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three hundred yards as far as Shuge Shug, inundating the country on the left bank, when swollen, and, at the same time, irrigating the right one. At Korna, about three hundred and fifty miles below Hilla, the main branch of the Tigris joins the Euphrates, where it takes the name of Shut ul Arab, which it keeps down to the sea, varying in breadth from five hundred to nine hundred yards, with a depth from three to five fathoms; both banks covered with villages, the land smiling with cultivation, and the scenery, as our traveller says, 'wearing an imposing and majestic appearance.'
The whole distance, by the course of the river, from Bir to Bussora, is calculated, by Chesney, at 1143 miles; and, throughout this distance, he is of opinion that, from the time the Euphrates begins to rise to that when it has reached almost its lowest point, no insuperable impediments are offered to its navigation by steam. In January, there is usually a temporary and moderate rise; but the great and regular rise begins towards the end of March, when the rains set in-and the river attains its greatest height from the 21st to the 28th of May. Its lowest state is in November. Captain Chesney is not very clear in this part of his statement, which is of great importance in deciding the point as to a constant and uninterrupted navigation of the Euphrates, more especially as, in its low state, he enumerates no fewer than thirty-nine obstructions, by rocks and shallows, between Diget-us-Laik and Bushloubford-a distance of about five hundred miles, nearly half the length of the navigation, between Bir and Bussora.-As these obstructions are stated to occur only at or about the lowest state of the river, and the greater part, if not all of them, it is said, may be passed by a steamer, properly constructed, it will not be necessary for us to notice them in detail.
Captain Chesney gives a plan of a steam-boat, which we do not much admire; this is obviously not his forte; we dare say, however, that a steam-boat like those we have alluded to on the Paisley canal, long and narrow, not drawing more than eighteen inches water, the bottom spoon-shaped, and constructed either of light wood or thin iron plates, might attempt, aud perhaps succeed, to navigate the Euphrates from Bir, if thought expedient to commence so high, at all or most times of the year, but would always be liable to damage and uncertainty on account of the rocks and shoals. With regard to the supplies of provisions and fuel, we consider Captain Chesney's statements to be satisfactory. Bir contains about two thousand houses, and would supply rice, flour, poultry, &c.; of Giabar, we may say the same. Deir, the ancient Thapsacus, contains fifteen hundred houses, and would supply
plenty of provisions. Anna has eighteen hundred houses; its picturesque islands are covered with date-trees, and the surrounding country is rich. Hit, with its fifteen hundred houses, affords plenty of butcher's meat. Hilla or Babylon covers a large tract of ground with an inadequate population, not exceeding ten thousand souls, inhabiting about two thousand seven hundred houses; but the bazaars are good and well supplied with meat, fish, rice, and even luxuries; the government regular, and well disposed towards strangers. Dewania, with its fifteen hundred houses, can furnish ordinary supplies. In short, throughout the whole navigation of the river, plenty of meal and grain may be had at intervals of fifteen or twenty miles, and the Euphrates throughout abounds in fish, an excellent species of which is taken in such quantities, that Captain Chesney's boatmen purchased thirty-nine pounds in weight for 32d.
As to fuel-wood, charcoal, bitumen, petroleum or naphtha, are to be had along the whole line of the Euphrates. At Giabar, a little below Bir, at Gasar Sadi, at Hit, and several other places, are abundant sources of this bitumen, under different states-in some places liquid, in others solid;-and from Bir to Bussora wood and charcoal may be had in any quantity. So abundant is the supply of bitumen, says Captain Chesney, that one of the ancient fountains close to Hit gives the necessary quantity for all of the extensive demands along the lower Euphrates and Bagdad.' How singular it is, that for ages past, the duration of which is hidden from man, this substance has continued to flow, inexhaustible, as it would seem! The slime,' which the descendants of Noah made use of instead of mortar,' is admitted by all the commentators to have been the liquid naphtha; we know from Herodotus that it was used in the stupendous buildings of Babylon, and the historians of Alexander testify to the fact; nay, it is still visible in the ruins of this ancient city. The dry hard flakes are sold at the rate of about 23d. per cwt.; and the naphtha, when reduced to a thick liquid, at about 11d. per cwt.-in either state much cheaper than coal in England. Small wood for fuel is not more than 1d. per cwt. When these materials are mixed, they burn with a brilliant flame and give out a strong heat; and Captain Chesney seems to think, that they would be found as cheap and equally efficient, for the sea steamer to and from Bombay, as coal.
There is another point, however, connected with the navigation of the Euphrates deserving of serious consideration: we allude to the danger to which the lives of those employed on it would be exposed. At present there is no dependence to be placed on many of the Arab tribes bordering on the river, and on the desert.
between it and the Mediterranean, which must necessarily be crossed to complete the communication. The Pasha of Egypt, however, is likely to become the quiet possessor of all Syria, and that part of Arabia through which the Euphrates flows-in consequence thereof, an improved condition of the wandering and marauding tribes may probably be brought about; but a long time will be required to fix men like these to any permanent abode.
The marked support of the Pasha,' [of Bagdad?] Captain Chesney tells us, ensures safety wherever he is obeyed or even has influence; but by far the greater part of the inhabitants near the river are subject to no control; there is in reality no way that I know of at present to pass these hostile, ill-disposed tribes without contests, and perhaps bloodshed occasionally.' He was himself several times attacked in the course of his route.
If the state of the population and the impediments in the river were the only difficulties, means might probably be found to surmount them; but there is another of so serious a nature as, in our opinion, to render this route to India wholly impracticable for all useful purposes. We allude to the desert above mentioned, which is interposed between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, and which must be passed either from Scanderoun or the mouth of the Orontes, or from Lattakia to Aleppo, and from thence to Bir or Beles, which is lower down and much shorter. The best of these passages would require fifty or sixty hours, and subject the passengers to the depredations and illtreatment of Arabs ever on the watch. To wait for the irregular caravans, and after all obtain only a doubtful protection, would defeat the whole object. Captain Chesney suggests that a canal might be cut from the nearest approach of the Orontes to the Euphrates, which is opposite Beles, a distance of sixty-seven miles; but who is to be at the expense of making such a canal? and if made, would not the effect be merely to attract the robbers to one fixed point, where they would be sure of falling in with their prey? The Orontes, besides, has a shallow bar at its mouth, and that which was once the ancient port of Seleucia is now filled up, and to clear it out would entail an enormous
Let us, however, suppose all these difficulties to be got over :it remains to sum up the distances-and the time which the communication between England and Bombay by this route would probably take. And first let us look at Captain Chesney's
Falmouth to Malta, stopping at Cadiz or Gibraltar
Sheek Giaber or Beles (up the river 12 days)
Bussora to Muskat
Muskat to Bombay
The return by the same route at the lowest state of the Euphrates 48.' Our calculation differs not very materially :—
Through Aleppo to the Euphrates, among tribes of half
And back from Bombay
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) despatcies 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 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 fleet 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 waft 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