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Stones

Aerolites, or stones which have fallen from heaven. J. Norman Lockyer says the number of meteors which fall daily to the earth “exceeds 21 millions.” (Nineteenth Century, Nov., 1880, p. 787.) The largest aerolith on record is one that fell in Brazil. It is estimated to weigh 14,000 lbs. In 1806 a shower of stones fell near

L'Aigle, and M. Biot was deputed by the French Government to report on the phenomenon. He found between two and three thousand stones, the largest being about 17 lbs. in weight.

Eagle stones.
(See Eagle-Stones.) Health stones. Purites (2 syl.) found in Geneva and Savoy. So called from the notion that it loses its steel-blue colour if the person in possession of one is in ill-health.

Square stones. The most ancient idols were square stones. The head and limbs were subsequent additions. Touchstones. (q.v.)

Stones. After the Moslem pilgrim has made his seven processions round the Caaba, he repairs to Mount Arafat, and before sunrise enters the valley of Mena. where he throws seven stones at each of three pillars, in imitation of Abraham and Adam, who thus drove away the devil when he disturbed their devotions.

Standing stones.
The most celebrated groups are those of Stonehenge, Avebury, in Wiltshire, Stennis in the Orkneys, and Carnac in Brittany.

The Standing Stones of Stennis,
in the Orkneys, resemble Stonehenge, and, says Sir W. Scott, furnish an irresistible refutation of the opinion that these circles are Druidical. There is every reason to believe that the custom was prevalent in Scandinavia as well as in Gaul and Britain, and as common to the mythology of Odin as to Druidism. They were places of public assembly, and in the Eyrbiggia Saga is described the manner of setting apart the Helga Feli (Holy Rocks) by the pontiff Thorolf for solemn meetings.

Stones fallen down from Jupiter.
Anaxagoras mentions a stone that fell from Jupiter in Thrace, a description of which is given by Pliny. The Ephesians asserted that their image of Diana came from Jupiter. The stone at Emessa, in Syria, worshipped as a symbol of the sun, was a similar meteorite. At Abydos and Potidæ'a similar stones were preserved. At Corinth was one venerated as Zeus. At Cyprus was one dedicated to Venus, a description of which is given by Tacitus and Maximus Tyrius. Herodian describes a similar stone in Syria. The famous Caaba stone at Mecca is a similar meteor. Livy recounts three falls of stones. On November 27th, 1492, just as Maximilian was on the point of engaging the French army near Ensisheim, a mass weighing 270 lbs. fell between the combatants; part of this mass is now in the British Museum. In June, 1866, at Knyahinya, a village of Hungary, a shower of stones fell, the largest of which weighs above 5 cwt.; it was broken in the fall into two pieces, both of which are now in the Imperial Collection at Vienna. On December 13th, 1795, in the village of Thwing, Yorkshire, an aërolite fell weighing 56 lbs., now in the British Museum. On September 10th, 1813, at Adare, in Limerick,. fell a similar stone, weighing 17 lbs., now in the Oxford Museum. On May 1st, 1860, in Guernsey county, Ohio, more than thirty stones were picked up within a space of ten miles by three; the largest weighed 103 lbs. (Kesselmeyer and Dr. Otto Buchner: The Times, November 14th, 1866.)

You have stones in your mouth.
Said to a person who stutters or speaks very indistinctly. The allusion is to Demosthenes, who cured himself of stuttering by putting pebbles in his mouth and declaiming on the sea-shore.

The orator who once
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones
When he harangued,

Butler: Hudibras, i. 1.

Precious stones.
Said to be dew-drops condensed and hardened by the sun.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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