Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

16

The return by the same route at the lowest state of the Euphrates 481. Our calculation differs not very materially :

Mile3. Days. Falmouth to Malta, stopping at Cadiz or Gibraltar 2040 Malta to Scanderoun

1100 7 Through Aleppo to the Euphrates, among tribes of half

190 Sheek Giaber or Beles (up the river 12 days)

900 7 Bussora to Muskat

SOO 6 Muskat to Bombay

: :

750 5

savage Arabs

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

And back from Bombay

51 And allowing for incidental delays and stoppages, we should say fifty-six days or two months.

It must be obvious that, by this route, there can be no certainty as to time, especially from Bombay to England, as the adverse stream of the Euphrates, in addition to the other obstructions, must render that portion of the passage, for a great part of the year, if not always, precarious. That we might improve and reduce more to a certainty the navigation of the Euphrates—that the ancient town and harbour of Scanderoun might be rendered more healthy by draining the contiguous marsh--that the port of Seleucia and the mouth of the Orontes might be made secure and available for steam-vessels—that a canal of sixty-seven miles might be dug from the Orontes to the Euphrates, and another of nineteen miles from this river to the renowned city of Bagdad—and that the rocks which obstruct the navigation of the river itself might be removed all these things, and many more, we are quite ready to admit with Captain Chesney, are possible—and perhaps not difficult to be accomplished; but for what purpose, we may ask, should these great works be undertaken by England, at the cost perhaps of a million of money? Is it for the more speedy conveyance of a few passengers and (very often unimportant) despatches to and from India? Can it be thought worth while to incur such an expense, while another route presents itself, which is perfectly secure and equally speedy, without incurring

any

any such outlay, or exposure to savage tribes ? Alexander may, as we are told, have passed his legions on the Euphrates and Tigris on rafts—Julian may have constructed fleets and built castles there — and Napoleon's proposed pivot of operations against Bussora and India may have been at Marash, near which Trajan's feet was constructed from the forest of Nisibisin these undertakings there was one object-conquest; but England has no views of this kind, -a peaceable transit is all that she aims at.

Captain Chesney says that the scheme is well worthy of trial, not so much for the sake of eventual civilization (of the Arabs), as the more important advantages to us of producing something like strength in the Pashalic, against the time when it will be invaded by some enemy or other. The enemy, we answer, is already there in the shape of a revolted subject; but it matters little to England, as far as the navigation of the Euphrates is concerned, whether the Porte or a rival Mussulman holds dominion over this long-oppressed country.

But there is a power towards which England may perhaps have some cause to look with jealousy; and with reference to that power it

may be asked, would it be wise on the part of England, leaving expense out of the question, to improve the navigation of a river, whose embouchure faces directly a vulnerable part of our Indian dominions, and is at no great distance from them, and whose sources are within a few days' march of the frontier of an autocrat—not less ambitious perhaps than any of those we have mentioned, and who could more easily avail himself of the Euphrates than any former, however enterprising, adventurer had the means of doing? Whether he may feel himself sufficiently confident of his strength, and, madly ambitious, attempt to annex India to his already overgrown territories, it is impossible to say; but the free navigation of this river, with the command of the inexhaustible forests of Mount Taurus, would enable him to wast down his legions, on rudely constructed rafts, with great ease to the Persian gulf; and though he might not be able to advance further, and probably not easily to retreat, yet his presence in that neighbourhood could not fail to create an alarm or disturbance among the natives of India and the intermediate country, and make it necessary, for the tranquillity if not the security of our possessions, to assemble a larger force on the western frontier than might conveniently be spared from other services. If then any weight is to be attached to this view of the subject, it is not for England to smooth the way, and by a large expenditure of money, even though the commercial advantages pointed out by Captain Chesney were tenfold what his estimate presents. Let us then turn our attention to the route by Egypt, which

has

has this advantage over the other, that it has actually been put to the test of experience, and found to be safe, certain, and comparatively easy. The first point to be ascertained is the part of the coast of Egypt to which the steamer from England should be directed? The decision of this question must depend in some measure on the difficulties or the facilities of entering one of the mouths of the Nile, so as to approach by water-conveyance the nearest spot from whence the overland journey is to be performed either to Suez or Cosseir on the Red Sea. Across all the mouths of the Nile there are bars of sand that very frequently shift their positions; and when the northerly or sea winds blow, which are strongest from midsummer to the equinox, and, by directly opposing the current of the river, raise a heavy surf across the channels, all entrance is precluded, even against the boats of the country, which are often swamped in the attempt. In southerly winds, the water on the bars is smoother, but is then most shallow, seldom exceeding four or five feet in depth, so that no sea-steamer could attempt to enter.

The only certain and practicable mode, therefore, of communicating with the Red Sea will be by the harbour of Alexandria, which is accessible at all times. From hence a noble canal, constructed by the present pasha, extends about forty-five miles, where it comes close to, but does not actually join, the Nile, as it might easily be made to do by means of a lock. By attaching horses to the passage-boats, and putting them to their speed, these forty-five miles might be accomplished in six hours, and the Nile boats from thence would reach Cairo, which is about seventy-five miles farther, in two days,—say three in all from Alexandria. At Cairo, any number of camels or droniedaries can be had, at a very trifling expense, to convey the baggage over the isthmus to Suez'; and this part of the land journey would occupy two days more. The only objection to Suez is that, from the shallowness of the water, the steamer could not approach the shore within four or five miles; but this is a very serious one, as regards the taking in coals, and must occasion considerable delay, unless indeed a coal. lighter were moored out in deep water. Cosseir would no doubt on this account be a more convenient port to embark at on the Red Sea steamer, but it would occasion much delay in ascending the Nile to Keneh, which is opposite to it, and there would still remain the intervening desert to be crossed. Captain Chesney states it would take from nine to twelve days to enable passengers, with their baggage, to reach Alexandria from Cosseir, and more in going the contrary way.

The navigation of the Red Sea is considered to be dangerous, but little is known of it except from the chart of Sir Home Popham, whose route was confined to the middle of this narrow sea. Sir John Malcolm and his party, in the Hugh Lindsay steamer, found no difficulty nor danger in navigating along the eastern coast, as far up as Juddah, nor from thence to Cosseir; and the passage along this coast has the great advantage of allowing the vessels to pass with facility during both monsoons.*

whose

Captain Chesney seems to think that, if the cut drawn by the French from the lake Menzaleh to the sea-coast opposite Tineh, but now closed up, were re-opened, it would offer the easiest and shortest route to Suez. He also suggests facilities that might be afforded by canals and openings, and removal of bars, but at the same time against all such costly projects he offers an objection which appears to us to be fatal :- I have some reason to believe,' he says, that the pasha, whilst he may avowedly consent, and promise assistance, would secretly make difficulties, and use intrigues, to counteract the steam-communication through his territories; as it is natural he should not desire to make Egypt the channel of such an important intercourse as must draw the attention of Europe to that part of the world.' This we consider as conclusive. The pasha is too wise and too cautious a ruler to allow of inlets to be made into his dominions for the easy admission of foreigners, but he has none whatever to give his best assistance to an intercourse through Alexandria and Cairo.

Assuming, therefore, the port of Alexandria on this, and Suez on the other side of the isthmus, to be the points of rendezvous for the steamers--the distances, and probable length of time in performing each, will stand as under :

Miles. Days. Falmouth to Malta (as before)

2040

16
Malta to Alexandria

860
Alexandria to Suez
Suez to Babelmandel

1200 7
Babelmandel to Socotra

600 Socotra to Bombay .

1200

5
6

4

45 As there are not at present any conveniences for the supply and care of coals, boats, &c., at Babelmandel and Socotra, Mocha, being the same distance to Suez, may be substituted for the former, and Maculla, on the coast of Arabia, for the latter. As we have here taken the rate of the steamer at about seven miles an hour, which she could not maintain against a north-east monsoon and a head sea, we may extend the average time from England to Bombay, and also the reverse, and consider it to vary from

* We understand that a complete survey of this sea has recently been made by the vessels of the East India Company's marine, but the details of it have not yet been received

forty-five forty-five to fifty days. The Hugh Lindsay, which pursued a somewhat different and perhaps a better route, left Bombay on the 5th December, stopped for coals at Maculla iwo days, and again at Judda the same time for the same purpose, and arrived at Cosseir on the 27th of the same month, that is, she was twentytwo days on the voyage, from which deduct four, and add two from Cosseir to Suez, and we have twenty days from Bombay to Suez.

We now come to the important article of expense, the only one which is likely to stand in the way of the measure being carried into effect. In the estimate of four steamers, as supplied from India to the Court of Directors, the communication is contemplated as monthly. This might be effected by employing two steamers on this side, and two on the other side of the isthmus of Suez, provided the steam-machinery could be ensured not to fail for a certain period -- which however is wholly out of the question, it being constantly liable to accidents. Instead of engines of ninety-horse power, on which the estimate is made, we should say those of sixty are sufficiently powerful for propelling, at the rate of seven to eight miles an hour, steam-vessels of capacities large and commodious enough for every purpose. Taking the passage from Suez to Bombay at twenty days at sea, the time it was done by the Hugh Lindsay, and which will also be about the average time from England to Alexandria, we may estimate as follows:

Suppose the first steamer from England and the first from Bombay were to start from their respective destinations on the 1st January, and allowing the passage across the isthmus, and to and from Suez and Alexandria, to be six days, the passengers to and from India would arrive in England and at Bonibay about the same day, namely, on the 15th February; and each steamer would have thirteen days in this month, and fifteen or sixteen in all other months, to make good its defects—which in ordinary cases would be sufficient, though not so when any accident has happened to the machinery.

Now, as each steamer would complete six voyages in the year, the number of days that each would be at sea, or have the steam up, would be 240 days; and as a steam-vessel, with two sixtyhorse-power engines, if properly managed, will not require more than ten tons of coals in twenty-four hours, the quantity consumed by the two steamers on each side, in the six voyages each, or the whole year, will be 4800 tons ;-9600 tons for the whole four vessels. The coals best adapted for steamers are admittedly the Llangennech in South Wales, which may be had at the pit's mouth, or even at the port of Llanelly, for seven to eight shillings the tonat Portsmouth or Plymouth for twenty shillings—at Gibraltar, VOL. XLIX. NO, XCVII.

Q

Malta,

« PreviousContinue »