Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

:

they got their strange ideas. But we must remember that our fore

fathers were not altogether free from them, for as late as the end of ¡ the last century a great number of precious stones were to be found

in the stores of the apothecary, who evidently believed that they possessed some mysterious virtue, and could aid him in his healing art. But we must continue our descriptive account. We now come to a stone that is very familiar, namely, the topaz. “Topaz” is mentioned thrice in the Old and once in the New Testament. Among precious stones it stands third from the diamond in respect to hardness. Berzelius gives its constituent parts as—alumina 47:45, silica 34:21, and fluoric acid 7.75. The usual colour of the topaz is of a bright yellow or citron; but it also occurs colourless, bluish-green, and reddish, and may be coloured rosy-red by exposure to a gentle heat. The dark yellow is most highly valued. Noble topazes, or the most brightly transparent varieties, are found in India, in Asia Minor, in Egypt, in some parts of Europe, and in Brazil. The Oriental topaz is the best, and the Brazilian the next in value. Egyptian topaz is softer than the Oriental variety. In the days of Job an Ethiopian variety appears to have been most highly esteemed :

“ But where shall wisdom be found ?

And where is the place of understanding ?
The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,
Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.”

-Job xxvii., 12, 19. Oriental topaz is no doubt referred to, Ethiopia being the Asiatic country of that name. The prophet names this gem among the precious stones which went to adorn luxurious Tyrus (Ezek. xxviii., 13.) In the New Testament allusion to it, topaz is named in connection with “ the foundations of the wall of the city”-the New Jerusalem-—"garnished with all manner of precious stones” (Rev. xxi., 20).

The garnet is a red stone, which is likewise composed of silica, with alumina and lime, and also oxides of iron and manganese. This stone does indeed occur other colours, but ordinarily only the red garnets are transparent enough to fit them for cutting as ornamental stones. This mineral is particularly widely diffused, and occurs in the primitive rocks of Scandinavia, in Carthinia, and in Tyrol. Not unfrequently it is found in crystals as large as a man's fist; but these garnets are rarely pure. The most beautiful are those called Syrian garnets.

Labradorite exhibits gleams of blue, yellow, green, and coppercoloured reflections, and comes from the coast of Labrador, in North America.

Lapis Lazuli is esteemed on account of its blue colour. Unlike any other precious stone, it is of high value even when pulverised. Ring-stones, snuff-boxes, vases, etc., are made of it, and it is

of

[ocr errors]

particularly employed in the inlaying of ornamental tables. It comes from Thibet, Little Bokhara, China, and Chili.

We come now to certain very highly-esteemed precious stones, which contain no silica, but in the composition of which alumina plays an important part. These are corundum and spinel. The corundum of mineralogists includes the sapphire and the ruby, which differ not in nature, but only in colour, the sapphire being blue, the ruby red. These are the hardest of all stones excepting the diamond, and are four times heavier than water. The sapphire is chiefly found in the sands of the rivers and in drift, in Ceylon and India. This accounts for the comparative familiarity of the Hebrews with it. They would obtain it, in the earliest period of their history, from the merchants who traded with India by the way of Arabia, and in later times it would be brought by the ships of Tarshish, which traded between Eziongeber and the southern shores of Asia. The sapphire was also highly esteemed among the ancients. On account of its purity and loveliness it is frequently used in poetical figures. It is introduced by Solomon into the description of the glorious person the royal bridegroom (Song V., 14). In Job's sublime words in regard to the earth it is said

“ The stones of it are the place of sapphires,

And it hath dust of gold” (xxviii., 6). Red sapphires, or rubies, are named seven times in the Old Testament. They are not referred to in the New Testament. The ruby ranks with the diamond and the emerald, and is more highly valued than the blue sapphire. Its brilliance loses nothing when seen by artificial light, and on that account it has efer been greatly esteemed. The finest are those which are either of a pure carmine or of a blood-red colour. There are many varieties ; sometimes it is bright rose-red, and passes from that colour to the soft delicate hue of the peachblossom. The ruby was one of the chosen stones to be used in docorating the priest's garments of Aaron.

Job acknowledges its preciousness when he says, “The price of wisdom is above rubies." Solomon also sets the value of wisdom in contrast with this gem—“She is more precious than rubies” (Prov. iii., 15).

There remain three other precious stones greatly esteemed, which are of totally different composition from the foregoing. These bear the names of turquoise, malachite, and amber. The turquoise is opaque, and of sky-blue or greenish-blue colour. A portion of what are called turquoises are composed of the bones and teeth of fossil animals, coloured by oxide of copper or phosphate of iron. These occur chiefly in Siberia. The mineral turquoise comes from Persia. According to the belief of the ancients, the turquoise had most excellent properties ; one of the most important mentioned is that it destroyed animosity, and in particular appeased discord between man and wife.

[ocr errors]

Malachite is a true copper ore, and consists of hydrated carbonate of the oxide of copper. It is opaque, and of a fine green. It occurs very abundantly, and in all places where.copper ores present themselves, but Siberia furnishes the finest stones.

Amber is a substance of totally different origin, and does not originally belong to the mineral king'lom. It is a kind of resin produced by pines growing in former geological epochs, and often contains little insects, spiders and the like, imbedded in it. The greatest quantity is found on the coasts of the Baltic. But amber has been found also in Saxony, Spain, Sicily, England, and China. Among the ancients it was called electron, probably because of the power it possesses of attracting light bodies when rubbed. The word electricity is derived from it. We now close our short review of the glories of the precious minerials, in the hope that our young readers will henceforth be led to take a deeper interest in the glories of the underground world.

But perhaps someone may ask how it is that in this description of precious stones, the noblest of all, the maker of gold, and giver of immortality, namely the philosopher's stone, has been unfairly forgotten. By way of providing an answer, if such question should be asked, we will add, in conformity with the exact truth, that history does indeed tell much of how men have sought for it, but not that anyone ever found it ; and we are at present still further behind than our ancestors of a thousand years ago, for we refuse even to seek for it.

[ocr errors]

OUR SUNDAY-SCHOOL ALBUM.

By ENOCH GRATTON.

(Continued from page 186.) XVII.-MR. SMART, THE SHALLOW TEACHER. HE first impression made upon some minds by this friend is

decidedly favourable. He is a taking young man, and those who do not know him thoroughly are liable to be taken in when they form an estimate of his ability and

work. One of the most frequent questions now asked about people is this, " Are they nice ?" Not are they noble, true, wise, or brave, but are they nice. Now the teacher whose carte I ask you to look at is nice. He is polished and veneered, and done up in most exquisite style. He is quite a conspicuous figure in the school, and not less so out of it. If you only saw him on Sunday evenings parading the streets with lofty airs and striking gestures ; if you only saw how elegantly he can handle his cigar, and heard how politely he can pour forth his flippant phrases, you would believe that he was nice. If you are satistied with outward display and glitter, by all means make Mr. Smart your friend. It is in the Sabbath class that

Mr.

are

are

[ocr errors]

Mr. Smart's real value is discovered. There he cuts a sorry figure. He has never deeply studied the Book he attempts to explain ; he has only skimmed over the surface of detached bits here and there. The Master is still saying, “ Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;" but our friend prefers to dabble in shallow waters. Wisdom is promised to him that asks for it, that seeks for it as for silver, and digs for it as for hid treasures; but Mr. Smart says, I cannot dig, and to beg I am ashamed. The strong and steadfast man is like one who built a house and digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood came the stream did beat vehemently upon that house and could not shake it could not even shake it. Smart is like the man who, without a foundation, built a house upon the sand.

The radical defect in the character of this amiable young man is a lack of depth, intensity, and force. His knowledge is shallow; his convictions

shallow;

his emotions shallow. Character must have roots ; mere stems and leaves will not suffice; roots embedded in the rich soil of eternal truth-roots fastened to the Rock of Ages, and which can bid defiance to the rudest blasts of adversity. “ It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.”

XVIII.--MARY SORROWFUL, THE DRUNKARD'S CHILD. The interest clinging to the portrait of this dear girl is large and in part painful. Though young when I first knew her, her face bore unmistakable marks of care and suffering. That face was pale, anxious, and thoughtful. It usually wore a sad and prematurely old Jook. To my mind few things are more painful than to see a child with a face brimful of human care; with no ruddy glow on the cheek, no innocent mirth sparkling in the eye, no inclination to romp and shout and laugh; but, on the contrary, inclined to weep and sigh and brood. Yet that is the hard lot which is being thrust upon myriads of children in England every day by the intemperance and folly of their parents. This I well know was the lot of Mary Sorrowful. I have seen her father in a bad and helpless condition even when she was exceedingly ill. She grieved on account of her father's sin, and her mother's sorrow and perplexity. When she thought of the waste of money, the wreck of health, the blight of peace, and the shabby, if not beggared, condition to which they were reduced, her young heart would bleed with anguish. I am glad to say that the drunkenness and neglect of her father did not harden and freeze her heart. In spite of all she was clinging, tender, and true. It was a small world in which Mary lived, yet there was in it one bright spot--the Sunday school. This sunny spot she ardently loved. The sweetest moments of her life were those she spent in listening to the voice of a faithful teacher, and singing the praises of her beloved Redeemer, or bending in earnest supplication at the throne of Him who listens to the cry of the poor and needy.

She became a member of one of our Churches, regularly met in class, and spoke of the love of Jesus, and her joy in Him, in simple, clear, and convincing words. I saw her in her last hour on earth. No happier deathbed scene did I ever witness than that of the poor suffering child of the drunkard. I shall never forget it. Her face beamed with celestial brightness. She told me of the place where she first heard the pardoning voice of Jesus ; of the very words which brought to her soul unspeakable peace. They were these

“My God I am Thine, what a comfort divine,

What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine ;
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,

And my heart it doth dance at the sound of His name. These words she sung not long before she died, and in this rejoicing spirit she passed away from a home of care and sin on earth to a sinless, sorrowless home in heaven. Her memory is precious and sacred.

XIX.-THE POMPOUS SUPERINTENDENT. The carte to which I now invite your attention will give you but a faint idea of the dignity and importance of the original. The first glance will convince you that he thinks no small things of himself. Some of the teachers believe that he thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think. He was not elected at first because of any special fitness for the post, not because he possessed rare graces and ripe gifts ; not because he was apt to teach or rule, but because it was thought his appointment would confer honour upon the school. He lives in a large house, has a big family pew in the chapel. It was not a hard thing to get him into office, but it is a hard thing to get him out. If he were not re-elected from year to year he might be offended and leave the chapel and school.

Nobody desires that, still worse things might happen. The school contains men far better able to guide and control than this man, with his great swelling words and magisterial bearing. He is a big man, he has money, and assurance, and position ; but the school made a bad bargain when it engaged him to be its king. In fact he is too big by far for his present position. He cannot bend, and turn, and go as a superintendent ought to be able to do. His head is too high to recognise a little child or a poor teacher. If you could only take the stiffness out of his joints, and the starch out of his manners, and the conceit out of his soul, and if he would learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, and who set a little child in the midst of His disciples and told them if they would become great, they must become childlike, then he might be a power for good in the school. Those who now stand aloof from him would love him and cling to him. His dignity and importance would not be diminished; on the contrary, they would increase in grace and attractiveness.

« PreviousContinue »