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Gold is found in our own part of the world; not to mention the gold extracted from the earth in India by the ants,1 and in Scythia by the Griffins.2 Among us it is procured in three different ways; the first of which is, in the shape of dust, found in running streams, the Tagus3 in Spain, for instance, the Padus in Italy, the Hebrus in Thracia, the Pactolus in Asia, and the Ganges in India; indeed, there is no gold found in a more perfect state than this, thoroughly polished as it is by the continual attrition of the current.

A second mode of obtaining gold is by sinking shafts or seeking it among the debris of mountains; both of which methods it will be as well to describe. The persons in search of gold in the first place remove the "segutilum,"4 such being the name of the earth which gives indication of the presence of gold. This done, a bed is made, the sand of which is washed, and, according to the residue found after washing, a conjecture is formed as to the richness of the vein. Sometimes, indeed, gold is found at once in the surface earth, a success, however, but rarely experienced. Recently, for instance, in the reign of Nero, a vein was discovered in Dalmatia, which yielded daily as much as fifty pounds' weight of gold. The gold that is thus found in the surface crust is known as "talutium,"5 in cases where there is auriferous earth beneath. The mountains of Spain,6 in other respects arid and sterile, and productive of nothing whatever, are thus constrained by man to be fertile, in supplying him with this precious commodity.

The gold that is extracted from shafts is known by some persons as "canalicium," and by others as "canaliense;"7 it is found adhering to the gritty crust of marble,8 and, altogether different from the form in which it sparkles in the sapphirus9 of the East, and in the stone of Thebais10 and other gems, it is seen interlaced with the molecules of the marble. The channels of these veins are found running in various directions along the sides of the shafts, and hence the name of the gold they yield—"canalicium."11 In these shafts, too, the superincumbent earth is kept from falling in by means of wooden pillars. The substance that is extracted is first broken up, and then washed; after which it is subjected to the action of fire, and ground to a fine powder. This powder is known as "apitascudes," while the silver which becomes disengaged in the12 furnace has the name of "sudor"13 given to it. The im- purities that escape by the chimney, as in the case of all other metals, are known by the name of "scoria." In the case of gold, this scoria is broken up a second time, and melted over again. The crucibles used for this purpose are made of "tasconium,"14 a white earth similar to potter's clay in appearance; there being no other substance capable of with-standing the strong current of air, the action of the fire, and the intense heat of the melted metal.

The third method of obtaining gold surpasses the labours of the Giants15 even: by the aid of galleries driven to a long distance, mountains are excavated by the light of torches, the duration of which forms the set times for work, the workmen never seeing the light of day for many months together. These mines are known as "arrugiæ;"16 and not unfrequently clefts are formed on a sudden, the earth sinks in, and the workmen are crushed beneath; so that it would really appear less rash to go in search of pearls and purples at the bottom of the sea, so much more dangerous to ourselves have we made the earth than the water! Hence it is, that in this kind of mining, arches are left at frequent intervals for the purpose of supporting the weight of the mountain above. In mining either by shaft or by gallery, barriers of silex are met with, which have to be driven asunder by the aid of fire and vinegar;17 or more frequently, as this method fills the galleries with suffocating vapours and smoke, to be broken to pieces with bruising- machines shod with pieces of iron weighing one hundred and fifty pounds: which done, the fragments are carried out on the workmen's shoulders, night and day, each man passing them on to his neighbour in the dark, it being only those at the pit's mouth that ever see the light. In cases where the bed of silex appears too thick to admit of being penetrated, the miner traces along the sides of it, and so turns it. And yet, after all, the labour entailed by this silex is looked upon as comparatively easy, there being an earth—a kind of potter's clay mixed with gravel, "gangadia" by name, which it is almost impossible to overcome. This earth has to be attacked with iron wedges and hammers like those previously mentioned,18 and it is generally considered that there is nothing more stubborn in existence—except indeed the greed for gold, which is the most stubborn of all things.

When these operations are all completed, beginning at the last, they cut away19 the wooden pillars at the point where they support the roof: the coming downfall gives warning, which is instantly perceived by the sentinel, and by him only, who is set to watch upon a peak of the same mountain. By voice as well as by signals, he orders the workmen to be immediately summoned from their labours, and at the same moment takes to flight himself. The mountain, rent to pieces, is cleft asunder, hurling its debris to a distance with a crash which it is impossible for the human imagination to conceive; and from the midst of a cloud of dust, of a density quite incredible, the victorious miners gaze upon this downfall of Nature. Nor yet even then are they sure of gold, nor indeed were they by any means certain that there was any to be found when they first began to excavate, it being quite sufficient, as an inducement to undergo such perils and to incur such vast expense, to entertain the hope that they shall obtain what they so eagerly desire.

Another labour, too, quite equal to this, and one which entails even greater expense, is that of bringing rivers20 from the more elevated mountain heights, a distance in many instances of one hundred miles perhaps, for the purpose of washing these debris. The channels thus formed are called "corrugi," from our word "corrivatio,"21 I suppose; and even when these are once made, they entail a thousand fresh labours. The fall, for instance, must be steep, that the water may be precipitated, so to say, rather than flow; and it is in this manner that it is brought from the most elevated points. Then, too, vallies and crevasses have to be united by the aid of aqueducts, and in another place impassable rocks have to be hewn away, and forced to make room for hollowed troughs of wood; the person hewing them hanging suspended all the time with ropes, so that to a spectator who views the operations from a distance, the workmen have all the appearance, not so much of wild beasts, as of birds upon the wing.22 Hanging thus suspended in most instances, they take the levels, and trace with lines the course the water is to take; and thus, where there is no room even for man to plant a footstep, are rivers traced out by the hand of man. The water, too, is considered in an unfit state for washing, if the current of the river carries any mud along with it. The kind of earth that yields this mud is known as "urium;"23 and hence it is that in tracing out these channels, they carry the water over beds of silex or pebbles, and carefully avoid this urium. When they have reached the head of the fall, at the very brow of the mountain, reservoirs are hollowed out, a couple of hundred feet in length and breadth, and some ten feet in depth. In these reservoirs there are generally five sluices left, about three feet square; so that, the moment the reservoir is filled, the floodgates are struck away, and the torrent bursts forth with such a degree of violence as to roll onwards any fragments of rock which may obstruct its passage.

When they have reached the level ground, too, there is still another labour that awaits them. Trenches—known as "agogæ"24—have to be dug for the passage of the water; and these, at regular intervals, have a layer of ulex placed at the bottom. This ulex25 is a plant like rosemary in appearance, rough and prickly, and well-adapted for arresting any pieces of gold that may be carried along. The sides, too, are closed in with planks, and are supported by arches when carried over steep and precipitous spots. The earth, carried onwards in the stream, arrives at the sea at last, and thus is the shattered mountain washed away; causes which have greatly tended to extend the shores of Spain by these encroachments upon the deep. It is also by the agency of canals of this description that the material, excavated at the cost of such immense labour by the process previously described,26 is washed and car- ried away; for otherwise the shafts would soon be choked up by it.

The gold found by excavating with galleries does not require to be melted, but is pure gold at once. In these excavations, too, it is found in lumps, as also in the shafts which are sunk, sometimes exceeding ten pounds even. The names given to these lumps are "palagæ," and "palacurnæ,"27 while the gold found in small grains is known as "baluce." The ulex that is used for the above purpose is dried and burnt, after which the ashes of it are washed upon a bed of grassy turf, in order that the gold may be deposited thereupon.

Asturia, Gallæcia, and Lusitania furnish in this manner, yearly, according to some authorities, twenty thousand pounds' weight of gold, the produce of Asturia forming the major part. Indeed, there is no part of the world that for centuries has maintained such a continuous fertility in gold. I have already28 mentioned that by an ancient decree of the senate, the soil of Italy has been protected from these researches; otherwise, there would be no land more fertile in metals. There is extant also a censorial law relative to the gold mines of Victumulæ, in the territory of Vercellæ,29 by which the farmers of the revenue were forbidden to employ more than five thousand men at the works.

1 See B. xi. c. 36.

2 See B. vii. c. 2.

3 See B. iv. c. 17.

4 Ajasson remarks, that the Castilians still call the surface earth of auriferous deposits by the name of segullo. He also doubts the correctness of Pliny's assertion as to the produce of the mines of Dalmatia.

5 See B. xxxiv. c. 47.

6 We learn from Ajasson that numerous pits or shafts are still to be seen in Spain, from which the Romans extracted gold. At Riotento, he says, there are several of them.

7 Both meaning "channel gold."

8 "Marmoris glareæ." Under this name, he no doubt means quartz and schist

9 See B. xxxvii. c. 39.

10 See B. xxxvi. c. 13.

11 "Channel-gold" or "trench-gold."

12 Becoming volatilized, and attaching itself in crystals to the side of the chimney.

13 Or "sweat." This "sweat" or "silver" would in reality be a general name for all the minerals that were volatilized by the heat of the furnace; while under the name of "scoria" would be comprised pyrites, quartz, petrosilex, and other similar substances.

14 The cupel or crucible is still known in Spain by the name of tasco.

15 Who were said to have heaped one mountain on another in their war with the gods.

16 Deep mines in Spain are still called arrugia, a term also used to signify gold beneath the surface. According to Grimm, arruzi was the ancient High German name for iron.

17 See B. xxiii. c. 27.

18 The breaking-machines, used for crushing the silex.

19 "Cædunt" is certainly a preferable reading to "cadunt," though the latter is given by the Bamberg MS.

20 A similar method of washing auriferous earth or sand in the mines, is still employed in some cases.

21 The bringing of water into one channel."

22 Or as Holland quaintly renders it, "Some flying spirit or winged devill of the air."

23 Magnesian carbonate of lime, or dolomite, Ajasson thinks.

24 From the Greek, ὰγωγὴ.

25 It does not appear to have been identified; and it can hardly be the same as the Ulex Europæus of modern Natural History, our Furze or Gorse.

26 That of sinking shafts, described already in this Chapter.

27 All these names, no doubt, are of Spanish origin, although Salmasius would assign them a Greek one.

28 In B. iii. c. 24.

29 See B. iii. c. 21.

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