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ovens.  Painfully fatigued as we are, we
cannot resist the temptation of paying them a
brief visit.  The road is dusty and desolate;
nor are the works themselves either striking
or attractive.  An irregular mass of sheds,
brick buildings, and tall chimneys, present
themselves.  As we approach them we come
upon a "sludge hole;"—the bed of a stream
running from the dredging and jigging works;
where, by the agency of water, the ore is
relieved of its earthy and other waste matter,
and the stream of waterallowed to run off
in separate channelsdeposits, as it flows,
the smaller particles washed away in the
process.  These are all carefully collected,
and the veriest atom of silver or lead
extracted.  It is only the coarser ores that
undergo this process; the richer deposits
being pulverised and smelted with white or
charred wood and fluxes, without the application
of water, and refined by amalgamation
with quicksilver.  The two metals are
afterwards separated by distilling off the latter.

Here, are heaps of scoriastacks of pig-
lead, wood, coke, limestone, and waste earth,
everything indeed but silver: although we
are emphatically in a silver mining district,
silver is by no means the material which
presents itself in the greatest bulk.  Having
placed ourselves under the direction of one
of the workmen, we are led into some newly
built brick buildings, where force-pumps and
other water appliances erected at great cost
by the Saxon government are gratefully
pointed out to us.  These water-works are
equally applicable to the extinction of fire,
as to the preparation of ores.

Into what an incomprehensible maze of
words should we be betrayed, were we to
attempt a description of the multifarious
operations for the extraction and refining of
metals!  Every description of ore, or metalliferous
deposit, requires a different treatment:
each suggested and verified by laborious
experience, and vigilant attention.  In some
cases the pure silver is separated by
mechanical means; in others the ore is roasted,
in order to throw off the sulphur, arsenic,
and other volatile matters, which are
separately collected and form no inconsiderable
portion of the valuable produce of the mine.
These roastings again are smelted with a
variety of fluxes, and in different states of
purification; until they are ready for refining.

Here are roasting furnaces, dull and
black; huge brick tubes with swollen ends;
others built in, and ready for ignition.
Everywhere, we see pigs of lead, sometimes
lying about in reckless confusion, at others,
neatly packed in square stacks.  Now, they
bring us to a huge circular oven, with at
least half-a-dozen firmly closed iron doors,
and as many glowing caves; and a swarthy
man, armed with an iron rake, swinging open
one of the iron doors with a ring and a clatter,
we look in upon a small lake of molten
silver, fuming, and steaming, and bubbling.
The iron rake is thrust in, and scrapes off
the crumbling crustthe oxide of lead,
which has formed upon its surface.  The
silver fumes and flashes, and a white vapour
swims in the air.  The swarthy man swings
the iron door to with a clang, takes us by the
arm, and bids us look through into a dark
cavity, and watch the white drops which fall
at intervals like tiny stars from above.  This
is the quicksilver evaporated from the heated
silver in the furnace, which passes through
the chimney into a kind of still, and is
restored to its original condition.

And what is the result of all this skill and
labour ?  We find that the average produce
of the Saxon mines is from three to four
ounces of silver to the hundred pounds'
weight of ore; and that the mines about
Freiberg yield annually nearly four
hundred and fifty thousand ounces of silver.
We find further that the total mines of the
Erzgebirg-Kreis—"circle of ore mountains"
of which those of Freiberg form a portion,
produce a total of seven hundred and twenty
thousand ounces of silver every year; besides
from four hundred to five hundred tons of
lead, one hundred and forty tons of tin, about
thirty tons of copper, from three thousand
five hundred to four thousand tons of iron, and
six hundred tons of cobalt.  They are rich
also in arsenic, brimstone, and vitriol, and
contain, in no inconsiderable quantities,
quicksilver, antimony, calamites, bismuth, and
manganese.  Even precious stones are not
wanting; garnets, topazes, tourmalines,
amethysts, beryls, jaspers, and chalcedonies
having been found.

A shrewd old workman tells us with a
proud satisfaction, that when Napoleon's
power was crushed, and Saxony had to
pay the penalty of her adhesion to the
French conqueror, in the shape of various
parings and loppings of her already narrow
territoriesthat Prussia gloated with greedy
eyes, and half stretched out an eager hand to
grasp the Erzgebirge, and their mineral
riches.  "Aber," exclaims he, with a chuckle,
"die sind noch S├Ąchische, Gott sey dank!"
"But they are still Saxon, thanks be to God!"

All things considered (the Australian
diggings included), we came to the conclusion,
from our small experience of Saxon mines,
that there are more profitable, and even more
agreeable occupations in the world than mining
pleasanter ways, in short, of getting a living
than digging for silver in Saxony, or even.
for gold in Australia.

On the 20th of September will be published, price 5s.
neatly bound in Cloth,
          
THE FIFTH VOLUME
                         OF
            HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
Containing the Numbers issued during the half-year ending
on Saturday, September 11th, 1852.