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has been applied to various purposes with great success.
It furnishes a gas far more brilliant than that produced from coal; machinery oils of several kinds are obtained from it; wax, for making candles, and the bases of many brilliant dyes, are taken from it in the process of distillation. It is being daily experimented with more and more, and a thousand new uses are prophesied for it. Speculators and commission merchants, hoopers and coopers, railroad companies, and cart men, have had a flourishing time of it. Indeed, it has been said that the entire population of Pennsylvania is blissful, with the exception of one farmer who lost his feather crop, because his geese went swimming in Oil Creek, and came out tarred and feathered.
People who do not live in an oil district, and have no occasion either to buy or sell Petroleum, stand aside and take various views of the matter. One of our witty countrymen is afraid that the world will soon stop revolving for want of something to lubricate its axis. The Philosophers among us, say that we have ascended another round in the Ladder of Progress. Practical men tix their minds upon exports and tariffs, tares, and nett incomes. Some pious souls, as good as saints but not as cheerful, have terrified themselves by the idea that the immense influx of inflammable oil into the world, is to facilitate its burning; that it is in fact, merely a measure preparatory to the arrival of the great and notable day, when the elements sball melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and all the things that are therein shall be burned up. Even if their theory were correct there would be no terror in it, for when the appointed time comes, the world might as well burn quickly as to be long about it. If it is necessary for the satisfaction of certain minds to interpret the recent events scripturally, let them be taken in a more beneficent and bopeful signification. Every one whose duty or inclination has led them much among the poor, knows that the worst horror of winter to them after the bitter cold, is its terrible darkness. Work begins before light, and ends long after. The weary nights that stretch far down into the morning, and begin midway in the afternoon, leave only a narrow strip of sunlight between. Where the hungry mouths are scarcely filled, there is no money to expend for oil or candles, aud many a working man and boy could tell them, that for months in the winter, “its always dark at home." Let our conscientious but melancholy friends remember, and help to fulltil the prophecies, that " to them that sit in darkness, light sball spring up," that darkness shall be as the noonday," and that in the bome of the humblest man, "at eventide it shall be light.” Aside from all private interpretation of prophecy, there are simple and noble uses to be made of all the Master's gifts, if men have but the will to see them, and we hope that while Commerce claims new profits from Petreleum, and Science works out from it new results, Philanthropy will not forget to make it bear its share in the sweet services of charity.
THE ENLARGEMENT BY GOVERNMENT OF THE ERIE, OSWEGO, AND ILLI
NOIS CANALS-A MEASURE BOTH IN POLITIC AND UNNECESSARY. A TIME of war, requiring all the energies of a people, with its attendant excitements, is clearly not a favorable time for reflection or deliberate action. So far as it becomes necessary to act for the purpose of securing the nation's safety from the danger then threatening, the government must, of course, be prompt and energetic. If the transportation of troops or supplies require the building of a canal or railroad, such a canal or railroad should be built whatever the cost. Anything and everything necessary for the successful prosecution of the war should be done; but farther than that, it is clearly not advisable to go. Therefore all plans, schemes, or undertakings, well enough in times of peace, become objectionable when a nation is engaged in a contest that requires so great an expenditure of men and money as the present requires of us.
And yet, although every one must acknowledge this, it is strange bow little these ideas influence us. Such, however, is buman nature that when an individual or a nation of individuals begins to pay out large amounts of money and engage in large undertakings, former prudent babits and practices appear to be lost sight of, and millions even, look no larger than the dollars of the year previous. The child thinks the world can be bou the first penny he holds, but let him have an abundance of pennies and he loses all idea of their value, and can find ways of spending more each succeeding day. Our nation now seems to us to be like an over-indulged child. A little more than a year ago we thought there was need for economy; that our expenditures were getting enormons--seventy millions a year! so all acquiesced in believing that no new scheme requiring more money should be entertained for a moment. War has come of most unheard-of proportions; our expenditures are no more counted by dullars, but by millions and hundreds of millions. Surely so much money will be our ruin unless we are very careful.
In confirmation of this last assertion, consider a moment some of the measures now before Congress, involving the government in large expenditure or loss. The Homestead Bill has already become a law--a project perhaps good enough if our treasury were full, or if we were at peace, and bad Lime to reflect upon its bearings. Then, again, direct mail communication with China and other nations is being urged (for the purpose of fostering trade with them), and government aid is asked. Very likely these are worthy measures, but have we anything now to spend in those directions? Again, a canal around Niagara is planned--an excellent idea probably, if we had the money to pay for it or the time to consider it. A railroad from Washington to New York, and another to the Pacific* —very
* Since the above was written the Pacific Railroad Bill has passed. At any other time and under any other circumstances we should rejoice at this; but we cannot now look upon it otherwise than as a great misfortune. The bill passed we have not seen yet.
good speculations for the country, but has our government anything to invest just at present! So, too, the Illinois Canal project, and the Erie Enlargement bid fair to receive favorable action. And thus we might go on naming any and every plan involving the expenditure of money, which has ever been heretofore presented to Conyress, and we will find that this year it is being favorably considered.* These prospective charges, too, upon the national treasury are, it must be remembered, in addition to the appropriation bills of pearly six hundred millions for the coming year, already passed, and the debt of (nobody seems to know how many) millions, already incurred. The same extravagant spirit also seems to possess our State Legislatures. We can here, however, only refer to the Military Bill passed by the New York Legislature-a measure involving the State in an ontlay of five millions of dollars (a snug little sum as we formerly thought), for its organization, and one million a year for its maintenance.t
Surely, after considering these facts we must conclude that the management the past year, of large amounts of money has been too much for the heads of legislators. An interested outsider would think we had enough to do to meet the present expenses without increasing the burden; and that an absolute veto should be put upon all these outside matters. Very likely we shall be told that these are old togy notions not fit for war times, or this wonderfully progressive age: yet we think this present debt-creating policy is so serious a matter, that we must raise our protest although the multitude may not applaud.
We have been led to make these remarks in view, particularly of the proposition now made to enlarge our canals, so as to pass gun.boats through them, to which plan our excellent President (heretofore a prudent man) has lent his influence. There is something so plausible and pleasing in the idea of filling the lakes with our ocean iron-sides and filling the ocean with our grain-loaded boats direct from the lakes, and surpassing all other nations in power and patriotism, that we forget there are several steps and much time between the thought and its accomplishm«nt. To our mind the fact that we have, at present, no time and no money to spare upon such a projec, is sufficient.
But we are told these enlarged canals are necessary as a military measure; the country needs them as a means of defence; not of course, in carrying on this war (oh! no), but to prevent or prosecute future wars with -England! We really wonder whether this idea has any weight with any of those who advocate these measures. Our skepticism is of so rank a nature that it is impossible for us to believe it has. For if there ever was a proposition that is clearly absurd, certainly the one now made to enlarge
* We see the papers announce that an entirely new measure is soon to be introduced, and is likely to pass-the giving of pecuniary aid to Mexico in her present struggle! Would it not be well to send her a hogshead or two of paper money ? It might be spared we think, without harm.
+ This statement we first met with in the Albany Atlas and Argus, and have since seen it contradicted, and the law explained by its friends. But we have examined the law with the explanations offered, and are forced to the conclusion tbat (in case the number of the militia reaches the highest point contemplated by the bill) the above estimate cannot be out the way.
# See the message of the President on submitting to Congress the memorial of Mr. RUGGLES.
these canals as a military necessity, is entitled preëminently to that position. According to our opinion, the fact that this plan is not proposed as a measure necessary for the present war, is, as we have said before, sufficient to entitle it to defeat, until our exbausted treasury is supplied a little. But aside from, and in addition to this, we think it is very plain that as a military measure it is not worth considering a moment.
The report of the Hon. F. P. Blair, jr., is the only form in which this question is presented officially for the action of Congress. His proposition is to enlarge the Erie and Oswego Canal locks to twenty-six feet in width, and two hundred feet in length, and the Illinois and Michigan Caual so that it will pass the shallow side-wheel steamers of Western rivers. In order that these improvements may be effective as a means of defence, of course it is necessary that the canals when finished, should with their enlarged capacity be able to furnish the lakes with as effective war vessels as can be placed there by England through her Canada canals. And yet it is a fact, that the St. Lawrence ship canals already have locks forty-five feet wide, and two bundred feet long, by wbich sea-going vessels can be passed to Lake Ontario. Then again, the Welland Canal, from Lake Ontario to Lake Eric, now has locks twenty-six feet wide, and one hundred and fifty feet in length, and long before we could finish our project, they could be made twice that size. With, therefore, Canadian locks forty-five feet wide, and hence capable of passing vessels of about that width, how can we expect to put war vessels on the Lakes able to compete with them through locks twenty-six feet wide. The propositien is a plain one, and will we think, require close figuring, and civilian generalship to work out a satisfactory answer. Is anything more needed to show that as a military measure, the project must be a failure ?
But again. It will be remembered that the object of this enlargement is for defence in a war with England--the greatest naval power in the world. With this idea before us, the question naturally suggests itself, where are we, in case of war, to get the vessels to take through the canals to the Lakes. All we have on the sea-board, we should clearly need to keep there. We certainly could not spare them for the defence of the Lakes. It is a very pleasant idea to say that we shall always have ships enough for both services; and so we might perhaps, if we intended to change the entire policy of the government, and increase our pavy a bundred fold. But in a time of peace, the situation of our country is such that we do not need so large a navy as England needs to protect her sea-girt shores, and she never can allow us, even if we had the desire, to equal her in that respect. In this connection it must of course be borne in mind that these enlarged canals would be of use only to pass the vessels on hand at the time the war began. If we bad none to spare at that time, then of course they would be of no advantage, since all we should build for the Lakes, after the war had begun, could be built on or near them, better than in our present navy yards—the necessary material being cheaper there than here. Hence, as we said before, unless we are hereafter to change our entire policy, and keep in time of peace a navy rivaling England's, these canals would be of no use in a military point of view.
Then again, why would not the true place to defend the Lakes against English vessels, bé at the mouth of the St. Lawrence. We have never been blessed with a military education, and yet it looks to us as if, were you to stop up that hole, there would be no rats to trouble us on the Lakes.
We can send vessels of any size there, and certainly must be able to cope with England at that point, if at all, much better than on an inland Lake, our entrance to which is to be twenty feet narrower than hers.
But there is another very cheap and excellent way of defending ourselves on those Lakes, whenever we may consider it necessary to do so. To be sure the plan does not involve any fat jobs, but to our mind that is no objection. As to the enlargement of these canals, the Congressional committee having the matter in charge tell us, we believe, that seven millions of dollars will cover the expense. Judging from the estimates made for the Erie enlargement, and the amount actually paid out in its accomplishment, we may multiply this estimate by five at least, if we would have the probable cost, and then, we must remember, we would have an entrance to the Lakes twenty feet narrower than the Canadian entrance. Instead, therefore, of carrying out this never-ending, exhausting, and as a military measure, useless project, let us take a portion of one years' interest on this immense sum, and defend our Lakes by establishing an armory and navy yard in the West, and let a cərtain number of these iron clad vessels be there framed, put under cover, and kept for use when needed, with all the different parts completed ready to be put together on the shortest notice. This we think is a very effective, simple, and inexpensive way of accomplishing a desired end. Even if the canal enlargement were made, we should have to keep on hand a surplus of small vessels, or else in time of war we should not liave any to send to the Lakes : for we would need our entire stock to defend the sea board, as we have already stated. Hence, if we will select a point in the West where iron, timber and coal are cheap, and make that our depot, we will be at less expense in the matter of vessels, and no expense whatever for enlarging canals.*
Thus we have very briefly endeavored to show the utter foolishness of this proposed plan of defending our Lakes. Whether or no these canal enlargements would be for the benefit of trade, is a question we do not care to discuss. It in no way effects the issue. Congress has no power to appropriate money for such purposes. Our country too is, as we have stated before, engaged in a very expensive war. The debt is increasing daily by millions. Unless we economize in every possible way, our energies and resources will be crippled and paralyzed by taxation to such an extent as to make little difference whether we have large, or small, or no canals. Were this measure a present military necessity, of course we should not hesitate a nuoment to give it our unqualified approval.
Our govern.. ment should be upheld, whatever the cost, or whatever the burden assumed. Put to add to our present expenditure, except in case of absoInte necessity, seems to us utter madness.
* Peoria has been suggested as an excellent place for a Western armory. It might be well to have a navy yard there too, as it combines many advantages. This would involve the enlarging of the Illinois canal—but as that is only one hundred miles in length, the expense would be comparatively trifling. We consider it a great advantage to have the navy yard off from the Lakes, since its possession could be retained even if we were to lose control of the Lakes—a very important consideration in our opinion. We do not propose this as a measure which should be carried out immediately, if at all. We only suggest it as a plan far better and less expensive than the one before Congress. There is no need for it at present, and we have no money to spare at present. Retrenchment should be our moito now.