Part 5 out of 6
situated convents, buildings which, even in cities, are commonly and
naturally in _retirement_; but here, in whichever of the most public
ways you walk, a number of extraordinary trellised balconies are
observed on the upper stories of almost every large house, while
business and bustle of all kinds are transacted as usual in the street
below. You may well be surprised to see the nunnery over the _Marchande
de Modes_! The unhappy inmates thus tormented by the sight and sound of
worldly activity, have not in Palermo even the solace of a garden; and
if these places of more than usual mortification have any connexion with
the world without, it is by an under-ground passage to some church in
the neighbourhood! Thither repair the poor victims of superstition to
warble _Aves_ to the Virgin behind their screens, and then back again to
their monotonous cloister. There are twenty-four nunneries in the city
of Palermo alone, each containing from thirty to sixty women, and there
are as many monasteries! With open doors like coffee-houses, full upon
the street, are placed at Palermo innumerable _consulting shops_ of so
many _lawyers_; the earliest to begin business, the last to close, you
may have the luxury of law at any hour of the day till bedtime. Nay,
your Sicilian lawyer, unlike the lazy tradesman who puts up his shutters
and sleeps from twelve to four, takes no _siesta_; his _atra janua
lilis_ is always open, and there sit the _firm_, one listening to a
client, another smoking a cigar, a third chatting with an acquaintance
over his coffee or the newspaper. Scarcely less mischievous than these
sowers of dissension, is the _barber-surgeon_, who still flourishes in
Trinacria. The bleeding arm over the peruke shop is often to be seen in
Rome and Naples; but at Palermo almost at every third house, you read
_Salassatore_ over a half-naked figure in wood or canvass, erect like
Seneca in his bath, or monumentally recumbent, the blood spouting, like
so many Tritons, from twenty orifices at once. Led by professional
curiosity, we enter one of these open doors; and, desiring the ordinary
service of the razor, and intending to ask some questions
parenthetically touching the double craft, we have scarcely occupied the
chair, when a smart youth comes up with a razor and a lancet, and
quietly asks "_Which_?" Why, surely he could not think of _bleeding_ us
without a warrant for our needing it. "_Eperche? Adesso vi le diro
subito_--Why not? I'll tell you whether you want it without a
doctor,"--feeling for our pulse. "_Non c'e male_--not so much amiss,"
pursued the functionary; "but a few ounces bleeding would do you _no
harm_! Your hand is hot, it must be _several months_ since you were last
bled!" "A year." "Too long: you should be bled, at your age, at least
_twice a-year_ if you would keep your health!" "What amount of depletion
did he recommend?" "_Depende--di sei a dieci oncie_," at which portion
of the dialogue our mouth was shut to all further interrogations by a
copious supply of soap-suds, and now he became the tonsor only, and
declares against the mode in which we have our hair cut: "They have cut
your hair, Signor, _a condannato_--nobody adopts the toilette of the
guillotine now; it should have been left to grow in front _a la Plutus_,
or have been long at the sides _a la Nazarene_, which is the mode most
of our Sicilian gentlemen prefer." We were about to rise, wash, and
depart, but an impediment is offered by the artist. "_Non l'ho_
raffinato _ancora, Signor, bisogna_ raffinarlo _un poco_!" and before we
could arrive at the occult meaning of _raffinare_, his fingers were
exploring very technically and very disagreeably the whole surface over
which his razor had travelled, and a number of supplementary scrapings
were only stopped by an impatient _basta_ of the victim. _Still_ he was
unwilling to part with us. _Would_ we like, now that we are on the spot,
to _lose a few ounces of blood_ before he takes a stranger in hand, (who
is waiting for the one or other operation;) and, as we most positively
declined, he turned to the latter to ask him whether he was come for his
"_piccolo salassio di sei oncie_." "_Gia_!" said Signor Antonio, taking
off his coat, and sitting down with as much _sangfroid_ as if he were
going to take his breakfast. "Can you shave _me_?" asks a third party,
standing at the door. "_Adesso_," after I have _bled_ this gentleman.
Such are all the _interiors_ where _Salassatore_ is written over the
door; they bleed and they shave indifferently, and doing either, talk of
the last _take_ of _thunny_, the _opera_ that has been or is to be, and
the meagre skimmings of their permitted newspaper, _which_ begins
probably with the advertisement of a church ceremony, and ends always
with a charade--for our subscribers!!
The clergy are wealthy, the bishop's salary is 18,000 scudi, and many of
the convents are very opulent; but there is scarcely one of the churches
which you care to visit twice. Most of them are disgraced by vulgar
ornaments, in which respect they surpass even the worst specimens at
Naples! Gilt stucco, cut and stamped into flowery compartments, shows
off like a huge twelfth cake! but the _Matrice_ or _Duomo_, and the
Saracenic _Chapel of the Palazzo Reale_, and the cathedral of
_Monreale_, four miles beyond the town, are noble exceptions; these in
their several ways are all interesting, both within and without. The old
Siculo-Norman archway of _Monreale_, and its fine bronze gates crusted
with a beautiful hard polished _coin-like patina_, would repay the
excursion, even were the interior less fine. Here we have columns from
whose high architraves the Gothic arch springs vigorously; walls
perfectly covered with old Byzantine mosaics; a roof of marvellous
lightness, and almost modern elegance; still the critic, who is bound by
_metier_ to find fault with violated canons, will, we must own, be at no
loss for a text in the church of Monreale--a building which is, however,
of sufficient importance in ecclesiastical architecture to have been
designed, measured, and engraved, in whole and in part, in a splendid
volume, published in folio, by the Duke of Serra di Falco.
VISIT TO THE GARDEN OF THE DUKE OF SERRA DI FALCO, NEAR PALERMO.
After a delicious half hour's drive through country lanes hedged with
cactus, aloes, and pomegranates, we find ourselves in front of a small
villa distant about two miles from the sea. As to the house, many an
English gentleman, in very moderate circumstances, has a far better; but
on passing the archway of this Sicilian country-box into its garden, two
trees, which must be astonished at finding themselves out of
Brazil--trees of surpassing beauty--are seen on a crimson carpet of
their own fallen petals, mixed with a copious effusion of their seeds,
like coral. At the northern extremity of Italy (Turin) this _Erythinia
corallodendron_ is only a small stunted shrub; nor is it much bigger at
Naples, where it grows under cover. Six years in the _open air_ have in
Sicily _produced_ the tree before you: it is, in fact, larger than most
of our fruit-bearers. We next recognise an agreeable acquaintance,
formed two years ago, in the _Neapolis Japonicus_; it bears a delicate
fruit, of the size of a plum, whose yellow, freckled skin contains such
a nectar-like juice that the pine-apple itself scarcely excels it. Our
fellow-passenger, the infallible voice of a new-made cardinal of the
warlike name of Schwarzenburg, who tasted it here, as he told us, for
the first time, has already pronounced a similar opinion, and no
dissentients being heard, the Japan medlar passed with acclamation. The
_Buggibellia spectabilis_ of New Holland, calls you to look at his pink
_blossoms_, which are no other than his leaves in masquerade. We grub
up, on the gardener's hint and permission, some of the _Cameris
humilis_, to whose filamentous radicles are attached certain little
grains, of great sweetness and flavour. The banana-tree, "_Musa
paradisaica_," which, cooped in our low hot-houses at home, breaks its
neck, and might well break its heart, as its annual growth is resisted
by the inexorable glass dome, is here no prisoner but an acclimated
denizen of sun and air. The _Cactus Opuntiae_, or Indian fig, is here for
vulgar tastes; and the _Cactus cochinellifera_ for the Luculluses of the
day, who could afford to pay for its rearing. The small _sneezing
plant_, a vegetable smelling-bottle, is still employed in headach by the
common people of Sicily, who bruise the leaves and sniff their pungency:
its vulgar name, _malupertusu_, is the corruption of Marum del Cortuso,
as we find it in the ancient herbal of Durante. The _Ferula communis_ or
_Saracinisca_, a legacy left to the Sicilian pedagogues by their eastern
lords, is sold in fagots at the green-grocers, and fulfils the
scholastic office of _birch_; and, being more elastic, must be pleasant
to _flog with_. We recommend it to _head masters_. The _sumac_, _Rhus
coriaria_, is not only to be seen here, but every where else in Sicily;
and they say there is a daily exportation of one thousand sacks of its
ground leaves. The ancients knew it well, and employed it for giving a
flavour to their meat, as they do now in Nubia and Egypt, according to
Durante, who deems its many virtues deserving of Latin verse. We smell
pepper!--a graceful shrub, whose slender twigs stand pencilled out like
sea-weed spread upon paper; and the _Schinus mollis_, a leaf of which we
have gathered ignorantly, is the source of the smell. We strew some
leaves on the basin of a neighbouring fountain, and amuse ourselves by
seeing them swim about as if they were bewitched, parting at the same
time with a whitish fluid, which, spreading on the surface of the water,
gives it an iridescent hue. The _Fuchsia arborescens_ of Japan flowers
here, they say, every month, just as we see him in all his pink
luxuriance, and makes himself quite at home; and here is that little
blue vegetable butterfly, the _Polygala_! Who can overlook his _winged_
petals, peeping out of their myrtle-looking bower? Then the
_geraniums_!--not potted, as in Covent-Garden, or the _Marche aux
Fleurs_, but forming vast parti-coloured _hedgerows_, giving to every
pathway its own _particular flower and perfume_; so that a connoisseur
might be taken blindfold and declare where each kind grew. _Hedges of
geranium seven feet high_! Think of that, ye _Dicksons_ and
nursery-ground men about _Brompton_ and the _King's Road_! The stalks a
mass of real ligneous matter, fit for the turner's lathe if it were but
hard enough. A small mound enables us to look about us more at large;
and now we discern the stately _bamboo_, thicker than your arm, and tall
as a small mast; and the _sugar-cane_, formerly cultivated for his
juice, but now looking as if he were ill-used and neglected. His
biography (but as it is not _auto_-biography, and written with his own
_reed_, there may be some mistake) is remarkable. Soon after the
annexation of Sicily to Spain in 1420, he was carried from Syracuse into
Spanish captivity; he then escaped to Madeira and the Canaries, and at
length saved himself in the West Indies. The _pistachia_ is also here,
with its five-partite sessile leaf, like a dwarf walnut; the capsule
holding the nut containing at present only a white germ, which it will
require four months more to bring to nutty maturity. The _manna_-tree is
very like an _alder_ in its general character, but thicker in its stem,
and bears the cicatrices of last year's _ill treatment_; its wounds,
however, will not bleed afresh now; but towards August the _salassatore_
of trees will run his steel into its limbs, taking care to place under
the bleeding orifices leaves from the _cactus_ hedge hard by to serve as
recipients, and drain its juices till it faints.
That a _leaf_ might not be _wanting_ to record these vegetable
treasures, the pagoda-topped _papyrus_ nodded to us gracefully, and
offered its services; while, to finish the picture, Angola goats are
browsing amid the green and yellow ribbed _agaves_; and the beautiful
blue sea peeps in through gaps of the wall of _cactus_, whose green
stems are now all fringed with yellow blossoms. Leaving the flower
garden, we enter a labyrinth, and arrive at a small hut, with a closed
door, upon the threshold of which we have scarcely pressed, when the
wicket flies open, and a big brown friar, with long beard and sandals,
starts up in act to frighten us, which he succeeds in doing. This
automaton _Schedoni_ might really well produce abortion, and would not
care if he did: he cannot, we suppose, be placed there as a lawful
instrument of relief, for all the _donzelle_ of Palermo must be _aware_
of, and be used to him. This, however, is thought so good a joke, that
it is repeated with variations; for on releasing another spring a
similar contrivance introduces us to another monk of the same convent,
who is reading a huge tome on the lives of the saints: resenting the
interruption, he raises his head, and fixes his eyes on the intruder, at
the same time beckoning to him with his hand, and intimating that if he
will do him the favour to come a little nearer, he will knock him down
with the folio, as Johnson did Osborn the bookseller.
Another surprise is--but really these are surprising enough--and we came
here to see vegetable rarities, and not the tricks of an overgrown
THE THUNNY FISHERY.
[Greek: Tan baitan apodys eis chymaia taena haleymai,
Hopeth tos Oynnos schopiazeiai 'Olpis o' gripeys.]--THEOC.
The thunny fishery, if not as exciting as that of the whale, is far from
uninteresting to the uninitiated. We were rowing about in want of an
object, when our boatmen proposed to take us to see this animating
species of labour; and off we went to a spot about two miles from shore,
where we came upon a little flotilla of boats, all occupied in the
common pursuit. A large quantity of floating cork announced our arrival
on the fishing ground; then came long lines of buoys, to which the
drop-nets were attached, and at last we drew alongside a small boat,
hailing which, we learn that the net is already half-drawn, and that _la
pipa_ (the sword-fish) is _in_ it. Now, we had long wanted to see a live
sword-fish, but there was no need to stimulate our rowers, who appeared
equally eager that we should assist at the fun, and made great exertions
to reach the spot in time. "_Questa_," says our guide, showing the
boundary of the space circumscribed by walls of net; "_questa e la
camera della morte_, (this is the chamber of death,) _piano, piano_, (or
we shall shoot ahead.") The space thus designated lay between two long
barges, one of which was fixed by anchor, and had few people on board,
while the other was crowded with naked limbs, and fine heads in Phrygian
bonnets, academy figures every man of them. What symmetry of form! what
jet black beard and mustache! what dark flashing eyes! what noses
without reproach! All were in the various combinations of action which
their position demanded, hauling away at what seemed to our impatience
an endless net; by the shortening of which, however, as their boat
received it, layer upon layer, fold upon fold, coil upon coil, they were
slowly bringing up the reticulated wall. As the place of captivity came
nearer, every body was intensely anxious to get a first view of the
fish; and many other boats were coming up alongside of ours, which
fortunately lay right over the meshes of the prison, which was becoming
every second more and more restricted in size. At length some of us
obtained a first view of the _spada_ and his long sword, and testified
our delight with vociferation. The fish, meanwhile, who hates publicity,
backs off, and would back out, to the opposite end of the net, where,
still finding himself an object of unpleasant remark, he tries by
violence to escape sideways; but that is _no go_ even for a sword-fish,
for a sword is his which cannot cut cords, and he soon finds he can make
nothing of it. Smaller and smaller, meanwhile, is becoming the condemned
hold, and greater and greater the perturbation within. The captive fish
begins to swim round and round, and to watch a new opportunity, but it
is too late!--too many are on the look-out for him! Every man gets ready
his hooked pole, and there is more tightening of the tackle! The
terrified fish now rises to the surface, as it were to reconnoitre, and
then down he dives with a lash of his tail, which sends buckets of water
into the boat of the assailants. This dive, of course, only carries him
to the false bottom of the net, and come up presently he must! Every eye
now looks _fishy_, and every man's hand is armed for the first blow. One
tall athletic fellow takes aim, and misses; another is more successful,
and hits. Stunned by the blow, the poor fish flounders on this side and
on that, and the water is discoloured by his blood! One, two, three
pointed poles at once, are again in his flank; and now he rushes about
like a rounded lion, brandishing his tail, and dashing up whirlpools of
water. More Blows! more blood! He rushes desperately at the net, and
running his long snout into the meshes, is hopelessly entangled. It is
all over with him! Countless wounds follow, till he turns over on his
side, and is handed up lifeless into the boat.
"There," says one, "goes fifteen scudi's worth, and no harm done to _the
net_." "Little enough, too; but he is worth two thunny, anyhow," says
another. "Ay! and gives more _sport_," exclaims a third. Such piscatory
eclogue fell upon our ear, when our guide announced to us that we had
now seen every thing. The excitement over, we sat down in our boat to
make a note of what we have written, while the boatmen clave the
phosphorescent water homewards, and landed us neatly at sunset, with
their oars dripping luminous drops at every stroke, in the beautiful
harbour of Palermo.
Some days after we were still more fortunate; we had observed the scouts
with a white hood over their boat, _looking keenly down_ (_vide_ our
quotation from Theocritus) into the deep blue sea, and watching with
all-eyed attention for the apparition of some giant shadow which should
pass athwart the abyss, and give the signal for a new chase, while their
comrades were hauling in an immense miscellaneous _take_ of fish, the
acquisition of the morning. We shot the outpost, (placed to prevent
larger vessels from entering the fishing preserves and injuring the
nets,) and remarked our boatmen uncovering to a small _Madonna_ railed
in alongside. We were just in time on this occasion to see the water
enclosed in the _camera della morte_, already all alive with fish; for a
shoal of _palamide_, and of immense _pesce di moro_, filled the
reticulated chamber. They darted here and there as the net was raising,
and splashed so furiously about, that the whole water became one lather;
meanwhile, the men who had been singing gaily, now prepared their
landing-nets, shouting in a way which certainly _did_ seem to increase
the terror of their prisoners, who redoubled their efforts to escape.
The rich hues of the _palamide_, in shape and colour not unlike our
mackerel, but with longitudinal, in place of transverse, green bands,
were beautiful objects as they were raised all iridescent in their
freshness out of the water, and transferred to the side boat. We also
noticed in the net one or two immense fish, in shape like rounded
parallelograms, with tough shagreen hides, goggle eyes, and two immense
leathery fins placed at the lower part of the abdomen. They kept
flapping these valves up and down, but not offering to strike, though
lugged out by a hook. The haul was a good one, each fish worth a ducat;
and had they, in fact, been at this price converted into coin at once,
the money would have made no mean show in the bottom of the net. The
treacherous _camera della morte_ was emptied quickly, and in one minute
more, down it went again into the depths below.
We should have mentioned a singular practice of the fishermen of the
present day in Sicily, to _pat_ the thunny while he is in the net, as
you pat a horse or dog: They say it makes him docile. This done, they
put their legs across his back, and _ride_ him round the net room, an
experiment few would practise on the dolphin's back, at least in these
days; yet Aulus Gellius relates that there was a dolphin who used to
delight in carrying children on his back through the water, swimming out
to sea with them, and then putting them safe on shore! Now, _but for the
coins_, taking the above custom into consideration, one might have
supposed the ancients' _delphinus_ to have been the modern _thunny_.
THE FISH MARKET.
"Dragged through the mire, and bleeding from the hock," lay a continuous
mass of slaughtered thunny, mouths wide open, bloody sockets, from which
the eyes had been torn to make lamp-oil, gills ripped off to be eaten
fresh, and roes in baskets by their sides. There was also a quantity of
a fish of dirty white belly and dusky back, the _alalonga_, and two huge
_dolphins_, with skins full of lamp-oil. This really ugly creature looks
far better in the _delphin_ title-pages, with his lamp and his "_alere
flammam_" on clean paper, than on the stall; but his very best
appearance is on a fine Sicilian coin, with _Arion on his back_. The
snouts of four large sword-fish were also conspicuous; and there was
thunny enough for all the world: some of the supply, however, was to be
hawked about the streets, in order to which cords are placed under the
belly of a thunny of fifteen cwt., and off he goes slung on a pole, with
a drummer before and a drummer behind, to disturb every street and alley
in Palermo till he is got rid of; not that the stationary market is
quiet; for the noise made in selling the mutest of all animals is in all
countries really remarkable; but who shall do justice to a _Sicilian_
Billingsgate at _mezzogiorno_! "_Trenta sei, trenta sei_," bawls out the
Padrone, cleaving a fish in twain with one stroke of an immense chopper
kept for the purpose. "_Trenta sei, trenta sei_," repeat the two
journeymen accomplices, one counting it on his fingers to secure
accuracy and telegraph the information to distant purchasers, or such as
cannot _hear_ in the noise; another holds up a slice as a specimen;
three fellows at our elbow are roaring "_tutti vivi, tutta vivi_," "_a
sedici, a sedici_." The man of _whitings_, and even he of _sardines_,
have a voice and a figure of their own. As you approach each stall, the
noisy salesmen suspend their voices, and enquire, in gentler accents, if
you intend to buy; if you do not, like the cicada their stunning sound
returns as soon as you are past. We have hinted that the thunny,
"_Integer et cadavere toto_," does not look handsome: vastly less
attractive is he when mutilated. Big as an elephant's thigh, and with
flesh like some black-blooded bullock of ocean breed, his unsavoury meat
attracts a most repulsive assemblage, not only of customers, but of
flies and wasps, which no flapping will keep off from his grumous liver.
The _sword-fish_ cuts up into large bloodless slices, which look on the
stall like so many fillets of very white veal, and might pass for such,
but that the head and shoulders are fixed upon a long lance, high above
the stall, to inform the uninitiated that the delicate looking meat in
question was fed in the pastures of the deep. The _price_ of thunny, a
staple commodity and object of extensive Sicilian commerce, varies
considerably with the supply; as to the demand, it never ceases. During
our stay in Palermo, a whole fish would fetch about eight _scudi_, and
his retail price was about twopence _per English pound_. Think of paying
three or four _francs_ for less than half a pound _sott 'olio_ in Paris.
The supply seems very constant during the season, which, on the Palermo
side of the island, is from May to July, and continues a month later
along the _Messina_ coast; after which, as the fish cease to be seen, it
is presumed here that they have sailed to the African coast. The flesh
of the _spada_ fish is generally double in market price to that of the
thunny, selling during the greater part of June at about fourpence
a-pound. Every thunny is weighed upon landing, and a high tax paid upon
it to the king, who, in consideration thereof, charges his Sicilian
subjects no duty for gunpowder or salt. The fixed fisheries for thunny,
round the Sicilian coast, are upwards of a dozen, the most famous being
that of Messina. At Palermo, however, they sometimes take an immense
strike of several hundred in one expedition. The average weight of a
full grown thunny, is from 1000 to 1200 pounds; of course the men with
poles who land him, can carry him but a little way, and he reaches the
market by relays. Every bit of him is eaten, except his bones and his
eyes, and even these yield a quantity of oil.
The spada, too, is pickled down to his bones--he is in great request for
the hotels, and his eyes, duly salted, are considered a sort of luxury;
in some places these are the perquisite of the fishermen, yielded by
their employers, who farm the fisheries, and having satisfied the king,
make what terms they can with the subject.
* * * * *
From the brief review, in our last Number, of Spain, her commercial
policy, her economical resources, her fiscal rigours, her financial
embarrassments, these facts may be said to have been developed:--In the
first place, that theoretically--that is, so far as legislation--Spain
is the land of restrictions and prohibitions; and that the principle of
protection in behalf, not of nascent, but of comparatively ancient and
still unestablished interests, is recognized, and carried out in the
most latitudinarian sense of absolute interdict or extravagant impost.
Secondly, that under such a system, Spain has continued the exceptional
case of a non or scarcely progressing European state; that the
maintenance and enhancement of fiscal rigours and manufacturing
monopoly, jealously fenced round with a legislative wall of prohibition
and restriction, has neither advanced the prosperity of the quarter of a
million of people in Catalonia, Valencia, and Biscay, in whose exclusive
behalf the great and enduring interests of the remaining thirteen
millions and upwards of the population have been postponed or
sacrificed--nor contributed to strengthen the financial resources of the
government, as proved by the prostrate position and prospects of a
bankrupt and beggared exchequer; that, as the necessary and inevitable
consequence, the progress of agriculture, the ascendant interest of
all-powerful communities and vast territorially endowed states--of
Spain, the almost one only interest and element of vitality, economical
and political--has been impeded, and continues to be discouraged; that
the march of internal improvements is checked or stunted, when not
absolutely stayed; finally, that public morals--the social health of a
great people, inheritors of glorious antecedents, of an historic renown
for those qualities of a high order, the deep-seated sentiment of
personal, as of national honour and dignity, the integrity, fidelity,
and gallantry, which more loftily spurn contaminating approximation with
action springing out of base, sordid, and degrading motives and
associations--have been sapped and corrupted by the debasing influences
of that gigantic system of organized illicit trade which covers Spain
with hordes of _contrabandistas_, more numerous and daring than the
bands of _aduaneros_ and the armies of regulars whom they set at
defiance, and infests the coast of Spain with fleets of smuggling craft,
which all the _guardas costas_, with the ancient armada of Spain, were
it in existence, would be powerless to annihilate. And all this fine
nation, of warm and generous temperament, of naturally noble and
virtuous aspirations, thus desperately to be dismantled of its
once-proud attributes, and demoralized in its character; its exhaustless
riches of soil and climate to be wantonly wasted--per force of false
legislation to be left uncultured--and for why? Shades of the
illustrious Gabarrus and Jovellanos, why? Why, to enable some half dozen
_fabricantes_ of Barcelona to keep less than half-a-dozen steam-engines
at work, which shall turn some few thousands of spindles, spinning and
twisting some few millions of pounds of yarn, by which, after nearly
three quarters of a century that the cotton manufacture has been
planted, "swathed, rocked, and dandled" with legislative fondness into a
rickety nursling, some fifty millions of yards of cotton cloths are said
to be painfully brought forth in the year; the value of which may
probably be equal to the same or a larger quantity of French cottons
introduced by contraband, and consumed in the provinces of Catalonia and
Arragon themselves--the first being sole seat of the cotton manufacture
for all Spain. And for this deplorable consummation, the superabundant
harvests of the waving fields, the luscious floods of the vineyards, the
full flowing yield of the olive groves of Spain--of the wine, the oil,
and the corn, of which nature is more bountiful than in Egypt of
old--the produce and the wealth of the millions, (which, permitted,
would exchange advantageously for foreign products, and, bye all the
value, add to the store of national wealth, and create the means of
reproduction,) are left to run waste and absolutely perish on the
ground, as not worth the cost of transport to markets without demand.
"The production of this soil," observes the Ayuntamiento of Malaga, in
their eloquent _Exposicion_ to the Cortes cited in our last Number,
after referring to their own port and province, in whose elaboration
thousands and thousands of hands are employed, millions and millions of
capital invested, "are consumed, if not in totality, at least with close
approximation, in England;" and after enumerating the wines, oil,
raisins, grapes, oranges, lemons, and almonds, as products so consumed
in this country--"We have active and formidable rivals in France,
Germany, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, the Greek Archipelago, and other
countries. We shall say nothing of the wools, corn and other fruits of
Spain, so important, and some so depressed in England by foreign
competition with those of this province. If the treaties of commerce of
England with Italy and Turkey are carried into effect, the exportation
of our oils and dried fruits will receive its death warrant--_queda
herida demuerte_. France, Germany, and Portugal, accepting favourably
the idea of the British Government, will cause our wines to disappear
from the market; their consumption is already very limited, inasmuch as
the excessive duty, to one-third the amount of which the value of the
wine does not reach, at the mouth of the Thames, prevents the sale of
the inferior dry wines. The same excessive duty tends to diminish the
consumption of our fruits from year to year. Our oil has alone been able
to find vent by favour of the double duty imposed till now upon
Sicilian, superior to ours in quality. But the English speculators are
already shy of purchasing, in the expectation of an assimilation of
duties on oils of whatever origin." The Ayuntamiento proceeds to urge
the necessity of a "beneficial compensation" to British manufactures in
the tariff of Spain, without which, "the flattering perspective" of
prosperous progress for the industry and agriculture of the Andalusias
will be destroyed, and that those vast, rich, and fertile provinces will
become a desolate desert. "The admission or prohibition of foreign woven
cottons," says the _Exposicion_, "is for Malaga and its province of
vital importance under two aspects--of morality and commerce. Until now
we have endured the terrible consequences of prohibition. The exorbitant
gain which it supports is the germ of all the crimes perpetrated in our
country. The man who carries a weapon, who uses it and sheds the blood
of an agent of the law in the defence of his illegally acquired goods,
will not hesitate in shedding the blood of a fellow citizen who may
stand in the way of his desires. And hence the frequent assassinations.
He who with gold seduces others for the increase of his own property and
for antisocial purposes, does not scruple, when fortune is adverse, to
possess himself by violence of the gold of the honest husbandman, or
peaceful trader: from hence the constant robberies in the less
frequented places; from hence the general abuse of carrying prohibited
arms of all sorts, and using them criminally against any one on the
least provocation, already accustomed to use them against the
Government. Who shall venture to enumerate the assassinations, the
robberies, the ruined families, the misfortunes of all kinds, which,
directly and indirectly, spring from contraband trade?"
Such is the _Exposicion_, such the experience, and such the views of a
patriotic and enlightened corporation, representing and ruling over one
of the most populous, wealthy, and industrially disposed districts of
Spain. Our object in prefacing at this length, and with seeming
irrelevance, perhaps, our review of the commercial policy of Russia,
with its bearings on the interests of Great Britain, is to show the
differing action of the same commercial system, in the present case of
the prohibitive and restrictive system in different countries, both in
respect of the mode in which the internal progress and industry of
countries acting upon the same principle are variously affected
themselves and in respect of the nature and extent of the influences of
such action upon those relations of interchange which they entertain, or
might otherwise entertain, with other countries where an opposite or
modified system prevails. In its broad features the system of Russia
varies from that of Spain only in being more rigorous and intractable
still. Both, however, are founded on the same exclusive principle, that
of isolation--that of forcing manufactures at whatever cost--that of
producing all that may be required for domestic consumption--of
exporting the greatest possible maximum--of importing the lowest
conceivable minimum. Starting from the same point, and for the same
goal, it will not be without interest or instruction to accompany and
observe the progress of the one, as we have already endeavoured to
illustrate the fortunes of the other--to present Russia, industrial and
commercial, side by side, or in contrast with Spain, as we have
described her. Your absolute theory men, your free-traders with one
idea, like Lord Howick, your performers in the economic extravaganza now
rehearsing in the Parliament-house under the style of "leave imports
free, and the exports will take care of themselves," may chance to meet
with many strange facts to confound their arbitrary theorems on the
banks of the Neva. Absolute of wisdom, however, as they arrogate to be,
and casehardened as they are, against assaulting results which should
destroy their self-willed principle--a principle, like the laws of the
Medes and Persians, proclaimed to be unchanged and unchangeable--in face
of which facts are powerless and adverse experience contumeliously
scouted, or mendaciously perverted, it is sufficiently obvious that
lessons in political economy will, less than from any quarter of the
globe, perhaps, be accepted from St Petersburg--they will fall upon
unwilling ears--upon understandings obtuse or perverted.
We are not of the number of those who would contend that, under all
times or circumstances, should a principle, or rather the system built
upon a principle, be rigorously upheld in its application intact, sacred
equally from modification on the one hand, as against radical revolution
on the other. It cannot be denied that, under the protective system,
have grown into their present gigantic proportions all the great
manufacturing interests of Great Britain. But, with customary hardihood
of assertion, maintain the economists--in whose wake follow the
harder-mouthed, coarser-minded Cobdens of the League--although
manufactures have flourished under such a system to an extent which has
constituted this country the workshop of the world, they have so
flourished in spite of the system; and, in its absence, left exposed to
free unrestricted competition from abroad, must inevitably have
progressed at a more gigantic rate of speed still. This is asserted to
be in the order of nature, but as nature is every where the same--as the
same broad features and first elements characterize all countries more
or less alike--we ask for examples, for one example only, of the
successful establishment and progress of any one unprotected industry.
The demand is surely limited, and reasonable enough. The mendacious
League, with the Brights and Cobdens of rude and riotous oratory, are
daily trumpeting it in the towns, and splitting the ears of rural
groundlings with the reiterated assertion that, of all others, the
cotton manufacture owes nothing to protection. What!--nothing? Were
general restrictive imposts on foreign manufactures no protection? Was
the virtually prohibited importation of the cotton fabrics of India no
boon? of India, root and branch sacrificed for the advancement of
Manchester? Why, there are people yet alive who can recollect the day
when Manchester cottons could not have stood one hour's competition with
the free, or even 100 per cent taxed fabrics of India. How, indeed,
could competition have been possible, with the wages of weaving and
spinning in India at three-halfpence per day, whilst for equal
quantities and qualities of workmanship, the British weaver was earning
five shillings, and the spinner ten shillings per day on the average? In
1780, Mr Samuel Crompton, the ingenious inventor of the mule frame for
spinning, such as it exists to this day, and is the vast moving machine
of cotton manufacturing greatness, stated that he obtained _fourteen_
shillings per lb. for the spinning and preparation of No. 40 yarn,
twenty-five shillings for No. 60, and two guineas for No. 80. The same
descriptions of yarns are now profitably making at prices ranging from
about tenpence to twentypence per lb. At the same period common calicoes
were saleable at about two shillings per yard, which now may be
purchased for threepence. Will it be said that the Indian spinner and
weaver by hand could not, at the same epoch, have produced their wares
at one-half the price, had not importation, with unrelenting jealousy,
been interdicted? Was the rigid prohibition of the export of machinery
no concession, all exclusively and prodigiously in the interest of the
cotton manufacture, to the zealous promotion and ascendancy of which the
mining and agricultural interests are unhesitatingly, not to say
wantonly, prejudiced, if not absolutely perilled? We say wantonly,
because the free exportation of cotton yarn, tolerated at the same
moment, was an absurd and mischievous violation of the very principle on
which the prohibited exportation of machinery was alone and could be
justified. In face of these incontrovertible facts, of which hereafter,
and now that the record of them is consigned to that wide circulation
through the world which the pages of Blackwood only can afford,
misrepresentation remains without excuse on the question of that
fostering protection to which, in a larger degree, if not exclusively,
the cotton manufacture of Great Britain is indebted for its growth to
its present colossal, mammoth-like, and almost unwieldy grandeur. We do
not, however, whilst re-establishing facts in their purity, dream the
practical impossibility of confounding and disarming the ignorance of
men unfortunately so ill educated and unread, and with intellect so
incapable, apparently, of appreciating instruction, if not wilfully
perverse, as the Cobdens, or of restraining the less coarse but more
fluent flippancy and equally unscrupulous assurance of friend Bright,
from resort to that stock and stale weapon of vulgar minds which is so
readily drawn from the armoury of falsehood. To the end of the chapter
they will lie on, until doomsday arrive, and they sink, like the Henry
Hunts, _et id genus omne_, their at least as well-bred predecessors of
the popularity-hunting school, to their proper level in the cess-pool of
public contempt. Time, which executes justice upon all in the long run,
cannot fail to lay the ghost of cotton and anti-corn law imposture, even
in the troubled waters of the muddy Irk and Irwell, where first conjured
from. And now, having shown how the cotton manufacture of Great Britain
was from its birth cradled, rocked, and dandled into successful
progress; how it was fostered and fenced round with protection and
prohibitive legislation as against competition from abroad; we shall
proceed with our review of the rise and career of _protected_
manufactures in Russia. And we would counsel "one who has whistled at
the plough," whose "farming notes" in the _Morning Chronicle_, when
confined to such matters of practical detail as may be supposed to lie
within the scope of his own experience and comprehension, are not
destitute of interest and information, though with distorted and
exaggerated views, to ponder well before a next reiteration of the
random and absurd assertion that the "corn-law has done to agriculture
_what every law of protection has done for every trade that was ever
practised_--it has induced negligence, and, by its uncertain operation,
has obstructed enterprise." Instead of whistling at the plough, such a
writer almost deserves to be whipped at the cart's tail for so
preposterously dogmatic an assumption. It has yet to be demonstrated,
and the proof is challenged, that ever a great interest, whether
manufacturing or agricultural, was established in any part of the world,
since the creation, without the aids and appliances of legislative and
guernatorial patronage. The degree, the qualification the practical
limitations, which in the progress of time, with social and industrial
changes supervening at home and abroad, may be rendered expedient or
necessary in the application of the principle, constitute quite a
different question, which may be discussed and entertained without any
disparagement of the soundness of the policy, as best adapted to
existing circumstances, of the system when first applied. The theory of
free trade may be, in its entirety, as plausibly it is presented to us,
founded on just principle; the abstract truth and perfection of which
are just as unimpeachable as that of the social theory propounded by
Rousseau in the Savoyard's profession of faith, or that of the "liberty,
equality, and community of property" (to say nothing of women) theory
preached, and practically developed to some extent, in the paganish
philosophies and New Harmony vagaries of the St Simonians, the
Fourierians, and of Robert Owen, in these our days. And yet, from the
beginning of time--whether from the world before the flood, or since the
reconstruction of the world after--never, to this present epoch, has one
single example come down to us of the sober realization of either the
economical abstraction or the social abstraction. Primeval chaos, chaos
existing before all time, could alone have represented the _beau-ideal_
of each. So far indeed as their own demesnes and domains, Laban and
Pharaoh were not without their practical proficiency in the elements of
economical science--for the one knew how to sell his daughters, as the
other his corn, in the "dearest market;" and each to buy his labour and
his money at the "cheapest." And never will these free-trade and social
day-dreams be accomplished to the end of all time; never until chaos
come again; never, unless perchance the Fitzwilliams and the Phillipses,
impregnated with the beatific reveries of socialist Robert Owen, should
throw open, the one, Wentworth hall, with its splendid parks and
spacious domains--the other, his Manchester mills, wonder-working
machinery, and million of capital stock, to joint-stock occupancy, with
common right of possession of the rural labourers who till the ground,
and the urban operatives who ply the shuttle--the producers, in fact, of
all their wealth--share and share alike; themselves, in future,
undertaking the proportion of daily task-work; driving the "teams
afield," or tenting the mule-frame. Should, perhaps, the Phalansterial
system of Fourier preferably suit their taste, they will be entitled to
enter into the "phalanx of harmony," and share _a des degres differents,
dans la repartition des trots facultes--capital, travail, talent_, ...
with the enjoyment of such an apartment in the Phalansterial "palace"
for four hundred families, the minimum of the phalanx being eighty,
which may compare with the quality of _repartition_ corresponding to
them, as expounded by Madame Gatti de Gamond, the principal legatee of
Fourier and his system.
 The cotton piece goods of India were still subject, in
1814, to a duty on importation equal to 85 per cent. This duty
was reduced on the 5th of July 1819, but to L.67, 10s. per cent
only. Finally, in 1825 the duty was again reduced to 10 per
cent, at which it remains. The duty on cotton yarn imported from
India was at the same time subject to a duty of 10d. per lb.,
and so remained till 1831 at least. It must be borne in mind,
that India was the only country in the world which, before and
during the rise of the cotton manufacture in Great Britain, was,
or could be, an exporter of cotton fabrics and yarns.
In the course of the discussions which terminated in the treaty of
commerce and navigation with Russia, laid before parliament on the
opening of the session--the stipulations of which, however, chiefly bore
upon the extension of certain reciprocal rights of navigation--the
Emperor Nicholas, in answer to representations pressed upon him from
this country, for a liberal extension of the same principle to the
general commerce of Russia, to foreign imports as well as shipping and
exports--to let in a glimmer of the free-trade principle, in
fact--replied, as we observed in a former article, that "the system,
such as it was, he had received from his predecessors, and it was found
to work well for the interests of his empire." The Autocrat, despot as
he may be, was not singular in the opinion; for even our esteemed friend
Count Valerian Krasinski, distinguished no less for the solidity of his
literary attainments than for the liberality of opinion and the
patriotism which condemns him to the penalty of exile in a "dear
country's cause," who therefore will not be suspected of undue bias in
favour of Russian systems, had written and published in an able article
on Russia, treating _inter alia_ of the rise and progress of her
manufactures and commerce, to the following effect:--"The manufacturers
of Russia commenced, as in other countries, with the beginning of its
political importance, but have been chiefly indebted for their
encouragement and progress to the efforts of the Government ... The
(protective) system has been steadily adhered to with constantly
increasing energy, and _the most brilliant success_, up to the present
time." This was published in 1842. We shall proceed to test the merits
of the case by reference to documents of official origin, Russian and
British--both to the latest dates to which made up in a sufficiently
complete shape for the object in view, and the former in some instances
later than any yet published in this country, and, as believed,
exclusively in our possession. We shall have to deal with masses of
figures; but to the general reader in search of truth, they can hardly
fail to be more acceptable than whole pages of allegations and
assumptions unsupported by proof, however eloquently worked out to
We commence with laying the foundation for a comprehension of the
industrial progression of Russia, by a comparative statement of the
average imports of a few of the chief articles of consumption, raw
materials of manufacture, and manufactures, for two series, of three
years each; the first series being the earliest for which official
records can be cited, or were perhaps kept. Accidental circumstances,
and the special influences which, favourably or unfavourably, may act
upon particular years, producing at one time a feverish excess of
commercial movement, and at another, a reacting depression as unnatural,
are best corrected and balanced by taking averages of years. Thus, the
mean term of imports for 1793, 1794, and 1795, may be thus contrasted
with that for 1837, 1838, and 1839, of the following commodities:--
Annual imports, 1793-95 1837-9
Sugar, 341,356 poods 1,675,806 poods
Olive oil, 42,239 ib. 345,455 ib.
Machines and Instruments
of all kinds, for 111,300 silver rubles 1,025,264 silver rubles
Woollen cloths for 3,978,000 ib. 570,000 ib.
Raw cotton, 10,000 poods 315,000 ib.
Cotton-yarn, 50,000 ib. 600,000 ib.
Cotton fabrics for 2,600,000 silver rubles 3,866,000 ib.
During the first triennial period, a large proportion of the sugars
imported was in the refined state, the number of sugar refineries being
then very limited; in the second period, the imports consisted
exclusively of raw sugar for the numerous existing refining
establishments, which consumed besides 125,000 poods of beet-root sugar,
the produce of the beet-root works established in Southern Russia.
Woollen manufactories have so rapidly and extensively increased, that,
whereas, comparatively a few years past only, the manufacture of
woollens was confined almost exclusively to the coarser sorts for army
use, whilst the better qualities for the consumption of the more easy
classes, and for export to Asia, were imported from abroad, chiefly from
Great Britain; for the fifteen years preceding 1840 the case has been
completely altered. The import of foreign woollens has almost altogether
ceased for internal consumption in Russia, whilst no woollens but of
Russian make are now exported to Asia, and especially China. The export
of these home-made woollens figures far above two millions of rubles
yearly in the tables of Russian commerce with eastern countries. It will
be seen that while the imports of cotton yarn, in the space of forty-two
years, had increased in the proportion from 1 to 12 only, that of raw
cotton had advanced in the proportion from 1 to 32. The facts are
significant of the growing extension both of spinning factories and the
cotton manufactories. It is difficult to understand or credit the
increased imported values of cotton fabrics here represented, knowing,
as we do, the decreased export to Russia in our own tables of values and
quantities. But we shall have occasion hereafter, perhaps, to notice
some peculiarities in the Russian official system of valuations, which
may probably serve to clear up the ambiguity. But although importing
foreign cottons for internal consumption, Russia is moreover an exporter
of domestic fabrics, to the value of about one million of silver rubles,
on the side of Asia. In order to avoid as far as possible the
multiplication of figures by the accompanying reduction of the moneys
and weights of Russia into English quantities, it may be convenient to
state, that the silver ruble is equal to 37-1/2d. sterling, and, in
commercial reckoning, the pood answers to 36 lbs. avoirdupois.
Limiting our views for the present to the trade in cottons, as the
manufacture of cottons is of much more recent growth in Russia than
woollen and other manufactures, we find that the exact imports,
quantities, or values, of cotton and yarn, are thus quoted in Russian
official returns for the three last years to which made up _seriatim_.
1839. 1840. 1841.
Raw cotton, 354,832 398,189 314,000 poods.
Cotton yarn, 535,817 519,189 560,799 ...
The depressed state of the cotton trade in 1841 in this country, with
the very low prices of yarn, from consignments pushed, in consequence,
for sale at any rates against advances, were doubtless the cause of the
increased imports of yarn, and the decrease in raw cotton, exhibited in
the returns for 1841. Otherwise, the import of raw cotton has been
comparatively much more on the increase than cotton yarn for some years
past. Thus, beginning with 1822, when the cotton industry began more
rapidly to develope itself, but omitting the years just given, the
imports stood thus:--
1822. 1830. 1838.
Raw cotton, 55,838 116,314 326,707 poods
Cotton-yarn, 156,541 429,736 606,667 ib.
Now, it will not be denied that the cotton manufacture in this country
has enjoyed supereminent advantages over that of any other in the world,
whether we look at the protective scale of duties maintained for half a
century in its favour against foreign competition, or regard those
glorious inventions and improvements in machinery, of which rigorous
prohibitive laws against export, during the same period in force, long
secured it a strict, and, even to a more recent period, a _quasi_
monopoly, and gave it a start in the race, which seemed to leave all
chance of foreign concurrence, or equal ratio of progression, out of the
question altogether. Neither for spinning nor weaving could Russia, in
particular, possess any other than machinery of the rudest kind, with
hand labour, until perhaps subsequently to 1820. Her tariffs, even by
special treaty of commerce, in 1797, were entirely favourable to the
entrance and consumption of British fabrics. The prohibitory, or
Continental system of Bonaparte, was indeed substituted after the treaty
of Tilsit; but in 1816 a new tariff was promulgated, modifying the
"prohibiting system of our trade," as the Emperor Alexander, in his
ukase on the occasion, expressed it. By this tariff, cotton fabrics of
all kinds were taxed twenty-five per cent in value only; cotton yarn,
seven and a half copecs per cent; fine woollens, 1 ruble 25 copecs per
arschine; kerseymeres and blankets, twenty-five per cent on value;
flannels, camlets, druggets, cords, &c., fifteen per cent. How, then,
has Russia, subject to all these disadvantages and drawbacks, and so
late in the field, fared in comparison with this country, so long and so
far before her? Let us take the Russian data first given for the two
triennial periods, and ascertain the issue.
The mean annual imports of cotton taken for consumption into Great
Britain, deducting exports, may be thus stated in round numbers for the
two terms, 1793-4-5 and 1837-8-9.
Annual imports, 1793-5. 1837-9.
Raw cotton, 22,000,000 lbs. 391,830,000 lbs.
The ratio of progress of the manufacture, therefore, from one term to
the other, of the forty-four years, was not far from eighteenfold.
Reducing the quantities of cotton-yarn imported into Russia into the
state of raw cotton, by an allowance of about three ounces in the pound,
or nearly seven pounds per pood, for waste in the operations of
spinning, we have the following approximate results:--
Annual imports, 1793-5. 1837-9.
Raw cotton, 69,700 poods. 1027,500 poods.
The ratio of increase from term to term being thus the greater part of
But as the cotton manufacture, from circumstances referred to of
favourable tariffs for importation--comparatively free-trade
tariffs--did not begin fairly to shoot forth until 1822, it will be only
right to try the question of comparative increase by another list,
namely, as between the returns of the consumption of cotton respectively
in the two countries for that year, and one of the later years, 1839,
1840, or 1841; but say rather an average of the three. We are unable,
however, to strike a corresponding average three years forward from, but
inclusive of 1822, for want of the corresponding Russian official
returns for two of the years. On the other hand, to take the one year of
1839, when the quantity of cotton taken for consumption in this country
was at a low ebb, would be like straining for an effect, which the
impartial seeker after truth can have no object in doing, whilst the
return for 1840 would be as much in excess the other way. Thus the total
quantities of raw cotton taken for consumption in Great Britain were--
For the year 1822, 144,180,000 lbs.
Average of the three years 1839, 1840, 1841, 440,146,000 ib.
The ratio of progression in Great Britain, for the term of eighteen
years, was somewhat more than threefold.
The imports of raw cotton, and of cotton-yarn, rendered into cotton by
an allowance in addition, at the rate of about three ounces per lb. for
waste, or nearly seven pounds per pood, stand thus for Russia in round
For the year 1822, in the shape of raw cotton, 55,838 poods.
... ... Cotton yarn calculated into about 186,900
Total cotton, 242,738
Average raw cotton imports of 1839-40-41 355,673
Id. of cotton yarn calculated into cotton, 643,300
Total cotton, 998,973
The ratio of increase in the cotton manufacture of Russia, for the same
term of eighteen years, was therefore considerably more than fourfold.
And this steady but extraordinary superiority of Russian progression
took place in the face of all those prosperity years, when, from 1833 to
1838, the British cotton manufacture was stimulated, and bloated to
excess, with the high prices resulting from the flash bank-paper and
loan system of the United States, and the mad joint-stock banking freaks
The average import and consumption of raw cotton in Russia, and of yarn
calculated into cotton, was at the rate, on the average of the three
years cited, of about, 35,963,000 lbs. per annum;
Which approximates the position of the Russian with that of the cotton
manufacture of France as existing in the year 1818, when the consumption
of raw cotton is officially stated at, 16,974,159 kilogrammes;
And with that of the cotton manufacture of the United States in 1828,
when the quantity consumed at home was stated at about, 35,359,000 lbs.
It will still be insisted, doubtless, as all along it has never failed
to be the cuckoo-note of unreflecting theorists, that the manufactures
of Russia have flourished, and are flourishing, in spite of protection;
that the only effect of protection is to repress their growth and mar
their perfection. The assertion stands ready-made, and ever the stock on
hand; it is a rash and blindfold speculation upon chance and futurity,
at the best; a building without a corner stone; a _chateau-d'Espagne_
nowhere to be found. Where, except in the glowing fictions of
Scheherezade, may the personification of such a phantom be detected?
History, whether ancient or modern, may be ransacked in vain for one
footprint of the realised existence and miraculous economical prodigies
worked upon the absolute free-trade principle, in the spontaneous
creation, the progress unrivalled, the prosperity Pactolean, of
ingenious manufactures. The El-Dorado region has yet to be discovered;
will Cobden, like another Columbus in search of new worlds, adventure
upon the desperate enterprise, and furnish the writer of romance with
apt materials for the frights and freaks of another "phantom ship" on
the wide ocean? If so inclined, indeed, we may commend him to an
undertaking now, at this present writing, in actual progress, as we
learn from assured sources and high quarters, in Paris. A goodly ship of
substantial proportions is now preparing in a French port, richly
freighted for an interesting voyage with the products of French
industry, with destination for the great sea-river of the Amazons, for
navigating its thousands of miles of unploughed course, and exploring
those realms untold of, those interminable wastes recorded, and those
numberless nations as yet unknown, if existing, which coast the vast
expanse of its waters to the utmost limits of Brazil, and the very
confines of Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. The King of the French is
himself the patron and promoter of this great enterprise. Hasten, then,
friend Cobden, erratic and chivalrous as Quixote of old, to "swell the
breezes and partake the gale" of an expedition so glorious; for know,
that on the banks of the noble Amazons itself, the magnificent
queen-river, most worthy in the world of such distinction, have poets,
romancers, and chroniclers, undoubting, from all time, sung of and
planted the resplendent empire of the El-Dorado itself.
Our design being to demonstrate, by the force of example and contrast,
the sophistical absurdity of absolute theories, that, however naturally
and harmoniously their parts may be made to correspond in thesis and
system as a whole, according to which the same consequences, upon a
given principle, should inevitably flow from certain causes, yet that,
practically, it is found the same causes do not produce the same
effects, even when circumstances are most analogous; that, for instance,
the protective, or restrictive system of industry, under the rule of
which Spain languishes, notwithstanding the abundant possession of the
first materials for the promotion of manufacturing, and the prosperity
of agricultural interests, proves, at the other extremity of Europe, the
spring of successful progress and industrial accumulation, and renders
Russia prosperous, though proportionally not more largely gifted with
those natural elements of wealth and production which consist in
fertility of soil, in mines of the precious metals, of coal, iron, &c.
We shall pursue our task to its completion before we proceed to draw and
sum up those conclusions which must follow from the premises
established, before we enter in order upon the analysis and dissection
of the one absolute principle or theory, by which, in the conceit of
certain sage travellers on the royal railroad to wisdom, eager for the
end and impatient of the toil of thinking, the economical destinies of
all nations should be cut, carved, and adjusted _secundum artem_, with
mathematical precision and uniformity, according to the rule invariable
of robber Procrustes, the ancient founder of the sect, who constructed a
bed--that is, a system of certain proportions of size--that is, upon a
certain principle--upon which he laid his victims; those found too short
to fit the dimensions of the pallet, he stretched and tortured into the
length required; those too long he fitted by decapitating the
superabundance of head and shoulders, or by squaring off the legs and
feet; just as economists would sever nations with their invariable
system; just as, with their selfish and one-sided, sordid idea, the
junta of Leaguers, rule and plummet in hand, would deal with the British
empire, with its vast possessions in every clime, on which the sun never
sets, peopled by races numerous and diverse of origin as of interests,
multifarious, complicated, often conflicting. "_L'etat_," said Louis le
Grand, "_c'est moi_." "The British empire"--bellows Syntax Cobden--"'tis
_me_ and printed calicoes." "The British government and
legislature"--exclaims Friend Bright--"'tis I and Rochdale flannel."
It is a strange, and, with our qualified and not exclusive opinions, not
less a discouraging complication of affairs with which we have to deal,
that, look among the great nations where we will, we find, to a great
extent, that the protective system of commerce, where in force, or where
it has superseded a _quasi_ free-trade system before in force, has
conduced, in no small degree, to the advancement of material interests.
The Germanic Customs' Union, that peculiar handicraft creation of Lord
Palmerston, is there to confirm the fact, no less than Russia, than
France, than Belgium, and other lands. The League themselves
ostentatiously proclaim it, whilst pretending to impugn the retention of
the very shadow of a shade of the same principle, for the country, above
all others, which has grown to greatness under it--the very breath of
whose nostrils it has been, during the struggles of infancy and progress
to that full-blown maturity, when assuredly it seeks, (and need seek
only,) willingly proffers, and readily accepts, equality of
condition--reciprocity of interchange, with all the world. "The
Manchester manufacturer"--the false _nom-de-guerre_ of a calico printer,
who was not a manufacturer at all, and could scarcely distinguish a
calico from a cambric at the time of writing, who erst was, is yet,
perchance, the trumpeter of Russian policy, Russian principles, and
Russian progress in the East and elsewhere--must be grateful for the
information we have already afforded on the full careering ascendency of
Russian material interests also. His gratitude will expand as he
accompanies these pages.
Peter the Great laid the foundations of Russian manufactures, as of the
Russian empire itself. He founded manufactories in all the larger
cities. But with his death they fell into decay until the reign of
Elizabeth. With that epoch began their revival, and the more rigorous
revival also of the prohibitory system. Their present imposing
appearance and magnitude date, however, from the peace of 1815, the
great parent and promoter of all continental manufactures. In 1812 no
more than 2,332 manufacturing establishments in the whole empire were in
existence, employing 119,000 work-people; in 1835 the number of the
former had reached to 6,015, and of the latter to 279,673, the half of
the free labourers. At the beginning of 1839, says the report of the
department of manufactures and internal commerce--the last which,
hitherto, has been made up or come to our hands--the number of factories
and manufactories had risen to 6,855, an increase over the year
preceding of 405, whilst the number of workmen employed in them was
412,931, an increase over the year before of 35,111. Thus, in the space
of three years, from 1835 to the end of 1838, 810 new establishments had
been organized, and the number of workmen augmented by one-half. These
industrial establishments were non-inclusive of mining works, iron
works, &c., and the people employed in them. They were classed as
Woollen manufactories, 606
Silk ib. 227
Cotton ib. 467
Linen ib. 216
Tallow works, 554
Candle ib. 444
Soap ib. 270
Hardware ib. 486
The seat of Russian manufactures is principally in the central portion
of the empire, in its ancient capital Moscow, and the surrounding
provinces. The progress of Moscow itself may be thus briefly sketched,
after remarking that in the beginning of 1839 there existed in the
government, of which it was the capital city, 1058 manufactories,
employing 83,054 work-people. In the 315 manufactories of the
neighbouring province of Vladimir, 83,655 work-people were employed; in
the equally adjacent province of Kalouga, 164 manufactories gave work to
20,401 workmen. The population of Moscow, the Manchester of Russia,
amounted in 1825 to 241,514; in 1827 it had risen to 257,694; in 1830 to
305,631; in 1833 to 333,260; in 1840 to 347,224. The principal
manufactories were thus classed for the latter year.
Silk manufacture, 68 looms, 2217
Cotton ib. 139 ib. 7252
Woollen cloth ib. 51 ib. 2960
Other woollen stuff ib. 16 ib. 579
Shawl ib. 17 ib. 282
In thirteen of the chief factories there were 263 spinning machines;
three cotton factories alone contained 138. Besides these larger
establishments, 3122 workshops, not considerable enough to be ranked as
manufactories, employed alone 19,638 work-people; and 142 industrial
establishments, such as founderies, breweries, distilleries, tallow and
soap works, &c., gave bread to thousands more.
The consumption of the principal raw materials of manufacture is thus
stated as an average of that and recent preceding years.
Cotton for the twenty spinneries of Moscow, 100,000 poods per an.
Cotton yarn, 300,000 ...
Dyed cotton yarn 200 ...
Raw silk, 30,000 ...
Dye woods, 100,000 ...
Madder, 250,000 ...
The machinery for the manufactories is made for the most part in the
founderies and machine-works of Vladimir, Tamboff, Kalouga, and Riazan,
but, above all, in the city of Tula and the village of Parlovo. In
McCulloch's _Statistical Dictionary_, the number of steam-engines in the
government of Moscow is stated, for 1830, at about 100--in 1820, two
only being in existence. On what authority the statement is given does
not appear; our own documents, to 1841 inclusive, are silent on that
head. For Moscow, with its immediate environs, the total number and the
produce of the cotton looms are thus given:--
Cotton loom, 17,000
Producing annually, 450,000 pieces of calico
Do. 400,000 do. of nankeen
Do. above, 2,000,000 do. of handkerchiefs
In the whole, inclusive
of other goods, such as
muslins, velvets, &c., &c.,
equal to above, 40,000,000 arschines of fabrics
Valued at 7,500,000 silver rubles.
The arschine is about twenty-eight English inches. The silk manufacture,
of recent establishment only in Moscow, presented the following results,
for that city and the surrounding districts:--
Number of common looms, 10,000
Jacquard, more than 5,000
Producing annually, 15,000,000 arschines of st
Valued at 10,000,000 silver rubles.
The woollen manufactories of Moscow, inclusive of the environs, employed
apart smaller loom shops:--
Producing yearly, 30,000 pieces of superior quality
Do. more than 50,000 do. ordinary for the army
And do. 700,000 arschines of light cloths for China.
The values not given. The imports of merchandise from Moscow by water,
of which alone exact and detailed particulars are stated, amounted in--
1837, to 22,881,000 rubles assignation
1838, 22,074,563 ...
1839, 17,467,391 ...
1840, 28,283,877 ...
Three and a half rubles assignation, are equal to one silver ruble.
Moscow enjoys the advantage of being an internal bonded port, or port of
intrepot, a privilege now seeking by Manchester, so that importers of
foreign merchandise are not called upon for the payment of duties until
the moment when, withdrawing their imports, or any other portion of them
as occasion requires, the payment becomes necessary. Formerly the duties
had to be paid in the frontier ports, and often in bulk. The customhouse
revenue resulting, amounted in--
1837, to 637,074 rubles assignation
1838, 614,464 ...
1839, 626,764 ...
1840, 776,021 ...
1841, 898,398 ...
These returns are proof indisputable of industrial and social progress.
It is unnecessary further to remark upon the great and growing
importance of other branches of industry in Moscow, or to extend the
limits of this notice so far as to comprise a review of the iron and
hardware manufactories, and the numerous tanneries of Tula and Perm. The
active movement of internal commerce, may, however, be inferred from the
returns of products exhibited and sold at twelve fairs held annually,
with one thrice, and another twice, in the year, the total value of
which exposed for sale in 1840, was stated at 101,551,000 silver rubles,
and of the quantity actually sold at 64,326,700 rubles. Of which alone
On Sale. Sold.
Nijny Novgorod, for 47,264,967 38,828,984 silver rubles
Irbit, 12,232,286 7,682,000 ...
Romna, 2d fair 9,001,904 4,454,747 ...
Kharkoff, 1st fair, 5,743,280 2,944,390 ...
Koursk, 7,014,802 2,014,834 ...
The great fair of Nijny Novgorod may rival with Leipzig in the magnitude
of its transactions. In 1841, the general movement of values at this
fair is thus returned:--
Merchandise for sale, 50,506,606 silver rubles, or 176,773,121 rbls. ass.
Sold, 41,704,236 ... 145,964,826 ...
By decree of the government, within the last three years, the public
accounts, before kept in rubles assignation, that is government paper
money, were ordered to be reckoned in silver rubles. For purposes of
comparison with former years, we state them in both. Of the mass of
commodities thus in motion at the fair, there were of Russian
manufactures and indigenous products, to the total value of 37,132,693
silver rubles exposed for sale, and for 29,762,473 sold; some other
chief articles ranging thus;--
For sale. Sold.
Cotton goods, 7,336,665 5,947,865 silver rubles.
Woollens, 3,448,295 2,620,175 ...
Linen and hempen fabrics, 3,126,736 2,375,736 ...
Silks, 3,220,489 2,239,989 ...
Leather, worked and not, 1,043,583 876,083 ...
Produce of mines and
founderies, iron, copper,
hardware, jewellery, 7,600,330 6,450,330 ...
Tea, for 7,107,500 rubles assignation, and other products of China, were
brought to the fair; raw cotton, cotton-yarn, shawls, silks, skins, &c.
from Persia and Asia, to the value of 29,796,819 roubles assignation,
and chiefly sold. Of the products of Western Europe, which make but a
miserable exhibit, the following are the chief:--
Woollen stuffs, for 256,455 silver rubles.
Cottons, 510,830 ...
Linens and hempen fabrics, 192,300 ...
Silks, 423,130 ...
Indigo, 918,000 ...
The growing magnitude of this fair will be appreciated by the following
returns of former years:--
for sale. Rubles assignation.
1829, 104,018,586 of which sold for 50,104,971 rbls. ass.
1831, 129,457,600 ... 98,329,520 ...
1833, 146,207,311 ... 117,210,670 ...
1835, 143,369,240 ... 117,743,340 ...
1837, 146,638,181 ... 125,507,881 ...
1838, 156,192,500 ... 129,234,500 ...
1839, 161,643,674 ... 137,100,774 ...
1840, 165,427,384 ... 135,901,454 ...
The convenience of these fairs for the purposes of interchange, both
between different industries and the populations of different provinces
of the same empire, and with contiguous countries from which so great an
affluence of merchants with their merchandise for exchange was
attracted, has induced the government to decree the establishment of
eleven new fairs in different towns, and fifty-nine others in as many
large villages, which, in growing size, may be already compared with
The internal commercial communications of Russia are chiefly carried on
by means of those innumerable rivers and canals, that network of natural
and artificial canals, by which she is intersected through all her
extent, and which, taking their rise in various central parts of the
empire, pursue their course singly, or falling into each other, and so
constituting mighty streams, to the White sea and the Baltic, or fall
into the Black sea and the Caspian. The total movement of this internal
navigation in all the rivers, presented the following results:--
Departures from the different ports
in the interior in 1839, 60,277 barques.
( do. 24,421 rafts.
Arrivals at ( do. 46,850 barques.
( do. 17,469 rafts.
They were the convoys of merchandise
dispatched from the ports
to the value of 737,814,276 rubles ass.
Of merchandise forwarded to do. 538,921,730 ...
In 1837 the values dispatched
from, ascended only to 618,990,306 ...
Do. forwarded to 490,505,940 ...
The various and many basins of river and water communication,
scientifically arranged, and showing how all parts of that vast empire
are connected with each other through all and nearly every portion of
its territorial extent, as in the report before us, is a document worthy
of study and more minute analysis, but our limits forbid.
The foreign commerce of Russia presents the following results for
Exports to foreign countries, 86,382,179 silver rubles.
Imports from do. 79,429,490 ...
The Russian official tables include, under the head of foreign commerce,
the exports and imports with Finland and Poland; but as they fall within
the range, in reality, of internal commerce, the accounts are better
simplified by their exclusion. The system of separate returns results,
doubtless, from the political arrangements and conventions by which
Russia acquired the possession of those two countries.
The progress of exports and imports may be thus indicated:--
1838. 1839. 1840.
Exports, 85,718,930 94,857,788 82,731,386 silver rubles.
Imports, 69,693,824 69,993,589 76,726,490 ...
The remarkable excess of exports in 1839 resulted from the large demand
for, and shipments of, corn in that year--the official value of which is
stated at 25,217,027 silver rubles; the smallest export, so far as
value, being that of 1841, valued at 10,382,509 silver rubles only.
Exclusive of corn, the exports would stand thus:--
1838 for 70,562,252 silver rubles.
1839 69,640,761 ...
1840 68,704,971 ...
1841 75,999,670 ...
Gold and silver, in bars or specie, are not comprised in these returns.
For 1841 the values thus exported were, 4,023,728 silver rubles.
... ... ... imports, 9,347,867 ib.
It is necessary, however, to travel more backwards in order to a right
appreciation of the progress of the foreign trade of Russia. This
comparison is here instituted with earlier years, premising that the
exports to Poland and Finland, amounting to some ten or twelve millions
of rubles assignation, and imports from, amounting to about three
millions, are included, and therefore swell the amount of the imports
and exports of the following years. However, to facilitate the
comparison, the silver ruble values of 1841 are multiplied into
corresponding ruble assignation values:
Exportations. Importations. Balance in favour of
In 1830 268,887,342 197,115,340 71,772,002 rb. as.
1836 283,748,233 237,251,204 13,733,196
1837 264,485,160 251,757,177 12,727,983
1841 302,337,626 378,003,215 24,334,411
Add 11,808,743 rubles assignation for exports to, and 4,792,346 imports
from, Poland and Finland in 1841, and the real comparison would be, for
1841, exports 314,146,349, imports 282,795,561; balance in favour of
1841, 31,350,688 rubles assignation.
The bulk of Russian exportations consists of raw or first materials,
such as flax, hemp, flax-seed, oil, tallow, leather, woad, metals, and
of which to the aggregate value in 1841, of 59,773,354 silver rubles was
exported; an amount nearly stationary as compared with the three
previous years. But the export of Russian manufactures, viz. woollens,
cottons, linens, candles, cordage, and cloths for China, had improved in
aggregate amount from,--
In 1838, 6,527,222
To, in 1841, 10,259,209
It was the trade with China by Kiachta, and latterly also by the line of
Siberia, which, however, had perhaps taken the most remarkable
extension, and was held to be most promising of future progress and
profit. The imports, and therefore the consumption, of tea in Russia,
are growing annually larger; and the exports of Russian products and
manufactures to China, equally in proportion. For by mutual convention,
as dictated by China, for regulating the commercial intercourse between
the two countries strictly limited to that frontier river port, although
now indirectly countenanced by Siberia, the trade is exclusively one of
barter; tea and silks for leather, furs, cottons, woollens, and linens.
A condition, be it observed, which serves to place beyond all doubt the
fact, that it was not the introduction and consumption, with the
deterioration to the health of the population resulting, physically and
morally, from the use of opium, which had so much effect with the
celestial Emperor in provoking the late war with Great Britain, as the
abstraction by export in payment, and the drain so constant, of Sycee
silver. The imports of tea in--
Poods. Silver Rubles.
1838, By Kiachta, were, of good and
ordinary quality, 127,645 value 2,015,189
By the line of Siberia, 10 ... 600
127,655 ... 2,015,789
1841, By Kiachta, 168,218 ... 6,976,363
By the line of Siberia and
Caspian Sea, 1,364 ... 66,293
169,582 ... 7,012,656
Besides which, the imports of an inferior tea, called _brick tea_,
amounted to the value of 359,223 silver rubles in 1841. In three years,
the general trade, China silks inclusive, had therefore more than
trebled so far as value; for it is remarkable, that though larger
quantities of tea are imported, yet prices, so far from declining, had
actually considerably advanced; which proves that the commodity was
becoming a favourite beverage, and gaining into more general
consumption, in Russia. The values of the Russian merchandise, such as
stated, which passed in barter, are said to have been equally sustained.
It may be noted, indeed, as an extraordinary fact, that whilst, as the
official report of the department of commerce observes, the prices and
values of almost all foreign raw products and manufactured wares
imported into Russia, during the three or four years preceding 1841, and
including 1841, entered constantly, and some at considerably depreciated
rates, in the reverse the products of Russia, exported to Europe and
elsewhere during the same period, quantity for quantity, generally
improved in prices and ascended in value.
The foreign commerce of Russia by sea was carried on, during the year
1841, by 2,596 vessels, inwards loaded, tonnage, 452,760
2,174 do. in ballast, do. 410,164
Totals, 4,770 862,924
4,582 do. outwards loaded, do. 819,232
312 do. do. in ballast, do. 58,046
Totals, 4,894 877,278
In the coasting trade in the Northern seas, the number of vessels
dispatched from port to port was 2007, in the Black Sea, 5,275.
The revenue from customs in 1841 amounted to 27,387,494 silver rubles,
or upwards of two-fifths in excess of the receipts of 1830.
In order to exemplify the nature of the trade betwixt Great Britain and
Russia, and exhibit it in its most disadvantageous aspect, we shall add
here, from statements verified as authentic by competent authorities on
the spot, the returns of British trade and shipping with certain Russian
ports for 1842, which we have recently received direct. They will assist
us to a conception of the relative importance of each place in respect
of its commercial connexion with this country.
The commerce of the port of Archangel, omitting from the table Onega,
Kola, Kemi, and Soumsk, the other ports in the White Sea, their traffic
being inconsiderable, is thus represented.
1842.--Total shipping outward, 212, of which,
British, 153, tonnage, 31,704
Total imports, (exclusive of L.13,816
by Norway coasters,) L.18,384
Of which from Great Britain, L.801
Total exports, (omitting L.22,236 to Norway,) L.427,789
Of which to Great Britain, L.305,823
In 1841, 176 vessels exported for
Great Britain the value, L.408,077
Exclusive of cargoes by 2 other vessel, to the amount
of L.7,208, for the Hanse towns and Holland.
In 1840, 250 vessels, tonnage 48,249, exported to
Great Britain the value of L.442,381
Exclusive of 6 British vessels which carried cargoes to
the Hanse towns, France, and Italy,
of the aggregate value of L.12,858.
The commerce with Riga exhibits a somewhat more favourable proportion
between imports and exports, and we are induced, therefore, to give the
return of imports for 1842 in same detail as received.
Nature and value of merchandise imported into Riga from Great Britain
during the year 1842:--
Coffee, L.2,500 0 0
Cotton, 11,011 0 0
Cotton twist, L.21,159, 10s; do. goods, L.1135, 22,294 0 0
Woollen goods, 4,100 16 8
Woollen twist, 19,057 3 4
Indigo and other dyes, 13,764 0 0
Dye-woods, 2,718 6 8
Salt, 53,269 3 4
Sugar, 24,882 10 0
Wines and brandies, 19,200 13 4
Iron and steel wares, 7,025 0 0
Spices and drugs, 13,440 6 8
Non-enumerated articles, 12,527 10 0
Total, L.205,791 0 0
Countries from whence British vessels have arrived at the port of Riga
during the year 1842:--
No. of vessels. Tonnage. Remarks.
United Kingdom, 387 59,629 With cargoes and in ballast.
Hamburg, 6 1,261 In ballast.
Denmark, 21 3,730 ...
Norway, 13 2,438 ...
France, 5 670 ...
Belgium, 1 484 ...
Holland, 6 1,018 ...
Prussia, 4 562 ...
Sweden, 3 669 ...
Total, 446 70,461
Total value of Countries to
exportations whence exported.
1842 exports. Tons. to Great Britain.
British vessels, 446 70,461 L.1,527,810 5 4 United Kingdom.
The commerce of Odessa represents a closer approximation still between
imports and exports; and they would perhaps nearly balance, but for the
large shipments of wheat to this country, which contribute to swell the
In 1842, 174 British ships entered, tonnage 44,428,
sailed 176 tonnage, L.44,929
Total value of imports by them, 185,870
Of which, from the United Kingdom, 184,370
The remainder by 64 British vessels entering from
Algiers, Amsterdam, mostly in ballast.
Total average of exports, 784,865
Of which, to the United Kingdom, 776,995
The remainder to the countries above named.
1841, Total imports by British ships, 147,950
Do. exports do. 590,570
1840, Total imports by British ships, 130,660
Do. exports do. 859,090
The commerce of St Petersburg is stated, for 1812, imports and exports
together, at the value of 97,795,415 silver rubles. And of 1147 foreign
vessels which left that port and Cronstadt with cargoes, more or less,
515 were British, of 117,793 tonnage--being a rather considerably less
number than in either 1840 or 1841.
The present is the proper occasion to remark upon and explain the system
of official valuation pursued in Russia, by which it will be observed
how the real value, both of imports and exports, is swelled, probably
with a view to the vain display of a greater commerce than is really
carried on. As the system is nearly the same for both imports and
exports, it cannot, of course, materially interfere with, or impeach the
accuracy of the general balance-sheet. It is desirable, however, that
the facts should be fairly represented, for the guidance of those who
may be in the habit of consulting and comparing the official documents
of different countries; and they will serve moreover to explain, in some
degree, the extraordinary discrepancies which have been found betwixt
the declared values of British products and manufactures exported to
Russia, as published in the Board of Trade tables, and the same exports
as exhibited in Russian customhouse returns.
In calculating the annual value of importations, it is the rule in the
Russian customhouses to add the duties paid on the entry of goods to
their original value. This practice in Russia, where the duties are so
high, swells the value of imports far beyond their true amount, and
gives a false and exaggerated view of them.
With respect to the exports, nearly the same practice exists. In
calculating their value, all the shipping charges are added to the cost
of the article; and we are informed by merchants resident in Russia,
that on comparing the annual Government statements of exports for their
establishments, they are found to correspond with the invoices forwarded
to their foreign correspondents, which, of course, include commission,
and all the expenses attendant on the shipping of the goods. The law
also requires that the shipper, on clearing merchandise for export
through the customhouse, should declare its value. With a view of
preserving uniformity, the Russian authorities, from time to time, fix a
standard price at which particular articles shall be valued for export
at the customhouse. To exemplify the evil of this system, it is
necessary only to mention that oats, for example, could lately be
purchased at a Baltic port at sixty silver rubles per last, while the
latest customhouse standard values them at eighty silver rubles per
last. This practice is no way injurious to the merchant, but only
unnaturally swells the tables of exports when annually made up by the
Russian Government. A shipper, therefore, of any of the articles
included in the Russian standard, is compelled to state a much greater
value at the customhouse than he furnishes to his foreign correspondent,
who, of course, only pays the market price of the article, with the
additional shipping expenses.
The difficulty, such as it is, might be obviated, were the masters of
British merchantmen compelled by law to submit their ship's papers, on
arrival and departure, to the British consuls at each port, who would
then be placed on the same footing with the consuls of other countries,
and be enabled to communicate much important statistical information to
their Government, of the opportunity for acquiring and transmitting
which they are now deprived.
Our review of Russian commerce and industry would be more incomplete
than it is, if we were to omit all notice of the vast mining wealth of
that empire. But our limits, already nearly reached, do not admit of
more than a passing reference. Suffice it, that in coal, both bituminous
and anthracite, in iron and other metals, and salt, constituting the raw
materials, Russia is rich enough for all her wants, and indeed supplies
the great bulk of those wants within herself, with to spare in some of
these products for her neighbours and other countries. Her mines are
annually increasing in productiveness and number, as enterprise is
extended and capital invested in them, and as domestic manufactures and
improving agriculture increasingly absorb their produce. The
treasure-yielding progress of her gold mines is one of the extraordinary
events of the age. The existence of gold in Siberia was scarcely
suspected till 1829. The first researches of adventuring individuals
were attended with no success. Feodot Popoff, one of the earliest,
succeeded at length in that year, when all others had abandoned the
undertaking as hopeless, in discovering traces, and procuring some
inconsiderable specimens, of gold--not in quantity, however, to repay
the working; and the doubts before existing seemed confirmed as to the
fruitlessness of further perseverance in the search. Major-General
Kovalevsky, of the engineers of mines, having been appointed governor of
Tomsk, renewed the attempt in 1830; and, at the close of that year, his
indefatigable labours, and more methodical plan of operations, were
rewarded with the discovery of a first considerable stratum of
auriferous sands, which was designated Yegorievsky, (St George.)
Adventurers flocked into the district forthwith, and in numbers, upon
the widespreading news; and excellently did renewed labours recompense
the zeal of the more fortunate; numerous were the discoveries of layers
of golden sands. In one of these, last year, a massive piece of native
gold, weighing 24-1/2 pounds Russian, (the Russian pound is about 1-1/2
oz. less than the English,) was discovered embedded in a fragment of
quartz, and is now deposited in the museum of the School of Mines at St
Petersburg. The yield of the Siberian mines has since been at the
following rate of progression--omitting the intermediate years for
brevity, although in every year there was an increase of quantity upon
1830 5 poods, 32 lbs., 59-1/2 zdotnicks.
1832 21 --- 34 --- 68-3/4 ---
1834 65 --- 18 --- 90-3/8 ---
1836 105 --- 9 --- 41 ---
1838 193 --- 6 --- 47-1/2 ---
1840 255 --- 27 --- 26-3/8 ---
1842 631 --- 5 --- 21-1/4 ---
The total of the thirteen years has been 2093 poods, 38 lbs., 46 zd. The
pood, be it remembered, is equal to (rather more than) 36 lbs.
The total general yield of the older worked mines
of the Oural mountains for 1842, was, besides,
149 poods, 18 lbs., 58 zd.
And of platina, 53 -- 33 -- 67 --
On a rough estimation, the produce of all the gold, platina, and silver
from the silver mines, could not have amounted to less, perhaps, for the
year 1842, than three millions sterling.
According to the learned academician Koeppen, of St Petersburg, in a
lengthened memoir upon the subject, the total population of Russia,
inclusive of Poland, Finland, and Trans-Caucasian provinces, ascended in
1839 to 65,000,000
Or of Russia Proper alone, 55,500,000
With an empire so gigantic, a population so large, however
disproportioned as compared with territory, and with resources so
incalculable, it must appear extraordinary that foreign commercial
relations are so limited. The total of exports and imports together for
1841, represents only, in round numbers, a commercial movement to the
value of 165,811,000 silver rubles, or in sterling, about L.25,907,300.
The matter which most concerns this country, is the very
disproportionate interest which results to its share in the export and
import trade of Russia. Taking the latest British returns of the value
of Russian products imported into England, for the Board of Trade tables
give quantities only, as we find them stated by Mr McGregor, the
indefatigable secretary of that board, for 1838, at L.6,977,396, or say,
in round numbers L.7,000,000
And British exports at the
declared value here of,
There would appear to result
the very heavy difference
against the United
Kingdom of L.5,300,000
But bad as the case may be, it is not quite so bad as these figures
would represent. It must not be forgotten in this sort of calculation,
that shipping, freights, insurances, and commissions, represent property
quite as substantially in the commercial sense, as even Mr Cobden's
printed calicos, or friend Bright's flannel pieces. Now, we think it
might admit of proof, that as much as nine-tenths of all the produce
brought to this country from Russia, is so brought in British bottoms,
and so also of the exports to Russia; although in 1840, the last of the
Board of Trade tables containing such particulars, no more than 1629
British vessels, of 340,567 tonnage, against 296 foreign, of 79,152
tonnage, entered British ports from Russia--the proportions being much
the same outwards; but whether the foreign were all Russian vessels may
be doubted. Let us assume, however, that no more than three-fourths of
both imports and exports were so carried, and leaving three-fourths
British freights outwards to balance Russian one-fourth freights inwards
and outwards, let us in fairness estimate the worth of that freightage
in reduction of the enormous balance against us. As for Spain, in our
last Number, we took twenty per cent to cover all the freightage
charges, before indicated, on her commodities of less bulk though more
value in proportion, twenty-five per cent on the average will not be too
much, certainly, to cover those charges on the more bulky products of
Russia, more especially when the long, costly, and intricate navigation
of the Baltic, and the White and Black Seas, are taken into account. The
calculation will then stand thus:--
Imports from Russia, L.7,000,000
Deduct twenty-five per cent freightage, &c.
as British property and profit, 1,750,000
Real value of imports as on board in Russia, L.5,250,000
Declared value of ex-British exports to Russia,
Value of British freightage, &c., as above,
Real approximative balance in favour of Russia, L.1,800,000
or say two millions, as the three-fourths produce of outward freight
would, perhaps, not quite compensate the one-fourth on inward and
outward cargoes to the Russian shipping. Even such a balance is
exclusively and unjustly large against a country which, like Great
Britain, is a consumer of Russian products to the extent of
seven-twelfths of the total exports of Russia to all the world. The
consequence is, that the rate of exchange is almost invariably against
this country. Lord Howick, indeed, most quixotically deals with adverse
exchanges; he disposes of them summarily, and in a style that must have
astonished the people on 'Change. This disciple and representative of Mr
Edward Gibbon Wakefield's economics in the House of Commons, as Lord
Durham was before his political disciple, and the victim of his schemes
colonial, thus decisively disposes of adverse exchanges in the
celebrated debate on Import Duties, taking Portugal for an example.
"A large increase of importations from Portugal would
necessarily be attended by a proportionate increase of our
export trade. Was it not clear that every merchant who imported
a pipe of wine would anticipate the bills drawn against him on
account of it, and that, whatever would be the increase in the
amount of imports, there would be a corresponding increase in
the amount of the bills drawn against us? How were our
merchants to provide for them? There would be no difficulty in
it, whether the trade of Portugal increased legally or
illegally. Suppose an increase of imports into Portugal, there
would be an immediate demand for bills to Portugal. _The
consequence would be, that if there was any other country from
which Portugal received more than it exported, the bill-brokers
would get bills from that country_, and our manufactures would
be sent there instead of to Portugal. Admit that you could not
find in any other country the means of discharging your debt by
importation of your manufactures, bills on Portugal should then
rise to a certain premium, and gold and silver would be sent to
discharge the debt. The gold and silver would come from some
other country, and the consequence would be that we should send
our manufactures, not to Portugal, but to South America; while
Portugal would be obliged to send the bullion to some other
country that it might carry on a smuggling trade with its
neighbour, Spain. It was impossible for the ingenuity of man to
point out any different result."
The "bill-brokers" will be greatly amused with the new line of business
chalked out for them, of "getting bills" from other countries when short
in this. There are two descriptions of "bill brokers," but the class
bearing that designation purely deal with domestic bills only. The other
class are known as "exchange brokers," because they meddle only with
foreign bills; but as to "getting bills" from abroad when bills are
wanting here, that trustworthy and respectable description of agents
certainly never dreams of such an occupation. Lord Howick would seem to
imagine that manufactories of bills existed specially abroad, and that
people could draw with as much nonchalance from Paris or from Hamburg,
upon Jack Nokes and Tom Styles at Amsterdam or Frankfort, as here Lord
Huntingtower accepted for his dear friend the Colonel values uncared
for, or as folks familiarly talk of valuing an Aldgate pump when an
accommodation bill is in question. May we venture to hint to the member
for commercial Sunderland, the _ex_ for Northumberland, that the
functions of "exchange brokers" extend no further than to ask A if he
has any bills to sell, and B if he is a buyer; whereupon he has only
further to learn what rate the one will purchase and the other sell at;
that knotty point arranged, the bargain is concluded, and he receives
his very small percentage. The operations are carried on every day, more
or less, but on Tuesdays and Fridays, being especially "post days" on
London 'Change, where Lord Howick any day may be initiated in the
mystery, if not punctilious about being unceremoniously elbowed and
In the principle of protection, we hold Russia to be perfectly in her
right and her interest; in the abuse of it, she damages herself.
Prohibition is not protection; restrictive duties equal to absolute
prohibition, like the 85 per cent prohibitory tax, formerly levied here
on Indian cotton fabrics, in favour of Lancashire, are not protection in
the legitimate sense. The late Emperor Alexander hit the true nail of
principle on the head when, in 1819, he reformed the Russian tariff on
the calculation of imposts ranging from fifteen to forty per cent. We
are, nevertheless, bound to say, that, even as protection is understood
in its exaggerated sense by the Autocrat, the system has worked well for
Russia, as indeed we have shown. She has accumulated wealth by that
system; she has secured by it the possession of a large proportion of
those precious metals, which are indispensable no less as the medium of
foreign exchanges and balances, than as the means by which, above all
other means, the operations of industry, and the employment of labour,
are facilitated at home. How would industry progress, and wages be
dispensed, if the master manufacturer could offer payment of wages only
in yards or pieces of cloth, the iron-master in ore, or the
land-proprietor in oxen, sheep, corn, hay, or cabbages? In respect of
commercial balances, that of Great Britain against Russia is liquidated
probably, to some extent, by the yearly balance resulting against Russia
in her dealings with Persia; for the policy of Russia is to favour the
commerce of Asia, whilst oppressing that with Europe, and Persia is
always indebted to Great Britain. She has, however, the game in her own
hands. Can we wonder that she plays it to her own advantage,
half-political, half-commercial? She knows as well as we feel keenly,
that the raw materials, in which she is so rich, are indispensable for
our use; she charges accordingly. The time may come when we shall be
more independent of her, and then, then only, she will conform to
altered circumstances. The able and distinguished diplomatist at her
court, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, who succeeded in the arduous task of
negotiating the recent treaty of navigation with that crafty Government,
is the man also who will not be slow to avail himself of any favourable
conjuncture for turning circumstances to account, and redressing the
adverse balance now against this country.
As before said, our intention, on this occasion, is not to dissect
principles or theories, but to present facts. We have still more in
store for the absolute theory men. But, in concluding, we may be allowed
to observe, that the causes why a restrictive and exclusive system does
answer for Russia, and, on the contrary, tends to the ruin of Spain, are
simply these:--The raw materials of Russia are indispensable for this
and other manufacturing countries, because cheaper and more abundant
than can be elsewhere procured, and the price of labour is low. The raw
products of Spain necessary for manufactures are, on the reverse, dear
priced; her products of luxury, even, are dear; her rates of labour are
higher than in this or any other country of Europe. Two shillings and
sixpence a-day, or fifteen shillings a-week; with, besides Sundays, a
hundred saints' days or holidays in the year, put her labour and produce
quite _hors de combat_ in the race of competition. A Spanish operative
would no more toil on a _dia de dos cruces_, (two saints on one day,)
than he would fast on a feast-day, with an odorous _olla podrida_ before
him on the table.
* * * * *
INDEX TO VOL. LIII.
[Transcriber's note: The page numbers refer to editions 327 to
332, published between January and June 1843, according to the
Edition 327, pages 1-140, dated January 1843,
328, 141-280, February,
329, 281-414, March,
330, 415-550, April,
331, 551-692, May,
332, 693-826, June.]
Aden, on the occupation of, 484.
Affghanistan, the war in, 17
review of the events in, 239
the evacuation of, 266.
Agriculture, the practice of, 415.
Akhbar Khan, murder of Macnaghten by, 257
defeat of, at Tazeen, 269.
Amalia, from the German of Schiller, 442.
Ammalat Bek, a tale, translated from the Russian,
Translator's preface, 281
Chap. I., 288
Chap. II., 296
Chap. III., 464
Chap. IV., 471
Chap. V., 478
Chap. VI., 568
Chap. VII., 573
Chap. VIII., 579
Chap. IX., 584
Chap. X., 746
Chap. XI., 750
Chap. XII., 752
Chap. XIII., 755
Chap. XIV. 759.
Anti-Corn Law League, failure of the, 6.
Antique at Paris, the, from Schiller, 312.
Antique, the, to the Northern Wanderer, 312.
Aristocracies of London life, the, 67
the aristocracy of fashion, 68
of power, 227
of talent, 386.
Arnold's lectures on history, review of, 141.
Astronomical works, from Schiller, 311.
Attorney's Clerk in the Monk's Hood, the, a review of Chatterton, 780.
Auckland, Lord, remarks on his policy in India, 18, 266.
Bailey, Mr, his Reply to an Article in Blackwood's Magazine,
on Berkeley's Theory of Vision, 762.
Ballads of Schiller, the, see Schiller.
Battle, the, from Schiller, 446.
Battle of the Blocks, the, 614.
Berkeley's Theory of Vision, further remarks on, 762.
Book of the Farm, review of the, 415.
Buckingham, the Duke of, his resignation, 5.
Burial march of Dundee, the, 537.
Burnes, Sir Alexander, murder of, 244.
Cabul, Eyre's Narrative of the Operations in, reviewed, 239.
Caleb Stukely, Part X. The Revulsion, 33
Part XI. Saints and Sinners, 213
Part XII. The Parsonage, 314
Part XIII. The Fugitive, 496
Part last, Tranquillity, 651.
Candia, the siege of, 718.
Capello, Bianca, history of, 554.
Chapters of Turkish History, No. IX,
Rise of the Kiuprili family siege of Candia, 718.
Chatterton's Poems, review of, 780.
Chief End of Man, the, from Schiller, 311.
China, state of our relations with, at the commencement of 1843, 19
justice of the war with, 20
future prospects of, 21.
Claverhouse's Burial March, a poem, 537.
Columbus, from Schiller, 312.
Commercial Policy in relation to Spain, review of, 673
In relation to Russia, 807.
Comte, Auguste, review of his Cours de Philosophie Positive, 397.
Corn-Law, Sir Robert Peel's alteration in the, defended, 5.
Correctness, from Schiller, 310.
Count Eberhard the Grumbler, from Schiller, 628.
Cromwell and Sir Oliver Cromwell, Imaginary conversation between, 209.
Cunningham's Life of Reynolds, strictures on, 596.
Curse of Glencoe, the, by B. Simmons, 121.
Death of Thomas Hamilton, Esq., 280.
Delta, the Lost Lamb, by, 395.
Disturbances in the manufacturing districts, the, 11.
Division of Ranks, the, from Schiller, 311.
Dream of Lord Nithsdale, the, by Charles Mackay, 83.
Dumas' Travels in Italy, review of, 552.
Dundee, the burial march of, 537.
East and South of Europe, the, 101.
Eberhard of Wurtemberg, from Schiller, 628.
El Empecinado, passage in the career of, 343.
Ellenborough, Lord, policy of, in India, 18
his policy with regard to Affghanistan, 266
his proclamation on evacuating the country, 276
defended against the charges of the Whigs, 539.
Elysium, from Schiller, 628.
Europe, the east and south of, 101.
Evacuation of Affghanistan, the, 266.
Expectation and Fulfilment, from Schiller, 439.
Eyre's narrative of the events in Cabul, review of, 239.
Fantasia to Laura, from Schiller, 638.
Favour of the moment, the, from Schiller, 438.
Fight with the dragon, the, from Schiller, 175.
Financial position of Great Britain at the close of 1842, 6.
Florence, sketches of, 561.
Flowers, from Schiller, 445.
Foreign affairs, aspect of, at the commencement of 1843, 15.
Fortune and Wisdom, from Schiller, 631.
Fortune-Favoured, the, from Schiller, 439.
Founding of the Bell, the, by Charles Mackay, 462.
Funeral phantasie, from Schiller, 626.
Genius, from Schiller, 310.
Gentility-mongering, on, 379.
Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield illustrated, review of, 771.
Good and the Beautiful, the, from Schiller, 309.
Great Britain at the commencement of 1843, 1
her position on the meeting of parliament, 5
financial state, 7
aspect of domestic affairs, 14
and of foreign relations, 15
state of her Indian empire, 18
and of affairs in China, 19.
Group in Tartarus, a, from Schiller, 627.
Hamilton, Thomas, Esq., death of, 280.
Hector and Andromache, from Schiller, 441.
History, Arnold's Lectures on, reviewed, 141.
Honour to Woman, from Schiller, 173.
Ideal, the, from Schiller, 433.
Ideal and the Actual Life, the, from Schiller, 435.
Ignacio Guerra and El Sangrador, a tale of civil war, 791.
by Walter Savage Landor
between Tasso and Cornelia, 62
between Cromwell and Sir Oliver Cromwell, 209
between Sandt and Kotzebue, 338;
by Edward Quillinan
between W.S. Landor and Christopher North, 518.
Imitator, the, from Schiller, 310.
Income Tax, discussion on the, 7
remarks on, 8
causes which led to its imposition, 10.
Infanticide, the, from Schiller, 631.
Ireland, state of, at the commencement of 1843, 14.
Italy, Dumas' travels in, reviewed, 552.
Jeweller's Wife, the, a passage in the career of El Empecinado, 343.
Jove to Hercules, from Schiller, 311.
Khelat, occupation of, by the British, 274.
Khoord Cabul pass, retreat of the British through the, 262.
Kiuprili Family, rise of the, a chapter in Turkish history, 718.
Landor, Walter Savage, Imaginary Conversations by
between Tasso and Cornelia, 62
Cromwell and Sir Oliver Cromwell, 209
Sandt and Kotzebue, 338
lines by, 337
Imaginary conversation between, and Christopher North, 518.
Last of the Shepherds, the, Chap. I., 447
Chap. II., 449
Chap. III., 451
Chap. IV., 453
Chap. V., 455
Chap. VI., 458
Chap. VII., 460.
Lay of the Bell, the, from Schiller, 302.
Leap Year, a tale, Chap. I., 603
Chap. II., 606
Chap. III., 611.
Lesurques, or the victim of Judicial error, Chap. I., the four guests, 24
Chap. II., the four horsemen, 25
Chap. III., the robbery and murder, ib.
Chap. IV., the arrest, 26
Chap. V., the trial, 28
Chap. VI., the execution, 30
Chap. VII., the proofs, ib.
Chap. VIII., the way in which France rectifies an error, 32.
London, the world of, see World.
Londonderry, the Marquis of, review of his steam voyage
to Constantinople, &c., 101.
Lost Lamb, the, by Delta, 295.
Love's Triumph, from Schiller, 635.
Mackay, Charles, dream of Lord Nithsdale, by, 83
Founding of the Bell, by, 462.
Mackenzie, Captain, account of the murder of Macnaghten, by, 257.
Macnaghten, Sir William, description of the murder of, 257.
Maitre-d'Armes, a passage in the life of a, 733.
Marlinski's Ammalat Bek, translation of, Chap. I., 288
Chap. II., 296
Chap. III., 464
Chap. IV., 471
Chap. V., 478
Chap. VI., 568
Chap. VII., 573
Chap. VIII., 579
Chap. IX., 584