But the walls were made of screens of marble tracery--beautiful milk-white fretwork, set with agates and cornelians and jasper and lapis lazuli
, and as the moon came up behind the hill it shone through the open work, casting shadows on the ground like black velvet embroidery.
The bare vaulting of trees along the Mall was ceiled with lapis lazuli
, and arched above snow that shone like splintered crystals.
Huge columns carved out of single masses of marble, and inlaid from top to bottom with a hundred intricate figures wrought in costly verde antique; pulpits of the same rich materials, whose draperies hung down in many a pictured fold, the stony fabric counterfeiting the delicate work of the loom; the grand altar brilliant with polished facings and balustrades of oriental agate, jasper, verde antique, and other precious stones, whose names, even, we seldom hear-- and slabs of priceless lapis lazuli
lavished every where as recklessly as if the church had owned a quarry of it.
They were sombre blues, opaque like a delicately carved bowl in lapis lazuli
, and yet with a quivering lustre that suggested the palpitation of mysterious life; there were purples, horrible like raw and putrid flesh, and yet with a glowing, sensual passion that called up vague memories of the Roman Empire of Heliogabalus; there were reds, shrill like the berries of holly -- one thought of Christmas in England, and the snow, the good cheer, and the pleasure of children -- and yet by some magic softened till they had the swooning tenderness of a dove's breast; there were deep yellows that died with an unnatural passion into a green as fragrant as the spring and as pure as the sparkling water of a mountain brook.