Page images
PDF
EPUB

CANARIES.

[ocr errors]

CH A P. reign articles, are ultimately paid by the British consumers;
- not to mention the monopoly-price, often exorbitant, which

West Indian produce colls them. For it is well known that
sugar, &c. is generally much dearer in Great Britain than in
France, or any other country in Europe, even in those that
have no sugar colonies. And all this, exclusive of the enor-
mous and endless expenseof defending her colonies, by which
Great Britain has incurred a very great part of her national
debt.—Lord Sheffield, indeed, in his Observations, affirms,
that the expense of defending the sugar islands, by sea alone,
during the American war, cost Great Britain more than the
fee simple of those Islands is worth. The only advantage
which she ever derived, from her expense of blood and trea-
sure, was the comparatively insignificant monopoly of the
trade of her colonies. But the only effect of monopolies,
even when reciprocal and apparently equal, is to enrich
speculating individuals, at the expense of the nations and
colonies which stand in this unnatural and impolitic con-
nećtion. Of the truth of this observation, the Canary
islands, as well as those of Madeira and Cape Verd, appear
to afford examples, which ought to be viewed as beacons to
warn the undertakers of new colonies in Africa, of the dan.
gers to be dreaded from what a great author calls, the
mean and malignant expedients of the mercantile system.”—
Read Smith's Wealth of Nations, B. IV. C. VII.

[ocr errors]

F R E N C H*

ISLE DE
BOURBON.

269. The Isle de Bourbon, called originally Mascarenha, after it's Portuguese discoverer, lies about 120 leagues to the

* From Geographie naturelle, &c. de M. Robert, 1777. Tableau de Commerce, 1787, and Walter's Neuste Erdkunde, &c. New Account of Asia, Africa, &c. 1785.

east

X.

[ocr errors]

ISLE DE
BOURBON.

east of Madagascar, in the 21st and 22d degrees of South C H A P.
latitude. In circumference, it measures about 40 leagues.
M. de Flacourt, Governor of Fort Dauphin and the other
French settlements in Madagascar, took possession of this
island, for his king, in 1654, and gave it the name of Bour-
bon. But his nation made no considerable settlement

upon
it till 1672. The Isle de Bourbon and the adjacent Ile de
France have since been fortified, as stations of refreshment
for the French East India ships *.

270. The air of Bourbon is falubrious, and the foil very fertile, and well watered with springs and small rivers, abounding with fish; so that, upon the whole, it is a charming habitation. Besides supplying it's inhabitants and the shipping with provisions, this island exports tobacco, coffee, Exports. white pepper, aloes, ebony, silk, coral, tortoise-shell, Benzoin and some other gums.

271. But of all it's productions, the most valuable is it's Bourbon and cotton, which of late, since the spinning Machines, and par- cotton com

pared. ticularly those called mules, were invented and improved; has been spun at Manchester as far as to 300 hanks, (each 840 yards) and even more, in the pound, when common Surat cotton was only brought to 20 hanks. This striking difproportion arises chiefly from a difference in quality; but is also much owing to the Bourbon cotton being very, clean, and that of Surat so full of motes and dirt, (sometimes to half the weight) that it's staple is broken in the violent operations necessary to clean it t. In short, I

have

com. Surat

* Colonel Bolts, who revised this sketch of the Ile de Bourbon, and the Isle de
France, says that at the former there is only a road-stead; but that the Ille de
France contains two good harbours.
† This prodigious difference, as far as it depends on the first preparation, might

be

X.

Isl& DE

CH, A P. have known the price of Bourbon cotton as high as 9 shil.

lings per pound, when that of Surat was felling at 9 pence. (See § 64.)

272. This island, called also the Mauritius, is considerably FRANCE.

less than Bourbon. Their air and climate are very similar.

The soil of both is equally well watered; but that of the Isle of France is the most ftony, though by no means infer. dile. There is no noxious animal in either, unlefs we reckon rats such; but with them both iflands are fo much in. fested, that the foldiers in the garrisons are sometimes turned out to hunt them. The station for the French Indiamen

Rats.

is

be avoided, if the cotton.were cleaned by the producer, before the hard packing has incorporated the dirt and motes with it. I have indeed repeatedly proposed to the cotton merchants to send out cleaning machines to several places, and particularly to Surat, from whence so much dirt is imported at so very dear a rate, and the cotton so much injured by cleaning. But I could never get them to listen to this proposal. Indeed I have been well informed that cotton has been thoroughly cleaned in the West Indies, by hand-picking, which though a tedious operation, was done at about 2d. a pound; but that, in England, it brought not one farthing more, than if it had not been hand-picked. This is far from being the only instance in which mer. chants discourage producers from attempting improvements. (See 138.)

I have not mentioned health, that being a matter of little consideration among most manufacturers. I never understood that the operations on cotton, previous to it's being Ihipped for Europe, are injurious to health, as they are all performed in the open air, or in sheds, and the people are not, as in Europe, constantly confined to any one of the operations. It is, indeed, allowed that even those negroes, in the West Indies who plant, weed, gather, ginn, clean (parlially, by beating it with rods, on wooden frames) and steeve, or pack, the cotton, are generally very healthy.-It is, however, a melancholy truth, that the poor people employed in cleaning and carding cotton in Manchester, seldom live to above 30 years of age. The method of spinning certain coarse numbers, (or forts) of cotton yarn, in damp cellars, has al. so proved to be extremely injurious to health.

* The garrisons in fome of the West Indian Ilands might find limilar employ. ment. But premiums are there given for killing rats and monkies, both which are very destructive to the fugar-canes. . In Barbadoes, they give ad. a piece for rats'

heads,

[ocr errors]

ISLE DE

is Fort Louis, which is well fortified. According to an C HA P.
enumeration, in 1776, the Isle de Bourbon contained 6340
whites, and 26,175 black slaves, chiefly employed in agri- France.
culture. The population of the Isle de France then amount.

Population ed to pretty nearly the same numbers of whites and blacks respectively.

273. The productions of these two islands are much the Spices. fame. But I have great reason to believe, that a very material improvement has, by this time, taken firm root in both. For, during my stay at Paris, in 1787, I was informed that M. Ceré procured from Ceylon, and planted in the Ile de France, of which he was governor, 3000 cinnamon trees, and 10,416 clove trees, 18 of which last foon advanced in growth; also 18 nutmeg trees, 10 of which have since produced 1088 fine nutmegs, so ripe that the wind fhook them down. From these plants, 60 others have been produced, besides 20 which were partly distributed in the Island, and partly sent to the neighbouring Island of Bourbon, and to Cayenne, in S. America. In 1784 there were in the nursery 124 more young plants, of which 20 were ready to be sent abroad. In June 1785, 10 young trees, the Isle de France, yielded 800 nutmegs, and

9

others had about 500 far advanced. The same year 24 were sent to Bourbon and 260 were planted in the nursery.-In 1786, the Dutch, in the true spirit of monopoly (see $ 112 note) sent a vagabond to the Isle de France, to destroy these plantations, by corrupting the nursery men. But prudence, or rather cunning, is not always combined with villainy. The plot was timely discovered, and doubtless

in

heads, and 5 shillings for those of monkeys. A friend of mine tells me he once re-
ceived, in behalf of a black watchman, 15 shillings cur. for rat's heads.

[blocks in formation]

1

X.

CH A P. would have drawn a deserved punishment on the fellow

who was charged with it's execution, if he had not made
his escape. It is no wonder, however, that the Dutch are
jealous of their monopoly of spices; for, when I received
the foregoing information, I was assured that their trade in
these articles brings them in 18,000,000 of livres Tournois,
or about £750,000 fter. annually.

1

CAR.

1

blishments there.

MADAGAS 274 “ The French,” says the compiler of the Atlas mari

timus et commercialis *, “ have carried the discoveries in
Madagascar to the highest perfection, both on the coast and

in the inland parts. The following brief account, by one of Former flou- their governors, feems the best yet published.”—“ Our peorishing ella.

ple have had a settlement on this island, ever since 1622,
and we have now, not only a peaceable possession, but
several well fortified houses, on the coast, and flourishing
plantations within the land. Our principal strength is at
the southernmost point of the east side of the island, called
Fort Dauphin, with a good garrison. It is situated in lat.
25° 6' S. We have since reduced a considerable part of the
island, the natives being, at peace with us, and very much
pleased with our religion also; so that several of them are
converted to the Christian faith."
275. About the year 1654, the chief seat of their

power
was transferred from Fort Dauphin to the Isle de France
and Bourbon. But they have still retained poffeflion of

the former; and have made several attempts to extend, Colony at or to regain, their acquisitions in Madagascar. In 1767, a tempted in 1767

colony was attempted on that island, under M. de Maudave.

* Printed, London 1728

« PreviousContinue »