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IV. THE PRACTICAL WORKING OF CHEAP POSTAGE, By Joshua LEAVITT, Corre-
sponding Secretary of the Boston Cheap Postage Association.....
VI. BANKRUPTCY-BANKING. A Letter to the Editor, in Reply to an Article in the De-
cember number of the Merchants' Magazine.......
WHETHER regarded as a necessary of life, or as forming an element in the amelioration of the intercourse of nations, the article of Tea takes the first rank in the history of Commerce.
The production of one countrs, its use has spread over almost every other civilized one, until its name has become a synonyme of the ancient empire where it grows, and suggests to the mind, not so much the healthful
properties of a simple shrub, as the history of the intercourse with China, and of China itself.
No other production of the soil has, in an equal degree, stimulated the intercourse of the most distant portions of the globe ; nor has any other beverage, with equally unalloyed benefit, so commended itself to the palates of the people of the more civilized nations, or become so much a source of comfort, and a means of temperance, healthfulness, and cheerfulness, whilst it may be doubted if any other is equally a restorative and stimulative of the intellectual faculties of man.
The incentive to the industry of many millions in China, it is the direct source of an immense revenue to the British exchequer,* and of much prosperity to the manufacturing and commercial interests of the British empire, and other nations, and whilst its agreeable and healthful properties have diffused comfort and cheerfulness, and promoted temperance amongst the households of the western nations, these, reciprocally, have contributed to the moral influences of this interchange of commerce upon the millions of the populous and farthest East.
But, in tracing the progress of its use, and estimating the mutual benefits that it has conferred, the satisfaction that is derived therefrom is not wholly unalloyed-for, whilst it forms on one side the healthful element of a reciprocal
* The duty upon tea imported into Great Britain, has reached the almost incredible sum of £5,400,000 sterling, or about $25,000,000 per annum.
commerce, we find that it has become, (at a recent period, and mainly indirectly, it is true,) in some degree, the interchange of an article of commerce-opium
-whose effects are widely injurious, thus presenting, to the western nations, the humiliating contrast, of the gift of what is fraught with the worst of evils, with that from which flows unmixed good.
Until the taste for this pernicious drug had spread insidiously over the empire, and the traffic in it had largely increased, China was the recipient of the precious metals from the western nations, in the adjustment of the balance of trade in her favor; but since the expiration of the East India Company's charter, (1834,) the consumption of it has so largely augmented* that, although the exports of Chinese produce have also greatly increased, yet the export of the precious metals, in adjustment of the balance adverse to China, has reached the annual sum of about $10,000,000 ; thus inflicting upon China a two-fold injury, in the demoralization of her people, and the undermining of her pecuniary resources--whose effects are of the most grave moment, as threatening the very integrity of the empire.
As one of the impediments in the way of the prosperity of the tea trade, the consideration of the influences of this immense traffic is in no wise a'digression ; nor can we, consistently, content ourselves with merely an incidental allusion to it, although it is no part of our purpose to discuss the moral question, for we find it greatly prejudicial to the whole legal trade with China.t
It seriously disturbs the financial affairs of the country, thus impairing confidence, and directly depressing the prices of all other articles of importation, whilst, at the same time, raising those of export articles.
These are the direct commercial evils, irrespective of the disturbing political questions that it involves.
The legalization of the trade in the drug would, no doubt, tend to lessen
* The rapid growth and great amount of the opium trade is shown by the following figures and dates :- In the year 1767, the import of opium had reached but 1,000 chests ; in 1816, it was about 3,200 chests; in 1826, about 9,900 chests ; in 1836, about 26,000 chests; in 1845, about 40,000 chests ; in 1848, considerably more. The net revenue to the British Indian government had, in 1845-6, already reached the large sum of £4,766,536 sterling, or about $23,000,000 !
+ A letter of August last, from a house at Shanghae, speaks directly to the point, as quoted below; as does the following evidence of George Moffat, Esq., M. P., before the Select Committee of the House of Commons :-“The value of opium imported into China from India, is very little short, I believe, in the last year, (for which there is no official return,) of £5,000,000 sterling ; for the year 1844, for which there is a return, the value was £4,800,000 sterling, making the balance of trade very much against the Chinese ; hence they demand and obtain a very high price for their tea, which the importers into China of English produce are compelled to take in payment."
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER OF AUGUST LAST, FROM A HOUSE AT SHANGHAE. “We do not know if the same cause operates quite as much here as at Canton; but think there is much truth in an article in the Register,' (newspaper,) attributing the small demand for European (foreign) manufactures to the quantity of drug placed against produce. We expected, here, for instance, a revival of demand, when produce came freely to market, but were disappointed, and attributed it, at the time, mostly to this cause. The country cannot take both goods and drug; and thus the question is, so far as England is concerned, which branch of industry should be encouraged ?
"The East India Company will never give up the drug; and probably the government would not, should the company's charter not be renewed in 1854. It appears to as the difficulty must increase with the increasing quantity of the luxury imported."
* The expression used by Sir George Larpent, Bart., before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1847.
+ It is now £5,400,000 sterling, per annum; and were not the real necessities of the treasury known, it would seem that the remarkable capability of expansion which has characterized this source of revenue, served but to increase the greediness of a minister careless of the consequences to the comforts of the people, or the trade of the country, for the writer remembers that when the question of the reduction of the duty was agitated some years ago, the minister professed himself satisfied with what he then got from tea, but unwilling to part with any of that, which was but £3,800,000, or about $8,000,000 less than now I
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