Page:The Present State of Peru.djvu/95

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selves by the assertion that the individuals of that profession are in general cheats and impostors, from whom punctuality, in the discharge of their debts, is not to be expected. I do not deny but that, in our corporation, as well as in all the classes, of which society is constituted, cheats and impostors are to be found; and that, in despight of the vigilance of the supreme authorities, many improper persons have been admitted into the associated body of miners. Among the apostles a Judas was found; but on that account the punishment due to the atrocity of his crime was not inflicted on his brethren. It oftentimes happens that the most upright miner is obliged, in a manner, to depart from the integrity of his principles. He cannot find protection when he speaks of his mine without enthusiasm, and without exaggerating the advantages it presents. When he shews the ores, they are depreciated; and physical securities are required of him, when he can merely urge a probable perspective. Finally, he is sensible that avarice dictates the succours which are afforded to him. It must be acknowledged that these are powerful temptations, to induce him to begin by exaggeration, and to conclude by falsehood.

"Relatively to the accusation brought against the miners, of a want of punctuality in the discharge of their obligations, much is to be said. Nature at times enriches them; and at times they are oppressed by the cruelty of men. Among those who tyrannize over them, the habilitadores or money-lenders, are the most conspicuous. In payment of the sums they have advanced, they receive the pina at the low rate of six piastres four reals, and occasionally at six piastres two reals, although, in proportion to the price of the fused metal, it is