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He was stopped in his rattling on and in his
shaking hands with me, by seeing Provis.
Provis, regarding him with a fixed attention,
was slowly putting up his jack-knife, and
groping in another pocket for something else.

"Herbert, my dear friend," said I, shutting
the double doors, while Herbert stood staring
and wondering, "something very strange has
happened. This isa visitor of mine."

"It's all right, dear boy!" said Provis coming
forward, with his little clasped black book, and
then addressing himself to Herbert. "Take it
in your right hand. Lord strike you dead on
the spot if you ever split in any way sumever!
Kiss it!"

"Do so, as he wishes it," I said to Herbert.
So Herbert, looking at me with a friendly uneasiness
and amazement, complied, and Provis
immediately shaking hands with him, said, "Now
you're on your oath, you know. And never
believe me on mine, if Pip shan't make a gentleman
on you!"



THE surface of the earth, the air, and the
shores and depths of the "abounding sea,"
have often been described, and present everywhere
objects of beauty and interest. The
earth, also, contains within its bosom marvellous
and beautiful things, and these not only
belong to that kingdom of nature in which life
plays no part, but, in many cases, they boast a
more tangible and direct value than the others.
The earth, indeed, yields to man rich treasures
of minerals, metals, and precious stones, serving
as convenient representatives of money and
property, and these, when their beauty of appearance
in any way corresponds with the difficulty
of obtaining them, become objects of
ambition to great potentates, as well as the admiration
of all classes, including the poet and
the artist, the man of science, the votary of
fashion, and the uncultivated savage.

Of these objects let us confine our attention
to one group, for one is quite enough for consideration
at a time. Let us talk of gems, precious
stones, and jewels, leaving the metals, the
many valuable minerals, that are less sightly
than gems, and the curious fossils, buried records
of former states of existence, while we
consider those stones selected as ornaments of
the crown, the cabinet, and the toilet, that
glitter before our eyes on gala days, or are seen
in museums, and in the shops of the jewellers.

There is great variety in the literature of
gems. There is the natural history, and what
we may call the personal history, the investigation
of the optical properties, the story of the
mechanical preparation of the commercial use,
and the consideration of the money value. There
is the chemistry and the geography, the science
and the art, the religion and the mysticism, of
jewels; each might serve as the heading of a
chapter, but we will endeavour to give the reader
an idea of the whole subject, without troubling
him with such systematic divisions.

Of all gems the DIAMOND is the recognised
queen, the most beautiful, the most valuable,
the most durable, and the most useful; the
hardest, though capable of being split; the
symbol of justice, innocence, constancy, faith,
and strength. According to a Jewish tradition,
the diamond in the breastplate of Aaron became
dark and dim when any person justly
accused of a crime appeared before him, and
blazed more brightly when the accusation was
void of foundation. In the possession of any
one the diamond was supposed, in former times,
to mark the approach of poison by a damp exudation,
and to be a sure defence against plagues
and sorcery. Taken internally it was believed
to be itself a poison.

No history dates back to the period at which
diamonds were first discovered; but we are told,
on classical authority, that a boy, a native of
Crete, bearing the name afterwards given to
this precious gem, was one of the attendants of
the infant Jupiter in his cradle. The other
attendants being promoted to the constellations,
Diamond was transformed into the hardest and
most brilliant substance in nature. In Hindu
mythology the diamond plays an important part.

Diamonds are singularly associated with gold
in the earth, but all that come into the market
as gems have been obtained either from India
or Brazil. The account in the Arabian Nights
of Sinbad the Sailor obtaining diamonds by
fishing for them with pieces of raw meat, is repeated
as a fact of Indian statistics by the old
Venetian traveller, Marco Polo. "The persons,"
he says, "who are in quest of diamonds
take their stand near the mouth of a certain
cavern, and from thence cast down several
pieces of flesh, which the eagles and storks
pursue into the valleys, and carry off with them
to the tops of the rocks. Thither the men immediately
ascend, and, recovering the pieces of
meat, frequently find diamonds adhering to
them." The more ordinary mode of obtaining
them at present is by washing away the earth
and stones from the gravel in which they are

The first Brazilian diamonds were discovered
by accident just a century and a quarter ago.
They also are found in the surface gravel, from
which they are separated by water in nearly the
same manner as in India. Upwards of seventy
pounds' weight of these valuable jewels were
collected and brought over to Europe in one
year, shortly after the discovery of the deposit,
and it is estimated that some two tons' weight,
valued at sixteen millions sterling, had been obtained
from the South American mines up to the
year 1850. So abundantly have they been distributed
that they have been picked up with
vegetable roots in gardens, the stones in the
roads have contained them, and the fowls have
swallowed them to assist digestion.

Marvellous as it may seem, diamond is but
coal in a crystalline form, and is hardly even so
pure as some kinds of anthracite, or stone coal,
found in Wales. Like coal, the diamond burns,
or combines with oxygen, though only at a very

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