British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

trading. Though the power of the Hung merchant is very great indeed in the commerce carried on at Canton, yet I conceive that he has no right to set his own price upon the goods, if the merchant is not under the necessity of selling them. The merchant may demand what he thinks a fair price, and if that is not given, may take back his goods- it was by following this system that I obtained so large a price for the furs I sold while the supercargoes sold the furs consigned to them at a price so much inferior; and this conduct of the supercargoes materially hurt the markets during the space of twelve months. . . .


23
AEXANDER DALRYMPLE: PLAN FOR PROMOTING THE FUR TRADE, 17891

[This pamphlet opens with a lengthy exposition of the evidence which in Dalrymple's opinion supported the theory of a continuous waterway between Hudson's Bay and the north-west American coast. Basing himself on that supposition, he advocates a 'union of the operations of the East India and Hudson's Bay Companies'. ]

A bare inspection of the map, with the slightest attention to what has been said, will evince that the co-operation of the two companies would effectually secure to this country the command of the fur- trade; for by no other way, than Hudson's Bay, can the communication be made with so much facility, nor with so little expense as by a ship from China: and having thus the option of the Chinese, as well as the European markets, no other traders can stand in competition.

The Canadian traders have extended their traffic up to, and beyond, the Hudson's Bay Company's inland factories; this competition cannot redound to the public interest, but, on the contrary, must enhance the price of the furs, purchased from the Indians;2 and, what is much more consequence to this country, the Canadians having so great a distance to traverse, and so many carrying-places and rapids to impede their way, cannot convey to the Indians our staple manufactures, such as coarse woollens and iron-ware, but their exports must be chiefly in ammunition, and proof-spirits, to the destruction of the Indians.

____________________
1
A. Dalrymple, Plan for promoting the Fur-trade, Lond. 1789, pp. 31-32. Dalrymple had been the principal advocate of trade expansion in the China Seas and of discovery in the South Pacific. He had been proposed as commander for the expedition of 1768-9, actually commanded by Cook. He became hydrographer to the E.I. Company in 1779 and to the Admiralty in 1795.
2
'In their application for an exclusive privilege for 10 years, they justly represent that an exclusive privilege was essentially necessary for the proper management of this trade, but they forget that the Hudson's Bay Company's Charter had already granted that exclusive privilege. They offered to explore and deliver maps of the country to the west of Hudson's Bay, from 55° to 65° N latitude: but the Hudson's Bay Company had, before their offer was made, communicated Mr. Hearne's map of those parts, and although Mr. Hearne has left much yet to be done, this is more likely to be effected by the Hudson's Bay Company, than by the Canadian Traders, who seem to be scarcely less savage than the most savage of the Indians.' [A.D.]

-35-

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