Precious stones are diversely censured; many explode the use of them or any minerals in physic, of whom Thomas Erastus is the chief, in his tract against Paracelsus, and in an epistle of his to Peter Monavius, "That stones can work any wonders, let them believe that list, no man shall persuade me; for my part, I have found by experience there is no virtue in them." But Matthiolus, in his comment upon Dioscorides, is as profuse on the other side, in their commendation; so is Cardan, Renodeus, Alardus, Rueus, Encelius, Marbodeus, &c. Matthiolus specifies in coral: and Oswaldus Crollius, Basil. Chym. prefers the salt of coral. Christoph. Encelius, lib. 3. cap. 131. will have them to be as so many several medicines against melancholy, sorrow, fear, dullness, and the like; Renodeus admires them, "besides they adorn kings' crowns, grace the fingers, enrich our household stuff, defend us from enchantments, preserve health, cure diseases, they drive away grief, cares, and exhilarate the mind." The particulars be these.
Granatus, a precious stone so called, because it is like the kernels of a pomegranate, an imperfect kind of ruby, it comes from Calecut; "if hung about the neck, or taken in drink, it much resisteth sorrow, and recreates the heart." The same properties I find ascribed to the hyacinth and topaz. They allay anger, grief, diminish madness, much delight and exhilarate the mind. "If it be either carried about, or taken in a potion, it will increase wisdom," saith Cardan, "expel fear; he brags that he hath cured many madmen with it, which, when they laid by the stone, were as mad again as ever they were at first." Petrus Bayerus, lib. 2. cap. 13. veni mecum, Fran. Rueus, cap. 19. de geminis, say as much of the chrysolite, a friend of wisdom, an enemy to folly. Pliny, lib. 37. Solinus, cap. 52. Albertus de Lapid. Cardan. Encelius, lib. 3. cap. 66. highly magnifies the virtue of the beryl, "it much avails to a good understanding, represseth vain conceits, evil thoughts, causeth mirth," &c. In the belly of a swallow there is a stone found called chelidonius, "which if it be lapped in a fair cloth, and tied to the right arm, will cure lunatics, madmen, make them amiable and merry."
There is a kind of onyx called a chalcedony, which hath the same qualities, "avails much against fantastic illusions which proceed from melancholy," preserves the vigour and good estate of the whole body.
The Eban stone, which goldsmiths use to sleeken their gold with, borne about or given to drink, hath the same properties, or not much unlike.
Levinus Lemnius, Institui. ad vit. cap. 58. amongst other jewels, makes mention of two more notable; carbuncle and coral, "which drive away childish fears, devils, overcome sorrow, and hung about the neck repress troublesome dreams," which properties almost Cardan gives to that green-coloured emmetris if it be carried about, or worn in a ring; Rueus to the diamond.
Nicholas Cabeus, a Jesuit of Ferrara, in the first book of his Magnetical Philosophy, cap. 3. speaking of the virtues of a loadstone, recites many several opinions; some say that if it be taken in parcels inward, si quis per frustra voret, juventutem restituet, it will, like viper's wine, restore one to his youth; and yet if carried about them, others will have it to cause melancholy; let experience determine.
Mercurialis admires the emerald for its virtues in pacifying all affections of the mind; others the sapphire, which is "the fairest of all precious stones, of sky colour, and a great enemy to black choler, frees the mind, mends manners," &c. Jacobus de Dondis, in his catalogue of simples, hath ambergris, os in corde cervi, the bone in a stag's heart, a monocerot's horn, bezoar's stone (of which elsewhere), it is found in the belly of a little beast in the East Indies, brought into Europe by Hollanders, and our countrymen merchants. Renodeus, cap. 22. lib. 3. de ment. med. saith he saw two of these beasts alive, in the castle of the Lord of Vitry at Coubert.
Lapis lazuli and armenus, because they purge, shall be mentioned in their place.
Of the rest in brief thus much I will add out of Cardan, Renodeus, cap. 23. lib. 3. Rondoletius, lib. 1. de Testat. c. 15. &c. "That almost all jewels and precious stones have excellent virtues" to pacify the affections of the mind, for which cause rich men so much covet to have them: "and those smaller unions which are found in shells amongst the Persians and Indians, by the consent of all writers, are very cordial, and most part avail to the exhilaration of the heart."
Minerals.] Most men say as much of gold and some other minerals, as these have done of precious stones. Erastus still maintains the opposite part. Disput. in Paracelsum. cap. 4. fol. 196. he confesseth of gold, "that it makes the heart merry, but in no other sense but as it is in a miser's chest:" at mihi plaudo simul ac nummos contemplor in arca, as he said in the poet, it so revives the spirits, and is an excellent recipe against melancholy,
For gold in physic is a cordial,
Therefore he loved gold in special.
Aurum potabile, he discommends and inveighs against it, by reason of the corrosive waters which are used in it: which argument our Dr. Guin urgeth against D. Antonius. Erastus concludes their philosophical stones and potable gold, &c. "to be no better than poison," a mere imposture, a non ens; dug out of that broody hill belike this golden stone is, ubi nascetur ridiculus mus. Paracelsus and his chemistical followers, as so many Promethei, will fetch fire from heaven, will cure all manner of diseases with minerals, accounting them the only physic on the other side. Paracelsus calls Galen, Hippocrates, and all their adherents, infants, idiots, sophisters, &c. Apagesis istos qui Vulcanias istas metamorphoses sugillant, inscitiæ soboles, supinæ pertinaciæ alumnos, &c., not worthy the name of physicians, for want of these remedies: and brags that by them he can make a man live 160 years, or to the world's end, with their Alexipharmacums, Panaceas, Mummias, unguentum Armarium, and such magnetical cures, Lampas vitæ et mortis, Balneum Dianæ, Balsamum, Electrum Magico-physicum, Amuleta Martialia, &c. What will not he and his followers effect? He brags, moreover, that he was primus medicorum, and did more famous cures than all the physicians in Europe besides, "a drop of his preparations should go farther than a dram, or ounce of theirs," those loathsome and fulsome filthy potions, heteroclitical pills (so he calls them), horse medicines, ad quoram aspectum Cyclops Polyphemus exhorresceret. And though some condemn their skill and magnetical cures as tending to magical superstition, witchery, charms, &c., yet they admire, stiffly vindicate nevertheless, and infinitely prefer them. But these are both in extremes, the middle sort approve of minerals, though not in so high a degree. Lemnius lib. 3. cap. 6. de occult. nat. mir. commends gold inwardly and outwardly used, as in rings, excellent good in medicines; and such mixtures as are made for melancholy men, saith Wecker, antid. spec. lib. 1. to whom Renodeus subscribes, lib. 2. cap. 2. Ficinus, lib. 2. cap. 19. Fernel. meth. med. lib. 5. cap. 21. de Cardiacis. Daniel Sennertus, lib. 1. part. 2. cap. 9. Audernacus, Libavius, Quercetanus, Oswaldus Crollius, Euvonymus, Rubeus, and Matthiolus in the fourth book of his Epistles, Andreas a Blawen epist. ad Matthiolum, as commended and formerly used by Avicenna, Arnoldus, and many others: Matthiolus in the same place approves of potable gold, mercury, with many such chemical confections, and goes so far in approbation of them, that he holds "no man can be an excellent physician that hath not some skill in chemistical distillations, and that chronic diseases can hardly be cured without mineral medicines:" look for antimony among purgers.