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to the celebrated "Ilanscatic league," for its protection and advancement—a treaty to which seventy-two cities are said to have been parties, but which, properly speaking, has ceased to exist for more than two centuries, and is now confined to the cities of Lubec, Hamburg, and Bremen.
The discovery of flie Mariner's Compass*, whicli is generally attributed to Fhvio Gioia, a citizen of the once celebrated maritime republic of Amalfi, about the year 1302, gave, as it has been truly said, to man the dominion of the sea, and marked the commencement of a new era in the history of commerce and navigation. The use of the compass rapidly spread, but notwithstanding the advantages which it afforded, navigation, during the remainder of the fourteenth century, continued at a low ebb. "A voyage from the Mediterranean to the Baltic," we are told, was in those days " so formidable an undertaking, that seafaring men accounted it too long to be performed out and home in one season, and gladly embraced the opportunity afforded by the warehouses of Bruges, in the Netherlands, (which owed its increase to its adoption as an intermediate port for vessels from the north and south of Europe,) for landing their cargo from the south, and taking on board another from the north, without the delay of a passage through the Sound. This plan of dividing the voyages to the north, ceased, in a great measure, in the fifteenth century, because the improvement in seamanship made it easy for vessels to proceed direct to Hamburg, Copenhagen, and other northern poi ts."
On the nature and extent of tlie British commerce in the fourteenth century, a gleam of light is thrown by a record of the exports and imports in the twentyeighth year of Edward the Third (1355), from which it appears, that the former consisted of wool, coarse cloths, and leather, which were valued at 294,184*. 17s. 2d., including a custom-duty of 215/. 13s. 7d. The imports comprised fine cloths, linen, mercery, wine, wax, and groceries, of the trilling value of 38,970/. 3s. Gd., including a custom-duty of 285/. Edward the Third, perceiving the real cause of the prosperity and opulence of Flanders, made various efforts during his reign, to excite a commercial spirit amongst his subjects, but in despite of his endeavours, navigation and industry continued to slumber; and it was not until the reign of Henry the Seventh, nearly a century and a half after, that the advantages arising from our extent of coast and abundance of fuel began to be brought into profitable operation in England.
During this interval, however, various efforts were made by our kings to foster the growth of the mercantile marine, on the aid of which, as we have explained in our account of the Royal Navyt, they were almost solely dependent in time of war. For the promotion of this object, in 1449, Henry the Sixth granted several privileges to one John Traverner of Hull, who had built, according to the old record, the largest ship yet seen in England, which the king was pleased to call, the Grate Dieu Carrack. A licence was granted to this individual to export therein, "wool, tin, skins, leather, and other merchandise, from the ports of London, Southampton, Hull, and Sandwich, belonging either to English or foreign merchants; and freely to carry the said merchandise through the Straits of Marocco into Italy, he paying aliens' duty on the same, and upon firm expectation that he would, in return, bring some such merchandise of other nations as were most wanted in England, as bow-staves, wax, &c., whereby a great increase of the duties and customs to the crown would ensue, and much gain to the subject." Previously to this, according to Hakluyt, from a valuation of some Spanish prizes, we find that the highest value of commercial shipping, was then 30s. sterling per ton, including their " furniture." In this reign, a company of London merchants sent several ships laden with wool, cloth, and other merchandise, valued at 21,000/. (then a very large sum), to trade to the western parts of Marocco, but they were intercepted and taken by the Genoese, who were jealous of our interference with theii commerce. The owners were authorized to make reprisals upon the aggressors whenever they had an opportunity, but no steps were taken by the English government in the matter.
British merchant-vessels seem then very rarely to have exceeded the burden of 200 tons. We read, however, in 1455, of a Swedish ship of 1000 tons, with a crew of 120 men, having a licence to trade to English ports; but the computation of tonnage must have been extremely vague.
* See Saturday Magazine, Vol. III., p. 115.
In the following reign, a considerable advance seems to have been made in the size of merchant-ships, for according to the inscription on the tomb of that "princely merchant," William Canning of Bristol, in Redcliffe church in that city, (date 1474,) we learn, that in consequence of "his having forfeited the king's peace," he was ordered to pay 3000 marks, in lieu of which, Edward the Fourth took 2470 tons of shipping, amongst which there was a ship of 900 tons, another of 500 tons, and one of 400 tons: hut these vessels must clearly have been built by Canning expressly for the Royal service, if we consider the diminutive size of merchant-ships which prevailed during the greater part of the following century.
At the commencement of the reign of Henry VII. (1485,) English merchants first sent their ships to trade regularly with the ports of Italy, and a consul was thereupon appointed at Florence, for the protection of their interests.
The progress of the Portuguese along the coast of Africa, their discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1187, and their accomplishment of the first regular voyage to India by that route twelve years after, with the still more important discoveries of Columbus, opened a new and boundless field for the extension of navigation, commerce, and manufactures. The subsequent discoveries of our own countrymen, in their pursuit after a North-west passage to IndiaJ;, of the whole coast of North America, had, however, then the most powerful effect on British commerce, and led to the formation of the whale-fisheries of Spitzbergen and' Greenland; yet it has been stated, on the authority of" Sir William Cecil, a London merchant, that, previously to this, there were not above four merchant-vessels exceeding the burden of J 20 tons belonging to the Thames early in the reign of Henry VIII., and that "there was not a city in Europe, having the occupying that London had, that was so slenderly provided with ships." It appears from a record in the Exchequer, that, in 1534, the exports of all England did not exceed 900,000/., and that the imports only amounted to 700,000/.} An act Was passed in this reign, to encourage merchants to build ships for their service fit for the purposes of war; such ships being exempted from certain duties, their owners receiving from the government twelve shillings per ton per month for their use when occasion needed. This must have caused a considerable increase in the burden of merchant-vessels.
But it was in the reign of Elizabeth, that British commerce began to assume any great degree of importance. In the first year of this reign, (1559,) in consequence of the irregular manner in which the Customs-duties were collected in the Port of London, an Act was passed to compel all persons to land their goods at certain places: and, about the same time, a new Custom-house was erected near the western boundary of the Tower. This structure, of which we give an Engraving, (page 161,) presents a curious contrast to the immense building|| now devoted to the same purposes: it was totally destroyed by the great fire of 1GG6, a calamity which befol two subsequent customhouses whicli were erected on the same site.
In 1575 the number of merchant-vessels in England, above 100 tons burden, was only 135, and 696 between 40 and 100 tons. About this time the passage to Archangel was discovered, and a trade opened with Russia, a region which had previously been literally a terra incognita in this country. Companies were also incorporated under Royal Charter, to extend the intercourse with Turkey, and with Guinea, and other places on the coast of Africa. The old historian, Harrison says, that " there were then few merchant-ships of the first and second sort, being apparelled and made ready to sail, that were not worth; ] 000/., or 3000 ducats at the least." Such was the enterprise of the English merchants in this reign, that numerous privateers were fitted out to harass the Spaniards; one of which was of the burden of 800 tons, the largest ship, not of the Royal navy, which had, up to that period (1597), been built. At the death of the Queen, however, in 1603, it is asserted by many writers, that there were only four merchant-ships in England of the burden of 400 tons.
The reign of Elizabeth was, perhaps, most distinguished by the formation of the East India Company, aud the opening of a commercial intercourse between Great Britain and the East. The first association for this purpose, which was formed in London in 1599, possessed a capital of
J See Saturday Magazine, Vol. III., p. 209. 6 Ibid. Vol. II., p. 185.
I Kor an account of the progressive lise of the Customs in Great Bntain, see Vol. II. page 187. ■
30,000/., divided into 101 shares. On the 31st of December, in the following year, the Company obtained a charter of privileges for fifteen years, constituting it a body corporate and politic, under the name of " The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading to the East Indies." On the 2nd of May, 1601, their first adventure, consisting of five vessels, measuring, collectively, 1330 tons, of the value of 27,000/., sailed from Torbay, with cargoes of bullion and merchandise to the amount of 58,000/. more, most of which had been advanced by other parties. The expedition proved very successful, and the clear average profits, for many years, amounted to about 150 per cent, upon the capital engaged.
We should far exceed our limits were we even very briefly to trace the progress of the Company, which rapidly extended in importance and magnitude. In 1642, 15.000 tons of shipping were employed in the trade to the East Indies. The ships were from 300 to 600 tons each, and were accounted the best trading-vessels belonging to England. The China-trade, afterwards the most lucrative source of revenue the Company possessed, was then carried on on a very limited scale; for tea, the great object of commercial intercourse with that country, was imported in such small quantities in 1660, as not to be thought of sufficient consequence to be subjected to a duty!
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to establish similar associations between this period and 1693; but in that year the dislike to the monopoly enjoyed by the Company had become so general, that an extensive association of merchants was formed, which, in consequence of an offer of a loan of 2,000,000/. to government, obtained a charter, under the designation of " The English Company Trading to the East Indies." The large amount of the loan, combined with the rivalry of the old association, led, however, to so much inconvenience, that, in 1701, a union was effected, and on the 22nd of July, in the following year, they were incorporated under the well-known name of "The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies." In 1708, in consideration of a further loan to the government, they obtained the exclusive privilege of trading eastward of the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan, which was continued, from time to time, until 1794. Such was the origin of this far-famed Association, whose commercial functions, in consequence of the Act of last Session, wholly expired on the 1st of this present month, (April.)
The ships which the Company have employed to convey the valuable productions of the East to Great Britain, are not only by far the most splendid vessels ever built for mercantile purposes, but have frequently been greatly distinguished in time of war. Most of these noble ships are equal in burden to third-rate men-of-war, and carry from thirty-two to thirty-six guns. Several very interesting passages occurred, during the late war, between the French and our China traders, some account of the more remarkable of which, for which we are indebted to Captain Brenton's Naval History, may not be unacceptable
On the 17th of January, 1794, when there was not a British ship of war in the Indian seas, the Company"s ship, Pigot, Captain George Ballantyne, lying in Rat Island basin, near Bencoolen, signally defeated two French privateers, he Vengeur of 32 guns and 350 men, and La Resolue of 28 guns and ISO men. The Pigot mounted 32 guns, but her decks were in confusion from her state of equipment, and she had only 102 men on board. The French ships were captured a few days afterwards, by four sail of Indiamen, under the command of Captain Oharles Mitchell, who, on his return to England, received the honour of knighthood from His Majesty, and was presented by the East India Company with 8000/., in testimony of his gallant conduct. On the 24th of January, the same ships were attacked by a French squadron of four vessels, two of which carried 40, and 44 guns, but after a severe action, the French found themselves overpowered, and only escaped being taken in consequence of their superior sailing.
In September 1799, a French frigate was captured by the Exeter, East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Meriton, under very remarkable circumstances. That vessel formed part of a fleet under convoy, which had accidentally fallen in with a French squadron, to which they gave chase. In the course of the pursuit, the British ships were widely scattered, and the captain of the Exeter at last found that he was nearing a French frigate, the only other vessel in sight being the Bombay Indiaman, which
was then very far astern. The position was critical, but the British officer, with great presence ofjnind, formed his determination, and running up alongside the enemy with all his ports up, he commanded him to surrender to a superior force. With this order", supposing himself under the guns of a ship of the line, the French captain instantly complied. Meriton gave him no time for deliberation, but sent an officer who brought him on board; and he delivered his sword to the English captain, in due form, on the quarter-deck. The Bombay Castle was still at a great distance, but on that vessel coming up, the prisoners were quickly taken out and divided. By this time the French captain began to recover from his surprise, and, looking very attentively at the little guns on the quarter-deck, asked Captain Meriton what ship it was to which he had surrendered? Meriton drily answered, "To a merchantship." The indignant Frenchman begged to be allowed to return with his people to the frigate, and fight the battle again; this humble request was refused. The French frigate mounted 36 guns, 12 pounders, and had 350 men.
In November, 1800, the Company's ship Phoenix captured a French privateer of 16 guns, of heavy metal, and 132 men, which had had the hardihood to chase her.
But, perhaps, the most memorable affair in which tho Company's ships were engaged, was that off Pulo d'Or in 1804. On the evening of the 14th of February, a valuable fleet of homeward-bound vessels, consisting of sixteen of the Company's ships, and eleven sail of country traders, fell in with the French squadron, under the command of Admiral Linois, comprising the Marengo 74, two 44-gun frigates, a corvette of 28 guns, and a brig, which had been sent expressly into the eastern seas, for the purpose of harassing our commerce. Captain Dance, of the Company's ship Camden, who commanded the fleet, instead of ordering his ships to separate, and seek their safety in flight, wisely formed them, during the night, in line-ofbattle, and resolved to resist the attack of the enemy. As soon as day-light arrived, Captain Dance ordered his ships to hoist British colours and offer battle.
After a good deal of manoeuvring, in which the French had great advantage from their superior sailing, although they seemed extremely reluctant to engage, they at last opened their fire upon the Royal George, our headmost ship, which was received with the utmost coolness, and not returned until she was enabled to get closer to her opponents. She then engaged, and bore the brunt of the action, until the Camden and Ganges joined her: but before any of the other ships could get up, the French Admiral hauled his wind and stood away to the eastward, under all the sail he could set. Captain Dance immediately made a signal for a general chase, but, after a pursuit of two hours, finding the enemy gained on him, he very properly desisted. The conduct of the Company's officers and men on this memorable occasion, displayed a wonderful instance of our national character. The enemy's squadron might, according to the fair calculation of sea-fighting, have taken or destroyed half the British fleet. None of the latter had more than one hundred men—their heaviest metal 18-pounders. The Marengo had at least 700 men, with a weight of metal on her lower deck which rendered her an overmatch for all the ships of that fleet, that could, at one time, have brought their guns to bear on her; and the two frigates were also very powerful vessels.
Captain Dance, whose conduct is deserving of the highest praise that can he bestowed on a sea-officer, was knighted by His Majesty on his return. The East India Company presented him with £2000, and a magnificent piece of plate, besides giving him a pension of £500 a year for life; and the Bombay Insurance Company presented him with £5000. All the other officers and seamen in the fleet were also liberally rewarded by the company.
In March, 1805, the most valuable fleet that ever sailed from the East, reached the Downs in safety, under the convoy of Admiral Rainier. It consisted of 39 ships, and was estimated in value at fifteen millions sterling.
In a few years, the country will no longer have to boast of these "princely merchant-men." About 45 ships, of the collective burden of 70,000 tons, were, previously to the late Act of Parliament for opening the trade to China, employed in that capacity by the company; but only seven,of the old ships have sailed from London this season. The value of an East India ship was formerly about £50,000, but is now reduced to £10,000, or £12,000. The shipping that will henceforth be employed in our eastern trade, will be from 400 to 800 tons burden.
Bat we must revert to our sketch of the progress of navigation in the seventeenth century.
In the sea-fights with Holland, during the time of the Commonwealth, our mercantile navy was greatly distinguished, as well as in single actions with the Barbary pirates.
"About the middle of the century," remarks Anderson, "it had been observed with concern, that the merchants of England, for several years past, had usually freighted the Hollanders' shipping, for bringing home their own merchandise, because their freight was at a lower rate than that of English ships. The Dutch shipping were, therefore, made use of even for importing our own American products, whilst our own shipping lay rotting in our harbours; our mariners also, for want of employment at home, went into the service of the Hollanders." In order to remedy this disastrous state of things, the first Navigation Law was passed by the long Parliament in 1651, which gave rise, shortly after the Restoration in 1660, to the celebrated Navigation Act, which remained in force, with only a partial deviation, until 1823, when the present "Reciprocity system" was brought into operation.
In 1660, only 140,000 tons of shipping belonged to all the ports of Great Britain; and 95,266 tons cleared outwards; but the adoption of the restrictive system proved so beneficial, that at the period of the Revolution in 1688, our mercantile marine had nearly doubled, and 190,533 tons of shipping cleared outwards. In 1C94, the suburbs to the east of the Tower, in consequence of the increase of commerce and navigation, had become so populous, (notwithstanding the fearful ravages of the Great Plague in that district,) that a new parish was constituted, under the name of St. John Wapping. In 1700, the imports into Great Britain were valued at £5,970,175, whilst our exports in the same year were £7,302,716.
The first accurate account of the extent of our commercial navy was obtained in 1702, by the commissioners of the Customs, from which it appears, that there then belonged to all the ports in England and Wales, 3281 vessels, of the estimated burden of 261,222 tons, employing 27,196 men, and carrying 5600 guns. Of these there belonged to VeMfl, Tonj Mp„
London 560 .. . 84,882 . . . 10,065
Bristol 165 .. . 17,338 . . . 2,359
Liverpool 102 .. . 8,619 . . . 1,101
The peace of Utrecht gave fresh vigour to trade; and, in 1713, our shipping had increased to 421,000 tons, after which its progress was very gradual, for in 1739 it had only augmented one-seventh. The increase of our exports during this period was much more rapid, being more than one-fourth, viz. from 7,300,000/. to 10,000,000/. In the year 1729, 8889 vessels entered the Port of London, of which number 1839 British, and 213 Foreign vessels, were from foreign parts, the rest being coasters.
At the accession of George III., in 1760, the tonnage of merchant-vessels cleared outwards was, English 640,241, Foreign 107,237. In the same year our exports were valued at 15,781,175/., and our imports at 9,832,802/. The increase during the remainder of the century was extremely great. In 1789 the amount of British tonnage had trebled since 1760; our imports had nearly doubled, but our exports had increased little more than a fifth. In 1802, when 'Mr. Addington pronounced "the commerce of the country to be in a state of unexampled prosperity," the official value* of our imports amounted to about thirty: one millions, and our exports were more than forty-one millions sterling! So amazing an increase, in the space of forty years, was never paralleled in the history of any nation.
In 1805, the number of vessels belonging to the several ports of Great Britain and Ireland, was 19,027, which were of an aggregate burden of 2,086,489 tons, and navigated by 142,245 men and boys; besides 3014 ships, of the burden of 190,953 tons, belonging to the Colonies.
On the 31st of December, 1832, according to a Parliamentary Return, our commercial navy was as follows:—
No. of Vessels. Tom. Men.
United Kingdom .. 19,143 . . 2,225,980 . . 134,588
"■kiSdSEI 521-- «■■»•■ 3-844
British Plantations . 4,771 . . 356,208 . . 23,202
Total . . 24,435 . . 2,618^068 . . 161,634
• The official value generally differs widely from the real value, being computed upon a acale laid down for the regulation of the officer* of the customs, more than a century ago; it, however, affords i means of comparison between different periods.
This is double the extent of the shipping of the United States, and nearly triple that of France.
Of the enormous extent of our coasting-trade, some idea may be formed, when we state, that during the year 1833, 130,706 vessels, of the burden of 10,302,500 tons, cleared outwards in the different ports of the United Kingdom.
During the same period 12,982 ships, of the registered burden of 2,167,797 tons, cleared outwards for foreign parts from the various ports of the United Kingdom. The total official value of our exports, in the year 1832, was 76,071,572/.; the imports from foreign countries during the same period, being 44,586,241/.
THE PORT OF LONDON.
Probably, the most interesting view in the metropolis to a stranger, is that from the eastern parapet of London bridge. The "landsman" especially, gazes with feelings of wonder on the vast, and apparently interminable, forest of masts, which rise with an effect indescribably picturesque and imposing on the broad and tide-rippled haven of the majestic Thames. Few things, perhaps, are better calculated to impress the mind with a sense of our commercial greatness, than an inspection of this immense Port. There may be seen the flags of almost every civilized nation on the globe. The clumsy and grotesque, though bright and gaudy craft of the "lubberly Dutchman;" the taut-rigged Yankee; the piratical-looking Spanish lugger; the smart Frenchman; the rakish and suspicious Mediterranean trader; the dingy collier; the dashing steamer; the Kentish Hoy; the splendid " free trader;" and the stately Indiaman; with a host of other vessels of various countries and classes, compose a scene, which for variety and extent, is unequalled in the world. And then the human inhabitants of this vast floating city all indeed, combine to afford an almost boundless field for reflection to a contemplative mind. We are led to remember, that our country's greatness has arisen from her being the Ocean Queen, and whilst we reflect that each ship has a history, we are menially carried to the far-distant scenes of peril and. adventure, in which our countrymen, perhaps, our friends, have borne so distinguished a part.
The spene on the river extends for a space of more than four miles, comprising what are called the Upper, Middle, and Lower Pools, and a portion of Limehouse Reach. These divisions are generally crowded with shipping; the Middle and Lower Pools being principally devoted to the coal trade. Both banks of the river, as far as the termination of the Lower Pool, exhibit one continued range of warehouses, and other buildings appropriated to commercial purposes; but the chief seat of business lies on the northern side. The most interesting objects on that side, are the immense pile of the Custom House; the Tower, associated with so much that is memorable in British history; and the principal Docks and Building-yards. On the southern side, at Rotherhithe, are situated most of the granaries for the supply of the vast population of the metropolis, one of which, belonging to Messrs. Scott & Co., from its immense magnitude, forms a very conspicuous object, and is called on the river "the granary;" in this neighbourhood is the entrance to the Tunnel, and several Docks. The extensive space on the southern side of Limehouse Reach, extending to the Royal Yard at Deptford, which during the war was a busy scene of human industry—at Deptford especially, many thousand persons were employed—is now almost deserted and desolate.
A short distance above the unrivalled national Hospital, at Greenwich, are moored two large. ships, respectively appropriated to the purposes of a nursery and a floating hospital for seamen, viz., the "Marine Society*," on board the Iphigenia frigate, and the "Seamen's Hospital, for sailors of all nations t," on board the Dreadnought 104
* MAuint. Socirrv. This admirable and patriotic institution has now become of national importance. It rears up the children cf the poor, and destitute orphans, in habits of virtue and active industry, and thousands, who, if they had not thus been rescued from destitution, ignorance and vice, would probably have followed the paths of idleness and infamy, have by its means been made useful and worthy members of society. Since the Society originated in 1756, it has trained up 78,595 individuals for the sea-service, some of whom we are told, "have risen to rank and considerable estimation." A certain number of widows of captains and lieutenants in the navy, whose indigent circumstances justify an application to the Committee, are also annually relieved.
t Seamen's Hospital. This institution, since its establishment in 1821, has afforded medical and surgical relief to 21,000 mariners. a relic of Trafalgar. Both these national institutions are chiefly supported by voluntary contributions. On the opposite side of the river, is the low ground, called the Isle of Dogs, anciently, the Tsle of Ducks, from the great numbers of wild fowl which formerly resorted to it, which is considered one of the richest spots of ground in England. Immediately below this point of land, is situated Blackwall, which in consequence of the winding of the river, is nearly eight miles from the city, although less than half that distance by land. Here the business of the Port of London virtually ends, and the Thames after a further course of about forty miles, falls into the ocean at the Nore. .
The Conservancy of the Thames has, since the reign of Richard the First, been claimed by the city of London, whose charter was confirmed and extended by James the First. The Lord Mayor holds a Court of Conservancy eight times in the year; and once in every seven years, traverses the whole limits of his jurisdiction, (commencing at Staines bridge,) on the Thames and Medway. The tide ascends about fifteen miles above London Bridge, and the river is navigable for nearly 130 miles further. In its course through the metropolis, it varies in breadth from 800 to 1500 feet, gradually expanding as it approaches the Nore, where it is seven miles broad.
An estimate of the vast extent of the Shipping And Commerce of the Port of London, may be formed from the following particulars.
The average number of British ships and vessels, of all classes, in the river and docks, has been calculated at 13,444; of which the craft and lighters engaged in lading and unlading, amount to nearly 4000. About 3000 wherries are employed in the conveyance of passengers; and nearly 3000 barges and lighters are engaged in the inland trade. About 12,000 watermen (two-thirds of whom are free of the city,) are occupied in navigating the small boats and
besides 6000 out-patients. Sick seamen, of every nation, on presenting themselves alongside the Dreadnought, are immediately received, without the necessity of any recommendatory letters; their own apparent condition being sufficient to obtain their admission. It may be interesting to subjoin a statement of the number of patients relieved by the institution to the 31st of January last, as it affords an illustration of the fact, that almost all the varieties of the human race may be seen in the Port of London; Englishmen 11,878; Scotchmen 2551; Irishmen 2220; Frenchmen 88; Germans 304; Russians 182; Prussians 409; Dutchmen 83; Danes 359; Swedes and Norwegians 582; Italians 127; Portuguese 182; Spaniards 72; East Indians 148; West Indians 402; British Americans 253; United States 405; South Americans 55; Africans 130; Turks 7; Greeks 13; New Zealanders 18; New South Wales 9; South Sea Islanders 79: Chinese 12: born at Sea 50; total, including 171 relieved previously to the snip being ready, 20,789.
craft; 4000 labourers in lading and unlading ships'; and 12,000 revenue officers are always on duty on the river. The annual value of the exports and imports, from and into the port, is computed to amount to between sixty and seventy millions sterling:—in 180G, they were little mors than half that amount; and in 1825, they were nearly ninety-seven millions!
• An idea has gone abroad, that the commerce with other parts of the world, has, for some years, been leaving London for Liverpool. This idea is wholly fallacious; for, although the trade ef Liverpool is augmenting much more rapidly than that of the metropolis, yet the trade of the latter has been gradually increasing for many years, as will" be seen by the subjoined return of the amount of British and Foreign tonnage, that has entered the respective ports in the years 1821 and 1831:—
Brltieli Foreign. British. Foreign.
1821 '. . 585 994 . . 89,073 . . 242,322 . . 149,151 1831 . . 780,988 . . 209,159 . . 413,928 . . 265,037
The coasting tonnage of London is more than double the extent of the foreign: in 1826, it consisted of 20,439 vessels, of the aggregate burden of 2,441,776 tons; a large portion of this amount arises from the coal-trade; no less than 2,139,078 tons of that important necessary of life having been imported into the Thames in 1832.
Many of the colliers are of great age and remarkable build; at page 168, we have given an engraving of the most celebrated of these vessels*, the Betty Cains, which, after a service of a century and a half, was wrecked on a reef of rocks in entering the Tyne, near the Spanish battery under Tynemouth, on the 18th of February, 1827. This venerable ship, which was built of oak, whose changeful existence extended for a longer period than that of any other ship on record, was originally a Royal Yacht, called the Princess Mary, and is popularly believed to have conveyed the Prince of Orange to this country at the Revolution of 1688. Nearly sixty years ago she was sold bv Government, and employed as a West Indiaman, when her build, which was considered particularly excellent, was materially altered. She was subsequently employed as a collier, and excited much interest, particularly from a popular saying, " that the Catholics would never get the better whilst the Betsy Cains was afloat I" It is thought that she was Thames-built.
According to official returns, about 2700 ships, of the
• For the subject of our engraving, we are indebted to a lithographic sketch, made from a painting by Mr. James rcrgusonot North Shields, by Mr. W. Davison of Sunderland—both eminent artists in the north of England.
collective burden of 573,000 tons, now belong to London, exclusive of the immense number of craft and other unregistered vessels previously enumerated.
Of the value and extent of the fishing-trade, the following interesting particulars have been given in the Encyclopedia Britannica:—" No city in the world is better and more plentifully supplied with fish, than London. Turbot and brill are carried there from the coast of Holland; salmon from the rivers in Scotland and Ireland,—a few, however, are caught in the Thames,—at the mouth of which, mackerel and cod-fish are taken.
Iu 1828, the following calculation was made of the quantity of fish sold at Billingsgate.
Plaice and skates 50,754 bushels.
Turbot 87,958 ditto.
Fresh cod 447,130 ditto.
Herrings 3,336,407 ditto.
Haddocks 482,493 ditto.
Mackerel 3,076,700 ditto.
Fresh salmon 45,446 ditto.
Lobsters 1,954,600 ditto.
"To supply the actual demands of the people with this food, it required 3827 vessels; the number of fishermen, therefore, exclusively devoted to this particular business, and subservient to that metropolis alone, is truly immense."
The Customs-duty collected in the port of London, amounts to more than half the entire customs of the United Kingdom—exceeding ten millions annually. In a recent publication, it has been calculated that "above 40,000 waggons, and other carriages, including their repeated journeys, arrive and depart from the metropolis, laden in both instances with articles of domestic or foreign merchandise; occasioning a transit, including cattle and provisions sent for the consumption of the inhabitants, of more than 50,000,000/. worth of goods, to and from the inland mt-rkets; making with the imports, a sum of 120,000,000/. worth of property annually moving to and from the metropolis."
And Warehousing Establishments of the Port of London, in point of capacity and convenience, are unequalled. Notwithstanding the vast and increasing commerce of the metropolis, however, it was not until towards the end of the last century, that the idea of forming wet-docks seems to have been seriously entertained. This is the more remarkable, as a wet-dock had been formed at the then insignificant port of Liverpool, so early as the year 1708. Iu 1793, the West India Docks were first projected, and in the following year, at a general meeting of the merchants and ship-owners of London, the construction of wet-docks was finally resolved upon. But such was the opposition the project experienced from the corporation of London, and private interests, that it was not until 1798, that an Act of Parliament was obtained. Previously to that period, the losses sustained in consequence of the inadequate accommodation, and unprotected state of the port, were exceedingly serious. At certain seasons, the river was absolutely blocked up with vessels, most of which had to discharge their cargoes into lighters: and the annual loss sustained from robberies alone, was computed to amoupt to half a million sterling. The marine depredators, who were as numerous as they were daring, were divided into various classes, as " river-pirates," "light and heavy-horsemen," "mud-larks," "copemen," "scuffle-hunters," &c. The river or night pirates seem to have conducted their operations with the most reckless daring. They have been frequently known to weigh a ship's anchor, hoist it with the cable into a boat, and when discovered, to hail the captain, tell him of his loss, coolly bid him good night, and row away. They also cut small craft and lighters adrift, following them till they ran ashore, when they generally succeeded in carrying off the whole of the freight. Many of the "light-horsemen" regularly made five-guineas a night, and an apprentice to what was called a " game-waterman," is said to have been known to keep a country-house and a saddle-horse! In these days of security and improvement, it appears quite incredible that such a state of things should have been submitted to so long. In 1797, a strong check was put to the proceedings of these marauders, by the establishment of a system of marine police, which was so successful, that during the first year, the saving to the West India merchants alone was computed to amount to 100,000/.; and
no less than 2200 culprits were convicted of misdemeanours on the river during the same period.
The West India Docks, which were commenced in February, 1800, and partially opened on the 3rd of August, 1802, were the first, and are still the most extensive dock-, not only in this port but in the world. They extend across the northern extremity of the Isle of Dogs,'from Blaekwall to Limehouse, having a communication with the river by spacious basins at either extremity. This great public establishment originally consisted of an export and import dock; but, in 1829, the south dock, a spacious canal for shipping of the largest class, which had originally been constructed to facilitate the navigation of the Thames, was purchased by the West India Dock-Company for 120,000/. The north, or Import Dock, contains nearlv thirty acres under water, being 870 yards long by 166 wide. The Export Dock is of the same length, but only 135 yards in width, and comprises an area of about 25 acre's. The South Dock is 1183 yards (nearly three-quarters of a mile) long; it runs parallel to the others, and its lock-gates are 45 feet in width. The three docks arc capable of admitting 6.50 vessels, of from 250 to 500 tons. The entire area occupied by the docks and warehouses consists of more than 295 acres, enclosed (with the exception of the South Dock,) by a lofty wall, five feet thick. When originally opened, such is the extent of the Import Dock, that although the water was admitted at an average rate of 800 gallons per second, the space was not filled to the required depth, about 24 feet, for 10 hours.
The immense ranges of warehouses which divide the Import and Export Docks are not less deserving of notice than the latter; they are chiefly filled with rum, brandy, and colonial produce, and in the warehouses partly surrounding the Import Dock, there is stowageroom for 160,000 hogsheads of sugar, besides a largo quantity of coffee, &c. In these warehouses, and under the spacious sheds surrounding the quays, 148,563 casks of sugar, 70,875 barrels and 433,648 bags of coffee, 35,158 pipes of rum and Madeira wine, 14,021 logs of mahogany, and 21,350 tons of logwood, besides other merchandise, have been deposited at one time. The West India Dock Company's capital is 1,380,000/., and, in consequence of all West India ships trading to the Port of London, having been compelled to frequent these docks for twenty years after their formation, the profits during that period were immense.
The London Docks, at Wapping, which were first opened in 1805, are another splendid instance of commercial enterprise. They were originally intended for vessels laden with wine, brandy, tobacco, and rice, respecting which they possessed exclusive privileges for a period of twenty years, but they are now not appropriated to any particular trade. It was found necessary to remove more than 1300 houses in constructing these docks, which embrace within the walls an area of 71 acres, about 25 of which are under water. The vaults and warehouses here are of extraordinary dimensions. The largest, or, as it is called, the " Great Tobacco Warehouse," is calculated to contain 24,000 hogsheads of tobacco, and covers nearlv five acres of ground. This enormous structure is wholly under the control of the officers of Government, the Dock Company merely receiving the warehouse charges. There are also other warehouses of immense extent. The vaults which extend under these buildings have long been classed amongst the "sights" of the metropolis,—more than 65,000 pipes of wine and spirits can be stowed in these vast cellars. The London Docks have accommodation for more than 200 merchantmen at one time. A new entrance, on a very improved plan, with a spacious basin and locks, 1200 feet in length, has recently been opened, nearly a mile lower down the river than the original entrance. This veryimportant improvement was effected at a cost of 180,000/.; the capital of the Company exceeds 3,250,000/.
The East India Docks, at Blackwall, were next constructed. This establishment, which was chiefly undertaken for the convenience of the East India Company's ships, was completed in 1806, at a cost of 500,000/. 'it consists of an export and import dock, which, with the entrance-basin, contain nearly 30 acres under water. The entrance-lock is 210 feet long, and the dock-gates 48 feet wide. An extensive cast iron wharf, 750 feet in length, has just been completed along the river-front of the Docks] for the accommodation of steam-vessels of all classes, at all states of the tide: more than 900 tons of iron have been used in this novel and interesting work.