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TALK ABOUT DIAMONDS.

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THE Jewish high priest put on his garments of glory and beauty. He was going into the holy place, as the true type of the one Mediator between God and man. The “ breastplate of judgment with cunning work" hung from his neck and covered his breast. It was on his heart. Every breath gently raised it, and, when the Holy One looked on the symbol for which he had given the pattern, he saw it covering the seat of life, and borne in its shining beauty by him who was to be "godward” for the people. In its centre the mysterious legends Urim and Thummim were inlaid; while surrounding these were the twelve manner of precious stones, having graven on them the names of the twelve tribes. They shall be upon Aaron's heart when he goeth before the Lord.” Look at that second row! There you see the soft green emerald, the quiet sapphire, and the dazzling, brilliant diamond. Borne on the heart of the priest in its precious setting, it was graven with a covenant name on it, and God remembered his promise to Abraham. This is the earliest mention we have of the diamond. It continued a symbolic stone with some associations of Eden about it. The apostate king of Tyrus is addressed by Ezekiel thus: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God: every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, and the topaz, and the diamond.” Those were the “stones of fire” in the midst of which Tyrus walked. In the tabernacle symbolism, the diamond was consecrated to God;

but the inhabitants of queenly Tyre put it on as the badge of devotion to their own beauty. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” The next and only other reference we have to the diamond in the Word of God is not less significant than these. That which had become a sign of absorbing devotedness to personal adorning, became the means of registering the people's sins. “ The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond; it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon

the horns of

your

altars." The diamond stands out pre-eminent among the “stones of fire.” In all nations and in all ages men have prized it, and eagerly sought after it. Its scarcity, its bright beauty, and its almost indestructible character, have caused it to be most esteemed of all the precious stones. As might have been expected, what is of such value and beauty has been widely experimented on, in order to force it to tell the secret of its constitution. What is it? How is it made? Might not we succeed by artificial means to make it, and thus rival nature ? These are questions which have been often put, and the answers to them may be given in nearly as few words as the queries themselves :

Q. What is diamond ?
A. Pure carbon !
Q. Could not we make diamonds ?

A. We don't think so !
This is a specimen of the somewhat absurd “Diamond
Catechism” which might be formed from the learned
papers which have been written on this king of stones.

The answer to query No. 1 would, of course, suggest another to unlearned readers :-“But what is carbon ?” And it is doubtful whether or no the answer- “ Carbon is the inflammable matter contained in charcoal and coal" -would give a very distinct idea to the querist. Again, the question implied in query No. 2-namely, “What is it made of, in order that we might make it?”—lands us in a great sea of doubts and difficulties. Liebig (Die Organische Chemie) holds that this gem is the offspring of decay ! · Except in the process of decay, science supplies no analogies which explain the origin of the diamond.” Petzholdt found traces of cellular structure in the ash of burnt diamond. Wöhler could not discover any. Professor Jameson supported the alleged likelihood of vegetable origin. Dr George Wilson believes that anthracite (“stone or blind coal ”) may not be averse to crystallising into diamond. We do not see why it should; the change would be a profitable one! Many stand up for an igneous origin for this precious stone, but as many more affirm that you must assign to it an aqueous one.

Thus Bischof (Chemical and Physical Geology) says :“Since the occurrence of the diamond speaks only in favour of a formation by aqueous agency, every hypothesis as to its igneous origin must be rejected as totally unfounded." It is clear, that as yet we are not agreed as to what process must have been at work ere the brilliant

gem

could be fully realised. Then, as to the making of it, we suppose all who have tried it will have practically come to the same conclusion as F. Von Kobell :-“We know, beyond all doubt, that it consists of pure carbon, and that its material is contained in all coal or charcoal, of what

ever kind, but we cannot crystallise this charcoal or carbon, and therefore we cannot make diamonds." Let the Parisian jewellers look to this finding, for it must somewhat reduce the value of their stock. When chemistry shall get deeper into nature, and determine that this said unimpressible carbon shall neither continue a simple element, nor refuse to crystallise, there may yet be a likelihood of proving the learned German wrong by making diamonds.” We might raise yet another question of some difficulty, touching this “champion of stones," by asking “ What is the use of it?” The answer to this will, no doubt, vary according to the point of view from which we look at it. We remember to have put it to a glazier, and his ready response was—“To cut glass.” Perhaps the chemist would say—“To supply me with a specimen of pure carbon," and the Jew—"To put so much gold into my coffers, when I have a diamond to sell.” A great many other answers might be given, but we choose to find its use in its beauty. While it is exceedingly rare, specimens of it have been found in all quarters of the world. In Hindostan, it has been often found hidden under thick beds of sandstone. Borneo holds it among its red clay, and discovers it lying among companions scarcely less noble than itself—scales of gold and platinum. In Brazil, too, it lies among these scales of gold, and is truly at home there in its native itacolumite.” The auriferous banks of the Ural are sometimes rich with it, and it is also found

“Where Afric's sunny fountains

Roll down their golden sands." We believe there is a meaning in this wide-spread distribution; and this meaning we will let worthy old Stephen Atkinson (1586), James the First's “finer," tell: _“ But I say, and believe it too, that when mynes, menerall or menerall stones, doe hitt in, it is the best gotten goods in the whole worlde. It is profitable to all parties and doth prejudice none, being hitt upon; and when they hitt not in, though it be to some little losse of goods, for a season, yet God's name is thereby honoured and glorified; in searching the hidden secrets of God, out of the depth of the earth, where God created them for the sole use of man, calling it God's treasur-house.” Thus, whether found or not, all who seek for them may get blessing. Those who find them will be satisfied, and those who do not have cause to be so too, because their search shews that they believe in the great treasure-house! Now, one would think that, being so rare, when once found, the “stones of fire” would be carefully kept for their lustre and their burning beauty. But, no! Men try to melt them, and to subject them to experiments which endanger their existence. If we may believe an old Greek writer, there must have been a time when it was a very easy matter to reduce the diamond. “It happens," he says, " that pearls are destroyed by vinegar, and, moreover, the diamond, the hardest stone, is dissolved by buck’s blood !” We suspect the stones were, in that day, too much valued to be given up to any such experiments; and this feeling could not fail to be deepened by the current persuasion, that, at any time, they could dissolve their diamonds with “ the buck's blood.” But the modern modes of dealing with it are more to the point :

the year 1694, Cosmo III., Grand Duke of Tus

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