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I pass by the minor articles of potashes, &c., manufactured from the residue after the distillation of the spirit, which shows, however, that nothing is lost.
Thus we find that after about three quarters of a century the prediction of Achard has been literally and fully realised.
The benefits created in a country by such a marvellous industry are prodigious. As the manufacturing season only lasts from the beginning of October to the end of January, it requires a large number of hands, taken from amongst the field labourers, bricklayers, plasterers and other trades, whose regular employments are stopped during the rigorous winter months.
I think it unnecessary to enlarge any further on the advantages which are derived from this branch of industry, both agricultural and manufacturing. May I not therefore express my astonishment that industrious and enterprising England is almost the only country where the beet is not cultivated for these purposes.
Even Spain, though possessing Cuba and Manilla, has nevertheless begun the cultivation of the beetroot by establishing a dozen manufactories. Holland also, that next to England has the greatest Sugar Colonies, producing about 200,000 tons, and consequently having an interest identical with that of England, has lately commenced the same industry.
When I consider the backward state of agriculture and the deplorable absence of manufacturing industry in Ireland, particularly in the West, it is indeed surprising that no effort has been made, by an association of capitalists, or by private individuals, to develop the agricultural resources of that fine country, in connexion with such manufactures that of beet sugar.
aware that serious obstacles exist, arising from the difficulty of collecting the proper revenue from excisable articles manufactured in the country. But when we see that France, Belgium, Holland, not
to speak of the German League, which have also to contend with this very same difficulty, have nevertheless emerged gloriously from this struggle, I do not see what should prevent our doing the same, as even now in Ireland an excise duty is collected on spirit there distilled, and beet sugar in France pays nearly double the duties levied at present in England, viz., 17s. on 1 cwt. of unrefined beet sugar. The arrangements for collecting the duties are as follows: they have entrepots in the centres of the great growing and manufacturing districts, such as Lille, Valencienne, Douai, Cambrai, and St. Quentin, and a great metropolitan entrepot in Paris. The duty must either be paid before the sugar leaves the manufactory, or it must be placed in entrepot within a certain short time after it is made. The example of France, therefore, tells powerfully in favour of my argument. It has been stated that an Irish beet crop would yield on the average nearly half as much more per acre than the French, the soil and climate being favourable for the growth of beet; while improvements in agriculture, united to British capital, would increase the production still more. At the time when beet-root was first tried in Ireland, an objection was made, which I consider totally fallacious, namely, that Irish beet sugar obtained by free labour could not compete with Colonial sugar raised by slave labour.
The growth of a plant in every country depends on temperature, amount of sunlight, and degree of moisture; the mean temperature of Ireland is higher than most of the corngrowing countries, but its mean summer and autumnal temperature are in general lower. Of all the principal corngrowing countries Ireland is the wettest; and this very circumstance, which is supposed to render Ireland not so fit as other countries for the growth of corn, makes it therefore peculiarly suited for the growth of crops which are cultivated on account of their bulbs, stems and roots. Besides, the cultivation of this root improves the land for a rotation of crops, and the following rotation is the best recommended
- 1st, barley or wheat; 2nd, beet; 3rd, oats — thus three fields are kept under crops; and if four fields were employed, clover might be advantageously introduced after wheat.
The cultivation and manufacture of beet sugar in Europe recommends itself also by the following facts : 1. that cane sugar requires twice the amount of labour and thrice the time to vegetate which other crops require—2. the superior intelligence of European workmen—and 3. the facility of obtaining the newest machinery and requisite repairs.
It may not be inappropriate to give you a translation of an article which appeared, only last week, in a weekly French publication entirely devoted to sugar - Journal des Fabricants de Sucre. It was received by me when I was about closing this paper :
“The Beet Root, besides producing 200,000 tons of Sugar, produces, at the same time, a mass of pulp beneficial to agriculture, which, excluding even all other food, is capable of nourishing, during one year, 50,000 head of cattle, or 500,000 sheep. The manure produced by these animals, added to the other residues of Sugar manufacturers, can fertilise every year 20,000 hectares, or 50,000
The 420 manufacturers now making Sugar employ from 60,000 to 70,000 hands, representing an outlay of not less than £800,000 to £1,000,000 for labour during each season. The 250,000 or 300,000 acres on which the beet-root is now planted were once fallow grounds, or unfertile soil. The crops of wheat, far from being diminished, have increased in an equal ratio. No other part of France produces more cereals than the North, and this is the very country where beet-root is cultivated to the greatest extent. Everywhere, after the cultivation of beet-root, the land has yielded one-third heavier crops than previously ; thus, in manufacturing Sugar, bread and meat are also increased, contributing largely to the public alimentation."
I have now concluded my task, however imperfectly. I have given you the origin and progress of this important industry, which recommends itself so much to public attention, and have only to add that the production of sugar in Europe is one of the greatest glories of agricultural industry, and is closely affiliated to the necessary wants of modern society. A source of riches to the farmer, the producer of the primary matter, it is one of the greatest elements of national prosperity, in France and other countries, and the basis of honourably acquired fortunes by many who have devoted their energies to it. Without sugar, the new world would not have reached the splendour and colossal proportions which it has attained; and I may safely state that, through the manufacturing of beet-root sugar, European agriculture has marched towards a new industrial progress. I would say to Great Britain, Go and do likewise.
Another season of production and manufacture has passed since this paper was written, and the progress predicted for this great branch of industry has been fully realised. France has produced a more abundant crop of roots, and these richer in saccharine matter, than in any preceding year. The average quantity is computed at 40 tons per hectare, or 16 tons per acre. It is estimated that not less than 220,000 tons of sugar will be manufactured, amounting to five millions sterling, independent of the large quantity of spirit and other products derived from the same plant.
Since last year, the number of manufactories has increased from 398 to 418.
Belgium will also produce 30,000 tons; Holland, 5,000 tons; and the Zollverein and other countries in Europe, an average crop. The entire production in Europe is estimated at 530,000 tons.
The opinion which I expressed, that our refiners would make more considerable use of it, is also fully verified. Not less than 30,000 tons have already arrived in the United Kingdom since October (of which London alone has taken one-third), and at least an equal quantity has still to be shipped for this country, in payment for which France will receive one-and-a-half million sterling.
It is for the economists of Great Britain, and particularly of Ireland, to determine whether the introduction of this industry on our farms would be desirable.