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Estimate of all the Exports to foreign countries from Canton, and those from Shanghai in British vessels during the year 1845.
Description Aggregate Estimated In what ship. exported. From Estimated
Nankeens, dyed cottons peculs, 436 21,084 253 22, 12, 18] .. 54 52. . . . 25 56 3,000 Paper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . " 54 -
2,495 36,770 2,149 48, 35. 156 8 13 32 . . -
The rate of exchange calculated in these tables has been 4s. 3d. stg. per dollar at Canton, and 4s.2d. at Shanghai; the market
The contraband trade in opium is estimated to amount to upwards of forty thousand chests, at a sale price of twenty millions of dollars; which with the pearls, gold and silver ware, and precious stones, and other articles smuggled, the Spanish and other trade at Amoy, added to the above amounts, will swell the total of the foreign trade to about eighty-five millions of dollars annually, exclusive of the Russian trade at Kiakhta. The consumption of tea in England is about 58 millions of pounds annually; in the United States it is between 16 and 18 millions; in the Netherlands, 2 millions; Russia, 5 millions; Germany, 3 millions; New South Wales, 4 millions; and Spain, France, and elsewhere, 3 millions; the aggregate of 700 millions of pounds has been mentioned as the consumption of China itself, but this is a mere guess.
The prospects for the rapid extension of the foreign trade with China are not very promising, except in a few articles. The raw produce furnished from that country is very trifling, silk and alum being the chief; and there is little probability of any great increase in the exportation of her manufactured articles, except tea and silk goods. The opium trade has been for many years nearly fifteen millions of dollars in excess of the regular exchange of commodities, and the drainage of the country for this balance will probably go on as long as the taste for this pernicious narcotic continues, or there is specie to pay for it. To legalize the opium trade would make no material difference in the exportation of specie as long as the balance of imports so greatly exceeds the exports. England may make every effort to supply China with her manufactures, but so long as the Chinese furnish so little that she wants beyond a supply of tea, it is difficult to perceive with what they are to pay for all the cottons and woollens it is hoped they will buy. Besides the drain of the precious metals in payment for opium, the extended use of that article, in a comparative measure, paralyzes the productive powers of the consumers, and disables them from reproducing their share to the general capital of the country.
Foreign Intercourse with China.
THE notices which the research of authors has collected respecting the intercourse between China and the west, and the principal facts of interest, are so well arranged in the first three chapters of Sir John Davis’ work, that it is needless to enter minutely into their detail. In truth, the very terms intercourse and ambassies, so often used with reference to the nations of Eastern Asia, indicate a peculiar state of relations with them; for while other courts send and receive resident ministers, those of China, Japan, Corea, and Cochinchina, keep themselves aloof from this national interchange of civilities; they neither understand its principles, care for its commencement, nor appreciate its advantages. Ambassies have been sent by most European nations to the two first, which have tended rather to strengthen their assumptions of supremacy than to enlighten them as to the real objects and wishes of the courts proposing such courtesies. The commercial intercourse has, like the political, either been forced upon or begged of these governments, constantly subject to those vexatious restrictions and interruptions, which might be expected from such ill-defined arrangements; and though mutually advantageous, has never been conducted on those principles of reciprocity and equality, which characterize commerce at the west. The rulers and merchants of these oriental nations are not yet sufficiently acquainted with their own and others’ rights to be able or willing to enter into close political and commercial relations with European powers. Both magistrates and people are ignorant and afraid of the resources, power, and designs of Christian nations, and consequently disinclined to admit them or their subjects to unrestrained intercourse. When western adventurers, as Pinto, Andrade, Weddell, and others came to the shores of China and Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries, they found the
governments disposed to traffic, but the conquests subsequently made by Europeans in the neighboring regions of Luçonia, Java, and India, and their cruel treatment of the natives, led these two powers to apprehend like results for themselves, if they did not soon take precautionary measures of exclusion and restriction. Nor can there be much doubt that this policy was the safest measure, in order to preserve their independence, and maintain their authority over even their own subjects. The belief entertained by Europeans at that period that the pope had a right to dispose of all pagan lands, only wanted men and means to be everywhere carried into effect; and if the Chinese and Japanese governments had allowed Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English colonists to settle and increase within their borders, they would probably long since have crumbled to pieces, and their ter. ritories been possessed by others. Might made right more generally among nations then than it does now ; at least they resorted to force more summarily than they do at present. The hope may be expressed, however, that the six governments of Farther Asia or Chin-India, from Birmah and Siam to Corea and Japan, may preserve their independence, while their people are elevated and Christianized, and thus enabled to take their proper place among the nations of the earth. The first recorded knowledge of China among the nations of the west, does not date further back than Ptolemy the celebrated geographer, who seems also himself to have been indebted to a Tyrian author named Marinus. Previous to this period, however, the account of the existence of the land of Confucius, and an appreciation and demand for the splendid silks made there, had reached Europe, the country, the people, and the fabrics of that distant land, all being invested with a halo of power and wealth which has not yet entirely vanished. There are strong reasons for supposing the land of Sinim to be China, which would make Isaiah to be the first writer extant who has mentioned those regions. The true position of the Sinae and Seres, and the nature of the textures called serica and bombycina, mentioned by Horace, Arrian, and other writers before Ptolemy, have been carefully investigated by Gosselin, Vincent, and others, whose researches only show how vague was the information then possessed. According to the Periplus of Arrian, the city of Thina can hardly be placed further east than Si-ngan fu, and perhaps is not now in existence; Ptolemy speaks of a large town of that