The Library of History

Page 191

Page 191 they can easily fly from, or pursue their Enemy, as there is occasion: But when they are under Hardships, they cannot bear near so much as the Celtiberians. In time of Peace, they have a kind of a light and airy way of Dancing, which requires great agility and nimbleness of the Legs and Thighs: In time of War they march observing time and measure; and sing the Paeans when they are just ready to charge the Enemy.

The Iberians, especially the Lusitanians, are singular in one thing that they do; for those that are young and prest with ant, but yet are strong and couragious, get together upon the Tops of the Mountains, and furnish themselves with Arms; and having made up a considerable Body, make Incursions into Iberia, and heap up Riches by Thieving and Robbery; and this is their constant Practice in despite of all hazard whatsoever; for being lightly arm'd, and nimble of Foot, they are not easily surpriz'd. And indeed steep and craggy Mountains are to them as their natural Country, and to these they fly for shelter, because there's no way in those Places for great Armies to pass. And therefore though the Romans often set upon them, and in some measure have curb'd them, yet they were never able wholly to put an end to their Thieving and Robbing.

Having related what concerns the Iberians, we conceive it not impertinent to say something of their Silver Mines. For almost all this Country is full of such Mines, whence is dug very good and pure Silver; from whence those that deal in that Mettal, gain exceeding great Profit. And in the former Book we have spoken of the Pyrenean Mountains in Iberia, when we treated of the Acts and Atchievements of Hercules: These are the highest and greatest of all others; for from the South-Sea, almost as far as to the Northern Ocean, they divide Gall from Iberia and Celtiberia, running out for the space of Three Thousand Furlongs. These Places being full of Woods, and thick of Trees, it's reported that in ancient time this Mountainous Tract was set on Fire by some Shepherds, which continuing burning for many Days together, (whence the Mountains were call'd † Pyrenean) the parch'd Superficies of the Earth swet, abundance of Silver and the Ore being melted, the Metal flow'd down in Streams of pure Silver, like a River; the use whereof being unknown to the Inhabitants, the Phaenician Merchants bought it for Trifles given for it in Exchange, and by transporting it into Greece, Asia and all other Nations, greatly inricht themselves; and such was their Covetousness, that when they had fully loaded their Ships, and had much more Silver to bring Aboard, they cut off the Lead from their Anchors, and made use of Silver instead of the other.

The Phaenicians for a long time using this Trade, and so growing more and more wealthy, sent many Colonies into Sicily and the Neighbouring Islands, and at length into Africa and Sardinia: But a long time after the Iberians coming to understand the nature of the Metal, sunk many large Mines, whence they dug an infinite quantity of pure Silver (as never was the like almost in any other place of the World) whereby they gain'd exceeding great Wealth and Revenues.

The manner of working in these Mines, and ordering the Metal among the Iberians is thus; there being extraordinary rich Mines in this Country, of Gold as well as Silver and Brass, the Labourers in the Brass take a Fourth part of the pure Brass dug up, to their own use, and the common Labourers in Silver have an Euboick Talent for their Labour in Three Days time; for the whole Soil is full of solid and shining Oar, so that both the nature of the Ground, and the industry of the Workmen is admirable. At the first every common Person might dig for this Metal; and in regard the Silver Ore was easily got, ordinary Men grew very rich: But after that Iberia came into the Hands of the Romans, the Mines were manag'd by a throng of Italians, whose Covetousness loaded them with abundance of Riches; for they bought a great number of Slaves, and deliver'd them to the Task-masters and Overseers of the Mines. These Slaves open the Mouths of the Mines in many Places, where digging deep into the Ground, are found Massy Clods of Earth, full of Gold and Silver; and in sinking both in length and depth, they carry on their Works in undermining the Earth many Furlongs distance, the Workmen every way here and there making Galleries under Ground, and bringing up all the Massy Pieces of Ore (whence the Profit and Gain is to be had) even out of the lowest Bowels of the Earth.

Bibliotheca Historica

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