Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/327

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of the Mines of Cornwall and Devon.

believed is peculiar to Cornwall and Devon, and which holds a distinguished place in the economy of the mines, is that of periodically bringing all the work to a kind of public auction. Thus such a degree of competition among the workmen is constantly excited as to cause the price of labour always to bear on the whole, a fair proportion to the demand, combined with the considerations connected with the varying expenses of living. Thus superior skill and industry have their due advantage; and thus are the adventurers even guarded in some degree against want of skill in their captains, whose judgment is always corrected by the results of the setting. The only danger to be apprehended is from a combination of the men; but this is effectually prevented by the captains reserving the power of offering the bargain upon their own terms after the men have ceased to bid, if no one is found to go as low as they deem proper, or to withdraw the bargain altogether.

The act of contracting with the workmen is called a setting, and this in general takes place at the end of every two months, the auction is denominated a survey, and is held in the open air before the counting-house of the mine, which is generally provided with an elevated stage for the captains to stand on.

Three descriptions of contracts are put up at the surveys, according to the kind of labour to be performed, which is comprehended under the denominations of tutwork, tribute, and dressing.

Tutwork includes work done by measure, such as sinking shafts, driving levels, or stoaping ground; the first being paid for by the fathom in depth, the second by the fathom in length, and the third by the cubic or solid fathom.

Tribute is payment for raising or dressing ore by a certain part of its real value when merchantable, and it is this part of the system that is deserving of most attention, both on account of the excitement