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But whoever it was that first invented the art of thus cutting marble, and so multiplying the appliances of luxury, he displayed considerable ingenuity, though to little purpose. This division, though apparently effected by the aid of iron, is in reality effected by sand; the saw acting only by pressing upon the sand within a very fine cleft in the stone, as it is moved to and fro.

The1 sand of Æthiopia is the most highly esteemed for this purpose; for, to add to the trouble that is entailed, we have to send to Æthiopia for the purpose of preparing our marble—aye, and as far as India even; whereas in former times, the severity of the Roman manners thought it beneath them to repair thither in search of such costly things even as pearls! This Indian sand is held in the next highest degree of estimation, the Æthiopian being of a softer nature, and better adapted for dividing the stone without leaving any roughness on the surface; whereas the sand from India does not leave so smooth a face upon it. Still, however, for polishing marble, we find it recommended2 to rub it with Indian sand calcined. The sand of Naxos has the same defect; as also that from Coptos, generally known as "Egyptian" sand.

The above were the several varieties of sand used by the ancients in dividing marble. More recently, a sand has been discovered that is equally approved of for this purpose; in a certain creek of the Adriatic Sea, which is left dry at low water only; a thing that renders it not very easy to be found. At the present day, however, the fraudulent tendencies of our workers in marble have emboldened them to use any kind of river-sand for the purpose; a mischief which very few employers rightly appreciate. For, the coarser the sand, the wider is the division made in the stone, the greater the quantity of material consumed, and the more extensive the labour required for polishing the rough surface that is left; a result of which is that the slabs lose so much more in thickness. For giving the last polish to marble,3 Thebaic stone4 is considered well adapted, as also porous stone, or pumice, powdered fine.

1 Ajasson says that his remarks on the choice of the sand for this purpose, are very judicious.

2 A recommendation worse than useless, Ajasson remarks.

3 For this purpose, at the present day, granular corindon, or yellow emery, is used, as also a mixture composed of the oxides of lead and of tin; the substance being repeatedly moistened when applied.

4 See Chapters 13 and 43 of this Book.

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