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are excluded, wher the nidus, in which they are deposited, or the temperature, is favourable for their development. No fortuitous concourse, either of atoms or fluids, could produce bodies so exquisitely and so regularly organized. It is sufficient, to throw one's eye on the beautiful plates which Schaeffer has published of them, and compare them, by the glass, with the warts and other excrescences of animals, to be convinced that they have not the same origin. The function of the cellular substance in vegetables must be greatly superior to that in animals, if it could produce any thing but deformities. The greater part of fungi exhibit a configuration much too regular, constant, and uniform, to be the effect of chance or putrefaction. As this form is preserved the same in all places where fungi have been found, it follows, that they contain in themselves the principles of reproduction. They resemble the misletoe, and other parasitic plants, which are perfectly distinct from the trees on which they grow. The fungi, therefore, are organized and living substances, or true plants.

CHAP. XXXVII.

CURIOSITIES RESPECTING STONES.

The Meteoric Stone-Labrador Stone-Asbestos-Mushroom Stme-The Changeable Stone-A Wonderful Diamond— A Singular Curiosity.

There are more things in heaven and earth
Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Shakspeare.

THE METEORIC STONE.

THE following description of a meteoric stone, which fell in the year 1511, is taken from a set of observations on natural history, meteorology, &c. made in the early part of the sixteenth century, by Andrea da Prato, of Milan. These have not been published; but various copies of them exist. They have been commented upon by Dr. Louis Rossi, in the Giomale di Fisica, Chemica, &c. from whence this description is taken." On the 4th of September, 1511, at the second hour of the night, and also at the seventh, there appeared in the air, at Milan, a running fire, with such splendour, that the day seemed to have returned; and some persons beheld the appearance of a large head, which caused great wonder and fear in the city. The same thing happened on the following night at the ninth hour. A few days after, beyond the river Adela, there fell from heaven many stones,

which being collected at Cremasco (Creina), were found to weigh eight, and even eleven pounds each. Their colour was similar to that of burnt stones."--Dr. Bossi considers this as an authentic description of the fall of an aërolite.

THE LABRADOR STONE, is a curious species of Feld-spar, or Rhombic Quartz, which exhibits all the colours of a peacock's tail. It was discovered some years ago by the Moravians, who have a colony among the Esquimaux, in Labrador. It is found of a light or deep gray colour, but for the most part of a blackish gray. When held in the light in various positions, it discovers a diversity of colours, such as the blue of lapis lazuli, grass-green, applegreen, pea-green, and sometimes, but more seldom, a citron yellow. Sometimes it has a colour between that of red copper and tornbuck-gray; at other times the colours are between gray and violet. For the most part, these colours are in spots, but sometimes in stripes on the same' piece. The stones are found in pretty large angular pieces, appear foliated when broken, and the fragments are of a rhomboidal figure.

We shall next introduce THE ASBESTOS.-This is a stone found in several places in Europe and Asia, and particularly in Sweden, Corsica, Cornwall, and the island of Anglesea in Wales. It is of a silky nature, very fine, and of a grayish colour, insipid, and indissoluble in water. It may be split into threads and filaments, from one to ten inches in length it is indestructible by fire; whence it may be employed for many useful purposes. There are some sorts whose filaments are rigid and brittle, and others more flexible. The former cannot be spun into cloth, and the latter with difficulty. In consequence of its incombustibility, it was very much valued by the ancients for wrapping up the bodies of the dead. In the year 1702, an urn was discovered at Rome, with the bones of a human body wrapped in a cloth made of flexible asbestor. The method of preparing it is as follows: the stone is laid to soak in warm water, then opened and divided by the hands, that the earthy matter may be washed out. This earth is white like chalk, and makes the water thick and milky. This being several times repeated, the filaments are afterwards collected and dried: they are commodiously spun with flax. When the cloth is woven, it is best preserved by oil from breaking. It is then put into the fire; and the flax being burnt out, the cloth remains pure and white. It might also be made into paper; and, from its incombustibility, wills, or any other thing of importance, could be written on it, The Chinese make furnaces of this mineral, which are very portable.

THE MUSHROOM STONE, or stone capable of producing mushrooms. In the Ephemerides of the Curious mention is made, of a stone, so called by Dr. J. G. Wolckamerus, who saw one in Italy, which never ceases to produce, in a few days, mushrooms of an excellent flavour, by the most simple and easy process imaginable. "It is (says he) of the bigness of an ox's head, rough and uneven on its surface, and on which are also perceived some clefts and crevices. It is black in some parts, and in others of a lighter and grayish colour. Internally it is porous, and nearly of the nature of punice stone, but much heavier; and it contains a small piece of flint, which is so incorporated with it as to appear to have been formed at the same time the stone itself received its form. This gives room to judge, that these stones have been produced by a fat and viscid juice, which has the property of indurating whatever matter it filtrates into. The stone, when lightly covered with earth, and sprinkled with warm water, produces mushrooms of an exquisite flavour, which are usually round, sometimes oval, and whose borders, by their inflections and different curvities, represent in some measure human ears. The principal colour of these mushrooms is sometimes yellowish, and sometimes of a bright purple, but they are always diversified with spots of a deep orange colour, or reddish brown; and when these spots are recent, and still in full bloom, they produce a very agreeable effect to the sight. But what appears admirable is, that the part of the stalk which remains adhering to the stone when the mushroom has been separated from it, grows gradually hard, and petrifies in time; so that it seems that this fungus restores to the stone the nutritive juice it received from it, and that it thus contributes to its increase." John Baptist Porta says, that this stone is found in several parts of Italy; and that it is not only to be met with at Naples, taken out of mount Vesuvius, but also on mount Pantherico, in the principality of Arellino; on mount Garganus, in Apulia; and on the summit of some other high mountains. As to the form of these mushrooms, their root is strong, uneven, divided according to its longitudinal direction, and composed of fibres as fine as hairs, interwoven one with another. Their form, on first shooting out, resembles a small bladder, scarcely larger than the bud of a vine; and if in this state they are squeezed between the fingers, an aqueous subacid liquor issues out. When at their full growth, their pedicle is of a finger's length, larger at top than at bottom, and becomes insensibly slenderer in proportion as it is nearer the earth. These mushrooms are also formed in an umbrella shape, and variegated with an infinity of little specks, situated very near one another. They are smooth and even on the upper part, but underneath leafy, like the common mushrooms. Theu

taste is likewise very agreeable, and the sick are 1 ot debarred from eating them when dressed in a proper manner.Some naturalists and physicians submitted these stones to chemical analysis, in order to be more competent judges of the uses they might be put to in medicine; when there first came forth, by distillation, an insipid water, and afterwards a spirituous liquor. The retort having been heated to a certain point, there arose an oil, which had nearly the smell and taste of that of guaiacum; and a very acid salt was extracted from the ashes.

We must not omit THE CHANGEABLE STONE.-There are three of these remarkable stones in the British Museum; the largest of them about the size of a cherry-stone, but of an oval form. It is opaque, and coloured like a common yellow pea; it may be scratched, though not without difficulty, by a common knife, notwithstanding which, it seems to leave a mark upon glass. It does not ferment with nitrous acid. When it has lain some hours in water, it becomes transparent, and of a yellow amber colour. The change begins soon after the immersion, and at one end, in form of a little shot; but in a small one of the same kind, the transparency begins round the edges. By degrees the spot increases, until the whole stone becomes uniformly clear throughout: when out of the water it loses its transparency, first at one end, and then gradually over the remainder, until the whole has become opaque, which change happens in less than it takes to become transparent. This change is not entirely peculiar to the hydrophanes. Bergman informs us, that some steatites produce the same effect; and M. Magellan, that the crust of chalcedonies and agates frequently produce the same appearance. Messrs. Buckman and Veltheim were the first who particularly inquired into the nature of this stone, and investigated its properties. Their account is as follows:-" As soon as the stone is put into water, it exhales a musty smell, several air bubbles arise, and it becomes gradually transparent. Some of the stones become colourless as soon as they are thoroughly transparent; others have a more or less deep yellow colour. some acquire a beautiful ruby colour; and others gain a fine colour of mother-of-pearl, or of a bluish opal. Whatever be the colour of the liquor in which the hydrophanes is immersed, it gains only its usual degree of transparency with the colour peculiar to it. When we look at it in its moist state, we per ceive a luminous point, varying its situation as the position of the eye is altered." This luminous point is not, according to Mr. Bruckman, the immediate image of the sun, but a reflection of that image refracted in the substance of the stone itself; a phenomenon which probably gave rise to its name of

OCULUS MUNDI. Mr. Bruckman left a piece of this stone, weighing 35 grains, seven hours in water, the space requisite to make it perfectly transparent; and in that time he found that it had gained three grains in weight. The hydrophanes becomes much sooner transparent when put into hot water; and the same happens if it be dipped in a very dilute acid, or rather a very dilute solution of alkali. When dipped in oil of vitriol, it becomes very quickly transparent, and will continue so on account of the strong attraction of that acid for moisture, which takes as much from the atmosphere as is necessary to keep the stone transparent; but its opacity will return, if it be dipped in an alkaline liquor, and then dried.

An account of a WONDERFUL DIAMOND, IN THE ISLAND OF BORNOU. The rajah of Mathan possesses the finest and largest diamond in the world, that has hitherto been discovered. This diamond, which is said to be of the finest water, weighs 367 carats. The celebrated Pitt diamond weighs only 127 carats. The Mathan diamond is shaped like an egg, with an indented hollow near the smaller end. It was discovered at Landak, about ninety years ago; and though the possession of it has occasioned numerous wars, it has been about eighty years in the possession of the Mathan family. Many years ago, the governor of Batavia sent a Mr. Stuvart to ascertain the weight, quality, and value of this diamond, and to endea vour to purchase it; and in his mission, he was accompanied by the sultan of Pontiana. After examining it, Mr. Stuvart offered 150,000 dollars for the diamond, the sum to which he was limited; and, in addition to this sum, two war-brigs, with their guns and ammunition, together with a certain number of great guns, and a quantity of powder and shot. The rajah, however, refused to deprive his family of so valuable an hereditary possession, to which the Malays attach the miraculous power of curing all kinds of diseases, by means of the water in which it is dipped, and with which they imagine the fortune of the family is connected.

We shall close our department of remarkable Stones, with the following account of A SINGULAR CURIOSITY.-Mr. Sloughton, the Spanish Consul at Boston, in North America, has in his possession a flint pebble, obtained amongst ballast stone, thrown from a vessel at an eastern port. When broken, it presented two half heads in profile; all the outlines of feature and hair were perfectly distinct, and the heads were of a darker colour than the rest of the stone. What is most surprising is, that the one face was male and the other female; and even the putting up of the hair was appropriate to the sexes: they were situated, in the stone, face to face.

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