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the Mexicans, if at the time of the expeditions of Perez, Heceta, and Quadra *, in 1774, 1775, and 1779, the court of Madrid had established factories at the road of Nootka (Puerto de San Lorenzo), the port of Bucarelli, or Hinchinbrook Island, in those northern regions, where the beaver furs are finer, more glossy, and thicker than they are to the south of the parallel of 48o. At that period the hunters of Kamschatka were still the sole masters of the fur trade of the north-west coast of the New Continent. : In giving tables of the commerce of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, I have confined myself to those objects of exportation and importation, which have been registered, that is to say, on which the duties of export and import prescribed by the Spanish laws have been paid. These duties (derechos reales) are paid in America + according to the regulations of 1778 and 1782, in which the prices of all the commodities attempted to be introduced into the colonies froin leather, and calicoes, to chemical apparatus and astronomical instruments, were fixed in a very arbitrary manner. In pro
* See Vol. II. p. 363.
† Arancel general de los derechos reales de aduanas de los años 1778 y 1782. Calendario mercantil de España y Indius, 1804. Espiritu de los mejores diarios, 1789, n. 170, p. 953; n. 172, p. 987;- n. 173, p. 1013.
portion to this supposed value, each article pays a fixed duty of so much per cent.
A distinction is made in the Spanish colonies between the royal and the municipal duties; and this distinction takes place in all the ports, from Coquimbo to Monterey. The puertos mayores pay both kinds of impost, but in the puertos minores, the municipal duties only, are exacted. However, the system of customs is far from uniform in the different parts of America. The alcavala which is paid at the importation, and not at the exportation of goods, is at Carthagena 2 per cent., at Guayaquil 3, at Vera Cruz and Caracas 4, and at Lima 6 per cent. The almoxarifazgo of entry for Spanish produce is generally 3 per cent., and 7 per cent. for foreign commodities. The almoxarifazgo of clearing out is from 2 to 3 per cent. Among the municipal duties, they distinguish the derecho del consulado, from y to 1 per cent. ; the derecho del fiel executor, and the derecho del cabildo. At the entry of goods into the Spanish colonies, the custom-house exacts from the free effects, or produce of Spanish agriculture and manufactures 91 per cent. ; from the contributable effects or foreign produce, manufactured in Spain, 12; per cent; and for the foreign effects, 7 per cent. It is to be observed that these last goods have already paid 22 per cent. before entering any of the ports of
America ; viz. 7 at leaving Spain, and 15 at their first entry into Spain. I refer the reader for the detail of the custom-house system, to an instructive work published by M. Pons on the statistics of the province of Caracas * As he filled the situation of commercial agent, this writer was placed in the most favourable circumstances for studying every thing connected with the duties, tarifs, and customs of Spain.
The bad state of the eastern coast, the want of ports, the difficulty of landing, and the dread of averages, (avaries) render contraband trade more difficult in Mexico than on the coast of Terra Firma. The contraband is carried on almost exclusively by the ports of Vera Cruz and Campeachy. Small vessels are fitted out from these two ports in quest of goods at Jamaica, and to carry on what is called at Vera Cruz by the name of telegraphic ways. In time of war the frigates which blockade thé road have been frequently seen to land contraband goods on the small Island of Sacrifices. I general the trade of the colonies is very animated during maritime war, which is the period when these countries enjoy to a certain degree the advantages of independence. So long as the communication with the mother country remains interrupted, the government is forced to
* Voyage a l« Terre ferme, T. ii. p. 357, 360, and 441 ; T. iii, p. 11.
relax its prohibiting system, and to allow from time to time commerce with neutrals. , As the custom-house officers are not too severe in the examination of papers, the contraband is then carried on with the greatest facility; and if in time of peace it probably amounts to four or five millions of piastres annually, in time of war it undoubtedly amounts to six or seven millions. During the last rupture with England, the mother country could not introduce from 1796 to 1801, at an average more than 2,604,000 piastres * worth of national and foreign commodities; and yet in Mexico the warehouses were encumbered with India muslins, and English manufactures.
For half a century the ministry of Madrid, has regularly demanded every year, sometimes from the viceroys, sometimes from the supreme junta of finances, and sometimes from the intendants of provinces, reports respecting the means of diminishing contraband trade. In 1803, a more direct way was resorted to ; and it applied to the consulado of Vera Cruz, com. posed of the principal merchants of the town. It may easily be conceived that none of these reports have ever led to the solution of a problem equally interesting to the public morals
* Reflexiones acerca del comercio de Vera Cruz y de la influencia que ha tenido la guerra (a very interesting MS: Memoir of D. Jozef Donato de Austria).
and the public revenue. Notwithstanding the quarda costas and a multitude of custom-house officers kept up at a great expence, and notwithstanding the extreme severity of the penal code, the contraband trade will necessarily subsist so long as the temptation of gain shall not be diminished by a total change in the custom-house system. At present the duties are so enormous, that they increase from 35 to 40 per cent. the price of foreign commodities imported in Spanish vessels.
After showing, from information procured on the spot, the importance of the internal and external commerce of Mexico, the state of the roads, and ports, the possibility of canals, the difficulties which the currents and monsoons oppose to the South Sea navigation, it remains for us to take a rapid view of the annual augmentation of the national wealth. We shall not in this place retrace the history of American commerce, from the time when it was confined to the galleon of Porto Bello and the fleet of Vera Cruz, to the happy period when it was freed in a great measure by Charles III. from the shackles under which it has laboured for three centuries. M. Bourgoing has treated this subject with the sagacity and perspicuity which characterize the work in which he was the first, to give Europe a correct idea of modern