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The great fertility of the soil, and the immense population, gives such great advantages to Bengal over every other country of the globe, that the sugar exported from Calcutta, after a passage of 5200 leagues, is still lower at New York than the Jamaica sugar, which comes only from a distance of 860 leagues. This phenomenon will not appear so astonishing, to whoever casts his eye over the table given by me in a former part of the work, of the wages
of labour* in the different countries of the
world, and who reflects that the sugar of Hindostan, which is not however of the greatest purity, is manufactured by free-hands, while in the West India Islands (in the Island of Cuba for example) to produce 250,000 kilogrammes of raw sugar, requires 200 negroes whose purchase amounts to more than 300,000 francsf. In the same Island the maintenance of a slave costs more than 20 francs per months.
According to the curious information given by M. Bockford, in his Indian Recreations,
* According to Mr. Playfair, (Statistical Breviary 1801, p. 60.) the price of labour in Bengal is as follows: a mere workman gains 12 shillings per month; a porter 15; a mason 183; a blacksmith or carpenter 224; an Indian soldier 20: all in the environs of Calcutta, reckoning the English shilling at 25 French sous, and the rupee at two shillings and sixpence.
+ £12501 Sterling. Trans.
t 16s. 8d. Trans.
printed at Calcutta, the sugar cane is cultivated in Bengal, principally in the districts of Peddapore, Zemindar, in the Delta of Godavery, and on the banks of the river Elyseram. The plantations are watered there, as is also customary in several parts of Mexico, and in the valley of Guines, to the south east of the Havannah. To prevent the soil from being exhausted, they cultivate alternately leguminous plants with the sugar cane, which attains in general three metres of elevation, and from three to four centimetres in thickness.” In Bengal, an acre (of 5368 square metres) yields 2500 kilogrammes of sugar,t amounting to 4650 kilogrammes per hectare: consequently the produce of the soil is twice as great as that of the West Indies, while the price of the labour of a free Indian, is almost three times less than that of a negro slave of the Island of Cuba. In Bengal, six pounds of the juice of the cane yield a pound of crystallized sugar, while in Jamaica eight pounds are requisite to produce the same quantity of sugar. Considering the vezou as a liquid charged with salt, we find that in Bengal this liquid contains 16, and in Jamaica 12 per cent. of saccharine matter. Hence the sugar of the East Indies is so low priced, that the cultivator
* 9 feet 10 inches, by from 11 to 15 inches. Trans, f 55.17 lb. avoird. Trans. WOL, III. so
sells it at 4; roupees the quintal, or at 26 centimes the kilogramme, which is nearly the third of the value of that commodity in the Havannah market. Although the cultivation of the sugar cane is spreading with astonishing rapidity in Bengal, the total produce is still much less than that of Mexico. Mr. Bockford supposes the produce of Jamaica to be the quadruple of that of Bengal. Cotton is one of those plants of which the cultivation, was as antient among the Aztec tribes, as that of the pite, the maize, and the quinoa. There is some of the finest quality on the western coast, from Acapulco to Colima, and at the port of Guautlan, particularly to the south of the Volcan de Jorullo, between the villages of Petatlan, Teipa, and Atoyaque. As they are yet unacquainted with machines for separating the cotton from the seed, the price of carriage is a great obstacle in the way of this branch of Mexican agriculture. An arroba of cotton (Algodon con peppa) which sells for 8 francs at Teipa, costs 15 at Walladolid, on account of the mule carriage. That part of the eastern coast extending from the mouths of the rivers Guasacualco and d’Alva
rado, to Panuco, might supply the commerce of
Vera Cruz, with an enormous quantity of cotton; but the coast is almost uninhabited, and the want of hands occasions a dearth of provisions,
unfavourable to every agricultural establishment. New Spain supplies Europe annually with only 25,000 arrobas, or 312,000 kilogrammes" of cotton. This quantity though in itself very inconsiderable, is however six times greater than that exported by the United States, of their own growth in 1791, according to the information which I owe to the kindness of M. Gallatin, Finance Minister at Washington. But the rapidity of the increase of industry, among a free people wisely governed is so great, that according to a note furnished me by the same statesman, the United States exported,
Home Cotton. Foreign Cotton.
In 1797 - , 2,500,000 lib. - - 1,200,000 lib. 1800 - 3,660,000 - - - 14,120,000 1802 - 3,400,000 - - - 24,100,000 1803 - 3,493,544 - - - 37,712,079
From these data of M. Gallatin, it follows that the produce of cotton has become 377 times greater in twelve years. When we consider the physical positions of the United States and Mexico, we can hardly entertain a doubt that these two countries will one day be enabled to produce all the cotton employed in the manufactures of Europe. The enlightened merchants who compose the chamber of commerce of Paris, have asserted in a memoir
* 688,584 lb. avoird. Trans.
printed a few years ago, that the total importation of cotton into Europe, amounts to 30 millions of kilogrammes". I am inclined to believe that this estimate is much below the truth; for the United States alone have exported annually, more than 22 millions of kilogrammes of cottont, amounting in value to 7,920,000 dollars, or nearly 40 millions of livres tournois. o Flaw and hemp may be advantageously cultivated wherever the climate does not admit of the cultivation of cotton, as in the provincias internas and even in the equinoctial region or table land, where the mean temperature is under 14 degrees of the centigrade thermometers. The Abbe Clavigero advances that flax is to be found wild in the intendancy of Walladolid and in New Mexico, but I very much question whether the assertion is founded on the accurate observation of any botanical traveller. However it is certain that neither flax nor hemp have to this day been cultivated in Mexico. Spain has had a few enlightened ministers who wished to favour these two branches of colonial industry; but their favour was nothing more than temporary. The council of the Indies, whose influence is durable like that of every body in which
* 62,100,000 lb. avoird. Trans. + 48,558,000 lb. avoird. Trans. t 57° of Fahrenh. Trans.