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State means of employing labour, and promoting industry in
Ireland. We have in our preceding numbers advocated the introduction of a Poor-Law into Ireland as a first step in the progress of improvement. It will, we feel satisfied, produce peace—peace industry; and industry in Ireland must precede and invite English capital. But Ireland, herself, has not enough of means and stimulus to produce the necessary degree of active industry. The action of the government will therefore be necessary in the first instance to give the impulse.
A good system of internal communication by means of canals and roads is one of the most powerful engines of prosperity, and this is a work which, where other means do not exist to effect it, the government is called upon to undertake. It has been urged,—and England has been referred to in proof of the soundness of the theory,—that the construction of works for the benefit of the public may be safely left to private projectors, because private interest calculates with the greatest accuracy the works most likely to prove successful speculations; that it is the duty of a government to regulate and control, rather than to originate such undertakings; that if such works be not the object of private enterprise, it is a proof that they are not likely to prove remunerative undertakings; and that to apply capital to their construction must be injurious to the community, by withdrawing it from productive circulation : that, moreover, the experience derivable from the prosecution of public works in Ireland does not hold out any inducement for adopting a different line of policy with respect to that portion of the empire.
This may be a proper rule with respect to a highly cultivated and prosperous country like England; but it cannot be applied generally; and especially, it cannot be applied to Ireland. The great natural capabilities which that country presents remain undeveloped-her numerous rivers unnavigable-canals and roads unfinished-railroads projected,— but with one exception, unconstructed; and all this has been the disastrous result of applying to Ireland the principle, that
national works, which private projectors do not consider it their interest to undertake, ought not therefore to be undertaken by the state. The experience of ancient and modern times sufficiently attests the fallacy of this principle. Almost all the great public works of antiquity were constructed at the expense of the Prince, or the State; the importance of leading lines of communication by means of roads and canals was fully understood at a very remote period, and these were in all civilized states an especial object of public attention.
Herodotus relates, that the Cnidians, a people of Caria in Asia Minor, had undertaken to make a canal through the Isthmus which joins that peninsula to the continent, but the oracle interdicted it, and they were superstitious enough to give up the undertaking. If this had happened in modern times, we should have shrewdly suspected that the oracle was a political economist, and had given a voice against the work because it was proposed to be undertaken at the expense of the State. The numerous canals in Egypt which can yet be traced, although they are in a great measure filled up by the sands of the desert, attest how much the commercial greatness of that country depended on its means of internal transport. Several of the Egyptian kings attempted to unite the Nile to the Red Sea by a navigable canal. This great work was begun by Necos the son of Psammeticus, and completed by the second Ptolemy*. It is now difficult to discover the least traces of it.
There is no country of the world where the advantages of canals have been so much appreciated, not even excepting Holland, as in China. The rivers that intersect that empire all intercommunicate by means of canals, and floating cities are there to be found inhabited by multitudes who dwell upon the waters. The grand canal can only be equalled as an example of human labour by the great wall in that empire, and is the most stupendous work of the kind that ever has been executedt. Raynal thus describes the labours of the
* Diodorus says that Darius was prevented from completing it, owing to the greater height of the Red Sea ; but that the second Ptolemy obviated this objection by means of sluices. (1. 33.) This canal was opened under the Caliphate of Orar, in (A.D.) 635.
+ This canal is described in the Chinese annals, which, if they were not the most matter of fact people in the world, might well be doubted, to have occupied the labour of thirty thousand men during forty-three years. VOL. VII.—No XIII,
Chinese in the formation of the canals, roads and bridges which traverse and adorn their Empire. “Les Chinois ont “ répoussé, contenu, maîtrisé l'Océan, comme les Egyptiens “ domptèrent le Nil. Ils ont rejoint au continent des terres
que les eaux en avaient séparées. Ils luttent encore contre “ce mouvement supérieur, qui, tenant au système des cieux 5 chasse la mer d'orient en occident. Les Chinois opposent “ à l'action de l'univers la réaction de l'industrie ; et tandis
que les nations les plus célèbres ont secondé par la fu“reur des conquêtes les mains dévorantes du temps dans “la dévastation du globe, ils combattent et retardent les “ progrès successifs de la destruction universelle, par des “efforts qui paroîtroient surnaturels, s'ils n'étoient continuels “ et sensibles*.”
The Greeks, who received their knowledge of arts and commerce from the Egyptians and Tyrians, and who, improving upon the models that had been handed down to them, advanced both arts and industry to such great perfection, conceived and attempted to execute the magnificent design of making a navigable passage from the Ionian Sea into the Archipelago, by cutting a canal across the Isthmus of Corinth. This was afterwards attempted by Julius Cæsar, but without success, the failure in both cases most probably arising from ignorance, at that period, of the use of water locks. The Roman Emperor did succeed, however, in works of perhaps greater benefit to the Roman people, -the construction of a fine port at the mouth of the Tiber, and the draining of the Pontine marshes. Drusus, who achieved such victories upon the Rhine in the time of Augustus, and who carried his conquests as far as the Elbe, had a canal cut from the Rhine to the Issel, and formed, as we are told by Pliny, a new mouth from the Rhine to the sea. А canal between the Rhine and the Maese, supposed to be that now commencing at Leyden and passing Delft to its junction with the Maese at Sluys, was also made by the Romans. Strabo states that several were constructed in Bæotia for drawing off and keeping at certain levels the waters of Lake Copais ; and it is said that 30,000 men were employed during twelve years in making the canal from the Fucine Lake (now Lake Celano) into the river Liri. This still exists, and is found most useful in draining off the waters of the Lake, and keeping them at a fixed level; the purpose for which it was originally intended.
* Histoire Philosophique, &c., liv. 1. p. 102.
But it was by bending nations under the same yoke, and not by uniting them with the bonds of commerce, that the Romans sought to extend the communications of men. Their canals (with the exception of those used for the purposes of draining) were like their roads, formed for military purposes.
The latter are surprising monuments of skill and labour. They issued from the Forum at Rome, traversed Italy, and pervaded the provinces to the most remote bounds of the empire. The line of communication from the wall of Antoninus to Jerusalem was estimated at the length of four thousand and eighty Roman miles*. The public roads ran in direct lines without regard to natural obstacles. Mountains were cut through, and arches thrown over the broadest and most rapid streamst. These roads were composed of sand and gravel, which were combined with cement that became in time as hard as flint. They were raised in the centre and paved with large stoness. The rapidity of travelling on them by means of posts established at short stages of five miles, at each of which forty horses were constantly in readiness, was as great as horse power could make itę. These posts were imperial, but private citizens were sometimes honoured with an order for their use. In the time of Theodosius, Cæsarius, a magistrate, posted in this manner from Antioch to Constantinople in five and a half days, the distance being 725 Roman, or 665 English miles/l. This indulgence was however rare; for we find Pliny, although a minister, apologizing for granting the use of the posts to his wife on business of importance to the state*.
* The following Itinerary may serve to convey some idea of the direction of the road, and of the distance between the principal towns. From the wall of Antoninus to York, 222 Roman miles; London, 227; Rhutupiæ or Sandwich, 67. The navigation to Boulogne, 45 ; Rheims, 174 ; Lyons, 330; Milan, 324; Rome, 426; Brundusium, 360. The navigation to Dyrrachium, 40; Byzantium, 711; Ancyra, 283 ; Tarsus, 301 ; Antioch, 141; Tyre, 232; Jerusalem, 168: in all, 4080 Roman, or 3740 English miles. See Itineraries published by Wesseling, and his annotations : Gale and Stukely for Britain, and M. d'Anville for Gaul and Italy.
† Montfaucon, l'Antiquité expliquée (tom. iv. p. 2. 1. i. c. v.), has described the bridges of Narni, Alcantara, Nismes, &c.
Bergier, Histoire des grands chemins de l'Empire Romain, livre 2. c. 1-28.
Procopius in Hist. Arcana, c. 30. Bergier, Hist. des grands chemins, lib. iv. Codex Theodosian. liv. viii. tit. 5. vol. 3. p. 506-563. with Godefroy's Commentary.
# Vide Libanius, Orat. 22 ; and the Itineraria, p. 572-581.
Into England, France and Germany the Romans introduced, with their arms, the models of internal communication, upon which these countries have generally improved, while they have converted them to a purpose nobler than conquest, the interchange of the productions of labour.
France took precedence of England by more than a century in public works.
The canal of Briare, (so called from commencing at that town in Burgundy) connecting the rivers Loire and Seine, was begun in the reign of Henry the Fourth, and finished under the direction of Cardinal Richelieu, in the reign of Louis the Thirteenth.
The canal of Orleans, forming another communication between these two great rivers, was begun in 1675, and finished by Philip of Orleans, Regent of France, during the minority of Louis the Fifteenth. But the greatest and most useful national work in that country is the canal of Languedoc, which unites the ocean to the Mediterranean. It was undertaken by Louis the Fourteenth, and the expense of the work defrayed in a great measure from his own resources; planned by the celebrated engineer Francis Riquet, in 1666, and finished within a period of fifteen years. It is remarkable for having been the first canal on which tunnels were usedt.
Russia is a remarkable example of enterprize in works of a like description. Since the reign of Peter the first constant
* Epistle x. 121-122.
+ This great work begins with a large reservoir 4000 paces in circumference, and twenty-four feet deep, which receives many springs from the mountain Noire. The canal is about sixty-four leagues in length, is supplied by a number of rivulets, and is furnished with 104 locks, of about eight feet rise each. In some places it passes over bridges of vast height; and in others it is cut through solid rocks for about 1000 paces. At one end it joins the river Garonne near Thoulouse, and terminates at the other in the lake of Tac, which extends to the port of Cette. It has a large tunnel cut through a mountain in the neighbourhood of Belgiers.
Lord John Russell has noticed this canal in the following terms 2" To Colbert France is indebted for one of her noblest public works—the canal which joins the Me. diterranean and the ocean. He adopted and executed a project first broached during the reign of Francis the First, and renewed under that of Henry the Fourth. Much discussion has taken place on the question to whom is due the credit of the execution ; but be that as it may, it is impossible to deprive Colbert of the glory of having undertaken the work, and appropriated funds for its completion." Peace of Utrecht, vol. i. p. 167.