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The products of Peru for exportation, consist principally of the precious metals, tin, Jesuits' bark,* cotton, common and Vicunia wool, hides, &c. The staple product of Peru is the precious metals. The working of the mines, which was pretty much suspended during the revolution, is again commencing with much spirit; and in a few years, from the introduction of improved methods of working, of machinery, the investment of foreign capital, and other causes, there will be greater quantities of metal produced than in any former period, and a diminution of the commerce price—at least of silver—will be the necessary result. Gold will not be produced, I imagine, in an equal ratio to silver; and from this probable circumstance, a hint might be derived, to make the former metal, instead of the latter, our regulating standard of value, as is the case in England. There is reason to believe, as I think, that the
laws, so far as they relate to themselves, and are bound to respect them, while within the waters of the foreign country—at any rate, they cannot rightfully lend a hand to aid in their violation. They cannot protect, with their guns, smuggled goods, knowing them to be smuggled, or stolen goods, knowing them to be such, any more than a thief, or a murderer, whom they know to have committed the crime.
You may not, perhaps, understand the mode in which this business of deposit is carried on. When cash or bullion are received on board, a bill of lading, in the ordinary form, is made out and signed by the commander, and these bills pass in the money market of Lima, as cash, or bank notes.
They may be remitted to any part of the coast, or the world, if you please ; and as there have been no failures among any of the commanders as yet, (the forgery of the bills of Captain
Searle, of the Hyperion, and a considerable robbery on board another English frigate, not having produced that effect,) the credit of them rests on a pretty firm basis. A commander who understands the mystery of financiering-of ways and means, and raising the wind, might do a business here to the extent of any of our brokers, or banking institutions, at home. It would only be necessary to convert his ship into an office of discount, as well as of deposit; and issue his bills of lading upon fictitious deposits, and then the “work would go bravely on." These bills remitted to Chile or Guayaquil, would be the same as cash, (less, the one per cent. deposit,) and tine would be gained before payment required, and two per cent. a month might be demanded, and would be readily paid. Again, bills may be issued, cashed in Lima, and bullion purchased, smuggled on board, and sold there, at an advance; and thus a concern of some thousands be happily consummated in a few hours, without the actual advance of a single dollar, but by the well known process of “flying kites.” And, after all, no great harm done, except the degradation of the National Flag, and the violation of the laws of a friendly nation. But this will suffice.
* I have used the common name for this sub ance. It is kn here under the names of Chincona, Cascarilla, Quinaquina, Quina, Polvos de ta Condesa, Polvos de los Jesuitas, Collisalla.
more fluctuating value of, silver, even at present, unfavourably affects our commercial exchanges with that country.
It has been asserted by an English engineer, who has published
a survey of the mines of Pasco, that they are inexhaustible, and might be made to yield 25,000,000 dollars annually ; which would exceed the annual product of all the mines of Spanish America at any former period, according to the statements of Humboldt. Much capital must, however, be previously expended to drain them of water, and put them in convenient operation. The three steam engines, introduced a few years ago by the Philippine company, cost, when erected in Pasco, $800,000; two of them were nearly destroyed by the Spaniards, the other, which was buried, and thus escaped destruction, has been again put in operation, and as I have been informed, lowered the water in the principal mine three yards in the first twenty-four hours. Such, however, is the scarcity of fuel, that it is doubtful whether these engines can be used to advantage, at least in Pasco. No coal has yet been discovered in its vicinity, although it abounds in other parts of Peru, particularly in the province of Huarochisi, and at Talcahuano in Chile.
There are few, if any, natives of this country, possessed of sufficient capital, or even of the requisite enterprise, to carry on mining operations to any great extent, and the mines will therefore principally fall into the hands of foreign capitaliststhat is to say, the English. They were formerly chiefly owned and worked by the old Spaniards, who have now been driven from the country; and how completely, will appear from the fact, that during the first year of the protectorate, their number in this city alone, was reduced, in various ways, from 10,000 to 600!
The principal mines of Pasco, have recently been rented of the government by an English company, and before the contract was made here, the stock was already in the London market, at a premium of 36 per cent. These mines, which are nearly at the elevation of perpetual snow, are nevertheless situated in a pampa, and were they not so liable to be choked with water, could be easily worked. Those members of the British parliament-Mr.Hobhouse and others—who have represented them as impossible to be worked, in consequence of their great elevation, are mistaken-for the climate is not unfriendly even to foreign constitutions, and the natives are remarkably healthy and robust. The climate is accounted even healthier than that of the coast; and in the time of the Incas, banishment from the interior to Lima, was inflicted as a
punishment, in consequence of the greater unhealthiness of the Jatter. The Cerro de Pasco is 153 miles distant from Lima, lat. 10° 56', in a N. E. direction, and the town at present contains about 8,000 inhabitants. The road, or rather mule path, from this city, is the worst imaginable; however, when the 25,000,000 annually are produced, we may expect an iron rail-way, (if not one of a more precious metal,) and steamcoaches.
Cotton is produced in considerable quantities in the northern provinces, particularly Piura, for exportation. The ordinary price has been two cents per lb. uncleaned. It has beretofore been cleaned by hand, but several gins have been recently brought out from the enterprising town of Providence,* R. 1., and will shortly be put in operation. The quantity that will hereafter be exported, will probably be considerable. It is considered to be superior to our uplands; the climate, as I should suppose, must be favourable to its successful cultivation.
Wool is also produced for exportation. This is a branch of trade, in which the mother country may be hereafter rivalled by her colonies. The sheep are fed in the high and cold districts, called by Humboldt, table lands, situated between the Cordilleras; and the breed is said to have been originally brought from Old Castile. The wool is fine, and much superior to our common wool, or that from the provinces of the La Plata. The price, deliverable in Lima, is from eight to ten cents per lb. ; one half being paid for transportation from the interior, on account of the present scarcity of mules. The number of sheep has been, of course, greatly reduced during the revolution; and I know one Hacienda, which has lost at least 50,000. Some of these estates, belonging to the late Peruvian nobility, or the church, are 40 leagues in extent, and before the war possessed from 70 to 100,000 of sheep and horned cattle. They sustain no other vegetation, except a short, wirey, yellow grass, growing on a peat bog, but on which cattle of all descriptions seem to thrive well. The elevation of these districts is about 13,000 feet above the level of the sea.t
* This city carries on more commerce with this coast, and from hence to Canton, than any other in the United States; a circumstance which is owing to the extensive manufactories in the neighbourhood, in addition to the mercantile enterprise of its citizens.
f I visited these inhospitable regions a few weeks since, and although I left Lima in the depth of winter, (August,) yet was told that it was sum
Vicuña wool. This beautiful article is finer, I imagine, than hair of the Cashmere goat, and might be used to advantage in various manufactures. It is here wrought into hats, which are extremely durable, and beautiful in their texture. Protecting laws have been published by General Bolivar, in regard to this peculiar production of Peru—the Vicuña—for the purpose of encouraging its domestication. A bounty is offered with this object, and a penalty imposed for killing them under any pretext; a fleece having cost, heretofore, the life of the animal. This is called 66 a new branch of national industry, from which grand advantages are expected to result to Peru." Two successive decrees were issued by Bolivar, when in Cuzco, upon this subject, in which he seems to have taken a peculiar interest; and the Vicuña has now become so much in repute, that one was recently led in procession through the streets of Lima. A figure of the animal also appears in the national standard, and is stamped upon the new coinage of their dollar.
I wish to add a few more remarks upon our commerce to this country, and shall then.conclude this long, and, I am afraid, tedious letter.
There will be a considerable trade from this coast to the East Indies, China, and the islands in the Pacific Ocean, which will be carried on, particularly that to Canton, in American shipping. This is an advantage which our country derives from the wisdom of the English laws, in continuing the East
mer there; and summer as it was, it was nevertheless as cold as our January. Eighty miles from Lima, I passed fields of ripe barley, and the Indian corn had just been gathered. There is no variety of seasons on these table lands, except wet and dry. I found the people living in stone huts, without chimneys, or any aperture except the door, and breathing an atmosphere loaded, night and day, with the smoke of their peat, compounded, I should imagine, of carbonic acid, sulphur, and antimony. I recommended them to build chimneys, and get rid of this pestilential vapour; but they answered, “ that it was impossible, as they had no boards." I hinted that there were stones plenty, but perceiving that the subject was not interesting, I dropped it. The fact is, their fathers lived so before them, and they inherited this antimonial smoke along with their estates.
Each of these Haciendas has a private chapel, in which the deceased members of the family are buried, and one thing struck me as a little surprising, among a people so proverbially superstitious, or even pretending to civilization—that when any of the family dies, the bones of the one who went before are raked out of the grave, and carelessly thrown into ne corner of the chapel, apparently like so much rubbish! I take it, that this abhorrent custom is peculiar to the table lands of Peru.
India Company's monopoly. An American vessel recently sailed from this port to Canton, which was chartered in Buenos Ayres; and our ships have frequently been chartered in Chile for the same voyage. During the last twelve months, four American vessels, which sold their cargoes on this coast, have sailed for Canton, with their specie, to purchase return cargoes, either for this or the home market; and there are now five or six more here, bound on the like voyage. This, so far as it extends, is a profitable branch of trade, in which, fortunately for us, we do not encounter the rivalry of England. Omnipotent as it is, it does not, in this instance, pursue us quite round the globe, but leaves us the sandal wood of the Sandwich Islands, and the trade of this coast with Canton. Lima, Sept. 21st, 1825.
A MEDITATION ON RHODE-ISLAND COAL.
Decolor obscurus, vilis, non ille repexam
Indus litoribus rubra scrutatur in alga.—Claudian.
With Newport coal, and as the flame grew bright The many-coloured flame—and played and leaped,
I thought of rainbows and the northern light, Moore's Lalla Rookh, the Treasury Report, And, other brilliant matters of the sort.
And last I thought of that fair isle which sent
The mineral fuel. On a summer day
once, with heat and travel spent,
The deep-worn path, and horror-struck, I thought,
This long, dull road, so narrow, deep, and hot ?