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no many, will lower e body of deacre bei
taken off, those who before found it more profitable to take 598. per cwt., gross price, for joo hogsheads, because they received 32s. net per cwt., and who would willingly have sold 10 hogsheads more, if they could have got as much for them, will now fell the whole '110 hogsheads for 528. gross price, because they will still get 325. net upon them: and there being no possibility of a concert among the large body of dealers, this conduct being pursued by many, will lower the price to the buyer accordingly. But it by no means follows that there will be a demand for the overplus attempted to be brought into the market. Some will make halte to sell more than they did before ; but others will sell less, if the reduction of price does not force still more into use than is at present consumed.
Whether this is to be expected, we cannot pretend, with any great confidence, to affert ; but, after the great increase of consumption which the low prices have already occasioned, we should think it difficult, by any further reduction, to augment it. The criterion of the revenue formerly stated would give the yearly consumption of Great Britain, on the average of 1806 and 1807, at nearly 181,000 hogsheads. The excess of imports over exports, in the ordinary state of the trade, is about as fair a criterion, and may therefore be appealed to for the five years ending 1800 : it would give the average consumption of those years at 143,000 hogsheads for Great Britain alone. If we deduct for the quantity used in 1800 in the distillery, and make some further allowance for a small accumulation of stock in hand, the total con. sumption for ordinary uses will be under 140,000 hogsheads. The price of this at 845., the gross average price of those years, must have been 7,056,000l., exclusive of retailers' or refiners' profits. The gross price of 181,000 hogsheads, at 665. 2 d., the average of 1806 and 1807, is 7,185,7001. The interests of the traders who come between the importer and consumer, always prevent the prices to the latter from luctuating as much as it does in the market of importation. The consumer, therefore, paid somewhat less in the former period, and somewhat more in the latter, than, by this calculation, he appears to have done. He also paid the ordinary profits of the intermediate dealers and the expenses. of manufacture, equally on the dear and on the cheap sugars. If we reckon these expenses at about 30s. per cwt., and make a fair allowance for the attempts of the dealers to keep the market from varying more than is absolutely necessary, we shall find that about a million Sterling has been paid yearly for sugar by the inhabitants of this country since it became cheap, more than they used formerly to pay. The increase of money paid is above three millions yearly, calculating on the same principles, from the statement of the West Indians ; but it is difficult to believe such
8 1800": "rit may therefore betate of the
an increase; and we only mention it here as an additional argument against their estimate of the increased actual consumption. We confess that we find some difficulty even in believing the smaller estimate ; and are disposed to think, that the prices given by Sir W. Yong, from which we have deduced it, have been overstated. However, that a considerable sum is paid now beyond what was formerly paid for the same article, cannot be doubted ; and when the West Indians contend that they have been carrying on a sort of partnership concern with the government, by which the profits have wholly gone to the government, it must be remembered, that the money paid in taxes on sugar, if it had not been so levied, must have been raised in some other shape. It comes from the middle classes of the community, who support, and must, from the nature of things, always support the great part of the public burthens; and an increase of their expenses in this article must, if disproportioned to the general accumulation of wealth in their hands, be attended with a diminution of their other expenses; so that, far from the increase of the revenue on sugar being a clear fund added to the public income, and ready to be spent in drawbacks and bounties, --ready, for instance, to allow the lowering of the whole duty on sugar,—this increase is only topical, and brings in a sum to the treasury, which, if it had not been paid under the head of customs on sugar, would have been paid in some other form. A diminution of the duty, therefore, if it did not increase the consumption, would be so much clear loss to the revenue. If it increased the consumption, so as to leave the revenue no loser, the planter would get nothing of the duty, but obtain prices as ruinously low as they have of late been on a greater part of his crop. But even this kind of relief, as far as it could be obtained without injuring the revenue, would require an increase of consumption altogether impossible. In order to leave the revenue equal, under a removal of the duty of 7s., the consumption must, in Great Britain alone, be increased nearly 60,000 hogsheads. We may safely venture to predict, that, if the duty were lowered, the consumption would be somewhat increased, but in a small degree; that the revenue would lose a large sum ; that the glut continuing, the prices would fall, and the difference of the duty go into the consumer's pocket,- the planter selling a little more sugar than before, at equally low prices.
III. The length to which our observations have already extended, compels us to pass over the remaining parts of the subject with a very general notice. But this is the less to be regretted; because any question of throwing open the monopoly, or relieving the planters by a peace, seems unhappily, at ihe pre
sent moment, matter of pure theory. We may well be excused for treating but slightly the benefits of a more open trade between the West Indies and America, when the folly of our rulers has shut out the mother country from all intercourse with that great and growing market. And to inquire whether the planter would be relieved by peace, might look like mocking him in his distresses, while our statesmen are every where seeking new quarrels, or devising pledges for making the old ones eternal. * Leaving, therefore, to a fitter opportunity, the full discussion of those subjects, we shall only take them up, so far as is necessary to complete our account of West Indian affairs, by showing, very briefly, that whatever benefits might accrue to the planters, as well as to all orders of the state, from the liberal and enlightened measures in question, those persons greatly deceive themselves who expect to find a remedy for the radical evils of the system in any such palliatives.
Let us begin with supposing that the trade to America were thrown open, and the West Indians allowed to barter for lumber and provisions, sugar and coffee, as well as rum and molasses. They would certainly get off a part of their surplus in this way; but the proportion, we are afraid, would not be very considerable. Before 1806, they enjoyed this trade under the permission of proclamations; and they exported, on an average of ten years ending 1803, little more than 6000 hogsheads annually. A vent of this extent would evidently afford but a slight relief to a glut such as we have described. t But suppose, as some have done upon very slight grounds, that the demand in America is for 30,000 hogsheads, and that we were to supply the whole of it; -what would become of the same quantity which they must at present, by this hypothesis, be taking from the enemy's islands ? It would find its way over with the rest to Europe, and displace an equal amount in that market : and this loss would necessari. ly fall upon the sugars now exported by us. .
The effects, then, of opening the American trade to its fullest VOL. XIII. NO. 26.
* See the late Declarations, and other official correspondence.
+ In the Appendix to the Third Report of the Committee of 1807, it is distinctly stated by the most respectable West Indians, that the relief to the sugar market would not be very considerable, unless, besides allowing our planters to barter their sugars, our government should also blockade the enemy's islands, or, in some other effectual way, prevent the Americans from getting sugar elsewhere. See, particularly, the evidence of Messrs Wedderburn, Hughan and Shirley. Can the assertions in the text receive a stronger confirmation ?
tion by a revival of his trade. The foreign colonies, it is universally admitted, make sugars cheaper than ours can. Their soil is much better, and they pay fewer taxes. These advantages, but especially the former, are more than sufficient to balance our superiority in capital, manufactures and navigation. The Committee of 1789 estimated the total effect of them, as reducing the prices in the proportion of five to seven. It is easy to perceive, chen, that the peace prices in the market of the world, when peace is restored, will be regulated by the cheapness of the foreign sugars, and that as long as our market requires a large exportation-as long, in short, as the glut continues--our own sugars must be sold, both at home and abroad, according to the prices of the cheap produce.
We apprehend, then, that as the evil complained of in the colonial system did not originate in any thing else than the excessive - cultivation of the cane, the war did not necessarily aggravate this evil to any considerable degree. Hostilities might, in fact, have been carried on by a country pofleffing a decided naval superiority, not only without increasing the distresses of its colonists, but in such a way as to throw upon the enemy the greater pressure of the load common to all West Indian proprietors. By abstaining from conquests in the West Indies by carefully preventing the introduction of flaves into foreign colonies in our vessels-by impeding the navigation of the enemy to and from his sugar islands, as far as we could, confiftently with the law of nations--by doing our utmost to prevent him from supplying his colonies with flaves *by adopting every method of encouraging our own trade with the Continent, clinging to our American connexions, and showing ourselves the protectors of neutrality, wherever the general inte
.* To check the neutral slave traffic carried on with the enemy's islands, might have been impracticable, unless some previous arrangement had been made with the American government. We certainly should inculcate a respect for neutral rights, as necessary at all times, but as more essential in proportion to the extension of hostilities, and the violation of all public law by our enemies. Nevertheless, we question whether, in point of strict justice, and according to the law of nations itself, cargoes of kidnapped human beings are to be respected as innocent merchandize, when found on board neutral vessels on their voyage to an enemy's port. This at least, is certain, that, with a government so well disposed as the American has always been to abolish the slave trade, few obstacles cueki have occurred to prevent some amicable arrangement which should give us the power of obstructing this odious intercourse with the foreign islands. No such attempt, however, could be expected from those
who allowed the slave trade to flourish under the protection of Eng. ·lish laws.