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tula, Colima *, Guatlan, Navidad, Puerto Escondido, Xalisco, Chiametla, Mazatlan, Santa Maria Aorne, Santa Cruz de Mayo, Guaimas, Puerto de la Paz (or del Marques del Valle †), Monterey, San Francisco and Puerto de Bodega. This long list of ports of which the greater number contain excellent anchorage, justifies what we have already said relative to the contrast observable between the eastern and western coasts of Mexico. The strength of the currents, the constancy of the monsoons, and the tempests in winter are very unfavoura. ble to the coasting trade. From the coast of Guatimala to the sea of Cortez, the passages are so long and difficult, that the corvettes under the command of Malaspina, two excellent sailing vessels, employed, in 1791, fifty eight days in coming from Realexo to Acapulco; and the same year the merchant ship la Galga, favoured by the currents and winds, reached the Azore Islands in sixty days from the time of leaving the port of Lima. The first of these passages is only 300 marine leagues, and the second 4,500 leagues.
The ports of Acapulco, San Blas, Monterey, and San Francisco, possess the finest position for the spermaceti whale fishery, and the trade
in beaver furs, that is any where to be found between the 28o and 60° of north latitude. We have already treated of these subjects in the tenth chapter, when describing the marine animals of the South Sea coast. The AngloAmericans, to reach the latitudes inhabited by the Saricovians, are obliged to make the tour of the whole of the New Continent. From the 40° or 43° of north latitude, they rise to the 58o and 60° south; and after having doubled Cape Horn, they ascend the South Sea to the same northern latitudes from which they set out. During the short stay which I made in the United States in 1804, there was on the . north-west coast, from fifteen to twenty American vessels *, mostly belonging to individuals of Nantucket and Boston. These vessels after exchanging their furs at Canton and Macao, for tea, raw silk, and nankeen, make the tour of the globe in returning by the Cape of Good Hope. The Mexican Spaniards, whose possessions extend to the 38° north, might reach the same coasts in the space of twenty days which the Anglo-Americans and Europeans can only reach after a navigation of six or seven months. The coast of New California, and especially the environs of Monterey contains
* In the year 1792, there were only seven. ii. p. 519.
the famous sea ear, of which the mother of pearl is of the most beautiful orient, and to which the islanders of Quadra Island and New Cornwall, attach as much value as to the halio this iris and the haliothis australis of New Zealand*. On the other hand the commerce of Chili supplies the copper of Coquimbo, so much in request among the savages of the north-west coast. The colonists of Russian America excepted, no other nation is so advantageously situated for carrying on the beaver fur trade as the Mexican Spaniards. : This fur which varies in colour and fineness with the age, season, and sex, is of a jet black, and is in such estimation in China, that previous to 1780, a single fur was sold there for forty, sixty, and even a hundred and twenty piastres. Till 1787, the price kept up to seventy piastres, for those of the first quality; but since that period the importations have exceeded so much the wants of the trade, that the finest Nootka fur was sold at Canton in 1790, for fifteen piastres, to such a degree had the value by that time been reduced. Latterly the Chinese government has sometimes prohibited the importation of furs into the ports of the south ; but this prohibition has always been of very short dura
* Viage al estrecho de Fuca, p. cxlviii. p. 121 and 161. Voyage de La Perouse, T. ii. p. 276_-282; T. iv. p. 276.
tion. We see from the list of importations into Canton, from 1804 to 1806, that there has been imported in the space of three years 34,144 beaver furs*, of which nearly five-sixths came in Anglo-American vessels. During that period the medium price of the fur was from 18 to 25 piastrest. We may see from these data that the profits of the fur trade have been enormously diminished since the time when Lieutenant King, and Captain Hanna were in China ; and we may also perceive how exaggerated those calculations of several writers on political economy are, who have imagined that the fortyfour millions of pounds of tea annually consumed by Europeans, may be in a great measure paid with the furs of the north-west coast of America. It appears that the markets of Canton and Macao are abundantly supplied with thirty, or thirty-five thousand beaver furs
According to the table of Russian commerce published by the Count de Romanzow, China received by Kiachta, in all sorts of furs of marine and land animals at an average from 1802 to 1805, to the value of 1,450,000 rubles.
+ Compare Coxe's Russian Discoveries, p. 13, and Dixon's Voyage round the World, p. 316, with Renouard de Saint Croix, Voyage Commercial, Vol. III. p. 152. .
annually, and that the total value of this importation would not amount to six hundred thousand piastres. The price of furs in China will lower still more, if the Americans of the United States profit by the information acquired by the expedition of Captain Lewis, and if they open a direct trade between Hudson's Bay, Canada, and the mouth of the river Columbia.
When Europe learned from the account of Cook's third voyage the advantages of the trade in beaver skins, the Spaniards made also some feeble attempts to take a share in this trade. A commissary was sent to Monterey, in 1786, to collect all the beaver skins of the presidios and missions of New California : and it was then believed that they could collect as many as twenty thousand. The government at first reserved to itself exclusively the fur trade; but seeing that this measure was too unpopular, it gave to a few merchants of Mexico, the permission of sending cargoes of them to the Philippine Islands. The profits of the traders were reduced nearly to nothing, because the Spanish government loaded with exorbitant duties, this nascent branch of national industry ; because the furs went through the hands of the merchants of Manilla; and because these speculations were commenced at a time when the price of furs had already considerably fallen. Of what immense profit this commerce would have been to