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´╗┐ITS HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES.
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undertake the conveyance of the West India mails; and the existing arrangements with respect to the Peninsular and East India mails proving unsatisfactory, more rapid and regular means of transmission were adopted by the Government. The Peninsular Company securing the contract in competition, obtained a royal charter in 1840, with a capital of a million sterling, and power to increase the same to a million and a half, on condition that it should open an improved communication between England and India within two years.
The railway, by this time, had made its influence felt in respect to the means of land conveyance, and both the Peninsular and Oriental and the Boyal Mail Companies recognising this, adopted Southampton as the home station for their ships. The Royal Mail Company, under their contract, intimated their intention of selecting it as the port in the English Channel- for landing and embarking the mails which they might choose in default of appointment by the Treasury; and the Peninsular and Oriental Company lauding their mails at Palmouth and coining on to Southampton, the Admiralty, in the public interests, appointed a committee to enquire into the comparative advantages afforded by the different ports in the English Channel for the packet service. Accordingly a roving commission having in 1840 sat and heard evidence at different ports on the south-western and western coasts, in 1841, the Treasury selected Dartmouth for the West India mails, the Commissioners having also recommended it for the Peninsular mails. Nevertheless, in January, 1842, the lloyal Mail Company began their contract by starting their new line of vesssels from Southampton, and the docks being finished in August of the same year and opened by two of the P. and 0. ships, the question was virtually settled. That neither Liverpool, Bristol, Cork, Portsmouth, Palmouth, Plymouth, nor Dartmouth came into possession of the privileges thus gained by Southampton, solely by reason of its unique natural advantages, was not attributable to any want of effort on the part of the friends of those ports. Indeed, the post-master-general of the period (Earl Lowther) more than once manifested a marked preference for Dartmouth ; but "the inexorable logic of facts " prevailed. The P. and 0. vessels being unable to make Palmouth on account of the fog, more than once brought their mails on to Southampton, and having demonstrated a saving of two days by this procedure, merchants and traders, in their own interests, assisted the two companies against the very powerful influence brought to bear on the question. Hence it was not until August, 1843, that Southampton, by a Treasury minute, was con-
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