We may here remark, that the amount of the produce of the mines in the Austrian empire is very far below the capabilities of the country so highly endowed with mineral riches, that the extent of this source of wealth and industry is very imperfectly explored, and that what is worked neither attracts the amount of capital nor the degree of skill necessary to a successful result. In that statement, the amount of iron is not distinguished from the quantity of native steel obtained in Styria and Illyria, the only part of Europe where carbonated iron ore occurs, and where it is found in masses that require rather to be quarried than excavated. Platina is not found in Austria. Of the rarer metals, titen is found near Rosse in Hungary and Transylvania. Besides the opals of Hungary, the most beautiful that are known, an inferior kind is found in Moravia; carnelian, beryl, chalcedon, topaz, garnet, and amethyst, in Bohemia and Hungary, of superior quality. Beds of coal have been found in nearly every province, but the cheapness and abundance of firewood have hitherto prevented much search from being made after them. Upwards of 160 descriptions of marble, quartz for the manufacture of glass, clays for porcelain and mineral dyes of all kinds, are also found in abundance. Of mineral springs, no country has so great a number; upwards of 100 are annually frequented, for the purpose of bathing and drinking the waters, among which Carlsbad, Toeplitz, Marlensbad, Ischl, Gastein, Baden, Platyan, Treutchin, Mehadia, and Roquero, attract visiters from all parts of the world.
The subjoined table, which we take from Becker's Handels-Lexicon, gives the actual average produce of the mines within the empire during the five years from 1830-1834: it is taken from official sources, and is the latest statement of the kind that has been published. The cwt. is that of Vienna = 123.4 pounds English:
To these quantities must be added graphite, or black lead, 13,330 cwt.; sulphur, 17288 cwt.; vitriol, 41,000 cwt.; litharge, 21,155 cwt.; zinc, 468 cwt.; cobalt, 606 cwt.; calamine, 4636 cwt. The produce of quick-silver was as follows:
The amount of salt annually produced is not officially published, but the estimate of the Nat. Encyclopedia gives, for the produce of salt pens of—
Some years back, the entire produce of the empire was estimated at 175,000 tons, English, of rock; 107,000 tons of boiled; and 600,000 tons of bay salt. Of this quantity, a large portion is anually exported to Russia, Poland, and Turkey. With the exception of the article of salt, the amount produced by the mines is exceedingly small in proportion to the capacities which almost every province possesses, and of the remarkable facility with which the ore is in all produced. A remarkable circumstance is, the indifferent quality of nearly all the metals produced in the mines worked by agents of the government; a fact which is substantiated by the annual importation, to a great extent, of Russian copeks by the wire drawers, who are unable to use the produce of the Austrian mines for that purpose. It is a curious fact, that although a Russian ukane exists, prohibiting the exportation of coin, yet the Russian mint has officially requested the Austrian wire-drawers to notify them any deterioration that may occur in the quality of the coin thus exported! Surely the capital now so ill employed in keeping up forced manufactories, under the shelter of high import duties, and thus contributing to the taxation of the people, without enriching the coffers of the state, would be much better employed in ameliorating the system of mining, and improving the means of transport within the country.—We refer to our articles on Styria, Illyria, Hungary, and Transylvania, for a description of the inexhaustible mining wealth of the Austrian Empire.—
Iron and Steel Edit
Iron and native steel are especially found in such abundance in Styria and Illyria, that the ore is merely quarried from mountains several thousand feet in height, and which are solid blocks of carbonated of iron ore. Yet it is a fact, although almost incredible, that an advertisement of the new Polish railroad company, in the spring of 1838, in the Vienna Gazette, set forth that, “having proved by official statements that a sufficient quantity of rails could not be furnished by the mines and foundries of the empire, they had received permission to import from foreign countries the required supply.” The article of native steel is worthy of serious attention from every country in Europe; for though, owing to the bad state of the means of communications, English artificial steel be, at present, sold cheaper at Trieste, yet not only is the quality of the Styrian and Illyrian metal far superior, but it is found in such abundance that it could supply a demand which would cause a serious fall in the price of artificial steel. The use of this metal for machinery must be very advantageous, and not less so for the chain cables of ships, which might be made much lighter: and perhaps ships of war and Indiamen would then be able to take two such cables instead of one. The suspension bridges at Vienna, hanging from two metal chains instead of four, is a practical illustration of what is here suggested.
Agricultural Produce Edit
The prosperity of the provinces of Lombardy and Venice—where agriculture employs the main attention of the inhabitants, and whose cheese, raw and spun silk, choice fruits, rice, and macaroni, are exported, at a great profit, to all Europe—furnish another illustration of the natural direction which the trade of Austria would take. And yet how much might even be done in those provinces, to improve the production of wine! The range of hills in Lower Austria, Styria, Italy, and Hungary, which, from their southern aspect, are suited to the cultivation of the vine, may be roughly estimated at more than 2,000 English miles in length; of this the largest portion falls to Hungary, with its dependant lands, Croatia, Slavonia, and the Military Frontier. What treasures does not Austria posess in this article alone, to say nothing of the immense increase in her produce of corn and cattle that must take place on the adoption of a liberal system of commerce! By abstracting capital from agriculture, the price of the necessaries of life is farther so much advanced, that the very aim of manufacturing at home is defeated; as the statement of the Vienna marked prices, which we give below, will prove. Truly, when an Englishman has surveyed the immense resources of the Austrian empire, his is tempted to imitate the exclamation made by his captive countryman in ancient Rome, and to wonder “that a nation, possessed of such riches, should envy us our cotton factories and sugar plantations.”
In the survey of the Austrian manufactures for 1834, given by Becker, we find—
The total number of registered manufactories amounted, in that year, to 11,064; and were supposed to give employment to 2,330,000 individuals; their produce being 1425 millions of florins.
Among the most remarkable, and those which are the most rapidly increasing, are the beet-root sugar factories; of which, according to Andre's Economischen Neuigheiten, twenty-five, besides three factories of molasses, were in operation in Bohemia along, in the year 1835-1836; and seven additional sugar factories, and one molasses factory, were expected to be at work in 1837. These twenty-eight factories, according to the same authority, though able to make 30,000 cwt. of sugar, only produced 10,000 to 15,000 cwt., for want of sufficient supply of beetroot. We have already remarked, that the greater number of these factories, together with the country breweries and distilleries, are carried on by the large landed proprietors.
It is, however, singular that other branches of manufacture are likewise, to a great extent, carried on by the members of so proud an aristocracy; but who find themselves obliged by so doing to obviate the loss accruing from the system of restrictions on trade and manufacture, which is peculiarly discouraging to small beginners. Thus Count Bucquoy has five glass-houses; Count Harrach one; Prince Schqartzenberg three; besides others belonging to counts Desfours, Kineky, etc. Among the erthenware manufacturers we find the emperor, and counts Wrtby and Falkenhayn, Prince Coburg, counts Saim and Egger, and many others, are large iron founders; and counts Wrbna and Prince Windishgratz manufactures tin plates. The list might be much extended; and it will be supposed that neither the public nor the noble tradesmen are so much benefited by the arrangement as they would be by a more natural one, which would make them, in their senatorial capacity, the protectors of tradesmen who should work cheaper. The principle seats of cotton and woolen manufactures are Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and Austria. Coarse cloths are everywhere manufactured; and large exports of cotton and woolen wares, especially of inferior shawls and red caps, are annually made to Turkey and the East. Linen is a great article of manufacture; spinning and weaving forming the principle employment of the peasantry during the winter, especially of the women, in the northern provinces. In Galicia, not only a portion of the rent, but, in may large establishments, a part of the wages of servants is paid in linen.