Page:Transactions of the Geological Society, 1st series, vol. 2.djvu/332

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Mr. Taylor on the Economy

samples are very accurately taken and sealed up. One of these samples is delivered to an assay master for the mine, another the miner takes to have it assayed if he chooses, and a third is reserved for re-trial in case of dispute. After the market-price of copper has been determined by the result of the sale which governs the settling, the price of each parcel is made up according to the assay, and from the amount of the whole the tribute is carried to the credit of the taker, and the balance settled at the following pay-day.

The rate of earnings in tribute is extremely uncertain, and the employment is consequently speculative in a great degree. If a set of men working on a poor part of the lode where they may have agreed for seven or eight shillings in the pound, discover a bunch of ore rich enough to set at two or three shillings, they earn money very rapidly, and instances have often occurred where a set of miners have divided more than one hundred pounds a man for two months work. On the other hand, when the lode fails, and becomes poor, being obliged to go on with the contract, the men may at the end have their account in debt, not having even enough to pay for the articles they consume.

The cases of extraordinary earnings probably benefit the owners of the mine much more than those in which the men are indifferently paid. They are not likely to happen often, and when they do, they are attendant on some discovery favourable in the first instance to the men, but eventually much more so to the owners. They produce great energy and activity not only in those who benefit from them, but animate all the others, who increase their exertion in hopes of some similar discovery; they encourage competition, and frequently bring neglected parts of the mine into effective and profitable working.

Dressing the ores by tribute tends to produce accurate calculation