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ARTICLE III.

of the discovery and employment of precious stones.

is said in fcripture, that the ephod and the breast-plate of judgment of the high priest, were ornamented with many precious stones; the assortment appeared various and complete enough. These stones were mounted in gold, and disposed with order and symmetry. Moses farther says, that he had engraved on them the names of the twelve tribesa. All these facts are sufficiently important to merit a particular regard.

We do not find any mention made in ancient history of the use of precious stones, before Moses. Yet I do not think, that one ought to look upon him as the inventor and author of that ornament. That knowledge muit have preceded the time of this legislator; and it appears to me very probable, that, in this particular, he only conformed to a custom already received. This conjecture is supported by the testimony of the book of Job, a work, I believe, prior to Moseso. Many species of precious stones are spoken of therer. Job could not have entered into this detail, if jewels had not been well known in his time. I also think we have a glimpse of proofs of the antiquity of this knowledge, in the description Mofes gives of the terrestrial paradise.

He says, that one of the branches of the rivers which ran from that place of delights, watered the land of Hevilah: it is there, adds he, that we find precious stones a. Moses, I think, would not have indicated this circumstance in so simple a manner, if the fact had not been well known before the time in which he writ.

It is very probable, in reality, that the first men should have known very early coloured precious stones. easily imagine in what manner they should have come to

We may

· Exod. chap. 28.
? Chap. 28. ver. 6, 60,

See our disertation. 9 Gen. c. 2. V.12.

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this discovery. The same causes which originally discovered metals, I mean, the throwing up of the earth, and the ravage of great waters, might have given the knowledge of precious stones. We find these rich productions in the mines where metals are formed ", in riverss, and even at the surface of the earth', where torrents often leave them. Although the colour of rough precious stones is neither very lively nor brilliant, yet they are sufficiently so, to be remarked, and for the light of them to excite our attention ; yet they might have neglected them at first, and to the time they found the art of polishing them. It is to this operation, that fine stones owe that brilliancy and liveliness which has made them always so much fought after. Chance, it is certain, must have had a great share in this discovery. Among the number of rough stones which happened to be seen by the first men, they must have found some naturally broke. The lustre and liveliness with which they had seen these breaks fine, must have given the first notion of polishing. They tried to imitate the operation of nature, in taking from the stones, that bed, that dark thell, with which they are commonly covered. We can only form conjectures of the way they could have attained this. They must first have overcome the obstacle which they must have met with in the extreme hardness of most of those stones. Yet chance must have assisted the first men on this occafion. Almost all true stones must be polished with their own powder. Some person must have thought of rubbing two oriental stones against each other, and has succeeded, by this means, to give them a sort of polish. The cutting of the diamond owed its origin to a stroke of chance.

r Thcophraft. de lapid. p. 395.; Plin. l. 37. sect. 15. & 32. &c.; Solin. c. 15. p. 26. D.; Isidor. orig. 1. 16.c. 7. ; Alonzo Barba, t. 2. p.8. &. 334.

Theophraft. de lapid. p. 396. ; Strabo, l. 2. p. 156. ; Plin. I. 37. lect. 17. & 23. p. 778. ; Solin. c. 15. p. 26. D.; Hidor, origin. I. 16. c. 8.; Anc, relat. des Indes, p. 123. ; Colonne, hist. nat. t. 2. p. 361.

Plin. l. 37. fect. 76.; Ifidor. I. 16. C. 8.; Alonozo Barba, t. 2. p.71.5 Hle!lot. de la fonte des mincs, p. 22. 24. 25. 43. 55.; Hift. gen. des voyag. 1. 8. r. 549.; Rec. des voyag. au Nord, t. 10. p. 65.; La Condamine, voyag, a l'équateur, p. 81. & 82. ; Colonne list. nat. t. 2. p. 368. ; Voyage de D. Ant. d'Ulloa, f. 1. p. 393.; Acad. des fcicn. ann. 1718. m. p. 85.

Lewis de Berquen, a native of Bruges, is said to have been the first who put this in practice ; it is not yet three hundred years since u.

sinceu. He was a young man, who had just left school, and being born of a noble family, was in no respect brought up as a lapidary. He had found out, that two diamonds cut each other, if they were rubbed a little strongly against each other : this was sufficient to raise, in an industrious person, and one capable of meditation, very extensive ideas. He took two diamonds, fixed them on cement, he grated them against each other, and carefully collected the powder which came from them. Afterwards, by the affistance of certain iron wheels which he invented, he came, by means of this powder, to polish diamonds perfectly, and to cut them in what manner he thought propers.

I think, we may very well apply this example to the origin of the art of polithing precious stones. Yet I doubt, that in the first times, or even in the ages we are now engaged in, whether they knew the niethods we use at present to give to stones that beautiful polith, and those agreeable forms which cause their principal merit. The proceedings of the first lapidaries could only be very imperfect. I think we ought not to judge very favourably of their knowledge, nor even of that which, in general, antiquity might have in this part of the arts.

But how imperfect foever the ancient methods may have been, it is certain, that, at the time of Moses, the art of polishing precious stones was known. They also knew how to set them; a work very delicate. But what appears to me most worthy of notice, is, that they then knew the arc of ingraving them The ephod of Aaron was adorned with two onyxes set in gold. They had ingraved the names of the twelve tribes, that is to say, he had fix names ingraved on each stoney. The breaft-plate of judgment shone

ou In 1476. Merveill. des Indes Orient. par de Berquen, p. 13. *Ibid.

y Exod. c. 28. v.9. &c. The Hebrew text implies, nf a work of an ingraver of fine sones, and ingraving of seals. VOL. II. P

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with the lustre of twelve precious stones of different cojours, and on each was read the name of one of the twelve tribes z. If we have ever so little experience in the arts, we know, that to ingrave fine stones requires skill, precision, and knowledge. We must have many fine and delicate tools, a great steadiness of hand, and practice. I agree, that, for the fineness of execution, we ought not to compare the ingraving of some names, to the labour and dexterity required in the figures of men or animals, or fubjects of composition. But as to the esence of the art, the process is always the same, and only differs in the degrees of perfection. We ought to be surprised to see, in the time of Moses, and without doubt before, that they were able to execute such works. I look upon ingraving on fine stones as the most remarkable evidence of the rapid progress of the arts in some countries. This work supposes a number of discoveries, inuch knowledge, and much experience *.

As to the species of precious stones which adorned the habits of the high priest, we can only speak of them in a very uncertain manner. Interpreters do not agree in the fignification of the Hebrew terms; and we must allow, that it is almost impossible, for want of monuments and points of comparison, to be able to ascertain it: we only know, that Moses meant an affortment of coloured precious stones; I say of coloured, because I do not think one ought to put the diamond among the precious stones they knew at that time. Many other reasons authorise this doubt. I could imme. diately avail myself of the opinions of interpreters and commentators, the greatest part of whom do not admit of the diamond. I could likewise thew, that those who have thought proper to comprehend this ttone among those of the breast-plate, are not supported by any certain etymology. But without troubling ourselves with all these discussions, I

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z Exod. c. 28. v. 17.

* It must be agreed, that the ancient Peruvians, whose monarchy had not subsisted above 350 years, understood perfectly well the working of precious stones. Hifi. gen. des voyages, t. 13. P. 578. do 579,

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think we may find facts enow in antiquity, to make us doubt of diamonds being in use at the time of Moses.

We see that there is no mention made of this precious stone in the writings of the most ancient authors of antiquity. Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, who had occasion to defcribe fo many different forts of ornaments, never mention the diamond *. We must descend almost to the ages just preceding the Christian æra, to find any writer who bas made mention of them. Pliny, who appears to have made great researches about precious stones, owns that the diamond was a long time unknowne. And it must have heen so in reality. Many ages must have passed away be. fore they knew the value of that stone, and many more before they knew to set a price upon it.

The diamond is of no valuc but as it shines, and it could not shine till it was cut. Lucky chances, one may fay, may have offered early some of these stones naturally po. lished. These natural diamonds may have put the first men in the way of knowing those that were rough, and may have given hints to cut them. It is true, we sometimes meet with diamonds, where the cutting seems to be shewn; having long rolled in the bed of rapid rivers, they are found naturally polished, and appear transparent; some are even cut in facets or tables b. They call these forts of diamonds, rude plainis ; and when their figure is pyraniidal, they call them natural points c. But these happy conjunctures, besides that they were very rare, could not have been of much use to the first men for the knowledge of diamonds. There is no sort of relation, nor any resemblance between these forts of stones when they are rough, and when they are cut. It is not with diamonds as with coloured stones. These, though rough, have a colour, which

* It is proved, that the terms ádános, and a SAMUTIVOS, which we find Sometimes in the writings of Homer and Hefiod, have no relation to the diamond.

a L. 37. sect. 15. • Leibnitz Protog. p. 23. edit. in 4to, 1748. c Boetius de Boot, gemm. & lapid. bift. I. 2. c. 3. p. 121. ; Tavernier, t. 2, 1. 2. c. 16. p. 277. C. 17. 283; Alonzo Barba, t. 2. p. 191.; De Laet, de gem. & lapid. l. 1. c. 1. p. 314. ; Mariette, traité des pierres gravées, t. d. f. 155.

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