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Highlanders labour, they have not yet become burdensome to their neighbours. They have an honest pride, which impels them to undergo incredible privations, nay, “the most excruciating misery and the verge of starvation, raiher than beg.” Do the poor descend to the Low country as paupers? No; but the beggars in the Highlands, allured by the hospitality of the people, are chiefly Lowlanders, and they are neither few nor unimportunate.
Idle as the life of the Highlanders is said to be, they contrive to make all their agricultural implements and most of their dairy utensils; and not only provide themselves with blankets, linen, shoes, stockings, tartan cloth, kersey, carpets, &c. but dispose of considerable quantities to their neighbours.
It is unjust to allege that, when they have emigrated to a more abundant country, they are less prosperous than others. The fact is the reverse. All who have observed the effects of emigration, were struck with the comfortable situation of the Gaël, wlio, by good management and adaptation of themselves to circumstances, contrive to settle even more happily than they were in their native glens; and no one will assert they shew any inferiority in England, or any where else where they may be established.
The policy of preserving the population of a country that has proved the main naval and military strength of the empire, is in a great measure overlooked ; yet every unprejudiced landed proprietor of the Highlands will confess, that if measures of actual severity are not used, the tenants will pay cheerfully, even a rack-rent, rather than quit their father-land; and will contentedly labour in farms which no other people would undertake to cultivate.
Of the literary capacity of the Gaël, and their desire of knowledge, we shall take a future opportunity of saying something. Their military services it may not be so necessary to expatiate upon. The assertion that the victories of the Highlanders have been more honourable to themselves than of advantage to the state, can be easily refuted.
To the Editors of the Cambrian and Caledonian Quarterly.
hand on the copy of one, dated “ Kidwelly, 6th August, 1809," which I received, during a short residence in Caermarthenshire, from my friend, the late Thomas Parker, Esq., of the Priory, in that town, in consequence of my having desired him to visit those ancient Roman mine-works in the parish of Caeo, terined Gogovan caves. These appear within a very picturesque cove, in the rocks near Pympsaint, now a public-house. The name of Pympsaint, the five saints, is given from a stone lying near the entrance of the cove, in which are as many concave excavations, perhaps to act as basins for washing the ore, but now said to be the impressions of the heads of those holy personages. The water used in these works was brought from a place called Pwll Ufern, Hell's pool, which is at some considerable distance to the west. “In consequence of your desire, my dear sir, I venture to commit to paper the general thoughts which occurred to me during my hasty visit to the singular and interesting excavations at Pympsaint.
“I ascended the hill from the public-house on the left hand side of the turnpike road, leading from Llandovery, through Pympsaint, to Lampeter, taking the landlord with me as a guide, having first directed him to provide a lantern and a sufficient quantity of candles to explore the underground works. Six or seven village youths, who, the day being Sunday, were at hand, seemed well pleased in the permission to attend us.
“The face of the mountain, as I approached it, bore the appearance of considerable workings having been carried on, at some remote period, from the number of hillocks of waste, or miner's deads, which covered the surface of the ground, and which, being grown over with sod, at the same time that they bespoke the antiquity of the work, deprived me of the opportunity of discovering, amongst the refuse, the nature of the mineral sought after; and the day forbade me the assistance of a labourer to open the banks. I was first conducted by my guide to the great level which opens on the side of the hill towards the south or south-west, and
keeps a straight line northward. At the tail of the level there was a good deal of water to wade through, occasioned by an obstruction at the entrance, which held back the top drainage; but when I got about twenty yards into the level, the bottom was perfectly dry, and, it having been fair weather for some days, no water percolated through the top, which rendered it not unpleasant to walk in. The level is of considerable width, and of a sufficient height to stand upright with your hat on; but the actual dimensions, the haste of my excursion, and other circumstances, prevented my ascertaining, as they also did the run or length of the level, yet I should suppose the latter to be about 200 yards. You cannot but admire the perfection with which the level has been made. The walls are perfectly straight, with a slightly arched roof; and, passing through a hard slaty country, and having been well chiseled, it may be likened to a work of excellent masonry. In passing up the level I observed a strong course of opaque quartz to cross it; but, as there was no driving on this course, I conclude the level was not drove in search of minerals, but to some known object, the quartz being of the same nature as that which was afterwards worked upon,
“At the north end of the level considerable workings have been carried on eastward and westward, forming caverns of great magnitude and height; but these workings having followed the run of the strata of the slaty country, no correct conclusion can be formed, from their present appearance, of the state in which the ancient miners left the work; for they have at times continued falling in from the roof, and make that the bottom now which was formerly at the top; and this opinion is somewhat confirmed by the mouth of the cavern, which presented itself in the extreme eastern corner, and appeared to descend much lower than the ground on which I stood,—but the entrance was so low and dirty, and discovering that the landlord had only brought snuff's instead of whole candles, and that a little delay would put us into the dark, I declined any attempt to explore it, though I believe the fact would have turned out that the workings had formerly been considerably lower than the bottom of the level, and have since been filled up by the mouldering in of the roof, whilst in this lower cavern, from some cause or other, the top has not equally given way, so that the bottom remains consequently deeper, and the roof lower, than in the outward cavern.
« I sought, with as much attention as time and expiring lights would allow me, to discover the nature of the mineral inquired after, but I could find no speck of ore, nor other clue to guide to a conclusion. In the south-eastern forebreast, some person, at no great distance of time, appears to have made a small trial upon a course of hard opake quartz, which there presents itself; but it proved barren, and void of a glimmer of metal, or even sulphur, to raise a miner's hope.
“Had all my companions possessed lights, or the means by which they could reach the mouth of the level, I apprehend I should have found myself deserted, and speedily left alone, so powerfully did the discovery of the marks of a pattenring on the floor of the innermost part of the cavern act on the sensibility of the Welsh superstition.
“No sooner had the youth who made the discovery mentioned the circumstance, than the buzzing hum which before prevailed was instantly hushed into a solemn silence, and, as no person present could tell when any female had ventured into this subterraneous place, the conclusion seemed to be that the marks were supernatural, and such was the effect of this imagination, that, until we turned back again, and got into the rays of light, the hilarity of the youths was evidently restrained by the influence of superstition.
“On quitting the great level, I ascended the higher part of the hill, to some considerable which
to have been wrought in the same way upon the breast of the mountain, only without a level, as the underground work I had just quitted. The rock, or country, was of the same hard slaty nature, and the lode, on which I suppose the drivings were made, was of the same unfavorable kind of
opaque yellow and brown quartz, in some places extending itself to a breadth of more than five yards; but even to this width the old miners did not confine themselves, for they broke the ground considerably on each side, disclosing other lodes, or veins, of the like hard and unprofitable quartz.
“On the summit of the mountain is a long and deep ravine, which pursues
the course of the lode in the great level, and resembles what they term in Cornwall the Roman, or old men's workings; but this is also overgrown with sod, and, circumstanced as I was, afforded me no opportunity of gathering any opinion, without the aid of conjecture.
“It would be worth while, as an object of curiosity, to shode or cut small pits in the bottom, across this ravine, down to the solid; and which, as the ground is loose, would be attended with but little expense, in the hire of a few day-labourers, with their ordinary trenching tools; and there is good reason to expect that, either in the wasting, or in the solid, some satisfactory discovery would be made of the mineral substance in pursuit of which the ravine was first made.
“After a most diligent inquiry of near two hours, without discovering any satisfactory appearance of ore, I at length found a few bits of galena, or lead mineralized by sulphur, of the size of a large hazel-nut each, in one of the great caverns, imbedded in the quartz; and 1 afterwards observed in several other places, what I considered to be bits of galena decomposed and converted into white lead. These small bits of galena had no connexion with each other by a string or vein, but were imbedded in the quartz, surrounded by a softish saponaceous substance, like to the slate of the country if decomposed, and may be termed kernels, or small kidneys of ore. The shale, or slate, in some places contains much sulphur, which appears in the fracture of a metallic lustre, as fine as dust, and forms a principal ingredient in the stone ; wbilst, in other places, the sulphur appears in the shale in the figure of a rhomb, as crystallized mundic.
“At present there is little or no water near the work, but upon my expressing surprise at the want of top-water, my guide told me there were the remains of an ancient watercourse at a little distance, which tradition related was for the purpose of conveying water to the mines from a distance of several miles up the country, nearly as far as Lord Cawdor's lead mine, but the communication had for many ages been broken, and the old water-course was dry.
“In contemplating a workof this magnitude, which affords so little internal evidence of the object for which it was carried on, the mind is naturally inclined to wander, and to receive the traditionary stories of the country people, that the Romans got here both gold and silver; but whích, from any thing I observed, stands without the slightest authority, though it is possible the brassy lustre of the sulphur may, with the uninformed, have given rise to the opinion as to the former metal; and, as all lead ores are supposed to contain some silver, so, notwithstanding galena is considered to