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75
REAL DEL MONTE.

the ore and rubbish being raised to the surface by horse power applied to a windlass.

But now, if you choose, you may accompany us to the mouth of the Dolores shaft, when, having garbed in miners' dresses, with heads well defended with a kind of felt helmet, we began our descent by ladders, accompanied by two of the English captains or overseers, and went down, down, down into the bowels of the earth. We passed the mouth of the adit; and, reaching the bottom of the mine, in our progress from one shaft to another, visited every part of the "workings." To gain and examine some of these required a certain degree of strength and resolution, from the defective and dangerous means of descent and exit. They were various in appearance, sometimes a shapeless excavation, and at other times wrought into the form of a gallery, according as the rock had been rich or poor in the ore, which is found in a quartz matrix, imbodied in the porphyry rock, of which the whole chain consists.

The system of mining struck me as peculiar. The common miners are, for the most part, of the Indian race. A few of them band together, to work in company, and take their equal shares of the proceeds. They are paid four rials a day by the company, and take, as their further perquisite, one eighth of the ore extracted.

On issuing from the mouth of the mine, the confederates themselves divide the lumps of ore, rich and poor, into eight heaps in the presence of one of the overseers, and that overseer determines which of the eight shall be given up to them. There are subterranean offices where the tools and candles are kept, and regularly served out and reclaimed, by an officer charged with that particular duty. Blasting and other operations are carried on as in other mines.

There are upon an average about three hundred Indians constantly thus engaged in the different parts of the mine; and the scenes presented in those gloomy caves, where they work by the red light of their tapers, with scarcely any covering, are far beyond my describing.