Tallis, John
Tallis's history and description of the Crystal Palace and the exhibition of the world's industry in 1851 (Band 1) — London, 1851

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knives with five or six hundred blades, two hundred and fifty pair of scissors of every
kind, one of the triumphs of England. Then enormous glasses; then light-houses and
improved telescopes; then a trophy in furs, exhibited by the Hudson's Bay Company;
then models of every kind.

After this excursion in the nave of the Crystal Palace, let us go, if you please, to
see the adoration of the relics. On the right, and nearly at the entrance of the foreign
nave, you observe a crowd, curious and eager, flocking about a great parrot-cage with
gilded bars. Within that is placed on a cushion the Koh-i-Noor. This diamond
supplies, in the history of Central Asia, the place of the golden fleece, and has occasioned
more than one bloody war. It ultimately came into the hands of Bunjeet Singh, and
when, after his death, England annexed his kingdom to its Indian possessions, the
" Mountain of Light" was sent to London. It is now, if not the most curious, at least
the most attractive article in the Exhibition. It weighs 186 carats. As to its value, it
is necessarily nominal; it may be worth two millions, or nothing. To ordinary eyes it is
nothing more than an egg-shaped lump of glass. They may show us what they please,
and call it Koh-i-Noor. On ordinary days, that is, the shilling days, it is exposed in its
great cage, ornamented with a policeman, and they rely on the sun to cause it to sparkle;
but on the Friday and Saturday it puts on its best dress; it is arrayed in a tent of red
cloth, and the interior is supplied with a dozen little jets of gas, which throw their light
on the god of the temple. Unhappily, the Koh-i-Noor does not sparkle even then.
Thus the most curious thing is not the divinity, but the worshippers. I have seen a
pretty considerable number of relics adored, from the Bambino in wood of the Ara cceli
at Home, to the blood of St. Januarius at Naples. The adoration of the Mountain of
lAght is quite of the same character. One places one's-self in the file to go in at one
side of the niche, looks at the golden calf protected by the impassable policeman, and
goes out on the other side. If the organs should chance to play at the same moment,
the illusion is complete. There is another thing, also, which has the same effect. It is
a fountain of Eau de Cologne of Maria Farina. This is also guarded by a policeman,
who takes quietly your handkerchief, passes it across the jet d'eau, and returns it per-
fumed. The Koh-i-Noor is well secured; it is placed on a machine which causes it, on
the slightest touch, to enter an iron box. It is thus put to bed every evening, and
does not get up till towards noon. The procession of the faithful then commences, and
only finishes at seven o'clock.

We shall here, for the present, take leave of our lively and intelligent correspondent,
with the intention, however, of renewing our acquaintance with him at a fitting





We shall again, in this chapter, occasionally avail ourselves of the assistance of our
learned friend, Dr. Lardner, and present our readers with the substance of a portion of
his lucubrations respecting " Tee Potter's Art," as connected with the Great Exhibition.
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