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right to be considered in our policy, inasmuch as it is charged with our debts, would never, and ought never, to forgive.
Let the United States Government ponder over these things: the men who are now governing those States will likewise be answerable for what they are now doing or may do for their children; and if instead of the splendid legacy they received from their fathers, they bequeath to their descendants-as the consequence of unjustifiable arrogance and unprovoked hostility-a divided people, a bankrupt exchequer, and a dismembered commonwealth, England will regret the loss which civilisation has sustained, but America will execrate the name of those by whom this catastrophe was brought about.
NOTE ON THE SUEZ CANAL.
On the eve of going to press we have received a second pamphlet from M. de Lesseps on the subject of the Suez Canal, to which is appended a reply, by M. Barthelemy de St. Hilaire, to the article which appeared in our January Number on this subject. M. de St. Hilaire, who is, we believe, the Secretary of the Commission and the Company to be formed for the promotion of this undertaking, has entirely mistaken the spirit and purport of our observations. We have no object to serve but the discovery of truth in a question of considerable geographical and mercantile importance; and the opinion we have formed is entirely independent of any considerations of political or pecuniary interest. There is, therefore, an essential difference in this respect between the promoters of the scheme and its opponents.
This attempt to answer plain arguments by representing the writers of the article in this Journal as 'ignorant,' 'inexperienced,' and incapable,' may safely be left to the judgment of any one who will read the article and the reply with a desire to form an unbiassed opinion on the subject. The thing that interests the public is to know that the project now comes forward in a very different shape from that in which it appeared last year; and that almost every point for which we had contended has now been virtually conceded.
The answer to the experience gained by the traffic in coals during the last sixteen years in the Red Sea is contained in a passage (page 60.) which to us is absolutely unintelligible; but in the following page the objection, whatever it may be, is abandoned by the proposal to establish steam-tugs, and to adopt
the auxiliary screw; and at page 88. the experience of the steam fleet of the Peninsular and Oriental Company is quoted to prove how safe the sea is. All this is precisely what we contended for,—that the sea is the best possible for steam navigation, but the worst for that of sailing vessels. When sails are abandoned by the commercial navy, we shall be prepared to re-argue the question.
The difficulty pointed out with regard to the locks is met by the total abandonment of them, notwithstanding the expense of cutting the whole canal to the greater depth, and the immensely increased cost of maintenance, supposing it to be possible either to make or maintain it without at least one lock at Suez. The idea of connecting two seas by a mere cutting or Bosphorus, when one of these seas is affected by tides to a height of many feet and the other not affected by them, and when both seas are subject to considerable variations of level under the influence of particular winds, is certainly one of the most singular parts of the whole proposal; and the loose nature of the soil of the isthmus, which has now been ascertained by boring, materially increases the expense of constructing and maintaining such a cutting, since it must be rapidly destroyed either by running water or by the application of steam power.
The difficulty of bringing the materials for the moles at Pelusium from the hills behind Suez is met by a still more startling proposition. They are now to be brought from quarries along the Syrian shore, whether (sic) from the islands of Cy'prus, Rhodes, or Scarpanto.' As nothing of the sort was ever attempted in any age of the world, it is difficult to estimate the cost of such an operation, but the sum at which it is set down in the estimate is simply ludicrous. And so it is throughout. Amidst much abuse of the writer of the review, the errors we pointed out are tacitly abandoned, our conclusions admitted to be correct, and the project modified accordingly; but it must still take a very different shape before competent judges will lend it the sanction of their names.
It is idle to assert that the Fellahs are perhaps the best 'navvies in the world.' In no part of the world is anything to be seen so barbarous and unskilful as the tools and processes of the Egyptian population, or so brutal as their treatment; and we venture to assert that nowhere is so little work done by such a number of hands, and at such an expense of misery and human life. If these poor wretches are driven into the desert by the present ruler of Egypt to work on this proposed canal, it will be accompanied by a fearful sacrifice of human life. They must perish there in thousands from want of food and of other com
missariat arrangements which would be nearly impracticable among the most civilised communities, but impossible in a semibarbarous country like Egypt.
When the report of the International Commission is published we may have further data to judge from; and it may then be worth while for those who are most deeply interested in this project to go again into the engineering question, and ascertain what are really the difficulties or facilities of the undertaking. As the case at present stands, nothing has been produced which at all invalidates the assertion of this Journal-that the construction of a first-rate port at Pelusium is a more difficult engineering operation than has yet been accomplished anywhere; and that the Red Sea is, and must remain, comparatively useless to the commerce of the world, so long as sails continue to be the principal mode of propulsion used to work our argosies across the ocean.
No. CCXII. will be published in October.
ART. I.-1. Œuvres de François Arago, Secrétaire Perpétuel de l'Academie des Sciences, &c. Paris: 1855.
2. The Autobiography of Francis Arago. Translated by Rev. Professor POWELL, F. R. S. (Traveller's Library.)
3. Meteorological Essays. By F. ARAGO. With an Introduction by Baron HUMBOLDT. Translated by Colonel SABINE, V.P.R.S. &c. 8vo. London: 1855.
4. Popular Astronomy. By the same. 2 vols. 8vo. Translated by Admiral SMYTH, F. R. S. &c., and R. GRANT, Esq., F. R. A.S. London: 1855.
5. Biographical Notices. By the same.
Translated by Admiral SMYTH, the Rev. Prof. PowELL, and R. GRANT, Esq., F.R.A.S.
6. The Life and Miscellaneous Works of the late Thomas Young, M.D., F.R.S. Edited by GEORGE PEACOCK, D.D., Dean of Ely. London: 1855.
IT appears from these publications that the collected scientific writings of the distinguished foreign philosopher whose name they bear have no sooner been edited in his own country, than they are reproduced in an English translation. This spirited undertaking cannot but be regarded as a favourable indication of the increasing interest taken by our countrymen in scientific subjects: while the names of the writers employed in the translation will be a guarantee to the public, not only for the correctness with which the scientific language of the author is rendered, but also for the soundness of the explanations and illustrations with which this version is occasionally interspersed. Such additions
VOL. CIV. NO. CCXII.
were not unfrequently required for the correction of misconceptions, and even of misstatements, on the part of the author, whose high scientific reputation cannot exempt him from the charge of partiality in some of his decisions.
The vivid sketch of Arago's earlier life, which we have from his own pen, evinces in a high degree his lively powers of description and narrative, though a tone of rather warm colouring pervades some incidents in his story. But we peruse with higher interest all that relates to his scientific pursuits, commenced from an early age by his own unaided efforts, and successfully followed to the close of his life.
We propose to pass briefly over the former part of these memorials, and then to show at greater length what are the claims of Arago to rank amongst the most eminent men of science of his time.
François Arago was born in the commune of Estagel, in the Eastern Pyrenees, Feb. 26. 1786, of a family of Spanish extraction. He received the rudiments of education in the school of that place, and from the local accident of a frequent passage of troops, he early acquired a strong taste for military service. Passing over some juvenile exploits, we find that when he was about fourteen years old, his family removed to Perpignan. It was here that a permanent direction was given to his pursuits by his intimacy with a young officer of engineers, who represented to him the prospects opened by entering the Ecole Polytechnique. He accordingly devoted his energies to the study of mathematics, -reading by himself the works of Lagrange, Laplace, and other writers of the highest class, with such success as soon to gain him admission into the School (1803), and to pursue his studies there with credit.
The Ecole Polytechnique is, indeed, brought prominently into notice in nearly all the biographies contained in these volumes, having been the great nursery of the scientific talent of France from the time of its foundation. It is not, therefore, without much interest, of more than a personal kind, that we read in these memoirs some curious details of the modes of instruction in that renowned institution. Thus the opening scene of Arago's preliminary examination is singularly characteristic:
'At last the moment of examination arrived, and I went to Toulouse in company with a candidate who had studied at the public college. It was the first time that pupils from Perpignan had appeared at the contest. My intimidated comrade was completely discomfited. When I repaired after him to the table, the strangest conversation took place between M. Monge (the examiner) and me.