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Ch. 5: Aurum, Gold

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AURUM.
187
Theodebert struck gold coin from the metal furnished by the mines of the country : an assumption of the imperial prerogative extremely galling to the pride of Justinian; Procopius remarking that even the Great King (of Persia) refrained, out of deference to the Romans ! from issuing a gold currency with his own image upon it.*
The sands of the Ehine below Basel are still washed every summer for gold-dust by the peasantry of the grand-duchy of Baden, as are also those of the Aar below Brühl. The return is but trifling at present, five francs' worth (which represents little more than one pennyweight of the metal) being the utmost obtained by each washer from a day's labour. Gold also exists in the quartz matrix in Switzerland. I have seen a small specimen extremely rich in fine filaments of the pure metal.
Astonishingly productive of gold was the soil around Aquileia, but it seems to have been quite exhausted before Pliny's times. These workings, Polybius says, were dis­covered in his own age. The gold was first met with at a depth of no more than two feet, and did not extend deeper than fifteen. The grains were as large as a bean, or a lupine ; and so pure as only to lose one-eighth in the melting. Another kind required more smelting, but yielded amazing returns. At first the natives allowed Italians to work with them, but in two months after the discovery the price of gold throughout all Italy fell by
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