CHAP. 42.—PUMICE; NINE REMEDIES.
And here, too, I must not omit to give some account of
This name is very generally given, it is true, to those
porous pieces of stone, which we see suspended in the erections
known as "musæa,"2
with the view of artificially
giving them all the appearance of caverns. But the genuine
pumice-stones, that are in use for imparting smoothness to the
skin of females, and not females only, but men as well, and, as
says, for polishing books, are found of the finest quality
in the islands of Melos and Nisyros4
and in the Æolian Isles.
To be good, they should be white, as light as possible, porous and
dry in the extreme, friable, and free from sand when rubbed.
Considered medicinally, pumice is of a resolvent and desiccative
nature; for which purpose it is submitted to calcination,
no less than three times, on a fire of pure charcoal, it being
quenched as often in white wine. It is then washed, like
and, after being dried, is put by for keeping, in a
place as free from damp as possible. In a powdered state,
pumice is used in ophthalmic preparations more particularly,
and acts as a lenitive detergent upon ulcerations of the eyes.
It also makes new flesh upon cicatrizations of those organs,
and removes all traces of the marks. Some prefer, after the
third calcination, leaving the pumice to cool, and then triturating
it in wine. It is employed also as an ingredient in emollient
poultices, being extremely useful for ulcerations on the head
and generative organs; dentifrices, too, are prepared from it.
According to Theophrastus,6
persons when drinking for a wager
are in the habit7
of taking powdered pumice first; but they
run great risk, he says, if they fail to swallow the whole
draught of wine at once; it being of so refrigerative a nature
will absolutely cease to boil if pumice is put