Agricola, Georgius, De re metallica, 1912/1950

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Further, it has been asked whether to work in metals is honourab[...]
employment for respectable people or whether it is not degrading an[...]
dishonourable.
We ourselves count it amongst the honourable arts. Fo[...]
that art, the pursuit of which is unquestionably not impious, nor offensive[...]
nor mean, we may esteem honourable.
That this is the nature of th[...]
mining profession, inasmuch as it promotes wealth by good and hones[...]
methods, we shall show presently.
With justice, therefore, we may clas[...]
it amongst honourable employments.
In the first place, the occupatio[...]
of the miner, which I must be allowed to compare with other methods o[...]
acquiring great wealth, is just as noble as that of agriculture; for, as th[...]
farmer, sowing his seed in his fields injures no one, however profitable they[...]
may prove to him, so the miner digging for his metals, albeit he draws forth[...]
great heaps of gold or silver, hurts thereby no mortal man.
Certainly these[...]
two modes of increasing wealth are in the highest degree both noble and[...]
honourable.
The booty of the soldier, however, is frequently impious,[...]
because in the fury of the fighting he seizes all goods, sacred as well as[...]
profane.
The most just king may have to declare war on cruel tyrants,
but in the course of it wicked men cannot lose their wealth and possessions
without dragging into the same calamity innocent and poor people, old
men, matrons, maidens, and orphans.
But the miner is able to accumu-
late great riches in a short time, without using any violence, fraud, o[...]
malice.
That old saying is, therefore, not always true thatEvery rich
man is either wicked himself, or is the heir to wickedness.”

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