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There are a few machinery manufactories here; but most of the manufactories are to the east end of the island, of which Soura Boya is the emporium. Agriculture, as compared with American development and success, is in a backward state. The implements of husbandry are the most primitive and antique, crude in form as well as unprofitable. And almost every attempt to introduce improvements, and I may, perhaps, say especially American implements, has so far failed meeting success from an inherent and determined prejudice not to know, improve, or change, and also from a want of ability and energy in behalf of most Europeans, and an unwillingness to offend or stem those prejudices. Thus, most excellent American agricultural implements are lying in the warehouses and on plantations here, unused and untouched for want of knowledge and enterprise, and ability to introduce them; and the probability is, a long time and generations may intervene ere much improvement is made in that direction.
I had the pleasure of attending the first agricultural fair ever held here, and it was such an oddity and farce that defies and requires no description. Monstrosities and oddities seemed the general idea of a fair. Here we had three and four-horned buffaloes, three and four-legged chickens, three-legged oxen, and painted horses.
The cattle and horses of Java are mostly inferior, because of an inattention to breed and breeding. The best and large quantities are annually imported from the adjoining island and Australia, which are at the rate of two-thirds per annum. A good Australian horse is worth from $400 to $500, and a milch cow from $100 to $150. Milk forty cents per quart, and poor withal. Everything is transported in small scows or boats and rafts, small two-wheeled buffalo, or miserable pony carts, or on the backs of coolies and natives, greatly retarding the production of produce and commerce.
There is very little American capital employed in this consulate or on the island, owned by but a few individuals, and not exceeding a few hundred thousand dollars, if even one, which is mostly employed in commerce and sugar estates by ex-American merchants. The consumption of American products is limited, and has greatly decreased, as per tables annexed. A contemplated change of policy in reduction of tariff may eventually improve our commerce. The celebrated ice company have opened a house here, but present prospects neither warrant success nor a continuance of the enterprise. Living and expenses here become so extremely high that little encouragement is given to new enterprises or continued residence save by the few successful, and most of the officials and inhabitants are reported in debt, consuls not excepted. The more thorough opening of this eastern world, and a more general awakening may create a new life here, which is doubtful while climate and oriental influences shape the destiny of these islands as in the ages past.
GHENT.-M. LEVISON, Consul.
MAY 21, 1862.
The afflictive political troubles in the United States induce me to give some information respecting the effects produced by the same in our cotton manufacturing city. It may, however, be necessary to add that a more than usual production of manufacturing the latter years may perhaps in some measure have increased the crisis.
I calculate the total consumption of cotton in Belgium to be, in regular times, about fourteen million kilogs, say thirty millions of pounds weight, in which
Ghent alone shares for more than twenty-five millions, about two-thirds of which is American, the remainder East Indian.
This year, from all I can hear, the consumption will be reduced to about half, with a reverse proportion as to American and East Indian. The enormous rise of prices of the raw material, and a very limited sale of yarns and goods, command a great reserve to our manufactures, the greater part of which work short time. A few have ceased altogether, and several have declared their intention not to continue beyond their actual stock of cotton.
AUGUST 2, 1862.
I beg to confirm my communication of the 21st of May last, and to enclose herewith my report on the commerce and industry of this consular district for the year 1861. I would have had the honor of sending the same before this, but had to wait for some official returns published only lately.
No American vessels arrived at this port during the last two quarters.
General report upon the commerce and industry of the arrondissement of Ghent, for the year 1861.
The year 1861 has not been favorable for any branch of commerce and industry. To the languor of affairs caused by the constant inquietude inspired by European political events has succeeded an intense crisis, of which all the industries have experienced the disastrous influence, though in different degrees. The deficiency of the cereal harvest in France and the failure of the potato crop in Belgium have brought on a marked advance in the prices of provisions. The working classes being obliged to devote the greater part of their resources for their sustenance, the consumption of everything which does not constitute a commodity of prime necessity is found to be considerably limited; at the same time that the American war has tended to paralyze many industries which labor for that market, and brought upon the cotton industry an unheard-of crisis. The severe sufferings of the working classes are the result of the concurrence of these unfortunate circumstances.
In consequence of the stagnation of affairs funds are steadily abundant at this place, and discount is maintained at a moderate rate.
MARITIME COMMERCE BY TRANSIT AND EXPORT.
Maritime commerce continues to be expanded. Notwithstanding the general stagnation of affairs, the total of arrivals which, in 1860, was 357 vessels of 49,218 tons, in 1861 was 346 vessels of 51,758 tons. It is to be remarked that the mean tonnage, which for ten consecutive years was only 108 tons, had, in 1860, advanced to 138, and in 1861 to 149 tons.
The regular steam navigation between this port and England is comprised in the total number of 76 arrivals, of which were from Goole 50, and from London 26. The importations of coal from England, which, in 1858, had advanced to 12,500 tons, has constantly been reduced, and to-day is almost nothing. The importation of building timber has steadily increased; but the unfavorable state of the French market has fettered the transit of this article of merchandise. This position is only momentary, and its modification will not be delayed. The total of importations has been 25,000 cubic metres, and the transit 4,900.
The facilities accorded by the administration of customs have produced their fruits. Steam saw-mills are in a flourishing condition.
The American crisis has very actively excited the speculation in cotton wool.
India cotton had undergone a rise of about 50 per cent., and American cotton had experienced, in consequence, an advance of 70 per cent. at the close of December, 1861.
The importation of cotton in 1860 had been only 4,800,000 kilogrammes. In 1861 it increased to 5,600,000 kilogrammes, of which 200,000 kilogrammes were re-exported.
The Chamber of Commerce of this city has demanded, at divers times, the construction of a railroad which will bind directly Ghent to Veinenzen Zealand. It is probable that the government will contribute to the prompt execution of this useful means of communication, which will permit vessels of all tonnage, without obstruction, to be directed to our port.
Here follows a statement of the arrivals in 1861, compared with those of the preceding year:
Cotton industry-Spinning factories.-The most of the spinning factories at Ghent are, to-day, by a series of alterations brought about during these latter years, fitted out after the modern systems adopted in England. Some new mills erected during the year 1860, and admitting thirty or forty thousand spindles, were put into operation during the first months of 1861.
Towards the middle of the year a gradual rise was manifested in the price of the prime materials; notwithstanding this circumstance, the price of manufactured articles of merchandise did not advance, and even down to the old prices the sales fell from day to day.
Such was the situation on the 1st of October, the epoch for putting in force the Franco-Belgian treaty, by the application of the new duties on cotton threads on their entry in France. Our factories sold in France their more heavy threads of India cotton. This sale continued so long as there was any provision of the old cottons, but when the spinner had to renew his supplies, and required an augmentation proportioned to those of the new purchases, the French purchasers abandoned the market, and, since the month of December, have reduced nearly one-half the product of our factories.
Weaving. Some lively movements in calico have been made during the current year in the direction of England, but at prices by no means favorable. The manufacture of printed tissues continues to remain in trouble. The consumption of cloth mixed with wool has increased, to the injury of that of printed cottons. The product of the generality of our calico manufactories has been only half of an ordinary year.
The manufacture of various other descriptions of cotton tissues, such as cottonets, velvets, coverlets, &c., has been satisfactory, considering the circum
The flax industry-The factories of flax and of cloth.-The situation of this industry has not presented any modification of that of the preceding year. The results, in general, have been a little less favorable. Two causes have contributed to fetter the sale: first, the general uneasiness; secondly, the relaxation in the manufacture of the cloths designed for the French market. These two causes have created in our factories a stock sufficiently large, and caused the price of threads to fall in little relation with that of the raw material. Notwithstanding these difficulties, no establishment ceased to work in full during the entire year.
There exists in our district to-day seventeen factories of flax and hemp, counting about 120,000 spindles. The number of employés of both sexes at these establishments is estimated at 6,000. The wages in this industry have a tendency to increase. The average is as follows:
Workmen of 12 to 15 years old receive 60 centimes for a day's work of 12 hours; workmen of 15 to 18 years old receive 1.20 francs for a day's work of 12 hours; workmen of 18 years and upwards receive 2.40 francs for a day's work of 12 hours. Women of 12 to 15 years of age receive 60 centimes for a day's work of 12 hours; women of 15 to 18 years of age receive 1 franc for a day's work of 12 hours; women of 18 and upwards receive 1.60 franc for a day's work of 12 hours.
Weaving. The manufacture of cloth is found to be in a better situation than in 1860. Weaving in the manufactories and the workshops of apprentices is being developed, and markets for manufactured articles are not deficient. Our market for cloth, without being well supplied, has been sufficiently patronized as to quote a slight improvement in price, especially so far as light colors are concerned. Hemp cloth, especially, has found a ready sale. The manufacture of sail-cloth has also found a ready disposal of its products.
Laces. The uncertainty experienced by the foreign market since the Italian war and the events in America have weighed heavily upon the lace industry. Woollen and mixed tissues.-This manufacture has been in a satisfactory condition. Whilst in the year 1860 work had been irregular, activity has been sustained during the entire year of 1861.
Construction of machines and mechanism-Machines for fixed air.-The year 1861 has been less favorable than that of 1860. Circumstances do not lead to the carrying on of new establishments. Some manufactories, as an exception, have been able to maintain their activity, because their untiring energy, the sacrifices to which they have subjected themselves, and the superiority of their machines, have invited foreign orders; but establishments of less importance, which with greater difficulty encounter this state of affairs, and work only for the home consumption, have had a very unfavorable year.
Construction of apparatus for spinning mills and weaving.-Work has been sufficiently sustained in this branch during the year 1861, and a marked improvement is indicated over the year 1860.
Breweries and distilleries.—We have to note a marked diminution of activity in both of these industries. This diminution is attributable to no other cause than the situation of the working classes during the year. The high price of provisions and the want of work have greatly reduced the consumption, especially in the manufacturing districts.
Sugar refineries.-The situation of this branch of industry is intimately connected with the legislation concerning the excise tax upon sugars designed for home consumption. Some fundamental modifications have been introduced in the legislation of 1861. They are yet too recent to enable one, in the face of so many opposite interests which fasten themselves to the question, to form any judgment with safety upon the definite results. In itself, this situation has not been accompanied with any sensible differences from those of the year 1860. The importations of raw sugar by the Ghent manufacturers, which in 1860 had amounted to 2,200,000 kilogrammes, were, in 1861, 2,600,000 kilogrammes.
The oil industry.-The importations of oleaginous grains have been two million kilogrammes less than in the year 1860, but this deficiency has been compensated for by a better harvest in the interior of the country. The oil-mills have been able to maintain regular work; but, notwithstanding a small advance in the price of oils, it has been but little remunerative. The grass crop during the summer and autumn of 1861 has been extraordinarily abundant, and has induced a depreciation of oil-cakes, which have become unsalable. The almost permanent uncertainty experienced by the oil industry can terminate only when the duty upon the import of oleaginous grains has been abolished, which will permit our manufactories to work the grains of the colza of the Indies.
Manufactories of chemical sulphates, salts, and crystals of soda.-The manufacture and sale of these articles has been inferior to the movement in 1860. Many causes have contributed to produce this state of uncertainty, of which are the inactivity in glass manufactures, the slackening of work in the cotton manufactories, consequences of the American crisis, and the increased inaction of the market by productions of an inferior quality.
Sulphuric acid.-This production droops more and more, and the demand for consumption is almost nothing. The low price of pyrites, combined with the uniform high price of. sulphur, the successive disappearance of clarified oil to burn, the disuse of sulphuric acid in making of soap fat, and, finally, the substitution of chloric acid for sulphuric acid, are some lasting causes of the decline.
Nitric acid. The situation of this production has been the same as of last year. Towards the end of the year the apprehensions of war between Eng