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English Colonies - Expo Paris 1878

English Colonies at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1878


The English exhibition is remarkable from every point of view; it is even evident that it constitutes the most important part of the foreign section; but our description would not be complete if, before leaving British territory, we did not visit its colonies, which were all anxious to appear alongside the mother country.

In our description of the Jena Gallery, we have spoken of the exhibition of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and hence of the Indian exhibition; the importance of this exhibition makes it our duty to return to it and to complete here the information we have previously given the reader.

According to the latest official records, the total population of India is as follows:
Under the English administration... 191.018.412
Indigenous States................... 48.233.978
French and Portuguese possessions. 679.172
Total........ 239.931.562

The population of English India amounts to 62,002,461 men and 4,523,833 women and children.
It seems interesting to us to place before the eyes of the reader the figure and the composition of the resources that England draws from India. The figures which follow represent the official revenues for the thirteen years between 1863 and 1877:
Pounds sterling
Land revenue...................... 267.332.603
Tributes, subsidies and contributions from
Native States....................... 9.302.412
Indirect taxes and forests.... 35,568.550
Revenues, patents and direct
contributions............................... 9.253.377
Customs................................. 32.561.315
Telegraphs.............................. 2.922.690
Court fees, inheritance,
fines............................... 6.914.436
Education.................................. 480.251
Public works......................... 10.376.570
Interest on loans and advances.................................. 4.310.064
Salt................................... 75.311.262
Opium................................... 100.182.054
Stamp................................ 30.206.782
Currency................................... 2.473.082
Post Office.................................... 8.201.925
Subsidy income for pension funds
funds................................ 3.415.021
Navy, pilotage fees, etc.'..... 4.018.037
Army (retention, leave, sale of equipment, etc.) ........................... 11.782 314
Miscellaneous ............................... 10.642 848
Total revenue.......... 631.315.643

Dr. George C. Mr. Birdwod, author of the excellent Handbook of the British India Section, from which we have borrowed these figures, still gives some useful information about the Indies to be noted.

Thus, the value of the principal goods and merchandise belonging to individuals or to the Treasury and imported by sea into English India during the thirteen years we have indicated above, is 631,315,643 pounds sterling.

The value of the principal articles and other goods of Indian production or manufacture, foreign merchandise and treasure exported from English India to foreign countries by private trade, during the same period, amounted to £763,023,333.

The progress of the railway lines opened since 1863 is now as follows: - In 1864, 2,962 miles; in 1865, 3,369; in 1866,3,567; in 1867,3,995; in 1868, 4,017; in 1869, 4,285; in 1870, 4,832; in 1871, 3,077; in 1872, 5,382; in 1873, 5,700; in 1874, 6,190; in 1875, 6,497, and in 1876, 6,498.

The post office, which in 1864 sent only 52,462,093 letters, newspapers, samples, etc., delivered 122,541,753 in 1877.

The telegraph network has reached a length of 16,649 miles.

Indian trade, which goes back to ancient times, since it is mentioned in Genesis, has acquired an immense development under the English impulse, and one must really admire the fertility of this land which, for centuries, has not ceased to supply commerce and industry with marvellous products and unparalleled wealth.

We have nothing to add, from the descriptive point of view, to the lines we have written previously; we shall confine ourselves to remarking once more on the great artistic and religious feeling which is revealed at every moment in Indian productions.

Before leaving India, let us give the reader a few details of the wealthy person who has just acquired the Prince of Wales' Indian pavilion.

The story has been too well and too spiritually told in the Figaro by the two blind men, for us not to leave them the floor:
"There are in the crowd of Croesus who visit the Exposition, a certain quantity of citizens capable of affording expensive trinkets, but there are few who can stop before the pavilion of a royal prince and say:
"I like this trinket, I'll buy it.

"This is the case of an English millionaire whom we want to introduce to our readers. He landed in the East Indies some twenty years ago, with no other fortune than an iron will and a rare intelligence of business, and there he amassed a hundred millions, which he brought back to England, where he eats up his income as a man who knows how to derive all possible noble enjoyments from money.

"Our hero had the honour of receiving the heir apparent to the crown of England, in a circumstance which brings us back to the Exhibition.

"Everyone has noticed in the great peristyle of the palace of the Champ de Mars a colossal statue of the Prince of Wales, in bronze. This statue was made and cast at the expense of Sir Albert Sassoun (did I say my character was so called?). When it was erected in the village square adjoining the mogul's magnificent estate, the Prince of Wales came in person to attend the ceremony, dined at the castle, and showed, by the good grace and sympathy he deigned to show Sir Sassoun, how much he approved of the distinctions and marks of esteem which his mother had given his guest for his beneficence and high ability.

"Sir Sassoun has sent the statue of the Crown'-Prince to Paris, and has obtained its proper placement there. The heir to the British throne seems, from his pedestal, to dominate his magnificent Indian collection, and, - without wishing to disparage the work of the sculptor, - he seems to say to the public:
"-I hope these are pretty things! They show how my subjects understand the way to receive me when I go to visit them.

"It must be said that Sir Sassoun has collections that dwarf the most famous. There is a legend, which we cannot control, that in one of the galleries of his many hotels there is a shilling under a glass, to which the happy mogul owes his life. While travelling through the jungles, carrying a huge sum of money which he had gone to collect from the neighbouring chief town, he received a tremendous jolt in his side on his horse. He put his hand to the bruised spot, and found in the tear in his gusset a bullet which had flattened itself on a shilling.

"His people, who were perhaps of the conspiracy, feigned great fury at the assassin when they saw that their master had not been hit, but there is no evidence that they were not accomplices, and had not shared the loot with the murderer, whose plans were foiled by a small copper disc.

"It is recalled that Sir Sassoun had a charmingly philosophical word to say about this event:
"I had a hundred thousand francs in my pocket which brought death upon me, and it was a twenty-penny coin which saved my life. Small sums are definitely the most useful.

"When Sir Sassoun arrived in Paris he took a French teacher, and in three weeks he knew enough to make himself understood. Do the same after twenty-one days' study of the English language. The British Croesus has, as one thinks, good connections in Paris. His most intimate friend is Count N. de Camondo, who has done him the honours of Paris as a man of taste and wit.

"You have certainly come across Sir Sassoun in the Galerie dos Nations, which he is particularly fond of. His long stay in India has coppered his complexion and given him the false air of a rajah. His eyes have the languid look of those rich lords who are seen crossing the streets of Calcutta in dazzling palanquins, or sailing in gilded boats on the sacred waves of the Ganges.

"Arrived in front of the English pavilion, said
"On arriving at the English pavilion, known as the Prince of Wales' pavilion, Sir Sassoun stopped lastly and asked to visit it.

"Then, when he had finished his examination, he said
How much is this pavilion?" he said.

"But it is not for sale, it belongs to the heir to the English crown.

"Is that a reason?

"No doubt.

"No, telegraph to London; tell the Prince that Sir Sassoun would be happy and proud to own a building where he who is to be King has rested. As for the price, His Highness's will be mine!

"And this is how, for one hundred and fifty thousand francs, the Prince of Wales's pavilion, dismantled and reassembled piece by piece in October, will adorn one of Sir Sassoun's parks in England."


The first group of the Canadian exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, engravings on medals, drawings and architectural models, engravings and lithographs; it offers nothing outstanding. Nor does the Canada façade deserve special mention. It is a large, unpretentious cottage that should be considered only as a splendid sample of Canadian woods.

On the other hand, we have nothing but praise for the second group, as far as education is concerned; the English, and perhaps the Americans even more so, are very anxious to spread education, and in them the art of teaching has made serious progress.

The bookshop, the printing press, the stationery shop, the photography, differ neither in better nor in worse from the English products which we have just analysed.

But we find originality in furniture, fabrics and of course indigenous products.

In the furniture, we find many of those rocking chairs, so dear to the Americans and which are beginning to spread in Europe.

Let us also point out beautiful specimens of the locks of Canada, leathers, collections of fish, and finally a magnificent checkerboard, composed of 26,000 pieces extracted from 32 kinds of wood of Canada.

The latter is the work of Mr. Edmond Lemieux, Ottawa, Ontario.

In the heating class, we notice cast iron stoves of a particular arrangement; they have two glass galleries, which makes it possible to see the state of combustion at any time and on the spot.

The furniture is particularly large and comfortable; there are a great number of rocking chairs which lend themselves so well to the shape of the human body and rest it while rocking it softly.

The sheets of Canada deserve a mention, they are beautiful and firm; the shoes are of great solidity.

Rubber is much used for clothing, and it should be noted that it is of superior quality.

The Department of Education in Canada exhibits specimens of savage costume, which greatly excite the curiosity of visitors. These savages are included in the class of clothing, though their manner of dress is fairly primitive.

Class 43, which contains the products of mining and metallurgy, is of great interest; lime phosphate, coal, copper ore, granite, irons, ochres, slates, iron ores, marble, samples of petroleum, etc., are on display.

The woods of Canada, of which every species is represented, are striking in their beauty.

This exhibition, in short, is very well understood; each of the Canadian products is before the eyes of the visitor, who can thus realize the richness and even the nature of the soil.

Hunters and fishermen" stop with interest in Class 45, where not only the implements of their Canadian brethren are displayed, but also specimens of the native game and fish.

Cereals, meats and fish, and finally wines, beers, brandies, ginger beer and grain brandies complete this carefully organised exhibition.

Let us also mention an intelligent postal innovation that we would like to see imitated in France.

When you want to recommend a letter, instead of wasting as much time at the post office counter as it would take to take a money order or to load a letter*, you buy a special stamp which you apply to the envelope, and the postman in charge of the delivery hands over your missive with the necessary precautions.


The exhibition at Lagos is not very considerable, but it is no less interesting; the wood carvings are curious; we noticed one which represents a woman offering the king coconuts and the king going to war with his wives and soldiers.

In the class of music, the war drums constitute the entire musical record of the country; this is very little.

Ceramics, clothing and weapons are in small quantities and have no use outside the country.

Pipe clay, iron and lead ore make up the entire extractive industry; rice and maize are the only foodstuffs; hunters deliver elephant's teeth, boar's teeth, hippopotamus teeth and leopard skins for trade.

Cape Donne Esperance is quite rich in the fine arts. His paintings and drawings are of interest because they depict local sites, landscapes and flora.

In the printing and bookstore classrooms there is an interesting collection of the colony's newspapers.
In the photographic class, one notices curious types, they are the natives of Damaraland.

Three exhibitors have sent moulded silk.

Leather goods, tableware, basketry, clothing and weapons are purely indigenous.

In terms of products suitable for export, we note copper, manganese, iron and lead ores, earth coal, gold nuggets, cobalt, Cape diamonds, ostrich eggs, feathers, wax, and other products, feathers, wax, leopard and otter skins, aloe vera, wool, tobacco, cigars, soap, leather, wheat, rye, oats, flour, and finally wine and brandy.

Vile Maurice is poorly represented in terms of art, printing and furniture.

Its exhibition is more complete as far as the products of extraction are concerned.

We see, in the showcases, minerals from Mauritius, corals, woods, aloes, mineral waters from Champ-De-lort, manioc starch and tapioca, sugars, coffee, vanilla, cloves, etc.

Seychelles exhibits only granites, tortoise shells, specimens of snakes, scorpions, chameleons, cigars, tobacco, rice, corn, cassava starch, pepper, cinnamon, chocolate, cocoa, preserves and finally rum.


The fine arts, education, printing and book trade are fairly well represented in Victoria.

The products of Victoria consist of worsted and carded woolen yarns and fabrics, flannel, silkworms, greige silks, shawls, lace, lead, tin, antimony, gold, gems, quartz, flax, wood, soaps, candles, straw, starch, wheat, flours, various seeds, butters, cheeses, spices, tea vinegar, etc., etc., etc.

Wines are present in large quantities at this exhibition. There is also an interesting collection of native weapons.

Queensland is 669,520 square miles in area, with a temperate climate and rich grazing land, and has up to 1,985,809 cattle, cows, bulls, 7,421,810 sheep and 130,429 horses.

Queensland produces annually £1,499,576, and in 1877 the colony achieved £3,857,376 in exports.

The native products are antimony, marble, gold, coke, granite, tin, lead, wools, mohair, timber, soap, wheat, corn, sugar, coffee and wines.


We will be more brief about the other colonies, and say briefly:
Jamaica, the largest of the English West Indies, has a revenue of £572,686. Exports in 1876 amounted to £11,519,015, while imports were only £1,700,253.

Sugar and rum are the two main sources of wealth for the colony. The turnover in rum alone is over £300,000.

Jamaica exhibits a large quantity of soil products, samples of wood and colours; in the fisheries class, a case of dried turtle for making soup stands out.

The samples of rice, sugar and rum are naturally very numerous.

British Guiana, which has an income of only 2,500,000 pounds, exhibits many Indian-made articles, pots, hammocks, etc., which are not to be found in the exhibition.

The samples of sugar and rum make up almost entirely this exhibition, which is certainly of great interest to specialists.

The island of Trinidad, - 300,000 pounds in revenue, - exhibits watercolours which are a pleasure to look at, as well as photographs and maps.

The forest products are of great wealth. Samples of mahogany abound, as do laurel and sea almond trees.

Other exhibits include cocoa, vanilla, wax and honey.

The island of Ceylon, with an income of 12,500,000 francs, has a highly developed trade; liberal arts, education, printing and furniture are represented there.

One notices very well worked leather works, toiletries in calamander wood carved in Kalutara. The jewellery is rich and shows great taste.

Then come timbers, grass mats, hats, native bags, oyster shells with beads, cigars, tobacco, agricultural tools, copies of the Lakrivikirana newspaper, etc.

The Straits Settlements, income 320,090 pounds, exhibits 67 different species of penang wood and 76 medical roots.

New South Wales, - income £12,435,829, - was the first English settlement in Australia.

The arts flourish here, judging by the paintings, drawings and prints on display. Printing also stands out.

Among the products of the soil are ingots of pure tin, sections of coal beds, gold-bearing quartz, tin ore, shale, etc., etc.

Wool, castor oil, silk, etc., are listed next to corn, wheat, concentrated meat, and finally many samples of wine.

New Zealand is of little interest; the only things we could find to mention are a herbarium of the region and photographs of Maori and aboriginal chiefs.

The same can be said of the Fiji Islands, where only two bales of long silk cotton from the 1877 harvest are on display.

South Australia has a very considerable trade. In 1876 the export amounted to £116 million.

The fine arts are represented by nine exhibitors; in the geography class there is a very fine map of South Australia.

Little is said of furniture and clothing.

The extractive industry is represented by rich samples of gold, silver and copper ores; next to it are specimens of all kinds of woods: a little further on, collections of natural history, then numerous samples of wool.

Jams, kummel, maraschino, bitter, curaçao, etc., are shown in some quantity; but fermented beverages occupy by far the most important place in the Australian exhibition.

In 1876 South Australia exported 49,717,900 pounds sterling of wheat.

Western Australia exhibits rich samples of silks, and an enormous quantity of specimens from the mines; rocks, gypsum, and ores of all kinds form the most important part of this exhibition.

The forest products come next.

The English colonies will not be badly divided in the matter of awards.

We are pleased to be able to announce today that the jury has awarded :
To English Guiana : 7 silver, 17 bronze and 27 honourable mentions; to Trinidad, 2 silver, 12 bronze, 2 honourable mentions; to the Malay group, 4 silver, 7 bronze, S honourable mentions; to the Seychelles, 2 silver, 5 bronze, 3 honourable mentions; to Western Australia, 1 diploma of honour, 1 silver, 8 bronze, 4 honourable mentions ; Jamaica, 1 gold, 13 silver, 12 bronze and 11 honourable mentions; Mauritius, 1 grand prize, 6 gold, 8 silver, 10 bronze and 4 honourable mentions; and India, 2 diplomas of honour, 7 gold, 14 silver, 23 bronze and 10 honourable mentions.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878