balais is often found in large crystals; and if that is true which we
read in the history of the Grecian empire in the dark ages, there were
seen some of enormous dimensions ; and one of the Cantacuzeni,
emperor of Constantinople, had given ten balais rubies, weighing each
eight ounces, to the Venetians, in the year 1343.
says that, amongst burning stones, the chalcedony and lichnite alone
were found large enough to permit of their being made into cups; and in
describing the lichnite he thus expresses himself : "Of the same
species is the lichnite, so called because it shines brightly by
lamp-light. It is procured in the neighbourhood of Ortosia, and all
over Caria and its vicinity; but the most beautiful comes from India,
and it is said by some to be a carbuncle of minor brightness. When
warmed in the sun, or rubbed between the fingers, it attracts straws."
this description, King concludes that the lichnite is an Oriental ruby
; and in confirmation of his opinion, he repeats a passage of Solinus,
who says the lichnite is thus called because it shines much by
lamp-light, is transparent, very bright, attracts straws when warmed in
the sun, or rubbed ; is not easily cut, and is of no use for seals, as
it repels wax as if bitten by it : velut quodatn animalis morsu.
it seems to me that this description, and also that of Pliny, agree in
general more with the balais than with the corundum.
It is true that the balais and spinel can be very