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have done most justly, she could have done, with all imaginable ease—namely, crushed the whole fabric of the federal government, already tottering through the disaffection of the eastern states. Ten thousand of the men that had fought at Waterloo would have marched through North America: but the world was already glutted with war; and, instead of pursuing the revenge of past injuries, England had the magnanimity to offer the olive branch to her only remaining and feeble enemy. The consequence to America was, that the government was strengthened, and the remote western provinces more firmly united than they had ever been with the eastern and the southern.
The great improvements that are now in progress may be dated from this event, so honourable to England and so advantageous to America. The new and extensive lines of communication now forming, and in parts completed, by means of roads and canals, have opened an intercourse between the eastern and the western states, which has tended more than anything else to establish close and friendly relations throughout the Union. In every part of this extensive country these kind of improvements are in progress. The state of Virginia is opening a direct intercourse with the Ohio by means of a canal. Another canal is in progress across the isthmus which separates the Delaware from the Chesapeake. Another is nearly completed which will connect the Schuylkill with the Susquehanna. A canal is also projected which is to connect the Delaware with the Hudson, and another to unite the Ohio with the Chesapeake. A grand canal has been undertaken from lake Erie to the Ohio, a distance of three hundred miles, which will open a direct water-communication to the Gulf of Mexico, from the city of New York, by the great western canal between Erie and the Hudson, which is already completed. We deem this last magnificent work deserving of particular notice.
The great western or Erie canal is unquestionably the most important of the many that have been contemplated since the conclusion of the war. It is an undertaking that reflects the highest credit on the enterprising and public spirit of the state of New York, which planned and executed it at its own proper expense; which carried it on not only without the aid, but with every discouragement on the part, of the general government; and which has the merit of having conducted this work under the guidance of native engineers a work that, in many respects, may vie with the first of a similar description in Europe. This great water-communication, which opens an intercourse between the first commercial city of the republic and lake Erie, over a line of country five hundred and thirteen miles in extent, cannot fail to be a source of
wealth and prosperity, not only to those who have supported the measure, but to every part of the Union through which it is carried. In fact, the advantage of such a canal had at an early period been so obvious, that the Americans, who, although a cautious, are an adventurous people, could only have been deterred from commencing it long ago by want of capital. Several enlightened citizens, before even the time of Washington, had suggested the advantage of connecting the western country by a water-communication with the Hudson; and Washington himself was strongly impressed with the policy of going still further, and opening a communication by water between the Potomac and the Ohio. He saw the danger that was likely to arise from the spread of the people to the westward, if the republic were left without the means of establishing a close and ready intimacy between those western establishments and the old eastern states: he thought it very likely that the former, from their position, might be disposed to throw themselves, on the one hand, into the arms of the British in Canada, and establish a commercial intercourse which would give them the navigation of the St. Lawrence; or else, on the other hand, form a connexion with Spain, in order to enjoy the free navigation of the Mississippi.
'When they get strength,' said this great and good man, which will be sooner than most people conceive, what will be the consequence of their having formed close commercial connexions with both or either of those powers? It needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell. The western settlers (I speak now from my own observations) stand, as it were, upon a pivot. The touch of a feather would turn them any way. Until the Spaniards (very unwisely, I think) threw difficulties in their way, they looked down the Mississippi, and they looked that way for no other reason than because they could glide gently down the stream, without considering, perhaps, the fatigues of the voyage back again, and the time necessary for its performance, and because they have no other means of coming to us but by a long land transportation through unimproved roads.'
He was aware that the settlers of these states, being mostly foreign emigrants, could only be held by the cement of interest, and in order to establish this,' Extend,' says he, the inland navigation of the eastern waters-connect them as near as possible with those which run westward; open these to the Ohio; open also such as extend from the Ohio towards lake Erie :'-by so doing, he told his countrymen, you will bind those people to us by a chain which can never be broken.'-All that this noble and enlightened mind foresaw is now on the eve of being accomplished.
No country that we are acquainted with, not even China, could be more favourable for carrying into execution a plan of
this kind than North America. The Alleghany mountains, which separate the great valley of the Mississippi from the eastern glacis which descends from them to the Atlantic, are sunk nearly to the general level of the country as they approach the lakes Erie and Ontario. By this route, therefore, an easy communication is effected between the valley of the Mississippi and the valley of the St. Lawrence. The waters of all the great lakes are discharged through the latter; but as these lakes occupy the highest summit level of the country, which may here be considered as a great elevated plain, it would seem as if accident alone had determined the point, whether they should drain off their waters through the St. Lawrence to the north-east, or take a course into the Mississippi to the south-west. So nearly, indeed, is this point balanced, that a canoe is said to have actually passed, during an inundation, from the lake Superior into the Mississippi; and the head of the Fox river, which falls into the Michegan, is close to the head of the Oisconsin, which flows into the Mississippi, being separated only by a very short portage. We may, therefore, without impropriety, consider the gulfs of St. Lawrence and Mexico to be connected by nature in one and the same great valley, as they are very soon to be united by art. In fact, a barrier of no great height, thrown across the Niagara river about Buffalo, would turn the waters of the lakes into the Mississippi, leaving only the Ontario to supply the upper part of the St. Lawrence.
Washington, as we have observed, saw the facilities which such a country offered for effecting a water-communication by artificial canals. Yet, with so obvious and advantageous a measure before their eyes, the Americans suffered year after year to pass away, before any attempt was made thus to connect the Eastern and Western states, notwithstanding the growing importance of the latter. In 1817, indeed, the people of New York commenced the grand Western canal, under the most favourable auspices; yet, two years afterwards, when a considerable portion of it was completed, a large minority of the house of assembly voted against any further appropriation of money; and, by way of throwing ridicule on the undertaking, its opponents nick-named it 'the big ditch.'
The Erie or Western canal may be said to commence at Buffalo, close to the lake, and to terminate with the Hudson, at Albany, one hundred and fifty miles to the northward of New York, the whole length of the canal being three hundred and sixty-three miles. The difference of the levels, between Erie and the Hudson, is five hundred and sixty-four feet. From Erie to the Seneca river is a descent of one hundred and ninety-four feet, in which are
twenty-five locks; from thence to Rome, it rises forty-eight feet, in which are six locks; and from thence to the Hudson, the descent is four hundred and thirteen feet, requiring forty-six locks-the rise and fall being altogether six hundred and fifty-five feet, in which there are seventy-seven locks. The canal is forty feet wide on the surface, twenty-eight feet at the bottom, and four feet deep.
The difficulties they had to overcome were not inconsiderable. Between Schenectady and Albany, the canal twice crosses the Mohawk river in aqueducts of more than eighteen hundred feet in extent. Near this place, it is carried on a ledge cut out along the side of perpendicular rocks, twenty and thirty feet above the base. It crosses the Genessee river by an aqueduct of ten arches of hewn stone, exceeding two hundred and two feet. An embankment across the Irondiquot carries the canal for more than a quarter of a mile, on a mound of earth seventy feet high. A rocky ridge, near the western extremity, (the last vestige of the Alleghany mountains,) has been cut down, for seven miles, to the average depth of twenty-five feet, three miles of which are through hard, solid rock. Fortunately, there runs along the middle section, or summit level, an uninterrupted plain of sixty-nine miles and a half; and another level, on the western section, of sixtythree miles, required not a single lock. At Albany, the canal terminates in a basin, formed by extending a pier into the Hudson, which runs parallel to the shore three-quarters of a mile, and is seventy-six feet in width on the top; the harbour, which is thus enclosed, is about thirty-two acres in extent. The cost of this magnificent work, with its locks, aqueducts, culverts, bridges, deep cuttings, and embankments-together with about eighteen miles of canal branching off to lake Champlain, and the works necessary for the improvement of the navigation of the upper part of the Hudson-amounted to about ten millions of dollars; and the whole was completed within the space of eight years. The tolls in the first year are said to have amounted to five hundred thousand dollars, collected from ten thousand boats which passed the locks, which is at the rate of about forty a day for two hundred and fifty days, the supposed average time that the canal will be free from ice. It is calculated that one hundred and twenty-four boats are as many as can be passed through the locks in twentyfour hours; and as no doubt is entertained that this number will pass, the estimated revenue is from one and a half to two millions of dollars annually.
The first vessel that arrived at New York, by this canal, is mentioned by Mr. Cadwallader Colden, the writer of a memoir on the celebration of the opening of this great work, as an in
teresting evidence of the ingenuity and enterprize of his countrymen. Her timbers,' he says, 'grew near where she was built; her proprietors were her architects; her cargo was the produce of the fields from whence she sprung; and she was navigated by those who cultivated them; her sails and rigging even were emphatically domestic manufactures, for they were grown and made at the homes of her owners.' On this day of celebration, among the numerous exhibitions got up for the occasion, was one that was calculated to tell-it was announced that a vessel would arrive, called 'Noah's Ark,' from the yet unbuilt city of Ararat, which is to arise on an island near the western termination of the canal. She was to bring specimens of all manner of living things to be found in the forests that surround the falls of the Niagara. She did, in fact, arrive, having on board a bear, two eagles, two fawns, with a variety of other quadrupeds, birds, and fishes, not forgetting a couple of Indian boys in their proper dresses. Nothing that we have ever heard of could exceed the enthusiasm of the people on the festivity of the opening of this great work, which these honest republicans really believed to be, what poor simple Gil Blas was persuaded on a memorable occasion to believe himself—the eighth wonder of the world.' Processions of the mayor and corporation, of learned societies, of the clergy, the trades, and professions; of steam-boats and flotillas; the firing of cannon along the whole line from Erie to the Hudson; dinners, balls, and suppers, occupied all ranks and degrees, from New York to Buffalo, a distance of five hundred and thirteen miles.
But the grand coup de theatre was an exhibition, got up by Professor Mitchell, as the officiating 'priest,' to marry the waters of the lakes with those of the ocean, and to pronounce an epithalamium he had composed in prospect of this happy union. Not satisfied with emptying a keg of Lake Erie water into the Hudson, the doctor, we are told, had procured (by what means is not stated) a bottle of the pure waters of the Elbe, the sacred waters of the Ganges, the overflowings of the Nile, the waters of the Amazon, the Oronoca, the La Plata, of Columbia river, of the Thames, the Seine, the Neva, the Tagus, and from every quarter of the globe. The nuptials being celebrated, and the polygamous Hudson having received the embraces of his numerous brides, some of which must have long been corked up, the doctor proceeded in his oration, which exhibits a specimen of as bad taste as we ever recollect to have met with :
'In performing these acts of the day, (says he,) there is another occurrence too memorable to be omitted. As in the celebration of religious rites, the water, in the hands of pious and qualified ministers