Page:The Present State of Peru.djvu/96

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

worth seven piastres three reals; thus gaining eighteen per cent, in the short space of three or four months, when the credit expires. They are, notwithstanding, loud in their complaints, if the miner is in arrears in the smallest degree. Furthermore, the latter requires, I shall suppose, two thousand piastres for the current expences of his mine, and makes his arrangement accordingly with the habilitador. In such a case, the latter never supplies the whole of the sum at one time, but in small proportions, accompanied by fair promises. Thus it happens that the unfortunate miner is prevented from taking advantage of the seasons and opportunities, in laying in his supply of necessaries. But this is not all: of the two thousand piastres I have supposed, the whole is not paid in specie, but a great part in baize, and other commodities of a similar nature, charged at a very high rate. As the miner is under the necessity of distributing these commodities among his Indian labourers, the latter are, by the debts they contract, frequently led to desert. He is thus not only defrauded, but deprived of their valuable services,

"Finally, the reply to the two antecedent charges may be reduced to the following propositions. Whenever impossibilities shall be no longer expected from them, the conduct of the miners will be more correct. Let them be treated with equity and candour, and there will be few among them who will fail in the punctuality of their payments.

"With respect to the accusation of prodigality, it can only have been urged against us by those who confide in the assertions of the colle6lors, and obscure dealers in the produce of the mines. Men mounted on mules, on which they have wearisome journeys to perform over their grounds;