CHAP. 30.—MOLAR STONES. PYRITES; SEVEN REMEDIES.
In no country are the molar stones1
superior to those of
Italy; stones, be it remembered, and not fragments of rock:
there are some provinces, too, where they are not to be found
at all. Some stones of this class are softer than others, and
admit of being smoothed with the whetstone, so as to present
all the appearance, at a distance, of ophites.2
There is no
stone of a more durable nature than this; for in general, stone,
like wood, suffers from the action, more or less, of rain, heat,
and cold. Some kinds, again, become deteriorated by the action
of the moon, while others are apt to contract a rust in lapse of
time, or to change their white colour when steeped in oil.
(19.) Some persons give this molar stone the name of
from the circumstance that it has a great affinity
but there is also another kind of pyrites, of a more
porous nature, and another,5
again, which resembles copper.
This last, it is said, is found in the mines, near Acamas,6
Isle of Cyprus; one variety of it being of a silver, another of a
golden, colour. There are various methods of melting these
stones, some persons fusing them twice, or three times even, in
honey, till all the liquid has evaporated; while others, again,
calcine them upon hot coals, and, after treating them with
honey, wash them like copper.
The medicinal properties which these minerals possess are of
a calorific, desiccative, dispersive, and resolvent nature, and,
applied topically, they cause indurations to suppurate. They
are employed also, in a crude state and pulverized, for the
cure of scrofulous sores and boils. Some writers mention
another kind of pyrites also. Those among them have the
greatest affinity to fire which we distinguish as "live"7
pyrites. They are the most ponderous of all, and are found
remarkably useful for advance-guards when laying out encampments;
for, on being struck with a nail or any other kind of stone,
they emit a spark, which, received upon sulphur, dried fungus,8
or leaves, produces a fire almost sooner than it could be named.