Stalactitic Carbonate of Lime
- Div. 2. Imitative.
The remarkably chimerical or whimsical appearance of the formation of this Carbonate is truly admirable and instructive, showing that Nature kindly indulging us with so many elegances for amusement knowledge, and improvement, must excite the most lively sensation of gratitude in every sensible mind.
I consider this as a sort of gradation from the Carbonate of Lime with the usual rhomboidal fracture, to the hard Carbonate of Lime with the irregular or rather flinty fracture. Its fracture is rather curved and irregularly plated. It is somewhat harder than the former, and generally of rather more specific gravity. Sometimes the harder Carbonate of Lime—see the next plate—partly coalesces with it; see the opaquely tinted whiter parts.
The varieties of its forms are beyond description; and the manner of the curvature in every varied direction. Branching, and inosculating, is not only new, but rare in Carbonate of Lime, nor do I know that it has been before described. It must be observed that the Sulphate of Lime, tab. 21, however curved, is more involute, and otherwise varying. The specimen here figured differs somewhat in hardness: the more opaque parts, however, are in general harden. It is mostly semitransparent, with a somewhat waxy appearance, sometimes having a beautiful satiny or even pearly gloss, and showing occasionally some facets of small crystals. It seems to lead us through the mineral aggregation to the growth of plants, and hints to us their connexion, which is, however, more conspicuously shown in the next plate. I have called this chimerical, because we never see two specimens alike, and it seldom happens but that they convey, in the smaller or larger masses, an idea of something monstrous, not unlike some of the strange imaginary figures of the Chinese.