« VorigeDoorgaan »
THE ORIENTAL HERALD.
No. 58.-OCTOBER, 1828.- VOL. 19.
POLITICAL AND COMMERCIAL RELATIONS OF GREAT BRITAIN
In the previous Articles inserted in this Journal, on the subject named above, we have already shown, that a great similarity exists between our commerce with China, in its present state, and our commerce with India previous to the Free Trade. We may, therefore, suppose that the case is susceptible of the same remedy ; for, as the Free Trade to India augmented our exports beyond our largest expeciations, so may the adoption of a similar measure with regard to China procure an equal extension of our commercial intercourse with it, and a proportionate increased exportation of the produce of our mines and manufactures to that populous and extensive country. We have also pointed out the weakness of the arguments advanced by the East India Company, and disproved the consequences which they apprehend from the opening of this trade. The increase of smuggling is proved to be imaginary: the danger arising from the admission of Free Traders is shown to decrease numerically more than one-half, and morally in a still greater proportion : the peculiar influence of the Company's servants with the Chinese turns out a mere phantom ; and it is also manifest, that the Company's servants are, and, from the nature of their occupation, must be, held in the lowest possible estimation by the Chinese authorities. From these premises, we infer that no solid objection can exist to the establishment of a Free Trade ; but that, on the contrary, great and numerous advantages are likely to ensue. far from the revenue being diminished by the increase of smuggling, it would rather
be augmented by the removal of all temptation to illicit traffic. The altered system would reduce the price of tea, and, consequently, increase the consumption; and, by a slight modification in the niode of levying the duties, a considerable increase of revenue would immediately follow. Oriental Herald, Vol. 19.
But these points, though by no means problematical, will require some detailed elucidation ; and a recurrence to facts will, incontestably, we trust, establish their validity.
Taking the earliest period of a regular trade in teas, we shall find, with very few exceptions, an annually progressive increase. The consuinption, for instance, In 1711, was
156,200 lbs. In 1800.
23,378,000 The increase in ninety years 23,221,800 lbs. Or annually..
260,000 If we take the last fifty years, from 1784, about the period of the Commutation Act, and when an illicit trade was effectually prevented, we shall discover two remarkable periods. The first sixteen years will show a regular and systematic increase : Sold in 1784
10,148,200 lbs. 1800
Increase in sixteen years ... 13,230,000 lbs.
826,912 But, at the period of 1800, it appears to have reached its maximum of consumption, and, from 1800 to 1824, shows no solid and fixed advance, but fluctuates continually, and may be averaged at twenty-four millions annually. Thus, while in the previous sixteen years there was an annual increase of upwards of three quarters of a milliou, in the succeeding period the consumption remained nearly stationary. The main cause of this was, that the means of purchase bad reached its greatest possible height in 1800, under the inonopoly prices ; and the people of Great Britain had, at that time, spared all they possibly could for the purchase of tea, and have not since been able to advance beyond, in consequence of the supply having been doled out to them in such quantities as invariably to maintain the maximum of price. The consumption, therefore, has not been regulated by the demand, but by the ability of each individual to make the purchase. This state of affairs obviously places it out of the power of the lower, and many of the middling, classes of the people, the demands of whose families are constantly increasing upon them, to indulge in the beverage of good tea; and the privation is rendered so much the greater, because what was at first a luxury, has now, by the force of custom, become a necessary of life, and the habits of even the lowest classes require the use of tea ; but its present high price prevents them from indulging in it, except it be so diluted as to make it little better than mere water ; for their limited incomes preclude the possibility of their sparing money for the purchase of a sufficient quantity of this article, while they pay a proper regard to obtaining others of still greater necessity. The British consumer of tea is obliged to purchase the Company's Congo at 68. to As. per pound, which might be furnished to him by Free Traders, or Americans, at about the following rate : Congo, at
17d. per lb. Duty, say 100 per cent.
17 25 per cent. profit
38. 27d. In proof of the serious inroads which the use of tea, at the present exorbitant prices, makes on the earnings of the poor, and the limited incomes of the less indigent classes, we here subjoin some curious calculations, which were made some years ago, and which, though not intended to be applied to this subject, are quite in point.
As much superfluous money is expended in tea and sugar in this kingdom as would maintain four millions of subjects in bread. — Essay on Husbandry. The entertainment of sipping tea costs the poor each as follows: Tea
1 Fuel and wear of tea equipage
2d. Tea, therefore, when used twice a day, amounts to about 71. 12s. a-head per annum.
The same writer estimates the bread necessary for a labourer's family of five persons, at 141. 58. 9d. per annum. By which it appears that the yearly expense of tea, sugar, &c. for two persons exceeds that of the necessary article of bread sufficient for a family of five persons.--Essay on the Tea Plunt.
These extracts, joined to the foregoing observations, sufficiently establish the fact, that the monopoly price of tea limits the consumption, and that all which can be wrung out of the population of Great Britain in the purchase of this article, bas reached its beight for the last twenty-five years. If, therefore, we take into consideration the immense increase of population during that period, it must be clear that the consumption of tea has declined in exactly the same proportion, notwithstanding the efforts of the Company to adjust the supply to the demand, and to keep up the maximum of price. Were the sums drawn from the population of the country in this way thrown into the Exchequer, the tax might be a source of less dissatisfaction ; but that two millions sterling -the difference between its purchase in China, and sale price in England-should annually be expended to pamper the appetites of a greedy Monopoly, is an oppression which no poor man should quietly endure, nor any rich man, though he may not feel its weight, silently connive at.
What would have been the result, had a reduction of the monopoly prices been enforced during the last twenty-five years, at such
rates as might have easily been met by the consumer? If we take the increase of the sixteen years previous to 1800, when the consumption reached its greatest extent, as a criterion for the subsequent twenty-five years, under the supposition of reduced prices, we shall have the following result :-Increase from 1784 to 1800, 826,912 lbs.; or for twenty-five years, as before stated, 20,672,800 lbs., add the consumption of 1800, say 23,375,800 lbs., and we have, in 1825, a consumption of 44,051,600 lbs. ; which is double the actual consumption. And be it further observed, we are not supposing an absolute Free Trade, but only the establishment of moderate monopoly prices. The effect upon the revenue would, in the same case, have been equally satisfactory to Government; for it is evident that a moderate duty per lb. on the increased amount of consumption would be much more productive than what may be called the hibitory rate of duty on the actual amount of consumption. Thus, in one single step towards a just system of procedure, the greater comfort of the major part of his Majesty's subjects would be ensured, at the same time that a material accession to the revenues of his Exchequer would be effected.
The proposition, therefore, of reduced monopoly prices, promises well, and, were it the only point at issue, might be readily adopted. Most probably, indeed, it will; not by the Government to increase the revenue, but by the Company as a stroke of policy. As the expiration of the charter approaches, we shall not be surprised to hear of a gradual reduction of prices, which will afford the members of the Monopoly an opportunity of turning round upon the Free Trader, in the expectation of having disarmed him of his most powerful weapon. This ruse, however, will not serve them, though they should reduce the price to prime cost; for what is a losing trade with them, will be otherwise with their opponents.
But considerations more weighty than the monopoly of tea demand the abolition of this iniquitous system ; for, till such a measure shall take place, our industry and manufactures will be left under all those disadvantages which have in previous articles been pointed out. Nor is it with respect to our own commerce alone that these apprehensions are founded. The natural and rapid increase of the consumption of tea may be established by reference to any one nation where it has once been fairly introduced. For an illustration of this fact, we will turn to the Americans, as their commerce may be taken as a fair representation of the working of a Free Trade. Since the preceding part of these pages was written, we have been furnished with a statement of the exports from China to America and Europe, so specific and accurate that we are able to discuss the subject with perfect confidence. From this document, it appears that the Ar
an exports from Canton in the season of 1815 and 1816, amounted to 63,881 chests, which, at 70 lbs. per chest, is 4,436,670 lbs. In 1824-5, ending in March, they amounted to
154,644 chests, which, at 70 lbs., is 10,250,080 lbs.; leaving an increase, in ten years, of 6,388,410 lbs.
If the trade between Great Britain and China had, during the period between 1800 and 1825, been conducted on the same principle, the same effect would naturally have followed ; and, instead of the consumption of tea standing still, or rather, as we have shown, retrograding, we should, in the course of that time, have annually consumed an additional quantity of 38,784,200 lbs.; which, added to the actual consumption, 23,328,000 lbs., would have produced 62,112,200 lbs. for the total amount consumed, or nearly three times the quantity which the Monopolists doled out to their oppressed victims.
We know of no objection that can be fairly urged against the comparison with the American rate of increased consumption; for it has been materially kept down by duties amounting to upwards of 40 per cent. And, if it is urged that a large part of their imports is for the supply of an illicit trade, it is, in fact, only an additional proof, how rapidly the increase of consumption takes place, where this article can be introduced at moderate prices. We have selected America on account of the similarity between their character and habits and our own; but, if we proceed to other and younger colonies, the facts are still more striking. New South Wales, composed of a population entirely English, consumes, in proportion to its numbers, far more than America consumes above England; and the consumption of a population between 30,000 and 35,000, is estimated at 2,500 chests. If Great Britain consumed in the same proportion, she would require, taking her population at 17,000,000, about 99,120,000 lbs. annually.
Having succeeded in establishing the fact, that an equal rate of consumption in Great Britain would have taken place as in America, had a Free Trade been enacted in 1800, we proceed to inquire what price the people of England would pay for the consequent abundant supply, and begin by showing at what price below the monopoly rates the article might be offered.
We will take the consumption of tea in Great Britain in the following proportions : Bohea, 3,000,000; Congo, 18,000,000 ; Twankay, 3,000,000; sundries, Hyson, Souchong, &c. &c. 1,000,000 -Total, 25,000,000; which, though not perfectly accurate, will serve for elucidation : Congo may be landed in Europe, or England, by an American, and, consequently, by a Free Trader, at
17d. per lb. It is sold by the Company at
33 Can be saved
16d. per lb. Which, on 18,000,000lbs, is
£1,200,000 Carry forward