The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Commercial Products of the Vegetable
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Title: The Commercial Products of the Vegetable Kingdom
       Considered in Their Various Uses to Man and in Their Relation to the
       Arts and Manufactures; Forming a Practical Treatise & Handbook of
       Reference for the Colonist, Manufacturer, Merchant, and Consumer,
       on the Cultivation, Preparation for Shipment, and Commercial Value,
       &c. of the Various Substances Obtained From Trees and Plants, Entering
       into the Husbandry of Tropical and Sub-tropical Regions, &c.

Author: P. L. Simmonds

Release Date: February 27, 2005 [EBook #15191]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Olaf Voss, Stephen Schulze and the Online Distributed
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Considered in their Various Uses to Man and tn Their Relation to the Arts and Manufactures;

Forming a

Practical Treatise & Handbook of Reference

for the

Colonist, Manufacturer, Merchant, and Consumer,

on the

Cultivation, Preparation for Shipment, and Commercial Value, &c.
of the Various Substances Obtained from

Trees and Plants,

Entering into the Husbandry of Tropical and Sub-tropical Regions, &c.




[Pg v]


  • African Steam Ship Company, 3, Mincing Lane
  • Archbell, J., Esq., Pietermaritzburg, Natal
  • Assam Company, 30, Great Winchester-street
  • Aubert, Honourable J.M.A., M.C., St. Lucia
  • Botanical Society (the Royal), Regent's Park
  • Burton, C.H., Esq., 133, Fenchurch-street
  • Boddington, Messrs. & Co., 9, St. Helen's Place
  • Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol
  • Brown, Messrs. & Co., 4, Pancras Lane
  • Begg, Thomas, Esq., 3, Corbett Court, Gracechurch-street
  • Bow, J.B. De., Editor of Commercial Review, New Orleans
  • Breede, L. Von, Esq., Natal
  • Breen, H.H., Esq., St. Lucia
  • Barbados General Agricultural Society
  • British Guiana Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society
  • Browne, Hunter & Co., Messrs., Liverpool
  • Bagshaw, John, Esq., M.P., Cliff House, Harwich
  • Berry, Richard L., Esq., Chagford, Devonshire
  • Blyth, Messrs., J. & A., Steam Engine House, Limehouse
  • Blyth, Philip P., Esq., 23, Upper Wimpole Street
  • Brown, Messrs. Robert & Co., 25, Lawrence Pountney Lane
  • Carmichael, Sir James, Bart., Sussex Gardens
  • Christopher, J.S., Esq., 26, Coleman-street
  • Challis, Alderman, 32, Wilson Street, Finsbury
  • Childs, R.W., Esq., 26, Coleman Street
  • Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society
  • Campbell, C.T., Graham's Town, Cape of Good Hope (3 copies)
  • Central Board of Agriculture, Halifax, Nova Scotia (5 copies)
  • Crum, H.E., Esq., (Messrs. J. Ewing & Co's.,) Glasgow
  • Clegg, T., Esq., Manchester
  • Carleton, Percival A., Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, Bahamas
  • Davis, Messrs. T.E. & W.W., manufacturers, 159 and 160, Whitechapel Road
  • Dinneford, Messrs. & Co, 172, New Bond-street
  • Denoon, Messrs. D. & Co., 6, Adam's Court, Old Broad-st.
  • Decasseres, Phineas, Esq., Falmouth, Jamaica
  • Dod, Francis, Esq., Savanna le Mar, Jamaica
  • Duke, Sir James, M.P., Portland Place
  • Dunbar, Messrs. D., & Sons, 95, Fore-street, Limehouse
  • Dennistoun, Messrs. J. & A., Glasgow
  • Drysdale, Hon. J.V., Colonial Secretary, St. Lucia
  • Drumm, Mr. W., Chemist, Barbados (12 copies)
    [Pg vi]
  • Ede, Francis, Esq., Great Winchester-street
  • Ede, Limbrey, Esq., merchant, Winchester-street
  • Edmonds, E., junr., Esq., Bilcomb Brook, Bradford, Wilts
  • Evett, Thomas, Esq., Trelawney, Jamaica
  • Forbes, Dr., F.R.S., Burlington-street
  • Fielden, J. Leyland, Esq., Feniscowles, Blackburn
  • Fox, Mr. C., Paternoster Row
  • Foster, T.C., Esq., Natal
  • Framgee, Neeswanjee & Co., Bombay
  • Forman, Mr. R.B., 14, Mincing Lane
  • Franks & Co., Messrs., 36, Fenchurch-street
  • Grey, The Right Honourable Earl
  • Grassett, Elliot, Esq., 6, Chesham-street, Belgrave Square
  • Gray, Messrs. B.C.T. & Co., Great St. Helen's
  • Gray & Co., Messrs., Commercial Chambers, Mincing Lane
  • Glasgow, Messrs. Alexander & Co., Glasgow
  • Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures
  • Harker, George, Esq., 102 and 103, Upper Thames-street
  • Henry, J.G., Esq., Bicknollon House, Williton, Somerset
  • Holloway, Thomas, Esq., 244, Strand
  • Hanbury, Daniel, Esq, 2, Plough Court
  • Howard, Messrs. James & Frederick, Bedford
  • Haywood, James, Esq., Birmingham
  • Henley, The Right Honourable J.W., M.P.
  • Humphreys, E.R., L.L.D., Cheltenham School
  • Haynes, Robert, Esq., Thimbleby Lodge, Northallerton
  • Howson, Rev. J.S., M.A., Principal of Liverpool Collegiate School
  • Howard, W.M., Esq., Barbados
  • Hitchins, Richard, Esq., Kingston, Jamaica
  • Hamilton, William, Esq., 29, St. Vincent Place, Glasgow
  • Hodge, Honorable Langford L., Antigua
  • Ifill, Benjamin, Esq., 86, Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park Gardens
  • Innes, J., Esq., Moorgate-street
  • Isle of Thanet Agricultural Association, Ramsgate
  • Jamaica Association, 1, New Square, Lincoln's Inn
  • Jamaica Royal Agricultural Society
  • Jennings, J.H., Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate, St. Lucia
  • Jung & Burgtheel, Messrs., 2, Winchester Buildings
  • Johnson, C.W., Esq., F.R.S., Croydon
  • Keane, Charles C., Esq., Bermuda
  • Keating, Thomas, Esq., St. Paul's Churchyard
  • Keeling & Hunt, Messrs., Monument Yard
  • Laird, J.M., Esq., African Steam Ship Co., Mincing Lane[Pg vii]
  • Laurie, W.C., Esq. 6, Great Winchester-street
  • Lane, Crawford & Co., Messrs., Hong Kong (12 copies)
  • Lee, D. McPhee, Esq., Bermuda
  • Livesay, Drs., R.N., 35, Nelson Square
  • Lloyd, B.S., Esq., Birchin Lane
  • Liverpool, Library of Collegiate Institution
  • Lawton, Isaac, Esq., Kingston, Jamaica (2 copies)
  • Lyons, George, Esq., Falmouth, Jamaica (2 copies)
  • Lawrence & Co., Messrs., Madras (3 copies)
  • Losack, F.C., Esq., Trelawney, Jamaica
  • Lord Mayor, The Right Honourable, Mansion House
  • Molesworth, The Right Honourable Sir William, Bart., M.P., Eaton Square
  • McCulloch, J.R., Esq., Her Majesty's Stationery Office
  • Morewood, Edward Esq., Compensation, Natal
  • Morewood, J.J., Esq., 1, Winchester Buildings
  • Martin, R. Montgomery, Esq., 21, Victoria Road, Kensington
  • McHenry, George, M.D., 12, Danzie Street, Liverpool
  • Masterman, John, Esq., M.P., Nicholas Lane, City
  • Mayers, J.P. Esq., Staplegrove, Barbados
  • Mouat, Richard, Esq., R.N., H.M. Dockyard, Port Royal, Jamaica
  • McHugh, R.G., Esq., St. Lucia
  • Marryatt, Charles, Esq., Laurence Pountney Lane
  • Mason, J.P. and Co., 18, Mincing Lane
  • Mosely, Mr. E.N., Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Michelli, Mr. F., Gould Square
  • Nesbit, J.C. Esq., F.G.S., Scientific School, Kennington Lane
  • Newdegate, C.N., Esq., M.P., Blackheath
  • Natal Agricultural and Horticultural Society
  • Newcastle, his Grace the Duke of, (2 copies)
  • New York State Agricultural Society, Albany
  • Noble, Messrs. G. & J.A., 11, George Yard, Lombard Street,
  • Pakington, Right Hon. Sir John S., M.P.
  • Poole, David, Esq., Analytical Chemist, 18, Jubilee Street, Mile End Road.
  • Poole, Braithwaite, Esq., London and North Western Railway, Liverpool.
  • Pitts and Gavin, Messrs., Kandy, Ceylon.
  • Porteous, The Honorable James, Jamaica.
  • Prescott, George W., Esq., 62, Threadneedle Street
  • Rowland, Messrs. Alex. and Sons, 20, Hatton Garden (3 copies)
  • Ransomes and Sims, Messrs., Implement Makers, Ipswich (2 copies)
  • Rolph, Thomas, Esq., M.D., Portsmouth.
  • Richardson, Robert, Esq., 3, Jermyn Street, St. James's
  • Richardson, Mr. J.M., Cornhill
  • Rowe, Sir Joshua, Chief Justice of Jamaica
  • Roberts, Charles, Esq., 38, Mincing Lane
  • Russell, Graham, Esq., 63, Miller Street, Glasgow
  • Rothschild, Baron, Lionel De, M.P., New Court, Swithin's Lane
  • Sampson, M.B., Esq., City Editor of the Times, Lombard Street
  • Saunders, Trelawney W., Esq., F.R.G.S., 6, Charing Cross
  • Staunton, Sir George Thomas, Bart., M.P., F.B.S., Hants
  • Strousberg, B.H., Esq., F.R.G.S., Editor of "The Merchant's Magazine."
  • Straube, Dr., 36, Moorgate Street
  • Stewart, Charles, Esq., 4, Adam's Court, Old Bond-street (2 copies)[Pg viii]
  • Schomburgk, Sir R.H., British Consul, St. Domingo
  • Sewell, William, Esq., St. James's, Jamaica
  • Stephenson, R. Macdonald, Esq., East India Railway, Calcutta
  • Simmonds, Richard, Esq., R.N., Admiralty, Somerset House
  • Simmonds, J.G., Esq., R.N., H.M.S. Crane, West Coast of Africa
  • Simeon, Hardy and Sons, Messrs., Cork
  • Samuelson, B., Esq., Britannia Iron Works, Banbury
  • Stanford, Mr., 6, Charing Cross
  • Trade, The Honorable the Board of
  • Tennent, Sir J. Emerson, M.P.
  • Travers, Messrs., and Co., 19, St. Swithin's Lane
  • Thibou, James B., Esq., Antigua
  • Tollemache, Honorable F., Hillmagham Hall, Ipswich
  • Thornton, Edward, Esq., Statistical Department, East India House
  • Weeding, Thomas, Esq., 6, Great Winchester Street (2 copies)
  • Weguelin, T.M., Esq., 7, Austin Friars
  • Wyld, James, Esq, Great Globe, Leicester Square
  • Westgarth, Ross and Co., Messrs., Melbourne, Port Philip
  • Wortley, S.S., Esq., Cumberland Pen, Spanish Town, Jamaica
  • Wray, Leonard, Esq., Natal
  • Wells, Charles, Esq., Grenada
  • Woodifield, R.D., Esq., Custom House
  • Woods, R.C., Esq., Straits Times, Singapore (20 copies)
  • Wilson, Mr. Effingham, Royal Exchange Buildings (2 copies)
  • Yeatman, Rev. H.F., L.L.B., Stockhouse, near Sherborne
  • Young, Bryan, T., Esq., Barbados
[Pg ix]


  • PROFESSOR ROYLE, on the Productive Resources of India.
    in regard to the Cultivation and Manufacture of Cotton, Wool, Raw Silk, and Indigo in India.
  • COUNT DANDOLO on the art of Rearing Silk Worms.
  • M'CULLOCH'S COMMERCIAL DICTIONARY, last Edition and Supplements.
  • DE BOW'S COMMERCIAL REVIEW, New Orleans, 6 vols.
  • SPRY'S PLANTS, &c., required for India.
  • THE MAHOGANY TREE, its Range, &c.
  • A FEW WORDS ON THE TEA DUTIES, by J. Ingram Travers.
  • THE STATISTICAL COMPANION, by Banfield and Weld.
  • LECTURES ON THE RESULTS OF THE GREAT EXHIBITION, delivered before the Society of Arts, 2 vols.
  • A DISSERTATION UPON TEA, by Thomas Short, M.D.; 1753.
  • CUBA IN 1851, by Alexander Jones.
  • MARTIN, on China.
  • DR. TURNBULL'S CUBA, with Notes of Porto Rico.
  • FARMER'S MAGAZINE, 20 vols.
[Pg xi]


The objects and purposes of the following Work are fully set forth in the introductory chapter; but I may be permitted to remark here, that its compilation and arrangement have occupied a very large share of my time and attention, and I can therefore assert with confidence, that it will be found the most full and complete book of the kind that has ever yet appeared. It is not a mere condensation from Encyclopædias, Commercial Dictionaries, and Parliamentary and Consular Reports; but is the fruit of my own Colonial experience as a practical planter and of much laborious research and studious investigation into a class of ephemeral but useful publications, which seldom meet with any extended or enduring circulation—assisted, moreover, by the contributions and suggestions of many of the most eminent agricultural chemists, planters, and merchants of our Colonial Possessions and Foreign Countries.

Few are aware of the great labor and research required for digesting and arranging conflicting accounts—for consulting the numerous detached papers and foreign works treating of the subjects embraced in this volume, and for referring to [Pg xii]the home and colonial trade circulars, Legislative papers, and scientific periodicals of different countries. The harassing duties appertaining to the position of City editor of a daily paper, coupled with numerous other literary engagements, have afforded me insufficient time to do full justice to the work while passing through the press; and several literal typographical errors in the botanical names have, I find, escaped my attention in the revision of the sheets. I have, however, thought it scarcely necessary to make a list of errata for these. From want of leisure, to reduce all the weights and measures named in the body of the work into English, I have given their relative value in the Index. I have taken considerable pains to make the Index most full and complete, for it has always appeared to me, that in works embracing a great variety of subjects, facility of reference is of paramount importance.

Some discrepancy may here and there be found between the figures quoted from Parliamentary returns and those derived from private trade circulars; but the statistics are accurate enough for approximate calculations.

Whilst the work has been passing through the press, several important modifications and alterations have been made in our Tariff.

I have throughout found great difficulty in obtaining commercial information from the various Colonial brokers and importers of the City, who, with but few exceptions, [Pg xiii]have been stupidly jealous of any publicity respecting the staples in the sale of which they were specially interested. The greatest fear was expressed lest any details as to the sources of supply, stocks on hand, and cost prices of many of the minor articles, should transpire. After the results of the Great Exhibition, the exertions making to establish Trade Museums, and the prospect of information to be furnished at the new Crystal Palace, this narrow-minded and selfish feeling seems singularly misplaced.

I had not originally contemplated touching upon the grain crops and food plants of temperate regions; but the prospect of a failure in our harvest, the disturbed state of political affairs on the Continent, with short supplies from Russia and the Danubian provinces, and the absence of any reliable statistics and information for convenient reference on this all-important subject, added to the recommendations of one or two well-informed correspondents, induced me to go more into detail on the Food-plants and Breadstuffs than I had at first intended, and to treat very fully upon Wheat, Barley, Potatoes, and other subsidiary food crops. This has trenched somewhat largely on my space; and although the volume has been swelled to an unexpected size, I am reluctantly compelled to omit some few Sections, such as those treating of elastic and other Gums, Resins, &c.; on tropical Fruits; and on textile substances and products available for cordage and clothing. The latter section, which includes Cotton, Flax, Jute, &c., and embraces a wide and important range of [Pg xiv]plants, I propose issuing in a separate volume at an early date, with a large fund of statistical and general information.

Among those gentlemen to whom I acknowledge myself most indebted for valuable suggestions or important information, are my friends Sir R.H. Schomburgk, British Consul at St. Domingo, and Mr. R. Montgomery Martin, the well-known Statist and Colonial Historian; Mr. R.D. Wodifield, Deputy Inspector of Imports at the port of London; Mr. Leonard Wray, of Natal, author of "The Practical Sugar Planter;" Dr. W. Hamilton, of Plymouth, a talented and frequent contributor to the scientific periodicals of the day; Mr. T.C. Archer, of Liverpool, author of "Economic Botany;" Mr. Greene, of the firm of Blyth, Brothers, and Greene; Mr. J.S. Christopher, author of several works on the Cape Colony, and Natal; Mr. B.H. Strousberg, editor of "The Merchant's Magazine," and Mr. G.W. Johnson, the eminent agricultural writer, author of various elaborate "Essays on the Agriculture of Hindostan," which were written for my "Colonial Magazine."


December, 1853.

[Pg xv]


Objects of the work.
Prof. Solly on the demand for a practical book on raw materials.
Objects of the Society of Arts and Great Exhibition.
Necessity for an attention to the culture of the minor staples of the soil.
New objects of industry worthy the attention of Science.
Principal part of our homeward commerce composed of raw materials from the Vegetable Kingdom.
Mutual dependence of countries on Commerce for the supply of their wants.
System of arrangement of subjects adopted by the author.
Many articles of commerce omitted for want of space.
Those of tropical and sub-tropical regions chiefly discussed.
Hints for the cultivator. Division of zones, and countries lying within each, with their range of temperature.
Table of climate; duration and production of the principal cultivated plants.


Cacao or Cocoa.
Varieties and description of the tree.
Mode of cultivation in the Colombian Republics.
Enemies of the tree.
Expenses of a plantation in Jamaica.
Cultivation in Trinidad and St. Lucia.
Statistics and consumption.
Home consumption and revenue of coffee.
Chicory largely substituted for; history of the fiscal changes.
Continental demand.
Present produce and consumption in various countries.
Cultivation in Mocha.
Cultivation in India; in Ceylon.
Exports from that island.
Manures suitable for the tree.
Peeling, pulping, and winnowing.
Improved machinery.
New use for coffee leaves.
Culture in Java.
Production of America and the West Indies; Venezuela.
Statistics of the Brazils.
Shipments of various countries to the United States.
Comparative consumption by different nations.
Cultivation in Jamaica; Trinidad; British Guiana; Cuba; decline of production in this island.
Statistics of exports.
Preparation of coffee leaves for infusion according to Dr. Gardner's patent.
Dr. Hooker's opinion thereon.
Immense consumption of.
Liebig's analysis of.
Varieties of the plant.
Imports of tea for a series of years.
Alterations in the duties.
Statistics of import and consumption, revenue and prices.
Value and extent of the tea exported from China; first cost at the ports; enormous prices paid for superior teas.
Total outlay for tea.
Consumption of tea in China.
Export to various countries.
Total production.
Consumption per head in England; not properly within the reach of the poorer classes.
China could furnish any quantity.
Mr. Travers on the tea duties.
Brick tea of Thibet.
Tea annually imported into the United States; proportion of green to black.
Range of the plant.
Countries in which its culture has been attempted.
Its progress in America.
The Assam Company and its plantations.
Extension of tea culture by the East India Co.
Mr. Fortune's travels in the tea [Pg xvi]districts of China.
Instructions and details as to soil, management and manufacture, by Dr. Jameson and Mr. Fortune.
Dr. Campbell's notes.
Mr. A. Macfarlane's Report.
The East India tea plantations in the North-West Provinces.
Experimental cultivation of the tea plant in Brazil; M. Geullemin's report thereon.
Paraguay Tea: Mr. Robertson's description of the collection and manufacture.
Plants from which it is usually obtained.
The sugar cane; its range of cultivation.
Production in our colonies.
Consumption in the last ten years.
Improvements in sugar machinery and manufacture.
Quantity of cane sugar annually produced and sent into the markets.
Local consumption in India.
Present European supply; demand according to the consumption in England.
Estimated annual production throughout the world.
Consumption in the principal European countries.
Average annual consumption in the United Kingdom.
Comparative amount of beet-root and cane sugar produced in the last four years. Gazette prices of sugar in the last ten years.
Production of sugar in the United States.
Production in Cuba.
Production in the British West Indies.
Production in Mauritius.
Statistics of imports from the Mauritius.
Production in the British East Indies.
Production in Java.
Production in the Philippines.
Chemical distinction between cane and grape sugar.
Varieties of the sugar cane cultivated.
Possibility of raising the cane from seed.
Analysis of the cane, and of a sugar soil.
Chemical examination of cane juice.
Vacuum pans.
Boiling and tempering.
Composition of cane juice.
Ramos's prepared plantain juice.
Professor Fownes on the manufacture of sugar.
Expression of cane juice.
Construction of the sugar mill.
Quantity of juice obtained by each kind of mill.
Position of rollers.
Mode of culture and varieties in the East Indies.
Soils considered best adapted for its luxuriant growth.
Sets and planting.
Injuries, from seasons, storms, insects, &c.
Mode of cultivation in the Brazils; in Natal; expenses.
Comparison between the cost of production in Mauritius and Natal.
Comparative cost in free and slave countries.
Beet-root sugar: variety cultivated; mode of expression and manufacture; yield of sugar; estimated profit; extensive production in France; production in the German States.
Statistics of the Prussian Provinces of Saxony; Russia, Belgium and Austria.
A Visitor's account of the French manufactories.
Mr. Colman's opinion.
Proportion of sugar in the beet.
Maple Sugar: description of the tree; its production limited to America; extent of the manufacture in Canada and the United States; processes employed; statistics of production.
Maize Sugar.


Statistics of Wheat Culture.
Exports of flour from the United States.
Adaptation of the soil and climate of the United States to the culture of the cereals.
Export of sophisticated (damaged) flour.
Kiln drying of bread stuffs and exclusion of air.
Value of the "whole meal" of wheat as compared with that of the fine flour.
Nutritious properties of various articles of food.
Composition of wheat and wheat-flour, and the modes of determining their nutritive value.
Rotation of crops in connexion with wheat culture.
Production and consumption of the United Kingdom.
Statistics of other countries.
Barley, Oats, Rye, Buckwheat, Maize: Indian corn and meal imported.
Crop and exports of United States.
System of culture.
Rice: Statistics of production and culture in Carolina.
The Bhull rice lands of Lower Scinde.
Rice in Kashmir; exports from Arracan.
Broom Corn.
Chenopodium Quinoa.
Fundi or Fundungi.
The Sago Palms.
Manufacture and extent of the trade in Singapore.
The bread-fruit tree.
Kafir bread.[Pg xvii]
The PLANTAIN and BANANA; various products of these palms.
Characters of starch from different plants.
Tenacity and clearness of jellies; per centage of starch yielded, and produce of plant per acre; their meal as articles of export.
Indian Corn starch.
Rice starch.
ARROWROOT: East and West India, culture and statistics of.
ROOT CROPS: Potatoes, Yams, Cocos, or Eddoes, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava or Manioc.
NEW TUBEROUS PLANTS recommended as substitutes for the potato.


Limited range of the culture in Ceylon.
Analysis of the soil most favorable to the tree.
Various kinds of bark; commercial classification, distinguishing properties of good cinnamon; suitability of the Straits Settlement for cinnamon plantations; oil of cinnamon; statistics and exports from Ceylon, and prices realised; reduction of the duty; extent of land under cultivation with the tree; progress of the culture in Java; exports thence to Holland.
CASSIA BARK: species from whence derived; imports, consumption and prices.
Cassia Buds.
Cassia Oil.
CLOVES: description and varieties of the tree.
Produce in Java.
Introduction into the West Indies.
Progress of the culture in Pinang and Singapore.
The Clove plantations of Zanzibar.
Imports and consumption of the United Kingdom.
The NUTMEG: Botanical description.
Dr. Oxley's account of the cultivation and management of a plantation; enemies of the tree.
Produce and returns.
Preparation of the nuts for market.
Statistics of culture in the Straits Settlements.
Memorandum on the duties on nutmegs.
Exports of nutmegs from Singapore and Java.
Imports into the United Kingdom, and consumption of wild and cultivated nutmegs and mace.
GINGER: description and consumption of.
Commercial distinction between black and white ginger.
East and West India ginger, directions for cultivation.
Shipments from Jamaica.
Comparison between the imports from the East and from the West.
Total annual imports and consumption.
CARDAMOMS; plants from which derived.
Grains of Paradise.
Meleguetta, or Guinea pepper.
PEPPER: description of the vine; range of the plant.
Production of the World.
The culture declining in Java.
Extent of the production in Singapore.
Exports from Ceylon.
Its introduction into the Mauritius.
Shipments from Singapore.
Imports and consumption of the United Kingdom.
CHILLIES AND CAYENNE PEPPER: varieties of Capsicum.
PIMENTO: description of the tree; production of the spice limited to Jamaica.
Imports and consumption.
VANILLA: description of the plant.
Its collection and preparation for the market.
Commercial varieties.
Tonquin beans.
TURMERIC: sources of supply.
Commercial uses.
Value of the Curry stuffs of the East.
Imports and consumption.
GINSENG: description of—demand for in China, exports from America, and commercial value.
Canary, Coriander, mustard and anise seeds.
LIGNUM ALOES, and fragrant woods.


Importance and value of these substances to our manufacturing interests.
New specimens and materials recently produced.
Miscellaneous notices of useful plants.
Lana Dye.
Prices of Dyewoods.
SAPPAN WOOD, Camwood and Barwood.
Imports of Dyewoods.
Commercial kinds.
Cultivation and manufacture.
Imports, consumption and prices.
Wood Dyes.
Mangrove Bark.
Statistics of imports and prices.
SAFFLOWER.[Pg xviii]
Common native dyes.
INDIGO; plants which produce it.
Commercial sources of supply.
Cultivation in Central America, in Jamaica and the West Indies; once an important crop in the United States.
The indigo plant a common weed in many parts of Africa.
Cultivation in India.
Classification of the dye-stuff.
Localities best suited to its production.
Process of Manufacture.
Annual production in the East Indies; adaptation of Ceylon.
Extent of the culture in Java; annual exports therefrom; imports and consumption.
MADDER: extent of the demand for. Enormous profit of the cultivation; system of harvesting and manufacture.
Large supplies received from France.
MUNJEET, or Indian madder, deserving of more consideration.
LOGWOOD, FUSTIC, Quercitron.
Brazil Wood.
Chemical examination of the coloring principles of the Lichens.
BARKS FOR TANNING: cursory notice of a variety of suitable barks.
Proportions of tannin yielded by different barks.
CATECHU: definition of, and whence derived.
GAMBIER PLANT: cultivation in Singapore; returns from a plantation.
Different qualities of extract and mode of obtaining it.
Places of manufacture; average produce.
Terra Japonica, a misnomer.
Cutch, another name for Catechu.
Statistics of imports and consumption; the amount and value of Gambier from Singapore.
DIVI-DIVI: description of.
Valuable native barks of New Zealand.
Mangrove bark.
Kino: definition of; sources from whence obtained.
VALONIA: statistics of, consumption and prices.


General Remarks.
Extensive demand for Oils.
Proportion of oil furnished by various seeds.
Richness of Indian seeds in oil.
Domba Oil.
The EARTH or GROUND NUT, its extensive cultivation for food and oil.
Tea oil.
Tobacco seed oil.
Poppy oil.
Tallicoonah oil.
Carap oil.
Macaw oil.
Madia sativa.
Cocum oil.
Candle Tree.
Cinnamon Suet.
Croton oil.
Oil of Ben.
PALM OIL: progress of the African trade.
Imports into Liverpool.
Quantity retained for home consumption.
Statistics of; imports of the four principal vegetable oils.
OLIVE OIL: description of the tree and its varieties; its cultivation attempted in the United States.
Preservation of the fruit.
Expression of the oil.
Range of prices.
Frequently adulterated with cheaper oils.
Annual imports and consumption.
Various species cultivated in the East.
Large exports of the seed from India; native oil mills; processes of expression and manufacture.
Sunflower oil.
Margose, or Neem oil.
Illepe oil.
Vegetable butter.
Candle nut tree.
Colza oil.
The Candleberry myrtle.
The CASTOR OIL PLANT: manufacture of the oil in the East and West Indies.
Extent of the imports annually.
The oil-cake for manure.
Kanari oil.
The COCO-NUT PALM: description of the tree; its various and important uses.
Varieties of this palm met with.
Wide range of the plant.
Directions for its culture; profits derived from plantations; great attention paid to them in Ceylon.
Commercial value of its products.
Statistics of culture in Pinang.
Natural enemies of the tree.
Copperah and Poonac.
Statistical returns connected with its products in Ceylon.
Imports and consumption of coco-nut oil.
Comparison of the consumption of the chief vegetable oils of commerce.
The value and uses of oil-cake for cattle-feeding.
VOLATILE, OR ESSENTIAL OILS: description of the most important.
Oil of peppermint.
Process of obtaining the perfumed oils.
Cultivation of Roses in the East and preparation of Attar.
Lemon-grass oil.
Citronella oil.
[Pg xix]

The COCA PLANT. Cocculus Indicus.
The ARECA PALM; extensive use of the nuts in the East as a masticatory.
Narcotic properties.
Catechu, or Cutch; its astringent properties.
Davy's analysis.
Value of the Areca nuts exported from Ceylon.
The POPPY: increasing consumption of Opium in this country.
Production of the Drug in India.
Large revenue derived therefrom.
Variety of the poppy grown; system of culture pursued.
Various modes of consuming opium.
Its preparation and manufacture described.
Commercial varieties met with.
Requisites for the successful culture of the poppy for opium.
The TOBACCO PLANT; species cultivated.
Loudon's classification.
Analyses of various samples of tobacco; Statistics of the culture in Brazil; extent of the consumption; considerations of revenue; memorial of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.
Comparative consumption of tea, coffee and tobacco, per head.
Imports and duty received on tobacco in the last five years.
Consumption checked in England and France by the high duties.
Imports, sales, and stocks, in Bremen for 10 years.
Culture and statistics in the United States.
Quantity exported from 1821 to 1850.
Countries from whence we received our supplies in 1850.
Particulars of the tobacco trade in 1850 and 1853.
Mode of culture pursued in Virginia.
General instructions for the planter.
Information as to growing Cuba tobacco.
History of the trade and cultivation in Cuba.
Statistics of exports from the Havana.
Culture of tobacco in the East.
Analysis of tobacco soils.
Progress of cultivation and shipments in Ceylon.
Manila tobacco and cigars.
Production in the Islands of the Archipelago.
Suggestions and directions for tobacco culture in New South Wales.
Its value and extensive use as a sheep wash.
Excellence of the product and manufacture in New South Wales; culture of tobacco in South Australia.
ALOES: varieties of the plant; culture and manufacture in Socotra, Barbados, and the Cape Colony.
CINCHONA BARK: commercial varieties of CALUMBA ROOT.
[Pg 1]


The want of a practical work treating of the cultivation and manufacture of the chief Agricultural Productions of the Tropics and Foreign Countries, has long been felt, for not even separate essays are to be met with on very many of the important subjects treated of in this volume.

The requirements of several friends proceeding to settle in the Colonies, and wishing to devote themselves to Cotton culture, Coffee planting, the raising of Tobacco, Indigo, and other agricultural staples, first called my attention to the consideration of this fertile and extensive field of investigation.

Professor Solly, in one of the series of Lectures on the results of the Great Exhibition, delivered before the Society of Arts, early last year, made some practical remarks bearing on the subject:—

"If (he said) you were to place before any manufacturer specimens of all the substances which could be employed in his particular manufacture, and if you could tell him from whence each could be procured, its cost, the quantities in which he might obtain it, and its physical and chemical properties, he would soon be able to select for himself the one best suited for his purposes. This, however, has never happened in relation to any one art; in every case manufacturers have had to make the best of the materials which chance or accident has brought before them. It is strange and startling, but nevertheless perfectly true, that even at the present time there are many excellent and abundant productions of nature with which not only our manufacturers, but, in some instances, even our men of science, are wholly unacquainted. There is not a single book published which gives even tolerably complete information on any one of the different classes of vegetable raw produce at present under our consideration. The truth of these remarks will be felt strongly by any one who takes the trouble to examine any of these great divisions of raw materials. He will obtain tolerably complete information respecting most of those substances which are known in trade and commerce; but of the greater number of those not known to the broker, he will learn little or nothing. Men of science, for the most part, look down upon such knowledge. The practical uses of any substances, the wants and difficulties of the manufacturer, are regarded as mere trade questions, vulgar and low—simple questions of money. On the other hand, mere men of business do not feel the want of such knowledge, because, in the first place, they are ignorant of its existence, and secondly, because they do not see how it could aid them or their business; and if it should happen that an enterprising manufacturer desires to learn something of the cultivation and production of the raw material with which he works, he generally finds it quite impossible to obtain any really sound and useful information. In such cases, if he is a man of energy and of capital, he often is at the cost of sending [Pg 2]out a perfectly qualified person to some distant part of the globe, to learn for him those practical details which he desires to know. This is no uncommon thing; and many cases might be stated, showing the great advantages which have arisen to those who have thus gained a march upon their neighbours."

The Society of Arts, appreciating the importance of from time to time encouraging the introduction of new and improved products from our Indian and Colonial Possessions, has offered many gold medals as premiums for a great variety of staples from abroad.

The Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations brought together an immense variety of productions from tropical regions, of which the English public were comparatively ignorant. Attracting public attention, as these necessarily did, information on the best modes of cultivating and manufacturing them will be peculiarly valuable to the colonists, and is as eagerly sought after by many brokers, merchants and manufacturers at home.

In consequence of the recent liberal policy of Great Britain, the competition of foreign countries, the want of cheap and abundant labor, and other causes, those chief staples, Sugar and Coffee, which for a series of years formed the principal and almost exclusive articles of production in our colonies, and which had met with a ready and remunerative sale in the British markets, have either fallen off to an alarming extent, or become so reduced in price as scarcely to repay the cost of cultivation. The partial abandonment of the cultivation of these staples in our colonies has had the effect of crippling the agricultural and commercial enterprise of several of our most valuable foreign possessions, and throwing out of employment a number of persons: it behoves us, therefore, to direct attention to some of the many minor articles in demand;—to those indigenous or exotic products of the soil in tropical regions, which, being inexpensive in cultivation and manufacture, might be undertaken with a moderate outlay of labor and capital, and the certainty of a ready and remunerative sale in the European markets; and could moreover be attended to without neglecting or at all interfering with the cultivation of the leading staples.

It is evident that the export wealth of tropical regions must be chiefly agricultural, the soil and climate being peculiarly fitted for the culture of fruits, trees and plants yielding oils, gums, starch, spices, and other valuable products, which no art can raise cheaply in more temperate latitudes. The large and continued emigration of farmers and other enterprising persons from Britain and the Continent to Natal, the Cape Colony, Northern Australia, Ceylon, the East India Company's Possessions and the Straits Settlements, Brazil, New Granada, and the Central American Republics, Texas, the Southern States of North America, and other tropical and sub-tropical countries, renders information as to the agriculture and productions of those regions highly desirable. Even to the settlers in our West Indian possessions, most of whom have too long pursued the old beaten track of culture and manufacture, comparatively regardless of modern improvements and the results of chemical, scientific, and practical [Pg 3]investigation, recent information on all these subjects, and a comparison of the practices of different countries, cannot fail to be useful.

There is much valuable information to be met with in detached papers and essays in the scientific periodicals of the day, and in colonial and other publications; such as the Transactions and Journals of the different agricultural and horticultural societies of the East and West Indies, the United States, Australia, &c., but none readily accessible for easy reference, and which the new settler, proceeding out to try his fortune in those fair and productive regions of the globe, can turn to as a hand book. I have had much experience in Tropical Agriculture, and for many years my attention has been mainly directed to this important subject, for which purpose I have kept up a large and extended correspondence with numerous agricultural, scientific and other societies abroad; with experienced practical men, and have also received the leading journals of all the tropical Colonies.

No one person could be expected to be thoroughly familiar with all the different modes of culture and preparation of every one of the numerous products to be described in this volume; but where my own agricultural experience (of several years in the West Indies and South America) was at fault, I have availed myself of the practical knowledge of those of my colonial friends and correspondents best informed on the subject, and am particularly fortunate in having many valuable essays on Tropical Agriculture scattered through the different volumes of my "Colonial Magazine."

The discussion of the best modes of culture, properties, manufacture, consumption, uses, and value of the commercial products of the vegetable kingdom cannot be without its value, and the attention of merchants and planters may be usefully directed to various articles, which will be profitable both in an agricultural and commercial point of view; many of which are already sources of wealth to other countries.

The introduction of new objects of industry into the colonial dependencies of the British Empire, is no longer considered a mere subject of speculation, but one well worthy the attention of the eye of science; and the fostering hand of care is beginning to be held out to productions of nature and art, which, if not all equally necessary to the welfare of man, yet certainly merit the attention of the cultivator and capitalist, and have great claims on the scientific observer, and on those interested in raising the manufactures of our country to a higher standard.

Few who have not investigated this subject are aware of the immense number of countries lying in the equatorial and tropical ranges of the torrid zone, many of which, from the value and importance of their indigenous productions, have already attracted considerable notice, and to which still more attention will be directed by European nations as the value of their various products becomes more extensively known.

[Pg 4]The homeward commerce which we carry on with our numerous Colonies, with our Indian Possessions, and with foreign countries, is principally in articles furnished by the vegetable kingdom, such as the cereal grains, wheat, rice, maize, &c.; vegetables used in preparing dietetic drinks and distilled liquors, as tea, coffee, cacao, and the sugar cane, grapes, &c.; spices and condiments; drugs; dyes and tanning substances, obtained from the bark, leaves, fruit, and roots of various herbs and trees; the expressed or distilled oils of different plants; fruits in the green, dried, or preserved state; starches obtained from the roots or trunks of many farinaceous plants; fibrous substances used for cordage, matting, and clothing, as cotton, Indian hemp, flax, coco-nut coir, plantain and pine-apple fibre; timber and fancy woods. These substances, in the aggregate, form at least nine-tenths in value of the whole imports of this country. There are also several products of the animal kingdom dependent on vegetable culture, which might be brought into this category, such as silk and cochineal. Very few of these products of the vegetable kingdom come to us in any other than an unmanufactured state; they are shipped to this country as the chief emporium and factory of the world, either for re-export or to be prepared for consumption by the millions to whom they furnish employment, sustenance, and articles of clothing.

It is a wise ordination of Providence, that the different nations of the earth are as it were mutually dependent on each other for many of the necessaries and luxuries of life, and the means of progress and civilization. Commerce is thus extended, the various arts and manufactures improved by comparison and competition; and the acres yet untilled in distant lands hold out strong inducements for immigration, their climate and products affording health, freedom, and independence to the over-tasked and heavily taxed artisan and agriculturist of Europe. Although the systems of tropical agriculture, generally pursued, are peculiar and effective, yet there is no doubt that much improvement remains to be carried out in the practices adopted, in the implements employed, and the machinery used for preparing the crops for shipment. In the British Isles our insulated position, limited extent of country, unsettled climate, and numerous population, aggregated in dense masses, have compelled us to investigate and avail ourselves of every improvement in agriculture, arts and manufactures, which experience, ingenuity, and a comparison with the customs of other countries, have placed at our disposal.

If we except sandy deserts, and some of the interior portions of the polar regions, it will be found that there is scarcely any country but what is capable of improvement. Indeed, so extensive are the resources of agriculture, that further improvements may be most easily effected.

Let us then examine and ascertain what new objects may be improved upon, and if by our speculations only one single article, either for food or use, is added to those already in use, or those [Pg 5]that are already cultivated be improved upon, it is equivalent to an increase of our wealth.

An eminent writer has truly remarked that "Agriculture is the parent of Manufactures, seeing that the productions of nature are the materials of art."

In the economy of Providence every fragment of creation seems to unfold, as man progresses in the arts of life, unbounded capabilities of adaptation to his every want. We have, indeed, daily illustration of the truth of that trite and homely adage, that "nothing is made in vain."

That quaint old English poet, Herbert, who flourished in the fifteenth century, in a short poem on "Providence," has graphically described, in his unique vein, the sentiment which forces itself upon us in view of the numerous discoveries of the age in which we live:—

"All countries have enough to serve their need.
     *      *      *      *       *
—The Indian nut alone
Is clothing, meat and trencher, drink and can,
Boat, cable, sail, and needle, all in one."

"The addition (it has been well observed) of even a single flower, or an ornamental shrub, to those which we already possess, is not to be regarded as a matter below the care of industry and science. The more we extend our researches into the productions of nature, the more are our minds elevated by contemplating the variety as well as the exceeding beauty and excellence of the works of the Creator."

The mode of arrangement of the various subjects treated of involved some consideration; two or three plans were open for adoption. 1st. To describe the several products in the order of their agricultural importance or commercial value. 2nd. An alphabetical reference, in the style of a Dictionary or Encyclopædia; and 3rd. Classifying them under subdivisions, according to their particular or chief uses. The last seemed to me the most desirable and efficient mode, although open to some objections, from the variety of uses to which different parts of many plants were applied. Some, as cotton, indigo, sugar, coffee, tea, &c., would readily fall into their proper division, but others, as the coco-nut, plantain, &c., from the variety of their products, would come under several heads. I have, however, endeavoured to meet this difficulty by placing each plant or tree under the section to which its most valuable production seemed naturally to refer it.

There are very many plants and substances which have been passed over altogether, it being impossible, within the limits of a moderate sized volume, to bring under notice even a tithe of the valuable grasses, timber trees, cabinet woods, fruits, &c.; and I have confined myself in a great measure to those which either already are, or might easily be rendered, articles of commerce, of some importance. I have shown their present value by quoting the current prices, and brought down, as far as possible, [Pg 6]the statistics of each article to the close of last year, thus rendering the work valuable by commercial references which could not be found collectively elsewhere.

There are some articles of commerce which could not properly be treated of in a work intended as a guide on agriculture and husbandry, for the tropical planter and cultivator, who purposes devoting his attention to the raising of useful crops and plants on his estate. The forests and jungles of the tropics abound in products of an useful character, the luxurious and spontaneous growth of nature, such as ebony, sandal wood, &c.; but these must be sought for by a different class of settlers; and the mahogany cutter of Honduras, the teak-feller of India, the gatherer of elastic gums, can scarcely be ranked with the cultivators of the soil.

I had originally intended to confine my remarks to staples of tropical growth, but I have been induced to depart from my prescribed plan by the importance of some of the commercial products of temperate regions, such as maple and beet-root sugar, wheat, the grain crops, and potatoes.

The system of agriculture, and modes of tillage, &c., of separate countries in the Eastern and Western hemisphere, notwithstanding their similarity of climate, are as opposite as if each country belonged to a different zone; and yet much may be learned by one of the other.

The only essentially useful division of seasons in countries within the tropics is into a wet and dry season, the former being the period of germination, the latter that of fructification.

The implements of agriculture required are for the most part few and simple, for no high tillage is necessary, the luxuriance of vegetation being so great that most of the products of the soil will grow indiscriminately throughout the year, and the only care of the husbandman, after the first preparation of the soil, is to keep down the vast growth of weeds, which might stifle the crops.

In tropical regions there is less demand for manures than in temperate climates, but still there are many additions to the soil that may profitably be made.

Firstly, that most important principle, which has only recently been practically inculcated, is in too many quarters entirely neglected, namely, returning to the soil the component parts taken off by various crops, and which is so generally practised in all good agricultural districts, by a careful rotation of crops. Liebig has well pointed out this: "It must be admitted (he says), as a principle of agriculture, that those substances which have been removed from a soil must be completely restored to it; and whether this restoration be effected by means of excrements, ashes, or bones, is in a great measure a matter of indifference." Again he remarks, "We could keep our fields in a constant state of fertility by replacing every year as much as we remove from them in the form of produce; but an increase of fertility, and consequent increase of crop, can only be obtained when we add more to them than we take away." Of all natural manures, therefore, [Pg 7]the best for each description of plant is its own refuse, or ashes; enough of these can seldom, however, be obtained. But, as far as they can be restored, this principle is beginning to be acted upon by the sugar planters of the West Indies, who employ the waste leaves and ashes of the expressed stalk of the cane, after it has been used as fuel, to manure their cane-fields. The vine growers of Germany and the Cape also bury the cuttings of their vines around the roots of the plants. The cinnamon grower of the East returns the waste bark and cuttings of the shoots to the soil. And in the coco-nut groves of Ceylon, the roots of the trees are best manured with the husks of the nuts and decomposed poonac, or the refuse cake, after the oil has been expressed from the pulp. Analysis of soils is, perhaps, not so essential in countries where virgin land is usually in abundance, and the luxuriance of vegetation furnishes itself, by decomposition, abundant materials for replenishing the fertility of the soil. But there are some substances, such as muriate of soda, gypsum, phosphate, and other compounds of lime, which may be advantageously applied. Guano and expensive artificial manures, are seldom required, and, indeed, will not repay the planters for importing.

An experienced cultivator can generally judge by a superficial examination, aided by the situation, locality, and appearance of the soil, whether a certain portion of land is fitted for the profitable growth of any particular plant. Depth of soil, and facilities for deepening it, with the nature of the subsoil, so as to know whether it retains or parts with water, are also important considerations, because tap-rooted plants require free scope for penetrating deep into the ground.

A due supply of water is of vital importance to most crops—and therefore the extent and periods of the fall of rain are essential to be known, as it is not always possible to resort to irrigation. The quantity of labor required for previous tillage, cultivation, and harvesting of different crops, and the available supply, are primary essentials to be considered before entering upon the culture of any staple product, however remunerative it may appear in prospective. Facility and cost of transport to the nearest market or shipping port are the next desiderata to be ascertained, as well as a careful estimate of the cost of plant or machinery necessary.

It may be desirable at the outset to make a brief enumeration of the countries lying within the different zones, and the agricultural products of which come, therefore, more especially under the notice of the tropical planter.

Meyen, in his division of the horizontal range of vegetation into zones, extends—

1. The equatorial zone to fifteen degrees on both sides of the equator. In this division we shall find the Cape Verd Islands, Sierra Leone, Ascension, and St. Helena, the Republic of Liberia, the European and native settlements in the Gulf of Guinea, and on the western Coast of Africa, Abyssinnia, Zanzibar on the [Pg 8]East Coast, Mocha and Aden in the Red Sea, the northern portion of Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Madras Presidency, Northern India, Ceylon and the Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Siam, Malacca, Singapore and the Straits Settlements, Cochin China, the Phillippine Islands, Borneo, Celebes and the Moluccas, Java and Madura, Banca, the Johore Archipelago, Timor and the eastern group of Islands, with New Guinea, a large portion of Northern Australia, the Marquesas, Society's and other oceanic islands. In South America the Republics of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, New Granada, and Venezuela, British, French and Dutch Guiana, and a large portion of the empire of Brazil; Trinidad, Barbados, and most of the islands in the Carribean Sea.

This zone has a mean temperature of 78½ to 82½ Fahrenheit.

2. The tropical zone reaches from the 15th deg. on each side of the equator to the tropics in 23 lat. The mean temperature is 73½ to 78¾ deg. Summer temperature 80½ to 86 deg.; winter temperature in the eastern coast districts, 59 deg.

In this region is comprised the following countries:—Sandwich Isles, Canton, in province of China, Burmah, Calcutta, and a portion of the Bengal Presidency, the Bombay Presidency, Madagascar, Mauritius and Bourbon; the southern portion of Brazil, Cuba, St. Domingo, Mexico, and Central America.

3. The sub-tropical zone extends from the tropics 23 to 34 deg. of latitude. There are a number of tropical fruits in this region. The winters are mild and vegetation is green throughout the year. In the northern division of the zone palms and bananas grow on the plains. In this region is comprised all the extreme northern portions of Africa, coasting the Mediterranean, comprising Algiers and the Barbary States, Egypt, part of Persia, Cabool and the Punjab; the greater portion of China, Lower California, Texas, the South-Western States of America, the Bermudas, the Cape Colony and Natal, New South Wales, Southern and Western Australia—the Government settlements in the Northern Island of New Zealand, the largest portion of Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Argentine Republics, the Provinces of Brazil from St. Paul to Rio Grande, Madeira and the Canary Isles.

To define accurately the conditions of temperature which a plant requires to maintain it in a flourishing condition we must ascertain within what limits its period of vegetation, may vary, and what quantity of heat it requires. This most remarkable circumstance was first observed by Boussingault, but unfortunately we do not as yet possess sufficiently accurate accounts of the conditions of culture in the various regions of the earth, to enable us to follow out this ingenious view in all its details. His theory is, that the time required by a plant to arrive at maturity is as the inverse ratio of the temperature; therefore, knowing the mean temperature of any place, and the number of days which a plant takes to ripen, the time required at any other point more or less elevated, can easily be ascertained. Peter Purry, a native of [Pg 9]Switzerland, who settled in Charleston in the eighteenth century, in a memorial to the Duke of Newcastle, then Secretary of State, sets out with this postulate, that "there is a certain latitude on our globe, so happily tempered between the extremes of heat and cold, as to be more particularly adapted than any other for certain rich productions of the earth; among which are silk, cotton, indigo," &c.—and he fixes on the latitude of 33 deg., whether north or south, as the one of that peculiar character.

The following Table, showing the climate, duration and production of certain plants cultivated in tropical America, is from the proceedings of the Agricultural Society of Grenada. The second, column gives the altitude in English yards above the level of the sea. The third, the mean temperature by Fahrenheit's thermometer. The fourth, the average time required to commence bearing. The fifth, the number of plants in a Spanish "fanegada" of 170 varras, about 153 square yards. The sixth, the average duration of each plant. The seventh, the average produce of each plant in the year:—

[Pg 10]
Level of the Sea, to
Mn. Temp.
Deg. Min.
Time Required
No. of plants
Average produce
Cacao (Theobroma Cacao)587 yds.81.17
6½ yrs1,156401¼ lb per tree
Plantain (Musa Paradisiaca)630 yds.
to 1077
9 mths.
9½ "
11 "
3,6133050 plantains
Indian Corn (Zea Mays)1077
1260 to 1890
36 to 37.80
25.20 to 27
90 days
110 "
120 "
180 "
28,900Annual238 for every seed
Manioc or Cassava 1077
10 mths
12 "
120 days
28,900BicennialOne cassava weighing ¾ lb. and ¼ oz. starch
Coco nut (Cocos nucifera)63081.17
5 yrs.
6 "
452604 bottles oil per tree
Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)630
150 days
170 "
180 "
225 "
28,900Annual½ lb. dried to each 5 plants
Cotton (Gossypium)630
6½ mth
7 "
9 "
28,900½ lb. nett per plant
Coffee (Coffea Arabica)230
1077 to 2250
37.80 to 39.60
24 mths
25 "
28 "
36 "
5,300451½ lb. per tree
Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum)630
11 mths.
12 "
14 "
28,900510 percent sugar upon the weight of the raw cane
Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria)90
2½ "
3 "
3½ "
57,80070 plants produce 1 lb. coloring matter
Potato (Solanum tuberosum)1080
140 days
165 "
210 "
116,600Annual4½ lb each plant
Wheat (Triticum æstivum)567
80 "
100 "
120 "
57,800Annual37 for every seed planted

The plantain bears at 1,529 yards, in a temperature of 61 deg. Fahrenheit, and requires fifteen months, but its cultivation is of little benefit in so high a latitude. It is the same with the cassava root. The cane at 1,160 altitude, in a temperature of 66 deg., gives no sugar; and indigo at 1,620 affords no coloring matter.

[Pg 11]



No substances are so essentially necessary to mankind, or form such important articles of commerce, as those which we come first to consider, the dietetic products—cacao, coffee, tea, and sugar. The consumption of these in all civilized countries is immense, notwithstanding that in many they have been fettered with heavy fiscal duties. The investigation of the culture of the plants from which they are obtained, and the manufacture of the products, is a very curious object of research.


The chocolate nuts or seeds, termed cacao, are the fruit of species of Theobroma, an evergreen tree, native of the Western Continent. That commonly grown is T. cacao; but Lindley enumerates two other species, T. bicolor, a native of New Granada; and T. Guianensis, with yellow flowers, a native of Guiana. The seeds being nourishing and agreeable to most people, are kept in the majority of houses in America, as a part of the provisions of the family. By pressure they yield fatty oil, called butter of cacao. They also contain a crystalline principle analogous to caffeine, called theobromine. The common cacao of the shops consists generally of the roasted beans, and sometimes of the roasted integuments of the beans, ground to powder. The consumption of cacao in the United Kingdom is about three millions of pounds annually, yielding a revenue of £15,500. Few tropical products are more valuable or more useful as food to man than cacao. It is without any exception the cheapest food that we can conceive, and were it more generally employed, so that the berries should not be more than two, three, or, at most, six months old, from the time of gathering (for, if kept longer, they lose their nutritive properties), even a smaller quantity than that usually taken in a cup would suffice: in fact, cacao cannot be too new. The cacao beans lie in a fruit somewhat like a cucumber, about five inches long and three-and-a-half inches thick, which contains from twenty to thirty [Pg 12]beans, arranged in five regular rows with partitions between, and which are surrounded with a rose-colored spongy substance, like that of water melons. There are fruits, however, so large as to contain from forty to fifty beans. Those grown in the West India islands, as well as Berbice and Demerara, are much smaller, and have only from six to fifteen; their development being less perfect than other parts of South America. After the maturation of the fruit, when their green colour has changed to a dark yellow, they are plucked, opened, their beans cleared of the marrowy substance, and spread out to dry in the air. In the West Indies they are immediately packed up for the market when they are dried; but in Caraccas they are subjected to a species of slight fermentation, by putting them into tubs or chests, covering them with boards or stones, and turning them over every morning to equalize the operation. They emit a good deal of moisture, and lose the natural bitterness and acrimony of their taste by this process, as well as some of their weight. Instead of wooden tubs, pits or trenches dug in the ground are sometimes had recourse to for curing the beans; an operation called earthing. They are, lastly, exposed to the sun and dried. According to Lampadius, the kernels of the West India cacao beans contain in 100 parts, besides water, 53.1 of fat or oil, 16.7 of an albuminous brown matter, which contains all the aroma of the bean; 10.91 of starch, 7¾ of gum or mucilage, 0.9 of lignine, and 2.01 of a reddish dye-stuff, somewhat akin to the pigment of cochineal. The husks form 12 per cent, of the weight of the beans. The fatty matter is of the consistence of tallow, white, of a mild agreeable taste, and not apt to turn rancid by keeping. It melts only at 112 degrees Fahr., and should, therefore, make tolerable candles. It is obtained by exposing the beans to strong pressure in canvas bags, after they have been steamed or soaked in boiling water for some time. From five to six ounces of butter may be thus obtained from a pound of cacao. It has a reddish tinge when first expressed, but it becomes white by boiling with water.

The beans, being freed from all spoiled and mouldy portions, are to be gently roasted over a fire in an iron cylinder, with holes in its ends for allowing the vapors to escape, the apparatus being similar to a coffee-roaster. When the aroma begins to be well developed, the roasting is known to be finished, and the beans must be turned out, cooled, and freed by fanning and sifting from their husks. The kernels are then to be converted into a paste, either by trituration in a mortar heated to 130 degrees Fahr., or by a powerful mill.[1] The cacao tree resembles our dwarf apple tree both in body and branches, but the leaf, which is of a dark green, is considerably broader and larger. The nuts are of the color and about the size of an almond, and hang eighteen to thirty together by a slender stringy film, enclosed in a pod. A ripe pod is of a beautiful yellow, intermixed with crimson streaks; when dried, it [Pg 13]shrivels up and changes to a deep brown; the juice squeezed from the mucilaginous pulp contained in the husks of these nuts appears like cream, and has a very grateful taste of a cordial quality. The nuts have a light pleasant smell, and an unctuous, bitterish, roughish (not ungrateful) taste. Those of Nicaragua and Caracas are the most agreeable and are the largest; those of the French Antilles, and our own West India islands, are the most unctuous.

The Mexicans, in preparing the chocolate paste, add some long pepper, a little annatto, and lastly vanilla; some add cinnamon, cloves and anise, and those who love perfumes, musk and ambergris.

The finest American cacao is said to be that of Soconusco, but the principal imports are from Caracas and Guayaquil, which is of a very good quality. The province of Barcelona, adjoining Caracas exports annually from 200,000 to 300,000 cwt.

The very large shipments from Guayaquil are shown by the following return. Of this quantity Spain takes the largest portion, Mexico the next, and England receives but a very small quantity.

Cacao exported from Guayaquil:—

The exports of cacao from the port of La Guayra, has been as follows in the years ending December 31.


Five fanegas are equal to one English quarter. The price of cacao was, at the close of 1852, sixteen dollars the fanega.

The province of Caracas, according to Humboldt, at the end of the last century, produced annually 150,000 fanegas of cacao, of which two-thirds were exported to Spain, and the remainder locally consumed. The shipments from the port of La Guayra alone averaged 80,000 to 100,000, or nearly double the present shipments. In the early part of the present century the captain-generalship of Caracas produced nearly 200,000 fanegas, of which about 145,000 were sent direct to Europe. The province of Caracas then produced 150,000 fanegas; Maracaibo, 20,000; Cumana, 18,000, and New Barcelona, 5,000.

The vallies of Aragua, in the province of Caracas, those of Cariaco, Campano, of Rio Caribe and the banks of the river Caroni, in Spanish Guiana, produce excellent cacao in abundance.

The tree there bears fruit in four years after it has been planted, the following year still more, and increases in fecundity until the ninth or tenth year, when it is in full bearing.

The banks of the Magdalena, in the vicinity of Santa Martha and Carthagena, are famed for the excellent cacao they produce. "This tree," says Bonnycastle (Spanish America, vol. 1, p. 257), "[Pg 14]is indigenous, seldom exceeds the diameter of seven inches, and is extremely beautiful when laden with its fruit, which are disposed on short stalks over the stem and round the great branches, resembling citrons, from their yellow color, and warty appearance. The leaves are attenuate, stalked, drooping, about a foot long and three inches broad, elliptic, oblong, pointed, slightly wavy, entire, and very smooth on both sides; with one mid-rib and many transverse ones, connected by innumerable veins. The petals of the flower are yellow, the calyx of a light rose-color, and the flowers themselves are small and placed on tufts on the sides of the branches, with single foot-stalks, about an inch long. Its fruit is red, or a mixture of red and yellow, and about three inches in diameter, with a fleshy rind half-an-inch thick; the pulp is whitish and of the consistence of butter, containing the seed; these seeds are generally twenty-five in number in each fruit, and when first gathered are of a flesh color, and form a nice preserve if taken just before they are ripe. Each tree yields about two or three pounds of fruit annually, and comes to maturity the third year after planting from the seed; it also bears leaves, flowers, or fruit all the year round, the usual seasons for gathering being June and December. The excellence of the Magdalena chocolate may be attributed to the moist nature of the soil, as the plant never thrives where the ground is hard and dry, or cannot be irrigated."

Mode of cultivation in the Colombian Republics—Plantations of cacao were speedily multiplied in Colombia, and the soil so admirably seconded the labors of the planter, that in the produce abundance was united to excellence. The cacao of this quarter ranks next to that of Soconusco. It is well known that the best commercial recommendation of cacao is that of coming from Caracas. But even in these provinces the quality varies. The cacao of Orituco is superior to that of other places, and a quantity of equal bulk weighs twenty per cent. more. The cacao of the coast comes next, and obtains a preference over that of the interior.

The plantations of cacao are all to the north of the chain of mountains which coast the sea, and in the interior country. The former extend from Cumana to the mouth of the Tocaygo; the latter are situate in the vallies of Tuy, Orituco, Ocumare, Cura, Marrin, Tare, Santa Theresa, Santa Lucia, Zuapira, Santa Philippo, Barquisimeto, Valencia, Gruige and Cariaco.

All kinds of soil are not equally adapted to the culture of cacao, still less are all exposures; but an analysis of the soil destined to this culture never furnishes indications on which reliance can be placed. No regard should be had to color or composition; it is only requisite that it should be friable to a certain depth, which is ascertained by the size of the trees with which it is covered; this sign determines the land proper for cacao.

A suitable situation is not so easily found. It should be exposed as little as possible to the north, and be on the borders of a river, [Pg 15]which may communicate moisture to the soil in dry seasons, and receive its drainings in times of rain. A preference is particularly to be given to land which can receive from the river the benefits of irrigation without being exposed to injury from its overflow.

After having chosen the land, it should be cleared of all trees, shrubs, and other plants. This operation is performed in various ways. It is customary in Colombia to commence felling the trees immediately after the rains, that is, about the month of November; the wood, after being cut, is left to dry, then collected in heaps and burnt.

As soon as the new plantation is cleared, it is crossed with small ditches, in directions according to the declivity of the soil. These serve to drain the stagnant waters, to carry off the rains, and to irrigate or water the soil whenever necessary. The alignement is then laid out, in which the cacao trees are to be arranged. They are planted in triangles or squares. In either case, there is always in the centre an alley, bordered by cacao trees, and running from east to west. When they are planted in squares, this alley is crossed by another running from north to south. The cacao plants should be placed at fifteen or sixteen feet (French measure) from each other, in good soil; and about thirteen or fourteen feet in soil of inferior quality.

This is almost the only tree in nature to which the enlivening beams of the sun are obnoxious. It requires to be sheltered from their ardour; and the mode of combining this protection with the principles of fertility, forms a very essential part of the skill which its cultivation demands. The cacao tree is mingled with other trees, which guard it from the rays of the sun, without depriving it of the benefit of their heat. The Erythrina and the banana are employed for this purpose. The latter, by the rapidity of its growth, and the magnitude of its leaves, protect it for the first year. The erythrina endures at least as long as the cacao; it is not every soil, however, that agrees with it. It perishes after a while in sandy and clayey ground, but it flourishes in such as combine those two ingredients.

In the Antilles this protection cannot be given to cacao, as it would expose the plantation to destruction by every hurricane. Besides, the cacao succeeds but indifferently there, and is much less oily than in other parts.

The quality of the soil, and the species of the erythrina, should determine the distance at which they ought to be placed. That kind which the Spaniards call bucare anaveo, is planted in a fertile soil, at the distance of two alleys, that is to say, at each second range of cacao trees. That which they call bucare peonio, is placed at three alleys in good soils (about forty-eight French feet).

The former species of erythrina is that which elevates itself the highest. The second species has many thorns, the upper surface of the leaf is darker and the lower whiter. Both kinds should be cut in the wane of the moon, and remain in the shade until its [Pg 16]increase, at which time they should be planted. It is much preferable, however, to take them from a nursery.

In one range of cacao trees a banana is placed between two cacaos, and an erythrina between the two following. In the other range a banana is placed between each cacao tree, and no erythrinas, so that the latter are at the distance of two alleys. The banana and the erythrina are first planted, and when a shelter from the sun is thus provided, the hole for the cacao is made, around which are planted four stalks of the yucca plant, at the distance of two feet from each other. At the end of two months the cacao is planted. The smaller the plant is, the better. There are, nevertheless, soils subject to worms where the small plants do not thrive; but, excepting in this particular, the small plants are preferable, because the large require more labor for their transportation and planting; many of them die, and those which survive bud and shoot forth, but are never of any value.

The cacao plant should not exceed thirty-six inches in size when transplanted; if larger, it succeeds with difficulty, as will be shown.

The nurseries of cacao demand an excellent soil, well prepared, where the water does not remain. They should be well sheltered from the sun. Small knolls of earth are formed, in each of which are put two seeds of cacao, in such a manner that they are parallel with the level of the ground. During the first twenty days the seeds are covered with two layers of banana or other leaves. If necessary, the ground is watered; but the water is not suffered to remain. The most suitable time for sowing is in November.

Where there is not a facility for watering, the planting of the cacao should take place in the rainy season; but when the former is practicable, it is best to plant in dry weather and assist nature by irrigation, since it is then in the power of the cultivator to give the exact quantity of moisture necessary. But, in all cases, care should be taken that the plants are not wet in the interval between their being taken out of the ground and replanted.

When the bananas grow old, they should be carefully felled, lest the cacaos should be injured by their accidental fall. They are totally removed as soon as the erythrina yields sufficient shade; this operation gives more air to the trees of the plantation, and encourages their growth.

Until the cacao attains four feet in height, it is trimmed to the stem. If it shoots forth several branches, they are reduced to three, at equal distances; and, in proportion as the plant increases, the leaves which appear on the three branches are stripped off. If they bend much, and incline towards the earth, they are tied in bunches, so that the tree may not remain crooked. The branches, which are trimmed, are cut at the distance of two fingers from the tree. The suckers which spring from the tree are also removed, as they only live at its expense.

Enemies of the tree.—The cacao trees should, as already stated, have sufficient shade to prevent their being burned by the sun. [Pg 17]If they are much exposed to its rays, their branches are scattered, crack, and the tree dies. They are also infested with worms, which gnaw the bark all around, then attack the interior and destroy them. The only remedy which has hitherto been found, is to employ people to kill these worms, which are deposited by a small, scaly winged insect, which gnaws the tree; as soon as it hears the approach of its destroyers, it lets itself fall, and trusts to its wings for safety.

The color of this insect is a mixture of ash color and white. If pressed, it emits a sound something similar to the noise of water thrown on a very hot substance. It has two small horns on its head, the points of which are directed upwards. It is so lively that, even when the head is separated from the body, it is a long time in dying. To deposit its progeny it makes small holes in the tree.

At the commencement of the winter, or rainy season, another worm makes its appearance, which devours the leaves of the young cacao plant. This species of worm is called goaseme, and they are in some years so abundant, that all the people of the plantation are solely employed in destroying them. This worm is four inches in length, and of the thickness of a finger. It is sometimes called angaripola, or Indian, on account of the vivacity of its colors. It is believed that these worms are mediately produced by other large worms in the earth, from which are engendered butterflies, who lay their eggs on the leaves of the cacao. These eggs are full of small worms, which feed on the leaves of the cacao, and appear in clusters of the size of a shilling. They are sought and destroyed with great attention, as they occasion considerable damage. Those which escape lodge themselves in the earth, and in the succeeding year are changed into butterflies. At the time when the worm makes its appearance, it is necessary to make fires, which should not be so large as to injure the cacao, yet sufficient to attract and burn the butterfly.

The plantations of cacao in the valley of Tuy, the quarters of Marrin, Cuba, Sabana, Ocumare, San Francis, &c., are subject to another species of worm called rasquilla. It multiplies in the dry seasons.

There are small insects, called by the Spaniards accerredores, of the same figure with those which eat the bark of the cacao, but larger and of a blackish colour. They feed on the branches of the tree; are always found upon those branches which they have cut; and the evil can only be obviated by killing them.

The worms called vachacos occasion also much damage. They eat the leaf and the flower. To destroy them it is necessary to seek them in their nests in the earth. Water is thrown on the spot, and stirred, as in making mortar. By this means their young are crushed, and the evil is diminished, if it be not entirely removed.

A parasitical plant often attaches itself to a branch of the cacao tree which it covers over and causes to wither, by nourish[Pg 18]ing itself with the substance of the plant. The only remedy is to remove it.

When the cacao trees are in a bearing state, they are subject to a disease called tache. This is a black taint, or stain, which attacks the trees, encircling them below, and kills them. The mode of preservation is to make, in the beginning, a slight notch that shall pierce the bark. But if the taint is extensive, it is necessary to cut all the affected part. It then exudes a liquid and is healed. The bark remains of a violet color in the part that has been tainted.

The other enemies of the cacao are the agouti, stag, squirrel, monkey, &c. The agouti produces most havoc. It often destroys in one night all the hopes of the proprietor.

Birds are not less injurious to the cacao. The whole class of parrots, in particular the great Ara, which destroys for the pleasure of destroying, and, the parroquets, which come in numerous flocks, conspire also to ruin the plantations of cacao.

Means of preserving a plantation.—It is necessary that a cacao plantation should have always shade and irrigation; the branches of the plant should be cleared of the lichens that form on them; the worms destroyed; and no large herbs or shrubs and mosses permitted to grow near, since the least disadvantage resulting therefrom would be the loss of all the fruit that should fall into these thickets. But it is most essential to deepen the trenches which carry off the water, in proportion as the plant increases in size, and as the roots of course pierce deeper; for if the trenches are left at a depth of three feet, while the roots are six feet in the earth, it follows that the lower part of the cacao plant is in a situation of too great humidity, and rots at the level of the water. This precaution contributes not only to make the plantation more durable, but also to render the crop more productive. It is necessary, also, to abstain from cutting any branch from cacao plants that are already bearing. Such an operation might occasion the subsequent crop to be stronger; but the plants become enervated, and often perish, according to the quality of the soil and the number of branches cut off.

If the earth of the plantations be pressed and trampled down by animals, the duration of the plant is diminished. Irrigation, made with judgment, maintains them long in a state of produce.

Withering of the fruit.—The fruit of the cacao withers on the tree from three causes:—

First.—When the plantation is, during a long time, inundated with water. I have seen plantations of cacao, which had only been covered with water thirty hours, and of which the fruit was totally withered.

Second.—From abundant rains, particularly in very damp valleys. This is only to be remedied by keeping the plantation well drained, that the water may not remain on it.

Third.—A want of necessary irrigation, and the watering of the plantation under an ardent sun. The vapor from the earth kills [Pg 19]the fruit. If the rains are deficient for a time, and an excessive rain succeeds, the fruit of the cacao also withers.

This dessication or withering takes place everywhere; but in some places the surplus of fruit, which the tree is unable to nourish, is alone subject to it. In others, as Araquita and Caucagua, it withers in proportion to the northerly rains. An unsuitable soil occasions another kind of decay. The pods become stinted, containing some good and some bad seeds. The Spaniards call this cocosearse, which means defective.

Harvest of the cacao.—The tree yields two principal crops in a year, one about St. John's day, the other towards the end of December. The cacao however ripens and is gathered during the whole year. But in all seasons the planters of the Central American republics make it a point, so far as possible, to collect their crops only at the decline of the moon; because experience proves that this precaution renders the cacao more solid, and less liable to spoil.

To collect the fruit, those negroes and Indians are employed who have the sharpest sight, that only the ripe fruit may be gathered. The most robust and active are chosen to carry it to the places where the beans are to be shaken out. The aged and maimed are employed to do this. The operation is performed on a floor well swept, and covered with green leaves, on which they place the cacao. Some open the pod, and others strike out the beans with a small piece of wood, which must not be sharp, lest it should injure them.

The good and bad beans must not be mingled together. There are four sorts of cacao in every crop; the ripe and in good condition, the green but sound, the worm-eaten, and the rotten. The first quality is best, the second is not bad; but the two others should be rejected.

As soon as that which is not fully ripe begins to show specks, it must be separated. As to the pods which are not perfectly ripe, they should remain in heaps during three days under green banana leaves, that they may ripen before they are hulled. When the cacao is stored, great care is necessary not to leave amongst it pieces of the pod or leaves, or any other excrementitious particles. This care must be repeated every time that it is removed from the store, or replaced in it.

The cacao must always be exposed to the sun on the fourth day after it has been gathered, and this exposure should be daily repeated until it is perfectly dry. When that is the case, the beans burst on being squeezed, their shell resounds when struck, and they no longer become heated when placed in heaps; the latter is the best proof that the moisture injurious to their preservation is dissipated. If the cacao is not sufficiently exposed to the sun, it becomes mouldy; if too much, it withers, and easily pulverises—in either case it soon rots.

When the quantity of cacao gathered is considerable, it is placed in the sunshine by a hundred quintals at a time, unless the [Pg 20]cultivator has a sufficient number of persons employed to expose a greater quantity. This operation is indispensable, to prevent it from becoming mouldy. If the rains prevent this exposure to the sun, it is necessary, as soon as it is sufficiently cleaned or purified, to spread it in apartments, galleries, or halls, with which the plantation must be provided; this operation cannot be delayed without danger of losing the crop.

It is to be wished that stoves were employed to dry the cacao when the sun fails, but this expedient, so simple and important, is generally unknown.

It is almost universally believed that the most essential precautions for preserving the cacao consists in gathering it at the decline of the moon. I believe that they may more seriously calculate on the care of depositing it in apartments so hermetically closed that the air cannot penetrate; it would be advisable to make these apartments of wood, for the more perfect exclusion of moisture. The floor should be elevated two feet; under the floor a pan of coals is placed, covered with a funnel, the point of which enters into the heap of cacao and then diffuses the vapor. In the apartment which contains the cacao, some persons place bottles of vinegar, slightly stopped with paper, to prevent the formation of worms.

The beans which begin to show specks, may be preserved from entire corruption by a slight application of brine. This occasions a small degree of fermentation, which is sufficient to destroy the worms, and to preserve the cacao during a considerable time from new attacks. Why is not this preservative also employed after the cacao is dried, and when placed in the store, where it awaits the purchaser?

At St. Philip they make use of smoke to preserve the cacao; it is also ascertained that fine salt, thrown in small quantities on the cacao, protects it from worms.

Much has been done for the cacao when it has been cleared of all green or dead beans, and extraneous substances; when it has received no bruise or injury in the operation of drying, and when it has been subsequently kept in a place that is dry and not exposed to the air; yet, even with all these precautions, cacao of the best quality is seldom found marketable at the end of a year.

These circumstances sufficiently prove that the culture of cacao requires attention more than science, vigilance rather than genius, and assiduity in preference to theory. Choice of ground, distribution and draining of the waters, position of the trees destined to shade the cacao, are almost the only points which require more than common intelligence. Less expense is also required for an establishment of this kind than for any other of equal revenue. One able hand, as I have already said, is sufficient for the preservation and harvest of a thousand plants, each of which should yield at least one pound of cacao, in ground of moderate quality, and a pound and a half in the best soil. By an averaged calculation of twenty ounces to each plant, the thousand plants must [Pg 21]produce twelve hundred and fifty pounds, which, at the ordinary price of 31s. 6d. per cwt., would produce about £17 10s. per annum for each laborer. The expenses of the plantation, including those of utensils, machines, and buildings, are also less considerable for cacao than for any other produce. The delay of the first crop, and the accidents peculiar to cacao, can alone diminish the number of planters attached to its culture, and induce a preference to other commodities.

The cacao plant is not in a state of prolific produce till the eighth year in the interior, and the ninth in plantations on the coast. Yet, by a singularity which situation alone can explain, the crops of cacao commence in the ninth year in the valley of Goapa, and at the east of the mouth of the Tuy. In the vicinity of the line, and on the banks of Rio-Negro, the plantations are in full produce on the fourth, or at most the fifth year.

The cacao tree continues productive to the age of fifty years on the coast, and thirty years in the interior of the country.

In general the culture and preparation of cacao receives more attention in the eastern parts of Venezuela than in other places, and even than in the French colonies. It is true that the suitability of the soil contributes much to the quality of the article; but without the assistance derived from art, it would be far from possessing that superiority awarded to it by commerce over the cacao of every other country.

Stevenson ("Travels in South America") speaks of another kind of cacao tree, called moracumba, which is larger than the ordinary species, and grows wild in the woods. The beans under the brown husk are composed of a white, solid matter, almost like a lump of hard tallow. The natives take a quantity of these, and pass a piece of slender cane through them, and roast them, when they have the delicate flavour of the cacao.

There are several cacao plantations in Surinam. The trees are left to grow their natural height, which is about that of a cherry-tree; their leaves resemble those of the broad-leaved laurel, and are of a dark green colour. The fruit in shape resembles a lemon, but is rather more oval; it is at first green, and, when ripe, yellow. It is said that there are some trees which produce above two hundred, each containing about twenty beans or nuts. The fruit not only proceeds from the branches, but even from the stem; and though there is always ripe and unripe fruit, it is only gathered twice a year. The chocolate is in that colony in general of an inferior quality, known by its dark brown color and rough taste, but the superiority of the cacao depends principally on the soil where the trees are planted.—(Baron Von Sack's "Surinam.")

My friend, Sir R. Schomburgk, in his "Description of British Guiana," says—"While we crossed from the river Berbice to the Essequibo, we met a number of chocolate nut trees, near the abandoned Caribi settlement of Primoss. It is not to be doubted that the trees were originally planted by the Indians, but from their number and the distance from the river, I judged they were [Pg 22]propagated by nature. Though they were overshadowed by larger trees, and had for many years been neglected, they had reached nevertheless a height of from thirty to forty feet, and the luxuriant growth and the abundance of fruit, proved that the plant was satisfied with the soil. The forests at the banks of the Rio Branco, in the vicinity of Santa Maria and Carno, abound in wild cacao trees, the fruits of which are collected by the scanty population of that district for their own use."

The cultivation of cacao will be most suitable to the less wealthy individual, as it demands so little labor and outlay. Baron Humboldt observes, in alluding to Spanish America, that cacao plantations are occupied by persons of humble condition, who prepare for themselves and their children a slow but certain fortune; a single laborer is sufficient to aid them in their plantations, and 30,000 trees, once established, assure competence for a generation and a half.

The following have been the total imports of Cacao into the United Kingdom from Mexico and Central America, &c.:—

(Parl. Paper, No. 426, Sess. 1844.)

Only a few hundred pounds of this is entered annually for home consumption, the great bulk being re-exported.

In 1850 we imported 1,204,572 lbs. from Mexico; 1,231,773 lbs. from Chile; 4,438 lbs. from Venezuela, and 23,538 lbs. from Hayti.

BRAZIL.—A great deal of cacao is raised in different parts of this empire. From the province of Para alone 35,000 bags, valued at £35,000, were exported in the year 1845. Mr. Edwards, in his "Voyage up the River Amazon," gives an interesting account:—

"We were now (he says) in the great cacao region, which, for an extent of several hundred square miles, borders the river. The cacao trees are low, not rising above fifteen or twenty feet, and are distinguishable from a distance by the yellowish green of their leaves, so different from aught else around them. They are planted at intervals of about twelve feet, and, at first, are protected from the sun's fierceness by banana trees, which, with their broad leaves, form a complete shelter. Three years after planting the trees yield, and therefore require little attention, or, rather, receive not any. From an idea that the sun is injurious to the berry, the tree-tops are suffered to mat together until the whole becomes dense as thatch-work. The sun never penetrates this, and the ground below is constantly wet. The trunk of the tree grows irregularly, without beauty, although perhaps by careful training it might be made as graceful as an apple tree. The leaf is thin, much resembling our beech, excepting that it is smooth-edged. The flower is very small, and the berry grows direct from the trunk or branches. It is eight inches in length, five in diameter, and shaped much like a rounded double cone. When ripe, it turns from light green to a deep yellow, and at that time ornaments the tree finely. Within the berry is a white acid pulp, and embedded in this are from thirty to forty seeds, an inch in length, narrow and flat. These seeds are the cacao of commerce. When the berries are ripe, they are collected into great piles near the house, [Pg 23]are cut open with a tresado, and the seeds, squeezed carelessly from the pulp, are spread upon mats to dry in the sun. Before being half dried they are loaded into canoes in bulk, and transmitted to Para. Some of these vessels will carry four thousand arrobas, of thirty-two pounds weight each, and, as if such a bulk of damp produce would not sufficiently spoil itself by its own steaming during a twenty days' voyage, the captains are in the habit of throwing upon it great quantities of water, to prevent its loss of weight. As might be expected, when they arrive at Para it is little more than a heap of mould, and it is then little wonder that Para cacao is considered the most inferior in foreign markets. Cacao is very little drunk throughout the province, and in the city we never saw it except at the cafés. It is a delicious drink when properly prepared, and one soon loses relish for that nasty compound known in the States as chocolate, whose main ingredients are damaged rice and soap fat. The cacao trees yield two crops annually, and, excepting in harvest time, the proprietors have nothing to do but lounge in their hammocks. Most of these people are in debt to traders in Santarem, who trust them to an unlimited extent, taking a lien upon their crops. Sometimes the plantations are of vast extent, and one can walk for miles along the river, from one to another, as freely as through an orchard. No doubt a scientific cultivator might make the raising of cacao very profitable, and elevate its quality to that of Guyaquil."

Cacao shipped from Brazil to the United Kingdom, for nine years, ending 1835:—


Cultivation in the West India Islands.—The only English colonies where this nutritious and wholesome substance is now cultivated to any extent, are Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent.

In Jamaica and British Guiana it has given place to the production of sugar, and though it forms such an important article in the imports and consumption of the United Kingdom, the quantity introduced from British plantations is barely equal to the demand. The imports from Jamaica in 1831 were 6,684 lbs., and in 1838, 16,564 lbs.; while the imports since have been merely nominal. Of 5,014,681 lbs. imported in 1841, 2,920,298 lbs. were furnished by the British West Indian colonies, 1,802,547 lbs. came from the Colombian republics, and 269,794 lbs. were brought from Brazil. Trinidad furnishes by far the largest proportion of the West Indian supplies, the imports from thence in 1841 having been 2,500,000 lbs., while the imports from all the other islands were but 427,000 lbs. In 1850, 4,750,000 lbs. were shipped from Trinidad, whilst in 1851 the quantity was nearly as much.

Trinidad.—Although this tree is indigenous to many, if not most of the tropical parts of America, it was first extensively cultivated in Mexico; and it is remarkable that the words cacao and chocolate are both of Mexican origin. From Mexico the variety called Creole cacao it is supposed was transplanted to the West India colonies; that variety called Forastero (stranger) came from the Brazils. The latter tree is the most productive, but the former gives the best fruit, insomuch that few persons [Pg 24]now plant the Forastero cacao. There are two or three indigenous species found growing wild in the forests of Trinidad, viz., T. Sylvestris cacao, T. Guianensis, and another sort.

There are few, perhaps no agricultural or horticultural pursuits, so delightful (observes Mr. Joseph, in his "History of Trinidad,") as that of the cultivation of the cacao. It is planted in rows, intersecting each other at right angles, at the distance of from twelve to fifteen feet, according to the nature of the soil. The tree is not suffered to grow higher than about fifteen feet, and its broad rich foliage, the hues of which vary from a light green to a dark red, loaded with yellow and dark red pods, which contain the chocolate bean, are beautiful objects; these alleys are shaded by rows of magnificent trees, called Bois Immortel by the French and English, by the Spaniards the Madre de Cacao. It is the Erythrina umbrosa or arborea of Linnæus. Like the Bignonia or Pouie, this tree, at particular seasons, throws off its foliage and is covered with blossoms; those of the Erythrina are of a brilliant red color, justifying its Greek appellation. In this state they are literally dazzling to behold—no object in the vegetable world looks more striking than the alleys of a cacao walk shaded by a forest above them of the Bois Immortel.

I have been obligingly furnished by Mr. W. Purdie, the able Government botanist of Trinidad, with a short essay upon the cultivation of the cacao tree, with which many of the valleys of that island are so beautifully adorned, and which, at one time, poured into that now unfortunate colony so large a stream of wealth. Fortunately the cacao planter of the island has managed to survive the many years of depression under which—like sugar now—the cacao cultivations lingered and sunk, and which brought the once wealthy planter down to poverty and misery. His prospects, however, are gradually improving.

The opinions put forth by Mr. Purdie, on the subject of which he treats, will be found to run counter to the long-established practice hitherto pursued in the treatment of cacao plantations; but it must not be forgotten that these are the opinions of a person with whom the study of trees, their physiology and functions, has been not merely an amusing science, but an adopted employment, and whose acquirements in this respect, previous to his arrival in the colony, recommended him for selection as the agent to extend through South America (the great cacao region) the investigations of one of the most noted botanical gardens in Europe.

Mr. Purdie says:—

"In the present depressed times, it behoves us to look well into the resources of our fertile island, particularly as far as any improvement can be suggested capable of averting, at least, a part of the misery and ruin that is hovering over us, and which is too eagerly borne on the lips of all classes of the community, instead of using our efforts to do what we can to meet the difficulty; but few seem to inquire whether we make the most of our present means or not, whilst every one rather joins in the cry that sugar fetches little or nothing, and it is no uncommon thing to hear the complaint transferred from sugar to cacao.[Pg 25]

It is but too true that the markets are at present lamentably against the most important branch of our industry, under the present manner of sugar cultivation and manufacture in this island. But it can hardly be admitted that the same is the case in that of cacao—also a very important branch of our agriculture.

My attention has been lately directed to the average produce per tree, which will, I hope, throw some light on its cultivation. From fifteen cacao trees, which are all there are at St. Ann's, I have this year gathered 115 lbs. of cacoa (dried), and at present there is at least 50 lbs. more ripe on the same trees. This gives 165 lbs. of cacao from fifteen trees, or 11 lbs. per tree. These cannot be considered fine trees; on the contrary, they are what would be considered ordinary ones; therefore the average in this case is fair, and differs materially from selecting the produce of fifteen trees from a large plantation, and giving the average return of what might be obtained from cacao cultivation. Last year these trees did not average more than 2 lbs. per tree, and I attribute the increase of crop to the thinning out of both the cacao and shade trees.

In a former letter to the cacao-planters of Trinidad, I recommended twenty-four to thirty feet from tree to tree as the proper distance; but so as to meet the feelings of those who, unfortunately for themselves, consider every cacao tree cut down a sacrifice, I propose that the trees be thinned out to twenty-four feet, and that, at intervals of twenty rows at most, avenues of fifty feet in both directions should be left. After this, it will be better seen what may be necessary to be done to each individual tree; neither should the shade trees be forgotten; as a general rule, they are prejudicially thick.

By attending to this, I am quite satisfied that a very material increase in the produce will be seen; indeed, I may say that on this depends the chief difference of 1¼ lb. and 11 lbs. per tree; for I consider it a very fair inference, that the average obtained here can be realised in any other place in this island, and to any extent, under the same circumstances of light and air, unless on very poor soil, of which we fortunately have but little.

At twenty-four feet apart there would be seventy-five trees per acre, or 250 per quarrée. This, at 11 lbs. per tree, gives 2,750 lbs. of dried cacao per quarrée, at 5 dollars per 100 lbs., gives 137 dollars 50 cents gross; deducting 80 dollars per quarrée expenses, leaves 57 dollars 60 cents net profit. Thus an estate of 120 acres, or 36 quarrées, would contain 9,000 trees, at 11 lbs. per tree will give 33,000 lbs. of cacao, at 5 dollars gives 4,350 dollars gross per annum; deducting 80 dollars per quarrée (a much more liberal sum than is at present laid out), leaves a net balance of 1,950 dollars, or 16 dollars 25 cents per acre.

Now this, it must be remembered, would be the produce from 9,000 trees, and from an estate containing only 36 quarrées of land (which cannot be considered a large one); what, then, might be expected from estates containing 40,000 trees?

I have been recently favoured with the following average return of cacao in this island, which I have no doubt will be considered a fair one. I insert it in full, and, from the very low return, it shows a lamentable deficiency in the cultivation of this most grateful tree:—

'The average number of cacoa trees in a quarrée of land is 868.

'1st. The estates throughout the island are generally planted at a distance of 12 feet by 12, and 13½ feet by 13½. Those planted at 12 by 12 contain 969 trees in the quarrée, and those at 13½ by 13½ contain 767 trees, the area of the quarrée being taken at 139,697 superficial feet. There may be in the island about 60 quarrées in all, planted at 15 by 15 feet.

'2nd. The actual annual value of a quarrée of land planted in cacoa is ten fanegas, or 1¼ lb. to a tree.

'It is to be observed that this is the general return from each tree as estates are now cultivated, but if planters had the means of keeping their estates in high cultivation, each cacoa tree would produce 2 lbs. on an average.

'3rd. The annual average cost of cultivating a quarrée in cacao, and manufacturing the produce therefrom, is 35 dollars, in the imperfect manner it is carried on at present, thereby giving only 10 fanegas per quarrée.'

I believe there are many estates in the island where the average distance is [Pg 26]less than 12 by 12; however, to give the present mode the full benefit of the return, I will adopt, for comparison's sake, the maximum number of trees; so that 960 trees per quarrée, at l¼ lb. per tree, gives 1,211 lbs. of cacao, at 5 dollars per 100 lbs. is worth 60 dollars,[2] gross return per quarrée; deducting 36 dollars, not 80 dollars, for expenses, which leaves 24 dollars per quarrée net, or about 7 dollars 75 cents per acre.

This is a startling account from lands among the most fertile in the world, and from a plant, under fair treatment, next to the sugar cane, perhaps the most grateful for the care bestowed, more especially when we consider that more than ten times that quantity might be obtained with a comparatively insignificant outlay of money.

If such, then, be the case, as stated in the above report (and it is to be regretted that it is too near the truth), apathy on the part of those whose interests are so much concerned is unwarrantable. It is not enough to say that our fathers must have known the proper way to plant cacao; this is but a lame excuse, and not sufficient to dispense with any exertions of the present generation, beyond merely collecting whatever fruit may come, as it were, fortuitously. Moreover, at the time the present cacao plantations were established in this island, its cultivation was comparatively little known; it is therefore likely that they might have erred, as they undoubtedly did, in cramming them so close together; but notwithstanding this, by a proper system of thinning, the evils might have been easily obviated, and large crops ensured.

A few mornings ago, a cacao planter from Santa Cruz called on me, and in conversation stated that the only place where he had anything like a crop of cacao at present, was where the hurricane of the 11th of October had devastated his estate most severely, and which he at that time considered a ruinous visitation. I hope the lesson will not be lost on him.

In Jamaica it is found necessary to prune the coffee trees yearly, which is done with as much care as gooseberry or currant bushes in England; but, notwithstanding this, I remember a friend of mine in Jamaica telling me of the extraordinary difference on his coffee plantation under the management of a person who understood and attended more particularly to the pruning of his trees.

Lunan, in his 'Hortus Jamaicensis,' published in 1814, gives a very elaborate article on the cacao, although its cultivation was almost extinct in his day in that island. He, however, appears to have derived his information chiefly from Blume, who wrote a short account of Jamaica, in 1672, at which time cacao was the chief export of the island. Lunan attributes its downfall to heavy ministerial exaction, which was then, he says, upwards of 480 per cent. on its marketable value. Speaking of the average weight of cacao per tree, he has the following:—'The produce of one tree is generally estimated at about 20 lbs. of nuts. The produce per acre in Jamaica has been rated at 1,000 lbs. weight per annum, allowing for bad years. In poor soils, and under bad management, the produce of the tree rarely exceeds 8 lbs. weight.' He also says—'When the cacao plants are six months old, the planter from this period must not be too fond of cleaning the plantation from grass and herbage, because they keep the ground cool; but all creeping, climbing plants, and such weeds as grow high enough to overtop the cacao, should be destroyed.' He gives the distance from tree to tree at 18 feet. I have long since been of opinion that it is of less consequence to clean the ground beneath the trees than to attend to the top-pruning of the shade trees, as well as to the cacao (although the former is very desirable, it is nevertheless a subordinate consideration). Under the present mode of cultivation the ground-cleaning is the only one at all attended to, and that badly.

A very important economy might also be made in the curing of the cacao, by which much time would be saved, and consequently expense, by adopting the same method as is used in Jamaica for drying coffee, namely, floorings of cement, or, as they are called, barbecues. At convenient distances in the centre of these floorings (which are inclined planes) a slightly-raised circular ridge is formed with cement, leaving an aperture at the lower side to allow the escape of any water that may have lodged in them. The cacao is easily brought together in [Pg 27]these places in the event of rain, and at night covered with portable wooden frames, which are readily removed by two men. In this way the cacao would be dried in a fifth of the time much more effectually, and of a brighter colour.

Any experiments tending to bring about a proper system of cultivation and manufacture of cacao, must be beneficial to the island, as well as to individuals; for it cannot be denied that the cultivation of cacoa will still prove advantageous in proportion to the care bestowed on it. Indeed its cultivation is at present languishing, not so much from inadequate prices, as from a want of proper attention to its cultivation."

In 1796, there were sixty plantations in Trinidad, which produced 96,000 lbs. In 1802 the plantations were reduced to fifty-seven, the yield being about the same. In 1807, 355,000 lbs. of cacao were grown. In 1831, there were 2,972 quarrees (each three acres and one-fifth English) under cultivation in Trinidad with cacao, on which were 2,464,426 trees, which produced a crop of 1,479,568 lbs. In 1841 there were 6,910 acres planted with cacao.

The following have been the exports from this island from 1821 to 1844:—

(Mill's Trinidad Almanac).

In a lecture delivered by Dr. Lindley before the Society of Arts, alluding to the colonial products shown, at the Great Exhibition, he said:—

"There was one sample which ought to be mentioned most especially; namely, the cocoa of admirable quality which comes, or which may come, from Trinidad. Cocoa—cacao, as we should call it—is an article of very large consumption. Enormous quantities of it are now used in the navy; and every one knows how much it is employed daily in private life. It is, moreover, the basis of chocolate. But we have the evidence of one of the most skilful brokers in London, who has had forty years experience to enable him to speak to the fact—that we never get good cocoa in this country. The consequence is, that all the best chocolate is made in Spain, in France, and the countries where the fine description of cocoa goes. We get here cocoa which is unripe, flinty, and bitter, having undergone changes that cause it to bear a very low price in the market. But it comes from British possessions, and is, therefore, sold here subject to a duty of only 18s. 8d. per cwt., whereas if it came from a foreign country it would pay 56s.[3] The differential duty drives the best cocoa out of the English market. Still it appears that we might supply, from our own colonies, this very cocoa; because, as I have said, there was exhibited, from Trinidad, a very beautiful sample, quite equal to anything produced in the best markets of the Magdalena, of Soconusco, or of other places on the Spanish main. It had no bitterness, no flintiness, no damaged grain in it; but all were plump and ripe, as if they had been picked. The cocoa from the Spanish main [Pg 28]goes into other countries, for the preparation of that delicious chocolate which we buy of them. It is thrown out of our market by the differential duty. But it is their own fault if our own colonies do not produce fine cocoa, as Trinidad has conclusively proved."

The exports of cacao from St. Lucia, where there are now 300 acres under cultivation, have been as follows:[4]—I have also added the produce of St. Vincent and Grenada imported here:—

Grenada.St. Lucia.St. Vincent.

A little cacao is now grown in Antigua, about 19,000 lbs. having been exported from that island in 1843, and 2,000 in 1846.

Dominica and British Guiana produce small quantities; our imports from these quarters having been as follows:—


The cultivation of cacao in Cuba is of comparatively recent introduction, but it is expected to increase, and, in some degree, to supply the place of coffee, which is evidently on the decline there. In 1827, the gross produce of Cuba amounted to 23,806 arrobas, and the exports to 19,053. In the same year, 15,301¾ arrobas were imported, so that at that period the production was not adequate to the consumption. The expectation of a great increase of production seems not to have been realized, as the exports of cacao in 1837 were only 587¼ arrobas, while the imports amounted to 40,837½ arrobas.

There are now about sixty-nine cacao plantations in that island, [Pg 29]almost exclusively situate in the central and oriental departments, which produced, in 1849, 3,836 arrobas, valued at 19,180 dollars.

Hayti exported, in 1801, 648,518 lbs. of cacao; in 1826, 457,592 lbs., and in 1836, 550,484 lbs.

The French island of Martinique produces a considerable quantity of cacao. In 1763, there were stated to be 103,870 trees in bearing. The produce exported in 1769 was 11,731 quintals. In 1770 there were 871,043 trees. In 1820 there were 412 square acres under cultivation with cacao, producing 449,492 lbs.; and in 1835, 492 hectares, which yielded 155,300 kilogrammes. I have no later returns at hand.

The beverage generally called cocoa is merely the berries of Theobroma Cacao, pounded and drank either with water or milk, or with both. Chocolate (of which I shall speak by and bye) is a compound drink, and is manufactured chiefly from the kernels of this plant, whose natural habitat would seem to be Guayaquil, in South America, though it flourishes in great perfection in the West Indies. It grows also spontaneously and luxuriantly on the banks of the Magdalena, in South America; but the fruit of those trees that are found in the district of Carthagena is preferred to all others, probably from a superior mode of cultivation. Sir R. Schomburgk, in his expedition into the interior of British Guiana, found the country abounding in cacao, "which the Indians were most anxious to secure, as the pulpy arillus surrounding the seed has an agreeable vinous taste." Singular to say, however, they appeared perfectly ignorant of the qualities of the seed, which possesses the most delightful aroma. Sir Robert adds, they evinced the greatest astonishment when they beheld him and Mr. Goodall collecting these seeds and using them as chocolate, which was the most delicious they had ever tasted. These indigenous cacao trees were met with in innumerable quantities on the 5th of June, 1843, and the following day; and thus inexhaustible stores of a highly-prized luxury are here reaped solely by the wild hog, the agouti, monkeys, and the rats of the interior.—(Simmonds's Col. Mag. vol. i., p. 41.)

The height of the cacao shrub is generally from eighteen to twenty feet; the leaf is between four and six inches long, and its breadth three or four, very smooth, and terminating in a point like that of the orange tree, but differing from it in color; of a dull green, without gloss, and not so thickly set upon the branches. The blossom is first white, then reddish, and contains the rudiments of the kernels or berries. When fully developed, the pericarp or seed-vessel is a pod, which grows not only from the branches, but the stem of the tree, and is from six to seven inches in length, and shaped like a cucumber. Its color is green when growing, like that of the leaf; but when ripe, is yellow, smooth, clear, and thin. When arrived at its full growth, and before it is ripe, it is gathered and eaten like any other fruit, the taste being subacid. If allowed to ripen, the kernels become hard; and, when taken out of the seed-vessel, are preserved in skins, or, more [Pg 30]frequently, laid on the vijahua leaves, and placed in the air to dry. When fully dry, they are put in leathern bags, and sent to market: this is the Spanish mode of taking in the crop. A somewhat different method is followed in Trinidad and Jamaica (in the latter island it can scarcely be said to be cultivated now); but it differs in no essential degree from the principle of gradual exsiccation, and protection from moisture.

Chocolate, properly so called, and so prized both in the Spanish continent and in the West Indies, never reaches Great Britain except as a contraband article, being, like nearly all colonial manufactured articles, prohibited by the Custom-house laws. What is generally drank under that name is simply the cacao boiled in milk, gruel, or even water, and is as much like the Spanish or West India chocolate as vinegar is to Burgundy. It is, without any exception, of all domestic drinks the most alimentary; and the Spaniards esteem it so necessary to the health and support of the body, that it is considered the severest punishment to withhold it, even from criminals; nay, to be unable to procure chocolate, is deemed the greatest misfortune in life! Yet, notwithstanding this estimation in which it is held, the quantity made in the neighbourhood of Carthagena is insufficient for the demands of the population, and is so highly priced that none is exported but as presents! The manner in which the Spaniards first manufactured this veritable Theobroma—this food for gods (from Theos, God, and broma, food)—was very simple. They employed the cacao, maize, Indian corn (Zea Mays), and raw cane-juice, and coloured it with arnatto, which they called achiotti or rocou, but which was known in Europe at that time by the name of Terra Orellana. These four substances were levigated between two stones, and afterwards, in certain proportions, mixed together in one mass, which mass was subsequently divided into little cakes, and used as required, both in the solid and fluid form.

The Indians used one pound of the wasted nuts, half a pound of sugar, and half a pound of ground corn (maize) each, and then added rose-water to make it palatable. This the Mexicans called chocolate, from two words in their language, signifying the noise made by the instruments used to mill and prepare it in the water. Many other ingredients were subsequently added; but with the exception of Vanilla, in the opinions of most persons, they spoil, rather than improve it. Chocolate, as used in Mexico, is thus prepared: —The kernels are roasted in an iron pot pierced with holes; they are then pounded in a mortar, and afterwards ground between two stones, generally of marble, till it is brought to a paste, to which sugar is added, according to the taste of the manufacturer. From time to time, as the paste assumes consistency, they add long pepper, arnatto, and lastly, vanilla. Some manufacturers vary these ingredients, and substitute cinnamon, cloves, or aniseed, and sometimes musk and ambergris—the two latter on account of their aphrodisiac qualities. The following is the formula given by a late writer:—To six pounds of the nut add three-and-a-half [Pg 31]pounds of sugar, seven pods of vanilla, one-and-a-half pounds of corn meal (maize ground), half-a-pound of cinnamon, six cloves, one drachm of capsicums (bird pepper), and as much of the rocou or arnatto as is sufficient to color it, together with ambergris or musk, to enforce (as he says) the flavor, but in reality to stimulate the system. There is another chocolate made of filberts and almonds, but this is not considered genuine. In old Spain it is somewhat differently made; two or three kinds of flowers, also the pods of Campeche, almonds, and hazel-nuts, being mixed up with it, while the paste is worked with orange-water.

With regard to the manner in which chocolate is prepared in England nothing need be said, as it is too well known to require description. That which has appeared to me the best is "Fry's Chocolate," which requires only to be rubbed up with a little boiling water, and scalded milk added to it with sugar, according to the taste of the drinker; there is a flavour, however, in this chocolate sometimes of suet, which is probably added to give it a richness which the cacao employed may not possess of itself. In the West Indies they rarely add anything to cacoa but arnatto (sometimes a little fresh butter), though it is often scented and sweetened, and sold in little rolls at five-pence and ten-pence each, currency. It is always boiled with milk, which, though very indigestible when boiled and taken alone, seems to lose this quality when taken with chocolate. Chocolate thus made is much drank, when cold, in the middle of the day, and is considered, both by the negroes and the old settlers, as a most nutritive and salutary beverage.

The signs by which good chocolate or cacao is known are these:—It should dissolve entirely in water, and be without sediment; it should be oily, and yet melt in the mouth; and if genuine, and carefully prepared, should deposit no grits or grounds. That made in the West Indies, and in some parts of Cuba, is dark; but that manufactured in Jamaica is of a bright brick colour, owing to the greater quantity of arnatto which is used in the preparation, and which, I think, gives it a richer and more agreeable flavor.

In an economical point of view, chocolate is a very important article of diet, as it may be literally termed meat and drink; and were our half-starved artisans, over-wrought factory children, and ricketty millinery girls, induced to drink it instead of the innutritious beverage called "tea," its nutritive qualities would soon develop themselves in their improved looks and more robust constitution. The price, too, is in its favour, cacao being eight-pence per pound; while the cheapest black tea, such as even the Chinese beggar would despise, drank by milliners, washerwomen, and the poorer class in the metropolis, is three shillings a pound, or three hundred and fifty per cent, dearer, while it is decidedly injurious to health.

The heads of the naval and military medical departments in England have been so impressed with the wholesomeness and superior nutriment of cocao, that they have judiciously directed [Pg 32]that it shall be served out twice or thrice a week to regiments of the line, and daily to the seamen on board Her Majesty's ships, and this wise regulation has evinced its salutary effects in the improved health and condition of the men. Indeed, this has been most satisfactorily established in Jamaica among the troops; and the same may be asserted of the seamen in men of war on the coast.

But the excellent qualities of chocolate were known not only to the Mexicans and Peruvians, from whom, as a matter of course, the Spaniards acquired a knowledge of its properties; but European nations also acknowledged its virtues. The Portuguese, French, Germans, and Dutch, considered it an exceedingly valuable article of diet, and Hoffman looked upon it both as a food and a medicine. In his monograph, entitled Potus Chocolati, he recommends it in all diseases of general weakness, macies, low spirits, and in hypochondrial complaints, and what since his time have been termed nervous diseases. As one example of the good effects of cacao, he adduces the case of Cardinal Richelieu, who was cured of eramacausis, or a general wasting away of the body, by drinking chocolate.[5] And Edwards informs us that Colonel [Pg 33]Montague James—the first white person born in Jamaica after the occupation of the island by the English—lived to the great age of 104; and for the last thirty years of his life took scarcely any other food but chocolate. It is also certain that those who indulge in excesses find their vigor more speedily restored by the alternate use of chocolate and coffee than by any other ingesta; and pigs, goats, and horses, which are fed even on the spoiled berries, are observed to become very speedily fat, and in good condition.

But cacao has not only the property of rapidly restoring the invalid to health, strength, and condition, but a very inconsiderable quantity of it will sustain life for a long period. The South American Indians perform extraordinary journeys, subsisting, daring these prolonged travels, on an incredibly small quantity of chocolate—so small, indeed, as to render the accounts of travellers upon the subject almost marvellous. In this respect it resembles coffee, which also possesses the estimable property of sustaining the powers of life, while it modifies and restrains the passion of hunger.

It is a curious fact, and how far this condition may be connected with its powers of sustenance is worthy of inquiry, that chocolate recently boiled, if the operation be performed in a tin pan, is highly electrical; and this property may be frequently manifested by repeating the process.

Cacao, according to Bridges, "was the favourite staple of the Spanish commerce, trifling as that commerce was; and when the English took possession of the island of Jamaica, it was that which first engaged their attention. The extensive plantations left by their predecessors, who had made it their principal food and only support, soon, however, began to fail. They were renewed; but whether it might be from the want of attention, or of information in the new colonists, the plants never succeeded under their management; so that, disgusted with the troublesome and unprofitable cultivation, they soon substituted indigo." Yet forests of cacao trees grow wild in Guiana, the Isthmus of Darien, Yucatan, Honduras, Guatemala, Chiapa, and Nicaragua; while in Cuba, St. Domingo, and Jamaica, it was once an indigenous plant.

The following were the expenses of a cacao plantation in Jamaica during the early period of British possession:—

[Pg 34]
£ stg.
Letters patent of five hundred acres of land10
Six negroes120
Four white persons, their passage and maintenance80
Maintenance of six slaves for six months18
Working implements5

In four to five years the produce of one hundred acres would usually sell for £4,240 sterling. This was a monstrous and most unlooked-for return; but then, what was it to the profits of sugar, which, owing to the prodigious increase of the slave trade, was fast coming into active operation, and eating up and destroying all other sources and springs of industry? How dearly have the West Indians paid for the short-lived affluence which the sugar cane conferred!

Blome, in his brief account of Jamaica, published in 1672, speaks of cacao as being one of the chief articles of export. He states that there were sixty cacao-walks or plantations, and many more planting; but, for many years, no cacao plantation has existed in Jamaica, all the chocolate used being made from imported berries, or the chance growth of a munificent climate and redundant soil! A few scattered trees, Edwards says (and as I my self know), here and there, are all that remain of those flourishing and beautiful groves, which were once the pride and boast of the country. They have withered with the indigo manufactory, under the heavy hand of ministerial exaction. The excise on cacao, when made into cakes, rose to no less than £12 12s. per cwt., exclusive of 11s. 11½d. paid at the Custom-house, amounting together to upwards of £840 per cent. on its marketable value!

The mode of cultivating the cacao is given at some length by Edwards; it is that of the Spaniards, a process strictly followed in Trinidad, where, of all the West India islands, it constitutes a considerable item of exports. It is thus described:—"A spot of level land being chosen—preference is always given to a deep black mould, sheltered by a hedge or thicket, so as to be screened by the wind, especially the north, and cleared of all weeds and stumps of trees—a number of holes are dug, at ten or twelve feet distance from each other, each hole being about a foot in length, and six or eight inches deep. A very important matter is the selection of the seeds for planting, and this is done in the following manner: the finest and largest pods of the cacao are selected when full ripe, and the grains taken out and placed in a vessel of water. Those which swim are rejected; those chosen are washed clean from the pulp, skinned, and then replaced in the water till they begin to sprout; Banana (Musa paradisiaca), or some other large leaves, those of the sea-side grape (Coccoloba uvifera), for instance, are then taken, and each hole is lined with one of them, leaving, however, the sides of the leaves some inches above ground; after which the mould is rubbed in gently till the hole is filled; three nuts are then selected for each hole, and they are set triangularly in the earth, by making a small opening with the finger about two inches deep, into which the nuts are put, with that end downwards from [Pg 35]which the sprout issues." They are then covered lightly with mould, the leaf folded over, and a small stone placed on the top, to prevent its opening; in eight or ten days the young shoots appear above the ground; the leaves are then opened to give them light and air, and a shelter from the sun, either in the shape of plantain or banana leaves, is not forgotten; but the coco-nut and other species of palm, on account of their fibrous structure and great durability, are always preferred. This artificial shelter is continued for five or six months. But, as a further security to the young plants, for they are very delicate, other trees or shrubs are planted to the south-west of the plants, that they may grow up with and shelter them, for young cacao will grow and flourish only in the shade. For this purpose the coral bean-tree (Erythrina Corallodendrum) is chosen. I should presume there are other trees and plants equally eligible for this purpose, and more useful; but my experience does not enable me to speak positively upon the subject. Should the three seeds placed in each hole spring up, it is thought necessary, when the plants are fifteen or twenty inches high, to cut one of them down. The two others, if they devaricate, are sometimes suffered to remain, but it does not always happen that even one of the three springs above the earth; consequently this additional labor is not invariably requisite.

On the fourth or fifth year the tree begins to bear, and attains perfection by the eighth, continuing to produce two crops of fruit per annum, yielding at each crop from 10 lbs. to 20 lbs., according to the nature of the soil. It will continue bearing for twenty years; but, as it is a delicate plant, it suffers from drought, and is liable to blight. In these respects, however, it does not differ from many other plants, which are even more subject to disease, though not half so valuable. Besides, a proper system of irrigation, such as could be had recourse to in many parts of Jamaica, would obviate and prevent these evils.

The whole quantity imported into the United Kingdom from the West Indies and British Guiana during the last thirteen years, has been as follows:—


Cacao is cultivated in the highlands as well as on the coasts of the north-eastern peninsula of the large and rich island of Celebes, which has within the last year or two been thrown open to foreign trade. The plantations of it are even now considerable, and this branch of industry only requires not to be impeded by [Pg 36]any obstacles in order to be still further extended. It forms a large ingredient in the local trade, and furnishes many petty traders with their daily bread, not to speak of the landowners, for whom the cultivation of the cacao affords the only subsistence. The preparation of the product differs from that adopted in the West Indies, but we have not been able to ascertain the practice. We may reckon that 1,200 to 2,000 piculs of 133 lbs. are yearly produced; the prices vary much, being from 50 to 75 florins per picul.—("Journal of the Indian Archipelago," vol. ii., p. 829.)

Bourbon now produces 15,000 to 20,000 kilogrammes of cacao annually. Cacao is grown to a small extent in some of the settlements of Western Africa, but as yet only a few puncheons have been exported, all the produce being required for local consumption.

The following figures give the imports and consumption of cacao into the United Kingdom in the last five years:—


The home consumption is very steady at about 3,000,000 lbs., yielding to the revenue £15,000 to £16,000 for duty. The produce of British colonies pays 1d. per lb. duty, that from foreign countries 2d; cocoa husks and shells half these amounts; when manufactured into chocolate or cocoa paste the duty is 2d. per lb. from British possessions, and 6d. from other parts. The quantity imported in this form is to the extent of about 14,000 lbs. weight.


The next staple I proceed to speak of is coffee—second only in importance as a popular beverage to that universal commodity, tea. I shall proceed, in the first instance, to take a retrospect of the progress of the coffee trade, and glance at the present condition and future prospects of produce and consumption. It will be seen, by reference to the following figures, that the consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom shows a successive decrease, from 1847 to 1850, of 6,414,533 lbs., and a loss to the revenue of £179,614.[Pg 37]


I estimated, in a little treatise on coffee and its adulterations, which I published in 1850, that not less than 18,000,000 lbs. of vegetable matter of various kinds were sold annually under the deceptive name of coffee. Three-fourths of these 18,000,000 lbs. of pretended coffee were composed of chicory, and the remaining fourth of other ingredients prejudicial to health, as well as a fraud upon the revenue. The various substances used in adulterating both chicory and coffee, when sold in the powdered state, have been specifically pointed out and set forth from time to time in memorials from the trade and the coffee-growers. Mr. M'Culloch and other competent judges set down the actual consumption of chicory in the United Kingdom at 12,500 tons per annum. When we consider the vast difference of price between chicory and coffee, as purchased by the wholesale dealer, the temptation to its fraudulent use was obviously great, and there was no penal restriction against it.

It will be interesting and useful to trace the history of the trade in chicory from its first introduction.

The substitution of chicory for coffee occasioned a loss to the revenue of three hundred thousand pounds sterling a-year, besides its mischievous effect in adulterating and debasing a popular beverage when used in such large and undue proportions for admixture, and sold at the price of coffee.

Since the prohibition of the admixture of chicory with coffee, when sold to the public, and the compulsory sale by Treasury minute of the two articles in separate packages, a large and rapid increase in the consumption of coffee has taken place, and the trade is now placed in a healthy position. Whilst the increase in the consumption of coffee from the 1st of January, to 5th September, 1852, was but 142,267 lbs. as compared with the same period of 1851; the increase in the remaining four months of the year was to the amazing extent of 2,350,368 lbs. This increased consumption is likely to continue, and our colonial possessions are furnishing us with larger proportionate supplies, as may be seen by the following figures:—

Produce of British Possessions35,970,50740,339,24536,814,03635,972,16342,519,297
Ditto foreign countries21,082,94322,976,54213,989,11617,138,49711,857,957

[Pg 38]In the year 1832 chicory was first imported into England, subject to a duty equivalent to that levied upon colonial coffee, and permitted to be sold by grocers separately as chicory; but notices were at the same time issued, that the legal penalties would be rigidly enforced, if discovered mixed with coffee.

In 1840, in consequence of memorials from the grocers and dealers in chicory, and also from the circumstance of exceedingly high rates then ruling for coffee, together with the disruption of our commercial relations with China, simultaneously advancing the price of tea (thus rendering both these popular beverages excessively dear to the consumer), an order was issued from the Treasury to the Excise Board, authorizing the admixture of chicory with coffee; a duty, however, being still maintained on the former of £20 per ton on the kiln-dried, and 6d. per lb. on the powdered root, when imported from abroad.

In the year 1845, the cultivation of chicory was introduced upon British soil, and, being a home-grown commodity, was exempt from duty, but nevertheless, by virtue of the said Treasury Order, was permitted to enter into competition with a staple production of our own colonies, contributing on its import a tax of 60 to 80 per cent. to the revenue of the State.

The result, as might have been foreseen, necessarily created and stimulated a demoralizing system of fraud, unjust and destructive to the interests of the coffee planter, and prejudicial to the national revenue.

The effects of so baneful a system being equally manifest upon both consumption and revenue, they are here separately illustrated.

In 1824, according to the following high scale of duties, viz., 1s. on West India, 1s. 6d. on East India, and 2s. 6d. on foreign, the Customs derived from coffee was £420,988; in the following year the rates were reduced one-half, and in the short space of three years the amount yielded had advanced to £440,245, an increase which steadily progressed (partly aided by the admission of the produce of British India at the low duty) until it reached £921,551 in 1840. These satisfactory results justified a further reduction of the duties in 1842 to 4d. on colonial and 8d. (and in the subsequent year to 6d.) on foreign, under which the revenue declined in 1844 to £681,616. In 1846 it had again reached to £756,838, and was gradually recovering itself, when this system of adulteration first began to extend itself generally, and since that time the revenue has rapidly declined under the same scale of duties to £566,822 in 1850.

In 1824 the quantity retained for home consumption was 8,262,943 lbs., which was augmented to 11,082,970 lbs. in the first year of the reduction of duty, and continued to exhibit an increase at a rate rather exceeding two million pounds per annum until 1830, when coffee would appear to have reached its limit of consumption without further stimulus, and remained stationary until the modification of duties allowing the admission of foreign coffee, via the Cape, at the colonial rate, when it advanced from [Pg 39]23,295,046 lbs. in 1835, to 28,723,735 lbs. in 1840; and consequent upon a further reduction of duties in 1842, the elasticity of the trade experienced a still wider development, and an increase of nine million pounds is exhibited in the next five years. From that period, however, the general use of chicory has not only checked the progressive increase of this healthy demand, but an annual decline is observable to the extent of above six million pounds in 1850, as compared with 1847.

On the 15th of April, 1851, with the view of partly remedying the grievance of the colonists on this head, the duties were equalized and reduced to 3d. The results are, however, far from satisfactory, either in a fiscal or commercial point of view. It is true that an increase in consumption, of one-and-a-quarter million pounds has taken place, but at the sacrifice of £121,000 of revenue. But this increase, it will be seen, has not exceeded 4¼ per cent., whilst there has been a diminution of 21½ per cent. in the revenue receipts. Upon investigation, moreover, it will be found that, notwithstanding the total increase exhibited, there has been an actual falling off of 894,778 lbs. of colonial coffee in 1851; the items for last year are, however, much more favorable and encouraging for the planters.

No reasonable cause can be assigned for this rapid and serious diminution in the consumption of coffee, except the notorious substitution of chicory and other substances.

The arguments advanced to account for the falling off in the consumption of coffee, by adducing the increase of tea and cacao for a similar period are fallacious, and contrary to the commercial experience of many years, which convincingly proves these kindred articles to have always simultaneously increased, or diminished, in ratio with the general prosperity of the kingdom, and the prevalence of temperate habits among the community.

I shall now proceed to trace the fluctuations in the consumption of coffee.

At the close of the last century the consumption of coffee was under one million pounds yearly; the only descriptions then known in the London market were Grenada, Jamaica, and Mocha—the two former averaging about £5 per cwt., and the latter £20 per cwt. Grenada coffee is now unknown, and Ceylon and Brazil are the largest producers. In 1760, the total quantity of coffee consumed in the United Kingdom was 262,000 lbs., or three quarters of an ounce to each person in the population. In 1833 the quantity was 20,691,000 lbs., or 1½ lb. to each person. When first introduced into England, about the middle of the 17th century, coffee was sold in a liquid state, and paid a duty of 4d. per gallon; afterwards, until the year 1733, the duty was 2s. per lb.; it was then reduced to 1s. 6d., since which it has paid various rates of duty; in the year 1824 it was settled at 6d. per lb. All descriptions of coffee now pay but 3d. per lb.

The consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom, for several [Pg 40]years previous to 1825, varied from seven millions and a half to eight millions and a half pounds in round numbers, the duty being 1s. per lb. on British plantation, 1s. 6d. per lb. on East India, and 2s. 6d. per lb. on foreign. From the 5th of April of that year those rates were each reduced to one half, and the immediate consequence was a steady increase of the consumption until 1831, when it amounted to 23,000,000 lbs. The consumption continued, without any material variation, at this rate, or to advance by very slow degrees, until 1836, when the duty on East India coffee was reduced to 6d. per lb.; and this change had precisely the same effect as the previous one, for the consumption again advanced to upwards of 26,000,000 lbs., which was then considered, in a memorial of the London trade, to be as much as our colonies were capable of producing! We now find, however, one small island, Ceylon, producing a fourth more than this amount annually.

The Belgians, a population of 4,500,000, consume more than 33,000,000 lbs. of coffee annually; quite as much as is used by the whole 35,000,000 French. The duty on 100 lbs. of coffee in France is more than the common original cost—the Belgian duty not a tenth part; so that the French do not use 1 lb. of coffee per head, while the Belgians consume 7 lbs. each per annum. The proportion in England is not more than 1½ lb. per head to the population. The United States are the largest consumers of coffee, as it is admitted into their ports free of duty, and can therefore be sold for nearly the price per pound which the British Government levies on it for revenue. The entire consumption of the United States and British North America, calling their population 23,000,000 and ours 30,000,000, exceeds ours, on an estimate of population, by sixfold. Thus the average consumption of coffee by each American, annually, is about 8½ lbs., while the quantity used by each person in the European States is less than 1½ lb.

The changes in the sources of supply, within the last fifteen or sixteen years, have been very remarkable. The British possessions in the East have taken the place which our islands of the West formerly occupied. The British West Indies have fallen off in their produce of coffee from 30,000,000 to 4,000,000 lbs. Ceylon which, fifteen years ago, had scarcely turned attention to coffee, now exports nearly 35,000,000 lbs. San Domingo, Cuba, and the French West India colonies are gradually giving up coffee-cultivation in favor of other staples; and it is only Brazil, Java, and some of the Central American Republics that are able to render coffee a profitable crop. The export crop of Brazil (the greatest coffee-producing country), grown in 1850, for the supply of the year ending July, 1851, amounted to no less than 302,000,000 lbs., of this a large quantity remained in the interior to supply the deficiency of the current year.

It is scarcely thirty years ago that the coffee-plant was first introduced into Bengal by two refugees from Manilla; and the British possessions in the East Indies now yield 42,000,000 lbs. [Pg 41]Sufficient extent has not yet been given to enable it to be decided in what district of Continental India it may be most advantageously cultivated. It is in the fine island of Ceylon, however, that coffee-culture has made the most rapid progress.

It is an important fact that the supply of coffee from Ceylon, even at the present moment, and irrespective of land already planted but not yet come into full bearing, is in excess of the whole consumption of Great Britain, and the planter is thus compelled to carry the surplus to continental markets. The exports of coffee from Ceylon have been rather stationary the past three years, averaging about 300,000 cwt. In the sixteen years ending with 1851, Ceylon had exported 130,083 tons of coffee!

The present produce of the various coffee-growing countries in the world, may be set down at the following figures:

Millions of lbs.
Costa Rica9
La Guayra and Porto Cabello35
British West Indies8
French and Dutch West Indies7
Cuba and Porto Rico30
St. Domingo33½
The Philippine Isles3
Malabar and Mysore5
Arabia (Mocha)3
616= 275,000 tons.

This I have computed as accurately as possible from the most recent returns, but it falls much below the actual capabilities of production, even with the trees at bearing, and land already under cultivation; and also, in a great measure, excludes the local consumption in the producing countries. In many quarters there has been a considerable falling off in the production. The British West Indies, as we have seen, formerly exported 30,000,000 lbs., the French and Dutch West Indies 17,000,000, Cuba and Porto Rico 56,000,000, and St. Domingo, in the last century, 76,000,000. The growth of coffee has been transferred from the West to the East Indies, and to the South American Continent, where labor is more abundant, certain, and cheap. In the East the increase in production has been enormous and progressive, with, perhaps, the exception of Sumatra, which has fallen off from 15,000,000 lbs. to somewhere about one-third of that quantity.

The following statement may be taken as an approximate estimate of the actual consumption of coffee at the present time:—

[Pg 42]
of lbs.
Great Britain32
Holland and Belgium125
German Customs Union95
Other German Countries not included
in the Union, and Austria
Mediterranean Countries20
Sweden and Denmark20
Spain and Portugal15
Cape of Good Hope and Australia6
United States and British America170

A calculation made in the Economist, a year or two ago, gave the following as the probable consumption:—

of lbs.
Holland and Netherlands108
Germany and North Europe175
France and South of Europe105
Great Britain37
United States and British America175

But this estimate is too high in some of the figures. Great Britain we know, from the official tables only, consumes 34,000,000 lbs. annually; the United States and British America not so much as set down by several millions; for the official returns of the imports of coffee into the United States show an average for the three years ending June, 1850, of less than 154,000,000 lbs.; although a writer in a recent number of "Hunt's Merchant's Magazine," New York, (usually a well-informed periodical,) assumes a consumption of 200,000,000 lbs., for the North American States and Provinces.

The quantity of coffee produced being greater than the consumption thereof, the growth of it becomes less remunerative, and consequently we may look for a decrease in the supply. Ceylon, as well as the West Indies generally, British and foreign, are likely to direct their attention to some more profitable staple. A diminished production may further be expected in Brazil, consequent on the extermination of the slave-trade and the more sparing exertion of the labour of the slaves. In Cuba the want of labour is so much felt that large engagements have been entered into for the importation of Chinese; and there are many reasons for expecting a diminished production in Java, the next largest coffee-producing country. The necessary consequence of this expected decrease in the quantity of coffee produced will be, to bring the produce as much below the wants of the consumers as it is now above, and this must again result in an enhancement of prices in process of time.

If it were thought desirable to extend the production of coffee, there are many new quarters, besides the existing countries in which it is largely cultivated, where it could be extensively grown. [Pg 43]We may instance Liberia and the western coast of Africa generally, the interior ranges of Natal, the mountain-ranges on the northern coast of Australia, from Moreton Bay to Torres Straits, &c., &c. But the present production is more than equal to the demand; and unless a very largely increased consumption takes place in the European countries, the present plantations (colonial and foreign) are amply sufficient to supply, for many years to come, all the demands that can be made upon their trees, a large proportion of which have yet to come into full bearing.

The coffee tree would grow to the height of fifteen or twenty feet if permitted, but it is bad policy to let it grow higher than four or five feet. It comes to maturity in five years, but does not thrive beyond the twenty-fifth, and is useless generally after thirty years. Although the tree affords no profit to the planter for nearly five years; yet after that time, with very little labor bestowed upon it, it yields a large return.

Mr. Churchill, Jamaica, found that 1,000 grains of the wood, leaves, and twigs of the coffee tree, yielded 33 grains of ashes, or 3.300 per cent. The ashes consist of potass, lime, alumina, and iron in the state of carbonates, sulphates, muriates, and phosphates, and a small portion of silica. According to Liebig's classification of plants, the coffee tree falls under the description of those noted for their preponderance of lime. Thus the proportions in the coffee tree are—

Lime salts77
Potass salts20

I shall now proceed to describe the cultivation of the tree and preparation of the berry, as carried on in different countries.

Cultivation of Mocha—In Arabia Felix, the culture is principally carried on in the kingdom of Yemen, towards the cantons of Aden and Mocha. Although these countries are very hot in the plains, they possess mountains where the air is mild. The coffee is generally grown half way up on their slopes. When cultivated on the lower grounds it is always surrounded by large trees, which shelter it from the torrid sun, and prevent its fruit from withering before their maturity. The harvest is gathered at three periods; the most considerable occurs in May, when the reapers begin by spreading cloths under the trees, then shaking the branches strongly, so as to make the fruit drop, which they collect and expose upon mats to dry. They then pass over the dried berries a heavy roller, to break the envelopes, which are afterwards winnowed away with a fan. The interior bean is again dried before being laid up in store.

The principal coffee districts are Henjersia, Tarzia, Oudein, Aneizah, Bazil, and Weesaf. The nearest coffee plantations are three-and-a-half days journey (about 80 miles) from Aden.

The following information is derived from Capt. S.B. Haines of the Indian Navy, and our political agent at Aden. [Pg 44]A camel load is about 400 lbs = 25 frazlas or bales.

The price of ditto inland
At Mocha, duty to Dewla uncertain
Bake fee one butsha on each frazla25
Weighing and clerk's fee20
Camel hire to the coast1250
Cost from Sana to Mocha4415

Coffee is brought into the Sana market in December and January from the surrounding districts.

The varieties are—

  1. Sherzee, best—price 1 G.C. frazla 25 butsha.
  2. Ouceaime.
  3. Muttanee.
  4. Sharrazee.
  5. Hubbal from Aniss.
  6. Sherissee from ditto—price per frazla 1 G.C. 15 B.

The nearest place to Sana where the coffee tree grows, is at Arfish, half a day distant. Attempts have been made to introduce the shrub in the garden of the Imaum at Sana, but without success, ascribed to cold. Kesher is more prized at Sana; the best is Anissea, and is sold at a higher price than other coffee, namely, g.c. 12 per 100 lbs.; inferior, at from 4, 5, and 6.

Rain falls in Sana three times in the year. 1st. In January, in small quantities. 2nd. Beginning of June, when it falls for eight or ten days. By this time the seed is sown, and the cultivators look forward to the season with anxiety. 3rd. In July, when it falls in abundance. A few farmers defer sowing till this period, but it is unusual when they expect rain in June.

The coffee plant is mostly found growing near the sides of mountains, valleys, and other sheltered situations, the soil of which has been gradually washed down from the surrounding heights, being that which forms its source of support. This is afforded by the decomposition of a species of claystone (slightly phosphoritic) which is found irregularly disposed in company with a few pieces of trap-rocks, amongst which, on approaching Sana from the southward, basalt is found to preponderate. The clay stone is only found in the more elevated districts, but the debris finds a ready way into the lower country by the numerous and steep gorges which are conspicuous in every direction. As it is thrown upon one side of the valley, it is carefully protected by means of stone walls, so as to present to the traveller the appearance of terraces. The plant requires a moist soil, though much rain does not appear necessary. It is always found in greater luxuriance at places where there is no spring. The tree at times looks languid, and half withered; an abundant supply of water to the root of the plant seems necessary for the full growth and perfection of its bean.

Progress of Cultivation in India.—There are said to be ten varieties of the coffee, but only one is found indigenous to India, and it is questionable if this is not the Mocha species introduced [Pg 45]from Arabia. The cultivation of this important crop is spreading fast throughout the east, and has been adopted in many parts of Hindostan. In the Tenasserim provinces, on the table land of Mysore, in Penang, and especially in the islands of Bourbon and Ceylon, it is becoming more and more an object of attention. It is known to have given good produce in Sangar and the Nerbudda; also in Mirzapore, as well as Dacca, and other parts of Bengal; Chota Najpore, Malabar, and Travancore. From three to four million pounds of coffee are now exported from the Indian presidencies annually. The highest quantity was four and a quarter million pounds in 1845, but the progress of culture, judging from the export, has been small.

On the hilly districts on the east coast of the Gulf of Siam, the cultivation is carried on on a limited scale. The annual produce is not much more than about 400 cwt., although it is understood to be increasing. The quality of the berry is reckoned to be nearly equal to Mocha, and it commands a high price in the English market.

The soil recommended in India is a good rich garden land, the situation high and not liable to inundation, and well sheltered to the north-west, or in such other direction as the prevailing storms are found to come from.

A plantation, or a hill affording the shrubs shade, has been found beneficial in all tropical climates, because, if grown fully exposed to the sun, the berries have been found to be ripened prematurely.

The spot should be well dug to a depth of two feet before the trees are planted out, and the earth pulverised and cleared from the roots of rank weeds, but particularly from the coarse woody grasses with which all parts of India abound.

The best manure is found in the decayed leaves that fall from the trees themselves, to which may be added the weeds produced in the plantation, dried and burnt. These, then, dug in, are the only manure that will be required. Cow-dung is the best manure for the seed-beds.

The seed reserved for sowing must be put into the ground quite fresh, as it soon loses its power of germination. Clean, well-formed berries, free from injury by insects, or the decay of the pulp, should be selected.

These berries must be sown in a nursery, either in small, well-manured beds, or in pots in a sheltered spot, not too close, as it is well to leave them where sown until they acquire a good growth; indeed, it is better if they are removed at once from the bed where they are sown, to the plantation. Here they should be planted as soon as they have attained two years of age, for, be it remembered, that if they are left too long in the nursery, they become unproductive and never recover. The distance at which they should be put out in the plantation need not exceed eight feet apart in the rows, between which, also, there should be eight feet distance. The seedlings appear in about a month after the seed is sown.

[Pg 46]The culture requisite is, in the first instance, to afford shade to the young plants; many consider that this shelter should be continued during the whole period of their culture; but this is somewhat doubtful, as it has been found that plants so protected are not such good bearers as those which are exposed. The best plants for this purpose are tall, wide-branching trees or shrubs, without much underwood. The other culture requisite is only to keep the ground tolerably clean from weeds, for which one cooly on from five to ten biggahs is sufficient. He should also prune off decayed or dead branches. This treatment must be continued until the fourth year, when the trees will first begin bearing, and, after the gathering of each crop, the trees will require to be thinned out from the superabundant branches, their extremities stopped, and the tops reduced to prevent their growing above seven or eight feet in height; the stems, also, should be kept free from shoots or suckers for the height of at least one foot, as well as clear from weeds.

Irrigation must be frequent during the first year that the plants are removed to the plantation, and may be afterwards advantageously continued at intervals during the dry and hot weather, as a very hot season is found unfavorable to the plant, drying up and destroying the top branches and the extremities of the side shoots; whilst, on the other hand, a very long rain destroys the fruit by swelling it out and rotting it before it can be ripened: hence it is necessary to attend to a good drainage of the plantation, that no water be anywhere allowed to lodge, as certain loss will ensue, not only of the crop of the current year, but most frequently of the trees also, as their roots require to be rather dry than otherwise.

The crop will be ready to gather from October to January, when the ripe berries should be carefully picked from the trees by hand every morning, and dried in the shade, the sun being apt to make them too brittle; they must be carefully turned to prevent fermentation, and when sufficiently dry the husks must be removed, and the clean coffee separated from the broken berries. After being picked out and put aside, and then again dried, it is fit to pack. The first year's crop will be less than the succeeding ones, in which the produce will range from ½ a lb. to 1 lb. in each year.—(Simmonds's "Colonial Magazine," vol. xv.)

Ceylon.—Coffee is stated to have been introduced into this island from Java, somewhere about the year 1730. It was extensively diffused over the country by the agency of birds and jackalls. In 1821 its cultivation may be said to have partially commenced, and in 1836, it had become widely extended through the Kandyan provinces.

In 1839 not a tree had been felled on the wide range of the Himasgaria mountains. In 1840 a small plantation was, for the first time, formed. In 1846 there were fifty estates, then averaging, each, 200 acres of planted land, and yielding an average crop of 80,000 cwt. of coffee. Every acre is now purchased in [Pg 47]that locality, and in large tracts, or there would have been twice the number of estates in cultivation. In 1848, the Galgawatte estate, situate in this range, at an elevation of 4,000 feet, containing 246 acres, of which 72 were planted, was purchased by Mr. R.D. Gerard, for £1,600.

The quantity of land which had been brought under cultivation with coffee in this island in the ten years previous to the last reduction of duty in 1844, was, in round numbers, 25,000 acres; but so rapid was the subsequent increase, that in the succeeding three years, that extent of land was doubled; so that, in 1847, there were upwards of 60,000 acres of land under cultivation with coffee, giving employment to 40,000 immigrant coolies from the continent of India, and upwards of two millions of capital were invested in the cultivation of this staple.

The quantity of land under culture with coffee by Europeans, was about 55,000 acres in 1851. Allowing 20,000 acres to produce the quantity of native coffee exported, and 5,000 for that consumed in the island, the total extent of coffee cultivation in Ceylon, European and native, will be 80,000 acres.

The produce exported in 1849 was 373,593 cwt., while in the year 1836, when attention was first directed to this island as a coffee-producing country, the crop was not more than 60,330 cwt. Large profits were made by the first planters, more capital was introduced, until, between the years 1840 and 1842, the influx of capitalists, to undertake this species of cultivation, completely changed the face of the colony, and enlarged its trade, and the produce of coffee in sixteen years has increased sixfold.

The general culture resembles the practice in Java. Of the Ceylon coffee, that grown about Ramboddi fetches the highest price, from the superiority of the make, shape, and boldness of the berry. The weight per bushel, clean, averages 56 lbs.; 57½ lbs. is about the greatest weight of Ceylon coffee. The lowest in the scale of Ceylon plantation coffee is the Doombera, which averages 54½ lbs., clear, per bushel. The following have been the prices of good ordinary Ceylon coffee in the port of London for the last eight years in the month of January, 1853, 46s. to 48s.; 1852, 40s. to 42s.; 1851, 38s. 6d. to 40s. 6d.; 1850, 56s. 6d. to 57s. 6d.; 1849, 31s. to 32s. 6d.; 1848, 31s. 6d. to 33s.; 1847, 39s. 6d. to 41s. 6d.; 1846, 49s. to 50s.

Forest lands are those usually planted in Ceylon, and the expense attendant on clearing and reclaiming them from a state of nature, and converting them into plantations, is estimated to average £8 per acre. The lowest upset price of crown lands in the colony is £1 per acre.

Coffee planting has failed over a considerable portion of the southern province of the island, where the experiment was tried. The temperature was found to be too equable, not descending sufficiently low at any time to invigorate the plant; which, though growing luxuriantly at first, soon became weak and delicate. Nurseries are established for young plants. The districts in which [Pg 48]the coffee is principally cultivated, extend over nearly the whole of the hilly region, which is the medium and connecting link between the mountainous zone and the level districts of the coast.

The mania for coffee planting has recently subsided, in consequence of the barely remunerative returns at which that article has been sold, ascribable partly to over-production, and in some measure, perhaps, to the temporary glut of foreign coffee thrown on the British market by the reduction of the duty. As regards the yield, some estates in Ceylon have produced upwards of 15 cwt. per acre, but it is a good estate that will average seven, and many do not give more than 4 cwt. the acre.

The shipments from Colombo for five years, are stated below, with the class of coffee:—


While, in 1839, the total value of the exports from Ceylon was only £330,000, in 1850 the value of the single staple of coffee was no less than £609,262, and in 1851 had still further increased.

I append a memorandum of the quantities of coffee exported from Ceylon since 1836:—

Quantity.Value. £
Total in 16 years2,600,832
Average162,552(Ceylon Almanac
for 1853.)

The local export duty of two-and-a-half per cent., was abolished from 1st September, 1848.

[Pg 49]From these figures it appears that, in a period of sixteen years, Ceylon exported two and a half millions of cwts. of coffee. The consumption of coffee, although for a long time stationary in Britain, now that adulteration is no longer legalised, is likely to increase as rapidly as in other parts of the world; and it appears pretty evident that, so long as anything like remunerative prices can be obtained, Ceylon will do her part in supplying the world with an article which occupies the position of a necessary to the poor as well as a luxury to the rich. The exports of coffee from this colony have, within a few thousands of hundredweights, been nearly quadrupled since 1843, when only 94,000 cwts. were sent away.

Dr. Rudolph Gygax, in a paper submitted to the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, offered remarks on some analyses, of the coffee of Ceylon, with suggestions for the applications of manures.

"Having had," he observes, "my attention drawn to an account of an analysis of the Jamaica coffee berry, made by Mr. Herapath, the Liverpool chemist, I have paid some little attention to the subject of the coffee plant of this island, forming, as it does, so very important a feature in the resources of this colony. The desire that I thus felt for obtaining some information regarding the constituent parts of the Ceylon tree and its fruit, was heightened by a knowledge of the fact, that not a few of those coffee estates, which once gave good promise of success, are now in a very precarious state of production.

I much regret that the means at my disposal have not allowed me to carry out any quantative analysis, but the result of my labours are sufficiently accurate for my present purpose. I have analysed the wood and fruit of trees from two different localities, as well as the ashes of some plants sent me from the Rajawella estate near Kandy, and they all tend to bear out the result of Mr. Herapath's inquiries. Placing the substances traced in the coffee plant in the order in which they occur in the greatest quantity, they will stand thus:—

Lime, potash, magnesia, phosphoric acid, other acids.

Of these lime is by far the most prominent, forming about 60 per cent. of the whole.

I cannot help, therefore, arriving at the conclusion that, to cultivate coffee with any degree of success, the first-named substance must be present in the soil; or, if not present, must be supplied to it by some process.

Now it is a singular fact that the rocks and soils of Ceylon are greatly deficient in alkaline matter; and, taking this view of the case, one no longer wonders that many estates cease to produce coffee. That all, or nearly all the plantations did, in their first year or two of bearing, produce liberally in fruit, may readily be accounted for by the fact that the alkaline poverty of the soil was enriched by the burning of the vast quantities of timber which lay felled on all sides. Whilst this temporary supply lasted, all was well with the planter. Heavy rains, and frequent scrapings of the land with the mamotie, or hoe, soon dissipated this scanty supply, and short crops are now the consequence.

But nature, ever bountiful, ever ready to compensate for all deficiencies, has provided to our hands a ready means of remedying this evil of the soil, by scattering throughout most parts of the interior supplies of dolomitic limestone. The dolomite of Ceylon is not pure, far from it, being mixed freely with apatite or phosphate of lime. Even in this very accidental circumstance the coffee planter is aided; for the phosphoric acid thus combined with the limestone is the very substance required in addition. Some of the finest properties in the island are situated on a limestone bottom, and these no doubt will continue to yield abundant crops for a very long period.

It has been urged against this opinion that in some districts where coffee planting has proved a complete failure, dolomite is found most abundantly; but [Pg 50]I have very little doubt that the dolomite here alluded to is only magnesian limestone, and which is most inimical to the coffee bush.

I am aware that already several manures have been tried on coffee with varying degrees of success. Guano has, I believe, quite failed, and is besides very costly. Cattle manure is said to be effective, and no doubt it is, but it is a costly and troublesome affair. Bones, ground fine, are now being tried, though they cannot but prove most expensive, especially when imported.

A ton of bone dust contains of animal matter, 746 lbs,; phosphates of lime, &c., 1,245 lbs.; carbonates of lime, &c., 249 lbs.

The virtue of bones lies in the phosphates far more than in the animal matter, and thus their action on soils is felt for many years after their application. The Singalese cultivators of paddy about Colombo and Galle, appear to have been long aware of the fertilizing effects of this kind of manure, and import the article in dhonies from many parts of the coast: they bruise them coarsely before applying them.

The partially decomposed husks of the coffee berry have been tried for some years, and successfully, but they are difficult of collection, and bulky to remove from one part of the estate to another.

In Europe it would appear that little is yet known as to the causes of the fertilising effects of oil cake: some suppose them to arise mainly from the oil left by the crushing process, but this is not at all clear. I do not, however, see that we must look for much assistance from Poonac as a manure for coffee: for the cocoanut tree it is doubtless most valuable, but we have yet to learn that, beyond supplying so much more vegetable matter, it helps the action of the soil on the roots of the coffee bush, which, after all, is what is really required.

For the proper application of the dolomite to land as manure, it should be freely burnt in a kiln, with a good quantity of wood, the ashes of which should be afterwards mixed with the burnt lime, and the whole exposed for several days to the action of the air, sheltered of course from the weather. The mixture should be applied just before the setting in of the monsoon rains: if the land be tolerably level, the lime may be scattered broadcast on the surface, though not quite near the plants. When the estate to be manured is steep, then the substance to be applied should be placed in ridges cut crossways to the descent of the slopes.

About one cwt. to the acre would be ample for most lands; some may, however, require more. The contents of the husk pits might advantageously be mixed up with the burnt lime, when a sufficiency of it has been saved.

A planter in Ambagamoe states that he has tried the following remedy for that destructive scourge, the coffee-bug, with great success.

He applies saltpetre in a finely-powdered state, dusted over the tree when wet with rain or dew. The operation is inexpensive, as a very small quantity suffices, one cwt. being sufficient for nine or ten acres. It can be applied through a bamboo-joint covered with a perforated top, or any equally simple contrivance.

Messrs. Worms' are reported to have found coco-nut oil an effectual remedy.

To sum up the question of manures:—

Poonac, the marc or cake, after the coco-nut oil is expressed, is represented to be a stimulating manure; but is not durable. Lime is an useful application, especially to stiff soils, as the coffee tree contains 60 parts of lime. Bone-dust is an excellent fertiliser, but in Ceylon it is found that it cannot be applied at a less expense than £5 per acre. Cattle manure is the cheapest and most available. Guano does not seem suitable.

[Pg 51]Peeling, pulping, and winnowing.—The coffee-peeler, used for separating the bean from the pellicle, was formerly a large wheel revolving in a trough, the disadvantage of which was the flattening more or less of the bean when not thoroughly dry. A new machine has been recently introduced, the invention of Mr. Nelson, C.E., of the Ceylon iron works, by which this evil is obviated; its principle being not weight, but simple friction, of sufficient force to break the parchment at first, and, when continued, to polish the bean free from the husk. A very simple winnowing machine for cleaning the coffee as it comes out of the peeler, is attached. From the winnowing machine it runs into the separating machine, which sorts it into sizes, and equalizes the samples, by which a vast amount of time and manual labour are saved. The same principle is intended to be applied by Mr. Nelson to pulping, which will obviate the injury now inflicted by the grater upon the fresh berry. In spite of the greatest care numbers of the beans in a sample, on close examination, will be found scratched or pecked; and when the closest attention is not paid, or the person superintending the process is devoid of mechanical skill, the injury is proportionate.

The ordinary pulping-mill in use, consists of a cylinder of wood or iron, covered with sheet brass or copper, and punctured similarly to a nutmeg grater. This cylinder, technically called the barrel, runs upon a spindle, which turns a brass pick on each side of a frame. Immediately in a line with the centre upon which it turns, and placed vertical to each other, are two pieces of wood, frequently shod with iron of copper, called "the chops," placed about half an inch apart, or sufficient to allow the passage of "parchment" coffee between them. The lower chop is placed so close to the barrel, yet without contact, that all coffee must be stopped by it and thrown outwards. The upper chop is adjusted to that distance only which will permit the cherry coffee to come into contact with the barrel; but will not allow the berries to pass on till they have been denuded of their red epidermis by a gentle squeeze against its rough surface. The far greater portion of the pulps are separated by being carried past the lower chops upon the sharp points of the copper, and thrown out behind, and a few are left with the parchment coffee. As from the different sizes of the berries, and their crowding for precedence as they descend from the hopper above to the gentle embrace of the barrel and upper chop, some pass unpulped, the coffee as it comes from the lower chop is made to fall upon a riddle, which separates the unpulped cherries. These are put back again, and passed through a pulper with the upper chop set closer. The secret of working-appears to be the proper setting of the chops, and many have been the schemes proposed for reducing this to a certainty. Perhaps, after all, few plans are better than the old wedges, by tightening or loosening of which the chop is kept in the required position. Within the last few years, the machine has been considerably improved by [Pg 52]being formed entirely of iron, cog-wheels being substituted in the place of straps and drums to move the riddle, and the riddle itself is now formed of two sieves, by which the chance of unpulped berries reaching the parchment is lessened. On some estates, water-wheels have been put up to drive several pulpers at one time, which otherwise would require from two to four men each to work them, but from the costly buildings and appurtenances which such machinery renders necessary, they are rare.

Although the operation of pulping is so simple, it is one which requires the machine to be set in such a way that the greatest quantity of work may be done, or, in other words, the smallest quantity of unpulped berries be allowed to pass through. On the other hand, the berries must not be subjected to injury from the barrel; for if the parchment skin is pricked through, the berry will appear, when cured, with an unsightly brown mark upon it. Several new coverings for barrels, instead of punctured copper, have been tried; among others, coir-cloth and wire net, but the old material is not as yet superseded. After pulping, the coffee in parchment is received into cisterns, in which it is, by washing, deprived of the mucilaginous matter that still adheres to it. Without this most necessary operation, the mucilage would ferment and expose the berry to injury, from its highly corrosive qualities.

As some portion of pulp finds its way with the coffee to the cistern, which, if suffered to remain would, by its long retention of moisture, lengthen the subsequent drying process, various methods have been adopted to remove it. One mode is to pass the coffee a second time through a sieve worked by two men; another to pick it off the surfaces of the cistern, to which it naturally rises.

In August, 1846, premiums were awarded by the Ceylon Agricultural Society to Messrs. Clerihew and Josias Lambert for the improvements they had introduced into coffee-pulpers, which, by their exertions, had been brought to great perfection. The first improved complete cast-iron pulper received in the island, was made for Mr. Jolly, from drawings sent home by Mr. Lambert to Messrs. B. Hick and Son, engineers. This pulper is one of the most perfect in every respect that has yet been brought into use, the disadvantages belonging to the old machine having been entirely remedied. The sieve crank has a double eccentric action. The chops are regulated by set screws, and the sieve suspended in a novel and secure manner, the whole combining strength and efficacy, together with an elegance of form, which will likewise be appreciated.

Mr. W. Clerihew, of Ceylon, submitted to the Great Exhibition a model of his approved apparatus for drying coffee (which has been patented in the name of Robert R. Banks, Great George Street, Westminster), and received the Isis gold medal for the same. The intention is to dry the vegetable and aqueous moisture of the berry. Before this is required, the coffee has previously undergone [Pg 53]the process of pulping, or removal from the soft fleshy husk. Here let Mr. Clerihew describe the advantages for himself—

"When the coffee berry is picked from the tree it bears a closer resemblance to a ripe cherry, both in size and appearance; and several processes have to be gone through before the article known in commerce as coffee is produced. In the first place, the pulpy exterior of the cherry has to be removed by the process of pulping, which separates the seed and its thin covering called the parchment, from the husk. When the pulping process is completed, we have the parchment coffee by itself in a cistern, and the next process consists in getting rid of the mucilage with which it is covered."

Having become assured, both by experiment and by Liebig's reasoning, that the successive stages of decomposition were wholly ascribable to the action of the stagnant air which occupies the interstices between the beans, and taking into account that a mass of coffee presented a medium pervious to air, it occurred to Mr. Clerihew that it was possible, by means of fanners, working on the exhausting principle, so to withdraw air from an enclosed space as to establish a current of air through masses of coffee spread on perforated floors forming the top and bottom of that space. The plan he carried into execution at Rathgoongodde plantation in 1849. No sooner was the plan put in operation than, instead of stagnant air occupying the interstices of the beans and gradually acting on them, a stream of air was established and flowing through the mass of coffee, each bean of it became surrounded by a constantly renewed atmosphere of fresh air.

Java.—When Arabia enjoyed the exclusive monopoly of coffee, it could not be foreseen that one day the island of Java would furnish for the consumption of the world from 125 to 130 millions of pounds per annum. The cultivation was introduced by M. Zwaendenkroom, the Governor-General of Batavia, who obtained seeds from Mocha, in 1723. According to official statements the following are the exports.

In 1839 there were exported 46,781,729 kilogrammes, valued at 48 million florins. Eight years labor, 1833 to 1841, brought its produce of coffee from 12 million kilogrammes annually, up to 55 millions.

In 1846, the exports were 916,876 piculs, but, in 1850 they were only 14,801 piculs. The total coffee crop of Java was in 1850, 1,280,702 lbs.; in 1851, 1,436,171 lbs.; in 1852, 1,229,349 lbs.

Residences in which this produce has been cultivated in 1840 and 18412020
Number of families destined for the labor470,673453,289
Trees which have yielded a crop916,193,894216,085,600
Trees which have produced the average quantity of a picul of 125 lbs. Dutch280248
Quantity of coffee furnished to the godowns in piculs706,258877,444
Trees according to the reckoning made in the month of March, 1841 and 1842336,922,460329,898,936

[Pg 54]The comparative result of this table shows—1st. That, in the year 1841, coffee had been gathered from 20,000,000 more trees than the number in 1840, and that the crop had increased by 171,000 piculs.

2nd. That, in the month of March, 1842, there were above 7 millions less of coffee trees than in 1840. This diminution is merely nominal, seeing that these trees have served to replace those which by their small produce have to be suppressed in the lowlands of the residency of Baylen. On the contrary, the increase of trees, planted from 1839 to 1840, amount to very nearly the same number, of 7 millions.

3rd. That, in the season of 1842, there was planted nearly 20 millions of plants; of which 12 millions are to serve to replace the old trees, and 8 millions are destined to extend this culture. It is calculated that this island will very soon be in a condition to produce a million of piculs or 125 millions more of Dutch pounds of coffee. Previous to 1830, Java scarcely exported as much as 40 millions of pounds.

Cultivation and Preparation of Coffee in Java.—For the following valuable details I am indebted to M. de Munnick, the inspector of the agricultural department, Batavia, as contributed to my "Colonial Magazine" (vol. xi. p. 46).

Soil and Situation.—Elevated lands are found to be those best suited for the growth of coffee in Java. Land situated between 1,000 and 4,000 feet above the level of the sea may be generally said to be adapted to the cultivation of coffee. It must not be taken for granted that all ground of less elevation is unsuited. Suitable ground is to be found lower down, but the cultivation on it is more difficult; the tree gives less fruit, and the plant is less durable. Valleys lying between high mountains are more especially fit for coffee plantations, because the soil which is washed down from the heights affords fresh food continually to the lowlands; the valleys themselves are moist, since the hills surrounding them attract the rain; and they are shut out from severe winds by the same protecting enclosure. The soils best suited to the successful growth of coffee may be classed as follows:—

Firstly. Cleared forest lands, especially those in which the black leafy, or vegetable mould is found to considerable depth. These are the richest grounds, and will support the coffee plant for many years, and they are also cultivated with the least trouble.

Secondly. Dark brown soils, approaching to black, which, without having much clay in them, appear to the eye to have a mixture of coral. The greater the depth of this coral-like stratum, and of the reddish or deep yellowish soil, the better is the ground for coffee. This kind of land also has sufficient strength and substance to afford nourishment for many years to the plant; but it entails more trouble than the before mentioned soils, because the young plant does not so speedily strike root into it, and sometimes dies, so that provision has to be made against failures.

Thirdly. Reddish and loose ground, such as is generally found [Pg 55]in the neighbourhood of volcanic lands. This kind is frequently found well adapted for coffee; it flourishes on such land luxuriantly, but does not last long, as the ground possesses less strength and nourishing substance.[6] By digging in different places we become better acquainted with the nature of the ground, but we may take it as a rule, that rich old forest land on which many larger trees are found, and plains covered with heavy underwood, most frequently offer eligible sites for coffee plantations.

Grounds in which loam is found, and stony soils, are unfit for coffee. But I do not mean by "stony soils" land on which many stones are lying, for on that very account it may be most suitable; but I mean land which shows a pebbly stratum just below the surface, or such as is of a porous, stony nature. In the choice of situation care must be taken to select that which is as much as possible protected against the south-east wind, because its dry influence is very injurious to the coffee plant, and also prevents the growth of the Erythrina (known here locally as the Dadap tree) which is so necessary for its shade. Flat grounds, or gentle declivities, are better than steep slopes; yet the latter can be well employed if proper care is taken.

Cultivation.—After the ground has been cleared in the dry season—that is, after the bushes have been rooted out, the undergrowth burnt off, and the thickets removed—ploughing is commenced in September. When the ground has twice been deeply ploughed, the weeds and roots must be brought together with the rake and carefully burnt. The depth of the ploughing must be regulated by the nature of the ground. In all kinds of cultivation, deep ploughing is recommended, but in Java we ought not to plough deeper than the stratum of fertile soil, as a kind of subsoil may be wrought uppermost injurious to plants, and which, before it can become fertile, must for a year at least have been exposed to the atmosphere.

The ground having been turned up, should be left exposed for some days to throw off the vapor arising from it; and must then be again ploughed and cleared with the rake. After waiting for some days, it should be ploughed for the fourth and last time, and made as clean and friable as possible. In small plantations this is to be done with the spade, but on large estates the roller must be used. This roller consists of a heavy piece of round wood, eight or ten feet long, to which a pole is fastened in the middle to have oxen harnessed to it. It is drawn slowly over the ploughed land, and presses the clods to earth. To give it greater force, the driver sits or stands upon it.

Before the field has been properly ploughed and rolled in the above way, the middle of October will have arrived, and we then begin to open a path through the plantation from the highest to the lowest point, about two roods broad, and the whole of the [Pg 56]land is then divided into separate parcels. Portioning off the estates into divisions of equal size is a system to be much recommended. By this means labor may be equally divided, superintended and inspected. Order and regularity, which are necessary in all things, are most especially required in cultivation on a large scale.

The size of these parcels is regulated by the nature of the estate. On flat or gently declining land they may be greater than on steep grounds, because, in order to prevent the washing away of the soil on precipitous land, the water must be led off by trenches, which of themselves make the divisions of land smaller. On flat ground the divisions may be each 625 square roods, each of which may contain, if planted—

12 feet by 12625
10 feet by 10900
8 feet by 81406
6 feet by 62500

The distance between the coffee bushes cannot be definitely laid down, as it depends on the nature of the soil. On the most fertile forest lands twelve feet by twelve is a good distance. Only on low and meagre grounds, where the tree grows less luxuriantly and strong, can six feet by six be reckoned a proper distance.

Between the divisions a path should be left, one rood in breadth. Along the middle paths and by the side of the divisions drains must be cut, the former two feet in breath and depth, the latter one foot. The drains along the divisions must be cut in such a way as to conduct the rain-water to the larger drains which flank the middle paths. On precipitous ground, when the coffee is planted, small ridges should be raised between the rows, to prevent the rich earth from washing down in the heavy rains. The steeper the land is, the closer these ridges should be; and care should be taken to incline them, so as to break the descent, the direction of which they should in some degree follow. The first ridges may be made with the branches of the trees which have been felled, or with the rubbish cleared from the ground on the first raking of it.

Placing the pickets.—When the ground has been worked and divided in the above manner, the pickets are placed. These are slips of bamboo one-and-a-half to two feet long. First—two long canes (which do not stretch like string), each one hundred feet long, are marked off in feet according to the distance at which the planting is to take place; heavy stakes are made fast to each end of them, by which they can be well secured on the ground. At the places where they are marked off in feet, strings are fastened so tightly that they cannot be displaced; and then the canes are laid down and well fixed in the ground, one in the length and the other in the breadth.

Picketing does not give much trouble; it ensures regular planting, and makes the daily inspection simple. The planting thus takes place in straight lines, which give an ornamental appearance, and afterwards renders the view over the whole plantation easy. [Pg 57]At every place where a string has been tied, a picket is stuck in the ground; then the cane is removed to another place, and so on till all the estate is marked out by pickets. After the picketing, a hole is made with the spade at every mark; it should be a good foot broad and deep, and the earth inside should be made very fine and clear. The earth is now ready to receive the coffee plant, and the time has only to be waited for when the first rains fully begin.

Nurseries.—In the month of October, or earlier, if coffee trees are near at hand, nurseries must be prepared in the neighbourhood of the land about to be planted. This can be done in the ravines, or, if they are too far from the spot where the plants are wanted, pieces of ground most convenient can be selected. If the ravines are preferred, places must be chosen which are shaded by trees not prejudicial to the coffee plants. On ground where there is no trees, the nurseries may be covered, at the height of four feet, with leaves of jack (Artocarpus integrifolia), areca, or other palm trees, in a manner to admit the air.

The ground made loose and fine, coffee plants newly opening, or seeds only, are planted or sown at a distance of four inches square; 500 square roods will in this way furnish 648,000 plants, which are sufficient for an estate of 300,000 trees. Transplanting from nurseries is absolutely necessary in coffee cultivation, and the trouble it costs is always doubly repaid. Having a choice of plants, a person can be convinced he has taken none but healthy trees, and he proceeds therefore with a confidence of success. After the first year, all failures having been nearly replaced, the estate is fully planted, the trees are of regular growth, and no useless clearing is required—a thing which is always necessary in irregular plantations. It is easy also to pick the berries from the trees which are planted with regularity; the work goes on smoothly; and, when the estate has lived its time, it may be abandoned altogether, without leaving patches of living trees here and there, which renders superintendence so very difficult.

There should always be a plentiful supply of plants, to give an ample choice and to make up for failures. When plants are placed in the nurseries, they should not have more than two offshoots, or leaves, above each other; and when the ball plants are transplanted, they should not be higher than a foot, as large plants always give meagre trees.

At the end of November or beginning of December, if the nurseries are kept free from weeds, and, if necessary, occasionally watered, the plants will be about a foot high, and will have put forth 4 or 5 leaves; they are then just fit to be transplanted. Then, the ground is cloven with the spade, at a distance of an inch and a half round the stem of the plant, to about three inches deep; the plant, with the ball of earth adhering to it, is carefully lifted out of the ground, and the ball is wrapped in a jack, plantain, or other leaf, and tied to prevent the earth falling off; but, before [Pg 58]the plants are thus taken from the ground, it must be moistened to make the earth adhesive.

Planting the coffee trees.—The plants, which, after the above operation are called "ball plants," are then placed in a bamboo wicker frame, and are carefully carried by two men to the place where they are to be put into the ground. They are then taken out of the frame and placed in the holes next to the pickets. The pickets are removed, and the plant is fixed upright; the leaf surrounding the ball is made loose, but not taken away; the planter presses the plant down with his hand and fills up the hole with fine loose earth, and the business of planting the coffee tree is finished.

Planting the Dadap tree.—This is a species of Erythrina, probably E. indica, or E. arborescens; that used for the purpose in the West Indies is E. Corallodendrum. In Java, as soon as the coffee is planted, the operation of planting the dadap tree is commenced. The best sort of dadap comes from Serp or Mienyak; it is smooth and broad-leaved, and shoots up quickly. Thick young stems are chosen, about three feet long, and the lower part is pointed off. If the dadap is moist or juicy, it should be cut twenty-four hours before it is planted. The dadap is planted uniformly by measuring the cane in the same way as the coffee itself. Between every two rows of coffee one of dadap is planted, not on a line with the coffee plants, but alternately with them; thus, if the coffee is eight feet by eight, the dadap is sixteen by sixteen. The dadap is planted to the depth of a foot, with somewhat of a westerly inclination, in order that the morning sun may fall on a larger surface of the stick. The ground must be stiffly trodden round the bottom of the stem, and the upper part of it should have some kind of leaf tightly bound around it to prevent the sap from escaping. When the coffee and dadap plants have thus been put out, every fifth day the young plantation should be carefully inspected, and a picket placed wherever there is a failure, as a mark to the planter that a new plant is there required. This operation of replacing failures is carried on all through the wet season, and the dadaps which have not succeeded are at the same time changed.

Keeping up the estate.—In the first six months after planting, the estate should be cleaned each fortnight with the hoe; the ground being well moved and the weeds taken out. Those weeds which are too close to the plants to be removed in this manner, must be pulled out with the hand. When the plantation is thus wholly or partially cleaned, the earth must be taken off the weeds, and they must be collected and thrown on the pathways.

The weeding in this manner gives at first a great deal of trouble, but it is most advantageous in the long run, as the weeds are thus easily kept down.

Great care must be taken to do away with an old custom of burying the weeds in large holes on the estates. It conduces to [Pg 59]bad and slovenly habits, such as cutting off the tops of the weeds by wholesale, and thus giving the plantation an appearance of cleanliness, whilst it, in fact, is as dirty as ever. This is soon discovered by the weeds showing themselves again above ground in a very few days, and even if they rot under ground, they breed insects which are very hurtful to the bushes, and the seeds vegetate.

After the first six months, this weeding will be sufficient if it takes places once a month, but this must be persevered in till the third year, when there may be a much greater interval between the weeding. When the trees are coming to full growth, the hoe should be less frequently used in cleaning; the hand must be used to the full extent to which the branches reach, as the roots of the tree spread to a like distance, and if they are injured the growth of the tree is prejudiced.

The well-being of an estate chiefly depends on frequent cleaning of the plantation in the beginning. The idea of some persons that cleaning in the dry season is of little consequence, must be given up, as it is principally at that very time that it is extremely profitable to remove and clear the ground round the trees in their growth. In the first place, this destroys the weeds which take the nourishment away from the trees; secondly, the ground is rendered more open to receive the slight showers and dews which moisten it, and to benefit by the influence of the air; the roots are thus considerably refreshed. The dew falling on ground which has been recently moved, penetrates at once into it, and does good to the plant; but if it falls on the weeds, the first rays of the sun absorb it, and deprive the tree of this source of refreshment.

The dadap is to be taken care of whilst clearing goes on; it must be cropped so as to cause it to grow upright, and to throw as much shade as possible on the coffee without pressing upon it.

In warm fertile ground, where the coffee plant grows rapidly, the trees should be topped in the third year; but this should be done sparingly, and as a general measure it is not to be recommended; it should be resorted to only as a means to prevent the too rapid growth of the tree, or its running up to a point. Topping and taking off suckers are both necessary on meagre soils, where the trees run much to wood; and it prevents the trees being injured in the picking season, which often occurs without this precaution. The top or middle stem is broken off at a height of six or seven feet, but care must be taken not to tear the tree; when the top shoots out again it must be cropped a second time, and it is seldom necessary to do this more than twice. The cropping causes the tree to shoot out in breadth, and to push forth a greater number of sprigs, and good strong ones.

Picking coffee.—When the estate becomes productive, it must in the picking season, just before the work begins, be kept exceedingly clear of weeds, and be even swept clean with brooms, in order that the berries which fall off may be gathered up.

[Pg 60]The picking should take place under proper superintendence, the trees be picked row by row, and care taken that each berry is plucked off separately, and not a heap together, by which the trees are torn and the first offshoots prevented. In picking high trees, light ladders should be used, made out of two or three bamboos tied together.

Customary preparation of the berry in the pulp.—When the coffee is picked and brought into the village, it is piled up in a heap in the open air, and left in that manner for twenty-four hours. Thus heaped up it gets warm, and this creates a certain fermentation of the juice which is in the berry. That fermentation promotes the drying and loosens the silvery pellicle which is attached to the bean inside the parchment, and which cannot be entirely got rid of in any other way. Coffee which still retains that pellicle is called in trade "grey coffee," and is lower priced than good clean sorts. After the fermentation, the coffee is spread out in rather thick layers, and turned over twice a day. If it rains during this first spreading out, the coffee does not require to be sheltered, as the washing causes the juicy substance to evaporate, and this accelerates the drying afterwards.

In proportion as the coffee becomes dryer, the thickness of the layer must be reduced, and the turning over must be more frequent till the coffee is quite dry outside and the pulp has become hard.

Then the coffee is laid out on drying floors, which can be easily and speedily covered in rainy or damp weather, and is dried by the powerful heat of the sun.

This system of drying in the pulp requires six weeks or two months, as it is advisable not to be over hasty with drying.

When the coffee is entirely dry, it is either at once pounded or placed in the stores to await that operation. In order to know if the coffee be sufficiently dry, take a handful of it and shut your hand close; shake it to your ear, and listen if the beans rattle freely in the pulp. Or try them by biting the berry, and see if the bean and pulp are both brittle and crisp, which shows that the fruit is dry enough.

Preparation of the coffee in the parchment, or the West India system.—Only sound and fully ripe beans can be prepared in the West India manner. In picking, therefore, all unripe, green, or unsound beans must be taken away to dry in the pulp. As soon as the coffee is brought in, it must be pulped. This operation is performed by means of small peeling mills. These mills consist of two horizontal wooden cylinders rubbing on a plank; they are covered with hoop-iron, and set in motion by a water-wheel. The coffee is driven under the cylinder, and kept constantly moist; by being turned through the mill, the pulp is so bruised that the bean in the parchment falls from it into the bamboo open frame, which is placed in front of the mill. The coffee is then pressed with the hand, and falls through the frame into a basket. The pulp, and beans not rid of the pulp, remain on the frame; the first is cleared away, the rest passes a second time into the mill, and this opera[Pg 61]tion is continued till all the coffee is stripped of the pulp, and the parchment beans are in the basket. When the parchment coffee is thus separated from the outer skin, it is thrown into the washing troughs, and remains there for twenty-four hours; this drains from it the slimy substance adhering to it. After being thus steeped, it is washed with pure water two or three times in the basket, so that it becomes quite free from slimy matter. The parchment coffee is then spread out on drying frames, and exposed for six or eight days to the heat of the sun, till the outside is perfectly dry. To do this equally it must be stirred about every hour. These frames, which serve also to dry the coffee in the pulp, are made as follows:—A bamboo roof is set up, resting on four wooden pillars, and sloping considerably; it is covered closely with reeds; its length is ten feet, its breadth six feet; the pillars are from nine to ten feet high; a wooden framework is attached to this, about thirty feet long, or three times the length of the space covered by the roof. On this frame are brought out three platforms, one above the other, which are pushed out by means of little rollers under them; they are ten feet long by six broad, and six inches deep. The borders are of wood, and the bottom of platted bamboo. In rainy weather, or when the drying cannot go on, the three platforms are pushed under the covered space. These drying places are set up near the overseer's dwelling, where they stand free, and are not shaded by trees or buildings. After this first drying on platforms, the parchment coffee is again dried inside the house, and bamboo huts are for this purpose erected on each side of the outhouse of the planters. These huts have trays, divided into two or three compartments, one above the other, to keep the coffee separate, according to the time of its having been picked. The parchment coffee is spread out as thin as possible, and turned over with a small wooden rake every hour. In proportion to the dryness of the weather, from one to two months are required to dry the coffee fully. In drying inside the houses, the greatest care must be taken to prevent heating the coffee; this is the great object of the West Indian system, as such heating is very prejudicial. On this account the huts in which the platforms are placed must be very airy, so that the wind may have good play among the trays, on which the coffee must be thinly spread and frequently turned.

Pounding.—Coffee in the pulp, as well as that in the parchment, must, before being pounded, be exposed for some hours to the sun to make it crisp and hard; but it must be allowed to cool again before the pounding begins, or the beans will be liable to be broken.

The pounding is done in small baskets of a conical form, two feet high, at the top eighteen inches in diameter, and at the bottom one foot. These baskets are, up to one-third of their height, thickly woven round with coir, and fastened on the ground between four thick bamboo poles, and with the bottom half an inch in the ground itself. The coffee is pounded by small quantities at a time with light, wooden pestles; the baskets must not be [Pg 62]more than half full. When the coffee is sufficiently pounded, the basket is lifted from between the poles and the beans are thrown into sieves, on which it is cleaned from skin, and white, black, or broken beans. According to the West Indian system, the coffee must now be instantly put in bags, to preserve its greenish colour, which is very peculiar. If the green coffee is not instantly sent to the packing stores to be bagged, it must be put up in a very dry place, and be turned over once every day, to prevent heating, which damps and discolors the berry.

Coffee is grown to some extent in Celebes—the average crop being from 10,000 to 12,000 piculs of 133 English pounds. The production has rather fallen off than increased during the last few years. The whole of the coffee grown must be delivered by the inhabitants to the government exclusively, at twelve copper florins per picul. It is much prized in the Netherlands, and maintains a higher price in the market than the best Java coffee. As the treatment of the product in Java differs wholly from that which is in vogue in Celebes, and this, in our eyes, is much inferior, I know not whether the higher price is ascribable to the name, or to an intrinsic superiority in quality. It is certain that this cultivation is susceptible of much improvement, and might be advanced to a much higher condition.

From tables given by M. Spreeuwenberg ("Journal of the Indian Archipelago," vol. ii. p. 829) of the quantity of coffee delivered from each district of this island, for the years 1838 to 1842, it appears that the average annual delivery of coffee was 1,288,118 lbs.

Of the production of Sumatra I have no details, but a very fair proportion is grown there—about five million pounds.

Production of America and the West Indies.—The cultivation of the coffee plant is largely carried on in South and Central America and the West India Islands.

Its culture has greatly increased within the last few years in Venezuela, particularly in the valleys and on the sides of the hills. The exports from La Guayra, in 1833, were about twelve millions of pounds, being nearly double the quantity exported in 1830. The price there is about ten dollars the 100 lbs., which is still too high to enable it to enter into competition with the produce of Brazil or Cuba.

The total produce of coffee in Venezuela in 1839 was 254,567 quintals. The quintal is about 10 lbs. less than the English cwt.

La Guayra.—The exports of coffee from this port in 1796, were 283 quintals.


The exports of coffee from La Guayra have been declining within the past few years; the shipments were but 153,901 quintals in 1851, and only 124,623 in 1852.

[Pg 63]Caracas coffee ranks in our market with good ordinary St. Domingo.

The decline in the produce of coffee in the British West India possessions has been very great. In 1838, we imported from the West India Islands and British Guiana 17½ million pounds of coffee, in 1850 we only received 4¼ million pounds from thence. The shipments from Jamaica have decreased from about 15 million pounds in 1836, to 4 million pounds in 1850; Berbice and Demerara, from 5 million pounds in 1837, to about 8,000 pounds in 1850.

Production of coffee in the Brazils.—Forty-two years ago the annual crop of coffee in Brazil did not exceed 30,000 bags, and even in 1820 it only reached 100,000 bags. About that time the high price of coffee in England, superadded to the diminished production in Cuba, stimulated the Brazilian planters to extend its cultivation, and in 1830 they sent to market 400,000 bags, or 64,090,000 lbs., and in 1847, the enormous quantity of 300,000,000 lbs.

It would seem from the annexed figures that the production of coffee in Brazil doubled every five years, up to 1840, since when it has increased eighty per cent. The increase since 1835 has been upwards of two hundred millions of pounds, and of that increase the United States have taken one half.


The sources from whence the United States derives its supplies of coffee are shown in the following table:—

Years.Brazil.Cuba.St. Domingo.Java.Total

Coffee, up to 1830, paid a duty in the United States of five cents a pound. Since 1832 it has been free.

The population of the United States in 1840 was, in round numbers, seventeen millions; the average consumption of coffee for the three years ending 1841, 98½ millions of pounds, which gave a consumption of 5¾ lbs. per head. The average for the three years ending 1850, was 143 millions of pounds, and the population was twenty-three millions, which gave a consumption of 6¼ lbs. per head. In 1830 the consumption was only 3 lbs. per head; but [Pg 64]the price ruled nearly double what it was in the three years preceding 1850.

In 1821 the consumption per head, to the inhabitants of the United States, was 1 lb. 4 oz. In 1830, the proportion had increased to 3 lbs. per head, the foreign price having fallen fifty per cent. The importation in the year 1831 doubled, in consequence of the reduced duty; and the consumption per head for the four years ending with 1842, averaged 6 lb. per head, having quadrupled to each inhabitant since 1821. From 1820 to 1840, the Brazilian product increased 1,100 per cent, or 155 million pounds. In the same time the consumption in the United States increased 137 million pounds; leaving an increase of eighteen million pounds of Rio coffee, besides the enhanced products of all countries, to supply the increased consumption of England and Europe.

The consequence of the duty in England is, that while the United States, with a population of seventeen millions, consumed, in 1844, 149,711,820 lbs. of coffee, Great Britain, with a population of twenty-seven millions, consumed 31,934,000 lbs. only, or less than one-fourth the consumption of the United States. In 1851 the figures remained nearly the same, viz., 148,920,000 lbs. in the United States, and 32,564,000 lbs. for Great Britain.

The cultivation of coffee forms the present riches of Costa Rica, and has raised it to a state of prosperity unknown in any other part of Central America. It was begun about fifteen years ago; a few plants having been brought from New Granada, and the first trial being successful, it has rapidly extended. All the coffee is grown in the plain of San Jose, where the three principal towns are situated—about two-thirds being produced in the environs of the capital, a fourth in those of Hindia, and the remainder at Alhajuela, and its vicinity. The land which has been found by experience to be best suited to coffee is a black loam, and the next best, a dark-red earth—soils of a brown and dull yellow color being quite unsuitable. The plain of San Jose is mostly of the first class, being, like all the soils of Central America, formed with a large admixture of volcanic materials. Contrary to the experience of Java and Arabia Felix, coffee is here found to thrive much better, and produce a more healthy and equal berry on plain land, than upon hills, or undulating slopes, which doubtless arises from the former retaining its moisture better, and generally containing a larger deposit of loam.

I am inclined, in a great measure, to attribute the practice of sowing coffee in sloping land in Java to this fact, that the plains are usually occupied by the more profitable cultivation of sugar-canes. In Arabia, the plains are generally of a sandy nature (being lands which have, apparently, at no very distant geological period, formed the bed of the sea), which may account for the plantations existing only upon the low hills and slopes.

A coffee plantation in Costa Rica produces a crop the third year after it is planted, and is in perfection the fifth year. The coffee trees are planted in rows, with a space of about three yards [Pg 65]between each and one between each plant, resembling in appearance hedges of the laurel bay. The weeds are cut down, and the earth slightly turned with a hoe, three or four times in the year; and the plant is not allowed to increase above the height of six feet, for the facility of gathering the fruit. The coffee tree here begins to flower in the months of March and April, and the berry ripens in the plains of San Jose in the months of November and December, strongly resembling a wild cherry in form and appearance, being covered with a similar sweet pulp.

As soon as the crimson color assumed by the ripe fruit indicates the time for cropping, numbers of men, women, and children are sent to gather the berry, which is piled in large heaps, to soften the pulp, for forty-eight hours, and then placed in tanks, through which a stream of water passes, when it is continually stirred, to free it from the outer pulp; after which it is spread out on a platform, with which every coffee estate is furnished, to dry in the sun; but there still exists an inner husk, which, when perfectly dry, is, in the smaller estates, removed by treading the berry under the feet of oxen; and in the larger, by water-mills, which bruise the berry slightly to break the husk, and afterwards separate it by fanners. The entire cost of producing a quintal (101 1-5 lbs. British) of coffee, including the keeping of the estate in order, cleaning and fanning the plants, and gathering and preparing the berries, is, at the present rate of wages (two rials, or about a shilling per day), calculated at two and a half dollars (equal to ten shillings); but the laborers are now hardly sufficient for working all the estates which are planted, so that the price may probably rise a little, though the present rate of payment enables the natives to live much better than has been their wont.

The coffee tree bears flowers only the second year, and its blossoms last only 24 hours. The returns of the third year are very abundant; at an average, each plant yielding a pound and a-half or two pounds of coffee.

The price of coffee in San Jose during the months of February, March and April, after which none can generally be met with, was, in 1846, about 5 dollars cash per quintal, the duty (which is collected for the repairs of the road) one rial more, so that the speculator makes at least ten rials, or about 20 per cent., by purchasing and sending the coffee to the port, on his outlay and charges; but it is often bartered for manufactured goods, and is also purchased before-hand, half being paid in imports and half in cash to the grower.

The largest coffee estates of Costa Rica are possessed by the family of Montealegre and Don Juan Moira. The principal of these I have examined. They appear to be very carefully and judiciously managed, possessing good mills for cleaning and husking the coffee, worked by water power; and annually producing 500 tons. The entire produce of the year 1836, amounted to about 3,000 tons, and the crop of 1847 exceeded 4,000 tons, near which [Pg 66]quantity it will probably continue, till the population gradually increases, the laborers, as already mentioned, being barely sufficient for the present cultivation. As the value at the present average price in the English market of 50s. a cwt., will give £200,000, the produce of the district will appear pretty considerable for a petty American State, possessing only 80,000 inhabitants, and just emerging from a half-savage condition.—(Dunlop's "Central America.")

The cultivation of coffee on the plains of San Jose, in Costa Rica, according to Stephens, has increased rapidly within a few years. Seven years before, the whole crop was not more than 500 quintals, and in 1844 it amounted to 90,000.

Don Mariano Montealegre is one of the largest proprietors there, and had three plantations in that neighbourhood. One, which Mr. Stephens visited, contained 27,000 trees, and he was preparing to make great additions the next year. He had expended a large sum of money in buildings and machinery; and though his countrymen said he would ruin himself, every year he planted more trees. His wife, La Senora, was busily engaged in husking and drying the berries. In San Jose, by the way (he adds), all the ladies were what might be called good business-men, kept stores, bought and sold goods, looked out for bargains, and were particularly knowing in the article of coffee.

The coffee at Surinam is suffered to grow in three stems from the root, and when one of them does not produce plenty of berries, it is cast away, and the best shoot in appearance next the root is allowed to grow in its room. The trees are not permitted to rise higher than about five feet, so that the negroes can very easily pluck the berries, for gathering which there are two seasons, the one in May, or the beginning of June, and the other in October or the beginning of November. The berries are often plucked of unequal ripeness, which must greatly injure the quality of the coffee. It is true when the coffee is washed, the berries which float on the water are separated from the others; but they are only those of the worst quality, or broken pieces, while the half-ripe beans remain at the bottom with the rest. Now, in the description I have given of the method of gathering coffee in Arabia, it is seen that the tree is suffered to grow to its natural height, and the berries are gathered by shaking the tree, and making them fall on mats placed for them. By this way the Arabians harvest only the beans perfectly ripe at the time, and which must give the coffee a more delicate flavor. A tree will yield each time on an average from 1 lb. to 1½ lb. of coffee, when pulped and perfectly dried. An acre of land planted with coffee, when favored by the weather, becomes more profitable than when it is planted with sugar canes; but its crops are always very precarious, as the blossoms, and even the berries, are sometimes damaged by the heavy rains, which are much less injurious to sugar canes; wherefore a planter feels himself best secured in his revenue, as soon as he can cultivate them both.

[Pg 67]Nothing can exceed the beauty of the walks planted with coffee trees, from their pyramidical shape and from their glossy dark green leaves, shining with great brightness, amongst which are hanging the scarlet-coloured berries. Mr. Baird, in his "Impressions of the West Indies," thus speaks of a coffee plantation:—

"Anything in the way of cultivation more beautiful, or more fragrant, than a coffee plantation, I had not conceived; and oft did I say to myself, that if ever I became, from health and otherwise, a cultivator of the soil within the tropics, I would cultivate the coffee plant, even though I did so irrespective altogether of the profit that might be derived from so doing. Much has been written, and not without justice, of the rich fragrance of an orange grove; and at home we ofttimes hear of the sweet odors of a bean-field. I have, too, often enjoyed in the Carse of Stirling, and elsewhere in Scotland, the balmy breezes as they swept over the latter, particularly when the sun had burst out, with unusual strength, after a shower of rain. I have likewise, in Martinique, Santa Cruz, Jamaica, and Cuba, inhaled the gales wafted from the orangeries; but not for a moment would I compare either with the exquisite aromatic odors from a coffee plantation in full blow, when the hill-side—covered over with regular rows of the tree-like shrub, with their millions of jessamine-like flowers—showers down upon you, as you ride up between the plants, a perfume of the most delicately delicious description. 'Tis worth going to the West Indies to see the sight and inhale the perfume."

The decline in the quantities of coffee drawn from the "West Indies to supply the great demand, is manifest in the following summary of imports from those islands:—

1828 they exported about30,000,000
1831 the imports from British West Indies were20,017,623
1841     Ditto      Ditto9,904,230
1850, the last year in which distinct accounts were kept4,262,225
Decrease from 1831   15,755,398

Jamaica.—The coffee plant was first introduced into Jamaica by Sir Nicholas Lawes, in 1728, when it was cultivated on an estate called Temple Hall, in Liguanea, not far from Kingston. In 1752 there were exported 60,000 lbs.; and in 1775, 44,000 lbs. Until 1788 little attention was paid to this product. In the four years ending 30th September, 1794, the average exportation of coffee was 1,603,000 lbs.; in 1804 it amounted to 22,000,000 lbs.; and during the three years ending 30th September, 1807, the average annual exportation was more than 28,500,000 lbs.; which, at £6 per cwt., its cost in Jamaica, produced more than £1,700,000. It is calculated that £20,000,000 was invested in coffee estates. The coffee plant thrives in almost every soil about the mountains of Jamaica, and in the very driest spots has frequently produced abundant crops. In 1844 there were 671 coffee plantations in the island. Coffee is grown in the vicinity of the Blue Mountain Peak at a height of 4,700 feet above the level of the sea, and some of the finest and most productive plantations are in this locality. The branches of a coffee tree, on Radnor estate, covered, in 1851, a space of thirteen feet in diameter, and the tree was about thirteen years old.

In 1789 Hayti exported 77,000,000 lbs. of coffee, but in 1826 [Pg 68]it had declined to 32,000,000 lbs., in 1837 it was 31,000,000 lbs., and the shipments of this staple are now very inconsiderable.

In the West Indies, I speak principally of Jamaica, where my experience extended, the soil best adapted for the cultivation of coffee is found to be loose gravelly or stony. A rich black mould will produce a luxuriant bush, which will yield little fruit. Decomposing sandstone, and slate, known in Jamaica as rotten rock, mixed with vegetable mould, is one of the most favorable soils. The subsoil should be also carefully examined by a boring augur, for a stiff moist clay, or marly bottom retentive of moisture, is particularly injurious to the plant. A dark, rusty-colored sand, or a ferruginous marl on a substratum of limestone, kills the tree in a few years. In virgin lands, after the wood has been felled and cleared, the land is lined off into rows of from six to seven feet square, and at each square a hole is made about eighteen inches deep, into which the young plant is placed and the earth plied gently about it, leaving from six to eight inches of the plant above ground.

Nurseries for raising plants from seeds were formerly made, but for many years this has been neglected, and plantations are set out now from suckers which are drawn and trimmed of their roots, and cut about two feet long.

The young plants require to be kept well clear from weeds, and four cleanings in the year may be deemed necessary, the plants which have failed must be supplied in order to ensure uniformity of appearance.

All manure, whether fluid or solid, in warm climates should be applied in wet seasons, where it is not practicable to dig or turn it in to prevent the escape of its volatile and nutritive principles.

As respects situation, coffee thrives best on elevated situations, where the morning sun has most influence; and on lower mountains, where the temperature is higher, in situations facing the south-east, or where the sun does not act with such intensity. Low mountains, in which the thermometer ranges from 75 to 90 degrees Fahr., as well as those exposed to sea breezes, are less suitable for the cultivation of coffee than those districts where the temperature averages 65 to 80 degrees Fahr., and situated at higher elevations in the interior.

As a general rule, it may be asserted that the elevation best adapted for coffee is at an altitude ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, at a temperature from 70 to 75 degrees Fahr. A west or south-west aspect is the best, and the field should be well sheltered from the north breezes. As a general rule in planting in light soils and high temperatures, trees may be placed at the distance of four or five feet, while in stronger soils and lower temperatures the average distance would be from five to seven feet.

Topping.—The young tree shoots out its lateral branches at each joint, which follow in regular succession, till the tree attains the height of about four feet six inches, when it is usual to top it down [Pg 69]to four feet. But care should be taken that the wood has ripened, which is known by its assuming a brown and hard appearance, This strengthens the vegetation of the branches, which begin to throw out buds, and these shortly form collateral branches; in the course of eighteen months after the tree will have arrived at its bearing point. Trees, after being topped, throw off suckers, which are called gormandizers, from each joint, but more especially at the head. They should be plucked off with care, but not cut, as the sap would flow more readily if cut.

In pruning, one of the main objects is the admission of a free circulation of air and light through the branches to the root of the tree. No general rules can be laid down for pruning; much must depend on judgment, experience, and a nice eye to appearance and preservation of primary branches for bearing and ripening wood for the ensuing year, as well as to regulate and proportion the size of the tree to the functions of the roots in supplying sustenance, and the convenience of picking the berries when ripe. Every old bough which has seen its day, every wilful shoot growing in a wrong direction, every fork, every cross branch or dead limb, must be cut away.

The blossoming, and ripening of the fruit varies according to the situation and temperature of the plantation. In low and hot situations, where the thermometer ranges from 78 to 90 degrees, the tree shows its first blossoms when about two-and-a-half years old. In higher and colder situations the tree will not blossom in profusion until the fourth or fifth year. If there be light showers, the blossoms will continue on the tree for a week or more, and by the setting of the blossoms the planter can determine what germs will become fruit. The trees will blossom in low situations as early as March, but the April bloom is considered the most abundant. In higher elevations, the trees will bloom even so late as August or September. In warm climates the fruit advances as rapidly, and in a month will have attained the size of a pea; in more elevated and colder localities, it will take two months to arrive at this stage. The fruit will be ripe in from six to eight months after the blossom has set; it ripens in warm districts about the month of August, while in others the crop will not be mature till February. An acre will usually contain 1,200 trees in Jamaica, and the produce would be about 400 lbs. of coffee an acre, or six ounces as the produce of each tree annually. In some instances, but very seldom, one pound a tree may be obtained. A bushel of cherry coffee will produce about ten or twelve pounds of merchantable coffee.

The coffee berry, after being pulped and soaked for a day and night to free it from the mucilage, is spread out on barbacues to dry; in ten or twelve days, if the weather has been good, it will be sufficiently cured for the peeling mill.

Mr. W.H. Marah, of Jamaica, in a Prize Essay on the Cultivation and Manufacture of Coffee in that Island, published in my "Colonial Magazine," makes some useful remarks:—[Pg 70]

The manufacture of this staple commodity, with a view to its improvement in quality, is a subject which demands our serious attention; and when we observe the vast importance and pecuniary advantage which accrue upon the slightest shade of improvement either in colour or appearance, it becomes the more imperative on us to use all those means which are available, in order to place ourselves on a footing with the foreign grower. It is true that we are unable to enter the contest with the East Indian or slave cultivator, from the abundance and cheapness of labour which is placed at their command; but by means of our skill and assiduity, we can successfully compete with them by the manufacture of superior produce.

To this portion of plantation management I have given an attentive inquiry, and shall shortly proceed to state my views on the system best adapted to the curing and preparing for market of good quality produce.

The fruit should be gathered in when in a blood-ripe state, to all appearance like cherries. The labourers are principally accustomed to reap the crop in baskets, of which they carry two to the field; and when the coffee is bearing heavily, and is at its full stage of ripeness, the good pickers will gather in four bushels per diem, and carry the same on their heads to the works.

The fruit is then measured and thrown into a loft above the pulper in a heap. It should be submitted to the first process of machinery, the pulper, within twenty-four hours after, if not immediately; but it not unfrequently happens that the manager is unable to pulp his coffee for two and sometimes three days, by which time fermentation ensues, and it becomes impossible after pulping to wash off the mucilage, which rather adheres to the outer envelope of the berry, and gives the produce what is termed a "red" or "blanketty" appearance when spread out on the barbacues. The produce is let down by means of a small hole cut into the floor of the loft, or a floating box, into the hopper of the pulper, and by means of a grater forcing the fruit against the chops, the berries are dislodged from the pulp and fall upon a sieve, which being shaken by the machinery, lets the berries fall into the cistern, whilst the grater catches the pulp and carries it backwards at each evolution of the roller, around which it is encircled.

The fruit which might have passed through without being more than half squeezed, and having only ejected one berry, is then returned (after being shaken off by the sieve) into the hopper, to undergo the process a second time. The pulped coffee is then permitted to remain in the cistern for a day and a night, during which period it undergoes a process of fermentation; it is then washed out in two or three waters, and the whole of the mucilaginous stuff which had risen from the berry by the fermentation is entirely washed off, and the coffee presents a beautiful white appearance. From this the produce is turned out to drain on a barbacue, sloped so as to throw all the water to the centre, where a drain is placed to carry it all off.

In an hour or so after, the coffee may be removed to the barbacues for curing; it is there spread out thinly and exposed to the sun, which, if shining strong, will in eight or nine hours absorb all the water, and the coffee be fit for housing that day. I say fit for housing, because I have repeatedly seen coffee washed out early in the morning and put up the same evening. I cannot say I approve of the system, though in fine weather it has been attended with success. From the time the coffee is first exposed to the sun till the silver skin starts, is the stage, in my opinion, during which the produce suffers most injury. In the first instance, it should be kept constantly turned, in order to get the water absorbed as early as possible; and after it has been housed, the greatest precaution should be taken to prevent its heating: and it is for this reason that I disapprove of early housing, for if wet weather should intervene, and the coffee cannot be turned out, it is sure to get heated. From this neglect I have seen a perfect steam issuing from the house in the morning when the doors have been opened; and I have known, as a natural consequence, the adhesion of the silver skin to the berry so firm, that it could not be removed by a sharp penknife without slicing the berry.

In a succession of wet weather the produce has remained on the barbacues for several weeks, without the slightest advance in curing; and, unless it be [Pg 71]frequently turned while in this wet state, it is sure to germinate; the berries first swell, then a thin white spire issues from the seam, and on opening the berry the young leaves will be actually seen formed inside, so rapid is the course of vegetation.

I am of opinion that coffee should not be housed till the silver skin begins to start, when no danger can ensue; for if a few wet days should intervene, by turning the coffee over in the house, and allowing a current of air to pass through it, it will keep for weeks. It is at this stage that the parchment skin begins to show itself, for at first it adheres to the inner kernel, but the heat of the sun starts it from its hold and it separates; thus, on shaking a handful of the produce it will be heard to rattle, a sure indication that the silver skin has risen from the bean, without even threshing it to ascertain the fact. The bean is perfectly white till the silver skin starts; it then begins gradually to assume the dark, or what is called the half-cured appearance. A good day's strong sun will then half cure it, and by subsequent exposure the produce takes another stage, and gradually loses the half-cured, and assumes a blue colour; and when the produce is properly cured and fit for the mill, not the slightest dark spot will be perceptible in the bean, but it will exhibit a horny blue colour.

It is within my observation that coffee has been gathered from the field on the Monday, and prepared for market on the Saturday, in a spell of dry weather; but I have known it also to lie on the barbacues for as many weeks in contrary weather, before it had gone through the same ordeal. With good weather and smooth terraces whereon to cure, nothing but gross ignorance and unpardonable carelessness can produce a bad quality of coffee. The difficulty arises in wet weather, when one's skill and assiduity is called into action to save the produce from being spoiled. After coffee has been half-cured, the putting it up hot at an early period of the day has the effect of curing it all night. I have noticed produce housed in this manner, and requiring another day's exposure to fit it for the mill, found perfectly cured next morning.

The barbacues should be kept in good order—all ruts and holes neatly patched every crop, for to them and other roughnesses is to be attributed the peeling of the berries, their being scratched, and various injuries which the produce sustains. And while on the subject of "Works," I cannot help noticing the extreme carelessness and inattention which, on visiting properties, the works and buildings present to our view. It is utterly impossible to manufacture good produce unless the machinery and buildings are kept in good order; and the parsimony which is thus displayed in this necessary outlay is fallacious, when one thinks of the result of one or two shillings per 100 lbs. lost on a crop through this neglect.

When the coffee is perfectly cured—which is generally ascertained by threshing out a few berries in one's hands, and seeing if it has attained its horny blue colour—it is then fit for milling, which is the second process of machinery which it has to undergo. Here the parchment and silver skins are dislodged from the berry, by means of the friction of a large roller passing over the produce in a wooden trough. It is then taken out of the trough, and submitted to the fanner or winnowing machine, when the trash is all blown away, and the coffee, passing through two or three sieves, comes away perfectly clean and partially sized. From this it is again sieved in order to size it properly, hand-picked, put into bags, and sent on mules' backs to the wharf. It is then put into tierces and sold in the Kingston market, or shipped to Britain.

A variety of circumstances tend to injure the quality of the coffee, which it is beyond human agency to control. Dry weather intervening at the particular period when the berry is getting full, subjects it to be stinted and shrivelled; and strong dry breezes happening at the same period, will cause an adhesion of the silver skin which the ordinary process of curing and manufacture will not remove. Late discoveries in the latter have, however, shown the possibility of divesting the produce of that silvery appearance, when brought about under the foregoing circumstances. It is almost, unnecessary to state that this improvement in manufacture refers to the inventions of Messrs. Myers and Meacock, whose respective merits have already undergone public revision. In reference to Mr. Myers' plan of immersing coffee in warm water, I may be allowed to [Pg 72]state that it has come under my own observation, that produce which had previously been heated through some carelessness in the curing, subsequently was exposed to a slight sprinkling of rain, and when ground out and fanned, was found to have lost its silvery appearance.

To the invention of Mr. Meacock, a preference has, however, been given, in consequence of the impression that the produce thus immersed in water will absorb a portion of the liquid, which will deteriorate its quality in its passage across the Atlantic. Several gentlemen have shipped coffee submitted to this process to England, but I have not learnt the result.

It appears very manifest that a great deal might be done in the way of machinery, to relieve produce of that silvery or foxy appearance which is so prejudicial to its value in the British market, and which appearances might accrue from a variety of incidents to which all plantations are more or less subject.

A manifest preference is given in the leading European markets to coffee which has gone through the pulping and washing process; but, strange to say, the consumers of this beverage are totally ignorant of the fact, that the produce which is cured in the pulp furnishes a stronger decoction than an equal quantity of the same which has undergone the other process. Many persons are of opinion that the mucilaginous substance which is washed off in pulping is absorbed by the bean when cured in the pulp, and which gives strength to the produce and enhances its aromatic flavour. On most properties it has been customary to cure the remnants of the crop in this way, for the use of the plantation; and it has been well noticed by great epicures in the flavour of the decoction, that the coffee thus cured produced the strongest and best beverage."

Trinidad.—The coffee plant does not succeed well in Trinidad, the tree giving but little fruit, and perishing at the end of ten or twelve years; though the article is always of a superior quality, and has the advantage over that of Martinique and the other Antilles of not requiring age to produce an agreeable beverage. It is from the fault and obstinate attachment to old habits of the planters, that this cultivation has not been more successful in Trinidad. Because coffee trees thrive in St. Domingo, Guadalupe, Dominica, St. Lucia and Martinique, on the hills, they had concluded that it would be the same in Trinidad; without noticing that the hills of that island are composed only of schistus covered with gravel, on which lies a light layer of vegetative earth, that the rain washes away after some years of cultivation; whilst the hills of the Antilles, much more high and cool, are covered with a deep bed of earth, which is retained by enormous blocks of stone, that at the same time maintain humidity and freshness.

Messrs. Branbrun, of Tacarigua, and Don Juan de Arestimuno, of Cariaco, worthy and intelligent planters, some years ago adopted the plan of planting coffee trees on the plains, in the manner cacao trees are planted, that is, in the shade of the Erythrina, and this mode of cultivation has perfectly succeeded. It is to be hoped that their success will encourage the cultivation of this valuable tree in the united provinces of Venezuela, and in those parts of Trinidad which were deemed unfavorable to it from the too great dryness of the climate.

In 1796, the year preceding its capture, there were 130 coffee plantations in Trinidad, which produced 330,000 lbs. of coffee. In 1802, the produce had slightly increased to 358,660 lbs., but there were two plantations less.

[Pg 73]In the island of Grenada, according to the returns made to the local Treasury of the staple products raised, while there were 64,654 lbs. made-in 1829, the quantity had decreased to 13,651 lbs. in 1837.

The colony of British Guiana was formerly noted for its produce of coffee. The following figures mark the decline of the culture of this staple, showing the exports in Dutch pounds:—

Demerara and

Thus the exports of the colony which in 1836 were 4,801,350 lbs. had declined in 1844 to 1,490,737; whilst in 1831 we received from British Guiana 3,576,754 lbs. of coffee, in 1850 we only received 8,472 lbs.

There are about 500 acres under cultivation with coffee in St. Lucia. The exports, which in 1840 were 323,820 lbs., had declined, in 1844, to 58,834 lbs.

The British West Indies exported to Great Britain, in 1829 and 1850, the following quantities of coffee:—

St. Lucia303,49935

Cuba.—For the following valuable remarks and details of coffee culture in Cuba, I am indebted to Dr. Turnbulls "Travels in the West:"—

At the period of the breaking out of the French revolution, the cultivation of coffee could scarcely be said to have reached the South American continent; so that till that its cultivation was in a great measure confined to Arabia and the Caribbean Archipelago. Its extreme scarcity during the war enhanced its price so enormously, that on the first announcement of peace in 1814, the plants were multiplied to infinity, and coffee plantations were formed in every possible situation—on the Coste Firme of South America, along the Brazilian shores of that continent, and even at some points on the coast of Southern Africa. To show the extreme rapidity with which the cultivation has been extended, take the statistical returns of La Guayra, the chief port of the State of Venezuela, from whence the whole export of coffee in the year 1789 was not more than ten tons; and of late years from that port alone, and in spite of the internal disunions of the country, it has reached the enormous quantity of 2,500 tons. In the Isle of Bourbon (now Reunion), and the Mauritius and Ceylon, the planters have also applied themselves to this branch of industry; it has been prosecuted successfully in our Eastern Possessions, and the French government, [Pg 74]not content with the natural influence of the universal demand for it, have been endeavouring to stimulate the production by means of premiums and other artificial advantages.

In forming a coffee plantation, the choice of situation and soil becomes a consideration of the first importance. A very high temperature is by no means a favourable condition. If a spot could be found where the range of the Fahrenheit thermometer did not sink below 75 degrees, nor rise above 80 degrees, and where the soil was otherwise suitable, no planter could desire a more favourable situation. In the mountainous islands of Jamaica and St. Domingo, the nearest approach to this temperature is found where the elevation is not less than 2,000, and not more than 3,000 feet above the level of the sea; and it is most successfully cultivated in the two islands I have named. The Island of Cuba being much less mountainous, but at the same time being nearer the tropical limit, the planter in seeking the degree of heat he requires is forced to confine himself in a great measure to the northern side of the island, where, accordingly, we find that the cultivation of coffee is most successfully carried on.

The vicinity of the cafetal to a convenient place of embarcation, enters largely, of course, into the consideration of the planter when choosing a suitable locality. A compact form is also thought desirable, in order to save the time and labour of the negroes; and the ordinary extent is about six caballerias, or something less than 200 English acres.

The locality being finally chosen, such open places are formed or selected, from distance to distance, as may be found most suitable, in respect to shade and moisture, for the establishment of convenient nurseries. The fruit which has been gathered in the beginning of the month of October, and which has been dried in the shade, is preferred for seed. The seed is sown in drills half a yard asunder, and introduced, two beans together, by means of a dibble, into holes two inches deep and ten or twelve inches apart. The extent of one of these nurseries is generally about 100 yards square, which, with such intervals as I have mentioned, ought to contain about 60,000 plants.

A quarter of a caballeria, or about eight English acres, is visually set apart, in a central and convenient position, for the site of the buildings, and for growing provisions for the use of the labourers on the future plantation. In favourable seasons it is found that heavier crops are obtained from coffee trees left wholly unshaded; but, in the average of two years, it seems to be settled, in the island of Cuba at least, that a moderate degree of protection from the scorching rays of the sun produces a steadier, and, upon the whole, a more advantageous return.

The distribution of the land into right-angled sections, and the planting of the trees in straight lines, is so contrived as to favour the future supervision of the labourers much more than from any strict attention to mere symmetry. The distance of the trees from each other ought to be regulated by the quality of the soil, and the degrees of heat and shade they are to enjoy. The ranges from north to south are usually four yards apart, and those from east to west not more than three; but the lower the temperature the wider should be the interval, because in that case the vegetation is more active and more rapid, and the tree requires a wider space over which to extend itself.

The best season for planting the trees is the middle of the month of May, if there be then a sufficient degree of moisture; but the operation is often performed successfully during the rainy month of October; subject always to the risk, however, of serious injury to the young plantation from the north winds which prevail at that advanced season of the year. The holes prepared to receive the plants are eighteen inches in diameter, and about two feet deep.

In the island of Cuba there are two rival modes of planting the coffee tree. The one is called "la siembra à la mota;" the other "la siembra à la estaca."

By the method "a la mota," a circle is formed around the plant in the nursery, and care is taken to remove it without disturbing the earth around the roots. The plants are then placed carefully in willow baskets, prepared for the purpose, and carried to the holes already opened for their reception; gathering up the earth around the stem, and pressing it carefully down with the foot, in such a manner as to form a basin or filter for the reception of the rain-water, and for [Pg 75]suffering it to percolate among the roots, and also to provide a convenient place of deposit for the subsequent application of manure.

The "siembra à la estaca" is differently executed. Such plants are selected from the nursery as are of the thickness of the little finger, or from that to an inch in diameter. In withdrawing them from the ground, great care is taken not to injure or compress the bulbs or buttons within, eight or ten inches of the level of the soil, because these are to serve for the production of fresh roots when the "estaca" is afterwards planted more deeply in its permanent position. The greater part of the capillary roots are cut away with a knife; but a few, together with the principal root, are suffered to remain from four to six inches long. In planting them, from three to four inches of the trunk are left above ground. The little basin of earth for the reception and filtration of the rain-water, is not so large in the stake system of planting as in that with the clod of earth "à la mota;" but if the soil be poor, it must be proportionably enlarged to admit the application of the necessary quantity of manure.

The stake system, requiring much less labour than the other, is generally preferred; but when there is abundance of shade to protect the young plant from drought, and always, of course, in replacing the decayed trees of an old plantation, it is considered more desirable to remove the whole plant, its roots and branches entire, with as much as possible of the adhering soil from the nursery, according to the system "à la mota."

In the third or fourth year of the plantation, the trees, according to the best system of husbandry, are pruned down to the height of three feet from the ground on the richest soil, and still lower in proportion to its sterility. All the branches which are not as nearly as possible at right angles with the trunk, are likewise removed by the pruning-knife, so that in the following spring the whole stem is covered with fresh shoots. By this operation the power of nature seems to be exhausted, as for that year the trees in general bear no fruit; but in subsequent seasons the loss is amply repaid by a crop often greater than the branches can support, or than the flow of nourishment is always able to bring to full size and maturity.

The machinery for removing the external pulp of the coffee-bean is seldom of a very perfect description in this island, and the loss sustained in consequence is often very considerable. It is almost uniformly moved by the power of horses or oxen, working in a gin, and the name it bears is that of the Descerecador. The Barbecues, when the coffee is laid out to dry, are called indiscriminately Tendales or Secadores. They are more numerous and of smaller dimensions than is customary in the British colonies, where a single barbecue, laid down with tiles or plaster, is considered sufficient for a whole estate.

The warehouse for receiving the crop and preserving the coffee after it is put into bags and ready for the market, is generally of such limited dimensions as to be barely sufficient for the purposes for which it is designed; so that, when the harvest has been abundant, or when anything has occurred to interfere with the despatch of what is ready for removal, the constant accumulation is attended with serious inconvenience. In fact, the occupation of the coffee planter has been for some time on the decline in the island, owing to the superior rate of profit derived from the making of sugar; and everything reminds you of it, the moleno de pilar, the aventador, and the separador, down to the humblest implement of husbandry on the estate.

The gathering of the fruit commences in Cuba in August; but November and December are the most active and important months of the harvests. The labourers are sent out with two baskets each, one large, the other small. Every labourer has a file of coffee trees assigned to him; the large basket he leaves near the place where his work is to begin; the other he carries with him to receive the berries from the trees; and as often as it is full he empties it into the large one. The baskets are made of rushes, willows, or bamboo; and the large one is of such a size that three of them ought to fill the barrel, without top or bottom, which serves the purposes of a measure at the Tendal or Secador.

Three baskets, or one barrel-measure, of the newly-gathered coffee berry, ought to produce thirty pounds after the process of drying, the removal of the [Pg 76]pulp, and the final preparation for the market. When there is a sufficient number, or a sufficient space of Barbecues or Secadors, sixty or seventy barrels only are put together; but from want of room it often happens that the quantity amounts to a hundred barrels. In either case, the whole is gathered into two great heaps, and in this state it is allowed to remain for four-and-twenty hours, in order to subject it to a certain degree of fermentation. After this, it is spread out to dry over the whole surface of the Barbecue, and until it is sufficiently so, it remains there uncovered day and night. When the dessication is found to be far enough advanced, it is no longer exposed during the night; nor even during the day, if the weather be damp or unfavorable. The subsequent operations are certainly not better, probably not so well, conducted as in our own West India possessions.

In the fourth year, it is presumed that the agricultural produce of the land, and the first returns of coffee, should be sufficient to meet all the current expenses. At the end of the fifth year there ought to be forty thousand coffee trees four years old on the estate, 60,000 of three years, and 100,000 of two and one year, the produce of which ought to be at least 400 quintals, which, at a moderate estimate, should be worth 2,400 dollars. Thus the calculation goes on until we arrive at the end of the seventh year, when the estate ought to be in full bearing. The returns are estimated at 3,000 arrobas, or 750 quintals, which, at eight dollars per quintal delivered free on board, make 6,000 dollars. The minor products of the estate, such as Indian corn, pigs, and oil, are given at 1,130 dollars, making the gross returns 7,130 dollars; and, after deducting the annual expenses, leaving 5,300 dollars as the regular return on the capital invested, which, having been about 40,000 dollars, gives about thirteen per cent.; not certainly to be considered extravagant in a country where twelve per cent, is the regular rate of interest. The produce of coffee from each section is given at 400 arrobas, or 3,500 arrobas for the whole of the nine sections. The average price of coffee, free of the expense of carriage, is assumed to be two dollars the arroba, or eight dollars per quintal, which would give a return of 7,200 dollars, besides the repayment of the rent by the colonists.

The cultivation of coffee has been falling off in Cuba for several years past, the crops it is asserted being too precarious there, and the prices too low to encourage the continuance of planting. On the northern side of the island is where this decrease is most perceptible, several of the largest estates having been converted to the growth of sugar and tobacco, others abandoned to serve as pasture fields, and the very few remaining yielding less and less every year. Henceforward the culture of this berry here is likely to be very insignificant, and not many years will elapse before the amount produced will merely suffice for the local consumption. About St. Jago de Cuba the cultivation is more attended to, the article forming still their principal export. Taking five quinquennial periods, the following figures show the average annual exports of coffee:—

1826 to 18301,718,865
1830 to 18351,995,832
1835 to 18401,877,646
1841 to 18461,887,444
1846 to 1851768,244

The better to exhibit the decrease of production throughout the island, I may state that the export from 1839 to 1841 inclusive, was in the aggregate 1,332,221 quintals; 1842 to 1844, inclusive, was in the aggregate 1,217,666 quintals; 1845 to 1847, inclusive, was in the aggregate but 583,208 quintals. The exports of coffee [Pg 77]for the whole island, were, in 1840, 2,197,771 arrobas; in 1841, 1,260,920½ arrobas.

In 1847 there were 2,064 plantations under cultivation with coffee in Cuba, in 1846 there were only 1,670. The production of 1849 was 1,470,754 arrobas, valued at 2,206,131 dollars. From the year 1841 to 1846, the average yearly production was 45,236,100 lbs.; but from 1846 to 1851, it was only 19,206,100 lbs.; showing a falling off of 72 per cent.; the production still further decreased in 1851, it being only 13,004,350 lbs., or 1.52 per cent. less than the preceding year. This enormous decline in the production of coffee has been caused by the low price of the article in the markets of Europe and the United States, coupled with the more remunerative price of sugar, during the same period; causing capitalists rather to invest money in the formation of new sugar estates. As a consequence, many coffee plantations have been turned into cane cultivation; or, being abandoned, the slaves attached thereto were sold or leased to sugar planters.

The following is private information from a correspondent:—

"We generally plant about 200,000 trees within a space of 500 feet, choosing the strongest soil. I have adopted a different system from the one generally in use here, for they usually plant the trees too near each other. I find by giving them space and air, that the plant develops itself and yields more beans. It is very important to protect the trees from the rays of the sun, for which purpose I plant bananas at intermediate rows; their broad leaves, like parasols, shed a delightful shade round the coffee plant, and tend to accumulate the moisture which strengthens the roots of the young tree.

When the tree is about two years old the top branches are lopped off for the purpose of throwing the sap into the bean. Some planters cut the trees so short, that they do not allow them to stand more than five or six feet above the ground; but I allow mine to attain greater height prior to lopping them, whereby they produce larger crops. Nor do I allow my negroes to beat the trees, or force them to pluck a certain quantity a day, for I discovered that they picked the ripe and unripe beans indiscriminately—frequently injuring the trees. I only allow them to shake the tree, and pick up the beans that have fallen during the night."

Coffee exports from the ports of Havana and Matanzas, in Cuba, for the years ending December in


Porto Rico exported 85,384 cwt. of coffee in 1839.

Africa.—Coffee will require some four years to grow before it will give to the cultivator any income, but it should be known that after that time the tree, with little or no labor bestowed on it, will yield two crops a year. The quality of coffee grown in the republic of Liberia, on the western coast of Africa, is pronounced by competent judges to be equal to any in the world. In numerous instances, trees full of coffee, are seen at only three years old. 214 casks and bags of coffee were imported from the western coast of Africa in 1846.

[Pg 78]Coffee, it has been proved, can be cultivated with great ease to any extent in the republic of Liberia, being indigenous to the soil, and found in great abundance. It bears fruit from thirty to forty years, and yields 10 lbs. to the shrub yearly! A single tree in the garden of Colonel Hicks, a colonist at Monrovia, is said to have yielded the enormous quantity of 16 lbs. at one gathering. Judge Benson, in 1850, had brought 25 acres under cultivation, and many others had also devoted themselves to raising coffee. It was estimated there were about 30,000 coffee trees planted in one of the counties, that of Grand Bassa, and the quality of the produce was stated to be equal to the best Java.

About the villages and settlements of the Sherbro river, and Sierra Leone, wild coffee-trees are very abundant. In several parts of the interior, the natives make use of the shrub to fence their plantations.

Coffee has been successfully grown at St. Helena, of an excellent quality, and might be made an article of export.

Portugal sent to the Great Exhibition, in 1851, a very valuable series of coffees from many of her colonies; of ordinary description from St. Thomas; tolerably good from the Cape de Verd islands; bad from Timor; worse (but curious from the very small size of the berry) from Mozambique; good from Angola; and excellent from Madeira.

Aden, alias Mocha coffee, is, along with the other coffees of the Red Sea, sent first to Bombay by Arab ships, where it is "garbelled," or picked, previously to its being exported to England.

An excellent sample of coffee, apparently of the Barbera (Abyssinia) variety, was contributed to the Great Exhibition from Norfolk Island. It was of good color, well adapted for roasting, and a most desirable novelty from that quarter.

Dr. Gardner, of Ceylon, has taken out a patent for preparing the coffee leaf in a manner to afford a beverage like tea, that is by infusion, "forming an agreeable refreshing and nutritive article of diet." An infusion of the coffee-leaf has long been an article of universal consumption amongst the natives of parts of Sumatra; wherever the coffee is grown, the leaf has become one of the necessaries of life, which the natives regard as indispensable.

The coffee-plant, in a congenial soil and climate, exhibits great luxuriance in its foliage, throwing out abundance of suckers and lateral stems, especially when from any cause the main stem is thrown out of the perpendicular, to which it is very liable from its great superincumbent weight compared with the hold of its root in the ground. The native planters, availing themselves of this propensity, often give this plant a considerable inclination, not only to increase the foliage, but to obtain new fruit-bearing stems, when the old ones become unproductive. It is also found desirable to limit the height of the plant by lopping off the top to increase the produce, and facilitate the collecting it, and fresh sprouts in abundance are the certain consequence. These are so many causes of the development of a vegetation, which becomes [Pg 79]injurious to the quantity of the fruit or berry unless removed; and when this superabundant foliage can be converted into an article of consumption, as hitherto the case in Sumatra, the culture must become the more profitable; and it is clearly the interest of the planters of Ceylon to respond to the call of Dr. Gardner, and by supplying the leaf on reasonable terms, to assist in creating a demand for an article they have in abundance, and which for the want of that demand is of no value to them. It ought to be mentioned also, that the leaves which become ripe and yellow on the tree and fall off in the course of nature, contain the largest portion of extract, and make the richest infusion; and I have no doubt, should the coffee leaf ever come into general use, the ripe leaf will be collected with as much care as the ripe fruit.

The mode of the preparation by the natives is this. The ends of the branches and suckers, with the leaves on; are taken from the tree and broken into lengths of from twelve to eighteen inches. These are arranged in the split of a stick or small bamboo, side by side, forming a truss in such a manner, that the leaves all appear on one side, and the stalk on the other, the object of which is to secure equal roasting, the stalks being thus exposed to the fire together, and the leaves together. The slit being tied up in two or three places, and a part of the stick or bamboo left as a handle, the truss is held over a fire without smoke, and kept moving about, so as to roast the whole equally, without burning, on the success of which operation the quality and flavor of the article must depend. When successfully roasted, the raw vegetable taste is entirely dissipated, which is not the ease if insufficiently done. When singed or overdone, the extract is destroyed and the aroma lost. When the fire is smoky, the flavor varies with the nature of the smoke. The stalks are roasted equally with the leaves, and are said to add fully as much to the strength of the infusion. By roasting the whole becomes brittle, and is reduced to a coarse powder by rubbing between the hands. In this state it is ready for use, and the general mode of preparing the beverage is by infusion, as in the case of common tea.

That it would soon become a most valuable article of diet amongst the laboring classes, and on ship board particularly, if, once brought into use, there can be no doubt. The coffee-tree can be grown to advantage for the leaf in the lowlands of every tropical country, where the soil is sufficiently fertile, whilst it requires a different soil and climate to produce the fruit[7]. Dr. Hooker, in the Jury Reports, observes upon the prepared coffee leaves, submitted by Dr. Gardner, of Ceylon, to be used as tea leaves, that they are worthy of notice as affording a really palatable drink when infused as tea is; more so, perhaps, than coffee is to the uninitiated. That this preparation contains a considerable amount of the nutritious principles of coffee, is evident from the analysis; but as the leaves can only be collected in a [Pg 80]good state at the expense of the coffee bush, it is doubtful whether the coffee produced by the berries be not, after all, the cheapest, as it certainly is the best.


The immense traffic in the produce of this simple shrub, the growth of a remarkable country, hitherto almost entirely isolated from the western nations, is one of the most remarkable illustrations of the enterprise and energy of modern commerce. The trade in tea now gives employment to upwards of 60,000 tons of British shipping, and about ten millions sterling of English capital, producing a revenue to this country of nearly six millions sterling.

Every reflecting man will admit that articles of such vast consumption as tea and coffee (amounting together to more than 343,500 tons annually), forming the chief liquid food of whole nations, must exercise a great influence upon the health of the people.

There is scarcely any country in the world in which a dietetic drink or beverage resembling tea, is not prepared, and in general use, from some exotic or indigenous shrub. The two chief plants laid under contribution are, however, the Chinese tea-plant, and a species of holly peculiar to South America, producing the Paraguay tea. Astoria theiformis is used at Santa Fe as tea. The leaves of Canothus Americanus, an astringent herb, have been used as a substitute, under the name of New Jersey tea.

It has been a matter of surprise why tea should be so much sought after by the poorer classes, since by many it is looked on more as a luxury than of use to the human system. The manner in which it acts, and the cause why it is so much in demand by all classes, is satisfactorily explained by Liebig; and the benefit, therefore, which will be conferred by selling it at a low rate, and thus placing it within the means of all, has at last come to be duly appreciated. Liebig says, without entering minutely into the medical action of caffeine, theine, &c., it will surely appear a most striking fact, even if we were to deny its influence on the process of secretion, that the substance, with the addition of oxygen and the elements of water, can yield taurine, the nitrogenised compound peculiar to bile:—

1 atom caffeine or theine=8252
9 atoms water=....99
9 atoms oxygen=......9
= 2 atoms taurine 821420

To see how the action of caffeine, theobromine, theine, &c., may be explained, we must call to mind that the chief constituent of [Pg 81]the bile contains only 3.8 per cent. of nitrogen, of which only the half, or 1.9 per cent., belongs to the taurine; bile contains, in its natural state, water and solid matter, in the proportion of ninety parts by weight of the former, to ten of the latter. If we suppose these ten parts, by weight of solid matter, to be chloric acid, with 3.87 per cent. of nitrogen, then 100 parts of theine would contain 0.171 of nitrogen in the shape of taurine. Now this quantity is contained in 0.6 parts of theine, or 2 grains 8/10ths of theine can give to an ounce of bile the nitrogen it contains in the form of taurine.

Although an infusion of tea contains no more than the one-tenth of a grain of theine, still, if it contribute in point of fact to the formation of bile, the action even of such a quantity cannot be looked upon as a nullity. Neither can it be denied, that in the case of an excess of non-azotised food, and a deficiency of motion, which is required to cause the change of matter of the tissues, and thus to yield the nitrogenised product which enters into the composition of the bile, that in such a condition the health may be benefited by the use of compounds which are capable of supplying the place of the nitrogenised substances produced in the healthy state of the body, and essential to the production of an important element of inspiration. In a chronical sense, and it is this alone which the preceding remarks are intended to show, caffeine, or theine, &c., are, in virtue of their composition, better adapted to this purpose than all nitrogenised vegetable principles. The action of these substances in ordinary circumstances is not obvious, but it unquestionably exists. Tea and coffee were originally met with among nations whose diet was chiefly vegetable.

Considerable discussion has taken place regarding the tea plants; some say that there is only one species; others that there are two or three. Mr. Fortune, who visited the tea districts of Canton, Fokien, and Chekiang, asserts that the black and green teas of the northern districts of China are obtained from the same species or variety, known under the name of Thea Bohea. Some make the Assam tea a different species, and thus recognise three: T. Cantoniensis or Bohea, T. Viridis, and T. Assamica. The quality of the tea depends much on the season when the leaves are picked, the mode in which it is prepared, as well as the district in which it grows. The green teas include Twankay, Young Hyson, Hyson, Gunpowder, and Imperial; while the black comprise Bohea, Congou, Souchong, Oolong, and Pekoe. The teas of certain districts, such as Anhoi, have peculiar characters.

The first tea imported into England was a package of two pounds, by the East India Company, in 1664, as a present to the king; in 1667, another small importation took place, from the company's factory at Bantam. The directors ordered their servants to "send home by their ships 100 pounds weight of the best tey they could get." In 1678 were imported 4,713 lbs.; but in the six following years the entire imports amounted to no more [Pg 82]than 410 lbs. According to Milburn's "Oriental Commerce," the consumption in 1711 was 141,995 lbs.; 120,595 lbs. in 1715, and 237,904 lbs. in 1720. In 1745 the amount was 730,729 lbs. For above a century and a half, the sole object of the East India Company's trade with China was to provide tea for the consumption of the United Kingdom. The company had the exclusive trade, and were bound to send orders for tea, and to provide ships to import the same, and always to have a year's consumption in their warehouses. The teas were disposed of in London, where only they could be imported, at quarterly sales. The act of 1834, however, threw open the trade to China.

From a Parliamentary return, showing the quantity of tea retained for home consumption in the United Kingdom, in each year, from 1740 to the termination of the East India Company's sales, and thence to the present time, it appears that in 1740, 1,493,695 lbs. of tea were retained for home consumption. Two years afterwards, the quantity fell to 473,868 lbs., and in 1767 only 215,019 lbs. were retained. Next year the amount increased to 3,155,417 lbs.; in 1769 it was 9,114,854 lbs.; in 1795, 21,342,845 lbs.; in 1836, 49,842,236 lbs.

The return in question also specifies the quantity of the various kinds of tea, with the average sale prices.

According to the annual tea reports of Messrs. W.J. Thompson and Son, and Messrs. W.E. Franks and Son, the total imports of tea during the last fifteen years were as follows, reckoned in millions of lbs.:—


The duty on tea was gradually raised from 9d. per lb. in 1787 to 3s. a lb. in 1806. It was 2s. 2d. per lb. until May, 1852, when 4d. per lb. was taken off, and further annual reductions are to be made. Down to the year 1834 the duty was an ad valorem one of 96 per cent. on all teas sold under 2s. a lb., and of 100 per cent. on all that were sold at or above 2s., charged on the prices which they brought at the East India Company's sales. The ad valorem duties ceased on the 22nd of April, 1834, and under the act 3 and 4 William IV. c. 100, all tea imported into the United [Pg 83]Kingdom for home consumption was charged with a customs as follows:—

Bohea1s.6d.per lb.
Congou, twankay, hyson skin,
orange pekoe, and campoi
22per lb.
Souchong, flowery pekoe, hyson,
young hyson, gunpowder, imperial,
and other teas not enumerated
30per lb.

In 1836, the uniform duty of 2s. 1d. per lb. on all descriptions of tea was imposed, which, with the additional 5 per cent, imposed in 1840, made the total duty levied per lb. 2s. 2d. and a fraction.

During the years from 1831 to 1841, in spite of an increase of nearly three millions in the population of the country, and notwithstanding the impetus given to the tea-trade by the abolition of the East India Company's monopoly in 1833, the increased consumption was only 6,675,566 lbs. Great as the increase has been of late years, however, it is very far short of what we might expect to see were the duty reduced to a moderate per centage on the value of the article as it comes from the Chinese merchant. In Jersey and Guernsey, where there is no duty on tea, the average consumption is 4½ lbs. per head per annum. The same rate for the United Kingdom would require an annual importation of nearly 150 million lbs. I asserted, many months ago, if the duty could be gradually reduced from its present exorbitant amount to 1s. per lb., the revenue would not suffer much, whilst the comfort of the people would be much increased, and our trade with China greatly improved.

Imported, lbs.
Entered for
Home Consumption, lbs.

Amount of duty received on tea:—

£Prices of Sound
Common Congou per lb.

Mr. Montgomery Martin, in his work on China, published in [Pg 84]1847, gave the average annual consumption of tea, the produce of China, as follows:—

Great Britain and Ireland45,000,000
British North America and West Indies2,500,000
Australasia, Cape of Good Hope, &c.2,500,000
British India and Eastern Islands2,000,000
Total used throughout the British Empire52,000,000
United States of North America *7,000,000
France and Colonies500,000
Hanse Towns, &c.150,000
Holland and its Colonies1,000,000
Denmark, Sweden, and Norway250,000
The German States500,000
Spain and Portugal100,000
Italian States50,000
South American States500,000
Total consumption in foreign countries20,250,000
[* This is only one-third the actual consumption.]

According to this statement, it would seem that the English consume twice the quantity of tea that is used by all the other countries excepting China and Japan.

The consumption of tea in Europe and America I estimated a year or two ago as follows:—

United States of America18,000,000
Other countries2,000,000
Great Britain50,000,000
Total 89,800,000

The estimated consumption, at the rate of consumption found where taxation is favorable (as for instance 1½ pounds—the average of this country) would give the following:—

Rest of Europe750,000

The total exportation of tea by sea from China, was estimated by Mr. Martin in 1847 at 76 millions of pounds, viz.:—

United States20,000,000
All other countries5,000,000

which, at 20 taels per picul (133 lbs.) amounts to 11,280,000 taels of silver at 80d. per tael, £3,760,000. The present Chinese duty [Pg 85]of two taels five mace, does not include shipping and other charges; the old duty was five taels, and included all charges paid the Hong merchants. The export by sea is now about 97 millions of lbs.

The following was the returned value of the tea exported from the five Chinese ports in 1844 and 1845:—


The average cost of tea in China at the ship's side is 10d. per pound, while it is confidently asserted that it could be produced in many parts of America at 5d. the pound. The great cost in China is owing to the expensive transportation, the cultivation of the fuel used, the absence of all economy of machinery, &c. It is only by adulteration that tea is sold in China as cheap as 10d. In America the beating and rolling of the leaves (one half of the labor) could be done by the simplest machinery, fuel could be economised by flues, &c.

The Russian teas, brought by caravans, are the most expensive and best teas used in Europe. The Chinese themselves pay 7½ dollars per pound for the "Yen Pouchong" teas.

Full chests were exhibited in 1851, by Mr. Ripley, of various Pekoe teas, some of which fetch 50s. per lb. in the China market; whilst 7s. is the very highest price any of the sort will fetch in England, and this only as a fancy article. The plain and orange-scented Pekoes now fetch little with us; but as caravan teas, are purchased by the wealthier Russian families. The finest, however, never leave China, being bought up by the Mandarins; for though the transit expenses add 3s. to 4s. per lb. to the value when sold in Russia, the highest market price in St. Petersburg is always under 50s. Among these scented teas are various caper teas, flavoured with chloranthus flowers and the buds of some species of plants belonging to the orange tribe, magnolia fuscata, olea flowers, &c. The Cong Souchong, or Ning-young teas, are chiefly purchased for the American market. Oolong tea is the favourite drink in Calcutta, though less prized in England, its delicate flavor being injured by the length of the voyage. For delicacy, no teas, approach those usually called "Mandarin teas," which being slightly fired and rather damp when in the fittest state for use, will bear neither transport nor keeping. They are in great demand among the wealthy Chinese, and average 20s. per lb in the native market.—(Jury Reports.)

The consumption of tea in the United Kingdom may now be fairly taken at fifty-four million pounds yearly, and sold at an average price to the consumer of 4s. 6d., per pound. The money expended for tea is upwards of twelve millions sterling.

[Pg 86]The expenditure of this sum is distributed as follows, in round numbers:—

Net cost of 54,000,000 pounds, average 1s. per pound£2,700,000
Export duty in China of 1½d. a lb.337,500
Shipping charges, &c., in China25,000
Freight, &c., China to England, about 2d. per lb.450,000
Insurance, ½d. per lb.112,500
Commission, about ¼d. per lb.56,250
Tasting charges, &c., about ⅛ of a penny per lb.28,125
Interest for 6 months on £3,709,375 at 5 per cent.92,734
Total outlay in China£3,802,109
Profit to exporters in China, (about 12 per cent.)445,116
Landing charges, &c., in England39,000
Cost price in bond in England£4,286,225
Duty received by government at 2s. 2½. per lb., about5,985,482
Profit divided among tea-brokers, wholesale and retail dealers, &c.1,878,293
Total outlay by British public for tea, at 4s. 6d. per lb.£12,150,000

The tea imported into England in 1667 was only 100 lbs., while for the year ending June 30, 1851, the export from China to Great Britain was 64,020,000 lbs., employing 115 vessels in its transportation; and to the United States, during the same time, 28,760,800 lbs., in sixty-four vessels. Within the last five years, the export has increased 10,000,000 lbs. to the United States, and 17,000,000 to Great Britain. These statistics will show the immense importance of this article to commerce, and the vast amount of shipping it supports. But let us follow out the statistics a little more in detail.

The population of the Chinese provinces, as quoted by Dr. Morison, from an official census taken in 1825, was 352,866,012, and we may fairly conclude that during the last twenty-eight years this population has extensively increased. If we assume the annual consumption of tea at four lb. per head on the above population; and this is no unreasonable assumption in a country, where, to quote from Murray's valuable work on China, tea "is the national drink, which is presented on every occasion, served up at every feast, and even sold on the public roads;" we shall have a tolerably accurate result as to the total consumption in the empire. Indeed this computation falls short of the actual relative consumption in the island of Jersey, where, as we have seen, nearly five lbs. is the annual allowance of each individual.

If we multiply the population of China by four, we have—

Total consumption of tea in China1,411,464,048
Export of Great Britain and Ireland, for the year ending June 30, 1851.64,020,000
Export to the United States, same period28,760,800
Export to Holland, returned at 2,000,000 in Davis's "China"3,000,000
Inland trade to Russia15,000,000
Export to Hamburg, Bremen, Denmark, Sweden, &c., seven cargoes, about3,000,000
Export to Sydney, and Australasian Colonies, at least6,000,000
Export to Spain and France, four cargoes2,000,000
Total lbs. 1,533,244,848
[Pg 87]

The above is exclusive of the heavy exportation in Chinese vessels to all parts of the east where Chinese emigrants are settled, such as Tonquin, Cochin China, Cambodia, Siam, the Philippines, Borneo, and the various settlements within the Straits of Malacca. In comparison with such an enormous quantity, the 54 million lbs. consumed in the United Kingdom sink into insignificance.

The cost of tea to America, at the ship's side in China,
say 29,000,000 lbs., at an average of 1s. per lb.,
would be
The cost to England, 64,000,000, at the same price3,200,000
The cost to other places, say 25,000,0001,250,000
Russia, 15,000,000750,000
Total £6,650,000

It is therefore clear, that were the demand to be doubled from Great Britain, it would make very little difference in the Chinese market; since it would be only a question of letting us have six per cent, of their growth of the article, instead of three.

When we remember that the tea plant attains to maturity in three years, and its leaves are then fit for picking; and that there is a vast extent of country to which it is indigenous, growing in every climate between the equator and the latitude of 45 degrees, it is evident that, were there a necessity for it, the actual production of tea in China could be increased to an almost unlimited extent in the space of three or four years, an extent far more than compensating for the extra three per cent., which might be, in the first instance, required by the British.

The certainty of an increased consumption following upon a reduction in the price of tea to the actual consumers of it, is so obvious as to require demonstration to those only who have not considered the subject. The population of Great Britain and Ireland is, say in round numbers 30,000,000, the actual consumption of tea is only 54,000,000 lbs., or little more than one pound and three quarters for each individual. In the neighbouring island of Jersey, there are nearly five lbs. of tea consumed by every inhabitant yearly; and as we may fairly infer from analogy that similar results would arise from a similar cause, the consumption in the United Kingdom in the same ratio would amount to no less than 150 millions of pounds annually.

Tea, observes a most competent authority (Mr. J. Ingram Travers), is the favourite drink of the people: all desire to have it strong and good, and none who can afford it are without it. But in the agricultural districts the laborers use but little; numbers of them "make tea with burnt crusts, because the China tea is too dear." In Ireland the consumption is greatly below that of [Pg 88]England; there are comparatively few people who do not, on company occasions, make their tea stronger than for ordinary use, and the general economy in the use of tea forms an exception to almost every other article of consumption. As to the working classes in the manufacturing districts, Mr. Bayley, President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, himself a very extensive manufacturer, and therefore well qualified to speak to the fact, says:—"The common calculation of two ounces per head per week I should think is very much in excess of what the working classes consume. Domestic servants, I believe, have that quantity allowed them, but I should say that the working classes do not consume one quarter of that." And yet it is these classes who are the great consumers of everything cheap enough to be within their reach. It is this consumption that, under better earnings, has sustained the steady increase of nearly two million pounds of tea per annum for the last eight years, and still there is such ample room for increase that domestic servants are allowed at least four times as much per head as those working people who value, more than any other class, the cheerful refreshingness of tea, but who, stinted in its use by the exorbitant duty, are tempted and almost driven to the use, instead, of degrading drinks.

And if the general consumption of the population should rise to even half servants' allowance, or one ounce per head per week, the consumption of tea would reach 97,500,000 lbs. per annum. And as to what might be used if the taste for it had free scope, some idea may be formed from the fact that the consumption of such people as have found their way from these countries, where the consumption is 1 lb. 9 ozs. per head, to Australia, has there risen to 7 lbs. per head, at which rate the consumption of the United Kingdom would be about 210,000,000 lbs. per annum, and which, even at a 6d. duty, would produce five millions and a half. There is nothing in the air of Australia to give any especial impulse to tea drinking: on the contrary; in this comparatively cold, damp climate, people would naturally use a hot beverage more largely than in the dry warm climate of Australia; and, after all, great as the Australian consumption seems, it is scarcely more than a quarter of an ounce per head per week above the allowance to English domestic servants.

The consumption of tea, notwithstanding the dicta of Mr. Montgomery Martin, is destined to a prodigious increase. Nor is it solely to an increase in the consumption of tea, that we must look to prevent any deficiency in the revenue, as there is no doubt that a reduction in the price of the article would lead to a prodigious increase in the quantity of sugar consumed, especially by the lower classes, who seldom take the one without the other.

It is not, however, merely that they would buy sugar in proportion to the quantity of tea that they consume; the circumstance of a smaller sum being requisite for their weekly stock of tea, would enable them to spend a larger amount in other articles, among which sugar would, undoubtedly, be one of the most impor[Pg 89]tant. The merchant, shipowner, manufacturer, and all connected with the trade between Great Britain and China, are in a position to see the prodigious advantages that such a measure as an extensive reduction of the impost on tea would occasion to the general trade of the country; and the public at large, who are not practically familiar with the subject, only require it to be brought before them in a distinct point of view, when the important results of such a reduction cannot fail to be apparent to them.

Tea is not now within the reach of the poor man. A person taking tea once a day, will consume about 7½ lbs. a year.

Say 500,000 persons take tea twice a day, or 15 lbs. a year, is7,500,000
Say 4,000,000 persons take tea once a day, or 7½ lbs. a year, is30,000,000
Say 12,000,000 persons take tea once a week, or 1 lb. a year, is12,000,000

Which shows that, at present, only one person out of every sixty can have tea twice a day; one of every seven only once a day; and that out of the remaining 13,500,000 persons, only five millions and a half can procure it once in the week. The exact state of the case shows that only eight millions of the people of the United Kingdom enjoy the use of tea, leaving the other twenty-two millions excluded. A Chinese will consume thirty pounds of tea in the year.

But it is said we must not, if our accumulated stocks be drank off this year, expect the Chinese to meet at once so huge an increase in the demand as to supply us with as much next year.

Now on no point of the case is the evidence so clear as upon the capacity of the Chinese to furnish, within any year, any quantity we may require. The Committee of 1847, on Commercial Relations with China, state—"That the demand for tea from China has been progressively and rapidly rising for many years, with no other results than that of diminished prices:"—a fact to be accounted for only upon the supposition that our ordinary demand is exceedingly small in proportion to the Chinese supply. Nor is it an unreasonable inference, that if so much more than usual was to be had at a less price than before, any rise of price, however trivial it might be, would bring forward a much larger quantity:[8] a supposition [Pg 90]which is completely confirmed by a review of prices here, and exports from China within the last four years; and in considering which it is important to bear in mind—1st, that our tea trade year, on which our account of import, export, home consumption, and stock on hand is taken, is from January to January, and the Chinese tea year from July to July; 2nd, that a rise at the close of the last months of the year in England, influences the next year's exports from China; and 3rdly, that of late years, since something of decrepitude has fallen upon the Chinese Government, smuggling there, to escape the export duty, has been carried on largely and at an increasing rate, so that the return is considerably below the real export.

In the Chinese tea year, July to July, 1848-9, the price of good ordinary congou, the tea of by far the largest consumption here, and which, in fact, rules the market, was 8½d. to 9⅓d., and the export from China 47,251,000 lbs. The year closed with the higher price, and the Chinese export from July 1849, to July 1850, was 54,000,000 lbs., showing an increase of export on the year of 6,750,000 lbs. Throughout 1850, here, prices fluctuated a good deal. They were low in the earlier part of the year, but in January went up from 9½d. to 11½d., and from July 1850, to July 1851, the export from China rose to 64,000,000 lbs., being an increase of ten million pounds on a previous increase of nearly seven million lbs. Prices here, during 1851, varied very much: it was difficult to say whether any rise would be established, but the export still went up and reached, from July 1851, to July 1852, 67,000,000 lbs., giving a total increase in three years of 19,750,000 lbs. Nor was it pretended that in any of those years the Chinese market showed even the least symptoms of exhaustion. "We know," say the Committee, "that the Chinese market has never been drained of tea in any one year, but that there has been always a surplus left to meet any extraordinary demand." But the effect of the rise in price in 1850 is still more forcibly shown by a comparison of our total imports in that and the following year. In 1850 we imported 48,300,000 lbs.; in 1851, 71,500,000 lbs., being an increase of 23,200,000 lbs. Doubtless the Chinese export, if made up totally with our year, would not account for the whole quantity, part of which is to be set down to Chinese export-smuggling, and part to arrivals from America and the Continent. The probability is that the increase of price referred to above never reached the Chinese tea farmers; the supply came from the merchants' stock on hand. The rise was, besides, uncertain, and from any established advance a much larger increase of export might be looked for.

But the mistake made in England in estimating what tea we may look for from China goes upon the supposition that they grow expressly for us: the fact being, as stated by Mr. Robt. Fortune, in [Pg 91]his recently published "Tea Districts of China," "that the quantity exported bears but a small proportion to that consumed by the Chinese themselves." On this point the report of the Parliamentary Committee is explicit:—"There is a population in China, commonly assumed at above three hundred millions, at all hours in the day consuming tea, which only requires some change of preparation to be fit for exportation; thus implying an amount of supply on which any demand that may be made for foreign export can be, after a very short time, but slightly felt." Mr. Fortune, in his evidence, says "that the Chinese drink about four times as much as we do: they are always drinking it." Four times as much is probably very much an under-estimate. With rich and poor of all that swarming population, tea, not such as our working classes drink, but fresh and strong, and with no second watering, accompanies every meal. But even taking their consumption at four times as much per head as ours, and their population at the lowest estimate, at three hundred millions, their consumption, setting ours at 55,000,000 lbs., will be no less than two thousand two hundred millions of pounds per annum, or forty times the quantity used in the United Kingdom. As reasonably might the few foreigners who visit the metropolis in the summer expect to cause a famine of fruit and vegetables in London, as we that a doubling of our demand for tea would be felt in China. The further fifty-five million pounds would be but another fortieth of what they use themselves, and would have no more effect upon their entire market than the arrival of some thousand strangers within the year in London would have upon the supply of bread or butchers' meat. There is no need, therefore, to wait for the extension of tea plantations, and so far from taking for granted the statement of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, "that time must be given to increase production, and that the point of its taking three or four years to make a tea-tree is to be considered in dealing with the duties," we have the fact unmistakeably before us, that the production is already so vast, that any demand from us could have no appreciable effect. And as to future supplies, if we should come to drink as much as the Chinese themselves, a matter not at all needful to be considered at present, the Committee report that "the cultivation of the plant may be indefinitely extended;" whilst Mr. Fortune, who has been upon the spot, states "that there is not the slightest doubt that there is a great part of the land which is nearly uncultivated now, which, were there a demand for tea, could be brought into cultivation. The cost would be very little indeed; they would cut down a quantity of brushwood, and probably dig over the ground and plant the bushes. They could clear and plant it in the same year, and in about two years they could get something from it." As, however, without this extension they have hitherto found enough for the increase of their own vast population, for every extension of demand from us and every other foreign customer, whether by land or water, without the least tendency to an advance in price, there [Pg 92]is no need to do more than thus touch upon the undeveloped resources of tea production.—Travers on the Tea Duties.

The consumption of tea in Russia is very great, as the middling classes make a more frequent use of that beverage than the rest. Every year 60,000 chests of tea arrive at Maimiatchin and Kiakhta, of the declared official value of £1,185,000 sterling; and to this may be added £38,650 for inferior tea used by the people of the south, which makes the total declared value of the tea introduced about one and a quarter million sterling. The consumption of Russia may be assumed at over fifteen millions of pounds, although we have no correct data, as in the case of shipping returns, to calculate from. In 1848, however, the Russians took 136,217½ boxes of fine tea of the Chinese, for which they paid 5,349,918 silver roubles—one million sterling. The quantity forwarded from Kiakhta into the interior consisted of—

Flowery or Pekoe tea69,677
Ordinary tea183,752
Brick tea116,249
Equal to about fifteen million lbs. English.

Brick tea of Thibet.—A sample of this curious product was shown by the East India Company in 1851. It is formed of the refuse tea-leaves and sweepings of the granaries, damped and pressed into a mould, generally with a little bullock's blood. The finer sorts are friable masses, and are packed in papers; the coarser sewn up in sheep's skin. In this form it is an article of commerce throughout Central and Northern Asia and the Himalayan provinces; and is consumed by Mongols, Tartars, and Tibetans, churned with milk, salt, butter, and boiling water, more as a soup than as tea proper. Certain quantities are forced upon the acceptance of the Western tributaries of the Chinese Empire, in payment for the support of troops, &c.; and is hence, from its convenient size and form, brought into circulation as a coin, over an area greater than that of Europe.—Dr. Hooker, in Jury Reports.

The quantity and value of the tea imported into the United States, from 1821, is thus stated:—

Years.Pounds.Value, dolls.

The annual reports of the Secretary to the Treasury, for the last [Pg 93]twenty years, show a considerable increase in the consumption of tea in the United States, but not so great as in the article of coffee. The establishment of tea shops, in all the large cities of America, is a new feature in the retail trade, dating only some six years back.

The average rate of duty, which previously ranged between thirty and thirty-four cents. per pound, was reduced in 1832 to fourteen cents (7d.) a pound.

The proportion of green to black used is shown by the following return of the imports:—

     Total 14,257,364
     Total 20,752,558

The large import of 1840, of 250,000 chests, of which 200,000 were green, was in anticipation of the disturbances arising from the war with Great Britain, and the blockade of the ports.

In 1850, there were 173,317 chests of green tea, and 91,017 of black tea exported from China to America; these quantities, with a further portion purchased from England, made a total of about twenty-three million lbs. of tea which crossed the Atlantic in 1850.

The imports and exports of tea into the United States, in the years ending Dec. 31st, 1848 and 1849, were as follows:—

     Total 20,236,91617,503,988
     Total 417,120456,920

The value of tea imported into the United States during the year ending June 30th, 1851, amounted to 4,798,006 dollars (nearly £1,000,000 sterling); of this was re-exported a little over 1,000,000 dollars worth, leaving for home consumption 3,668,141 dollars.

The quality of tea depends much upon the season when the leaves are picked, the mode in which it is prepared, as well as the district in which it grows.

The tea districts in China extend from the 27th degree to the 31st degree of north latitude, and, according to missionaries, it thrives in the more northern provinces. Kœmpfer says it is cul[Pg 94]tivated in Japan, as far north as 45 degrees. It seems to succeed best on the sides of mountains, among sandstone, schistus, and granite.

In 1834, the East India Company introduced the cultivation of tea in Upper Assam, where it is said to be indigenous; and they now ship large quantities of very excellent tea from thence.

Mr. Boyer, director of the museum at Port Louis, Mauritius, has succeeded in rearing 40,000 tea-trees, and expresses an opinion, that if the island of Bourbon would give itself up to the cultivation, it might easily supply France with all the tea she requires.

The culture has also been commenced on a small scale, in St. Helena, and the Cape Colony.

The cultivation of the tea-tree might be tried with probability of success in Natal, and the Mauritius. The plant grows in every soil, even the most ungrateful; resists the hurricanes, and requires little care. The picking of the leaves, like the pods of cotton, is performed by women, children, and the infirm, without much expense. The preparation is known to the greater part of the Chinese, of whom there are so many in Mauritius; besides, it is not difficult. A Mr. Duprat has, I am informed, planted a certain extent of land in the neighbourhood of Cernpipe, in that island, but I have not yet learnt with what success.

The tea-plant has been successfully cultivated, on a large scale, in the island of Madeira, at an elevation of 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, by Mr. Hy. Veitch, British ex-Consul. The quality of the leaf is excellent. The whole theory of preparing it is merely to destroy the herbaceous taste, the leaves being perfect, when, like hay, they emit an agreeable odor. But to roll up each leaf, as in China, is found too expensive, although boys and girls are employed at about two-pence or three-pence per day. Mr. Veitch has, therefore, tried the plan of compressing the leaves into small cakes, which can be done at a trifling expense. It is performed when the leaf is dry; whereas, the rolling requires moisture, and subsequent roasting on copper plates is necessary to prevent mustiness. In this process the acid of the tea acts upon the copper, and causes that astringency which we remark in all the China teas.

The tea of Cochin China is considered inferior to that of China, being less strong and pleasant in flavour.

An inferior sort of tea, with a leaf twice or thrice as large as that of Bohea, grows wild in the hilly parts of Quang-ai, and is sold at from 12s. 6d. to 40s. the picul of 133lbs.

The Dutch have devoted much attention to tea cultivation in Java, and the plantations are in fine order. Nearly a million lbs. of tea were shipped thence in 1848; but the tea is said to be of inferior quality, and grown and manufactured at considerable expense.

Japan produces both black and green tea. The Japanese prefer the latter to the Chinese green tea. The black tea is very bad. The Japanese tea-tree, is an evergreen, growing in the most sterile places to the height of about six feet. It is described as above, [Pg 95]by Kœmpfer, as having leaves like the cherry, with a flower like the wild rose; when fresh, the leaves have no smell, but a very astringent taste. Tea grows in all the southern provinces of Japan, but the best green is produced in the principality of Kioto, where it is cultivated with great care.

A few years ago, Messrs. Worms attempted the cultivation of tea in Ceylon. The island, however, lies too far within the tropics to offer a climate like Assam, which is situate without them. The plants may thrive to appearance, but that is not a demonstration of their quality. The tea-plant has reached upwards of six feet in height at Pinang, and in as healthy a state as could be desired, but the leaf had no flavor, and although thousands of Chinese husbandmen cultivate spices, and other tropical productions on that island, no one thinks it worth while to extend the cultivation of the tea-plant in Pinang. The Chinese there laugh at the idea of converting the leaf into a beverage.

The cultivation of the tea-plant has been introduced into the United States, and those planters who have tried the experiment have succeeded beyond their highest expectations. Dr. Junius Smith had successfully cultivated the plant on his property called Golden grove, near Grenville, in South Carolina. His plants were in full blossom, and as healthy and flourishing as those of China at the same stage of growth. Everything connected with them looked favorable, and Dr. Smith felt abundantly encouraged to extend the culture of the several descriptions of tea upon his property. It is stated that his expectations were so great, that he contemplated to place fresh tea on the tea-tables of England and Paris in twenty days, from the plantation. He had a large supply of plants, and tea seed enough for a million more. The black descriptions blossomed earlier than the green plant, but the latter also blossomed luxuriantly.

He introduced at first about 500 plants of from five to seven years' growth, overland from the north-west provinces of India, and some from China direct.

In the close of 1849, he writes me:—

"During the past year the tea-plant under my care has passed through severe trials, from the injury received in transplanting, from the heat generated in the packing-cases, from the want of shelter during the severe frosts of February, from the excessive heat in June, and from the drought of 58 days' continuance in July and August. The plants were divested of their leaves and generally of their branches and twigs in February, during my absence in New York. Knowing that the plants were tender, and not fortified by age and mature growth against severe weather, I had directed them to be covered in case a material change of temperature should occur. But these orders were neglected, and they consequently suffered from that cause.

The plant is sufficiently hardy to resist any weather occurring in this part of the country, when seasoned for one year.

The plant has grown thrifty since April, and the quantity of foliage, buds, and blossoms, show that the root has taken strong hold, and is now fully equal to produce its fruit next autumn, which always follows the year after the blossoms. I have a variety of both black and green tea-plants. The buds and blossoms of the latter did not appear until a fortnight after the black tea-plant. But the blossoms were larger when they did appear in September, October, No[Pg 96]vember, and December. From present appearances, I think the blossoms of some of the late plants will continue to unfold until spring. It is not an unusual thing for the blossoms and the fruit to appear at the same time upon the same plant. In this particular it differs from any plant I have seen. As my chief object, at present, is to cultivate and increase the tea-nut, it will be a year or two perhaps before I attempt to convert the leaf into tea. The root supports the leaf and fruit, and the leaf the root, so that neither can be spared without detriment.

This climate appears congenial to the growth of the plant, and the soil is so diversified in this mountainous district, that there is no difficulty in selecting that best adapted to seed-growing plants, or that designed for the leaf only. Upon the plantation purchased this summer, I have light-yellow, dark-brown, and red clay subsoil, of a friable character, with a surface soil sufficiently sandy to answer the demands of the plant. I do not see any reason to doubt, from a year's experience, that the tea-plant in its varieties will flourish in what I heretofore denominated the tea-growing district of the United States, as well as in any part of China.

The slowness of its growth requires patience. But when once established, the tea-nuts will supply the means of extending cultivation, and the duration of the plant for twenty years diminishes the expense of labor. To illustrate the hardihood of the plant, I may observe, that notwithstanding the zero severity of February frost destroyed the leaves and branches of most of the plants, and those now blooming in great beauty and strength are from roots the growth of this summer, I have one green tea-plant the stem and branches of which withstood the frost of February without the slightest protection, and is now a splendid plant, covered with branches and evergreen leaves, affording undeniable evidence not only of its capability of resisting frost, but of its adaptation to just such a degree of temperature.

I have often remarked that the tea-plant requires for its perfection the influence of two separate and distinct climates, the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The thermometer in this vicinity during the heat of summer generally ranges from 74 at 6 o'clock a.m. to 82 at 3 o'clock p.m., only one day during the summer so high as 86.

This is a most agreeable temperature, nights always cool, which the tea-plant enjoys, and the days hot and fanned with the mountain breeze.

The drought I found the most difficult point to contend with, owing to the want of adequate means for irrigation. I lost 20 or 30 plants through this, and learned that no tea plantation should he established without irrigation. After two or three years there will be little necessity for it, because the depth of the roots will generally then protect the plant.

My plantation at Golden Grove is well supplied with water, or I should not have purchased it at any price.

It is the first and most important point to secure a southern or western aspect, a gentle declivity the second, salubrious air and suitable soil the third.

Our country is filled with natural tea plantations, which are only waiting the hand of the husbandman to be covered with this luxuriant and productive plant.

I know the public is naturally impatient of delay. Like corn, it is expected that the tea-nuts will be planted in the spring, and the crop gathered in the autumn. But they forget that the tea-plant does not interfere with any other crop, and when once planted it does not soon require a renewal.

I have sometimes felt this impatience myself, and longed for a cup of tea of my own growing, but I have never had one. As a husbandman, I must wait some time longer, and let patience have her perfect work."

Again, under date May 1, 1850, he states that he has succeeded admirably in the culture. The plants bear the winter well, and their physiology and general characteristics remain unchanged by the change of climate and soil. The leaf puts out at the same period of the year that it does in China.

On the 27th of May, 1850, Dr. Smith received a further batch [Pg 97]of trees, fresh, green and healthful, as if still growing in the plantations of China; after a passage of little more than five months. These plants, together with the seedlings and nuts, were of the green tea species, and obtained from a quarter situated about 700 miles from Canton.

In a letter, dated Grenville, S.C., June 17th, 1850, with which I have been favored, he adds:—

"I never heard of the failure of the tea-crop. All vegetation may be retarded, or lessened, or augmented, in its production, in a slight degree, by excessive rains, or drought, or cold, or heat, or atmospheric action; but the tea-plant is sure to produce its leaf. From all I have observed, a decided drought is the most detrimental to the health of the tea plant. The almost continued rains which marked the advance of the past spring, seemed perfectly agreeable to the tea-plant, and facilitated the germination of the tea-nuts. Where any vitality remained in the nut, it was sure to germinate. Curiosity, on this point should be restrained, and no picking and pawing up of the nuts permitted. I have seedlings with tap roots four inches in length, where no appearance of germination is visible upon the surface of the ground. The chances are ten to one that the seedling would be destroyed by the tamperings of idle curiosity. Let nature have her own most perfect work, and see that the enemy, the drought, is vanquished by an abundant supply of water.

From experience, I notice that nothing is more congenial to the germination of the tea-nut than a good stiff blue, clayed soil. The marly colour of the soil is undoubtedly the result of a rich loam, combined with the clay of a lighter hue. The adhesive nature of the clay retains moisture in an eminent degree, and the fertilising qualities of the loam are well known to every bottom land farmer.

Plants put out three weeks ago, after a long voyage from China, are now taking root, and look fresh and vigorous, notwithstanding the recent heat and dryness of the atmosphere. But I have taken unwearied pains in the cultivation. Every plant is sheltered from the scorching influence of the sun, now from 70 deg. to 86 deg. of temperature. Although the soil is naturally moist and clayey, and half bottom land, from the work of gentle acclivities, rising on either hand, yet I have given the plants a liberal watering in the evening. By last summer's drought of fifty-seven days, I was taught the absolute necessity of deep digging and deep planting. None of my plants, of this season's planting, are more than two or three inches above the surface of the ground.

If any of the plants have leaves, as most of them have, below that height, they are planted with the leaves retained; none are removed. Some of the older plants have no leaves remaining, and looked like dry sticks. Many of these are now beginning to break, and put forth fresh leaves."

In 1851, Mr. Frank Bonynge set on foot a subscription list of fifty dollars each, to procure tea and various Indian plants for culture in America. That tea can be grown successfully in Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, is almost certain, because the experiment has been pretty fairly tried, as above shown, by Dr. Smith. The thermometer at Shanghai indicates the cold as more severe by thirteen degrees than at Charleston, South Carolina. The cold winter of 1834-5, which destroyed the oranges in Mr. Middleton's plantation, in Charleston, left his tea plants uninjured.

The question of cultivating tea in California has been seriously discussed, and will no doubt be gone into when the gold digging mania has a little subsided. There is the necessary labor and experience on the spot, in some 12,000 or 14,000 Chinese, most of [Pg 98]whom doubtless understand the culture and manufacture. The climate, soil and surface of California exactly answer the requirements for the growth of this plant. The time may yet come when the vast ranges of hills that traverse this State shall present terraces of tea gardens, cultivated by the laborious Chinese, and adding millions to the value of its products.

A company for the cultivation of tea, under the title of the Assam Company, was established in March, 1839; and which, with a called-up capital of £193,337, has made up to the present time very profitable progress; having now got its plantations into excellent cultivation, and all its arrangements in admirable working order, it has sold teas to the amount of £90,000, and has a steam-boat, a considerable plant and machinery.

In the report of the Company, at their annual meeting, held at Calcutta, in Jan., 1850, it was stated, as the result of their operations, that during the year 1849, the manufacturing season was unusually cold and ungenial, in consequence of which the development of leaf for manufacture was much checked. Although some loss was sustained, there was considerable increase in the crop notwithstanding, attributable to the continued improvements in the culture which had been obtained, and improvements over the previous season in some departments of the manufacturing process. The gross quantity of unsorted tea manufactured in the southern division was 207,982 lbs., being 2,673 lbs. less than that of the previous season, but the actual net out-turn was expected to reach 200,000 lbs. As much as 157,908 lbs. of the crop had been already received and shipped to England. These teas consisted chiefly of the finer qualities. Whilst the crops have been thus sensibly advancing in quantity and quality, and the value of the company's plantations permanently raised by extended and improved culture, and some increase to the sowings, the total outlay had been somewhat less than the previous year, the expenditure being limited to £500 for a crop of 12,000 acres of tea. With more extended gardens, the produce will be raised at a yet lower rateable cost than at present.

The number of acres in cultivation in 1849, was about 12,000; these were not all in bearing, but would shortly be so, and the produce from this extent might be estimated at 300,000 lbs., and the cost of producing this would be about £11,000. 1,010 chests of the produce were sold in London on the 13th of March, 1850, at a gross average of 1s. 11½d. per lb. The produce of 1847, sold in England, was 141,277 lbs., at a gross average of 1s. 8d. per lb.: that of 1848 was 176,149 lbs. which sold at the average of 1s. 8½d. per lb. The produce of 1849 was 216,000 lbs., and there was every expectation of the average prices realised being higher than those of the previous years. The season was cold and unfavorable, or the crop would have been 10,000 lbs. more.

The exact amounts obtained for the Company's teas in the five years, ending with 1851, will be seen from the following figures:—[Pg 99]

Net produce, lbs.Average price.£
1847144,164at per 7-1/16d.11,513
1848182,953"ls. 8¼d.15,436
1849216,000"ls. 9½d.19,350
1850253,427"ls. 6⅛d.18,153
1851271,427"ls. 8½d.22,152
1852 esmtd.280,000

This exhibits a progressive increase in the aggregate value of the Company's produce, and this has been effected, it is stated, without any sensible increase of the current expenditure. It exhibits also a rise in the value of the tea (157,942 lbs. having been sold at the high average price of 1s. 11¼d.), a fact strongly indicative of its increasing excellence. The details of the crop of the season of 1849 showed a net produce of 237,000 lbs. of tea; so that the Company are increasing their cultivation to the extent of nearly ten per cent, per annum, and the increase will doubtless proceed with greater rapidity, whenever the increase of capital enables the directors to extend their operations.

In a report submitted to the Directors, by Mr. Burkinyoung, the managing director in Calcutta last year, he thus speaks of the Company's field of operations and future prospects:—

"The box-making is especially worthy of notice for its effective organisation and economical arrangement; the work is performed chiefly by Assamese boys instructed at the factory: the number of boxes required for the year's consumption will not be short of four thousand, the whole of which will be made at the factory,—an achievement that cannot be too highly estimated in a country so destitute of mechanical labor.

Notwithstanding the high standard of quality and strength to which our teas have already attained, I am of opinion that, as experience advances, and our knowledge and system of plucking and manufacturing the crops become improved, and better organised, a higher standard of quality and value may yet be realised; in this opinion the superintendent concurs with me, and the attainment of this object is one to which his attention's prominently directed.

In the course of my enquiries and trials of different samples of tea in Assam, my attention was directed to one description of black tea, of rough strong flavor, made by a quicker process than that ordinarily used in the manufacture of black tea: under this mode of manipulation, a quality of tea is produced sufficiently distinctive in its flavor and appearance to render it worthy of attention and trial, and I think, when perfected in the process of manufacture, calculated to come into popular estimation. Samples of this tea the superintendent will forward to the board for trial.

In conducting the operations in Assam, the chief difficulty of importance which has not yet been effectually met is the paucity of labor; this does not, however, exist to the extent of materially checking any of the important operations connected with the production of the tea, but it is felt in the arrear of various descriptions of work, in providing bricks for building, and in the preparation of a stock of seasoned timber and boards for building and box-making; while the out factories would be benefited by a larger proportion of agricultural labor. Great advance, however, has been made by the superintendent in the employment of Assamese labor in contract work: under the arrangement he has established, these contracts are now, for the most part, fulfilled with much punctuality, and there is reason to expect that this system of labor will be further extended. The Kachorie Coolies are a valuable class of laborers, but they do not appear to be sufficiently numerous, or to emigrate in sufficient numbers to afford with the native Assamese a supply of labor altogether equal to our wants, so as to render the concern independent of Bengal labor.[Pg 100]

The tea lands are for the most part advantageously situated, within convenient reach of water-carriage, either by the 'Dickhoo,' 'Dêsang,' and 'Dehing' rivers, or by means of small streams leading to them. The Plantations of the Satsohea and Rookang forests, and on the banks of the Tingri in the Northern Division, are all valuable centres of extension in each district. The lands suitable for tea cultivation are ample in extent, and of the highest fertility; while the Hill Factories of the Southern and Eastern Divisions, although secondary in importance, are, as regards extent and quality of soil, equally eligible as bases of extension.

The prospects of the future, I entertain no doubt, will keep pace with the satisfactory results that have hitherto been realised, looking to the sound organisation that now exists in our establishment at Assam, an organisation that has already taken healthy root, and must in its growth gain strength and permanence. I think we may safely calculate, after the current year, upon an annual increase in our production of 40,000 lbs. of tea, until a larger system of operations can be matured, of which the basis is already laid down, in the new lands cleared and sown during the past cold season, averaging 225 to 250 poorahs; and this extended basis will be doubtless followed up by annual extensions of similar, if not larger, area. The concern is now taking a position which will place it on a scale of working commensurate with the objects entertained upon the first incorporation of the company, the profits now likely to be realised being adequate to all the outlay necessary."

The prices in the last two years in London have been fully maintained at 1s. 3d. to 4s. 4d., according to sorts. Of Assam tea, the sales in the London market in 1851 amounted to 2,200 packages, against 1,900 packages in 1850, and all were freely taken (on account of their great strength) at very full prices. Seventy-six packages of Kumaon tea, both black and green, grown by the East India Company, in the Himalayas, as an experiment, were also brought to sale. They were teas of high quality; but being of the light flavored class, and not duly esteemed in this market, they realised only about their relative value as compared with China teas of similar grade. The Souchong and Pouchong sold at 1s. 1¼d. to 1s. 3½d.; the Hyson, Imperial, and Gunpowder realised 1s. 7¾d. to 2s. 6½d.

Mr. Robert Fortune, who, in the service of the Horticultural Society of London, gave such satisfaction by his botanical researches in China, was, on his return to England, in 1848, engaged by the Directors of the East India Company to proceed again to the Celestial Empire, and procure and transmit to India such a quantity and variety of the tea plant, that its cultivation in the north-western provinces would be a matter of mere manual labor. Having penetrated about 300 miles into the interior, he left Hong Kong in the middle of 1851 for Calcutta, with a large quantity of choice plants, selected in the green tea districts, and these have flourished as well as could possibly be expected; so that, in the course of a few years, there is every probability that tea will form a considerable article of export from our Indian Presidencies. Mr. Fortune secured the services of, and took with him, eight Chinese, from the district of Wei-chow, under an agreement for three years, at the rate of fifteen dollars a month each. Six of these are regular tea-manufacturers; the other two are pewterers, whose sole business is that of preparing lead casings for tea-chests.

In the British portion of the Punjaub, it has been resolved to [Pg 101]expend £10,000 a year on the cultivation of the tea plant on the banks of the Beas, as well as at Anarkullee, and Kotghur in the Simla jurisdiction. Beyond the Beas there is a series of valleys on to Noonpoor, viz., the Palklun, Kangra, Rillo, &c., from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the level of the sea, separated from each other by small ranges of hills. The valleys are from three to four miles in breadth, and from sixty to seventy in length: they are sheltered on the north by high mountains. They are described as admirably suited for the cultivation of the plant, now about to be attempted under the able management of Dr. Jamieson. Should it prove successful, the benefits it will confer on the country will be enormous. Tea is a favorite beverage everywhere with the natives: at present their supplies come in scanty measure and bad condition, at extravagant charges, across the frontier.

The cultivation of the tea plant in the highlands of the Punjaub, is likely to be successful, even beyond the hopes of its promoters. Thousands of plants sown in 1849 have attained a height of four or five feet, and there seems no reason why tea should not ultimately become an important article of trade in the Punjaub, as well as in Kumaon. The Indian teas are already becoming popular in the English market, and the cultivators have the advantage of a demand which is almost unlimited, and of prices which seldom fluctuate to any great extent.

The experiment of growing tea in the Madras Presidency has been often successfully tried, on a small scale. A number of plants supplied by government, through Dr. Wallich, were planted in the Shevaroy hills, about twelve or fourteen years since, and have thriven well; but though no doubt is entertained of the ease with which they could be propagated over a wide extent of country, no attempt has been made to give the cultivation a practical turn, or to make a cup of tea from the southern Indian tree. In Coorg, too, the experiment has been tested with like results, so that sufficient warranty exists to justify trials on the largest scale.

Tea plants grow in luxuriance in the open air, at the Botanical Gardens, at Kew. Mr. Bonynge has seen this plant growing wild in N. lat. 27 deg. 30 min. on hills from three to 500 feet in height, where too, there was an abundance of frost, snow and hail.

Those persons in England who possess tea plants, and who cultivate them for pleasure, should always bear in mind that, even in the tea districts of China, this shrub will not succeed if it be planted in low, wet land; and this is, doubtless, one of the reasons why so few persons succeed in growing it in this country. It ought always to be planted on a warm sloping bank, in order to give it a fair chance of success. If some of the warm spots of this kind in the south of England or Ireland were selected, who knows but that our cottagers might be able to grow their own tea? at all events, they might have the fragrant herb to look upon.

The Dutch made the first movement to break the charm of [Pg 102]Chinese monopoly, by introducing and cultivating the tea plant in their rich and fruitful colony of Java. That island lies between the sixth and eighth degrees of south latitude.

In 1828, the first experiment in the cultivation of tea was made in the garden of the Chateau of Burtenzorg, at Java, where 800 plants of an astonishing vigor, served as an encouragement to undertake this culture, and considerable plantations were made in many parts of the island. The first trials did not answer to the expectations, as far as regards the quality of the article, the astringent taste and feeble aroma of which caused the conjecture that the preparation of the leaf, and its final manipulation, are not exactly according to the process used in China. At present tea is cultivated in thirteen Residencies: but the principal establishment, where the final manipulation is made, is in the neighbourhood of Batavia. The tea which Java now furnishes yearly to the markets of the mother country, may be stated at from 200,000 to 300,000 pounds. It is intimated that the government intends to abandon this culture to the industry of private individuals, under the guarantee of equitable contracts.

The mountain range, which runs through the centre of the island, is the most productive, because the tea gardens, extending from near the base, high up the mountains, reach an atmosphere tempered by elevation. The plant escapes the scorching heats of the torrid zone, and finds a climate, by height rather than by latitude, adapted to its nature. But the plant is not confined to lofty ridges. In the plains, the hedges and fences, if one may so call them, are all planted with the tea shrub, which flourish in greater or less perfection throughout the island. But, as has already been intimated, the equatorial latitudes are not the most auspicious for the vigorous growth of a plant that requires a temperature equally removed from the extremes of heat and cold, and the quality of the tea is as much affected by the climate as the growth of the plant. A considerable quantity of tea is annually shipped from Java to Europe; but the extension of the cultivation is no doubt checked by the exceeding fertility of the soil, and its adaptation to the growth of the rich products of tropical regions.

Mr. Jacobson, inspector of tea culture in Java, has published at Batavia a work in three volumes, upon the mode of cultivating this plant, upon the choice of grounds, and the best processes for the preparation and manipulation of the leaves. This book, the fruit of many years of experience and care given to the subject, has been well received by the cultivators who devote themselves to this branch of industry. If, by means of careful experiments and experience, the government succeed in conferring on the island of Java this important branch of commerce, she may hope to obtain brilliant results; at all events, it will open to the country a new source of prosperity and riches.

An interesting account of the tea plants, and the manufacture of tea, will be found in Fortune's "Wanderings in China," in [Pg 103]Ball's "Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea," Boyle's "Illustrations of Himalayan Botany," and his "Productive Resources of India."

From Fortune's "Travels" I take the following extract:—

"There are few subjects connected with the vegetable kingdom which have attracted such a large share of public notice as the tea-plant of China. Its cultivation on the Chinese hills, the particular species of variety which produces the black and green teas of commerce, and the method of preparing the leaves, have always been objects of peculiar interest. The jealousy of the Chinese government in former times, prevented foreigners from visiting any of the districts where tea is cultivated; and the information derived from the Chinese merchants, even scanty as it was, was not to be depended upon. And hence we find our English authors contradicting each other; some asserting that the black and green teas are produced by the same variety, and that the difference in colour is the result of a different mode of preparation; while others say that the black teas are produced from the plant called by botanists Thea Bohea, and the green from Thea viridis, both of which we have had for many years in our gardens in England. During my travels in China since the last war, I have had frequent opportunities of inspecting some extensive tea districts in the black and green tea countries of Canton, Fokien, and Chekiang: the result of these observations is now laid before the reader. It will prove that even those who have had the best means of judging have been deceived, and that the greater part of the black and green teas which are brought yearly from China to Europe and America are obtained from the same species or variety, namely, from the Thea viridis. Dried specimens of this plant were prepared in the districts I have named, by myself, and are now in the herbarium of the Horticultural Society of London, so that there can be no longer any doubt upon the subject. In various parts of the Canton provinces where I have had an opportunity of seeing tea cultivated, the species proved to be the Thea Bohea, or what is commonly called the black tea plant. In the green tea districts of the north—I allude more particularly to the province of Chekiang—I never met with a single plant of this species, which is so common in the fields and gardens near Canton. All the plants in the green tea country near Ningpo, on the islands of the Chusan Archipelago, and in every part of the province which I have had an opportunity of visiting, proved, without an exception, to be Thea viridis. Two hundred miles further to the north-west, in the province of Kiangnan, and only a short distance from the tea hills in that quarter, I also found in gardens the same species of tea. Thus far my actual observations exactly verified the opinions I had formed on the subject before I left England, viz: that the black teas were prepared from the Thea Bohea, and the green from Thea viridis. When I left the north, on my way to the city of Foo-chow-foo, on the river Min, in the province Fokien, I had no doubt that I should find the tea hills there covered with the other species, Thea Bohea, from which we generally suppose the black teas are made; and this was the more likely to be the case as this species actually derives its specific name from the Bohea hills in this province. Great was my surprise to find all the plants on the tea hills near Foo-chow exactly the same as those in the green tea districts of the north. Here were, then, green tea plantations on the black tea hills, and not a single plant of the Thea Bohea to be seen. Moreover, at the time of my visit, the natives were busily employed in the manufacture of black teas. Although the specific differences of the tea plant were well known to me, I was so much surprised, and I may add amused, at this discovery, that I procured a set of specimens for the herbarium, and also dug up a living plant, which I took northward to Chekiang. On comparing it with those which grow on the green tea hills, no difference whatever was observed. It appears, therefore, that the black and green teas of the northern districts of China (those districts in which the greater part of the teas for the foreign market are made) are both produced from the same variety, and that that variety is the Thea viridis, or what is commonly called green tea plant. On the other hand those black and green teas which are manufactured in considerable quantities in the vicinity of Canton, [Pg 104]are obtained from the Thea Bohea, or black tea.

In the green tea districts of Chekiang, near Ningpo, the first crop of leaves is generally gathered about the middle of April. This consists of the young leaf buds just as they begin to unfold, and forms a fine and delicate kind of young hyson, which is held in high estimation by the natives, and is generally sent about in small quantities as presents to their friends. It is a scarce and expensive article, and the picking off the leaves in such a young state does considerable injury to the tea plantation. The summer rains, however, which fall copiously about this season, moisten the earth and air; and if the plants are young and vigorous, they soon push out fresh leaves. In a fortnight or three weeks from the time of the first picking, the shrubs are again covered with fresh leaves, and are ready for the second gathering, which is the most important of the season. The third and last gathering, which takes place as soon as new leaves are formed, produces a very inferior kind of tea, which is rarely sent out of the district. The mode of gathering and preparing the leaves of the tea plant is very simple. We have been so long accustomed to magnify and mystify everything relating to the Chinese, that in all their arts and manufactures we expect to find some peculiar practice, when the fact is, that many operations in China are more simple in their character than in most parts of the world. To rightly understand the process of rolling and drying the leaves, which I am about to describe, it must be borne in mind that the grand object is to expel the moisture, and at the same time to retain as much as possible of the aromatic and other desirable secretions of the species. The system adopted to attain this end is as simple as it is efficacious. In the harvest seasons, the natives are seen in little family groups on the side of every hill, when the weather is dry, engaged in gathering tea leaves. They do not seem so particular as I imagined they would have been in this operation, but strip the leaves off rapidly and promiscuously, and throw them all into round baskets, made for the purpose out of split bamboo or ratan. In the beginning of May, when the principal gathering takes place, the young seed-vessels are about as large as peas. These are also stripped off and mixed with the leaves; it is these seed-vessels which we often see in our tea, and which has some slight resemblance to capers. When a sufficient quantity of leaves are gathered, they are carried home to the cottage or barn, where the operation of drying is performed."

This is minutely described, and the author continues:—

"I have stated that the plants grown in the districts of Chekiang produce green teas, but it must not be supposed that they are the green teas which are exported to England. The leaf has a much more natural color, and has little or none of what we call the 'beautiful bloom' upon it, which is so much admired in Europe and America. There is now no doubt that all these 'blooming' green teas, which are manufactured at Canton, are dyed with Prussian blue and gypsum, to suit the taste of the foreign 'barbarians;' indeed the process may be seen any day, during the season, by those who give themselves the trouble to seek after it. It is very likely that the same ingredients are also used in dyeing the northern green teas for the foreign market; of this, however, I am not quite certain. There is a vegetable dye obtained from Isatis indigotica much used in the northern districts, and called Teinsing; and it is not unlikely that it may be the substance which is employed. The Chinese never use these dyed teas themselves, and I certainly think their taste in this respect is more correct than ours. It is not to be supposed that the dye used can produce any very bad effects on the consumer, for, had this been the case, it would have been discovered before now; but if entirely harmless or inert, its being so must be ascribed to the very small quantity which is employed in the manufacture."

In short, the black and green teas which are generally exported to England and the United States from the northern provinces of China, are made from the same species; and the difference of color, flavor, &c., is solely the result of the different modes of preparation.

[Pg 105]I shall make an extract, also, from Williams's "Middle Kingdom:"—

"The native names given to the various sorts of tea are derived for the most part from their appearance or place of growth; the names of many of the best kinds are not commonly known abroad. Bohea is the name of the Wu-i hills, (or Bu-i, as the people on the spot call them,) where the tea is grown, and not a term for a particular sort among the Chinese, though it is applied to a very poor kind of black tea at Canton. Sunglo is likewise a general term for the green teas produced on the hills in Kiangsu. The names of the principal varieties of black tea are as follows: Pecco, 'white hairs,' so called from the whitish down on the leaves, is one of the choicest kinds, and has a peculiar taste; Orange Pecco, called shang hiang, or 'most fragrant,' differs from it slightly; Hungmuey, 'red plum blossoms,' has a slightly reddish tinge; the terms prince's eyebrows, carnation hair, lotus kernel, sparrow's tongue, fir-leaf pattern, dragon's pellet, and dragon's whiskers, are all translations of the native names of different kinds of Souchong or Pecco. Souchong, or siau chung, means little plant or sort, as Pouchong, or folded sort, refers to the mode of packing it; Campoi is corrupted from kan pei i.e. carefully fired; Chulan is the tea scented with the chulan flower, and applied to some kinds of scented green tea. The names of green teas are less numerous: Gunpowder, or ma chu, i.e. hemp pearl, derives its name from the form into which the leaves are rolled; ta chu or 'great pearl,' and chu lan, or 'pearl flower,' denote two kinds of Imperial; Hyson, or yu tsien, i.e. before the rains, originally denoted the tenderest leaves of the plant, and is now applied to Young Hyson; as is also another name, mei pein, or 'plum petals;' while hi chun, 'flourishing spring,' describes Hyson; Twankay is the name of a stream in Chehkiang, where this sort is produced; and Hyson skin, or pi cha, i.e. skin tea, is the poorest kind, the siftings of the other varieties; Oolung, 'black dragon,' is a kind of black tea with green flavor. Ankoi teas are produced in the district of Ngankí, not far from Tsiuenchau fu, possessing a peculiar taste, supposed to be owing to the ferruginous nature of the soil. De Guignes speaks of the Pu-'rh tea, from the place in Kiangsu where it grows, and says it is cured from wild plants found there; the infusion is unpleasant, and is used for medical purposes. The Mongols and others in the west of China prepare tea by pressing it, when fresh, into cakes like bricks, and thoroughly drying it in that shape to carry in their wanderings.

"Considering the enormous labor of preparing tea, it is surprising that even the poorest kind can be afforded to the foreign purchaser at Canton, more than a thousand miles from the place of its growth, for 9d. and less a pound; and in their ability to furnish it at this rate, the Chinese have a security of retaining the trade in their hands, notwithstanding the efforts to grow the plant elsewhere. Comparatively little adulteration is practised, if the amount used at home and abroad be considered, though the temptation is great, as the infusion of other plants is drunk instead of the true tea. The poorer natives substitute the leaves of a species of Rhamnus or Fallopia, which they dry; Camellia leaves are perhaps mixed up with it, but probably to no great extent. The refuse of packing-houses is sold to the poor at a low rate, under the name of tea endings and tea bones; and if a few of the rarest sorts do not go abroad, neither do the poorest. It is a necessary of life to all classes of Chinese, and that its use is not injurious is abundantly evident from its general acceptance and extending adoption; and the prejudice against it among some out of China may be attributed chiefly to the use of strong green tea, which is no doubt prejudicial. If those who have given it up on this account will adopt a weaker infusion of black tea, general experience is proof that it will do them no great harm, and they may be sure that they will not be deceived by a colored article; Neither the Chinese nor Japanese use milk or sugar in their tea, and the peculiar taste and aroma of the infusion is much better perceived without those additions; nor can it be drunk so strong without tasting an unpleasant bitterness, which the milk partly hides. The Japanese sometimes reduce the leaves to a powder, and pour boiling water through them in a cullender, in the same way that coffee is often made."

[Pg 106]The following valuable details as to the cultivation and manufacture of tea in British India, are from interesting reports by Dr. Jameson, Superintendent of the Company's Botanical Gardens in the North West Provinces, published in 1847 in the Journal of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Calcutta;—and from Mr. Robert Fortune's report to the Hon. East India Company:—

The quantity manufactured.—The quantity of tea manufactured from five plantations, of 89 acres in all, amounted in 1845 to 610 lb. 2 oz., and in 1846, on 115 acres, to l,023 lb. ll oz. The small nursery of Lutchmisser, consisting of three acres of land, gave a return in 1845 of 216 lb., or 2 maunds and 56 pounds; in 1846 the return was 272 lbs., or 3 maunds and 32 pounds.

The small plantation of Kuppeena, established in 1841-2, and then consisting of three acres (but increased in 1844 to four), yielded in 1845, 1 maund and 56 pounds, and in 1846, 2 maunds and 56 pounds. Thus we have received from a plantation of only five years' formation, and of four acres (one of these recently added), upwards of 2½ maunds of tea, and from another, Lutchmisser, of three acres, which was established in 1835-6, 3 maunds and 30 pounds, equal to 272 pounds. I have, in a former report, asserted that the minimum return of tea for an acre of land may be estimated at 1 pucka maund, or 80 lb. The only plantations that I can as yet bring forward in favour of my assertion, are the two above-mentioned: Kuppeena has not yielded the proportion mentioned, but it was only established in 1841-42, and the tea-plants do not come into full bearing until the eighth year; on the other hand, Lutchmisser has given more than the average return. I think, therefore, that the returns already yielded are highly favorable, and that though the data are small, they are very satisfactory.

Soil best adapted for the tea-plant.—The soil in which the tea-plant is now thriving in the Himalayas and in the valley of Deyrah Dhoon, varies exceedingly. At Bhurtpoor and Russiah it is of a light silico-aluminous nature, and abounding with small pieces of clay slate, which is the subjacent rock, and trap (green-stone), which occurs in large dykes, cutting through and altering the strata of clay slate; mixed with the stony soil, there is a small quantity of vegetable matter. The clay slate is metamorphic, being almost entirely composed of mica. In some places it is mixed with quartz, forming mica slate. From the decomposition of these rocks, mixed with a small quantity of vegetable matter, the soil is formed. At Kuppeena and Lutchmisser, the soil is also very stony, formed from the decomposition of clay slate, which, in many places, as at Russiah and Bhurtpoor, passes into mica slate, or alternates with it, and a little vegetable matter. The same remark applies to the plantations of Guddowli, Kouth, and Rumaserai. At Huwalbaugh part of the soil consists of a stiff clay, of a reddish-yellow colour, owing to peroxide of iron. Here, too, the tea-plants, provided that the ground around them is occasionally opened up, thrive well. In Mr. Lushington's garden at Lobha, in Kumaon, and in Assistant Commissioner Captain H. Ramsay's garden at Pooree, in Gurwahl, plants are thriving well in a rich, black, vegetable mould. The soil in the Deyrah Dhoon varies exceedingly from clayey and stiff soil to sand and gravelly soil, or light and free. The soil at Kaolagir is a compound of the two, neither clayey, nor free, nor light soil, but composed partly of clay and sand, mixed with vegetable mould, and in some places mixed with much gravel, consisting of limestone, marl, sandstone, clay slate, and quartz rock, or of such rocks as enter into the composition of the surrounding ranges of mountains, viz., the Sewalick range to the south, and the Himalayas, properly so called, to the north, From the above statement, we find that the tea-plant thrives well both in stiff and free soils, and in many modifications of these. But the soil which seems best adapted to its growth may be styled free soil, as at Russiah, or a mixture of both, as at Kaolagir, in the Deyrah Dhoon.

In limestone districts, where the tea has been tried, if the super-imposed soil has been thin and untransported, and this proved from the decomposition of the [Pg 107]subjacent rock, the plant has generally failed; and this has been particularly the case where the limestone, by plutonic action, has become metamorphic. These districts, therefore, in forming plantations, are to be avoided.

From the writings of various authors, it appears that the districts where the tea-plant thrives best in China, have a geological structure very similar to that met with in many parts of the Himalayas, being composed of primitive and transition rocks.

Altitude above the sea best suited to the tea plant.—To state what altitude is best adapted to the growth of the tea-plant, and for the production of the best kinds of tea, will require much more observation. At present the tea-plant thrives equally well at Kaolagir, in the Deyrah Dhoon; at Russiah, in the Chikata district; at Huwalbaugh; at Kuppeena and Lutchmisser; and at Rumaserai, or at heights ranging from 2,200 feet above the level of the sea to 6,000 feet.

Moreover, the tea manufactured from leaves procured from Kaolagir, has been considered by the London brokers equal to that made from leaves procured from Lutchmisser and Kuppeena.

On the method of preparing ground prior to forming a plantation.—In forming a plantation, the first object of attention, both in the hills and in the Deyrah Dhoon, is a fence. In the former, to prevent the depredations of wild animals, such as wild hog, deer, &c., which abound in the hills, and though they do not eat tea leaves, yet hogs, in search of tubers, in the space of a single night will do much damage by uprooting young shrubs—in the latter, to prevent the straying of cattle. The first thing to be done, therefore, is to dig a trench three feet broad and two deep, and to plant a hedge, if in the hills, of black thorn (Cratœgus); if in the plains, the different species of aloe are best adapted for the purpose. The fence being formed, all trees and shrubs are then to be uprooted; this is very heavy work, both in the hills and plains, from the vast number of shrubs, allowed by natives (from indolence to remove them) to grow everywhere throughout their fields. Roads are then to be marked off.

After this has been accomplished, the land is to be drained, if necessary, by open drains—under drainage, for want of means and the expense, being impracticable—and then ploughed three or four times over. The beds for young tea-plants are then to be formed; these ought to be three feet in breadth, alternating with a pathway of two feet in breadth. By arranging beds in this manner much time and labour is saved in transplanting; in irrigation the water is economised, and in plucking tea leaves a road is given to the gatherer. In transplanting, each plant is allowed 4½ feet; this is at once gained, the beds and pathways being formed by placing in one direction the plant in the centre of the bed.

Trenching.—On the tea beds being marked off, they are to be trenched to a depth of from two to three feet, in order to destroy all the roots of weeds, which are to be carefully removed. The trenching is to be performed by the fowrah, or Indian spade.

In the hills, in many places the fowrah cannot be used, owing to the number of stones. The work is then to be done by the koatlah, a flat-pointed piece of iron, of about eight inches in length, which is inserted into a wooden handle. It is in form like the pick, and is much used in hill cultivation for weeding and opening up the ground. It is, however, not much to be commended for trenching purposes, as natives, in using it, never penetrate the ground beyond a few inches. For weeding, however, it is particularly useful, and to such soil is much better adapted than most other implements.

Formation of roads and paths.—In addition to the pathways of two feet in breadth, recommended to be formed between each bed, there ought, for general use, to be a four feet road carried round the plantation, and one of 10 feet through the centre. This applies to a limited plantation, that is, of from 200 to 400 acres. If, on the other hand, it was on a more extensive scale, several hackery roads of 10 feet in breadth would be necessary, in order to cart away weeds, &c., or carry manure to seedling beds.

On seeds when ripe, and method to be adopted to ascertain it.—In all September and October the tea seeds ripen, but in the more elevated plantations, as at Rumaserai, many do not ripen until November. The seeds are contained in a capsule, and vary in number from one to seven; to ascertain that they are ripe, [Pg 108]open the capsule, although green, and if their color is a nut-brown, they are sure to be so. If they are not ripe, they are of a reddish-brown above, mixed with white. If the seeds are allowed to remain a short time on the bushes, after they are ripe, the capsules burst, and they fall out; it is necessary, therefore, to remove them before this takes place.

On the method of sowing seeds, and season, and on the treatment of the young tea plants after they have germinated.—The ground having been first well trenched and manured, that is, from sixty to seventy maunds of manure given to the acre, the seeds are, when ripe, to be removed from the capsules, and immediately sown to the depth of one inch, and very close, in drills 8 to 10 inches apart from each other. The sooner that they are sown after being removed from the capsules the better, as their germinating properties are apt to be destroyed if they are kept for any length of time. Some germinate in the space of a few weeks, others lie dormant until February and March, and others do not germinate until the rains.

The method of sowing seeds in China is thus described, being similar to the native plan of sowing mangoes in India. "Several seeds are dropped into holes four or five inches deep and three or four feet apart, shortly after they ripen, or in November and December; the plants rise up in a cluster when the rains come on. They are seldom transplanted, but sometimes four to six are put quite close to form a fine bush."[9] By this method nothing is gained, and the expenditure of seeds great.

If the plants germinate in November, which, as already stated, many do, they ought to be covered with a chupper made of bamboo and grass.

In the hills, everywhere at an elevation of 6,000 and 7,000 feet, the ringal, a small kind of bamboo, of which there are several species, is found in great abundance, and well adapted for the purpose, and in the Deyrah Dhoon the bamboo occurs in vast quantity; the market of the Upper Provinces being chiefly supplied from that valley and other forests at the base of the Himalayas. Bamboos are also met with to the height of six and seven thousand feet on the Himalayas in the neighbourhood of Almorah. During the day, in the cold weather, the chuppers ought to be removed, and again replaced at night; as the weather becomes hot, it is necessary to protect the young plants from the heat of the sun, that is, in April and May, and until the rains commence; the chuppers at this time ought to be put on about eight a.m., and removed again about four p.m.

Method of rearing plantations by layers, and by cuttings.—The best season for laying down is when the sap is dormant, or in cold weather; or when in full action, as in the rains. "Laying," as expressed by Dr. Lindley, "is nothing but striking from cuttings, which are still allowed to maintain their connection with the mother plant by means of a portion of their stem." There are various methods of making layers, but the most simple and efficient is to bend down a branch, and sink it into the earth after having made a slit or notch in the centre of the embedded portion. By so doing, the descent of the sap is retarded, and thus the formation of radicles or young roots is promoted; about five or six inches or more, of the branch, is to be allowed to remain above ground, and in a position as perpendicular to the point where the plant is notched as possible. In three or four mouths these layers are ready to be removed and transplanted; the removal of the layers is to be gradual, that is, they ought first to be cut half through, then a little more, and finally altogether separated.

The best season for propagating by cuttings is the cold weather, that is, from November to February; they may also be propagated, though not with the same success, during the rains; it is necessary to protect them against frost in the cold weather, and from the rays of the sun in the hot. Cuttings put in during the cold weather are ready to transplant in the rains, and if put in during the rains, they are generally fit for removal in February.

On the method of transplanting and season.—In transplanting young tea-plants care should be taken to lift them with a good large ball of earth attached to their roots, as they throw out a long central or tap root, which, if cut through, invariably destroys the plant. On being placed in the ground, the earth around them is to be well pressed down and watered; the watering is to be continued [Pg 109]every third or fourth day, until the plants have taken hold of the ground. During the rains, grass springs up with great rapidity, so as to render it impossible for one man to keep three acres (the quantity assigned by us) clean. This, however, is not necessary, if care be taken to make a golah round each plant, and keep it clear of weeds; these golahs ought always, in hill plantations where the ground is irregular, to be connected by small khauls or channels, in order to make irrigation easy; by so doing too, water, if the supply be scanty, which often happens in the hills in the hot weather, will be economised.

We have already stated that 4½ square feet ought to be assigned to each plant. In China, according to Professor Royle, three to four feet are given; this, however, is too small a space to allow the plant to grow freely. After the tea plants are transplanted, it is not necessary to protect them.

The best seasons for transplanting are towards the end of February, or as soon as the frost has ceased, and throughout March, and during the rains, and until the end or middle of November, depending on the season.

In transplanting, four parties ought to be employed; viz., one person to dig holes, a second to remove plants, a third to carry them to the ground where they are required, and a fourth to plant. By this means, not only time is saved, but the plants have a much better chance, when thus treated, of doing well. When the seedling beds are extensive, so many of the plants ought not to be removed, that is, a plant left every 4½ feet, and these beds added to the plantation.

On pruning, best season and mode.—The plants do not require to be pruned until the fifth year, as the plucking of leaves generally tends to make the plants assume the basket shape, the form most to be desired to procure the greatest quantity of leaves; if, however, the plants show a tendency to run into weed, from central branches being thrown out, this ought to be checked by removing the central stem. In the fourth year a quantity of the old and hard wood ought to be removed, to induce the plants to throw out more branches. The best season for pruning is from November to March.

On irrigation.—To keep the tea-plants healthy, irrigation for two or three years is absolutely necessary, and no land ought to be selected for a tea plantation which cannot be irrigated.

On the other hand, land liable to be flooded during the rains, and upon which water lies for any length of time, is equally detrimental to the growth of the plant. This applies to a small portion of the Kooasur plantation, which receives the drainage of the adjoining hills, and the soil being retentive, keeps the water. Deep trenches have been dug in order to drain it off—these, however, owing to the lowness of the surrounding country, act badly. Three successive seasons plants have been put into the ground, and as often have been destroyed on the setting in of the rains, showing the necessity of avoiding such kind of land for tea plantation.

To facilitate irrigation, &c., as already stated, in the Deyrah Dhoon, I have limited the tea beds to three feet in breadth. This is particularly requisite in land so constituted as that of the Deyrah Dhoon, it being so porous, as mentioned by Major Cautley in his "Notes and Memoranda of Watercourses." This is caused by the superincumbent soil not being more than from one to three feet thick, in some places more, but varying exceedingly. Beneath this there is a bed of shingle of vast thickness, through which the water percolates; it is this that renders the sinking of wells so difficult in the Deyrah Dhoon, and which has tended so much to retard individuals from becoming permanent residents; at present there are many tracts of several thousand acres in that valley unoccupied from want of drinking water, as for instance, at Innesphaeel.[Pg 110]

Where the ground is very uneven, as is the case generally in the hills, the khaul system, already recommended, ought to be adopted.

On the tea-plant; season of flowering, its characters and species, and on the advantages to be derived from importing seeds from China.—From the importance of tea, as an article of commerce, the plant has attracted much attention; and from few qualified Europeans having travelled in the tea districts of China, there is much difference of opinion as to the number of species belonging to the genus Thea.

In the government plantations in Kumaon and Gurwahl, the plants begin to flower about the end of August and beginning of September, or, as the seeds of the former year begin to ripen. They do not all come into flower at once, but some are in full blossom in September, others in October, November, December and January. Some throw out a second set of blossoms in March, April, and May, and during the rains; so that from the same plant unripe or ripe seeds and flowers may be collected at one and the same time.

To the genus Thea, which belongs to the order Ternstræmiaceæ, the following characters have been ascribed: calyx persistent, without bracts, five-leaved, leaflets imbricated and generally of the same size. Petals of the corolla vary in number from five to nine, imbricated, the inner ones much the largest. Stamens numerous, in several rows adhering to the bottom of the petals. Filaments filiform. Anthers incumbent, two-celled, oblong, with a thickish connectivum. Cells opening longitudinally. Ovary free, three-celled; ovules four in each cell, inserted internally into the central angle, the upper ones ascending, the lower pendulous. Style trifid, stigmas three, acute. Capsule spheroidal, 1-7-lobed with loculicidal dehiscence, or with dessepiments formed from the turned-in edges of the valves. Seeds solitary, or two in cells, shell-like testa, marked with the ventral umbilicus. Cotyledons thick, fleshy, oily, no albumen. Radicle very short, very near the umbilicus centripetal. In the plantations there are two species, and two well marked varieties.

The first is characterised by the leaves being of a pale-green colour, thin, almost membraneous, broad lanceolate, sinatures or edge irregular and reversed, length from three to six inches. The color of the stem of newly-formed shoots is of a pale-reddish colour, and green towards the end. This species is also marked by its strong growth, its erect stem, and the shoots being generally upright and stiff. The flowers are small, and its seeds but sparing.

In its characters this plant, received from Assam, agrees in part with those assigned by Dr. Lettsom and Sir W. Hooker to the Thea viridis, but differs in its branches being stiff and erect. The flowers small, or rather much about the same size as the species about to be described, and not confined to the upper axils of the plant, and solitary, as stated by them.[10] By the Chinese manufacturers it is considered an inferior plant for making tea, it is not therefore grown to any extent.

The second species is characterised by its leaves being much smaller, and not so broadly lanceolate; slightly waved, of a dark-green color, thick and coriaceous, sinature or edge irregular, length from one to three inches and a half. In its growth it is much smaller than the former, and throws out numerous spreading branches, and seldom presents its marked leading stem. This species, therefore, in the above characters, agrees much with those that have been assigned to Thea Bohea by authors. The characters have been mixed up in an extraordinary manner. Thus it has been stated, that the Thea viridis has large, strong growing, and spreading branches, and that Thea Bohea is a smaller plant, with branches stiff and straight, and stem erect. No doubt the Thea viridis is a much larger and stronger growing plant than the Thea Bohea, or rather the plant now existing in the different plantations is so; but in the former the branches are stiff and erect, and in the latter inclined and branches. The marked distinguishing characters between the two species are the coriaceous dark-green leaves in the Thea Bohea, and the large pale-green monhanæous leaves of the Thea viridis. The manner, too, of growth is very striking, and on entering the plantation the distinction is at once marked to the most unob[Pg 111]servant eye. This species of Thea Bohea forms nearly the whole of the plantations, and was brought from China by Dr. Gordon.

In the plantations there is a third plant, which, however, can only be considered a marked variety of Thea Bohea. Its leaves are thick, coriaceous, and of dark-green color, but invariably very small, and not exceeding two inches in length, and thinly lanceolate; the serratures, too, on the edge, which are straight, are not so deep. In other characters it is identical. This marked variety was received from Calcutta at the plantation in a separate despatch from the others.

But in addition to these there are, no doubt, many more varieties, and though it may be a fact that, in certain districts, green tea is manufactured from a species differing from that from which black tea is manufactured, yet, in other districts, green and black teas are manufactured from one and the same plant. The Chinese manufacturers now in Kumaon state that the plant is one and the same, and that it can be proved by converting black tea into green. In manufacturing teas now in the manufactory, if a large quantity of leaves are brought in from the plantations, one half are converted into green, and one half into black tea. This only shows that much of the green and black teas of commerce are manufactured from one and the same plant. The Assam plant is, from the characters given, quite a distinct plant, and agrees, as already stated, most nearly with the species described as Thea viridis. It would, therefore, be most desirable to procure seeds of this so-called species, and also of other varieties, of which, no doubt, there is a great variety. From the northern districts of China in particular, seeds ought to be imported, not, however, in large quantities, but in quantities of two or three seers, so that they might, on arrival at Calcutta, be sent up the country as quickly as possible, for, if the seeds are kept long out of the ground, not one will germinate; such was the fate of all the seeds contained in ten boxes imported by government in 1845, not one having germinated, which was much to be regretted. Had they been sent in small parcels, well packed in wax cloth, to prevent them from being injured by moisture, and placed in an airy part of the vessel in transmission from China to Calcutta, and, on arrival there, sent by dâwk banghay direct to the plantation, they would, I am confident, have reached in good condition. It is well worthy of a trial and seeds ought, if possible, to be obtained from every district celebrated for its teas. It is in this manner, by obtaining seeds of the finest varieties of plants, that the finest teas will be procured. I do not mean to infer that the tea plants now under cultivation are not the produce of fine varieties, for that has been proved by the undoubted testimony of the London brokers, but only that there are, no doubt, many others well worthy of introduction. In confirmation of what I have stated, I may quote the words of my late friend Dr. Griffith, who, in his report on the tea plant of Assam, says—"I now come to the consideration of the steps which, in my opinion, must be followed if any degree of success in the cultivation of tea is to be expected; of these the most important is the importation of Chinese seeds of unexceptionable quality, and of small numbers of their sorts."[11] Dr. Royle, too, who was the first person to point out that the Himalayas were well adapted to tea cultivation, and to whom the credit of recommending to government the introduction of the plant into Northern India is due, strongly urges the necessity of importing seeds from different localities in China celebrated for their teas.

Method and season for plucking and gathering leaves.—The season for picking leaves commences in April and continues until October. The number of gatherings varies, depending on the moisture[12] or dryness of the season. If the season be good, as many as seven gatherings may be obtained. If, however, the rains are partial, only four or five. These, however, may be reduced to their general periods for gathering—that is, from April to June, from July to 15th August, and from September to the end of October. But few leaves are [Pg 112]collected after the 15th of the latter month. As soon as the new and young leaves have appeared in April, the plucking takes place, this being done by the Chinese, assisted by the Mallees. The following is the method adopted:—A certain division of the plantation is marked off, and to each man a small basket is given, with instructions to proceed to a certain point, so that no plant may be passed over. On the small basket being filled, the leaves are emptied into another large one, which is put in some shady place, and in which, when filled, they are conveyed to the manufactory. The leaves are generally plucked with the thumb and forefinger. Sometimes the terminal part of a branch, having four or five young leaves attached, is plucked off. All old leaves are rejected, as they will not curl, and therefore are of no use.

As the season advances, and manufactory and plantation works become necessary, the Mallees are assisted in gathering leaves by Coolies. The process is simple, and thus every man, woman, and child of villages could be profitably employed, on the plantations being greatly extended. Certain kinds of leaves are not selected in the plantation, in order to make certain kinds of tea, but all new and fresh leaves are indiscriminately collected together, and the different kinds separated on the leaves being fired.

Method of manufacturing black tea.—The young and fresh leaves on being picked (they only being used, the old ones being too hard, and therefore unfit to curl), are carried to the manufactory, and spread out in a large airy room to cool, and are there kept during the night, being occasionally turned with the hand if brought in in the afternoon; or, if brought in during the morning, they are allowed to lie until noon. Early in the morning the manufacturers visit the airing room, and pack up the leaves in baskets and remove them to the manufacturing room. Each manufacturer takes a basketful, and commences to beat them between the palms of his hands with a lateral motion, in order to soften and make them more pliable for working, and thus prevent them, when rolled, from breaking. This beating process continues for about an hour, and it may either consist of one or two processes; the Chinese sometimes finish the beating process at once; at others, they allow the leaves, after being beat for half an hour, to remain a time and then resume it. They now go to breakfast, and in one hour and a half the leaves are ready for the pan. The pans being heated by wood placed in the oven, so as to feel hot to the hands, are filled to about two-thirds, or about three seers of leaves are thrown in at a time—the quantity which a manufacturer is capable of lifting with both hands. With the hands the leaves are kept moving with a rotatory motion in the pan, and when they become very hot, the motion is kept up with a pair of forked sticks. This process is continued for three or four minutes, depending on the heat of the pan, or until the leaves feel hot and soft. They are then, with one sweep of a bamboo brush, swept into a basket, and thrown on to the rolling-table, which is covered with a coarse mat made of bamboo. Each manufacturer then takes as much as he can hold in both hands, and forms a ball and commences to roll it with all his might with a semicircular motion, which causes a greenish yellow juice to exude. This process is continued for three or four minutes, the balls being occasionally undone and made up again. The balls are then handed to another party at the extremity of the table, to undo them and spread the leaves out thinly on flat baskets and expose them to the sun, if there is any; if not they are kept in the manufactory. After all the leaves have gone through this process, the first baskets are brought back, and the leaves again transferred to the pan, worked up in a similar manner for the same length of time, re-transferred to the table, and again rolled. This being done, the leaves are again spread out on large flat baskets to cool. On being cooled the leaves are collected together and thinly spread out on flat wicker-worked sieve-baskets, which are placed in others of a deep and of a double-coned shape. The choolahs being lighted for some time, and the charcoal burning clear, they are now ready to receive the coned baskets. The basket is placed over the choolah and kept there for about five minutes. The leaves are then removed, re-transferred to the flat baskets, and re-rolled for a few minutes. This being done, the leaves are again brought together, placed in the conical basket and kept over the charcoal fire for about two minutes. The contents of the conical [Pg 113]baskets are then all collected together in a heap, and as much is placed in a conical basket as it will hold, and it is again placed over the charcoal choolah until the tea is perfectly dry. During this time the baskets are frequently removed and the tea turned, in order to allow the leaves to be completely and uniformly dried, and the basket too is generally struck, on removal, a violent side blow with the hand, to remove from the sieve any small particles that might otherwise fall into the fire. Before removing the basket from the choolah, a flat basket is always placed on the floor to receive it, and all the particles which pass through, on the coned basket being struck, are again replaced. On the conical basket being filled, before placing it over the choolah, a funnel is made in the centre of the tea with the hand, to allow the heated air to pass through. Sometimes a funnel made of bamboo is made for this purpose. After the tea feels perfectly dry, it is packed in boxes, and sent to the godown.

Next day the different kinds of tea are picked, and on being separated they are again placed in the conical baskets and heated. During this process the baskets are frequently removed from the choolah in order to turn the tea, so that the heating may be general and uniform. In doing this a flat basket is always placed on the floor, as on the former day (and a flat basket, too, is placed on the top to confine the heat), to receive the conical one, which receive one or two blows to open the pores of the sieve. What passes through is replaced amongst the tea. When it is perfectly dry it is ready for finally packing.

The kinds of black tea at present manufactured are—Souchong, Pouchong, Flowery Pekoe, and Bohea. The Flowery Pekoe is manufactured in September.

Method of manufacturing Green Tea.—On the young and fresh leaves being plucked they are spread out on the ground of the airing room and allowed to cool. After remaining for about two hours, or (if brought in late in the afternoon) during the night, they are removed to the green tea room. The pans being properly heated, the leaves, as in the case with the black tea, are thrown into the pans and kept either with the hand or two forked sticks in constant motion for three or four minutes, and are then removed to the rolling table, and then rolled in the same manner in balls as the black tea. They are then scattered most sparingly on large flat baskets and exposed to the heat of the sun. If there is no sun the baskets are arranged in frames, which are placed over the choolah, heated with charcoal. During the drying the leaves are frequently made into balls and rolled in the flat baskets, in order to extract the juice. The drying process continues for about two hours, and on the leaves becoming dry, those contained in two baskets are thrown together, and then four basketsful into one, and so on until they are all collected together. In this state the leaves still feel soft, damp, and pliant to the hand, and are now brought back to the tea manufacturing-room. Opposite to each of the inclined pans, which have been properly heated so as to feel warm to the hand by wood supplied to the ovens underneath, one of the Chinese stations himself, and puts as many leaves into it as it will hold. He then moves them in a heap gently, from before backward, making these perform a circle, and presses them strongly to the sides of the pan. As the leaves become hot he uses a flat piece of wood, in order that he may more effectually compress them. This process continues for about two hours, the leaves being compressed into at least half of their bulk, and become so dry that when pressed against the back part of the pan in mass, they again fall back in pieces. The tea, as by this time it has assumed this appearance, is now placed in a bag made of American drill or jean (the size depending on the quantity of tea), which is damped, and one end twisted with much force over a stick, and thus it is much reduced in size. After being thus powerfully compressed and beaten so as to reduce the mass as much as possible, the bag is exposed to the sun until it feels perfectly dry. If there is no sun it is placed in the heated pan, and there retained until it is so. This finishes the first day's process.

On the second day it is placed in small quantities in the heated inclined pans, and moved up and down against the sides and bottom with the palm of the hand, which is made to perform a semi circle. This is continued for about six hours, and by so doing the colour of the tea is gradually brought out.[Pg 114]

The third day it is passed through sieve baskets of different dimensions, then exposed to the winnowing machine, which separates the different kinds of green teas. The winnowing machine is divided into a series of divisions, which receive the different kinds according to their size and weight. 1st. Coarsest Souchoo. This tea, owing to its coarseness, is not marketable. 2nd. Chounchoo. This is a large, round-grained tea. 3rd. Machoo. This is also a round-grained tea, but finer than the former. 4th. Hyson. 5th. Gunpowder Hyson. 6th. Chumat. This kind of tea consists of broken particles of other kinds of tea.

On being separated, the different kinds are placed in baskets and picked by the hand, all the old or badly curled and also light-coloured leaves being removed, and others of different varieties, which by chance may have become mixed. To make the bad or light-colored leaves marketable, they undergo an artificial process of coloring, but this I have prohibited in compliance with the orders of the Court of Directors, and therefore do not consider this tea at present fit for the market[13]. On the different teas being properly picked, they are again placed in the heated inclined pans, and undergo separately the process of being moved violently up and down and along the bottom of the pan for three hours in the manner already described. The color is now fully developed. If the tea feels damp, it is kept longer than three hours in the pan. The tea is now ready to be packed.

Packing.—As soon as the tea is prepared, boxes lined with sheet lead ought to be ready to receive it. On being packed it is to be firmly pressed down, and the lead is then to be soldered. Before the sheet lead box is placed in the wooden one it is covered with paper, which is pasted on to prevent any air acting on the tea through any holes which might exist in the lead. The box is then nailed, removed to the godown, papered, stamped, and numbered. It is then ready for sale.

From what I have just stated, it will be perceived that box makers and sheet lead makers are essential to form a complete tea establishment. With reference to the box making it is unnecessary for me to make any remark, further than that care is to be taken in selecting wood for making boxes, as it ought to be free of all smell. All coniferous (pine) woods are therefore unfit for the purpose. In the hills the best woods are toon and walnut, and at Deyrah the saul (Shorea Robusta).

Manufacture of sheet lead.—Sheet lead making is a much more complicated process, and therefore requires more consideration. To make sheet lead, the manufacturer mixes 1½ to 3 seers of block tin with a pucka maund of lead, and melts them together in a cast metal pan. On being melted, the flat stone slabs, under which it is his intention to run the lead, are first covered with ten or twelve sheets of smooth paper (the hill paper being well adapted to the purpose), which are pasted to the sides, and chalked over. He then places the under stone in a skeleton frame of wood, to keep it firm, and above it the other stone. On the upper stone the manufacturer sits, and gently raises it with his left hand, assisted by throwing the weight of his body backwards. With his right hand he fills an iron ladle with the molten matter, throws it under the raised slab, which he immediately compresses and brings forward (it having been placed back, and thus overlapping the under slab by about half an inch) with his own weight. On doing so, the superabundant lead issues in front and at both sides; what remains attached to the slabs is removed by the iron ladle. The upper slab is now lifted, and the sheet of lead examined. If it is devoid of holes it is retained; if, on the other hand, there are several, which is generally the case with the first two or three sheets run, or until the slabs get warm, it is again thrown back to the melting pan. After having run off a series of sheets the slabs are to be examined, and, if the paper is in the least burnt, the first sheet is to be removed, and the one underneath taking its place, and thus securing an uniform smooth surface, is then to be chalked. According to the size of the stone slabs used, so is the size of the sheet lead. Those now in use are 16 inches square by 2 inches in thickness, and are a composition, being principally formed of lime.[Pg 115]

To make sheet lead boxes, a model one of wood (a little smaller than the box for which the lead is intended) is formed, which has a hole in the bottom, and a transverse bar of wood to assist in lifting it up, instead of a lid. The lead is then shaped on this model and soldered. This being done, the model is removed by the transverse bar, and by pressing, if necessary, through the hole. The lead box is then papered over, in case there should be any small holes in it, to prevent the action of air on the tea, and, when dry, transferred to the wooden box for which it was intended.

The manufactory.—The rooms of the manufactory ought to be large and airy, and to consist of—1st, a black tea manufactory; 2nd, a green tea manufactory; 3rd, winnowing room; and 4th, airing room. At Almorah the black tea manufacturing room is 53 feet long by 20 broad, and the other three, 20 by 24. The walls are 18 feet in height.

Implements required in manufacturing.—In the body of this report I have noticed all the different kinds of implements required, I may however, again briefly notice them, and give a short account of each. Cast-iron Pans—In the manufactory there are two kinds in use, one received from China, the other from England. Both are considered equally good by the tea manufacturers, though in firing green tea they prefer the Chinese ones, as they are thinner, and are thus by them better able to regulate the heat. The Chinese pans are two feet two inches in diameter, and 10 inches in depth, by about one-eighth of an inch in thickness.

The English pans are two feet two inches in diameter, and eight inches in depth, and rather thicker than the Chinese.

The oven for making black tea is made of kucha brick. In height it is two feet nine inches, in length, three feet, and in breadth three feet one inch. Door one foot five inches in height, and 11 inches in breadth. The base of the oven is 10 inches elevated above the floor of the manufacturing room.

The oven with double pans for manufacturing green tea, is also built of kucha bricks. It is three feet in height and three feet in breadth; base of oven one foot in height. Door one foot six inches in height, and 10 inches in breadth. The pans are placed horizontally.

A brush made of split bamboo, used in sweeping the tea leaves out of the pans.

A basket for receiving tea from the pan when ready to be rolled. It is 2 feet long, and 1½ feet broad, and gradually increases in depth from before backwards to 6 inches. It is made of bamboo.

The mat made of bamboo for placing on the table when the tea leaves are about to be rolled. It is 8 feet long and 4 feet broad.

A flat basket made of bamboo for spreading out the tea leaves when they have been rolled on the mat. These flat baskets are of various sizes, varying from 3 to 5 feet in diameter.

A flat sieve basket of 2 feet in diameter, made of bamboo, upon which the rolled tea leaves are placed, and which is deposited in the centre of the double-coned basket.

Double-coned baskets. The height of these baskets varies from 2 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 6 inches, external diameter 2 feet 8 inches. In the centre there are some pegs of bamboo to support the flat sieve basket on which the tea rests.

Forked sticks for turning leaves.

Choolahs. These are formed of kucha bricks, and are 10 inches high, 10½ inches deep, and generally about 2 feet in diameter.

Funnel made of bamboo to allow the heated air from the choolahs to pass through the tea; it is seldom used; the Chinese tea manufacturers preferring one made in the tea basket by the hand.

Oven for firing green tea made of kucha bricks. The pans are inclined at an angle of 50. In front the oven is 3 feet 2 inches in height, behind 4 feet 8 inches, length 5½ feet, breadth 3 feet. Door 10 inches from the base, 1 foot 2 inches high, and 7 inches wide.

Frames for placing baskets. The first being inclined.

Baskets for collecting leaves.

Shovel, &c., used in regulating the fire.[Pg 116]

Winnowing machine. This is a common winnowing machine, with a box 2 feet 10 inches in length, 1 foot 2 inches in breadth, and 1 foot 3 inches in depth, attached to the bottom of the hopper, and closely fitted into the middle of the circular apartment which contains the fanners. This box is entirely closed above (unless at the small opening receiving the hopper) and at the sides. At the base there are two inclined boards which project from the side of the machine 6 inches, and are partly separated from each other by angular pieces of wood. The end towards the fanners is open, the other is partly closed by a semicircular box which is moveable.

I shall now give the dimensions of the different parts of this machine, which may be useful to parties wishing to make up similar ones to those employed in the manufactories.

External frame 7 feet 2 inches in length, 18 inches in breadth, and 5 feet 8 inches in height. Hopper 2 feet 10 inches above, and 1 foot 8 inches in depth. Frame of box for fanners 3 feet 9 inches in diameter. Hopper frame 2 feet 7 inches. Semicircular box, in length 2 feet 5 inches and 7 inches in depth. Inclined plane at base, first 15 inches, second 13 inches.

I may briefly state how this machine acts. With the right hand the fanners are propelled by the crank, and with the left hand the bottom of the hopper is opened by removing the wood. The flat piece of wood (the regulator) is held in the hand to regulate the quantity of tea that passes down. An assistant then throws a quantity of tea into the hopper which escapes through the apartment, and there meets the air. The first kind of tea falls down the inclined plane into one box which has been placed to receive them, the second are propelled further on, and fall into another box, and the lighter particles are propelled on to the semicircular end, and fall into a third box.

Note on the culture of the tea plant at Darjeeling, in 1847, by Dr. A. Campbell, Superintendant.—About six years ago I received a few tea seeds from Dr. Wallich; they were of China stock, grown in Kumaon. I planted them in my garden in November, 1841, and had about a dozen seedlings in the month of May following, which were allowed to grow where they had come up, and rather close together. The plants were healthy from the commencement, and up to May, 1844, had grown very well; at this period the ground passed into other hands (Mr. Samuel Smith's), and I lost sight of them until last August, when Mr. Macfarlane, from Assam, who was acquainted with the tea plant in that province, arrived here. Being desirous of ascertaining how far the climate and soil of Darjeeling were suitable to the tea, I took him to examine the plants, and begged of him to record his opinion on their growth and qualities, with reference to their age, and his experience of the plant in Assam. The result was quite satisfactory. Encouraged by this result, I determined to give an extended trial to the plant, and through the kindness of Major Jenkins and Captain Brodie, of Assam, I procured a supply of fresh seed in October and November last, which was planted in November and the early part of December.

The seed was of excellent quality. It commenced germinating in March, a few plants appeared above ground in the early part of May, and now I have upwards of 7,000 fine healthy seedlings in the plantation.

For the information of those who may desire to try the tea culture in this soil and climate, I have to state the mode of planting pursued by me, and other particulars. The ground is a gentle sloping bank, facing the north and west; the soil is a reddish clay mixed with vegetable mould. After taking up a crop of potatoes, and carefully preparing the ground, I put in the seeds in rows six feet apart and six feet distance in the rows. The seeds were placed about three inches under the surface, five in number, at each place about four inches apart—thus : . : On an average, two out of five have come up. The seedlings commenced appearing above ground early in May, and continued to show until the end of July. The earliest were, therefore, six months in the ground; the latest about eight months.

The seed was of China stock, grown in Assam, and of the Assam plant mixed. I am anxious to have the China stock only, and purpose separating the plants of the Assam stock as soon as I can distinguish them, which Captain Brodie informs me can be readily done as they grow up; the China plants begin of a darker color, and smaller than the Assam ones.[Pg 117]

I hope to have a supply of the seed of China stock from Kumaon next November, and with it to cause the extension of the experiment at this place.

I think that it is reasonable to expect quite as good tea to be produced here as in Kumaon.[14] I have not tasted the Kumaon tea, but, from the opinion expressed on it in England, I am satisfied that it is a very drinkable beverage, and that with similar success here, the tea will be a valuable addition to our products. I have recently tried two kinds of the Assam tea presented by Mr. Stokes to a friend. They are excellent teas, and I shall be well content to have an equally good article manufactured here.

Mr. A. Macfarlane's report on the tea plants in Mr. Smith's ground is annexed:—

"According to your request I have the pleasure of transmitting you my opinion of the tea plants in your garden in this place. The two larger plants have made very good progress, considering their closeness to each other, which prevents them from throwing their branches freely in every direction, but as they have attained so great a size I would not recommend their being transplanted, because let it be done ever so carefully, the roots must receive more or less injury, and should the injury be great the death of the tree is certain.

The smaller ones on the contrary are much stunted; this is caused by their confined situation, being completely choked up by the rose trees, which prevents their receiving a proper supply of light and air, so necessary to vegetation. They are also planted too closely, and, as the plants are still small, by availing yourself of the most favourable season, and using great care in the operation, they might he transplanted with safety, and should then be placed at a distance of not less than six feet apart. The difficulty of transplanting is occasioned by the depth to which the root penetrates, as it generally grows downwards, and in a large tree is principally in the subsoil. The larger plants should be pruned of their lower branches to allow a free current of air. This operation is generally performed in November, but any time during the cold season or before the rains, while the plant is at rest, would answer: as I have no knowledge of this climate, I would leave it to more experienced persons to judge of the proper season. To conclude, the plants are in a very healthy condition, and had they been in the hands of a cultivator, would now have been giving a very fair supply of produce.

The small sample I tried was of a very good flavor, but on account of the defective manner of manufacture, for want of proper materials, no proper judgment can be formed." (Simmonds's Col. Mag., vol. xvi. p. 44.)

Report upon the Tea Plantations of Deyra, Kumaon and Gurhwal, by Robert Fortune, Esq., addressed to John Thornton, Esq., Secretary to the Government, North Western Provinces, dated Calcutta, September 6th, 1851:—


1. Situation and extent.—The Deyra Doon, or Valley of Deyra, is situated in latitude 3 deg. 18 min. north, and in longitude 78 deg. east. It is about 60 miles in length from east to west, and 16 miles broad at its widest part. It is bounded on the south by the Sewalick range of hills, and on the north by the Himalayas proper, which are here nearly 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. On the west it is open to the river Jumna, and on the east to the Ganges, the distance between these rivers being about 60 miles.

In the centre of this flat valley, the Kaolagir tea plantation has been formed. Eight acres were under cultivation in 1847. There are now 300 acres planted, and about 90 more taken in and ready for many thousands of young plants raised lately from seeds in the plantation.

2. Soil and culture.—The soil of this plantation is composed of clay, sand, and vegetable matter, rather stiff, and apt to get "baked" in dry weather, but free [Pg 118]enough when it is moist or during the rains. It rests upon a gravelly subsoil, consisting of limestone, sandstone, clay-slate, and quartz rock, or of such rocks as enter into the composition of the surrounding mountain ranges. The surface is comparatively flat, although it falls in certain directions towards the ravines and rivers.

The plants are arranged neatly in rows 6 feet apart, and each plant is about 4½ feet from its neighbour in the row. A long, rank-growing species of grass, indigenous to the Doon, is most difficult to keep from over-topping the tea-plants, and is the cause of much extra labor. Besides the labor common to all tea countries in China, such as weeding, and occasionally loosening the soil, there is here an extensive system of irrigation carried on. To facilitate this, the plants are planted in trenches, from four to six inches below the level of the ground, and the soil thus dug out is thrown between the rows to form the paths. Hence the whole of the plantation consists of numerous trenches of this depth, and five feet from centre to centre. At right angles with these trenches a small stream is fed from the canal, and, by opening or shutting their ends, irrigation can be carried on at the pleasure of the overseer.

3. Appearance and health of plants.—The plants generally did not appear to me to be in that fresh and vigorous condition which I had been accustomed to see in good Chinese plantations. This, in my opinion, is caused, 1st, by the plantation being formed on flat land; 2nd, by the system of irrigation; 3rd, by too early plucking; and 4th, by hot drying winds, which are not unfrequent in this valley from April to the beginning of June.


1. Situation and extent.—This plantation is situated in the Province of Eastern Gurhwal, in latitude 30 deg. 8 min. north, and in longitude 78 deg. 45 min. east. It consists of a large tract of terraced land, extending from the bottom of a valley or ravine to more than 1,000 feet up the sides of the mountain. Its lowest portion is about 4,300 feet, and its highest 5,300 feet above the level of the sea; the surrounding mountains appear to be from 7,000 to 8,000. The plantation has not been measured, but there are, apparently, fully one hundred acres under cultivation.

There are about 500,000 plants already planted, besides a large number of seedlings in beds ready for transplanting. About 3,400 of the former were planted in 1844, and are now in full bearing; the greater portion of the others are much younger, having been planted out only one, two, and three years.

2. Soil and culture.—The soil consists of a mixture of loam, sand, and vegetable matter, is of a yellow colour, and is most suitable for the cultivation of the tea-plant. It resembles greatly the soil of the test tea districts in China. A considerable quantity of stones are mixed with it, chiefly small pieces of clay-slate, of which the mountains here are composed. Large tracts of equally good land, at present covered with jungle, are available in this district without interfering in any way with the rights of the settlers.

I have stated that this plantation is formed on the hill side. It consists of a succession of terraces, from the bottom to the top, on which the tea bushes are planted. In its general features it is very like a Chinese tea plantation, although one rarely sees tea lands terraced in China. This, however, may be necessary in the Himalayas, where the rains fall so heavily. Here, too, the system of irrigation is carried on, although to a small extent only, owing to the scarcity of water during the dry season.

3. Appearance and health of plants.—This plantation is a most promising one, and I have no doubt will be very valuable in a few years. The plants are growing admirably, and evidently like their situation. Some of them are suffering slightly from the effects of hard-plucking, like those at Kaolagir; but this can easily be avoided in their future management. Altogether, it is in a most satisfactory condition, and shows how safe it is in matters of this kind to follow the example of the Chinese cultivator, who never makes his tea plantations on low rice land, and never irrigates.


1st. Situation and extent.—This tea farm is situated on the banks of the river Kosilla, about six miles north-west from Almorah, the capital of Kumaon. It is[Pg 119] about 4,500 feet above the level of the sea. The land is of an undulating character, consisting of gentle slopes and terraces, and reminded me of some of the best tea districts in China. Indeed, the hills themselves, in this part of the Himalayas, are very much like those of China, being barren near their summit and fertile on their lower sides.

Thirty-four acres of land are under tea cultivation here, including the adjoining farm of Chullar. Some of the plants appear to have been planted in 1844; but, as at Paorie, the greater number are only from one to three years old.

2nd. Soil and culture.—The soil is what is usually called a sandy loam; it is moderately rich, being well mixed with vegetable matter. It is well suited for tea cultivation. The greater part of the farm is terraced as at Guddowli, but some few patches are left in natural slopes in accordance with the Chinese method. Irrigation is practised to a limited extent.

3rd. Appearance and health of the plants.—All the young plants here are in robust health and are growing well, particularly where they are growing on land where water cannot flood or injure them. As examples of this, I may point out a long belt between Dr. Jameson's house and the flower garden, and also a piece of ground a little below the house in which the Chinese manufacturers live. Some few of the older bushes appear rather stunted; but this is evidently the result of water remaining stagnant about the roots, and partly also of over plucking; both defects, however, admit of being easily cured.


1st. Situation and extent.—These plantations are on the hill side near Almorah, and about 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. The situation is somewhat steep, but well adapted to the growth of tea. The former contains three acres, and the latter four acres under cultivation.

2nd. Soil and culture.—-The soil is light and sandy, and much mixed with particles of clay-slate, which have crumbled down from the adjoining rocks. I believe these plantations are rarely irrigated, and the land is steep enough to prevent any stagnant water from remaining about the roots of the plants.

3rd. Appearance and health of plants.—Most of the bushes here are fully grown, and in full bearing, and generally in good health. On the whole, I consider these plantations in excellent order.


The lake of Bheemtal is situate in latitude 29 deg. 20 min. north, and in longitude 79 deg. 30 min. east. It is 4,000 feet above the level of the sea, and some of the surrounding mountains are said to be 8,000 feet. These form the southern chain of the Himalayas, and bound the vast plain of India, of which a glimpse can be had through the mountain passes. Amongst these hills there are several tals or lakes, some flat meadow-looking land, and gentle undulating slopes, while higher up we have steep and rugged mountains. It is amongst these hills, that the Bheemtal tea plantations have been formed. They may be classed under three heads, viz.—

1st. Anoo and Kooasur plantations.—These adjoin each other, are both formed on low flat land, and together cover about forty acres. The plants do not seem healthy or vigorous; many of them have died out, and few are in that state which tea plants ought to be in. Such situations never ought to be chosen for tea cultivation. The same objection applies to these as to those at Deyra, but in a greater degree. No doubt, with sufficient drainage, and great care in cultivation, and the tea plant might be made to exist in such a situation; but I am convinced it would never grow with that luxuriance which is necessary in order to render it a profitable crop. Besides, such lands are valuable for other purposes. They are excellent rice lands, and as such of considerable value to the natives.

2nd. Bhurtpoor plantation.—This plantation covers about four and a half acres of terraced land on the hill side, a little to the eastward of those last noticed. The soil is composed of a light loam, much mixed with small pieces of clay-slate and trap or green-stone, of which the adjacent rocks are composed. It contains a small portion of vegetable matter or humus. Both the situation and soil of this plantation are well adapted to the requirements of the tea shrub, and consequently we find it succeeding here as well as at Guddowli,[Pg 120] Hawulbaugh, Almorah, and other places where it is planted on the slopes of the hills.

3rd. Russia plantation.—This plantation extends over seventy-five acres, and is formed on sloping land. The elevation is somewhat less than Bhurtpoor, and although terraced in the same way, the angle is much lower. In some parts of the farm the plants are doing well, but generally they seemed to be suffering from too much water and hard plucking. I have no doubt, however, of the success of this farm, when the system of cultivation is improved. I observed some most vigorous and healthy bushes in the overseer's garden, a spot adjoining the plantation, which could not be irrigated, and was informed they "never received any water, except that which fell from the skies."

In the Bheemtal district, there are large tracts of excellent tea land. In crossing over the hills towards Nainee Tal, with J.H. Batten, Esq., Commissioner of Kumaon, I pointed out many tracts admirably adapted for tea cultivation, and of no great value to the natives; generally, those lands on which the mundoca is cultivated are the most suitable.

I have thus described all the Government plantations in Gurhwal and Kumaon. Dr. Jameson, the superintendent, deserves the highest praise for the energy and perseverance with which he has conducted his operations. I shall now notice the plantations of the zemindars, under the superintendence of the commissioner and assistant-commissioner of Kumaon and Gurhwal.


1st, at Lohba.—This place is situated in eastern Gurhwal, about 50 miles to the westward of Almorah, and is at an elevation of 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is one of the most beautiful spots in this part of the Himalayas. The surrounding mountains are high, and in some parts precipitous, while in others they are found consisting of gentle slopes and undulations. On these undulating slopes, there is a great deal of excellent land suitable for tea cultivation. A few tea bushes have been growing vigorously for some years in the commissioner's garden, and they are now fully ten feet in height. These plants having succeeded so well, naturally induced the authorities of the province to try this cultivation upon a more extensive scale. It appears that in 1844, about 4,000 young plants were obtained from the Government plantations, and planted on a tract of excellent land, which the natives wished to abandon. Instead of allowing the people to throw up their land, they were promised it rent-free upon the condition that they attended to the cultivation of the tea, which had been planted on a small portion of the ground attached to the village.

This arrangement seems to have failed either from want of knowledge, or from design, or perhaps partly from both of these causes. More lately, a larger number of plants have been planted, but I regret to say with nearly the same results.

But results of this discouraging kind are what any one, acquainted with the nature of the tea plant, could have easily foretold, had the treatment, intended to be given it, been explained to him. Upon enquiry, I found the villagers had been managing the tea lands just as they had been doing their rice fields, that is, a regular system of irrigation was practised. As water was plentiful, a great number, indeed nearly all, the plants seem to have perished from this cause. The last planting alluded to had been done late in the spring, and just at the commencement of the dry weather, and to these plants little or no water seems to have been given; so that, in fact, it was going from one extreme to another equally bad, and the result was of course nearly the same.

I have no hesitation in saying that the district in question is well adapted for the cultivation of tea. With judicious management, a most productive farm might be established here in four or five years. Land is plentiful, and of little value either to the natives or to the Government.

2nd, at Kutoor.—This is the name of a large district 30 or 40 miles northward from Almorah, in the centre of which the old town or village of Byznath stands. It is a fine undulating country, consisting of wide valleys, gentle slopes, and little hills, while the whole is intersected by numerous streams, and surrounded by high mountains. The soil of this extensive district is most fertile, and is capable of producing large crops of rice, on the low irrigable lands, and the dry[Pg 121] grains and tea on the sides of the hills. From some cause, however, either the thinness of population or the want of a remunerative crop,[15] large tracts of this fertile district have been allowed to go out of cultivation. Everywhere I observed ruinous and jungle-covered terraces, which told of the more extended cultivation of former years.

Amongst some hills near the upper portion of this district, two small tea plantations have been formed under the patronage and superintendence of Captain Ramsey, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Kumaon. Each of them cover three or four acres of land, and had been planted about a year before the time of my visit. In this short space of time the plants had grown into nice strong bushes, and were in the highest state of health. I never saw, even in the most favoured districts in China, any plantations looking better than these. This result, Captain Ramsay informed me, had been attained in the following simple manner:—All the land attached to the two villages with which the tea farms are connected, is exempted from the revenue tax, a sum amounting only to 525 Rs. per annum. In lieu of this, the assamees (cultivators) of both villages assist with manure, and at the transplanting season, as well as ploughing and preparing fresh land. In addition to this, one chowdree and four prisoners are constantly employed upon the plantations. The chief reason of the success of these plantations, next to that of the land being well suited for tea cultivation, may, no doubt, be traced to a good system of management; that is, the young plants have been carefully transplanted at the proper season of the year, when the air was charged with moisture, and they have not been destroyed by excessive irrigation afterwards. The other zemindaree plantation at Lohba might have been now in full bearing had the same system been followed.

From the description thus given, it will be observed that I consider the Kutoor plantations in a most flourishing condition. And I have no doubt they will continue to flourish, and soon convince the zemindars of the value of tea cultivation, providing three things, intimately connected with the success of the crop are strongly impressed upon their minds; viz., the unsuitableness of low wet lands for tea cultivation; the folly of irrigating tea as they would do rice, and the impropriety of commencing the plucking before the plants are strong, and of considerable size. I am happy to add, that amongst these hills there are no foolish prejudices in the minds of the natives against the cultivation of tea. About the time of my visit, a zemindar came and begged two thousand plants, to enable him to commence tea growing on his own account.

It is of great importance, that the authorities of a district, and persons of influence, should show an interest in a subject of this kind. At present the natives do not know its value; but they are as docile as children, and will enter willingly upon tea cultivation, providing the "Sahib" shows that he is interested in it. In a few years the profits received will be a sufficient inducement.

In concluding this part of my Report, I beg to suggest the propriety of obtaining some of the best varieties of the tea plant which have been introduced lately into the government plantations from China. Dr. Jameson could, no doubt, spare a few, but they ought to be given to those zemindars only who have succeeded with the original variety.

Having described in detail the various government plantations, and also those of the zemindars which came under my notice in the Himalayas, I shall now make some general remarks upon the cultivation of tea in India, and offer some suggestions for its improvement.


1. On land and cultivation.—From the observations already made upon the various tea farms which I have visited in the Himalayas, it will be seen that I do not approve of low flat lands being selected for the cultivation of the tea shrub. In China, which at present must be regarded as the model tea country, the plantations are never made in such situations, or they are so rare as not to [Pg 122]have come under my notice. In that country they are usually formed on the lower slopes of the hills, that is, in such situations as those at Guddowli, Hawulbaugh, Almorah, Kutoor, &c., in the Himalayas. It is true that in the fine green tea country of Hwuy-chow, in China, near the town of Tunche, many hundred acres of flattish land are under tea cultivation. But this land is close to the hills, which jut out into it in all directions, and it is intersected by a river whose banks are usually from 15 to 20 feet above the level of the stream itself, not unlike those of the Ganges below Benares. In fact, it has all the advantages of hilly land such as the tea plant delights in. In extending the Himalaya plantation this important fact ought to be kept in view.

There is no scarcity of such land in these mountains, more particularly in Eastern Gurhwal and Kumaon. It abounds in the districts of Paorie, Kunour, Lohba, Almorah, Kutoor, and Bheemtal, and I was informed by Mr. Batten, that there are large tracts about Gungoli and various other places equally suitable. Much of this land is out of cultivation, as I have already stated, while the cultivated portions yield on an average only two or three annas per acre of revenue.

Such lands are of less value to the zemindars than low rice land, where they can command a good supply of water for irrigation. But I must not be understood to recommend poor worn out hill lands for tea cultivation,—land on which nothing else will grow. Nothing is further from my meaning. Tea in order to be profitable requires a good sound soil,—a light loam, well mixed with sand and vegetable matter, moderately moist, and yet not stagnant or sour. Such a soil, for example, as on these hill sides produces good crops of mundooa, wheat or millet, is well adapted for tea. It is such lands which I have alluded to as abounding in the Himalayas, and which are, at present, of so little value either to the Government, or to the natives themselves.

The system of Irrigation applied to tea in India is never practised in China. I did not observe it practised in any of the great tea countries which I visited. On asking the Chinese manufacturers whom I brought round, and who had been born and brought up in these districts, whether they had seen such a practice, they all replied, "no, that is the way we grow rice: we never irrigate tea." Indeed, I have no hesitation in saying that, in nine cases out of ten, the effects of irrigation are most injurious. When tea will not grow without irrigation, it is a sure sign that the land employed is not suitable for such a crop. It is no doubt an excellent thing to have a command of water in case of a long drought, when its agency might be useful in saving a crop which would otherwise fail, but irrigation ought to be used only in such emergent cases.

I have already observed that good tea land is naturally moist, although not stagnant; and we must bear in mind that the tea shrub is not a water plant, but is found in a wild state on the sides of hills. In confirmation of these views, it is only necessary to observe further, that all the best Himalayan plantations are those to which irrigation has been most sparingly applied.

In cultivating the tea shrub, much injury is often done to a plantation by plucking leaves from very young plants. In China young plants are never touched until the third or fourth year after they have been planted. If growing under favorable circumstances, they will yield a good crop after that time. All that ought to be done, in the way of plucking or pruning before that time, should be done with a view to form the plants, and make them bushy if they do not grow so naturally. If plucking is commenced too early and continued, the energies of the plants are weakened, and they are long in attaining any size, and consequently there is a great loss of produce in a given number of years. To make this more plain, I will suppose a bush that has been properly treated to be eight years of age. It may then be yielding from two to three pounds of tea per annum, while another of the same age, but not a quarter of the size, from over-plucking, is not giving more than as many ounces.

The same remarks apply also to plants which become unhealthy from any cause; leaves ought never to be taken from such plants; the gatherers should have strict orders to pass them over until they get again into a good state of health.

2nd. On climate.—I have already stated that eastern Gurhwal and Kumaon [Pg 123]appear to me to be the most suitable for the cultivation of the tea plant in this part of the Himalayas. My remarks upon climate will therefore refer to this part of the country.

From a table of temperature kept at Hawulbaugh from November 28th, 1850, to July 13th, 1851, obligingly furnished me by Dr. Jameson, I observed that the climate here is extremely mild. During the winter months, the thermometer [Fahr.] at sunrise was never lower than 44 deg., and only on two occasions so low, namely on the 15th and 16th of February, 1851. Once it stood so high as 66 deg. on the morning of February 4th, but this is full ten degrees higher than usual. The minimum in February must, however, be several degrees lower than is shown by this table, for ice and snow were not unfrequent; indeed, opposite the 16th of February in the column of remarks, I find written down a very frosty morning. This discrepancy no doubt arises either from a bad thermometer being used, or from its being placed in a sheltered verandah. We may, therefore, safely mark the minimum as 32 deg. instead of 44 degrees.

The month of June appears to be the hottest in the year. I observe the thermometer on the 5th, 6th and 7th of that month stood at 92 deg. at 3 P.M., and this was the highest degree marked during the year. The lowest, at this hour, during the month was 76 deg., but the general range in the 3 P.M. column of the table is from 80 deg. to 90 degrees.

The wet and dry seasons are not so decided in the hills as they are in the plains. In January, 1861, it rained on five days and ten nights, and the total quantity of rain which fell, as indicated by the rain gauge, during this month, was 5.25 inches; in February, 3.84 fell; in March, 2.11; in April, 2.24; in May, none; and in June 6.13. In June there are generally some days of heavy rain, called by the natives Chota Bursaut, or small rains, after this there is an interval of some days of dry weather before the regular "rainy season" commences. This season comes on in July and continues until September. October and November are said to be beautiful months with a clear atmosphere and cloudless sky. After this fogs are frequent in all the valleys until spring.

In comparing the climate of these provinces with that of China, although we find some important difference, yet upon the whole there is a great similarity. My comparisons apply, of course, to the best tea districts only, for although the tea shrub is found cultivated from Canton in the south to Tan-chowpoo in Shan-tung, yet the provinces of Fokein, Kainsee and the southern parts of Kiangnan, yield nearly all the finest teas of commerce.

The town of Tsong-gan, one of the great black tea towns near the far famed Woo-e-shan, is situated in latitude 27 deg. 47 min, north. Here the thermometer in the hottest months, namely in July and August, rarely rises above 100 deg. and ranges from 92 deg. to 100 deg., as maximum; while in the coldest months, December and January, it sinks to the freezing point and sometimes a few degrees lower. We have thus a close resemblance in temperature between Woo-e-shan and Almorah, The great green tea district being situated two degrees further north, the extremes of temperature are somewhat greater. It will be observed, however, that while the hottest month in the Himalayas is June, in China the highest temperature occurs in July and August: this is owing to the rainy season taking place earlier in China than it does in India.

In China rain falls in heavy and copious showers in the end of April, and these rains continue at intervals in May and June. The first gathering of tea-leaves, those from which the Pekoe is made, is scarcely over before the air becomes charged with moisture, rain falls, and the bushes being thus placed in such favourable circumstances for vegetating are soon covered again with young leaves, from which the main crop of the season is obtained.

No one, acquainted with vegetable physiology, can doubt the advantages of such weather in the cultivation of tea for mercantile purposes. And these advantages, to a certain extent at least, seem to be extended to the Himalayas, although the regular rainy season is later than in China. I have already shown, from Dr Jameson's table, that spring showers are frequent in Kumaon, although rare in the plains of India; still, however, I think it would be prudent to adopt the gathering of leaves to the climate, that is to take a moderate portion from the bushes before the rains, and the main crop after they have commenced.[Pg 124]

3rd. On the vegetation of China and the Himalayas. One of the surest guides from which to draw conclusions, on a subject of this nature, is found in the indigenous vegetable productions of the countries. Dr. Royle, who was the first to recommend the cultivation of tea in the Himalayas, drew his conclusions, in the absence of that positive information from China which we possess now, not only from the great similarity in temperature between China and these hills, but also from the resemblance in vegetable productions. This resemblance is certainly very striking. In both countries, except in the low valleys of the Himalayas (and these we are not considering), tropical forms are rarely met with. If we take trees and shrubs, for example, we find such genera as pinus, cypress, berberis, quercus, viburnam, indigofera, and romeda, lonicera, deutzia, rubus, myrica, spiræ, ilex, and many others common to both countries.

Amongst herbaceous plants we have gentiana, aquilegia, anemone, rumex, primula, lilium, loutodon, ranunculus, &c. equally distributed in the Himalayas and in China, and even in aquatics the same resemblance may be traced, as in nelumbium, caladium &c. And further than this, we do not find plants belong to the same genera only, but in many instances the identical species are found in both countries. The indigofera, common in the Himalayas, abounds also on the tea hills of China, and so does Berberis nepaulencis, Lonicera diversifolia, Myrica sapida, and many others.

Were it necessary, I might now show that there is a most striking resemblance between the geology of the two countries as well as in their vegetable productions. In both the black and green tea countries which I have alluded to, clay-slate is most abundant. But enough has been advanced to prove how well many parts of the Himalayas are adapted for the cultivation of tea; besides, the flourishing condition of many of the plantations is, after all, the best proof, and puts the matter beyond all doubt.

4th. Concluding Suggestions.—Having shown that tea can be grown in the Himalayas, and that it would produce a valuable and remunerative crop, the next great object appears to be the production of superior tea, by means of fine varieties and improved cultivation. It is well known that a variety of the tea plant existed in the southern parts of China from which inferior teas only were made. That, being more easily procured than the fine northern varieties, from which the great mass of the best teas are made, was the variety originally sent to India. From it all those in the Government plantations have sprung.

It was to remedy this, and to obtain the best varieties from those districts which furnish the trees of commerce, that induced the Honourable Court of Directors to send me to China in 1848. Another object was to obtain some good manufacturers and implements from the same districts. As the result of this mission, nearly twenty thousand plants from the best black and green tea countries of Central China, have been introduced to the Himalayas. Six first-rate manufacturers, two lead men, and a large supply of implements from the celebrated Hwuy-chow districts were also brought round and safely located on the Government plantations in the hills.

A great step has thus been gained towards the objects in view. Much, however, remains still to be done. The new China plants ought to be carefully propagated and distributed over all the plantations; some of them ought also to be given to the zemindars, and more of these fine varieties might be yearly imported from China.

The Chinese manufacturers, who were obtained some years since from Calcutta or Assam, are, in my opinion, far from being first-rate workmen; indeed, I doubt much if any of them learned their trade in China. They ought to be gradually got rid of and their places supplied by better men, for it is a great pity to teach the natives an inferior method of manipulation. The men brought round by me are first-rate green tea makers, they can also make black tea, but they have not been in the habit of making so much black as green. They have none of the Canton illiberality or prejudices about them, and are most willing to teach their art to the natives. I have no doubt some of the latter will soon be made excellent tea manufacturers. And the instruction of the natives is, no doubt, one of the chief objects which ought to be kept in view, for the importation of Chinese manipulators at high wages can only he regarded as a temporary measure; ultimately the Himalayan tea must be made by the natives themselves; each [Pg 125]native farmer must learn how to make tea as well as how to grow it; he will then make it upon his own premises, as the Chinese do, and the expenses of carriage will be much less than if the green leaves had to be taken to the market.

But as the zemindars will be able to grow tea long before they are able to make it, it would be prudent, in the first instance, to offer them a certain sum for green leaves brought to the government manufactory.

I have pointed out the land most suitable for the cultivation of tea, and shown that such land exists in the Himalayas to an almost unlimited extent. But if the object the government have in view be the establishment of a company to develop the resources of these hills, as in Assam, I would strongly urge the propriety of concentrating, as much as possible, the various plantations. Sites ought to be chosen which are not too far apart, easy of access, and, if possible, near rivers; for, no doubt, a considerable portion of the produce would have to be conveyed to the plains or to a sea-port.

In my tour amongst the hills, I have seen no place so well adapted for a central situation as Almorah, or Hawulbaugh. Here the government has already a large establishment, and tea lands are abundant in all directions. The climate is healthy, and better suited to a European constitution than most other parts of India. Here plants from nearly all the temperate parts of the world are growing as if they were at home. As examples, I may mention myrtles, pomegranates, and tuberoses from the south of Europe; dahlias, potatoes, aloes, and yuccas from America; Melianthus major and bulbs from the Cape; the cypress and deodar of the Himalayas, and the lagerstrœmias, loquats, roses and tea of China.

In these days, when tea has become almost a necessary of life to England and her wide-spreading colonies, its production upon a large and cheap scale is an object of no ordinary importance. But to the natives of India themselves, the production of this article would be of the greatest value. The poor paharie, or hill farmer, at present has scarcely the common necessaries of life, and certainly none of its luxuries. The common sorts of grain which his lands produce will scarcely pay the carriage to the nearest market town, far less yield a profit of such a kind as will enable him to purchase some few of the necessary and simple luxuries of life. A common blanket has to serve him for his covering by day and for his bed at night, while his dwelling-house is a mere mud-hut, capable of affording but little shelter from the inclemency of the weather. Were part of these lands producing tea, he would then have a healthy beverage to drink, besides a commodity which would be of great value in the market. Being of small bulk compared with its value, the expense of carriage would be trifling, and he would return home with the means in his pocket of making himself and his family more comfortable and more happy.

Were such results doubtful, we have only to look across the frontiers of India into China. Here we find tea one of the necessaries of life, in the strictest sense of the word. A Chinese never drinks cold water, which he abhors, and considers unhealthy. Tea is his favorite beverage from morning until night; not what we call tea, mixed with milk and sugar, but the essence of the herb itself, drawn out in pure water. One acquainted with the habits of this people can scarcely conceive the idea of the Chinese empire existing were it deprived of the tea plant; and I am sure that the extensive use of this beverage adds much to the health and comfort of the great body of the people.

The people of India are not unlike the Chinese in many of their habits. The poor of both countries eat sparingly of animal food, and rice, with other grains and vegetables, form the staple articles on which they live; this being the case, it is not at all unlikely the Indian will soon acquire a habit which is so universal in the sister country. But in order to enable him to drink tea, it must be produced at a cheap rate; he cannot afford to pay at the rate of four or six shillings a pound. It must be furnished to him at four pence or six pence instead; and this can be done easily, but only on his own hills. If this is accomplished, and I see no reason why it should not be, a boon will have been conferred upon the people of India, of no common kind, and one which an enlightened and liberal government may well be proud of conferring on its subjects."

[Pg 126]I shall now add a description of the Chinese method of making black tea in Upper Assam, by Mr. C.A. Bruce, superintendent of tea culture:—

"In the first place, the youngest and most tender leaves are gathered; but when there are many hands and a great quantity of loaves to be collected, the people employed nip off with the forefinger and thumb the fine end of the branch, with about four leaves on, and sometimes even more if they look tender. These are all brought to the place where they are to be converted into tea: they are then put into a large, circular, open worked bamboo basket, having a rim all round, two fingers broad. The leaves are thinly scattered in these baskets, and then placed in a framework of bamboo, in all appearance like the sides of an Indian hut, without grass, resting on posts, 2 feet from the ground, with an angle of about 25 deg. The baskets with leaves are put in this frame to dry in the sun, and are pushed up and brought down by a long bamboo with a circular piece of wood at the end. The leaves are permitted to dry about two hours, being occasionally turned; but the time required for this process depends on the heat of the sun. When they begin to have a slightly withered appearance, they are taken down and brought into the house, when they are placed on a frame to cool for half an hour; they are then put into smaller baskets of the same kind as the former, and placed on a stand. People are now employed to soften the leaves still more, by gently clapping them between their hands, with their fingers and thumbs extended, and tossing them up and letting them fall, for about five or ten minutes. They are then again put on the frame during half an hour, and brought down and clapped with the hands as before. This is done three successive times, until the leaves become to the touch like soft leather; the beating and putting away being said to give the tea the black color and bitter flavor. After this the tea is put into hot cast-iron pans, which are fixed in a circular mud fireplace, so that the flame cannot ascend round the pan to incommode the operator. This pan is well heated by a straw or bamboo fire to a certain degree. About two pounds of the leaves are then put into each hot pan, and spread in such a manner that all the leaves may get the same degree of heat. They are every now and then briskly turned with the naked hand, to prevent a leaf from being burnt. When the leaves become inconveniently hot to the hand, they are quickly taken out and delivered to another man with a close-worked bamboo basket, ready to receive them. A few leaves that may have been left behind are smartly brushed out with a bamboo broom: all this time a brisk fire is kept up under the pan. After the pan has been used in this manner three or four times, a bucket of cold water is thrown in, and a soft brick-bat and bamboo broom used, to give it a good scouring out; the water is thrown out of the pan by the brush on one side, the pan itself being never taken off. The leaves, all hot in the bamboo basket, are laid on a table that has a narrow rim on its back, to prevent these baskets from slipping off when pushed against it. The two pounds of hot leaves are now divided into two or three parcels, and distributed to as many men, who stand up to the table with the leaves right before them, and each placing his legs close together, the leaves are next collected into a ball, which he gently grasps in his left hand, with the thumb extended, the fingers close together, and the hand resting on the little finger. The right hand must be extended in the same manner as the left, but with the palm turned downwards resting on the top of the ball of tea leaves. Both hands are now employed to roll and propel the ball along; the left hand pushing it on, and allowing it to revolve as it moves; the right hand also pushes it forward, resting on it with some force, and keeping it down to express the juice which the leaves contain. The art lies here in giving the ball a circular motion, and permitting it to turn under and in the hand two or three whole revolutions, before the arms are extended to their full length, and drawing the ball of leaves quickly back without leaving a leaf behind, being rolled for about five minutes in this way. The ball of tea leaves is from time to time delicately and gently opened with the fingers lifted as high as the face, and then allowed to fall again. This is done two or three times to separate the leaves; and afterwards the basket with the leaves is lifted up as often, and receives a circular shake to bring these towards the centre. The leaves are now taken back to the hot pans and [Pg 127]spread out in them as before, being again turned with the naked hand, and when hot taken out and rolled; after which, they are put into a drying basket and spread on a sieve, which is in the centre of the basket, and the whole placed over a charcoal fire. The fire is very nicely regulated; there must not be the least smoke, and the charcoal should be well picked.

When the fire is lighted it is fanned until it gets a fine red glare, and the smoke is all gone off; being every now and then stirred, and the coals brought into the centre, so as to leave the outer edge low. When the leaves are put into the drying basket, they are gently separated by lifting them up with the fingers of both hands extended far apart, and allowing them to fall down again; they are placed three or four inches deep on the sieve, leaving a passage in the centre for the hot air to pass. Before it is put over the fire, the drying basket receives a smart slap with both hands in the act of lifting it up, which is done to shake down any leaves that might otherwise drop through the sieve, or to prevent them from falling into the fire and occasioning a smoke, which would affect and spoil the tea. This slap on the basket is invariably applied throughout the stages of tea manufacture. There is always a large basket underneath to receive the small leaves that fall, which are afterwards collected, dried, and added to the other tea; in no case are the baskets or sieves allowed to touch or remain on the ground, but always laid on a receiver, with three legs. After the leaves have bean half-dried in the drying-basket, and while they are still soft, they are taken off the fire and put into large open-worked baskets, and then put on the shelf, in order that the tea may improve in color.

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 [Pg 128]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 [Pg 129]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, [Pg 130]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.

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 [Pg 131]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.

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 [Pg 132]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.

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, [Pg 133]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, [Pg 134]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.[Pg 135]

"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 £57 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 [Pg 136]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 [Pg 137]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 [Pg 138]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 [Pg 139]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 ¾ 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.

East India and
Mauritius tons
Total of B.P., E.I.
and Mauritius

—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, [Pg 140]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. [Pg 141]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 £15 per ton, we have here the representation of £22,500,000 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:—

German League1,350,000
Austria, (ten Provinces)560,000
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 3¼; million tons, viz.:—

Rest of Europe12,500,000

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:—

[Pg 142]
Great Britain803,360,096
Denmark and Sweden22,000,000
German Zollverein101,300,000
Other parts of Germany160,000,000

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:—

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.

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 [Pg 143]excess has been 3,239,338 cwt. The quantity consumed in the year ending December, 1852, was 4,033,879 cwt.[16] 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.

Raw. Cwt.
Raw. Cwt.
Total. Cwt.

To the foregoing should be added the following quantities of refined sugar and molasses, entered for home consumption.

Refined Sugar andMolasses.Total
Candy. Cwt.Cwt.Cwt.

[Pg 144]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.


The following were the imports of sugar into Great Britain, in 1848 and 1851, respectively—and the quarters from whence supplies were derived:—

West Indies121,600153,300
East Indies65,20078,286
Java and Manila11,00020,850
Havana, Porto Rico, and Brazil76,90076,526

The production of sugar in the last four years, may be stated comparatively as follows:—

Porto Rico43,60048,20049,50050,000
United States98,200120,400103,200110,000
The West Indies    
  1. French Colonies56,30047,20050,00050,000
  2. Danish Do.7,9005,0006,0005,000
  3. Dutch Do.13,80014,20015,00020,000
  4. British Do.142,200129,200148,000140,000
The East Indies70,40367,30066,00060,000
Estmd. Tons.
Beet Root Sugar95,500129,000162,000153,000
Cane Sugar919,182952,200977,5471,044,542

[Pg 145]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.
184237s. 0d.——
184334s. 7d.33s. 10d.
184434s. 9d.34s. 7d.
184531s. 3d.30s. 3d.
184635s. 3d.34s. 2d.
184732s. 11d.32s. 1d.
184824s. 3d.23s. 3d.
184924s. 4d.24s. 0d.
185025s. 3d.28s. 8d.
185127s. 3d.26s. 9d.
Half-year ending Jan. 5,
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 £4 1s. 8d. to £2 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 [Pg 146]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 hogs[Pg 147]heads. 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 3½ cents., amounted to nearly 9½ 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:—

[Pg 148]
Countries.Sugar boxes of about 400 lbs. each.
United States146,672199,204
Cowes and a market221,385270,010
The Baltic45,08581,866
Hamburgh and Bremen29,27133,165
Trieste and Venice38,62714,832
Other places13,88816,601
Boxes  743,249872,457

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 [Pg 149]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:—

182787,399 "

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:—[Pg 150]


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:—

Years employed.Number of
Aggregate Coolies
paid per week.
Average amount of
wages per week.
wages per head

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 [Pg 151]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:—


[Pg 152]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:—


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:—


[Pg 153]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:—


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.
To Great Britain146,926
To Continent of Europe50,830
To Australian Colonies142,359
To Singapore, Batavia, and Bombay12,749
To California and the Pacific29,144
To The United States77,919

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, [Pg 154]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 7½ grains of ash, which, on analysis, furnished the following components:—

Phosphate of lime3.41
Red oxide of iron and clay.17
Carbonate of potash1.46
Sulphate of potash.15
Carbonate of magnesia.43
Sulphate of lime6

The following is the quantative analysis of a portion of soil taken from the surface of a cane field, on the Diamond estate, in St. Vincent, West Indies:—[Pg 155]

Alumina soluble in acids12.87
Organic matter11.26
Carbonate of lime12.52
Carbonate of magnesia.71
Oxide of iron8.51
Oxide of manganese.33
Insoluble silicious and aluminous matter53.57

The sugar of the cane and grape sugar are distinguished by the following difference in their elements, as proved by analysis:—


There is a remarkable difference, however, between their fermentable properties. When a solution is made of the same quantities of these two sugars, in equal proportions of distilled water, it will be necessary to add eight times as much of the same ferment to induce alcoholic fermentation in the solution of cane sugar, as in that of grape sugar. Under the action of a larger quantity of ferment, cane sugar is transformed into grape sugar.

If you cut a sugar cane in two, and examine the interior part of it with a magnifying glass, you perceive the crystals of sugar as distinct and as white as those of double-refined sugar. The object of the operator should be then either to extract those crystals without altering their color, or, if that be found impracticable, to separate them from the impurities mixed with them, while the juice is in its natural state, and yet contains but little coloring matter. Instead of this, the juice is limed while all the impurities are in it. In separating the feculencies from the juice and uniting them in large flakes, lime dissolves a portion of them and forms with them coloring matter, which we all know at once discolors the juice, when lime is used in excess. Afterwards heat is applied, either in clarifiers or in the grand copper, but most of the impurities found in the juice will decompose, and burn at a degree of heat far below the boiling point, say at 120 deg. of Fahrenheit. This is shown by the thick scales continually forming in the grande. From that degree of heat the decomposition goes on in the clarifier till the juice is drawn, and continues in the grande so long as there are feculencies left. This decomposition greatly increases the quantity of coloring matter, so that, as the juice is being clarified, it loses in color what it gains in purity. And here let me show the relative value of the "grande" and of clarifiers as agents of clarification. In the grande, if it is well attended to, the scummings are taken up as soon as they rise. A portion of them is removed before they begin to decompose, and the process goes on, so that before the juice reaches the boiling point nearly all the feculencies are removed, and the source of coloring matter is removed with them. Clarifiers reach the boiling point much quicker, and cannot easily be scummed. The general practice is to bring them to that point without scumming, to let the feculencies separate from the [Pg 156]juice by cooling and by rest, and to wash out the clarifiers every second or third time they are filled. Heat and alkalies acting in them upon the accumulated feculencies of one, two, or three charges, dissolve a much larger portion of those feculencies than they can possibly do in the grande. The formation of coloring matter continues during the time of rest, and accordingly planters, after repeated trials, generally agree that juice well clarified in the grande, has a lighter and brighter color, and makes better sugar than that obtained from clarifiers.

The first object of research should be to find means of clarifying the juice without creating coloring matter. It is said that presses something like those used to press cotton, have lately been successfully employed in the West Indies, instead of rollers; that the juice obtained is much purer, and that a much larger quantity of it is extracted from the cane. If so, this will be a great improvement, and the first step of the process I should recommend. From juice thus obtained, I have no doubt that all impurities less soluble than itself may be separated by mechanical means before heat and alkalies are applied, or at least with a very small quantity of alkalies. All other liquids, all fatty substances and oils, except cotton seed oil, are clarified by a very rapid process. Cane juice can no doubt be clarified by similar means, and if this were accomplished the process of sugar making would be very much simplified.

The clarified juice might then be placed in an evaporator, heated by the waste steam of the engine; then be limed and scummed if necessary, and concentrated to fifteen or sixteen of the prese sirop; then purified by filtration through animal charcoal, if white sugar was wanted, or by rest for other qualities; and finally concentrated in vacuum pans of great power, such pans as Mr. Thomas A. Morgan, of Louisiana, now uses, and which, I am informed, are only made in America.

The superiority of the vacuum pan is not universally admitted, and we are told that in France it is superseded by open pans, similar to those called in America "Mape's Evaporators." However this may be, I cannot help believing that the vacuum pan has many decided advantages over all others. One is manifest; the sugar may be grained in the pan, and the granulation is completely under the control of the operator. He may accelerate or retard it at pleasure; he may carry it so far that sugar will not run from the pan, and will have to be taken out of it; he may so conduct the operation as to increase, almost at will, the size and hardness of the crystals. This last is an indispensable requisite if the practice of draining sugar in pneumatic pans should be adopted.

The atmospheric pressure is made too powerful for sugars boiled in any other manner; it breaks and destroys the crystals, and in a very few days sets the sugar to fermenting.

The pneumatic draining of sugar has many things to recommend it—the usual loss by drainage is avoided, sugar is got ready for market day by day, as it is made, and it may be bleached by pour[Pg 157]ing white syrup over it and forcing it through the mass. It is said that the process is attended with considerable loss in weight, but as all that drains from the pan may be boiled over once or twice, it is not easy to conceive how the loss can occur.

Cane juice contains many ingredients besides sugar, the principal of which are albumen, gluten, gum, starch, resin, wax, coloring matter, and certain salts, all of which, either collectively or individually, have the power of preventing granulation, as may be proved by their addition to a syrup of pure sugar, which will then defy all attempts to make it crystallise. If, therefore, we want to make good sugar, we must endeavour to free our cane juice as much as possible from those substances.

Now, cane juice is no more the sap of the cane, than apple juice is that of the apple tree; it is the natural product of the cane, and, in all probability, would contain but a small proportion of these foreign matters if it could be expressed without being accompanied by the sap, they being the natural constituents of the last-named fluid. A patent has, I believe, been lately taken out for separating the cane juice without the sap. However, in the absence of such an improvement, much may be done by care and attention at the mill; the green bands and trash which usually accompany the canes from the field, should, therefore, be carefully removed before they are passed through, as they contain no saccharine matter, abound in the deleterious substances already mentioned, and communicate a bad color to the juice; therefore, the ripe cane only should pass through the mill. There are but few planters who have not had to contend with sour juice, and they attribute the difficulty they experience in making sugar therefrom, to the presence of acetic acid, or vinegar; but this is quite an erroneous idea, as the acetic acid is very volatile, and evaporates quickly on the application of heat, which may be proved by throwing a gallon of strong vinegar into a pan of liquor; it will do no harm, provided it be boiled before tempering; on the contrary, the effect, if it be properly done, will be beneficial, as it will promote the coagulation of the albumen; it is the gum which is always formed during the acetous fermentation of sugar that prevents granulation; hence, then, acidity is strictly to be guarded against, as fermentation once commenced, it will be impossible to make good sugar, it will continue throughout the process, and even in the hogshead; so that canes should be ground as soon as possible after they are cut, and all rat-eaten and broken ones carefully excluded. Canes may, however, be kept some days without fermenting, provided they be not broken or damaged, it being, as we said before, the mixture of the sap and the cane juice that makes the liquid so prone to fermentation; and the mill, gutters, and everything with which the juice is likely to come in contact, should be kept carefully clean, and whitewashed immediately after, and the whitewash removed before use, as acetate of lime being an exceedingly soluble and deliquescent salt, will not improve the quality of the sugar; whilst the gutter [Pg 158]should be short, and sheltered from the sun's rays, they having the effect of greatly expediting chemical action.

I shall say no more on this subject, but will proceed to consider the mode of tempering and clarifying cane juice, and the action of lime on the various substances contained therein. The expression "tempering" has, I presume, been, adopted in consequence of the use of tempered lime for the purpose of precipitating the feculencies, held in solution in the cane juice, into a state of suspension; and clarification is the process by which we afterwards clear the liquor of these and other foreign matter. Now, as I before observed, "fermentation should be most strictly guarded against;" our first efforts should be directed to free the cane juice from those substances most conducive to that process; and on inquiry we find these to be albumen and gluten; so far, however, from getting rid of them in cold tempering, we adopt a course which retains them permanently in solution, as lime has the power of rendering them permanently soluble, and of forming soapy compounds with resin, wax, and chlorophyle, or the green coloring matter of leaves, forming an insoluble compound with and precipitating only the starch, and converting at the same time the green color of the chlorophyle (which is, in all probability, attached to the resin), into a dark brown, of a greater or less intensity, according to the composition of the cane juice, and, consequently, the quantity of lime required; it follows, therefore, as a matter of course, that if juice be tempered before these substances have been removed, they must be permanently retained, and they have all the power of preventing granulation.

Albumen, and gluten are both coagulable by heat; if, therefore, we raise the liquor to the boiling point prior to applying the lime, taking care to remove the scum as soon as it shows signs of breaking, and continuing the boiling until the scum thrown to the surface becomes inconsiderable, we shall find that the albumen and gluten, in coagulating and rising, have carried with them the small particles of woody fibre, the wax, and a large proportion of the coloring matter, and that the lime will now throw down the starch, and any other little impurities remaining in suspension in the liquor, leaving it perfectly clear and bright. Tempering is an exceedingly delicate chemical operation, and I have no hesitation in saying, that on its proper performance depends the quality of the produce. The following simple experiments, which all have it in their power to try, will, if they give themselves the trouble, fully satisfy them of two important points—the superiority of the hot over the cold mode, and the necessity for great attention to the operation of tempering. Let them take a tumbler of cane-juice and a bottle containing lime water, add the latter to the former by drops, pausing and stirring between each, and they will find that, after the addition of a certain quantity, the opaque gummy appearance of the liquor undergoes a change, and the impurities contained in it separate into flakes, which increase in size with [Pg 159]each drop of lime added, until they become extinct, and the supernatant liquor perfectly transparent; this is the precise point at which the liquor is tempered, and each drop of lime added after this, causes the flakes to diminish rapidly in size, at last entirely to disappear (being re-dissolved), and the liquor to resume its former gummy appearance; it is, therefore, evident that there should be no such expressions as tempering high or low.

The reason why some liquor is so difficult to clean is, that it is either tempered high or low; if it be exactly tempered, the impurities contained in it being entirely separated and thrown out of solution, rise to the surface immediately on the application of heat, and are easily removed; but if there be too little lime, a great portion remains in solution, and if too much, a proportional quantity is re-dissolved; and in either case cannot be removed by any mechanical means. It is, therefore, necessary to have some precise test for the application of lime.

As regards the superiority of the hot over the cold tempering, let any one take, in separate vessels, two gallons of cane-juice, and temper one, adding the lime in small quantities—say, of three grains at a time—and keeping an account of the quantity used; he will find that the first portions produce no effect whatever, and that it is only after the addition of a considerable quantity that the desired precipitation of the impurities manifest itself. Why is this? Because albumen, gluten, resin, and chlorophyle, being soluble in lime, lime is equally so in them, and they must first be saturated before it will produce any other effect. Let the liquor thus tempered, be then placed on one side. Put the other gallon over a fire, and boil it, removing the scum just before, and during, ebullition; let it then be taken off the fire, and tempered in the same way as the other. The very first quantity of lime added causes the appearance of the floccy precipitate; and if the addition of the lime be continued until it be precisely tempered, it will be found that the hot possesses the following advantages over the cold-tempered liquor:—In a quarter of an hour its impurities will have subsided to a sixteenth of its bulk, leaving the supernatant liquor as bright and clear as pale brandy; while those in the other have only sunk to one-quarter of its bulk. The color of the former clear liquor will not be less than one-half the intensity of that of the latter. The lime used in the hot has been less by one-third than the quantity used in the cold tempering.

Of course, on level estates there is little difficulty in tempering liquor, but on hilly properties scarcely two pans will require the same quantity.

It is generally believed that the object of adding lime to cane-juice is for the purpose of neutralising an acid, and it is to the reception of this fallacious idea that it is indebted for its long and continued use, and the present backward state of sugar manufacture is attributable: I unhesitatingly assert that, if there be an acid present in the cane-juice, the addition of lime to it will be injurious instead of beneficial. There are only four acids that [Pg 160]we could expect to find in cane juice—mucous, saccholactic or saclactic, oxalic, and acetic acids. The three first named of these, however, have never been traced, even in the most minute quantities; and if the latter be present, which, unfortunately, is but too often the case, the addition of lime would only result in the formation of acetate of lime, which is, as I have already observed, an exceedingly difficult crystallisable, very soluble, and deliquescent salt. It has a bitter, saline taste; 100 parts consist of 64.5 acid, 35.5 lime, and it is easily recognisable by its taste in the molasses made from sour cane-juice: so that, supposing the cane-juice sour, every pint of acid present would require nearly half a pound of lime for its neutralisation, independent of the quantity required for the tempering or precipitation of the feculencies contained in it, and would result in the formation of one-and-a-half pound of the above mentioned highly deleterious salt.

Suppose we boil the cane-juice prior to tempering it, we then drive off a great portion of acetic acid, much less lime will be required, and if we could, by filtration or subsidence, get rid of the precipitated feculencies, we should make a tolerably good sugar; but as, under the present plan, we have no means of so doing, the acetic acid, which is forming during the whole process of evaporation (as fermentation still goes on), unites with the lime before it can be dissipated by the heat, and thus not only forms acetate of lime, but causes the re-solution of the precipitated feculencies, thus rendering it necessary to add a fresh portion of lime in the tache, a proceeding always to be avoided, if possible, but generally necessary in boiling down sour liquor. Take a small portion of cane-juice (hot or cold) in a tumbler, and temper it with lime until the feculencies are precipitated and the flakes perfectly visible, then add vinegar by drops, and it will be found that the flakes will speedily disappear and be re-dissolved, showing that lime has a greater affinity for acetic acid than starch, and that, although when added to sour cane-juice, it neutralises the acidity, still that result is a consequence, not the cause, of the application, and is highly injurious. Lime is one of the greatest known solvents of vegetable matter; it dissolves albumen, gluten, gum and lignin, or woody fibre, forming soapy compounds with wax, resin, and, chlorophyle. Ordinary cane-juice contains about three parts of resin to every 100 of sugar, and the projection of a small piece of soap into a tache full of granulating syrup will soon convince any one of the effect likely to result from the presence of that material. Although, by tempering hot, we get rid of a very great quantity of the substances on which lime acts injuriously, a considerable portion of them remain in suspension, the quantity of albumen contained in the cane-juice not being sufficient to carry them all off by coagulation; on the addition of the lime, however, they are entirely dissolved and as the impurities left behind consist chiefly of gluten, the liability of the liquor to ferment is greatly increased by its retention, that being the fermenting principle contained in wheat and other vegetable productions prone to that process.

[Pg 161] One hundred parts of Albumen consist of Carbon, 52.88; Oxygen, 23.88; Hydrogen, 7-54; Nitrogen, 15.70. Gluten, nearly same as Albumen.

100 parts
consist of
or Woody Fibre
Acetic Acid50.2244.155.6350.2246.912.87..

By a reference to the foregoing table it will be easily understood how slight a change in the proportion of the ingredients of any one of the substances contained therein will convert it into an entirely different one. In chemistry we are able, to a certain extent, to imitate the operations of nature; but we must follow in the same course laid down by her; thus, we can convert woody fibre, or sawdust and starch, into sugar, gum, alcohol, and acetic acid; but we cannot convert alcohol, acetic acid, or gum into sugar, starch or woody fibre; and of such importance is a slight alteration of the proportions of these elements—carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen—that the abstraction of carbon from sugar, and the addition of a portion of the prime support of life, vegetation and combustion, oxygen, changes the harmless sugar into the most violent of poisons, oxalic acid, which consists of 26.57 carbon, 70.69 oxygen, and 2.74 hydrogen.

Let us now examine the action of lime on sugar, and we shall find it equally, if not more, injurious than on the other substances. Sugar is capable of dissolving half its weight of lime, by which its sweet taste is destroyed, and it becomes converted into gum; the lime abstracting carbonic acid from it to form a carbonate of lime or chalk. It will be seen by the above table that—

100 parts of sugar contain42.47carbon.
100 parts of gum contain42.23ditto.
Difference .24

So that, if we extract 24-100ths of a grain of carbon from 100 grains of sugar, we convert them into gum. Let us suppose that about two ounces of lime, or say 1,000 grains, remain in solution in a pan, (say 200 gallons of liquor,) those 1,000 grains of lime will require 761 of carbonic acid to convert them into carbonate of lime or chalk, 100 grains of which consist of 56.2 lime and 43.8 carbonic acid. So that 1,761 grains of chalk consist of 1,000 lime and 761 carbonic acid. Now 100 grains of carbonic add consist of 27.53 carbon and 72.47 oxygen; therefore 761 grains will consist of 209.50 carbon and 551.53 oxygen.

[Pg 162]Consequently, 1,000 grains of lime will require 209.50 grains of carbon to convert them into carbonate of lime; and as we have seen that the abstraction of 24 from 100 grains of sugar convert them into gum, it follows, that the abstraction of 209.50 grains would have a similar effect on 87,000 grains, or about 15 lbs. of sugar, which, being converted into gum, would prevent the crystallisation of several times its weight of sugar; and this is the cause of the formation of molasses. The loss of sugar is not the only bad consequence of the use of lime, as the greater the quantity of gum in the liquor, the more it must be boiled—the more it is boiled the darker it gets—and the higher the temperature at which the skip is struck, the smaller the grain. The following is a good proof that lime dissolves albumen, and becomes converted into chalk:—Take a spoonful of syrup out of the tache of any estate on which the liquor is tempered cold; it will be found filled with small flakes; these are albumen set free from its solution in the lime by the conversion of the latter into carbonate of lime, and coagulated by heat. It is perfectly possible to temper liquor, so that scarcely any uncrystallisable sugar will remain; but planters do not like this; they must have molasses for the still-house; they could, however, boil low, by which the grain and color would be improved, and plenty of uncrystallised, although not uncrystallisable, syrup would be left to take the place of molasses.

I think I have now fully proved the following facts, viz.:—That the use of lime in sugar-making is not to neutralise an acid; that if acidity be present, the application of lime is injurious; that its action on gluten, albumen, wax, resin, and chlorophyle is equally so; that by decomposing the sugar and forming gum, the quantity of molasses or uncrystallisable sugar is much increased, whereby high boiling is rendered necessary, with its consequent heightening of color and injury to the grain of the produce, and that therefore it is perfectly unfit for the purpose of tempering cane-juice.

Messrs. Thomas Begg and Co., of London, have procured from E.F. Telchemacher and J. Denham Smith, an analysis of one gallon of ordinary plantain juice, and one gallon of Ramos' prepared plantain juice "for the purpose of ascertaining whether any substance can be used which, in conjunction with water, will answer as a substitute for the plantain juice in the receipt which accompanied the samples." The chemists say they find that one gallon of ordinary plantain juice holds in solution;—

Extract similar to tannin25.60grains
Vegetable extract and fatty matter57.70"
Carbonate of potash150.40"
Muriate of potash33.60"
Muriate of soda2.00"
Contents of one imperial gallon270.50grains

—whilst one gallon of "Ramos' prepared plantain juice" con[Pg 163]tains, besides vegetable extract, 226 grains of solid matter, consisting of sulphuret and potash, in the following proportions:—


They do not think it likely that the potash exists in fresh plantain juice as carbonate, but rather that this salt is the product of decomposition, arising from a compound of potash and a vegetable acid, such as tartaric or oxalic acid present in the fresh juice; be this as it may, any utility derivable from the plantain juice is evidently owing to the potash it contains.

They then give as a substitute for Ramos' liquid, and to be used in a similar way, the following—

Take of subcarbonate of potash 2 ounces, avoirdupois; sulphur, 2¼ ounces; best British lime slaked, 1½ lb.; mix them into a paste in an earthen pan or wooden tub, with one quart of water (warm) and when thoroughly mixed, pour in ten gallons of boiling water—rain water is the best to use—and stir from time to time until it has cooled, when it may be drawn off from the sediment and kept for use. If rain water cannot be obtained, the purest water obtainable may be used.

One of the causes most fatal to West Indian prosperity, is that exuberance of advantages which they enjoy from serenity of climate and fertility of soil—causes which, in the absence of proper stimulus to industry and improvement, have led to an improvident system of cultivation, and to a blind and ignorant adherence to wasteful methods of manufacture.

The cane is believed to contain from 90 to 95 per cent. of its own weight of saccharine juice; and yet (as Mr. Fownes, a Professor of Practical Chemistry in University College, London, informs us, in an excellent paper "On the Manufacture of Sugar in Barbados,"[17] from which much of what follows has been borrowed) owing to the defective construction of the mills, hardly so much as 50 per cent. is obtained, although he believes it practicable, by an improvement in the mills, to obtain from 70 to 75 per cent.; and of the remaining 10 or 15 per cent. which he regards it as impossible to extract, much, if not the whole, might, I conceive, be obtained, by macerating the pressed canes or megass, as it issues from the mill, and repassing it through the rollers; and, be it remembered, that from 40 to 45 per cent. of saccharine juice is nearly, if not altogether, equivalent to a similar per centage of sugar; so that by these initiatory improvements alone, and with little additional trouble, the produce of sugar might be nearly doubled from any given quantity of canes.

From the action of lime-water when added in a slight excess to the cane juice or raw liquor, as it is vernacularly termed, immediately on issuing from the mill, as well as from the effect produced [Pg 164]by ammonia or potash, this liquid appears to contain a considerable quantity of cane sugar, mixed with much glucose, or that saccharine matter which is found in fruits; gum or dextrine, phosphates, and probably malates of lime and magnesia, with sulphates and chlorides, potash and soda, and a peculiar azotised matter, allied to albumen, which forms an insoluble compound with lime, is not coagulable by heat or acids, and runs readily into putrefactive fermentation.

To free it from these constituents, and enable it to yield pure and crystallisable sugar, the liquor, on entering the boiling-house, is received into the first of three clarifiers, of the capacity of from three hundred to a thousand gallons each. Here it is subjected to the action of lime-water, which checks the tendency to fermentation, and neutralises any free acid which it may contain. "The common defection process," says Mr. Fownes, "in careful hands, seems susceptible of little improvement. Many other substances than lime have been proposed and tried with more or less success, some of which, in particular states of the cane juice, may prove very useful; but, for general purposes, nothing seems to answer so well as neutralisation by lime, either in the form of lime-water or milk of lime, added until the slightest possible tendency to alkalinity, as ascertained by delicate reddened litmus paper, is perceived. The juice should be somewhat heated before the lime is added, and afterwards raised quite to the boiling point. The fire is then to be withdrawn, and the whole allowed to rest a short time." Such is Mr. Fownes' description of the process of clarification; to which I will venture to add, upon the authority of those who have experienced its good effects, the joint use of the mucilage of the Guazuma ulmifolia, or gun-stock tree, as it is popularly termed in Nevis from the use to which its timber has been applied. This is the bastard cedar of Jamaica, or Orme d'Amerique, and Bois d'Orme of the French, which may be found described by Lunan, in the first volume of his "Hortus Jamaicensis," page 59, under the name of Bubroma Guazuma.

This tree presents in the interval between its outer bark of sap-wood, a mass of fibrous matter about half an inch in thickness, richly impregnated with mucilage, which is obtained by macerating the fibrous mass, conveniently divided into small shreds, for about twelve hours, in warm water, in the proportion of about two handsful to eight gallons of water. Of this solution, which is of a light, straw color, and somewhat thickened, one gallon is to be added for every hundred gallons of cane juice, after the clarifier has been charged with the proper quantity of lime-water, and has become lukewarm. The mixture should then be stirred, and afterwards allowed to settle till the scum has risen to the surface. The fire must next be cautiously and gradually raised to the point of boiling, when it must again be slackened, and the whole left to stand for about forty minutes, by which time the mass of feculencies will have risen to the surface, when the clear liquor underneath may either be drawn off by a siphon or cock; the whole may [Pg 165]be filtered as Mr. Fownes recommends, by which means the liquor would be more effectually clarified, and much, if not all, the subsequent labour of skimming dispensed with. The matter remaining on the filter may be employed, either as a ferment in the still-house, or added to the manure heap. Much of the beneficial effect of the mucilage of the guazuma arises probably from an admixture of tannin, or some other astringent; for I have often been struck with the peculiar whiteness of the potted sugar in the curing-house, in the immediate vicinity of the Banana stalks, resulting, no doubt, from their powerful astringency; and tannin has already been found useful in the manufacture of sugar from beet-root in France, and is no doubt equally applicable to cane-sugar.

The liquor, when clarified in the manner described, must be concentrated, by regulated evaporation, to the degree requisite for crystallisation. This Mr. Fownes advises to be done by steam of a moderate pressure circulating in a spiral of copper-pipe laid at the bottom of the evaporating vessels, which should be large and shallow, and wholly unlike those in present use. Here it may be rapidly boiled down till the heat rises to about 225 deg., without risk of burning. When cold, it should have a density of about 1.38, and mark the 38th degree of Baume's hydrometer; beyond which point of inspissation it would be dangerous to go. The remaining concentration will be most safely conducted in the vacuum pan, where a scarcity of water does not, as in Barbados, militate against its use.

Mr. Fownes exposes the absurdity of using shallow coolers, exposing a large surface, and producing a rapid evaporation, for the process of crystallisation. By the use of the shallow coolers formerly, and, I believe, yet to be found on most estates, from the rapidity of the evaporation, the sugar is obtained in a mass of confused and imperfectly-formed crystals, entangling in their interstices a considerable quantity of molasses, which impairs the color of the product, and escaping slowly, and with difficulty, is, to a considerable extent, lost on the homeward voyage by drainage into the hold, occasioning much positive loss to the owner, and giving the bilge-water a most offensive odor. He therefore recommends the use of deep vessels, and avoidance of all agitation in this part of the process, so as to enable the crystallisable portion of the syrup to effect a more complete separation from the uncrystallisable portion or the molasses. By this simple method, not only sugar of a finer and whiter quality would be obtained, but a large per centage of loss both of crystallisable and uncrystallisable sugar at present caused by the leakage of the hogshead into the hold, would be prevented, not only to the great advantage of the planter, but to the great comfort of the captain, passengers, and crew of the vessel freighted with it.

It is not improbable that, by re-boiling the molasses in the vacuum-pan, and employing tannin in the manner adopted in the process for making sugar from beet-root, from one to five per [Pg 166]cent. of crystallisable sugar could be recovered from it, and this per centage might possibly even be found to admit of increase by the further treatment with lime-water and the gun-stock tree s already suggested, for the first clarification of the liquor received from the mill. With this view, Mr. Fownes recommends the substitution of puncheons, or casks, for the molasses cisterns ordinarily employed in the curing-house, to receive the molasses as it drains from the new sugar, and thus retaining it until after the busy period of crop time has closed.

Should sugar of a whiter quality than the ordinary muscovado of commerce be desired, this advantage may be readily obtained, as Mr. Fownes judiciously observes, by filtering the thin syrup, ready for the vacuum-pan, through a bed of fine charcoal, as is done by the sugar refiners, and afterwards washing the crystals of sugar with white syrup, when the molasses has thoroughly drained from them. By this process, which, however, is attended with some increase of expense, and may not, in consequence, be always advisable, muscovado sugar may be obtained, of a quality hardly inferior to that of refined sugar. Mr. Fownes thus sums up the principal points to which he is desirous of calling the attention of the intelligent and enterprising planter.

1. "To obtain, by the use of a properly-constructed mill, the greatest possible amount of juice from the cane."

By this, according to Mr. Fownes, a gain of from 20 to 30 per cent., equivalent to as much marketable sugar, may be obtained without any additional expense; but as, from Mr. Fownes' own showing, there is a residuum of 10 to 15 per cent of liquor obstinately retained by the megass, or cane trash, after the most powerful pressure to which it can be subjected; much, if not all, even of this loss might be prevented by subjecting the megass, on issuing from between the rollers, to the action of water for a brief time, passing it once more through the mill, and adding the saccharine solution so obtained, or that obtained directly from the cane on its first crushing. The water thus employed would serve for many successive portions of megass, until at length it became so richly loaded with saccharine matter as to be worth attention in the boiling-house; or, at all events, it would be serviceable for the cattle, who would fatten rapidly upon it. By this additional process a further gain of at least five per cent. might be expected, raising the total gain from improvements in this first stage of the process, to from 25 to 35 per cent.

2. "To clarify and filter this juice with expedition, and to evaporate it rapidly, either over the open fire or by steam heat, as far as it can be done with safety."

By the use of steam, not only is a vast economy of fuel effected, but the temperature is maintained at a uniform and sufficient standard, and the liquor effectually guarded against the risks of carelessness or ignorance. Coal may be obtained on far cheaper terms, in exchange for produce, from the United States or from Cape Breton, than from England; and as colliers from those quar[Pg 167]ters would find it their interest to bring cargoes at their own risk, and take return cargoes of sugar, rum, or molasses, at the market price, the planter will be doubly a gainer by the system, obtaining his fuel at a reduced rate, and having his trash and megass left free as manure for the use of his cane fields.

3. "To complete the concentration in a vacuum pan, or by other means, at a moderate temperature, not hurtful to the sugar, and facilitate the natural process of crystallisation, so as to obtain sugar of a large and distinct grain."

4. "To drain and dry the sugar perfectly, and to save all the molasses."

The advantages to be anticipated from these improvements, superadded to an improvement in cultivation, cannot be estimated at less, upon a moderate calculation, than from 150 to 200 per cent. of increase in the production of sugar, with hardly an appreciable increase of labor or expense; for we have, in the first place, a gain by improved culture of, at least, two hogsheads an acre in sugar, equivalent to 100 per cent.; in the next, by employing improved mills and extracting the residuum, 30 per cent.; by conducting the process of manufacture more judiciously, 10 per cent.; and by the prevention of waste during the transit to market, 10 per cent., making a total of at least 150 per cent.

The common sugar-mill consists of three cylinders, tightened either by wedges, if in a wooden frame, or by screws in a cast-iron frame. If in an iron frame, the above-mentioned noise is obviated, but the friction and loss of power is the same, which is ascertainable by subsequent investigation. The cylinders or rollers, which are moving either horizontally or vertically, are from eighteen to twenty-four inches in diameter, with bearings or shafts of one fourth of their diameter. If the bearings or shafts of the cylinders were of less substance, they could not resist the great strain to which they are subjected when in operation. The whole of the prime mover (steam-engine, water-wheel, or animals), minus the friction of intermediate machinery, is transmitted to the plains of these rollers and resisted by their bearings; hence the action is equal to a weight moving on low wheels of eighteen or twenty-four inches in diameter, on axles of from four to six inches thickness, which weight is equal to the force applied; consequently, if the strain is greater than the resistance of the rollers or the bearings, they must be wrenched off, or if greater than the force applied, the mill will be stopped. The power necessary to move weights upon wheels, on a smooth and level surface, is in proportion to the respective diameters of wheels and axles. The same pull which moves one ton at a given velocity upon a wheel of two feet, with an axle of six inches, will move four tons, if on a wheel of four feet diameter, with an axle of six inches. Consequently, cylinders of small diameter, with strong and substantial bearings, are only admissible as working machines, if no other mechanical means are applicable, as, for instance, in rolling out metals, compressing the surface of various bodies for a glossy [Pg 168]appearance, or, generally speaking, to produce a certain and equal form of the substance which is pressed and passed between them. They compress the atoms of bodies, and for this reason alone are ill suited to separate the fibres of the sugar canes, and to express effectively the saccharine matter between them. A practical proof of this demonstration is furnished by every sugar cane which has gone through the mill. Fresh megass is at present better suited for fattening animals than for fuel under the sugar pans.

The loss of material thus sustained, which is, on an average, equal in every mill, whether driven by steam, water, or animal power, is entirely chargeable to the construction of the mill, and amounts to about ten per cent. of the saccharine matter contained in the sugar canes.

M. Duprez, an agent of the French Government, having experimented on the canes in Guadaloupe, found the quantity of juice in every 100 lbs. crushed—

1 By mills having horizontal rollers; the
motive power not stated
2 By mills, motive power, steam60.9
3 By mills, motive power, wind and steam59.3
4 By mills, having vertical rollers59.2
5 By mills, motive power, cattle58.5
6 By mills, motive power, wind *56.4
[* Dr. Evans' "Treatise on Sugar," p. 75.]

The average of all these experiments being 56 per cent. only. The result of M. Avequin, on Louisiana cane, was 50 per cent. Mr. Thompson, of Jamaica, states 50 per cent. as the average throughout the island of Martinique. Dr. Evans ventures 47 per cent. as the lowest, and 61 per cent. as the highest in the West Indies. A mill in Madeira gave 47.5 and 70.2 of juice—the larger yield being obtained by bracing the horizontal rollers more than usually tight, and introducing only a few canes at a time, the motive power being cattle.

The three roller mill has the disadvantage of re-absorbing a part of the cane juice in the spongy megass, (or trash as it is termed in the West Indies), and a loss of power.

Those with five rollers have been used in Cuba, Bourbon and the Mauritius, which gave 70 per cent., but a great increase of motive power is necessary. Four roller mills, two below and two above, requiring little more motive power than three rollers, have given 70 to 75 per cent of juice.

Some years since, the East India Company instituted inquiries relative to the cultivation of the sugar cane in Hindostan, and the information obtained was published in a large folio volume. The Reports furnished by their officers, from almost every district, concur in stating that there were three kinds cultivated:—1. The purple. 2. The white. 3. A variety of the white, requiring a large supply of water. The epitome of the Reports affords this information:—

1. The purple colored cane yields a sweeter, richer juice, than [Pg 169]the yellow or light colored, but in less quantity, and is harder to press. Grows on dry lands. Scarce any other sort in Beerbhoom, much in Radnagore, some about Santipore, mixed with light colored cane. Grows also near Calcutta; in some fields separate, in others mixed with pooree or light colored cane. When eaten raw, is more dry and pithy in the mouth, but esteemed better sugar than the pooree, and appears to be the superior sort of cane. Persons who have been West Indian planters do not know it as a West Indian cane.

2. The light colored cane, yellow, inclining to white; deeper yellow when ripe, and on rich ground, it is the same sort as that which grows in the West India Islands; softer, more juicy than the Cadjoolee, but juice less rich, and produces sugar less strong; requires seven maunds of pooree juice to make as much goor or inspissated juice as is produced from six of the Cadjoolee. Much of this kind is brought to the Calcutta markets, and eaten raw.

3. The white variety, which grows in swampy, lands, is light colored, and grows to a great height. Its juice is more watery, and yields a weaker sugar than the Cadjoolee. However, as much of Bengal consists of low grounds, and as the upland canes are liable to suffer from drought, it may be advisable to encourage the cultivation of it, should the sugar it produces be approved, though in a less degree than other sugars, in order to guard against the effects of dry seasons. Experience alone can determine how far the idea of encouraging this sort may answer.

Besides the foregoing, several kinds are now known to the Indian planter. One of them, the China sugar cane, was considered by Dr. Roxburgh to be a distinct species, and distinguished by him as Saccharum sinensis. It was introduced into India in 1796, by Earl Cornwallis, as being superior to the native kinds. It is characterised by a hardness which effectually resists most of the country rude mills; but this hardness is importantly beneficial, inasmuch as that it withstands the attack of the white ants, hogs, and jackals, which destroy annually a large portion of the common cane.[18] Dr. Buchanan found that four kinds are known in Mysore. Two of these are evidently the purple and white generally known; but as this is not distinctly stated, I have retained the form in which he notices them. Restali, the native sugar of the Mysore, can only be planted in the last two weeks of March and two first of April. It completes its growth in twelve months, and does not survive for a second crop. Its cultivation has been superseded by the other.

Putta-putti.—This was introduced from Arcot, during the reign of Hyder Ali. It is the only one from which the natives can extract sugar; it also produces the best Bella or Jaggery. It can be planted at the same season as the other, as well as at the end of July and beginning of August. It is fourteen months in com[Pg 170]pleting its growth; but the stools produce a second crop, like the ratoons of the West Indies, which ripen in twelve months.

Maracabo, Cuttaycabo.—These two are very small, seldom exceeding half an inch in diameter; yet in some districts of Mysore, as about Colar, the last-named is the variety usually cultivated; but this arises from its requiring less water than the larger varieties.

The best varieties are those introduced from the Islands of Otaheite and Bourbon. Hindostan is indebted for their introduction to Captain Sleeman, who brought them hither from the Mauritius in 1827. He committed them to Dr. Wallich, under whose care, at the Botanic Garden, they have flourished, and been the source from whence the benefit has been generally diffused. Their superiority over those which have been usually cultivated by the natives has been completely established. The largest of the Hindostan canes, ripe and trimmed ready for the mill, has never been found to exceed five pounds; but it is not uncommon for an Otaheite cane,[19] under similar circumstances, to weigh seven pounds. The extra weight arises proportionately from an increased secretion of superior sap. The sugar is more abundant, granulates more readily, and has less scum. Other superior qualities are, that the canes ripen earlier, and are less injured by the occurrence of protracted dry weather.

Of the history of the sugar cane a popular tradition obtains amongst the natives, that, in very ancient times, a vessel belonging to their country chanced by accident to leave one of her crew, under a desperate fit of sickness, at a desert island, at a considerable distance in the Eastern Seas, and that, returning by the same route, curiosity prompted them to inquire after the fate of their companion, when, to their utter astonishment, the man presented himself to their view, completely recovered from his sickness, and even in a state of more than common health. With anxiety they inquired for the physic he had so successfully applied, and were conducted by him to the sugar cane, on which he acquainted them he had solely subsisted from the time of their departure. Attracted by such powerful recommendation, every care and attention was bestowed, we may suppose, to convey such an invaluable acquisition to their own lands, where the soil and climate have mutually since contributed to its present prosperity.

Soil.—The soil best suiting the sugar cane is aluminous rather than the contrary, tenacious without being heavy, readily allowing excessive moisture to drain away, yet not light. One gentleman, Mr. Ballard, has endeavoured to make this point clear by describ[Pg 171]ing the most favorable soils about Gazepore as "light clays," called there Mootearee, or doansa, according as there is more or less sand in their composition.—Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. i. 121.

Mr. Peddington seems to think that calcareous matter, and iron in the state of peroxide, are essential to be present in a soil for the production of the superior sugar cane. There can be no doubt that the calcareous matter is necessary, but experience is opposed to his opinion relative to the peroxide.

The soil preferred at Radnagore is there distinguished as the soil of "two qualities," being a mixture of rich clay and sand, and which Mr. Touchet believed to be known in England as a light brick mould.

About Rungpore, Dinajpoor, and other places where the ground is low, they raise the beds where the cane is to be planted four or five feet above the level of the land adjacent.

The experience of Dr. Roxburgh agrees with the preceding statements. He says, "The soil that suits the cane best in this climate is, a rich vegetable earth, which on exposure to the air readily crumbles down into very fine mould. It is also necessary for it to be of such a level as allows of its being watered from the river by simply damming it up (which almost the whole of the land adjoining to this river, the Godavery, admits of), and yet so high as to be easily drained during heavy rains. Such a soil, and in such a situation, having been well meliorated by various crops of leguminous plants, or fallowing, for two or three years, is slightly manured, or has had for some time cattle pent upon it. A favourite manure for the cane with the Hindoo farmer is the rotten straw of green and black pessaloo (Phaseolus Mungo max)."[20] Many accordant opinions might be added to the preceding, but it seems only necessary to observe further, that "the sugar cane requires a soil sufficiently elevated to be entirely free from inundation, but not so high as to be deprived of moisture, or as to encourage the production of white ants (termes)."

The sugar cane is an exhausting crop, and it is seldom cultivated by the ryot more frequently than once in three or four years on the same land. During the intermediate period, such plants are grown as are found to improve the soil, of which, says Dr. Tennant, the Indian farmer is a perfect judge. They find the leguminous tribe the best for the purpose. Such long intervals of repose from the cane would not be requisite if a better system of manuring were adopted.

Mr. J. Prinsep has recorded the following analysis of three soils distinguished for producing sugar. They were all a soft, fine-grained alluvium, without pebbles. No. 1 was from a village called Mothe, on the Sarjee, about ten miles north of the Ganges, at Buxar, and the others from the south bank of the Ganges, near [Pg 172]the same place. There is a substratum of kunkar throughout the whole of that part of the country, and to some mixture of this earth with the surface soil the fertility of the latter is ascribed:—

Hygrometric moisture, on drying at 212 deg.
Carbonaceous and vegetable matter, on calcination1.82.14.0
Carbonate of lime (No. 3 effervesced)
Alkaline salt, soluble1.01.10.3
Silex and alumina94.194.188.2

The earths unfortunately were not separated. Mr. Prinsep says the two first were chiefly of sand, and the third somewhat argillaceous. The former required irrigation, but the other was sufficiently retentive of moisture to render it unnecessary.—(Journ. Asiatic Soc., ii. 435.)

Manures.—The sugar cane being one of the most valued crops of the ryot, he always devotes to it a portion of the fertilising matters he has at command, though in every instance this is too small.

In the Rajahmundry district, previously to planting, the soil is slightly manured, either by having cattle folded upon it, or by a light covering of the rotten straw of the green and black pessalloo, which is here a favourite fertiliser. In some parts of Mysore the mud from the bottom of tanks is employed, and this practice is more generally adopted in other places. Thus the fields being divided by deep ditches in Dinajpoor, the mud from which is enriched by the remains of decayed aquatic plants and animals, forms an excellent manure for the sugar cane, and of this the ryots make use, spreading it over the surface before the ploughing is commenced; and when that operation is completed, the soil is further fertilised by a dressing of oil-cake and ashes.

Crushed bones would unquestionably be of the greatest benefit if applied to the sugar cane crop. Not only would their animal matter serve as food for the plants, but the phosphate of lime of the bones is one of the chief saline constituents of the sugar cane.

Salt is another valuable manure for this crop. Dr. Nugent, in a Report made to the Agricultural Society of Antigua, observes that salt has been found a valuable auxiliary in cultivating the sugar cane. Many trials of it, he says, have been made during successive seasons, applied generally to the extent of about nine or ten bushels per acre. It destroys grubs and other insects, and gives the canes an increased vigor and ability to resist drought. It is a singular remark of the intelligent traveller, M. de Humboldt, while speaking of the practice adopted in the Missions of the Orinoco, when a coco-nut plantation is made, of throwing a certain quantity of salt into the hole which receives the nut; that of all the plants cultivated by man there are only the sugar cane, the plantain, the mammee, and the Avocado pear, which endure equally irrigation with fresh and salt water.

[Pg 173]In the West Indies, when the cane is affected by what is called there the blast, which is a withering or drying up of the plants, an unfailing remedy is found to be watering them with an infusion of dung in salt water.[21] Preparation of soil.—In the Rajahmundry district, during the months of April and May, the ground is frequently ploughed, until brought into a very fine tilth. About the end of May, or beginning of June, the rains usually commence, and the canes are then to be planted. If the rains do not set in so early, the land is flooded artificially, and when converted into a soft mud, whether by the rain or by flooding, the canes are planted.

In Mysore the ground is watered for three days, and then, after drying for the same period, ploughing commences, this operation being repeated five times during the following eight days. The clods during this time are broken small by an instrument called colkudali. The field is then manured and ploughed a sixth time. After fifteen days it is ploughed again, twice in the course of one or two days. After a lapse of eight days it is ploughed a ninth time. Altogether these operations occupy about forty-four days.

For planting, which is done six days, an implement called yella kudali is employed.

In Dinajpoor, "the field, from about the middle of October until about the 10th of January, receives ten or twelve double ploughings, and after each is smoothed with the moyi. During the last three months of this time it is manured with cow-dung and mud from ponds and ditches. On this account, the land fit for sugar cane is generally divided into fields by wide ditches, into which much mud is washed by the rain, and is again thrown on the fields when the country dries, and leaves it enriched by innumerable aquatic vegetables and animals that have died as the water left them. When the ploughing has been completed, the field is manured with ashes and oil-cake."

About Malda, "the land is first ploughed in the month of Cartick, length and breadth ways, and harrowed in like manner; four or five days after it is again ploughed and harrowed, as before, twice. In the month of Aghun, the whole land is covered with fresh earth, again twice ploughed, and harrowed in different directions, and then manured with dung. Fifteen or twenty days afterwards it is to be twice ploughed, as before; eight or ten days after which, it is to be slightly manured with dung, and the refuse of oil, mixed together; then twice ploughed and harrowed in different directions, so that the clods of earth brought be well mixed together with the land. This preparation continues until the 20th or 25th of the month Pows."

In the vicinity of Dacca, during "Cautic or Augun (October, November) the Ryots begin to prepare their ground. They first dig a trench round their fields, and raise a mound of about three feet in height. If the ground to be cultivated is waste, about nine [Pg 174]inches of the surface are taken off, and thrown without the enclosure. The ground is ploughed to the depth of nine inches more. The clods are broken, and the earth made fine. In Maug or Faugun (January, February) the sugar cane is planted; a month afterwards earth is raised about the plants; after another month this is repeated. The crop is cut in Poous and Maug (December, January). If the ground be not waste, but cultivated, the surface is not taken off. After cutting the crop, it is not usual again to grow sugar cane on the same ground for eighteen months, on account of the indifferent produce afforded by a more early planting.

In the Zillah, North Mooradabad, the land is broken up at the end of June. After the rains have ceased it is manured, and has eight or ten ploughings. This clears it of weeds. In February it is again manured and ploughed four or five times, and just before the sets are planted, some dung, four cart-loads to each cutcha beegah of low land, and five cart-loads to high land, are added. The land is well rolled after the four last ploughings, and again after the cuttings are set.

About Benares and the neighbouring districts, Mr. Haines says, that owing to the hot winds which prevail "from March until the setting in of the annual rains in June or July, the lands remain fallow till that period. In the mean time, those fields that are selected for sugar cane are partially manured by throwing upon them all manner of rubbish they can collect, and by herding their buffaloes and cattle upon them at night, though most of the manure from the latter source is again collected and dried for fuel.

When the annual rains have fairly set in, and the Assarree crops sown (in some instances I have seen an Assarree crop taken from the lands intended for sugar cane), they commence ploughing the cane lands, and continue to do so four or five times monthly (as they consider the greater number of times the fields are turned up at this period of the season, the better the crop of cane will be), till the end of October, continuing to throw on the little manure they can collect.

Towards the end of October, and in November, their ploughs are much engaged in sowing their winter (or rubbee) crops of wheat, barley, grain, &c.; and at this period they make arrangements with the shepherds who have large flocks of sheep, to fold them upon the fields at night, for which they pay so much per beegah in grain.

During the latter part of November, and early in December, the fields are again ploughed well, and all grass, weeds, &c., removed with the hoe; then the surface of the field is made as smooth as possible by putting the hengah (a piece of wood eight to ten feet in length, and five to six inches in breadth, and three or four inches in thickness, drawn by two pairs of bullocks, and the man standing upon the wood to give it weight), over several times for three or four days in succession. This makes the surface of the field very even and somewhat hard, which prevents the sun and dry west [Pg 175]wind from abstracting the moisture, which is of great importance at this period of the season, for, should there be no rain, there would not be sufficient moisture at the time of planting the cane to cause vegetation.

In this state the land remains till the time of planting the cane cuttings, which is generally the 1st to the 15th of February; but should there have been a fall of rain in the mean time, or excess of moisture appear, the field is again ploughed, and the hengah put over as before.

A day or two previous to planting the cane, the field is ploughed and the hengah lightly put over."—(Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. vi. 4, 5.)

Sets.—When the canes are cut at harvest time, twelve or eighteen inches of their tops are usually taken off, and stored, to be employed for sets. Each top has several joints, from each of which a shoot rises, but seldom more than one or two arrive at a proper growth.

When first cut from the stem, the tops intended for plants are tied in bundles of forty or fifty each, and are carefully kept moist. In a few days they put forth new leaves: they are then cleared of the old leaves, and separately dipped into a mixture of cow-dung, pressed mustard seed, and water. A dry spot is prepared, and rich loose mould and a small quantity of pressed mustard-seed; the plants are separately placed therein, a small quantity of earth strewed amongst them, and then covered with leaves and grass to preserve them from heat. Ten or twelve days afterwards they are planted in the fields.

In Burdwan, the tops, before they are planted, are cut into pieces from four to six inches long, so that there are not more than four knots in each. Two or three of these plant tops are put together in the ground, and a beegah requires from 7,500 to 10,240 plants.

In Rungpore and Dinajpoor, about 9,000 plants are required for a beegah, each being about a foot in length.

In Beerbhoom, 3,000 plants are said to be requisite for a beegah, each cane top being about fifteen inches long.

Near Calcutta, from 3,000 to 8,000 plants are required for a beegah, according to the goodness of the soil, the worst soil needing most plants. In Mysore an acre contains 2,420 stools, and yields about 11,000 ripe canes.

Near Rajahmundry, about 400 cuttings are planted on a cutcha beegah (one-eighth of an acre). In Zilla, North Mooradabad, 4,200 sets, each eight inches long, are inserted upon each cutcha beegah of low land, and 5,250 upon high land.

In the district of Gollagore the Ryots cut a ripe cane into several pieces, preserving two or three joints to each, and put them into a small bed of rich mould, dung, and mustard-seed from which the oil has been expressed. At Radnagore, when the time of cutting the canes arrives, their tops are taken off, and these are placed upright in a bed of mud for thirty or forty days, and covered with leaves or straw. The leaves are then stripped [Pg 176]from them, and they are cut into pieces, not having less than two nor more than four joints each. These sets are kept for ten or fifteen days in a bed prepared for them, from whence they are taken and planted in rows two or three together, eighteen inches or two feet intervening between each stool.

Planting.—The time and mode of planting vary. In the Rajahmundry Circar, Dr. Roxburgh says, that "during the months of April and May the land is repeatedly ploughed with the common Hindoo plough, which soon brings the loose rich soil (speaking of the Delta of the Godavery) into very excellent order. About the end of May and beginning of June, the rains generally set in, in frequent heavy showers. Now is the time to plant the cane; but should the rains hold back, the prepared field is watered or flooded from the river, and, while perfectly wet, like soft mud, the cane is planted.

"The method is most simple. Laborers with baskets of the cuttings, of one or two joints each, arrange themselves along one side of the field. They walk side by side, in as straight a line as their eye and judgment enable them, dropping the sets at the distance of about eighteen inches asunder in rows, and about four feet from row to row. Other laborers follow, and with the foot press the set about two inches into the soft, mud-like soil, which, with a sweep or two with the sole of the foot, they most easily and readily cover."—(Roxburgh on the Culture of Sugar.)

About Malda, in the month of Maug (January, February), the land is to be twice ploughed, and harrowed repeatedly, length and breadth ways; after which it is furrowed, the furrows half a cubit apart, in which the plants are to be set at about four fingers' distance from each other, when the furrows are filled up with the land that lay upon its ridges. The plants being thus set, the land is harrowed twice in different directions; fifteen or twenty days afterwards the cane begins to grow, when the weeds which appear with it must be taken up; ten or twelve days after this the weeds will again appear. They must again be taken up, and the earth at the roots of the canes be removed, when all the plants which have grown will appear.

At Ghazepore the rains set in at the beginning of March, and planting then commences. Near Calcutta the planting takes place in May and June. In Dinajpoor and Rungpore the planting time is February.

About Commercolly it is performed in January. The field is divided into beds six cubits broad, separated from each other by small trenches fourteen inches wide and eight inches deep. In every second trench are small wells, about two feet deep. The irrigating water flowing along the trenches fills the wells, and is taken thence and applied to the canes by hand.

Each bed has five rows of canes. The sets are planted in holes about six inches in diameter, and three deep; two sets, each having three joints, are laid horizontally in every hole, covered slightly with earth, and over this is a little dung.

[Pg 177]When, the canes are planted in the spring, the trenches must be filled with water, and some poured into every hole. At the other season of planting the trenches are full, it being rainy weather; but even then the sets must be watered for the first month.

Mr. Haines says that in Mirzapore and the neighbouring districts, "in planting the cane they commence a furrow round the field, in which they drop the cuttings. The second furrow is left empty; cuttings again in the third; so they continue dropping cuttings in every second furrow till the whole field is completed, finishing in the centre of the field. The field remains in this state till the second or third day, when for two or three days in succession it is made even and hard upon the surface with the hengah, as before stated."—(Trans. Agri-Hort. Soc. vi. 5.)

Mr. Vaupell, in describing the most successful mode of cultivating the Mauritius sugar cane in Bombay, says, that "after the ground is levelled with the small plough, called 'paur,' in the manner of the cultivators, pits of two feet in diameter, and two feet in depth, should be dug throughout the field at the distance of five feet apart, and filled with manure and soil to about three inches of the surface. Set in these pits your canes, cut in pieces about a foot and a half long, laying them down in a triangular from, thus /\. Keep as much of the eyes or shoots of the cane uppermost as you can; then cover them with manure and soil; beds should next be formed to retain water, having four pits in each bed, leaving passages for watering them. The cutting should be watered every third day during hot weather, and the field should always be kept in a moist state."—(Ibid. iii. 43.)

About Benares, the sets require, after planting, from four to six waterings, until the rains commence, and as many hoeings to loosen the surface, which becomes caked after every watering. The moister nature of the soil renders these operations generally unnecessary in Bengal.

After-culture.—In Mysore, the surface of the earth in the hollows in which the sets are planted is stirred with a stick as soon as the shoots appear, and a little dung is added. Next month the daily watering is continued, and then the whole field dug over with the hoe, a cavity being made round each stool, and a little dung added. In the third month water is given every second day: at its close, if the canes are luxuriant, the ground is again dug; but if weakly, the watering is continued during the fourth month, before the digging is given. At this time the earth is drawn up about the canes, so as to leave the hollows between the rows at right angles with the trenches. No more water is given to the plants, but the trenches between the beds are kept full for three days. It is then left off for a week, and if rain occurs, no further water is requisite; but if the weather is dry, water is admitted once a week during the next month. The digging is then repeated, and the earth levelled with the hand about the stools.

[Pg 178]The stems of each stool are ten or twelve in number, which are reduced to five or six by the most weakly of them being now removed. The healthy canes are to be tied with one of their own leaves, two or three together, to check their spreading; and this binding is repeated as required by their increased growth.

In the absence of rain, the trenches are filled with water once a fortnight.

When the Putta-putti is to be kept for a second crop, the dry leaves cut off in the crop season are burnt upon the field, and this is dug over, and trenches filled with water, and during six weeks the plants watered once in every six or eight days (unless rain falls), and the digging repeated three times, dung being added at each digging. The after-culture is the same as for the first crop.

In the Upper Provinces, Dr. Tennant says, if moderate showers occur after planting, nothing more is done until the shoots from the sets have attained a height of two or three inches. The soil immediately around them is then loosened with a small weeding iron, something like a chisel; but if the season should prove dry, the field is occasionally watered; the weeding is also continued, and the soil occasionally loosened about the plants.

In August, small trenches are cut through the field, with small intervals between them, for the purpose of draining off the water, if the season is too wet. This is very requisite, for if the canes are now supplied with too much moisture, the juice is rendered watery and unprofitable. If the season happens to be dry, the same dikes serve to conduct the irrigating water through the field, and to carry off what does not soak into the earth in a few hours. Stagnant water they consider very injurious to the cane, and on the drains being well contrived depends in a great measure the future hope of profit. Immediately after the field is trenched, the canes are propped. They are now about three feet high, and each set has produced from three to six canes. The lower leaves of each are first carefully wrapt up around it, so as to cover it completely in every part; a small strong bamboo, eight or ten feet long, is then inserted firmly in the middle of each stool, and the canes tied to it. This secures them in an erect position, and facilitates the circulation of the air.

Hoeing cannot be repeated too frequently. This is demonstrated by the practice of the most successful cultivators. In Zilla, N. Mooradabad, in April, about six weeks after planting, the earth on each side of the cane-rows is loosened by a sharp-pointed hoe, shaped somewhat like a bricklayer's trowel. This is repeated six times before the field is laid out in beds and channels for irrigation. There, likewise, if the season is unusually dry, the fields in the low ground are watered in May and June. This supposes there are either nullahs, or ancient pucka wells, otherwise the canes are allowed to take their chance, for the cost of making a well on the uplands is from ten to twenty rupees—an expense too heavy for an individual cultivator, and not many would dig in partnership, for they would fight for the water.

[Pg 179]In the vicinity of Benares, as the canes advance in growth, they continue to wrap the leaves as they begin to wither up round the advancing stem, and to tie this to the bamboo higher up. If the weather continue wet, the trenches are carefully kept open; and, on the other hand, if dry weather occurs, water is occasionally supplied. Hoeing is also performed every five or six weeks. Wrapping the leaves around the cane is found to prevent them cracking by the heat of the sun, and hinders their throwing out lateral branches.

In January and February the canes are ready for cutting. The average height of the cane is about nine feet, foliage included, and the naked cane from one inch to one inch and a quarter in diameter.

Near Maduna, the hand-watering is facilitated by cutting a small trench down the centre of each bed. The beds are there a cubit wide, but only four rows of canes are planted in each.

It is deserving of notice, that the eastern and north-eastern parts of Bengal are more subject to rain at every season of the year, but especially in the hot months, than the western; which accounts for the land being prepared and the plants set so much earlier in Rungpore than in Beerbhoom. This latter country has also a dryer soil generally; for this reason, so much is said in the report from thence of the necessity of watering.

The Benares country is also dryer than Bengal, therefore more waterings are requisite.

At Malda, ten or fifteen days after the earth has been removed from the roots of the canes and the plants have appeared, the land is to be slightly manured, well cleared of weeds, and the earth that was removed again laid about the canes; after which, ten or fifteen days, it must be well weeded, and again twenty or twenty-five days afterwards. This mode of cultivation it is necessary to follow until the month of Joystee. The land must be ploughed and manured between the rows of canes in the month of Assaar; after which, fifteen or twenty days, the canes are to be tied two or three together with the leaves, the earth about them well cleaned, and the earth that was ploughed up laid about the roots of the canes something raised. In the month of Saubun, twenty or twenty-five days from the preceding operation, the canes are tied as before, and again ten or fifteen days afterwards; which done, nine or ten clumps are then to be tied together.

In the Rojahmundry Circar, on the Delta of the Godavery, Dr. Roxburgh states, "that nothing more is done after the cane is planted, if the weather be moderately showery, till the young shoots are some two or three inches high; the earth is then loosened for a few inches round them with the weeding iron. Should the season prove dry, the field is occasionally watered from the river, continuing to weed and to keep the ground loose round the stools. In August, two or three months from the time of planting, small trenches are cut through the field at short distances, and so contrived as to serve to drain off [Pg 180]the water, should the season prove too wet for the canes, which is often the case, and would render their juices weak and unprofitable. The farmer, therefore, never fails to have his field plentifully and judiciously intersected with drains while the cane is small, and before the usual time for the violent rains. Immediately after the field is trenched, the canes are all propped; this is an operation which seems peculiar to these parts.

In Dinajpoor, in about a month after planting, "the young plants are two or three inches high; the earth is then raised from the cuttings by means of a spade, and the dry leaves by which they are surrounded are removed. For a day or two they remain exposed to the air, and are then manured with ashes and oil-cake, and covered with earth. Weeds must be removed as they spring; and when the plants are about a cubit high, the field must be ploughed. When they have grown a cubit higher, which is between the 13th of June and 14th of July, they are tied together in bundles of three or four, by wrapping them round with their own leaves. This is done partly to prevent them from being laid down by the wind, and partly to prevent them from being eaten by jackals. During the next month three or four of these bunches are tied together; and about the end of September, when the canes grow rank, they are supported by bamboo stakes driven in the ground. They are cut between the middle of December and the end of March."

If the canes grow too vigorously, developing a superabundance of leaves, it is a good practice to remove those leaves which are decayed, that the stems may be exposed fully to the sun. In the West Indies, this is called trashing the canes. It requires discretion; for in dry soils or seasons, or if the leaves are removed before sufficiently dead, more injury than benefit will be occasioned.

Harvesting.—The season in which the canes become ripe in various districts has already been noticed when considering their cultivation. In addition I may state, that in the Rajahmundry Circar, about the mouth of the Godavery, Dr. Roxburgh adds, "that in January and February the canes begin to be ready to cut, which is about nine months from the time of planting. This operation is the same as in other sugar countries—of course I need not describe it. Their height, when standing on the field, will be from eight to ten feet (foliage included), and the naked cane from an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter."

In Malda, the canes are cut in January and February. In N. Mooradabad, upon the low land, the canes are ripe in October, and upon the high lands a month later. The fitness of the cane for cutting may be ascertained by making an incision across the cane, and observing the internal grain. If it is soft and moist, like a turnip, it is not yet ripe; but if the face of the cut is dry, and white particles appear, it is fit for harvesting.—(Fitzmaurice on the Culture of the Sugar Cane.)

Injuries.—1. A wet season, either during the very early or in the concluding period of the cane's vegetation, is one of the worst causes of injury. In such a season, the absence of the usual in[Pg 181]tensity of light and heat causes the sap to be very materially deficient in saccharine matter. But, on the other hand,

2. A very dry season, immediately after the sets are planted, though the want of rain may in some degree be supplied by artificial means, causes the produce to be but indifferent. These inconveniences are of a general nature, and irremediable.

3. Animals.—In India not only the incursions of domesticated animals, but in some districts of the wild elephant, buffalo, and hog, are frequent sources of injury. Almost every plantation is liable, also, to the attack of the jackal, and rats are destructive enemies.

4. White Ants.—The sets of the sugar cane have to be carefully watched, to preserve them from the white ant (Termes fatalis), to attacks from which they are liable until they have begun to shoot. To prevent this injury, the following mixture has been recommended:—

Mix the above together in a large vessel, with water sufficient to make them into the thickness of curds; then steep each slip of cane in it for half an hour after planting; and, lastly, water the lines three times previous to setting the cane, by irrigating the water-course with water mixed up with bruised butch root, or muddur if the former be not procurable.[22] A very effectual mode of destroying the white ant, is by mixing a small quantity of arsenic with a few ounces of burned bread, pulverised flour, or oatmeal, moistened with molasses, and placing pieces of the dough thus made, each about the size of a turkey's egg, on a flat board, and covered over with a wooden bowl, in several parts of the plantation. The ants soon take possession of these, and the poison has a continuous effect, for the ants which die are eaten by those which succeed them.[23] They are said to be driven from a soil by frequently hoeing it. They are found to prevail most upon newly broken-up lands.

In Central India, the penetration of the white ants into the interior of the sets, and the consequent destruction of the latter, is prevented by dipping each end into buttermilk, asafœtida, and powdered mustard-seed, mixed into a thick compound.

5. Storms.—Unless they are very violent, Dr. Roxburgh observes, "they do no great harm, because the canes are propped. However, if they are once laid down, which sometimes happens, they become branchy and thin, yielding a poor, watery juice."

[Pg 182]6. The Worm "is another evil, which generally visits them every few years. A beetle deposits its eggs in the young canes; the caterpillars of these remain in the cane, living on its medullary parts, till they are ready to be metamorphosed into the chrysalis state. Sometimes this evil is so great as to injure a sixth or an eighth part of the field; but, what is worse, the disease is commonly general when it happens—few fields escaping."

7. The Flowering "is the last accident they reckon upon, although it scarce deserves the name, for it rarely happens, and never but to a very small proportion of some few fields. Those canes that flower have very little juice left, and it is by no means so sweet as that of the rest."

In the Brazils, the fact of the slave trade being at an end must influence the future produce of sugar, and attention has been lately chiefly directed to coffee, cotton, and other staples. The exports of that empire in 1842, were 59,000 tons; in 1843, 54,500; in 1844, 76,400; in 1845, 91,000; average of these four years 69,720. The exports in the next four years averaged 96,150 tons, viz:—76,100, in 1846; 96,300, in 1847; 112,500, in 1848; and 99,700, in 1849.

Mode of Cultivation in Brazil.—The lands in Brazil are never grubbed up, either for planting the sugar cane, or for any other agricultural purposes. The inconveniences of this custom are perceivable more particularly in high lands; because all of these that are of any value are naturally covered with thick woods. The cane is planted amongst the numerous stumps of trees, by which means much ground is lost, and as the sprouts from these stumps almost immediately spring forth (such is the rapidity of vegetation) the cleanings are rendered very laborious. These shoots require to be cut down sometimes, even before the cane has found its way to the surface of the ground. The labor likewise is great every time a piece of land is to be put under cultivation, for the wood must be cut down afresh; and although it cannot have reached the same size which the original timber had attained, still as several years are allowed to pass between each period at which the ground is planted, the trees are generally of considerable thickness. The wood is suffered to remain upon the land until the leaves become dry; then it is set on fire, and these are destroyed with the brush wood and the smaller branches of the trees. Heaps are now made of the remaining timber, which is likewise burnt. This process is universally practised in preparing land for the cultivation of any plant. I have often heard the method much censured as being injurious in the main to the soil, though the crop immediately succeeding the operation may be rendered more luxuriant by it. I have observed that the canes which grew upon the spots where the heaps of timber and large branches of trees had been burnt, were of a darker and richer green than those around them, and that they likewise over-topped them. After the plant-canes, or those of the first year's growth, are taken from the lands, the field-trash, that is the dried leaves and stems of the [Pg 183]canes which remain upon the ground, are set fire to, with the idea that the ratoons,—that is, the sprouts from the old roots of the canes,—spring forth with more luxuriance, and attain a greater size by means of this practice. The ratoons of the first year are called in Brazil, socas; those of the second year, resocas; those of the third year, terceiras socas, and so forth. After the roots are left unencumbered by burning the field-trash, the mould is raised round about them; indeed, if this was neglected, many of those roots would remain too much exposed to the heat of the sun, and would not continue to vegetate.

Some lands will continue to give ratoons for five, or even seven years; but an average may be made at one crop of good ratoons fit for grinding, another of inferior ratoons fit for planting, or for making molasses to be used in the still-house, and a third which affords but a trifling profit, in return for the trouble which the cleanings give.

I have above spoken more particularly of high lands. The low and marshy grounds, called in Brazil, varzeas, are, however, those which are the best adapted to the cane; and, indeed, upon the plantations that do not possess some portions of this description of soil the crops are very unequal, and sometimes almost entirely fail, according to the greater or less quantity of rain, which may chance to fall in the course of the year. The varzeas are usually covered with short and close brushwood, and as these admit, from their rank nature, of frequent cultivation, they soon become easy to work. The soil of these, when it is new, receives the name of paul; it trembles under the pressure of the feet, and easily admits of a pointed stick being thrust into it; and though dry to appearance requires draining. The macape marl is often to be met with in all situations; it is of a greenish white color, and if at all wet, it sticks very much to the hoe; it becomes soon dry at the surface, but the canes which have been planted upon it seldom fail to revive after rain, even though a want of it should have been much felt. The white marl, barro branco, is less frequently found; it is accounted extremely productive. This clay is used in making bricks and coarse earthenware, and also for claying the sugar. Red earth is occasionally met with upon sides of hills near to the coast; but this description of soil belongs properly to the cotton districts. Black mould is common, and likewise a loose brownish soil, in which a less or greater proportion of sand is intermixed. It is, I believe, generally acknowledged that no land can be too rich for the growth of the sugar cane. One disadvantage, however, attends soil that is low and quite new, which is, that the canes run up to a great height without sufficient thickness, and are thus often lodged (or blown down) before the season for cutting them arrives. I have seen rice planted upon lands of this kind on the first year to decrease their rankness, and render them better adapted to the cane on the succeeding season. Some attempts have been made to plant cane upon the lands which reach down to the edge of the mangroves, and in a few [Pg 184]instances pieces of land heretofore covered by the salt water at the flow of the tide, have been laid dry by means of draining for the same purpose; but the desired success has not attended the plan, for the canes have been found to be unfit for making sugar; the syrup does not coagulate, or at least does not attain that consistence which is requisite, and therefore it can only be used for the distilleries.

The general mode of preparing the land for the cane is by holing it with hoes. The negroes stand in a row, and each man strikes his hoe into the ground immediately before him, and forms a trench of five or six inches in depth; he then falls back, the whole row doing the same, and they continue this operation from one side of the cleared land to the other, or from the top of a hill to the bottom. The earth which is thrown out of the trench remains on the lower side of it. In the British West India colonies this work is done in a manner nearly similar, but more systematically. The lands in Brazil are not measured, and everything is done by the eye. The quantity of cane which a piece will require for planting is estimated by so many cart-loads; and nothing can be more vague than this mode of computation, for the load which a cart can carry depends upon the condition of the oxen, upon the nature of the road, and upon the length of the cane. Such is the awkward make of these vehicles, that much nicety is necessary in packing them, and if two canes will about fit into a cart lengthways, much more will be conveyed than if the canes are longer and they double over each other.

The plough is sometimes used in low lands, upon which draining has not been found necessary; but such is the clumsy construction of the machine of which they make use, that six oxen are yoked to it. A plough drawn by two oxen, constructed after a model which was brought from Cayenne, has been introduced in one or two instances. Upon high lands the stumps of the trees almost preclude the possibility of thus relieving the laborers. The trenches being prepared, the cuttings are laid longitudinally in the bottom of them, and are covered with the greatest part of the mould which had been taken out of the trench. The shoots begin to rise above the surface of the ground in the course of twelve or fourteen days. The canes undergo three cleanings from the weeds and the sprouts proceeding from the stumps of the trees; and when the land is poor, and produces a greater quantity of the former, and contains fewer of the latter, the canes require to be cleaned a fourth time. The cuttings are usually 12 to 18 inches in length, but it is judged that the shorter they are the better. If they are short, and one piece of cane rots, the space which remains vacant is not so large as when the cuttings are long, and they by any accident fail. The canes which are used for planting are generally ratoons, if any exist upon the plantation; but if there are none of these, the inferior plant canes supply their places. It is accounted more economical to make use of the ratoons for this purpose; and many persons say that they are less [Pg 185]liable to rot than the plant canes. In the British sugar islands the cuttings for planting are commonly the tops of the canes which have been ground for sugar. But in Brazil the tops of the canes are all thrown to the cattle, for there is usually a want of grass during the season that the mills are at work. In the British colonies, the canes are at first covered with only a small portion of mould, and yet they are as long in forcing their way to the surface as in Brazil, though in the latter a more considerable quantity of earth is laid upon them. I suppose that the superior richness of the Brazilian soil accounts for this. Upon rich soils the cuttings are laid at a greater distance, and the trenches are dug farther from each other, than upon those which have undergone more frequent cultivation, or which are known to possess less power from their natural composition. The canes which are planted upon the former throw out great numbers of sprouts, which spread each way; and, although when they are young, the land may appear to promise but a scanty crop, they soon close, and no opening is to be seen. It is often judged proper to thin the canes, by removing some of the suckers at the time that the last cleaning is given; and some persons recommend that a portion of the dry leaves should also be stripped off at the same period, but on other plantations this is not practised.

The proper season for planting is from the middle of July to the middle of September, upon high lands, and from September to the middle of November in low lands. Occasionally, the great moisture of the soil induces the planter to continue his work until the beginning of December, if his people are sufficiently numerous to answer all the necessary purposes. The first of the canes are ready to be cut for the mill in September of the following year, and the crop is finished usually in January or February. In the British sugar islands the canes are planted from August to November, and are ripe for the mill in the beginning of the second year. Thus this plant in Brazil requires from thirteen to fifteen months to attain its proper state for the mill; and in the West India islands it remains standing sixteen or seventeen months.

The Otaheitan, or the Bourbon cane, has been brought from Cayenne to Pernambuco since the Portuguese obtained possession of that settlement. I believe the two species of cane are much alike, and I have not been able to discover which of them it is. Its advantages are so apparent, that after one trial on each estate, it has superseded the small cane which was in general use. The Cayenne cane, as it is called in Pernambuco, is of a much larger size than the common cane; it branches so very greatly, that the labor in planting a piece of cane is much decreased, and the returns from it are at the same time much more considerable. It is not planted in trenches, but holes are dug at equal distances from each other, in which these cuttings are laid. This cane bears the dry weather better than the small cane; and when the leaves of the latter begin to turn brown, those of the former still preserve their natural color. A planter in the Varzea told [Pg 186]me that he had obtained four crops from one piece of land in three years, and that the soil in question had been considered by him as nearly worn out, before he planted the Cayenne cane upon it.—("Koster's Travels in Brazil," vol. 2.)

Mr. E. Morewood, of Compensation, Natal, who has paid much attention to sugar culture in that colony, has favored me with the following details, which will be useful for the guidance of others, as being the results of his own experience:—

Produce of one acre of sugar cane72,240
Juice expressed, (or 64 per cent.)46,308
Dry sugar7,356
Green syrup or molasses2,829
This syrup carrying with it a good deal
of sugar out of the coolers, contains fully
75 per cent. of crystalizable sugar, or
Thus the total amount of sugar per acre is9,477

The average density of the cane juice was 12 degrees Beaume, or 21 per cent. All the improved cane mills are now constructed to give at least 75 per cent. of juice. With such a mill, an acre would yield 11,075 lbs. of sugar. With proper cultivation I have no doubt the produce could be largely increased; for, as the numerous visitors who have seen this place can testify, my cane fields were not attended to.

To enable me to show the cost of producing a crop of canes, you must allow me to go into the expense of cultivating the land first.

To keep one ploughman going, a person requires—

20 Oxen at £3£6000
1 Plough7100
1 set Harrows7100
Yokes, Trektows, Reins, &c.500

Then the expenses per month will be:—

Ploughman's wages£2100
1 Driver, 10s., Leaders, 5s.0150
Food for two natives0100
Wear and tear of oxen and gear,
at 25 per cent. per annum

These two spans of oxen will comfortably plough and harrow twenty acres per month, and the cost will thus be about 7s. per acre.

Now, let us suppose that a person wishes to put in twenty acres of canes, the expense would be about as follows:—

4 Ploughings and harrowings, 80 acres at 7s.£2800
Drawing canefurrows, 4 acres per day, 5 days at 6s.1100
2,000 Cane tops per acre, at 50s.10000
4 Horsehoeings, at 2s. 6d.1000
4 Handweedings in the rows, at 2s. 6d.1000
Cutting and carrying out canes, at 30s.3000
Carriage to Mill, thirty tons per acre, at 2s.6000

or £12 per acre. To this must be added the rent of land, say 10s. per acre, with right of grazing cattle, for two years, when the first crop will come in, would bring the expense to £13 per acre. The cane yielding say only three tons of sugar per acre, of which the planter would, most likely, have to give the manufacturer one-third, he will receive forty tons of sugar, costing him [Pg 187]£6 10s. per ton, and worth on the spot, according to advices received from England and the Cape, £15 per ton, at the lowest estimate, or £600.

The greatest expense, you will perceive, is the article of tops for planting; but this ought not to discourage persons. The plants which I imported from the Mauritius some years ago, cost me, on account of many of them not vegetating, at the rate of £30 per acre. Parties who begin planting now have the great advantage that they can get plants, every one of which, if properly treated, will grow, at one-sixth of that price.

How many crops cane will give on good soil in Natal, I am of course unable to state, as the oldest cane I have got has been cut only three times—the last yield (second ratoons) was much finer than the preceding ones, and by adopting the improved manner of cane cultivation, viz., returning all but the cane juice to the soil, I am confident that replanting will be found quite unnecessary; the expenses for the second and following years will therefore be very trifling.

Comparative Statement of the ruling Prices at Natal and the Mauritius of Land, Live Stock, Implements, Labor, and other requirements connected with the cultivation of the Sugar Cane.

LAND, per acre, £3 10s. to2000LAND, per acre, 10s. to100
RENT OF LAND. It is not customary to let land at the Mauritius, except on the system of an equal division of the produce.RENT OF LAND, 6d. to050
MANURE. Guano, commonly used in its dry state, also other manures or composts, per ton, £6 to700CATTLE MANURE in abundance, according to distance, per load, 1s. to
(None required on virgin soil for the first three years of cultivation.)
LIVE STOCK. Mules, 5 of which are required to each load of 3,000 to 4,000 lbs., £30 each.15000Oxen, of which 12 are required to each load, £3 each3600
Keep of Mules each, per annum700Keep of oxen, on
LABOR. Drivers, each, per month100Colored driver, each per month,0150
Coolies, including keep, each100Kafir leader, ditto0100
White labor, each400White labor, each per month, £3 10s. to400
FUEL. Cane trash or woodCane trash or wood
MILL POWER. Steam or waterThe same
IMPLEMENTS. All agricultural labor is performed by the hand-hoe, very expensive in its nature.All agricultural labor is performed with the plough, harrows, and scarifier, with oxen so much less expensive than the hand labor at the Mauritius.
PRODUCE of the Cane. Average from 1 to 4 tons.From 2 to 3 tons
CANE. Periodical renewal of the cane, according to the quality of the soil, every 3 to 10 yearsNot yet ascertained, and depending on the soil
PROVISIONS, &c. Beef, per lb. 6d. to008PROVISIONS, &c. Beef, per lb., 1½d. to00
Bread, per loaf006Bread, per loaf006
Butter, per lb., 1s. 3d. to016Butter, per lb., 6d. to009
Rice, the food of the Coolies, per bag of 150 lbs., 12s. 6d. to0150Indian corn, (maize per 180 lbs. 5s.) per 150 lbs.042
Oats, per bag, of 100 lbs. 12s. 6d. to0150Oats, per 104 lbs., 10s. to100
Bran, ditto, 100 lbs. 12s. to0139Bran, not used.
Beans, ditto, 100 lbs. 22s. 6d. to150Beans, per 180 lbs., 13s. to 20s.. or per 100 lbs. 7s. 2d. to0110
Coal, per ton, 40s. to2100The same
CHARGE OF MANUFACTURE. The manufacturer reaps and carries to the mill the canes of the grower, but the latter provides his own bagging, and carts away his half of the sugar, the other half being the remuneration of the manufacturerThe Mauritius principle may be adopted in this colony, with such modifications as may be called for by local exigencies.

Analysis of the foregoing Statement, showing the total comparative outlay for sundries connected with the cultivation of Sugar at Natal and Mauritius, computed at the lowest ruling prices.

MAURITIUSNATALDifference in favor
of Natal
Land, 100 acres70s.-3500010s.-500030000
Manure, Guano 10 loads£6-6000
Cattle Manure, 10 loads1s.-0100
Live Stock, 10 mules.£30-30000£15.-1500015000
Live Stock, 10 oxen£12-12000£3.-30009000
Two drivers per mouth£1-2001500150
Coolies, 10 with keep10002100
Kafirs, 10 ditto15s.-7100
White men, 10£4-4000£4-4000
Beef, 100 6d.-21001½d.-01261176
Bread, 100 loaves6d.-21006d.-2100
Butter,100 lbs.1s.3d.-6506d.-21003150
Rice, 100 lbs., food for Coolies,084067
Indian Corn, 100 lbs., food for Kafirs029
Beans, 100 lbs.12601000126

The immense saving obtained by ploughing, &c., over the Mauritius hand labor with the hoe, is not shown in the above figures.

[Pg 189]Table showing the cost of producing Muscovado sugar, and the quantity produced or available in the several countries mentioned, as made up from the evidence given before the Committee on Sugar and Coffee Plantations; by T. Wilson.

COUNTRY. Average cost of production under slavery or compulsory labor. Average available produce under slavery or compulsory labor, for the supply of Europe and the United States, Average available produce during the last three years of freedom, for the supply of Europe and the United States. Cost of producing one cwt. of sugar at present date, exclusive of interest on capital, etc. Excess of cost of free labour over slave or compulsory labor, per cwt., taking the average cost of the latter at 11s. per cwt. Excess of cost of free over SLAVE TRADE labor, taking the cost in Brazil at 7s. 6d. per cwt. making the average of slave trade labor 8s. per cwt. Increase of cost in the British plantations since emancipation.
British Plantations.s.   d.Tons.Tons.s   d.s.   d.s. d.s.   d.
  Antigua7   67,7678,96316   65   68   69   0
  Barbados6   017,17416,37815   64   67   69   6
  Grenada11   09,6343,77917   66   6   66   6
  St. Kitts5   04,3825,55819   08   011   014   0
  St. Vincent5   610,0566,63619   68   611   614   0
  Tobago5   65,3212,51419   68   611   614   0
  St. Lucia, etc.5   69,6008,65019   68   611   614   0
  Jamaica10   068,62630,80722   611   614   612   6
  Guiana6   844,17824,81725   1014   1017   1019   2
  Trinidad [A]3   015,42816,53920   109   1012   1017   10
  Mauritius..35,00050,00020   09   012   0..
  Bengal....62,00023   012   015   0..
  Madras....7,00020   09   012   0..
Foreign Free Labor Country.
  Europe (Beet-root) [B]....100,00024   413   416   4..
Foreign Slave, or Compulsory Labor Countries.
  Java [C]15   088,000..15   0Slave or compulsory labor....
  French Colonies15   090,000..15   0....
  Cuba (Muscovado)8   0220,000..8   0....
  Porto Rico8   640,000..8   6....
  Louisiana12   6100,000..12   6....
  Brazils [D]11   1190,000..11   11....

[A: This cost, as taken from the averages given in Lord Harris's despatches, is lower than the averages given by the witnesses before the Committee.]

[B: This beet-root sugar sells, in the continental markets, on account of its inferior quality, at about 4s. to 6s. per cwt. below Colonial Muscovado, so that Colonial Muscovado must be about 33s. per cwt. to enable beet sugar to sell in this market for cost and charges, and allowing no profit to the beet sugar maker.]

[C: The cost of producing sugar in Java is taken at the average between the Government contract sugar, and the free sugar, as given by Mr. San Martin.]

[D: The cost of producing sugar in Brazil is taken from the Consular return: this return has given no credit for rum or molasses, and has charged 6s. 5d. for manufacturing, fully 3s. 5d. more than the cost in Cuba,—allowance for these two items would give 7s. 6d. as the nett cost per cwt.]

[Pg 190]

The rapid progress of the production of beet root sugar on the continent, especially in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Russia, and its recent introduction and cultivation as an article of commerce in Ireland, renders the detail of its culture and manufacture on the continent interesting. I have, therefore, been induced to bestow some pains on an investigation of the rise and progress of its production and consumption in those countries.

During the past three years, the smallest estimate which can be formed of the quantity of cane sugar that has been replaced by beet root sugar in the chief European countries, is about 80,000 tons annually, with the certainty that, year after year, the consumption will become exclusively confined to the former, to the greater exclusion of the latter; unless some great change shall take place in the relative perfection and manufacture of the two different descriptions of produce.

Although, observes the Economist, the beet root sugar produced in France, Belgium, Germany, and other parts of the continent is not brought into competition in our own markets with the produce of the British colonies, yet it must be plain that the exclusion of so much foreign cane sugar from the continent, which was formerly consumed there, must throw a much larger quantity of Cuba and Brazilian sugar upon this market; and by this means the increased production of beet root sugar, even in those countries where it is highly protected, does indirectly increase the competition among the producers of cane sugar in our market.

So early as 1747, a chemist of Berlin, named Margraf, discovered that beet root contained a certain quantity of sugar, but it was not until 1796 that the discovery was properly brought under the attention of the scientific in Europe by Achard, who was also a chemist and resident of Berlin, and who published a circumstantial account of the progress by which he extracted from 3 to 4 per cent. of sugar from beet root.

Several attempts have been made, from time to time, to manufacture beet root sugar in England, but never, hitherto, on a large and systematic scale. Some years ago a company was established for the purpose, but they did not proceed in their operations.

A refinery of sugar from the beet root was erected at Thames Bank, Chelsea, in the early part of 1837. During the summer of 1839 a great many acres of land were put into cultivation with the root, at Wandsworth and other places in the vicinity of the metropolis. The machinery used in the manufacture was principally on the plan of the vacuum pans, and a fine refined sugar was produced from the juice by the first process of evaporation, after it had undergone discolorization. Another part of the premises was appropriated to the manufacture of coarse brown paper from the refuse, for which it is extensively used in France.

A refinery was also established about this period at Belfast, in the vicinity of which town upwards of 200 acres of land were put into cultivation with beet root for the manufacture of sugar.

[Pg 191]The experience of France ought to be a sufficient guarantee that the manufacture of beet root sugar is not a speculative but a great staple trade, in which the supply can be regulated by the demand, with a precision scarcely attainable in any other ease, and when, in addition, this demand tends rather to increase than to diminish. That the trade is profitable there can also be no doubt from the large capital embarked in it on the Continent—a capital which is steadily increasing even in France, where protection has been gradually withdrawn, and where, since 1848, it has competed upon equal terms with colonial sugars.

The produce of France in 1851 was nearly 60,000 tons. The beet root sugar made in the Zollverein in 1851 was about 45,000 tons. Probably half as much more as is made in France and the Zollverein, is made in all the other parts of the Continent. In Belgium, the quantity made is said to be 7,000 tons; in Russia, 35,000; making a total of beet root sugar now manufactured in Europe of at least 150,000 and probably more, or nearly one-sixth part of the present consumption of Europe, America, and our various colonies. In 1847 this was estimated at upwards of 1,000,000 tons; and, as the production has increased considerably since that period, it is now not less than 1,100,000 tons. The soil of the Continent, it is said, will give 16 tons to the acre, and that of Ireland, 26 tons to the acre. The former yields from 6 to 7 per cent.—the latter from 7 to 8 per cent. as the extreme maximum strength of saccharine matter. The cost of the root in Ireland—for it is with that, and not with the cost of the Continental root, with which the West Indies will have to contend—is said to be at the rate of 16s. per ton this; but will probably be 13s. next season. The cost of manufacture is set down at £7 5s. per ton. Calculating the yield of the root to be 7½ lbs. to every 100 lbs., for 26 tons the yield would be nearly 2 tons of sugar, which would give about £9 10s. per ton, putting down the raw material to cost 14s, 6d. per ton, the medium between 16s. and 13s. Thus a ton of Irish-grown and manufactured beet root sugar, would cost £16 15s. per ton. Mr. Sullivan, the scientific guide to those who are undertaking to make beet root sugar at Mountmellick, Queen's County, Ireland, estimates the cost of obtaining pure sugar at from £16 17s. to £19 18s. per ton, according to the quantity of sugar in the root.

Beet root is a vegetable of large circumference, at the upper end nine to eleven inches in diameter. There are several kinds. That which is considered to yield the most sugar is the white or Silesian beet (Beta alba). It is smaller than the mangel wurzel, and more compact, and appears in its texture to be more like the Swedish turnip. For the manufacture of sugar, the smaller beets, of which the roots weigh only one or two pounds, were preferred by Chaptal, who, besides being a celebrated chemist, was also a practical agriculturist and a manufacturer of sugar from beet root. After the white beet follows the yellow (beta major), then the red (beta romana), and lastly the common or field beet root [Pg 192](Beta sylvestris). Margraf, as we have seen, was the first chemist who discovered the saccharine principle in beet root; and Achard, the first manufacturer who fitted up an establishment (in Silesia) for the extraction of sugar from the root. It was not before 1809 that this manufacture was introduced into France.

The manufacture sprung up there in consequence of Bonaparte's scheme for destroying the colonial prosperity of Great Britain by excluding British colonial produce. It having been found that from the juice of the beet root a crystallizable sugar could be obtained, he encouraged the establishment of the manufacture by every advantage which monopoly and premiums could give it. Colonial sugar was at the enormous price of four and five francs a pound, and the use of it was become so habitual, that no Frenchman could do without it. Several large manufactories of beet root were established, some of which only served as pretexts for selling smuggled colonial sugar as the produce of their own works. Count Chaptal, however, established one on his own farm, raising the beet root, as well as extracting the sugar. The roots are first cleaned by washing or scraping, and then placed in a machine to be rasped and reduced to a pulp. This pulp is put into a strong canvas bag and placed under a powerful press to squeeze out the juice. It is then put into coppers and boiled, undergoing certain other processes. Most of the operations are nearly the same as those by which the juice of the sugar cane is prepared for use; but much greater skill and nicety are required in rendering the juice of the beet root crystallizable, on account of its greater rawness and the smaller quantity of sugar it contains. But when this sugar is refined, it is impossible for the most experienced judge to distinguish it from the other, either by the taste or appearance; and from this arose the facility with which smuggled colonial sugar was sold in France, under the name of sugar from beet root. Five tons of clean roots produce about 4½ cwt. of coarse sugar, which give about 160 lbs. of double refined sugar, and 60 lbs. of inferior lump sugar. The rest is molasses, from which a good spirit is distilled. The dry residue of the roots, after expressing the juice, consists chiefly of fibre and mucilage, and amounts to about one-fourth of the weight of the clean roots used. It contains all the nutritive part of the root, with the exception of 4½ per cent. of sugar, which has been extracted from the juice, the rest being water.

As the expense of this manufacture greatly exceeded the value of the sugar produced, according to the price of colonial sugar, it was only by the artificial encouragement of a monopoly and premiums that it could be carried on to advantage. The process is one of mere curiosity as long as sugar from the sugar cane can be obtained cheaper, and the import duties laid upon it are not so excessive as to amount to a prohibition; and in this case it is almost impossible to prevent its clandestine introduction.

Another mode of making sugar from beet root, practised in some parts of Germany, is as follows, and is said to make better sugar [Pg 193]than the other process:—The roots having been washed, are sliced lengthways, strung on packthread, and hung up to dry. The object of this is to let the watery juice evaporate, and the sweet juice, being concentrated, is taken up by macerating the dry slices in water. It is managed so that all the juice shall be extracted by a very small quantity of water, which saves much of the trouble of evaporation. Professor Lampadius obtained from 110 lbs. of roots 4 lbs. of well-grained white powder-sugar, and the residuum afforded 7 pints of spirit. Achard says that about a ton of roots produced 100 lbs. of raw sugar, which gave 55 lbs. of refined sugar, and 15 lbs. of treacle. This result is not very different from that of Chaptal. 6,000 tons of beet root it is said will produce 400 tons of sugar and 100 tons of molasses.

Beet root sugar in the raw state contains an essential oil, the taste and smell of which are disagreeable. Thus the treacle of beet root cannot be used in a direct way, whereas the treacle of cane sugar is of an agreeable flavor, for the essential oil which it contains is aromatic, and has some resemblance in taste to vanilla. But beet root sugar, when it is completely refined, differs in no sensible degree from refined cane sugar. In appearance it is quite equal to cane sugar, and the process of refining it is more easy than for the latter. Samples made in Belgium were exhibited at a late meeting of the Dublin Society. It was of the finest appearance, of strong sweetening quality, and in color resembling the species of sugar known as crushed lump. The most singular part of the matter is, that it was manufactured in the space of forty-five minutes—the entire time occupied from the taking of the root out of the ground and putting it into the machine, to the production of the perfect article. It was said that it could be produced for 3d. per lb. An acre of ground is calculated to yield 50 tons of Silesian beet, which, in France and Belgium, give three tons of sugar, worth about £50; the refuse being applied in those countries to feeding cattle. But from the superior fitness of the Irish soil, as shown by experience to be the case, it is confidently affirmed by persons competent to form an opinion, that 8 per cent. of sugar could be obtained there on the raw bulk.

The following figures are given as illustrative of the expense of the cultivation of one acre of beet-root in Ireland:—

Two ploughings and harrowing£110
Expense of manure and carting500
Hoeing and seed060
Drilling and sowing050

An average produce of 20 tons, at £15 per ton, would leave a profit of £6 8s. per acre, leaving the land in a state fit for the reception, at little expense, of a crop of wheat, barley, or oats for the next year, and of hay for the year ensuing; a consideration of [Pg 194]no small importance to the farmer. The following estimates, recently given, are not by any means exaggerated:—

61,607 tons of beet, at 10s.£30,803100
Cost of manufacture, at 11s. per ton.33,883170
Produce 7 per cent of sugar, at 28s. per cwt.136,767100
Estimated profit£72,08030

The quantity of sugar made from beet-root in France in 1828, was about 2,650 tons; in 1830, its weight was estimated at 6 million kilogrammes[24] (5,820 tons); in 1834, at 26 million kilogrammes (24,000 tons); in 1835, 36,000 tons; in 1836, 49,000 tons. At the commencement of the year 1837, the number of refineries at work or being built was 543; on an average 20 kilogrammes of beet-root are required for the production of one kilogramme of sugar. The sugar manufactured from the beet-root in France a few years ago was stated to amount to 55,000 tons, or one half of the entire consumption of the kingdom. The Courrier Francais calculated that the beet-root sugar made in France in 1838 amounted to 110 million lbs., and the journal added, there is no doubt that, in a few years, the produce will be equal to the entire demand. The cultivation then extended over 150,000 acres, and in the environs of Lille and Valenciennes it has sometimes been as high as 28,000 lbs. per acre.

From returns of the produce and consumption of beet-root sugar published in the Moniteur, it appears that on the 1st Dec. 1851, there were 335 manufactories in operation, or 81 more than in the corresponding period of 1850. The quantity of sugar made, including the portion lying over from the previous year, amounted to 19,625,386 kilogrammes, and that stored in the public bonding warehouse to 10,556,847. At the end of June, 1852, 329 manufactories were at work, or two more than at the same period in 1851. The quantity sold was 62,211,663 kilogrammes, or 9,167,018 less, as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. There remained in stock in the manufactories 91,434,070 kilogrammes, and in the entrepot 4,597,829 kilogrammes, being an increase of 2,568,662 kilogrammes in the manufactories, and a decrease of 1,292,962 in the entrepots. The manufacture of beet-root sugar is every year assuming in France increased importance, and attracts more and more the attention of political economists as a source of national wealth, and of government, as affording matter of taxation. Thirty new factories, got up upon a very extensive scale, are enumerated as going into operation this year. They are located, with but two exceptions, in the north of France; fifteen of them are in the single department of Nord. Indeed, the manufacture of beet-root sugar is confined, almost exclusively, to the five northern adjacent departments of Nord, Pas de Calais, [Pg 195]Somme, Aisne, and Oise. The best quality retails at 16 cents the pound.

I take from a table in the Moniteur the following statement of the number of factories and their location, with the amount of production up to the 31st May, 1851. At that date the season is supposed to end. A separate column gives the total production in the season of 1842, showing an increase in ten years of more than double, viz., of 41,582,113 kilogrammes, or, in our weight, of 93,559,754 pounds.

Departments.Number of
Prod. 1850-1.
Prod. 1843.
Scattered about182,707,1903,505,602

This information was given by M. Fould, Minister of Finance, upon the introduction of a bill making an appropriation for the purchase of 455 saccharometers, which had become necessary by reason of the late law ordering that from and after the 1st of January, 1852, the beet sugars were to be taxed according to their saccharine richness. The Minister declared that at that date there would be in active operation in France 334 sugar factories and 84 refining establishments.

The Moniteur Parisien has the following:—

"Notwithstanding the advantages accorded to colonial sugar, and the duties which weigh on beet-root sugar, the latter article has acquired such a regular extension that it has reached the quantity of 60,000 tons—that is to say, the half of our consumption. France (deducting the refined sugar exported under favour of the drawback) consumes 120,000 tons, of which 60,000 are home made, 50,000 colonial, and 10,000 foreign. The two sugars have been placed on the same conditions as to duties, but it is only from the 1st inst. (Jan. 1852), that the beet-root sugar will pay a heavier duty than our colonial sugar. In spite of this difference we are convinced that the manufacture of beet-root sugar, which is every day, improved by new processes, will be always very advantageous, and will attain in some years the total quantity of the consumption. In Belgium the produce of the beet-root follows the same progress. The consumption of sugar there was, in 1850, 14,000 tons, of which 7,000 was beet-root, made in 22 manufactories. This year there are 18 new ones, and although their organisation does not allow of their manufacturing in the same proportion as the 22 old ones, they will furnish at least 3,000 tons. The quantity of foreign sugar in that market does not reckon more than 4,000 tons. This conclusion is the more certain, as in 1848-1849, the beet-root only stood at 4,500 tons in the general account. It may therefore be seen from these figures what progress has been made. The same progressive movement is going on in Germany. In 1848 it produced 26,000 tons, and in 1861, 43,000. The following table shows the importance of this improvement. It comprises the Zollverein, Hanover, and the Hanse Towns:—

[Pg 196]
Cane Sugar.

Thus we find that in the period of four years cane sugar has lost 15,000 tons and it will lose still more when new manufactories shall have been established. The consumption of Russia is estimated at 85,000 tons, of which 35,000 is beet-root, and what proves that the latter every day gains ground is, that the orders to the Havana are constantly decreasing, and prices are getting lower. In 1848 Austria consumed 40,000 tons, of which 8,000 were beet-root. Last year (1851,) she produced 15,000 tons. The production of the continent rising to 200,000 tons, and the consumption remaining nearly stationary, it is evident that Brazilian and Cuban sugars will encumber the English market, independently of the refined sugar of Java, which Holland sends to Great Britain. When the continental system was established by the decrees of Milan and Berlin, the Emperor Napoleon asked the savans to point out the means of replacing the productions which he proscribed: it is to the active and useful impulse which his genius impressed on all minds, that France and Europe owe this fresh manufacture—a creation the more valuable as its fortunate development required the co-operation of chemical science and agricultural improvement."

The quantity of sugar extracted from beet-root in the commencement of the process, amounted to only 2 per cent.; but it was afterwards made to yield 5 per cent., and it was then supposed possible to extract 6 per cent. On this calculation the fiscal regulations for the protection of colonial sugars in France were founded; but recent experiments have been made, by means of which as much as ten and a half per cent. of sugar has been obtained. The following notice of the improved process is given in a number of the Constitutionnel:—

"It appears that a great improvement is likely to be made in the manufacture of beet-root sugar. Those who are acquainted with the process of this manufacture, are aware that M. de Dombasle has the last six years exclusively devoted himself to bring to perfection the process of maceration, of which he is the inventor. Adopting recent improvements, this process is materially altered, and has now arrived at such a point of perfection that it could scarcely be exceeded. The Society for the Encouragement of National Industry recently appointed committees to examine the effect produced in the manufactory of Roville. They witnessed the entire progress of the work, every part of which was subjected to minute investigation. Similar experiments have been made in the presence of many distinguished manufacturers. We have not the least intention to prejudge the decision which may be made on this subject by the society we have alluded to; but we believe we are able to mention the principal results that have regularly attended the works of the manufactory this year. The produce in coarse sugar has been more than eight per cent. of the first quality, and more than two per cent. of the second quality, in all nearly ten and a half per cent. of the weight of beet-root used; and the quality of these sugars has been considered by all the manufacturers superior to anything of the kind that has hitherto been made, and admits of its being converted into loaf-sugar of the first quality. The progress of these operations is as simple as possible, and the expenses attending the manufacture are considerably less than that of the process hitherto adopted."

The cultivation of the beet in France appears likely to prove still more advantageous, in consequence of the discovery that the molasses drawn from the root may be, after serving for the manu[Pg 197]facture of sugar, turned to farther advantage. It appears that potash may be made from it, of a quality equal to foreign potash. A Monsieur Dubranfaut has discovered a method of extracting this substance from the residue of the molasses after distillation, and which residue, having served for the production of alcohol, was formerly thrown away. To give some idea of the importance of the creation of this new source of national wealth (remarks the Journal des Debats), it will be sufficient to say that the quantity of potash furnished by M. Dubranfaut's process is equal to l/6th of the quantity of sugar extracted from the beet. Thus, taking the amount of indigenous sugar manufactured each year at seventy million kilogrammes (each kil. equal to 2 lbs. 2 oz. avoird.), there may besides be extracted from this root, which has served for that production, twelve million kilogrammes of saline matter, comparable to the best potash of commerce; and this, too, without, the loss of the alcohol and the other produce, the fabrication of which may be continued simultaneously. According to the present prices, the twelve millions of kilogrammes represent a value of from fourteen to fifteen million francs.

The States composing the German Union possessed towards the close of 1838, 87 manufactories of beet-root sugar in full operation, viz., Prussia, 63; Bavaria, 5; Wurtemburg, 3; Darmstadt, 1; other states, 15; besides 66 which were then constructing.

The only returns given for Prussia and Central Germany are 1836 to 1838, and the annual production of sugar was then estimated at eleven million pounds. The quantity now made is, of course, much greater.

At the close of 1888, Austria produced nine million pounds; she now makes fifteen thousand tons.

The growth of beet-root in Hungary, during the years 1837 and 1838, was extremely favorable, and the manufacture of sugar from it has become very extensive. It has been greatly encouraged by the Austrian government. It was estimated that fifty millions of pounds were manufactured in Prussia and Germany in 1839. In Bohemia there were, in 1840, fifty-two factories of beet-root sugar, and nine for the making of syrup out of potato meal. In 1838, the number was as high as eighty-seven.

The Dutch papers state that in a single establishment in Voster Vick, in Guilderland, about five million pounds' weight of the beet-root are consumed in the manufacture of sugar.

The following is a Comparative Statement of the number of Sugar Manufactories, and the Quantity of Beet-root upon which duty was paid for the Manufacture of Sugar in the Zollverein during the years ending the 31st of August, 1846 and 1847:—

[Pg 198]
Name of the State of
the Zollverein
Number of
Quantity of Beet-root upon which duty
was paid for the Manufacture of Sugar.
1845-61846-7Comparison in
1845-6 1846-7 with the
preceding year.
1845-61846-7More in
Less in
      PrussiaCwts. **Cwts.Cwts.Cwts.
Eastern Prussia2212,39329,94117,548
Western Prussia
Prussian Saxony38422,676,0843,547,891871,817
Duchies of Anhalt45266,345288,08221,737
Rhenish Provinces22,4792,479
Total in Prussia77863,879,5544,968,5871,079,043
Bavaria, Kingdom of8750,95246,1424,810
Saxony, Kingdom of1220,88734,23013,343
Wurtemburg, Kingdom of2259,521141,36681,845
Baden, Grand Duchy22316,968328,60811,640
Hesse, Electorate2325,37623,5291,847
Hesse, Grand Duchy
Brunswick, Dukedom2265,70752,79612,911
Nassau, Dukedom
Frankfort, FreeCity
Total, exclusively of Prussia1921575,538664,88989,351
Total in the Zollverein961074,455,0925,633,4761,168,394
[** Prussian cwts. are equal to 80 English cwts.]

This statement proves that the cultivation of the beet-root, and the subsequent manufacture into sugar, has greatly increased in the Zollverein. Eleven manufactories had been added to the number in the previous year, and an increase of 26 per cent. took place in the quantity of beet-root which was manufactured into sugar. Each manufactory used, upon an average, the following quantity during the undermentioned years:—

In Prussia generally38,16150,38457,774
In the province of Saxony55,41270,42384,473
In the province of Silesia33,59536,90932,347
In the Zollverein,
on an average in each manufactory

[Pg 199]The increase is chiefly evident in the province of Saxony, where, in 1846-7, an augmentation of 1,087,851 cwt. of beet-root; in comparison to the preceding year, took place. If we compare the quantity of beet-root employed in Saxony with that of the whole Zollverein, we find that the former province requires 63 per cent, of the whole quantity used for the manufacture of sugar. The great activity in that province (chiefly in the district of Magdeburg) is rendered more apparent by the following table:—

Comparative Statement of the Number of Manufactories, and their Machinery and Utensils, employed for the Manufacture of Beet-root Sugar in the Prussian Province of Saxony during the years 1841-2 and 1846-7 respectively.

Province of SaxonyIn the neighbourhood
of Magdeburg
Apparatus for grating58652732
Hydraulic presses1362097293
Clarifying pans, with openfiring81682424
Ditto, by steam50763342
Evaporating pans, with open firing1301235554
Ditto, by steam46712832
Clarifiers, with open firing23211410
Ditto, by steam23281921
Boiling pans, with open firing76613324
Ditto, by steam20351217
Of which there are vacuum pans82139
Cattle mills19942
Cattle employed79381912
Quantity of beet-root used
for manufacture
Or on an average in
each manufactory

The increase of power by machinery is surprising, chiefly by steam and hydraulic presses, which has not only effected a greater produce, but likewise a much larger increase of the quantity of beet-root required for manufacture. The works where draught cattle are employed have decreased, and are only in use where the manufacture of beet root sugar is combined with a farm.

In Russia, in 1832, there existed only 20 manufacturers of beet root sugar, but this number subsequently increased to 100, and they annually produced the twelfth of the total quantity of sugar which Russia receives from foreign parts. The number of those manufactories in 1840, was 140, and the importation of sugar, which reached to 1,555,357 lbs. in 1837, amounted to only 1,269,209 lbs. in 1839. The production of indigenous sugar is now set down at 35,000 tons.

[Pg 200]In France, for many years past, the production of beet-root sugar has been rapidly increasing, in spite of a gradual reduction of the protection which it enjoyed against colonial and foreign sugar, until it has reached a quantity of 60,000 tons, or fully one half of the entire consumption. Independent of the refined sugar exported under drawback, the consumption of France may be now estimated at 120,000 tons, of which 60,000 tons are of beet-root, 60,000 tons of French colonial, and 10,000 tons at the outside of foreign sugar. The beet-root and the French colonial sugars are now placed on the same footing as regards duty, and a law was recently passed, subjecting beet-root sugar, from the 1st of January, 1852, to even a higher duty than French colonial sugar. Nevertheless, it is admitted that the manufacture of beet-root sugar is highly profitable and rapidly increasing, so that it is likely in a very short time to exclude foreign sugar from French consumption altogether.

In Belgium, the production of beet-root sugar is also rapidly increasing; in 1851 the entire consumption of sugar was estimated at 14,000 tons, of which 7,000 tons were of beet-root, and 7,000 tons of foreign cane sugar. The number of beet-root factories to supply that quantity was twenty-two, but this number has, already increased in the present year to forty. Many of these will be but imperfectly at work during this season, but it is estimated that of the entire consumption of 14,000 tons, at least 10,000 tons will consist of beet-root, and only 4,000 tons of foreign cane sugar. And from present appearances the manufacture of beet-root is likely to increase so much as to constitute nearly the entire consumption. So lately as 1848 and 1849 the production of beet-root sugar was only 4,500 tons.

In Austria, the consumption of sugar in 1841 was 40,000 tons, of which 8,000 tons were of beet-root, and 32,000 tons of foreign cane sugar. But the production of beet-root has increased so fast that it is estimated to produce in the present year 15,000 tons; and as no increase has taken place in the entire consumption, the portion of foreign cane sugar required in the present year will be reduced from 32,000 tons to 25,000 tons.

The following information, with regard to the state of the manufacture of beet-root sugar on the Continent last year, has been furnished by Mr. C.J. Ramsay, of Trinidad.

"My first start was for Paris, where I remained a week, procuring the necessary letters of introduction, to enable me to see some of the sugar works in the provinces. Whilst there I called upon Messrs. Cail and Co., the principal machine makers in France, mentioned the subject of my visit, and requested their assistance. Nothing could have been more liberal than the way in which they treated me. I was at once asked to look over their establishment and requested to call the next day, when letters of introduction to their branch establishments at Valenciennes and Brussels would be ready for me. This I of course did, and received not only these letters but some others, to sugar manufacturers in the neighbourhood of Valenciennes. Thus provided, and with letters from Mr. D'Eickthal, a banker in Paris, to Mr. Dubranfaut, the chemist, to Mr. Grar, a refiner of Valenciennes, to Mr. Melsens of Brussels, and to another sugar maker near Valenciennes, whose name I forget, and who was the only [Pg 201]man from whom I did not receive the greatest politeness, I started for Valenciennes. My first essay was upon the latter personage, who evidently with a considerable grudge showed me a simple room in his works where four centrifugal machines were at work—raised the cry of ruin, if the French improvements were introduced in the West Indies, and informed me he had nothing else worth seeing. I returned to Valenciennes, thinking if this is the way I was to be treated, I might as well have stayed at home. That this was a solitary instance of illiberality, you will presently see. I next called upon Mr. Grar, by whom I was received in a very different manner; he at once offered to show me over his works, and especially that part of them where a new process, discovered by Mr. Dubranfaut, was carried on, every part of which was fully explained, Mr. Dubranfaut's laboratory is connected with these works, and having inspected the working part of the establishment Mr. G. then took me there, and introduced me to that gentleman, with whom I passed the remainder of the afternoon, receiving a full explanation of his new process, which is this:—a solution of hydrate of barytes is made in boiling water—the saccharine solution to be treated is heated to the same degree, and the two mixed together in the proportions of 46 parts of hydrate of barytes to every 100 parts of sugar contained in the solution, which has previously been ascertained by polariscopic examination. A saccharate of barytes is immediately formed in the shape of a copious precipitate; this, after being thoroughly washed and thus freed from all soluble impurities, is transferred into large, deep vats, and a stream of carbonic acid gas forced into it, which decomposes the saccharate of barytes, forming carbonate of barytes, and liberating the sugar in the shape of a perfectly pure solution of sugar in water, of the density of 20 to 23 degrees Baumé; the carbonate of barytes being thoroughly washed is again converted into caustic barytes by burning, so that there is little loss in the operation. The whole process is certainly very beautiful, and its economic working has been tried for a year, on a sufficiently large scale to leave no doubt as to the economy of the process in refining molasses, which is the only purpose it has yet been applied to.

The Messrs. Grar were so thoroughly satisfied with it, that when I was there they had taken down their original apparatus, and were re-erecting it on such a scale as to work up all the molasses by it, equal to almost five tons of sugar daily. Owing to this circumstance, I had not an opportunity of seeing the process on a working scale, but was shown the whole proceedings in the laboratory.

The only difficulties I see in applying this process at once to the cane juice, are the large quantity of barytes required, the expense of re-burning it and the entire change in works that would be necessary before it could be introduced. The advantage would be, the obtaining the whole sugar contained in the juice, free from all impurities, consequently white, and in the shape of a syrup marking 20 to 23 degrees instead of 8 or 10 degrees, thus saving fully half the evaporation now required. The sugar made in this way, I was told, contains no trace of barytes.

To show you the degree of economy practised in such establishments in France, I may mention that the washings of the saccharate of barytes are sold to the makers of potash and soda, who make a profit by boiling them down to obtain what salts they contain.

The carbonic acid is obtained by the combustion of charcoal in a closed iron furnace into which air is forced by an air pump, requiring, I believe, about one horse power. From the top of the furnace a pipe leads into a washing vessel, from which the gas is led into the bottom of the vats by pipes.

At Valenciennes I met with Mr. Cail, who, beside being an engineer and machine-maker, is interested in sugar-making, both in France and in the West Indies, and most thoroughly understands the subject. He invited me to accompany him to Douai, to see a new set of works which had been set agoing this month. I was of course too glad to accept his invitation, and started with him at six next morning, reached Douai at eight, and then proceeded to the works, which are a few miles out of town. In this work a new process is also employed; it is that of Mr. Rouseau, and is said to answer well. The beet root juice, as soon as possible after expression, is thrown up by [Pg 202]a montjus into copper clarifiers with double bottoms, heated by steam at a pressure of five atmospheres. To every hundred litres of juice (=22 gals.) two kilogrammes of lime are added (about four and a half pounds English weight). The lime is most carefully prepared and mixed with large quantities of hot water till it forms a milk perfectly free from lumps. The steam is turned off, and the juice heated to 90 deg. A complete defecation has taken place, the steam is shut off, and the juice left a short time, to allow the heavier impurities to subside. It is then run off in the usual manner, undergoes a slight filtration through a cotton cloth placed over a layer of about four inches thick of animal charcoal, and runs into a second set of copper vessels placed on a lower level than the clarifiers; these vessels are heated by means of a coil of steam piping sufficient to make them boil. A second pipe passes into them, making a single turn at the bottom of the vessel; this is pierced on the lower side with small holes, through which a stream of carbonic acid gas is forced.

This decomposes the saccharate of lime, which has been formed in consequence of the large excess of lime added to the clarifiers.

The lime is precipitated as carbonate. When precipitation has ceased, steam is turned on, and the whole made to boil; this expels any excess of carbonic acid; the liquor is then run off, undergoes a similar partial filtration to that mentioned above, and is then passed through the charcoal filters to be decomposed. The sugar made by this process, directly from the beet-root juice, is nearly white. The molasses is re-boiled as often as six times; each time undergoing a clarification and filtration through animal charcoal. And the proceeds of the last re-boiling is certainly in appearance not worse than a great deal of muscovado I have seen shipped from Trinidad.

In this work there are about 150 people employed. The work goes on night and day, one gang replacing the other. The whole evaporation is done by two vacuum pans, each 6½ feet in diameter, 80,000 kilogrammes of beet-root are used daily, from which about 6,000 kilogrammes of sugar are obtained, equal to about 6 tons English weight.

In these and every other works I visited—eight in all—the centrifugal machines were in use, and had in most cases been so for two years; those lately made have been much simplified in construction, and work admirably. Cail & Co., of Paris, are the makers; their charge is 3,000 francs for each machine (£120 stg.). They require about one and a half horse power each. As they are wrought in France, one machine is about equal to work off a ton and a half of sugar daily, working all the 24 hours. Mr. Cail recommends a separate engine for those machines; so that they can be used at any time, independent of the other machinery. The charge put into a machine is about 80 kilogrammes, from which about 30 to 35 kilogrammes of dry sugar is obtained; the calculation is, I believe, 40 per cent. I weighed some of the baskets of sugar taken out after drying, and found them 35 kilogrammes. Sugar intended for the machine is never concentrated beyond 41 degrees Baumè; that made from the juice direct is allowed 18 to 34 hours to crystallize, and is put into the machine in a semi-liquid state; the motion at first is comparatively slow; in about three minutes the sugar appears nearly dry; about three-fourths of a gallon of brown syrup is then poured into the machine whilst in motion, and the speed brought up to its highest, about 1200 revolutions a minute; in 3 or 4 minutes more the machine is stopped, the sugar scooped out and thrown into baskets, the inside of the revolving part, and especially the wire cloth, carefully washed with a brush and water, and a fresh charge put in. The whole time betwixt each charge is about 15 minutes. From the large proportion of molasses you will see very plainly that those who do not intend to re-boil, need not think of centrifugal machines. The sugar dried in this way is not altogether white, but has a slight greyish yellow tinge.

Of the other sugar works which I visited, the only one of peculiar interest was that of Mr. Dequesne, near Valenciennes. Here the roots are first cut into small pieces by an instrument similar to a turnip slicer, then dried in a species of kiln, and stored up till required. In this way I was told beet-root could be preserved with very little deterioration for a full year, and this enables Mr. Dequesne to go on making sugar all the year round. When the sugar is to be ex[Pg 203]tracted, the dried cuttings are put into a series of closed vessels connected by pipes, and by a system of continuous filtration of warm water through these vessels the solution of sugar is obtained, of a density equal, I believe, to 25 degrees Baumè; it is a good deal colored, and requires filtration through animal charcoal. Mr. Dequesne informed me that for five years he had been unable to make this mode of sugar-making cover its expenses, owing to the loss occasioned by fermentation taking place in the beet-root; but that he has now entirely overcome that difficulty; by what means I was not told.

The number of macerating vessels is fourteen, ten of which are working at a time, the other four filling and emptying.

A greater number of vessels, Mr. Dequesne thinks, would be advantageous, as cold instead of hot water could then be employed. He thinks a similar plan might be introduced in the West Indies with great advantage, and that by employing the proper means to prevent fermentation the sun's heat would be quite sufficient to dry the cane slices.

Mr. Dubranfaut and Mr. Rouseau's processes are patented in England. The terms for the use of the former would, I was told, be made so moderate, as to offer no obstruction to its being used in the colonies. What Mr. Rouseau's terms are I could not learn.

There are now 288 works making beet root sugar in France, and over 30 in Belgium. The same manufacture is rapidly spreading in Germany and Russia, and is now being introduced in Italy. Whilst at Valenciennes, I learned that two English gentlemen had just preceded me in visiting the works in that neighbourhood, mentioning that they had in view introducing the beet root sugar manufacture in Ireland.

The sugar crop of France was last year over 60,000,000 of kilogrammes (60,000 tons). For two years Belgium has been exporting to the Mediterranean. One maker told me that he had last year exported a considerable part of his crop. It would therefore appear, that even beet root sugar can compete in other than the producing country with the sugar of the tropics—a most significant hint that, unless the cane can be made to yield more and better sugar than is now generally got from it, there is some risk of its being ultimately beaten by the beet root, the cultivation of which is now carried on with so much profit that new works are springing up every year, in almost every country of the continent.

In going through the French works, I made inquiries as to how far the procedé Melsens had been adopted, and was everywhere told it was a total failure. I, however, determined to see Mr. Melsens and judge for myself how far it might be applicable to the cane, even if a failure with regard to the beet root. I, therefore, went on to Brussels, enclosed my letters of introduction and card, and received in return a note, appointing to meet me next morning. I found him one of the best and most obliging of men. He immediately offered to go over some experiments on beet root juice with me at his laboratory, where I accordingly spent the greater part of two days with him, and went over a variety of experiments; and from what I saw and assisted in doing, I feel strongly inclined to think that, notwithstanding the French commission at Martinique report otherwise, some modification of Mr. Melsens' process may be most advantageously employed in making cane sugar if not as a defecator, at least to prevent fermentation, and, probably, also as a decolorising agent.

Mr. Melsens showed me letters he had received from Java from a person with whom he had no acquaintance, stating that he had used the bisulphate of lime with complete success; and whilst I was with him he again received letters from the same person, stating that by its use he had not only improved the quality of sugar, but had raised the return to 9 per cent. of the weight of cane. From the letters which I saw, the process appears to have been tried on a very large scale, with the advantage of filters and a vacuum pan. Where the old mode of leaving half the dirt with the sugar, and boiling up to a temperature of 340 degrees or thereby, is continued, I fear there is not much chance of either bisulphate or anything else making any very great improvement.

The use of bisulphate of lime is patented in England and the colonies, but I believe I may state the charge for the right of using it will be made extremely moderate.[Pg 204]

The points which appeared to me worthy of remark in visiting the beet-root sugar works are, the extreme care that nothing shall be lost—the great attention paid to cleanliness in every part of the process, besides the particular care given to defecation. No vessel is ever used twice without being thoroughly washed. Such a thing as the employment of an open fire in any part of the manufacture is quite unknown. Everything is done by steam, of a pressure of from 4 to 5 atmospheres. In the more recently started works, the evaporation is entirely carried on in vacuum. In some of the older works copper evaporators, heated by coils of steam piping, and having covers, with chimneys to carry off the vapor, are still used; but of the eight works I visited I only saw them in use in one of them, and they are nowhere used excepting to evaporate to the point when the second filtration takes place.

The coolers I saw were invariably made of iron, and varied in depth from 2 to over 6 feet. These very deep vessels are used for the crystallization of sugar, made of the fourth, fifth and sixth re-boilings of molasses, which requires from three to six months.

One thing struck me forcibly in going over the French and Belgian works; it was the extreme liberality with which I was allowed to go over every part of them; to remain in them as long as I pleased; had all my inquiries answered, and every explanation given; in most striking contrast to the grudging manner in which I have been trotted over some of the refineries in England, as if those who showed them were afraid I should gain any information on the subject of their trade.

Mr. H. Colman, speaking of the agriculture of the Continent, gives some information he obtained on the comparative cost of producing beet and cane sugar. A hectare (two and a half acres) produces, in the Isle of Bourbon, about 76,000 kilogrammes (a kilogramme is nearly two and one-fifth pounds) of cane, which will give 2,200 kilogrammes of sugar, and the cost for labor is 2,500 francs. A hectare of beet root produces 40,000 kilogrammes of roots, which yield 2,400 kilogrammes of sugar, and the expense of the culture is 354 francs. The cost of the cane sugar in this case is 27 centimes, and of the beet sugar 14 centimes only, per kilogramme.

These are extraordinary statements, and will be looked at by the political economist and the philanthropist with great interest. There are few of the northern states of Europe, or of the United States, which might not produce their own sugar; and when we take into account the value of this product, even in its remains after the sugar is extracted, for the fattening of cattle and sheep, and of course for the enrichment of the land for the succeeding crops, its important bearing upon agricultural improvement cannot be exaggerated.

According to M. Peligot, the average amount of sugar in beets is 12 per cent.; but, by extraction, they obtain only 6 per cent. The cane contains about 18 per cent. of saccharine matter, but they get only about 7½. The expense of cultivating a hectare of beets, according to Dombasle, is 354 francs. An hectare of cane, which produces 2,200 kilogrammes of sugar, in the Island of Bourbon, and only 2,000 in French Guiana, demands the labor of twelve negroes, the annual expense of each of whom is 250 francs, according to M. Labran.—(Commission of Inquiry in 1840.)

Sugar has become not only an article of luxury, but of utility, to such a degree, that a supply of it constitutes an important article [Pg 205]of importation, and is of national consequence. For sugar the world has hitherto relied on the cane, with the exception of some parts of India, where the sugar palm yields it much more cheaply. The sugar cane is, however, a tropical plant, and, of course, its cultivation must of necessity be limited to such hot countries. France, during the wars of Napoleon, shut out from her Indian possessions or deprived of them, commenced making sugar from beets, and it proving unexpectedly successful and profitable, it has as we have just seen, extended not only over that empire, but nearly the whole of continental Europe, where it forms an important item in their system of cultivation and profit. The manufacture has been attempted in the United States; but though the facts of the ease and certainty with which the beets may be grown and their great value for stock has been fully ascertained, still little progress in the production of sugar from them has been made there.


There are few trees in the American forest of more value than the maple (Acer saccharinum). As an ornamental tree, it is exceeded by few; its ashes abound in alkali, and from it a large proportion of the potash of commerce is produced; and its sap furnishes a sugar of the best quality, and in abundance. It likewise affords molasses and an excellent vinegar. In the maple the sugar amounts to five per cent. of the whole sap. There is no tree whose shape and whose foliage is more beautiful, and whose presence indicates a more generous, fertile, and permanent soil than the rock maple: in various cabinet-work its timber vies with black walnut and mahogany for durability and beauty; and as an article of fuel its wood equals the solid hickory. Its height is sometimes 100 feet, but it usually grows to a height varying from forty to eighty feet. It is bushy, therefore an elegant shade tree. The maple is indigenous to the forests of America, and wherever there has been opportunity for a second growth, this tree attains to a considerable size much sooner than might be imagined. In the course of ten or fifteen years the maple becomes of a size to produce sugar. The trees which have come up since the first clearing, produce sap that yields much more saccharine than the original forest maples.

The whole interior of the northern part of the United States have relied, and still rely, more on their maple woodlands for sugar than on any other source; and as a branch of domestic manufacture and home production, the business is of no little consequence. The time occupied too in the manufacture is very limited, and occurs at a season when very little other labor can be performed.

Hitherto but comparatively little attention has been bestowed upon this important branch of industry in Canada. The inhabitants of that province might doubtless manufacture a sufficient quantity of maple sugar to supply the demand or consumption in this article for the whole population of the country. This variety of sugar may be refined, and made as valuable for table use as the finest qualities of West India sugar. On the south shore of Lake [Pg 206]Huron, and the islands of that inland sea, there are forests of sugar

maple unsurveyed capable of producing a supply for the whole population. The Indians upon those islands have lately turned their attention pretty largely to the manufacture of sugar from the maple; and many tons have been exported from this source. If the Indians could obtain a fair value for their sugar, say seven or eight dollars per 100 lbs., they would extend their operations upon a large scale. Upon these islands alone, there are upwards of a million of full-grown maple trees, capable of yielding each from two and a half to three pounds of excellent sugar per annum; and if proper attention were given to this branch of production in that quarter, I see no reason why a most profitable business could not be carried on. Every farmer who has a grove of sugar maple, should endeavour to manufacture at least sufficient for the consumption of his own family. In most cases 150 trees of medium growth would yield an amount of sap that would make 300 lbs. of sugar, twenty-five gallons of molasses, and a barrel of vinegar. The labor required to manufacture this amount of sugar, molasses, and vinegar, would scarcely be felt by the well-organised cultivator, as the season for the business is at the close of the winter, and opening spring, when no labor can be done upon the land. In proportion to the amount of labor and money expended in the production of maple sugar, it is as capable of yielding as large a return of profits as any other branch of farm business. It is certainly an object of great national interest to the inhabitants of our North American Colonies, that they should supply their own market with such products as their highly-favored country is capable of producing. Sugar is an article which will ever find a ready sale at highly-remunerating prices, provided that it be properly manufactured and brought into market in good condition. It requires a little outlay at first to purchase buckets, cisterns, and boilers, to stock a sugar bush; but by carefully using the above necessary apparatus, they will last for a very long period. A farmer can supply himself with the suitable materials for performing the sugar business without any cost further than his own labor. The spring is the season of the year that everything should be put in readiness,—even the wood should be chopped and drawn to the spot, so that when the sap commences to run, there may be no impediments in the way to hinder the complete success of the business.

Large tracts of land in the Ottawa district are covered with the true sugar maple. It is found in great numbers in the eastern townships of Lower Canada, where considerable forests of miles in extent contain nothing else, and in other places it is mixed with various trees. There is scarcely a spot in Lower Canada where it is not to be met with. Capt. Marryatt has stated that there were trees enough on the shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, to supply the whole world with sugar. In the United States, the manufacture of the sugar was first attempted about the year 1752, by some farmers of New England, as a [Pg 207]branch of rural economy. This gradually spread wherever the tree was known. Now it forms an article of food throughout a large portion of the country. Almost every farmer prepares sugar enough from the trees in his neighbourhood for the consumption of his family during the year, and has often a surplus for sale. It is much cheaper than muscovado, being sold at from 2d. to 3½d. per pound, whilst common muscovado cannot be bought for less than 4½d. to 5d. per pound.

The province of Canada produced nearly ten million pounds in 1852, 6,190,694 being made in Lower Canada, and 3,581,505 in Upper Canada. The quantity made in Lower Canada in 1849 was only about 1,537,093 lbs. The maple sugar product of the Canadas in 1848 was officially stated as follows:—

Upper Canada4,160,667
Lower Canada2,303,158

This product is therefore of immense importance to the British North American provinces, all of which, under a judicious system, might be made to produce vastly increased quantities of this wholesome and valuable commodity.

The importation of sugar in Canada may very safely be computed at £40,000 per annum, and the whole of this amount of money could be retained in the country if the people would only look well to the matter.

In tapping the tree, the gouge is the best implement that can be used, provided it is an object to save the timber. It is usual, when using the gouge, to take out a chip about an inch and a half in diameter; but this system is objectionable where the maple is not abundant, as it subjects the timber to decay; it is a better course to make an incision by holding the gouge obliquely upwards an inch or more in the wood. A spout, or spile, as it is termed, about a foot long, to conduct off the sap, is inserted about two inches below this incision with the same gouge. By this mode of tapping, the wound in the tree is so small that it will be perfectly healed or grown over in two years. A boiler, of thick sheet-iron, made to rest on the top of an arch, by which the sides would be free from heat, and only the bottom is exposed, is doubtless a secure and rapid process of evaporation. The sides and ends of the boiler may be made of well-seasoned boards, which will answer the same purpose as if made solely of sheet-iron. When the sap is boiled down into syrup or thin molasses, it must be taken out of the boiler and strained through a flannel cloth into a tub, where it should settle about twenty-four hours. The clear syrup should be separated from the sediment, which will be found in the bottom of the tub. The pure syrup must be boiled down into sugar over a slow fire. A short time, however, before the syrup is brought to a boiling heat, to complete the clarifying process, the whites of five eggs well beaten, about one [Pg 208]quart of new milk, and a spoonful of saleratus, should be all well mixed with a sufficient amount of syrup, to make 100 lbs. of sugar. The scum which would rise on the top must be skimmed off. Caution is to be observed in not allowing the syrup to boil until the skimming process is completed. To secure a good article, the greatest attention must be bestowed in granulating the syrup. The boxes or tubs for draining should be large at the top and small at the bottom. The bottom of the tubs should be bored full of small holes, to let the molasses drain through. After it has nearly done draining, the sugar may be dissolved, and the process of clarifying, granulating, and draining repeated, which will give as pure a quality of sugar as the best refined West India article.

The greatest objections that are advanced against maple sugar are, that the processes made use of in preparing the sugar for market are so rude and imperfect that it is too generally acid, and besides charged with salts of the oxide of iron, insomuch that it ordinarily strikes a black color with tea. These objections may be removed without any comparative difficulty, as it has been proved to demonstration, by the application of one ounce of clear lime-water to a gallon of maple sap, that the acidity will be completely neutralised, and the danger of the syrup adhering to the sides of the boiler totally removed. The acid so peculiar to the maple sugar, when combined with lime in the above proportion, is found to be excessively soluble in alcohol; so much so, that yellow sugar can be rendered white in a few minutes by placing it in an inverted cone, open at the top, with small holes at the bottom, and by pouring on the base of the cone a quantity of alcohol. This should filtrate through until the sugar is white; it should then be dried and re-dissolved in boiling water, and again evaporated until it becomes dense enough to crystallise. Then pour it into the cones again, and let it harden. By this process a very white sample of sugar may be made, and both the alcohol and acids will be thoroughly dispelled with the vapor.

The process of making maple sugar it will be seen is very simple and easily performed. The trees must be of suitable size, and within a convenient distance of the place where the operations of boiling, &c., are to be performed. When gathered, the sap should be boiled as early as possible, as the quality of the sugar is in a great degree dependent on the newness or freshness of the sap. There is a tendency to acidity in this fluid which produces a quick effect in preventing the making of sugar; and which, when the sap is obliged to be kept for many hours in the reservoirs, must be counteracted by throwing into them a few quarts of slaked lime. During the time of sugar making, warm weather, in which the trees will not discharge their sap, sometimes occurs, and the buckets become white and slimy, from the souring of the little sap they contain. In this case they should be brought to the boiler and washed out carefully with hot water, and a handful of lime to each.

In reducing the sap, the great danger to be apprehended is [Pg 209]from burning the liquid after it is made to the consistence of molasses, since, when this is done, it is impossible to convert it into sugar; a tough, black, sticky mass, of little value, being the result. Indeed, constant care and attention is required to produce a first-rate article: for though sugar may be made in almost any way where the sap can be procured, yet unless the strictest care is observed in the processes, in gathering and boiling the sap, clarifying the syrup, and in converting the syrup to sugar, a dirty inferior article will be made, instead of the beautiful and delicious sweet which the maple, properly treated, is sure to yield.

The quantity of sugar produced in a year varies considerably from the same trees. The cause of this difference is to be found in the depth of snow, continued cold, or a sudden transition from cold to warm, thus abridging the period of sugar-making. A sharp frost at night, with clear warm days, is the most favorable to the sugar-maker. Perhaps four pounds of sugar from a tree may be a pretty fair average of seasons generally, although we have known the growth to exceed six pounds, and sink as low as three. A man will take care of one hundred trees easily, during the season of sugar, which usually lasts from about the middle of March into April, perhaps employing him twenty days in the whole. Dr. Jackson, in his Report of the Maine Geological Survey, gives the following instances of the production of sugar in that State:—

Lbs. of
At the Forks of the Kennebec, twelve persons made3,605
On No. 1, 2d range, one man and a boy made1,000
In Farmington, Mr. Titcomb made1,500
In Moscow, thirty families made10,500
In Bingham, twenty-five families made9,000
In Concord, thirty families made11,000

A cold and dry winter is followed with a greater yield of sugar from the maple than a season very moist and variable. Trees growing in wet places will yield more sap, but much less sugar from the same quantity, than trees on more elevated and drier ground. The red and white maple will yield sap, but it has much less of the saccharine quality than the rock or sugar maple.

The work begins usually about the first of March. The tree will yield its sap long before vegetation appears from the bud: frequently the most copious flow is before the snow disappears from the ground.

Some persons have a camp in their maple orchards, where large cauldrons are set in which to boil down the sap to the consistency of a thick syrup: others take the liquid to their houses, and there boil down and make the sugar.

The process begins by the preparation of spouts and troughs or tubs for the trees: the spouts or tubes are made of elder, sumach, or pine, sharpened to fit an auger hole of about three-fourths of an inch in diameter. The hole is bored a little upward, at the distance horizontally of five or six inches apart, and about twenty inches from the ground on the south or sunny side of the [Pg 210]tree. The trough, cut from white maple, pine, ash, or bass wood, is set directly under the spouts, the points of which are so constructed as completely to fill the hole in the tree, and prevent the loss of the sap at the edges, having a small gimlet or pitch hole in the centre, through which the entire juice discharged from the tree runs, and is all saved in the vessels below. The distance bored into the tree is only about one-half an inch to give the best run of sap. The method of boring is far better for the preservation of the tree than boxing, or cutting a hole with an axe, from the lower edge of which the juice is directed by a spout to the trough or tub prepared to receive it. The tub should be of ash or other wood that will communicate no vicious taste to the liquid or sugar.

The sap is gathered daily from the trees and put in larger tubs for the purpose of boiling down. This is done by the process of a steady hot fire. The surface of the boiling kettle is from time to time cleansed by a skimmer. The liquid is prevented from boiling over by the suspension of a small piece of fat pork at the proper point. Fresh additions of sap are made as the volume boils away. When boiled down to a syrup, the liquor is set away in some earthen or metal vessel till it becomes cool and settled. Again the purest part is drawn off or poured into a kettle until the vessel is two-thirds full. By a brisk and continual fire, the syrup is further reduced in volume to a degree of consistence best taught by a little experience, when it is either put into moulds to become hard as it is cooled, or stirred until it shall be grained into sugar. The right point of time to take it away from the fire may be ascertained by cooling and graining a small quantity. The sediment is strained off and boiled down to make molasses.

The following is from a Massachusetts paper:—

The maple produces the best sugar that we have from any plant. Almost every one admires its taste. It usually sells in this market (Boston) nearly twice as high as other brown sugar. Had care been taken from the first settlement of the country to preserve the sugar maple, and proper attention been given to the cultivation of this tree, so valuable for fuel, timber, and ornament, besides the abundant yield of saccharine juice, we could now produce in New England sugar enough for our own consumption, and not be dependent on the labour of those who toil and suffer in a tropical sun for this luxury or necessary of life. But, for want of this friendly admonition,

"Axeman, spare that tree,"

the sturdy blows were dealt around without mercy or discretion; and the very generation that committed devastation in the first settlements in different sections of our country, generally lived to witness a scarcity of fuel; and means were resorted to for the purchase of sugar, that were far more expensive than would have been its manufacture, under a proper mode of economy in the preservation of the maple, and the production of sugar from its sap.

Those who have trees of the sugar maple, should prepare in season for making sugar. In many localities, wood is no object, and a rude method of boiling is followed; but where fuel is very scarce, a cheap apparatus should be prepared that will require but little fuel. In some sections, broad pans or kettles have been made of sheet-iron bottoms, and sides of plank or boards, care being taken[Pg 211] (continued) to allow the fire to come into contact with the iron only. These pans cost but a trifle, and, owing to their large surface, the evaporation is rapid.

Another cheap construction for boiling with economy is, to make a tight box of plank, some four or five feet square—the width of a wide plank will answer, and then put into it, almost at the bottom, a piece of large copper funnel, say ten or twelve inches at the outer part, and then smaller. This funnel, beginning near one end, should run back nearly to the opposite side, then turn and come put at the opposite end, or at the side near the end, as most convenient, being in only two straight parts, that the soot may be cleared out. Each end should be made tight, with a flange nailed to the box. At the mouth of the large part there should be a door, to reduce the draught; here make the fire, and at the other end have a funnel to carry off the smoke. In this case, there is only sheet copper between the fire and the sap which surrounds the funnel, so that the heat is readily taken up by the liquid, and very little escapes. This is an economical plan for cooking food for stock, steaming timber, &c.

For catching the sap, various kinds of vessels are used. The cheapest are made of white birch, which last one season, or less. Troughs of pine, or linden or bass wood, may be made for a few cents each, and they will last for a number of years, if inverted in the shade of trees. But these are inconvenient; and, after the first year, they become dirty, and clog the sap. Pails with iron hoops are the best, and, eventually, the cheapest. By painting and carefully preserving them, they will cost, for a course of years, about one cent each for a year.

Mr. Alfred Fitch, in the "Genesee Farmer," says:—

In clarifying, I use for 50 lbs. of sugar one pint of skimmed milk, put into the syrup when cold, and place it over a moderate fire until it rises, which should occupy thirty or forty minutes; then skim and boil until it will grain; after which I put it into a tub, and turn on a little cold water, and in a few days the molasses will drain out, and leave the sugar dry, light, and white.

Mr. E.W. Clark, of Oswego, furnishes the following:—

On Fining Maple Sugar.—The sweet obtained from the maple tree is undoubtedly the purest known; but from mismanagement in the manufacture it frequently becomes very impure. Its value is lessened, while the expense of making it increases. I am sensible that the method which I shall recommend is not altogether a new one, and that it is more by attending to some apparently minute and trivial circumstances, than to any new plan, that my sugar is so good. Much has been written upon, and many useful improvements been made in, that part of the process which relates to tapping the trees, and gathering and evaporating the sap, &c.; but still, if the final operation is not understood, there will be a deficiency in the quality of the sugar. I shall confine myself to that part of the operation which relates to reducing the syrup to sugar, as it is of the first importance. My process is this:—When the syrup is reduced to the consistence of West India molasses, I set it away till it is perfectly cold, and then mix with it the clarifying matter, which is milk or eggs. I prefer eggs to milk, because when heated the whole of it curdles; whereas milk produces only a small portion of curd. The eggs should be thoroughly beaten and effectually mixed with the syrup while cold. The syrup should then be heated till just before it would boil, when the curd rises, bringing with it every impurity, even the coloring matter, or a great portion of that which it had received from the smoke, kettles, buckets, or reservoirs. The boiling should be checked, and the scum carefully removed, when the syrup should be slowly turned into a thick woollen strainer, and left to run through at leisure. I would remark, that a great proportion of the sugar that is made in our country is not strained after cleansing. This is an error. If examined in a wine-glass, innumerable minute and almost imperceptible particles of curd will be seen floating in it, which, if not removed, render it liable to burn, and otherwise injure the taste and color of it.

A flannel strainer does this much better than a linen one. It is, indeed, indispensable. As to the quantity of eggs necessary, one pint to a pailful of [Pg 212]syrup is amply sufficient, and half as much will do very well. I now put my syrup into another kettle, which has been made perfectly clean and bright, when it is placed over a quick but solid fire, and soon rises, but is kept from overflowing by being ladled with a long dipper. When it is sufficiently reduced, (I ascertain this by dropping it from the point of a knife, while hot, into one inch of cold water—if done, it will not immediately mix with the water, but lies at the bottom in a round flat drop,) it is taken from the fire, and the foaming allowed to subside. A thick white scum, which is useable, is removed, and the sugar turned into a cask, placed on an inclined platform, and left undisturbed for six weeks or longer, when it should be tapped in the bottom and the molasses drawn off. It will drain perfectly dry in a few days.

The sugar made in this manner is very nearly as white as lump sugar, and beautifully grained. We have always sold ours at the highest price of Muscovadoes; and even when these sugars have sold at eighteen cents, ours found a ready market at twenty. Two hands will sugar off 250 lbs. in a day. From the scum taken off in cleansing, I usually make, by diluting and recleansing, one-sixth as much as I had at first, and of an equal quality.

It is not of much consequence as regards the quality of the sugar, whether care be taken to keep the sap clean or not. The points in which the greatest error is committed, are, neglecting to use a flannel strainer, or to strain after cleansing—to have the sugar kettle properly cleaned—and to remove the white scum from the sugar.

An important process of manufacturing maple sugar, which produces a most beautiful article, is also thus described in a communication by the gentleman who gained the first premium at the State Fair at Rochester in 1843, to the Committee on Maple Sugar of the New York State Agricultural Society.

In the first place, I make my buckets, tubs, and kettles all perfectly clean. I boil the sap in a potash kettle, set in an arch in such a manner that the edge of the kettle is defended all around from the fire. I boil through the day, taking care not to have anything in the kettle that will give color to the sap, and to keep it well skimmed. At night I leave fire enough under the kettle to boil the sap nearly or quite to syrup by the next morning. I then take it out of the kettle, and strain it through a flannel cloth into a tub, if it is sweet enough; if not, I put it in a cauldron kettle, which I have hung on a pole in such a manner that I can swing it on or off the fire at pleasure, and boil it till it is sweet enough, and then strain it into the tub, and let it stand till the next morning. I then take it and the syrup in the kettle, and put it altogether into the cauldron, and sugar it off. I use, to clarify say 100 lbs. of sugar, the whites of five or six eggs well beaten, about one quart of new milk, and a spoonful of saleratus, all we'll mixed with the syrup before it is scalding hot. I then make a moderate fire directly under the cauldron, until the scum is all raised; then skim it off clean, taking care not to let it boil so as to rise in the kettle before I have done skimming it. I then sugar it off, leaving it so damp that it will drain a little. I let it remain in the kettle until it is well granulated. I then put it into boxes made smallest at the bottom, that will hold from fifty to seventy lbs., having a thin piece of board fitted in, two or three inches above the bottom, which is bored full of small holes, to let the molasses drain through, which I keep drawn off by a tap through the bottom. I put on the top of the sugar, in the box, a clean damp cloth; and over that, a board, well fitted in, so as to exclude the air from the sugar. After it has done draining, or nearly so, I dissolve it, and sugar it off again; going through with the same process in clarifying and draining as before.

The following remarks from Dr. Jackson, of Boston, may be of interest to the sections of the country where maple sugar is made:—

The northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, have dense forests of the sugar maple, and at present only very rude processes are made use of in preparing the sugar for market, so that it is too generally [Pg 213]acid and deliquescent, besides being charged with salts of the oxide of iron, insomuch that it ordinarily strikes a black color with tea. To remedy these difficulties was the object of my researches; while, at the same time, I was engaged in ascertaining the true composition of the sap, with a view to the theory of vegetable nutrition.

I received several gallons of freshly-drawn maple sap from Northampton, Warner, and Canterbury, and made analyses of each lot, separating the acids, salts, and the sugar. I also analysed the sap of the yellow and white birch, which do not give any crystallisable sugar, but an astringent molasses.

I shall now communicate to you the process by which I manufactured sugar maple sap, received from the Shakers of Canterbury, who collected it with care in a clear glass demijohn, and sent it forthwith, so that it came to me without any change of composition, the weather being cold at the time. The evaporation was carried on in glass vessels until the sap was reduced to about one-eighth its original bulk, and then it was treated with a sufficient quantity of clear lime-water to render it neutral, and the evaporation was completed in a shallow porcelain basin. The result was, that a beautiful yellow granular sugar was obtained, from which not a single drop of molasses drained, and it did not deliquesce by exposure to the air. Another lot of the sap, reduced to sugar without lime-water, granulated, but not so well, was sour to the taste, deliquesced by exposure, and gave a considerable quantity of molasses.

Having studied the nature of the peculiar acid of the maple, I found that its combinations with lime were excessively soluble in alcohol, so that the yellow sugar first described could be rendered white in a few minutes, by placing it in an inverted cone open at the bottom, and pouring a fresh quantity of alcohol upon it, and allowing it to filtrate through the sugar. The whitened sugar was then taken and re-dissolved in boiling water and crystallised, by which all the alcoholic flavour was entirely removed, and a perfectly fine crystallised and pure sugar resulted. Now, in the large way, I advise the following method of manufacturing maple sugar. Obtain several large copper or brass kettles, and set them up in a row, either by tripods with iron rings, or by hanging them on a cross-bar; clean them well, then collect the sap in buckets, if possible, so that but little rain-water will be mixed with the sap, and take care not to have any dead leaves in it. For every gallon of the maple sap add one measured ounce of clear lime-water, pass the sap into the first kettle and evaporate; then, when it is reduced to about one-half, dip it out into the second kettle, and skim it each time; then into the next, and so on, until it has reached the last, where it is reduced to syrup, and then may be thrown into a trough, and granulated by beating it up with an oar.

As soon as the first kettle is nearly empty, pour in a new lot of the sap, and so continue working it forward exactly after the manner of the West India sugar-boilers. The crude sugar may be refined subsequently, or at the time of casting it into the cones made of sheet iron, well painted with white lead and boiled linseed oil, and thoroughly dried, so that no paint can come off. These cones are to be stopped at first, until the sugar is cold; then remove the stopper and pour on the base of the cone a quantity of strong whiskey, or fourth proof rum. Allow this to nitrate through, until the sugar is white; dry the loaf, and redissolve it in boiling hot water, and evaporate it until it becomes dense enough to crystallise. Now pour it into the cones again, and let it harden. If any color remains, pour a saturated solution of refined white sugar on the base of the cone, and this syrup will remove all traces of color from the loaf.

One gallon of pasture maple sap yielded 3,451 grains of pure sugar. One gallon of the juice of the sugar cane yields, on an average, in Jamaica, 7,000 grains of sugar. Hence, it will appear that maple sap is very nearly half as sweet as cane juice; and since the maple requires no outlay for its cultivation, and the process may be carried on when there is little else to be done, the manufacture of maple sugar is destined to become an important department of rural economy. It is well known, by the Report of the Statistics of the United States, that Vermont ranks next to Louisiana as a sugar state, producing (if I recollect correctly) 6,000,000 of pounds in some seasons, though the business is now carried on in a very rude way, without any apparatus, and with no great chemical skill; so that only a very impure kind of sugar is made, which, on [Pg 214]account of its peculiar flavor, has not found its way into common use, for sweetening tea and coffee. It would appear worth while, then, to improve this manufacture, and to make the maple sugar equal to any now in use. This can be readily accomplished, if the farmers in the back country will study the process of sugar-making, for cane and maple sugar are, when pure, absolutely identical. It should be remarked, that forest maples do not produce so much sugar as those grown in open fields or in groves, where they have more light, the under-brush being cleared away.

In Farmington, on the Sandy River, in Maine, I have seen a very fine grove of maples, but thirty years old, which produced a large yield of very good sugar. A man and two boys made 1,500 lbs. of sugar from the sap of these trees in a single season. The sap was boiled down in potash kettles, which were scoured bright with vinegar and sand. The sugar was of a fine yellow color, and well crystallised. It was drained of its molasses in casks, with a false bottom perforated with small holes—the cask having a hole bored at the bottom, with a tow plug placed loosely in it, to conduct off the molasses. This method is a good one, but the sap ought to be limed in boiling, as I have described; then it will not attach to the iron or copper boilers. The latter metal must not be used with acid syrup, for copper salts are poisonous.

There are several towns in the northern sections of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, that produce more than sufficient sugar for the consumption of their inhabitants. A lot of good sugar trees will average four pounds to the tree, in a favorable season. Many farmers have orchards that will yield five hundred to a thousand pounds of sugar in a year. As this is made at a season interfering very little with the general business of the farm, the sugar that the farmer makes is so much clear gain.

There is, on almost every hill-farm, some place favorable for the growth of a maple orchard—some rocky spots yielding little grass, and impervious for the plough. Such spots may be favorably chosen for the growth of a maple orchard; and whether the increase be used for manufacturing sugar or molasses, or for timber or fuel, the proprietor of the land will find a profit better than money at interest in the growth of this beautiful tree, which will spontaneously propagate itself in many positions.

Its great excellence consists in yielding sap for the manufacture of vast quantities of maple sugar in the country during the months of spring. An open winter, constantly freezing and thawing, is a forerunner of a bountiful crop of sugar. The orchard of maple trees is almost equal to a field of sugar cane of the same area, in the production of sugar. This tree reaches an age of 200 years.

Vermont is the second sugar-producing State in the Union. The amount of maple sugar produced there in 1840 was over 2,550 tons, being more than 17¾ pounds to each inhabitant, allowing a population of 291,948. At five cents a pound, this is worth. 255,963 dols. 20 cents.

The Statistics of the United States census for 1850, show that about thirty-five millions of pounds (15,250 tons) of maple sugar were manufactured in that year:—

[Pg 215]
New Hampshire1,392,489
New York10,310,764
New Jersey5,886
North Carolina27,448
South Carolina200

There is a balance of about two million pounds produced by Rhode Island, Texas, Oregon, California, Utah, New Mexico, Delaware, and Florida. The above statement does not include the sugar made by the Indians, east of the Mississippi river, which may be set down at 10,000,000 lbs., and west of that river 2,000,000 lbs.

Besides the above sugar crop, there was a yield by the sugar maple in the United States in 1850, of 40,000,000 gallons of maple molasses.

Maize Sugar.—The stem and branches of Indian corn, during the time that its grain is filling, abounds with sugar, even when grown in this country; so much so, that it might be turned to account by those of the peasantry who have small plots of ground attached to their cottages; and I applied a simple method by which a rich syrup may be obtained from it, equal in sweetness to treacle, and superior to it in flavor. The proper time for cutting down the plant (which should be done within an inch of the ground), is when the corn in the ear is small and full of a milky juice. All the large and old leaves should be stripped off, leaving only the young and tender ones; they should then be cut into short lengths, thoroughly bruised, and the juice entirely pressed out from them. Where the means cannot be obtained for expressing the juice by this method, the following may be employed:—After the plants have been cut into small pieces, put them into a large pot or copper, with only just sufficient water to extract the juice; boil for one hour, and then strain off the liquor; to each gallon of this liquor add a wine-glass full of lime-water whilst warm; but if it be the expressed juice, obtained as above mentioned, add double the quantity of lime-water. When the liquor is cold, for every three gallons beat up an egg with some of the liquor; put altogether into a boiler, and boil gently till the syrup acquires the consistence of treacle. Whilst this is going on, the liquor should every now and then be well stirred, and the scum which rises to the surface taken off. This syrup, which will be found a better substitute for sugar than treacle, and more wholesome, should be kept in lightly-covered vessels, in a dry place.

My own observations, twelve years ago, acquainted me with the [Pg 216]fact, that when the grain in the ear has acquired one half of the full size, the quantity of sugar in the sap has passed its maximum, or begun to decrease, and continues to do so until it disappears entirely. Lopping off the young ears makes shorter work of it. It is like taking the young from an animal giving suck, in which case the milk soon ceases to flow into the breast, and that which produced it is elaborated into other fluids necessary to the nourishment of the different parts of the body of the parent. In the corn-stalk, when deprived of its ears, the elements of sugar are dissipated by increasing the size of the plant.

Sugar may also be obtained from the carrot and the parsnip, as well as from all sweet fruits. It is abundant throughout the vegetable kingdom; it forms the first food of plants when they germinate in the seed; when the first little sprout is projected from a grain of corn, a portion of the farina, or starch, is changed into sugar, which may be called the blood of the plant, and from it is drawn the nourishment necessary to its expansion and appearance above the surface of the earth. In the latter growth of many plants an inverse process is carried on, as in the Indian corn, which I have just spoken of. In this instance, as also numberless others, sugar is formed in large quantities in the body of the plant, and elaborated into farina, or starch, in the ear. The elements of which sugar and starch are composed are the same; the only difference is in their proportions. Chemists, being aware of this, have converted starch into sugar; and could do it with certainty to any extent, were any advantage to be gained by it; but hitherto starch has been higher in price than sugar.

[Pg 217]



The vegetable substances, from which man derives his principal sustenance, such as the nutritious cereal grains, the tuberous rooted plants and the trees yielding farina, are very widely diffused, and necessarily occupy the main attention of the cultivator; their products forming the most important staples of domestic and foreign commerce. The cereal grasses and roots, cultivated in temperate regions, such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, and the potato, are so well known, and have been so fully described by agricultural writers that I shall not go much into details as to their varieties, culture, &c., but confine myself chiefly to their distribution, produce, statistics, and commercial importance. The food plants may be most conveniently arranged under three heads. Firstly—the Grain crops and legumes, which comprises the European cultivated grasses, wheat, barley, oats, &c.; and the tropical ones of rice, maize, millet, Guinea corn, &c. Secondly—Palms and other trees yielding farina, including the sago palms, plantain and banana, and the bread fruit tree. And Thirdly—the edible Root crops and Starch producing plants, which are a somewhat extensive class, the chief of which, however, are the common potato, yams, cocos or eddoes, sweet potatoes, the bitter and sweet cassava or manioc, the arrowroot and other plants yielding starch in more or less purity.

There is a great diversity of food, from the humble oak bark bread of the Norwegian peasant, or the Brahmin, whose appetite is satisfied with vegetables, to the luxurious diet of a Hungarian Magnate at Vienna.

The bread stuffs, as they are popularly termed, particularly wheat and wheat flour, maize, and rice, form very important articles of commerce, and enter largely into cultivation in various countries for home consumption and export. Russia, India, and the United States, carry on a very considerable trade in grain with other countries. Our local production being insufficient for food and manufactures, we import yearly immense quantities of grain and flour. In the four years ending 1852, the annual quantity of corn, of [Pg 218]various, kinds, imported into the United Kingdom, exclusive of flour and meal, rice, sago, &c., averaged 8,085,903 quarters.

The flour and meal imported, omitting sago, arrowroot and other starches, averaged in the same period 4,143,603 cwts. annually.

The annual imports of breadstuffs for food, taking the average of the four years ending with 1852, may be thus summed up—

Corn and grain, 8,085,903 quarters, at 60 lb. the bushel173,270
Flour and meal207,180
Sago, arrowroot, &c.5,000
Total  468,707

Some portion of this quantity is doubtless consumed in the arts—as starch for stiffening linens, &c., and for other purposes not coming under the term of food, but I have purposely left out in the calculation about 30,000 to 40,000 quarters of rice in the husk annually imported.

Ireland took, in 1849, of foreign grain 2,115,129 quarters; 1,683,687 quarters in 1850; and 2,504,229 in 1851; as well as 256,837 cwts. of various kinds of meal and flour in 1849; 220,107 cwts. in 1850; and 341,680 cwts. in 1851. England also supplied her with about 500,000 quarters of grain and 350,000 cwts. of meal in each of those years.

The comparative returns of the importations of grain into the United Kingdom for the last four years, are as follows, in quarters:—

Other sorts8,0853,4328681,150

The meal and flour imported in the same years, in cwts., were as follows:—

Indian corn7429,56111,334101,683
Other sorts543431631,396

Before the famine in Ireland the imports seldom reached 20 millions of bushels of grain and meal of all kinds. In 1848 our imports [Pg 219]were about 60 millions; in 1849, 85 millions; in 1850, 68 millions; in 1851, 75½ millions; in 1852, 69 millions, with good wheat harvests; showing the great shock received and the slowness of recovery.

With a rapidly increasing population in all parts of the civilized world, the production of bread is obviously the first object to be sought after, alike by the statesman and the peasant. I scarcely dare give the calculation of the immense amount which would be realised in any great country, by the single saving of a bushel to an acre, in the quantity of seed ordinarily sown. The same result would follow if an additional bushel could be produced in the annual average yield of the wheat crop.

According to Mr. H. Colman, the annual amount of seed for wheat sown in France is estimated at 32,491,978 bushels. If we could suppose a third of this saved, the saving would amount to 10,863,959 bushels per year. Suppose an annual increase of the crops of five bushels per acre, this would give an increase of production of 54,319,795 bushels. Add this, under improved cultivation, to the amount of seed saved, and the result would be 65,183,754 bushels—I believe under an improved agriculture this is quite practicable.

An eminent agricultural writer placed the average yield in England at eighteen bushels per acre; some years since a man of sanguine temperament rated it at over thirty bushels. In France it is stated, in the best districts, to average twenty-two bushels. These evidently are wholly conjectural estimates. In England Mr. Colman states that fifty bushels per acre were reported to him on the best authority, as the yield upon a large farm in a very favorable season. More than eighty bushels have been returned, upon what is deemed ample testimony, to the Royal Agricultural Society of England, as the product of a single acre. In France Mr. Colman had, upon credible authority, reports of forty, forty-four and seventy-two bushels. It would be of immense importance to any government to know the exact produce grown in any county, or district, or in the whole country; and this might be obtained by compelling, on the part of the owner or cultivator, an actual return of his crop; but it is of little use to found such returns on estimates purely conjectural.

From the best statistical accounts that can be obtained, the wheat annually produced in the United Kingdom.

England, Scotland, Ireland is111,681,320 bushels.
In France it is198,660,000 bushels.
United States100,503,899 bushels.

The amount of seed ordinarily sown to the acre in France is from two to three bushels. The return of crop for the seed sown is represented as in the best districts averaging 6.25 for one; in the least productive 5.40 for one. My readers may be curious to know the calculations which have been made in some other countries in regard to this matter.

[Pg 220]
for seed sown.
Spain18286 for one
Portugal178610 for one
Tuscany10 for one
Plains of Lucca15 for one
Piedmont—Plains of Marengo4 to five for one
Bologna15 for one
Roman States—Pontine marshes20 for one
   Ordinary lands8 for one
Kingdom of Naples—best districts20 for one
   Ordinary lands8 for one
Malta—the best lands38 to 64 for one
   Ordinary lands22, 25, 30 for one
Sweden and Norway18384.50 for one
Denmark18276 for one
Russia, a good harvest18195 for one
---- province of Tambof18214.50 for one
---- provinces north of 50 deg. latitude18213 for one
Poland18268 for one
England18309 for one
Scotland18308 for one
Ireland182510 for one
Holland18287.50 for one
Belgium182811 for one
Bavaria18277 to 8 for one
Prussia18176 for one
Austria18127.05 for one
Hungary18124 for one
Switzerland, lands of an inferior quality18253 for one
    Of a good quality, 8; of the best quality12 for one
France, inferior lands, 3; best lands6 for one
(Statistique des Cereales de la France par Moreau de Jonnes.)


As wheat forms the principal nutritious food of the world, claiming the industrious application of labor over the greater part of Europe, throughout the temperate regions of Asia, along the northern kingdoms of Africa, and extending far into the northern and southern regions of the American continents; as it has been cultivated from time immemorial, and has produced in various climates and soils many varieties; it is surprising that so little is generally known of the distinct varieties best adapted to particular climates—and that in Great Britain and the United States we have yet to learn the variety which will yield the largest and best amount of human food!

At the Industrial Exhibition in 1851, twenty-six premiums only were distributed for specimens of wheat; of these, five were awarded to British farmers, three to France, three to Russia, three to Australia, three to the United States, and one each or severally to other nations. Some beautiful specimens of wheat were exhibited from South Australia, weighing seventy pounds a bushel; which were eagerly sought after for seed wheat by our [Pg 221]farmers and the colonists of Canada and the United States. But as is well observed by Professor Lindley, it has no peculiar constitutional characteristics by which it may be distinguished from other wheats. Its superior quality is entirely owing to local conditions; to the peculiar temperature, the brilliant light, the soil, and those other circumstances which characterise the climate of South Australia.

All kinds of wheat contain water in greater or lesser quantities. Its amount is greater in cold countries than in warm. In Alsace from 16 to 20 per cent.; England from 14 to 17 per cent.; United States from 12 to 14 per cent.; Africa and Sicily from 9 to 11 per cent. This accounts for the fact, that the same weight of southern flour yields more bread than northern, English wheat yields 13 lbs. more to the quarter than Scotch. Alabama flour, it is said, yields 20 per cent. more than that of Cincinnati. And in general American flour, according to one of the most extensive London bakers, absorbs 8 or 10 per cent. more of its own weight of water in being made into bread than the English. The English grain is fuller and rounder than the American, being puffed up with moisture.

Every year the total loss in the United States from moisture in wheat and flour is estimated at four to five million dollars. To remedy this great evil, the grain should be well ripened before harvesting, and well dried before being stored in a good dry granary. Afterwards, in grinding and in transporting, it should be carefully protected from wet, and the flour be kept from exposure to the atmosphere. The best precaution is kiln-drying. By this process the wheat and flour are passed over iron plates heated by steam to the boiling point. From each barrel of flour 16 or 17 pounds of water are thus expelled, leaving still four or five per cent. in the flour, an amount too small to do injury. If all the water be expelled, the quality of the flour is deteriorated.

The mode of ascertaining the amount of water in flour is this; take a small sample, say five ounces, and weigh it carefully; put it into a dry vessel, which should be heated by boiling water; after six or seven hours, weigh it; its loss of weight shows the original amount of water.

The next object is to ascertain the amount of gluten. Gluten is an adhesive, pasty mass, and consists of several different principles, though its constitution has not yet been satisfactorily determined. It is chiefly the nutritious portion of the flour. The remaining principles are mostly starch, sugar and gum. On an average their relative amount in 100 parts are about as follows:—

Average.Kobanga wheat,
the best.
Sugar and Gum88

[Pg 222]Professor Beck examined thirty-three different samples from various parts of the United States and Europe, and he gives the preference to the Kobanga variety from the south of Russia. There would probably be a prejudice against it in this country, from the natural yellowish hue of its flour and bread.

The value of the vegetable food, grain, potatoes, rice and apples exported from the United States within the past few years is thus set down:—


To this has to be added nine or ten million dollars more for tobacco, 72 million dollars for cotton, and 180,000 dollars for hops and other minor agricultural staples—making the value of the raw vegetable exports about 98 million dollars. There is further the value of the products of the forest, timber, ashes and bark, tar, &c., which are equal to nearly seven millions more, as shown by the following figures:—


It appears from an official document of the American Treasury Department, that the average value of the breadstuffs and provisions annually exported from the United States from 1821 to 1836 inclusive, was 12,792,000 dolls.; in 1837 and 1838, about 9,600,000 dolls.; from 1839 to 1846, 16,176,000 dolls.; and for the last seven years as follows:—


Out of the wheat crop in the United States in 1846 of 110 million bushels raised, 10 millions were used for seed, starch, &c.; 72 consumed for food, and 28 million exported. The 460 million bushels of Indian corn raised, were thus disposed of; exported to foreign countries 22 million bushels; sold to and consumed by non-producers, 100 million; consumed on the farms and plantations of the producers for human and animal food, seed, &c., 338 million bushels.

The United States now produce about 120 million bushels of wheat, and nearly 600 million bushels of corn. Their surplus of wheat, for export, may be taken at 20 million bushels, and of Indian corn an almost unlimited quantity. They export about one and a quarter million barrels of flour, and about one million of bushels [Pg 223]of wheat to other markets besides those of Great Britain or her North American colonies, viz., to Europe, Asia, Africa, the West Indies and South America, California and Australia, manufactured flour being the article required for these latter markets. Nearly four million bushels of Indian corn, and 300,000 barrels of corn meal, are exported from the United States to the West Indies and other foreign markets.

From the abstracts of statistical returns prepared at the American Census office, it appears that Pennsylvania, in 1850, was the largest wheat producing State of the Union. I have had the curiosity to compare the most prominent States in respect to this crop, and give them below, with the crop of each, as shown by the returns:—

New York13,073,000

That the United States could export 6,000,000 bushels of wheat, and its equivalent in flour in 1845; 13,000,000 in 1846, 26,000,000 in 1847, and then fell back to 13,000,000 in 1848, and 6,000,000 in 1849, with their production of wheat constantly increasing throughout this period, shows a wonderful elasticity, and extensive home market. If the price of wheat is higher in proportion than for corn, the Americans export the former and consume the latter; if the demand for corn be also great, they kill their hogs and export corn, for the pork will keep. If there be no great demand for either, they eat their surplus wheat, feed their hogs with the corn, and export pork as having the greatest value in the least bulk.

WHERE TO.1847184918501851
Swedish West Indies7,3667,5738,7575,315
Danish ditto52,15049,56844,80260,102
Dutch East Indies1,1504,6251,6001,873
Dutch West Indies11,38717,22118,35419,217
Holland and Belgium73,8717271,177594
British East Indies3,0347911,6461,600
British West Indies320,363303,551250,776294,731
British American Colonies272,299294,891244,072252,380
French West Indies28,9665,5545,4807,902
Spanish West Indies17,7806,4297,0742,285
Cape de Verds1,634501455838
Central America5504,1807462,573
Argentine Republic10,6846,5994,90122,612
South America2,12840200
West Indies4,9023,9841,7024,079
North-west Coast7641,1808582,593
Other ports29,86635,01718,94919,158
Average price5.955.355.004.77

Wheat, where the soil and the climate are adapted to its growth, and the requisite progress has been made in its culture, is decidedly preferred to all other grains, and, next to maize, is the most important crop in the United States, not only on account of its general use for bread, but for its safety and convenience for exportation. It is not known to what country it is indigenous, any more than any other cultivated cereals, all of which, no doubt, have been essentially improved by man. By some, wheat is considered to have been coeval with the creation, as it is known that upwards of a thousand years before our era it was cultivated, and a superior variety had been attained. It has steadily followed the progress of civilisation from the earliest times, in all countries where it would grow. In 1776 there was entailed upon America an enduring calamity, in consequence of the introduction of the Hessian or wheat fly, which was supposed to have been brought from Germany in some straw, employed in the debarkation of Howe's troops on the west end of Long Island. From that point the insect gradually spread in various directions, at the rate of twenty or thirty miles a year, and the wheat of the entire regions east of the Alleghanies is now more or less infested with the larva, as well as in large portions of the States bordering on the Ohio and Mississippi, and on the great Lakes; and so great have been the ravages of these insects that the cultivation of this grain has in many places been abandoned.

The geographical range of the wheat region in the Eastern Continent and Australia, lies principally between the 30th and 60th parallels of north latitude, and the 30th and 40th degrees south, being chiefly confined to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Prussia, Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern and Southern Africa, Tartary, India, China, Australia, Van Diemen's Land, and Japan. Along the Atlantic portions of the Western Continent, it embraces the tract lying between the 30th [Pg 225]and 50th parallels, and in the country westward of the Rocky Mountains, one or two more degrees further north. Along the west coast of South America, as well as in situations within the torrid zone, sufficiently elevated above the level of the sea, and properly irrigated by natural or artificial means, abundant crops are often produced.

The principal districts of the United States in which this important grain is produced in the greatest abundance, and where it forms a leading article of commerce, embrace the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The chief varieties cultivated in the Northern and Eastern States are the white flint, tea, Siberian, bald, Black Sea, and the Italian spring wheat. In the middle and Western States, the Mediterranean, the Virginia white May, the blue stem, the Indiana, the Kentucky white bearded, the old red chafet, and the Talavera. The yield varies from ten to forty bushels and upwards per acre, weighing, per bushel, from fifty-eight to sixty-seven pounds.

It appears that on the whole crop of the United States there was a gain during the ten years ending 1850, of 15,645,373 bushels. The crop of New England decreased from 2,014,000 to 1,078,000 bushels, exhibiting a decline of 936,000 bushels, and indicating the attention of farmers has been much withdrawn from the culture of wheat. Grouping the States from the Hudson to the Potomac, including the district of Columbia, it appears that they produced, in 1849, 35,085,000 bushels, against 29,936,000 in 1839. In Virginia there was an increase of 1,123,000 bushels. These States embrace the oldest wheat-growing region of the country, and that in which the soil and climate seem to be adapted to promote the permanent culture of the grain. The increase of production in the ten years has been 6,272,000 bushels, equal to 15.6 per cent. The area tilled in these States is 36,000,000 acres, only thirty per cent. of the whole amount returned, while the proportion of wheat produced is forty-six per cent. In North Carolina there has been an increase of 170,000 bushels, but in the Southern States generally there was a considerable decrease. Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin contributed to the general aggregate under the sixth census only 9,800,000 bushels; under the last they are shown to have produced upwards of 25,000,000 bushels, an amount equal to the whole increase in the United States for the period.

When we see the growth of wheat keeping pace with the progress of population in the oldest States of the Union, we need have no apprehension of a decline in the cultivation of this important crop.

The amount of flour exported from New Jersey in 1751, was 6,424 barrels. From Philadelphia in 1752,125,960 barrels, besides 85,500 bushels of wheat; in 1767, 198,816 barrels, besides 367,500 bushels of wheat; in 1771, 252,744 barrels. From Savannah, in [Pg 226]1771, 7,200 lbs. From Virginia, for some years annually preceding the revolution, 800,000 bushels of wheat. The total exports of flour from the United States in 1791 were 619,681 barrels, besides 1,018,339 bushels of wheat; in 1800, 653,052 barrels, besides 26,853 bushels of wheat; in 1810, 798,431 barrels, besides 325,924 bushels of wheat; in 1820-21, 1,056,119 barrels, besides 25,821 bushels of wheat; in 1830-31, 1,806,529 barrels, besides 408,910 bushels of wheat; in 1840-41, 1,515,817 barrels, besides 868,585 bushels of wheat; in 1845-46, 2,289,476 barrels, besides 1,613,795 bushels of wheat; in 1846-47, 4,382,496 barrels, besides 4,399,951 bushels of wheat; in 1850-51, 2,202,335 barrels, besides 1,026,725 bushels of wheat.

In the London Exhibition very little wheat was exhibited equal to that from the United States, especially that from Genessee county, in the State of New York—a soft white variety, to the exhibitor of which a prize medal was awarded by the Royal Commissioners. The red Mediterranean wheat exhibited from the United States attracted much attention. The wheat from South Australia was probably superior to any exhibited, while much from the United States fell but little behind, and was unquestionably next in quality.

From the Second Report on the Breadstuffs of the United States, made to the Commissioner of Patents, by Lewis C. Beck, M.D., I am induced to make some extracts. He states:—

The analyses of several samples, the growth of various foreign countries, have afforded me an opportunity of comparing the American and foreign wheats and flours. With a few exceptions of peculiar varieties, it will be seen from the results that with ordinary care the wheat of this country will compare advantageously with that of any other. Indeed, on reviewing my analyses, I question whether there is any part of the world where this grain is generally of a finer quality than it is in the United States. But all the advantages which we possess in this respect will be of little avail so long as inferior and damaged breadstuffs are shipped from our ports.

In addition to the analyses which I have executed of the various samples of wheat and wheat flour according to the mode heretofore pursued, I have performed a series of experiments for the purpose of settling the important question in regard to the relative value of the fine flour of wheat, and the "whole meal." I have also consulted every work within my reach which could throw any light upon the different points that have presented themselves during the progress of the investigation.

The large number of samples of wheat and wheat flour which have been placed in my hands for examination, have left me no time for the analysis of our other breadstuffs.

It cannot be denied that the amount shipped to foreign ports during 1849 is considerably less than for the two preceding years. In the meantime, however, a new and important market has been opened in our territories on the Pacific. It may also be safely affirmed that the causes for foreign demand, and which must hereafter operate, still remain. These are the cheapness of land in this country, and the peculiar adaptation of our soil and climate to the growth of the two important cereals, wheat and maize.

Another fact, it seems to me, is of sufficient interest in connection with this subject, to be here noticed. The failure of the potato crop in various parts of the world for several years past has engaged the attention of scientific and practical men. Unfortunately, the nature of the blight which has seized upon this tuber has eluded the most careful inquiries; but it has been shown by well-[Pg 227]conducted analyses that potatoes at their late prices are the most expensive kind of farinaceous food. This will be evident from the following statement:—

"Potatoes contain from about seventy to seventy-nine per cent. of water, while the proportion in wheat flour is from twelve to fourteen per cent; and while the gluten and albumen in potatoes scarcely rise to one per cent., in wheat flour the range may be set down at from nine to thirteen per cent. Again, the non-nitrogenous principles are as about seventy-five per cent. in wheat flour against fifteen or sixteen in potatoes. In short, whilst potatoes supply only twenty per cent. of heat-forming and nutritious principles, taken together, wheat supplies more than seventy per cent. of the former, and more than tea of the latter. The value of wheat to potatoes, therefore, is at least four to one; or, if wheat sells at fifteen shillings sterling per cwt., potatoes to be equally cheap, ought to sell at between three and four shillings."

The preceding results, for which I am principally indebted to Dr. Daubeny, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford,[25] show that unless a great change occurs in the culture of the potato, there must be an increased demand for other kinds of farinaceous food. And it is worthy of notice that while this blight is one of the causes which bring to our shores the starving population of Europe, the raising of the cereals not only furnishes profitable employment to the emigrant, but enables him to make the best return to those who are still obliged to remain.

Adaptation of the soil and climate of the United States to the culture of the cereals.—That the soil and climate of many portions of the United States are well adapted to the cultivation of the more important cereals, is fully shown by the results of all the researches which have thus far been prosecuted. I have indeed seen it asserted that the climate of England is the best for the cultivation of wheat, and preferable to any in our country; its humidity being the peculiarity to which this superiority is ascribed.[26] But this is undoubtedly the testimony of a too partial witness. A recent statement by an English author is the result of a more correct knowledge of the facts. He acknowledges that there is no ground for the expectation which has been entertained concerning the advantageous growth of maize in England. "Nor is ours," says he, "the most favorable country for wheat, but skill in husbandry has overcome great difficulties."[27] The mistake on this subject may have originated from the occurrence of a larger and plumper grain in the more humid climate; but analysis shows that the small grain raised in the hotter and drier air oftentimes greatly surpasses the former in its nutritious value.

Russia is said to be the great rival of this country in the growth of wheat, but I think it doubtful whether she possesses superior natural advantages; and I am sure she will find it difficult to compete with the industry and skill which here characterize the operations of husbandry, and the manufacture and shipment of breadstuffs.

Export of sophisticated and damaged flour.—It is a matter of deep regret that circumstances have occurred which must have a most injurious influence upon the trade in breadstuffs between this country and Great Britain. I refer to the mixtures of damaged, inferior, and good kinds of flour, which it appears on authentic testimony have been largely exported during the past year. Whether this fraudulent operation, which is said to have been principally confined to New York, is the result of the change in the inspection laws, as some assert, I am unable to say. But it requires no great foresight to predict that, if continued, it will create a distrust of our breadstuffs in foreign ports which it will be very difficult to remove. It cannot but excite the indignation of the many honorable dealers, that the unworthy cupidity of a few individuals should lead to such disastrous consequences.

I have as yet been unable to obtain samples of these sophisticated flours, and the only information which I have in regard to them is the general fact above stated, and concerning the truth of which there can be little doubt. No means [Pg 228]should be left untried to devise some mode by which these frauds can be easily and certainly detected.

Injury sustained by breadstuffs during their transport and shipment.—During the past year, I have had abundant means of determining the nature of the injuries which are often sustained by our breadstuffs in their transport from the particular districts in which they are grown and manufactured to our commercial depots, and in their shipment to foreign ports. As this is one of the most important points connected with these researches, I have devoted much time to its investigation. From the results of numerous analyses, I think it may be safely asserted, that of the wheat flour which arrives in England from various ports of the United States, a large proportion is more or less injured during the voyage. The same remark may be made in regard to many of the samples sent from the Western States to the city of New York. Their nutritive value is considerably impaired, and without more care than is usually exercised, they are entirely unfit for export.

In my former report, I adverted to one of the great causes of the deterioration which our breadstuffs often suffer during their transport and shipment. This was the undue proportion of the great disorganizing substance, water, under the influence of what usually occurs, viz., an elevation of temperature above the ordinary standard. My recent investigations have served only to strengthen these views. There is no doubt that these are the conditions which cause the change of the non-nitrogenous principles into acids (the lactic or acetic), while a portion of the gluten is thus also consumed.

I have tried a series of experiments in reference to the action of moisture upon various samples of wheat and wheat flour. The samples were placed for twelve hours in the oven of a bath with a double casing, containing a boiling saturated solution of common salt, the temperature of which was about 220 deg. Fahr. Subjected to this test,

100 grains of Milwaukie wheat lost12.10 grains.
100 grains of Guilderland (Holland) wheat lost9.35 grains.
100 grains of Polish Odessa red wheat lost10.55 grains.
100 grains of Soft Russian wheat lost8.55 grains.
100 grains of Kobanga wheat lost8.15 grains.

After an exposure of the dried samples to the air for two or three days, they increased in weight from one to three grains in the hundred originally employed.

Nineteen different samples of wheat flour, which lost by exposure to the above heat from ten to fourteen grains in the one hundred, when similarly exposed to the air for eighteen hours, again increased in weight from 8.40 to 11.60 in the hundred grains originally employed.

These experiments show, what might indeed have been predicted as to the general result, that wheat in grain, if not less liable to injury than flour, yet if once properly dried, suffers much less from a subsequent exposure to air and moisture.

It is now ascertained that in presence of a considerable proportion of water, wheat flour under the influence of heat undergoes a low degree at least of lactic fermentation, which will account for the souring of the ordinary samples when exposed to warm or humid climates. The same result will inevitably follow from their careless exposure in the holds of vessels. That this is particularly the case with many of the cargoes of wheat flour shipped to Great Britain, there is little reason to doubt. This may be partly owing to the great humidity of the English climate, as the deterioration is observed as well in the flour which is the produce of that country as in that which is received from abroad.

It is stated by Mr. Edlin, quoted in an article on Baking, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, that, "as a general rule, the London flour" is decidedly bad. The gluten generally wants the adhesiveness which characterizes the gluten of good wheat."

I have observed that, in the analyses of some of the samples of damaged flour, the proportions of what is set down under the head of glucose and dextrine are unusually large. This is perhaps due to the change produced in the starch by the action of diastase, and which may under certain circumstances be formed in wheat flour. It would seem, according to M. Guérin, that starch may thus be acted on even at slightly elevated temperatures. In one of his experi[Pg 229]ments, at a temperature no higher than 68 deg. Fahr., a quantity of starch, at the end of twenty-four hours, was converted into syrup, which yielded seventy-seven per cent. of saccharine matter.[28] It may be thought that I have overrated the importance of this subject, but it is believed that a careful examination of the facts will relieve me from this charge. I am now satisfied that, if the proportion of water in our exported breadstuffs could be reduced to about five or six per cent., one of the great causes of complaint in regard to them would be completely removed.

Kiln-drying of breadstuffs, and exclusion of air.—The injury which our breadstuffs sustain by the large proportion of water can of course be prevented only by careful drying before shipment, and by the employment of barrels rendered as impervious as possible to the influence of atmospheric moisture.

In my first report, I have spoken favorably of the process of drying by steam, according to the plan patented by Mr. J.R. Stafford. I still think this mode possesses great advantages over those previously followed, and which almost always injured the quality of the grain or flour: but from some trials which I have made during the past year, it is inferred that the exposure to the heat is perhaps usually not sufficiently prolonged to answer the purpose intended by the operation. I have often observed that samples of wheat flour, after being exposed to the heat of the salt water-bath oven (220 deg. Fahr.) for two or three hours, lost weight by a further continuance of the heat. An apparatus has been patented by Mr. J.H. Tower, of Clinton, N.Y., consisting of a cylinder of square apartments or tubes, into which the grain or flour is introduced, and subjected to heat while in rapid revolution. I examined samples which had been subjected to this operation, and ascertained that wheat flour, originally containing 14.80 per cent. of water, had the proportion reduced to 10.25 per cent., while in wheat the proportion of water was reduced from 14.75 to 8.55 per cent.

Now it is probable that by either of the above modes, and perhaps by many others, the various kinds of breadstuffs may be brought to that degree of dryness which, with ordinary care, shall protect them from subsequent injury; but in order to secure this advantage, the operation must be carefully performed, and experiments must be made to ascertain how long an exposure to heat is necessary to bring the sample to the proper degree of dryness, and to determine whether in any respect its quality is impaired. It has already been stated that absolute desiccation is not necessary, even were it attainable; but any process in order to be effective should reduce the proportion of water to about six, or at most seven per cent.

I have heretofore adverted to the great care employed in the drying of grain in various foreign countries, and to which the preservation of it for a great number of years is to be ascribed.

The operation is not conducted in the hurried manner which is here thought to be so essential, but is continued long enough to effect the intended object. Thorough ventilation, as well as the proper degree of drying, and which is equally important, is thus secured.

It is said that in Russia the sheaves of wheat, carried into the huts, are suspended upon poles and dried by the heat of the oven. The grain shrinks very much during this process, but it is supposed to be less liable to the attacks of insects, and preserves its nutritive qualities for many years. During the winter, it is sent to market.—("The Czar, his Court and People." By John S. Maxwell, p. 272.)

With all the necessary attention which may be paid to the proper drying of our breadstuffs intended for export, another point is of equal importance, viz., the shipment in vessels rendered as impervious as possible to the influence of atmospheric moisture. For however carefully and thoroughly the drying, especially of wheat flour or maize meal, may have been performed, it will be nearly useless if the shipment is afterwards made in the barrels commonly employed.[29] And it is very certain that the transport and shipment of grain in [Pg 230]bulk, as usually conducted, are attended with great loss. This difficulty might be removed at a trifling expense by adopting the plan suggested in the preceding report, and to which I would again respectfully call the attention of those who are engaged in this branch of trade.

I might here adduce a mass of testimony showing the importance of the matters just referred to, but will only advert to the following statements, which although made in allusion principally to maize, are equally applicable to our other breadstuffs. Maize meal, if kept too long, "is liable to become rancid, and it is then more or less unfit for use. In the shipments made to the West Indies, the meal is commonly kiln-dried, to obviate as much as possible this tendency to rancidity." "When ground very fine, maize meal suffers a change by exposure to the air. It is oxygenated. It is upon the same principle that the juice of an apple, after a little exposure to the air, is oxygenated, and changes its character and taste. If the flour could be bolted in vacuo, it would not be changed." "Intelligent writers speak of the necessity of preparing corn for exportation by kiln-drying as indispensable. Without that process, corn is very liable to become heated and musty, so as to be unfit for food for either man or beast. The kiln-dried maize meal from the Brandywine Mills, &c., made from the yellow corn, has almost monopolized the West India trade. This process is indispensable, if we export maize to Europe. James Candy says that from fifty years experience he has learned the necessity of this process with corn intended for exportation." "I have often found the corn from our country when it reached its destination, ruined by heating on the voyage. It had become musty and of little or no value. Kiln-drying is absolutely necessary to preserve it for exportation. We must learn and practice the best mode of kiln-drying it.[30]"

The nutritious value of the "whole meal" of Wheat, as compared with that of the fine flour.—The question whether what is called the whole meal of wheat, or that which is obtained by the mixture of the bran, contains more nutritious matter than the fine flour, is one of great importance. In my former report, I adverted to the statement made in regard to it by Professor J.F.W. Johnston, and which seemed to be almost conclusive in favor of the value of the whole meal. During the past year, however (1849), M. Eug. Peligot, an eminent French chemist, in an elaborate article "On the Composition of Wheat," to which more particular reference will be made hereafter, combats the opinion that the bran is an alimentary substance. He observes that "the difficulty of keeping the bran in flour intended for the manufacture of bread of good quality appears to result much less from the presence of the cellulose (one of the constituents of woody matter) contained in wheat than that of the fatty matter. This is found in the bran in a quantity at least triple of that which remains in the flour, and the bolting separates it from the ground wheat not less usefully than the cellulose itself."[31] M. Millon objects entirely to the views of M. Peligot on this point, and states some facts which are especially worthy of consideration. He asserts that, according to the views of the last named chemist, the separation at most of one part of fatty matter sacrifices fifteen, twenty, and even twenty-five per cent. of substances which are of the highest nutritive value. This abstracts from wheat, for the whole amount raised in France, the enormous sum of about two hundred millions of pounds annually.

It seems that in France the question whether the bolting of flour is advantageous has always been decided in the most arbitrary manner. An ordinance of Louis XIV., issued in 1658, prohibited, under a very heavy penalty, the regrinding of the bran and its mixture with the flour; this, with the mode of grinding then in use, caused a loss of more than forty per cent.—(Comptes Rendus, February 19th, 1849.)

In large cities and elsewhere, there seems for some time to have been a growing prejudice against the use of brown bread; and it is said that now nearly all the peasantry of France bolt their flour. The increase of this practice, accord[Pg 231]ing to M. Millon, threatens the nation with an annual loss of from two to three hundred millions of francs. If the bran was entirely valueless, there would be a loss of more than one million a day.

It is quite difficult to determine the precise amount of bran which may have been removed from wheat, for various samples contain such a different proportion of bran that in the one case a removal of ten per cent, leaves more bran in the flour than a bolting of five per cent. in another.

The following is an analysis of bran by M. Millon; the sample being a soft French wheat grown in 1848:—

Starch, dextrine and sugar53.00
Sugar of liquorice1.00
Fatty matter3.60
Woody matter9.70
Incrusting matter and aromatic principles (by difference)3.40

The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is, that bran is an alimentary substance. If it contains six per cent. more of woody matter than the rough, flour, it has also more gluten, double that of fatty matter, besides two aromatic principles which have the perfume of honey, and both of which are wanting in the fine flour. Thus by bolting, wheat is impoverished in its most valuable principles, merely to remove a few hundredths of woody matter.

The economical suggestion which springs from these views is, that the bran and coarse flour should be reground and then mixed with the fine flour. Millon states that he has ascertained, by repeated experiments, that bread thus made is of superior quality, easily worked, and not subject to the inconvenience of bread manufactured from the rough flour, such as is made in some places, and especially in Belgium.

Opinions similar to those above noticed are entertained by Professor Daubeny. "The great importance attached to having bread perfectly white is a prejudice," he says, "which leads to the rejection of a very wholesome part of the food, and one which, although not digestible alone, is sufficiently so in that state of admixture with the flour in which nature has prepared it for our use." After quoting the remarks of Professor Johnston on the same side of the question, he adds, "that according to the experiments of Magendie, animals fed upon fine flour died in a few weeks, whilst they thrived upon the whole meal bread." Brown bread, therefore, should be adopted, not merely on a principle of economy, but also as providing more of those ingredients which are perhaps deficient in the finer parts of the flour.—("Gardeners' Chronicle," January 27th, 1849, p. 53.)

The remarks of Dr. Robertson may also be here introduced. "The advantage," he observes, "of using more or less of the coverings of the grain in the preparation of bread has often been urged on economical principles. There can be no doubt that a very large proportion of nutritive matter is contained in the bran and the pollard; and these are estimated to contain about one-fifth part of the entire weight of the wheat grain. It is, unquestionably, so far wasteful to remove these altogether from the flour; and in the case of the majority of people, this waste may be unnecessary, even on the score of digestibility."[32] This subject can also be rendered apparent to the eye. If we make a cross section of a grain of wheat, or rye, and place it under the microscope, we perceive very distinct layers in it as we examine from without inwards. The outer of them belong to the husk of the fruit and seed, and are separated as bran, in grinding. But the millstone does not separate so exactly as the eye may by means of the microscope, not even as accurately as the knife of the vegetable anatomist, and thus with the bran is removed also the whole outer layer of the cells of the nucleus, and even some of the subjacent layers. Thus the [Pg 232]anatomical investigations of one of these corn grains at once explains why bread is so much the less nutritious the more carefully the bran has been separated from the meal.[33] There can therefore be little doubt that the removal of the bran is a serious injury to the flour; and I have presented the above array of evidence on this point in the hope of directing public attention to it here, as has been done in various foreign countries.

After this, it will easily be inferred that I am not disposed to look with much favor upon the plan proposed by Mr. Bentz for taking the outer coating or bran from wheat and other grains previously to grinding.[34] Independently of the considerations which have already been presented, it is far from being proved, as this gentlemen asserts, that the mixture of the bran with the meal which results from the common mode of grinding is the chief cause of the souring of the flour in hot climates. On the contrary, the bran is perhaps as little liable to undergo change as the fine flour, and then the moistening to which, as I am informed, the grain is subjected previously to the removal of the husk, is still further objectionable, and must be followed by a most carefully-conducted process of kiln-drying.

Nutritious properties of various articles of food.—There seems to be some difference of opinion in regard to the nutritious properties of various kinds of food. It is generally, however, agreed that those which contain the largest proportion of nitrogenous matters are the most nutritious. It is on this account that haricots, peas, and beans, form, in some sort, substitutes for animal food. Tubers, roots, and even the seeds of the cereal grasses, are but moderately nutritious. If we see herbivorous animals fattening upon such articles, it is because, from their peculiar organisation, they can consume them in large quantities. It is quite doubtful whether a man doing hard work could exist on bread exclusively. The instances which are given of countries where rice and potatoes form the sole articles of food of the inhabitants, are believed to be incomplete. Boussingault states that in Alsace, for example, the peasantry always associate their potato dish with a large quantity of sour or curdled milk; in Ireland with buttermilk. "The Indians of the Upper Andes do not by any means live on potatoes alone, as some travellers have said they do: at Quito, the daily food of the inhabitants is lorco, a compound of potatoes and a large quantity of cheese. Rice is often cited as one of the most nourishing articles of diet. I am satisfied, however, after having lived in countries where rice is largely consumed, that it is anything but a substantial, or, for its bulk, nutritious article of sustenance."—("Rural Economy," Amer. edition, p. 409.) These statements are further confirmed by the observations of M. Lequerri, who, during a long residence in India, paid particular attention to the manners and customs of the inhabitants of Pondicherry. "Their food," he states, "is almost entirely vegetable, and rice is the staple; the inferior castes only ever eat meat. But all eat kari (curry), an article prepared with meat, fish, or vegetable, which is mixed with the rice, boiled in very little water. It is requisite to have seen the Indians at their meals to have any idea of the enormous quantity of rice which they will put into their stomachs. No European could cram so much at a time; and they very commonly allow that rice alone will not nourish them. They very generally still eat a quantity of bread."[35] In regard to the proportion of nutritious matter contained in grains of various kinds, it may be remarked that the tables which have been constructed as the results of various experiments are liable to an objection, which will be more particularly adverted to under another head. For example, two substances, by the process of ultimate analysis, may exhibit the same proportion of nitrogenous matter, and still differ very materially in their value as articles of food. Much depends on the digestibility of the form in which this matter is presented to the digestive organs. A strong illustration is afforded in the case of hay, the proportion of nutritive matter of which, about 9.71, would certainly not represent [Pg 233]its power of affording nourishment to the human system. It is in truth quite impossible to arrive at any other than approximate results from the operations of chemistry, as to the amount of nutriment contained in a given quantity or weight of any article of food.[36] It is perhaps not irrelevant to notice in this place some of the researches which have recently been made upon fermentation, and particularly its effects in the manufacture of bread. It appears that when this process is brought about by the addition of yeast or leaven to the paste or dough, the character of the mass is materially altered. A larger or smaller proportion of the flour is virtually lost. According to Dr. William Gregory the loss amounts to the very large proportion of one-sixteenth part of the whole of the flour. He says, "To avoid this loss, bread is now raised by means of carbonate of soda, or ammonia and a diluted acid, which are added to the dough, and the effect is perfectly satisfactory. Equally good or better bread is obtained, and the quantity of flour which will yield fifteen hundred loaves by fermentation, furnishes sixteen hundred by the new method, the sugar and fibrin (gluten) being saved."—("Outlines of Chemistry," p. 352.)

Another author, Dr. R.D. Thomson, states, as the results of his experiments upon bread produced by the action of hydrochloric acid upon carbonate of soda, "that in a sack of flour there was a difference in favor of the unfermented bread to the amount of thirty pounds thirteen ounces, or in round numbers, a sack of flour would produce one hundred and seven loaves of unfermented bread, and only one hundred loaves of fermented bread of the game weight. Hence it appears that in the sack of flour by the common process of baking, seven loaves, or six-and-a-half per cent, of the flour are driven into the air and lost."—("Experimental Researches on the Food of Animals," &c., p. 183.)

The only objection to the general introduction of this process seems to be the degree of care and accuracy required in properly adjusting the respective qualities and quantities of acid and alkali, and which could seldom be attained even by those who are largely engaged in the manufacture of bread.

I cannot leave this subject without adverting to a practice which has prevailed in England and France, and perhaps also in this country, of steeping wheat before sowing it in solutions of arsenic, sulphate of copper, and other poisonous preparations.

The result has been that injurious effects have often followed, both to those who are employed in sowing such grain, and to those who have used the bread manufactured from it. The great importance of the subject led to the appointment of a commission at Rouen, in France, in December, 1842, having for its object to determine the best process of preventing the smut in wheat, and to ascertain whether other means less dangerous than those above noticed were productive of equally good results. The labors of this commission extended over the years 1843-'44-'45, and the experiments were repeated two years following on the farm of Mr. Fauchet, one of the commission, at Boisquilaume, in the department of the Seine Inferieure.

The results arrived at by this commission are—1st. That it is not best to sow seed without steeping. 2nd. That it is best to make use of the sulphate of soda and lime process, inasmuch as it is more simple and economical, in no way injurious to the health, and yields the soundest and most productive wheat. 3rd. That the use of arsenic, sulphate of copper, verdigris, and other poisonous preparations, should be interdicted by the government.—("Gardeners' Chronicle," January 6th, 1849, pp. 10 and 11.)

Composition of wheat and wheat flour, and the various modes of determining their nutritive value.—In my former report it was stated that the analyses of the various samples of wheat, the results of which were there given, had been chiefly directed to the determining the amount of rough gluten which they contained. My reasons for adopting this plan, and the arguments in favor of its general accuracy, as compared with other modes of analysis, and especially that by which the ultimate composition is ascertained, were also detailed. A more full examination of this subject has served only to strengthen the opinion already expressed, that for the great purpose to be answered by these researches, the process which [Pg 234]I have adopted is, to say the least, as free from objection as any other, and if carefully and uniformly carried out, will truly represent the relative values of the several samples of wheat flour. As this is a matter of much consequence in a practical point of view, I trust I shall be excused for introducing some additional facts in regard to it.

The term gluten was originally applied to the gray, viscid, tenacious, and elastic matter, which is obtained by subjecting wheat flour to the continuous action of a current of water. But it appears that this is a mixture of fibrine and caseine, with what is now called glutine, and a peculiar oily or fatty matter. Now these substances may be separated from each other, but the processes employed for this purpose are tedious, and to insure accuracy the various solvents must be entirely pure—a point which, especially in the case of alcohol and ether, is not ordinarily easy to be attained. This will be rendered still more evident by a reference to a French process, which will hereafter be noticed.

But were it much less difficult in every case accurately to separate the constituents of gluten, it would not, in my opinion, be of the least practical utility. It is to the peculiar mechanical property of this gluten that wheat flour owes its superior power of detaining the carbonic acid engendered by fermentation, and thus communicating to it the vesicular spongy structure so characteristic of good bread.[37] It may also be added, that the results of more than one hundred trials have satisfied me that a diminution or loss of elasticity in the gluten is the surest index of the amount of injury which the sample of flour has sustained. Whether, therefore, the sample contains a certain proportion of nitrogen, or whether it contains albumen, fibrine, and caseine in sufficient quantity, it may still want the very condition which is essential to the manufacture of good bread. My objection, therefore, to the mere determination, however accurate, of the proportion of nitrogen contained in wheat flour, or of the various principles which form the gluten, is, that it does not represent the value of the various samples for the only use to which they are applied, viz., the making of bread. The remarks of Mulder, the celebrated Dutch chemist, upon the subject of manures, are so applicable to this point that I cannot refrain from quoting them. "It has," he says, "become almost a regular custom to determine the value of manures by the quantity of nitrogen they yield by ultimate analysis. This method is entirely erroneous; for it is based upon the false principle, that by putrefaction all nitrogeneous substances are immediately converted into ammonia, carbonic acid, and water! But these changes sometimes require a number of years. Morphine, for example, is prepared by allowing opium to putrefy; and the process for preparing leucin, a substance which contains 10.72 of nitrogen, is to bring cheese into putrefaction. Cheese, therefore, does not perhaps in a number of years resolve itself into carbonic acid, ammonia, and water, but produces a crystalline substance, which contains no ammonia. Hence the proportion of nitrogen yielded by manures is not a proper measure of their value, and therefore this mode of estimating that value ought to be discontinued."[38] We infer, therefore, that the proportion of nitrogen furnished by food of various kinds is not the true measure of their nutritious value, and cannot for practical purposes take the place of that process by which the amount of rough gluten is determined.

No better illustration can be given of the uncertainty which attends the inferences drawn from the ultimate composition, than the fact heretofore stated in regard to hay, the nutritive value of which is placed in the tables containing the results of these analyses, at a figure nearly the same as that of ordinary wheat flour.[39] In the paper on the "Composition of Wheat," by M. Peligot—(" Comptes Rendus," February 5th, 1849)—to which I have already referred, the author gives the results of the various analyses which he has made, and details the process he adopted.

Aware of the complex and difficult nature of the examination as conducted by him, he seems to doubt in regard to some of the results given in his tables [Pg 235]In the fourteen samples which he analysed, the proportion of water ranges from 13.2 to 15.2, which is a rather higher average than is yielded by our American samples, especially those which have not been shipped across the Atlantic. Of the nitrogenous matter, soluble and insoluble, the proportions range from 9.90 per cent, to 21.50 per cent.; the former being from a sample of very soft and white French wheat; the latter from a very hard wheat with long grains, from Northern Africa, cultivated at Verriéres. Another sample from Egypt yielded 20.60 per cent, of these nitrogenous matters, both of which are very remarkable proportions.

In describing the process for ascertaining the amount of insoluble nitrogenous matters, this author adverts to their estimation either by the quantity of nitrogen gas furnished, or of ammonia formed, the last being preferred for substances, which, like wheat, contain only a few hundredths of nitrogen. The results which he obtained by this method were compared with those yielded by the direct extraction of the gluten by softening the farina under a small stream of water. "These results," says he, "differ but little from each other when we operate upon wheat in good condition, although the gluten which we thus obtain holds some starch and fatty matter, while the starch which is carried away by the water contains also some gluten." The loss and gain, as I have already explained, and as has been proved by these and other comparisons, are nearly balanced, and the amount of rough gluten will therefore afford a fair exhibit of that of the insoluble nitrogenous matters in this grain.

The salts in the samples of wheat analysed by M. Peligot, were either wanting or were in small proportion; while the amount of fatty matter ranged from 1.00 to 1.80 and 1.90 per cent.

These results agree very well with those which I have obtained. But it is probable that the proportion is liable to great variation, inasmuch as it is inferred that the fatty matter originates from starch through its exposure to the general deoxidising influence which prevails in plants.[40] There are also many difficulties attending the accurate determination of this matter, and which are probably the cause of the higher proportion often given. It is properly remarked by M. Peligot that the ether employed in this process should be free from water, and that the flour ought also to be very dry. By neglecting these precautions, we separate not only the fatty matter, but also a certain amount of matters soluble in the water, which is furnished as well by the wheat as by the ether.

It would not, I think, be difficult to point out some incorrect views entertained by this chemist, and more especially those which relate to the fatty matter. Some of his processes for the separation of various substances, if not faulty, require so many conditions for success as to render the results, at least in other hands, exceedingly uncertain.

But the capital error which he has committed is that concerning the bran, already adverted to, which he considers injurious to the flour, chiefly in consequence of the large proportion of fatty matter which it contains.

In regard to the soluble nitrogenous matter usually called albumen, from its resemblance to the animal substance of the same name, I have to remark that in my trials the proportion has been found to be considerably less than that often given in tables of the composition of wheat. In one sample it was found to be as low as 0.15 per cant., in another it did not rise above 0.20 per cent. The amount was usually so inconsiderable, that I did not think it worth while to retard the progress of the work by following out processes which could add little to the utility of these investigations.

Although much time and labor have been expended upon the analyses of the ash of plants, I have but slight confidence in the results heretofore given. The difficulties which attend the obtaining the ash in a proper condition, and the fact that the products of all the organs and parts of the plants have been analysed together, must necessarily impair the accuracy of the experiments, and render the inferences drawn from them of uncertain value. Much, indeed I may say almost everything, still remains to be done in this department of agricultural chemistry.[Pg 236]

Weight of wheat as an index to its value.—Much has been said in regard to the relative weights of the bushel of wheat of different varieties or under different modes of culture.

As ordinarily determined, this weight ranges from fifty-six to sixty-five or sixty-six pounds, being in a few cases set down somewhat higher. It is said also that the bushel of wheat weighs less in some years than it does in others, and that the difference often amounts to two, or three, or even four pounds. Though this may seem of comparatively little consequence for a few bushels, yet, for the aggegate of the wheat crop of the United States, or for a State, or even a county, it makes a great difference. Thus, were we to estimate the product of one year in the United States at one hundred and ten million bushels, weighing fifty-six pounds to the bushel, and another year at one hundred and eight million bushels, weighing sixty-two pounds, the difference in favor of the latter, though the least in quantity, would amount to five hundred and thirty-six million pounds in weight, or more than one million and a quarter of barrels of flour.—(Report of the American Commissioner of Patents for 1847, p. 117.)

It may be remarked, however, that it is not after all so easy to determine with accuracy the weight of a bushel of wheat, nor to decide upon the circumstances which have an influence in increasing the density of a grain of wheat. If the microscopical representations of wheat are to be relied on, it is probable that the increase in the density of wheat depends upon the increase in the proportion of gluten. I have found in several cases that, the proportion of water being the same, those samples of wheat which contain the largest proportion of gluten exhibit the highest specific gravity, or, in other words, will yield the greatest number of pounds to the bushel. But the weight of wheat will be influenced by the proportion of water which it contains; the drier the grain, the greater is its density; a fact which may account for the difference which has been observed in the weight of wheat in different seasons. If this is the cause, the calculation above given in reference to the United States is fallacious—but if the amount of gluten is actually, instead of relatively, increased by peculiarities in seasons, it is no doubt correct.

I have devised a series of experiments to test the accuracy of the statements made upon this point, but have not yet had leisure to complete them.

General conditions from the analyses of wheat flour.—The large number of analyses which I have made, and the uniformity of the processes pursued, enable me to draw some general conclusions which it may be useful to present in a connected form.

1. In the samples from the more northern wheat-growing States, there seems to be little difference in the proportion of nutritive matter that can be set down to the influence of climate. Thus, the yield of the wheat from Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, is scarcely inferior to that from New York, Indiana, and Illinois, although the two latter are somewhat farther south. Local causes, and more especially the peculiarities of culture and manufacture, have more influence, within these parallels of latitude, than the difference of mean temperature.

2. The samples from New Jersey, Lower Pennsylvania, the southern part of Ohio, Maryland (probably Delaware), Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia,[41] contain less water and more nutritive matter than those from the States previously enumerated. That the samples from Missouri, which is included within nearly the same parallels of latitude as Virginia, do not exhibit so high an average of nutritive matter as those from the latter State, must be ascribed principally to a want of care in the management of the crop, and perhaps also in the manufacture of the flour. Virginia flour, for obvious reasons, maintains a high reputation for shipment.

3. The difference in the nutritive value of the various samples of wheat depends greatly upon the variety, and mode of culture, independently of climate. The correctness of the former statement is shown by the much larger proportions of gluten yielded by many of the samples of hard wheat from [Pg 237]abroad, the Oregon wheat in Virginia, and a variety of Illinois wheat, &c. And in regard to the effect of particular modes of culture, the various analyses of Boussingault may be referred to, and that in my table of a sample from Ulster county, New York.

4. The deterioration of many of the samples of wheat and wheat flour arises in most cases from the presence of a too large per centage of water. This is often the result of a want of proper care in the transport, and is the principal cause of the losses which are sustained by those who are engaged in this branch of business.

5. There seems to be little doubt that a considerable portion of the wheat and wheat flour, as well as of other breadstuffs, shipped from this country to England, is more or less injured before it reaches that market. It is also shown that this is mostly to be ascribed to the want of care above noticed, and to the fraudulent mixture of good and bad kinds. The remedy in the former case is the drying of the grain or flour before shipment, by some of the modes proposed, and the protection of it afterwards as completely as possible from the effect of moisture. The frauds which are occasionally practised should be promptly exposed, and those who are engaged in them held up to merited reproach.

6. It has been fully shown, by the results of many trials, that the flour obtained by the second grinding of wheat, or the whole meal, contains more gluten than the fine flour. Hence the general use of the latter, and the entire rejection of the bran, is wasteful, and ought in every way to be discouraged.

7. It cannot but be gratifying to us that the average nutritive value of the wheat and wheat flour of the United States is shown by these analyses to be fully equal to, if not greater than, that afforded by the samples produced in any other part of the world. And it will, in my opinion, be chiefly owing to a want of proper care and of commercial honesty, if the great advantages which should accrue to this country from the export of these articles are either endangered or entirely lost.

Kind of Wheat Flour,
and from whence obtained
Country Mills, New Jersey12.7511.5565.958.10.65
West Jersey Wheat12.8012.3269.485.90.50
White Wheat, New Jersey11.5512.6066.858.50.50
Pennsylvania Wheat11.9013.1666.207.25.75
  ditto ditto13.3512.7366.906.50.52
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)13.3514.7271.28.65
Pelham Wheat, Ulster Co., N.Y.10.7913.1767.747.60.70
"Pure Genesee" Wheat13.2011.0575.20.55
Ohio Wheat, "fine"12.8512.2573.901.00
Ohio Wheat, "superfine"13.009.1077.80.10
Winter Wheat, Ohio13.1011.5666.847.90.60
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)13.0512.6973.61.65
Michigan Wheat, "superfine"13.2511.1074.80.85
Michigan Wheat12.2510.0067.708.75.75
ditto ditto (2nd grinding)12.7511.2066.008.501.05
Illinois Wheat12.7314.6165.206.45.80
Magnolia Mill, St. Louis, Mo.13.1310.2769.756.15.35
Mound Mill, St. Louis13.4810.5367.358.15.20
Walsh's Mill, St. Louis12.7010.6369.406.65.40
Washington Mill, St. Louis12.8811.0068.657.27.20
Missouri Mill, St. Louis13.0010.4667.798.35.40
O'Fallan's Mill, St. Louis12.8511.2568.247.00.66
Phœnix Mill, St. Louis13.2210.1068.707.30.15
Nonantum Mill, St. Louis12.1011.0268.607.93.35
Franklin Mill, St. Louis12.2510.2969.857.26.35
Eagle Mill, St. Louis11.0010.1569.508.65.20
Winter Wheat, Missouri14.009.3070.056.30.35
Wisconsin Wheat12.8013.2068.906.50.70
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)12.8013.4672.541.20
Maryland Wheat13.0012.3066.657.10.65
Richmond City Mill11.7013.0067.506.90.50
Haxall and Co., Richmond, Va.11.4012.8068.506.60.35
Virginia Wheat, "superfine"12.0512.9574.50.50
Haxall and Co., "best brand, '49"11.4013.2568.206.25.60
Haxall and Co., "2nd brand, '49"11.0013.2075.60.20
Richmond City Mill, '4911.9010.5070.007.10.50
Oregon White Wheat, Va.12.8014.8071.301.10
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)13.8514.5065.155.90.60
Gallego Mill, Richmond, Va.11.5013.5068.356.00.65
Ship Brandywine, Liverpool13.3810.6267.607.75.65
Ship Fanchon, Liverpool13.8311.3867.456.341.00
Ship New World, Liverpool13.6511.6065.807.70.65
Ship Juniata, Liverpool12.5014.1464.208.36.80
Ship Stephen Lurman, Liverpool11.6513.1864.509.55.68
Ship Leila, Liverpool13.2213.1864.658.00.95
Ship Oxenbridge, Liverpool13.9010.1368.427.30.25
Ship Italy, Liverpool12.94& bran
Ship West Point, Liverpool14.3012.3063.009.45.95
Ship W.H. Harbeck, Liverpool13.5310.1866.958.80.30
Ship Princeton, Liverpool13.4011.5265.607.90.85
Ship Columbus, Liverpool13.5010.4566.458.501.03
Ship Russell Glover, Liverpool13.4510.4766.208.831.05
Ship South Carolina, Liverpool13.809.0070.805.95.38
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)13.309.4576.90.35
Ship Cambridge, Liverpool14.508.5270.605.40.40
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)14.109.1070.555.45.20
Ship Columbus, Liverpool14.858.4776.48.20
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)14.159.0076.60.25
Ship Ashburton, Liverpool13.5511.6869.225.30.25
Wheat grown in Canada West12.807.2374.125.10.75
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)12.608.4578.55.40
Chilian Wheat12.449.4567.808.371.30
Chilian Wheat12.858.6571.606.10.60
Valparaiso Wheat12.50& bran
French Wheat13.209.8569.007.65.30
Spanish Wheat13.5010.3068.907.00.30
Canivano Wheat11.3316.3563.106.502.30
Canivano Wheat11.1515.4067.255.70.60
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)12.6018.7067.001.70
Hard wheat, grown near Malaga10.8712.1564.3812.60
& lactic
  ditto ditto (2nd grinding)10.0014.5060.2015.30
[Pg 239]

There is no crop, the skilful and successful cultivation of which on the same soil, from generation to generation, requires more art than is demanded to produce good wheat. To grow this grain on fresh land, adapted to the peculiar habits and wants of the plant is an easy task. But such fields, except in rare instances, fail sooner or later to produce sound and healthy plants, which are little liable to attacks from the malady called "rust," or which give lengthened ears or "heads," well filled with plump seeds.

Having long resided in the best wheat-growing district in the Union, the writer has devoted years of study and observation to all the influences of soil, climate, and constitutional peculiarities, which affect this bread-bearing plant. It is far more liable to smut, rust, and shrink in some soils than in others. This is true in western New York, and every other section where wheat has long been cultivated. As the alkalies and other fertilizing elements become exhausted in the virgin soils of America, its crops of wheat not only become smaller on an average, but the plants fail in constitutional vigor, and are more liable to diseases and attacks from parasites and destructive insects. Defects in soil and improper nutrition lead to these disastrous results. Soils are defective in the following particulars:

1. They lack soluble silica, or flint in an available form, with which to produce a hard glassy stem that will be little subject to "rust." Soluble flint is never very abundant in cultivated soils; and after they have been tilled some years, the supply is deficient in quantity. It is not very difficult to learn with considerable accuracy the amount of silica which rain-water as it falls on the earth will dissolve out of 1,000 grains of soil in the course of eight or ten days. Hot water will dissolve more than cold; and water charged with carbonic acid more than pure water which has been boiled. The experiments of Prof. Rogers of the University of Virginia, as published in Silliman's Journal, have a direct bearing on this subject. The researches of Prof. Emmons of Albany, in his elaborate and valuable work on "Agriculture," as a part of the Natural History of New York, show that 10,000 parts of soil yield only from one to three parts of soluble silica. The analyses of Dr Jackson, as published in his Geological Survey of New Hampshire, give similar results. Earth taken from an old and badly exhausted field in Georgia, gave the writer only one part of soluble flint in 100,000.

What elements of crops rain water, at summer heat, will dissolve out of ten or twenty pounds of soil, in the course of three months, is a point in agricultural science which should be made the subject of numerous and rigid experiments. In this way, the capabilities of different soils and their adaptation to different crops may be tested, in connection with practical experiments in field culture, on the same kind of earth.

Few wheat-growers are aware how much dissolved flint an acre of good wheat demands to prevent its having coarse, soft, and spongy stems, which are anything but a healthy organization of the plant. In the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, vol. 7, there is an extended "Report on the Analysis of the Ashes of Plants, by Thomas Way, Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester," which gives the result of sixty-two analyses of the ash of wheat, from as many samples of that grain, mostly grown on different soils and under different circumstances.

In this report are given the quantity of wheat per acre, the weight of straw cut close to the ground to the acre, and also that of the chaff. These researches show, that from ninety-three to one hundred and fifty pounds of soluble flint are required to form an acre of wheat; and I will add from my own investigations, that three-fourths of this silica is demanded by nature during the last sixty days preceding the maturing of the crop. This is the period in which the stem acquires its solidity and strength, and most of its incombustible earthy matter. The quantity of this varies from three to fifteen per cent. of the weight of the straw. Prof. Johnston and Sir Humphry Davy give instances in which more than fifteen per cent. of ash was found; and Prof. Way gives cases where less than three per cent. were obtained. The mean of forty samples was four and a half per cent. Dr. Sprengel gives three and a half as the mean of his analyses. M. Boussingault found an average of seven per cent. As flint is truly the bone of all the grass family, imparting to them strength, [Pg 240]as in cane, timothy, corn, oats, rye, rice, millet, and the proportion of this mineral varies as much in wheat-straw, as bone does in very lean and very fat hogs or cattle.

A young growing animal, whether a child or a colt, that is kept on food which lacks bone-earth, (phosphate of lime,) will have soft cartilaginous bones. Nature cannot substitute iron or any other mineral in the animal system, out of which to form hard strong bones; nor can any other mineral in the soil perform the peculiar function assigned to silica in the vital economy of cereal plants. To protect the living germs in the seeds of wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, &c. the cuticle or bran of these seeds contains considerable flint. The same is true of chaff.

The question naturally arises,—How is the farmer to increase the quantity of soluble silica or flint in his soil? This is a question of the highest practical importance. There are three principal ways in which the object named may be attained. First, by keeping fewer acres under the plough. Land in pasture, if well managed, will gain its fertility, and in the process accumulate soluble silica in the surface soil. In this way more wheat and surer crops may be made by cultivating a field in wheat two years than four or six. If the field in the mean time be devoted to wool-growing, butter or cheese-making, or to stock-raising, particular care must be taken to make great crops of grass or clover to grow on the land, and have all the manure, both solid and liquid, applied to its surface.

There are many counties in England that yield an average of thirty-two bushels of wheat per acre for ten crops in succession. There are but few of the old counties in the United States which average the half of that quantity: and yet America has greater agricultural capabilities than that of Great Britain.

Another way to increase soluble silica in the soil, is to grow such crops, in rotation with wheat culture, as will best prevent the loss of dissolved flint, at any time by leaching and washing, through the agency of rain water. This remark is intended to apply more particularly to those large districts devoted to cotton and tobacco culture, plants that take up no considerable amount of silica, and which by the constant stirring of the earth, and the clean tillage which they demand, favor the leaching of the soil. To keep too much of a plantation of these crops, is to lessen its capabilities for producing good crops of corn, wheat, and barley, at a small expense. Corn plants, well managed, will extract more pounds of silica in three or six months from the soil, than any other. As not an ounce of this mineral is needed in the animal economy of man or beast, it can all be composted in cornstalks, blades, and cobs, or in the dung and urine derived from corn, and be finally reorganized in the stems of wheat plants. Corn culture and wheat culture, if skilfully and scientifically conducted, go admirably together. Of the two, more bread, more meat, and more money can be made from the corn than from the wheat plant in this country. But so soon as what is called "high farming" in England, shall be popular in the United States, the crops both of wheat and corn grown here will demonstrate how little we appreciate the vast superiority of our climate for the economical feeding and clothing of the human family, over that of our "mother country." In several counties in England, it takes from twelve to fourteen months to make a crop of wheat, after the seed is put into the ground. At or near the first of December, 1847, Mr. M.B. Moore, of Augusta, Ga., sowed a bushel of seed wheat on an acre and a half of ground, which gave him over thirty bushels by the middle of May following. This ground was then ploughed, and a fine crop of hay made and cut in July. After this, a good crop of peas was raised, and harvested in October, before it was time to seed with wheat again, as was done. While the mean temperature of England is so low, that corn plants will not ripen, in Georgia one can grow a crop of wheat in the winter, and nearly two crops of corn in succession in the summer and autumn, before it is time to sow wheat again. No writer, to my knowledge, has done full justice to the vast agricultural resources of the southern portion of the American confederacy. But there is much of its soil which is not rich in the elements of bread. Nothing but the careful study of these elements, and of the natural laws by which they are governed, can remedy defects in wheat culture anywhere, but especially on very poor land.[Pg 241]

All alkaline minerals, such as potash, soda, lime, ammonia, and magnesia, hasten the solution of the several insoluble compounds of silica in the soil. This fact should be remembered by every farmer. To undertake an explanation of the various ways in which alkalies, oxides, and acids act and re-act upon each other in the surface of the earth, when subject to tillage, would be out of place in this outline view of wheat-growing in the United States. I may state the fact, however, as ascertained by many analyses, that a cubic foot of good wheat soil in the valley of the Genesee, contains twenty times more lime than do the poorest soils in South Carolina and Georgia. The quantity of gypsum, bone-earth, and magnesia, available as food for plants, varies in an equal degree. Not only lime, but phosphoric acid, potash, and magnesia are lacking in most soils, if one desires to raise a large crop of wheat, and have the seeds of the grain weigh as much as the straw. In a number of the specimens of wheat analyzed by Prof. Way, when cut close to the roots, the dry wheat outweighed the dry straw.

Having secured the growth of a bright, hard, glassy stem, the next thing is to develop a long, well-filled ear. To this end, available ammonia or nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, and magnesia are indispensable. Ammonia (spirits of hartshorn) is necessary to aid in forming the combustible part of the seed. The other ingredients named are required to assist in making the incombustible part of the grain. In 100 parts of the ash of wheat, there are the following substances, viz.:—

Phosphoric acid45.73
Sulphuric acid0.32
Peroxide of iron2.04
Chloride of sodium0.27

The quantity of ash in wheat varies from 1¼ to 2½ per cent.; the average is about 1.69. The amount of phosphoric acid in any given quantity of the ash of wheat varies from forty to fifty per cent. of the same.

Seeds that have a thick cuticle or bran, and little gluten, contain a smaller per centage of phosphoric acid, and more silica. About one-third of the ash is potash; in nearly all cases magnesia varies from nine to fourteen per cent.; lime from one and a half to six per cent. Peroxide of iron is seldom as abundant as in the ash above given, and the same is true of soda. Chloride of sodium is common salt, and exists in a small quantity. Salt is beginning to be much used as a fertilizer on wheat lands in western New York. It operates indirectly to increase the crop.

The following may be taken as about the average composition of the ash of wheat-straw. It is "Specimen No. 40," in the tables of Prof. Way, and I copy verbatim all that is said upon the subject: [Soil, sandy; subsoil, stone and clay; geological formation, silurian; drained; eight years in tillage; crop, after carrots, twenty tons per acre; tilled December, 1845; heavy crop; mown, August 12th; carried, August 20th; estimated yield, forty-two bushels per acre; straw long, grain good, weight sixty-two pounds to the bushel.] Length of straw, forty-two inches.

Relation of Grain, Straw and Chaff.
Per centage.
Grain1633 lbs.45.15
Straw1732 lbs.47.89
Chaff250 lbs.6.96
Total3615 lbs.
[Pg 242]

Specific gravity of grain1.396
Weight of grain per acre2604 lbs.
Weight of straw per acre2,775 3/10ths.
Weight of chaff per acre401 ⅙th.

Mineral Matter in an Acre.
Wheat44½ lbs.

Analysis of the Ash of the Grain.
Per centage.Removed from
an acre.
Phosphoric acid43.98198
Sulphuric acid.21011/5th.
Peroxide of iron.2902

Analysis of Straw with its proportion of Chaff.
Per centage.Removed from
an acre.
Phosphoric acid5.24867/10ths.
Sulphuric acid4.45722/10ths.
Peroxide of iron.2912
Chloride of sodiumnonenone.

If we subtract the 111 pounds of silica from 160 pounds of minerals in the straw and chaff, the difference between what are left and those in wheat, is not great. As the stems and leaves of wheat plants grow before their seeds, if all the phosphoric acid, potash, and lime available in the soil is consumed before the organization of the seeds begin, from what source is nature to draw her supply of these ingredients to form a good crop of wheat? If the farmer could reverse the order of nature, and grow a good supply of seeds first, and make straw afterwards, then many a one would harvest more wheat and less straw. But the cultivator must grow the stems, roots, and leaves of wheat, corn, and cotton, before nature will begin to form the seeds of these several plants: and every one should know that the atoms in the soil, which are consumed in organizing the bodies of cultivated plants, are, in the main, identical in kind with those required to make their seeds. The proportions, however, differ very considerably. Thus, while 100 parts of the ash of wheat contain an average of 45 parts of phosphoric acid, 100 of the ash of the wheat straw contain an average of only 5 parts. The difference is as 9 to 1. In magnesia the disparity is only a little less striking.

In what are called the organic elements of wheat (the combustible part) there are seven times more nitrogen in 100 pounds than in a like weight of straw. Hence, if the farmer converts straw into manure or compost, with the view ultimately of transforming it into wheat, it will take 7 pounds of straw to yield nitrogen enough to form one pound of wheat. Few are aware how much labor and money is annually lost by the feeding of plants on food not strictly adapted to the peculiar wants of nature in organizing the same. It is true, that most [Pg 243]farmers depend on the natural fertility of the soil to nourish their crops, with perhaps the aid of a little stable and barn-yard manure, given to a part of them. As the natural resources of the land begin to fail, the supply must be drawn from other quarters than an exhausted field, or its cultivator will receive a poor return for the labor bestowed.

In Great Britain, where the necessity for liberal harvests and artificial fertilizing is far greater than in this country, the yield of wheat is said to be governed in a good degree by the amount of ammonia available as food for growing plants. This opinion is founded not at all on theory, but altogether on the teachings of experience. But in England, limeing and manuring are so much matters of constant practice, that few soils are so improverished as many are in the United States, With land as naked and sterile as is much that can be found in the whole thirteen colonies between Maine and Alabama, English farmers could hardly pay their tithes and poor rates, to say nothing of other taxes, rent, and the coat of producing their annual crops.

The first step towards making farming permanently profitable in all the older States, is to accumulate in a cheap and skilful manner the raw material for good harvests in the soil.

Over a territory so extensive as the United States, it is extremely difficult to lay down any rule that will be applicable even to a moiety of the republic. There are, however, many beds of marl, greensand, gypsum, limestone, saline and vegetable deposits available for the improvement of farming lands, in the Union. In addition to these, there are extraneous resources, the ocean with its fish, its shells, its sea-weeds, and its fertilizing salts, which will yield an incalculable amount of bread and meat. In the subsoil and the atmosphere, every agriculturist has resources which are not duly appreciated by one in a thousand.

As a general rule, the soil must be deepened before it can be permanently improved. One acre of soil 12 inches deep is worth more to make money from, by cultivating it, than four acres 6 inches in depth. Thus, admit that a soil 6 inches deep will produce 14 bushels of wheat, and that 12 bushels will pay all expenses and give 2 for profit. Four acres of this land will yield a net income of only 8 bushels. Now double the depth of the soil and the crop: making the latter 28 bushels, instead of 14 per acre, and the former 12 inches deep, in the place of 6. Fifteen bushels instead of twelve, will now pay all annual expenses, and leave a net profit not of two but of thirteen bushels per acre. If small crops will pay expenses, large ones will make a fortune; provided the farmer knows how to enrich his land in the most economical way. It is quite as easy to pay too dear for improving lands, as to lose money at any other business whatever.

The first thing for the operator to do is to acquire all the knowledge within his reach, from the experience of others who have done for their soils what he proposes to accomplish for his. Twenty or fifty dollars, invested in the best agricultural works in the English language, may save him thousands in the end, and double his profits in two years. The Agricultural Journals of the United States abound in information most useful to the practical farmer: and the back volumes, if collected and bound, will form a library of great value.

Rotation of Crops in connexion with Wheat Culture.—A system of tillage and rotation which will pay best in one locality, or on one quality of soil, and in a particular climate, will be found not at all adapted to other localities, different soils and latitudes. Hence, no rule can be laid down that will meet the peculiar exigencies of a farming country so extensive as the thirty States east of the Rocky Mountains. There are soils in Western New York, known to the writer, which have borne good crops of wheat every other year for more than twenty years, and produce better now than at the beginning of their cultivation. The resources of the earth in supplying the elements of wheat and corn are extremely variable. There are friable shaley rocks in Livingstone county, N.Y., which crumble and slake when exposed to the air, that abound in all the earthy minerals necessary to form good wheat. These rocks are hundreds of feet in thickness, and have furnished much of the soil in the valley of the Genesee. The Onondaga Salt Group, and other contiguous strata, which extend into Canada West, form soils of extraordinary capacity for growing wheat. Indeed, the rocks and "drift" of a district give character to its arable surface.[Pg 244]

Nothing is more needed at this time than a good geological map of the United States, accompanied by an accurate and popularly arranged work on agricultural geology. The writer had hoped to give such a map in this report; but it is thought best to devote another year to the collection of geological surveys and facts, and to the making of more critical and extended researches before publishing.

In the matter of rotation of crops in connection with wheat culture, clover and corn are generally preferred in all the Northern, and most of the Middle States. In New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northern Indiana, and Illinois, so far as the writer is acquainted, a crop of wheat is made in rotation, either every third, fourth, or fifth year. Wherever wool growing is united with wheat culture, clover and wheat are the staple crops of the farm. Wool and superfine flour are exported; farmers taking nearly all the bran and shorts of the millers who purchase their wheat.

The offal of wheat makes not a little feed with chaff and cut straw. Many agriculturists grow peas, beans, turnips, beets, and carrots in large quantities, as well as clover, corn, oats, and barley. Peas and beans, both stems and pulse, when well cured, are excellent feed for sheep; and on good land they are easily grown. They prepare the soil well for wheat.

All the manure derived from sheep is husbanded with extreme care by the farmers who are gradually enriching their lands. On a deep, rich, arable soil, quite a number of sheep may be kept per acre, if highly cultivated; and their manure prepares the land for producing generous crops of wheat at a small expense. Of all business men, farmers should be the closest calculators of profit and loss.

Great care should be taken to sow good and clean seed on clean land. Previous to putting the seed in the ground (drilling is preferable to sowing broadcast), wheat should be soaked five or six hours—not longer—in strong brine. After this, add a peck or more of recently slaked lime to each bushel, and shovel it over well, that the lime may cover each seed. It is now ready to commit to the earth. Most good farmers roll the earth after seeding: some before.

In the Southern States, planters are in the habit of permitting their wheat to remain too long in the field after it is cradled, and in small shocks. Good barns are too scarce in all the planting States, and in some others.

Summer fallowing is generally abandoned, except in cases where old pastures and meadows, new prairie, or bushy bad fields are to be subdued. As a general rule, friable soils need not be ploughed long before the intended crop is expected to begin to grow. Among fertilizers, wood ashes, salt, bones, lime, guano, and poudrette have been used in wheat culture with decided advantage. In Great Britain, manure derived from the consumption of turnips and other root crops by sheep and neat cattle, is much used in preparing land for wheat. Sheep, clover and peas, corn and hogs, rotate well to insure the economical production of this staple. Manure is usually applied to the crop preceding wheat.

It may be interesting to some readers to see in this place the mean result of several organic analyses of wheat made by M. Boussingault. Wheat, dried at 230 deg. in vacuo, was found to contain:


Charcoal may be regarded as a fair representative of carbon, and water as the representative of both oxygen and hydrogen. It will be seen by the above figures, that over 95 per cent. of wheat is made up of elements which greatly abound in nature in an available condition; and the same is true of all other plants. It is doubtless owing to this circumstance, that a comparatively small quantity of guano and other highly concentrated fertilizers are able to produce crops five, ten, and fifty times greater than their own weight. Azote, or [Pg 245]nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, or nitric acid, (aqua fortis), and the incombustible part of plants are the elements which least abound in soils, and should be husbanded with the greatest care.

The Hon. C.P. Holcomb, of Delaware, furnishes some interesting remarks on the wheat crop of the United States:—

A short wheat crop in England, Mr. Webster says, affects the exchanges of the civilized world. In the vast increase of population in the absence of long wars and famines, the importance of this staple is constantly increasing. Its cultivation is the most attractive and pleasant of all descriptions of husbandry; and its rewards are generally remunerating, when the soil and climate are favorable, and the markets are not too distant.

It is important to know what our relation is to this staple of the world, and what is, and what is likely to be, our contribution to the great aggregate of production. Beyond feeding our own great and rapidly increasing population, it probably will not soon, if ever, be very great. It is a mistake, I apprehend, to suppose our country is naturally a great wheat-producing country. The wheat district at present, in comparison to the whole extent of our territory, is limited. It is confined, so far as any appreciable amount is grown, to about ten degrees of latitude and twenty degrees of longitude, and embracing about one half the number of the States. The crop of 1848 is estimated by the Commissioner of Patents at one hundred and twenty-six millions, and our population at twenty-two millions. This gives a less number of bushels, per head, to our population than the consumption of Great Britain, which is generally set down at one hundred and sixty millions, or six bushels to each inhabitant. But with us Indian corn is a great substitute; so are potatoes and oats in Ireland and Scotland. Still our consumption of wheat, including the black population, is undoubtedly less, per head, than theirs. But in the absence of any certain data, to ascertain either the actual production, or our consumption, our only safe course is to take the actual excess, or the amount exported, after supplying our own wants. This, for the fiscal year 1848, being the crop of 1847, amounted, in flour and wheat, to twelve millions two hundred and ninety-four thousand one hundred and seventy-five bushels, although Mr. Burke's figures would show a surplus of some forty millions! That there was not, and never has been any such surplus in the country is very evident, for the foreign demand was all the time good, and drew away all we had to part with.

The crop of 1848 was, undoubtedly, one of the best and largest we have ever grown; yet I have ascertained, by application at the registrar's office, that the exports for the fiscal year 1842, amounted in wheat to but 1,527,534 bushels, and in flour to 2,108,013 barrels, or less by 226,676 bushels than the exports of 1848. Twelve millions is comparatively a small surplus in a favorable season, for a country with a population of twenty-two millions of inhabitants. The loss of a small per cent. in an unfavorable season would at once sink this excess.

Let us now notice more in detail the different sections of our country as adapted to the growth of wheat.

The New England States, some of them aided in their recent enterprises by bounties offered by the state governments, have failed to insure such success as is likely to encourage them to continue the culture of wheat; or, at all events, to induce them to aim at increasing their product to any considerable extent, since, as one of their own farmers candidly states, "the attempt to grow a crop of wheat is an experiment."

The States south of North Carolina, and inclusive of a part of Delaware, have never heretofore succeeded in growing wheat to any considerable extent, though there were periods in their history—before the general introduction of the culture of cotton—when, if it had been practicable to make the cereal one of their staples, they would certainly have done so. Besides the common dangers from rust and blight, the fly, and sometimes the frost—as the past season—they have a most formidable enemy in the weevil. In Upper Georgia, in the Cherokee country in particular, wheat will probably be cultivated to some extent, and a limited cultivation of it by the planters for their own use will probably continue in several of the southern states. But the cotton, rice, and sugar states, like the manufacturing states of New England, will not soon, if ever, add much [Pg 246]to the supply of wheat; the rich staples of the former, and the varied husbandry and grazing of the latter, suited to supply the immediate wants of a manufacturing population, will be likely to receive their attention in preference.

Kentucky and Tennessee, though their agricultural history dates back beyond the settlement of the north-western states, have already been out-stripped by at least two of them. In neither of these states has the culture of wheat ever been put forward, and regarded as one of their best staples, or as very favorably adapted to their soil and climate. Still, notwithstanding the formidable danger from rust, the production of Tennessee is estimated to be equal to nine bushels to each person, and Kentucky about seven and a half bushels. Missouri may be classed with Kentucky and Tennessee, which she much resembles in soil, climate, and productions, except that she raises much less wheat than either, her crop being placed by the Commissioner of Patents at only two millions, or less than four bushels to each resident of the state. But, besides that the experience of the past discourages the idea that these fine states are likely to become great wheat-producing states, the fact that the staple of cotton may be cultivated over a considerable portion of one of them, and that hemp and tobacco are among the valuable products of the other two; that Tennessee is the very largest corn-producing state in the Union, showing her soil and climate are particularly adapted to this description of grain, and that Kentucky and Missouri are unsurpassed as grazing countries, and there is little ground to suppose that any change in their husbandry will very greatly or suddenly augment the production of wheat. Let us come now to the States of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and that fabulous wheat district or territory to the west of these again, from which, according to the vaticinations of some, may be drawn supplies of wheat to feed the population of both Europe and America, or fill warehouses that would sustain our people through a longer famine than that which afflicted the people of Egypt! I cannot help thinking that, to some extent, this generally fertile district of country has, so far as the production of wheat is concerned, been "shouted forth in acclamations hyperbolical." My own impression in regard to it is, including the states last named, derived in part from observation, from intercourse and correspondence with intelligent agriculturists of these states, and from a careful examination of a geological survey of two of them, that the soil and climate of this whole district of country are not particularly favorable to the production of wheat. The popular idea I know to be otherwise. I am not going to dwell upon it, or to examine the subject at any length. There is a single remark that may help to explain the reputation that has gone abroad in reference to the wheat-producing qualities of these lands. The prairie sod, when first broken up, generally produces wheat well, often most abundantly, provided it escapes the rust, insect, &c. But, when this ground has been much furrowed, becomes completely pulverized by exposure to the atmosphere, the light and friable mould, of which most of it is composed, drenched, as a good deal of it is, at times, with surface water, fails to hold or sustain the roots of the plant, it is thrown out, or winter-killed; and "winter-killed," "winter-killed," "winter-killed," we all know, is among the catalogue of disasters that almost annually reach us. Sometimes, when escaping the winter, the high winds of spring blow this light soil from the roots, exposing them to such an extent, that, in a dry time in particular, the wheat often perishes. When breaking up fresh prairies, there was much encouragement and promise of hope, but which, I believe, has not been, nor is likely to be, realized by their husbandmen, in the degree that early experiments induced them to look for.

As appears by the last report of the Commissioner of Patents, the crop of Illinois, in reference to population and production, is below that of Kentucky, and both Indiana and Illinois are below that of Tennessee. The crop of Indiana is set down at 8,300,000, her population at 1,000,000, or equal to 8½ bushels a-head. The production of Illinois is stated at 5,400,000, her population at 800,000, or less than seven bushels to each inhabitant—and both these "fair and fertile plains" are still farther behind the old "battered moors" of Maryland and Virginia.

Much of their wheat, too, is spring wheat, sown often on land where the fall crop had winter-killed, increasing the number of bushels much more than the [Pg 247]value of the crop. I have heard it estimated that full one-third of all the wheat shipped from Chicago was of this description. Chicago is their great wheat depot. Several millions of bushels are shipped from this point, the contributions from parts of three States, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois; and which concentration of their joint product at this new western city, or something else, seems to have imparted to each and all these states the reputation of great wheat-growing states, though they are, in fact, with the advantage of a virgin soil, behind several of the western states, and two at least of the eastern or Atlantic States. The geological explorations of the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, undertaken under the authority of Congress, throws much light on the character of the soil of Wisconsin and Iowa, and the description given undoubtedly characterizes much of that region of country. The specific gravity of the soil, Mr. Owen states to be remarkably light; but what he represents to be a "striking feature in the character of the Iowa and Wisconsin soils, is the entire absence, in the most of the specimens of clay, and in a large proportion of silex." Again, he speaks of their being particularly adapted to the growth of the sugar-beet, which he truly says, "flourishes best in a loose fertile mould." Again, he detected no phosphates; but they might be there, as the virgin soil produced good wheat. So does the virgin soil of most of the prairie land.—"The soil was rich in geine," &c. But I submit that this does not describe a wheat soil, hardly in any one particular. Liebig tells us, that "however great the proportion of humus in a soil, it does not necessarily follow it will produce wheat"—and cites the country of Brazil.

Again, he adds, "how does it happen that wheat does not flourish on a sandy soil (which much of the soil of these states is described to be), and that a calcareous soil is also unsuitable to its growth, unless it be mixed with a considerable quantity of clay?"

The late Mr. Colman, in his European Agriculture, states, that "the soil preferred for wheat (in England) is a strong soil with a large proportion of clay. But the question after all is, not whether these States cannot grow wheat, and in comparatively large quantities, for we know that while their lands are fresh, they can and do—but whether, considering the hazard of the crop from winter-killing, the rust, the fly—the risk from the two former being equal to a large per cent. premium of insurance, they are not likely to find their interest in grazing, in raising and feeding stock, instead of attempting to extend their wheat husbandry. Lord Brougham has said, that grazing countries are always the most prosperous, and their population the most contented and happy. The meat markets of Great Britain are likely to prove better and more stable for us, than their grain markets.

The Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, a distinguished citizen, and large farmer of Indiana—distinguished throughout the Union for his zeal in the cause of agriculture—thus expresses himself on this subject: "After a full consideration of the subject, I am satisfied that stock-raising at the West is much more profitable than raising grain. Indeed, an examination of the north-western States shows a vast difference in the wealth of the grazier over those who crop with grain. The profits of wheat appear well in expectation on paper, but the prospect is blasted by a severe winter, appearance of insects, bad weather in harvesting, in threshing, for there are but few barns at the West, or transporting to market, or last, a fluctuation in the market itself."

Such is the opinion of Mr. Ellsworth, the result of observation and experience, himself largely interested in ascertaining the safest and surest course to be pursued. The destiny he has indicated for this beautiful fertile region of country, will undoubtedly be fulfilled; it will become a great pastoral, stock-raising, and stock-feeding country.

Ohio stands now, as she did at the census of 1840, at the head of all the wheat States, in the aggregate of production; her crop of 1848 being estimated at 20,000,000, which is about equal to 10½ bushels per head of her population. The geological survey of this State, and the character of the soil, as described in the Reports of the Board of Agriculture, in a large range of her counties, as a "clayey soil," "clayey loam," "clay subsoil," &c., shows Ohio to possess a fine natural wheat soil, if indeed, alter thirty years of a generally successful wheat husbandry, such additional testimony or confirmation was necessary.[Pg 248]

Michigan has also been successful in the cultivation of wheat. Her burr-oak openings are unsurpassed in producing wheat. They are intervening ridges between low grounds, or marshes and bodies of water, and their location not generally considered very healthy. A doubt has also been suggested as to whether this soil, being a clayey loam, resting on a sandy and gravelly subsoil, is likely to wear as well as some other portions of the fertile soil of the State. The Commissioner of Patents puts her crop for 1848 at 10,000,000 of bushels, which is equal to 23½ bushels to each inhabitant! By the census of 1840, the population of Michigan was 212,267; number of bushels of wheat, 2,157,108. Her population in 1848 is estimated at 412,000. While she has barely doubled her population, she has, according to the above estimate, more than quadrupled her production of wheat—increased it at the rate of about one million bushels a year for eight consecutive years, making the quantity she grows to each head of her population more than double that of any State in the Union.

We can at least say, and appeal to the past history of the country to show it, that for a period of more than one hundred years, the supply of the Atlantic wheat States has generally been constant, and for the most part abundant. They have furnished the "staff of life" to several generations of men, and cotemporary with it, an annual amount for export, that materially assisted in regulating the exchanges of the country.

England requires for her own consumption, upon the average of years, somewhere about 32,000,000 bushels of wheat more than she produces. The average annual entries of foreign wheat for consumption in the United Kingdom, for the sixteen years ending with 1845, were about nine and a half million bushels. Inasmuch as the average number of acres in wheat crop were in 1846 about 4,600,000, the average produce 142,200,000 bushels, or over 30 bushels to the acre—an improvement in the harvest to the extent of two bushels per acre, will destroy the demand, and a deficiency to that extent will double it. Now as there is an available surplus at the neighbouring ports in Europe, in the Baltic and the Black Sea, of about 18,000,000 of bushels only, whenever there is a demand for home consumption, for, say 20,000,000 bushels, as