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cas, New Granada, and Mexico began very late to profit by the immense advantages derived by them from nature. But roused from a lethargy of many ages, freed from the shackles which a false policy imposed on the progress of agriculture, the Spanish colonies of the continent will gradually take possession of the different branches of the West India trade. This change, which has been prépared by the events of St. Domingo, will have the most fortunate issue in the diminution of the slave trade; and suffering humanity will owe to the natural progress of things what we had a right to expect from the wisdom of the European governments. Thus the colonists of the Havannah, well informed as to their true interests, have their eyes fixed on the progress of sugar cultivation in Mexico, and the coffee of the Caracas. They have long dreaded the rivalship of the continent, especially since the want of combustibles, and the excessive dearth of provisions, slaves, metallic utensils, and the necessary cattle, have considerably diminished the net revenue of the plantations.
New Spain, besides the advantage of its population, has still another very important one in the enormous mass of capitals in the possession of the proprietors of mines, or in the hands of merchants who have retired from com
In order fully to feel the importance of this advantage, we must recollect that in
the island of Cuba, the establishment of a great sugar plantation, worked by 300 negroes, and yielding annually 500,000 kilogrammes * of sugar, requires an advance of two millions of livres tournois t, and that it brings in from 300,000 to 350,000$ livres of
The Mexican colonist may choose along the coast, and in the valleys of greater or less depth, the most suitable climate for the sugar cane; and he has less to fear from frost than the colonist of Louisiana. But the extraordinary configuration of the surface of New Spain throws great obstacles in the way of transporting sugar to Vera Cruz. tations now in existence are for the most part very remote from the coast opposite to Europe. The country having yet neither canals nor roads fit for carriage, the mule carriage of the sugar to Vera Cruz increases its price a piastre per arroba, or eight sous per kilogramme. These obstacles will be much diminished by the roads now making from Mexico to Vera Cruz by Orizaba and by Xalapa, along the eastern slope of the Cordilleras. It is also probable that the progress of colonial agriculture will contribute to people the shores of New Spain,
* 1,103,500 lb. avoird. Trans.
About 3d. per 2 lb. avoird. Trans.
which for ages have remained desert and uncultivated
It is observed in Mexico, that the vezou, or juice expressed from the sugar cane is more or less sugary, according as the plant grows in the plain, or on an elevated table land. The same difference exists in the cane cultivated at Malaga, the Canary Islands, and the Havannah. The elevation of the soil every where produces the same effects on vegetation, as the difference of geographical latitude. The climate has also an influence on the proportion between the quantities of liquid and crystallizable sugar contained in the juice of the cane; for sometimes the vezou has a very sweet savour, and yet crystallizes with great difficulty. The chemical composition of the vezou is not always the same, and the excellent experiments of M. Proust have thrown great light on the phenomena discoverable in the American sugar works, many of which are to the sugar refiner the cause of great despondency.
From the most exact calculations that I could make at the island of Cuba, I find that a given hectare of ground yields for mean term 12 cubic metres of vezou, from which is drawn by the processes hitherto in use, in which much sugary matter is decomposed by fire, at most from ten to twelve per cent. or 1500 kilogrammes * of raw sugar. They reckon at
the Havannah, and in the warm and fertile parts of New Spain, that a caballeria of ground which contains 18 square cordeles" (at 24 varas), or 133,517 square metres *, yields annually 2000 arrobas or 25,000 kilogrammes. † The mean produce, however, is only 1500 arrobas, which is 1400 kilogrammes of sugar per hectare. I At St. Domingo, the produce of a carreau of ground containing 3403 toises, or 12,900 g square metres is estimated at 4000 pounds, which is equal to 1550 kilogrammes per hectare. Such is, in general, the fertility of the soil of equinoctial America, that all the sugar consumed in France, which I estimate at 20 millions of kilogrammes ||, might be produced on a surface of my square leagues [, an extent which
* 1,437,163 square feet. Trans.
3089 lb. avoird. p. 107,639 square feet. Trans.
| France drew from her Colonies in 1788 a total of 872,867 quintals of raw sugar, 768,566 of clayed sugar, and 242,074 of sucre tête.* Of this quantity, according to M. Peuchet, only 434 thousand quintals of refined sugar were consumed in the kingdom. We learn from the lists published during the ministry of M. Chaptal, that the importation of sugar amounted in France in the year 9, to 515,100 quintals.
* Sucre tête or sucre de tête is that which is taken from the upper part or head of the conical pot or pan ( forme) used in the making of clayed sugar. (Gasaur sur l'Art de cultivez la Canner, p. 453.) Trans.
is not the thirtieth part of the smallest department of France.
In grounds capable of being watered, and in which plants with tuberous roots, for example batates and ignames, have preceded the cultivation of the sugar-cane, the annual produce amounts even to three or four thousand arrobas per caballeria, or to 2100 and 2800 kilogrammes of raw. sugar 'per hectare. Now, in estimating an arroba at three piastres, which is the mean price at Vera Cruz, we find from these data, that a hectare of irrigated ground, will yield to the amount of 2500 or 3400 livres tournois in sugar*, while the same hectare would only yield to the value of 260 livres in wheat, supposing a decuple return, and estimating 100 kilogrammes of wheat at 1800 livres tournois. In drawing a comparison , between these two species of cultivation, we must never forget, that the advantages of the sugar-cane cultivation are very much diminished, by the enormous advances required in the establishment of a sugar plantation.
The greatest part of the sugar produced in New Spain, is consumed in the country. The consumption probably amounts to more than 16 millions of kilogrammes †; for that of the island of Cuba, undoubtedly amounts to from 25 to 30,000 chests (caxas) of 16 ar
* From 1041. to 1411. 107,639 square