« PrécédentContinuer »
had chosen for its commencement the year 1772, when the great increase first took place in the mines of New Spain. Of this, we may be convinced by the mere inspection of his own tables; from which it appears, that the average of the annual produce of the mines of New Spain, from 1750 to 1799, was 16,566,909 dollars; while the average produce of the same, from 1771 to 1803, was 19,688,940. Mr Humboldt starts the question, t whether, in consequence of the great introduction of the precious metals into Europe during the last forty years, there has been any fall in their value? and decides it in the negative. We confess, we incline to the opposite opinion. The rise of price in articles of the first pecessity, which we believe is general throughout Europe, seems to us to argue a general depre
ciation in the value of the precious metals, similar to what took place in the middle of the sixteenth century, and, as we apprehend, arising from tie same canse.
"ihis depreciation, however, if it exists, is quite distinct from the peculiar depreciation of this country, arising from the local excess of a paper currency, not convertible into specie, nor exchangeable at its
In his fifth book, Mr Humboldt treats of the Manufactures and Commerce of New Spain.
Spain has been less rigorous than other states of modern Europe in the prohibition of manufacturing industry in her colo nies. The great extent and populousness of her foreign possessions, the remoteness of her principal settlements from the coast, the difficulty of transporting bulky commodities in the interior of Americii, the want of industry and commercial enterprise in her subjects at hone, the exclusive attention of her government to the acquisition of the precious metals, and its indifference and ignorant contempt for other sources of opu·lence, have all contributed to produce this difference in her colonial policy. It may be thought, that as she was the only power in Europe which derived a direct revenue from her coIonies, that consideration determined her to relax from the usual strictness of colonial discipline. For it seems but fair, that where a colony is taxed for the benefit of the mother country, its commerce and internal industry should at least be free. But no such views of justice or liberal policy actuated the Court of Madrid in this instance. In all that related to the compierce or navigation of her foreign possessions, Spain was eqnally jealous with other nations, and though her laws recognised the existence of many branches of manufacturing induspy in her colonies, her government was ever ready to sacrifice those to the real or supposed interests of the mother country. About sixty years ago, an extensive plan for the establishment of European manufactures at Quito was proposed to the Spanish ministry, and undertaken with their consent and apparent approbation, but was defeated by secret instructions given to their agents in America ; and very lately a flourishing manufacture of Indian chintz, in Mexico, was prohibited by an order from Madrid, lest it should interfere with the cotton manufactures of the peninsula.
* P. 580 & 581,
The chief manufactures of New Spain are woollens, cottons, gold and silver lace, hats, leather, soap and earthenwarc; but the total value of the goods which they produced, when Mr I lumboldt was in the country, did not exceed seven or cight millions of doll:ars annually. Some manufactures of silk have been introduced since that time; and in general all the mannfactures, the finer sorts especially, have incrcased considerably in consequence of the war with England and interruption of foreign commerce. Tobacco and gunpowder are royal manufactures and monopolies; and the former brings in to the crownr a clear revenue of four millions of dollars annually. The Mex. ican tradesmen are remarkably skilful in works of plate and jewellery; and, like some of the Eastern nations, they liave a singular turn for imitation. Very good carriages are made at Mexico, though the best coaches come from England.
There are carriage roads from Mexico to most of the principal iowns of the kingdom. But the transport of commodities is chiefly cliected, as in the mother country, on the backs of mules. The new road from Perote to Vera Cruz is compared by Humboldt to the roads of Simplon and Mont Cenis; and appears from his description to be equally solid, useful and magnificent.
In time of war, the indigo of Goatemala, the cacac of Guayaquil, and even the copper of Chili, pass through New Spain in their way to Europe. But during peace, there is little commercial intercourse between the coasts of Mexico and Goatcmala and those of South America, on account of the slowness and uncertainty of the navigation to the southward. From Acapulco to Lima, the passage is sometimes longer than from Lima to Cadiz. Mexico and Peru, though at no great distance, are therefore incapable of maintaining any considerable commerce with each other. The chief trade of Acapulco continues still to ba its commerce with Manilla. The Manilla ship arrives once a year at Acapulco, with a cargo of Indian goods valued at 12 or 1300,000 dollars, and carries back silver in exchange, with a very small quantity of American produce, and some European goods, VOL. XIX. NO. 37.
The commerce of New Spain with the mother country is carried on almost entirely through Vera Cruz. In time of pcace, Mr Humboldt estimates the annual value of the exports, in that commerce, at twenty-two millions of dollars, and the annual value of the imports at fifteen millions. The following is his statement of the chief particulars. EXPORTS.
Dollars. Gold and silver, in coin, bullion and plate........... 17,000,000 Cochineal
2,400,000 Sugar ..........
300,000 Indigo, being the produce of New Spain.
280,000 Sait meat and other provisions...
100,000 Tanned hides............
90,000 Vanilla ...
IMPORTS. Bale goods, including woollens, cottons, linens & silks 9,200,000 Paper .......
650,000 Iron, manufactured and unmanufactured.......... 600,000 Steel
14,600,000 This statement, however, must be considered as a mere approximation by Mr Humboldt, founded on the average of several years of peace,-and, therefore, more applicable to the period antecedent to 1796, when the war with England broke out, than to the present times. Whoever wish for more exact details must look to his work, p. 699-708, where they will find the accounts of the commerce of Vera Cruz, in 1803 and 1803, published by the Consulado of that place. It is necessary further to observe, that Mr Humboldt does not include, in this estimate, the contraband trade on the coast of New Spain; and that he has alse omitted the indigo of Goatemala, and cacao of Guay
aquil, though exported at Vera Cruz; because these articles are not the produce of that kingdom.
The beneficial effects of the system of free trade, to which we have so frequently alluded, * have been experienced to a greater extent in Mexico than in any other part of Spanish AmericaCuba, perhaps, excepted. This will appear evident, from a comparison of the export of produce from New Spain at different periods. The last flota, under the old system, siled from Vera Cruz in 1778, and exported the produce of the Dollars. four preceding years, which amounted in value to 2,470,029 The exports of produce in 1787-90, the four first
years after the new system was completely established, were valued at....
Difference of the four years.......
Export of produce in $ 1802.
5,128,283 The export of 1802 is not, perhaps, a fair subject of comparison, as that was the first year of peace after the termination of a long war, in which the direct commerce with the mother comtry had been in a great measure suspended. But the same objection does not apply to 1803, the export of which was more, than double that of four years under the old system, and nearly equal to the exports of two years immediately after the introduction of the free trade.
After considering the commerce of New Spain in all its branches, contraband included, Mr Humboldt gives the following estimate of its total amount.
Dollars. Annual importation of foreigo goods........ 20,000,000 exportation of produce ...
Balance to be discharged in money.
Annual produce of the mines......
crown, and of private individuals
.... 14,000,000 Money added to the circulation of the colony ..........
We shall conclude our extracts from this part of Mr Humboldt's book with the following summary of the commerce and population of the Spanish colonies in America, taking the former without alteration from his work, but making such changes in the latter as appear to us advisable. Colonics. Population. Imports.
Produce, Specie. Dollars Dollars. Dollars.
Cuba. 432,000 in 1804* ?
11,000,000 9,000,000 Porto Rico 136,000 in 179++ S New Spain
}7,800,000 in 1808 22,000,000 9,000,000 22,500,000 Gottemala N.Grenada 1,800,000 in 1808 5,700,000 2,000,000 3,000,000 Caracas. 900,000 in 1808 5,500,000 4,000,000 Peru 1,4-15,000 in 1796 } |11,500,000 4,000,000 8,000,000 Chili .. 720.000 in 1806 || Bu. Ayres 972,000 in 1803 Ø 3,500,000 2,000,000 5,000,000
Remitted to Europe in revenue to the crown, or in rents to individuals
9,300,000 According to this estimate, the effective demand of Spanish America for foreign inerchandize exceeds 15 millions Sterling anmually; and that of New Spain and Goatemala alone falls little short of seven millions. The progress of domestic manufactures in those countries, so far from having a tendency to lessen this demand, will increase it by enriching the people, and enabling them to consume foreign luxuries to a greater amount. When coarse manufactures from abroad are
no longer wanted in a country, because the growing industry of its inhabitants supplies it with such articles, the finer sorts and more costly coinmodlities become the objects of request. It is not the want of desire to enjoy, but the want ot' ability to acquire, that limits the consumption of nations. The richer our customers become, the greater will be their demand for our merchandize. It is their p. verty and sloth, not their opulence and industry, that *e ought to deprecate.
In * From Humboldt.
† From Le Dru.
From Azara and Alvear y Porce.