virtues have once for all taken the place of jewels dug from the bowels
of the earth or dredged from the bottom of the sea. My kind sold jewels
to the Queen of Sheba so that she might bring suitable gifts on her
fleet camels to the great King Solomon. They were gem merchants in the
condemned proud city of Tyre (Ezekiel xxvii. 16), selling "emeralds,
purple and broidered work and fine linen, and coral and agate". They
sold pearls in Jerusalem, or how else should Jesus, seeking material
for a parable (Matthew xiii. 45-6) have found this:
". . . . Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
"Who when he had found one pearl of great price went and sold all that he had, and bought it"?
it is only half the truth that gems excite men's cupidity and folly.
They also symbolise his virtues and his aspirations. They are beautiful
and worthy and merit a place in the fairest and best of worlds. Beauty
is never out of date. That is why the dealer in gems, who may go
through lean times when the dealer in butter or cheese still manages to
find a fat living, need have no fear for the ultimate fate of his
trade. Let him salt down his treasures in the safe-deposit vaults and
tighten up his belt. Patience and the ability to wait are a part of his
stock. He can depend upon it that sooner or later the love of noble
gems will bring his customers back again. It is a good trade, the trade
in precious stones, and I am glad to look back upon so many years in
it; though I might easily have been a richer man now had I dealt in
butter or cheese.