12th May 1835

Panuncillo Copper Mine
I staid here a day in order to see the mines. The mine is not a very rich one, the ore being the common yellow Copper pyrites; its value may be from 30000 to 40000 dollars, (Note in margin: £/6000–£/8000.) yet when the English first came into the country, Mr Caldcleugh bought it for the association for one ounce (3£..8s). The mine had been abandoned when full of this kind of ore, the inhabitants not believing it possible to reduce it. Likewise from ignorance piles of scoriæ abounding with particles of copper & fused pyrites were sold at about the same scale of profit. — Yet with all these possibilities the mining associations contrived to lose great sums. The folly of the commissioners & the share-holders amounted to madness: such enormous salaries, libraries of well bound geological books, 1000£ per annum to entertain the Authorities; bringing out miners for particular metals before such were known to exist; their contracts with the workmen to find them with so much milk &c &c every day; their machinery, where such could not be used; & a hundred similar things bear witness to their absurdity & afford amusement to the natives. — Yet there can be no doubt the same Capital employed in working mines in the country method would have given an immense return. A confidential man of business & a practical miner & assayer would have been quite sufficient. — The English & Chilian miners were tried against each other at this place, & I believe the latter fairly laughed at our countrymen, being so entirely victorious.

Capt. Head has described the wonderful load which the "Apires", truly beasts of burden, carry up from deep mines. — I confess I thought the account exaggerated; so that I was glad to take the opportunity of weighing one of the loads, which I picked out by chance. When standing straight over it, I could just lift it from the ground, the weight was 197 pounds (equal [to] a 14 stone man). — The Apire had carried this up 80 perpendicular yards, by a very steep road, & by climbing up a zigzag nearly vertical notched pole.— He is not allowed to halt to breathe, excepting the mine is more than 600 ft deep. — The average weight is rather more than 200 £. (Nearly equal 22 & ½ stone.) — I have been assured that 300 £ have been carried for a trial from the deepest mines.

In this mine they bring up the above load on their backs 12 times in the day, that is 2400 £ from 80 yards deep to the surface. These men work nearly naked; their bodies are not very muscular; but excepting from accidents, they are healthy and they appear cheerful. They rarely eat meat once a week & never oftener & then only the hard dry Charqúi. — Knowing that the labor is voluntary, it is yet quite revolting to see the state in which they reach the mouth of the mine. — their bodies bent forward, leaning with their arms on the steps; their legs bowed, the muscles quivering, the perspiration streaming from their faces over their breasts, the nostrils distended, the corners of the mouth forcibly drawn back, & the expulsion of their breath most laborious: each time from habit they utter an articulate cry of ay-ay, which ends in a sound rising from deep in the chest, but shrill like the note of a fife. — After staggering to the pile of ore, they empty the "Carpacho" — in two or three seconds recovering their breath, they wipe the sweat from their brows & apparently quite fresh descend the mine again at a quick pace. — This appears to me a wonderful instance of the amount of labor which habit, for it can be nothing else, will teach a man to endure.

The Mayor-domo of these mines, Don Joaquin Edwards, is a young man & the son of an Englishman, but till some years old did not learn English. — Talking with him about the number of foreigners in all parts of the country, he told me he recollected being at school in Coquimbo, when a holiday was given to all the boys to see the Captain of an English Ship, who came on some business from the Port to the city. He believes that nothing would have induced any body in the school, including himself, to have gone close to the Englishman; so fully had they been impressed with all the heresy, contamination & evil to be derived from contact with such a person. To this day they hand down the atrocious actions of the Buccaniers; one of them took the Virgin Mary out [of] the Church & returned the ensuing year for St. Joseph, saying it was a pity the Lady should not have a husband. I heard Mr Caldcleugh say that sitting by an old lady at a dinner in Coquimbo, she remarked how wonderfully strange it was that she should live to dine in the same room with an Englishman. — Twice as a girl, at the cry of "Los Ingleses" every soul carrying what valuables they could had taken to the mountains.

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