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* Should be 41. 158. 74d. + Should be 11 l. 6s. - d.
9. I proceed to analyse the items of which this cost price is made up:
$1 76 0
0 41 1
0 17 6
Maintenance of stock
Carriage to market, stores, provisions,
Deduct value of offal crop
Add interest on capital invested in lands and
$5 16 0
10. The data on which this statement is made, I can thoroughly rely on as giving the maximum cost of the cultivation of sugar in Barbados. They have been obtained from the reports of two agricultural societies, consisting of experienced planters; and where those societies differed in opinion, I took the highest figure given by either, so that my estimate exceeds theirs. I further compared those estimates with actual balance-sheets of the operations of a year on well-conducted estates, and I have tested their accuracy in various other ways.
11. Those calculations were made some years ago, and I am convinced that they are excessive, or rather that during the interval which has since elapsed, greater economy has been introduced into the management of sugar estates in this Island.
12. That I am correct in this assertion, would not be disputed in Barbados. At $3. 97. per 100 lbs., less allowance for offal $ 1. 35., the hogshead weighing 1,700 lbs., would cost without allowance for interest, $44. 54., or 97. 5 s. 7 d., and this is much too high.
13. My own belief is, that at least 20 per cent. may be deducted from the aggregate charges, which would reduce the cost of the hogshead of sugar, exclusive of interest, and after giving credit for the offal crop, to $31. 30., or 6 l. 10 s. 5 d. per hhd. The value of the rum (40 c. per gallon), molasses (20 c. per gallon), and provisions as above stated, is in accordance with the estimates of the agricultural societies, and though very much below the prices which have lately ruled in this market, would be $ 22. 95. per hhd., or 4 l. 17 s. 8 d.,* which added to 6 l. 10 s. 5 d., gives 11 l. 8 s. 1 d.† as the cost of a hogshead of sugar, including the offal crop; and this, it will be generally admitted, is the full average cost.
14. I have been particular in these explanations because, on the one hand, I have determined to understate my case, and have therefore taken the highest estimates I could find of the cost of producing sugar even when made with less economy than at present; while, on the other hand, I have desired to guard myself from the imputation of ignorance of the real cost of production. The value of the offal crop is of course subject to constant fluctuation, and the cost of production per 100 lbs. must depend on the seasons. It may therefore be proper to explain that the expenses are the cost of working an estate having about 120 acres of cane land, 60 in canes and 60 in preparation, and which, according to my estimate, would yield 100 hhds. of sugar, though in a very favourable season 120 would be obtained, and in an unfavourable one perhaps not more than 80, or occasionally even less.
15. Having now laid fully before you the cost of the production of sugar in Barbados, it remains for me to consider what it ought to cost in Grenada. There are many points in which that Colony has the advantage over Barbados, especially in the land requiring less foreign manure, which is becoming more and more expensive, and in the cost of moulding. I shall not, however, urge any deduction on this account. In the items of lumber, provision, casks, wear and tear of machinery, maintenance of stock, Grenada does not labour under any disadvantage. The advantage of Barbados is generally said to consist in its abundance of labour; but, in point of fact, wages are fully as high, if not higher, in this colony than in Grenada, while the capital invested is five times greater. The official returns too show that, in proportion to the number of estates, Grenada has a larger quantity of land in canes than Barbados.
16. The effect of such high prices as have lately been obtained for sugar would in most countries have produced a corresponding increase in the rate of wages; but in Barbados, owing to the density of the population, the advance has fallen on real estate, which has in consequence materially risen in price. In the other Colonies, where labour is scarce and land abundant and cheap, wages, and not land, ought to benefit by the advance in the price of sugar.
17. The Grenada planter being at much less charge for the interest on capital, which is $2. 54. per 100 lbs. in Barbados, and certainly not more than 50 c. per 100 lbs, in Grenada, could afford to give 1s. 6d. per day for labour, and still cultivate sugar much more economically than the Barbados planter, even admitting, which I am willing to do, that his offal crop would be less valuable.
18. Some other cause then must be sought for to account for the great prosperity of the planters in Barbados, and I have no hesitation in affirming that it is owing partly to their agricultural skill which has enabled them, under many disadvantages, to prosecute cultivation successfully, but mainly to their judicious treatment of the labouring classes, which stands out in bold relief as an example to the West Indies.
19. It is indeed a most remarkable fact that in this Island where, owing to the superabundance of the population, the price of labour has been kept at a nominally low rate; and where land is both scarce and dear, the labouring classes are on the whole so well off that they cannot be tempted to emigrate.
20. I attribute this, in a great degree, to the liberality of the planters. They are unable to rent much land to their labourers, but they have encouraged them in industrial pursuits, and thus the labourer has obtained indirect advantages much greater than his mere wages.
21. Thus the labourers raise a large portion of the young cane plants which are bought from them by their employers. They are encouraged to cultivate canes on their provisiongrounds, and the planter lends his boiling-house, taking only one-fourth of the produce, while in other Colonies one-half is usually demanded, and every discouragement is thrown on the cultivation of the sugar-cane by the labourers. Job-work is resorted to whenever practicable, by which industry is encouraged and rewarded.
22. The Barbados planter has been amply compensated for his liberality and his attention to the interests of his labourers by their industry, and what is better still, their attachment to the land on which they live. It is melancholy indeed to have to assert that in other Colonies the policy pursued has been to alienate the affections of the creole labourers by the importation of foreigners, and to endanger their civilization by forcing them to abandon that labour for which they are especially fitted.
23. I am well aware that I am affirming a proposition at variance with that which is generally inculcated by the planters of the West Indies. It is usual to throw blame upon the creole, who, it is said, has abandoned labour, and has fled to the woods, that he may live in barbarism and idleness.
24. I wish candidly to examine this proposition; I desire that an inquiry should be instituted fairly and dispassionately as to what encouragement has been given to the creole labourer. I shall refer specially to the case of Grenada, but my argument will equally apply to other Colonies, even though the rates of wages may be dissimilar.
25. The established wages in Grenada are 10d. a day, though I have already proved that a Grenada planter can afford to give 50 per cent. more than Barbados rates, owing to the cheapness of land. However, the rate being 10d., and a deficiency of labour existing, it has been determined to import coolies. The principle on which coolie immigration has been hitherto conducted is, that all the expenses of passage out and home are paid by the Colony, the labourer receiving the current wages. What then is the extra cost of coolie labour? I do not hesitate to aflirm that it is not less than 6 d. a day. The rate of passage for the coolies brought to Grenada was 11. 11 s. for each adult. In five years they must be sent back at an equal cost; this is exclusive of doctors, interpreter, agents in India, &c. But you are aware that 32 adults have already died out of the late cargo per "Maidstone," which is about 12 per cent., and which has already caused a total loss to the Colony of nearly 4007. on that cargo.
26. I estimate the cost of each coolie imported, including return-passage, at not less than 307.; and as the industrial residence is five years, this amounts to 67. per annum. The working days in the year, allowing for 20 holidays, are 240, so that the extra expense of a coolie is 6d. a day. Then, again, you announce to me a most extraordinary fact, which I must not omit to notice, though it is at variance with the impression which I formed when in Grenada. You state that, in addition to his wages of 10 d., the coolie is entitled to provision-ground of at least one acre, and that "he is better off than the native labourer, who has neither house nor medical attendance provided for him." An acre of land and a house ought certainly to be worth 18. 8d. per week, or 4 d. a day. The rent of the negro houses in Barbados is 10d. a week, or 2d. a day, and they should be worth as much in Grenada. In Barbados one quarter of an acre of land rents from 5 d. to 10 d. a week, that is, 1 s. 8 d. to 3s. 4 d. per acre. Taking land in Grenada at half the value of the minimum rates in Barbados, it should yield 10d. per acre per week, which, added to 10 d. for the house, gives 1s. 8d. per week, or 4 d. per day.
27. Thus, then, the creole labourer gets 10 d. per day, while the coolie is to receive 10d. wages, 4 d. in house and land, and 6 d. in cost of importation and removal, in all 1s. 8 d. per day, or exactly double the wages of the creole. I am inclined to hope that this is an exaggerated view of the case, and that you must have been led into some error as to the coolie being "better off than the creole" with reference to a house and grounds. When in Grenada my impression certainly was, that the creole labourer was not charged rent for his provision-grounds. Be this as it may, the system pursued is a most vicious one, which has been completely abandoned in Barbados. The labourer should receive full money wages, and be charged a fair rental per acre for his land, on which he would probably put up his own house.
28. Though I hope that you will be able to show that the creole labourer is not subjected to the injustice of being charged rent for house and grounds, which are given free of such a charge to the coolie, there is a feature in the Grenada immigration system which I cannot, in treating of the question, omit to notice. I have already pointed out that the coolies expenses add 6d. per day to the cost of his labour; but it seems almost incredible that the creole labourer should be taxed to make up that 6 d., and yet such is the fact. The immi
gration funds are raised in Grenada by a tax on the consumption of rum, which it is notorious
29. It is generally admitted that the creole labourers are fully alive to all acts of injustice, and it is not, therefore, to be wondered at that such a policy as I have described should have alienated their affections from the planters, and inspired them in some places with a deep hatred of the foreigners brought into the country at their expense to compete with them in the labour market.
30. Fully convinced in my own mind that coolie immigration into these Colonies is wholly unnecessary, and calculated to lead to most deplorable results in the future, from which none will suffer so severely as the planters who have demanded it, and whose erroneous policy has led persons at a distance and unacquainted with facts to believe in the deficiency of labour. I nevertheless think that a system might be devised that, at all events, would not be inconsistent with justice to the creole.
Before attempting to introduce new labourers to receive current wages, and whose expenses would constitute an extra charge on the Colony receiving them, I think that the current wages should be advanced to such rate as the existing wages with the cost of the immigrant would amount to.
31. Thus, if in Grenada, the current wages are 10d. a day, without a house and land, and if the planters are prepared to import coolies at an extra cost of 6 d. a day, and 4d. extra in the form of house and land, they ought, it seems to me, to raise the wages of the creole to 1s. 8d. before importing coolies at that cost. Then, instead of the coolie being informed that he would be carried back and forward at the expense of the Colony, and at the same time receive full wages, he should be told that he would receive a fixed rate per diem, which should be less than the current wages by as much as would be sufficient to meet his expenses, The planter requiring such labour should pay for it in such a mode as would indeninify the Colonial Government, the planter himself being indemnified by getting coolie labour at a less rate than the current wages. Under this system there would at least be no injustice to any class. The coolie would understand clearly the conditions on which he had to labour, and if he found the offered wages sufficient he would still emigrate.
32. I am, however, of opinion that coolie Immigration is, on many grounds, undesirable. The best labourer is the creole, and after him the African. I do not anticipate any denial of this assertion, but there is too much reason to fear that African labourers cannot be obtained. This should only stimulate the planters to recover that creole labour which they have most unwisely abandoned.
33. One means of doing so is by a large increase of wages, which I have clearly proved they can afford to give, and to which the labourer is justly entitled. I confess, however, that I rely much less upon this remedy than upon another which I shall proceed to explain, and on the success of which, if fairly tried, I entertain not the slightest doubt.
- 34. The cause of the abandonment of the sugar estates is, that it is much more
35. The most profitable kind of labour is the cultivation of the sugar-cane, and from that the Grenada labourer has generally been excluded, while the Barbados labourer, as I have already stated. has been encouraged in it.
36. The canes can only be manufactured at the mill of the proprietor; and therefore if cane cultivation on a small scale were encouraged, the employer would have an influence over the labourer such as in no other way he could obtain.
37. Land is abundant on the Grenada estates. It would be well worth the while of a planter to encourage, by every means in his power, a considerable number of labourers to settle on his estate, to raise provisions and canes, the latter to be manufactured on liberal terms, as in Barbados. The number should be regulated by the labour required at crop time, when a considerable extra force must be employed. At that time a planter could command the whole labour on his estate for the manufacture of his own crop, as well as that of his labourers.
38. At other seasons the labourers would have no difficulty in doing the estate work, in addition to their own; in fact, the planter would not have constant work for as many hands as he would require at crop time. He should give liberal wages, at least 1s. 4d. to 1s. 6d., charging a fair rent per acre for his land, and for a house, when rented; and he would employ his labourers as much as possible at job-work, which is in every way the most economical.
39. I am convinced that by following the course which I have pointed out above, a very large number of the labourers may even yet be recovered for the larger estates, though I admit that it will be much more difficult to bring them back, than it would have been to have retained them on the estates.
40. Whatever views may be entertained by the Grenada planters as to the correctness of my opinions, and as to the expediency of trying whether creole labour can be attracted to the sugar estates by adopting the policy which I have pointed out, one thing is clear, that unless they are prepared to adopt the rate of wages current in British Guiana and in Trinidad, they will be unable to obtain immigrants.
41. All immigration from the east and from Africa must be under the immediate supervision of Her Majesty's Government, and the labourers will, of course, choose the Colony
which presents the greatest advantages in the shape of wages. It will be difficult to make them understand that the prices of commodities are much higher in those Colonies. It may, however, be expedient to point out the heavy taxation on many of the necessaries of life, and also that in one of them a capitation tax is in force.
42. I have endeavoured to discuss this question solely upon economical grounds. I confess, however, that I look upon it as most important in the interests of humanity. It is a trite remark in these Colonies, that we have a great debt to pay to the African race. I think, however, that we do not fully comprehend how considerable a portion of that debt has been incurred by our conduct since the passing of the Emancipation Act.
43. That great experiment, for such it was, has been watched with anxious attention by the slaveholders throughout the world, and what have they been taught by the West Indian planters ? 1st. That free labour cannot compete with slave labour without protective duties. 2d. That the negro is both indolent and saucy, that he will not work for hire, and that consequently it has been necessary to import labour at an enormous cost from the East, the labourers being compelled to hire themselves under contract, which is generally believed in foreign countries to be a sort of mitigated slavery.
44. I presume that it is hardly necessary, in the present day, to prove by facts and figures, that free labour is infinitely cheaper than slave. Were it not that evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Commons is on record to prove that gentiemen of high standing at one time affirmed the contrary, it would be thought incredible that such an error could have prevailed. It is true that in Cuba, owing to the system which is in force, slave labour is infinitely cheaper than it was in the British Colonies, or than it is in the United States where the slave is treated, comparatively to Cuba, with great humanity. But even in Cuba, slave labour is dearer than free labour in Barbados. With regard to the United States slaves labour, sugar can only be cultivated by the aid of protective duties, which cannot be maintained, and free trade will inevitably put an end to the cultivation of sugar by slave labour in the United States.
45. If the slaveholders of America could only witness the relations subsisting between the planters and the labourers in Barbados, and test fairly the result of a system of free labour, much good would be done; but the problem has yet to be solved, of obtaining from the creole the required labour in a country where land is abundant and easily obtainable. Such it is in the United States, and the slaveowners have been taught to believe, that the labourers will not work for hire if they can avoid it.
46. I have a very strong opinion to the contrary, and I am convinced that no judicious attempt has yet been made to encourage the labourers, to combine labour on estates with the cultivation of land on their own account. Under such a system I have no doubt that the price of cotton wool might be reduced, and the great staple of the southern states cultivated at a much less cost than at present.
47. Unfortunately the opinion has become but too prevalent in the southern states of America, not only that free labour is less economical than slave labour, but that an emancipated negro is unwilling to work for hire. This opinion is grounded on the statements made by the West India planters. The fact is, that the free labourer in the West Indies has simply endeavoured to obtain a just equivalent for his labour, and has turned it to the best account in his power.
48. It is much to be regretted that that labour has been heretofore less profitably employed than it might have been. It is universally admitted that the cultivation of the sugar-cane is the most profitable employment to which labourers can be put in the West Indies, and yet labour has been diverted into other channels because the proprietors of estates would neither give fair wages to the labourers nor allow them to cultivate the cane on their own account, paying a fair rent for their land and obtaining facilities for the manufacture of the sugar crop.
49. Other attempts to coerce the creole labourers to accept the reduced wages fixed by the planters having failed, a system of introducing alien races has been adopted, the result of which has been to exasperate the creoles, and to alienate their affections from their natural protectors.
50. I deeply lament this condition of affairs. I fear that the impressions which have been formed upon the subject have become so rooted that there is little probability of their being removed.
51. I am likewise well aware that I have expressed opinions in this Despatch opposed to those generally entertained by many influential inhabitants of these Colonies. I have, however, weighed them most deliberately. They are in strict accordance with those economical principles now generally recognised, and which govern the markets for labour throughout the world. I trust that they will receive a candid consideration, and I can assure you, that if the planting interest of Grenada can disprove the facts upon which they are based, I will most readily consider any representation which they may be disposed to make.
52. The practical question to be considered, is simply whether Her Majesty's Government can recommend coolie labourers to be sent to Grenada, while the rate of wages given in that Colony is less than in Guiana. I am bound, on my own part to add, that I shall object most strongly to any immigration so long as a system is maintained under which "the coolie is better off than the native labourer, who has neither house nor medical attendance provided for him."
His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor Kortright,
&c. &c. &c.
I have, &c. (signed)
Encl. 4, in No. 3.
* Should be 1l. 158. 11d.
+ Should be 21. gs. 10 d.
Enciosure 4, in No. 3.
Government Office, Grenada, 22 October 1857.
I HAVE deferred replying to your Despatch, No. 117 of 14th August last, being desirous, before grappling with so important a subject as labour and emigration, to obtain all possible information.
2. It is a matter of extreme difficulty to arrive, with any degree of certainty, at the actual cost of manufacturing sugar in this Colony; and the information I have been able to collect, even after consulting the leading planters of the Island, is so meagre, that I am unable to enter into details, with regard to Grenada, with the same degree of accuracy as your Excellency's better means of collecting facts enables you to do with respect to Barbados.
3. The data on which your statement is based, obtained from the report of agricultural societies, consisting of experienced planters, and from other reliable sources, must be taken to be conclusive. I remains then to be seen, whether a fair comparison can be instituted between Barbados and Grenada, as to the relative costs of producing sugar.
4. A schedule of the total expenses of the working of six estates, for a period of seven years, was appended by Mr. Walker to his supple.nentary Report on the Grenada Blue Book, transmitted in 1856, and is considered by the greater part of the planters here to be a fair criterion by which to julge of the cost of cultivating the majority of the estates in this Island; some few, however, consider the estimate high.
5. I may observe that during the seven years for which the calculations were made, two of the estates referred to in the schedule each paid for a new iron water-wheel, and another of them for a new steam-engine and mill. These expenses should not properly appear as a part of the cost of producing sugar, but should be considered as capital, and the interest only charged against the sugar; however, as I before mentioned, it is so difficult to obtain reliable information, that I feel I cannot do better than to adopt this return, according to which the average cost of producing a hogshead of sugar is 131. 5s. 11 d.;* allowing the weight of the hogshead to be about the same as in Barbados, viz. 17 cwt., the expense of manufacturing would be 17. 17s. 10d. greater.+
I do not intend to defend the system of management or of agriculture generally pursued here, nor do I contend that sugar might not be produced at a cheaper rate than at present.
It is also too true that there is a great misapplication of labour, and that that which is obtainable might be made more profitable by better management, such as I fear will never prevail in Grenada; for the simple reason that out of 75 estates in cane cultivation, more than one half belong to absentee proprietors; and the attornies and managers, uncertain as to the result of a new system of management, are naturally unwilling to incur the responsibility of a possible failure. A change in the general management of estates, unless made simultaneously by the whole planting body, would prove worse than useless. At the same time I believe, that nobody will deny that Grenada, in common with the other smaller islands comprised within the Government of the Windward Islands, has laboured under disadvantages; against which, Barbados, from a variety of causes, has been able to contend.
7. Barbados has never suffered to nearly the same extent from absenteeism, accompanied by its long train of evils; Barbados has always had a large labouring population at command. The very nature of the Island itself, so different in its physical formation to Grenada, offers facilities for the employment of the cheapest description of labour. Implemental husbandry does not exist in Grenada; whereas, I suppose, that there is scarcely one estate in Barbados, which does not admit of tillage by means of the plough. The description of labour, upon a large supply of which the planter in Grenada must depend for his profits, is scarce; whilst in Barbados, where the planter is not so entirely dependent on a very large numerical force of labourers, except, perhaps, in crop time, there is an admitted superabundance of it.
3. It is utterly impossible to compute with any degree of accuracy the actual number of persons, whose labour can be depended on for the cultivation of sugar estates. By the census taken in 1851, the number of persons employed in agriculture, including 12 in the town of St. George, and 1,218 in Carriacou, was set down at 13,502, the whole population being 32,671. In 1854 the cholera committed great havoc among the labouring population; the census return also appears to have included all persons employed in agriculture, whether on their own account or for wages.
9. I do not believe that more than 6,000 persons, or about one-fifth of the population, work regularly in the cane fields. One gentleman of very great experience and intelligence says, "It is thought that out of a population of somewhere about 28,000, only between 4,500 and 5,000 work continually on sugar plantations, and the consequence is, the Island ships 5,000 to 6,000 hogsheads of sugar, instead of 16,000 to 18,000 which it used to do."
10. If Lord Harris's statement in his Despatch of the 21st February 1848, to the Secretary of State, that "an allowance of one person is amply sufficient for two hogsheads of sugar," be correct, even the small number of labourers said to be constantly available for sugar cultivation, ought to produce one-third more than is actually shipped from Grenada. Lord Harris's calculation, however, does not appear to apply to Grenada, owing probably to the fact, that the land in Trinidad can be more cheaply worked, and that the principle of economising labour is better understood than in Grenada. Be that as it may, it is the