Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/154

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Mr. William Phillips on the Veins of Cornwall.

the hacknied practice of his predecessors, in making purchases to an enormous amount on the reports of those whose skill only extends to the extracting of the heaviest prill, without possessing a knowledge of chemistry sufficient to enable them to discover of what it is compounded.

Enough has been said in the preceding pages of the uncertainties attending the pursuit of the miner, to amount to evidence that skill and ingenuity are often exerted in vain:—all they can do is to determine on, and put in practice the speediest and most effectual methods of ascertaining the value of a vein, at the least expense. When assisted by the best experience, they are utterly unable to form a conjecture, grounded on reasonable certainty, that the great expenses attending the trial of a vein will be repaid. If indeed the reverse of this were the case, there would not be as there now are, so many skilful captains of mines who have lost money by their adventures. If experience avails so little, theory cannot be expected to avail any thing; and it may fairly be doubted whether all that science could bestow on the practical miner, would, in this branch of his occupation, be found to be of the slightest advantage.

The habits of the miner are those of industry and perseverance, which often tempt him to exploits that excite astonishment at his venturous hardihood. The very idea of a descent beneath the surface of the earth has something in it of the terrible, at which those shudder who are unacquainted with practical mining. But such is the force of habit, that rarely does any other employment tempt a miner to forsake his own. The occasional perils of his occupation are scarcely noticed, or if noticed are soon forgotten. He walks often in the middle of the night, and in all weathers, two or three or more miles to the mine, undresses, and puts on his underground