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engineering, but one of the make burning appeals to the grandest monuments to indi- miners of the Comstock, by exvidual determination. Sutro, plaining to them that they were by sheer indomitable strength missing their sole chance of reof will, actually forced it upon lief from discomfort and imthe hostile capitalists it was to munity from accidents. The benefit. He was a young man
fierce agitation put pressure on with no influential connections, the capitalists. Next he crossed who owned a small quartz-mill the Atlantic to stump France on the Carson river. His am and England: there he raised bition was as aspiring as his sums by subscription which means were small.
He set were swelled on his return, till himself to solve the drainage the funds were secured for comand ventilation problems, so mencing the enterprise. When that the mines might be worked the financial difficulties were profitably, and more or less overcome,
the engineering salubriously, at the deepest troubles had to be surmounted. levels. He was no man for We have heard something of half-measures. He proposed to similar troubles from the St pierce the mountain at the Gothard works; but the Swiss depth of 2000 feet: with lateral engineers benefited by the Sutro branches his tunnel was to be experiences. We cannot enter six miles in length: and though into details, but the labour was the estimates fluctuated as con carried through in face of fire ditions changed, the ultimate and water.
ultimate and water. The vertical shafts cost a million sterling. sunk from above were flooded The tale of his trials and dis- by the drain from the porous appointments is a long one. At rock, and the labourers, whose first his hopes were high, and shifts were changed every two everything ran in his favour. hours,
drawing their He had obtained the signed breaths in the blasts of a burnsupport of all the leading ing furnace. Notwithstanding He obtained Acts con- the use of all scientific
apferring certain privileges from pliances, the temperature, tothe State Legislature and from wards the end of the work, had Congress. Then the Bank of risen to 114°. The strongest California, which was all-power- men would drop asphyxiated, ful on the Comstock, took alarm, and the mules refused to face and induced the owners to re- the heat. Human endurance pudiate their pledges. Most had wellnigh reached its limit men would have given up in when the final wall of partition despair. Sutro, by selling him was breached and free ventilaself up, cleared a sufficiency of tion established with the cooler dollars to pay
his expenses to drift on the other side, in a Washington. His trip was suc- drift of dust and débris that cessful, for Congress confirmed nearly suffocated the exhausted its grant, and, moreover, he got pioneers. some substantial financial as Going back to the spring of sistance. He came back to 1860, Virginia City was already
in a hot fit of speculation. Never without exception, was traffickwas seen such strange gambling: ing in stocks, from the state it was all for counters, with no governor and the mayors to the cash. The ready money was bootblack at the block corner. planked down in the gambling. Yet still, and for long, the dens or on the drinking-bars. claims were only held by right No one had any credit, yet any of occupation; important transnumber of sales were effected actions were carried out withwithout even the formality of out the execution of title-deeds, setting them down on paper. which was to give the primitive But as genuine lodes yielded law courts excessive occupation, real profits, and exaggerated and enrich a class of legal reports of the results reached specialists. One mine, the San Francisco, transactions be- Ophir, went in for nearly came serious. The Californian thirty lawsuits in three years : capitalists were beset in the there was such a rush on the passes of the Sierra by penni- services of one popular pleader less prospectors, offering the that for a single fee he had most tempting bargains. When 160,000 dollars.
That litigathey got to Virginia the shrewd- tion, by the way, was responest of them saw that the reefs · sible for a large proportion of were quite good enough to the crime. A Galway sessions gamble on. Now and again a in the beginning of the century shaft struck a bonanza which was a scene of millennium peace showed the value of the prizes compared to the proceedings of to be gained. The simple enor a Virginia tribunal. The judge, mity of the sums nominally paid like he of the Bon Gaultier for claims sufficed to float a Ballads,' backed up his judgprospectus and rig a market: ments with his Colt; the liti500 dollars per mining foot was gants took shots at the opposing no extraordinary price, and as counsel, and subsequently argued much as 2000 dollars had been the questions out among themgiven. The formation of new selves, when they drew and fired companies, the shares of which over their whisky-skins. were readily subscribed, went The capitalists who came to on with unexampled rapidity. the front would never have beIn two or three years they were come millionaires had they made to be numbered by the hundred: much pretence of playing fair. some had a more or less fictitious It was the small investors who capital of a million sterling. A went to the wall: as one was regular Stock Exchange had beggared another came in; and been established in Virginia, the great object was to tempt and in San Francisco from three them, and then squeeze them rival board - rooms the buyers out. If small holders refused and sellers overflowed into the to be scared, irresistible pressure adjacent streets. It was a case was put upon them by increasof Law's South Sea Bubble over ing the calls for the developagain, and with more universal ment of the mine. They failed excitement. For everybody, to pay up, and their shares were
forfeited. So each speculation, and brokers, they served pretty whether good or bad, was at the much the same purpose. At mercy of the innermost circle length, after crying wolf time who controlled it. It was such after time, a Nemesis overtook a commanding position which the largest operators. In 1864 enabled the Bank of California, the inflation suddenly collapsed, holding large interests either when Gould & Curry burst up. in property or on mortgage, The owners had bought it for a nearly to balk the gigantic trifle from Gould, who wandered enterprise of Sutro, when suc off to get a livelihood by lumbercess seemed practically within ing. It had paid three million
dollars in a couple of years, and Reticence was of the essence now it was said to have given of that shady speculation. The out. There was a simultaneous gloom of the deepest recess of fall in other stocks: the panic the Comstock was not so dark spread : the small shareholders as the ideal secrecy observed in went bankrupt: no calls could the working of a favourite be enforced : the pumps ceased quartz-mine. Surprises of one to work, and the lower adits kind or another were always to were drowned : the mills were be sprung, and the shareholders abandoned : buildings and timhad any amount of sensation for bering fell into decay, and temtheir money. No outsider was porarily the Comstock was admitted to the workings on any solitude. The ruin was unipretext. The superintendent versal, yet it was a false alarm, and foremen were well paid for ten years afterwards the to be silent, and only a chosen biggest bonanza of all was disfew of the miners were engaged covered. When industries and for “the secret shifts.” One speculation were resumed with company tried the plan of impri- redoubled vigour, the victims of soning their people in the works that unreasoning scare had sad at proportionate wages, but the cause to repent their precipiplan did not answer. The free- tation. born Americans refused to be For a time there was consterenslaved. Yet it is astonishing nation and general perturbahow staunchly the employed tion. The fever of speculation stood in with the employers, and was succeeded by a cold fit, and how seldom important revela- many thousands of immigrants tions were
made. For the saw their subsidiary occupasurface swarmed with spies of tions threatened. Not to speak the speculators, who had carte of the actual workers in the blanche to bribe to any amount, mines, for three years the three and who stood drinks in the hundred miles of mountain and saloons that they might worm valley from the coast to Washoe out invaluable confidences. But had been overcrowded with everwhen there was no authentic increasing traffic. The teamintelligence, reports were in- sters who brought machinery vented, and being accredited and provided supplies were to by the sales of leading banks be numbered by the thousand.
Lumbering camps doing lively mingled picturesque strings of business had been set up in the camels, who found themselves lonely forests of the Sierras. at home in the sandy wastes, Now the Stock Exchanges were and breathed freely in the suldeserted, there was a stoppage phureous atmosphere. Again in the passes, and the axe of adventurers had to endure the the woodman was thrown aside. tortures of Tantalus. There But the momentary set-back was wealth at will, but it cost proved a blessing in disguise. dear to realise it. Remoteness In 1864 the mining activity of from and rivers made the West was still severed from the outlay almost prohibitive. the settled States to the east- Timber brought from a distance ward by dreary expanses of fetched a dollar for the two unpeopled territory. The col- feet. But the chief trouble was lapse at Washoe made adven- the cost of the smelting : ore turous men desperate, and sent which would have paid well at forth a lost legion of prospectors, Virginia, at Austin was barely who had to choose between dis worth the working. Neverthecovery and starvation. Reck- less the settlements flourished, less as they were, they argued and made another start with reasonably that the wealth of the approach of the eastern Washoe could be no isolated railways. Then gold placers, phenomenon. Nor were they which were always the preludes without material proof of the to the silver finds, were distheory, for the year before, in covered in the Black Hills, the another district of Nevada, Mauvaise Terres of Dacotah. fresh ground had been broken That unkindly and repulsive at the promising diggings of region began to be colonised, the Reese river. There was a and the prospectors had scattering rush from east to pioneered the way for the west, and new treasure-troves ranchers. Next the tide of lured on the advance-guards of exploration swelled up in the army. On the Reese river Montana, where at the they struck it gold- and silver- euphoniously named Silver rich, beyond the most sanguine Bow, and round 6 Granite hopes of the prospectors. Ore- Mountain," richest of all the gon ledge ran a good second Montana mines, it reached to the Comstock lode. Austin high-water mark. Thence it City sprang up in a couple of overflowed into Idaho, and the years, from two to twenty more remote territory of Washthousand inhabitants. Again ington was not unsuccessfully at Austin there was the sharp exploité. We do not say that pinch of famine, when flour the prospectors were disapwas fetching two shillings the pointed, but more systematic pound; again the constraining investigations were indefinitely force of hunger opened up deferred. regular communications, and But the second stage of the with the trains of waggons great boom was the revival of setting in from Washoe there enthusiasm over Washoe. In
the first, the expenditure had report. The financiers were in been lavish to extravagance: despair, and even Sharon felt the new era was to be charac- dubious. Then the workers terised by economy and retrench came on a shimmering of metal. ment, for the speculators were It led them straight down to the wise enough to profit by ex second biggest of the bonanzas : perience. We have alluded to San Francisco and Virginia the opposition offered by the were in a hotter fever than Bank of California to the Sutro ever, and there was a rise of tunnel. The bank had become fifty million dollars in Coman autocratic power.
stocks. fortunate in a manager of re
In the meantime another markable shrewdness and fore- small group had gone quietly sight. Sharon had still faith to work under shadow of the in the Washoe future: he could great monopoly. Very different not believe that the silver had they were from the
the strong been worked out, though the capitalists who were backing sinkers had got down to Sharon. All were men of the barren stratum. He knew well smallest means, but all were that it was a question whether cool and sagacious, and the the suspended mines were worth leaders were practical miners. anything or nothing; but he had These were the famous bonanza the eloquence to persuade a kings. Mackay is the best group of financiers to play le known; but in his friend Fair tout pour le tout. It needed he had a colleague at least as all his eloquence and iron deter- capable. Mackay had drifted mination to keep his confeder- west from a clerk's stool in ates up to the mark through a Broadway to do a little placertime of prolonged and intense mining on the Sacramento. discouragement. Under his Having saved a few hundred prompting the bank had been dollars, he tramped into Virmaking the most of its oppor- ginia City in 1860. When that tunities. As shares had been money was gone, he engaged as flung on the market, as its a common miner. He was formortgagers got hard pressed, tunate enough to come across and as stockholders backed out Fair, whose previous history of their assessments, it had been was very similar: they were buying cheap or confiscating, prompt to appreciate their until it owned or controlled common qualities, and thencemany mines and mills. Under forth the two were in closest its auspices and the direction of partnership. From labourers Sharon, the “ Mill and Mining they rose to be overseers, and Company” was launched, to could lay by. They practised resume prospecting operations severe economy to form a joint on a large scale. On the Crown fund. Mackay had the miner's Mine, one of its numerous in- ambition in excess. He would vestments, it bored down for often say afterwards, that from nearly 1000 feet. Nothing but the beginning he had devoted barrenness was the invariable himself to becoming the greatest