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ty fathoms. The distance being little more than four Swedish miles from Upsal, we soon arrived at this interest ing spot.
As we drove along and approached the vicinity of the mine, we were entertained by the picturesque effects of the villages inhabited by the miners, the forges and furnaces for working and smelting the iron when brought above the surface of the earth. These are on a very extensive scale, and employ daily about three hundred persons. On arriving at the mouth of this entrance to Hades, I found the monarch of the scene, the director, more than civil; the introduction of our archiepiscopal friend produced us the most polite attention; and having examined all around, our intelligent conductor attended us to view the wonders of the abyss.
The descent is not like that usually found, the opening being of a large extent, instead of the well-like perforation of common mines. The mode of passage is in casks, fixed to large cables, which are raised and lowered by means of horses. When they are filled with ore, the workmen, standing upon the edges of the vehicle, and having their arms clasped round the rope, ascend with the greatest composure. I occupied one half of the bucket appointed for my carriage, and the director the other, carrying bundles of wood in order to light us through the caverns. Mr Fs descended in a second' machine of the same sort.
The depth from the mouth to the surface of the water, now congealed, at the bottom, is sixty-five fathoms; the further depth through the ice to the old base, is twenty more. I was surprised at such a subterraneous mass of waters, when my conductor explained the circumstance, by informing me, that about twelve or fourteen years ago a neighbouring lake rose to so great a height as to inundate that part of the country, and overflow the mine. The accident, for a time, stopped the
labours of the workmen, A steamengine was constructed to draw off the waters so far as to enable the men to dig the ore. The water is drawn from the bottom by a wheel twentytwo yards in diameter, and is afterwards conveyed, along an aqueduct two thousand five hundred yards in length. By these means ten fathoms of water being annually discharged, in the course of two years they will be able again to work in its ancient bottom.
I think I never beheld so sublime a sight as struck my eyes when, midway suspended between the upper and nether world, I looked towards the dis tant sky, or downwards into regions of a lurid night. The miners, with lighted torches, attended us through the various excavations and dark caverns which yawned from all quarters of the abyss. During our exploring walk we were suddenly arrested by a most tremendous sound, which, for a moment, struck us with undescribable horror; the earth shook under our feet; and we looked, I cannot tell how; but our conductor smiled, and told us, it was only the men blasting the rocks for the ore. As he spoke, the noise roared along the black avenues of the mine, re-echoing through the higher vaults like the loud bellowings of thunder.
To afford a shelter for the workmen during this hazardous part of their duty, a small retreat is constructed of thick beams; and here they retire in safety to await the expected explosion, which hurls the rent fragments with furious violence in every direction.
The extent of the mine is about eighteen hundred feet. Large as it is, the pre-eminence it bears in the eye of taste, arises from a peculiarity differing entirely from all others in the kingdom. The whole of the mine is laid. open to the sky, having more the appearance of a gigantic cleft in the earth made by some convulsion of nature, than an effect of the industry of
man. The people below had kindled a fire, the grey smoke from which made a picturesque contrast to the deep gloom that pervaded the rocky precipices nearer the mouth, the bright light of the sun's rays shone upon the cliffs and hanging icicles, which glittered like so many masses of brilliants. The descending and ascending ropes, equal to a stout cable, seemed the finest cobweb; and the huge projecting rocks looked as if every explosion would shake them from their already trembling situation, and crush the labouring wretches below.
In one quarter of the mine is a sor of well-staircase constructed of wood. It is composed of ladders, steps, and landing-places in the rock, at various heights, which gradually communicate with the top; a mode of ascending and descending by far too fatiguing for novices. To those who are fond of mineralogy this mine is doubly interesting, as many curious and beautiful specimens may be procured. Not being of this philosophical class, I remounted with unburthened pockets ; and bidding a grateful farewel to our attentive conductor, we returned, well pleased with our morning's researches, to Upsal.
THIS mine is about half an English mile from the town. It was once, I understand, more valuable than at present; but even now it is an exchequer of wealth to the crown: a kind of huge royal cruse (I would say the widow's, were I transported ages back, and writing in the reign of Margaret de Valdemar ;) for it has so long been worked, and yet replenishes the kingdom with exhaustless stores. When it was first opened, no tradition can tell; its existence seems primeval with the kingdom.
The machines here employed are more extensive than those of Dunamora, and are all hydraulical. Some are
of an immense diameter; the largest, I believe, measures between forty and fifty feet. The aqueduct for conveying away the water is very ingenious; it is constructed of wood, passing over an extent of more than six English miles.
On our arrival at the mouth of the mine, we entered a low building, and there received the proper habits for making our descent; consisting of a black shirt, a leathern apron closing behind, and a broad-brimmed hat, like those of our London coal-heavers, We also each carried a bundle of wood to light us through the ca
Thus properly equipped, my friend and myself, attended by a guide, once more committed ourselves to the protection of a bucket, and immediately were launched into an abyss of upwards of a hundred and fifty fathoms, in a direct line to the bottom. bout half way down, a huge cave presented itself, from which issued a long boat-hook, (like one of the devil's claws, if you please,) which in a moment drew our vehicle to its mouth. Like the ghosts on the other side of Styx, we jumpt upon firm land, and looked around us. Indeed it was altogether a subterraneous world; a very little imagination would have made it the dominions of Pluto, and transformed my friend and me into two wandering mortals visiting the mansions of gloomy Dis, either to regain a father or a wife. Alas! no such interesting objects had we in pursuit! at least, not there did we expect to find them. The cave led us into one of those long galleries excavated in the rock which traverse the mine in different strata, communicating upwards and downwards by narrow and tremendous shafts, or rather wells, cut in the bowels of the earth, and excluded from the light of day. We explored a great number of these vaulted apartments, which led us into subterranean plains, washed by rivers that
had never known the sun's rays; and now lay, not only congealed, but glittering with ten thousand brilliant ramids, shaped by their formerly dashing waters, frozen to crystal, and reflecting every beam from our numerous torches.
The long, lonely passages, leading to the exhausted and neglected spots of the mine, were damp, perhaps pestilential; and the hardened masses of accumulated droppings, hung in icy columns from the arched roof.
Having crossed several of these petrifying dungeons, we approached the inhabited part of the mine, where the pick-axe and the spade were still rewarded by the sparkling ore. Here
we descried at a considerable distance through the gloom, a large cell lit by a solitary lamp, which casting its beams downward, discovered two beings black as Erebus, sitting silent over their meal, with an air more befitting infernal residents (vampires if you please,) than creatures connected with human nature.
In these excavations, illumined like a sepulchre, the workmen assemble at mid-day to take their dinner and temporary rest. We passed by the entrance of one of them when the miners had met. Many of the industrious individuals were lying in various picturesque attitudes on wooden benches, and the projections of the rock; from the higher masses of which hung ragged pieces of canvas, savagely supported by torn branches of pine, meant as signals where to find the banquetting chamber of these sons of Odin; and also to divide their retreat from the vulgar passage of the subterranean world. In the centre of this banditti-like scene, a fire blazed, which casting its lurid lights on the surrounding groupes of men, their strange vestments, tools for working, and be sides all, a couple of horses asleep in the corner, formed a picture of savage wildness, only to be described by the author of Gil Blas, or sketch
ed by our own admirable Mortimer. "What a dismal region is this!" exclaimed I to my friend.
"You have yet to go deeper, Sir," said our conductor; "this is only half way to the grand gallery."
Expecting now to pay a visit to the antipodes, we stepped a second time into our bucket, and as swiftly (though less poetically!) as the Knight of La Mancha and his wooden horse were carried beyond the Pleiades, we were lowered to the bottom of a gulph that really seemed opening to receive us for ever. All here was on a larger scale than above: more people were at work, and a greater number of horses at the wheels to draw off the water which in various channels burst from hidden springs, and flowed in torrents across avenues just excavated by the blasting gunpowder.
Being led into a stony apartment, something like the aisle of a church, our guide desired us to write our names in a book kept on purpose, as a register of all who visit the mines. On turning over the leaves for many a year back, we saw several signatures of our countrymen; and some sufficiently respected to give an additional charm to the places consecrated by their footsteps.
Having walked ourselves weary, we desired to return; and again entering our flying bucket, cut through the air in our ascent. On looking up, the view was equally striking with that I saw on turning my eyes downwards. The mouth of the shaft (which at the top is a circle of very considerable diameter,) appeared reduced to the size of the moon; and did not seem unlike herself shining through a black sky, and silvering the rough cliffs with her meridian glory. On looking into the mine in our journey upward, the light struck partially only on the rocks which gradually receded into darkness; and the red fires of the workmen below, throwing the blackness of the deep caverns of the lower
mine into the very hues of Erebus, gave such a horror to the scene, so impressed us when we looked upwards to the clear azure, with the idea of heaven above; and when we looked downwards, with that of hell beneath, that I only wondered how we could have borne so long a sojourn in the regions of the damned. Then, my friend, when these pleasant images crossed our imaginations, think how delectable it was to be hanging suspended by a single ligature between life and an apparently bottomless pit! I assure you, in sober seriousness, it made me shudder to reflect that the smallest accident happening to the cord or the bucket, would at once hurl us down a chasm of eighty fathoms, where the points of a thousand projecting rocks must meet our fall, and finish our career, long before the yawning waves in the nethermost pitch, would receive our mangled bodies!
We were told that at present the average profits of the mine are four thousand pounds annually. This, as well as those at Dunamora and Fahlun, pay an eighth of the produce to the king, who has the right to appoint the directing officers over the different works. Having paid a couple of dollars for the use of our robes, we left this Swedish Potosi, and returned to Sala.
Instant arrangements were made for shewing us every object worthy of notice within this ancient and interesting cavern. The hydraulic engines for conveying the water to the different quarters, are more extensive than those we had already seen. The diameter of the largest wheel is forty-four feet. There is another of great magnitude, the one used for raising the ore from the mine to the surface of the earth, which is on an admirable construction. The engineer is a Swede; and we are told that his work is an improve
ment on a celebrated wheel in Hungary. A collection of regular circles rise from each side, and terminates, making a flat spiral form on both sides. Round all these winds the chain; taking a smaller or larger circumference according to the necessary circle to be made in order to counterbalance the weight, and consequently increased motion of the bucket.
On viewing the external appearance of these hidden treasures, a vast chasm presents itself of a tremendous depth; being that part of the mine that was first opened, and from the ignorance or neglect of the directors in those days, the excavations they made so weakened the foundations of the hill, that. the whole fell in, leaving a most chaostic scene of precipitated rocks, and a gaping gulph, like the mouth of a volcano. Great care has since been taken that no similar disaster shall again happen. Plans and sections are drawn of all its galleries, &c.; and where the prosecution of the work in the same direction might be dangerous, orders are issued for the miners to stop, and an iron crown is fixed upon the spot, as a prohibition ever to proceed farther. The men then explore in a different direction, while every subterraneous excavation is watched with the nicest calculations.
The dresses given to us as the livery of Fahlun, were very gay in comparison with what we had worn in our descent at Sala, being black linen finely ornamented with red and yellow. Equipping ourselves in our new attire, and each provided with his flambeau, we set forth to gain the mouth of the shaft, a company of five, including our guide; and looking more like a set of condemn'd wretches at an auto de fê, than men dressed for an expedition of curiosity. We passed into the great chasm I before described, by a range of wooden steps crossing the rough masses of falling rocks, gravel, and ancient machinery, in a variety of directions.
reached the door of the shaft we descended a height of thirty toises, and then entered a horizontal way, which led us onward a considerable distance, losing the pure air of day, and gradually breathing the oppressive vapour which rolled towards us in volumes from the mouths of a hundred caves leading into the main passage. It was now that I found myself indeed inhaling the atmosphere of Tartarus. The mines which I had thought so helllike, were merely purgatories when compared with this Satanic dwelling. The descent is not incommodious, nor is it so hazardous as the modes of Dunamora and Sala (the buckets here be ing used for the ore only,) it is performed entirely by steps laid in the winding rock; and following the subterraneous declivity, we at last found ourselves brought to the tremendous depths of these Stygian dominions.
The style of our entrance, and the pestilential vapours which environed us with increasing clouds, strongly reminded me of Virgil's admirable description of the journey of Eneas to the infernal regions. Here was the same caverned portico, the rocky, rough descent, the steaming sulphur, and all the deadly stenches of Avernus. I cannot say that our demoniac robes carried the resemblance either to the habiliments of the hero, or the snowy garments of the inspired maid: we looked more like a groupe of ghosts from the fiery Phlegethon, come to de. mand a short respite from our pains. The length of way and excessive heat, added to its suffocating quality, made us think we should pay dear for our curiosity. Once or twice I could hardly support myself; and most woefully did I long for the magic influ ence of the Sybet's bough to refresh' my parched lungs. It is impossible to describe the Siroc sultriness and oppression which increases at every step: the nearest similitude I can draw (and that only resembles the
ost temperate part of the mine) is
the heat of a Russian vapour-bath.
In one part which I would not enter, the steam being so excessively hot as to scorch us at twelve paces distant, the sulphureous smell became intolerable. Our guide informed us that a volcanic fire broke out near this spot some years ago; in consequence of which they had been obliged to build strong walls as barriers to its power, and to close up several of the passages that, being contiguous, had it spread, would have proved dangerous to the mine.
We traversed many long and winding galleries, as well as large vaulted caverns, where the workmen were scattered on all sides, employed in hewing vast masses of the rock, and preparing other parts for explosion.Some were wheeling the broken ore towards the black abyss, where the suspended buckets hung ready to draw it upwards. From the effects of such strong exercise with the heat, the labourers were obliged to work almost naked. Their groupes, occupations, and primitive appearance, scantily lighted by the trembling rays of our torches, formed a curious and interesting scene.
In ancient days, this mine was a kind of state prison, where criminals, slaves, and prisoners of war, toiled out their wretched existence. Many pathetic narratives are related of the different inhabitants of this subterraneous abode: sometimes tales of horror, and at others lamentable circumstances of innocence being made the sacrifice of interest, jealousy, or ambition. One story, were it not too long for my pen at present, I would recount to you; but as it is beautifully told in La Philosophie de la Nature, I refer you to its pages, where you will read a most tender and interesting tale of two lovers, the romantic dénouement of whose fate happened in this very
After the perambulation of at least an hour, we reached the bottom, a depth