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Emerald-Beryl-- Amethyst--Carnelian, &c. In these the predominant ingredient is silica ; they may be called siliceous gems, just as the ruby and sapphire might be styled aluminous, or the diamond carbonaceous. The emerald is one of the most esteemed, being of a beautiful green colour, and occurring in prismatic crystals. It consists essentially of silica, with a small per centage of alumina and glucina, the colouring matter being oxide of chromium. The finest emeralds are brought from Peru and Brazil; the mines from which the ancients obtained their supply is said to have been in Upper Egypt. Beryl differs little from emerald except in colour—the latter name embracing the green varieties, the former all those that are tinged less or more with yellow or blue, or are altogether colourless. Beryls are found in Siberia, France, the United States, and in Brazil, the latter country furnishing the brilliant variety known as the precious beryl, or aqua-marine. Heliotrope, or bloodstone, is another common deep-green siliceous mineral, somewhat translucent, and often variegated with blood-red spots—whence its common appellation. Amethyst is a pure rock-crystal, of a purplish-violet colour, and of great brilliancy. It is found in India, in Germany, Sweden, and Spain, but chiefly in Brazil, and is in great request for cutting into seals and brooches. “Some of the ancient vases and cups,” says Brande, "are composed of this mineral, and it was an opinion among the Persians that wine drunk out of such cups would not intoxicate; hence its name from the Greek amethystos.” The cairngorm of the lapidary is another crystallised quartz, of various hues, and nearly transparent. It derives its name from the mountain Cairngorm in Inverness-shire, and is much used as an ornamental stone in this country.
Agate, chalcedony, opal, carnelian, sardonyx, jasper, and some kindred substances, may be, without much impropriety, regarded as merely varieties of the same mineral, having different colours and degrees of transparency. They are found in most countries, and are used for seals, brooches, cameos, and other ornamental purposes——the larger geodes or mass being often fashioned into cups and vases. Carnelians and opals are perhaps the most valuable, some specimens of the Oriental opal being worth double the price of a sapphire of the same size. This variety is sometimes known as the Nonnius opal, from the senator Nonnius, the possessor of the famous opál of Rome, worth 20,000 sesterces, who preferred banishment to parting with it to Antony. The cat's-eye opal, so called from its presenting an effulgent pearly light like the changeable reflections of the eye of a cat, is another siliceous mineral or quartz, interspersed with filaments of asbestos. It is found chiefly in Ceylon and the Indian peninsula, and is held in great estimation among gem fanciers. When the late king of Candy's jewels were brought
to the hammer in London in 1820, a specimen, which measured about two inches in diameter, brought upwards of £400.
Lapis-lazuli, or azure-stone, at one time held in the highest estimation, is another precious mineral, whose chief constituents are silica and alumina. Its principal localities are China, Persia, and Siberia, where it occurs in massive, but rarely in regular crystals, The finer specimens are prized by the lapidary; but by far the most important application of the substance is to the production of ultra-marine—a pigment which, till of late, was more precious than gold. Within these few years, however, the chemist has succeeded in producing an artificial ultra-marine possessing all the properties of the native pigment, and at such a rate, that several pounds weight can be procured for what, a dozen years ago, would scarcely have purchased a single ounce.
Calcareous Spars. Several of the calcareous spars are of great beauty and transparency, but in general their softness and frangibility prevent them from being employed for ornamental purposes. Iceland spar, so called from the largest and most transparent specimens being found there, is a rhomboidal carbonate of lime, much used for experiments on the double refraction and polarisation of light. Fluor spar is a common mineral product, found in many places, but in great beauty and abundance in Derbyshire. It is a fluoride of calcium, occurring in crystals and in nodules of various colours, and often very prettily, banded. The nodular specimens are occasionally worked into beads, brooches, and other ornamental purposes; but chiefly manufactured into vases, toiletboxes, jars, and such-like articles.
The preceding pages present but an imperfect outline of one of the most important and interesting subjects that can engage our attention. Important, as many of the arts depend wholly upon the production of the substances described; and interesting, as no intelligent mind can be indifferent to the origin and history of the mineral composition of our globe, or can fail to admire the ingenuity often displayed in bringing its rudest and most refractory materials to administer to the utilities and amenities of life. It will have been seen that some of the most unseemly are the most important, and that some of the most beautiful and expensive products are, in reality, the least valuable; fashion and caprice, or, it may be, vanity to obtain an exclusive possession, often attaching enormous prices to glittering fragments which it is impossible to turn to a single useful purpose. But waiving these unaccountable freaks, commercial utility has, in general, fixed upon the known minerals their proper relative values, and has stamped them all, whether worth one penny or worth one pound per ton, as Treasures of the Earth.
OR more than a hundred years a story of a melancholy and remarkable kind has floated through Europe. It has become in every country an interesting tradition;
all persons have, less or more, heard something of it; it is one of the tales which the young, by one means or other, pick up. This traditional relation is the story of “The Man with the Iron Mask.” The story is French, and
possesses that degree of mystery which insures a lively interest among the imaginative. It purports to be the history of a distinguished personage, perhaps a prince, who was confined for a great number of years, until his death, in one of the state prisons of France. The era to which the story is referred was that of Louis XIV.-a knowledge of whose character and position is necessary for a full comprehension of the plot. Louis was born in 1638, attained the authority of king in 1661, and from this period he reigned for fifty-four years, till his death in 1715. Accomplished in person and manners, and possessing a love of magnificence and power, Louis was the greatest of the old French monarchs ; yet this greatness had in it little of magnanimity. Inspired by an intense selfishness, and of insatiable ambition, he permitted nothing to stand in the way of his desires. Neither was any flattery too gross for him; incense was the only intellectual food he imbibed. Independence of character he detested; the man who once, though but for an instant, stood up before hím in the consciousness of manly integrity of purpose, was lost for ever in the favour of the king. He detested the nobility, because they were not the creatures of his breath; they
had their own consequence: his ministers were always his favourites, because he had made them, and could unmake them; and because, moreover, they had abundant opportunities of applying large doses of the most fulsome flattery, and of prostrating themselves before him, of assuming an air of utter nothingness in his presence, of attributing to him the praise of every scheme they had invented, and of insinuating that their own ideas were the creatures of his suggestions. To such a pitch was this intoxication carried, that he who had neither ear nor voice might be heard singing, among his peculiar intimates, snatches of the most fulsome parts of the songs in his own praise.
His love of sieges and reviews was only another form of this his only enthusiasm-his passion for himself. A siege was a fine opportunity for exhibiting his capacity; in other words, for attributing to himself all the talents of a great general. Here, too, he could exhibit his courage at little expense of danger; for he could be prevailed upon, as it were with difficulty, to keep in the background, and by the aid of his admirable constitution, and great power of enduring hunger, thirst, fatigue, and changes of temperature, really exhibit himself in a very advantageous point of view. At reviews, also, his fine person, his skill in horsemanship, and his air of dignity and noble presence, enabled him to play the first part with considerable effect. It was always with a talk of his campaigns and his troops that he used to entertain his mistresses, and sometimes his courtiers. The subject must necessarily have been tiresome to them, but it was in some measure redeemed by the elegance and propriety of his expressions : he had a natural justness of phrase in conversation, and told a story better than any man of his time. The talent of recounting is by no means a common quality: he had it in perfection.
If Louis had a talent for anything, it was for the management of the merest details. His mind naturally ran on small diffe
He was incessantly occupied with the meanest minutiæ of military affairs. Clothing, arms, evolutions, drill, disciplinein a word, all the lowest details. It was the same in his buildings, his establishments, his household supplies ; he was perpetually fancying that he could teach the men who understood the subject, whatever it might be, better than anybody else, and they of course received his instruction in the manner of novices. This waste of time he would term a continual application to business. It was a description of industry which exactly suited the purposes of his ministers, who, by putting him on the scent in some trivial matter, respecting which they pretended to receive the law from him, took care to manage all the more important matters according to their own schemes. To this love of trifling and scheming may be ascribed many of his meaner acts of vengeance. Fond of contriving, he liked more to torment an enemy by secret seizure and imprisonment, than to kill him by an open and instantaneous act. To him the horrid pleasure of learning from time to time how an unfortunate captive spent his wearisome hours, was very exquisite ; and thus did he make revenge a continual feast--a feast, however, which earried remorse in its train. Inheriting a purely despotic power, these vengeful actions were not matters of common remark. It had been the practice of the kings of France, ever since Louis XI., to act exactly with the people and the laws as they were so disposed. Among their ordinary means of putting out of the way persons who gave them any displeasure, was that of consigning them secretly to one of the many state prisons-gloomy and strong fortress edifices — with which France abounded. Fathers of families, priests, soldiers, statesmen, noblemen of the court, ladies of quality-all were numbered among the victims of this iniquitous abuse of power. There was usually no form of trial; lettres de cachet, or sealed warrants, were put in force with merciless severity. Sometimes the individual thus taken suddenly into custody would be transferred to the Bastile, a prison fortress at Paris (of which an account will be given in a future tract), where he would be kept for years, or for life, holding no communication whatever with the external world. At other times, in cases of greater vengefulness, the poor victim would be thrown into a vault, to die, within a few days or weeks, of famine. The vaults devoted to this odious purpose were called oubliettes; that is, places where the inmates were to be forgotten. These oubliettes, of which the remains may still be seen in some of the old ruined castles in France, were usually shaped like a bottle, small at the mouth, and wide beneath, and, being of considerable depth, escape from them was impossible, Amidst the decaying remains of former victims, and everything that was nauseous, the individual precipitated into them found a horrible grave.
Whether Louis XIV, resorted to this barbarity, is not known. Unrestrained by scruples of generosity, honour, or religion, it is at least certain that, throughout his long reign, he was one of the most detestable tyrants that have ever challenged the execration of mankind. The Bastile and other state prisons were filled by him with unfortunate captives, many of them ignorant of the offences laid to their charge, and all exposed, as authentic records verify, to the worst practices of the worst and most barbarous ages, even to the infliction of
* Such villanous receptacles were not confined exelusively to France ; they were common all over Europe. We have seen one at Chillon, and likewise the remains of one in the castle of St Andrews in Scotland. This last-mentioned, situated in a low part of the ruins, is a dark cavern, cut out of the solid roek, and shaped like a common bottle. The neck of the orifice is seven feet wide, by about eight in depth, after which it widens till it is seventeen feet in diameter. The depth of the whole is twenty-two feet. This fearful tomb was once used as the dungeon of the castle. Recusant yietims were put therein, and possibly left to die of cold and famine. Some years since it was cleared out, when a great quantity of bones were removed.