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CHAPTER XXXIV.

EL DORADO.

ON the road to Nagyág you mount always, at first gradually, but nearer the village the ascent grows steep. Waters rush down impetuously on the roadside, rocks jut out from the soil ; the mountain scenery has begun. Some distance further, and a deep vale opens before you, with crags on every side, and a bare rock, crowned with a Greek church, rising above all. Bernhard von Cotta says that the site of Nagyág is probably the most picturesque of any mountain village in Europe; and, indeed, as I stood at the church door the next morning, and looked down on the world at my feet,-Deva and its rock and all intermediate mountains being now below me,-I could not but think so too.

The place is a settlement of miners. At three in the morning, wooden clappers, fixed in various prominent spots, call them to assemble. There is a Mass read, which all attend, and at four they are in the mine ; they pray aloud, before beginning work. The horizontal cutting I entered is 271 fathoms above the level of the ocean; it is 1562 fathoms long, is high and broad, and arched with stone,-a handsome piece of workmanship. Further on, where the masonry ceases, it is hewn through the solid rock. We entered in a car, drawn by a horse on an iron tramway, and the distance seemed interminable : the main cutting, and those diverging from it, taken together, would be 5000 fathoms in length. Where the rock is hewn through, the most picturesque forms are seen. Long points, like stalactites, depend from the irregular roof, and at the sides are grottoes and cavernous places, and strange orifices and narrow passages, which, you tell yourself, must be the abode of gnomes. All this answers more than anything else to one's preconceived notion of a mine : long black and white veins intersect the rock, and in these is the ore. There is a shaft from above leading to this part, 120 fathoms deep. Here gold is found in alliance with black tellurium ore, and the latter is so valuable that the entrance to the mine is carefully locked, and every worker searched each time he leaves it ; but, notwithstanding, the miners manage to conceal portions of the raw material in the strangest places, wrapped up in a greased rag; and the experiment has frequently cost them their life. Tellurium is very rare, especially when pure and unmixed with other minerals. Here, however, it is found in this state, and pieces were shown me in quartz, etc., worth £10 and #20, and even more. Arsenic and manganese are also here.

About 2 cwt. of gold and as many of silver are gained annually at Nagyág, the cost being 12,000f. per month all goes to Karlsburg to be coined.*34_1 The clear profit a year is 30,000f. ; but this, as I was told, " is the utmost."t-j-34_2

34_1* As a proof how little open violence occurs in the country, I may state, that the gold and silver are sent from the mine to Karlsburg in a cart with a single civil officer, yet no robbery has yet taken place, though at every village where the cart passes people know what it contains.

34_2-j- t If we take 25,000f. as the average profit, this leaves 119,000f1. a year for working expenses, and the staff of inspecting officers.

DETUNATA
"DETUNATA"

There is a school for mining here. There are many Germans at Nagyäg, as well as Roumains ; indeed, it is not a little remarkable how Germans, all the world over, are intimately connected with mines; they are always the searchers, and foot by foot work their way to the hidden gold of knowledge. The purification of metals by a scientific method emanated, I believe, from Germany; it is therefore not extraordinary if that country should be looked upon as the genuine miner's home.

I rode from here over the hills to Boitza, along bridlepaths, through deep glens, and past little straggling settlements on the borders of the forest. The view before me for the first part of the way was most extensive,-an open ocean of green plain, dotted with spots of sunlight.

Now on one side of me is a bare hill, covered with holes, with heaps of earth before them, as though rabbits burrowed there. Not a step from the wayside stand clumsy doors, just high enough to admit a youth, leading again into the earth : all these are diggings for gold. Everywhere, and on every side, the hill was thus honey- combed. Presently I come to a rising ground, and another totally different panorama opens before me, and I stop my horse to enjoy the new scene. The vale is broad; in front a line of hills suddenly ceases, and the foremost forms a bold headland of bare rock ; beside it a second narrower valley begins, and I can look a long way up it from my post on the opposite hill. Villages and churchtowers are interspersed at the foot of the slopes, and some are on the middle of the expanse, with orchards and gardens around them, and willows and young corn. At my left is a high ridge of rocks, covered with birch and oak, and this shields me from the setting sun; but the valley is full of it, and I, in the cool dark shade, gaze down upon and into the glorious golden effulgence.

There is a good tidy inn at Boitza, kept by a Hungarian ; Landseer's "Bolton Abbey" was hanging in my room. I passed a mine, Draiyka, which is for sale. In a cutting fifty- nine fathoms long, as many pounds of gold were obtained. The spot is surrounded by the most profitable Government mines; it would be astonishing, therefore, if just this spot should not yield abundantly. But money is wanted-£2000 only--to make the necessary shaft of 270 fathoms long; it would be a work of four years,-or of two, if the work be carried on day and night.

The estate itself was also for sale. The meadows yield yearly 200 loads of hay; there are 230 joch of arable land, and 30,000 of forest : the whole was to be had for £2000, or less. This will give an idea of the value of property here. All the road before coming to Abrudbanya is extremely interesting ; for a time it runs throng a deep valley, then gradually winding upwards for some hours shows, as you reach the top of the watershed, how profound that depth is. On your left you pass the Vulkán a mighty rock of limestone, projecting abruptly out of the Carpathian sandstone formation to a height of 3984 feet.

At Abrudbänya, a word from an acquaintance to the director here was sufficient to ensure me a most hearty welcome. Nothing could be kinder than my host's reception, or more agreeable than lie made my stay in his comfortable house. How neat everything was there, and how scrupulously clean ! What excellent fare, too, and how nicely each meal was served ! But all this is characteristic of the Hungarian.

Here, too, were vestiges of the fury of the destroyers in the revolution,-ruined churches, unroofed, half-burnt windowless houses, and rubbish heaps where dwellings once stood. Women, children, and old people were murdered by the Wallacks, while the fighting men were absent. In Zalathna, also, was a great massacre. I was told that Janko, one of the Wallack leaders in the revolution, often came into the town, and was certainly there now in some mean public-house or other, drinking with any one who would treat him to a dram. We went from one drinking shop to another; everybody knew of him, and at last we found where he was. The once redoubtable general in rich fanciful uniform, stood now before me, a deplorable specimen of poverty and dirt. He is a tall man ; the soles of his boots were loose, the seams lay open and flapping in the mud ; he was in his shirt-sleeves, be grimed, muddy, and unshaven. His long hair was dishevelled; his hat such as is seen on a scarecrow. With an unsteady walk, and face red and bloated, he came into the shop, and had a glass of rum given him ; he stared about, and then looked at me with a searching look. When we were going away, he went up to my companion and asked him for another dram. Men and children stood around, and called to and jeered the besotted creature as he went.

Around Abrudbánya mining for gold is diligently carried on by the inhabitants. The mountains are tunnelled in all directions in search of the ore, and, as the seeker is a peasant, or day-labourer, or petty tradesman of the town, the whole process is carried on in the most primitive and irrational manner possible. On Monday, those who have gold to dispose of bring it to the Government authorities, who send it Karlsburg to the Mint. The amalgamation is done for those who wish it by the officers of the Crown; they then bring their quantum into the office in little pans. One had a piece as large as a hazel-nut ; another, two or three bits the size of peas ; and a third, a lump like a large walnut. It is first tested, then weighed, and its value computed by printed tables. The payment is made in new ducats and silver, and ten, forty, fifty, sixty ducats were often paid to one individual for the gold he brought. I asked the people how long they had worked before collecting so much, and they said a month, and sometimes ten weeks. The apothecary of the place had also a mine : for the lump he brought, he was paid sixty ducats. Formerly no gold was allowed to be sold except to the Government, but this restriction exists no longer; it ceased in 1857. Now five per cent. of the proceeds is paid to Government as income-tax ; before 1862 it was ten per cent.

The following quantities of gold, brought in to the office at Abrudbanya on all the Mondays in the year, will give some idea of the produce of the mines :-

Year. Quantity of gold. Value in florins.
1855 1034 lb. 448,193
1856 1352lb. 470,768
1857*34_3 984 lb. 426,148
1858 622 lb. 274,460
1859 767 lb. 333,983
1860 539 lb. 237,381
1861 336 lb. 235,048

The private mines are above the imperial mine at Verespatak. This latter has already cost 1,000,000fl., but as yet no profit has been derived from it ; but it is confidently expected that a golden fut ire is still to come. The chief adit is 1300 fathoms long, beside many other lateral ones. In the others, as much as 30 or 40 lb. of gold have occasionally been got in two or three days, so rich has been the yield; this was the case in the summer of 1863. One man, in three years, got out of his mine 4 cwt. of gold. I saw the person myself.

34_3* The quantity diminishes, as from 1857 it was allowed to carry the gold to other markets.

I stayed a long time in the office, to see the people bring in their gold ; some brought gold-dust from the sand of the river, tied up in a corner of a handkerchief or rag the whole population seemed to be occupied with the tempting search. Gold-seeking, like the search for diamonds in Brazil, has its own peculiar charm, that tempts always on and on, and prevents discouragement for want of success ; for the coming moment is always to repay the past a hundred-, nay a thousand-fold. The manner of the civil officers (Hungarians) to the humblest individual was friendly and urbane. There was not a trace even of that repelling dictatorial air and speech, which is part and parcel of the nature of the "Beamte" in Germany.

There was a fair, and I went out to see the motley groups. It was wet weather and very muddy, yet in the middle of the street, lying on his back in the mud, his head thrown back on the ground, with the upper part of his body quite bare to excite commiseration, lay a Wallack beggar, ringing a bell incessantly to attract attention and obtain alms. Further on was another, also nearly naked; and the fellows always chose the spot where the mud was thickest to lie down on. Now, another such actor comes towards me with lugubrious cries, one arm all bared, to show how maimed it is, and the other, stretched out at full length, holds a large Greek crucifix, which the bearer thrusts under your very eyes, to remind you how pleasing a thing charity is to God.

And here comes a seller of flageolets, playing and piping as he walks ; and girls, with white lambs in their arms ; and on large snowy cloths are heaps of seeds, and golden maize. The dresses, too, are often pretty : the men in trousers of white frieze with blue stripes ; and their wives have bright kerchiefs on, and large glittering earrings. I wanted such ornaments, and looked for a long time at some at a stall before buying. While doing so, an adroit neighbour-for others were admiring the gay trinkets too-contrived to steal my note-book. It was very vexatious, as it contained memoranda, prices, etc., not to be replaced.*34_4 The Roumain police-director sent for the crier, and, drumming through the town and at the corners of the streets, the loss (not the theft) was proclaimed, and a good reward offered to the finder. To be sure the man did his duty; I went with him ; and grieved as I was to lose the book, the part I was playing amid such a scene, inclined me to laughter. The drum beat, and when a crowd had assembled, my man shouted out what he had to say in Hungarian, Wallachian, and the gipsy language. All the people stood, assembled in groups, to talk the matter over; then on we went again to another part of the market- place, to collect another crowd and drum again; but it was in vain,-he who had the book was afraid to bring it back, or, perhaps, was off with his prize before hearing of the reward. There were a great number of gipsies attracted hither by the fair, and it was thought that one of these was the robber. The pope of the place, not long ago, stole a hat; he was caught, well beaten, and let go : the Sunday after, he officiated at the altar as usual. If the teacher be so frail, what can we expect of his disciples ?

34_4* I immediately resolved, however, to turn my loss to good account, and to impute all the shortcomings of the present work to the absence of that note-book. The reader, therefore, will be so obliging as to imagine that the deficiencies he finds in it would have been supplied, and every inaccuracy rectified, if I had only had those missing memoranda.

There were gingerbread-nut stalls, exactly as at a fair in England, and bottles filled with all sorts of liqueurs. And there, too, was glorious, ever-pleasing Punch, with his incorrigible pranks, still delighting the spectators, and causing laughter. He beat Judy and the devil here, just as at Bath when I was a boy : it was the very same I had so often run after, from street to street, hoping it would at last come to a standstill and play ; and there was the show, with a little girl outside in gauze and spangles ; and the great drum beat incessantly, bewildering the spectators still more ; and the peasants stopped and gazed, or wandered from stall to stall, lost in wonderment at all the finery. Others stood in the street, eating little bowlfuls of milk and cream, mixed with corn, very like frumenty. The women wore red boots, the toes turned up in the Turkish style ; and on their heads was a white drapery, hanging down low behind almost like a Bedouin mantle : it was very elegant.

From here I rode over the hills to Detunata-goala and Detunata-floko6sza, two basaltic rocks rising on the hill, amid fertile vegetation. These regularly-formed columns belong, says the geologist Von Hauer, "incontestably to the most beautiful formations of the sort in western Europe."

The stone, of which the rock is formed, was forced up here, at some remote period of the earth's existence, in a fluid lava state, and formed, in cooling, into regular four-, six-, eight-sided columns. On one side of the rock they have taken a pleasing curved form. The colour of the stone is dark grey, in some places black. Below is a pile of the fragments which fall from time to time with a loud noise, whence, it is said, the name of the rock, which means literally, " The thunder-stricken naked one."

All about here, the hills are full of holes, where in the most imperfect manner possible gold is won. One village (Bucsum) has a hundred and twelve adits leading into the mountain, another (Korna) sixty. At Verespatak the slopes are like ant-hills,-all is alive with workmen ; there are 337 such mining enterprises going on there, with 5000 stamping-mills to crush the ore. These people, with no capital to fall back on, are unable to do more than burrow in the earth in a straight line. The adits are generally very low and inconvenient, and often fall in for want of support ; but this constant digging has quite changed the face of the mountain, it is one heap of rubble. Here and there, huts are built for the workmen. You meet a woman or a girl coming down the slope with a basket of ore at her back, to carry it to the mill below, of which, perhaps, every single peasant has at least one;*34_5 thus, basketful by basketful, it is borne home. Occasionally you see a packhorse thus laden, but there are few who can afford the luxury of a beast of burden. It is hard labour this,-in the low adits especially, where a man is obliged to stoop as he wheels out his barrowful of mica-slate or quartz.-j34_6

Many of those mines-if they deserve the name-are worked by a company, who club together their little store to carry on the operations. At the mouth of an adit, you will therefore often see so many heaps of stone, six, eight, or ten, as may be ; these are for the shareholders. As the quartz is brought out it is divided into such heaps, and each one takes his part, or sells it to another. If the mining were carried on systematically under the superintendence of one person, with better arrangements for transporting the ore to the valley, taking it all to one mill instead of carrying each basketful to the particular stamping-mill of every poor simple worker, the proceeds would undoubtedly be at least double what they now are. But to induce such change is almost, if not quite impossible.

34_5* These are of the very simplest construction ; sometimes a few stones on the roadside support one end of the axle of the wheel, just as a child would build up a mill out of chance materials of the garden.

34_6-j-t For hundreds of years men have been working here, yet there was no road leading out of the valley ; it is only eight years ago that the present one was made.

Close together, all along the way to Verespatak, are stamping-mills ; you hear nothing but the uninterrupted noise of the beams as, raised by the water-wheel, they fall one after the other ; the sound of hammers fills the whole vale. Sometimes a woman is seen scraping up the pulverized stone; or here a man drawing up on the shore the sands of the river to obtain the golden dust; for it is natural that a considerable quantity is not only washed down from the hills, but is furnished also by the innumerable mills all along the banks of the river.

Indeed the whole of this region abounds in gold ; it is sometimes found quite pure in leaves, sometimes like a tuft of yellow hair, beautifully fine as the down of a thistle. At Offenbanya it is met with, in conjunction with native tellurium. Close beside these more precious minerals, are also lead and silver.

Near Verespatak is a spot where gold seems to be distributed most largely. The sandstone, already richly im- pregnated, abuts on the porphyry-like formation of the Csetatye, where the veins of gold run in all directions throughout the whole mass, and reach to the very summit of the mountain.

On gazing at the vast cavities hollowed out, the enormous quantities of the metal obtained here by the Romans is a matter of surprise ; but nothing I had yet seen gave me such an idea of their power-of what may be achieved by the uninterrupted persevering toil of thousands of men working on and on, unrestingly for a century-as this mountain, the very form and nature of which they have completely changed by their labour. The mass of rock has been hollowed like a crater, and you stand in the centre of the mountain, and looking up, hundreds of feet above you, behold the sky. There, too, on the sides are everywhere huge ribs of stone, and ledge above ledge with cavernous openings, and through these portals you penetrate again into the very heart of the rock; and through a dark passage, you creep along and reach thus a second such crater :-this is " Csetatye mica," the little fortress.

THE
"THE "CSETATYE.""
All around you, and for full a hundred feet upwards, the rock has been scooped out in spiral passages, that wind up and up, you know not whither. Upwards they lead like some marvellous stair; and, at the opening at top, the blue heaven again looks in. As you stand in this hollow and gaze at the walls that enlock you, it is exactly like being at the bottom of a gigantic shell, which has been bored through, showing all its convolutions and inner spiral structure. Here and there, too, as your eye mounts, following the winding lines, you see lateral galleries leading into the mountain. Millions of tons of stone have thus been taken to obtain the gold, with which the veins running through it were overflowing. The huge rock is now a mere husk ; the core has been hewn out and carried away.*34_7

The sight impressed me profoundly; its wildness, and the sense of almost superhuman strength, which the work of those legions of men who had thus dared to grapple with nature, left behind, was not to be shaken off.

In the passages and caverns the traces of fire were visible. As the stone is hard as iron, the labour of those days was immense : powder not being invented, the rock could not be blasted, and, instead of this, large fires were made till it became brittle, and might be more easily broken. The sound of hammers resounded among the rocks, and presently, high above us, two men emerged from a long-deserted gallery ; they were seeking for gold where some Roman soldier had begun and then ceased his toil.

34_7* It has been computed, that if 1000 cwt. of stone yielded only 15 ounces of gold, the quantity obtained would be enormous. But there is every reason to suppose that the ore yielded more than this, or the Romans would hardly have undertaken so Herculean a labour.




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