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looking miners, with pale countenances and exhausted frames, gave the only indications of its being the abode of human beings. A dense cloud of smoke was observed issuing from one of the pinnacles, on which is the great volcano of San Francesco; and the silver-lode,' he observes, which was before us, seemed to run into the centre of the crater.' In winter, he was told, the mine is altogether inaccessible for seven months: the 'temporales’ came on so suddenly, that the miners are frequently overtaken, and perish in them, before they can reach the hut. Groups of crosses in every direction marked the spots where these unhappy men had breathed their last.
• The view from San Pedro Nolasco, taking it altogether, is certainly the most dreadful scene which in my life I have ever witnessed; and it appeared so little adapted or intended for a human residence, that when I commenced my inspection of the lode, and of the several mines, I could not help feeling that I was going against nature, and that no sentiment but that of avarice could approve of establishing a number of fellow-creatures in a spot, which was a subject of astonishment to me how it ever was discovered.'--Head, p. 224.
And it was to such places as this that our steam-engines, with all their heavy machinery, were to be dragged up, to pump the water from the mines! Our engineer descended the shaft of the only mine that had not long ago been deserted, at the bottom of which he found a few miserable miners at work, on the old system followed by the Spaniards.
• At first we descended by an inclined gallery or level, and then clambered down the notched sticks, which are used in all the mines in South America as ladders. After descending about two hundred and fifty feet, walking occasionally along levels where the snow and mud were above our ancles, we came to the place where the men were working. It was astonishing to see the strength with which they plied their weighty hammers, and the unremitted exertion with which they worked ; and, strange as it may appear, we all agreed that we had never seen Englishmen possess such strength, and work so hard. While the barreterus, or miners, were working the lode, the apires were carrying the ore upon their backs; and after we had made the necessary observations, and had collected proper specimens, we ascended, with several of these apires above and below us.
• The fatigue of climbing up the notched sticks was so great, that we were almost exhausted,
while the men behind us (with a long stick in one hand, in the cloven end of which there was a candle) were urging us not to stop them. The leading apire whistled whenever he came to certain spots, and then the whole party rested for a few seconds. It was really very interesting, in looking above and below, to see these poor creatures, each lighted by his candle, and climbing op the notched stick with such a load upon his back, though Loc
casionally was a little afraid lest one of those above me might tumble, in which case we should have all preceded him in his fall.'-Head, Pp. 225, 226.
Our countrymen may form some idea of what these poor people undergo, when they are told that the load carried up these stickladders was of such a weight that an English miner, one of the strongest men of the whole Cornish party, was scarcely able to walk with it,' and two others, who attempted to support it, were altogether unable, exclaiming that it would break their backs.' Yet the only food of these wretched native miners was a little dried beef and melted snow-water. The few who had been at work came into the hut, to partake of this miserable meal; they never spoke to each other, but, as they sat upon their sheepskins (their only beds), some fixed their eyes on the embers of a scanty fire, while others seemed to be ruminating on their miserable lot. Yet these men were free labourers; what then must have been the condition of the enslaved Indians, who, under the old government, were thrust into these horrid dungeons, and compelled to labour at this worst of all drudgery! They were, as Captain Head says, “beasts of burden, who carried very nearly the load of a mule. Their unrecorded sufferings,' he adds, were beyond description, and I have been assured, from unquestionable authority, that, with the loads on their backs, many of them threw themselves down the mine, to end a life of misery and anguish!' Well may he say, that the mode in which the precious metals of America were first obtained, 'forms one of the most guilty pages in the moral history of man.
The ore from this mine is carried to a distance, to undergo the process of amalgamation; and the works for this purpose are described by our author as laid out with a great deal of ingenuity, with a happy regard to economy, and on a plan suited to the resources of the country, which are now, in fact, of the very scantiest kind. In Mr. Miers's book, the reader will find a very long and detailed account of every process observed in the reduction of the ores from the Chilian mines ;—and to it we must refer those who may take an interest in subjects of this nature. We may observe, however, that when the revolution liberated the Indians, both they and the Creole labourers abandoned the mines, to which very few have since returned—the working of them being considered as the most miserable labour on which a man can be employed; besides, the Chile mines are in general so poor, that none of them, were they by any accident removed to our own doors here in England, would have any chance of being considered as worth working Had our numerous companies or associations, that were formed
for working the American minės by means of English capital, English machinery, and English men, taken the trouble to inquire, they might have known this to be the case; but they surrendered themselves willing victims to the fraudulent reports of American agents, and to the deceptions that were practised by our own countrymen. The first Chilian Mining Association, with a capital of one million sterling, came out under the protecting auspices anů presidency of ‘His Excellency, Don Mariano de Egaña, minister plenipotentiary from the republic of Chile, and a late judge of the tribunal of mines in that country.' His Excellency,' the “ Judge of the Mines,' was too good a decoy-duck not to be made the most of, and accordingly there by-and-by came out the • Anglo-Chilian Mining Association,' with a capital of one million five hundred thousand pounds sterling, also under the auspices of his said Excellency, Don Mariano de Egaña.' The prospectus of the first assured the subscribers that the Republic of Chile contained nine mining districts, producing gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, and iron;' and that all these were near the sea ;—to say nothing of the healthiness of the climate,—the cheapness of labour,--the abundance of wood and water,—the fine coal on the coast, &c. &c. &c. The other enumerates the same metals, adding that 'rivers flow from the western declivities of the Andes, affording means of conveyance by water to the ports of the republic in the Pacific Ocean.' Now Mr. Miers asserts that these are gross exaggerations, and that his Excellency, Don Mariano de Egaña, must have known them to be so; that north of 25° 6' lat.
there is not a single river navigable in any way; that there is scarcely a stick of timber of any kind, and no coal :' that with regard to lead, the whole quantity raised in Chile throughout the year
does not amount to a single ton weight; and as to the rich mines of tin, “I do not believe,' says he, that the least indication of that metal has ever been discovered in the country;' and it now appears, when the company, of which · his Excellency' condescended to be president, is on the eve of dissolution, that, so far from labour being plentiful and cheap, the said company could only procure two hundred miners in all Chile, although no less than five hundred were wanting to work one of their mines. We certainly agree with Mr. Miers in thinking, that it is equally disreputable to foreign deputies and the governments which sent them, that their names should appear in any such speculations.'
Another species of deception practised by the American agents was to send pieces of ore, purporting to be from certain mines, to be assayed in England ;-as if the value of a lode in America was thus to be ascertained. As well might the value of a mansion be determined by examining a single brick; or that of an estate VOL. XXXV. NO. LXIX.
by a box of its soil : but we are assured by Captain Head that, de facto, many of the specimens thus exhibited in England never came out of the lodes from which they were said to have been extracted. Nay, we have heard, and can easily believe the story, that one of the richest specimens of silver ore exhibited on Change as a sample of the Coquimbo mountain, was actually taken out of a collection of minerals in London, which never before pretended to have anything to do with Coquimbo. The Association which sent out Captain Head appears to have had especial reason to complain of being grossly deceived by these American agents. It had been formed, in virtue of a decree from the government of Buenos Ayres, authorizing the mines within its territory to be worked at the discretionary choice of the company. Yet, on my arrival at Buenos Ayres,' says the Captain, “I found that almost the whole of the mines were already sold by the governments to the opposition companies.'
Nor is this all. Captain Head satisfactorily proves the utter impossibility of any English association working the poor mines of the viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres to advantage, were these better than they are, on account of the difficulties its agents would have to contend with, physical, moral, and political. The distances which separate the mines from one another, and from all the necessary supplies; the badness of roads ; impassable torrents and rivers, without bridges ; land-carriage of a thousand miles, which would render silver not worth its weight in iron by the time it reached Englandwhile the iron sent from England would cost more than its weight in silver by the time it reached the mine the extreme dryness of the climate, affording no water for machinery ;-the impossibility, in short, of employing steam-engines to pump out water, where there is not water enough to work the engines, to wash the ore, or even for the people to drink; and the ruinous effects of heat in the mines on the constitutions of Englishmen-these are but a few of the physical difficulties. The moral obstructions are the scantiness of population—the want of education and of principle—the indolence of the poorer class—the profligately loose habits of the women--and, above all, the character, constitution, habits and expensive wants of the English miner himself. The political obstructions would arise out of the instability of the revolutionary governments ;-above all, the influence of the priests, who have more than once overturned the provincial governors, and all their acts and contracts with them, . at one fell swoop.' Even in the event of successful operations, it is not likely, from the character and the wants of the present governments, that large quantities of treasure would be permitted to leave the country, without a very liberal contribution, first, to a multitude of hungry individuals, and secondly, to the state-necessities. But, leaving all these consider
ations out of the question, both our authors have clearly shown, that neither the mines of Buenos Ayres nor those of Chile can ever be worked with success on a large scale; such being the poverty of the ores that, without the forced labour of the Indians, even the old Spanish governments must have abandoned them. It is, by the way, a great mistake to suppose that the Creoles are ignorant of the processes required for extracting the metal from the ore.
Mr. Miers bears testimony to the contrary. The Chilenos, he says, ' are skilful and efficient miners, who will not only produce the ore at the earth's surface at a lower rate than others, but, in their rude and economical processes, extract the metals at a much less cost.'
Every day, indeed, produces fresh proofs how egregiously our countrymen have been made the dupes of designing agents, and how greatly we overrated the resources of the late Spanish possessions in America. But it is never too late to acquire knowledge; and our advice would be, that those who have suffered should put up with the loss already incurred, and abandon the mining concerns altogether as speedily as possible. We have, indeed, been wofully mistaken in all that relates to South America—her population, her resources, the activity, industry, and integrity of the revolutionists have been intentionally and most grossly exaggerated. The patriot-officers of her provincial governments have proved themselves as dishonest, the priests as intolerant, the people as superstitious, indolent, and immoral, as they possibly could have been under the old Spanish governments. It was well observed by a sufferer in one of the South American speculations, that those were either fools or fanatics who considered a change in manners or morals to be a necessary consequence of a change in governments.' What the manners and morals' were under the old Spanish governments has recently been brought to light by the publication of a suppressed report of Ulloa,* on which the mother-country did not venture to act,- for she, conscious of her own weakness, deeply feared that, if she set about the least attempt at reform in her colonies, the whole fabric would have slipped from under her dominion many years sooner than that event took place. This document lays open the most extraordinary scenes of corruption, fraud, falsehood, and oppression that can well be imagined ; and of the gross deception which every department was in the habit of practising on the mother-country. The same trick was played off upon Humboldt, in the documents furnished to that celebrated traveller; and the republican Creoles have just been but too successfully practising the old arts of their royalist predecessors, at the expense of our unfortunate See Noticias Secretas, &c., London, 1826.