Imágenes de páginas

observations on the grounds on which we undertook this contest, which seem to have been a good deal misunderstood.

That the Chinese have the same right to exclude opium from their empire, that we have to prohibit the importation of beef, or ammunition, or to lay a duty on corn, does not admit of any question. But in endeavouring to suppress a trade that had been carried on under the sanction of the authorities at Canton, all of whom had largely participated in its profits, justice required that notice should have been given to the parties concerned of the intentions of government. It is necessary to bear in mind that the Chinese were in the habit of frequently issuing proclamations against the importation of opium; but as no attempt was ever made to give any real effect to these proclamations, the parties engaged in the trade were naturally led to conclude that such would always be the case. Henee the necessity for a distinct intimation being made, that the laws against the importation of opium were, in future, to be bond fide and truly carried into effect, and for fixing some period after which all parties found engaged in the trade would be subject to certain penalties. No valid objection could have been made to such a course of proceeding. The Chinese are clearly entitled to prohibit the importation of opium; but neither the Chinese nor any other nation are entitled, after having, by a long connivance at and participation in the trade, induced foreigners to import a large amount of valuable property into their territories, to pounce upon and seize such property on pretence of its being contraband! The Chinese are a remarkably clever people; and it is impossible that they should not see that, in this instance, their government was guilty of gross injustice; and that it consequently rendered itself liable for the value of the property it so unwarrantably seized upon and destroyed.

Suppose the British parliament had, in 1796, passed an act prohibiting the importation of tea; and suppose, farther, that the collector of customs and other authorities in Liverpool had paid no attention whatever to this act, but that, from 1796 down to the present day, they had openly countenanced the trade; that it had rapidly increased; and that every year scores of Chinese ships laden with tea had arrived in the Mersey, safely unloaded their cargoes, and sailed either with silver or other British produce on board: what, under these circumstances, would the Chinese have said, had the British government suddenly turned round and declared, “ You are engaged in an illegal trade;" and, without farther intimation, have proceeded to seize and destroy all the tea belonging to them in England? Would not the Chinese, the Russians, French, and, in short, the whole world, have declared such an act to be flagrantly unjust? And would not every honest man in England have said that the Chinese had been swindled; and that the government of China did not deserve to be treated with ordinary respect, if it did not endeavour to procure redress for its subjects.

Now, this is precisely the case of England against the Chinese. The morality or immorality of the opium trade is wholly beside the question. Though the use of opium were ten times more injurious than has ever been represented, that would not alter the fact that the trade in it had been openly countenanced by the Chinese authorities for a period of more than forty years; and such being the case, foreigners were certainly entitled to infer that that countenance would not suddenly be withdrawn; and that, at all events, their property would be respected. This, in fact, is not a question about which there is any real room for doubt or difference of opinion. The conduct of the Chinese was most unwarrantable; and the government of this country had not only a well-founded claim for redress, but was called upon to enforce it by a just regard for the national honour and the interests of the British subjects, whose rights had been so outrageously violated at Canton.

But we may farther observe, in reference to this matter, that though it be laid down by all writers on public law, that it depends wholly on the will of a nation to carry on commerce with another, or not to carry it on, and to regulate the manner in which it shall be carried on (Vattel, book i. § 8.), we incline to think that this rule must be interpreted as applying only to such commercial states as recognise the general principles of public or international law. If a state possessed of a rich and extensive territory, and abounding with products suited for the use and accommodation of the people of other countries, insulates itself by its institutions, and adopts a system of policy that is plainly inconsistent with the interests of every other nation, it appears to us that such nation may be justly compelled to adopt a course of policy more consistent with the general well-being of mankind. No doubt, the right of interference, in cases of this sort, is one that should be exercised with extreme caution, and requires strong grounds for its vindication. But that this right does exist, seems sufficiently clear. We admit that a slight degree of inconvenience, experienced from one nation refusing to enter into commercial transactions with another, or from its insisting that these transactions should be carried on in a troublesome and vexatious manner, would not warrant any interference with its internal affairs: but this, like all other questions of the same kind,

is one of degree. Should the inconvenience resulting from such anti-social vexatious conduct become very oppressive on others, the parties so oppressed would have as good a right to interfere to enforce a change of conduct, as if the state that has adopted this anti-social offensive policy had openly attacked their territory or their citizens. A state has a perfect right to enact such rules and regulations for its internal government and the conduct of its trade as it pleases, provided they do not exercise any very injurious influence over others. But should such be the case-should the domestic or commercial policy of any particular state involve principles or regulations that trench on the rights or seriously injure the interests of other parties, none can doubt that these others have a right to complain; and, if the injury be of a grave character, and redress be not obtained on complaint being made,-no reasonable doubt can be entertained that the aggrieved party is justified in resorting to force.

These principles appear to apply with peculiar force in the case of China. Tea, a peculiar product of that country, has become a necessary of life in England; and no one can doubt that a most serious injury would be inflicted on the people of Britain, were any considerable impediment thrown in the way of its importation; and as the arbitrary policy of the Chinese government, which is not influenced by the maxims, and is regardless of the forms, that prevail among civilised states, has on various occasions interrupted this trade, and constantly exposes it to great dangers, it certainly appears that this was a case for forcible intervention—dignus vindice nodus, and that we were entitled to demand that the trade should be placed on a solid footing, that the import and export duties should be rendered intelligible and moderate, and that an end should be put to the extortion and interference of the Chinese authorities.

Indemnity for the Opium destroyed in China. - The question as to the amount of the compensation that should be awarded to the parties who delivered up the opium to the superintendent in China, has since attracted considerable attention. The merchants contended that they were entitled to its cost, or to the price at which it had been invoiced to them, or to above 2,300,000l. It is, however, admitted on all hands that the price of opium is exceedingly fluctuating, and that it is influenced in a very high degree by variations in the facilities for smuggling into China. And it was contended by government, that such were the obstacles thrown in the way of its clandestine importation when the delivery was made in 1839, that the price of opium had fallen to less than half its invoice cost, and that supposing the merchants had retained it, they must necessarily have sustained a very heavy loss. Having taken this view of the matter, government proposed that indemnity should be made at the rate of 641. per chest (1,250,000l. in all), being (though little more than half the sum claimed) considerably above the current price of opium in Canton previously to its being delivered up. might have been expected, this decision was much found fault with. On the whole, however, we think it eminently fair and reasonable. No one doubts, though not a pound of the opium had been delivered up to Captain Elliot, that its owners must, in consequence of the increased difficulties in the way of its sale, have lost heavily; and, under the circumstances, we see no ground for contending that government was bound, because their agent had interfered, to place the merchants in a better position than they would have been in, but for that interference. All that they could justly require was, that it should not be permitted to injure them.


Cultivation of Opium in India. Monopoly. The cultivation of opium in India is a government monopoly, and is confined to the provinces of Bahar* and Benares, and Malwa in Central India. Every one within the prescribed limits may engage in the opium cultivation; but the drug, when prepared, must all be sold at a fixed price to the Company's agents. The price is very far below the price at which it is afterwards sold for exportation; and the circumstance of its being fixed and inadequate deprives the cultivator of most part of the favourable chances in the lottery previously alluded to by Mr. Colebrooke. Indeed, Mr. C. distinctly tells us (Hush, Bengal, p. 118.) that, except in a few situations that are peculiarly favourable, its cultivation is unprofitable. The peasants engage in it with reluctance; and are tempted only by the immediate advances the government agents are obliged to make to enable them to carry on

the business.

The monopoly has sometimes produced a nett revenue of about 1,000,0001. a year. Latterly, however, this revenue has been materially diminished. This has been occasioned, partly by the conquest of Malwa, and the impossibility of extending the same sort of monopoly into that province that was established in Bahar and Benares, and partly to the introduction of Turkey opium into the Chinese market by the Americans.

The system under which the Indian opium trade has been conducted, has been the theme of much eulogy, and has been supposed to afford the only example of an unexceptionable monopoly! By confining the cultivation of the plant to particular districts, and taking care that the whole produce raised in them shall be exported, we prevent, it is said, the use of this deleterious drug from gaining ground in India, while the high price at which it is sold produces a large revenue to the Company's treasury. It is affirmed, too, that even the interests of the Chinese are consulted by the system; that they obtain the drug in a state of purity, which would otherwise be adulterated; and that the high price they are obliged to pay for it merely acts as a wholesome restraint on their vicious propensity to indulge in what is so very injurious. We doubt, however, whether there be much foundation for these eulogies. There can be no question that opium is a very excellent subject for taxation; and the higher the duty can be raised on it, without encouraging smuggling, the better. It is not, however, so clear that the monopoly system is the best way of accomplishing this; and, though the system had been originally a good one, it is no longer possible to

The opium of Bahar is known in commerce by the name of Patna opium.

enforce it. To imagine, Indeed, that the illicit cultivation of, and traffic In, opium can be prevented, now that it is raised in most parts of the extensive country of Malwa, is altogether ludicrous. As to the supposed influence of the monopoly in insuring the purity of the drug, it is sufficient to observe, that Malwa opium, which is produced under a comparatively free system, has been rapidly improving in its quality, and now very often fetches a higher price than the opium of Bahar and Benares, where the strictest surveillance is kept up. The latter, indeed, has sometimes been nearly unsaleable, from the careless way in which it has been prepared, and the extent to which it was adulterated. (Crawfurd on the Monopoly of the East India Company, p. 55.) It is needless, however, to say more on this point, than that Turkish opium maintains, in respect of purity and careful preparation, a decidedly higher reputation than any produced in India. - (Thomson's Dispensatory.)

We doubt, too, whether the use of opium, when taken in moderate quantities, be really so injurious as has been represented. That it may, like spirits and wine, be abused, is abundantly certain; but it has not been shown that it is more liable to abuse than either of these articles. No one doubts that the Chinese, by whom it is principally consumed, are a highly industrious, sober, frugal people; but though it were otherwise, we really do not see that the East India Company are warranted in subjecting a profitable article of cultivation in India to the fetters of monopoly, that the morals of the Chinese may be preserved. It is unnecessary, however, to dwell upon this view of the matter. The Turks and Americans have no scruples of this sort; and the only effect of the Company's attempting to force up the price of opium to an extravagant height, would be to throw a still greater proportion of the trade into the hands of their active competitors, to the great injury of the Indian cultivators.

Neither must the interests of the cultivators in India be lost sight of, who are materially injured by the existing system. Even were it in other respects proper, their allowances are far too small. Upon the whole, therefore, we do not see any solid grounds for supposing that this monopoly forms an exception to the common rule; and we agree with those who think that the better way would be to establish the same system, as to the trade in opium, that is established with respect to the spirit trade in this country; that is, to allow every one to cultivate it upon taking out a licence, and to lay an excise duty on the prepared article. Such a plan would put an end to some most oppressive regulations; and while it would open a new source of wealth to the cultivators, the revenue derived by government would be materially augmented.

Besides the works previously referred to, we have consulted, in compiling this article, Ainslie's Mat. Indica; Milburn's_Orient. Com.; Bell's Review of the Commerce of Bengal; Evidence on East Indian Affairs, before the Parliamentary Committee, in 1830 and 1831, &c. &c.


OPOPONAX (Ger. Opoponax; Fr. Opopanax; It. Opoponasso; Sp. Opoponacu; Arab. Jawesheer), a gum-resin obtained from the Pastinaca Opoponax, a species of parsnep. It is a native of the south of Europe, and Asia Minor. The stem rises to the height of 4 or 5 feet, with a thick branched yellow-coloured root. The roots being

wounded, a milky juice flows from them, which, being dried in the sun, is the opoponax of the shops. It is in lumps of a reddish yellow colour, and white within. Smell peculiar. Taste bitter and acrid. Specific gravity 1.622. It is imported from Turkey. Being used only to a small extent in medicine, the consumption is inconsiderable. (Thomson's Chemistry; Ainslie's Mat. Indica.)

OPORTO, OR PORTO, a large city and sea-port of Portugal, on the north bank of the Douro, about 2 miles from its mouth, lat. 41° 10' 30" N., lon. 8° 37′ 18′ W. It is a beautifully situated, well-built city; and is supposed to contain, including the suburbs of Villanora and Gaya, on the opposite bank of the river, about, 80,000 inhabitants.

Harbour. The harbour of Oporto is a bar harbour, and can only be entered, at least by vessels of considerable burden, at high water; and it is seldom at any time practicable for vessels drawing more than 16 feet. On the north side of the entrance is the castle of St. Joao de Foz, whence a ledge of rocks, some of which are at all times above water, extends in a south-west direction. The outermost of these rocks, named Filgueira, which is always visible, is left on the left or larboard side on entering. Cabedelo Point, forming the southern extremity of the entrance, is low and sandy. The bar being liable, from the action of the tides, and of sudden swellings or freshes in the river, to perpetual alterations, it is exceedingly dangerous for any vessel to attempt crossing it without a pilot. Pilots are always on the alert, and ready to offer their services when a vessel comes in sight, unless the weather be so bad that they cannot go off. On some few occasions of this sort, vessels have been detained for 3 weeks off the port, without having an opportunity of entering. The chapel of St. Catherine in a line with that of St. Michal leads over the bar. The ordinary rise of spring tides is from 10 to 12 feet, and of neaps from 6 to 8 feet. A light. house with a fixed light is erected on a hill about 600 yards N.N. W. of St. Joao de Foz.

The swellings of the river, or freshes, as they are called, most commonly occur in spring, and are caused by heavy rains, and by the melting of the snow on the mountains. The rise of water at such times is fre quently as much as 40 feet; and the rapidity and force of the current are so very great, that no dependence can be placed on anchors in the stream. Fortunately a fresh never occurs without previous warning; and it is then the practice to moor with a cable made fast to trees, or stone pillars erected on the shore for that purpose.(For further information as to the harbour of Oporto, see Purday's Sailing Directions for the Bay of Biscay.)

Trade. Oporto is the emporium of a large portion of the kingdom of Portugal, and enjoys a pretty considerable foreign commerce. The well known red wine, denominated Port, from its being exclusively shipped at this city, forms by far the largest article of export. The exports vary in different years, from about 26,000 to near 40,000 pipes. England is much the largest consumer of port. The high discriminating duties on French wine originally introduced port into the British markets, and gave it a preference to which, though an excellent wine, it had no just title: this preference first generated, and its long continuance has since so confirmed, the taste for port among the great bulk of the population, that it bids fair to maintain its ascendancy as an afterdinner wine, notwithstanding the equalisation of the duties. At an average of the 8 years ending with 1841, there were shipped from Oporto for England 26,370 pipes a year. Next to England, Brazil, Russia, and the north of Europe are the principal consumers of port; but it appears, from the subjoined account, that the

total exports to them do not amount to a fourth part of those to England. The other exports are oil, oranges and other fruits, wool, refined sugar, cream of tartar, shumac, leather, cork, &c. The imports are corn, rice, beef, salt fish, and other articles of provision; sugar, coffee, &c. from Brazil; cotton and woollen goods, hardware, tin plates, &c. from England; hemp, flax, and deals, from the Baltic, &c.

Besides the British manufactured goods imported into Portugal for the use of the natives, a considerable quantity is destined for the consumption of Spain; being smuggled into that country through Braganza and other towns on the frontier.

Moneys, Weights, and Measures same as those of Lisbon; which see

We subjoin

An Account of the Wine shipped from Oporto during the 8 Years ending with 1841, specifying the Quantities shipped for the U. Kingdom, and for all other Parts.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The comparatively large amount of shipments in 1834, 1835, and 1836, is explained by the fact of the siege of Oporto having continued during the greater part of the two previous years; the obstruction to exportation which it occasioned, by reducing the stocks in this and other countries below their usual level, having necessarily led to a proportional increase of shipments in the two or three following years. The decreased export in 1841 (and the almost total cessation of exportation in 1842) is to be ascribed to the protracted negotiations with Portugal on the subject of a commercial treaty, and to the disinclination of the merchants to import, and of the consumers to order, any considerable quantity of wine, when it was supposed the duties were to be immediately reduced. It is estimated that a vintage in the Upper Douro produces at an average about 70,000 pipes, of which above 32,000 are usually exported, while 30,000 of an inferior sort are consumed in the neighbourhood of Oporto, and the remainder, which is still inferior to the second description, is distilled for brandy.

It is hardly possible to form any estimate of the value of the wine shipped from Oporto; the price varying from 51. to 501. per hogshead. The export duty on wine approved for exportation (vinho d'embarque), is about 6500 rs. per pipe, or, at the present (July, 1843) rate of exchange, 17. 9s. a pipe. Separated wine (vinho separado) is not generally allowed to be exported; but at present it may be shipped on paying 18 500 rs. more, or 57. 98. 2d. a pipe. The other expenses are trifling. Freight to this country varies from 17. to 1. 11s. 6d. per pipe. For an account of the Oporto Wine Company, see WINE.) Sometimes wine is purchased from the farmer in the wine country. In this case, the casks are sent about 60 miles up the river, in boats, to be filled. Owing to the miserable state of the roads, the expense of carriage is very considerable; the cartage from and to the river side frequently costing from 17. to 24. per pipe. The freight from the upper country down the river to Oporto is about equal to that from the latter to England. There is also an internal duty of about 17. 2s. per pipe on all wine brought down the river. Inasmuch, however, as these charges are perpetually varying, it is not possible to lay before the reader any pro forma account of the cost of wine bought in the Upper Douro.

The Oporto Wine Company have the monopoly of the brandy as well as of the wine trade of the Douro. - (Private information.)

ORANGES (Ger. Pomeranzen; Du. Orangen; Fr. Oranges; It. Melarance; Sp. Naranjas; Rus. Pomeranezü; Hind. Narunge; Malay, Simao-manis), the fruit of the orange tree. The common, or sweet orange (Citrus sinensis, or Citrus nobilis), and the Seville, or bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), are natives of China: and the Portuguese are entitled to the honour of having transferred the plant to other countries. Particular species of Citrus seem to be indigenous to various Eastern countries; but the birthplace of the proper orange may be distinctly traced to China. It is now to be found in our green-houses. Oranges are imported in chests and boxes, packed separately in paper. The best come from the Azores and Spain; very good ones are also brought from Portugal, Italy, Malta, and other places.

The orange trade carried on by this country is of considerable value and importance. Oranges are not much more expensive than most of our superior domestic fruits, while they are, perhaps, the most refreshing and wholesome of those of warmer climates. The entries for home consumption amounted, at an average of the 3 years ending with 1842, to 334,070 boxes a year; and assuming each box to contain 650 oranges and lemons, the number annually entered for consumption will have been 217,145,500, exclusive of 26,863 entered by number, and 7,0131. worth entered at value! The duty produced, at an average of the above years, 70,8331. a year. The number of persons employed in the importation and sale of oranges must be very considerable. The policy of charging any duty on oranges seems questionable. They are very apt to spoil; and as no abatement is made from the duty on account of any damage, its influence on their price is much more considerable than might at first be supposed.

ORCHILLA WEED, ORCHELLA, OR ARCHIL (Ger Orseille; Fr. Orseille; It. Oricello, Orcella; Sp. Orchilla), a whitish lichen (Lichen orcella) found in the Isle of Portland; but that which is used is imported from the Canary and Cape de Verd Islands, Madeira, Barbary, and the Levant. From it is obtained the archil, or orchal, of commerce, which yields a rich purple tincture, fugitive, indeed, but extremely beautiful. The preparation of orchilla was long a secret, known only to the Florentines and Hollanders; but it is now extensively manufactured in this country. Orchil is generally sold in the form of cakes, but sometimes in that of moist pulp; it is extensively used by dyers; and in times of scarcity the weed or lichen has sold as high as 1,000l. per toa! (Thomson's Dispensatory.) At present (July 1843) Madeira orchilla fetches, in

the London market, 751. a ton; but orchilla from the Canary Islands fetches a higher, and that from Barbary a much lower price. The entries for consumption amounted, at an average of the 3 years ending with 1842, to 6,050 cwt. 3 qrs. 10 lbs. The duty, which had been 3s. a cwt., was reduced in 1842 to 1s. a cwt.


ORPIMENT (Ger. Operment; Fr. Orpiment; It. Orpimento; Sp. Oropimente; Lat. Auripigmentum), the name usually given to sulphuret of arsenic. When artificially prepared, it is in the form of a fine yellow-coloured powder; but it is found native in many parts of the world, particularly in Bohemia, Turkey, China, and Ava. It is exported from the last two in considerable quantities; and is known in the East by the name of hartal. Native orpiment is composed of thin plates of a lively gold colour, intermixed with pieces of a vermilion red, of a shattery foliaceous texture, flexible, soft to the touch like tale, and sparkling when broken. Specific gravity 3:45. The inferior kinds are of a dead yellow, inclining to green, and want the bright appearance of the best specimens. Its principal use is as a colouring drug among painters, bookbinders, &c. -( Thomson's Chemistry; Milburn's Orient. Com.)

ÖRSEDEW, ORSIDUE, MANHEIM OR DUTCH GOLD (Ger. Flittergold; Du. Klatergoud; Fr. Oripeau, Oliquant; It. Orpello; Sp. Oropel), an inferior sort of gold leaf, prepared of copper and zinc. It is sometimes called leaf brass. It is principally manufactured in Manheim.


OWNERS OF SHIPS. Property in ships is acquired, like other personal property, by fabricating them, or by inheritance, purchase, &c.

No ship is entitled to any of the privileges of a British ship until she be duly regis. tered as such, and all the provisions in the Registry Act (3 & 4 Will. 4. c. 55.) be conplied with. (See REGISTRY.)

It is

A British ship may belong either to one individual, or to several individuals. ordered by the act just cited, that the property of every vessel of which there are more owners than one, shall be divided into 64th shares; and that no person shall be entitled to be registered as an owner who does not, at least, hold one 64th share. It is further provided by the same statute, that not more then thirty-two persons shall be owners of any one ship at any one time. Companies or associations holding property in ships, may choose three of their members to act as trustees for them.

Neither the property of an entire ship, nor any share or shares in such ship, can be transferred from one individual to another, except by bill of sale or other instrument in writing; and before the sale is valid, such bill or instrument must be produced to the collector and comptroller, who are to enter the names, residences, &c. of the seller and buyer, the number of shares sold, &c. in the book of registry of such vessel, and to indorse the particulars on the certificate of registry. (See the clause in the statute, art. REGISTRY.)

But, though compliance with the directions in the statute accomplishes a complete transference of the property, when the transaction is not in its nature illegal, it gives no sort of security to a transference that is otherwise bad. The purchaser should in all cases endeavour to get possession of the ship, or of his share in her, as soon as his title to her or it is acquired, by the registration of the particulars of the bill of sale; for though all the formalities of sale have been completed, yet, if the sellers continue as apparent owners in possession of the ship, their creditors may, in the event of their becoming bankrupt, acquire a right to it, to the exclusion of the purchasers. In the case of a sale or agreement for a part only, it is enough if, the sale being completed, the seller ceases to act as a part owner. (Lord Tenterden on the Law of Shipping, part i. c. 1.)

Property in ships is sometimes acquired by capture. During war, his Majesty's ships, and private ships having letters of marque, are entitled to make prizes. But before the captors acquire a legal title to such prizes, it is necessary that they should be condemned in the admiralty or other court constituted for that purpose. When this is done, the captors are considered to be in the same situation, with respect to them, as if they had built or purchased them.

The act 3 & 4 Will. 4. c. 55. has ruled, that no person having the transfer of a ship, or a share of a ship, made over to him as a security for a debt, shall be deemed an owner, or part owner, of such ship. And when such transfer has been duly registered according to the provisions of the act, the right and interest of the mortgagee are not to be affected by the bankruptcy of the mortgagor, though he be the reputed owner, or part owner, of such ship. (See REGISTRY. )

In the article MASTERS OF SHIPS is given an account of the liabilities incurred by the owners of ships for the acts of the masters. But it has been attempted to encourage navigation by limiting the responsibility of the owners, without, however, depriving the freighter of a ship of an adequate security for the faithful performance of the contract. To effect this desirable object, it has been enacted, that the owner or owners

« AnteriorContinuar »