George Streynsham Master.

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extension of internal communication and
the increased demand for planting-grounds,
they secure enormous profits. The ground

held by Sr. S was purchased twenty-five

years ago, at the rate of $io per acre; the
portion that still remains as forest is now
worth at least $75 per acre, in the open
market.

An American can better comprehend
these evils, by reflecting upon the results
which a similar system would have brought
to the United States. Suppose that no land-
tax had been imposed in our western ter-
ritories ; the whole country would have been
bought up by speculators ; purchasers for a
few cents or dollars an acre would have
held hundreds of square miles; the land
would have risen to a fictitious value, a
few rich men would have acquired enor-
mous fortunes, and immigrants would have
been kept out by the high prices and the dif-
ficulty of obtaining farms. Immense tracts
would still be lying idle, and instead of
controlling the grain trade of the world, the
United States might now be buying of other
countries. Such results would only be the
legitimate outgrowth of a system by which
land, ever increasing in value, could he held
without limit or restriction.

So Carl and I reason as we ride back to
Entre Rios in Sr. S— 's great traveling car-
riage. We admire the enterprise and keen-
ness of our host ; we would be ungrateful
if we did not acknowledge his ready hos-
pitality and kindness. None the less he is
growing richer by the force of unjust laws
and unrighteous tyrannical institutions ; wit-
ness the neglected grounds of his poorer
neighbors and the smileless faces of his
slaves.

The four mules canter on briskly over the
hard ground. Presently we turn into the
Unido e Industria road, — the finest in
Brazil, and formerly the only outlet of these
regions. It was built by a private company
who run on it a line of stages and freight
wagons. From the head of the bay of Rio
de Janeiro far into the province of Minas
Geraes, the road is lined everywhere with
rich coffee plantations. The planters send
their produce to Entre Rios by this route,
sometimes to Rio. Tolls are levied at in-
tervals ; with these and the stage charges,
the company reaps a rich harvest.

With a tinkling of bells and a patter of
hoofs, the mule trains pass on down the



road. The animals walk in single file, each
one with a pair of coffee sacks slung from
the rough pack frame; behind them come
the muleteers, mounted or on foot, and
dressed in the picturesque, half European
costume of the Brazilian country people.
Nearly all the coffee is brought to the rail-
roads in this manner. Formerly the rough
paths did not allow of any better conveyance.
Now there are many good roads about Rio
and Sao Paulo, but even when these are
available, the planters ding to the old
system ; only a few use wagons.

Entre Rios is on a branch of the Dom
Pedro Segimdo railway, where the latter
meets the UniSo e Industria road. From
its situation, the litde country town promises
to become a thriving inland city, the me-
tropolis of this rich coffee region. The hiUs
around are covered with plantations, each
with its white walled fazenda^ like a castle ;
odd contrasts to these are the jaunty,
modem-looking railroad station, and the
attendant hotel, which might be a country
tavern in the United States. Mule trains
come to discharge their cargoes at the
station; bags of coffee are piled on the
platforms and cars are being loaded with
them; a store-house near by is half filled with
coffee awaiting shipment From the titled
gentleman who passes you, to the dapper
landlord, and the merest day laborer, every-
body in Entre Rios is dependent on coffee;
the streets and buildings are fragrant with
coffee ; people drink coffee • at the restau-
rant and quote coffee prices; sell coffee,
buy it, plant it, gather it, live and labor with
very little thought beyond coffee and the
golden stpres it will bring into their purses.
The railroad was built to carry away the
coffee ; that is its main business, almost its
only income, for of other freight there is
very littie ; there are not many passengers,
and of them ninety per cent, are coffee
planters or coffee traders.

The smooth, well-built route passes up
the picturesque valley, by coffee planta-
tions everywhere, until it joins the main
line from Sko Paulo to Rio. Then we wind
up the mountains, passing through a score
of tunnels, clinging to the sides of giddy
precipices, peering up from cavern-like
valleys, dashing on by forest so wild and
luxuriant that it almost rivals that of the
Amazons. The brown gneiss rises above
us in strange peaks, mountains of goodly
size. Itatiaia, the highest of all, is capped
with clouds ; its summit is almost ten thou-
sand feet above the sea, so that snow is



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COFFEE CULTURE IN BRAZIL,



235



sometimes found there, and palms cannot
grow among the rocks.

The mountains are grand and picturesque
beyond all description ; the railroad, too,
merits all the praises that have been lavished
on its construction, for it is a triumph of
engineering and workmanship. In fact one
wjio travels over the road is very apt to let
his admiration run away with his judgment.
For a moment let us consider the road aside
from the mountains and tunnels, on the
question of bare utility.

The Dom Pedro Segundo railroad is the
largest and, with perhaps one exception, the
most important in Brazil. The total length
of the main line is 365 miles, and extensions
are made almost every year. The road
was commenced under the management of
an incorporated company, interest of 7 per
cent on the capiul stock being guaranteed
by the government. But in building the
first portion of the road, it was necessary to
cross the mountains near Rio, and so diffi-
cult and expensive was this work, that by
the time one hundred miles were completed,
the capital was entirely exhausted. In 1865,
the government bought the road of the
stockholders, and it has since been built
and run as a branch of the imperial service.
The road, as we have seen, is finely con-
structed ; it is regular and safe ; the stations
and store-houses are weU built and tasteful ;
the coaches are comfortable and the ordi-
nary traveler, at least, has no fault to find
with the officials. On the invested cap-
ital of rather more than $40,000,000, the
government realizes an average income of
five and one-half per centum yeariy. So
far the result is good; the road is well
managed, and is a source of actual gain to
the government Let us see if the practical
results to the people are equally good.

Coming down about ninety miles from
Entre Rios, we paid 9,900 reis each for our
tickets, say four dollars by existing exchange.
This is a high but not an exorbitant rate ;
second-class tickets are just one-half as much,
and " excursion tickets," good for both ways,
can be had at a reduced price. Our light
satchels cost us nothing, of course ; but if we
had had tnmks, even small ones, we should
have had to pay as much for them as for
ourselves. A fellow-passenger brought down
five goats firom Entre Rios,^-9,90o reis he
paid for himself, and 9,900 reis for every one
of the goats.

The regular tariff on coffee from Entre
Rios to Rio is 2,000 reis, — about 85 cents
per sack of 60 kilograms. Corresponding



rates are charged from more distant places,
and on branch roads. From certain por-
tions of S&o Paulo, every sack of coffee that
reaches Rio or Santos must pay four dol-
lars, or about one-third of the actual value
in the Rio markets. The regular fireight
charges fi-om Rio to New York vary from
twenty to seventy-five cents per sack.

Portions of Sio Paulo and Minas Geraes
are well fitted for growing com and even
wheat, and it has often been suggested
that these districts should supply Rio with
bread-stufis. But if Sdo Paulo grain or
flour were brought to Rio by railroad, it
could never compete with American produce;
nay, it is a demonstrable fact that it could
be undersold by California grain, brought
by way of the Pacific Railroad to New
York, and tlience by sailing vessels to Rio.

The freight rates on the Dom Pedro
Segundo railroad are cheaper by one-third
than those on any other raihoad in Brazil.
Only three or four lines are paying a rea-
sonable percentage on their invested capitals,
and many would have to be abandoned
altogether but for the government guarantee
of seven per centum annually'. Of course,
these roads are a heavy dram on the gov-
ernment, and hence on the country, and the
hi^h freights neutralize any commensiuate
gam which might accrue to the districts
through which they pass. Even the Dom
Pedro Segundo line is a doubtful advantage.
Plans have more than once been discussed
for bringing coffee to Rio by mule trains,
and it is averred that this could be done at
a lower rate than that demanded by the
railroad.

Brazilians are crying out against these
excessive tariflfe, but the remedy is not ap-
parent. No public or private railroad can
afford to carry freight at a rate that involves
a dead loss, or leaves no margin for profits.
Most of these roads were built with the
idea of "opening up," or "developing"
this or that region; that is, the raihoads were
expected to bring prosperity to the country ;
but it was not alwa)rs clear that the country
could give prosperity to the railroads. If a
steady stream of working immigrants had
been flowing in, such reasoning might per-
haps be gocii. But Brazil gets few immi-
grants, and the quality of these few is not
of the best; the development of new dis-
tricts means simply a spreading out of the
present resources, not an actual increase ol
production.

I believe that the mistake of Brazilian rail-
road schemes is that they do not consider



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236



COFFEE CULTURE IN BRAZIL,



the status of the population. In the north-
em provinces a large proportion of the poorer
people are non-producers ; that is, they culti-
vate only small tracts, and raise enough
raandioca and com for their own use, but al-
most nothing more. The large plantations
are few and scattered ; the products, sugar,
cotton, hides, etc., are not enough to sup-
port a railroad even with the present high
freights. In the south, a large portion of



States would necessitate shipments of coal,
provisions, cloths, and a thousand articles
of luxury, all of which would be clear gain
to a raihoad, and no slight addition to the
ingoing freights.

No railroad, which depends for its pros-
perity on coffee alone, can afford to establish
a low freight tariff. Hence, the extent pf
such a road must be limited ; for ultimately
a point will be reached from which the



COFFBB WAREHOUSE.



the ground is taken up by rich coffee plant-
ers, who cultivate only portions of the
ground. Now, the utmost yield of coffee
is foiu: or five hundred pounds per acre ; if
a railroad drains one thousand square miles
of coffee land, it can carry away no more
than 300,000,000 or 400,000,000 pounds
of coffee annually, while the same extent
of wheat or com land would produce at
•least ten times as much freight Practically,
the discrepancy is still greater. The prov-
ince of Sao Paulo, with its two draining
raihoads, probably does not furnish one-
thirtieth of the freight that is supplied by an
equal extent of our Western grain-lands.
Moreover, the great proportion of the popu-
lation of coffee districts consists of slaves ;
their food is furnished by the plantations,
and their clothes are few and scanty. To a

plantation like that of Sr. S , the railroad

brings nothing but the machinery and tools,
with the furniture of the master's house, and
a few bales of clotli for the two hundred
slaves. An equal population in the United



freights will be so high that practically expor-
tation will be prohibited. Brazilians talk of
extending their railroads into Matto Grosso,
eight hundred miles from the sea ; but to
what purpose ? Coffee cannot be cultivated
there, because it cannot be exported, and
there is no inflow of immigrants to establish
grain farms, as in our Western states. I be-
lieve that for the present Brazil should let
these central regions alone. She should
seek to condense and enrich her coast popu-
lation ; and, when new fields are required,
there is the Amazons valley, an inexhausti-
ble garden, with free water commimicarion
to the ocean.

Sometimes the coffee is sold to traders
at the railroad stations. More commonly,
the planters employ agents, or factors, at
Rio de Janeiro, who sell the coffee, for a
small commission, to the packers (enscuca-
dores). To these latter belong the great
store-houses in the nortliem and eastern
part of the city. Here there are hundreds
of negro porters, carrying the heavy sacks



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237



on their heads, or waiting at the street-
comers for a job. The most of these are
slaves ; but some are free, and earn from
$1.50 to $2 per day. They work often
with bare bodies and arms, showing their



porters bring them in, each bag is probed,
and a handful of grains are taken out for
samples. Subsequently the coflfee is emptied
out on the floor, and repacked in coarse
sacks for shipping, the weight being carefully



superbly developed muscles ; but the sever-
ity of their labor is evinced by diseased hips
and intumed knees ; very few of these por-
ters attain the age of fifty years.

We find ready admittance to a store-
house, and the overseer takes pains to
explain the different processes. It is a
great, bam-like room, level with the pave-
ment, and substantially floored and walled.
The coffee-sacks are piled on either side,
each pile bearing a separate mark, and each
sack distinguished by a number. The in-
coming loads are brought from the railroad
station in trucks and horse-cars. As the



adjusted to 60 kilograms, or a little over 132
pounds. The old sncks bear the mark of
the planter from whom they came, and they
are returned to him through the agent.

The packers are speculators, buying the
coffee outright, and selling it when they can
do so to best advantage, of course avoiding
the expense of a long storage. From the
packer the coffee goes to the exporter, who
is in correspondence witli American or
European houses, and who depends for his
profits on the New York or Baltimore or
London markets. With him, also, the pur-
chases must be a matter of speculation and



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COFFEE CULTURE IN BRAZIL.



calculation ; for, during the ocean transit of
from three to seven weeks, the markets may
fluctuate greatly. Sometimes a high price
can be looked for at an early day, and
then the exporter makes his shipments by
steamer, to secure a quick passage ; but at
other times the markets require delay, and
sailing vessels get the preference. Some
shipments are very large ; single houses fre-
quently send off eight or ten thousand bags
by one steamer. The whole immense busi-
ness centers in a few dingy counting-rooms,
where American or English merchants con-
trol a million pounds of coffee with a stroke
of the pen. •

Rio and Santos are the two great coffee
ports of Brazil, and the three provinces of
Rio de Janeiro, SSo Paulo, and Minas
Geraes produce almost all the coffee that
is sent out of the country. But if the story
runs truly, the northern provinces have the
honor of the first introduction of coffee-
plants. As is well known, the tree is a
native of Arabia and North-eastern Afiica,
but it had been introduced into America in
the early part of the i8th century. It is
related that a Portuguese traveler, visiting
Cayenne about 1750, received a handful
of coffee-berries from the wife of the French
governor. The seeds from these were
planted near Pari, and from them sprang
the first coffee-trees in Brazil. At one time
there were many small coffee-orchards
along the Amazons and perhaps a small
exportation. Even now a few trees are



cultivated about the plantations and vil-
lages, and the seed derived from these k
of a very superior quality, probably the
best in Brazil. But it would be hard to
convince a Brazihan that coffee could
be successfully grown in the northern prov-
inces.

The coffee-plant was first introduced into
Rio in 1774, but it was long before it be-
came an article of export. In iSoo, ten
sacks were sent out of this port, and in 181 3,
twelve sacks. In 181 7, the first large ship-
ments took place, about 64,000 sacks.
From that time until 1851 the exportation
steadily increased, reaching in the latter
year over two million sacks, or 330,000,000
pounds. Since that the increase has never
been very great, and at times there has
been a faUing off in the yearly product.
The want of growth is due, no doubt, to
the ruinous system of cultivation, which
robs the ground without enriching it; to
the high freight tariffs and consequent use-
lessness of the interior lands, and to the
export duties, which may eventually ruin
the industry altogether. Of late, other
countries are turning their attention to
coffee, and as soon as their young plan-
tations are grown they will compete with
Brazil in the markets ofthe world. Mexi-
co, especially, is likely to be a power-
ful rival, and if coffee is sent from her ports
free of duty, she may eventually force Bra-
zil to lower or remove her export tarifi^,
now the chief sources of her revenue.



WHARF SCENE AT RIO DB JANEIRO.



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SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS.



239



SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS. II.

STRAWBERRIES FOR HOME AND MARKET.



PREPARING AND ENRICHING THE SOIL.

Having from choice or necessity de-
cided on the ground on which our future
* strawberries are to grow, the next step is to
prepare the soil. The first and most nat-
ural question will be, What is the chief need
of this plant ? Many prepare their ground
in a vague, indefinite way. Let us prepare
for strawberries.

Whetlier it grows north or south, east or
west, the strawberry plant is the same, and
has certain constitutional traits and require-
ments, which should be thoroughly fixed
in our minds. Modifications of treatment
made necessary by various soils and cli-
mates are then not only easily learned but
also easily understood. When asked what
was the chief requirement in successftil straw-
berry culture, Hon. Marshall P. Wilder re-
plied: "In the first place, the strawberry's
chief need is a great deal of water. In the
second place, it needs more water. In the
third place, I think I would give it a great
deal more water." And this is true. With-
out moisture the best of fertilizers become
injurious rather than helpful. Therefore, in
the preparation of the soil and its subse-
quent cultivation, there should be a con-
stant effort to secure and maintain moisture,
and the failure to do this is the chief cause
of meager crops. And yet, very probably
the first step absolutely necessary to accom-
plish this will be a thorough system of
underdrainage. I have spent hundreds of
dollars in such labors, and it was as truly
my object to enable the ground to endure
drought as to escape undue wetness. Let
it be understood that it is tiioist and not
W€t land that the strawberry requires. If
water stands or stagnates upon or a little
below the surface, the soil becomes sour,
heavy, lifeless; and, if clay is present, it
will bake like pottery in dry weather and
suggest the Slough of Despond in wet.
Disappointment, failure and miasma are the
certain products of such unregenerate re-
gions, but, as is often the case with repressed
and troublesome people, the evil traits of
such soils result from a lack of balance, and
a perversion of what is good.

If, however, we have mellow upland with
natural drainage, let us first put that in order
that we may have a remunerative crop as
soon as possible.



In suggesting, therefore, the best methods
of preparing and enriching the ground, I
will begin by considering soils that are
already in the most favorable conditions,
and that requu-e the least labor and outlay.
Man received his most essential agricultural
instructions in the opening chapter of Gen-
esis, wherein he is commanded to " subdue
the earth." Even the mellow Western
prairie is at first a wild, untamed thing that
must be subdued. This is often a simple
process, and in our gardens and the greater
part of many farms has already been practi-
cally accomplished. Where the deep, moist
loam, just described, exists, the fortunate
owner has only to turn it up to the sun and
give it a year of ordinary cultivation, taking
from it, in the process, some profitable hoed
crop that will eflfectually kill the grass, — and
his land is ready for strawberries. If his
ground is in condition to give a good crop
of com it will also give a fair crop of berries.
If the garden is so far " subdued " as to yield
kitchen vegetables, the strawberry may be
planted at once, with the prospect of excel-
lent returns, unless proper culture is neg-
lected.

Should the reader be content with me-
diocrity, there is scarcely anything to be said
where the conditions are so favorable. But
suppose one is not content with mediocrity.
Then this highly favored soil is but the
vantage ground from which skill enters on
a course of thorough preparation and high
culture. A man may plow, harrow and plant
with strawberries the land that was planted
the previous year in corn, and probably
secure a remunerative return, with little more
trouble or cost than was expended on the
com. Or, he may select half the area that
was in corn, plow it deeply in October, and
if he detects traces of 'the white gmb, cross-
plow it again just as the ground is beginning
to freeze. Early in the spring he can cover
the surface with some fertilizer, — there is
nothing better than a rotted compost of
muck and bam-yard manure, — at the pro-
portion of forty or fifty horse-loads to the acre.
Plow and cross-plow again, and in each
instance let the first team be followed by
a subsoil or lifting plow, which stirs and
loosens the substratum without bringing it
to the surface. The half of the field pre-
pared in such a thorough manner will prob-



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SUCCESS WITH SMALL FRUITS.



ably yield three times the amount of fruit
that could be gathered from the whole area
under ordinary treatment, and if the right
varieties are grown, and a good market is
within reach, the money received will be in
a higher ratio.

The principle of generous and thorough
preparation may be carried still further in
the garden, and its soil, already rich and
mellow, may be covered to the depth of
several inches with well-rotted compost or
any form of barn-yard manure that is not
too coarse and full



be certain : the strawberry roots will go as
deeply as the soil is prepared for them, and
the results in abundant and enormous fruit
will be commensurate. English gardeners
advise trenching even to the depth of three
feet, where the soil permits it. Few soils
can be found so deep and rich by nature that
they cannot be improved by art ; and the
question for each to decide is how far the
returns will compensate for extra preparation.
Having thus considered the most favor-
able land in the best condition possible,
under ordinary cultivation, I shall now

i

f



THB "SBTH BOYDEN" STRAWBBKRY. — THE SCENB OP ORBBATIONS.



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241



CLEARING LAND FOR STRAWBERRIES.



fioest of wild strawberries are found where
trees have been felled and the brush burned ;
and the successful fruit-grower is the one
who makes the best use of such hints from
nature. The field would look better and
the cultivation be easier if all the stumps
could be removed before planting, but this
might involve too great preliminary expense,
and I always counsel against debt, except
in the direst necessity. A little brush burned
on each stump wjll effectually check new
growth, and in two or three years these
unsightly objects will be so rotten that they
can be pried out and easily turned into
ashes, one of the best of fertilizers. But
where trees or brush have grown very
thicUy, the roots and stumps must be
emfcated. The thick growth on the sandy
land of Florida is grubbed out at the cost
of about $30 per acre, and I know of a
gentteaian who pays at the rate of $25
per were in the vicmity of Norfolk, Va, I
doubt whether it can be done for less else-
where.

I have cleaned hedge-rows and stony



Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 42 of 160)