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Some account of the

and of the rise and progress of the
commercial Navy of Great Britain. 1834

SOURCE: The Saturday Magazine, No. 117. Supplement, April, 1834

View of the Custom House

That London is the greatest Port in the world, is a fact generally known; but we believe that comparatively few of the inhabitants of the metropolis itself are aware of its real magnitude. Our design in this paper is to supply this deficiency in popular information, and to make the wonders of the Thames more familiar to all. Before entering, however, upon a description of the PORT OF LONDON AS IT IS, we shall give a rapid sketch of its history, in connexion with such chronological notices of the rise and progress of commerce in Great Britain, as may tend to confer additional interest on the subject. In a commercial country like this, few subjects, indeed, have a better-founded claim on our attention; yet it has, hitherto, been unaccountably neglected; even the facts which we have here embodied, are scattered over many works, most of which are not generally accessible: in short, the history of British mercantile navigation remains to be written.

The advantageous position of London for the purposes of commerce, appears to have been fully appreciated at an early period of the sojourn of the Romans in this island. At that time, the wide expanse of low country, from the mouth of the Thames to the metropolis, must have been one vast estuary at high water; from which it is supposed to have derived its British name, Lyndin, (the town on the lake,) afterwards corrupted into the Latin, Londinium. The Romans, who were pre-eminently distinguished for the magnitude of their public works, soon perceived the importance of confining the flow of the tide within the course of the Thames, for which purpose they raised dykes or banks on either shore. This great undertaking was commenced, according to Whitaker, in the neighbourhood of St. George's fields, but to what extent they carried it, along the marshes of Essex and Kent, has not been clearly ascertained.

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