Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

be reconciled to them, as he will find them adapted to the voyages they have to make ;'in all respects comfortable and well provided, if of the best class; and accomplishing their trips with great certainty and security. To object to their blackness would be puerile. Every thing in British ports must be black, or become so, as every port has more or less to do with Newcastle. Some of the best steamers between London and Scotland are probably not surpassed, nor equalled, by any in the world, for all those things most desirable in vessels of this kind, and in the same service. They are large; they are magnificent; they are commodious; they are well provided ; and they are safe. English steamers, and other vessels generally, have a better inside than outside, like English houses. That things with which we have to do, and which we may have occasion to use, should be better than their looks promise, is by no means an endictable fault-it is not a cheat.

Liverpool is remarkable principally for its commercial importance. In this particular it is second only to London, compared with other towns of the British empire, and it is fast gaining even upon the metropolis. Whether its prosperity, which is now so steadily advancing, will one day blight the commerce even of London, and compel the latter to be content as the seat of the court, the leader of fashions, and the great centre of political influence, is less problematical, perhaps, than superficial observers are wont to imagine. London, from causes which can never be controlled, is exceedingly and vexatiously difficult of access to its commercial connexions. First, there is the wide and not very comfortable mouth of the English Channel, stretching on the one side from Dover to Land's End, and on the other from Boulogne to Brest, always dreaded by the mariner, whether going out or coming in. The wind which has brought him to the Downs may keep him there for :. many days before he can double the Foreland and enter the Thames; and then he has eighty miles of a crooked and difficult channel between him and the docks of London. The same difficulties present themselves from London to the Atlantic, I have received letters at London by a NewYork and London packet, mailed at Portsmouth, where the vessel touched, advising me of some little interest I had in the arrival of the ship, and have waited three weeks before she was laid in the dock. Early in the winter of 1834-35, the Samuel Robertson, a New-York packet, put into Plymouth in distress, eight weeks after she had left London, without ever having got far out of the Channel, if she had even fairly left it. She was also at Portsmouth five weeks after leaving London.

Liverpool is almost immediately open to the Atlantic, affording a very sure ingress and egress without delay. All

40

A PARADOX IN ENGLISH CHARACTER.

men of business in London find that their correspondence with foreign parts, which must go upon the Atlantic seas, especially their business with America, can be accomplished most expeditiously by way of Liverpool. All government despatches between the court of St. James and Washington city go and come invariably by that channel. Even now the connexion by post between London and Liverpool, two hundred and six miles, is only about twenty hours; and when a railway shall have been opened between them, which is now in rapid progress, the distance will be reduced to some ten or twelve hours. It is very certain that the foreign commercial connexions with nearly all parts of the British empire, even for the transportation of goods and heavy articles of merchandise, by the growing facilities of internal communication, will ultimately be, and that at no distant period, several days earlier by the way of Liverpool than of London; a state of things which must inevitably give an advantage to the former, with which no power but that of a despot could compete. A free trade with India is already opened, which has even now given a fresh and vigorous impulse to the ever-wakeful spirit and elastic power of this commercial rival of London.

The human mind is intent on looking out for the shortest way; and in no country more so than in Great Britain-the drudgery of her agricultural operations, and the ordinary employments of her peasantry only excepted, in which occupations all things go on, from generation to generation, in the same old way. There is this strange anomaly in the English character—that every thing connected with commerce, manufactures, and politics, develops the greatest activity and invention of mind; while the husbandry of the earth, and all the domestic occupations of “the lower orders, * look as if the spirit that presides over them, if spirit it be, were irrecoverably stultified. The difference between America and Great Britain in these particulars is precisely that which a traveller on the Continent and in Great Britain must have observed between an English stagecoach and a French or Dutch diligence: the former lacks nothing which human invention and skill could supply for convenience and despatch; while every appearance and symptom of the latter makes one vexed at the dulness and stupidity of his race. A furrow which in America would be turned up with the greatest ease by two horses, and the service of one man with a light plough-which he who follows can throw about with one hand, while he guides his quick-stepping cattle with the other--employs in England from four to six lazy horses, and two to three men, dragging a machine so great

* A phrase peculiar to the English ; at least not so often heard in our land of republícan equality,

and heavy, with tackle so abundant and complicated, as to remind one not accustomed to such a needless expenditure of a man-of-war with its various furniture. All the peasantry of England unconnected with the circle of manufacturing and commercial interests, one would imagine, are at work with the same instruments, and after the same modes, which were employed by their Saxon ancestors; and how much older they are even than that, it may be difficult to say. Strange that there is no more sympathy between the mind that drives the plough, shears the grass, dresses the hedge, and manages a donkey, and that spirit which has raised manufactures to the highest perfection that the world can boast of, and economized manual labour almost to a miracle; which spreads the wings of its commerce over all seas, and protects its trade by the sleeping thunders of its navy. It would not be true to deny, that agriculture is carried to the highest perfection in England. I only mean to speak of the great disadvantage and waste in the application of labour.

The population of Liverpool in 1831 was 165,175; that of New-York, at the present moment, is 265,000. These two great commercial cities are therefore nearly equal in this particular; and they are not very far from being equal in their commercial connexions and transactions. They are also nearly equal in the dates of their comparative importance. In 1669, Liverpool was separated from Walton, a village three miles distant, and erected into a parish. In 1700 its population was 5000; in 1720, a little more than 10,000; in 1740, it was 18,000; in 1770, about 30,000; in 1790, it is stated at 56,000; in 1812, it was 94,376; and in 1820, it reckoned only 110,000. Since the last-mentioned date its increase has been almost unexampled, and its population is now probably about 200,000.

It is melancholy to be obliged to remember, that the African slave-trade has been one of the principal means of the growth, and one of the great sources of the wealth, of Liverpool. During the ten years from 1783 to 1793, it employed in that trade, in all, 878 ships; imported to the West Indies 303,737 slaves, the price of whom averaged £50 each; making £15,186,850, or $62,796,880.* Deducting allowance to factors, &c., the actual revenue to the town was £12,294,116, or $59,011,756. An abatement should be made from the number of ships as stated here, the sum being made by adding those registered in each successive year; as the same ship, in some cases, might

* In reducing sterling money to Federal money throughout this work, I allow $4 80 to the pound; which is about the medium commercial value in the rate of exchange.

have been employed for half the period, more or less. Say 300 ships. As this estimate comprehends only a minor fraction of the period during which this traffic was tolerated by Great Britain, it may, perhaps, fairly be supposed, that the number of slaves actually made by the Liverpool trade alone was considerably more than double this number, and the additional income to the town, from that source, proportionate. The history of Liverpool, published in 1795, from which this statement is abridged, has given the items with great particularity, apparently as if it were a part of the honest and lawful trade of the town—no more discreditable or improper than trade in logwood and ivory! How great and interesting the change in public feeling in forty years! Great Britain has been shocked at her own deeds, and atoned her fault before heaven and the world. It was well said by an American gentleman, who, while in England, was publicly taunted for American slavery—“It was the sin of our common parent that introduced it among us. If you will enact the part of Japheth, I will fill the place of Shem. Take you one corner of the garment, and I will take the other, and we will both walk backwards, and cover the shame of our parent's nakedness."

One of the most remarkable things attracting the attention of an American, as he steps ashore on his arrival at Liverpool, are its magnificent docks and basins, which occupy about 111 acres. They are stupendous works of solid masonry, laid apparently as firm as the natural rocky base of the hills. At low water, the walls constituting the quays are sublime objects of artificial structure. The tide in the Mersey ebbs and flows twenty-five feet, more or less, making a great difference in the appearance of the river between low and high water. Whether the want of bridges over the Mersey at Liverpool is owing to the rapidity and height of the tides, and an exposure to a swell from the estuary, or to the necessity of keeping the river open to navigation, I am unable to say. The ferrying, which is immense, is for the most part performed by small steamers, which are difficult of access at low water. The quays afford pleasant promenades, and are often thronged by multitudes of well-dressed people, especially when any thing a little extraordinary is to be seen on the river. The shipping doing business with the town, as it comes and goes, passes through the locks at high water to and from the basins, which maintain a permanent level, and where, at low tide, the forest of masts, locking their yard-arms, appears high above the craft that floats in the river below.

The perfection, the beauty, and, I may add, the magnificence of the masonry constituting the quays, docks, and ba. sins of Liverpool, present a striking contrast to the wooden,

LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER RAILROAD.

43

feeble, and perishable docks and wharves of our American ports. I have never yet seen any of these structures laid with stone in the United States; but this material will doubtless begin to be used for that purpose as the country grows older. In the ports of Europe it is generally a matter of economy; and as economy is in fact the governing consideration that controls all expenditures on public conveniences for business, whenever this principle shall demand it, this mode of building docks among ourselves will prevail. At present we have plenty of wood; and when that shall grow scarce, we shall still have plenty of stone. .

Liverpool is estimated to engross a fourth part of the foreign trade of Britain, a sixth of its general trade, and to furnish one twelfth of the shipping. Its customs amount to about £4,000,000 annually, and its exports exceed those of London. The exact gross customs of Liverpool in 1832 were £3,925,062. The gross customs of London in 1832 were £9,434,854. The gross customs of the United Kingdom for the year ending March 25, 1833, were £19,684,654. Net produce of the same was £18,467,881, or $88,645,828. The registered shipping for the port of London in 1832, besides boats and other craft not registered, was 2,669 vessels. of 565,174 tons burden, manned by 32,786 men and boys. The registered vessels of Liverpool for the same year were 853 ; burden, 166,028 tons; employing 9,329 men and boys.

LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER RAILROAD.

The Trains-A Disaster-An Incident. On the 1st of September I took my place, at 10 o'clock A. M:, in one of the cars of the first class of the railway trains for Manchester. This is a fine sight to stand and look at when under its greatest speed. It is sublime; it is giddy; it creates anxiety when one estimates the momentum, and thinks of the possible results of an accident-such, for example, as coming unexpectedly .in contact with another train from an opposite direction, in a fog, or in the darkness of night, when both are on the same line of rails. The concussion would be tremendous, and the disaster frightful ! One would not covet to be a tenant either of one or the other of such conflicting powers. Or, suppose a train, going at the rate of thirty miles an hour, should meet with some little obstacle negligently left on the rails, be thrown off, and precipitated down some one of the stupendous elevations, which are not unfrequently created in building these structures across deep ravines-it would plunge like an arrow shot from a bowstring-and what would become of the passengers! Or, suppose the checking-lever should become

« AnteriorContinuar »