Earth, that there is Mercury at the bottom; but towards the farther end, where the Intervals of the wires are less, 'tis found in very great proportion. The Earth laid aside is pounded, and the same operation repeated. The fine small Earth, that remains after this, and out of which they can wash no more Mercury, is put into Iron retorts and stopt, because it should not fall into the Receivers, to which they are luted. The fire forces the Mercury into the Receivers: the Officer unluted several of them to shew us; I observed in all of them, that he first poured out perfect Mercury, and after that came a black dust, which being wetted with water discover'd it self to be Mercury, as the other was. They take the Caput mortuum and pound it, and renew the operation as long as they can get any Mercury out of it.
This is the way of producing the Mercury, they call Ordinary, which exceeds that, which is got by washing, in a very great proportion, as you will perceive by the account annext. All the Mercury got without the use of Fire, whether by washing, or found in the Mines (for in the digging, some little particles get together, so that in some places you might take up two or three spoonfuls of pure Mercury) is call'd by them Virgin-Mercury, and esteem'd above the rest. I inquir'd of the Officer what vertue that had more, than the other; he told me that making an Amalgama of Gold and Virgin-Mercury, and putting it to the fire, that Mercury would carry away all the Gold with it, which common Mercury would not do.
The Engins, employed in these Mines, are admirable; the Wheels, the greatest that ever I saw in my life; one would think as great as the matter would bear: all moved by the dead force of the water, brought thither in no chargeable Aqueduct from a Mountain, 3 Miles distant: the water pumpt from the bottom of the Mine by 52 pumps, 26 on a side, is contrived to move other wheels, for several other purposes.
The Labourers work for a Julio a day, which is not above 6 or 7 pence, and indure not long; for, although none stay