Letter XLVI: Wednesday, April 3, 1850
The present number of British seamen is about 270,000, of whom 200,000 belong to the mercantile marine, and 25,000 to the navy-the remaninder being in foreign service. The total number of vessels belonging to the merchant service of the British empire was in 1848 no less than 33,672, having an aggregate tonnage of 4,052, 160, and carrying collectively 230,069 men. The average rate of increase in the merchant vessels for the last ten years has been 600 per annum, while the annual increase of burden amounts, within a fraction, to 100,000 tons. By this means employment is found for 5,000 fresh hands every year. The British empire possesses onethird more vessels than France; while the aggregate tonnage of the British ships is upwards of four times as great as the French, and one-third more than the collective burden of the American vessels. Some idea of the extent of the foreign trade carried on by this country may be formed from the number of British and foreign vessels that annually enter the several ports of the United Kingdom. Those in the year 1848 amounted to nearly 35,000 vessels ( 13,000 of which were foreign), having a gross burden of 6 Yz million tons, and giving employment to nearly 350,000men. The total value of the exports and imports effected by such means amounts to upwards of seventy-five millions sterling per annum. According to the estimate of Mr. G. F. Young, the ships engaged in the mercantile marine are worth £38,000,000. The sum annually expended in building, repairing, and outfitting new and old ships amounts to £10,500,000 - and the cost of the wages and provisions for the seamen engaged in navigating the merchant vessels to £9,500,000; while the amount annually received for freight by the shipowners is said to come to £28,500,000. The foreign trade, in connection with the port of London, is very nearly one-fourth of the entire maritime commerce of the United Kingdom. The number of vessels that entered the
portofLondonin1847wasupwardsof9,000,andthegrosstonnagenearly 2,000,000;therateofincreasebeingabouthalfamilliontonsand2,500 vesselsinftveyears,or100,000tonsand500vesselsperannum.The principalforeigntradesamongthemerchantvesselssailingfromtheportof Londonare-theEastIndiaandChina,theAustralian,theWestIndia, Honduras,theBalticandRussian,theNorthAmerican,theSouth American,theUnitedStates,theBrazilian,theHudson'sBay,theAfrican, theCapeofGoodHope,theSouthSeaandGreenland,theMediterranean, andthePortugueseandSpanish.