Page:A tour through the northern counties of England, and the borders of Scotland - Volume I.djvu/319

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men, who bring the article from the mines, and deliver them to the fourth description of persons concerned—the merchants. The largest profit is derived to the fitters, whose risque is nothing, and payment prompt. They receive about a shilling a chaldron for coal sold, and for the trouble of providing keels and keelmen, who, however, are paid for by the ship-owners; and the fortunes acquired in this place are generally by them. Indeed, of late the trade altogether was rather a losing concern ; and during the Northern disagreement, when the ports of the Baltic were shut, many of those concerned in it were compelled to live upon their capitals. The truth is, a very large proportion of the coals are taken off by the Northern ports; but, by being excluded from a sale there, the merchants were under the necessity of sending them to London. Here the market was over-stocked, and the article consequently remained unsold, or at least was disposed of to disadvantage. The merchants, therefore, as the lesser evil, relinquished their speculation, and laid up their ships; but still continued subject to a considerable loss in the maintenance of the crews, who, being chiefly apprentices, were to be kept in food and cloathing, notwithstanding they could make no return by their labours. On the opening of the Northern ports, however, trade