The Library of History

Page 79

Page 79 Year the Brimstone rises up out of the middle of the Mere, some Pieces Two, and others Three Plethras Square in quantity. The greater Pieces the Inhabitants call Bulls, and the lesser Calfs. When the Brimstone swims upon the Water, it represents at a distance the form of an Island. There are apparent Signs of casting up of the Brimstone Twenty Days before; for every where round the Lake for many Furlongs distant, a Steam arises with a stinking smell, and all Gold, Silver, or Brass near those Places, change their natural Colour; but return to their former, when all the Brimstone is exhal'd. And in as much as all Places near adjoyning are corrupted with a Fire and stinking Stench, it infects Mens Bodies with Diseases, and shortens their days. However this Region abounds with Palm-trees, because it's water'd with wholesom Rivers and Springs. In a Valley thereabouts grows that which they call Balsam: Whence they gain a plentiful Revenue, in regard this Plant grows in no other Parts of the World; which affords likewise excellent Medicines for the Use of the Physician.

The other Arabia adjoyning to this barren and dry Country Arabia, so far excels it, that for its Fruitfulness and Plenty of all other good things its call'd Arabia the Happy. It plentifully produces Calamus and Mastick, and other Aromatick Plants, and breaths out all sorts of fragrant Smells from the Trees, and abounds with divers kinds of sweet Gums, which distil from them. The furthest Parts likewise of Arabia produce Myrrh and Frankincense (so grateful to the Gods) which is carry'd all the World over.

Upon the Mountains grow in abundance not only Firs and Pine-trees, but tall Cedars, Junipers and the Tree call'd Agyreus; and many other fruitful Plants, which yield not only a pleasant Tastle, but a most sweet and delicious Smell to those that come near them. The very Nature of the Soyl it self is odoriferous and useful for sweet Perfumes; and therefore in some Places of Arabia in digging of the Ground they find sweet-scented Veins of Stone Metal, which furnish the Inhabitants with large Quarries, who build Houses of the Stone cut out of these Delphs; and when the Rain falls upon them, the Metal in the Stone melts, and runs within the Joints of the Building, and so binds all together, that the Wall seems to be all of one Piece. In Arabia are found Mines of pure Gold call'd Gold without Fire: For it is not extracted out of the little Pieces of drossy Metal by melting in the Fire as in other Places, but its pure and refin'd at the first digging it out of the Earth, every Piece about the Bigness of a Chesnut, and of so bright and glorious a Colour that this Gold adds an exceeding Beauty and Lustre to the most precious Stones that are set in it.

ARABIA is so rich in all sorts of Cattle, that many Provinces (imploying themselves only as Herdsmen and Shepherds) live fully and contentedly without the Use of Corn. That Part joyning upon Asia breeds vast Multitudes of exceeding great wild Beasts; for the Lyons and Leopards here are far more for Number, and larger and stronger than any in Africa; to which may be added those they call the Babylonian Tygers. It produces likewise Beasts of a double Nature, and mixt Shape; amongst whom are those that are call'd Struthocameli, who have the Shape both of a Camel and an Ostrich. For in the Bulk of their Bodies they are as big as a Camel newly foal'd, having upon their Heads small Hairs and great and black Eyes; in Shape and Colour they are like to Camels, having long Necks, and very short Beaks turning inwards, and sharp at the Point; they have Wings also of soft and hairy Feathers; they are supported with two strong Thighs, and are cloven hoofed, so that this Creature seems to be both terrestrial and volatile, a Land-Beast and a Bird: But being not able to fly by reason of the Bulk of her Body, she runs upon the Ground as swift as if she flew in the Air; and when she is pursu'd by Horsemen, with her Feet she hurls the Stones that are under her, with that Force as if they were sent out of a Sling, and many times kills the Pursuers with the Blows and Strokes they receive. When she is near being taken, she thrusts her Head under a Shrub or some such like Cover; not (as some suppose) through Folly and Blockishness, as if she would not see any or be seen of them, but because her Head is the tenderest Part of her Body she seeks to secure that Part all manner of ways she can; for Nature teaches all Creatures to seek not only to preserve themselves but their Kind; through a natural Instinct and Love of Life prompting them to perpetuate their Species by a constant Propagation.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books