« AnteriorContinua »
its name. 'Pihahiroth,' one of their encampments, meaning in Hebrew the 'Bay of Reeds,' has its name preserved by the Arabs in the track near Lake Timsah. Tradition points to the same locality as a resting-place for the Holy Family when fleeing from Herod. The Persians fought upon the plains around Pelusium, near the modern Port Said. Alexander's troops thronged the isthmas; Cæsar disembarked on this coast; Pompey was there assassinated."
Alongside of such a record the American Isthmus has, as yet, but little to show; but little of any record of the races within it before the Spanish occupancy, and but little even since that date except the heroic crossing of Balboa, the murderous visits of the Buccaneers, and the struggle for colonization by such noble men as Paterson and Campbell. Yet may not this isthmus, when she shall have become the highway of nations, more than compensate for the past by her greater instrumentality in promoting peaceful intercourse, in civilizing and christianizing her neighboring districts and the East? There seems surely a common point as regards both isthmuses, vitally affecting the future of each hemisphere, centering in the opening up of world-intercourse across each. There seems also some natural indications that each will permit such opening. Their very narrowness suggests it.
Certainly the great interests of civilization loudly call for such open and easy intercourse. For to say that these narrow necks join two land masses is to use language commonly held and expressive of a physical or geological fact. But, commercially, the opposite is true. They separate men. They are the bar to the world's trade, and to the fuller extending of the accompanying blessings of civilization.
The Isthmus of Darien, now crossed by the Panama railroad, proves, by her busy throng from the two sides of the great Pacific and from distant New Zealand and Australia, what she will be, and what more successfully she can do for humanity, when a yet readier water passage shall be opened.
The Isthmus of Suez, until fully opened for heavy freighting, will continue to make necessary the hundred-day voyage around the stormy cape. For, however readily the traveler bears the heavy expense of a shorter overland route by the railroad from Alexandria to the Red Sea, the freights of commerce bear neither this nor the yet greater disadvantages of transhipments. The bulk of trade still follows the route discovered nearly four centuries ago. It awaits the completion in full of the maritime canal which shall in fact join Asia to Africa and to Europe. Let us compare two distance-saving tables on this point.
DISTANCE-SAVING TABLES, OR COMPARISON OF ROUTES, (A) BY SUEZ Canal with ROUTE BY CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, (B) BY DARIEN CANAL WITH ROUTE BY CAPE HORN.
The distances are in most cases taken either from a table prepared by the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department; or from Berghaus' Chart, or the tables of the Pacific Maii Steamship Company.
A. TABLE of the Saving in Distances for Trade passing through the Suez Cana to Bombay, a central point in the Indian Ocean.
(a) The saving between London and the ports on the east coast of Asia may be stated at about 4,800 miles; the saving from London to Melbourne, Australia, at about 3,000 miles.
(b) Lesseps, in his original memoir (1855), estimates the saving between the East and West to be an average of 3,000 leagues.
(c) The French engineers, in 1801, estimated that the Suez Canal would sav● one-third of the distance and one-fifth of the time in navigating from Francə to India.
(d) The saving between England and India may be stated at 49 per cent.; between France, Southern Russia, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, at 52 per cent.
B.-TABLE showing the Saving in Distance for Trade passing through the
Those estimates, which are best understood by having the eye either on a globe, or upon the world, on Mercator's projection, will suffice at present as points of comparison in proof of the interest which for so many years has held many of the ablest minds to the problem of canalizing both isthmuses. Among these the late Henry Wheaton, United States Minister to the Court of Berlin in 1845, deserves high place. In the midst of his official duties he found time for the study of the subject in its widest range, and addressed an elaborate dispatch to our Secretary of State, discussing with marked ability the canalizing of each of the isthmuses, and developing the results to be expected therefrom. This was before the foundation of the Pacific States had been laid. (See Lawrence's foot-notes, Wheaton's International Law, and Ex. Doc. 29th Congress, 21st session.)
The following additional tables, kindly furnished by Mr. F. A. Walker, Chief of the Statistical Bureau, United States Treasury Department, will be found in place here.
(A corresponding table made by the friends of the Suez Canal would claim, in brief, an annual tonnage of 6,000,000, from almost the outset of the opening of navigation, with a steady increase.)
TABLE showing the Trade of England that would pass through the Darien Canal if now finished, taken from the Official Returns for the year 1867.
Islands of the Pacific
Half of New Granada...
Value of cargoes
Value of ships, at $50 per ton..........
Countries Traded with.
Dutch East Indies...
British Australia and New Zealand
British East Indies
Half of Central America.....
TABLE showing the Trade of France that would pass through the Darien Canal if now finished, taken from the Official Returns for the year 1865.
Value of cargoes.
Value of ships, at $50 per ton........
Exports and Imports. Tonnage.
Total value of ships and cargoes.
Exports and Imports. Tonnage.
TABLE showing the Trade of the United States that would pass through the
Imports and Exports. Tonnage.
The foregoing tables show what would probably be the amount and direction of the commerce passing through the Darien Canal when first completed, but in this there would be an immediate and rapidly increasing change inuring to the benefit of the United States. At present the balance of trade is so decidedly against Europe and America, and in favor of the East Indies and China, that vessels sailing from the ports of the former are never half laden, but bring full cargoes on their return passages of the products of the East. This condition of the trade is not owing to a want of market in Eastern and Southern Asia for the products of the United States, but to the present great cost of getting those products to that market, and the nearer but greatly less demand we find for them in Europe. A canal through the Isthmus of Darien or Tehuantepec would so materially shorten the distance and lessen the expense of the transit to Asia and Australia that, in less than three years, the breadstuffs and other products sent from our ports to these countries would not only change the balance of trade in our favor, but would also rebuild the commercial marine which the late war so completely destroyed; and the magnificent harbors of the West India islands and our Gulf coast, of which Tampa Bay, Appalachicola, Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans and Galveston are the principal belonging to us, would, as the receptacles for shipment of the vast products of the Southern States and the Valley of the Mississippi, soon make the Gulf of Mexico the grandest center of commercial activity that the world has ever witnessed.
This brief comparison of the isthmuses will at present suffice. The tables have been brought side by side, with the design of enlisting deeper interest in the proposed survey for our own Darien Canal. Its importance can scarcely be over-estimated; and the interest in it, and effort to be enlisted for its construction, may be quickened by such comparisons as we are now making.
For it is to be kept steadily before the eye, that the termini of the two great transit routes, in the two hemispheres, are the radiant points for the great trunk lines of the world's commerce, viz: (1) From the Persian Gulf, or Suez, east to Bombay, Calcutta and Australia, and from Port Said west to all parts of Europe, North and South America; and (2) from Darien east to Europe, and west to Asia, South American west coast, and Australia.
We now turn from these comparisons of the American route, as yet unsurveyed, but challenging the genius of exploration and of engineering, to the record of the present finished route in the East; again saying, " May the Suez Canal secure our own."
That the English are beginning to comprehend the state of the case, may be inferred from an article on the Suez Canal in a recent number of Once a Week, from which we extract the following passages:
"That the Suez Canal will bring about a revolution in the commercial world is certain; the extent of the revolution must be left to future times to decide. "With the new direct passage to the East, is there not every probability of the ports of North Africa and of South Europe becoming the great commercial emporiums of the future? The way is now clear from North America to Hindostan and with the exception of the detour made by the Red Sea, the course