Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
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Die Veneris, 11 Junii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
Mr. Charles Everett is called in, and examined as follows:
What is your Profession?
I am an American Merchant.
Are you an American?
Are you a Commission Merchant?
A Commission Merchant only?
Have you, in that Capacity, been engaged in the Export to China of British Manufactures on American Account?
I was the first to ship on the Account of Americans; and commenced the Business in 1818, and continued it 'till the End of 1828.
Have you now ceased to conduct that Business?
Yes, I have.
Were you engaged extensively in the Export of British Manufactures on American Account?
To China I have shipped to a large Amount.
Have you with you any Statement of the Amount you have shipped at different Times?
I have a Statement marked (A.) of the Amount, the Dates of the Shipments, and the Quantities by each Vessel.
Have the goodness to deliver in the same.
The Witness delivers in the same, and it is read, and is as follows:
A STATEMENTS of the Amount and Date of the SHIPMENT of BRITISH MANUFACTURED GOODS purchased by CHARLES EVERETT, for the CHINA TRADE on AMERICAN ACCOUNT; distinguishing the QUANTITIES and VALUE of the leading Articles of Cottons and Woollens, from 1818 to January 1829.
The Table (A.) shews the whole Amount of Manufactured Goods that have been shipped from this Port since the Commencement to January 1829, excepting about £6,000 Woollens and £2,000 Cottons.
I commenced the Business in 1818, and continued it until 1828. Since that Time the Shipments have been continued by my late Employers, through Messrs. Baring, Brothers & Co.
The subjoined Supplement to the above Account continues the same, and was delivered in by Mr. JOSHUA BATES, Partner in the House of Baring & Co, pursuant to the Directions of this Committee.
MEMORANDUM of SHIPMENTS to CHINA, on account of Americans, by the House of BARING & Co.
Is the Export of Woollens from this Country to China on American Account a new Branch of Trade?
It has been carried on by myself since 1818. Previous to that Time the Goods could not be sent, on account of the Prices being too high; there were some Orders received, but which were not executed.
Previous to that Period, what were the chief Exports of the Americans to Canton?
I cannot say exactly; but it was in Specie, Iron, Lead, &c.
Were there any Manufactured Goods exported?
None by the Americans.
Do you mean none from this Country?
None from this Country; and I do not know of any from America. I was not much acquainted with the Trade 'till 1818, and my Knowledge of it is confined principally to Manufactured Goods.
You are not aware of any Exports from America to Canton previously to the Year 1818, with the Exception of Dollars?
By that Account you have given in, does it appear that the Export of Woollens and Cottons from this Country has increased during the Period to which that Account refers?
It has, in Quantity; the Fall in Goods has been so great that the Amounts do not appear so much increased as the Quantities have been. I have a Statement marked (C.) which will shew the Value of the leading Articles at different Periods, compared with the Value of same Qualities in 1820. One hundred Pounds would purchase Double the Quantity of Woollens that it would in 1820.
Have the goodness to deliver that in.
There was a considerable Decline previously to 1820, which I did not notice, as I wished to make a Calculation from a Date when Goods were about One hundred per Cent. above present Prices.
The Witness delivers in the same, which is read, and is as follows:
A Statement shewing the VALUE of LONG CLOTHS.CAMLETS and BROAD CLOTHS, compared with the Prices of the same Qualities at different Periods, from 1820 to 1830.
|LONG CLOTHS.||In||1821||were||2½||to||5 per Cent. less than 1820.|
Long Ells at 55 per Cent. lower than in 1820.
It appears from this Table that Double the Quantity of Manufactured Goods can now be purchased for the same Sum paid in 1820; therefore to form a correct Estimate of the Increase of the Exports to China or elsewhere, it will be necessary to compare with the Quantities, and not the Value of the Shipments.
Is the Paper you have delivered in formed on your own Exports to China?
The Calculations are as accurate as I could make them from actual Purchases and from the Invoices.
Are you able to deliver in a Statement of what those Exports have fetched in China in those several Years?
No, I am not.
Are you aware whether there has been a proportionable Diminution of the Price of those Articles in China?
I do not know what the Goods have actually brought in China.
Have you any Knowledge generally of the Profit which has been made upon those Exports?
I have no Knowledge of the Prices they have brought, nor the Profits on them; only I presume the Shipments have been profitable, as the Export has been continued up to the present Time. There is One large Shipment gone within Six Weeks.
Your Accounts refer to your own Exports?
Are you aware whether general Exports of British Manufactures to China, on American Account, have increased in the same Proportion?
The Documents from Messrs. W. and J. Brown and Co.'s House, and that of Messrs. Baring and Co, added to mine, will shew nearly the whole Amount; so that the Committee can form their own Conclusions from those Accounts.
You think the Exports are confined to those Three Houses?
I think they are.
Do you think that any Proportion of those Exports from this Country have been sent on British Account?
Not any by American. Vessels.
Are you aware whether any such Exports have taken place?
None that I know of, except by Company's Vessels; and those were small Shipments by the Pursers and Officers.
There have been none by Individuals, so far as you are aware?
Could not a Shipment for China have been effected by a British Merchant in an American Ship?
You have no Reason to suppose that has been done?
I do not know of any Shipments by Vessels direct to Canton.
There is One Shipment now preparing, which I suppose to be on British Account.
Is that to a large Amount?
To a considerable Amount.
Have not the Americans possessed, for several Years, the same Facilities for exporting Manufactures to China which, if the Trade was opened, would be possessed by British Merchants?
I think they have.
Have they more?
They are perhaps better acquainted with the China Trade than British Merchants.
Can they export, in your Opinion, British Manufactures to China at a smaller Expence than they could be exported by British Merchants?
That depends on the Management of the Ships. American Vessels are sailed at less Expence, and there is less Parade.
Is that the general Character of their Shipping?
Yes; and the Captains are actually Sailing Masters, and always on the alert, and urging Dispatch.
Do you think that, in the event of opening the Trade, the Americans would still retain that Export of British Manufactures to China which they now possess; that they would be able to undersell, in that Trade, the British Merchant?
They would have the same Advantage that they have at present, knowing the Trade better than the British Merchant.
Do you think they would undersell the British Merchant, and keep that Trade to themselves?
It depends on the Management of the British Merchants; no doubt they are competent to carrying it on.
You stated that the American Ships sail at less Cost than the British?
The British Merchant might employ an American Vessel.
But unless he did that, he could not, in your Opinion, convey his Goods to China at so small a Cost as the American?
No I think not.
Then, unless he adopted that Course of conveying his Goods to China, you think that the Americans, after the opening of the China Trade, would keep that Trade to themselves?
Unless the British System is altered, and they could undersell the Americans. The American Vessels are built for less Money, and they take a less Number of Men; the Captains have no Servants; there is not the Style that we see on board an English Ship.
The Americans having had for several Years the Power of exporting British Manufactures to China, do you not imagine that they have carried their Exports to as great an Extent already as under the Circumstances which have taken place they could have been carried to had it been in the Hands of British Merchants?
By no means; if it had been an open and free Trade it might have been increased (in my Opinion) very much. Indeed the Capital of the Houses that have been engaged in it is not sufficient to carry all the Goods which might have been taken.
Had it been a very profitable Trade, do you not think more Capital might have flowed into it?
It is possible it might; but there are but few that have been acquainted with it; there have been Two or Three Houses concerned in the Shipments.
You are probably aware that the Nature of the Trade at Canton has been perfectly well known, and made public for many Years, and that peculiar Facilities exist in the Port of Canton for carrying on Trade?
Yes, that is certainly the Case; but the Americans have not that Capital to put into long Voyages that will be found in England.
Had the Trade been very profitable, do you not imagine the Americans would have found Capital to have carried it on to a greater Extent-that they would have borrowed Capital?
They may not have been aware that it has been profitable.
If that had been the Case, however, do you not think it would have become known?
I cannot say.
Do you think the making a great Profit in any one Line of Trade can long remain a Secret from Merchants in general?
Yes; that the Assortment of the Goods, and where they are to be procured, is not generally known; and there is no Reason why every Merchant should know it. For instance, no one would know what Assortments of Goods I ship without looking at my Books.
In your Opinion, the China Trade is capable of much greater Extension than has been hitherto given to it, provided greater Capital were employed?
What Articles of Export do you apprehend are the most profitable?
Cottons and Woollens.
What has been the Amount of Profit on Cottons and Woollens, you do not know?
But you are disposed to think that the greatest Profit could be made upon them?
Yes, of the English Manufactures.
Are you aware that The East India Company state that they have lost on the Exports of their Cottons and Woollens?
I have heard so.
Can you understand how that has taken place?
It is owing perhaps to their giving more for them, and to the Expence which attends their Movements.
In what Part of their Trade is that extraordinary Expence of which you speak?
I believe it extends through the whole System. Large Bodies cannot act with that Prudence and Economy which Individuals can.
It continues from the Purchase of the Goods to the ultimate Sale of the Returns?
Yes. I think their Shipments have been about £800,000; and I have shipped myself to China and America, Five or Six Years in continuation, £200,000, with the Assistance of a few Clerks. They maintain an immense Establishment for the Purpose.
Has the Export of British Manufactures to China been doubled in Quantity since the Year 1821?
The Statements I have handed in, when compared with the Reports from those Three Houses to which I have referred, will shew your Lordships that exactly.
Have you an Account shewing the Quantities of each Article, and the Amount of Shipments?
The same is delivered in and read, and is as follows.
The above is a Statement of the Quantity and Value of each Description of Manufactured Goods purchased by Charles Everett for the China Trade, from 1818 to 1828.
By that Statement it appears that in the Year 1820 the Number of Pieces of Cloth shipped was 3,494; in the Year 1821, 3,570; it appears by another Statement of yours, that since those Years the Price of Cloths has been diminished nearly Fifty per Cent; but in the Year 1827 it appears that only 508 Pieces of Cloth were exported, and in the Year 1828 only 1,300; can you explain from what Circumstance that arose?
They may have been in part of finer Cloth by the early Vends.
Does that appear on reference to the comparative Prices?
There is certainly a great Irregularity in the Quantity shipped. Of those Shipments in the Year 1826 One Half of the Goods were bought in 1825.
Will you look to the Article of Camlets; that appears to have diminished in Price from Forty-two to Forty-five per Cent. since the Year 1821; and the Number of Pieces of Camlet exported in the Year 1820 was 9,246; in the Year 1821, 2,863; whereas in the last Two Years, notwithstanding the great Diminution of Price, the Number in 1827 was only 1,200, and in 1828, 2,700; can you account for that?
It may have been that there were too many of them sent the Year previous.
In the Year 1826 it appears that only 2,310 were sent, and that in the Year 1825 none at all was sent?
The Shipments in 1825 were delayed 'till 1826.
The Shipment of 1826, which is 2,310, must be divided then between the Two Years 1825 and 1826?
Yes, it should be so divided.
On a Comparison of the Shipments of the Two last Years and the Shipment in 1821-22, it would appear that the Shipments had fallen off, notwithstanding the Diminution of Price?
That would appear by this Document only; but if your Lordships refer to the Shipments of 1829 and the present Year, there has been a much greater Quantity of Camlets shipped than any former Period.
Can you complete this Account to the Year 1829?
The House of Baring and Company have continued the Shipments for the same Parties, and their Accounts, with Messrs. Brown's Statement, will complete the Account of American Shipments.
If you refer to the Article of Long Ells, in the Year 1819 1,700 Pieces were exported; in 1820, 5,560; in 1821, 3,640; the Prices of Long Ells appear to be Fifty-five per Cent. lower than they were in 1820, notwithstanding that in 1826 there are only 2,100 Pieces exported, in 1827 none at all, and in 1828, 2,000; in what Way do you account for that, supposing the Exports to have been profitable?
Perhaps there were none in the Market when the Orders arrived, and I took other Goods. You will find from Baring and Company also, that a great Quantity of Ells were sent in 1829 and 1830.
The Export of Cotton appears to have largely increased?
Yes. Many of your Lordships Questions may be answered by the Fact of the Orders having been executed at very short Notice, and such Articles bought as could be furnished within a certain Time.
It appears that, with the Exception of Cotton, the Articles were smaller in Amount than in the Year 1820?
Mr. Baring's Shipments being added to mine will shew that the whole Export of those Articles has been increased.
The Export of British Goods on American Account from this Country having, according to your Account, increased very largely during the last Three or Four Years, how do you account for the Diminution in the Sale Value of Merchandize imported by Americans into China in the Course of these Three or Four Years, 1824-5, 1825-6 and 1826-7?
That may be accounted for by the Cargoes having been sent to Manilla or elsewhere after touching at Lintin.
The Account to which the Question refers, which is No. 25. of the Papers presented to Parliament in the Year 1829, refers to the Sale Value of Merchandize actually imported into China. By that it appears, that in the Year 1824-5 the Sale Value was 2,439,545 Dollars; in 1825-6, 20,050,831 Dollars; and in 1826-7, 20,002,549; thus shewing a gradual Decrease in the Value of the Merchandize imported into China by the Americans in those Three Years; if the Exports of British Manufactures has increased in those Three Years, in what Articles do you apprehend that the Export of the Americans has fallen off?
I cannot answer that Question exactly.
You have no Knowledge of the Trade of the Americans, except that Part which has fallen into your own Hands?
No, I have not.
In what Manner have you purchased your Cottons and Woollens for your American Constituents?
I have bought them generally by Samples, and by personal Inspection of them.
Not by Contracts?
Sometimes by Contract, but not by Tender.
You think that is an uneconomical Mode of transacting Business?
It is the worst Way, in my Opinion, that Business can be transacted.
Where a Business is of very great Extent, do you think it would be equally well conducted without Tender?
Yes, certainly. I have shipped to America and China altogether, as before mentioned, Two hundred thousand Pounds a Year, which is one Quarter Part of The East India Company's Purchases of Goods.
Going into the Market as you do, do you apprehend that you obtain as good an Article as the Company at as low a Price?
When there is any Inferiority in any Part of the Articles you receive, do you reject them?
We reject them, or buy them at a lower Price.
Should you say generally the Articles you have exported are of as good Quality as the Articles exported by the Company?
The Articles of Cloths and Camlets are in my Opinion better than those the Company have usually sent out; the Cloths have been decidedly better.
Have you any Means of knowing at what Prices the Company have purchased?
No. I have seen some Minutes of their Contracts.
When you have seen Minutes of their Contracts, have they in your Opinion paid too high a Price?
They have paid higher Prices than I have done.
Have you had an Opportunity of comparing their Article with yours?
They have been compared in the China Market.
Have they fetched a higher Price?
My Camlets and Cloths have been preferred to the Company's. I have never had any Complaint in the Long Ells; but I knew them to be inferior, as I selected them from rejected Goods principally.
If the Company, exporting better Long Ells than you have done, have lost upon that Export, and you, having exported rejected Goods, have made a Profit, would it not appear that the Company have exported Goods of too fine a Description for the Market?
No; the finer the Goods the better, if the Prices are in proportion.
Is the general Demand for the China Market for the finest Description of Goods?
The finest Description of Goods I have found answer best; that is, the finest spun Articles and useful Qualities. The Long Ell is a very firm stout Article, and will wear better than any Fabric I am acquainted with in Woollens to be had for the same Price.
Have you exported various sorts of Cotton Goods to China?
I have sent in Quantity only a few kinds.
Have you sent on Speculation any new species of Goods?
I have sent Samples repeatedly.
Have they succeeded as you have understood?
Some have, and some have not.
Have you been desired to export many of those Articles you have sent on Speculation?
To any Extent?
There is One Article to a great Extent I have had manufactured in Leeds.
What is the Nature of that Article?
Bombazetts. I sent One Bale, and received back £120 clear Profit; and there were Orders returned for about 10,000 Pieces, and many more would have been shipped if they could have been made all of a particular Colour; such Orders were not executed.
Do you know what is the Commission charged on the Sale of Goods at Canton?
I believe Five per Cent. is the usual Charge at Canton; but my Employers had a Partner residing there.
What is the Commission usually received by Merchants in this Country for Purchases for American Houses?
Two and a Half per Cent.
Do you act under Instructions from the Merchants of America, or from Houses in this Country?
I have acted under the Order of Houses here in purchasing for China, and by direct Orders from America.
Under the Orders of what Houses do you act?
The Orders, in the first instance, were received through Williams and Company, and they now continue through Baring and Company.
You have acted rather as Broker for the Purchase of the Articles?
The Orders have in some Instances been direct to me; but I have always been acting under the Direction of the Houses here, who are the Banking Agents for the Parties in America, and controul the Sales of the Return Cargoes on the Continent.
You have yourself inspected the Goods?
Yes, I have.
Do you go yourself into the Country for the Purpose of selecting them?
Whenever it is necessary.
Has any Improvement taken place in the Manufacture of Woollens and Cottons of England within the last Ten Years?
Yes, there has been great Improvements in Cloths.
The Article is better as well as cheaper?
The Goods are more even and better finished by the Machinery. There has been a Machine introduced for shearing, which was previously done by Shears, but is now done by a revolving Apparatus, or spiral Shears.
Have you at all calculated how much per Cent. more the best Goods now would have fetched in the Year 1820 than the best Goods manufactured at that Time?
The Calculations I have given refer always to the same Quality of the same Article. I have Duplicate Patterns of former Purchases to compare with the present.
In consequence of the great Improvement in the Quality of some of the Articles, the best Article will not have fallen in Price quite as much as appears in this Statement?
In the Calculation in the Statement (C.) I always refer to the same Description of Goods which were bought in 1820, and speak of the same Quality of each Article, in the subsequent Years. There have been Improvements in the Manufacture, and those Improvements have assisted in reducing the Prices.
Is it possible now, not only to purchase the same Article, an Article identically the same as that you would have purchased in 1820 for Half the Price, but for Half the Price do you actually get a better Article?
No; the same Article.
Do you apprehend that the Improvement in the Quality of the Article has tended to increase the Demand in China?
The Article shipped has been about the same.
Then the more improved Articles have not been shipped?
Yes; better finished.
They are of the same Quality, better finished?
For Half the Price now you can furnish the same Article you furnished in the Year 1820; but that Article will be better finished than it was in the Year 1820?
Do you mean that they are more durable?
The Cottons are made more even by the Steam Loom; and Cloths finer spun, and finished better, by the Improvements in Machinery.
Can you state whether the Americans procure Woollens and Cotton Goods any where else to export to Canton besides those they procure from England?
They procure them from the United States also.
Have you a Statement of the Quantities they have exported from America of their own Manufacture?
The Witness delivers in the same, and it is read, and is as follows:
AN ACCOUNT of the VALUE of FOREIGN and DOMESTIC COTTONS, WOOLLENS and METALS exported from the Ports of the United States of America in the Years ending the 30th September 1827 and 1828, extracted from a General Statement respecting the Import and Export of Merchandize, printed by Order of Congress, February 10th, 1829.
Have you any Reason to suppose that they have procured Woollen Manufactures for the Purpose of exporting to Canton from any other Country in Europe besides England?
Has the Quantity exported from the United States increased in the same Proportion with the Quantity exported from this Country?
I believe there have been very few Goods sent from the United States recently. I have not heard of any.
Are you upon the whole inclined to believe that the Exports from the United States will become greater or less, as compared with those from this Country?
It is more convenient to take the Goods from hence, if they want any considerable Quantity of British Manufactured Goods, rather than take them from the United States, though some small Quantities may go from thence. The Expence of sending Goods to America and reshipping would be equal to Ten per Cent.
If they could be carried by British Ships, do you think all the Goods now carried by American Ships would be carried by British Ships from hence to India?
A great Proportion might be carried by British Ships; but it is uncertain.
In preference to American Ships?
There are only One or Two Parties engaged in the Trade now; and I believe those Parties would give up the Trade if it was open; it would be left to the English Merchants, unless other Americans engaged in it.
Would not the exporting Merchant select the Ship in which he could send his Goods at the least Freight?
If the Freight of the American Ship was the lowest, would he not send it in an American Ship?
Yes, I should think he would. It is generally known, and I believe understood, that an American Ship can go at a less Expence than an English.
Can you state what is the Difference of Freight between an American and a British Ship at the present Moment; from hence to America, for instance?
Very few English Ships go from hence to America with Manufactured Goods; the American Ships are taken in preference.
Can you state the Comparison on any Voyage?
The Freight of the British Ships is generally lower; but the American Ships sailing so much faster, and better commanded, they do not like to ship valuable Merchandize by an English Vessel to any Port in the United States.
When you speak of English Freight, do you allude to the Amount of Freight from London or from English Ports generally, taking into consideration the Difference between Liverpool and London?
I should take both Liverpool and London, as far as I know the Trade. The American Packets run regularly; that is another Reason they command a better Freight; so that no just Comparison can be made between the Freight of an English and American Ship to America.
Can an English Ship, under the present American Law, carry the same Cargo that an American Ship can carry from this Country?
I believe an English Ship can carry the Produce and Manufactures of England, but not of other Countries. Every Article I ship to America might be, except Foreign Merchandize.
With what Description of Vessels were you comparing the American, when you stated that they could sail so much cheaper?
As comparing them with The East India Company's Ships and Private Traders.
Are the Private Traders sailed with the same Parade and Expence as the Company's Ships?
I believe they are; but I am not fully acquainted with that.
What Attempts have been made, through you or the Houses which employ you, to introduce any new Article of Export?
I have made repeated Experiments, and have succeeded with some Articles.
In what kind of Articles?
In Woollens and Cotton Long Cloths, of which there are large Quantities now shipped and sent out since the first Experiment. They were Copies of the Long Cloths from Bengal.
Have any of those Articles succeeded to a considerable Extent, so that a large Export takes place?
Yes; the Export of Long Cloths is to a considerable Extent. There was no Export of Long Cloths by the first Vessels.
You say that a large Shipment has been made within these last Six Weeks; do you know of what it consisted?
I must beg to refer that Question to Messrs. Baring and Company, who shipped the Goods by the Bashaw.
Do you not think that the Size and the Warlike Appearance of The East India Company's Ships has had rather a Tendency than otherwise to excite the Jealousy and the Vigilance of the Chinese?
I am not sufficiently acquainted with that Part of the Subject to answer that Question, not having been in China.
Do you not think that if an English free Trade were admitted to China, the Possession of India by this Country would give them a great Advantage over the Americans?
No, I conceive not. The Americans have established their Character with the Chinese as Traders, and it would be difficult to dispossess them of the Trade.
Would not the Possession of India by this Country afford the English Trader very considerable Advantages in carrying on Trade with China?
I should suppose it would.
Do you know whether it has been generally expected by the Americans, that when the existing Charter of The East India Company was at an end, the Trade with China would be opened?
There is a Variety of Opinions upon that Subject; I do not know what the general Opinion is.
Do you know of any considerable American House that is preparing to relinquish that Branch of its Trade?
I believe the House of Perkins and Company will relinquish their Business. Mr. Cushin is gone out for the express Purpose of closing their Concerns at Canton.
Has not he made a very large Fortune by it, first?
Yes, I believe he has.
How much do you suppose?
I suppose about £500,000.
How long has he been in China?
Do you know whether the same House intend to relinquish any other Part of their Commercial Business?
I believe they are giving up the Business altogether.
Have they all made as large Fortunes as Mr. Cushin?
Being Partners, I presume they have, in proportion to their Share in the Concern.
How many Partners were there in that House?
You have stated that American Ships are built at a cheaper Rate than English Ships; have you any Knowledge of the relative Prices of Shipbuilding in both Countries?
I have no particular Knowledge. The principal Materials for Shipbuilding are much cheaper in America, and of the best kind; and great Improvements are made in the Models and Rigging, by the constant Attention of Shipmasters to make the Vessels complete and fast Sailers. They are generally built under the Inspection of Captains well acquainted with the Qualities required, by actual Experience.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next, One o'Clock.