« AnteriorContinuar »
reneied, nor Das another been substituted. This rratract »as abandoned two years ago, that a steampicket mail might be established; but, though uionists are clamorous, Government is ever tardy in its operations. The delay is occasioned, and the ii&ulty comprised, simply in the selection of one out of three rival routes:—that by Singapore, that by p»mm« and the route direct by the Cape of Good Hope.
Early in 1850 the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty called for tenders for the monthly conveyance of H. M. mails between Singapore and Sydney, climating their willingness to entertain tenders for other routes. The response which has found most favour with the Government is the offer of the Peninsular and Oriental Company to establish a line beiteea Sydney and Singapore in connexion with the hdian mail service. The average time in which they TGald contract to perform the voyage would be li dan and a half outwards, and 79 days homewards, tie distance, via Galle, Singapore, Swan liiver, and Adelaide to Sydney,—the contemplated route,—being 12,779 miles. There are two modifications of this route, embracing different ports, each of which have taeir advocates. They are briefly as follows:—
ViA Torres Straits.
Southampton to Batavia (calling ) „ „0,
at intermediate ports) ) ' ""'
Batarii to Copang 1,000
Oipana to Cape York 1,110
Caj« York to Sydney 1,800
12,711 Via Galle Asd Westers Rout*.
Southampton to Galle (calling at Intermediate Ports) 6,657
Galle to Swan River 8,046
Sua River to Sydney (calling at Intermediate Ports) ... 2320
Portions of the Singai>ore line are already occupied hj this Company's vessels: and from the facilities it atads for navigation and coaliug, the chances of delay are not great. The advantages that would be secured if steam communication between Australia and Bengal are of important consideration, but there are, nevertheless, grounds of solid objection to this route that must not be overlooked.
An essential condition of the Oriental Company's tender is the transfer to themselves of the Bombay Uii Aden line now worked by the East Indian Government; but these opposite neighbours refuse to abandon their present contract; and not without reason. They have incurred heavy expense in the construe! ion of large and powerful steamers, and in fanning extensive establishments at Bombay. Moreover, thit service is valuable to them in the regular ^»toe of duty it affords to their naval force: and *hould they yield their consent ultimately to the ■iesred arrangement, they would simultaneously re
quire to be relieved from the burden of maintaining Aden; from which cost the British Government is unwilling to absolve them.
But there are cogent reasons in opposition to this route, apart from all interference with the East India Company. As it involves a passage through Egypt, and, in some measure, through Prance or Austria, it would always be exposed to the contingency of difficulties which might arise from misunderstandings with the Governments of those countries. In addition to this contingency there is the actual inconvenience of several trans-shipments before the passenger arrives at bis destination; the needless exposure to the risks of a tropical climate; and lastly, and perhaps chiefly, the necessarily heavy expense of the passage.
The Panama route has been tendered for by the "Pacific Steam Navigation Company," who offer to perform the distance in 68 days out and 66 days home. This is slightly the longest voyage of all, as will appear from the annexed tabic.
Southampton to Ohagres (calling at St.
Across the Isthmus 60
This route would be chiefly advantageous as assisting to maintain a good direct line to the Gulf of Mexico, and in affording easy intercourse between North America and the Australian colonics. Serious obstacles, however, exist to its adoption. As with the Eastern route, the Isthmus trans-shipments oppose their inconveniences: and the climate of the Caribbean Sea and Mosquito Coast is perhaps, of all climates, the most fatal to Europeans. Then the space to be tra versed across the l'acilic Ocean without suitable coaling-places renders the punctuality of the voyage extremely dubious; while no ports of importance would be connected by the last S.000 miles of travel. Only the Galapagos, the Society Islands, perhaps the Sandwich Islands, would benefit by this portion of the voyage.
It only remains for us to notice the third route, via the Cape of Good Hope, for which the " General Screw Steam Shipping Company" have offered to contract, and to perform the journey in seventy days each way, including a stoppage of five days at the Cape. Most of the objections urged against the other two rival schemes arc inapplicable to the third. The Cape route would involve no transhipments, no dangerous vicissitudes of climate, no dependence upon friendly relationship with foreign powers, and is in all respects best adapted for facilitating emigration. Other colonies of importance, Cape Town, Natal, and the Mauritius, besides those of Australia, will participate in the benefits of such an arrangement. Still it must be borne in mind, that this plan necessitates the navigation of the most boisterous seas, and that the return passage is especially one of considerable difficulty and danger. In point of distance, it stands below both the Singapore and Western ways to Sydney, as the following summary exhibits:—; Cape Route. (dibkct.)
Southampton to Madeira 1,294
Madeira to St. Helena 2.9S3
St. Helena to Cape of Good Hope . . 1,710
Cape of Good Hope to Port Phillip . 6,104
Port Phillip to Sydney .... 590
One or other of these schemes must speedily be selected. Government is so strongly urged upon this subject that indecision or inactivity will not long be endured. Emigration to Australia and New Zealand is eminently on the increase; the population of those colonies already including half-a-million of English residents: and that the outward 1 ide flows freely may be gathered from the fact, that considerably upwards of 30,000, during the last year, have joined them from the British Isles. At all events, under existing circumstances, physically, politically, and economically, the Cape route will be the most immediately advantageous, and measures cannot be delayed until a Suez Canal, or a Panama Canal, shall obviate the Isthmus difficulties alleged in objection to those contending tracks; though neither of these great works can be considered as a very remote contingency. The Egyptian Ship-Canal has already engaged our attention, and we must not neglect to notice the corresponding design contemplated in Central America.
Before any aquatic junction is effected between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, they will in all probability become connected by a railroad traversing the Isthmus of Tehuantepcc. Grants have been obtained for the construction of this work by a citizen of the Mexican Republic, from the government of that country, under which certain citizens of the United States have engaged to carry forward the enterprise. The government of Mexico arc not perfectly agreed with this company in all the preliminary stipulations which it will be necessary to enforce; but the advantages they will derive from the accomplishment of this undertaking, and the interest with which it is regarded by the United States' government, as expressed in the President's message of December last, justify the belief that the negotiation will soon be carried to a successful issue.
Valuable as the fulGlmcnt of this scheme will prove to the commerce of all nations, it is still second in importance to the noble project of an Isthmus ShipCanal—a project that in its scientific, commercial, and cosmopolitan bearings, has long occupied the minds of men of genius, of enterprise, and of worldwide philanthropy.
One glance at the globe reveals the tantalising position of that *' narrow neck of land which unites North and South America," in width so comparatively insignificant, that in childhood wc wondered how it was the southern continent had not broken away from so slender a suspension. There we find it, however, in our maturer days; and the
conviction has grown upon us that the union \\ ill continue to subsist till a human arm severs the "narrow neck " of that obstacle to which wc have so long succumbed at the expense of an additional and often dangerous voyage round Cape Horn, of 8,000 miles, in sailing to our colonics of the North Pacific. The present aspect of Western America has given fresh impulse to investigations having for their object to dispense with this costly addition to such voyages. Gold-washers of California, agriculturists of Oregon, miners of Vancouver's Island—all clamour for oceanic intercommunication separating the American continents. Valparaiso, Chili, Oahu, New Zealand, and the South Sea Islands, lend their voices to swell the polyglot demand. The vast advantage that our extending trade with China would derive from this realization of the original scheme bom in the mind of Columbus—a western route to the Indies—urges on the enterprise. The world's verdict on the subject is, " If practicable, the work shall be accomplished." It is practicable according to the best evidence we possess on the subject — nay, more,—a water-way between the oceaus has been effected. Some natives of Central America were induced by a monk in 1783 to construct a boat canal, which unites the River San Juan de Chirambira with the River Atrato, and thus channelled the only break of communication by boat from the Eastern to the Western Ocean: a track still available to boatmen in the wet, season.
If practicable, this is not the germ even of the practical canal which will assuredly become the avenue for those future fleets destined, ere long, to steam upon the placid waters of the Pacific. Difficulties there are, and those far from trivial, which oppose the completion of such a path, navigable for ships of several hundred tons burden: but apparently none that arc insurmountable by the skill, the labour, the unprecedented richness of resource, now commanded by our engineers. There are the physical difficulties of high tracts of land, and the liability of these districts to the disturbance wrought by volcanic agency. Then there are the political difficulties of native opposition, and the uncertainty of local governments. And, in addition, the negative difficulties arising from the local absence of the requisite supply of manual labour. These, and other obstacles to success, have been fairly considered, and the decree is still, that we have here no exception to the wellknown axiom of the ancient sage MtXirn ro irav. Do we need encouragement from precedents? Where shall wc find a precedent for a Britannia Bridge? Yet examples of great hydraulic works are not wanting. The Languedoc Canal is constructed. The Caledonian Canal is in full operation. There, in tinvery neighbourhood, exists that monument of human industry and skill, the Mexican" Dcsagiic," described so fully by Humboldt, a work some miles in extent, for three of which it is 200 feet in depth, and at the surface, 3t)0 feet in width. Surely we need not be appalled, deterred, or delayed in the accomplishment of the desiderated Mid-Columbia Ship-Canal.
Which is the most judicious route? occurs as the primary question: and answers various and conflicting tare been proposed. Even the Geographical Society are the reverse of unanimous in their opinions, as the discussions over the paper furnished by Captain FitzKt sufficiently display. All decisions must be arrived at with reference to such leading considerations as,—the best ports afforded on both sides of the Isthmus, the climate of the country, the most advantageous situation as regards the chief marts of trade, aid the intrinsic facilities of construction. Pive principal routes have been suggested. Two distinct channels taking their rise from the Gulf of Daricn; that crossing the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; another traversing the Isthmus of Panama; and the fifth, and intermediate route, through the Lake of Nicaragua.
The proposals for uniting the Gulf of Darien and the Atrato River are in the minority, and are virtually abandoned.
Several important advantages appear to be offered in the course suggested by Don Jose de Garay, who obtained in 1S42 a grant of privilege to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In direct width the land extends to 150 miles; but the ]>lan of his surveyor was to take advantage of the ficiiities presented by the Coatzacoalcos, a river to some extent navigable for 160 miles, and providing at its embouchure a safe port for shipping. A canal of 50 miles in length, 20 feet deep, and 122 feet wide, was in unite this river with the Pacific, and was to ascend to llie table-land of Tarifa, 525 feet above the level of the Atlantic; from whence a descent to the Pacific would be required of 660 feet, for which it would be necessary to construct 150 locks. Abundance of excellent timber, fertility of soil, salubrity of climate, and the activity of the population, besides reputed mines of the precious metals among the mountains,— aD speak greatly in favour of this scheme. The high lends of this country, the absence of any good Pacific port, and the length of the passage, must be placed on the opposite side of the account. The Tehuantepec rate is not, therefore, most iu favour for a canal; Hough for a railroad it is now the selected line.
A map-survey points at once to Panama as most TOthy of choice; for this isthmus at the narrowest does not exceed 20 miles in width: but maps on their smooth surfaces fail to indicate that heights forbid «tat width or narrowness appears to invite. Here a mountain-ridge 1,000 feet above the level of the sea las written in legible and gigantic characters—" No thoroughfare." That part of the isthmus which vcnld really admit of transit is wider by 14 miles. Messrs. Salomon & Co., merchants of Panama, have smeyed and advocated this fourth route. Their carol was proposed to be 22 feet in depth, 160 feet side, and extending to the length of 25 miles, rehiring to ascend only 33 feet to its highest point of land. It would unite the rivers Chagics and Trinidad I »ith the Farfan, which communicates with the Pacific t Ocean by the Itio Grande. Less expense would be incurred by the Panama Caunl than by any of its
rivals; but nothing can be said in favour of the surrounding country: the climate is extremely unhealthy, and the situation lies too far to the south.
The last passage proposed, by which those mighty bodies of water are sought to be connected, which lave almost within sound of each other the rival shores of the western continents, is the route through the State of Nicaragua. In 1830 the King of Holland favourably entertained this project, but was prevented from pursuing it by the Belgic Revolution; and Prince Louis Napoleon subsequently took measures for the prosecution of the undertaking. Ascending from the Gulf of Mexico the river San Juan, whose mouth forms an excellent harbour, the Nicaragua Lake is reached after a course of 100 miles. This lake is united to Lake Leon by the Tipitapa, a river 20 miles in length. An isthmus little more than 10 miles wide alone divides Lake Leon from the River Tosta, which falls into the Western Ocean, and at the point of communication forms the port of Rialejo. Of the 278 miles thus traversed, 82 would require works. Shallows would require to be deepened; rapids to be overcome by locks; and drainage (from the flow of waters into the Colorado) must be remedied by dams. The highest summit-levels do not exceed 51 feet above the surface of the lakes; but the country is said to be volcanic, a contingency against which it Mould puzzle our most ingenious engineers to provide. Not only does this country enjoy a more healthy climate, but a saving of 900 miles is effected in this route to California as compared with Panama; and it is calculated that, when fully organized, the transit may be achieved in 24 hours. Yes 1 the cause of Nicaragua versus Cape Horn is equivalent to 24 hours contrasted with from 1,500 to 2,000, with incomparably less uncertainty, less risk, less fatigue, less expense, less— everything that can be imagined as a point of inferiority in rival routes of travel. Surveys have been made, and are still in active progress under Mr. W. O. Childs, lately Chief Engineer of the State of New York. Accurate information has been obtained, deserving of complete reliance; and the result is an absolute determination in favour of the project last described. A New York Company is formed which has appointed two commissioners for entering into negotiations with British merchants who may desire to participate in the enterprise, which is estimated to require an outlay of £4,000,000 sterling. "Warmly have our principal mercantile firms responded to the invitation thus frankly offered, and Sir J. H. Pelly, the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, has lent his valuable assistance to the promotion of this grand and noble project, fraught in its successful issue with changes in the world's history too vast to be yet clearly contemplated. Treaties arc already entered upon between the New York Company and the Government of the State of Nicaragua. Ratifications have been exchanged by the contracting parties, as President Fillmore announced in Congress. Progress has been made in the preliminary arrangements, and little more appears to be required than the designation of the free ports on either side of the isthmus, and an agreement which shall fix the limits of this neutral ground, within which it shall be incompetent to all to carry on operations of war.
According to the terms of the charter, in twelve years the canal will be completed, which is to bring Canton within five weeks steaming of Loudon, and to shorten voyages from the United States to China and the East Indies by 10,000 miles, and by 14,000 miles to the western coast of Mexico and California. The tide of immigration flowing into this last-named State of yesterday, the population of which will soon number half a million, adds vastly to the importance of the channel. At least 50,000, it is reckoned,— some say 70,000—crossed the isthmus on their way to share the precious deposits so lavishly spread in those regions of almost fabulous wealth. Added facilities for reaching El Dorado must be attended with an increased rush of colonization; and Nicaragua and the adjoining States would soon receive a vast influx of settlers to cultivate their fruitful soils.
None can presume to describe or limit the magnificent results that must accrue to universal man from these highly accelerated means of intercourse, among which steam-ships stand forth pre-eminent. Nor is it only as mere economists of time that they arc to be regarded, for these abbreviations create some branches of commerce which could not exist without them. Thus, in the conveyance of perishable provisions, fruit, &c, and live stock, between distant ports, delays would ruin such cargoes. Observe the importance of the steam-tug to sailing-vessels iu towing them out of landlocked harbours, and down winding rivers, into the very breeze which is needed to waft them to their destinations; where, otherwise, they might have been lying wind-bouud for an indefinite time.
A remarkable use of the steam-tug in fisheries demands a brief notice. The shoals of fi3h which pass the English shores on their southward migrations, sometimes within a short distance, do not at other seasons approach sufficiently near for the rude termination of their travels by the fishing-boats; as these vessels could not, iu such cases, return in time to dispose of their cargoes while fresh. This difficulty is obviated by the steam-tug. Sometimes fifty or more smacks are towed out by a steamer, left during the night to net their harvest, and towed to shore again in the morning, where the fish are landed: and this course is repeated for successive days, till their finny prey becomes too scarce to recompense the trouble of capture.
Our slight sketch of Steam Navigation must speedily receive its final touch, though its intimate connexion with the topic of our succeeding paper on Railways will lead necessarily to fresh incidental allusions. The innumerable collateral subjects of interest to which it leads, heighten its intrinsic claim to study and attention. That the steamship is appreciated among nations, the rapid increase of their
steam-fleets will exhibit. Our own registered vessels of this class, in 1S49, numbered 1,118: the burden of which is reckoned at 151,429 tons. Comparisons with earlier dates have already been made. Less than three years ago the new Steam Basin in Portsmouth Harbour was opened: a magnificent work; the area of water in the basin and inlets being S£ acres: and this is but the first of several such, iu different parts of the kingdom, now required by the increasing importance of our Steam Navy. Prance, in 1S35, possessed 75 steamers: 279 are now owned by that nation. In America the fresh and fresh lines of steamers, chiefly for river traffic, follow one another with amazing swiftness, in all senses of the expression.
Among the secondary sources of the striking changes, gradually, but with an ever accelerating rapidity, developing themselves upon the surface of our globe, the fleet intercourse attained by the medium of steam power must rank foremost in importance. How intercommunications among men are multiplied by this agency, a glance at commercial statistics will reveal. This iu detail is not our province, but we will present one comparison in illustration of the fact. In 1835, the letters and newspapers that, passed between England and Ceylon, Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, was 274,120 j as we learn from Mr. Porter. Ten years later, after steam power had been extended to the climes of the East, that number was increased to 1,795,02S. When the vast numbers of emigrants who annually quit our shores to gain a surer livelihood in newer lands are considered—and who can avoid the consideration when the population of the United States alone is augmented yearly by nearly 300,000 from the British Isles, and when every individual is more or less connected with the inhabitants of our colonies?—then the vast value of easy access to these colonies will be readily apparent. It is only by means of a vigorous and increasing population, that the varied resources can be exhibited of these accessions to our wealth, and advances towards the entire civilization of the world. It is a point of view not to be overlooked, which regards the relief of anxiety afforded by a speedy interchange of communication among fricuds and families. The commercial importance of all things tending to this end is too obvious to require enlargement.
But there is one aspect of yet more vital consideration, which cannot fail to impress emotions of the liveliest hope upon the faithful student of human progress. We cannot continue to organize our "pleasure trips" to Prance, and Norway, and America (as spoken of this year), mingling among all peoples; and amid these visitings made and returned, still retain old national animosities. We cannot establish the "floating bridge between remote lands," and bind all countries in contiguity, without lessening by every advanced step, and ultimately destroying, the liability of the scourge of war with all the hideous sins and sorrows inseparable from its ghastly train. Steam ships, truly, have been pressed into the service of II slaughter; they are so desecrated, and will be, for a
11 lime: but the cud is not vet.
■ Oh! thine might be a blessed power among the sons of
men .' A rsnguard leader, like the guide of Israel on their way, A firing fire to cheer the night, a moving cloud by day. Could man's ambition know control, couldaugry patrons
cease. Or, were thy Tenturous course confined within the reign
of peace, aeif: in thy flight, from shore to shore, from dark to
*ultry skies, Welcomed wert thou, in every port, with shouts and
glistening eyes. A pledge of amity renew*d each voyage theu would be, As though the nations stretch'd and shook their bauds
across the sea!"
But the " reign of peace " has already commenced on the eartb. We point with heartfelt gratitude and slrengthencd hope to that first neutral territory, from which the pledge of nations has abolished strife : that itipulation in the Nicaragua charter, to which allusion has before been niade.and which of all others shiucsforth most radiant with bright promise for all nations, and kindreds, and tongues. This little bit of ground, won from the world's battle-field, and whence '.he furies of war, of rapine, and of slaughter, are banished for ever, is but the first fruits of extending civilization, and spreading Christianity. As a merely commercial question, wheat-fields and vineyards must no more be abandoned to the tender mercies of a revengeful soldiery. We ihail hare no room for " cock-pits;" we want to build "Treasuries " in their stead, as wc have already done in DowDnig-street. We shall all have our glass-houses soon: England, this year; next year the United States: so w must not throw stones—much less bomb-shells —at our neighbours. We cannot afford to waste our precious metals on cannon and shot,which arc not worth tie powder they consume—they are needed for rails, sad aqueducts, and viaducts. Mortars must be elaborated into steam-boilers: and twenty-four pounders converted into Archimedean screws, for the China Express boats, and the California mails. Inch by iich—nay, district by district—the powers of this world, under the influence of Power Divine, will agree to carrow the field of belligerent operations. So shall ;' tie" reign of peace " be perfected. All mankind • will become united into one nation, speaking one uui1 renal language—one family, enjoying in harmonious intercourse the fruits of universal peace. "Then shall tJie earth yield her increase, and God, even our own | God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the 11 ends of the earth shall fear him." 13.
THE VALUE OF A WIG.
I Have somewhere read of a traveller who carried with him a brace of pistols, a carbine, a cutlass, a dagger, and an umbrella, but was indebted for his preservation to his umbrella; it grappled with a bush when he was rolling over a precipice. In like manner,
my friend W , though armed with a sword, rifle
and hunting knife, owed his existence to his wig.
He was specimen hunting (for W is a first-rate
naturalist) somewhere in the backwoods of America, when, happening to light upon a dense covert, there sprung out upon him—not a panther or a catamount —but, with a terrible whoop and yell, a wild Indian—
one of a tribe then hostile to our settlers. W 's
gun was mastered in a twinkling, himself stretched on the earth, the barbarous knife, destined to make him balder than Granby's celebrated Marquis, leaped eagerly from its sheath. Conceive the horriblo weapon making its preliminary flourishes and circumgyrations; the savage features, made savager by the paint and ruddle, working themselves up to a demoniacal crisis of triumphant malignity; his red right hand clutching the shearing-knife, his left, the frizzle topknot; and then the artificial scalp coming off in the Mohawk grasp! W says, the Indian Catchpole was, for some moments, motionless with surprise; recovering, at last,- he dragged his captive along, through brake and jungle, to the encampment. A peculiar whoop soon brought the whole horde to the spot. The Indian addressed them with vehement
gestures, in the course of which W was again
thrown down, the knife again performed its circuits, ami the whole transaction pantomimically described. All Indian sedateness and restraint were overcome, the assembly made every demonstration of wonder, and the wig was fitted on rightly, askew, and hind part before, by a hundred pair of red hands. Captain Gulliver's glove was not a greater puzzle to the Hounhyms. From the men it passed to the squaws, and from them
down to the least of the urchins; W 's head, in
the meantime, frying in a midsummer's sun.
At length the phenomenon returned into the hands of the chief—a venerable greybeard; he viewed it very attentively, and, after a long deliberation, maintained with true Indian silence and gravity, made a speech in his own tongue that procured for the anxious, trembling captive very unexpected honours. In fact, the whole tribe of women and warriors danced around him with
such unequivocal marks of homage that even W
comprehended that he was not intended for a sacrifice. He was then carried in triumph to their wigwams, his body coloured with their body colours of the most honourable patterns ; and he was given to understand that he might choose any of the marriageable maidens for a squaw. Availing himself of this privilege, and so becoming, by degrees, more proficient in their language, he learned the cause of this extraordinary respect. It was considered that he had been a great warrior; that he had, by mischance of war, been overcome and tufted ; but that, whether by valour or stratagem, caeh equally estimable among the savages, lie had recovered
his liberty and his scalp. As long a3 W kept hi;
own council he was safe; but trusting his Indian l)e< lilah with the secret of his locks, it soon pot wind amongst the squaws, and from them became known tc the warriors and chiefs. Then a solemn sitting wai held at midnight, to consider the propriety of knocking