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Crystallus, Rock-crystal

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CRYSTALLUS.
177
The largest mass of Crystal ever seen by the Romans was that dedicated in the Capitol by Livia, which weighed fifty pounds. Juba mentions a piece found in the Topaz island of the Bed Sea, a cubit in length ; ' and Bocchus described specimens of wonder­ful magnitude found in Lusitania in the Ammeae mountains, in shafts sunk down to the level of the water. But the Indian sort was preferred to every other, although that found in the Alps was also esteemed. The latter was extracted from rocks so difficult of access that the miners had to be lowered down to them by ropes, being guided by certain indications known to the experienced as to the stones that would contain the Crystals. Pliny confirms the assertion of Sudines that it was only produced in rocks that faced the south, never in a watery soil, even where the climate is so cold that the rivers freeze to the very bottom. The universal opinion as to its origin, that it was ice-hardened by intense frost (gelu vehementiore conereto), gave its name, the Greek word for ice. Bain, says Pliny, mixed with a small pro­portion of snow, is necessary to its formation ; and hence the substance is unable to bear heat, and can only be used to contain cold liquids.
Pliny (xxxvi. 66) quotes a statement that in India glass was made out of broken Crystal, and hence the incomparable supe­riority of the Indian glass to any other. Can some faint report of the excellence of the Chinese porcelain have reached the Greek travellers, his usual authorities in this book? for it is certain that glass was unknown in India until imported by the Por­tuguese; whilst, on the other hand, Chinese porcelain, when first brought to Europe, was considered a species of glass. It is, however, a fact that Crystal, as being the purest Silica, supplies the best possible material for glass-making ; hence it was largely used in the manufactories at Murano in the flourishing times of the Venetian glass-trade, and now forms the chief ingredient of Strass, the basis of artificial gems. Theophrastus (49) refers to the same account thus : " For if glass be made, as it is said, out of the Hyalites, this also is produced by condensation." Now
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King. Natural History of Precious Stones.