SUPERSTITIONS ABOUT PRECIOUS STONES
In the days when there was less definite knowledge of gems, and people generally were not so familiar with them as now, they were invested by imagination with many wonderful properties, and superstition ascribed to them magic powers. In these matter-of-fact days it is difficult to understand how not only the ignorant, but men of learning and persons accounted great, could believe the things said of them. Our own latent superstitions, and books containing the quaint absurdities of our forefathers, are evidence, however, of the romances successfully foisted upon the public, by guileful dealers, probably.
One old writer claimed that the King of Pegu, in India, had a ruby which could illuminate a dark room as brilliantly as could the sun. Another says that if danger approaches the wearer of a ruby, it will turn black, and resume its natural color when the danger is past. A story is told of a man wearing a ruby in a ring, who observed, as he travelled with his wife, that the glory of it was obscured. His prognostication of evil was justified by the death of his wife, after which the stone recovered its splendor.
A writer gravely asserts that he cured a gentleman of an obstinate fever with a simple powder of topaz diffused in wine, and another of melancholy by a like dose. Another claimed that it would quench thirst if held under the tongue, and that the powder of it was good for asthma.
The emerald was often used medicinally. Some claimed that it was a specific against poisons. A German physician used it in all diseases of the heart, and one states that if a