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Annual produce of the Gold and Silver on
which the fifth has been paid.
In this table the gold is valued at 145 1 piastres, and the silver at 925 piastres per marc of Castile. It exhibits the quantity of precious metals extracted from the mines, and registered in the royal treasury; and it confirms the assertion of the Count de Campomanes", who, in 1775, estimated the importation of gold and silver into Spain at 30 millions of piastres; but it merely indicates the maximum, which we may suppose to have been furnished by the Spanish colonies. Let us examine what ought to be added for the metals which are smuggled. Hitherto very exaggerated ideas have been entertained respecting the quantity of gold and silver which does not pay the fifth,
* Educacion Popular, T. ii. p. 331.
and which has sometimes been computed at the half, or a third of the total produce, without reflecting that contraband trade varies very much in its activity, according to the localities of different provinces. I shall state here what information I could procure on the spot at Mexico, New Granada, and Peru.
New Spain has only two ports, by which its productions are exported. The bad state of the coasts renders contraband trade much more difficult in that country than in the provinces of Cumana, Caracas, and Guatimala. The quantity of unregistered silver embarked at Vera Cruz, and Acapulco, either for the Havannah and Jamaica, or for the Philippine Islands and Canton, does not probably exceed the sum of 800,000 piastres; but this illicit trade will increase in proportion as the population of the United States shall approach the banks of the great Rio del Norte, and when the west coast, that of Sonora and Guadalaxara, shall be more frequently visited by English and AngloAmerican vessels. When the commerce with China and Japan shall be freed from the fetters of the odious monopoly under which it at present labours, an immense quantity of silyer will flow westwards into Asia. The precious metals are commodities which are transported to those places where they are dear
est. In Japan", which abounds in gold, this metal is to silver as eight or nine to one, In China an
ounce of gold is purchased for 12 or 13 ounces of silver. In Mexico the proportion of the two precious metals is as 154 to 1; from whence it follows, that it is much more profitable to carry silver than gold to Manilla, Canton, and Nagasaki. I have made no mention yet of the exportation of wrought plate (plata labrada), because, according to the registers of Vera Cruz, it never exceeds the sum of twenty or thirty thousand marcs of silver.
In the kingdom of New Grenada, the fraudulent exportation of the gold of Choco has very much increased since the navigation of the Rio Atrato was declared free. Gold dust, and even ingots, in place of being conveyed by Cali or Mompox to the mints of Popayan and Santa Fe, take the direct route of Carthagena and Portobello, from whence they flow into the English colonies. The mouths of the Atrato and the Rio Sinu, where I remained at anchor in the month of April, 1801, serve as stations for smugglers. The laws which from time to time permit the importation of negroes from Africa, and flour from Philadel
Voyage au Japon, de Thunberg (edit. de Langlès) T. ii.
phia in foreign vessels, are favourable to this contraband trade. According to what information I could obtain from those who deal in gold dust (rescatadores) at Carthagena, Mompox, Buga, and Popayan, it would
that we may estimate the quantity of gold supplied by Choco, Barbacoas, Antioquia, and Popayan, on which the fifth has not been paid, at 2500
In Peru, the exportation of silver on which the fifth has not been paid, is not so much carried on by the South Sea coast, which is frequented by the spermaceti .whale-fishers*, as to the east of the Andes, by the Amazon river. This great river connects two countries, where a great disproportion prevails, between the relative value of gold and silver. Brazil is almost as profitable a market for the silver of Peru, as China for the silver of Mexico, A fifth, and perhaps even a fourth, of all the silver extracted from the mines of Pasco, (Yauricocha) and Chota (Gualgayoc), is exported in contraband by Lamas and Chachapoyas, in descending the river. Amazons. There are persons at. Lima who believe that on quickening the trade on that river, the fraudulent exportation of silver would become still greater. This prejudice has been very pernicious for
* See p. 87. of this vol.
the fine provinces which extend along the eastern declivity of the Cordilleras, fertilized by the Guallaga, the Ucayale, the Puruz, and the Beni. They forget that the wildness and solitude of these countries facilitate very much the operations of the smugglers. We shall estimate the unregistered silver of Peru at 100,000 marcs.
In Chili the gold which pays the fifth is to that which does not, according to Ulloa, in the proportion of 3 to 2.
We shall only compute it at a fourth of the total produce. Estimating the fraudulent exportation of silver in the kingdom of Buenos Ayres at a sixth, or 67,000 marcs, and adding, with M. Correa de Serra, for the total produce of Brazil, where alluvial mines are only yet wrought, nearly 30,000 marcs of gold, we shall be able to exhibit in the following table, the whole produce of all America in gold and silver.