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livered to certain officers that are appointed by the government to receive it. These take one-fifth of the whole weight for the prince regent; and the remaining four parts are purified, melted into pieces called ingots, then assayed, marked according to their value, and delivered to the owners, with a certificate to render them current.
About the year 1713 the quantity of gold obtained here was so considerable, that the royal fifth amounted to nearly half a million sterling per annum. The mountain became pierced like a honeycomb, for the miners penetrated every soft part they could find, and conyeyed the cascalhão or substance dug out, to a convenient place to be washed. In rainy weather the torrents of water running down the sides of the mountain carried away much earthy matter, which contained small particles of gold, and deposited them in the ground near the base. When the waters abated, this rich deposit gave employment to great numbers of the people, who took it away and washed it at their convenience. Between the years 1730 and 1750 the mines were in the height of their prosperity. From this time they gradually became less productive, and, when Mr. Mawe was here, Villa Rica scarcely retained even a shadow of its former importance.
During his residence at this place, Mr. Mawe paid frequent visits to the mint; and he was permitted to witness every process that was performed there. In the smelting house he saw eight or ten small blast furnaces, which, in form, resembled so many blacksmith's hearths. The fuel used was charcoal. When a quantity of gold dust was brought by any person, it was immediately melted, purified, cast, and stamped. So that Mr. Mawe has seen men deliver their gold dust, and receive it in a form ready for use or circulation in less than an hour.
Twenty-fourth Day's Instruction.
Narrative of MR. MAWE's Journey from Villa Rica
to the Diamond Mines. ·FROM Villa Rica, Mr. Mawe, attended by the two soldiers and his negro servant, set out for Tejuco, the capital of the diamond district. They passed through the city of Mariana, and afterwards through a mountainous and romantic country, where they observed many small and neat houses, surrounded by coffee-plantations and orangeries. In their progress they met several mules, laden with sugar; which were destined for Villa Rica and Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Mawe informs us, that some parts of the country which he traversed, resembled in appearance that between Matlock and Derby; and that the mountains bore a strong resemblance to those of Westmoreland. In many places the land seemed equally well suited for agriculture and mining, for it was as rich at the surface as it was below. Among the crevices of some of the rocks topazes were found, but these were seldom of good quality.
On the second day of their journey the party arrived at an estate where there was an extensive gold mine belonging to two brothers; and which was worked by about two hundred negroes. It was Mr. Mawe's wish to have remained here a day or two, for the purpose of inspecting the operations ; but, although the proprietors treated him with great kindness and hospitality, he imagined that they entertained some jealousy respecting his views, he consequently determined to proceed on his journey without delay. In riding past the works, he did not perceive that any kind of machinery was used for facilitating the manual labour; and he ob. served that the tedious process of washing the cascalhão by hand was chiefly practised.
The route of the travellers was continued northward. They passed through a village, near which a species of white metal, called platina, is found in considerable quantity. This metal occurs in a granular form, and was originally discovered many years ago. In consequence of its great weight the people imagined that it was gold united with some other metal, from which it could not be separated. Hence they called it white gold; but, as it was not known to be of value, the work was gradually neglected, and at length abandoned.
It would occupy too much of our time to describe the whole country and all the villages and hamlets through which the travellers passed, betwixt Villa Rica and Villa do Principe. We shall therefore suppose them arrived at the latter town, which is situated near the confines of the diamond district, and on the high road that leads to it. This town contained about five thousand inhabitants, most of whom were shopkeepers, the rest were artisans, farmers, miners, and labourers. It contained a public edifice, to which every miner in the district brought such gold as he obtained, and where he pald 'the royal fifth, as is done at Villa Rica. At Villa do Principe, in consequence of its vicinity to the diamond district, the strictest regulations prevail respecting all persons proceeding thither, or returning thence.
The country around the town is fine and open; and is free from those impenetrable woods, which so frequently occur in other parts of the province. The soil is in general very productive, and the climate mild and
salubrious. :: At a place where gold was washed, about six leagues
frorn Villa do Principe, Mr. Mawe says, that a lump of gold was found of several pounds weight; and, from the same place he obtained many curious and crys
tallized pieces, and some specimens which weighed more than two ounces each.
After Mr. Mawe and his party had left this town, they traversed a country nearly destitute of wood and herbage, and the surface of which consisted chiefly of coarse sand and rounded quartz pebbles. This was the commencement of the diamond district. For the first four leagues it was extremely sterile, and in some places was mountainous. In the evening they arrived at the first diamond work in the Cerro do Frio, which at this time employed about two hundred negroes. On the ensuing day they continued their journey towards Tejuco, the capital of the district. They crossed two rapid rivulets, and afterwards reached a guard-house, situated near a stream, which had formerly been much noted for diamonds. Here a certain number of soldiers were stationed, who were always on the alert, and whose duty it was to ride after, and examine the passengers. All the adjacent country was rough, and destitute of vegetation, being covered, in every direction, with gritstone rocks full of rounded pebbles.
On the arrival of the travellers at Tejuco, they took up their abode in the principal inn of the place, a house which contained some neat rooms, and afforded tolerable accommodations. This town is built on the side of a mountain, and in a narrow valley which runs along its bottom.
The governor of the diamond district, having learned that Mr. Mawe was expected, came to Tejuco to meet him, and on the morning of Monday the 18th of September, they set out together on a journey to the great diamond works, at Mandanga, on the banks of the river Jigitonhonha. At these works about a thousand negroes were at this time employed.
The road was rough and mountainous; and the country appeared almost destitute of wood. A few stunted shrubs constituted nearly the whole of the vegetation. The party halted at a place about half way, and having descended a steep mountain, full a mile in declivity,
they entered a ravine" or narrow valley, where they crossed the river Jigitonhonha, by a wooden bridge, They proceeded along the bank of the river, for about a league, to Mandanga; the land on each side appeared to be tolerably good, and was covered in many parts with underwood.
Around Mandanga there were about a hundred detached habitations. These were merely large huts, most of them of circular form, with high thatched roofs. The walls were formed of upright stakes, interwoven with twigs, and coated inside and out with clay. Near some of these houses were enclosures for gardens.
Mr. Mawe continued at this place five days, during which he was fully occupied in viewing and examining various parts of the works. The Jigitonhonha is here about as wide as the river Thames at Windsor, and is in general from three to nine feet deep. The part in which the negroes were now working formed a curve or elbow; and the current had been diverted from its usual course by a canal, in such manner as to expose a considerable part of the bed of the river. The deepest parts were laid dry by chain-pumps, worked by a water-wheel.
The mud was then carried away, and the cascalhão beneath it was afterwards dug up and removed to convenient places to be washed. This labour had formerly been perforined by negroes, in a kind of conical bowls, called gamellas; but, of late, two inclined planes, each about one hundred yards in length, had been constructed, which, with carts moved by machinery, tended greatly to facilitate the work. During the dry season as much of the cascalhão is dug out as will occupy all the hands that can be employed for the remainder of the year. When carried from the bed of the river it is laid in heaps, which contain from five to fifteen tons each.
Water is conveyed from a distance, and is distributed to the various parts of the works by means of aqueducts, constructed with great ingenuity and skill. The method of washing for diamonds is as follows :--a shed consisting of upright posts, and a roof thatched with