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ing the fifth of four millions, for the period which precedes the year 1564, that we may most reasonably entertain well founded doubts.
Were this sum accurate, the produce of silver extracted from the mine of Potosi, and registered in the royal treasury, would have amounted in nineteen years, between 1545 and 1564, to 641,250,000 Mexican piastres*, reducing the piastres of 13t reals to piastres of 8 reals. On the other hand, it is proved, by official papers in my possession, that the produce in .eight years, from 1556 to 1564, amounted to 28,250,000 of these same Mexican piastrest. The result of these data of Sandoval, would consequently be, that during the first eleven years between 1545 and 1556, the Cerro del Potosi must have yielded in silver, of which the fifth was paid, 613 millions of piastress, or at an yearly average, 55,726,000 piastress, equal to 6,556,000 marcs of silverll. This is a very extraordinary result, yet it contains however nothing which may be considered as impossible. We may be surprized to see that a single mountain of Peru, has yielded from two to three times more silver than all the collected
* $ 134,662,500 Sterling. Trans.
mines of Mexico; but our ideas of wealth are merely relative. It is possible that we may one day discover mountains in "he centre of Africa, which with relation to their abundance in the precious metals, may bear the same proportion to the Cordilleras, which the Cordilleras bear to the mountains of Europe. The mine of Valenciana supplies annually more silver than all Saxony, and the single vein of Guanaxuato, wrought throughout its whole length, would be able to produce more than two millions of marcs of silver annually*. We have already observed that there has been extracted from the vein of the veta grande of Sombrerete, for an extent of 30 metres in five months, more than 700,000 marcs. When we reflect on the masses of native red and sulfuretted silver, discovered in our days at Huantajaya in Peru, as well as at Batopilas, and the Real del Monte in Mexico, we may conceive what a prodigious quantity of silver, may be supplied, by a mineral depository in the Cordilleras of the Andes, when the abundance of produce is united to intrinsic wealth. It is not then the enormous quantity of silver which is supposed to have been extracted during the first eleven years, which induces me to call in question the testimony of Sandoval;
but it is the contradiction which exists between this testimony, and other well authenticated facts,
Ulloa, Robertson, Raynal, and the writers of the Encyclopedie Methodique, have not attended to a passage of the Chronicle of Peru, written by Pedro Cieça de Leon. The author who writes with that admirable naïveté, which cha racterizes all the travellers of the fifteenth and and sixteenth century, proposes to give his countrymen an idea of the prodigious wealth of the mountain of Potosi. He was the better enabled to do this from being on the spot in 1549, four years after the first discovery of these celebrated mines. He relates what he saw himself, while Sandoval speaks of a period more than 90 years before. If we are to sụs pect the numbers of Çieça of error, we ought rather to believe that the error lies on the side of excess; for a traveller who aims at effect, and who hopes to astonish his readers is naturally inclined to exaggeration. Let us now examine what the historian of Peru relates*. « The wealth of the Cerro de Potosi," says he, “is so much beyond what was ever “ seen in former times, that to show the great
ness of these mines, I shall describe them " as I saw them with my own eyes, when I
“ passed through Potosi in 1549, at the period 56 when the Licentiáte Poło was Corregidor “ of the town. The chests (royal) with three " keys are in the house of this Corregedor. “ His Majesty received every week from twenty* five to thirty, and sometimes even forty thou
sand piastres. They complained at that time k that the mines went on poorly, when the “ fifth only amounted to 120,000 castellanos “ monthly. And yet all this money belonged * to the Christians alone; for the Indians stole, * a great deal which was not registered; so * that no where in the world was there ever * so rich a mountain and no where did any
Prince ever draw so great a revenue from * a single town; for between 1548 and 1551, * the fifth brought into the King more thari * three millions of ducats.”
To understand this passage which contains three distinct valuations, we must recollect that the pesos or piastres of that time, and till 1580 at least*, were an imaginary money of 480 maravedis, or nearly 134 Reales de plata Mexicana: A marc of silver contained 51, of these piastres. Five piastres made a ducat of 114 reals. ACcording to these data then, reckoning the fifth with Cieça, at 30,000 piastres per week, andi
* Garcilasso, Coment. Reales, T. i. in the second preface which bears the title of Advertencias acerca la lengưa general del Peru; and Tiü.p: 516
120,000 castellanos per month, the total produce of the mines of Potosi was (in registered silver), in the year 1549, either 1,549,000, or 1,440,000
The same produce amounted according to Cieça, at an average from 1548 to 1551, only to 7,031,000 Mexican piastres of eight reals of plata, equal to 827,000 marcs of silver. This sum forms a singular contrast with the account of Sandoval and Ulloa; but it agrees very well with the fifth of the years when our first table commences. It might remain doubtful whether Cieca speaks really of the totality of the royal duties, levied between 1548 and 1551, or whether he affirms that during that period, the fifth amounted to three millions of ducats per annum.
In this last case, the annual produce would have amounted to 21,093,000 Mexican piastres, or 2,481,000 marcs of silver, a very considerable sum no doubt, but still very much below the calculation of Ulloa and Raynal. I am inclined to believe, that the historian of Peru estimates only at three millions of ducats, the sum total of the fifths of the four years, Ist. Because this valuation is more agreeable to the value of the fifth of 1556; 2d. Because Cieça to give the highest idea of the wealth of the mines, says, that the fifth sometimes amounted to 40,000 piastres, which would give for the maximum of annual produce at that time, a sum not