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from this most unfortunate struggle. I know I speak your own sentiments when I say that every Englishman deeply regrets this struggle has taken place. We may wholly and entirely abominate the continuance of slavery in one section of that country, but we at the same time cannot but deeply regret its citizens should meet in hostile array, and we should see the unfortunate spectacle which that great republic now presents.
I think the principles upon which we founded this association are not stronger to-day than they were at first, though probably they are more extensively recognised. It is
, however, a matter of regret that in the district which is more especially interested in discussing this question of obtaining a wider area for the supply of the raw material, we have so little of the interest and excitement found in other parts of the country. I have lately, with some other members of the Council, been on a deputation to London, and we found in every circle—whether the high circles of members of parliament and the nobility, or amongst the different merchants in the city--the great and absorbing question asked, "What are you doing in Lancashire, and what is to be the result there of this impending crisis in America ?” That being the case, I think you must admit the paragraph in the report which states that now at least the trade of this country ought to congratulate itself that this association has been formed, and is working so successfully, is based on most satisfactory evidence. Had you been called together unexpectedly in consequence of this great crisis in America, you would have been without experience on this question; you would have had no information such as that now presented to you; and, being without any safe guide, the result probably would have been that you would have had various schemes totally unsound in their principles and objects, and which would have brought you into much trouble and loss, without achieving any of the objects at which they attained.
But your position now is this: You are possessed of information from every part of the world where cotton can be cultivated, with the exception of one country—I allude to China. It may be, we cannot expect to have supplies of cotton from that country, because it is an opponent of ourselves in the Indian market; but as we are now opening up the interior of that country, it is thought desirable we should obtain some information on the subject, and our foreign secretary (Lord John Russell) has kindly offered to send out instructions to our ambassadors and consuls to make inquiries for our guidance. We are, therefore, in a position to show you what are the sources upon which you may rely in the emergency on which we are now entering. Let us, however, recognise, as we ought to do, the superior advantages which the American planter has over any other individual in the growth of cotton. I am afraid we too often neglect this. We see men lightly sitting down to write an article, and saying cotton can be grown in this country and the other, without seeing the formidable obstacles which are in the way.
What is the position of the American planter ? In the first place, he has the pre-eminent advantage of being an Anglo-Saxon, endowed with all the enterprise, skill and energy connected with that character. He is planted in a country whose soil and climate are peculiarly adapted to the culture of cotton—a culture which extends from the very lowest to the very finest quality. He is, from his intelligence and position, adequately acquainted with the wants of the consumer; he knows as well as we do what we want. He has the advantage of a country covered with roads, railways and water navigation; he is able, with the greatest possible economy, to convey his produce to the port, and when he gets it there he has capital at hand to assist him in sending it on a short and speedy voyage to the great markets of the world. Now this is the man we are called to contend with; and what are the places in the world in a condition to contend with this individual ?
It does so happen that from the information which your association possesses, we find that there are only two spots on the globe that possess the very first requisite for cotton cultivation, and that is labor. You have only the west coast of Africa, and the great continent of India, in which you have labor to employ. Every other country possessing soil and climate to grow a quality of cotton equal, and in some respects superior to that which America produces, has to contend with the want of labor. Take the case, first, of our own West India colonies. There is no doubt you have there climate and soil for the production of a most valuable quality of cotton; and, looking back forty or thirty years ago, a very considerable supply was sent from those islands to this country. But since the abolition of slavery there has been a want of labor.
Mr. Cross.—Before the abolition of slavery.
The Chairman.—Well, perhaps it was ; but since the abolition of slavery there has been'a want of labor, and I regret that our jealousy of again encouraging the traffic should have been carried to the extent of forbidding the planters a carefully guarded immigration of foreign labor to assist in the cultivation of the plantations. In addition to that, another and a more formidable difficulty presents itself in the fact that the culture of sugar and coffee are more advantageous to the planter than the culture of cotton; and, therefore, while I am glad to see any parties whatever directing their attention to these colonies, yet still I sec, in the absence of labor, and in the presence of more highly remunerative articles of cultivation, too great difficulties to hope for any large supplies thence. The same argument applies to Natal. I have friends in that colony who give the best and safest information, and they say that capital and enterprise will be directed to the cultivation of sugar and coffee. We shall get small lots from thence, but we shall have nothing like a steady and abundant cultivation of cotton.
Crossing over to Australia, we have there a climate and soil-especially in the colony of Queensland-cqual to the production of the finest and most useful qualities, and there are no other products to disturb the attention of the cultivator. I have great hopes, therefore, with the immigration of Indian and Chinese coolies, that in the course of time something would be done there, and a large cultivation carried on.
We now come to South America. Forty years ago we were very largely dependent upon Brazil for the supply of a very valuable quality of cotton; but there the same element meets us as in the West Indian Islands. You find the cultivation of coffee and sugar more remunerative than that of cotton, and the consequence has been that Brazil, which at one period furnished us with 200,000 bales annually, now only returns 100,000 bales, and I expect the supply from that quarter will gradually become nearly extinct.
Chili and Peru also produce cotton. We have had a gentleman from Peru here stating that their climate and soil are well adapted to the cultivation of cotton, and the small quantities which have come to us prove it. But they have no labor, and their government being opposed to the immigration of Chinese, they came to us to obtain our interest to procure the services of our own government to point out to theirs the advantages to be derived from bringing over the Chinese. Egypt is another cotton district. Within thirty years it has become a cotton country, growing a most valuable quality, and I believe is capable of a very considerable increase. But though you have labor, you have a government not alive to its own interest, and other difficulties of a kind which we are endeavoring to overcome.
We have decided that our commissioner shall proceed by way of Egypt to India, and, by the aid of our consul, show to the Pasha the great utility and prosperity that might result from his encouraging more largely the cultivation of cotton in his dominions. In Algiers, too, there is no question that you have a climate and soil adequate to the growth of very fine cotton. The French government has already been engaged in its cultivation, and some of the cotton grown there has been purchased by English spinners and found equal in quality to American. But, as I told a gentleman the other day in London, who said that they were getting up a joint-stock cotton company in Paris, they have no labor. The Arab is not a man who can be brought to that patient industry which such a cultivation requires; and the Emperor of the French, no doubt aware of this, and wishing to improve the cultivation of cotton, was most anxious to obtain that celebrated paragraph in the treaty with the Chinese which permits the free emigration of Chinese to other countries. Then we Turkey. Some gentlemen in London are very anxious to turn their attention to the cultivation of cotton there. Your association has supplied seed and gins for the cultivation of cotton in Syria, and we have had cotton sent us equal to the best New-Orleans samples; but here again we are beset by the difficulties of misgovernment, and a total neglect of the precautions necessary to ensure the security of life and property, and thus it is unsafe in the present state of things for any Englishman to venture his person and capital in the undertaking.
It appears to me, then, that the energies of the trade at the present crisis should be chiefly directed to two places. The first I would allude to, where there is abundant labor, is the west coast of Africa, and a quality of cotton quite satisfactory, yet you are beset by a formidable difficulty. You are amongst a people rude, barbarous and uncivilized ; you have hostile tribes frequently, as at the present moment, at deadly war with each other; and thus the efforts which my friend Mr. Clegg has made, and which do him so much credit, and the efforts which this association have endeavored to make, are at the present moment in a great degree arrested by this unfortunate hostility and warfare amongst the tribes there. Then, again, you have the climate on the west coast of Africa, which is so detrimental to Europeans. I was told by Mr. Clegg that he had lost either eleven or thirteen agents; and this association has lost the aid of three gentlemen to whom they had entrusted the carrying out of their views. Now, though I do hope to see in progress of time a considerable supply of cotton from Africa, I despair of its giving us any material assistance for some years to come.
India, then, must be our chief reliance. It is calculated that the present production of cotton there is not less than 6,000,000 bales annually.
The country, too, is under our own government, so that we have that advantage which we do not possess in many others, and it has, also, an abundance of free labor. We have no question of slavery to battle or grapple with, but at the same time there are most formidable difficulties there as compared with the position of the planter in America. In the first place, the cultivation is not in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon; there is no such man scarcely in the cotton districts as an Englishman. The cultivator is the ryot, a small farmer holding a few acres of land, and so poor that his seed has to be furnished by a banker, and when the crop arrives at maturity it is taken by this banker almost at his own price, which very seldom exceeds 17d. or 14d. per pound. It is cleaned in a very imperfect way, and sold by the banker to a dealer. The dealer falsely mixes it and packs it for the purpose of increasing his profit. Then, again, it is transferred from him to another dealer, undergoing a similar operation. When it reaches the hands of the native dealer at Bombay, it is pressed in large presses and sold to the English merchant. There is, therefore, the absence of European superintendence; and scarcely any produce whatever of the soil of India arrives at any satisfactory degree of cultivation without European superintendence; while you have no roads to the seaboard, no water communication, no railways, although there is a probability that shortly some will be put to our use. These are the disadvantages under which you labor as compared with the American planter.
There is another serious obstacle, and that, strange to say, under our own government. It was the understood and never-deviating principle of the Board of Control that no land should ever be sold to a European. You have, further, the jealousy of the civil service against any intrusion on the part of the European trader, who was and is denounced as an interloper. It is not at all surprising that under these disadvantages the cotton which you get from India is the worst grown in the whole world, that it fetches at all times the lowest prices, and when we come to talk to a great number of consumers, and ask them to look to India for a supply of cotton, they smile with incredulity, and say, if you direct your sympathies to any other part of the globe, they may agree with you. Now we have, from the inquiries which we have made, ascertained the possibility not only of increasing the quantity of cotton exported from India (which to my mind is quite a secondary consideration,) but also of realizing the other object which we have in view, and that is, elevating the quality to the standard of American cotton; so that in the event of a failure there, you have another country on which to rely. That is the great object we have in hand; and unless that can be obtained, I should despair of India.
We are charged, however, with not giving a sufficiently remunerative price to the Indian ryot. This has been the old stock-song for the last twenty years with everybody-from the Indian secretary down to his most humble subordinate. Now, one would have thought that practical men of the world would have seen, in the quaint language of HUDIBRAS, “the value of a thing is what it will bring ;" and if Indian cotton will not bring a fair price, it is because the planter does not grow that which the consumer wants. You know last year there was a very abundant crop of cotton in America—especially of the inferior qualities; that the prices were comparatively low; and that the very
lowest of the American cotton, when clean, is far more suitable to the wants of the English spinner than Indian cotton. The consequence was, whilst last year the Indian export of cotton to Great Britain was 600,000 bales, the consumption here only reached to some 173,000 bales ; so that had not the Russian, Germans and Swedes come in to take this cotton away, you would have had more than 400,000 bales piled up in the warehouses of Liverpool, indicative of its unsuitableness to the great proportion of our own consumers.
And this is not the case with last year only; but since 1855 we have received into the ports of this country from India 2,974,000 bales, or an average annual import of 496,000 bales, while our average annual consumption during this time has only been 266,000 bales; so that you have had an excess of imports over consumption annually of 230,000 bales of Indian cotton during this period. This excess has been carried away to the Continent; and so I find, while our annual consumption for the last six years has been 266,000 bales of Indian cotton, that of the Continent has been 286,000 bales. India, however, is capable of producing a much larger quantity for exportation than 600,000 bales annually. The exports of cotton from Bombay in the first four months of the present year are double in amount of those in the corresponding period of last year; and if this is continued throughout the year, probably 1,200,000 bales may be shipped from thence. I think we may fairly calculate to receive in this country 900,000 or 1,000,000 bales from India during the year; and I am happy to say there is a much larger proportion of it good cotton than has ever been received before. The association is, therefore, turning its attention to India, but not to it exclusively. We are ready to aid every other country which seems prepared to take up the cultivation of cotton; and it is singular that in the fourth year of our existence our correspondence is increasing, our connections extending, and our labors increasing also.
We have already been enabled to devote the development of this superior cotton cultivation in India, into the hands of a limited cotton company, the chairman of the executive of which is my friend, Mr. John Platt, of Oldham, and I have no doubt there will be no want of energy in carrying out its operations. To facilitate these, it has been decided to send our secretary, Mr. Haywood, to India, in the character of a commissioner, and Sir Charles Wood has very kindly placed the services of Dr. FORBES—who, I believe, is on the platform at this moment-at our disposal, and who will accompany Mr. II aYWOOD on his mission. Their object will be to establish first at Dharwar, where the cultivation of NewOrleans seed is progressing, and afterwards in such other parts of India as may appear suitable, a number of English agents, probably those intimately acquainted with the habits of the natives and their language, to promote the cultivation of the higher classes of cotton. If we distribute samples of these seeds, and offer for their cultivation a much higher remuneration to the ryots, we are told they will be quite as alive to the workings of self-interest as any class of people. Your association have thought it necessary to bring under the notice of government the difficulties which will impede the operation of the Cotton Company in India, and a deputation accordingly went a few days ago to London.
We have drawn the attention of government to, and have petitioned both houses of parliament upon three points, one of which is, that if