The effect of steam communication between Great Britain and Ireland was to increase very greatly the traffic of those countries. It has been stated that in order to save the salaries of one or two junior clerks, it was determined to cease keeping any official records of this traffic, with the exception of grain and flour. In the absence of such records, we can only arrive at an approximation to the quantity and value of the exports and imports. It was, however, estimated by persons acquainted with the subject, that the quantity of agricultural produce imported into Liverpool alone in 1832 was worth four millions and a half sterling; and this produce consisted chiefly of live stock - horses, sheep, and pigs - which could not have been so profitably brought over by sailing vessels. The value of agricultural produce brought to the port of Bristol from Ireland in the same year was one million sterling. The total value of all sorts of live animals brought from Ireland to Liverpool in 1837 was £3,397,760. One of the most curious items in the traffic is the egg trade. Formerly eggs were extremely cheap in Ireland, but in consequence of the rapid conveyance by steam-boats, they are bought up by agents of the egg merchants, who intercept the baskets on the roads leading to sea-ports; and the consequence is that in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Belfast, Londonderry, and Sligo they have become extremely dear, and new-laid eggs are often a costly luxury. In the course of the year 1832 no less than £100,000 was paid for Irish eggs in Liverpool and Bristol alone. Were it possible to ascertain the amount paid by the English and Scotch for this article of consumption, it would be scarcely credible. Looking at the whole traffic between the two islands, we perceive that the amount of tonnage employed in 1849 was 250 per cent, more than it was in 1801. Up to 1826 the increase was not so rapid as subsequently, it being then only 62 per cent, on the whole period, showing an annual increase of 2 2/5 per cent., whereas for the quarter of a century that followed, the increase was 188 per cent., the annual increase being 8 per cent.
Trade and commerce were very much hampered by the old system of weights and measures, or rather the want of system which prevailed before 1824, when the gallon varied in size with the nature of the things that it measured, and the utmost irregularity and discrepancy prevailed with regard to all weights and measures in different parts of the United Kingdom. But in 1824 an act was passed for ascertaining and establishing uniformity of weights and measures, by which the old standards of weight and linear measure that had been long in use in England were adopted, and made applicable to the whole kingdom, while the measures of capacity were changed and rendered uniform. A curious mode of verifying measure and weight, and establishing their mutual relations, is thus described: - "The contents of the cube of the sixth part of the length of the pendulum vibrating seconds in the latitude of London, at the level of the sea, and in a vacuum (which has been the element for establishing linear measure), is so very near the contents of the imperial standard gallon, that the difference is only three-tenths of a cubic inch; the cube of the sixth part of the length of the pendulum being 277.578, while the imperial gallon contains 277.274 cubic inches; and the tenth part of the weight of an imperial gallon of water, at a temperature exactly one-sixth part of the distance between the points of freezing and boiling, is an imperial standard avoirdupois pound. The standards of both weights and measures are thus rendered so far invariable in future, that they are found to be independent of all artificial measurements and graduations, and can be at once referred to nature alone for their prototypes. This is assuredly a great improvement over the old system, which made a grain of corn, the human foot, and the distance to which a man can extend his arms - all things which are manifestly liable to considerable diversity - the elements whence to determine weight and measure."