Next day the leaves are all sorted into large, middling, and small; sometimes there are four sorts. All these, the Chinese informed me, become so many different kinds of teas; the smallest leaves they call Pha-ho, the second Pow-chong, the third Souchong, and the fourth, or the largest leaves, Zoy-chong. After this assortment they are again put on the sieve in the drying-basket (taking care not to mix the sorts), and on the fire, as on the preceding day; but now very little more than will cover the bottom of the sieve is put in at one time; the same care of the fire is taken as before, and the same precaution of tapping the drying basket every now and then. The tea is taken off the fire with the nicest care, for fear of any particles of the tea falling into it. Whenever the drying-basket is taken off, it is put on the receiver, the sieve in the drying-basket taken out, the tea turned over, the sieve replaced, the tap given, and the basket placed again over the fire. As the tea becomes crisp, it is taken out and thrown into a large receiving-basket, until all the quantity on hand has become alike dried and crisp, from which basket it is again removed into the drying-basket, but now in much larger quantities. It is then piled up eight and ten inches high on the sieve in the drying-basket; in the centre a small passage is left for the hot air to ascend; the fire that was before bright and clear has now ashes thrown on it to deaden its effect, and the shakings that have been collected are put on the top of all; the tap is given, and the basket, with the greatest care, is put over the fire. Another basket is placed over the whole, to throw back any heat that may ascend. Now and then it is taken off, and put on the receiver; the hands, with the fingers wide apart, are run down the sides of the basket to the sieve, and the tea gently turned over, the passage in the centre again made, &c., and the basket again placed on the fire. It is from time to time examined, and when the leaves have become so crisp that they break by the slightest pressure of the fingers, it is taken off, when the tea is ready. All the different kinds of leaves underwent the same operation. The tea is now, little by little, put into boxes, and first pressed down with the hands and then with the feet (clean stockings having been previously put on).
There is a small room inside of the tea-house, seven cubits square, and five high, having bamboos laid across on the top to support a network of bamboo, and the sides of the room smeared with mud to exclude the air. When there is wet weather, and the leaves cannot be dried in the sun, they are laid out on the top of this room, on the network, on an iron pan, the same as is used to heat the leaves; some fire is put into it, either of grass or bamboo, so that the flame may ascend high; the pan is put on a square wooden frame, that has wooden rollers on its legs, and pushed round and round this little room by one man, while another feeds the fire, the leaves on the top being occasionally turned; when they are a little withered, the fire is taken away, and the leaves brought down and manufactured into tea, in the same manner as if it had been dried in the sun. But this is not a good plan, and never had recourse to if it can possibly be avoided."
In 1810, a number of tea plants were introduced into Brazil, with a colony of Chinese to superintend their culture. The plantation was formed near Rio Janeiro and occupied several acres. It did not, however, answer the expectations formed of it, the shrubs became stunted, cankered and moss grown, and the Chinese finally abandoned them. The culture was again tried in 1817. The plantations lie between the equator and 10 deg. south latitude, nearly parallel with Java, and of course are exposed to the same intemperate climate, and suffer in a similar manner. In addition to these physical disabilities, the enterprise has had to contend with the natural indolence of the natives, the universal repugnance to labor, the crushing effect of committing so important a work to the superintendence of slaves and overseers, the amazing fertility of the soil, the extent of unappropriated land, the ease with which subsistence can be obtained and the low degree of personal enterprise. These are frowning features, and would rather seem to indicate a failure, before the attempt at cultivation was made. But, nevertheless, the plant does nourish to some extent, even in Brazil, under all the disparaging circumstances which surround it. From the Brazilian Consul General, I learn that although the plant for some years after its introduction received but little attention and was almost abandoned, yet within the last few years the cultivation has revived and is now prosecuted with energy and with a corresponding success. Some of the large and wealthy land proprietors of Brazil have directed their attention to tea culture, and one gentleman has given up his coffee plantation and directed his attention exclusively to the cultivation of the tea plant. The market of Rio Janeiro is said to be largely and almost entirely supplied with tea of domestic growth, and the public mind is awakened to the prominent fact, that no plant cultivated in Brazil is more profitable and none is deserving more decided attention.
Experimental cultivation of the tea plant in Brazil.—I now proceed to notice the report of M. Guillemin, presented in 1839 to the French Minister of agriculture and commerce, on the culture and preparation of the tea plant in Brazil—in a climate of the southern hemisphere just equivalent to that of Cuba in the northern. The report enters very minutely into the incidents of temperature and cultivation, and cannot fail to strike the attention when disclosing the important fact, that the tea plant grows luxuriantly with the coffee and other valuable plants of the equatorial regions, and even on low-lying lands, on a level with the sea, and exposed to the full rays of a burning sun.
"As the tea shrub," says M. Guillemin, "is grown in several plantations about two days' journey distant from Rio, in different directions, I hired a lodging at St. Theresa, sufficiently contiguous to all the establishments I meant to visit, and further recommended by having a small garden attached to the house, where I could deposit the growing plants of tea, and sow seeds. During the month of November, except when hindered by slight indispositions incidental to the Brazilian climate, I pursued my researches, and principally in the charming valleys of the Tijuka and Gavia mountains. There, together with coffee, their principal product, the most valuable plants of the equatorial region are cultivated.
In the middle of November I had an opportunity of observing the method pursued when culling the tea, which is performed by black slaves, chiefly women and children. They carefully selected the tenderest and pale-green leaves, nipping off with their nails the young leaf bud, just below where the first or second leaf was unfolded. One whole field had already undergone this operation; nothing but tea shrubs stripped of their foliage remained. The inspector assured me that the plant received no injury from this process, and that the harvest of leaves was to become permanent by carefully regulating it, so that the foliage should have grown again on the first stripped shrubs at the period when the leaves of the last plant were pulled off. About 12,000 tea shrubs are grown in this garden: they are regularly planted in quincunxes, and stand about one metre distant from each other; the greater number are stunted and shabby looking, probably owing to the aspect of the ground, which lies low, on the level of the sea, and exposed to the full rays of a burning sun; perhaps the quality of the soil may have something to do with it, though this is apparently similar to what prevails in the province of Rio Janeiro. This soil, which is highly argillaceous, and strongly tinged with tritoxyde of iron, is formed by the decomposition of gneiss or granite rocks. The flat situation of this tea ground is unfavorable to the improvement of the soil, for the heavy rains which wash away the superfluous sand from slanting situations, of course only consolidate more strongly the remaining component parts, where the land lies perfectly level, and thus the tea plants suffer from this state of soil.
The kindness of M. de Brandao, director of the Botanic Garden, induced him to invite me, shortly after I had seen the above described tea ground, that I might inspect all the operations for the preparation of tea. I found that the picking of the leaves had been commenced very early in the morning, and two kilogrammes were pulled that were still wet with dew. These were deposited in a well-polished iron vase, the shape being that of a very broad flat pan, and set on a brick furnace, where a brisk wooden fire kept the temperature nearly up to that of boiling water. A negro, after carefully washing his hands, kept continually stirring the leaves in all directions, till their external dampness was quite evaporated, and the leaves acquired the softness of linen rag, and a small pinch of them, when rolled in the hollow of the hand, became a little ball that would not unroll. In this state the mass of tea was divided into two portions, and a negro took each and set them on a hurdle, formed of strips of bamboo, laid at right angles, where they shook and kneaded the leaves in all directions for a quarter of an hour, an operation which requires habit to be properly performed, and on which much of the beauty of the product depends. It is impossible to describe this process; the motion of the hands is rapid and very irregular, and the degree of pressure requisite varies according to circumstances; generally speaking, the young negro women are considered more clever at this part of the work than older persons. As this process of rolling and twisting the leaves goes on, their green juice is drained off through the hurdle, and it is essential that the tea be perfectly divested of the moisture, which is acrid, and even corrosive, the bruising and kneading being especially designed to break the parenchyma of the leaf, and permit the escape of the sap.
When the leaves have been thus twisted and rolled, they are replaced in the great iron pan, and the temperature raised till the hand can no longer bear the heat at the bottom. For upwards of an hour the negroes are then constantly employed in separating, shaking, and throwing the foliage up and down, in order to facilitate the dessication, and much neatness and quickness of hand were requisite, that the manipulators might neither burn themselves nor allow the masses of leaves to adhere to the hot bottom of the pan. It is easy to see that, if the pan was placed within another pan filled with boiling water, and the leaves were stirred with an iron spatula, much trouble might be obviated. Still, the rolling and drying of the leaves were successfully performed; they became more and more crisp, and preserved their twisted shape, except some few which seemed too old and coriaceous to submit to be rolled up. The tea was then placed on a sieve, with wide apertures of regular sizes, and formed of flat strips of bamboo. The best rolled leaves, produced from the tips of the buds and the tenderest leaves, passed through this sieve, and were subsequently fanned, in order to separate any unrolled fragments which might have passed through them; this produce was called Imperial, or Uchim Tea. It was again laid in the pan till it acquired the leaden grey tint, which proved its perfect dryness, and any defective leaf which had escaped the winnowing and sifting was picked out by hand. The residue, which was left from the first fanning, was submitted to all the operations of winnowing, sifting, and scorching, and it then afforded the Fine Hyson Tea of commerce; while the same operations performed on the residuum of it yielded the Common Hyson; and the refuse of the third quality again afforded the Coarse Hyson.—Finally, the broken and unrolled foliage, which were rejected in the last sittings, furnish what is called Family Tea, and the better kind of which is called Chato, and the inferior Chuto. The latter sort is never sold, but kept for consumption in the families of the growers.
Such is the mode of preparation pursued at Rio Janeiro, though I must add that the process employed at the Botanic Garden being most carefully performed in order to serve as a model for private cultivators of tea, the produce is superior to the generality, so that we dare not judge of all Brazilian tea by what is raised at the garden of Rio. I was also assured, that at Saint Paul each grower had his own peculiar method, influencing materially the quality of the tea, which decided me to visit that province, where I hoped to gain valuable information respecting the culture and fabrication of tea, especially considered as an article of commerce.
In the interim, the month of December proving excessively hot and rainy, so as to forbid any distant excursions, I turned my attention to the important object of procuring tea plants in number and state fit for exportation; and, observing that almost all the shrubs I saw were too large for this purpose, I applied to M. de Brandao for his help and advice. This gentleman, in the most courteous manner, offered me either seeds or slips from his own tea shrubs. The striking of the latter was, he owned, a hazardous and uncertain affair, though it had the probable advantage of securing a finer kind of plant than could with certainty be raised from seed. I, however, began by asking him for newly gathered seeds, in order to set them in my little nursery garden at Santa Theresa, and he obligingly gave me a thousand of the seeds, perfectly ripe and sound, which is easily known by the purplish-brown color of their integument. M. Houlet immediately set about preparing the soil in which to plant these seeds, and the earth being excessively argillaceous and hard, much digging, manuring, and dressing were needful; in a word, we neglected no precautions which could contribute to the growth of our seeds. In the interim I allowed not a single dry day to elapse without visiting the country house near Rio, in all of which I saw something more or less interesting, either in the culture of tea, or other vegetable productions of commercial value.
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I detected, growing not unfrequently in the environs of Rio, the Ilex Paraguayensis of M. Auguste de St. Hilaire, perfectly identical with the tree which the Jesuits planted in the missions of Paraguay, and whose foliage is an article of great importance throughout Spanish America, and vended under the name of Paraguay Tea. A living plant of this shrub was brought home by me, and placed in the Royal Garden at Paris, as well as a species of Vanilla, and many other rare and interesting plants. I also made a valuable collection of woods employed for dyeing, building, and cabinet work, with samples of their flowers, fruits, and leaves, to facilitate botanical determination.
Early in January, 1839, M. Houlet began anew sowing tea, not only in the open ground in our little garden, but also in pans, in order to facilitate the lifting of the young plants, and putting them into the cases that I had brought for the purpose. The heat being excessive, we purchased mats, that we might shelter them from the sun, and we gave them water far more frequently. Many of the seeds that we had sown a month previously, were already appearing above the ground, but the soil being of too compact a nature, some did not come up, which warned us to make choice in future of a lighter kind of soil.
The period now arrived when I was to visit the tea plantations in the province of St. Paul; and hoping that the cultivators would give me some of the young shrubs, I took M. Houlet with me, leaving the charge of our collections and seedlings to M. Pissis, a French geologist and engineer, with whom I had formed an intimate acquaintance, and who most obligingly offered to attend to them during my absence. Many were the influential persons at Rio Janeiro, who gave me introductory letters to the proprietors and tea growers of St. Paul.
We started on the 15th January, by steam-boat, and in two days reached Santos, the principal port in the province of St. Paul; thence crossing the great chain of mountains, named the Serra do Mar, in caravans drawn by mules, we reached the city of St. Paul on the 20th January, where I experienced the warmest reception from the governor, two ex-governors, and some other gentlemen.
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Accompanied by M.J. Gomez and a M. Barandier, an historical painter, whom the desire to visit a new country, and to see its inhabitants, had induced to become my compagnon de voyage, we visited almost immediately a M. Feigo, ex-Regent of the Empire, and now President of the Provincial Senate. We found this venerable ecclesiastic at his country-house, two leagues distant from the city, and here we saw all the process pursued on the tea leaf, commencing by the bruising, drying, and scorching of a large quantity of foliage picked the preceding evening. The chief difference that struck me in the mode here adopted, was, that the tender, flexible, and not brittle leaves, were gathered with the petiole and tip extremity of every bud, and that some water was put with them into the iron pan, in which the negresses twisted, squeezed, broke and shook the masses of foliage. The operation was, on the whole, more neatly performed than at Rio. When the tea was perfectly dry and removed from the pan, it was placed aside in a box, shaded from the air and light, and was considered ready for present use, on the spot; but M. Feigo informed me, that when sent to a distance, the cases were hermetically closed, and the tea underwent an extra dessication over the fire.
The plantations belonging to M. Feigo, and surrounding his chagara, are extensive, containing about 20,000 tea shrubs, of fine growth and high vigor, most of them six or eight years old, set in regular lines, a metre asunder from each other, and the lines with a metre and a half between them. The soil is excellent, argillaceo-ferruginous, as is generally the case near St. Paul.
In the Botanic Garden at St. Paul, some squares are devoted to the growth of tea; but I am not aware that the leaves are ever subject to preparation.
M. da Luz had invited us to inspect his tea-grounds near Nossa Senhora da Penha, and I went thither, accompanied by Messrs. Barandier and Houlet. The cultivation is admirable, the soil excellent, and the tea-plants peculiarly vigorous. Each shrub was so placed that a man can easily go all round it, and young plants, self-sown, were springing up below every old one; of these offsets, I was made welcome to as many as I could take away, and should have had a great stock, but that the ground had been very recently cleared. M. da Luz showed me his magazines of prepared tea, which were extensive and well stocked.
Hence I went to the property of a lady, Donna Gertrude Gedioze Larceda, situated at the foot of Jarigur, a mountain famed for its gold mines, and passed two days in exploring this celebrated locality, and then visited the Colonel Anastosio on my way back to St. Paul. These plantations are in the most prosperous condition, situated on a sloping and well-manured tract behind the habitations. The shrubs are generally kept low, and frequently cut, so as to, make them branching, by which the process of picking the leaves is rendered easier. There may be 60,000 or 70,000 plants, but a third of them were only set a year before. Every arrangement is excellently conducted here; the pans kept very clean, though perhaps rather thin from long use and the fierceness of the fires. But the general good order that prevails, speaks much in favor of the tea produced in this neighbourhood. The colonel showed me his warehouse, where the tea is stored in iron jars, narrow-necked and closed by a tight fitting stopper. I ventured to put some questions to Colonel Anastosio respecting the sale of the produce. He gave me to understand that he was by no means eager to sell; but, confident of the good quality, he waited till application was made to him for it, as the tea is thought to improve by time, and the price is kept up by there being a small supply. With respect to the cost of its production in Brazil, he said, this was so great that, to make it answer to the grower, a price of not less than 2,000 reis, about six francs (5s.), must be got for each pound. The whole labor in Brazil is done by slaves, who certainly do not cost much to keep, but who, on the other hand, work as little as they can help, having no interest in the occupation. The slaves, too, bear a high price, and the chances of mortality, with the exorbitant value of money in Brazil, augment their selling value.
The Major da Luz kindly presented me with 300 young tea-plants, which he had caused his negroes to pull up for me; and in an adjoining farm, where an immense tract planted with tea is now allowed to run to waste, being no object of value to the proprietor, I was permitted to take all I could carry away; and in a single day's time, M. Houlet and I, aided by some slaves, succeeded in possessing ourselves of 3,000 young plants, which we carefully arranged in bamboo baskets (here called cestos). To diminish the weight, M. Houlet removed as little soil as possible; but carefully wetted the roots before closing the baskets, and covered them with banana leaves. In one garden, the largest I have seen devoted to the growth of tea, but which is not particularly well kept, I saw that the spaces between the shrubs were planted with maize, and the bordering of the squares which intersect this vast plantation, and the whole of which is inclosed with valleys of Araucaria Brasiliensis, is formed of little dwarf tea-plants, which are kept low by cutting their main shoots down to the level of the soil.
On the 8th of February I again embarked in the steam-boat to return to Rio Janeiro, and when we came in sight of St. Sebastian, I left M. Houlet to proceed to the city alone, charging him to take the very greatest care of our package of tea-plants, as well as of the nursery-ground at St. Theresa, while I should visit the flourishing colony of Ubatuba, inhabited by French families, who cultivate most successfully coffee, and other useful vegetables. After a delightful sail through an archipelago of enchanting islands, I landed at Pontagrossa, where I was most kindly received, and spent a week, obtaining much and varied information, both respecting cultivated plants and the kinds of trees which grow spontaneously in the virgin forests of this lovely land, and afford valuable woods for building, cabinet work, and dyeing. Finally, I visited the tea plantations of M. Vigneron, which are remarkably fine, though their owner finds a much more profitable employment in the growth of coffee, which is very lucrative. He kindly gave me a quantity of young tea-plants and chocolate trees. Reluctantly quitting these worthy colonists, I re-embarked in a Brazilian galliot, which took me back to Rio Janeiro in the close of February. There I found the tea-plants from St. Paul, set by M. Houlet, in our garden at St. Theresa, and I added to them the stock I had brought from Ubatuba. All the very young ones had perished on the way, from the excessive heat, and M. Houlet had much difficulty in saving the others.
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M. Guillemin concludes his interesting narration with this partially discouraging fact;—that though the culture of the tea-shrub succeeds perfectly well in Brazil; though the gathering of the foliage proceeds with hardly any interruption during the entire year; though the quality (setting aside the aroma, which is believed to be artificially added) is not inferior to that of the finest tea from China—still the growers have not realised any large profits. They have manufactured an immense quantity of tea, to judge by what he saw in the warehouses at St. Paul, but they cannot afford to sell it under six francs for the half kilogramme (a pound weight), which is higher than Chinese tea of equally good quality. This is, however, precisely one of those commodities in which free labour, that is, the labor of a free peasant's family, the wife and children, the young and the old, can successfully compete with slave labor, and considerably undersell it. It is manifest, from the remarks of M. Guillemin, that the cost for plantation slaves, under a system apparently so profitable as labor without wages, is a dead weight on the Brazilian planter."
Paraguay Tea.—A species of holly (Ilex Paraguensis), which grows spontaneously in the forest regions of Paraguay, and the interior of South America, furnishes the celebrated beverage called Yerba Mate, in South America. The evergreen leaf of this plant is from four to five inches long; when prepared for use as tea it is reduced to powder, and hence the decoction has to be quaffed by means of a tube with a bulb perforated with small holes.
The leaves yield the same bitter principle called theine, which is found in the leaf of the Chinese tea-plant, the coffee berry, &c. Various other species of Ilex are sometimes employed in other parts of South America for a similar purpose. Although the leaves may not contain as much of the agreeable narcotic oil as those of the China shrub, in consequence of the rude way in which it is collected and prepared for use, yet it is much relished by European travellers in South America, and would doubtless enter largely into consumption if imported into this country at a moderate rate of duty.
The consumption in the various South American Republics is estimated at thirty or forty millions of pounds annually. It is generally drank without sugar or milk.
There are no correct data for calculating the exports, but some authorities state the amount sent to Santa Fe and Buenos Ayres at eight millions of pounds.
A great trade is carried on with it at Sta. Fe, where it is brought from the Rio de la Plata. There are two sorts, one called "Yerba de Palos," the other, which is finer, "Yerba de Carnini." Frezier tells us that, in the earlier part of the 17th century, above 50,000 arrobas, or more than 12,000 cwt. of this herb were brought into Peru from Paraguay, exclusive of about 25,000 arrobas taken to Chile; and Father Charleroix, in his "History of Paraguay," states the quantity shipped to Peru annually at 100,000 arrobas, or nearly 2,500,000 lbs.
My friend, Mr. W.P. Robertson, has favored me with some details as to the production of Paraguay tea. His brother has graphically described a visit he paid to the wastes or woods of the Yerba tree, with a colony of manufacturers from Assumption. These woods were situated chiefly in the country adjacent to a small miserable town called Villa Real, about 150 miles higher up the river Paraguay than Assumption. The master manufacturer, with about forty or fifty hired peons or servants, mounted on mules, and a hundred bulls and sumpter mules, set out on their expedition, and having discovered in the dense wood a suitable locality, forthwith a settlement is established, and the necessary wigwams for dwellings, &c., run up. The next step is the construction of the "tatacua." This was a small space of ground, about six feet square, of which the soil was beaten down with heavy mallets, till it became a hard and consistent foundation. At the four corners of this space, and at right angles, were driven in four very strong stakes, while upon the surface of it were laid large logs of wood. This was the place at which the leaves and small sprigs of the yerba tree, when brought from the woods, were first scorched—fire being set to the logs of wood within it. By the side of the tatacua was spread an ample square net of hidework, of which, after the scorched leaves were laid upon it, a peon gathered up the four corners and proceeded with his burthen on his shoulders to the second place constructed, the barbacue. This was an arch of considerable span, and of which the support consisted of three strong trestles. The centre trestle formed the highest part of the arch. Over this superstructure were laid cross-bars strongly railed to stakes on either side of the central supports, and so formed the roof of the arch. The leaves being separated after the tatacua process, from the grosser boughs of the yerba tree, were laid on this roof, under which a large fire was kindled. Of this fire the flames ascended, and still further scorched the leaves of the yerba. The two peons beneath the arch, with long poles, took care, as far as they could, that no ignition should take place; and in order to extinguish this, when it did occur, another peon was stationed at the top of the arch. Along both sides of this there were two deal planks, and, with a long stick in his hand, the peon ran along these planks, and instantly extinguished any incipient sparks of fire that appeared.
When the yerba was thoroughly scorched, the fire was swept from the barbacue or arch; the ground was then swept, and pounded with heavy mallets, into the hardest and smoothest substance. The scorched leaves and very small twigs were then thrown down from the roof of the arch, and, by means of a rude wooden mill, ground to powder.
The yerba or tea was now ready for use; and being conveyed to a larger shed, previously erected for the purpose, was then received, weighed, and stored by the overseer. The next and last process, and the most laborious of all, was that of packing the tea. This was done by first sewing together, in a square form, the half of a bull's hide, which being still damp, was fastened by two of its corners to two strong trestles, driven far into the ground. The packer then, with an enormous stick, made of the heaviest wood, and having a huge block at one end, and a pyramidal piece to give it a greater impulse at the other, pressed, by repeated efforts, the yerba into the hide sack, till he got it full to the brim. It then contained from 200 to 250 pounds, and being sewed up, and left to tighten over the contents as the hide dried, it formed at the end of a couple of days, by exposure to the sun, a substance as hard as stone, and almost as weighty and impervious too.
Having described the process of making ready the yerba for use, we will now accompany Mr. Robertson to the woods, to see how it is collected.
"After all the preparations which I have detailed were completed (and it required only three days to finish them), the peons sallied forth from the yerba colony by couples. I accompanied two of the stoutest and best of them. They had with them no other weapon than a small axe; no other clothing than a girdle round their waist and a red cap on their head; no other provision than a cigar, and a cow's horn filled with water; and they were animated by no other hope or desire, that I could perceive, than those of soon discovering a part of the wood thickly studded with the yerba tree. They also desired to find it as near as possible to the colonial encampment, in order that the labor of carrying the rough branches to the scene of operations might be as much as possible diminished.
We had scarcely skirted for a quarter of a mile the woods which shut in the valley where we were bivouacked, when we came upon numerous clumps of the yerba tree. It was of all sizes, from that of the shrub to that of the full-grown orange tree; the leaves of it were very like those of that beautiful production. The smaller the plant, the better is the tea which is taken from it considered to be.
To work with their hatchets went the peons, and in less than a couple of hours they had gathered a mountain of branches, and piled them up in the form of a haystack. Both of them then filled their large ponchos with the coveted article of commerce in its raw state, and they marched off with their respective loads. Having deposited this first load within the precincts of the colony, the peons returned for a second, and so on till they had cleared away the whole mass of branches and of leaves cut and collected during that day. When I returned to the colony I found the peons coming by two and two, from every part of the valley, all laden in the same way. There were twenty tatacuas, twenty barbacues, and twenty pies of the yerba cut and ready for manufacture. Two days after that the whole colony was in a blaze, tatacuas and barbacues were enveloped in smoke; on the third day all was stowed away in the shed; and on the fourth the peons again went out to procure more of the boughs and leaves."—(Letters on Paraguay, vol. ii. p. 142-147).
Each peon or laborer, going into the woods for six months, can procure eight arrobas, or 200 lbs. of yerba a day. This, at the rate of two rials, or 1s. for each arroba, would make his wages per day 8s.; and this for six months' work, at six days in the week, would produce to the laborer a sum of L57 12s.
Wilcockes, in his "History of Buenos Ayres," published in 1807, states:—"Though the herb is principally bought by the merchants of Buenos Ayres, it is not to that place that it is carried, no more being sent thither than is wanted for the consumption of its inhabitants and those of the vicinity; but the greatest part is dispatched to Santa Fe and Cordova, thence to be forwarded to Potosi and Mendoza. The quantity exported to Peru is estimated at 100,000 arrobas, and to Chile 40,000. The remainder is consumed in Paraguay, Tucuman, and the other provinces. It is conveyed in parcels of six or seven arrobas, by waggons, from Santa Fe to Jugui, and thence by mules to Potosi, La Paz, and into Peru proper. About four piastres per arroba is the price in Paraguay, and at Potosi it fetches from eight to nine, and more in proportion as it is carried further."
Sugar is obtained from many grasses; and, indeed, is common in a large number of plants. It is procured in Italy from Sorghum saccharatum; in China, from Saccharum sinense; in Brazil, from Gynerium saccharoides; in the West Indies, from saccharum violaceum; and in many other parts of the world from S officinarrum. The last two are commonly known as sugar canes, and they are generally considered as varieties of a single species, S. officinarum, which is now widely spread over different parts of the world.
Some curious specimens of palm sugars were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, among others,—gomuti palm sugar (Arenga saccharifera) from Java; date palm sugar, from the Deccan; nipa sugar, from the stems of Nipa fruticans, and sugar from the fleshy flowers of Bassia latifolia,—an East Indian tree.
Among the other sugars shown were beet root sugar, maple sugar, date sugar, from Dacca, sugar from the butter tree (Bassia butyracea), produced in the division of Rohekkund, in India; and sugar candy, crystallized by the natives of Calcutta and other parts of India.
Sugar and molasses from the grape, were also shown from Spain, Tunis and the Zollverein.
Sugar, or sugar candy, has been made in China from very remote antiquity, and large quantities have been exported from India, in all ages, whence it is most probable that it found its way to Rome.
The principal impurities to be sought for in cane sugar are inorganic matter, water, molasses, farina, and grape, or starch sugar. The latter substance is occasionally, for adulterating purposes, added in Europe to cane sugar; it may be detected by the action of concentrated sulphuric acid and of a solution of caustic potassa; the former blackens cane sugar, but does not affect the starch sugar, while potassa darkens the color of starch sugar, but does not alter that of cane sugar. But the copper test is far more delicate. Add to the solution to be tested, a few drops of blue vitriol, and then a quantity of potassa solution, and apply heat; if the cane sugar is pure, the liquor will remain blue, while, if it be adulterated with starch sugar, it will assume a reddish yellow color.
Inorganic matter is determined by incineration, farina by the iodine test, water by drying at 210 deg., and molasses by getting rid of it by re-crystalization from alcohol, as also by the color and moisture of the article.
The natural impurities of sugar are gum and tannin; gum is detected by giving a white precipitate with diacetate of lead, and tannin by giving a black coloration or precipitate with persulphate of iron.
An experienced sugar dealer easily judges of the value of sugar by the taste, smell, specific gravity, moisture and general appearance.
The value of molasses may be determined by drying at 220 degs., and by the taste.
The commercial demand for sugar is mainly supplied from the juice of the cane, which contains it in greater quantity and purity than any other plant, and offers the greatest facilities for its extraction.
Although sugar, identical in its character, exists in the maple, the coco-nut, maize, the beet root, and mango, and is economically obtained from these to a considerable extent, yet it is not sufficiently pure to admit of ready separation from the foreign matter combined with it, at least by the simple mechanical means, the ordinary producers usually have at command; unless carried onto a large extent, and with suitable machinery and chemical knowledge and appliances.
The different species of commercial sugar usually met with in this country, are four, viz:—brown, or muscovado sugar (commonly called moist sugar); clayed sugar, refined or loaf sugar, and sugar candy; these varieties are altogether dependent on the difference in the methods employed in their manufacture.
The cultivation of the sugar cane, and the manufacture of sugar, were introduced into Europe from the East, by the Saracens, soon after their conquests, in the ninth century. It is stated by the Venetian historians, that their countrymen imported sugar from Sicily, in the twelfth century, at a cheaper rate than they could obtain it from Egypt, where it was then extensively made. The first plantations in Spain were at Valencia; but they were extended to Granada, Mercia, Portugal, Madeira, and the Canary Islands, as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century. From Gomera, one of these islands, the sugar cane was introduced into the West Indies, by Columbus, in his second voyage to America in 1493. It was cultivated to some extent in St. Domingo in 1506, where it succeeded better than in any of the other islands. In 1518, there were twenty-eight plantations in that colony, established by the Spaniards, where an abundance of sugar was made, which, for a long period, formed the principal part of the European supplies. Barbados, the oldest English settlement in the West Indies, began to export sugar in 1646, and as far back as the year 1676 the trade required four hundred vessels, averaging one hundred and fifty tons burden.
The common sugar cane is a perennial plant, very sensitive to cold, and is, therefore, restricted in its cultivation to regions bordering on the tropics, where there is little or no frost. In the Eastern hemisphere its production is principally confined to situations favorable to its growth, lying between the fortieth parallel of north latitude and a corresponding degree south. On the Atlantic side of the Western continent, it will not thrive beyond the thirty-third degree of north latitude and the thirty-fifth parallel south. On the Pacific side it will perfect its growth some five degrees further north or south. From the flexibility of this plant, it is highly probable that it is gradually becoming more hardy, and will eventually endure an exposure and yield a profitable return much further north, along the borders of the Mississippi and some of its tributaries, than it has hitherto been produced. In most parts of Louisiana the canes yield three crops from one planting. The first season is denominated "plant cane," and each of the subsequent growths, "ratoons." But, sometimes, as on the prairies of Attakapas and Opelousas, and the higher northern range of its cultivation, it requires to be replanted every year. Within the tropics, as in the West Indies and elsewhere, the ratoons frequently continue to yield abundantly for twelve or fifteen years from the same roots.
The cultivation of this plant is principally confined to the West Indies, Venezuela, Brazil, Mauritius, British India, China, Japan, the Sunda, Phillippine, and Sandwich Islands, and to the southern districts of the United States. The varieties most cultivated in the latter are the striped blue and yellow ribbon, or Java, the red ribbon, violet, from Java, the Creole, crystalline or Malabar, the Otaheite, the purple, the yellow, the purple-banded, and the grey canes. The quantity of sugar produced on an acre varies from five hundred to three thousand pounds, averaging, perhaps, from eight hundred to one thousand pounds.
Six to eight pounds of the saccharine juice of the plant, yield one pound of raw sugar; from 16 to 20 cart-loads of canes, ought to make a hogshead of sugar, if thoroughly ripe. The weight necessary to manufacture 10,000 hhds of sugar, is usually estimated at 250,000 tons, or 25 tons per hhd. of 15 or 16 cwt.
The quantity of sugar now produced in our colonies is in excess of the demands of the consumers, that is, of their demands cramped as they are by the duties still levied on sugar consumed in Great Britain, imposed for the purposes of revenue; the high duty on all other but indigenous sugar, consumed all over the continent, imposed to promote the manufacture of beet-root sugar, and the legal duty levied on all other than indigenous sugar used in the United States, for the purpose of protecting the sugar production of that country; and so long as that excess exists—-until a further reduction of duties shall increase consumption and cause sugar to be used for many purposes which the present high rates prohibit its being applied to—any improvement which may be effected in the quality—any increase which may take place in the quantity of colonial sugar—will only result infinitely more to the benefits of the consumers than the producers. In 1700 the quantity consumed in Great Britain and Ireland was only about 200,000 cwt. In 1852, including molasses, &c., it was not less than 8,000,000 cwt., a forty-fold increase in the century and a-half. Taking the whole population last year, it was nearly 28 lbs. per head. In 1832 the consumption in Great Britain alone was put down by Mr. M'Culloch at 23 lbs.; and as my estimate includes Ireland, where the consumption is notoriously small, we may infer that it has increased in Great Britain since 1832 at least 5 lb. per head. As the allowance to servants is from 3/4 lb. to 1 lb. per week, it may be assumed that 50 lb. a year, at least, is not too much for grown persons. In sugar-producing countries the quantity consumed is enormous; the labourers live on it in the manufacturing season; and a Duke of Beaufort, who died about 1720, consumed one pound daily for forty years, and enjoyed excellent health till he was seventy years of age. The consumption of sugar has increased considerably since it has become cheap; and we may expect, therefore, that the consumption will extend more rapidly than ever. The whole quantity consumed in Europe last year, including beet-root sugar, was not less than 16,000,000 cwt. If peace be preserved and prosperity continue, the market for sugar will extend amazingly, and force the cultivation by free men in all tropical countries.
British East India and Total of B.P. Years. Plantation Mauritius E.I. and Consumption tons. tons Mauritius tons. 1838-39 176,033 54,017 230,050 195,483 39-40 141,219 60,358 201,577 191,279 40-41 110,739 52,232 162,971 179,741 41-42 107,560 97,792 205,352 202,971 42-43 123,685 80,429 204,114 199,491 43-44 125,178 78,943 204,121 202,259 44-45 122,639 81,959 204,598 206,999 45-46 142,384 102,690 245,074 244,030 47-48 164,646 125,829 290,475 289,537 48-49 139,868 107,844 247,712 308,131 49-50 142,203 121,850 264,053 296,119 50-51 129,471 119,317 248,788 305,616 51-52 148,000 110,000 258,000 312,778
—The above figures refer to raw sugar only.
At these periods, calculating from 1838-39, the duty on British sugar ranged from 24s. down to 10s. per cwt., and foreign slave-grown sugar from 63s. down to 14s. The greatest impetus was given to foreign sugar when the duties were reduced, in 1846.
The extension of sugar cultivation in various countries where the climate is suitable, has recently attracted considerable attention among planters and merchants. The Australian Society of Sydney offered its Isis Gold Medal recently to the person who should have planted, before May, 1851, the greatest number of sugar canes in the colony. I have not heard whether any claim was put in for the premium, but I fear that the gold fever has diverted attention from any new agricultural pursuit, and that honorary gold medals are therefore unappreciated. Moreton Bay and the northern parts of the colony of New South Wales, are admirably suited to the growth of all descriptions of tropical products.
The Natal Agricultural Society is also making great exertions to promote sugar culture in that settlement. Mr. E. Morewood, one of the oldest colonists, has about 100 acres under cultivation with the cane, and I have seen some very excellent specimens of the produce, notwithstanding the want of suitable machinery to grind the cane and boil the juice. Many planters from the East Indies and Mauritius are settling there. His Royal Highness Prince Albert awarded, through the Society of Arts, a year or two ago, a gold medal, worth 100 guineas, to Mr. J.A. Leon, for his beautiful work descriptive of new and improved machinery and processes employed in the cultivation and preparation of sugar in the British colonies, designed to economise labor and increase production.
The centrifugal machines, recently brought into use, for separating the molasses from the sugar, more quickly than the old-fashioned method of coolers, have tended to cheapen the production and simplify the processes of sugar making. The planters object, however, to the high prices which they are charged for these machines, so simple in their construction; and that they are not allowed, by the patent laws, to obtain them in the cheaper markets of France and Belgium.
Great loss has hitherto taken place annually, in the sugar colonies, through the drainage of the molasses, resulting from the imperfect processes in use; but this can now be obviated, by the use of the centrifugal machine. It is a modification of the "hydro-extractor," and is the invention of Mr. Finzel, of Bristol.
The machine being filled with sugar, appropriately placed, is rapidly revolved, and a powerful ceutrifugal force generated; the moisture is speedily removed to the circumference of the revolving vessel, and passes off through apertures adapted for the purpose.
Various other improvements in the making of sugar have been carried into effect within the last few years, by Dr. Scoffern, Messrs. Oxland and M. Melsens, but the description of these would occupy too much of my space, and those who are desirous of growing sugar on an extensive scale, I must refer to Dr. Evans' "Sugar Planter's Manual," Mr. Wray's "Practical Sugar Planter," Agricola's "Letters on Sugar Farming," and other works which treat largely and exclusively of the subject.
An announcement has recently been made, that a Mr. Ramos, of Porto Rico, has discovered some new dessicating agent, to be used in sugar making, which is to cost next to nothing, but improves most materially the quality of the sugar made, and also increases considerably the quantity obtained by the ordinary process.
The average annual quantity of cane sugar produced and sent into the markets of the civilised world, at the present time, may be taken at 1,500,000 tons, exclusive of the amount grown and manufactured for local consumption in India, China, Cochin-China, and the Malay Archipelago, of which no certain statistics exist, but which has been estimated at about another million tons.
So far back as 1844, the Calcutta "Star," in an article on sugar, estimated the domestic consumption in India, at 500,000 tons. This is considerably below the mark, even if India is taken in its limited signification, as including only British subjects. On this estimate the 94,000,000 of British subjects, men, women and children, would not individually consume more than one pound avoirdupois by the month. A fat, hungry Brahmin, at any of the festivals given by the great, will digest for his own share four pounds, without at all embarrassing his stomach.
Assuming the million and a half of tons that find their way into civilized markets, to represent an average value at the place of production of L15 per ton, we have here the representation of L22,500,000 sterling. But this value may fairly be increased by one-fourth.
The whole exportable production of the sugar-growing countries was found to be, in 1844, about 780,000 tons, of which Cuba furnished 200,000 tons. In 1845, notwithstanding Cuba only produced 80,000 tons, the increase from other sources was so considerable (namely:—the British Colonial supply 40,000, United States 40,000, Porto Rico 15,000, Brazil 10,000 tons) that the total produce fell very little short of the previous year—having reached 764,000 tons.
The present SUPPLY of sugar to the markets of Europe, is nearly as follows:—
Cwts. England 8,000,000 France 2,550,000 German League 1,350,000 Prussia 220,000 Austria, (ten Provinces) 560,000 Belgium 294,000 Other States not defined.
The present DEMAND, according to the estimated consumption per head (28 lbs.), found to exist in England, where taxation is favorable, and the price moderate, would be about 31/4; million tons, viz.:—
Cwts. England 8,000,000 France 8,875,000 Germany 5,750,000 Prussia 4,100,000 Austria 8,642,857 Belgium 1,250,000 Russia 15,250,000 Rest of Europe 12,500,000
The whole annual PRODUCTION of the world is estimated by another party at 1,471,000,000 lbs., of which the United States produce 150,000,000 lbs., including 40,000,000 lbs. of maple sugar. Of the whole amount of sugar produced, Europe consumes about 648,700 tons, divided nearly as follows:—
lbs. Great Britain 803,360,096 France 160,080,000 Belgium 19,840,000 Netherlands 42,000,000 Russia 70,000,000 Denmark and Sweden 22,000,000 German Zollverein 101,300,000 Other parts of Germany 160,000,000 Austria 50,000,000 ——————- 1,428,580,096
The following figures show the quantities of raw sugar in general, in tons, imported into the British markets for the last five years, compared with consumption:—
Entire British Years. Importations. Consumption. Surplus. 1847 415,289 290,281 125,008 1848 354,834 309,424 45,410 1849 362,087 299,041 63,046 1850 332,470 310,391 22,089 1851 419,083 329,561 89,472 1852 360,033 358,642 1,391 Deduced from Parliamentary Paper, No. 461, Session 1853.
The consumption of sugar then in the whole world may be roughly estimated at two and a half million tons, of which the United Kingdom may now be put down for 350,000; the rest of Europe 420,000, and the United States 300,000.
The United States produce about 140,000 tons of cane and maple sugar, which are exclusively used for home consumption, the remainder of their requirements being made up by foreign importation. The American consumption, which in 1851 amounted to 133,000 tons of sugar cane reached last year a total of 321,000 tons, almost as much as England consumed—358,000—and more than the consumption of 100,000,000 of persons on the continent.
The whole production of tropical sugar, is about one million and a-half tons, while the consumption is probably two million tons; but the manufacture of sugar from beet root, maple and other sources, supplies the deficiency.
The total quantities of sugar, and molasses as sugar, consumed in the United Kingdom in the last six years, were, according to a Parliamentary paper, No. 292, of the last session, as follows:—
Cwt. sugar. Cwt. molasses. 1847 4,723,232 1,256,421 1848 5,003,318 865,752 1849 5,283,729 1,021,065 1850 5,570,461 752,027 1851 5,043,872 1,522,405 1852 7,203,631 799,942
The returns further specify that the annual average consumption of British colonial sugar, in the five years ending 1851, was 5,124,922 cwt.; and in the five years ending 1846, was 4,579,054 cwt.; the average consumption of British colonial sugar, has, therefore, exceeded in the five years since the duties were reduced, in 1846, the average consumption for the five previous years by 545,868 cwt. per annum; or in the aggregate in the five years, the excess has been 3,239,338 cwt. The quantity consumed in the year ending December, 1852, was 4,033,879 cwt. There can be no doubt whatever, that the consumption of sugar in Great Britain is capable of very large increase; moderate cost, and the removal of restrictions to its general use, being the main elements required to bring it about. The question of revenue must of course be a material consideration with Government; but recent experience certainly leads to the conclusion that it would not suffer under a further reduction of duty.
The revenue derived from sugar before the reduction of the duty, was five millions per annum; in the past two years it reached nearly four millions.
The reduction in duties which took place in 1845, may be said to have answered the expectations formed of it, as regards the increase of consumption, which there is no doubt would have even gone beyond the estimate, if the failure in the crop of sugar in Cuba—that most important island, which usually yields one-fifth of the cane crop of the whole world—had not driven up prices in the general market of the continent, and, in consequence, diverted the supply of free labor sugar from this country. As it was, however, the consumption of the United Kingdom, which in 1844 was 206,472 tons, in 1845 was not less than 243,000—Sir Robert Peel's estimate was 250,000 tons—the average reduction in price to the consumer during the latter year having been 20 per cent. The large increase in subsequent years I have already shown.
The consumption of sugar we find, then, has been steadily and rapidly increasing in this country, and if we add together to the refined and raw sugar and molasses used, it will be seen that the consumption of 1852 amounted to 400,178 tons; which is at the rate of 29 lbs. per head of the population per annum. Whilst the quantity retained for home consumption in the United Kingdom, in 1844; was but 4,130,000 cwt., the amount had risen in 1852 to upwards of 8,000,000 cwt.
Sugar unrefined, entered for home consumption.
Colonial Raw. Foreign Raw. Total. Cwt. Cwt. Cwt. 1848 5,936,355 1,225,866 6,162,221 1849 5,424,248 498,038 5,922,386 1850 5,201,206 911,115 6,112,321 1851 5,872,288 1,383,286 6,255,574 1852 6,241,581 687,269 6,928,850
To the foregoing should be added the following quantities of refined sugar and molasses, entered for home consumption.
Refined Sugar and Candy. Molasses. Total Cwt. Cwt. Cwt. 1848 46,292 637,050 683,342 1849 75,392 812,330 887,722 1850 116,744 917,588 1,034,362 1851 338,734 773,035 1,111,769 1852 274,781 799,942 1,074,723
The quantity of sugar refined by our bonded refiners, and exported, is shown by the following figures. The increase in 1851, was one-fourth in excess of the previous year.
Cwt. 1848 248,702 1849 222,900 1850 209,148 1851 258,563 1852 214,299
The following were the imports of sugar into Great Britain, in 1848 and 1851, respectively—and the quarters from whence supplies were derived:—
1848—Tons. 1851—Tons. West Indies 121,600 153,300 Mauritius 43,600 50,000 East Indies 65,200 78,286 Java and Manila 11,000 20,850 Havana, Porto Rico, and Brazil 76,900 76,526 ———- ———- 318,300 378,962
The production of sugar in the last four years, may be stated comparatively as follows:—
- - - - CANE SUGAR. 1849. 1850. 1851. 1852. - - - - Tons. Tons. Tons. Tons. Cuba 220,000 250,000 252,000 320,000 Porto Rico 43,600 48,200 49,500 50,000 Brazil 106,000 103,000 113,000 100,000 United States 98,200 120,400 103,200 110,000 The West Indies 1. French Colonies 56,300 47,200 50,000 50,000 2. Danish Do. 7,900 5,000 6,000 5,000 3. Dutch Do. 13,800 14,200 15,000 20,000 4. British Do. 142,200 129,200 148,000 140,000 The East Indies 70,403 67,300 66,000 60,000 Mauritius 50,782 57,800 55,500 65,000 Java 90,000 89,900 99,347 104,542 Manila 20,000 20,000 20,000 20,000 - - - - 919,182 952,200 977,547 1,044,542 - - - -
BEET ROOT SUGAR. 1849. 1850. 1851. 1852. Tons. Tons. Tons. Estmd. Tons. France 38,000 61,000 75,000 60,000 Belgium 5,000 6,000 8,000 9,000 Zollverein 33,000 38,000 49,000 50,000 Russia 13,000 14,000 15,000 16,000 Austria 6,500 10,000 15,000 18,000 95,500 129,000 162,000 153,000 Cane Sugar 919,182 952,200 977,547 1,044,542 Total 1,014,682 1,081,200 1,139,547 1,197,542
The price of sugar has, however, fallen considerably, and like many other things—corn, and cotton, and tea—has been lower for a long period than ever was known before.
Average price per London Gazette. Year ending July 5, British West India. Mauritius. 1842 37s. 0d. ——- 1843 34s. 7d. 33s. 10d. 1844 34s. 9d. 34s. 7d. 1845 31s. 3d. 30s. 3d. 1846 35s. 3d. 34s. 2d. 1847 32s. 11d. 32s. 1d. 1848 24s. 3d. 23s. 3d. 1849 24s. 4d. 24s. 0d. 1850 25s. 3d. 28s. 8d. 1851 27s. 3d. 26s. 9d. Half-year ending Jan. 5, 1852 27s. 3d. 26s. 9d.
Thus, it is equally clear that the fall in the price has been very considerable since 1845, and that in 1849 and 1850 the price of sugar was about 10s. per cwt., or nearly one-third less than in 1838. The planters complain of the fall of price; and the only question in dispute is whether the fall has been occasioned by the reduction of the duties. Now the reduction of duties subsequent to 1846 and to 1851, was, on brown Muscovado sugar, from 13s. to 10s., or 3s.; and on foreign, from 21s. 7d. to 16s. 4d., or 5s. 3d. At the same time there was a very large increase of consumption, and the price, as of almost all articles, would not have been reduced to the full extent of the reduction of the duties, and certainly not reduced in a much greater degree, had there not been other causes at work to reduce the price. Between 1846 and 1851 freight from the Mauritius fell from L4 1s. 8d. to L2 13s. 9d., or 35 per cent.; and that reduction of price was not made from the planter. In the interval, too, great improvements were made in the manufacture of sugar; and in proportion as the article was produced cheaper, it could be sold cheaper, without any loss to him.
I shall now take a separate review of the capabilities and progress of the leading sugar producing countries.
Production in the United States.—Sugar cultivation, in the United States, is a subject of increasing interest. The demand is rapidly advancing. Its production in the State of Louisiana, to which it is there principally confined, is a source of much wealth. In 1840, the number of slaves employed in sugar culture was 148,890, and the product, 119,947 hhds. of 1,000 lbs. each; besides 600,000 gallons of molasses. Last year, the crop exceeded 240,000 hhds., worth 12,000,000 of dollars. The capital now employed, is 75,000,000 of dollars. The protection afforded by the American tariff, has greatly increased the production of sugar in the United States. From 1816 to 1850, this increase was from 15,000 hhds. to 250,000 hhds.
In 1843, the State of Louisiana had 700 plantations, 525 in operation, producing about 90,000 hhds. In 1844, the number of hogsheads was 191,324, and of pounds, 204,913,000; but this was exclusive of the molasses, rated at 9,000,000 gallons. In 1845 there were in Louisiana 2,077 sugar plantations, in 25 parishes; 1,240 sugar houses, 630 steam power, 610 working horse power; and the yield of sugar was 186,650 hhds., or 207,337,000 lbs.
The introduction of the sugar cane into Florida, Texas, California, and Louisiana, probably dates back to their earliest settlement by the Spaniards or French. It was not cultivated in the latter, however, as a staple product before the year 1751, when it was introduced, with several negroes, by the Jesuits, from St. Domingo. They commenced a small plantation on the banks of the Mississippi, just above the old city of New Orleans. The year following, others, cultivated the plant and made some rude attempts at the manufacture of sugar. In 1758, M. Dubreuil established a sugar estate on a large scale, and erected the first sugar mill in Louisiana, in what is now the lower part of New Orleans. His success was followed by other plantations, and in the year 1765 there was sugar enough manufactured for home consumption; and in 1770, sugar had become one of the staple products of the colony. Soon after the revolution a large number of enterprising adventurers emigrated from the United States to Lower Louisiana, where, among other objects of industry, they engaged in the cultivation of cane, and by the year 1803 there were no less than eighty-one sugar estates on the Delta alone. Since that period, while the production of cane sugar has been annually increasing at the south, the manufacture of maple sugar has been extending in the north and west.
Hitherto, the amount of sugar and molasses consumed in the United States has exceeded the quantities produced—consequently there has been no direct occasion for their exportation. In the year 1815 it was estimated that the sugar made on the banks of the Mississippi amounted to 10,000,000 lbs.
According to the census of 1840, the amount of cane and maple sugar produced in the United States was 155,100,089 lbs., of which 119,947,720 lbs. were raised in Louisiana. By the census of 1850, the cane sugar made in the United States was 247,581,000 lbs., besides 12,700,606 gallons of molasses; maple sugar, 34,249,886 lbs., showing an increase, in ten years, of 126,730,077 lbs.
The culture and manufacture of sugar from the cane, with the exception of a small quantity produced in Texas, centres in the State of Louisiana—where the cane is now cultivated and worked into sugar in twenty-four parishes. The extent of sugar lands available in those parishes is sufficient to supply the whole consumption of the United States. Sugar cultivation was carried on in Louisiana to a small extent before its cession to the United States. In 1818 the crop had reached 25,000 hogsheads. In 1834-35 it was 110,000 hogsheads, and in 1844-45 204,913 hogsheads. Each hogshead averaging 1,000 lbs. net, and yielding from 45 to 50 gallons of molasses.
The number of sugar estates in operation in 1830, was 600. The manual power employed on these plantations, was 36,091 slaves, 282 steam-engines, and 406 horse power. The capital invested being estimated at 50 million dollars. In 1844 the estates had increased to 762, employing 50,670 slaves, 468 steam-engines, 354 horse power.
The sugar-cane is now cultivated on both branches of the Mississippi from 57 miles below New Orleans to nearly 190 miles above. The whole number of sugar houses in the State is 1,536, of which 865 employ steam, and the rest horse power.
The crop of 1849-50 was 247,923 hhds. of 1,000 lbs., which, at an average of 31/2 cents., amounted to nearly 91/2 million dollars. The quantity of molasses produced was more than 12 million gallons, worth, at 20 cents the gallon, about 2,400,000 dollars, giving a total value of close upon 12 million dollars, or an average to each of the 1,455 working sugar houses of 8,148 dollars.
The overflow of the Mississippi and Red Rivers in 1850, shortened the crop near 20,000 hhds., and was felt in subsequent years. Since 1846, not less than 355 sugar mills and engines have been erected in this State. The sugar crop of 1851-52 was 236,547 hhds., produced by 1,474 sugar houses, 914 of which were worked by steam, and the rest by horse-power. Texas raises about 8,000 to 10,000 hhds. of sugar, and Florida and Georgia smaller quantities.
In the year ending December, 1851, there were taken for consumption in the United States about 132,832 tons of cane sugar, of which 120,599 were foreign imported. The quantity consumed in 1850 was 104,071 tons, of which 65,089 was foreign.
Production in Cuba.—The average yearly production of sugar in Cuba has been, in the five years from 1846 to 1850, 18,690,560 arrobas, equal to 467,261,500 lbs., or 292,031 hhds. of 1,600 lbs. weight. The crop of 1851 was estimated at twenty-one and a-half million arrobas, equal to about 335,937 West India hhds. Thus, the increase from 1836 to 1841, has been as 29 per cent.; from 1841 to 1846, as 25 per cent.; and from 1846 to 1851, as 45 per cent. A portion of sugar is also smuggled out, to evade the export duty, and by some this is set down as high as a fourth of the foregoing amounts.
In the three years ending 1841, the exports of the whole island were 2,227,624 boxes; in the three years ending 1844, 2,716,319 boxes; in the three years ending with 1847, 2,805,530 boxes.
Between 1839 and 1847, the exports had risen from 500,000 to 1,000,000 boxes. The following table exhibits the quantity shipped from the leading port of Havana, to different countries:—
Countries. Sugar boxes of about 400 lbs. each. 1850. 1851. Spain 81,267 101,762 United States 146,672 199,204 England 25,697 46,615 Cowes and a market 221,385 270,010 The Baltic 45,085 81,866 Hamburgh and Bremen 29,271 33,165 Holland 23,242 26,828 Belgium 62,849 29,814 France 44,947 46,517 Trieste and Venice 38,627 14,832 Italy 2,856 5,243 Other places 13,888 16,601 ———- ———- Boxes 743,249 872,457
Our West India possessions have, owing to the want of a good supply of labor and available capital to introduce various scientific improvements, somewhat retrograded in the production of sugar; which, from the low price ruling the past year or two, has not been found a remunerative staple.
The two large islands of Jamaica and Cuba, may be fairly compared as to their production of sugar. From 1804 to 1808, Jamaica exported, on the average, annually 135,331 hhds., and from 1844 to 1848, it had decreased to 41,872 hhds. The exports from the single port of Havana, which in the first named period were 165,690 boxes, rose during the latter period to 635,185 boxes; so that the shipments of sugar from Jamaica, which were in 1804 to 1808 double those of Havana—in the period from 1844 to 1848, were five times less!
Cuba will be able to withstand the crisis of the low price of sugars, better than the emancipated British Colonies, for the following reasons:—
1. It will find, in its present prosperity, a power of resistance that no longer exists in the British sugar-growing colonies.
2. Because it enjoys in the Spanish markets a protection for at least 16,955 tons of its sugar, or about eight-tenths of its total exportation.
3. Because it has secured a very strong position in the markets of the United States; and both from its proximity to, and its commercial relations with that country, as also from the better quality of its sugar, will command the sale of at least 33,500 tons, or about 16 per cent. of its total production.
4. Because in 1854, after the duties shall have been equalized, it will be enabled to undersell the British article in its own market.
5. Because, not being an exclusively sugar-growing colony, as are almost all British West India Islands, it may suffer from the present depressed condition of the sugar market, but cannot be entirely ruined, owing to its having commanding resources, and many other valuable staples,—coffee, copper, cotton, &c.
6. Because, by improving its agriculture and introducing useful machinery, railroads, &c., for which it has large available capital, it can produce sugar at a diminished cost.
7. And lastly, because the proprietors have continuous labour at command, until slavery be abolished—of which there seems no present prospect. The slave population numbers about 350,000, and the free coloured population, about 90,000.
The consumption of sugar, during 1847, very singularly tallied with the production of the British Colonies that year—being exactly 289,000 tons; but as 50,000 tons of foreign sugar were consumed, an accumulation of British plantation sugar necessarily remained on hand.
The production of the French colonies was 100,000 tons, of which France received nine-tenths.
In 1836, Jamaica made 1,136,554 cwt. of sugar. In 1840, its produce had fallen off to 545,600 cwt.; but in the same years, Porto Rico had increased its sugar crop, from 498,000 cwt., to 1,000,000 cwt. In 1837, Cuba made 9,060,058 arrobas of sugar, equal to 132,765 hhds.; in 1841, it had increased to 139,000 hhds. The largest crop grown in the West Indies, since 1838, was that of 1847, which amounted to 159,600 tons.
The annexed returns of the sugar crops of Barbados and Jamaica, for a series of years may, be interesting:—
SUGAR CROPS OF THE ISLAND OF BARBADOS, FROM 1827 TO 1846 AND 1851.
1827 18,109 hhds. 1828 28,533 " 1829 23,486 " 1830 26,360 " 1831 28,174 " 1832 19,761 " 1833 28,099 " 1834 28,710 " 1835 25,371 " 1836 26,358 " 1837 31,670 " 1838 33,058 " 1839 28,213 " 1840 13,589 " 1841 17,801 " 1842 21,607 " 1843 24,587 " 1844 23,147 " 1845 24,767 " 1846 21,936 " 1851 48,000 "
SUGAR CROPS OF THE ISLAND OF JAMAICA, FROM 1790 TO 1851.
1790 91,131 " 1791 91,020 " 1792 ... " 1793 82,136 " 1794 97,124 " 1795 95,372 " 1796 96,460 " 1797 85,109 " 1798 95,858 " 1799 110,646 " 1800 105,584 " 1801 139,036 " 1802 140,113 " 1803 115,496 " 1804 112,163 " 1805 150,352 " 1806 146,601 " 1807 135,203 " 1808 132,333 " 1809 114,630 " 1810 112,208 " 1811 138,292 " 1812 113,173 " 1813 109,158 " 1814 104,558 " 1815 127,209 " 1816 100,382 " 1817 123,766 " 1818 121,758 " 1819 116,382 " 1820 122,922 " 1821 119,560 " 1822 94,515 " 1823 101,271 " 1824 106,009 " 1825 72,090 " 1826 106,712 " 1827 87,399 " 1828 101,575 " 1829 97,893 " 1830 100,205 " 1831 94,381 " 1832 98,686 " 1833 85,161 " 1834 84,756 " 1835 77,970 " 1836 67,094 " 1837 61,505 " 1838 69,613 " 1839 49,243 " 1840 33,066 " 1841 34,491 " 1842 50,295 " 1843 44,169 " 1844 34,444 " 1845 47,926 " 1851 41,678 "
The average of the five years ending 1851, being the first five of Free trade, shows an annual export from Jamaica of 41,678 hhds.
The quantity of unrefined sugar imported from the British West Indies and Guiana in a series of years since the emancipation, is shown by the following abstract:—
Cwts. Cwts. Sugar. Molasses. 1831 4,103,800 323,306 1832 3,773,456 553,663 1833 3,646,205 686,794 1834 3,843,976 650,366 1835 3,524,209 507,495 1836 3,601,791 526,535 1837 3,306,775 575,657 1838 3,520,676 638,007 1839 2,824,372 474,307 1840 2,214,764 424,141 1841 2,148,218 430,221 1842 2,508,725 471,759 1843 2,509,701 605,632 1844 2,451,063 579,458 1845 2,853,995 491,083 1846 2,147,347 477,623 1847 3,199,814 531,171 1848 2,794,987 385,484 1849 2,839,888 605,487 1850 2,586,429 470,187
Mauritius.—In the year 1813 the exports of sugar from this island were but 549,465 lbs., and increasing gradually to 128,476,547 lbs. in 1849, or two-hundred fold in thirty-six years.
The equalisation of the duties in 1825, and the admission of Mauritius sugars into England on the same footing as those from the West Indies, had the effect of stimulating the sugar trade of Mauritius, and advancing it to its present remarkable success. Notwithstanding its immense crops, scarcely more than three-fifths of the island is yet under cultivation; but it has the advantage of a cheap and abundant supply of labor, and much improved machinery has been introduced. The planters first commenced introducing Coolies in 1835, and were for some time restricted to the single port of Calcutta for their supply.
The recent advices from Mauritius furnish some interesting information regarding the progress making in the sugar production of that colony. In reference to the cultivation of the cane, it is stated that by the introduction of guano upon several estates in the interior, the production has been very largely increased; but as the value and economy of manure has not been hitherto sufficiently estimated, its introduction has not been so general as could be desired. The importance of free labor to the cultivation of the estates, has now become fully appreciated by the planters; it being found that an equal amount of work can be obtained by this means from a less number of hands, and that at lower rates of wages than were current in previous years, the average of which is shown in the following table:—
+ + -+ + + Number of Aggregate Average Years. Coolies amount of wages wages per head employed. paid per week. per week. + + -+ + + L s. d. 1846 47,733 33,484 14 0 1847 48,314 35,338 14 9 1848 41,777 26,627 12 9 1849 45,384 27,625 12 2 1850 47,912 31,664 12 3 1851 42,275 27,832 12 2 + + -+ + +
In 1826, to make from 25 to 30,000,000 lbs. of sugar, it required 30,000 laborers (slaves); at the present time, with less than 45,000 (from which number fully 5,000 must be deducted as absent from work from various causes), 135,000,000 lbs. are produced, or about five times the quantity under slavery. The coolies are found to be an intelligent race, who have become inured to the work required, and by whose labor this small island can produce the fifth part of the consumption of the United Kingdom, and that with only about 70,000 acres under cane cultivation. About 10,000 male immigrants, introduced since 1843, are not now working under engagement, but are following other occupations, and thus become permanent consumers. Some cultivate land on a small scale, on their own account, but very few plant canes, as it requires from eighteen to twenty months before they obtain any return for their labor; but the most important fact established by this and other official statements is, that only a small number of immigrants leave the colony at the expiration of their industrial residence. In the manufacture of sugar from the cane, considerable improvement has been effected by the introduction of new methods of boiling and grinding. The vacuum pan and the system of Wetsell are all tending to economise the cost of production, and to save that loss which for years amounted, in grinding alone, to nearly one-third of the juice of the cane. The planters begin to find that they can increase the value of their sugar 30 to 40 per cent. by these improvements, and that their future prosperity depends upon carrying them out. Unfortunately, however, here, as in many other of our colonies, a very large number of planters do not yet appreciate the advantages to be obtained by the adoption of improved machinery and manufacture, or by improved cultivation, and still struggle on under the old system of waste and negligence, which can only result in the ruin and destruction of their property.
In 1827, the number of sugar estates in operation in Mauritius, were 49 worked by water power, 50 by cattle or horses, and 22 by steam—total 111; in 1836, this number had increased to 186, viz.—64 moved by water power, 10 by horse, and 112 by steam. In 1839, the number was 211, of which 138 were worked by steam power—70,292 acres were then under cultivation with sugar. There are now about 490 sugar estates, whereof only 231 have mills—42 are worked by water power, the rest by steam.
The annual Mauritius crops, as exported, for the last ten years, have been as follows. The shipments frequently extend beyond a year, hence a discrepancy sometimes between the year's crop and the year's export:—
Tons, 1842-43 24,400 1843-44 28,600 1844-45 37,600 1845-46 49,100 1846-47 64,100 1847-48 59,021 1848-49 50,782 1849-50 51,811 1850-51 55,000 1851-52 65,080
Besides its exports to Great Britain, Mauritius ships large quantities of sugar to the Cape of Good Hope and Australia.
Its local consumption is moreover set down at about 2,500 tons.
The progressive increase in its exports is marked by the following return of imports into Great Britain from the island:—
Cwt. 1826 93,723 1827 186,782 1828 204,344 1829 361,325 1830 297,958 1831 485,710 1832 517,553 1833 521,904 1834 516,077 1835 553,891 1836 558,237 1837 497,302 1838 537,455 1839 604,671 1840 690,294 1841 545,356 1842 716,009 1843 696,652 1844 545,415 1845 716,173 1846 845,197 1847 1,193,571 1848 886,184 1849 893,524 1850 1,003,296 1851 999,337
East Indies.—Sugar is a very old and extensive cultivation in India. It would probably be within the mark, to estimate the annual produce of the country at a million of tons. An official return shows that the quantity of sugar carried on one road of the interior, for provincial consumption, is about equal to the whole quantity shipped from Calcutta—some 50,000 or 60,000 tons.
India is fast becoming a great sugar producing country, although its produce and processes of manufacture are rude and imperfect. The Coolies who return from time to time to the Indian ports, bring with them much acquired knowledge and experience from the Mauritius.
In 1825, the import of sugar from the East Indies was but 146,000 cwt., and it fluctuated greatly in succeeding years, being occasionally as low as 76,600 cwt. In 1837 the quantity imported was just double what it was in 1827. In 1841, it had reached as high as 1,239,738 cwt., and subsequently kept steady for a few years at 1,100,000 cwt.—and for the last four years has averaged 1,400,000 cwt.
Java.—Attention has been withdrawn, in a great measure, from sugar cultivation in Java, owing to coffee being found a more remunerative staple. The following figures serve to show the extent of its exports of sugar:—
Cwt. 1826 23,565 1827 38,357 1828 31,301 1829 91,227 1830 129,300 1831 144,077 1832 292,705 1833 151,128 1834 443,911 1835 523,162 1836 607,336 1837 820,063 1838 873,056 1839 999,895 1840 1,231,135 1841 1,252,041 1842 1,105,856 1843 1,162,211 1844 1,260,790 1845 1,812,500 1848 1,798,612 1850 1,797,874 1851 1,987,957 1852 2,090,845
In 1840, we imported from Java 75,533 cwt.; in 1841, 87,342 cwt.; in 1842, 24,922 cwt.; in 1843, 35,161 cwt.; and in 1844, about 72,000 cwt.; but most of this was only sent to Cowes, for orders, to be transhipped to the Continent.
Philippines.—The exports from Manila into this country in 1841, were 133,482 cwt.; in 1842, 63,464 cwt.; and in 1843, 48,977 cwt. In the fifteen years between 1835 and 1850, the export of sugar from the Philippine Islands more than doubled:—
Tons. 1835 11,542 1836 14,875 1837 12,293 1838 12,375 1839 15,631 1840 16,563 1841 15,321 1842 18,540 1843 22,239 1844 21,528 1845 24,500 1850 28,745
About a third of this is raw sugar, the rest is clayed or refined. It is singular, that though these islands belong to Spain, the export of this staple product to that country should be limited to about 600 tons; America taking about one-sixth, and England and her colonies the remainder. There is now an increased demand for the Australian colonies, consequent upon the large influx of population to that quarter.
Export of sugar from Manila in 1850.
Piculs. To Great Britain 146,926 " Continent of Europe 50,830 " Australian Colonies 142,359 " Singapore, Batavia, and Bombay 12,749 " California and the Pacific 29,144 " The United States 77,919 ———- 459,927
The sugar cane occurs in a wild state on many of the islands of the Pacific, but in no part of the American continent, notwithstanding a contrary opinion has been expressed.
The following are the chief varieties cultivated in the West Indies, Louisiana, the East Indies, and Mauritius:—
1. Common or creole cane, so called from being introduced from the New World.
2. Yellow Bourbon.
3. Yellow Otaheite.
4. Otaheite with purple bands.
5. Purple Otaheite.
6. Ribbon cane.
My friend, Mr. L. Wray, in his "Practical Sugar Planter," considers the Bourbon, and yellow, or straw-coloured Otaheite cane, as identical, but merely altered by change of soil and climate. The yield from these cane-plants seems to be about the same in either Indies, viz., in good land about two-and-a-half tons of dry sugar per acre—sometimes three tons.
A very large species of red cane, grown at Gowhatty, in Assam, is made favorable mention of for its strength of growth, early maturity, and juiciness; and Mr. Wray strongly recommends the introduction into the West Indies of another fine variety, generally grown in the Straits' settlements, where it is known by the name of the Salangore cane. He considers they would ratoon better than any other cane, and the return from it is on the average 3,600 lbs. of dry sugar to the acre.
"For my own part, I have always reckoned as an average, 3,600 lbs. of dry sugar to the acre as the return this cane will give, on anything like good land, in the Straits, according to the present imperfect mode of expressing and manufacture; but, considering the surpassing richness of land in the West India Islands, Demerara, and Mauritius, I should not be in any way surprised to find that it would there give even three tons an acre.
The Salangore cane grows firm and strong; stands upright much better than the Otaheite; gives juice most abundantly, which is sweet and easy of clarification, boils well, and produces a very fine, fair sugar, of a bold and sparkling grain."
Much discussion has arisen on the subject of raising the sugar cane from seed, and the possibility has been universally denied among the planters and agricultural societies of the West India colonies. Mr. Pritchard, a sugar planter of Louisiana, in the "United States Patent Report for 1850," however, states:—
"It is an error to suppose that the cane cannot be propagated from the seed. This may be the case when the seed is obtained from plants that have been produced for a number of years from buds, or eyes. All plants that have been produced in this way for a series of years, lose the faculty of forming prolific seeds; and the sugar cane is governed by the same laws which govern the whole vegetable kingdom. It cannot, therefore, be expected to produce seeds after it has been cultivated for a great length of time."
The sugar cane is composed of water, woody fibre, and soluble matter, or sugar. In round numbers it may be stated that the proportions are 72 per cent. of water, 10 per cent. of woody fibre, and 18 per cent. of sugar.
The fluid contents of a cane, according to Dr. Evans, contain 90 per cent. of the entire structure of the stem.
1,000 grains of sugar cane, being burnt, gave 71/2 grains of ash, which, on analysis, furnished the following components:—