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will be of that beautiful spirit building his many-colored haze of words and images
Pinnacled dim in the intense inane"no contact can be wholesomer than the contact with Burns at his archest and soundest. Side by side with the
On the brink of the night and the morning
My coursers are wont to respire,
That their flight must be swifter than fire ..." of “ Prometheus Unbound," how salutary, how very salutary, to place this from “ Tam Glen":
My minnie does constantly deave me
And bids me beware o' young men ;
But wha can think sae o' Tam Glen ?" But we enter on burning ground as we approach the poetry of times so near to us, poetry like that of Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth, of which the estimates are so often not only personal, but personal with passion. For my purpose, it is enough to have taken the single case of Burns, the first poet we come to of whose work the estimate formed is evidently apt to be personal, and to have suggested how we may proceed, using the poetry of the great classics, as a sort of touchstone, to correct this estimate, as we had previously corrected by the same means the historic estimate where we met with it. A collection like the present, with its succession of celebrated names and celebrated poems, offers a good opportunity to us for resolutely endeavoring to make our estimates of poetry real. I have sought to point out a method which will help us in making them so, and to exhibit it in use so far as to put any one who likes in a way of applying it for himself.
At any rate the end to which the method and the estimate are designed to lead, and from leading to which, if they do lead to it, they get their whole value--the benefit of being able clearly to feel and deeply to enjoy the best, the truly classic, in poetry—is an end, let me say it once more at partiog, of supreme importance. We are often told that an era is opening in which we are to see multitudes of a common sort of readers, and masses of a common sort of literature ; that such readers do not want and could not relish anything better than such literature, and that to provide it is becoming a vast aud profitable industry. Even if good literature entirely lost currency with the world, it would still be abundantly worth while to continue to enjoy it by one's self. But it never will lose currency with the world, in spite of momentary appearances ; it never will lose supremacy. Currency and supremacy are insured
to it, not indeed by the world's deliberate and conscious choice, but by something far deeper-by the instinct of self-preservation in humanity.
MATTHEW ARNOLD, Introduction to Ward's “ English Poets."
DIAMONDS, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL. The diamond has many histories. It has a chemical and a com. mercial, a' mineralogical and a mystical history. It has what may be called a personal history, comprising the varied adventures of individual stones ; there is a history of diamond cutting and counterfeiting, of diamond discoveries and diamond robberies, and there promises soon to be a history of diamond manufacture. The earliest known home of the gem was in India. From India it made its way westward to the Greeks, who, ainong
many remarkable qualities, singled out its pre-eminent hardness as that by which it was thenceforward to be distinguished when known, and detected when doubtful. They pumed it adamas, the indomitable, and in. vented fables in illustration of this character, which passed current and unquestioned for many hundreds of years. Such was the obduracy of the genuine diamond, they maintained, that the attempt to break it between hammer and anvil resulted, not in the fracture of the stone, but in the rending of the metal ; and numerous gems of the purest water were immolated, generation after generation, to the blind tradition of this perilous ordeal by iron. There was, indeed, it was added, one method by which this otherwise invincible resistance could be overcome. Immersion for a certain time in warm goat's blood rendered the crystal amenable to the blows of the hammer, although even then, like the Calydonian hero at the siege of Thebes, it contrived to involve its sturdy adversary in its own destruction. “Only a god,” Pliny exclaims in a pious rapture, “could have revealed such a valuable secret to men !”
Now the truth is, that the diamond, although the hardest of known substances, is also one of the most brittle, since it possesses a natural cleavage along which it splits with the utmost facility. When the Koh-i-noor was being recut, in 1852, the jeweller to whose care it was intrusted during the operation, submitted it to the inspection of one of bis most valued customers, who heedlessly let it slip through his fingers. The jeweller, seeing it fall, all but lost his senses with terror, and called forth a similar access of retrospective dismay in his distinguished visitor, by explaining that if the jewel had touched the ground at a certain angle, it would almost infallibly have separated into two fragments, and thus have finally terminated its notable career as a “ Mountain of Light."
The extreme difficulty of polishing the diamond caused it, in early times, to be sought after as an amulet rather than as an ornament. The belief in its efficacy both as a poison and as an antidote to poison is of high antiquity, and as regards the healing branch, is even yet not wholly extinct. Benvenuto Cellini relates that he owed his life to the avarice of an apothecary in substituting powdered beryl for the diamond-dust which he had been bribed to mix with his salad ; and the same pseudo-deadly substance was administered to Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower. On the other hand, the Romans regarded it as a sure remedy, not only against poison, but against various other perils, and the conviction of its inystical virtues continued to prevail throughout the Middle Ages. It was said to confer valor, to insure victory, to repel witchcraft and madness, to give success in lawsuits. Pliny is careful to tell us that, if word on the left arm touching the skin, it dispels nocturual panic; and Sir John Mandeville adds (although we are unable to discover that the market price of the gem was seriously affected by the precept), that it should be given freely, not bought or sold. The same writer naïvely repeats the popular fable as to the propagation of their kind by these stones after the manner of living things ; and gravely gives it as a result of experience that, if diligently moistened with May dew, they grow in greatness year by year!
Diamond superstitions, in our days, seem to have taken refuge in the East. The Shah of Persia is said to possess one set in a scimitar, which has the power of rendering the wearer invisible, and the great diamond of the Rajah of Mattan in Borneo, weighing 367 carats, * and supposed to be the largest in existence, is credited with the virtue, not of a talisman alone, but of a panacea as well. The natives of the island believe that water in which it has been immersed cures every disorder ; and the vast price offered for it by the Governor of Batavia, of 150,000 dollars, two ships of war fully equipped, together with sundry arms and munitions, was refused, not because of the intrinsic value of the jewel, but because the fortunes of the dynasty were traditionally attirmed to depend upon its possession,
The art of diamond-cutting is usually supposed to have been invented by Louis van Berquem of Bruges, in 1456 ; but closer inquiry shows that he only introduced important improvements into a method already in use. It is said that there were diamondpolishers at Nuremberg in 1373, and the same trade was exercised early in the following century in Paris, where a cross-way called "La Courarie," once inhabited by the workmen, still exists among the diminishing relics of the past. Nor is it to be supposed that this art was entirely unknown to more ancient nations. In India, from the earliest times, a mode of releasing the crystal from its native husk was employed, which probably differed less in principle than in application from that now used in London and Amsterdam. The gem-engravers of antiquity not only worked extensively with the diamond point, but in some rare cases engraved the “in. domitable” stone itself In the Duke of Bedford's collection, for instance is a diamond engraved with the head of Posidonius, and one bearing a portrait of a Roman emperor was to be seen at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. After the barbarian invasion the art be. came the secret of a very few, without, it would seem, ever declining to extinction; for the diamond clasp which fastened the imperial mantle of Charlemagne at his coronation, had the natural faces of the crystals rudely polished, and cut diamonds have occasionally been found on mediæval church ornaments.
* The word “carat " is derived through the Arabic from the Greek name (kepátlov) of the fruit of the karob-tree, the beans of which, owing to their nearly invariable size, were long ago selected as a standard-weight for gold, by the natives of West Africa. Their use (or rather, as we should suppose, the use of an equivalent weight) passed thence to India, and was introduced into southern Europe by the Arabs, A carat is equal to 4 diamond grains, or to 3,17 grains troy.
It is, however, unquestionable that Berquem introduced the method of cutting diamonds into regular facets, and employed for the purpose the wheel, with the powder of the gem itself, precisely after the modern fashion. In 1475 he made his first experiment of the “ perfect cut” on three rough stones sent him by Charles the Bold, who was famed for his magnificence in jewels. All three were worn by the unfortunate Duke of Burgundy, probably with some regard to safety as well as to splendor, in his disastrous batthem, for they were lost with the fortunes of their owner, and after many singular adventures found their way each to the treasury of a separate foreign potentate. The most celebrated of these was the Sancy” diamond, a fine stone of 534 carats. It was picked up on the field of Nancy by a Swiss soldier, who sold it for à florin to a priest ; unsuspiciously redisposed of by him for å scarcely larger sum, and transported by the currents of chance or trade to Portugal, where it figured, in 1489, among the crown. jewels of the unlucky Don Antonio. This monarch in difficulties first pledged, and then sold it for 100,000 livres to Harlay de Sancy, a French nobleman, whose descendant, Nicolas de Sancy, was induced to place the gem in pawp for the relief of a pressing exigency of the crown in the time of Henri III. For this purpose it was intrusted to a servant to be carried to a jeweller at Metz; but neither servant nor jewel reached their destination, and the conclusion seemed ineritable that the temptation had proved too strong for the man's tidelity. De Sancy alone never wavered in his reliance on the devotion of his dependant, and maintained that
only with his life would he have separated from the precious charge committed to him. And, in fact, after some further search had been made, the murdered body of the messenger was found by the roadside. It was opened, and the diamond was discovered in the stomach ! Thus, by a last and despairing expedient of fidelity, this nameless hero bafiled his foes at the very instant of succumbing to them, and left to posterity the menory of an action brighter than the gem whose safety it secured.
Through some unknown channel the " Sancy” came into the possession of James II. of England, shared his exile, and was disposed of by him “for a consideration' to his royal host. The a well-beloved"' Louis wore it in the agrafe of his hat at his córopation, and it rested quietly in the treasury of the Tuileries until the troubles of the Revolution once more set it in circulation. It found its way to Spain, was sold by Godoy to Prince Demidoff, and purchased from him by Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhuy for the sum of 200,000 florins. And here, for the present, its story ends.
The comparative facility with which diamonds were cut by Berquem's process brought them into general use as personal ornaments, thereby dealing a blow, from which they have never recovered, to the pearl-fisheries of South America. In the reign of Charles VII. the wives and daughters of the French nobility imitated the example of Agues Sorel in decorating themselves profusely with these gems, and at the court of Francis I.,
A lady walled about with diamonds, was no uncommon spectacle. Indeed, sumptuary laws were soon after passed to restrain this particular species of extravagance. Of the two forms of cutting now generally employed, the " rose' has been in use since 1520, and the brilliant” was invented by Vin. cenzo Peruzzi, of Venice, toward the end of the seventeenth cen. tury. The first of these may be described as a faceted hemisphere ; the second us a double cone, likewise covered with small facets, of which the upper portiou, or crown,” is truncated, the "pavilion," or lower part, being but slightly blunted. The “table" cut is now only used for stones too shallow to admit of other treatment. The high value of this gem may be estimated from the fact that it is found worth while to facet splinters weighing not more than the five hundredth part of a carat.
All the great historical diamonds of the world own an Indian origin. The Rajah of Mattan's great jewel was, it is true, found in Borneo, but its existence has hitherto been passed in the Oriental seclusion befitting its mystical character, not amid the glare and bustle of Westeru politics. The “ Bragadza” has continued since 1741, when it was discovered in a Brazilian mine, in the possession of the Portuguese crown, and is still as jealously guarded
L, M, iymo5