Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/151

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In the preceding pages I have aimed at giving a mere general outline of facts, which, considering the imperfect state of geology, seems to be rendering better service to science than could be derived from a feeble attempt to raise upon their basis any theory explanatory of their occurrence. Nor indeed is the knowledge of insulated facts sufficient to authorize such an attempt on this important and difficult subject, comprehending operations on so grand a scale, of a date so remote, and throughout a country so greatly diversified. Before such an explanation can be satisfactorily accomplished, we have much to explore and to learn. The task seems to require a combination of talent and of information, which but rarely exists. But that a faithful detail of mining facts may contribute to assist the geologist in his inquiries, can no more be doubted, than that the science of mineralogy is absolutely essential to assist him in his researches.

It is to be regretted that the practical miner, in every part of England, is almost wholly ignorant of the principles and facts of mineralogy and geology. Even the conductors of the mines, termed captains, are men generally of little or no education, who have risen to that station by a superior attention to their art, in which they have been incessantly occupied from the early age of five or six years. A century ago among the miners of Cornwall, whatever was not tin was heedlessly thrown aside; and within that period, on the discovery of copper ore beneath the tin, it was no uncommon observation, that the ‘ ore came in and spoilt it.’ It is an undoubted fact that many roads in the county were mended with copper ore. The discovery of the native silver in Herland mine would have passed unnoticed, but for the vibrations of some capillary portions having accidentally attracted the notice of a workman; and it is confidently believed that much of that precious