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VALE OF THE TAFF.
what it is capable of doing under proper management. Fifty years ago it was said that Wales was a century at least behind England as to the state of agriculture, and a very recent writer tells us that the land is frequently indeed not half-ploughed.
The farms in South Wales generally average from fifty to sixty acres. The rent is about 6s. 8d. per acre. A writer on this subject says: "Old farm buildings are, for the most part, miserable in their position, masonry, and commodiousness; but new farms are already thinly sprinkled over most districts, and are annually increasing in number. The squalid huts of North Wales, akin in character to the mud or bog cabins of Ireland, are extensively substituted by better though still humble abodes; and the cottages of South Wales are aggregately superior, yet locally very various-those of Glamorganshire consisting of mortared and white-washed masonry, while those of Pembrokeshire, and even the farm buildings of that county, frequently consist of mural mud or clay."
Very great improvements, however, have been taking place all over Wales within the last few years. Railways have done much to accelerate this desirable movement. Facilities for obtaining necessary supplies are afforded; freedom of intercourse excites mutual emulation; rapidity of travelling gives impetus in every sense to Popular Progress. The farming operations in Wales were only a few years back regarded with contempt or pity by our English farmers. The plough used was a wretched instrument, that did not cut the ground but tore it by main force. The land was frequently, indeed, not more than half-ploughed; in some places the team consisted of a pony and a halfstarved riding horse, or a pony and a pair of oxen with a girl to drive them! Such things, however, are seldom, if ever, to be seen now in the Principality -certainly not in the Vale of Taff.
NEWBRIDGE, AND THE MINING DISTRICT.
"Beneath the earth the miner seeks a way,
THE neighbourhood of Newbridge is remarkable for its beautiful scenery, and the landscape painter could scarcely find a better place to extend his selection of Sketches from Nature. But landscape scenery and the diversified beauties of Nature are not the chief source of interest to the locality. Newbridge itself is a rising town, with a rapidiy increasing population,-the sources of its prosperity lie underground, that is to say, in its iron, tin and coal works.
The mineral wealth of Wales has within the last half century especially attracted particular attention, and the following brief sketch may not be without interest to the reader. Those who require more information, will find ample particulars in the work of Sir R. J. Murchison.
Silver, in connection with lead ore, spar, quartz and copper, is found in considerable quantities. Copper is diffused throughout the country, also, in considerable quantities, but in some instances the veins are too poor to be profitably worked. Lead is found in several of the counties, those of Flintshire being usually the most productive. Iron ore in the various forms of hematites, brown ironstone, black ironstone, bog ore and pyrites, is diffused throughout North Wales, and is very abundant in the secondary district of South Wales. The great Coal fields of the southern division of South Wales are so rich and extensive as to have been pronounced inexhaustible. Coal is raised in vast quantity from the fields in the Counties of Glamorgan, Brecknock, and Carmarthen, and occurs in the vicinity of the upper ridge of limestone in many parts of Pembrokeshire. "The coal of North Wales is inferior in quality, very much less in extent, and aggregately much more impracticable in position than that of South Wales, yet it is mixed on a small scale in Anglesey—on a larger scale but of an inferior quality in Flintshire—on a great scale and of the best quality in North Wales, around Chisk and Rhiwabon, on the confines of Denbighshire-and is known or is believed to be more or less abundant in various other localities. The Welsh coal includes almost all the usual varieties: the fat, bituminous, caking kind, which has obtained the Northumberland name of Newcastle coal; the rock coal, harder, more ashy, less glossy, and less caking
NEWBRIDGE, AND THE MINING DISTRICT.
than the former; stone or splint coal, laminated, heavy, smoky, and of slow but very igneous combustion; canal or parrot coal, smooth, light, luminously flaming, frangible in any direction, and occasionally so fine and solid in texture as to be capable of conversion by turnery and polish into utensils and trinkets; and culm or blind coal, called in England Welsh coal, very frangible, brightly black and metalline in appearance, difficult of ignition, and burning with ardent heat and the smokelessness of charcoal."
The working of these coal mines gives employment to a large number of persons, and is usually conducted on plans common to all colliery districts. The frightful accidents which have occurred in Welsh coal pits, are not to be attributed to a less careful supervision than that to which the pits are subject in the North of England. No doubt better plans might be adopted, but the remark applies to the working of collieries in general, and not to those of Wales in particular.
The coal fields and iron mines of Wales are not its only source of mineral wealth. There are, as we have noticed, lead, copper, and even silver scattered extensively over the Principality. Wales is also famous for several important quarries; the largest of these are in the hills over Landegai or Dolawen, and their enormous produce is exported from Bangor.