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strength and beauty, as the silk of Italy, (which is commonly called fine silk,) and by the several experiments I have tried with it, I am satisfied, it may be made to answer the same purposes as Italian silk now does, if it be reeled in short skeins, a fine, clean, and even thread; to effect which, if some experienced persons are at first sent to teach the people, the work will soon be made easy to the meanest capacity, and the value of the silk will be thereby greatly increased.
As for my own part, if at any time you should think I can be of use to promote so good a work, I shall be ready to execute your commands, as far as I am able, and always remain, Gentlemen, your most obedient, humble servant,
Tho. Lombe. Old Jewry, Jan. 31, 1732.
On inquiry I have found, that the Trustees have some time ago taken care of what Sir Thomas Lombe so much recommends to them. They have sent to Italy for a sufficient quantity of silkworms' eggs: they have engaged two or three Piedmontese to go and settle in Georgia, and instruct the people : one of these, a man of capacity and long experience in the business, went with the first embarkation. They likewise in all their grants of land, to those who go at their own expense, as well as those who are sent on the Charity, oblige the people to keep a sufficient number of white mulberry trees standing on every acre, or else to plant them where they are wanted..
If an objection should arise here, that by raising this silk ourselves, and reducing the importation from Italy, we may likewise reduce our exportation thither, by her resolving to take none of our goods: to this it may be answered, she takes none but what she is, and will be obliged to take; and even of that little she takes at present, but a very small part is either sold or consumed in those particular States, from whence we have our supply of Italian silk, which we buy in the dominions of the king of Sardinia, the Venetians, and the Pope, and seldom or never any otherwise than for ready money. As Italy consists of several small governments, whose interests are independent of each other, no disadvantages in trade, arising from the conduct of Great Britain to any one of them, will be either felt or resented by the rest. From whence it is clear, that our not taking the usual quantity of organzine (i. e. thrown silk) from Piedmont, will not be attended by any loss in our exportation to Tuscany, Genoa, or any of the other States.
The greatest part of the silk imported from Italy comes in ready thrown, which is owing to the king of Sardinia's prohibiting the exportation of any raw silk out of his dominions, since the erecting of Sir Thomas Lombe's valuable engine for throwing it here. This should make us double our diligence, and without further loss of time set about raising raw silk for ourselves, and thereby save so great an expense to the nation. The quantity of Italian thrown silk (exclusive of raw silk of all sorts) imported for many years past, may be computed at three hundred thousand pounds weight per annum, which at 20s. per pound of sixteen ounces, amounts to three hundred thousand pounds in money. The cost of the like pound of Italian raw silk is from 10 to 158. according to its goodness and fineness. If then the aforesaid quantity could be had, was imported in raw silk, and made into organzine (i. e. thrown silk) at home by the said engines, supposing the raw silk to cost 13s. per pound on an average: in such case, one hundred and five thousand pounds would be annually saved, and gained to the nation by the labor of our own people. But in this we are at present obstructed by the prohibitions in Italy, that would oblige us to take their silk ready thrown.
Since Sir Thomas Lombe has erected, and brought to perfection, his engines at Derby for working fine raw silk into organzine, the price of that commodity is greatly re• duced abroad, and several of our manufactures have been thereby much improved at home.
By raising raw silk in Georgia, and gaining it at so easy a rate for manufacturing here, we shall save not only the large sum paid annually to the Italians, but we shall likewise prevent a very large sum going every year into France for her wrought ones; which are almost all of them clandestinely imported, as may be seen by the following account of all the wrought silk publicly imported directly from France, and entered at the custom house.
Silk wrought. Silk mixed with gold and silver.
80 lb. weight.
33 lb. weight.
As it is notorious how great the consumption of French silks is in England, the little public importation of them must be a very great surprise, and becomes a matter of public consideration to prevent so great a loss to our revenue, and so great a prejudice to our manufactury.
This may be partly prevented (as I observed just now) by making the manufacture and sale of our own so much cheaper; for the high value of our silks is a great inducement to the wearing those of France, who can make hers more substantial, and afford them cheaper, as she raises most of her raw silk within her own dominions, and receives the remainder from Italy on easier terms than we do, viz. the exchange of her goods, which are admitted by the Italians, paying less duties than the manufactures of England : besides, the nearness of her situation to Italy, and cheapness of labor, make her too potent a rival for us to contend with in the silk trade, in our present circumstances.
The Italian, French, Dutch, Indian and China silks imported thrown and wrought only .(including what are clandestinely run) may, on the most moderate computation, be reckoned to cost us five hundred thousand pounds per annum, which may all be saved by raising the raw silk in Georgia, and afterwards working it up here, now we have attained the arts of making raw silk into organzine, and preparing it for our weavers, who can weave it into all sorts of wrought silks, in as great perfection as any nation of the world: so that we only want the staple (or raw silk) and to have it at a reasonable rate. With this Georgia will abundantly supply us, if we are not wanting to ourselves, and do not neglect the opportunity, which Providence has thrown into our hands. The saving this five hundred thousand pounds per annum is not all; but our supplying ourselves with raw silk from Georgia carries this further advantage along with it, that it will provide a new or additional employment for at least twenty thousand people in Georgia, for about four months in the year, during the silk season; and at least twenty thousand more of our poor here, all the year round, in working the raw silk, and preparing such manufactures as we send in return; or to purchase the said raw silk in Georgia, to which country our merchants will trade to much greater advantage, than they can expect to do to Italy, and yet the exportation to this place will (as I said before) be in all probability preserved.
This great advantage and saving will arise by supplying our own consumption only, which we may carry much farther, and extend to a foreign exportation, because raw silk may be raised much cheaper in Georgia, where land is to be had on easy terms, and mulberry-trees abound, than in Italy where both are very dear, where the poor man gives half the produce of his labor for the mulberry-leaves, which he gathers on the gentleman's grounds. As the cost then of the mulberry-leaves are reckoned half the charge of making raw silk in Italy, the people of Georgia, who may have them for nothing but the trouble of gathering, will have this vast advantage above the Italians.
The work of making raw silk is easy, the silk worms will multiply prodigiously in such a country as Georgia, (every worm is supposed to lay above two hundred eggs, as well as spin three thousand yards of silk,) and where there is such a number of white mulberry-trees, a sufficient quantity of silk might soon be raised to supply all Europe, if there were hands enough properly instructed to carry on the work.
If then we consider how cheap, and in what large quantities raw silk may be raised in Georgia; that we are now masters of all the arts of manufacturing it at home, and thereby enabled not only to supply our own consumption, but that of our neighbors also; we may soon hope, instead of paying a tribute of five hundred thousand pounds per annum, as we now do to Italy, France, Holland, and the East Indies, to see the silk manufacture made as useful and profitable to us at home, as the woollen now is.
It is well known, that with the same ease with which we can raise silk in Georgia, we can supply ourselves with flax, hemp and potashes. (For this last trade some are ready to
Imported from Russia.
1724. C. Ib. 1. s. d.
1. 8. d. Flax rough 21783 3 8 – 38121 411 Total Importation from Russia 212229 12 9 Hemp rough_70870 3 16 — 59740 5 1 Exportation to Russia
35563 13 9 Potashes 757091 lb. Wt. - 9463 12 9
176665 19 0 Total 107325 2 9 Importation from Georgia 107325 2 9
New Balance on the Importation 69340 16 3
embark to settle there at their own expenses.) These materials we bring at present not only from the east country, and other places, but great quantities from Russia, where the balance is every year very strong against us, as will appear by the following account of importation from thence for the three years, which could most conveniently be got. This account shows the total value of the importation of all goods from Russia for each year; the value of our exportation thither, and the excess of the former, which is so much money paid by us to Russia. It likewise shows the quantity and value of the flax, hemp and potashes imported from thence. By charging these articles to Geogia, (where they can be raised,) and by subtracting the importation of them from thence, from the excess of the importation from Russia, the reader will see the balance against us is greatly reduced.
Imported from Russia. 1725.
24847 14 10
225467 12 1 Total 119110 18 00 Importation from Georgia 119410 18 00
New Balance on the Importation 106056 14 1
Imported from Russia.
Flax rough 34094 3 3 - 59665 17 1 Total Importation from Russia 235869 2 5
206357 0 9 161803 2 5 Importation from Georgia 161803 2 5
New Balance on the Importation 44553 17 4