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at present deprived of every means of subsistence; but Russian speculators might easily find a vent for our goods in Bulgaria, and that would be the trade best suited to Reni and Ismail,"
These extracts sufficiently explain the cause of the tolls and vexatious quarantines by which Russia seeks to exclude British commerce from the Danube -to convince the populations of Moldavia, Wallachia, Servia, and Bulgaria, that their resources cannot be developed, or their prosperity secured, until they shall have ceased to be "rivals;" that is, until they shall have become integral parts of the Russian empire. Determined to persevere in her own system of high duties, she is equally determined, it would seem, to prevent, by every means in her power, every other people from benefiting by liberal commercial regulations, and therefore she stifles the rivalry of the Principalities, by endeavouring to make them inaccessible.
Having described the transit trade, which had, for some time, been permitted from Germany, through Odessa, the author observes
"This transit trade which brought little increase to the trade of Odessa, was become of very great
importance to the Transcaucasian provinces. By
an ukase of the 8th October, 1821, there had been granted for ten years, commencing with the 1st July, 1822, great prerogatives to the traders of that country, in conceding to every Russian subject or foreigner, who established there a house of commerce, the rights of a merchant of the first class, without exacting from them any impost, and even freeing their houses from all duties and rents.-Foreign goods had only to pay upon entry, a duty of 5 per cent; but if they were imported into the other provinces of Russia, they were subject to the duties established by the general tarif. This ukase remained neglected till 1823, at which period some merchants of Odessa resolved to send the refuse of their warehouses to Redout-Kalé. The success of this enterprise produced a revolution in the trade of Georgia. From the following year, Armenians of Tiflis came to Odessa, to make purchases there; afterwards they proceeded to the fair at Leipsig, and sent their goods, by Brody and Odessa, to Redout-Kalé; in 1828 they even sent them by land from Brody to Tiflis, after having obtained permission for so doing from the Emperor, by the ukase of the 12th June. Some impediments thrown in the way of this transit, from the year 1830, forced the
goods from Leipsig to take the route by Trieste, whence they were transported to Redout-Kalé. But the term of the privileges granted to the ultra-Caucasian trade was about to expire, the petitions of the Russian manufacturers who thought themselves deprived, by the competition of foreigners, of a sure vent, became stronger, and the ukase of the 3rd June, 1831, declared, that, from the 1st January, 1832, the European tarif, with some few modifications, should be extended for four years, by way of experiment, to the Transcaucasian countries. The duty of 5 per cent on value should be retained only on goods of Asiatic origin, which might enter the country, either by the frontier of the south, or by the Caspian sea. The goods which came in transit by Odessa, should pay the duties there; which required the advance of a large sum. The customhouse of Redout-Kalé could only receive a very small number of articles; even the greater part, if destined for the consumption of Mingrelia or of Imeretia, had to be carried to Tiflis to pay the duties there. It is easy to conceive that these impediments would destroy foreign commerce beyond the Caucasus."
The objects which Russia had in view, are thus described by her own agent:
By embarrassing commerce in the Transcaucasian provinces, it was hoped that an opening might be made for the products of Russian manufactories, not only in the interior of these provinces, but also in Persia and Turkey. It was recollected that Armenians went formerly to make large purchases at the fair of Negeni-Novgorod, and that this trade had ceased for ten years, because Russian goods could not stand competition with those of foreigners, which, as we have just seen, yielded a profit of 100 per cent. The new ukase of 1831 foresaw even still the possibility that European goods, making the circuit from Trebizonde to the Russian frontier, might compete with advantage against Russian goods, which, transported from Negeni-Novgorod, on the Wolga, to Astrakan, and thence by sea to some southern port of the Caspian, would have a journey by land of only a few days, to arrive at Tiflis or Tauris. The consumption of Georgia has always been very limited, and the articles which were brought there from Russia, were, for the most part, intended for the use of the Persians. By opening, in 1821, the Transcaucasian ports to
foreign goods, the Armenians had been enabled to judge of their cheapness, and how can the Persians be now constrained to prefer Russian goods to those of foreigners?"
It is but just to Mr. Jules de Hagemeister to observe, that he altogether disapproves of the prohibitive system he has described, (but this is his private opinion only, see "Avis"), at least so far as it is applied to the Transcaucasian provinces ; and he justly observes, that it has tended to create the British and German commerce through Tribizonde, to the material detriment of that of Russia.
"Trebizonde has always been of importance, as the port nearest to Erzerum, and its commerce may be estimated at 20,000,000 roubles per annum. By this route, England and Germany supply Persia and Anatolia with cloths, ladies cloths, calicoes, cotton yarn, paper, sugar, coffee, glass ware, porcelain, iron, tin and steel goods. France takes but little share in this trade. But England will soon have crushed her rivals, by the great establishment which she has formed at this point. A single caravan, despatched for Tauris in 1834, was composed of 650 camel loads, 450 of which were pillaged by the Kurds on the road from Erzerum to Tauris.