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SOUTHAMPTON :
front of the Victoria Rooms—ancl for a series of balls, whereat the rules published at the time inform us, " to make them as agreeable as possible, punetillios in dress are dispensed with, as far as is consistent with a polite assembly."
THE MODERN HISTORY and the revival of the importance of Southampton may be said to date from 1840. As early in the history of commercial dock enterprise in England as 1803, Mr. Rennie having surveyed the port strongly urged the construction of Docks here, and in 1810 the project was again set on foot. But it was not until the completion and subsequent success of the Manchester and Liverpool railroad in 1830 that public attention was prominently called to schemes of this kind. The advantages of Southampton as an outport of London being realised in the important fact that the passage up the English Channel from Cowes to the Thames averaged from 28 to 30 hours by steam, whilst it could be accomplished were a railway open from Southampton in four or five hours, a proposal for constructing a railway from London, with terminal docks here, was received with considerable favour in mercantile circles. On account, however, of the difficulty of raising a sufficient amount of capital to carry out the full scheme, the portion relating to the docks was deferred for a time. But the London and Southampton (since called the London and South-Western) Railway Company having commenced their undertaking, in March, 1836, while the line was under construction, an Act of Parliament was obtained for the erection of docks on upwards of 200 acres of mud-land reclaimed from the sea at the mouth of the river Itchen. In 1838 the railway was opened to Woking, 23 miles from London, and in 1839 to Southampton. About this period the Government arrived at the conclusion that it would be. an advantage to the public service to provide for the conveyance of a considerable part of our ocean mails by contract—this probably arising out of their experience with the Peninsular Company, who two years before (August, 1837) had obtained a contract for the conveyance of the mails between Ealmoutli and Gibraltar, the Admiralty conveying them thence to Malta and Alexandria, and the East India Company having steamerswaitingat the latter port to meet them. This intimation gave a great impetus to enterprise in steam navigation. The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was formed in 1839 under royal charter, with a capital of a million and a half sterling, to
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