Page images
PDF
EPUB

above 2,481,000, but hardly equal to 2,065,000 marcs; 3rd. Because Garcilasso* relates that about the same period, from ten to twelve millions of piastres in gold and silver of Peru, every year entered the Rio Guadalquivir.

Considering these data of Sandovalas accurate, and combining them both with those of Cieça, and the numbers contained in the official papers published by me, we shall find the following results for the average annual produce of the mines of Potosi, on which we can place but small reliance : From 1545 to 1548 23,284,000 marcs of silver.

1548 1551 827,000
1551 1556 621,000

1556 1564 415,000 The following is the foundation for this calculation. Sandoval and Ulloa estimated the produce of the Cerro de Potosi, between 1545 and 1564, at an average 33,750,000 piastres per annum, or 3,970,000 marcs of silver. Now, we know from the chronicle of Cieça, what was the amount of the produce between 1548 and 1551; the registers of Potosi contain the produce from 1556 to 1564; and supposing for the intermediate period from 1551 to 1556, a decrease in arithmetical progression, it is easy to find from the 641,250,000 Mexican piastres,

W

* Garcilasso, ii. p. 52

unu

or 75,440,000 marcs of silver, stated by Sandoval as the total proportion of the first 19 years, the proportional amount for the small interval from 1545 to 1548. If we admit what appears

improbable, that Cieca indicated the fifth of eachi of the four years, contained in the period from 1548 to 1551, we find by an analogous opera. tion, that the annual produce of the mines of Potosi amounted, From 1545 to 1548 to 19,146,000 marcs of silver.

1548 1551 2,481,000.
1551 1556 1,448,000

1556. 1564 415,000. Thus whatever interpretation we give to the passage of the chronicle of Cieça, we shall find, it is evident in both hypotheses, that the produce of the first three years differs so much from the following years, that we ought very much to suspect the accouut of Sandoval. We ought the more to suspect it, as on examining the table of fifths between 1556 and 1789, we discover in this long series of numbers, a law according to which they uniformly increase or decrease. Cieca visited the mines of Potosi, at the period of their greatest splendour; and he expressly says, that he described the moun. tain as he found it in 1549, “ because that " wealth like every thing human, must vary * in the course of time, either increasing or

“ diminishing." If the produce of 1549, was really eight or ten times less than the produce of 1546, how should the traveller have passed over this enormous diminution of wealth in silence.

We shall conclude from the whole of these discussions, that the total produce of silver registered during the eleven years which are deficient in the preceding tables, far from amounting to 72 millions of marcs, as we might be led to suppose from Ulloa, and the celebrated author of the Recherches Philosophiques, has never exceeded the sum of 15 millions of marcs. We shall not give great faith to Solorzano*, who vaguely says that Potosi yielded between 1545 and 1628, that is in 83 years, the sum of 850 millions of pounds of silver, which is alinost the double of what the mountain supplied in two centuries and a half. We may be surprized to see a writer, who was long a member of the audience of Lima, so very ill informed; for how can we suppose during 83 years an annual produce of 2,400,000 marcs, when the registers preserved in the treasury of Potosi, prove that during this period the mean sum of the produce seljom amounted to 800,000 marcs.

S

* Solorzano Pereira, de Indiarum jure, T. ii. Lib. v. c.i. (edit. Lugd.) VOL. III.

2 B

• Moreover Acosta* who went over both Americas, and whose work can only be sufficiently appretiated by those who have visited the same places, confirms the assertions of Cieça. He relates that “ in the time of the Licentiate

Polo," (consequently before the year 1549), “ the fifth amounted to a million and a half 6 of piastres per annnmt.”. He adds notwithstanding the confusion which prevails in the books of accounts of the first years, we know « from tradition, and from the investigation “ carried on by orders of the viceroy Don “ Francisco de Toledo, that the quantity of regis“ tered silver from 1545 to 1574, amounted " to 76 millions of piastres, and from 1574 “ to 1585, to 35 millions of piastres, (at 13 “ reales and one quartillo), which in forty years « amounts to 111 millions.” These 111 millions of piastres imaginary money (pesos de minas), only suppose an annual produce of 555,000 marcs, which differs very little from that of the vein of Guanaxuato. There is no doubt that Acosta speaks of the whole quantity of silver extracted from the mines, and registered at the treasury. He says expressly: se ha metido a quintar, monta lo que

* Historia natural y moral de las Indias, (Barcelona, 1591)

[ocr errors]

+ Which supposes a produce of 1,490,000 marcs (Herrera, Decada viii. l. ii. c. xiv.)

se ha quintado. Solorzano translates this passage of the natural history of Acosta, by the following words : ex Potosiensi fodina extracti sunt centum et undecim milliones.

The authors whose works contain exaggerated valuations of the quantity of the precious metals which have inundated Spain since the middle of the 16th century, appear to have confounded the value of the produce of the mines with the fifth paid from it. Although they had no knowledge of the official papers which I have here published, they would never have fallen into this error had they only read attentively the works of Acosta, Cieca, and Alonzo Barba*. The latter who filled the cure of a parish in the town of Potosi, only values the quantity of silver extracted from the Cerro de Potosi between 1545 and 1636 at 450 millions of piastres of 8 reals, a sum which merely supposes an annual produce of 4,900,000 piastres, or 576,000 marcs, which forms a singular contrast with the 613 millions gratuitously admitted for the first periods from 1545 to 1556. However, Alonzo Barba had no motive for lowering the total produce; on the other hand, he endeavours to prove that an extent of ground of 60 square leagues might be covered with

* Barba. Lib. ii.c.i.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »