of Charace ; and these curious fictions were incorporated by
subsequent writers and influenced popular opinion for many centuries.
With scarcely a single exception, every recorded theory from the first
century b.c. to the fifteenth century evidences a belief in dew-formed pearls.
This theory is referred to by Thomas Moore in his well-known lines :
And precious the tear as that rain from the sky, Which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea.
Spanish-Hebrew traveler Benjamin of Tudela, in his "Ma-saoth" in Persia
(from 1160 to 1173), wrote: "In these places pearls are found, made by
the wonderful artifice of nature : for on the four and twentieth day of
the month Nisan, a certain dew falleth into the waters, which being
sucked in by the oysters, they immediately sink to the bottom of the
sea ; afterwards, about the middle of the month Tisri, men descend to
the bottom of the sea, and, by the help of cords, these men bringing up
the oysters in great quantities from thence, open and take out of them
From the "Bustan," one of the most popular works of Sadi, the Persian poet (1190-1291 a.D.), Davie quotes:
the cloud there descended a droplet of rain; 'T was ashamed when it saw
the expanse of the main, Saying : "Who may I be, where the sea has its
run ? If the sea has existence, I, truly, have none !" Since in its own
eyes the drop humble appeared, In its bosom, a shell with its life the
drop reared ; The sky brought the work with success to a close, And a
famed royal pearl from the rain-drop arose. Because it was humble it
excellence gained ; Patiently waiting till success was attained.
the usually well-informed William Camden (1551-1623), in whose honor
the Camden Historical Society of England was named, accepted the theory
of dew-formed pearls. He stated that the river Conway in Wales "breeds
a kind of shells, which being pregnated with dew, produce pearl." 2
Also, speaking of the Irt in county Cumberland, England, he said: "In
this brook, the shell-fish, eagerly sucking in the dew, conceive and
bring forth pearls, or (to use the poet's word) shell berries (Baccas concheas)." 3
A recent letter from the American consul at Aden indicates that this
'"Travels of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela," 2 "Camden Britannia," 2d edition, London,
Gerrans's edition, London, 1783, p. 23. 1722, Vol. II, p. 801.
3 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 1003.