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5.12. Of pretious stones. Chap. 12.

EEBO page image 239

Of pretious stones. Chap. 12.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 _THe old writers remember few other stones of estimati|on to be found in this Iland than that which we call great, and they in Latine Gagates: Geat. wherevnto furthermore they ascribe sundrie properties, as vsuallie practised here in times past,Laon. Chalchon|vtle. whereof none of our writers doo make a|nie mention at all. Howbeit whatsoeuer it hath plea|sed a number of strangers (vpon false surmise) to write of the vsages of this our countrie, about the triall of the virginitie of our maidens by drinking the powder hereof against the time of their bestow|ing in mariage: certeine it is that euen to this daie there is some plentie to be had of this commoditie in Darbishire and about Barwike, whereof rings, salts, small cups, and sundrie trifling toies are made, although that in manie mens opinions no|thing so fine as that which is brought ouer by mer|chants dailie from the maine. But as these men are drowned with the common errour conceiued of our nation, so I am sure that in discerning the price and value of things, no man now liuing can go beyond the iudgement of the old Romans, who preferred the geat of Britaine before the like stones bred about Luke and all other countries wheresoeuer. Marbo|deus Gallus also writing of the same among other of estimation, saith thus:

Nascitur in Lycialapis & propè gemma Gagates,
Sed genus eximium faecunda Britannia mittit,
Lucidus & niger est, leuis & leuissimus idem,
Vicinas paleas trahit attritu calefactus,
Ardet aqua lotus, restinguitur vnctus oliuo.

The Germane writers confound it with amber as if it were a kind therof: but as I regard not their iudgement in this point, so I read that it taketh name of Gagas a citie and riuer in Silicia, where it groweth in plentifull maner, as Dioscorides saith. Nicander in Theriaca calleth it Engangin and Gan|gitin, of the plentie thereof that is found in the place aforesaid, which he calleth Ganges, and where they haue great vse of it in driuing awaie of serpents by the onelie perfume thereof. Charles the fourth em|perour of that name glased the church withall that standeth at the fall of Tangra, but I cannot ima|gine what light should enter therby. The writers al|so diuide this stone into fiue kinds, of which the one is in colour like vnto lion tawnie, another straked with white veines, the third with yellow lines, the fourth is garled with diuerse colours, among which some are like drops of bloud (but those come out of Inde) and the fift shining blacke as anie rauens fea|ther.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Moreouer, as geat was one of the first stones of this Ile, whereof anie forren account was made, so our pearles also did match with it in renowme: in so much that the onelie desire of them caused Caesar to aduenture hither, after he had séene the quantities and heard of our plentie of them, while he abode in France, and whereof he made a taberd which he offe|red vp in Rome to Uenus, where it hoong long af|ter as a rich and notable oblation and testimonie of the riches of our countrie. Certes they are to be found in these our daies, and thereto of diuerse co|lours, in no lesse numbers than euer they were in old time. Yet are they not now so much desired bicause of their smalnesse, and also for other causes, but espe|ciallie sith church worke, as copes, vestments, albes, tunicles, altarclothes, canopies, and such trash, are worthilie abolished; vpon which our countrimen superstitiously bestowed no small quantities of them. For I thinke there were sew churches or religious houses, besides bishops miters, bookes and other pon|tificall vestures, but were either throughlie fretted, or notablie garnished with huge numbers of them. Marbodeus likewise speaking of pearles, commen|deth them after this maner:

Gignit & insignes antiqua Britannia baccas, &c.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Marcellinus also Lib. 23, in ipso, fine, speaketh of our pearls and their generation, but he preferreth great|lie those of Persia before them, which to me dooth séeme vnequallie doone. But as the British geat or o|rient pearle were in old time estéemed aboue those of other countries; so time hath since the conquest of the Romans reuealed manie other: insomuch that at this season there are found in England the Ae|tites (in English called the ernestone, but for erne some pronounce eagle) and the hematite or blood|stone, and these verie pure and excellent: also the cal|cedonie, the porphyrite, the christall, and those other which we call calaminares and speculares, besides a kind of diamond or adamant, which although it be ve|rie faire to sight, is yet much softer (as most are that are found & bred toward the north) than those that are brought hither out of other countries. We haue also vpon our coast the white corall, nothing inferiour to that which is found beyond the sea in the albe, néere to the fall of Tangra, or to the red and blacke, where|of Dioscorides intreateth, Lib. 5. cap. 8. We haue in like sort sundrie other stones dailie found in cliffes and rocks (beside the load stone which is oftentimes taken vp out of our mines of iron) whereof such as find them haue either no knowledge at all, or else doo make but small account, being seduced by outlan|dith lapidaries, whereof the most part discourage vs from the searching and séeking out of our owne com|modities, to the end that they maie haue the more frée vtterance of their naturall and artificiall wares, whereby they get great gaines amongst such as haue no skill.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 I haue heard that the best triall of a stone is to laie it on the naile of the thombe,Triall of a stone. and so to go abroad into the cleare light, where if the colour hold in all places a like, the stone is thought to be naturall and good: but if it alter, especiallie toward the naile, then is it not sound, but rather to be taken for an artificiall péece of practise. If this be true it is an experiment woorthie the noting. Cardan also hath it in his De subtilitate; if not,Lib. 7. I haue read more lies than this, as one for example out of Cato, who saieth, that a cup of iuie will hold no wine at all. I haue made some vessels of the same wood, which refuse no kind of liquor, and therefore I suppose that there is no such Antipathia betweene wine and our iuie, as some of our reading philosophers (without all maner of prac|tise) will seeme to infer amongst vs: and yet I denie not but the iuie of Gréece or Italie may haue such a propertie; but why should not the iuie then of France somewhat participat withall in the like effect, which groweth in an hotter soile than ours is? For as Bap|tista porta saith, it holdeth not also in the French iuie, wherefore I can not beléeue that it hath anie such qua|litie at all as Cato ascribeth vnto it. What should I say more of stones? Trulie I can not tell, sith I haue said what I may alreadie, and peraduenture more than I thinke necessarie: and that causeth me to passe ouer those that are now & then taken out of our oisters, todes, muskels, snailes and adders, and like|wise such as are found vpon sundrie hils in Gloce|stershire, which haue naturallie such sundrie proporti|ons, formes & colours in them, as passe all humane possibilitie to imitate, be the workeman neuer so EEBO page image 240 skilfull and cunning, also those that are found in the heads of our perches and carps much desired of such as haue the stone, & yet of themselues are no stones but rather shels or gristles, which in time consume to nothing. This yet will I ad, that if those which are found in muskels (for I am vtterlie ignorant of the generation of pearls) be good pearle in déed, I haue at sundrie times gathered more than an ounce of them, of which diuerse haue holes alreadie entered by nature, some of them not much inferiour to great peason in quantitie, and thereto of sundrie colours, as it happeneth amongst such as are brought from the esterlie coast to Saffron Walden in Lent, when for want of flesh, stale stinking fish and welked mus|kels are thought to be good meat; for other fish is too déere amongst vs when law dooth bind vs to vse it. Sée more for the generation of pearls in the descrip|tion of Scotland, for there you shall be further infor|med out of Boetius in that behalfe. They are called o|rient, because of the cléerenesse, which resembleth the colour of the cléere aire before the rising of the sun. They are also sought for in the later end of August, a little before which time the swéetnesse of the dew is most conuenient for that kind of fish, which dooth in|gender and conceiue them, whose forme is flat, and much like vnto a lempet. The further north also that they be found the brighter is their colour, & their sub|stances of better valure, as lapidaries doo giue out.

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