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THE PRINCIPAL PACKETS. O
health on shipboard. For these reasons, and notwithstanding the numerous other vessels offered to the emigrant, or traveller to select from, we would unhesitatingly recommend the New York packet ship, if suited to his means, as by far the most eligible; and to take shipping from the port of Liverpool, rather than from any other in the United Kingdom. Here it is impossible that he can ever meet with disappointment, or the least difficulty in securing such accommodation as will answer his convenience, or that his pecuniary resources will admit of; without the risk of being detained by frequent postponements, beyond the usual or appointed day for sailing, except that the weather should chance to be so boisterous as to make it imprudent to venture out to sea. The principal line-of-packets that leave this port for New York are:—
First, The Old, or Blackball line; which consists of eight first-class ships, and distinguished at sea by a large black ball painted on their fore-top-sails.
Second, or the Star line; composed of four superior vessels, and known at sea by a large star painted on their fore-top-sail.
Third, or the Swallowtail line; also composed of four first-class vessels—distinguished by the swallowtailed shape of the flag, which they usually carry at their mast-head.
Fourth, or Dramatic, has only been a very short while established, numbering four of the finest firstclass ships that leave the port of New York,
These vessels, which are unequalled by the mer
chant ships of any other nation in the world, are nearly of the same class, admeasuring from five to eight, and eleven hundred tons register. They are all American build, coppered and copper fastened; and sail under the American flag, although a large amount of British capital is said to be invested in them. They are mostly new ships, built for this express trade; sail remarkably fast, and are commanded by able and experienced seamen. The cabin fare from Liverpool to New York, for every accommodation, including wines, &c. has lately been reduced, and is now generally set down at thirty guineas. The steamers charging thirty-eight guineas without wine, and five guineas less, on the return voyage to Liverpool; in consequence of the less time that a vessel usually takes, from the generally prevailing winds, in crossing the Atlantic from the westward. This sum is paid at the time of agreeing for the passage. The accommodation also comprises a separate cabin, or sitting-room for ladies, with neatly furnished state-rooms attached, apart from the other passengers ,* with a communication opening into the general saloon or dining-room. The entire arrangement is exceedingly convenient, neat and well fitted up, as well displaying good taste, as very superior workmanship. There is also, belonging to the cabin, a neat selected library, of modern English, and French standard works; and which seldom fails to beguile many a tedious hour on the passage. Steerage passengers are also well provided at reasonable rates in these vessels, but are compelled to find them
TRANSIENT VESSELS. 7
selves in everything of sea store, except water and fuel; taking with them six weeks provisions before they are allowed on board. Their passage money must also be paid before they are permitted to embark.
The packets to Philadelphia, also those from London to New York, will be found fully equal in their general accommodation to those sailing from Liverpool to the latter port. The passage money to Philadelphia is generally less by five pounds than to New York. Still we should hesitate to recommend this route, even to those intending on their arrival in the United States to travel south: as in the first place, the voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia is so much longer and tedious, than to New York. The passage up the Delaware, after rounding Cape May, a distance of about one hundred miles, is frequently a ten days' or fortnight's work, of the most disagreeable kind; the scenery is exceedingly flat, of one continued sameness, and by no means interesting.
Independent of these several opportunities, there are frequent others of securing passage to New York and other ports of the Union, by means of transient vessels, and certainly at much less cost than by the regular liners. Many of this class were originally in the packet service, and having run out their usual time, from seven to ten years, were then withdrawn to make way for some new ship. They are usually continued in the Liverpool trade, and though their cabin accommodations are necessarily curtailed, to enable them to carry larger freights, are nevertheless exceedingly comfortable and eligible vessels, particularly for a family wishing to husband their means, and prevent a useless expenditure in this first outlay. Their charge for cabin passage, providing every accommodation and requisite on board, except wines and spirits, varies from fifteen to twenty-five pounds each. But a family, particularly where there are many children, may, by a special agreement with the captain, secure their transport for a much less sum.
There are also other opportunities of British ships sailing for Quebec and other ports in the British provinces, the passage money varying according to the extent or limit of the vessel's accommodation, which is usually much lower than by American vessels to any port in the United States. But we should by no means advise the emigrant, intending to locate himself in any part of the Republic, to take this route, with the hope of an ultimate saving of expense. The ships employed are generally bad, and ill suited for this service; the way is circuitous, and sometimes dangerous, particularly in the later part of the season, and in the months of April, May, and June, after the ice has broken up in the Saint Lawrence, and more northern latitudes, and which is frequently met floating to the southward, at this season of the year The delays too, after that the emigrant has landed, the long and tedious land and water carriage, and consequent outlay to which he will have to submit, before reaching his destination, should at all
CHOICE OF A VESSEL. 9
times deter him from choosing this route, or mode of conveyance; besides, the general unsoundness of many of the vessels employed in this trade from British ports, the want of skill with which they are often navigated, with the frequent and lamentable sacrifice of human life, which is the consequence, should urge him to consult his own safety, rather than attempt the experiment. By the Custom-house returns, it will appear, that the number of vessels in the British North American trade, lost or missing in the year 1836, was 74; in 1837-51; and in 1838 —101; of the whole number that cleared out in these several years, amounting in 1836, to 1,942; in 1837—1,815; and in 1838—1,670.*
Assuming, then, that the emigrant or traveller has selected Liverpool as his port of embarkation, his first duty on arrival will be to ascertain those vessels entered for such port in the United States, as he intends going to; this he can very easily learn, either by application at the Exchange, or other public rooms—from "Gore's list," in which they are usually advertised, or by visiting the Saint George's Docks, where he can possess the further advantage of seeing, and examining each ship for himself. The steerage passenger will particularly require to observe caution in his conduct, and will
* See Appendix, letter A, for an exceedingly interesting report of the Select Committee, appointed by Parliament, 1839, to inquire into Shipwrecks of Timber Ships, and the loss of life attendant thereon, and to report to the House whether any, or what means can be adopted to reduce the amount thereof in future.