« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
of a million of piastres; for though the con
sumption of objects of luxury before the year 1778 was considerably less than at present, it would be difficult to avoid estimating the value of the contraband trade at two millions and a half of piastres, of which a great part is paid in hard cash. The state of the commerce of New Spain has changed very much within these twelve or fifteen years. The quantity of foreign goods imported fraudulently into the east and west coasts of Mexico, has increased not in volume but in intrinsic value. A greater number of vessels are not employed in the smuggling trade with Jamaica, but the objects of importation have changed with the increase of luxury and national wealth. Mexico now requires finer cloths, a greater quantity of muslins, gauzes, silks, wines, and liquors than previous to 1791. Although the value of the contraband trade is estimated at four or five millions of piastres per annum, we must not conclude that an equal
sum of unregistered piastres flows into Asia
and the English West India Islands. Part of this fraudulent importation is exchanged for the produce of Mexican or Peruvian agriculture; and another part is paid for either in America, Cadiz, Malaga, or Barcelona. * If on the one hand the increase of luxury has rendered Mexico within the last fifteen or twenty years more dependent on Europe and Asia than formerly, on the other hand the produce of the mines has considerably increased. According to the accounts of the consulado, the importation of Vera Cruz, calculating only from the registers of the customs, amounted before 1791 to eleven millions of piastres; and it now amounts, at an average, to more than fourteen millions annually. In the ten years preceding 1791, the mean produce of the mines of New Spain” amounted to 19,300,000 piastres per annum, while from 1791 to 1801 the produce amounted to 23 millions of piastres annually. In this last period the indigenous manufactures have been exceedingly prosperous; but at the same time, as the Indians and people of colour are better clothed, this progress of the Mexican manufactures has had no sensible effect on the importation of Europe—cloth, Indian cottons, and other goods of foreign manufacture. The produce of agriculture has increased in a greater proportion than the manufacturing industry. We have already seen the zeal with which the inhabitants of Mexico gave themselves up to the cultivation of the sugar cane. The quantity of sugar exported at Vera Cruz now amounts
to six millions of kilogrammes; and in a few years the value of this commodity will equal that of the cochineal of the intendancy of Oaxaca. . . . . . . . . . . - of Bringing together into one point of view the data collected by me respecting the trade of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, we find that in the beginning of the nineteenth century, oi
The importation of foreign goods and produce into, the kingdom of New Spain, including the contraband on the eastern and western coaste awants on town, withons weriner-orcoasts, amounts to twenty millions of piastres.
The eagortation from New Spain of the produce of its agriculture and manufacturing industry amounts to six millions of piastres.f
Now the mines produce twenty-three millions of piastres, of which from eight to nine are exported on account of the king, either for Spain, or the other Spanish colonies: consequently if we deduct from the fifteen millions of piastres remaining, fourteen millions to liquidate the excess of the importation over the exportation, we find hardly a million of piastres. The national wealth or rather the specie of Mexico is then annually on the increase. . . . . on
* 594,200,000,sterling. Trans. f sel,260,000 sterling. Trans.
This calculation, founded on exact data, explains the reason why the country, whose mines are the richest and most constant in their produce, does not possess a great mass of specie, and why the price of labour still remains very low there. Enormous sums are accumulated in the hands of a few individuals”, but the indigence of the people cannot help striking those Europeans who travel through the country and the towns of the interior of Mexico. I am tempted to believe that of the ninety-one millions of piastrest which we have supposed to exist in specie among the thirteen or fourteen millions of inhabitants of the Spanish Colonies of continental America, nearly fifty-five or sixty millions are in Mexico. Although the population of this kingdom is not altogether in the proportion of one to two to the population of the other continental colonies, its national wealth is to that of the other colonies nearly in the proportion of two to three. The estimate of sixty millions of piastres gives only ten piastres per head; but this sum must appear too great when we reflect, that in Spain seven piastres, and in France, fourteen piastres, are allowed for each inhabitant. In the Capitania general of Cara
* See vol. i. chap. vii. t See vol. iii. p. 430.
cas, in 1801, the specie which circulates among a population of between seven and eight hundred thousand inhabitants was calculated at three millions of piastres *; but then what a difference between an empire, rich in mines like Mexico, and another which is entirely destitute of them, and where the exports scarcely equal the value of the importation! Several writers on political economy suppose that the specie of a country is generally in the proportion of four to one to its gross revenue. Now the revenue of the kingdom of New Spain, deducting what the government draws from the mines, amounts to 16 millions of piastres. From this datum the mass of the specie would be sixty-four millions, which differs very little from our first estimate. We have already seen that the ministry of Spain have not always had the most accurate ideas respecting the national wealth of Mexico. Occupied in 1804 with the project of paying off the vales or public debt, the mother country imagined it possible to draw at once from New Spain, a sum of fortyfour millions and a half of piastres belonging to ecclesiastical corporations. # It was easy, however, to foresee that the proprietors in whose hands this sum was placed, and who
* Depons, t. i. p. 178; and t. ii. p.38). f See vol. iii. p. 100. WOL. IV. H