Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/704

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the expenses of carriage indefinite; and the khedive's request for capitalists' assistance looks like a tentative towards a new loan, on the security of a new Daira, producing turquoises instead of sugar, but still he himself and his own servants may find a treasure there.

If he does, we hope the result will stir up one or two of the adventurous men who are always seeking how to obtain treasure without long and monotonous labor in its acquisition to search in one or two other of the legendary treasure-houses of the world. Jewels, with the exception of diamonds, are hardly worth searching for, — though the supply of rubies would have to be greatly increased before the price would be seriously reduced, — or it might be worth while to prospect the emerald mines of Upper Egypt; but it is hardly to the credit of the Indian government never to have asked one or two of the experienced mineralogists in its service to go and ascertain for himself what the world-wide legend about Golconda really means. The probabilities are a thousand to one that it is true, that there is such a place, that diamonds of the true water — the "drops of dew" wholly devoid of that abominable yellow tinge which so often spoils the Cape diamonds — were found there, and may be found there again. If a couple of mineralogists lost a year there, the Indian government would not be ruined, and though we cannot flatter them with great hope of profit, still the viceroys have often wasted a little money in less profitable work than inquiry into the truth of a very curious legend. Lord Lytton wants a reputation with the natives, and there is an easy one ready to be obtained. The ruler who rediscovered Golconda would never be forgotten, and if the people did fancy for a week that all taxes were to be remitted, that would he at worst a comfortable illusion. Then Mr. Layard is at Constantinople now, and is aware that legends, particularly in Asia, have usually some basis of fact, though they are buried under mountains of fiction. Suppose he induces his friends the Turks, who are not too well off for money at present, just to inquire a little into that story about the golden sands of Pactolus, and those ancient "washings," which would suggest to a Californian that higher up the river would be the precise "lo-cation" for a few quartz-crushing machines. If legend is worth anything — and of self-existent legends the tale is not many — a really valuable gold-mine must exist somewhere on the head-waters of the Pactolus. Of course the Turks cannot do the inquiry for themselves. They have had the richest regions of earth in their possession for five hundred years, and have done nothing with them, but have behaved like robbers who should know of a gold-mine, and think the true way to profit by it was to keep on stealing the buckets; but there must be plenty of Europeans in Constantinople with no fears, few scruples, and plenty of adventure in them, and one of them may have seen life in California, or have acquired some tincture of knowledge of mineralogy.

We have always wondered where the Scandinavian heroes got their gold from, and the priests of Upsala. If they brought it from the south, what did they give for it, having nothing that anybody else wanted; and if they did not buy it, whence was it obtained, for they certainly had it, and in considerable quanties, too? There may be old gold-mines yet to be discovered and reopened in Sweden, and mines of very considerable extent must exist in Japan. When that country was first thrown open to the world gold was in free circulation, and was exchanged weight for weight with silver, a fact which caused for a little while a funny rush upon the treasury, and which suggests that gold must be obtained somewhere with very unusual ease. It would never occur to miners, under ordinary circumstances, to class the two metals together; first, because the gold takes so much more labor, and secondly, because there is so much less of it. Legislation had, of course, something to do with the extraordinary state of things discovered in Japan; but still nature settles values in some degree independently of legislation, and the known facts point to the existence in Japan of some unusually accessible source of a supply of gold. Whether it would be worth working is another matter. As a rule, except under unusual circumstances, gold-mining is not one of the most paying of trades, — a good lead-mine is ten times as profitable as a gold-mine, and a market-garden near London will return a larger percentage than either of them. But our theme to-day is not profits, but disused mines of the precious metals or stones, and there are certainly five accessible spots where explorers as daring and well informed as Captain Burton might find it pay to look for them.