CHAP. XXXI. Of Iron.
THe Mine of Iron is the greatest of all Mettals. On that part of Cantabria which the Sea passeth by, there is a Mountain, high and cragged, it is incredible to speak it, it is all of Iron Ore; Plin. l. 34. c. 14. It is rare in India. Hence they write that 14, pounds of Iron, at the Island of Zabur have been bartred for 250, pounds of Gold. Pegaffetta. It was formerly found in China, called Azzalum Indicum, of such an excellent temper in the edg that it would cut any Iron, Pancirol, l. de novis repertis. Digged up in Sicilie, and Lusa∣tia, it grows again, and the earth and stocks of Trees, as it grows, become Iron. First it is like a thick liquor, and by degrees it grows hard, Agricola in observat. metal. When it is boyled, it becomes moyst like water, afterwards it is broken into Spunges. The more tender Iron instruments, are steeped in oyle to quench them, lest they should grow too hard and brittle with water. Plin. lib. citat.
But in the Island Palmosa, it cannot be melted, & also in Aethalia, Strabo. l. 15. Bertius in Descript Ilvae. Smeared with Alum and Vi∣neger it becomes like brasse. At Smolnicium (it is a Town of the Mount Carpathum) water is drawn out of a pit, and it is powred into Pipes laid in a threefold order, and that pieces of Iron in them, turn into brasse. Agricol de metal. But the piece of Iron that is put into the end of the Pipes, is eaten by this water, that it becomes like mud; that, afterwards boyled in a furnace becomes good Brasse. It is most agreeing with all Copper, that it will mingle with it in melting. The Poets call these Mars and Venus in their Fables, Minder. de Vitriolo. c. 1. Aristonides, when he would expresse the fu∣ry of Athamas who would throw down headlong his Son Clearchus, and when he had don so, the manner of his sorrow; he mingled Brasse and Iron, that the rust of it shining through the brighter Brasse, might expresse his shame and bashfullnesse, Plin. lib. citat. Plunged fiery▪ hot in water, it becomes Steel; in Vinegar, it will endure no hammer∣ing, but will sooner break than draw. Hence the Lacaedonians who were wont to make their coyn of Iron Rods, steeped them red hot in Vinegar; that, being brittle, they might never be put to any other use. Plutarch in Lycurgo. If you seek a reason, we say that Vinegar goes into the heart of the Iron; Bodin, l. 2. Theatr: In Furnaces where they make it into bars, there rise such Vapours from it, when it is hammerd, that a certain powder increaseth sensibly, and mul∣tiplyes sticking to the walls. Albert. Mag, in lib. de Animal. It is Page 124 so strong that it can never be consumed by fire. In the new World there is an herb called Cabuja or Hentquen; of the leavs of it, there is a reddish string, that with sand will cut Iron. Ovetan. Histor. l. 7. c. 10. Iron scales are very drying, they put it in their shoos that have sweating feet. The best Iron is most white and light, and hath little branches, somtimes like to Corall, somtimes bound together with very fine strings. They make bullets of it, for great Guns.