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inquiring into Mexican affairs,—whether for the purpose of engaging their money in any of the enterprises for working the mines of that country, or with the more interesting view of seeking in it a place of residence where their skill and experience may become useful in the great plans which are meditated, and may, at the same time, be made subservient to their own emolument and advancement; it will be most satisfactory to know that the details which are here laid before them, come from a person whose authority has never been questioned, and whose relations are daily confirmed by many who have since visited the country. . · I received permission to submit to the Baron de Humboldt some questions relative to the mines, to which he has had the kindness to return answers the most explicit, and evincing the most profound knowledge of the subject. In the earlier part of his life he had the direction of some important mines in Germany: it will therefore be the more satisfactory to those who, like myself, are especially interested in this part of the inquiry, to know that the information contained in this volume comes from one on whose judgement the most entire reliance may be placed. I must also add, that these Selections from his works have been made with his knowledge and approbation. I am conscious that it is a liberty I ought not to have taken but from the consideration that the abridgement mày now be useful to numbers who could not have availed themselves of the works at large. Valuable as M. de Humboldt's writings are, he has never made them a source of profit to himself, and it may truly be said that public utility is with him the leading object. Actuated by this disinterested feeling, he has constantly refused the most advantageous offers to engage himself in any concerns connected with Mexico, that his mind might remain unbiassed by any consideration of personal interest. I have said thus much, that those who are inclined to attach weight to any statements which I may lay before them, may know the respectability of my authority for many things which wear so flattering an aspect, as to excite a suspicion that they
have been brought forward to serve a particular purpose.
I have also to acknowledge the liberality of Messrs. Longman and Co., for permitting the free use of Mr. Black's translation of M. de Humboldt's Essai politique, from which most of the following sheets are compiled. This has enabled me to lay the work before the public much sooner than I could otherwise have done. I have adapted the technical language more to the comprehension of my English mining readers, than that of the translation would be found to be. In doing this, constant reference has been made to the original; and the figures and measurements have been reduced to those denominations which are most in use among us. My own engagements not leaving me time sufficient for the task of selection and arrangement, it has in a great measure fallen upon a friend who undertook it for me; and I am conscious that the public will be gainers by this circumstance.
My attention is not now drawn to the mines of Mexico for the first time : several years ago I studied some of these very works; which
I was led to do by the desire of comparing the lodes or veins in that country with those which had come under my own observation.
I was then struck with their size or width, with the great productiveness of particular parts, with the similarity of many circumstances with those which miners every where think favourable symptoms, and above all with the greatness of the profits under a sy. stem of management of the worst kind. I observed that little or no machinery was employed, and that what there was, seemed to be of the rudest description, that no attempt was made to abridge labour, or to save expense, and that under the old government, obstacles to improvement of the most formidable kind existed. Attempts were indeed sometimes made : but when it is considered that all these were likely to interfere with the profit of Viceroys, or provincial Governors, who, under the court of Spain, enjoyed the privilege of making the people pay at the highest rate for articles of the greatest necessity, it is not surprising that these attempts were stifled and rendered abortive. With the richest mines in the world, with a splendid college for instructing miners, and with a code of laws which pretended to encourage them, Mexico, made no advances in the science of working its mineral treasures; while England, with only metals of inferior value, without any public institution for instruction of this sort, and even without books upon the subject, has within a few years raised the art of mining to a perfection heretofore unknown, and has carried it on in spite of difficulties not to be met with elsewhere. · I long ago formed the opinion which I now entertain, that if the skill and experience in mining which we possess, and the use of our engines, could ever be applied to the mines of Mexico, the result would be that of extraordinary profit.
At that time the Old Government still held its sway over this interesting country : no hope, therefore, existed in my mind of ever seeing the attempt made ; in later years the country has been struggling with its former masters, and it now seems likely that, having emancipated itself from their yoke, it will con