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Chapter VI.—Of Precious Stones and Pearls.

But, in the next place, what am I to interpret those jewels to be which vie with gold in haughtiness, except little pebbles and stones and paltry particles of the self-same earth; but yet not necessary either for laying down foundations, or rearing party-walls, or supporting pediments, or giving density to roofs?  The only edifice which they know how to rear is this silly pride of women:  because they require slow rubbing that they may shine, and artful underlaying that they may show to advantage, and careful piercing that they may hang; and (because they) render to gold a mutual assistance in meretricious allure17ment.  But whatever it is that ambition fishes up from the British or the Indian sea, it is a kind of conch not more pleasing in savour than—I do not say the oyster and the sea-snail, but—even the giant muscle.119119    Peloris.  Comp. Hor., S., ii. 4, 32, and Macleane’s note there.  For let me add that I know conchs (which are) sweet fruits of the sea.  But if that (foreign) conch suffers from some internal pustule, that ought to be regarded rather as its defect than as its glory; and although it be called “pearl,” still something else must be understood than some hard, round excrescence of the fish.  Some say, too, that gems are culled from the foreheads of dragons, just as in the brains of fishes there is a certain stony substance.  This also was wanting to the Christian woman, that she may add a grace to herself from the serpent!  Is it thus that she will set her heel on the devil’s head,”120120    See Gen. iii. 15. while she heaps ornaments (taken) from his head on her own neck, or on her very head?


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