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owner, is in fact proportionably equal to a sugar plantation yielding double the profit to the planter ; and possesses, besides all that stability, certainty, and security, the want of which is the great drawback on the latter. An English gentleman, when either extreme of dry or wet weather injures the crop on his lands, has no other concern in the calamity than such as the mere feelings of humanity may dictate, and it is but justice to him to say, that, so long as the stock of his tenant is found a sufficient security for his rent, he commonly displays the most perfect philosophy and composure under the poor tenant's misfortunes. Nor is he under the disagreeable necessity in time of war, of paying large premiums for insuring his estate from capture by a foreign enemy. This is another tax, which the unfortunate West Indian, resident in Great Britain, must add to his expences; or submit to the disagreeable alternative of passing many an uneasy day and sleepless night, in dreadful anxiety for the fate of his poffefsions, and the future subsistence of his family ;-harassed, perhaps, at the same time, by creditors whose importunity increases as their security becomes endangered.
"To this account of the taxes, contingencies, and impositions laid on the sugar planter, must likewise be added some part, at leaft, of the high duties on his produce, which swell the revenues of Great Britain. The general opinion, I well know, considers it as a certain and established fact, that all these duties fall ultimately on the consumer. I shall hereafter point out, and I trust with such precision and certainty, as will admit of no dispute, in what cases they fall on the consumer, and in what cases on the planter. No question has, I think, been more strangely misunderstood than this, and yet none, in my opinion, is susceptive of clearer illustration; but as the consideration of this matter belongs more properly to the commercial system establithed between Great Britain and her sugar colonies, it is unnecessary at this time to enter on the investigation ; my present intention being only to apprize the reader, that the duties payable in the mother country, on the produce of the West Indies, are not wholly to be overlooked, in a fair estimate of the expences to which the planter is liable.
• But there is a question, naturally arising from the premises, to which it is proper that I should, in this place, give an answer; and it is this : seeing that a capital is wanted which few men can command, and considering withal, that the returns are in general but small, and at best uncertain, how has it happened that the sugar islands have been so rapidly settled, and many a great estate puro chased in the mother country, from the profits that have accrued from their cultivation? It were to be wished that those who make such enquiries, would enquire, on the other hand, how many unhappy persons have been totally and irretrievably ruined, by adventuring in the cultivation of these islands, without poiiefing any adequate means to support them in such great undertakings? On the C.R. N. ARR. (XI.) May, 1794.
failure of some of these unfortunate men, valt eftates have indeed been raised by persons who have had money at command: inen. there are who, rellecting on the advantages to be derived from this circumstance, behold a sugar planter struggling in distress, with the same emotions as are felt by the Cornish peasants in contemplating a fiipwreck on the coast, and hasten with equal rapaciousness to participate in the spoil. Like them too, they sometimes hold out falie lights to lead the unwary adventurer to destruction; more ela pecially if he has any thing considerable of his own to set out with. Money is advanced, and encouragement given, to a certain point; but a skilful practitioner well knows where to stop: he is aware what very large sums must be expended in the purchase of the freehold, and in the first operations of clearing and planting the lands, and erecting the buildings, before any return can be made. One third of the money thus expended, he has perhaps furnished ; but the time soon arrives when a further advance is reguiite to give life and activity to the fvíteni, by the addition of the negroes and the stock. Now then is the moment for oppression, aided by the letter of the law, and the process of office, to reap a golden harvest. If the property answers expectation, and the lands proinise great returns, the fagacious creditor, instead of giving further aid, or leaving his too confident debtor to make the best of his way by his own exertions, pleads a sudden and unexpected emergency; and insists on immediate re-payment of the sum already lent. The law, on this occasion, is far from being chargeable with delay; and avarice is inexorable. A fale is hurried cn, and no bidders appear but the creditor himself. Ready money is required in payment, and every one sees that a further fum will be wanting to make the estate productive. Few therefore have the means, who have even the wisli, efhcaciouíly to aflift the devoted viâim. Thus, the creditor gets the estate at his own price, commonly for his first advance, while the miserable debtor has reafon to thank his stars if, consoling himself with only the loss of his own original capital, and his labour for a series of years, he escapes a prison for life,
That this is no creation of the fancy, nor even an exaggerated picture, the records of the courts of law, in all or most of our islands (Jamaica especially) and the recollection of every inhabitant, furnish incontestable proof. At the same time it cannot justly be denied that there are creditors, especially among the British mercha:nts, of a very diferent character from those that have been de. scribed, who, having advanced their money to resident planters, not in the view of deriving undue advantages from their labours and ne. cellities, but solely on the fair and honourable ground of reciprocat bencfit, have been compelled, much against their inclination, to become planters themselves; being obliged to receive unprofitable West Indian estates in payment, or lose their money altogether. I have known plantations transferred in this manner, which are a
burthen burthen instead of a benefit to the holder; and are kept up solely in the hope that favourable crops, and an advance in the prices of West Indian produce, may, some time or other, invite purchasers. Thus oppression in one clafs of creditors, and gross injustice towards another, contribute equally to keep up cultivation in a country, where, if the risques and loties are great, the gains are sometimes commensurate; for sugar estates there are, undoubtedly, from which, instead of the returns that I have estimated as the average interest on the capital, nearly double that pront has been obtained. It is indeed true, that such instances are extremely rare ; but perhaps to that very circumstance, which to a philosopher, speculating in his closet, would seem suficient to deter a wise man from adventuring in this line of cultivation, it is chiefly owing that so much money has been expended in it: I mean the fluctuating nature of its returns. The quality of sugar varies occasionally to so great a degree, as to create a difference in its marketable value of upwards of ten thillings sterling in the hundred weight, the whole of which is clear profit, the duties and charges being precisely the same on Mufcovado sugar, of whatever quality. Thus fine sugar has been known to yield a clear profit to the planter, of no less than 1,500l. sterling on 200 hogsheads of the usual magnitude, beyond what the same number, where the commodity is inferior in quality, would have obtained at the same market. To aver that this difference is imputable wholly to soil and seasons in the West Indies, or to the state of the British market, is to contradict common observation and experience. Much, undoubtedly, depends on skill in the manufacture; and, the process being apparently simple, the beholder (from a propensity natural to the busy and inquisitive part of mankind) feels an almost irresistible propensity to engage in it. In this, therefore, as in all other enterprises, whose success depends in any degree on human sagacity and prudence, though perhaps not more than one man in fifty comes away fortunate, every fanguine adventurer takes for granted that he shall be that one. Thus his system of life becomes a course of experiments, and, if ruin should be the consequence of his raslıness, he imputes his misfortunes to any cause, rather than to his own want of capacity or foresight.
• That the reasons thus given, are the only ones that can be ad. duced in answer to the question that has been stated, I presume not. to affirm. Other causes, of more powerful efficacy, may perhaps be assigned by men of wider views and better information. The facts however which I have detailed, are too striking and notorious to be controverted or concealed.'
The length of this extract must apologise for our passing over, more briefly, the accounts we find here of the culture of the minor staple commodities, cotton, indigo, coffee, ginger, arnotto, &c. under all which heads, the reader will meet with information of great importance, and the latest improvements
explained explained by details of the mechanical operations, and by tables and calculations of the expences and profits.
Book V. and last, relates to the government and commerce. Much of what is given under the former of these heads, is fufficiently known. After an account of the various powers entrusted to the governor, Mr. Edwards offers some remarks to which the attention of government ought to be directed.
"In nominating to an office which is a constituent part of the leginature, which has power to controul the administration of executive justice, and, in most cases, has the sole exercise of the vast and extensive jurisdiction appertaining to a court of equity, it might be supposed that a prudent minister, amongst other qualifications in the perion selected, would consider that fome little knowledge of the laws and constitution of England is indispensibly requisite. It is remarkable, however, that the military professions (which certainly are not eminent for such kind of knowledge) are found to supply most of the gentlemen who are elevated to this high station. It were unjust, at the same time, not to allow that some of these have acquitted themselves in the civil department with extraordinary reputation and honour. Both the late sir William Trelawney and fir Bafil Keith, who fucceffively administered the government of Jamaica, were educated from early youth in the navy; yet poslesling found judgments and upright intentions, their conduct as governors gave abundant fatisfaction to the people of the colony, without incurring the disapprobation of the crown; and their names will be remembered there with reverence, so long as worthy governors shall be numbered among the benefactors of mankind. But these are rare instances, and it must generally be admitted, that the appointment to high civil oifices of men, whose education and past pursuits have not given them opportunities of acquiring much acquaintance with the principles of our limited government, is a very dangerous experiment. Persons of this class, with the purest intentions, are easily milled by selfish and interested men, whom the consciousness. of their own deficiences compels them to consult.---Even while aca tuated by honest and laudable motives, they may violate irreparably the first principles of law and a free constitution, by establishing fatal precedents which no integrity of intention can santtiiy. Mr. Stokes, the late chief justice of Georgia, relates, that a governor of a province in North America (at that time a British colony) ordered the provoíi-marshal to hang up a convict some days before the time appointed by his sentence, and a rule of court for his execution. 6. He meant well, says Stokes, but, being a military man, conceived that as lie had power to reprieve after sentence, he had power to execute also when he pleased; and the criminal was actually hanged as the governor ordered, nor could his excellency be persuaded, that, by this very act, he was himself committing felony."
* An anecdote not less curious than the former is related by the Tame author of another military governor, who, it seems, took it into his head to suspend a gentleman from his seat in the council, for no other reason than marrying his daughter without his consent.
It may be said, perhaps, that in these cases the mischief to the public, exclusive of the precedent, was not very great. I could produce, however, many an instance, in the conduct of governors, in which something more would appear, I am afraid, than mere folly, and the ignorant misapplication of authority. Eut the tail is invidious, and I willingly decline it.
Under the head Commerce, Mr. Edwards is abundantly copious, but as this part of the work con ásts of a train of rea. foning, founded on accounts, calculations, &c. it is impolible for us to give the reader any idea of it by an extract. It appears to present the most accurate as well as the fulleit account of the West India trade that can be procured; and the author labours, not unsuccessfully, to repell the attempts by which, on any temporary advance in the prices of West Indian products, the public discontent is pointed towards the inhabitants of the sugar islands. He contends that such attempts are partial, because they consider the burthens and wants of the consumers on one side, without adverting to the burthens and distresses of the colonists on the other; and that they are unjust, as their manifest aim is to extend to rivals and foreigners, whose trade is not subject to the controui of British laws, those advantages which have been purchased by, and stand exclufively pledged to, the British West Indies, whose trade is still to be left bound by our regulations. He opposes, with confiderable strength of argument, the design of a sugar culture in the East Indies, and maintains that the hopes arising from the supposed success of such a scheme, are delusive.
We cannnot conclude our sketch of this History, without recommending it as by far the most perfect and accurate of any we have seen. The candour and abilities of the author, eminently qualified him for the work, and he lias executed it with fewer errors than could have been expected in one professedly interested to a great degree in oppofing certain popular doctrines respecting the importance of the West India itlands. The style is every where neat, and oiten animated. But the chief value of the work arises from its containing a vast quantity of authentic documents, not less interesting to the curious reader, than to the merchant and the politician.
A two sheet map is given of the West Indies, which, as far as we have examined, bears marks of accuracy. One on a less scale would have been more commodious in a book. :