7 MAY 1831, Page 19

Mr. MURRAY, in addition to the many curious and valuable

contributions he has made to knowledge, has written a little treatise

on the Diamond, where all that is known of that extraordinary pro- duction is collected and illustrated. No word or thing can be more familiar to men's tongues than the diamond ; but if our read-

ers think for a moment of what they know of it, they will pro- bably come to the conclusion that the facts they have respecting it in their memories are but few. Mr. MURRAY tells us of its his- tory, of its site, of its nature, and of its various remarkable speci-

mens. The following extract contains an enumeration and, description of all the rarest and largest gems of this kind that are known to exist. It is curious to think that less than a pound weight in a single mass of one certain substance would pay more than half of the national debt.

" It has been stated, that the number of diamonds, of the weight of 36 carats and above, known, do not really amount to more than nine- teen. The entire number of diamonds of a large size in Europe, scarcely amount, according to Mr. Mawe, to more than half a dozen. The largest uncut diamond is that belonging to the House of Braganza, and weighs 1680 carats, or about I loz. Mr. Mawe says it is thought to be a white topaz. We have been favoured by a friend, who has seen it, with the following account. When the Prince Regent of Portugal, afterwards Don John VI., arrived at the Brazils in 1808, a negro, from Minas Ge- rais, contrived to send him a letter, desiring to present, in person, a large diamond which he had found. The Prince ordered the Captain.- General to allow the negro to proceed to court with an escort of soldiers. In a few months the negro arrived and presented the diamond, remark- ing at the same time that it was the largest ever found in the Brazils. The Regent granted him his freedom, and a pension for life for himself and family. He further described this supposed diamond as resembling a darkish yellow pebble, about the size of a pullet's egg, somewhat kidney- shaped, rather oblong, and a little concave on one side. The lapidaries in the Brazils value it at 3,000 millions crusades, or nearly equal to 300 millions pounds sterling. It is represented to us as a little polished on one part, to show its properties. " One of the largest of undoubted diamonds is that mentioned by Ta- vernier, in the possession of the Great Mogul. It is of a fine rose colour, somewhat resembles a half hen's egg in form andsize, and being weighed by Tavernier was found to be 297 9-16 carats, or about 860 grains (156 carats form about an ounce troy). It has been valued at 624,962/. according to Mr. Jefferies' rule, and was discovered about the year 1550, in the mine of Colore, in Bengal, not far to the east of Golconda. It has been stated that the handle of the sabre of the Dey of Algiers is re- splendent with diamonds, and his turban adorned with the most magnifi- cent brilliants.

" The Rajah of Mattan, in the island of Borneo, possesses a diamond, which was found there upwards of fifty years ago. It is shaped like an egg, with an indented hollow near the smaller end, said to be of the finest water, and weighs 367 carats ; and allowing 156 carats to the ounce troy, is two ounces 169,87 grains troy. Many years ago, the Governor of Batavia tried to effect its purchase, and sent Mr. Stewart to the Rajah. offering 150,000 dollars, two large war brigs, with their guns and ammu. nition, and a considerable quantity of powder and shot. The Rajah how- ever, it appears, refused to despoil his family of so rich an inheritance, to which the Malays, indeed, superstitiously attach the miraculous power of curing all kinds of diseases by means of the water in which the dia- mond is dipped, and with it they believe the fortune of the family is con. nected. " The history of the diamond which studs the sceptre of Russia, is not a little remarkable. It formed, for a long time, the solitary eye of art Indian idol, and was ultimately dislodged from its socket by an Irish soldier, by whom it was sold for a trifle ; and after passing through the hands of several masters, it was sent to England to be cut, and seems to have been finally sold to the Empress Catherine of Russia, in 1775, at Amsterdam, for 90,0001. an annuity of 4,0001. and a patent of nobility. It is of the size of a pigeon's egg, and of a flattened oval form : it is a i faultless and perfect gem, and without flaw of any kind ; its weight is stated at 179 carats. This is the diamond evidently referred to in a let- ter from the Hague, dated 2nd January, 1776, quoted by Boyle, in the Museum Britannic-um.= We learn from Amsterdam, that Prince Orlow made but one day's stay in that city, where he bought a very large bril- liant for the Empress his sovereign, for which. he paid to a Persian men: chantthere, the sum of 1,400,000 florins (Dutch money). A florin in Holland is valued at 20d.'

" The Pitt or Regent diamond was purchased by Thomas Pitt, Esq. (grandfather of the Right Honourable William Pitt), when governor of Fort St. George, Madras, who obtained it for 12,5001. the sum of 20,0001. having been first asked for it. It cost 5.0001. cutting, and the chips and filings were valued at from 7,0001. to 8,0001. It was purchased by the Re- gent Duke of Orleans, during the minority of Louis XV. in the year 1717, for 135,0001.-5,000/. being expended in the negotiation. Its weight is 136f carats : its value, as estimated by a commission of jewellers in 1791, is twelve millions of livres. It is almost faultless, and was cut in this country in the form of the brilliant. It is the prime ornament of the crown jewels of France, and is allowed to be the finest in the world, though not the largest. The kings of France wore this diamond in their hats : Napoleon Bonaparte had it fixed in the pommel of his sword. We have been informed that Charles X. would have willingly laid claim to it, and brought it with him, but this was not permitted. The diamond may be certainly considered a portable form of pro- perty, and, in a general point of view, not liable to very variable fluctuation. The Regent diamond, report says, was played with such success before the King of Prussia, by the wily Seyez, as to produce for the service of France 40,000 horses with their equip- ments. This diamond, it has been stated, was found in Malacca, in the famous mine of Porteal, in the kingdom of Golconda. Its form is some- what round, an inch broadi one-sixth of an inch long, and three-fourths of an inch thick.

" This diamond seems to have subjected the purchaser, Governor Pitt, to the imputation of having unfairly obtained possession of the prize. One account was, that a slave having found it in its native bed, concealed the diamond in a wound made in his leg for that purpose. Such a gash as would have imbedded or concealed it in its rough or even its polished form, must indeed have been extensive ! In the Journal des Savans, for July 1774, p. 553, is inserted an extract from the letter of a French missionary, to the following effect :—that one of the principal diamonds of the crown of France, and which was purchased of an Englishman, was one of the eyes of the god Jagrenat, a famous idol, placed in a pagoda, at Chandernagar, in Bengal. That the said idol, Jagrenat, had since continued with only one eye ; and, moreover, that the French had done all they could to blind him entirely, but have not succeeded, since it was better guarded. This is evidently a version of the history of the diamond of the Russian sceptre, with which it seems to be confounded. Thomas Pitt, Esq. (of the family of Blandford, in the county of Dorset), governor of Fort St. George, in the East Indies, in the reign of Queen Anne, felt and repelled calumnies which had not even the shadow of a basis to rest upon. Mr. Pitt, however, condescended to reply to the insinuations in a letter addressed to the editor of the Daily Post dated, 3rd November, 1743, in which, after censuring the unparalleled villany of William Fraser, Thomas Frederick, and Swap, a black merchant, who brought a paper before Governor Addison, in Council, to the intent that he had unfairly got possession of a large diamond ; he proceeds, after, as we conceive, unnecessary protestations and appeals to all that is sacred, to enter on the detail of the circumstances connected with the transaction by which he became possessed of it, and thus continues :— " About two or three years after my arrival at Madras, which was in July, 1698, I heard there were large diamonds in the country to be sold, which I encouraged to be brought down, promising to be their chapman, if they would be reasonable therein ; upon which, Jamchund, one of the most eminent diamond merchants in those parts, came down, about De- cember, 1701, and brought with him a large rough stone, about 305 man- gelms, and some small ones which myself and others bought; but he ask- ing a very extravagant price for the great one, I did not think of meddling with it : when he left it with me for some days, and then came, and took it away again, and did so several times, insisting upon not less than 200,000 pagodas; and, as I best remember, I did not bid him more than 30,000, and had little thoughts of buying it for that. I considered there were many and great risks to be run, not only in cutting it, but whether it would prove foul or clean, or the water good ; besides, I thought it too great an amount to adventure home in one bottom; so that Jamchund resolved to return speedily to his own country; so that, I best remember, it was in February following he came again to me (with Vincaty Chittee, who was always with him, when 1 discoursed him about it), and pressed me to know whether I resolved to buy it, when he came down to 100,000 pagodas, and something under, before we parted, when we agreed upon a day to meet and to make a final end thereof one way or other, which I believe was the latter end of the aforesaid month, or beginning of March, when we met in the consultation-room ; when, after a great deal of talk, I brought him down to 55,000 pagodas, and advanced to 45,000, resolving to give no more, and he likewise not to abate, so delivered him up the stone, and we took a friendly leave of one another. Mr. Benyon was then 'writing in my closet, with whom I discoursed what had passed, and told him now I was clear of it ; when, about half an hour after, my ser- vant brought me word that Jamchund and Vincaty Chittee were at the door, who, being called in, they used a great many expressions in praise of the atone, and told me he had rather I should buy it than any body; and, to give an instance thereof, offered it for 50,000. So, believing it must be a pennyworth if it proved good, I offered to part the 5,000 pa- godas that were between us; which he would not hearken to, and was going out of the room again, when he turned back, and told me I should

have it for 49,000 ; but I still adhered to what I had before offered him, when presently he came to 48,000, and made a solemn vow he would not

part with it for a pagoda under ; when I went again into the closet to Mr. Benyon, and told him what had passed, saying, that if it was worth 47,500, it was worth 48,000; so I closed with him for that sum, when he delivered me the stone, for which I paid him honourably, as by my books appear' The letter concludes with renewed appeals to the Deity, in a tone entirely objectionable ; it closes thus—' Written and signed by roe, in Bergen, July 29, 1710. THOMAS PITT.' " The whole transaction affords a good example of what is in common parlance termed ' driving a hard bargain ; ' but the sum was a serious

one, and the risk very considerable : flaws, specks, cross grains, &c., which could only become apparent after the stone was cut, might have made it even a serious loss. Calculating the pagoda at 8s. 6d., the rough stone thus cost 20,4001. sterling—no trifle, certainly : the sum first asked was 85,0001. Mr. Salmon, who was on the spot at the time the transac- tion took place, verifies this statement. It appears that this celebrated diamond was consigned by Mr. Pitt to Sir Stephen Evance, of London, Knight ; and from an original bill of lading, that it was sent in the ship Bedford, Captain John Hudson, Commander, March 8, 1701-2, and

charged to the captain at 6,500 pagodas only. The editor of the guseum Britannicum states that the cutting and polishing of the stone cost 5,0001. Jefferies states that it was sold for 135,0001., but 5,0001. of this sum was given and spent in negotiating the sale of it. The diamond is admitted to approach very nearly to one of the first water—Jefferies says that it has only a foul small speck in it, and that lying in such a manner

as not to be discerned when the stone is set. He describes the mistakes in the cutting of the gem, and also states how it may be improved. There is a model of the ' Pitt,' or Regent ' diamond in the British Museum ; and on the silver frame which surrounds it is engraved, This is the model of Governor Pitt's diamond, weight 136i carats : was sold to Louis XV. of France, A.D. 1717?

" The Sanci diamond, so called from Nicholas de Harlai de Sanci, once its owner, weighs, it has been stated, 55 carats, and cost 25,0001. This diamond belonged to Charles the Bold, the last Duke of Burgundy, who wore it in his cap at the battle of Nancy, and was found by a Swiss soldier among the spoils of battle after the famous defeat of his army in I 175, near Murat, in Switzerland, and in which he himself was killed. The Swiss sold it to a priest for a florin, or about 2011. and the latter again disposed of it for 28. Ctl. In the year 1589 it was in the possession of Antonio, King of Portugal, and by him was first pledged to a French gentleman, named de Sanci, for 40,000 livres, and subsequently sold for 100,000 livres. The family of this gentleman preserved the diamond for • nearly a century, and till the period when Henry Ill. of France, after having lost his throne, employed a descendant of this family, who was commander of the Swiss troops in his service, to proceed to Switzerland, for the purpose of recruiting his forces in that country ; and having no pecuniary resources at command, he persuaded the same gentleman to borrow of his family the Sanci diamond, in order to deposit it with the Swiss government, as security for the payment of the troops. Accord- ingly the diamond was despatched for this purpose, by a confidential do- mestic, who disappeared, and could nowhere be heard of for a great length of time; at last, however, it was ascertained that he had been stopped by robbers and assassinated, and his body buried in a forest ; and such confidence had his master in the prudence and probity of his servant, that lie searched, and at last discovered the place of his burial, and had the corpse disinterred, when the diamond was found in his stomach, he having swallowed it when attacked by the robbers. The Baron de Sanci subsequently disposed of this diamond to James II. of England, then residing at St. Germain's, from whom it passed to Louis XIV. and now remains among the crown jewels of France.

"The Piggott diamond was brought to England by Earl Piggott, when Governor-General of India. It was disposed of by lottery, in 1801, for 30,0001. Its weight is 47f carats. In 1818, it was in the possession of Messrs. Rundell, Bridge, and Minden, but we are unable to say where it now is, or by whom possessed. " The Nassac diamond, now in the East-India House, was taken from. the Peshwa of the Mahrattas, in the Mahratta war : its weight is stated to be 894 carats, and was originally valued by the East-India Company at 30,0001.

" Russia has several large diamonds independent of that which adorns the imperial sceptre. One of these is valued at 369,8001. There is also- a large table diamond belonging to the imperial treasury. Holland has one of 36 carats, valued at 10,3681.; and we believe it is of a conical shape. Persia has several diamonds, four large ones, of a rose-cut, be- sides brilliants ; the two principal diamonds are called, as already stated, the Sea of Glory,' and the Mountain of Splendour;' one computed to be worth 145,8001.; and the other valued at 34,848/.

" When Mr. Mawe was in the Brazils, two large slabs of diamonds were, shown him, each an inch superficies, and Ith of an inch thick : the river Abaite, from whence these pieces came, has produced a diamond of an octohredral form, which weighs iths of an ounce troy. The Brazilian Treasury is extremely rich in diamonds of great magnitude and beauty, such as the Portugal round brilliant, ' Slave diamond,' and others. There are blue diamonds, but of an inferior size, generally impure and with. flaws. In the walkinf,-stick of King John the Sixth, which is a Brazilian cane, and the handle of which is of wrought gold, there is a beautiful brilliant surmounting its summit, and cut in the form of a pyramid,. valued at about 30,0001. sterling. The tassels consist of numerous orders* attached to variously coloured ribbons. The buttons on the silken stole of King Joseph the First of Portugal, worn as a court dress, are twenty in all, each a brilliant ; the aggregate value of these amounts to 100,0001., and we believe they are at the present moment in this country. " We were informed by a gentleman (who saw it in Mr. E.'s posses- sion) that a brilliant of 34 carats, set in a ring, was sold by Mr. Eliason to Napoleon Buonaparte for 8,0001., to be worn on his wedding day, when married to the Empress Josephine. It was not, however, a diamond of- the first class."