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of the stone ?

Nardi parvus onyx. HOR.


ter. It is produced towards Thebes in Egypt,
and near Damascus in Syria; but this last is
white, and little esteemed. The best is from
Carmania, the next from India, and a valuable
sort is also found in Syria and Asia Minor.
The worst, and without any splendour, is that
of Cappadocia. They are chiefly approved
when of a honey yellow, with orbicular clouds,
and little translucent. It is esteemed of little
value when of a horn colour, or white, or of a
glassy appearance."*

Pliny then mentions that the Lygdine marble

Alabastrum seems to have been more generally used in later
times : cum alabastris unguenti, says the author of the -work ascribed
to Petronius Arbiter ; and who has deceived all the critics, for he
surely flourished about the time of Elagabalus j and his keen satire
is directed against the manners, and not Nero, or any particular
person. The learned reader may consider the list of presents,
p. 211, edit. 1669, and may compare many other passages with the
Historic? Augustas Scriptores, which form the best introduction to
this strange work. See also the arguments in the preface of Ha-
drianides, or Hadrian de Valois, which indicates a verse taken from
Statius, and refers this satire to the age of Gallienus. The cas fella
for villas, used by this author, is first introduced in that sense by

Alalastrum is also put absolutely, by other writers, for a lox of
alalasfer, commonly used to contain ointment. That poured on
the feet of Jesus was in " a box of alabaster." John xii. 3, and
other evangelists. It was a sacrifice of her toilette by Mary Ma^


* xxxvi. 12.




of Paros was next in esteem for preserving oint-
ments ; and it is probable that this name did not
extend, as is supposed, to the marble of Paros in
general, but was confined to stalactitic portions
found in certain cavities. Though this sub-
stance be merely an infiltration from surround-
ing rocks, yet it sometimes fills immense caverns,
so that tables may be seen in Italy, and some
even in England, of eight feet by four; being
entire slabs of the most beautifully veined ala-
bastrite, commonly called by the artists oriental
alabaster. The veins seem to be chiefly of a
ferruginous nature. When iron is absent the
substance may remain of the purest white; as
the grand and singular depositions in the well-
known grotto of An ti -Paros, one of the wonders
of the world. But this pure white kind, being
of a very soft and fragile nature, was little
esteemed by the solid taste of the ancients; and
is seldom used even by modern artists, except
in minute and trifling ornaments. The yellow
and veined kinds, on the contrary, are hardened
by the presence of iron, so as to scratch marble,
which may also be done by portions of the
white, as the softness rather arises from the lax-
ity of the grain, probably from the want of com-

In modern times alabastrite, equal to the an-


cient, with brown veins, has been found in small
pieces at Mont Martre, near Paris 5 but those of
Spain are in rocky masses, and of great beauty.
It is said that the territory of Volterra, in Tus-
cany, affords no Jess than twenty remarkable

of voiterm. Those most esteemed are the agate-alabas-
ters, to which this name is given, on account of
their fineness; and the onyx-alabasters, which
present clear and distinct layers, of different co-
lours, all of them undulated and festooned, with
saliant and re-entering angles, like the zones
of fortification -agates, and of which the whole
forms a figure nearly circular. The formation
of these zones is owing to a play of crystal-
lisation, like that of agates; and in like manner
they are always found exactly parallel among
themselves, whatever may be the irregularity
of their course. A perpetual circulation takes
place in the interior of the alabaster, while it is
still in its native site, which arranges the various
particles of which it is composed, according to
laws determined by their mutual affinities.

< c The onyx-alabaster is sometimes formed in
sheets on a horizontal plane; and then th<

* Patrin, iii. 110. In the catalogue of Davila, ii. Q8, it
observed that the ancient alabasters were probably from Spain,
the same sorts abound there.


layers, instead of forming re-entering courses,
describe straight lines, or slightly undulated ;
and as these layers are of lively marked colours,
such as the white and red, cameos may be made
of them, as they are of onyx-agates.

" The onyx-alabaster of Sienna is of the ut-
most beauty : it presents layers of three bright
and distinct colours; yellow, red, which isopake,
and white, which is very transparent.

" The other alabasters of Italy, which are
most valuable, are the agate-alabaster of Sienna,
which is nearly transparent, and of a fine uni-
form yellow.

" The alabaster of Montanto, in Tuscany,
which is yellow, semi-transparent, with undu-
lated white veins.

e( The alabaster called Pecorino, which is
transparent, of a uniform fawn colour, or min-
gled with brown veins.

<c The isle of Malta also furnishes various ala-
basters, and particularly one of the colour of
wax, like the agate- alabaster of Sienna ; its paste
is of the greatest fineness, and of a beautiful
semi-transparency. In the Museum of Arts is
seen a statue of Minerva, nearly as large as life,
of a similar alabaster, which is much admired.

" The name of oriental alabaster is given to
that which adds to a fine paste lively and distinct



colours, and a hardness which renders it suscep-
tible of a fine polish. In general, the denomi-
nation of oriental stone implies less the native
place of the stone, than its intrinsic value; thus
in Italy and France alabasters are found which
deserve the epithet of oriental.

" The celebrated sculptor Puget discovered
near Marseilles an alabaster, so transparent, that
the eye could penetrate into the interior of the
substance; and, to the depth of two fingers,
trace the beautiful tints with which it was co-

" Guettard says that the waters of Aix, in
Provence, form a deep-brown alabaster, mingled
with whitish zones, which make it resemble
the oriental kind. This alabaster is found in
an ancient conduit, built by the Romans, which
brings the water from a spring about half a
league from the town.

" This aqueduct was entirely filled by this
beautiful alabaster, which presented distinct
layers, of about a line in thickness. They were
found by the lens to be composed of a great
number of very thin plates; and the whole
formed a solid compact mass, hard enough to
take the finest polish.

" At Montmartre, and in the other hills of
plaster-stone in the environs of Paris, and espe-


cially at Lagny, a substance is found, which at
first view resembles a fine oriental alabaster:
brown zones of different tints, on a lighter base,
are in like manner observed in it > they are un-
dulated, and parallel to one another, and pro-
duce a most pleasing effect. But this pretty
stone is only a stalactitic gypsum, which takes
but a slight polish, and much less brilliant than
that of real calcareous alabaster*."

Yellow clouded alabastrite, from the ruins of

Veined alabastrite, the onyx of the ancients,
from the same.

A noble column, about twenty-four feet in
height, was found near the Appian way, and
placed in the library of the Vatican; perhaps
the same which is now in the Museum at Paris.

Veined alabastrite, white, with reddish yellow
veins, from Andalusia, Spain.

Veined alabastrite, from different parts of

With mazy veins, light yellow and brown,
from Malaga. This has furnished many deco-
rations for the palace at Madrid.

Mazy alabastrite, of a deep brown, with lighter
veins,, from Sagena, in Sicily.

* Patrin, ib.
VOL. I. 2 H


With veins of a lively red, mingled with yel-
low ones more or less deep, from Montreal, in

With yellow and black veins, from Mount
Pellegrino, in the same country.

Yellow, veined with white; and another, with
black, brown, and white mazes, from Malta.

There is also a kind of alabastrite which the
Fiorito, Italians call fiorito, implying that it is marked
with irregular spots, faintly resembling flowers.
Two columns of this kind, very rich in colours,
which however he does not specify, are placed,
according to Brard, in the Napoleon Museum
at Paris. They were discovered, in 1780, in
the ruins of Gabium, four leagues from Rome.
It is probably with this kind of alabastrite that
Strabo compares the Synnadic marble, when he
says it is variegated like alabastrite ; but perhaps
he means its light aerial appearance, whence
the poet of St. Sophia compares it to roses sprin-
kled on white air.

For the common or modern alabaster, the
reader is referred to Mode X., which follows



The marbles, konites, limestones, and alabas- Distinction,
trites, are so important in many points of view,
that though this kind chiefly differ in the struc-
ture from limestone, it was thought advisable to
give it a distinct division, especially as the mode
of combination is really different, for, not to men-
tion the micaceous kind, it is more abundant in
argil than the massive limestone. Lime-slate is
the c ale areusfis sills of Wallerius; but the foliated
limestone of Werner is so called only from the

Lime-slate sometimes presents alternate layers
of different colours ; such as white and reddish,
and white and greenish; both of which are
found at Dannemora, in Sweden. It sometimes
alternates with keralite or chert, sometimes with
clay-slate, sometimes with marl-slate. Some
singular marbles, of which the veins are quite
detached, and uniform, probably belong to this
division. The cipolin also sometimes, though
rarely, appears in level layers, divided by foli-
aceous mica*.

* The whole isle of Garbolach, Hebudes, is said to be composed
of lime-slate, or what is called marlkflag.


Saussure observed many mountains in the
Alps chiefly composed of what he calls mica-
ceous limestone, often alternating with mica
slate. The following observations occur in his
Mont Cenis. description of Mont Cenis, celebrated for the
passage into Italy.

<c Soon after is observed the micaceous schis-
tus, which really forms the body of the moun-
tain, but which is also found in some places
covered with tufas. These schisti contain cal-
careous earth, with a granular and brilliant
aspect, such as it assumes in primitive moun-
tains: it is even in such quantity that these
schisti strongly effervesce with the nitrous acid ;
and become friable, after having remained some
time in it.

" It will be seen hereafter that calcareous earth
and mica are found at Mont Cenis, mingled in
all proportions; from limestones nearly pure, in
which only a few plates of mica are observable,
to the micaceous rock, which contains little or
no free calcareous earth, and in which quartz
supplies the place occupied by the limestone in
the former. There is nevertheless this remark-
able circumstance in the schisti of Mont Cenis,
that those which are calcareous are seldom found
free from quartz, as is proved by the sparks that
may be almost always obtained from it by steel ;


and in like manner quartzose micaceous schistus
is seldom found which does not yield some bub-
bles in acids, and which, reduced to powder,
does not lose some of its weight in distilled

" These micaceous calcareous schisti are not
common. Those authors who have written sys-
tems of mineralogy have not known them, or at
least have neither classed them, nor given them
names in their works. I have described, in the
second volume of these travels, 996, those
which I discovered in the valley of Aosta in
1778; but in them the free calcareous part is
never predominant, it forms at most but the
fourth part of the rock. Those of Mont Cenis
differ also in the colour of the mica, which is of
an iron grey, or verging to blue, while that of
the valley of Aosta is white or yellowish.

"The first rocks of this kind, which are met
with above Lans-le-Bourg, have very thin and
very fragile plates: they rise to the E. S.E., un-
der an angle of twenty degrees; higher, after
having crossed a little bridge, the same schisti
are found in an opposite position, or rising to
the west. But this position is accidental ; it
may be said that in general they rise to the
E.S.E., following the slope of the mountain."*

* Snus. 1234-.


other sites. This micaceous lime-slate was afterwards ob-
served by our excellent author at the little St.
Bernard; and at the Roth-Horn and Mont Cer-
vin, two mountains near the celebrated Rosa,
chiefly composed of serpentine.

The subsequent detached observations may
also be added from the same treasure of oro-
logical knowledge.

Near Merges the mountains are all calcareous,
with undulated veins mixed with mica, forming
a fine cipolino. The roofs of the houses are co-
vered with thin plates of the same stone.

A bed of primitive lime-slate, between beds of
gneiss. It is six feet in thickness; and the
layers, of about half an inch, are tinged by
some infiltrated green matter.

A lime-slate, analysed, which is incumbent on

Roche Michel, near Mont Cenis, is composed
of a mixture of calcareous mica slate and green-
ish talc, the latter being predominant*.

Aspect 1. Micaceous lime- slate. From Mont
Cenis. From M. Cervin, and other parts of the

The same, from Canada, North America.

A micaceous lime-slate, the limestone being

* Sauss. 950, 2225, 8?2, 1262.


granular and brilliant, as it appears in primitive
mountains. Sauss. 1234.

Aspect 2. Common lime-slate. From Gib-

In layers of different colours, from Sweden.

With chert, from Derbyshire.

A fine lime-slate, of a bluish grey, the leaves
being very thin and inseparable. Sauss. 2047.

A lime-slate, with quartz and mica, near Ville
Neuve, on the river Doire. Ib. $ 955.

Dr. Kidd has given the following interesting
account of a quarry of this kind of stone, if he has
not mistaken calcareous sandstone for limestone,
a mistake which not unfrequently occurs. He
calls the substance calcareous slate, or flag-stone ;
while the latter name is commonly applied to a
schistose sandstone, either calcareous or argil-
laceous. The limestone of Pappenheim, in Ger-
many, rises from the quarry in thick tables, serving
at once for pavements, gravestones, or similar
purposes, and certainly belongs to this kind, as
must the following, if Dr. Kidd's description be

" There is a very extensive quarry at Stones- Quarry of

J J Stonesfield.

field, near Woodstock, the limestone of which has
the property of being easily separated into la-
minae by mechanical means, or even by the action


of the atmosphere. The manner in which the
effect is produced in the latter instance may be
understood by a reference to what was said re-
specting that" superficial disintegration which takes
place occasionally in calcareous free-stone.

" This variety of limestone is employed very'
generally for the purpose of covering the roofs of
houses ; whence it has been called lapis tegularis.
The property of being thus easily separated into
laminae depends partly upon the proportion of
clay contained in it (for this property is in general
more remarkable in proportion to the quantity of
clay contained), and partly upon the nature of its
original deposition; for the stone of some parts of
the quarry contains a considerable quantity of
minute shells, resembling millet seeds ; and it
seems worth observation, as connected with the
schistose property of the stone, that the depo-
sition of shells is more abundant on the surface
than in the substance of the laminae.

" In some instances- a singular arborescent ap-
pearance is observable on the contiguous surfaces
of adjoining laminae: the colour of this is for the
most part black; and, from some experiments
that were made for the purpose of ascertaining its
nature, appeared to be principally manganese.
The same appearance is observable in some varie-
ties of Florentine marble. Sometimes the colour


is only superficial ; at others it penetrates far into
the substance of the stone. The explanation of
the appearance is not obvious ; but perhaps some
liquid, holding the colouring matter in solution,
originally insinuated itself into the clefts by which
the laminae are separated from each other, and
deposited this, particle by particle ; by something
like that continuous attraction, if the term is
allowable, which takes place in the freezing of
moisture on a pane of glass."*


The texture resembles clustered corals, or
madrepores, cemented by limestone f.

This substance has not yet been mentioned in Origin,
books of mineralogy, though large islands and
vast shoals in the South Sea, particularly on the
east of Australasia, are wholly composed of it,
according to the accounts of navigators. Coral

* Vol. i. p. 31. See also Da Costa, p. 144, who adds, that a
similar slate is found near Bath. The white flag common in the
north of England he ranks among the alkaline calcareous sand-
stones : it is spangled with mica, sometimes very prettily, especially
that with little needles, lying in a diagonal form.

t The characters of limestone apply to many of the rocks in this
domain, and are therefore not repeated. The characters are also
sometimes implicated in the descriptions.



itself is now known to be the gradual structure of
minute insects, which thus surpass all the powers
of man ; for the locust can spread more destruc-
tion than an Attila, a Timur, or any othef
conqueror : and a beneficent monarch can only
found a city; while insects almost invisible found
islands, and even continents, the scenes of future
glory and misery to mankind.

Whether these insects produce the matter of
coral, or imbibe it from the waters of the ocean,
these islands rise from a surprising depth, and,
when they surpass the waves, begin to produce
lichens and mosses; which, decaying and rot-
ting, afford a soil for other small vegetables, till
by degrees reeds,, shrubs, and trees, begin to
decorate the new creation. The calcareous soil
being fertile, these islands will in the course of
centuries invite colonies, whose future mineral-
ogists may perhaps be embarrassed to account
for their native rocks; which may at once con-
fer benefits on agriculture and on architecture,
for zoophytic marble will not be wanting for
the construction of their edifices.

Rocks of a somewhat similar nature abound
near Sutherland, on the eastern coast of England;
and near Peterhoff, at the further extremity of
the Gulf of Finland. This singular limestone
seems composed of tubes of madrepore or coral,


often with open intervals; and at Sutherland is
the common building-stone.

Coral rock, from Australasia.

Madrepore rock, from Sutherland and Pe-


The combination of this substance is the same Description,
with that of marl, the calcareous earth being
mixed with a considerable proportion of argil.
Some marbles, which contain from 15 to 30 or
more of argil, are properly marlites ; and they
are apt to decompose in the open air. Such is
the green Campan of the Pyrenees, which also
contains a considerable proportion of magnesia.
Several of the Russian marbles also contain clay,
but mixed with a still larger proportion of silex.

The celebrated pictorial marble of Florence,
which imitates ruins, and sometimes trees, is
properly a marlite.

"This marble presents angular figures of a Marble 6f
yellowish brown, on a base of -a lighter tint, and
which passes, in diminishing, to a whitish grey.

<c Seen at a certain distance, slabs of this
stone resemble drawings done in bistre. One is
amused to observe in it kinds of ruins : there, it


is a Gothic castle half destroyed, here it presents
ruined walls ; in another place old bastions ; and
what still adds to the delusion is, that in these
sorts of natural paintings there exists a kind of
aerial perspective, which is very sensibly per-
ceived. The lower part, or what forms the first
plane, has a warm and bold tone ; the second
follows it, and weakens as it increases its dis-
tance -, the third becomes still fainter, while the
upper part, agreeing with the first, presents in
the distance a whitish zone, which terminates
the horizon, then blends itself more and more as
it rises, and at length reaches the top, where it
sometimes forms as it were clouds.

" But approach close to it, all vanishes im-
mediately, and those pretended figures, which
at a distance seemed so well drawn, are converted
into irregular spots, which present nothing to
the eye.

" This play of nature is owing to ferruginous
infiltrations in the fissures of this marble, which
otherwise is of a dull fracture, and very argil-
laceous; whence it is never used in architecture;
they merely make slabs of it, which are framed
like little pictures, and which are much esteemed
in commerce when of certain dimensions. It

sometimes occurs that the same slab is sawed in


two, and the parts are set together in the same


frame, so as to appear but as one piece; and the
drawings on the right and left bear a resem-
blance, which still farther helps the illusion.
There are some, who, to out-do nature, put
painted figures at the bottom of these pictures;
but this is an exuberance of the wonderful,
which finishes by spoiling all."*

Of marlite there are two structures, the mass-
ive and the schistose.


Aspect 1. Argillaceous marble. Green and
red of Cam pan ; but which, from their structure,
rather belong, at least in part, to the Anomalous

The reddish of Ingermania, c.

Aspect 2. Pictorial marble. This is said to
be massive, though it would rather appear to be
schistose. The marble of Cottam probably be-
longs to this division.

* Brard, 415. The marble of Oker in the Hartz is white, with
regular veins of black clay slate; and may be classed in this divi-
sion. Jour, des Mines, No. 23, p. 73.

The marlite of Shropshire, called dye -earth, more than 100
yards thick, contains small bivalves, and what are called the Dud-
ley fossils, the tntemolithu* paradoxus of Townson. See his Tracts,
p. 165, 177-



Substances in this state generally present a
finer grain than when they occur massive. Marl-
slate sometimes presents delicate concentric cir-
cles, and other delineations, of a light brown upon
yellowish grey, its usual colours.

But itis sti11 more remarkable, as being the ge-
neral repository in which are found the remains
and impressions of decayed fish. In this case it
is commonly penetrated with bitumen, probably
derived from the decomposition of their bodies, as
chemists now infer that substance to proceed ex-
clusively from the animal or vegetable kingdoms.
Da Costa mentions that of Mount Lebanon, near
Tripoli di Soria (of Syria), in the province of

The slate, with impressions of fish, from Eisle-
ben, Ilmenau, Mansfeld, &c. were formerly ce-
lebrated, and the animals are often delicately
delineated, as it were, in cupreous pyrites. At
present those of Mount Bolca, in the Veronese
territory, have attracted more attention ; and the
proprietor has filled a whole chamber in the mu-
seum of the Garden of Plants with these singular

* P. 170. This is the Khesroan of D' Anville, and the Castracan
cf the Italians, whence the .celebrated lumachella.


remains- The mud and poisonous vapour, per-
haps of a volcanic origin, seem to have surprised
and destroyed these animals almost instantane-
ously, for most appear to struggle, and one is in
the act of swallowing another.

Saussure has described similar quarries near
Aix, towards Lambesc, in the south of France,
which also present impressions of leaves of palm-
trees. The same great observer has added an
account of that of Oeningen, near the lake of

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