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scribed by one witness as soft sand and mud, although the quality of the anchorage is disputed. A carriage road ascends the mountain to the town of Beilan, and this pass, which affords the only line of access to the interior of the country from Scanderoon, was examined by Mr. Telford Macneill in 1857 and 1864. A line running by this route would pass over a wet and swampy marsh for two miles from the town of Alexandretta, and then ascend the Balan pass (every author has a different mode of spelling) to an elevation of 2,100 feet above the sea, by inclines having a mean gradient of 1 in 21, for 8 miles, and a maximum gradient of the formidable pitch of 1 in 13. On the Antioch side the descent would be at the same pitch of 1 in 13 for 24 miles, and for a total of 6 miles at 1 in 18. These figures give an elevation of 503 feet above the sea for the debouchure of the railway from the mountains. Passing at a distance of 20 miles north of Antioch, this line, at 47 miles from the sea, meets the range of limestone hills which divides the plain of Antioch from the plain of Dana. Crossing the latter plain, it enters a narrow gorge leading to Tarib, and thence crosses the outskirts of the desert to Khantuman. From Khantuman it follows the valley of the Challis river to Aleppo, which it reaches at a distance of 91 miles from the sea. Hence to Belis on the Euphrates is an easy run of 52 miles, 143 miles in all from the sea.
It is certain that nothing short of unavoidable necessity could justify an engineer in adopting a terminus for an important railway that is shut in by such a barrier as this. Sir John Macneill spoke very hopefully of the development and * new improvements which had taken place in the construction
of locomotives, referring particularly to the Fell line temporarily in use over the Mont Cenis pass, and to the narrowgauge Festiniog railway. But no mechanical improvement could obviate the fact that the expenditure of power required to haul a given load up the eight miles of the Beilan pass would be enough to propel the same load over seventy miles of level railway, while the time consumed between starting from Alexandretta and getting a train clear of the pass would be enough to allow of a quarter of the distance to Koweit being performed on a well-graded line.
A work of this nature would be far more formidable than the famous Semmering and La Pretta passes through the Alps, where the maximum gradient is 1 in 40, or nearly half the severity of the ascent from Scanderoon. Nor is it by any means certain that the latter port, now notoriously pestilential, can be rendered healthy by the process of draining.
M. F. Rolin, in a paper on Railways in Asiatic Turkey, contained in the Mémoires de la Société des Ingénieurs Civils' for 1878, states that when the wind blows from the N. S.E.E. the anchorage in the bay is dangerous. The town of Alexandretta is built amid a district of wet swampy marsh covering an area of from 150 to 200 square miles. It is, M. Rolin says, hardly three feet above the level of the sea. In stormy weather the streets are inundated. In winter a sudden hurricane, called • raggiya,' according to a report made by Vice-Consul Barker to Earl Granville in 1872, rushes down the side of the naked rocky mountain, and knocks about the ships at anchor.' For four months in the year the heat is intense, and the mountain barrier, which shuts in the place, is considered by Mr. Barker to be even a more potent source of mischief than the marshes. • Dogs die of the fever as well as human beings.' • Sometimes the death of the person put there to be factor is recorded by letter before the news of his arrival at Is-Kenderun is announced at Aleppo, and on turning over another • leaf or two the death of the one sent to replace him is * recorded, and so on. It is pretty clear that effectual drainage could only be accomplished by powerful steam machinery. It is uncertain whether perfect drainage would make the place safe for human abode. * To lean upon the staff of a probable
success by drainage and filling up the marshes would be,' Mr. Barker soundly remarks, reckless in so important a step as the permanent establishment of a railway route to India.
There is no doubt that Scanderoon, for a considerable part of the year, is fatal to Europeans. To sleep there for a single night is to sow the seed of fever, which may never loose its hold on the sufferer. From May to October, General Chesney says, “the port is avoided as much as possible by all vessels, and partly owing to this cause, and partly owing to the expense of maintaining passing troops, Tartars, &c., the town • has been gradually deserted, all but a few miserable houses • occupied by boatmen, muleteers, and labourers employed on 'the stores and about the vessels. That any works of an engineering nature, carried on at whatever cost, would render this fever-trap a salubrious locality for a great railway port,
is altogether problematical.' And history is not without a lesson to offer on the subject. Two thousand eight hundred years ago the maritime advantages of Scanderoon were at least as conspicuous as they are to-day. What could then have induced Seleucus Nicator to incur the expense of constructing an artificial port, covering an area of more than thirty acres, at Seleucia, instead of relying on the natural facilities offered
by Alexandretta ? It may be suggested that a desire to make the most of the Orontes as the water-way to Antioch led to the construction of a great harbour near the mouth of that river. The invariable habit of the rivers falling into the tideless Mediterranean of choking up their mouths, as far as navigation is concerned, as in the case of the Nile, the Rhone, the Po, and the Brenta, affords a good reason for the construction of Seleucia at about three hours north-west of the embouchure of the river, in place of laying out money on the little harbour of Suedia, a few miles within the bar. And indeed, unless there has been, since the time of the Greek kings of Asia, a geological elevation of the site of Antioch, the Orontes could never have served for such an approach to that city as the Tiber once furnished to Rome. The distance by land from the shore of the Mediterranean to Antioch is thirteen miles and a quarter, while General Chesney states * that by the course of the river it is forty-one miles. The difference of level in that distance is 269 feet, which gives an average fall of six feet six inches per mile. But as, after having forced its way through the rocky slopes at the foot of the hills of St. Simon, the main stream enters the plain of Suweidiyeh, through which it winds along • the foot of Mount Casius till it passes over a difficult bar into • the spacious bay of Antioch,' the main fall must occur in the twenty-five or thirty miles nearest to that city. General Chesney suggested that if a path were made for horses, and the rocks and fish-weirs that encumber the stream were removed, track boats might be made to ascend to that city. But such is not the description of a river which could ever have formed the Thames, or even the Tiber, of the capital of the Greek kings of Asia.
The labour devoted, under the rule of these powerful princes, to the construction of a permanent and well-defended port at Seleucia must have been considerable. The basin forms an irregular oval, 500 yards long in the major by 450 in the minor axis. A high and thick wall of stone, very little injured by time, surrounds the basin. A channel of 350 yards in length leads obliquely to the sea, in the direction N. W. by W., and an artificial mole, run out on one side of the mouth of this channel, still subsists almost entire. This passage from the sea to the basin was made by cutting through a hill and a high chain of rocks. We have here all the features of a great military port, as distinguished from a mere commercial harbour intended to subserve the navigation of the Orontes. The
Expedition, vol. i. cf. pp. 397, 447.
large outlay thus incurred by the Seleucid monarch is a strong argument in favour of the opinion that Scanderoon was, 2,200 years ago, as it is at present, unfitted by its unhealthiness for a naval depôt. And our recent experience in Cyprus, where the fever has by no means been confined to low-lying districts, proves that the laws which regulate the intensity of this mysterious scourge are not yet much more thoroughly understood by our best physicians than they were by Calchas and his fellows in the days of Agamemnon. The chief point which seems to offer some promise for further investigation at this moment is the statement that the troops which were supplied with distilled water from the fleet, instead of making use of the springs of the country, entirely escaped the ravages of the scourge that fell on all the other regiments. Such, we learn from a gallant admiral familiar with the Chinese waters, proved to be the case in our men-of-war when the admirable method of distilling sea-water, introduced by Sir T. Grant, was there adopted. On every occasion of a post-mortem examination in the feet, whether the cause of death was fever or even accident, the presence of numerous entozoa, of a species unknown in Europe, was ascertained in the case of the men who had been supplied with water from the shore. In no case were these parasites discovered in a subject who had been constantly supplied with the distilled water.
We have intimated that the committee of 1872, in their report, have rather followed the example of a judge who sums up evidence for the guidance of a jury, than applied themselves to the delivery of a decisive verdict. The reader who desires to form an independent opinion on the subject must read the evidence, and the papers contained in the appendices, with fully as much attention as he gives to the report. Very considerable discussion of the report, paragraph by paragraph, took place, and the decisions were so equal as to call sometimes for the casting vote of the chairman. Two draft reports were proposed, one by the chairman, which was accepted as the basis for discussion, the other by Sir George Jenkinson, which possesses much more literary unity than the form ultimately adopted. It may possibly be objected to this draft that it assumes, in the first place, the advisability of that additional accommodation as to which the adopted report has left the question to the country. But as a pointed summary of evidence Sir George Jenkinson's draft is of great value, and the report might have been attended with more effect had this document been taken as the basis of discussion. The result which is most clearly discernible, amid a mass of sometimes conflicting opinion, is that those persons who join the technical knowledge of the engineer or surveyor to long familiarity with the East in general, or with the Mesopotamian district in particular, such as General Chesney, Captain Charlewood, Captain Felix Jones, and Consul Barker, speak with remarkable unanimity. The verbal evidence of General Chesney was enough to call more serious attention than appears to have been given to the records of his expedition, The courage, skill, and perseverance which won for that gallant little band their hard-earned success are such as to entitle the officers and men to a high degree of honourable memory. It is, indeed, quite clear that for a mail route to India the navigation of the Euphrates is quite out of the question. As the Earl of Dundonald justly remarked, if ' the passengers are numerous, the boats must be large; and if
the boats are large, the difficulty increases in proportion to their size.' With a current varying from three to seven knots per hour the delays would be serious, as little more than two knots per hour could be attained in the teeth of the former velocity ; while in descending the river prudence would forbid proceeding in the dark. The sections of the shallowest parts of the Euphrates, in the low season, do not show more than from three to four feet of water in several places, while the bends and turnings of the river through the marshes of Semloon are so sharp as to be considered impracticable for a vessel of the moderate length of 100 feet. Without, therefore, denying that a useful traffic may hereafter be carried on the waters of the Euphrates in light river steamers, it is certain that that river will not serve as the channel of such a communication with India as that into which we are enquiring. It is probable that a persuasion of this fact has led to the comparative disregard shown in the report of the committee of 1872 of the facts embodied in the reports of 1834 and the subsequent publications of Colonel Chesney.
From these, however, although less luminous than would have been the case had the attention of the expedition been less exclusively directed to the subject of navigation, enough information may be derived to enable us to block out roughly the course most fit to pursue in order to select the best route of communication between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. On the general question, the evidence brought before the committee of 1872 deserves more attention than the hesitating and uncertain conclusions of the report itself. Of the five lines which the committee suggest as possible there can be no hesitation as to the choice, if we keep in mind the real ob