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going,) yet the engines must stop to repair the connexion, so as to drive all three again. That the pretended objection is a quibble, may be seen from the fact that the engines keep the shafts clear with only two pumps, and do not work the third; but I suspect that news recently received from Lima of the discovery of large quicksilver mines in California, which would bring down the price of that article one-half, and double the value of the cascajos, (thus still diminishing the necessity for drainage,) had something to do with the movement. A committee of the gremio, appointed for the investigation of the matter, did report in favor of stopping the payments; but before this was decided upon, some rich ores were discovered by the operation of the pumps. This changed their tune, for, although they now only work the ores above the socabon, they may, if they choose, penetrate below it; and if these machines should show conclusively that there are richer ores below, they of course would be glad to have them, and the gremio, therefore, (including even some of the members of the committee,) voted that the works and the payments should continue, and the matter should be arbitrated. I of course get my knowledge and views pretty much from Mr. Jump, one of the parties; but I meet at his house and elsewhere with men of the opposite party, and hear the matter very fully discussed. I would have advised Mr. Jump, in any other country, to reject arbitration and appeal to the law; but the less a man has to do with law in this country the better, not so much on account of its ill administration as of its vexatious delay.
I removed from the sub-prefect's house to that of Mr. Jump, Ijurra staying with his relations, and Mauricio and the mules at board.
The "callana," or smelting-house, where the "piña" is run into bars, is a government establishment, and is farmed out. All the produce of the mines has to pass through it; is here run into bars, weighed, stamped, and the duties charged upon it. It is very rude in its appointments, a mere straw-covered hut, with an iron smelting pot in the middle, mounted by arms, on two iron uprights like anvils. The pot melts at one operation sufficient silver to make a bar of two hundred and fifty marks, or one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Alternate layers of piña and charcoal are put in the smelting pot; fire is applied, and air furnished by a rude bellows. When the silver is melted, the pot is turned on its arms, and the silver poured out of a sort of ear at the top of the pot into an iron mould below. From one and a half to one and three fourths per cent. is lost in this operation; much seems to be driven off by the irregular and excessive heat, and the sides and roof of the hut are covered with a deposit of fine particles of silver, looking
like frost. They are frequently swept; I did not think to ask to whom these sweepings belong, but I imagine to the farmers of the "callana." The bars are marked with the number of the bar for the year, the number of marks it contains, the initials of the owner, and the invariable 11.22, which designates its "ley" or quality.
Remittances of bars are made to Lima every week. Last week the remittance amounted to seven thousand five hundred marks—a large yield. Since my return, I cut from a Lima paper a letter from Cerro Pasco, of April, 1851, (a few months before the date of my visit,) in which the writer states the remittances for the week at eighteen bars, or four thousand five hundred marks. He says, "The drainage by steam is progressing rapidly. Another vein of ore has been discovered in the mine of Peña Blanca, but I believe not very rich. The advices from Lima are constant that the quicksilver mines of California will yield a sufficient supply for Peru, at a price not exceeding fifty or sixty dollars the "quintal," (or hundred pounds.) Should this be the case, there will be no need of suspending the working of the cascajos, as ore of six marks to the caxon, with quicksilver at seventy dollars the quintal, and piña at eight dollars the mark, will leave fifty dollars of profit in the circo. The price of quicksilver at present is from one hundred to one hundred and seven dollars the quintal; that of piña, eight dollars and forty-three and three-fourth cents."
The yield of these mines is about two millions a year, which is nearly equal to the yield of all the rest of the mines of Peru together.
M. Castelnau makes a calculation from all the data within his reach, by which it appears that the yield of the mines of Cerro Pasco, since the date of their discovery in 1630 to the year 1849, amounts to about the sum of four hundred and seventy-five millions of dollars, which would give a yearly mean of about two millions one hundred and seventy thousand.
About two hundred miles to the southward and eastward of Cerro Pasco are situated the celebrated quicksilver mines of Huancavelica. The viceroys of the regal and the presidents of the republican government have made many efforts to keep up the working of these mines, but of late years entirely without success. M. Castelnau states that their produce since the opening in 1751 to the year 1789, inclusive, (since which time they have yielded nothing of importance,) has been one million forty thousand four hundred and fifty-two quintals, which, at a mean price of sixty-five dollars the quintal, will give the sum of sixty-seven million six hundred and twenty-nine thousand three hundred and eighty dollars. In the same
time have been expended on them ten million five hundred and eightyseven thousand eight hundred and forty-five dollars.
S. S. Rivero and Pierola formed a society in the year 1828 for the working of these mines, but the scheme fell through. Many other propositions have been also made to the Peruvian government, since the independence, for the working of them, but have failed of success. The liberator (Bolivar) refused to sell them for a sum of six or seven hundred thousand dollars. (Castelnau, vol. 4, page 226.)
I met a gentleman in Cerro Pasco who was then on his way to examine and report upon the mines of Huancavelica.
July 8.-Visited the mines. We entered a mouth which seemed only a little larger than that of a common well; each of the party furnished with a tallow candle, shipped in an iron contrivance at the end of a staff. The descent was disagreeable, and, to the tyro, seemed dangerous. It was at an angle of at least 75° from the horizontal line; the earth was moist, and the steps merely holes dug for the heels at irregular distances. I feared every moment that my boot-heel would slip, and that I should "come with a surge" upon my next in advance, sending him and myself into some gulf profound. I was heartily glad when we got upon the apparently level and broad bank of the great socabon, and had made up my mind that I would tempt Providence no more. But, reflecting that I should never, probably, visit the mines of Cerro Pasco again, I took courage and descended one hundred and ten feet further, by an even worse descent than the former, to the bottom of the pump shafts. A burly and muscular Cornishman, whom I at first took to be a yankee, with a bit of candle stuck into a lump of mud in front of his hat, was superintending here, and growling at the laziness and inefficiency of his Indian subordinates. I should think that these pumps were not well attended to, so far from the eye of the master. They are worked by chains and long copper rods. All the metal work of the pumps is of copper. Iron is corroded very quickly, on account of the sulphuric acid and sulphates which the water of the mines holds in solution. The fish are said to have abandoned the lake of Quiulacocha, into which the waters are forced, on this account. The sides of the mines were covered in many places with beautiful sulphates of iron and copper.
Our exploration lasted about four hours; and we emerged at the tajo of Sta. Rosa, where, seated upon piles of silver ore, we partook of some bread and cheese, and a glass of pisco, which we found as welcome and as grateful as manna in the desert. This freshened us up, and we went to see the "boliches." These are hand-mills, or rather foot-mills, for
grinding ore; generally owned by Frenchmen or Italians, who grind the ore that is brought to them in small quantities by the workmen in the mines. Rivero's account of their charges is amusing. He
says: "One of these speculators commences with fifty dollars, (the value of a boliche,) and at the end of two or three years is known to be worth a fortune of eight or ten thousand dollars. He exacts from the workman in the mine, who brings it to him, fifty or sixty-two and a half cents for grinding a carga,' which is a very uncertain measure-sometimes a muleload, sometimes a man-load; but in this case a small hamper-full. He charges twenty-five cents for the water used in the benificiation, twelveand a half cents for the man who pours the water on, twelve and a half cents for him who breaks the ore into small bits for grinding, sixty-two and a half cents for the grinder, twelve and a half cents for the hole where the mass of ground metal is deposited, (and if this is boarded, he exacts twenty-five cents more,) and twelve and a half cents to clear the water out of it, twelve and a half cents for taking the metal out of this hole and putting it in a bull's hide, for the hire of which he charges twenty-five cents; so that the hide will yield the decent sum of sixty or seventy dollars before it wears out and becomes useless. A hoe will give as much more, for the hire of which twelve and a half cents is charged, and six and a quarter cents besides for every time it is used in incorporating the mass. He gains at least fifty cents in every arroba of salt which he furnishes. For a pound of magistral, which is worth fifty cents, he exacts two dollars. He gains fifty cents in every pound of quicksilver; so that, calculating these expenses with regard to a caxon, they amount to about fifty dollars, which is just so much profit to the bolichero. The 'relabes,' moreover, are his; and they are frequently very valuable. He then expresses all the quicksilver from the pella that he can, and receives it of the workmen at three pounds the mark, paying him six dollars and twenty-five cents; by which negotia tion he gains a mark in every nine, after the quicksilver is driven off by heat, bating to the workman at the same time half a pound in the extraction of the quicksilver. The workman is contented with all this, because, however little profit he makes, the ore which he delivered to the bolichero for grinding cost him nothing but the stealing." This, however, is not always the case. The laborer frequently demands his wages in a portion of ore. Custom seems to give him this right; and the proprietor of the mine complains, with justice, that he has to pay in ores when they are rich, and in money when the ores are poor.
A boliche consists of a large flat stone laid on an elevated platform of rock or earth, and another, convex on its lower side, resting upon it.
The grinder, standing upon this upper stone, spreads his feet apart, and gives it motion by the movement of his body. The bits of ore are placed between these stones, and a small stream of water from a barrel above mixes with the harina, and carries it off to a receptacle below. It may be imagined that, to draw any profit from so rude a contrivance as this, it is necessary that the ores ground by it should be of the richest kind.
The apparatus for driving off the mercury by heat is as rude as the boliche. The pella is placed in a kind of earthen jar or bottle made in the neighborhood, and worth from two to three reals. An iron tube, of about two yards long, is introduced into the mouth of the jar, which is then closed with a yellowish clay. The other end of this tube (which is bent) is put into an earthen jar half-full of water, where the fumes of the mercury are condensed. Fire is kindled around the earthen bottles which contain the pella, and continued for three or four hours, when the bottles are broken and the piña taken out.
The man who was buried by the falling in of one of the mines was got out yesterday. He seemed strong, though he had had no food for nearly seven days. He had lost the account of time, and thought he had been enclos in the earth but three days.
July 9.-Suffering from an affection called macolca, which is incident to nearly every one on his first visit to the mines. This is a painful soreness of the muscles, particularly on the front of the thigh. I could scarcely bear that my legs should be touched, and locomotion was anything but agreeable.
The town of Cerro Pasco is (by temperature of boiling water) thirteen thousand eight hundred and two feet above the level of the sea. Rivero states it at fourteen thousand two hundred and seventy-nine. The population varies from six to fifteen thousand souls, according to the greater or less yield of the mines. Most of the adult part of this population are, of course, engaged in mining. This seems to be a calling that distorts much the moral perception, and engenders very confused ideas of right and wrong. The lust for money-making seems to have swallowed up all the finer feelings of the heart, and cut off all the amenities of society. There are no ladies—at least I saw none in society; and the men meet to discuss the mines, the probable price of quicksilver, and to slander and abuse each other. There seems to be no religion here even in form. The churches are mere barns, going to decay; and I saw no processions or religious ceremonies. Smyth saw a procession in 1834, but I should doubt if there had been one of these