperor's table and the other tables, and above a great part of the hall is a vine, made of fine gold, which spreads all about the hall ; and it has many clusters of grapes, some white, some green, some yellow, some red, and some black, all of precious stones : the white are of crystal, beryl, and iris ; the yellow, of topazes ; the red, of rubies, grenaz, and alabraundines ; the green, of emerald, of perydoz, and of chrysolites ; and the black, of onyx and garnets. And they are all so properly made that it appears a real vine bearing natural grapes. And all the vessels that men are served with, in the hall, or in chambers, are of precious stones, and especially at great tables, either of jasper, or of crystal, or of amethyst, or of fine gold. And the cups are of emeralds, sapphires, or topazes, of perydoz, and of many other precious stones.
All the barons (of the Chan's court) have crowns of gold upon their heads, very noble and rich, full of precious stones, and great orient pearls . . . . their robes are embroidered with gold all about, and dubbed full of precious stones and of great orient pearls, full richly . . . . the four thousand barons are divided into four companies, and every thousand is clothed in cloths all of one colour, and so well arrayed, and so richly, that it is marvel to behold. The first thousand, which is of dukes, earls, marquises, and admirals, all in cloths of gold, with tissues of green silk, and bordered with gold, full of precious stones. The second thousand is all in cloths, diapered, of red silk, all wrought with gold, and the orfrayes set full of great pearls and precious stones, full nobly wrought. The third thousand is clothed in cloths of silk, of purple, or of India. And the fourth thousand is in clothes of yellow. And all their clothes are so richly and nobly wrought with gold and precious stones, and rich pearls, that if a man of this country had but one of their robes he might well say that he should never be poor. For the gold, and the precious stones, and the great orient pearls are of greater value on this side the sea than in those countries."
Sir John Mandeville describes the palace of the Emperor, Prester John, in the city of Susa, as "so rich and noble that no man can conceive it without seeing it. And above the chief tower of the palace are two round pommels of gold, in each of which are two large carbuncles, which shine bright in the night. And the principal gates of his palace are of the precious stones called sardonyx ; and the border and bars are of ivory ; and the windows of the hall and chambers are of crystal ; and the tables on which men eat, some are of emerald, some of amethyst, and some of gold full of precious stones ; and the pillars that sup-port the tables are of the same precious stones. Of the steps approaching his throne where he sits at meat, one is of onyx, another crystal, another green jasper, another amethyst, another sardonyx, another carnelian, and the seventh, on which he sets his feet, is of chrysolite. All these steps are bordered with fine gold, with the other precious stones, set with great orient pearls. The sides of the seat of his throne are of emeralds, and bordered full nobly with gold, and dubbed with other precious stones and great pearls. All the pillars in his chamber are of fine gold with precious stones, and with many carbuncles, which give great light by night to all people. The frame of his bed is of fine sapphires blended with gold to make him sleep well."
The descriptions given by old travellers of Oriental luxury are very curious. In the account of Constantinople by Cornelius Haga, ambassador of the Netherlands in 1612 (Harleian Collection), he describes the state of the Grand Turk at that period. " He sat under a most rich and sumptuous cloth of state supported by four pillars of marble, somewhat elevated from the ground in manner of a bed, and serving for a seat, covered over with most rich and costly cloth of gold, which was set so full of diamonds, rubies, pearls, and other precious stones, that it showed like the sky bedecked with a multitude of stars. Before him there stood a standish of ink, beautified with many precious stones ; all the chamber being hung about with most costly hangings, embroidered and embossed with gold," etc.
In the Harleian Collection is also " A true relation without all exception of Strange and Admirable Accidents which lately happened in the Kingdom of the Great Magor, or Mogul," 1622, in which we find " The Magor doth every year weigh himself in a balance made for that purpose, the scales of which are all of massive gold, richly beset with precious stones. First, he weigheth himself with weights of silver, next with weights of gold, and, lastly, with jewels and precious stones. His weight of silver and gold, he giveth away liberally at his pleasure ; after he is weighed he mounteth unto his throne, and then he throweth amongst the standers by a great quantity of silver and gold, made hollow, like to the form of nutmegs, and such other spices, which his country doth afford. These ceremonies being ended, he beginneth to carouse and largely to drink with his nobles, till they all be drunk."
As a specimen of Oriental exaggeration we may instance the account given of the accumulated treasures of the Fatimites which fell to Saladin ; among these were, we are assured, no less than seven hundred pearls, each of which was of a size that rendered it inestimable ; an emerald a span long, and as thick as the finger.
In the Eastern mind, youth, beauty, and precious stones were the meed of Paradise. In a conflict under the walls of Emésa, between the Saracens and the Christians (A.D. 635), an Arabian youth, cousin of the sanguinary Kaled, was heard aloud to exclaim, " Me-thinks I see the black-eyed girls looking upon me ; one whom, should she appear in this world, all mankind would die for love of her. And I see in the hand of one of them a handkerchief of green silk, and a cap of precious stones, and she beckons me, and calls out, ` Come hither quickly, for I love thee: " With these words charging the Christians, he made havoc wherever he went, until he was struck through with a javelin.
It was the exaggeration of old travellers, like Parrazano and Jacques Cartier, and those of Englishmen who had lately made their way from America, that induced the gold and jewel seekers in Elizabeth's reign to traverse stormy seas, to fight with the Spaniards, and, in fact, with anything that came in their way.
These traditions were carefully gathered up in England, and set forth in a document which appears to have been drawn up for Sir Humphrey Gilbert's guidance in 1581 or 1582, when fitting out an expedition to America. There we are told of the exceeding wealth of the natives and the surprising richness of the country. Great pieces of pure gold, as large as a man's fist, were to be picked up at the heads of some of the rivers, and there were plenty of gold and silver mines that could be worked without trouble. In every cottage there were a store of pearls, and in some houses they were to be measured by the peck.
The Spaniards had propagated wild stories of the wealth that abounded in the southern hemisphere. There was much truth, however, in these reports. In 151 i Cortes had set forth on his expedition to Mexico. Among the instructions given him by the Spanish Government was—" after using his best efforts for the conversion of the Indians, to impress upon them the grandeur and goodness of his royal master, to invite them to give their allegiance, and to manifest it by regaling him with such comfortable presents of gold and precious stones as, by showing their own goodwill, would secure his favour and protection." The latter recommendation was, no doubt, to be more deeply impressed on the Indians than the former. Accordingly, Cortes received magnificent presents from Montezuma, the Mexican Emperor, including a vast quantity of precious stones.
When Vasco Nunez made his first discovery of the Pacific from the heights of Quaraqua, he had passed through Indian districts, the inhabitants of which possessed pearls and gold in abundance, and gave them freely to the Spaniards in exchange for beads, bells, and trinkets. The cacique, or chief, of Tumaco gave Nunez jewels of gold weighing 614 crowns, and two hundred pearls of great size and beauty, excepting that they were somewhat discoloured, in consequence of the oysters having been opened by fire.
The cacique, seeing the value which the Spaniards set upon the pearls, sent a number of his men to fish for them at a place about ten miles distant. Certain of the Indians were trained from their youth for this purpose, so as to become expert divers and to acquire the power of remaining under water a long time.
So great was the quantity of pearls in these regions that the cacique of one of the islands offered Morales and Pizarro, in 15 15, as a token of his vassalage to the King of Castile, an annual tribute of one hundred pounds weight of pearls.
Precious stones have been from earliest times the symbols of power, excellence, and beauty.
Ezekiel, in his prophecy of the ruin of Tyre and Sidon, in utterances of incomparable beauty, alludes to the regal splendours of Phoenicia, and its abundance of precious stones. " Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God ; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle. . . . Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire" (chap. xxviii. 13, 14).
The apostle John, in his rocky and desolate island of the Ægean Sea, saw the celestial visions which made his place of banishment a heavenly paradise, and in language sublime and inspired, employed the most precious objects of the earth to typify the glory that was revealed. Thus he saw the Mighty One on
His throne in heaven, His countenance like a jasper and a sardine stone, so transcendent was His brightness. He saw a rainbow about the throne, like unto an emerald.
The vision of the New Jerusalem represents the gates as of pearl, Christ being the Pearl of " great price." "The building of the wall of it was of jasper, and the city was pure gold like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper ; the second, sapphire ; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald ; the fifth, sardonyx ; the sixth, sardius ; the seventh, chrysolite ; the eighth, beryl ; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth ; the twelfth, an amethyst."
Such heavenly brightness to which no night could come—far, far beyond the lustre of the rarest jewels, for "the Lord God giveth them light."
Milton, in " Paradise Lost," describes the Fiend on his wanderings : ___
" Far distant he descries
Underneath the Angels' stair at the Gate of Heaven: ___
"A bright sea flow'd
In Taylor's " Golden Grove," there is a striking passage in the " Meditation on Heaven "
" That bright eternity,
Lucian, in his very curious " True History," the real origin of so many fabulous voyages and travels, brings his adventurers, after a visit to the moon, to the Island of the Blessed, where the city has palaces of gold and ramparts of emerald ; its gates are of cinnamon-wood ; its pavements are of ivory ; its temples are built of beryl, with altars of amethyst.
As an imagery of beauty and excellence, we find precious stones employed in the description of some fair spots of the earth. Thus, Damascus is called by the Orientals the pearl girded with emeralds, on account of the beautiful gardens that surround its whitened walls.
So we have Ireland, the emerald isle, first gem of the sea. Thomas Moore, writing from Bermuda, describes
"Those leafy isles upon the ocean thrown,
The Caliph Omar (A.D. 638) required his lieutenant Amrou to give him a description of Egypt. Amongst other matters, he stated that, "according to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the face of the country is adorned with a silver wave, a verdant emerald, and the deep yellow of a golden harvest."
Milton, in " Cornus," mentions
"All the seagirt isles That, like to rich and various gems, inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep."
The Mohammedan Paradise is stated by the followers of the false prophet to be situated above the seven heavens (or in the seventh heaven), and next under the throne of God. The description of it is rich and dazzling. The very stones are pearls and jacinths, the walls of its buildings are of gold and silver, and the trunks of all its trees are of gold. The pebbles in the rivers of Paradise are rubies and emeralds ; the fruits on the trees are pearls and emeralds. Besides sensual gratifications such as Mo-hammed alone could describe for his followers, each one admitted to Paradise will have a tent erected for him of pearls, jacinths, and emeralds, of a very large extent. They will be adorned with bracelets of gold and precious stones, and crowns set with pearls of in-comparable lustre.
The Mohammedans say that the Archangel Gabriel revealed the Koran to Mohammed by parcels—some at Mecca and some at Medina—at different times during the space of twenty-three years, as the exigencies of affairs required ; giving him the consolation, however, to show him the whole (which they say was bound in silk, and adorned with gold and precious stones of Paradise) once a year.
In the Talmud it is said that Noah had no other light in the Ark than that furnished by precious stones. So Abraham, who was very jealous of his numerous wives, and kept them shut up in an iron city, which he built for that purpose, with walls so high as to exclude the light of day, but the whole city was illuminated by a great bowl full of jewels.
The Chinese say there are thirty-three stories of Heaven, in the uppermost of which Budhu, seated on a lotus, surveys all the world. The land of Fuh is yellow gold. Its gardens, groves, houses, and palaces are elegantly adorned with seven orders of gems. It is encircled with seven rows of trees, seven elegant networks, and seven fences of palisades. In the midst are seven towers of gems, seven flights of pearl stairs, seven pearly bridges, nine classes of lotus, etc.
According to the Persian system, the globe is said to rest on a vast sapphire, the reflection of which colours the skies.
Even the Pyramids have been clothed by Asiatic fabulists with precious attributes. The wealth of Rucma Vatsa, a ruler of Egypt, according to Asiatic tradition, was such that he raised three mountains, called Rucm-adri, Rujat-adri, and Retu-adri, or the mountains of gold, silver, and precious stones.
The Pyramids, which are obviously the mountains indicated in the Hindoo records, were, it is presumed, originally cased with yellow, white, or spotted marbles, brought from the quarries of Arabia.
There were said to be under the throne or palace of Chosrou Parviz, a hundred vaults filled with treasures so immense that some Mohammedan writers tell us, their Prophet, to encourage his disciples, carried them to a rock, which, at his command, opened, and gave them a prospect through it of the treasures of Chosrou.
The Spanish " Alexandro el Magno," first published in 1782 by Sanchez from a MS. copy, apparently of the fourteenth century, contains a curious description of Babylon—a city, says the poet, abundant beyond all abundance, rich in the gifts of ages, safe from disease and distress, perfumed by nutmegs and nard, where all faces are joyous, and the three holy rivers flow over costly stones, some of which dispense a beautiful light, and others give health and strength. There is the emerald, brighter than a mirror ; the jasper, which preserves from poison ; the garnet, which casts out demons and destroys serpents ; magnets, which rule over iron ; the diamond, which can only be affected by the blood of kids ; the topaz, which gives its own colour to all it approaches ; the galuca, which makes its possessor happy and rich ; the melocius, which discovers thieves ; the idropicus, which deprives the moon of her colour and makes its possessor invisible ; the sagita, which calls down the clouds ; the coral, which wards off the thunderbolt and preserves from violent death; the hyacinth, of the colour of day, that cures all diseases ; the margarita, formed of dews ; the peorus, whose colour cannot be described ; the calatides, which makes bitter sweet ; the solgoma (solisgemma), that creates the lightning, and the selenite, that waxes and wanes with the moon; the agate, that stops the course of rivers ; the absinth, which, once heated, preserves its fires—in a word, every precious stone that possesses miraculous virtue, according to the learned assurances of Albertus Magnus, or the devout credulity of St. Isidore or Father Bartholomew Anglicus.
Symbolic precious stones by the early Christian artists have been alluded to by several ancient writers. Conspicuous among these was Marbodeus, Bishop of Rennes, who wrote (as before mentioned) at the commencement of the twelfth century.
The Rev. J. M. Neale, in his " Mediæval Hymns and Sequences," gives the translation of a " Prose " by Marbodeus, and also selections from his Commentary. The following are extracts from the work, and a few passages from the notes.
Diamond, the most beautiful, brilliant, and precious of all stones, signifies light, innocence, purity, life, and joy. Ruby signifies divine power and love, dignity and royalty. Carbuncle, with its red or blood colour, symbolizes Our Lord's Passion and Martyrdom. Five carbuncles placed on the cross represent the five wounds received by Christ. Sardius, of a purple red colour, typifies the martyrs who poured out their blood for Christ—
" The Sardius, with its purple red,
The blue-coloured Sapphire is an emblem of heaven, virtue, truth, constancy, heavenly love, and contemplation.
" The azure light of Sapphire's stone
In his " Commentary," Marbodeus says, " The Sapphire is of the colour of the sky. It signifies, then, that while they be yet on earth, set their affections on things above, and despise things terres-trial."
The yellow Topaz signifies the goodness of God, love towards God, fruitfulness and faithfulness. Marbodeus says, "It signifies those who love God and their neighbour."
The Emerald, in its brilliant green, represents hope in immortality, exalted faith, and victory over trial and sin.
"The Emerald burns intensely bright,
The violet or purple-coloured Amethyst is emblematic of earthly sufferings, sorrow, deep love, and truth unto death.
Last in the Holy City set,
The Pearl signifies humility, purity, innocence, and a retiring spirit.
We are told by Matthew Paris, that Pope Innocent, desirous to gain King John of England to his plans, and knowing that he was covetous, and a diligent seeker after costly jewels, sent him four gold rings adorned with precious stones, in token that the rotundity of the rings signified eternity ; " therefore your royal discretion may be led by the form of them to pray for a passage from earthly to heavenly, from temporal to eternal things. The number of four,which is a square number, denotes the firmness of mind which is neither depressed in adversity nor elated in prosperity, which will then be fulfilled, when it is based on the four principal virtues—namely, justice, fortitude, prudence, and virtue Moreover, the greenness of the emerald denotes faith the clearness
of the sapphire, hope ; the redness of the pomegranate denotes charity ; and the purity of the topaz, good works.... In the emerald, therefore, you have what to believe ; in the sapphire, what to hope for ; in the pomegranate, what to love ; and in the topaz, what to practise ; that you ascend from one virtue to another, till you see the Lord in Zion."
The essence of all that is sacred in Lamaism is comprised under the name of what may be translated the " three " most precious jewels, viz., the " Buddha " jewel, the "doctrine" jewel, and the "priesthood" jewel—a kind of trinity, representing an essential unity.
Among the Bonaparte miniatures in the Mather Collection, at Liverpool, is one of the Empress Josephine, an enamel, after the original by Isabey. This celebrated artist used to relate, that while Josephine was sitting for her miniature, one morning, he asked her what jewels she would be painted in, and she, with a most sad and sweet expression of countenance, looked at him, and, with tears in her eyes, said, " I am about to change my state, and I have heard it said it is a custom in England, that when a true heart is severed from that it loves, that the women wear green, to denote to their friends that they are forsaken. Paint me also in emeralds, to represent the undying freshness of my grief, but let them be surrounded with diamonds, to portray the purity of my love."
This was to Isabey a mystery ; and he was so much affected by the earnestness and simplicity of her manner, that he dared not ask for an explanation, though he soon learned from rumour the truth of the meaning ; for at this very time Napoleon had asked from the Emperor of Austria the hand of Marie Louisa, and had, at the solicitation of Josephine, given her that suite of jewels in which she went to the levée at the Tuileries for the last time as the wife of Napoleon.
Montalembert, in his " Monks of the West," relates an interesting anecdote of what was called the " Xenodochium," an asylum for the poor and strangers, formed among the monastic precursors in the East, and from that time a necessary appendage to every monastery. The most ingenious combinations, and the most gracious inspirations of charity, are to be found in their history. A certain monastery served as an hospital for sick children, and another was transformed by its founder, who had been a lapidary in his youth, into an hospital for lepers and cripples. " Behold," he would say, while showing to the ladies of Alexandria the upper floor, which was reserved for women, "behold my jacinths." In conducting his visitors to the floor below, where the men were placed, he would exclaim, " See my emeralds."
In a love-song, dating about the year 1200 (Har leian MSS., Brit. Museum), we have
" Heo is coral for godnesse,
In the " Life of St. Pelagian " (Caxton's " Golden Legend ") we read : " As the bysshop sange masse in the cyte of Usanance, he saw thre dropes ryghte clere all of one grateness, which were upon the aulter, and al thre ranne togyder into a precyous gemme ; and when they had set thys gemme in a crosse of golde, al the other precyous stones that were there, fyllen (fell) out ; and this gemme was clere to them that were clene out of synne, and it was obscure and dark to synners."
The peculiar cast of romantic invention was admirably suited to serve the purposes of superstition.
Emmerson has some fine sentiments on precious stones :
" They brought me rubies from the mine,
In the curious and rare book of Sylvanus Morgan, "The Sphere of Gentry (1661), the Diamond is represented as the emblem of fortitude, and its motto, " In wternum." The Sapphire denotes prudence, "distinguished by their sex, viz., male and female, whereof the bluest are thought to be the male." The Ruby displays the virtue of charity. The Topaz, " the colour of justice in the throne—in blazon attributed to gold." The Emerald, an emblem of hope. The Pearl, "attributed to the metal silver, but not properly among the precious stones, by reason it is ingendred from shell-fish and the heavenly dew, and is not of that antiquity by its mother's side as the other gems are, though it may be reckoned as the chief, as being produced of a globular form ; but in blazon by precious stones. I conceive argent ought rather to be blazoned crystal and furres in arms (which are not metals) may be blazoned Pearle. However, all precious stones are generated by their father, air, and mother, earth, which at this time had but the vegetative faculty ; and it matters not whether the pearle or crystal had the greatest antiquity, however, the whiteness of it is attributed to the divine grace of faith." The Amethyst denotes temperance, magistracy, and worship.
The heraldic coat " that is displayed by gems and precious stones, is Insignia Gentilitice, declaring the stock or stem from whence they sprung ; and he that finds the first matter must find also the first mover, and will be able to demonstrate that honour is theological, philosophical, and moral in the soul, matter, and form."
A more rational heraldic or symbolical meaning of precious stones was given by our great art critic, Ruskin, in the course of a lecture given by him at the London Institution, in February, 1876, in which heraldic stones and colours were alluded to. Heraldry, Mr. Ruskin complained, was despised by modern science, but yet, as understood by our ancestors, it had a deep and important meaning. Or,. or gold, which was represented by the topaz, stood between light and darkness ; écarlate was the sacred colour of the living flesh, as represented in the blush of the virgin and the flush of valour on the cheek of the young warrior. Vert was the green of the emerald, and gules was rose-coloured, from the Persian word, " gul ;" a rose-azure was the clear, sacred blue of the sky, typical of the joys of heaven. The ruby and sapphires were, in fact, the same stones, and in combination produced the purpura, or purple, which formed the covering of the tabernacle. Out of the above colours came the combination of the rainbow. Argent typified the silver colour of the hoar-frost, and sable meant sand, in which the diamond was always found. Grey was the colour of the pearl, and suggested humility ; and thus all the phrases of heraldry which applied to colour and to precious stones, although now looked upon as jargon, had a deep symbolic meaning.
Chaucer, in the " Romaunt de la Rose," describes Richesse.
"About her necke, of gentle entaile, (workmanship)
The barris (part of a buckle) were of golde ful fine
In Chalkhill's "Thealma and Clearchus" Clarinda is thus described :
" Her upward vesture
Gavin Douglas, in his " Palace of Honour," describes Queen Margaret (Tudor) of Scotland :
"Amidst them borne within a golden chair,
In the poems of Jacopo de Lentino, an Italian poet (1250), translated by Mr. G. D. Rosetti, are several graceful allusions to precious stones. The following is a specimen : __
" Sapphire, nor diamond, nor emerald,
The comparison even of so much rarity and beauty is not worthy the merits of his lady-love. Herrick portrays his mistress : ___
" How rich and pleasing thou, my Julia, art,
In Thomas Lodge's poems we have a pretty conceit :
" Her eyes are sapphires, set in snow,
In Shakespeare's " Pericles," Ceremon says :
" She is alive ; behold
In his poem the " King's Quaire," King James of Scotland has described, when a princely prisoner at Windsor, how he fell in love with Lady Jane Beaufort, as she walked in the garden there, unconscious of the admiration of the young prisoner. Suddenly his eyes fell on —
"The fairest, or the freshest young flower,
The dress of the maiden is then described ; her golden hair fretted with pearls and fiery rubies, emeralds, and sapphires ; on her head a chaplet of plumes, red, white, and blue,' mixed with quaking spangles ; about her neck a fine gold chain with a ruby in the shape of a heart
" That as a spark of fire so wantonly
In Calderon's " Love after Death," one of his happiest Moorish plays, the wedding of Clara and Alvaro is celebrated, after the simple Moorish custom, by the bestowal and acceptance of the bridegroom's gifts. There are rich jewels, which are to cost the ill-fated bride her life, and they are to form a clue for her unhappy husband in his search for her murderer. The bridegroom addresses Clara thus :
" Gifts with thee, fair paragon,
Clara has accepted the presents, the lovers' hands are joined, and they are receiving the congratulations of their friends, when the sound of a distant trump tells of the enemy's approach. Alvaro, who is appointed to an active part against the enemy, parts sadly from Clara, who accompanies her father to his fortress of Galera. This fortress is the first that is besieged. Clara's father falls on the ramparts, and the Spaniards having fired the city, Alvaro makes his way to the burning house, and returns, bearing in his arms the bleeding form of his beautiful bride, mortally wounded by a soldier, who robbed her of her fatal jewels.
Alvaro makes a vow to discover the murderer of Clara, and, for this purpose, visits the Christian camp in disguise. Chance favours him, for some soldiers have been gambling, and had a dispute over their game, and they take the stranger for their umpire.
They show him the stake ; it is a Cupid made of diamonds. Alvaro knows it directly for his own marriage gift to his dead wife. He begs to see its owner, who, the soldiers tell him, won it a few weeks ago in the sack of Galera. This man, Garces, recounts the fearful tragedy to him :-
" I rushed in, found her
After an interruption from Alvaro, who says ____
" Stop this moment !
Garces continues ____
" Then she cried for some defender
Alvaro, who has with difficulty obtained the mastery of his passion, says, " Does this resemble that same stab ? " while planting his dagger into the breast of Garces.
It is this play of Calderon's which, Sismondi says, " makes us better acquainted with the revolt of Granada than do the details of any author."
There is considerable romantic interest in the " Lennox " or " Darnley " jewel, now in the possession of the Queen. It was formerly in Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill, but, much to be regretted, he has not recorded how he became possessed of it. The jewel is thus noticed in the description of Strawberry Hill (1784) :—" A golden heart set with jewels, and ornamented with emblematic figures enamelled, and Scottish mottoes made by order of the Lady Margaret Douglas, mother of Henry, Lord Darnley, in memory of her husband, Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox and Regent of Scotland, murdered by the Papists." By the command of the Queen, a description of this jewel was published in 1843 by the late Mr. Patrick Fraser Tytler.
The jewel is a golden heart, measuring two inches and one-eighth in each direction. Around it is this verse ___
" Qvha hopis stil constanly vith patience
signifying, Who hopes still constantly with patience shall obtain victory in their claim. The old Scottish word "pretence" for claim appears to be of French derivation. On the outer face is a crown, surmounted with three white fleurs-de-lys upon an azure ground, and set with three rubies and an emerald. Beneath it is a heart formed of a sapphire, with wings enamelled blue, red, green, and yellow. These emblems are sup-ported by enamelled figures representing Faith, Hope, Victory, and Truth. The jewelled crown opens, and within the lid is this device :—Two hearts united by a blue buckle, and a golden true-love knot pierced with two arrows, feathered with white enamel and barbed with gold, and above them the motto, " Qvhat ve resolv" (" What we resolve "). Below this device, in the cavity within the crown, are the letters "M.S.L." in a cipher, enamelled white, blue, and red, with a verdant chaplet over it. The heart of sapphire also opens, and within the lid is this device :—Two hands conjoined, holding a green hunting horn by red cords, with this motto, rhyming to the former—" Deathe sal desolve" (" Death shall dissolve "). Within the cavity is a skull, with cross-bones, enamelled. The reverse of the heart is covered with devices, and bears the following verse around the margin :
" My stait to yir I may comper
The emblems are the sun in glory, amidst the azure starry skies, and the crescent moon. Below the sun is a salamander, crowned, amidst flames, and underneath this is the pelican in piety. Beneath the moon is the phoenix in the flames, and under it a man lying on the ground, with something resembling a royal crown on his side, so small as to be seen only with a magnifying glass ; out of the crown issues a sunflower. Behind him is a laurel (?), in which sits a bird, and on the leaves of the sunflower is a lizard. The heart opens, being hinged at the top, and within the lid are the following emblems :—A stake, such as is represented in pictures of martyrs, surrounded with flames, and in the flames a number of little crosses ; near it is a female figure on a throne, with a tiara on her head ; and above her appears a scroll, inscribed, " Gar tel my reloes" (" Cause tell my relief"). There appears next a complicated group of emblems-a figure with two faces and two bodies, the upper part evidently representing Time, with his forelock, wings, and hour-glass ; the back of his head presents a second face or mask ; and the lower portion of the figure, separated by a marked line, is that of a demon, with cloven feet, standing on a celestial sphere. On one side, Time is pulling a naked female figure, meant for Truth, out of a well; on the other side is a representation of hideous black jaws, like the hell-mouth of medieval art, from which issue flames and three winged demons. Above Time is a scroll, inscribed, "Tym gares al leir" ("Time causes all to learn "). Below Time, and immediately connected with the sphere under his feet, is another scroll, " Ze seim al my plesvr " (" You seem all my pleasure "). Lastly, in the lower part are two groups ; a warrior with sword and shield, standing over another who is vanquished and overcome ; on the ground, by his side, lies his shield, red, surmounted by a crown, and charged with a face ; the fallen man seems to be pointing towards it. The other group is a crowned warrior with a drawn sword, holding a female by her dishevelled hair, as if about to kill her. To neither of these groups is attached any legend.
It will be seen that the jewel contains three distinct divisions, the front, the reverse, and the interior, in which are twenty-eight emblems, and six verses, or mottoes. All these emblems point to the truth of the tradition that the jewel was made for Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, in memory of her husband. He, by maternal descent, was of the royal blood of Scotland, his mother being the Lady Anne Stuart, a daughter of John, Earl of Athol, brother of James II. She was of the blood royal of England, her mother being Margaret Tudor, the only daughter of Henry VII., and widow of James IV. of Scotland. Her father was Archibald Douglas, sixth Earl of Angus. The letters M. S. L. are the initials of the name of the Countess of Lennox and her husband, Matthew Stuart Lennox, and Margaret Stuart Lennox. The salamander is the crest of the house of Lennox ; the circumstance that here it is crowned may be in allusion to the royal descent of the Lady Margaret. The three fleurs-de-lys on an azure ground are the arms borne in the first quarter by Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox, being the royal arms of France, granted to his ancestor, Sir John Stuart, of Darnley, by Charles VII. of France.
The heart also is most emphatic, for it is the well-known emblem of the house of Douglas. The wings represent the soaring ambition of that house. The two little hearts, joined together not only by a true-love knot, but by a blue buckle, point to Lennox and Douglas, for both these ancient houses bear buckles in their arms.
The emblems, the pelican and the salamander, express great affection and great trials. The recumbent figure on the grass seems to represent the unfortunate Darnley. " He was not," says Mr. Tytler, " in his own right a king, but a king sprang from him, and the crown, as I have interpreted the little figure, placed, not upon his head, but in his side, expresses this ; whilst the sunflower growing out of the crown, equally clearly denotes a royal scion, his son King James VI." The sun and phoenix Mr. Tytler regards as emblems of Queen Elizabeth.
The two warriors are supposed to allude to the death of Lennox, who being mortally wounded points to the crowned shield with a face on it, an emblem of the young king, as if saying, " If the babe is well, all is well."
The crowned warrior seizing a lady by the hair, may indicate the temporary triumph of the Scottish Queen's party over the fortunes of the Countess of Lennox and the young king.
The stake surrounded by flames, the lady liberated and seated on a chair of state, and the emblems of Time and Truth, have to be considered. The first is an emblem, doubtless, of religious persecution. Lady Lennox had been reported a Roman Catholic, and as such became an object of suspicion and persecution by Queen Elizabeth. Three points in her life may offer a key to the complicated emblems in the group of Time and Truth. Her being slandered and threatened with loss of honour, birthright, and royal descent, is indicated by the jaws vomiting forth fire and lies, whilst Time pulling Truth from the well, marks the triumph of truth in the establishment of her legitimacy. The celestial sphere, with the words ze seim, etc., may allude to the bright influences which seemed to reign over her early days, her education at the court of Henry VIII., her marriage, and the favour she enjoyed from her sovereign, Mary of England—these were succeeded by her becoming under Elizabeth the victim of persecution and dissimulation. This temporary triumph of evil over celestial influences is represented by the double face of Time, and by half his body, in the shape of a demon, resting on the celestial sphere, and checking its motions. The lady enthroned, last feature of the group, points to the same story. " She is no longer " (to use Mr. Tytler's own words) " at the mercy of her enemy, no longer in the miserable state in which she appears below, dragged by the hair, wretched and discrowned. She has regained her liberty, her honours are restored, her diadem sparkles on her brow, and she proclaims her release, Gar Tel My Relaes."
From this examination it appears that this curious and ancient jewel contains internal evidence that it was made for Margaret, Countess of Lennox, in memory of her husband, the Regent, as a present to her royal grandson, the King of Scots.
Mr. Tytler supposes it to have been made about 1576 or 1577. He concludes by pointing out that in the spirit of the times, which delighted in concetti, the three inscriptions in the interior of the heart, may be anagrammatic, and they may be so transposed as to include the names of the countess, her husband, and Queen Elizabeth. Tym gares al leir will read, " Margaret is leal ;" Gar Tel My Relaes—Mat. S. L. Ye. Real. Reg., for Matthew Stuart Lennox, the royal Regent ;" and Ze Seim. Al. My. Plesvr, may be read, " My P. L. Eliza rvles me."
In April, 1866, the Rev. Mr. Blencowe exhibited, at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, a jewelled ornament consisting of an oval cameo in onyx, representing Queen Elizabeth, in profile to the left. It is set in a frame of rubies and table diamonds, the upper part is in the form of a crown, and from the lower hangs a bunch of grapes formed of pearls. The entire height of the ornament is about two and a half inches. The workmanship of this cameo has been attributed to Coldoré, chief engraver to Henry IV. But apart from its artistic beauty, it has a romantic interest. William Barbor was, for his religion, in the reign of Queen Mary, brought to the stake in Smithfield to be burnt, but before the fire was lighted, news came of the queen's death, and the execution was stopped. In memory of this signal deliverance the jewel in question was made, inclosing a portrait of Elizabeth, by whose accession William Barbor had escaped such imminent danger.