Novel explanation for presence of volcanoes and river gold in the Pyrenees

James Howell, Epistolae Ho-Elianae: Familiar Letters, Domestic and Forren (1688, on GBS):

There is a Tradition, that there were divers Mines of Gold in Ages pass’d amongst those Mountains; and the Shepherds kept Goats then, having made a small Fire of Rosemary-Shrubs with other combustible stuff, to warm themselves, this Fire grew along, and grew so outragious, that it consum’d the very Entrails of the Earth, and melted those Mines, which growing Fluid with Liquefaction, ran down into the small Rivelets that were in the Valleys, and so carried all into the Sea, that monstrous Gullet which swalloweth all, but seldom disgorgeth any thing; and in these Brooks to this Day some small Grains of Gold are found.

I wonder how many other natural disasters have been blamed on shepherds.

Howell also mentions bandoliers and others hanging from the trees near Barcelona (a cynic cries out that a woman suicide is “the best bearing tree” he ever saw); the portrait of the Virgin Mary at Montserrat, “Sunburnt and Tann’d, it seems when she went to Ægypt”, which kind of ties in with the gypsy/Egyptian goddess version; the poor country people, subsisting on a diet of herbs soaked in oil and vinegar; and Barcelona, wondrous for having no English merchants, despite it being one of Spain’s greatest maritime ports, the arsenal for its galleys, and the point of departure for monies sent to Italy.

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