Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
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Die Veneris, 4 Junii 1830.
A STATEMENT shewing the Cost per lb. of the SAMPLES of TEA received by the Commissioners for the Affairs of India from HIS MAJESTY'S CONSULS, and the VALUE affixed to the respective Samples by the LONDON TEA BROKERS.
The Wholesale Prices are adopted exclusive of Government Duties, the Foreign Weights are converted to English Avoirdupois, and the Foreign Monies reduced to Sterling, according to the intrinsic Par of Exchange, computed in Silver at 5s. 2d. per oz. British Standard.
It is stated in a Letter from the Secretary of the Court of Directors to the Secretary of the India Board, that the Cultivation of fine Cotton in India has been checked by an unlooked-for Difficulty; namely, that the Consumption of Cotton having a long silky Staple is very limited, and that the Demand for the British and Foreign Manufactures does not require, and consequently Purchasers cannot be found, for a large Supply of the Bourbon Cotton. Is this consistent with the Information you have been able to collect upon the Subject?
I believe it is perfectly correct, as far as respects the Bourbon Cotton, which has nearly gone out of Use with the Manufacturers of this Country; but it is not correct as far as respects other longstapled Cotton generally. I have here an Account of the Export of Sea Island Cotton from the United States, which is long-stapled Cotton, and which shews that it is increasing.
Long-stapled Cotton of any Description has never been cultivated in any Part of British India. Attempts have been made to cultivate Bourbon Cotton Three or Four Times unsuccessfully; but I believe no long-stapled Cotton has ever been cultivated in any Part of Asia.
The obvious Reason of its not being cultivated is, that there has never been any Skill nor any Capital applied to the Cultivation of it; that the Natives do not require it for their own Manufactures, and that it had never been required for Exportation.
I would apply my Observation to the Cultivation of good Cotton, long or short stapled, fit for our Manufactures. The Cultivation of Cotton for the Manufacture of this Country is for the most part of short-stapled Cotton.
No doubt it does. I have got here an Extract of a Letter from Bombay, dated the 13th of June 1829, which, with the Permission of the Committee, I will read; it explains this Matter: "I have now very little Hope that we shall be able to do any thing whatever towards improving, even in the smallest degree, either the Staple or Cleanness of the Surat Cotton, for it is not for the Advantage of the Grower of the Article to expend One Rea on the Improvement of the Ground, or the smallest extra Labour in its Cultivation; the Ryot is so completely dependent on Banyans, who have made Advances on the growing Crop, which Advances are the whole Payment the Ryot ever receives for his Crops, and he frequently is obliged to throw Water on the Cotton, and mix up Dirt with it, to bring it up to the Weight he has bound himself to deliver. Of late Years these Tricks have become much more common than they used to be, and we are forced to be very particular in choosing Cotton, to see that it has not been damped. The Picking Time, too, is not left at the Option of the Grower, for until the Company's Revenue Collectors have made their Circuit of the District, to ascertain the Value of the Crops on the Ground, in order to judge what Amount of Taxes to levy, no one is permitted to commence the Harvest; and in some Seasons, as the present one for instance, when the Circuit is not made 'till late, it has all the Effects of a short Crop, until Navigation can be resumed after the Rains. Formerly the Company received their Taxes in Produce, and then as they were very particular in refusing all dirty or leafy Cotton, and when the Ryot was freer in fixing his own Time of picking, we used to receive very superior Cotton to any now seen; and there can be no doubt that were they to return to that System, an Amelioration would soon follow." I believe there has not been the slightest Improvement, as appears from all Merchants and Manufacturers, in the Quality of Surat or Bengal Cotton since the Year 1814; I believe also there has not been the slightest Improvement since the Year 1790, when Indian Cotton was first imported into this Country.
I know nothing more than is stated in the Paper laid before your Lordships Committee, and published. I should think that any Plan originating from Persons in Authority is not likely to succeed. The East India Company themselves in this Paper confess that for Thirty Years they have been making Endeavours to improve the Quality of Cotton, and yet it is notorious that the Quality has not been improved in that Time; I think, therefore, such Efforts may be looked upon as hopeless.
Is not the Deterioration of the Cotton attributed, in the Letter you have read to the Committee, to some of the Regulations lately adopted by Government, particularly as to the Mode of collecting the Revenue?
I have great Doubts whether any material Improvement would take place by the Repeal of those Regulations. A trifling Improvement would take place by returning to the old System, if the Company received, as they had been in the habit of receiving, at Surat and in the Bombay Presidency generally, their Revenue in Cotton; they would then insist on having the best Cotton delivered to them; but I conceive a Return to that System would be worse than the present.
A free Admission of European Settlers, and a free Admission of European Capital; I can conceive no other Means of improving an Article of that Description; I do not believe that any fine Cotton has ever been produced to any Extent, except by such Means as I am now endeavouring to indicate.
I see it stated in the Papers already quoted, that the Cotton of Dacca is remarkably fine, and I suppose it is so from the Quality of the Goods manufactured from it; but it is in very trifling Quantities; it is evidently very high-priced, and there is not an Ounce exported. Whether it is fine or coarse is a Matter of very little Consequence to the Manufactures of this Country; it is unknown altogether in the Markets of Europe, and unknown even in the Market of Calcutta.
I believe long-stapled fine Cotton is never grown in any Country except in the immediate Neighbourhood of the Sea. The Cotton of Dacca, it appears from the Statement given in to your Lordships Committee, is grown within Twenty Miles of the Sea, and I therefore imagine it may be long-stapled fine Cotton. The Sea Island Cotton is grown in the immediate Neighbourhood of the Sea. The Bourbon Cotton is grown there; and I understand the fine Cottons of China are grown also in the immediate Neighbourhood of the Sea.
I suppose they have been made from the Cotton produced in the Neighbourhood of Dacca, which has been the Seat of the fine Manufacture of Muslins from Time immemorial; but the Lower Provinces of Bengal, that is, Bengal Proper, have never produced Cotton of any Description, fine or coarse, for Exportation.
Fine Cotton having always been produced in the Neighbourhood of Dacca, and European Capital never having been employed in the Cultivation of it in that Place, may not the Committee conclude that it is not essential to the Production of fine Cotton that European Capital should be employed, and that its Production depends on other Circumstances of Soil and Climate?
The fine Cotton of Dacca never having been produced to any Extent, nor ever been exported or become available to the Manufacturers of this or any other Country, I conceive the Question does not alter the Opinion I have given, that fine Cotton, shortstapled or long-stapled, can only be produced through European Industry and through European Capital. It has never in reality been produced for any useful Purposes but through them.
The Dacca Cotton is an Article with which I am not in the least acquainted, either personally or from Inquiry, therefore I cannot speak with the least Degree of Confidence to that. I hold in my Hand a Letter which describes the Mode in which the Sea Island or fine long-stapled Cotton was first introduced into the United States, which I think illustrates this.
As a Civil Officer of the Indian Government, engaged in making Revenue Settlements in the Island of Java, and employed in procuring Information on Commercial Subjects on Missions I have been sent upon, I have made particular Inquiry both as to the Cultivation and Preparation of Cotton.
The long-stapled Cotton I absolutely know nothing of, except from Report, because long-stapled Cotton has never been cultivated in any Country I am acquainted with; I have never seen it cultivated except as an Experiment on a small Scale not worth speaking of.
European Capital having succeeded in the Cultivation of fine Cotton fit for the Manufactures of England in almost every Country which can with any Fairness be compared with Bengal or any Part of British India, through European Capital and Skill, I conceive there can be no Ground whatever for believing but that the same Means shall succeed in British India.
I have never said that good short-stapled can be cultivated without it; I do not know that short-stapled has been cultivated without it; I am not aware of any Example of good short-stapled Cotton being produced without European Skill and Capital.
Entirely, as I conceive; but I would beg Permission of the Committee to decline saying any thing respecting an Article I am not acquainted with, and which is entirely unknown either as an Article of Agricultural Production or of Commerce.
In most of the Countries I have been in, Cotton has been grown as a second Crop after the Cultivation of Rice. It is an annual Plant which grows in about Four Months; it is cultivated with very little Skill, and is generally a very hardy Plant.
I refer to the Island of Java, and to considerable Parts of Cochin China, and some Parts of Siam and Ava; I refer also to some of the Provinces of Bengal, where, however, it is not cultivated in exactly the same Way, but very nearly so.
I have witnessed the Cultivation of finer Cottons than others. I know there is a Foreign Cotton cultivated in Java, which is Double the Price of others, and that requires much more Care in the Cultivation.
Specify the Care necessary in the Cultivation of that Cotton— in what Manner it is applied; was it applied in the Selection of the Seed, the Preparation of the Ground, the weeding of it after the Seed was in it; or in what Way?
From any Information you have obtained, what are the Circumstances which it appears to you in the Cultivation of the finer and long-stapled Cotton would require the Employment of considerable Capital?
I beg to state, that I do not confine the Observation I made respecting the Necessity of European Capital and European Skill to the Cultivation of long-stapled Cotton, but to any Cotton; I apply it to all good Cotton, fit for the Manufacture of this Country. The short-stapled Cotton is of far greater Consequence to the Manufacturers in this Country, than the long-stapled Cotton.
Being acquainted with the Cultivation of short-stapled Cotton, have the goodness to explain in what Manner the Cultivation of that would have been improved by the Employment of greater Capital, and what you call European Skill?
There would have been more Care taken in selecting the Seed, and more Care taken in the growing, and, above all, more Care in freeing it from the Seed, and packing it, and bringing it into the Market.
The Seed which is more difficult to grow must be of a higher Price than the Seed which is easily grown. Seeds of the common Cottons in India are of very little Value; they are given to Cattle for Food.
I am not able to speak to that. I am not an Agriculturist. I can only say generally, that European Capital having succeeded in producing very fine excellent Cottons to an extraordinary and unexpected Degree, I have no doubt it will succeed wherever it is tried; it has succeeded in other Parts of the World, and there can be no Question of its succeeding in India or anywhere else.
The common annual Cotton will come to Maturity in Four or Five Months; but in cultivating the finer Kinds, in India and elsewhere, they may, by Care, be made to ratoon, that is, to grow from the Roots; and then the Varieties which are annual will become perennial, and be cultivated for Three, or Four, or even Five Years; but that is not the general Practice. In India the Seed is sown, the Plant grows up, the Cotton is taken from it, and it perishes within the Year.
That is a Point I am not very well acquainted with. There are several Species of Cotton with which I am well acquainted; but I believe the greater Part of the Difference which in Commerce we find in Cotton is produced from Varieties, and that the Plants producing them do not constitute distinct Species; the Sea Island Cotton, for example, grown on the Sea Side, produces a very fine Cotton; removed Ten or Twelve Miles into the Interior, it ceases to be so fine. From the Statement given in to this Committee, I apprehend that the Dacca Cotton will not grow except in a very limited District, within, I think, Twenty Miles of the Sea, to the Length of Fifty Miles from, and I believe to the Breadth of Three from the River Side. I know that Experiments have been made in cultivating the Bourbon Cotton in the District of Benares, and there it totally failed; I know also that an Experiment was made in the Island of Java in my own Time, on a very extensive Scale, for the Cultivation of Cotton from the Bourbon Seed in the Interior, and that also failed.
The Experiment at Benares was stated to me on the Authority of Mr. Henry Colebrook, with whom I conversed on the Subject a few Days ago. I think Mr. Colebrook was in Civil Charge of the District at the Time. The Experiment was made by a Foreigner, a Frenchman. The Experiment in Java was made by Gentlemen, among whom were some Relations of my own.
Yes; but improperly employed; for they attempted the Cultivation of Bourbon Cotton in a Situation where it could never succeed. Benares is Four or Five hundred Miles from the Sea. The Place in the Island of Java where it was tried was also at a Distance from the Sea.
I have always thought that it would fail. I have known Coffee cultivated, but in very different Circumstances. I always expected that the Experiment in Bengal would fail; and I think it highly probable that it has failed, though I am not aware that it actually has.
I have seen what I consider an authentic Letter from one of the earliest Planters of Cotton upon this Subject, giving an Account of the Introduction of Cotton into that Country, by which it appears the Sea Island Cotton was brought from the Bahama Island in the Year 1786, and that the first Parcel of Cotton was exported in 1791; it amounted to 19,200 lbs; and I find from the American Returns of Exports and Imports for the Year 1827, that the total Exports of that Year amount to 294,310,115 lbs. Weight, and to the Value of 29,359,545 Dollars.
I have seen some Cotton lately brought from New South Wales that is valued at 10½d. per Pound, and ranks higher than any Cotton in the Liverpool Statement, except Sea Island. I have also seen a Sample of Cotton from Sea Island Seed, grown on the Island of Sangor, at the Mouth of the Hoogley River, that is valued at 8d. per lb.
It is very short in the Staple, so much so as to require peculiar Machinery, and it is of a coarse Quality, and extremely dirty. I believe that some of the best Surat Cotton is nearly as good in point of Quality as that commonly called Georgia Bowed or Georgia Upland.
I think the Georgia Bowed Cotton is about Forty per Cent. better than Surat Cotton; it is better grown, and cleaner. The Difference, I believe, is chiefly in the Mode of cleaning, and in the Mode of separating the Wool from the Seed; but of this I am not quite certain. With respect to the Difference of Price there is no doubt.
As far as that Difference of Price is created by the imperfect Mode of cleaning practised at Surat, may not that Imperfection be obviated by the more extended Use of the new Machinery which has been sent out by the Company within the last Year?
Because The East India Company has been trying similar Experiments without Success during nearly Half a Century back; I may say for Thirty Years, according to their own Account, which is before me. The Indian Cotton is notwithstanding just the same that it was in the Year 1790, when it was first imported into England. There has been great Encouragement given by increasing the Exports from India since the Year 1814, but it is not only not improved, but alleged to have become even worse.
Small Quantities of it may no doubt be cleaned by The East India Company, and may be brought to this Country, and prove perfectly satisfactory as far as a limited Experiment goes, but as far as respects the great Manufacturing Interest of this Country I conceive there can be no Hope of it.
I am of Opinion that when Skill and Capital are invested in the Soil of India and in the Industry of India, Machinery, and whatever else is necessary to Success, will be applied naturally and necessarily; and I am distinctly of Opinion that the Interference of the Government of India in that Matter can be of no Benefit whatsoever; and that all that is required of a Government is to afford Protection to Persons and to Property.
The Americans export large Quantities of Cotton; and they furnished the Manufacturers of this Country with a great deal of Cotton before the Invention of the principal Machine now hinted at. The East India Company, I find by a Paper before your Lordships, had sent out similar Machinery to that used by the Americans, long ago, to India, but the sending out of that Machinery was attended with no Advantage whatever; I do not therefore look for any Advantage from the improved Machinery.
May it not be inferred from that Answer, that you attribute the Failure of Success, in consequence of sending out Machinery before, to the Circumstance of its being sent out by The East India Company, not to any Defect in the Machinery itself, or to any Circumstances in the State and Condition of the People?
I beg to say, that I ascribe nothing whatever to the Circumstance of the Machinery being sent out by The East India Company; it is a Matter of no Consequence by whom it is sent out; the Machinery is sent out to a People who have not Skill or Capital to apply it.
I cannot see that it has been admitted that it requires no Skill; seeing that this Machinery has been invented and is used by one of the most civilized and one of the most enterprizing People in the World, the Americans.
Chinese Skill and Capital resemble very much European Skill and Capital; I take European Skill and Capital, however, to be as much superior to Chinese Skill and Capital as Chinese Skill and Capital are superior to Hindoo Skill and Capital.
It is inferior to any Tobacco I know in any Part of the World; it is inferior to the Tobacco grown in Manilla, in Java, in China, in Persia, and even in the Burman Empire; there are very good Specimens of Tobacco in the Burman Empire.
In Attention to the Selection of the Seed, in Attention to Soil, to weeding, to the Mode of reaping the Crop, and to the Mode of preparing the Drug after the Crop is obtained, and the Mode of packing it.
In reference to the Cultivation I am best acquainted with, that of the Chinese in the Island of Java, a most decided Inferiority; but it is impossible to see the Habits of the Two People, the Hindoos and the Chinese, and to see the Mode in which they carry on Agriculture or any other Species of Industry, without being forcibly struck with the Superiority of the one Race over the other.
I should think not; but the Climates of the Two Countries would produce different Qualities of Tobacco. The People of the United States could not grow the same Qualities of Tobacco which might be grown in India, nor could those of India grow the same Qualities of Tobacco as are grown in America.