Third.—A want of necessary irrigation, and the watering of the plantation under an ardent sun. The vapor from the earth kills the fruit. If the rains are deficient for a time, and an excessive rain succeeds, the fruit of the cacao also withers.
This dessication or withering takes place everywhere; but in some places the surplus of fruit, which the tree is unable to nourish, is alone subject to it. In others, as Araquita and Caucagua, it withers in proportion to the northerly rains. An unsuitable soil occasions another kind of decay. The pods become stinted, containing some good and some bad seeds. The Spaniards call this cocosearse, which means defective.
Harvest of the cacao.—The tree yields two principal crops in a year, one about St. John's day, the other towards the end of December. The cacao however ripens and is gathered during the whole year. But in all seasons the planters of the Central American republics make it a point, so far as possible, to collect their crops only at the decline of the moon; because experience proves that this precaution renders the cacao more solid, and less liable to spoil.
To collect the fruit, those negroes and Indians are employed who have the sharpest sight, that only the ripe fruit may be gathered. The most robust and active are chosen to carry it to the places where the beans are to be shaken out. The aged and maimed are employed to do this. The operation is performed on a floor well swept, and covered with green leaves, on which they place the cacao. Some open the pod, and others strike out the beans with a small piece of wood, which must not be sharp, lest it should injure them.
The good and bad beans must not be mingled together. There are four sorts of cacao in every crop; the ripe and in good condition, the green but sound, the worm-eaten, and the rotten. The first quality is best, the second is not bad; but the two others should be rejected.
As soon as that which is not fully ripe begins to show specks, it must be separated. As to the pods which are not perfectly ripe, they should remain in heaps during three days under green banana leaves, that they may ripen before they are hulled. When the cacao is stored, great care is necessary not to leave amongst it pieces of the pod or leaves, or any other excrementitious particles. This care must be repeated every time that it is removed from the store, or replaced in it.
The cacao must always be exposed to the sun on the fourth day after it has been gathered, and this exposure should be daily repeated until it is perfectly dry. When that is the case, the beans burst on being squeezed, their shell resounds when struck, and they no longer become heated when placed in heaps; the latter is the best proof that the moisture injurious to their preservation is dissipated. If the cacao is not sufficiently exposed to the sun, it becomes mouldy; if too much, it withers, and easily pulverises—in either case it soon rots.
When the quantity of cacao gathered is considerable, it is placed in the sunshine by a hundred quintals at a time, unless the cultivator has a sufficient number of persons employed to expose a greater quantity. This operation is indispensable, to prevent it from becoming mouldy. If the rains prevent this exposure to the sun, it is necessary, as soon as it is sufficiently cleaned or purified, to spread it in apartments, galleries, or halls, with which the plantation must be provided; this operation cannot be delayed without danger of losing the crop.
It is to be wished that stoves were employed to dry the cacao when the sun fails, but this expedient, so simple and important, is generally unknown.
It is almost universally believed that the most essential precautions for preserving the cacao consists in gathering it at the decline of the moon. I believe that they may more seriously calculate on the care of depositing it in apartments so hermetically closed that the air cannot penetrate; it would be advisable to make these apartments of wood, for the more perfect exclusion of moisture. The floor should be elevated two feet; under the floor a pan of coals is placed, covered with a funnel, the point of which enters into the heap of cacao and then diffuses the vapor. In the apartment which contains the cacao, some persons place bottles of vinegar, slightly stopped with paper, to prevent the formation of worms.
The beans which begin to show specks, may be preserved from entire corruption by a slight application of brine. This occasions a small degree of fermentation, which is sufficient to destroy the worms, and to preserve the cacao during a considerable time from new attacks. Why is not this preservative also employed after the cacao is dried, and when placed in the store, where it awaits the purchaser?
At St. Philip they make use of smoke to preserve the cacao; it is also ascertained that fine salt, thrown in small quantities on the cacao, protects it from worms.
Much has been done for the cacao when it has been cleared of all green or dead beans, and extraneous substances; when it has received no bruise or injury in the operation of drying, and when it has been subsequently kept in a place that is dry and not exposed to the air; yet, even with all these precautions, cacao of the best quality is seldom found marketable at the end of a year.
These circumstances sufficiently prove that the culture of cacao requires attention more than science, vigilance rather than genius, and assiduity in preference to theory. Choice of ground, distribution and draining of the waters, position of the trees destined to shade the cacao, are almost the only points which require more than common intelligence. Less expense is also required for an establishment of this kind than for any other of equal revenue. One able hand, as I have already said, is sufficient for the preservation and harvest of a thousand plants, each of which should yield at least one pound of cacao, in ground of moderate quality, and a pound and a half in the best soil. By an averaged calculation of twenty ounces to each plant, the thousand plants must produce twelve hundred and fifty pounds, which, at the ordinary price of 31s. 6d. per cwt., would produce about L17 10s. per annum for each laborer. The expenses of the plantation, including those of utensils, machines, and buildings, are also less considerable for cacao than for any other produce. The delay of the first crop, and the accidents peculiar to cacao, can alone diminish the number of planters attached to its culture, and induce a preference to other commodities.
The cacao plant is not in a state of prolific produce till the eighth year in the interior, and the ninth in plantations on the coast. Yet, by a singularity which situation alone can explain, the crops of cacao commence in the ninth year in the valley of Goapa, and at the east of the mouth of the Tuy. In the vicinity of the line, and on the banks of Rio-Negro, the plantations are in full produce on the fourth, or at most the fifth year.
The cacao tree continues productive to the age of fifty years on the coast, and thirty years in the interior of the country.
In general the culture and preparation of cacao receives more attention in the eastern parts of Venezuela than in other places, and even than in the French colonies. It is true that the suitability of the soil contributes much to the quality of the article; but without the assistance derived from art, it would be far from possessing that superiority awarded to it by commerce over the cacao of every other country.
Stevenson ("Travels in South America") speaks of another kind of cacao tree, called moracumba, which is larger than the ordinary species, and grows wild in the woods. The beans under the brown husk are composed of a white, solid matter, almost like a lump of hard tallow. The natives take a quantity of these, and pass a piece of slender cane through them, and roast them, when they have the delicate flavour of the cacao.
There are several cacao plantations in Surinam. The trees are left to grow their natural height, which is about that of a cherry-tree; their leaves resemble those of the broad-leaved laurel, and are of a dark green colour. The fruit in shape resembles a lemon, but is rather more oval; it is at first green, and, when ripe, yellow. It is said that there are some trees which produce above two hundred, each containing about twenty beans or nuts. The fruit not only proceeds from the branches, but even from the stem; and though there is always ripe and unripe fruit, it is only gathered twice a year. The chocolate is in that colony in general of an inferior quality, known by its dark brown color and rough taste, but the superiority of the cacao depends principally on the soil where the trees are planted.—(Baron Von Sack's "Surinam.")
My friend, Sir R. Schomburgk, in his "Description of British Guiana," says—"While we crossed from the river Berbice to the Essequibo, we met a number of chocolate nut trees, near the abandoned Caribi settlement of Primoss. It is not to be doubted that the trees were originally planted by the Indians, but from their number and the distance from the river, I judged they were propagated by nature. Though they were overshadowed by larger trees, and had for many years been neglected, they had reached nevertheless a height of from thirty to forty feet, and the luxuriant growth and the abundance of fruit, proved that the plant was satisfied with the soil. The forests at the banks of the Rio Branco, in the vicinity of Santa Maria and Carno, abound in wild cacao trees, the fruits of which are collected by the scanty population of that district for their own use."
The cultivation of cacao will be most suitable to the less wealthy individual, as it demands so little labor and outlay. Baron Humboldt observes, in alluding to Spanish America, that cacao plantations are occupied by persons of humble condition, who prepare for themselves and their children a slow but certain fortune; a single laborer is sufficient to aid them in their plantations, and 30,000 trees, once established, assure competence for a generation and a half.
The following have been the total imports of Cacao into the United Kingdom from Mexico and Central America, &c.:—
lbs. 1832 85,642 1834 16,171 1835 211 1836 861,531 1837 564,992 1838 1,681,965 1839 508,307 1840 1,058,015 1841 1,802,547 1842 441,084 1843 1,229,515 (Parl. Paper, No. 426, Sess. 1844.)
Only a few hundred pounds of this is entered annually for home consumption, the great bulk being re-exported.
In 1850 we imported 1,204,572 lbs. from Mexico; 1,231,773 lbs. from Chile; 4,438 lbs. from Venezuela, and 23,538 lbs. from Hayti.
BRAZIL.—A great deal of cacao is raised in different parts of this empire. From the province of Para alone 35,000 bags, valued at L35,000, were exported in the year 1845. Mr. Edwards, in his "Voyage up the River Amazon," gives an interesting account:—
"We were now (he says) in the great cacao region, which, for an extent of several hundred square miles, borders the river. The cacao trees are low, not rising above fifteen or twenty feet, and are distinguishable from a distance by the yellowish green of their leaves, so different from aught else around them. They are planted at intervals of about twelve feet, and, at first, are protected from the sun's fierceness by banana trees, which, with their broad leaves, form a complete shelter. Three years after planting the trees yield, and therefore require little attention, or, rather, receive not any. From an idea that the sun is injurious to the berry, the tree-tops are suffered to mat together until the whole becomes dense as thatch-work. The sun never penetrates this, and the ground below is constantly wet. The trunk of the tree grows irregularly, without beauty, although perhaps by careful training it might be made as graceful as an apple tree. The leaf is thin, much resembling our beech, excepting that it is smooth-edged. The flower is very small, and the berry grows direct from the trunk or branches. It is eight inches in length, five in diameter, and shaped much like a rounded double cone. When ripe, it turns from light green to a deep yellow, and at that time ornaments the tree finely. Within the berry is a white acid pulp, and embedded in this are from thirty to forty seeds, an inch in length, narrow and flat. These seeds are the cacao of commerce. When the berries are ripe, they are collected into great piles near the house, are cut open with a tresado, and the seeds, squeezed carelessly from the pulp, are spread upon mats to dry in the sun. Before being half dried they are loaded into canoes in bulk, and transmitted to Para. Some of these vessels will carry four thousand arrobas, of thirty-two pounds weight each, and, as if such a bulk of damp produce would not sufficiently spoil itself by its own steaming during a twenty days' voyage, the captains are in the habit of throwing upon it great quantities of water, to prevent its loss of weight. As might be expected, when they arrive at Para it is little more than a heap of mould, and it is then little wonder that Para cacao is considered the most inferior in foreign markets. Cacao is very little drunk throughout the province, and in the city we never saw it except at the cafes. It is a delicious drink when properly prepared, and one soon loses relish for that nasty compound known in the States as chocolate, whose main ingredients are damaged rice and soap fat. The cacao trees yield two crops annually, and, excepting in harvest time, the proprietors have nothing to do but lounge in their hammocks. Most of these people are in debt to traders in Santarem, who trust them to an unlimited extent, taking a lien upon their crops. Sometimes the plantations are of vast extent, and one can walk for miles along the river, from one to another, as freely as through an orchard. No doubt a scientific cultivator might make the raising of cacao very profitable, and elevate its quality to that of Guyaquil."
Cacao shipped from Brazil to the United Kingdom, for nine years, ending 1835:—
lbs. 1827 3,992,449 1828 1,174,168 1829 2,442,456 1830 1,308,694 1831 1,716,614 1832 2,198,709 1833 2,402,803 1834 1,591,600 1835 1,678,769
Cultivation in the West India Islands.—The only English colonies where this nutritious and wholesome substance is now cultivated to any extent, are Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent.
In Jamaica and British Guiana it has given place to the production of sugar, and though it forms such an important article in the imports and consumption of the United Kingdom, the quantity introduced from British plantations is barely equal to the demand. The imports from Jamaica in 1831 were 6,684 lbs., and in 1838, 16,564 lbs.; while the imports since have been merely nominal. Of 5,014,681 lbs. imported in 1841, 2,920,298 lbs. were furnished by the British West Indian colonies, 1,802,547 lbs. came from the Colombian republics, and 269,794 lbs. were brought from Brazil. Trinidad furnishes by far the largest proportion of the West Indian supplies, the imports from thence in 1841 having been 2,500,000 lbs., while the imports from all the other islands were but 427,000 lbs. In 1850, 4,750,000 lbs. were shipped from Trinidad, whilst in 1851 the quantity was nearly as much.
Trinidad.—Although this tree is indigenous to many, if not most of the tropical parts of America, it was first extensively cultivated in Mexico; and it is remarkable that the words cacao and chocolate are both of Mexican origin. From Mexico the variety called Creole cacao it is supposed was transplanted to the West India colonies; that variety called Forastero (stranger) came from the Brazils. The latter tree is the most productive, but the former gives the best fruit, insomuch that few persons now plant the Forastero cacao. There are two or three indigenous species found growing wild in the forests of Trinidad, viz., T. Sylvestris cacao, T. Guianensis, and another sort.
There are few, perhaps no agricultural or horticultural pursuits, so delightful (observes Mr. Joseph, in his "History of Trinidad,") as that of the cultivation of the cacao. It is planted in rows, intersecting each other at right angles, at the distance of from twelve to fifteen feet, according to the nature of the soil. The tree is not suffered to grow higher than about fifteen feet, and its broad rich foliage, the hues of which vary from a light green to a dark red, loaded with yellow and dark red pods, which contain the chocolate bean, are beautiful objects; these alleys are shaded by rows of magnificent trees, called Bois Immortel by the French and English, by the Spaniards the Madre de Cacao. It is the Erythrina umbrosa or arborea of Linnaeus. Like the Bignonia or Pouie, this tree, at particular seasons, throws off its foliage and is covered with blossoms; those of the Erythrina are of a brilliant red color, justifying its Greek appellation. In this state they are literally dazzling to behold—no object in the vegetable world looks more striking than the alleys of a cacao walk shaded by a forest above them of the Bois Immortel.
I have been obligingly furnished by Mr. W. Purdie, the able Government botanist of Trinidad, with a short essay upon the cultivation of the cacao tree, with which many of the valleys of that island are so beautifully adorned, and which, at one time, poured into that now unfortunate colony so large a stream of wealth. Fortunately the cacao planter of the island has managed to survive the many years of depression under which—like sugar now—the cacao cultivations lingered and sunk, and which brought the once wealthy planter down to poverty and misery. His prospects, however, are gradually improving.
The opinions put forth by Mr. Purdie, on the subject of which he treats, will be found to run counter to the long-established practice hitherto pursued in the treatment of cacao plantations; but it must not be forgotten that these are the opinions of a person with whom the study of trees, their physiology and functions, has been not merely an amusing science, but an adopted employment, and whose acquirements in this respect, previous to his arrival in the colony, recommended him for selection as the agent to extend through South America (the great cacao region) the investigations of one of the most noted botanical gardens in Europe.
Mr. Purdie says:—
"In the present depressed times, it behoves us to look well into the resources of our fertile island, particularly as far as any improvement can be suggested capable of averting, at least, a part of the misery and ruin that is hovering over us, and which is too eagerly borne on the lips of all classes of the community, instead of using our efforts to do what we can to meet the difficulty; but few seem to inquire whether we make the most of our present means or not, whilst every one rather joins in the cry that sugar fetches little or nothing, and it is no uncommon thing to hear the complaint transferred from sugar to cacao.
It is but too true that the markets are at present lamentably against the most important branch of our industry, under the present manner of sugar cultivation and manufacture in this island. But it can hardly be admitted that the same is the case in that of cacao—also a very important branch of our agriculture.
My attention has been lately directed to the average produce per tree, which will, I hope, throw some light on its cultivation. From fifteen cacao trees, which are all there are at St. Ann's, I have this year gathered 115 lbs. of cacoa (dried), and at present there is at least 50 lbs. more ripe on the same trees. This gives 165 lbs. of cacao from fifteen trees, or 11 lbs. per tree. These cannot be considered fine trees; on the contrary, they are what would be considered ordinary ones; therefore the average in this case is fair, and differs materially from selecting the produce of fifteen trees from a large plantation, and giving the average return of what might be obtained from cacao cultivation. Last year these trees did not average more than 2 lbs. per tree, and I attribute the increase of crop to the thinning out of both the cacao and shade trees.
In a former letter to the cacao-planters of Trinidad, I recommended twenty-four to thirty feet from tree to tree as the proper distance; but so as to meet the feelings of those who, unfortunately for themselves, consider every cacao tree cut down a sacrifice, I propose that the trees be thinned out to twenty-four feet, and that, at intervals of twenty rows at most, avenues of fifty feet in both directions should be left. After this, it will be better seen what may be necessary to be done to each individual tree; neither should the shade trees be forgotten; as a general rule, they are prejudicially thick.
By attending to this, I am quite satisfied that a very material increase in the produce will be seen; indeed, I may say that on this depends the chief difference of 11/4 lb. and 11 lbs. per tree; for I consider it a very fair inference, that the average obtained here can be realised in any other place in this island, and to any extent, under the same circumstances of light and air, unless on very poor soil, of which we fortunately have but little.
At twenty-four feet apart there would be seventy-five trees per acre, or 250 per quarree. This, at 11 lbs. per tree, gives 2,750 lbs. of dried cacao per quarree, at 5 dollars per 100 lbs., gives 137 dollars 50 cents gross; deducting 80 dollars per quarree expenses, leaves 57 dollars 60 cents net profit. Thus an estate of 120 acres, or 36 quarrees, would contain 9,000 trees, at 11 lbs. per tree will give 33,000 lbs. of cacao, at 5 dollars gives 4,350 dollars gross per annum; deducting 80 dollars per quarree (a much more liberal sum than is at present laid out), leaves a net balance of 1,950 dollars, or 16 dollars 25 cents per acre.
Now this, it must be remembered, would be the produce from 9,000 trees, and from an estate containing only 36 quarrees of land (which cannot be considered a large one); what, then, might be expected from estates containing 40,000 trees?
I have been recently favoured with the following average return of cacao in this island, which I have no doubt will be considered a fair one. I insert it in full, and, from the very low return, it shows a lamentable deficiency in the cultivation of this most grateful tree:—
'The average number of cacoa trees in a quarree of land is 868.
'1st. The estates throughout the island are generally planted at a distance of 12 feet by 12, and 131/2 feet by 131/2. Those planted at 12 by 12 contain 969 trees in the quarree, and those at 131/2 by 131/2 contain 767 trees, the area of the quarree being taken at 139,697 superficial feet. There may be in the island about 60 quarrees in all, planted at 15 by 15 feet.
'2nd. The actual annual value of a quarree of land planted in cacoa is ten fanegas, or 11/4 lb. to a tree.
'It is to be observed that this is the general return from each tree as estates are now cultivated, but if planters had the means of keeping their estates in high cultivation, each cacoa tree would produce 2 lbs. on an average.
'3rd. The annual average cost of cultivating a quarree in cacao, and manufacturing the produce therefrom, is 35 dollars, in the imperfect manner it is carried on at present, thereby giving only 10 fanegas per quarree.'
I believe there are many estates in the island where the average distance is less than 12 by 12; however, to give the present mode the full benefit of the return, I will adopt, for comparison's sake, the maximum number of trees; so that 960 trees per quarree, at l1/4 lb. per tree, gives 1,211 lbs. of cacao, at 5 dollars per 100 lbs. is worth 60 dollars, gross return per quarree; deducting 36 dollars, not 80 dollars, for expenses, which leaves 24 dollars per quarree net, or about 7 dollars 75 cents per acre.
This is a startling account from lands among the most fertile in the world, and from a plant, under fair treatment, next to the sugar cane, perhaps the most grateful for the care bestowed, more especially when we consider that more than ten times that quantity might be obtained with a comparatively insignificant outlay of money.
If such, then, be the case, as stated in the above report (and it is to be regretted that it is too near the truth), apathy on the part of those whose interests are so much concerned is unwarrantable. It is not enough to say that our fathers must have known the proper way to plant cacao; this is but a lame excuse, and not sufficient to dispense with any exertions of the present generation, beyond merely collecting whatever fruit may come, as it were, fortuitously. Moreover, at the time the present cacao plantations were established in this island, its cultivation was comparatively little known; it is therefore likely that they might have erred, as they undoubtedly did, in cramming them so close together; but notwithstanding this, by a proper system of thinning, the evils might have been easily obviated, and large crops ensured.
A few mornings ago, a cacao planter from Santa Cruz called on me, and in conversation stated that the only place where he had anything like a crop of cacao at present, was where the hurricane of the 11th of October had devastated his estate most severely, and which he at that time considered a ruinous visitation. I hope the lesson will not be lost on him.
In Jamaica it is found necessary to prune the coffee trees yearly, which is done with as much care as gooseberry or currant bushes in England; but, notwithstanding this, I remember a friend of mine in Jamaica telling me of the extraordinary difference on his coffee plantation under the management of a person who understood and attended more particularly to the pruning of his trees.
Lunan, in his 'Hortus Jamaicensis,' published in 1814, gives a very elaborate article on the cacao, although its cultivation was almost extinct in his day in that island. He, however, appears to have derived his information chiefly from Blume, who wrote a short account of Jamaica, in 1672, at which time cacao was the chief export of the island. Lunan attributes its downfall to heavy ministerial exaction, which was then, he says, upwards of 480 per cent. on its marketable value. Speaking of the average weight of cacao per tree, he has the following:—'The produce of one tree is generally estimated at about 20 lbs. of nuts. The produce per acre in Jamaica has been rated at 1,000 lbs. weight per annum, allowing for bad years. In poor soils, and under bad management, the produce of the tree rarely exceeds 8 lbs. weight.' He also says—'When the cacao plants are six months old, the planter from this period must not be too fond of cleaning the plantation from grass and herbage, because they keep the ground cool; but all creeping, climbing plants, and such weeds as grow high enough to overtop the cacao, should be destroyed.' He gives the distance from tree to tree at 18 feet. I have long since been of opinion that it is of less consequence to clean the ground beneath the trees than to attend to the top-pruning of the shade trees, as well as to the cacao (although the former is very desirable, it is nevertheless a subordinate consideration). Under the present mode of cultivation the ground-cleaning is the only one at all attended to, and that badly.
A very important economy might also be made in the curing of the cacao, by which much time would be saved, and consequently expense, by adopting the same method as is used in Jamaica for drying coffee, namely, floorings of cement, or, as they are called, barbecues. At convenient distances in the centre of these floorings (which are inclined planes) a slightly-raised circular ridge is formed with cement, leaving an aperture at the lower side to allow the escape of any water that may have lodged in them. The cacao is easily brought together in these places in the event of rain, and at night covered with portable wooden frames, which are readily removed by two men. In this way the cacao would be dried in a fifth of the time much more effectually, and of a brighter colour.
Any experiments tending to bring about a proper system of cultivation and manufacture of cacao, must be beneficial to the island, as well as to individuals; for it cannot be denied that the cultivation of cacoa will still prove advantageous in proportion to the care bestowed on it. Indeed its cultivation is at present languishing, not so much from inadequate prices, as from a want of proper attention to its cultivation."
In 1796, there were sixty plantations in Trinidad, which produced 96,000 lbs. In 1802 the plantations were reduced to fifty-seven, the yield being about the same. In 1807, 355,000 lbs. of cacao were grown. In 1831, there were 2,972 quarrees (each three acres and one-fifth English) under cultivation in Trinidad with cacao, on which were 2,464,426 trees, which produced a crop of 1,479,568 lbs. In 1841 there were 6,910 acres planted with cacao.
The following have been the exports from this island from 1821 to 1844:—
lbs. 1821 1,214,093 1822 1,780,379 1823 2,424,703 1824 2,661,628 1825 2,760,603 1826 2,951,171 1827 3,696,144 1828 2,582,323 1829 2,756,603 1830 1,646,531 1831 1,888,852 1832 1,530,990 1833 3,090,526 1834 3,363,630 1835 2,744,643 1836 3,188,870 1837 2,507,483 1838 2,571,915 1839 2,914,068 1840 2,007,494 1841 2,493,302 1842 2,163,798 1843 1,099,975 (Mill's Trinidad Almanac).
In a lecture delivered by Dr. Lindley before the Society of Arts, alluding to the colonial products shown, at the Great Exhibition, he said:—
"There was one sample which ought to be mentioned most especially; namely, the cocoa of admirable quality which comes, or which may come, from Trinidad. Cocoa—cacao, as we should call it—is an article of very large consumption. Enormous quantities of it are now used in the navy; and every one knows how much it is employed daily in private life. It is, moreover, the basis of chocolate. But we have the evidence of one of the most skilful brokers in London, who has had forty years experience to enable him to speak to the fact—that we never get good cocoa in this country. The consequence is, that all the best chocolate is made in Spain, in France, and the countries where the fine description of cocoa goes. We get here cocoa which is unripe, flinty, and bitter, having undergone changes that cause it to bear a very low price in the market. But it comes from British possessions, and is, therefore, sold here subject to a duty of only 18s. 8d. per cwt., whereas if it came from a foreign country it would pay 56s. The differential duty drives the best cocoa out of the English market. Still it appears that we might supply, from our own colonies, this very cocoa; because, as I have said, there was exhibited, from Trinidad, a very beautiful sample, quite equal to anything produced in the best markets of the Magdalena, of Soconusco, or of other places on the Spanish main. It had no bitterness, no flintiness, no damaged grain in it; but all were plump and ripe, as if they had been picked. The cocoa from the Spanish main goes into other countries, for the preparation of that delicious chocolate which we buy of them. It is thrown out of our market by the differential duty. But it is their own fault if our own colonies do not produce fine cocoa, as Trinidad has conclusively proved."
The exports of cacao from St. Lucia, where there are now 300 acres under cultivation, have been as follows:—I have also added the produce of St. Vincent and Grenada imported here:—
Grenada. St. Lucia. St. Vincent. lbs. lbs. lbs.
1828 75,275 17,384 1829 300,051 93,793 12,216 1830 337,901 153,340 9,989 1831 368,882 98,090 7,861 1832 196,195 51,925 538 1833 312,446 91,048 1,005 1834 349,367 60,620 2,197 1835 276,359 49,218 5,876 1836 307,236 47,950 7,721 1837 351,613 48,591 2,525 1838 426,626 38,590 6,588 1839 327,497 54,639 760 1840 269,680 82,293 3,956 1841 372,008 78,225 3,874 1842 280,679 55,175 7,268 1843 296,269 48,279 55,867 1844 544,253 65,667 8,304 1845 342,092 31,000 6,450 1850 609,911 1,372 8,642 1852 604,299 9,428 5,287
A little cacao is now grown in Antigua, about 19,000 lbs. having been exported from that island in 1843, and 2,000 in 1846.
Dominica and British Guiana produce small quantities; our imports from these quarters having been as follows:—
Dominica. Demerara. lbs. lbs. 1833 8,808 2,051 1834 4,767 86 1835 685 126 1836 279 1,121 1837 1,896 522 1838 1,054 1839 1,127 58 1840 2,366 2,376 1841 4,014 129 1842 667 98 1843 4,614 4,178 1844 1,746 10,209 1845 5,444
The cultivation of cacao in Cuba is of comparatively recent introduction, but it is expected to increase, and, in some degree, to supply the place of coffee, which is evidently on the decline there. In 1827, the gross produce of Cuba amounted to 23,806 arrobas, and the exports to 19,053. In the same year, 15,3013/4 arrobas were imported, so that at that period the production was not adequate to the consumption. The expectation of a great increase of production seems not to have been realized, as the exports of cacao in 1837 were only 5871/4 arrobas, while the imports amounted to 40,8371/2 arrobas.
There are now about sixty-nine cacao plantations in that island, almost exclusively situate in the central and oriental departments, which produced, in 1849, 3,836 arrobas, valued at 19,180 dollars.
Hayti exported, in 1801, 648,518 lbs. of cacao; in 1826, 457,592 lbs., and in 1836, 550,484 lbs.
The French island of Martinique produces a considerable quantity of cacao. In 1763, there were stated to be 103,870 trees in bearing. The produce exported in 1769 was 11,731 quintals. In 1770 there were 871,043 trees. In 1820 there were 412 square acres under cultivation with cacao, producing 449,492 lbs.; and in 1835, 492 hectares, which yielded 155,300 kilogrammes. I have no later returns at hand.
The beverage generally called cocoa is merely the berries of Theobroma Cacao, pounded and drank either with water or milk, or with both. Chocolate (of which I shall speak by and bye) is a compound drink, and is manufactured chiefly from the kernels of this plant, whose natural habitat would seem to be Guayaquil, in South America, though it flourishes in great perfection in the West Indies. It grows also spontaneously and luxuriantly on the banks of the Magdalena, in South America; but the fruit of those trees that are found in the district of Carthagena is preferred to all others, probably from a superior mode of cultivation. Sir R. Schomburgk, in his expedition into the interior of British Guiana, found the country abounding in cacao, "which the Indians were most anxious to secure, as the pulpy arillus surrounding the seed has an agreeable vinous taste." Singular to say, however, they appeared perfectly ignorant of the qualities of the seed, which possesses the most delightful aroma. Sir Robert adds, they evinced the greatest astonishment when they beheld him and Mr. Goodall collecting these seeds and using them as chocolate, which was the most delicious they had ever tasted. These indigenous cacao trees were met with in innumerable quantities on the 5th of June, 1843, and the following day; and thus inexhaustible stores of a highly-prized luxury are here reaped solely by the wild hog, the agouti, monkeys, and the rats of the interior.—(Simmonds's Col. Mag. vol. i., p. 41.)
The height of the cacao shrub is generally from eighteen to twenty feet; the leaf is between four and six inches long, and its breadth three or four, very smooth, and terminating in a point like that of the orange tree, but differing from it in color; of a dull green, without gloss, and not so thickly set upon the branches. The blossom is first white, then reddish, and contains the rudiments of the kernels or berries. When fully developed, the pericarp or seed-vessel is a pod, which grows not only from the branches, but the stem of the tree, and is from six to seven inches in length, and shaped like a cucumber. Its color is green when growing, like that of the leaf; but when ripe, is yellow, smooth, clear, and thin. When arrived at its full growth, and before it is ripe, it is gathered and eaten like any other fruit, the taste being subacid. If allowed to ripen, the kernels become hard; and, when taken out of the seed-vessel, are preserved in skins, or, more frequently, laid on the vijahua leaves, and placed in the air to dry. When fully dry, they are put in leathern bags, and sent to market: this is the Spanish mode of taking in the crop. A somewhat different method is followed in Trinidad and Jamaica (in the latter island it can scarcely be said to be cultivated now); but it differs in no essential degree from the principle of gradual exsiccation, and protection from moisture.
Chocolate, properly so called, and so prized both in the Spanish continent and in the West Indies, never reaches Great Britain except as a contraband article, being, like nearly all colonial manufactured articles, prohibited by the Custom-house laws. What is generally drank under that name is simply the cacao boiled in milk, gruel, or even water, and is as much like the Spanish or West India chocolate as vinegar is to Burgundy. It is, without any exception, of all domestic drinks the most alimentary; and the Spaniards esteem it so necessary to the health and support of the body, that it is considered the severest punishment to withhold it, even from criminals; nay, to be unable to procure chocolate, is deemed the greatest misfortune in life! Yet, notwithstanding this estimation in which it is held, the quantity made in the neighbourhood of Carthagena is insufficient for the demands of the population, and is so highly priced that none is exported but as presents! The manner in which the Spaniards first manufactured this veritable Theobroma—this food for gods (from Theos, God, and broma, food)—was very simple. They employed the cacao, maize, Indian corn (Zea Mays), and raw cane-juice, and coloured it with arnatto, which they called achiotti or rocou, but which was known in Europe at that time by the name of Terra Orellana. These four substances were levigated between two stones, and afterwards, in certain proportions, mixed together in one mass, which mass was subsequently divided into little cakes, and used as required, both in the solid and fluid form.
The Indians used one pound of the wasted nuts, half a pound of sugar, and half a pound of ground corn (maize) each, and then added rose-water to make it palatable. This the Mexicans called chocolate, from two words in their language, signifying the noise made by the instruments used to mill and prepare it in the water. Many other ingredients were subsequently added; but with the exception of Vanilla, in the opinions of most persons, they spoil, rather than improve it. Chocolate, as used in Mexico, is thus prepared: —The kernels are roasted in an iron pot pierced with holes; they are then pounded in a mortar, and afterwards ground between two stones, generally of marble, till it is brought to a paste, to which sugar is added, according to the taste of the manufacturer. From time to time, as the paste assumes consistency, they add long pepper, arnatto, and lastly, vanilla. Some manufacturers vary these ingredients, and substitute cinnamon, cloves, or aniseed, and sometimes musk and ambergris—the two latter on account of their aphrodisiac qualities. The following is the formula given by a late writer:—To six pounds of the nut add three-and-a-half pounds of sugar, seven pods of vanilla, one-and-a-half pounds of corn meal (maize ground), half-a-pound of cinnamon, six cloves, one drachm of capsicums (bird pepper), and as much of the rocou or arnatto as is sufficient to color it, together with ambergris or musk, to enforce (as he says) the flavor, but in reality to stimulate the system. There is another chocolate made of filberts and almonds, but this is not considered genuine. In old Spain it is somewhat differently made; two or three kinds of flowers, also the pods of Campeche, almonds, and hazel-nuts, being mixed up with it, while the paste is worked with orange-water.
With regard to the manner in which chocolate is prepared in England nothing need be said, as it is too well known to require description. That which has appeared to me the best is "Fry's Chocolate," which requires only to be rubbed up with a little boiling water, and scalded milk added to it with sugar, according to the taste of the drinker; there is a flavour, however, in this chocolate sometimes of suet, which is probably added to give it a richness which the cacao employed may not possess of itself. In the West Indies they rarely add anything to cacoa but arnatto (sometimes a little fresh butter), though it is often scented and sweetened, and sold in little rolls at five-pence and ten-pence each, currency. It is always boiled with milk, which, though very indigestible when boiled and taken alone, seems to lose this quality when taken with chocolate. Chocolate thus made is much drank, when cold, in the middle of the day, and is considered, both by the negroes and the old settlers, as a most nutritive and salutary beverage.
The signs by which good chocolate or cacao is known are these:—It should dissolve entirely in water, and be without sediment; it should be oily, and yet melt in the mouth; and if genuine, and carefully prepared, should deposit no grits or grounds. That made in the West Indies, and in some parts of Cuba, is dark; but that manufactured in Jamaica is of a bright brick colour, owing to the greater quantity of arnatto which is used in the preparation, and which, I think, gives it a richer and more agreeable flavor.
In an economical point of view, chocolate is a very important article of diet, as it may be literally termed meat and drink; and were our half-starved artisans, over-wrought factory children, and ricketty millinery girls, induced to drink it instead of the innutritious beverage called "tea," its nutritive qualities would soon develop themselves in their improved looks and more robust constitution. The price, too, is in its favour, cacao being eight-pence per pound; while the cheapest black tea, such as even the Chinese beggar would despise, drank by milliners, washerwomen, and the poorer class in the metropolis, is three shillings a pound, or three hundred and fifty per cent, dearer, while it is decidedly injurious to health.
The heads of the naval and military medical departments in England have been so impressed with the wholesomeness and superior nutriment of cocao, that they have judiciously directed that it shall be served out twice or thrice a week to regiments of the line, and daily to the seamen on board Her Majesty's ships, and this wise regulation has evinced its salutary effects in the improved health and condition of the men. Indeed, this has been most satisfactorily established in Jamaica among the troops; and the same may be asserted of the seamen in men of war on the coast.
But the excellent qualities of chocolate were known not only to the Mexicans and Peruvians, from whom, as a matter of course, the Spaniards acquired a knowledge of its properties; but European nations also acknowledged its virtues. The Portuguese, French, Germans, and Dutch, considered it an exceedingly valuable article of diet, and Hoffman looked upon it both as a food and a medicine. In his monograph, entitled Potus Chocolati, he recommends it in all diseases of general weakness, macies, low spirits, and in hypochondrial complaints, and what since his time have been termed nervous diseases. As one example of the good effects of cacao, he adduces the case of Cardinal Richelieu, who was cured of eramacausis, or a general wasting away of the body, by drinking chocolate. And Edwards informs us that Colonel Montague James—the first white person born in Jamaica after the occupation of the island by the English—lived to the great age of 104; and for the last thirty years of his life took scarcely any other food but chocolate. It is also certain that those who indulge in excesses find their vigor more speedily restored by the alternate use of chocolate and coffee than by any other ingesta; and pigs, goats, and horses, which are fed even on the spoiled berries, are observed to become very speedily fat, and in good condition.
But cacao has not only the property of rapidly restoring the invalid to health, strength, and condition, but a very inconsiderable quantity of it will sustain life for a long period. The South American Indians perform extraordinary journeys, subsisting, daring these prolonged travels, on an incredibly small quantity of chocolate—so small, indeed, as to render the accounts of travellers upon the subject almost marvellous. In this respect it resembles coffee, which also possesses the estimable property of sustaining the powers of life, while it modifies and restrains the passion of hunger.
It is a curious fact, and how far this condition may be connected with its powers of sustenance is worthy of inquiry, that chocolate recently boiled, if the operation be performed in a tin pan, is highly electrical; and this property may be frequently manifested by repeating the process.
Cacao, according to Bridges, "was the favourite staple of the Spanish commerce, trifling as that commerce was; and when the English took possession of the island of Jamaica, it was that which first engaged their attention. The extensive plantations left by their predecessors, who had made it their principal food and only support, soon, however, began to fail. They were renewed; but whether it might be from the want of attention, or of information in the new colonists, the plants never succeeded under their management; so that, disgusted with the troublesome and unprofitable cultivation, they soon substituted indigo." Yet forests of cacao trees grow wild in Guiana, the Isthmus of Darien, Yucatan, Honduras, Guatemala, Chiapa, and Nicaragua; while in Cuba, St. Domingo, and Jamaica, it was once an indigenous plant.
The following were the expenses of a cacao plantation in Jamaica during the early period of British possession:—
L stg Letters patent of five hundred acres of land 10 Six negroes 120 Four white persons, their passage and maintenance 80 Maintenance of six slaves for six months 18 Working implements 5 —— L233
In four to five years the produce of one hundred acres would usually sell for L4,240 sterling. This was a monstrous and most unlooked-for return; but then, what was it to the profits of sugar, which, owing to the prodigious increase of the slave trade, was fast coming into active operation, and eating up and destroying all other sources and springs of industry? How dearly have the West Indians paid for the short-lived affluence which the sugar cane conferred!
Blome, in his brief account of Jamaica, published in 1672, speaks of cacao as being one of the chief articles of export. He states that there were sixty cacao-walks or plantations, and many more planting; but, for many years, no cacao plantation has existed in Jamaica, all the chocolate used being made from imported berries, or the chance growth of a munificent climate and redundant soil! A few scattered trees, Edwards says (and as I my self know), here and there, are all that remain of those flourishing and beautiful groves, which were once the pride and boast of the country. They have withered with the indigo manufactory, under the heavy hand of ministerial exaction. The excise on cacao, when made into cakes, rose to no less than L12 12s. per cwt., exclusive of 11s. 111/2d. paid at the Custom-house, amounting together to upwards of L840 per cent. on its marketable value!
The mode of cultivating the cacao is given at some length by Edwards; it is that of the Spaniards, a process strictly followed in Trinidad, where, of all the West India islands, it constitutes a considerable item of exports. It is thus described:—"A spot of level land being chosen—preference is always given to a deep black mould, sheltered by a hedge or thicket, so as to be screened by the wind, especially the north, and cleared of all weeds and stumps of trees—a number of holes are dug, at ten or twelve feet distance from each other, each hole being about a foot in length, and six or eight inches deep. A very important matter is the selection of the seeds for planting, and this is done in the following manner: the finest and largest pods of the cacao are selected when full ripe, and the grains taken out and placed in a vessel of water. Those which swim are rejected; those chosen are washed clean from the pulp, skinned, and then replaced in the water till they begin to sprout; Banana (Musa paradisiaca), or some other large leaves, those of the sea-side grape (Coccoloba uvifera), for instance, are then taken, and each hole is lined with one of them, leaving, however, the sides of the leaves some inches above ground; after which the mould is rubbed in gently till the hole is filled; three nuts are then selected for each hole, and they are set triangularly in the earth, by making a small opening with the finger about two inches deep, into which the nuts are put, with that end downwards from which the sprout issues." They are then covered lightly with mould, the leaf folded over, and a small stone placed on the top, to prevent its opening; in eight or ten days the young shoots appear above the ground; the leaves are then opened to give them light and air, and a shelter from the sun, either in the shape of plantain or banana leaves, is not forgotten; but the coco-nut and other species of palm, on account of their fibrous structure and great durability, are always preferred. This artificial shelter is continued for five or six months. But, as a further security to the young plants, for they are very delicate, other trees or shrubs are planted to the south-west of the plants, that they may grow up with and shelter them, for young cacao will grow and flourish only in the shade. For this purpose the coral bean-tree (Erythrina Corallodendrum) is chosen. I should presume there are other trees and plants equally eligible for this purpose, and more useful; but my experience does not enable me to speak positively upon the subject. Should the three seeds placed in each hole spring up, it is thought necessary, when the plants are fifteen or twenty inches high, to cut one of them down. The two others, if they devaricate, are sometimes suffered to remain, but it does not always happen that even one of the three springs above the earth; consequently this additional labor is not invariably requisite.
On the fourth or fifth year the tree begins to bear, and attains perfection by the eighth, continuing to produce two crops of fruit per annum, yielding at each crop from 10 lbs. to 20 lbs., according to the nature of the soil. It will continue bearing for twenty years; but, as it is a delicate plant, it suffers from drought, and is liable to blight. In these respects, however, it does not differ from many other plants, which are even more subject to disease, though not half so valuable. Besides, a proper system of irrigation, such as could be had recourse to in many parts of Jamaica, would obviate and prevent these evils.
The whole quantity imported into the United Kingdom from the West Indies and British Guiana during the last thirteen years, has been as follows:—
lbs. 1831 1,491,947 1832 618,090 1833 2,125,641 1834 1,360,325 1835 439,440 1836 1,611,104 1837 1,847,125 1838 2,147,816 1839 969,428 1840 2,374,233 1841 2,919,105 1842 2,490,693 1843 1,496,554 1844 3,119,555 1845 3,351,602 1846 1,738,848 1847 3,026,381 1848 2,602,309 1849 3,159,086 1850 1,987,717 1851 4,347,195 1852 3,933,863
Cacao is cultivated in the highlands as well as on the coasts of the north-eastern peninsula of the large and rich island of Celebes, which has within the last year or two been thrown open to foreign trade. The plantations of it are even now considerable, and this branch of industry only requires not to be impeded by any obstacles in order to be still further extended. It forms a large ingredient in the local trade, and furnishes many petty traders with their daily bread, not to speak of the landowners, for whom the cultivation of the cacao affords the only subsistence. The preparation of the product differs from that adopted in the West Indies, but we have not been able to ascertain the practice. We may reckon that 1,200 to 2,000 piculs of 133 lbs. are yearly produced; the prices vary much, being from 50 to 75 florins per picul.—("Journal of the Indian Archipelago," vol. ii., p. 829.)
Bourbon now produces 15,000 to 20,000 kilogrammes of cacao annually. Cacao is grown to a small extent in some of the settlements of Western Africa, but as yet only a few puncheons have been exported, all the produce being required for local consumption.
The following figures give the imports and consumption of cacao into the United Kingdom in the last five years:—
Imports. Consumption. lbs. lbs. 1848 6,442,986 1849 7,769,234 3,233,135 1850 4,478,252 3,103,926 1851 6,773,960 3,024,338 1852 6,268,525 3,382,944
The home consumption is very steady at about 3,000,000 lbs., yielding to the revenue L15,000 to L16,000 for duty. The produce of British colonies pays 1d. per lb. duty, that from foreign countries 2d; cocoa husks and shells half these amounts; when manufactured into chocolate or cocoa paste the duty is 2d. per lb. from British possessions, and 6d. from other parts. The quantity imported in this form is to the extent of about 14,000 lbs. weight.
The next staple I proceed to speak of is coffee—second only in importance as a popular beverage to that universal commodity, tea. I shall proceed, in the first instance, to take a retrospect of the progress of the coffee trade, and glance at the present condition and future prospects of produce and consumption. It will be seen, by reference to the following figures, that the consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom shows a successive decrease, from 1847 to 1850, of 6,414,533 lbs., and a loss to the revenue of L179,614.
HOME CONSUMPTION AND REVENUE OF COFFEE FOR THE Years lbs. L 1824 8,262,943 420,988 1825 11,082,970 315,809 1828 17,127,633 440,245 1835 23,295,046 652,124 1839 26,789,945 779,115 1840 28,723,735 921,551 1844 31,394,225 681,610 1845 34,318,095 717,871 1846 36,793,061 756,838 1847 37,441,373 746,436 1848 37,106,292 710,270 1849 34,431,074 643,210 1850 31,226,840 566,822 1851 32,564,164 445,739 1852 35,044,376 438,084
I estimated, in a little treatise on coffee and its adulterations, which I published in 1850, that not less than 18,000,000 lbs. of vegetable matter of various kinds were sold annually under the deceptive name of coffee. Three-fourths of these 18,000,000 lbs. of pretended coffee were composed of chicory, and the remaining fourth of other ingredients prejudicial to health, as well as a fraud upon the revenue. The various substances used in adulterating both chicory and coffee, when sold in the powdered state, have been specifically pointed out and set forth from time to time in memorials from the trade and the coffee-growers. Mr. M'Culloch and other competent judges set down the actual consumption of chicory in the United Kingdom at 12,500 tons per annum. When we consider the vast difference of price between chicory and coffee, as purchased by the wholesale dealer, the temptation to its fraudulent use was obviously great, and there was no penal restriction against it.
It will be interesting and useful to trace the history of the trade in chicory from its first introduction.
The substitution of chicory for coffee occasioned a loss to the revenue of three hundred thousand pounds sterling a-year, besides its mischievous effect in adulterating and debasing a popular beverage when used in such large and undue proportions for admixture, and sold at the price of coffee.
Since the prohibition of the admixture of chicory with coffee, when sold to the public, and the compulsory sale by Treasury minute of the two articles in separate packages, a large and rapid increase in the consumption of coffee has taken place, and the trade is now placed in a healthy position. Whilst the increase in the consumption of coffee from the 1st of January, to 5th September, 1852, was but 142,267 lbs. as compared with the same period of 1851; the increase in the remaining four months of the year was to the amazing extent of 2,350,368 lbs. This increased consumption is likely to continue, and our colonial possessions are furnishing us with larger proportionate supplies, as may be seen by the following figures:—
TOTAL IMPORTS OF COFFEE IN 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 Produce of lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. British Possessions 35,970,507 40,339,245 36,814,036 35,972,163 42,519,297 Ditto foreign countries 21,082,943 22,976,542 13,989,116 17,138,497 11,857,957 ————— ————— ————— ————— ————— Total 57,053,450 63,315,787 50,803,152 53,110,660 54,377,254
In the year 1832 chicory was first imported into England, subject to a duty equivalent to that levied upon colonial coffee, and permitted to be sold by grocers separately as chicory; but notices were at the same time issued, that the legal penalties would be rigidly enforced, if discovered mixed with coffee.
In 1840, in consequence of memorials from the grocers and dealers in chicory, and also from the circumstance of exceedingly high rates then ruling for coffee, together with the disruption of our commercial relations with China, simultaneously advancing the price of tea (thus rendering both these popular beverages excessively dear to the consumer), an order was issued from the Treasury to the Excise Board, authorizing the admixture of chicory with coffee; a duty, however, being still maintained on the former of L20 per ton on the kiln-dried, and 6d. per lb. on the powdered root, when imported from abroad.
In the year 1845, the cultivation of chicory was introduced upon British soil, and, being a home-grown commodity, was exempt from duty, but nevertheless, by virtue of the said Treasury Order, was permitted to enter into competition with a staple production of our own colonies, contributing on its import a tax of 60 to 80 per cent. to the revenue of the State.
The result, as might have been foreseen, necessarily created and stimulated a demoralizing system of fraud, unjust and destructive to the interests of the coffee planter, and prejudicial to the national revenue.
The effects of so baneful a system being equally manifest upon both consumption and revenue, they are here separately illustrated.
In 1824, according to the following high scale of duties, viz., 1s. on West India, 1s. 6d. on East India, and 2s. 6d. on foreign, the Customs derived from coffee was L420,988; in the following year the rates were reduced one-half, and in the short space of three years the amount yielded had advanced to L440,245, an increase which steadily progressed (partly aided by the admission of the produce of British India at the low duty) until it reached L921,551 in 1840. These satisfactory results justified a further reduction of the duties in 1842 to 4d. on colonial and 8d. (and in the subsequent year to 6d.) on foreign, under which the revenue declined in 1844 to L681,616. In 1846 it had again reached to L756,838, and was gradually recovering itself, when this system of adulteration first began to extend itself generally, and since that time the revenue has rapidly declined under the same scale of duties to L566,822 in 1850.
In 1824 the quantity retained for home consumption was 8,262,943 lbs., which was augmented to 11,082,970 lbs. in the first year of the reduction of duty, and continued to exhibit an increase at a rate rather exceeding two million pounds per annum until 1830, when coffee would appear to have reached its limit of consumption without further stimulus, and remained stationary until the modification of duties allowing the admission of foreign coffee, via the Cape, at the colonial rate, when it advanced from 23,295,046 lbs. in 1835, to 28,723,735 lbs. in 1840; and consequent upon a further reduction of duties in 1842, the elasticity of the trade experienced a still wider development, and an increase of nine million pounds is exhibited in the next five years. From that period, however, the general use of chicory has not only checked the progressive increase of this healthy demand, but an annual decline is observable to the extent of above six million pounds in 1850, as compared with 1847.
On the 15th of April, 1851, with the view of partly remedying the grievance of the colonists on this head, the duties were equalized and reduced to 3d. The results are, however, far from satisfactory, either in a fiscal or commercial point of view. It is true that an increase in consumption, of one-and-a-quarter million pounds has taken place, but at the sacrifice of L121,000 of revenue. But this increase, it will be seen, has not exceeded 41/4 per cent., whilst there has been a diminution of 211/2 per cent. in the revenue receipts. Upon investigation, moreover, it will be found that, notwithstanding the total increase exhibited, there has been an actual falling off of 894,778 lbs. of colonial coffee in 1851; the items for last year are, however, much more favorable and encouraging for the planters.
No reasonable cause can be assigned for this rapid and serious diminution in the consumption of coffee, except the notorious substitution of chicory and other substances.
The arguments advanced to account for the falling off in the consumption of coffee, by adducing the increase of tea and cacao for a similar period are fallacious, and contrary to the commercial experience of many years, which convincingly proves these kindred articles to have always simultaneously increased, or diminished, in ratio with the general prosperity of the kingdom, and the prevalence of temperate habits among the community.
I shall now proceed to trace the fluctuations in the consumption of coffee.
At the close of the last century the consumption of coffee was under one million pounds yearly; the only descriptions then known in the London market were Grenada, Jamaica, and Mocha—the two former averaging about L5 per cwt., and the latter L20 per cwt. Grenada coffee is now unknown, and Ceylon and Brazil are the largest producers. In 1760, the total quantity of coffee consumed in the United Kingdom was 262,000 lbs., or three quarters of an ounce to each person in the population. In 1833 the quantity was 20,691,000 lbs., or 11/2 lb. to each person. When first introduced into England, about the middle of the 17th century, coffee was sold in a liquid state, and paid a duty of 4d. per gallon; afterwards, until the year 1733, the duty was 2s. per lb.; it was then reduced to 1s. 6d., since which it has paid various rates of duty; in the year 1824 it was settled at 6d. per lb. All descriptions of coffee now pay but 3d. per lb.
The consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom, for several years previous to 1825, varied from seven millions and a half to eight millions and a half pounds in round numbers, the duty being 1s. per lb. on British plantation, 1s. 6d. per lb. on East India, and 2s. 6d. per lb. on foreign. From the 5th of April of that year those rates were each reduced to one half, and the immediate consequence was a steady increase of the consumption until 1831, when it amounted to 23,000,000 lbs. The consumption continued, without any material variation, at this rate, or to advance by very slow degrees, until 1836, when the duty on East India coffee was reduced to 6d. per lb.; and this change had precisely the same effect as the previous one, for the consumption again advanced to upwards of 26,000,000 lbs., which was then considered, in a memorial of the London trade, to be as much as our colonies were capable of producing! We now find, however, one small island, Ceylon, producing a fourth more than this amount annually.
The Belgians, a population of 4,500,000, consume more than 33,000,000 lbs. of coffee annually; quite as much as is used by the whole 35,000,000 French. The duty on 100 lbs. of coffee in France is more than the common original cost—the Belgian duty not a tenth part; so that the French do not use 1 lb. of coffee per head, while the Belgians consume 7 lbs. each per annum. The proportion in England is not more than 11/2 lb. per head to the population. The United States are the largest consumers of coffee, as it is admitted into their ports free of duty, and can therefore be sold for nearly the price per pound which the British Government levies on it for revenue. The entire consumption of the United States and British North America, calling their population 23,000,000 and ours 30,000,000, exceeds ours, on an estimate of population, by sixfold. Thus the average consumption of coffee by each American, annually, is about 81/2 lbs., while the quantity used by each person in the European States is less than 11/2 lb.
The changes in the sources of supply, within the last fifteen or sixteen years, have been very remarkable. The British possessions in the East have taken the place which our islands of the West formerly occupied. The British West Indies have fallen off in their produce of coffee from 30,000,000 to 4,000,000 lbs. Ceylon which, fifteen years ago, had scarcely turned attention to coffee, now exports nearly 35,000,000 lbs. San Domingo, Cuba, and the French West India colonies are gradually giving up coffee-cultivation in favor of other staples; and it is only Brazil, Java, and some of the Central American Republics that are able to render coffee a profitable crop. The export crop of Brazil (the greatest coffee-producing country), grown in 1850, for the supply of the year ending July, 1851, amounted to no less than 302,000,000 lbs., of this a large quantity remained in the interior to supply the deficiency of the current year.
It is scarcely thirty years ago that the coffee-plant was first introduced into Bengal by two refugees from Manilla; and the British possessions in the East Indies now yield 42,000,000 lbs. Sufficient extent has not yet been given to enable it to be decided in what district of Continental India it may be most advantageously cultivated. It is in the fine island of Ceylon, however, that coffee-culture has made the most rapid progress.
It is an important fact that the supply of coffee from Ceylon, even at the present moment, and irrespective of land already planted but not yet come into full bearing, is in excess of the whole consumption of Great Britain, and the planter is thus compelled to carry the surplus to continental markets. The exports of coffee from Ceylon have been rather stationary the past three years, averaging about 300,000 cwt. In the sixteen years ending with 1851, Ceylon had exported 130,083 tons of coffee!
The present produce of the various coffee-growing countries in the world, may be set down at the following figures:
SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA. Millions of lbs. Costa Rica 9 La Guayra and Porto Cabello 35 Brazil 302 British West Indies 8 French and Dutch West Indies 7 Cuba and Porto Rico 30 St. Domingo 331/2
ASIA AND THE EAST.
Java 140 The Philippine Isles 3 Celebes 11/2 Sumatra 5 Ceylon 34 Malabar and Mysore 5 Arabia (Mocha) 3 —- 616 = 275,000 tons.
This I have computed as accurately as possible from the most recent returns, but it falls much below the actual capabilities of production, even with the trees at bearing, and land already under cultivation; and also, in a great measure, excludes the local consumption in the producing countries. In many quarters there has been a considerable falling off in the production. The British West Indies, as we have seen, formerly exported 30,000,000 lbs., the French and Dutch West Indies 17,000,000, Cuba and Porto Rico 56,000,000, and St. Domingo, in the last century, 76,000,000. The growth of coffee has been transferred from the West to the East Indies, and to the South American Continent, where labor is more abundant, certain, and cheap. In the East the increase in production has been enormous and progressive, with, perhaps, the exception of Sumatra, which has fallen off from 15,000,000 lbs. to somewhere about one-third of that quantity.
The following statement may be taken as an approximate estimate of the actual consumption of coffee at the present time:—
Millions of lbs. Great Britain 32 Holland and Belgium 125 France 33 German Customs Union 95 Other German Countries not included 46 in the Union, and Austria Switzerland 13 Mediterranean Countries 20 Russia 12 Sweden and Denmark 20 Spain and Portugal 15 Cape of Good Hope and Australia 6 United States and British America 170 —- 587
A calculation made in the Economist, a year or two ago, gave the following as the probable consumption:—
Millions of lbs. Holland and Netherlands 108 Germany and North Europe 175 France and South of Europe 105 Great Britain 37 United States and British America 175 —- Total 600
But this estimate is too high in some of the figures. Great Britain we know, from the official tables only, consumes 34,000,000 lbs. annually; the United States and British America not so much as set down by several millions; for the official returns of the imports of coffee into the United States show an average for the three years ending June, 1850, of less than 154,000,000 lbs.; although a writer in a recent number of "Hunt's Merchant's Magazine," New York, (usually a well-informed periodical,) assumes a consumption of 200,000,000 lbs., for the North American States and Provinces.
The quantity of coffee produced being greater than the consumption thereof, the growth of it becomes less remunerative, and consequently we may look for a decrease in the supply. Ceylon, as well as the West Indies generally, British and foreign, are likely to direct their attention to some more profitable staple. A diminished production may further be expected in Brazil, consequent on the extermination of the slave-trade and the more sparing exertion of the labour of the slaves. In Cuba the want of labour is so much felt that large engagements have been entered into for the importation of Chinese; and there are many reasons for expecting a diminished production in Java, the next largest coffee-producing country. The necessary consequence of this expected decrease in the quantity of coffee produced will be, to bring the produce as much below the wants of the consumers as it is now above, and this must again result in an enhancement of prices in process of time.
If it were thought desirable to extend the production of coffee, there are many new quarters, besides the existing countries in which it is largely cultivated, where it could be extensively grown. We may instance Liberia and the western coast of Africa generally, the interior ranges of Natal, the mountain-ranges on the northern coast of Australia, from Moreton Bay to Torres Straits, &c., &c. But the present production is more than equal to the demand; and unless a very largely increased consumption takes place in the European countries, the present plantations (colonial and foreign) are amply sufficient to supply, for many years to come, all the demands that can be made upon their trees, a large proportion of which have yet to come into full bearing.
The coffee tree would grow to the height of fifteen or twenty feet if permitted, but it is bad policy to let it grow higher than four or five feet. It comes to maturity in five years, but does not thrive beyond the twenty-fifth, and is useless generally after thirty years. Although the tree affords no profit to the planter for nearly five years; yet after that time, with very little labor bestowed upon it, it yields a large return.
Mr. Churchill, Jamaica, found that 1,000 grains of the wood, leaves, and twigs of the coffee tree, yielded 33 grains of ashes, or 3.300 per cent. The ashes consist of potass, lime, alumina, and iron in the state of carbonates, sulphates, muriates, and phosphates, and a small portion of silica. According to Liebig's classification of plants, the coffee tree falls under the description of those noted for their preponderance of lime. Thus the proportions in the coffee tree are—
Lime salts 77 Potass salts 20 Silica 3 —- 100
I shall now proceed to describe the cultivation of the tree and preparation of the berry, as carried on in different countries.
Cultivation of Mocha—In Arabia Felix, the culture is principally carried on in the kingdom of Yemen, towards the cantons of Aden and Mocha. Although these countries are very hot in the plains, they possess mountains where the air is mild. The coffee is generally grown half way up on their slopes. When cultivated on the lower grounds it is always surrounded by large trees, which shelter it from the torrid sun, and prevent its fruit from withering before their maturity. The harvest is gathered at three periods; the most considerable occurs in May, when the reapers begin by spreading cloths under the trees, then shaking the branches strongly, so as to make the fruit drop, which they collect and expose upon mats to dry. They then pass over the dried berries a heavy roller, to break the envelopes, which are afterwards winnowed away with a fan. The interior bean is again dried before being laid up in store.
The principal coffee districts are Henjersia, Tarzia, Oudein, Aneizah, Bazil, and Weesaf. The nearest coffee plantations are three-and-a-half days journey (about 80 miles) from Aden.
The following information is derived from Capt. S.B. Haines of the Indian Navy, and our political agent at Aden. A camel load is about 400 lbs = 25 frazlas or bales.
G.C. Commassees. The price of ditto inland 31 41 At Mocha, duty to Dewla uncertain Bake fee one butsha on each frazla 25 Weighing and clerk's fee 20 Packing 40 Camel hire to the coast 12 50 Cost from Sana to Mocha 44 15
Coffee is brought into the Sana market in December and January from the surrounding districts.
The varieties are—
1. Sherzee, best—price 1 G.C. frazla 25 butsha. 2. Ouceaime. 3. Muttanee. 4. Sharrazee. 5. Hubbal from Aniss. 6. Sherissee from ditto—price per frazla 1 G.C. 15 B.
The nearest place to Sana where the coffee tree grows, is at Arfish, half a day distant. Attempts have been made to introduce the shrub in the garden of the Imaum at Sana, but without success, ascribed to cold. Kesher is more prized at Sana; the best is Anissea, and is sold at a higher price than other coffee, namely, g.c. 12 per 100 lbs.; inferior, at from 4, 5, and 6.
Rain falls in Sana three times in the year. 1st. In January, in small quantities. 2nd. Beginning of June, when it falls for eight or ten days. By this time the seed is sown, and the cultivators look forward to the season with anxiety. 3rd. In July, when it falls in abundance. A few farmers defer sowing till this period, but it is unusual when they expect rain in June.
The coffee plant is mostly found growing near the sides of mountains, valleys, and other sheltered situations, the soil of which has been gradually washed down from the surrounding heights, being that which forms its source of support. This is afforded by the decomposition of a species of claystone (slightly phosphoritic) which is found irregularly disposed in company with a few pieces of trap-rocks, amongst which, on approaching Sana from the southward, basalt is found to preponderate. The clay stone is only found in the more elevated districts, but the debris finds a ready way into the lower country by the numerous and steep gorges which are conspicuous in every direction. As it is thrown upon one side of the valley, it is carefully protected by means of stone walls, so as to present to the traveller the appearance of terraces. The plant requires a moist soil, though much rain does not appear necessary. It is always found in greater luxuriance at places where there is no spring. The tree at times looks languid, and half withered; an abundant supply of water to the root of the plant seems necessary for the full growth and perfection of its bean.
Progress of Cultivation in India.—There are said to be ten varieties of the coffee, but only one is found indigenous to India, and it is questionable if this is not the Mocha species introduced from Arabia. The cultivation of this important crop is spreading fast throughout the east, and has been adopted in many parts of Hindostan. In the Tenasserim provinces, on the table land of Mysore, in Penang, and especially in the islands of Bourbon and Ceylon, it is becoming more and more an object of attention. It is known to have given good produce in Sangar and the Nerbudda; also in Mirzapore, as well as Dacca, and other parts of Bengal; Chota Najpore, Malabar, and Travancore. From three to four million pounds of coffee are now exported from the Indian presidencies annually. The highest quantity was four and a quarter million pounds in 1845, but the progress of culture, judging from the export, has been small.
On the hilly districts on the east coast of the Gulf of Siam, the cultivation is carried on on a limited scale. The annual produce is not much more than about 400 cwt., although it is understood to be increasing. The quality of the berry is reckoned to be nearly equal to Mocha, and it commands a high price in the English market.
The soil recommended in India is a good rich garden land, the situation high and not liable to inundation, and well sheltered to the north-west, or in such other direction as the prevailing storms are found to come from.
A plantation, or a hill affording the shrubs shade, has been found beneficial in all tropical climates, because, if grown fully exposed to the sun, the berries have been found to be ripened prematurely.
The spot should be well dug to a depth of two feet before the trees are planted out, and the earth pulverised and cleared from the roots of rank weeds, but particularly from the coarse woody grasses with which all parts of India abound.
The best manure is found in the decayed leaves that fall from the trees themselves, to which may be added the weeds produced in the plantation, dried and burnt. These, then, dug in, are the only manure that will be required. Cow-dung is the best manure for the seed-beds.
The seed reserved for sowing must be put into the ground quite fresh, as it soon loses its power of germination. Clean, well-formed berries, free from injury by insects, or the decay of the pulp, should be selected.
These berries must be sown in a nursery, either in small, well-manured beds, or in pots in a sheltered spot, not too close, as it is well to leave them where sown until they acquire a good growth; indeed, it is better if they are removed at once from the bed where they are sown, to the plantation. Here they should be planted as soon as they have attained two years of age, for, be it remembered, that if they are left too long in the nursery, they become unproductive and never recover. The distance at which they should be put out in the plantation need not exceed eight feet apart in the rows, between which, also, there should be eight feet distance. The seedlings appear in about a month after the seed is sown.
The culture requisite is, in the first instance, to afford shade to the young plants; many consider that this shelter should be continued during the whole period of their culture; but this is somewhat doubtful, as it has been found that plants so protected are not such good bearers as those which are exposed. The best plants for this purpose are tall, wide-branching trees or shrubs, without much underwood. The other culture requisite is only to keep the ground tolerably clean from weeds, for which one cooly on from five to ten biggahs is sufficient. He should also prune off decayed or dead branches. This treatment must be continued until the fourth year, when the trees will first begin bearing, and, after the gathering of each crop, the trees will require to be thinned out from the superabundant branches, their extremities stopped, and the tops reduced to prevent their growing above seven or eight feet in height; the stems, also, should be kept free from shoots or suckers for the height of at least one foot, as well as clear from weeds.
Irrigation must be frequent during the first year that the plants are removed to the plantation, and may be afterwards advantageously continued at intervals during the dry and hot weather, as a very hot season is found unfavorable to the plant, drying up and destroying the top branches and the extremities of the side shoots; whilst, on the other hand, a very long rain destroys the fruit by swelling it out and rotting it before it can be ripened: hence it is necessary to attend to a good drainage of the plantation, that no water be anywhere allowed to lodge, as certain loss will ensue, not only of the crop of the current year, but most frequently of the trees also, as their roots require to be rather dry than otherwise.
The crop will be ready to gather from October to January, when the ripe berries should be carefully picked from the trees by hand every morning, and dried in the shade, the sun being apt to make them too brittle; they must be carefully turned to prevent fermentation, and when sufficiently dry the husks must be removed, and the clean coffee separated from the broken berries. After being picked out and put aside, and then again dried, it is fit to pack. The first year's crop will be less than the succeeding ones, in which the produce will range from 1/2 a lb. to 1 lb. in each year.—(Simmonds's "Colonial Magazine," vol. xv.)
Ceylon.—Coffee is stated to have been introduced into this island from Java, somewhere about the year 1730. It was extensively diffused over the country by the agency of birds and jackalls. In 1821 its cultivation may be said to have partially commenced, and in 1836, it had become widely extended through the Kandyan provinces.
In 1839 not a tree had been felled on the wide range of the Himasgaria mountains. In 1840 a small plantation was, for the first time, formed. In 1846 there were fifty estates, then averaging, each, 200 acres of planted land, and yielding an average crop of 80,000 cwt. of coffee. Every acre is now purchased in that locality, and in large tracts, or there would have been twice the number of estates in cultivation. In 1848, the Galgawatte estate, situate in this range, at an elevation of 4,000 feet, containing 246 acres, of which 72 were planted, was purchased by Mr. R.D. Gerard, for L1,600.
The quantity of land which had been brought under cultivation with coffee in this island in the ten years previous to the last reduction of duty in 1844, was, in round numbers, 25,000 acres; but so rapid was the subsequent increase, that in the succeeding three years, that extent of land was doubled; so that, in 1847, there were upwards of 60,000 acres of land under cultivation with coffee, giving employment to 40,000 immigrant coolies from the continent of India, and upwards of two millions of capital were invested in the cultivation of this staple.
The quantity of land under culture with coffee by Europeans, was about 55,000 acres in 1851. Allowing 20,000 acres to produce the quantity of native coffee exported, and 5,000 for that consumed in the island, the total extent of coffee cultivation in Ceylon, European and native, will be 80,000 acres.
The produce exported in 1849 was 373,593 cwt., while in the year 1836, when attention was first directed to this island as a coffee-producing country, the crop was not more than 60,330 cwt. Large profits were made by the first planters, more capital was introduced, until, between the years 1840 and 1842, the influx of capitalists, to undertake this species of cultivation, completely changed the face of the colony, and enlarged its trade, and the produce of coffee in sixteen years has increased sixfold.
The general culture resembles the practice in Java. Of the Ceylon coffee, that grown about Ramboddi fetches the highest price, from the superiority of the make, shape, and boldness of the berry. The weight per bushel, clean, averages 56 lbs.; 571/2 lbs. is about the greatest weight of Ceylon coffee. The lowest in the scale of Ceylon plantation coffee is the Doombera, which averages 541/2 lbs., clear, per bushel. The following have been the prices of good ordinary Ceylon coffee in the port of London for the last eight years in the month of January, 1853, 46s. to 48s.; 1852, 40s. to 42s.; 1851, 38s. 6d. to 40s. 6d.; 1850, 56s. 6d. to 57s. 6d.; 1849, 31s. to 32s. 6d.; 1848, 31s. 6d. to 33s.; 1847, 39s. 6d. to 41s. 6d.; 1846, 49s. to 50s.
Forest lands are those usually planted in Ceylon, and the expense attendant on clearing and reclaiming them from a state of nature, and converting them into plantations, is estimated to average L8 per acre. The lowest upset price of crown lands in the colony is L1 per acre.
Coffee planting has failed over a considerable portion of the southern province of the island, where the experiment was tried. The temperature was found to be too equable, not descending sufficiently low at any time to invigorate the plant; which, though growing luxuriantly at first, soon became weak and delicate. Nurseries are established for young plants. The districts in which the coffee is principally cultivated, extend over nearly the whole of the hilly region, which is the medium and connecting link between the mountainous zone and the level districts of the coast.
The mania for coffee planting has recently subsided, in consequence of the barely remunerative returns at which that article has been sold, ascribable partly to over-production, and in some measure, perhaps, to the temporary glut of foreign coffee thrown on the British market by the reduction of the duty. As regards the yield, some estates in Ceylon have produced upwards of 15 cwt. per acre, but it is a good estate that will average seven, and many do not give more than 4 cwt. the acre.
The shipments from Colombo for five years, are stated below, with the class of coffee:—
Plantation. Native. Total. cwt. cwt. cwt. 1845 75,002 112,889 187,891 1846 91,240 70,991 162,231 1847 106,198 143,457 249,655 1848 191,464 88,422 279,886 1849 243,926 118,756 362,682 1850 198,997 56,692 255,689 1851 220,471 97,091 317,562
While, in 1839, the total value of the exports from Ceylon was only L330,000, in 1850 the value of the single staple of coffee was no less than L609,262, and in 1851 had still further increased.
I append a memorandum of the quantities of coffee exported from Ceylon since 1836:—
Quantity. Value. cwt. L 1836 60,329 1837 34,164 1838 49,541 1839 41,863 1840 68,206 1841 80,584 196,048 1842 119,805 269,763 1843 94,847 192,891 1844 133,957 267,663 1845 178,603 363,259 1846 173,892 328,781 1847 293,221 456,624 1848 280,010 387,150 1849 373,593 545,322 1850 278,473 609,262 1851 339,744 ————- Total in 16 years 2,600,832 ————- Average 162,552 (Ceylon Almanac for 1853.)
The local export duty of two-and-a-half per cent., was abolished from 1st September, 1848.
From these figures it appears that, in a period of sixteen years, Ceylon exported two and a half millions of cwts. of coffee. The consumption of coffee, although for a long time stationary in Britain, now that adulteration is no longer legalised, is likely to increase as rapidly as in other parts of the world; and it appears pretty evident that, so long as anything like remunerative prices can be obtained, Ceylon will do her part in supplying the world with an article which occupies the position of a necessary to the poor as well as a luxury to the rich. The exports of coffee from this colony have, within a few thousands of hundredweights, been nearly quadrupled since 1843, when only 94,000 cwts. were sent away.
Dr. Rudolph Gygax, in a paper submitted to the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, offered remarks on some analyses, of the coffee of Ceylon, with suggestions for the applications of manures.
"Having had," he observes, "my attention drawn to an account of an analysis of the Jamaica coffee berry, made by Mr. Herapath, the Liverpool chemist, I have paid some little attention to the subject of the coffee plant of this island, forming, as it does, so very important a feature in the resources of this colony. The desire that I thus felt for obtaining some information regarding the constituent parts of the Ceylon tree and its fruit, was heightened by a knowledge of the fact, that not a few of those coffee estates, which once gave good promise of success, are now in a very precarious state of production.
I much regret that the means at my disposal have not allowed me to carry out any quantative analysis, but the result of my labours are sufficiently accurate for my present purpose. I have analysed the wood and fruit of trees from two different localities, as well as the ashes of some plants sent me from the Rajawella estate near Kandy, and they all tend to bear out the result of Mr. Herapath's inquiries. Placing the substances traced in the coffee plant in the order in which they occur in the greatest quantity, they will stand thus:—
Lime, potash, magnesia, phosphoric acid, other acids.
Of these lime is by far the most prominent, forming about 60 per cent. of the whole.
I cannot help, therefore, arriving at the conclusion that, to cultivate coffee with any degree of success, the first-named substance must be present in the soil; or, if not present, must be supplied to it by some process.
Now it is a singular fact that the rocks and soils of Ceylon are greatly deficient in alkaline matter; and, taking this view of the case, one no longer wonders that many estates cease to produce coffee. That all, or nearly all the plantations did, in their first year or two of bearing, produce liberally in fruit, may readily be accounted for by the fact that the alkaline poverty of the soil was enriched by the burning of the vast quantities of timber which lay felled on all sides. Whilst this temporary supply lasted, all was well with the planter. Heavy rains, and frequent scrapings of the land with the mamotie, or hoe, soon dissipated this scanty supply, and short crops are now the consequence.
But nature, ever bountiful, ever ready to compensate for all deficiencies, has provided to our hands a ready means of remedying this evil of the soil, by scattering throughout most parts of the interior supplies of dolomitic limestone. The dolomite of Ceylon is not pure, far from it, being mixed freely with apatite or phosphate of lime. Even in this very accidental circumstance the coffee planter is aided; for the phosphoric acid thus combined with the limestone is the very substance required in addition. Some of the finest properties in the island are situated on a limestone bottom, and these no doubt will continue to yield abundant crops for a very long period.
It has been urged against this opinion that in some districts where coffee planting has proved a complete failure, dolomite is found most abundantly; but I have very little doubt that the dolomite here alluded to is only magnesian limestone, and which is most inimical to the coffee bush.
I am aware that already several manures have been tried on coffee with varying degrees of success. Guano has, I believe, quite failed, and is besides very costly. Cattle manure is said to be effective, and no doubt it is, but it is a costly and troublesome affair. Bones, ground fine, are now being tried, though they cannot but prove most expensive, especially when imported.
A ton of bone dust contains of animal matter, 746 lbs,; phosphates of lime, &c., 1,245 lbs.; carbonates of lime, &c., 249 lbs.
The virtue of bones lies in the phosphates far more than in the animal matter, and thus their action on soils is felt for many years after their application. The Singalese cultivators of paddy about Colombo and Galle, appear to have been long aware of the fertilizing effects of this kind of manure, and import the article in dhonies from many parts of the coast: they bruise them coarsely before applying them.
The partially decomposed husks of the coffee berry have been tried for some years, and successfully, but they are difficult of collection, and bulky to remove from one part of the estate to another.
In Europe it would appear that little is yet known as to the causes of the fertilising effects of oil cake: some suppose them to arise mainly from the oil left by the crushing process, but this is not at all clear. I do not, however, see that we must look for much assistance from Poonac as a manure for coffee: for the cocoanut tree it is doubtless most valuable, but we have yet to learn that, beyond supplying so much more vegetable matter, it helps the action of the soil on the roots of the coffee bush, which, after all, is what is really required.
For the proper application of the dolomite to land as manure, it should be freely burnt in a kiln, with a good quantity of wood, the ashes of which should be afterwards mixed with the burnt lime, and the whole exposed for several days to the action of the air, sheltered of course from the weather. The mixture should be applied just before the setting in of the monsoon rains: if the land be tolerably level, the lime may be scattered broadcast on the surface, though not quite near the plants. When the estate to be manured is steep, then the substance to be applied should be placed in ridges cut crossways to the descent of the slopes.
About one cwt. to the acre would be ample for most lands; some may, however, require more. The contents of the husk pits might advantageously be mixed up with the burnt lime, when a sufficiency of it has been saved.
A planter in Ambagamoe states that he has tried the following remedy for that destructive scourge, the coffee-bug, with great success.
He applies saltpetre in a finely-powdered state, dusted over the tree when wet with rain or dew. The operation is inexpensive, as a very small quantity suffices, one cwt. being sufficient for nine or ten acres. It can be applied through a bamboo-joint covered with a perforated top, or any equally simple contrivance.
Messrs. Worms' are reported to have found coco-nut oil an effectual remedy.
To sum up the question of manures:—
Poonac, the marc or cake, after the coco-nut oil is expressed, is represented to be a stimulating manure; but is not durable. Lime is an useful application, especially to stiff soils, as the coffee tree contains 60 parts of lime. Bone-dust is an excellent fertiliser, but in Ceylon it is found that it cannot be applied at a less expense than L5 per acre. Cattle manure is the cheapest and most available. Guano does not seem suitable.
Peeling, pulping, and winnowing.—The coffee-peeler, used for separating the bean from the pellicle, was formerly a large wheel revolving in a trough, the disadvantage of which was the flattening more or less of the bean when not thoroughly dry. A new machine has been recently introduced, the invention of Mr. Nelson, C.E., of the Ceylon iron works, by which this evil is obviated; its principle being not weight, but simple friction, of sufficient force to break the parchment at first, and, when continued, to polish the bean free from the husk. A very simple winnowing machine for cleaning the coffee as it comes out of the peeler, is attached. From the winnowing machine it runs into the separating machine, which sorts it into sizes, and equalizes the samples, by which a vast amount of time and manual labour are saved. The same principle is intended to be applied by Mr. Nelson to pulping, which will obviate the injury now inflicted by the grater upon the fresh berry. In spite of the greatest care numbers of the beans in a sample, on close examination, will be found scratched or pecked; and when the closest attention is not paid, or the person superintending the process is devoid of mechanical skill, the injury is proportionate.
The ordinary pulping-mill in use, consists of a cylinder of wood or iron, covered with sheet brass or copper, and punctured similarly to a nutmeg grater. This cylinder, technically called the barrel, runs upon a spindle, which turns a brass pick on each side of a frame. Immediately in a line with the centre upon which it turns, and placed vertical to each other, are two pieces of wood, frequently shod with iron of copper, called "the chops," placed about half an inch apart, or sufficient to allow the passage of "parchment" coffee between them. The lower chop is placed so close to the barrel, yet without contact, that all coffee must be stopped by it and thrown outwards. The upper chop is adjusted to that distance only which will permit the cherry coffee to come into contact with the barrel; but will not allow the berries to pass on till they have been denuded of their red epidermis by a gentle squeeze against its rough surface. The far greater portion of the pulps are separated by being carried past the lower chops upon the sharp points of the copper, and thrown out behind, and a few are left with the parchment coffee. As from the different sizes of the berries, and their crowding for precedence as they descend from the hopper above to the gentle embrace of the barrel and upper chop, some pass unpulped, the coffee as it comes from the lower chop is made to fall upon a riddle, which separates the unpulped cherries. These are put back again, and passed through a pulper with the upper chop set closer. The secret of working-appears to be the proper setting of the chops, and many have been the schemes proposed for reducing this to a certainty. Perhaps, after all, few plans are better than the old wedges, by tightening or loosening of which the chop is kept in the required position. Within the last few years, the machine has been considerably improved by being formed entirely of iron, cog-wheels being substituted in the place of straps and drums to move the riddle, and the riddle itself is now formed of two sieves, by which the chance of unpulped berries reaching the parchment is lessened. On some estates, water-wheels have been put up to drive several pulpers at one time, which otherwise would require from two to four men each to work them, but from the costly buildings and appurtenances which such machinery renders necessary, they are rare.