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water in particular had dedicated the whole of his ample fortune, and useful life.
Of all the means of facilitating internal commerce and mutual intercourse between the inhabitants of the same country, canals are the most efficient; and where heavy materials are to be transported from one place to another, such as ores, iron machinery, limestone, coals, lumber, and articles of that description, they become indispensable to any high degree of national prosperity. But it is very doubtful whether the mere farming produce of a district, would pay interest for the capital expended in a canal, after supporting the expense of keeping it in good order. In this country, however, there are other motives for canals, than merely the facilitating of intercourse in time of peace. A series of canals parallel to our sea coast or nearly so, is a war-measure of the very last importance to our interest. Yet the easy, obvious communication between the Chesapeake and the Delaware, so often urged, so long meditated, so manifestly useful in case of an enemy's fleet scouring our coasts, is hardly talked of. The projected canal in New-York state, which if it ever be finished will owe its existence to De Witt Clinton, may be considered in the same point of view; and will be so considered by all who are aware of the enormous expense incurred during the last war in the transportation of heavy articles to the New-York frontier. A numerous population, great internal commerce, and canals, go hand in hand: they mutually sustain each other. China and Holland are examples, and Great Britain has wisely followed these examples.* Readers are not aware that even in Great Bri. tain the internal commerce of the country, independent of mere agriculture, is at least eight times the amount of the external, even calculating this last at the enormous amount of 1816, viz. about fifty-one million sterling; but if the growth and manufacture of agricultural articles be taken into account it is far more. In fact, external commerce is greatly over-rated. What is the profit upon an export of fifty million at fifteen per cent.? seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds. What is this compared to forty-five million of cultivated acres in England producing the average value of fifteen bushels of wheat per acre? The boast of external commerce, is annihilated at once by considerations such as these. One day of harvest sunshine instead of rain, would produce an additional value, beyond the whole gross amount of export or of import in Great Britain
But if canals are valuable in the nations of Europe, where the extent of territory is so small, that every part of a kingdom may be considered practically as under the same climate, and bearing similar articles of territorial produce, how much more valuable will they become in this country, where the range of climate almost supercedes the necessity of foreign commerce.
* One of the earliest, and it is believed one of the most efficacious advocates the canal system is Mr. Brooke, author of that singular novel the “ Fool of Quality," wherein Mr. Meekly is brought forward in favour of inland navigation.
Fulton, who was in all his proposals a practical man, recommended small canals and narrow boats. He was aware that canals of this description, easily made, cheaply made, and speedily made, were best calculated to afford an early interest for the capital expended in constructing them. In Pennsylvania, what a lesson has the extravagance of our turnpike roads afforded: monied men sicken at the sight of a subscription list to a new turnpike; while the injudicious waste of money on the Schuylkill canal, and the obstacles to the Chesapeake and Delaware canal, appear almost insuperable bars to their completion. This latter canal, it is the duty of the federal government to make at the expense of the United States; for so complete a measure of defensive warfare can hardly be imagined. But whenever this measure shall come to be discussed in congress, the verbose objections, the ignorance that will be displayed upon the question, and the protracted debates upon a proposal of the first necessity, and in itself too obviously expedient to require a moment's discussion, will probably cost the nation half as much as it would require to complete the canal from beginning to end.
Fulton's treatise on canals ought to be republished. The treatises on this subject published in England, are more calculated for civil engineers than for the public at large. What we want here is something to shew that canals can be constructed cheaply and profitably. It is really dreadful on a market day in the city of Philadelphia, to see the capital expended in teams, and to consider the prodigious expense of maintaining them, when nine-tenths of the labour might be performed by canals, or by steam waggons.*
Fulton took out a patent for his peculiar improvements in the construction of canals, in England; and he went over to France for the purpose of doing the same there. While he was there, he wrote several letters, apparently intended for publication, on subjects of political economy, in favour of free trade, and showing the effect in society, comparatively, of the class of men who are producers, and those who are merely idlers; the drones of the hive, fruges consumere nati. The details of his reflections we know not, for the compositions do not appear to have been published. The same idea, however, has been lately taken up by a late French author,t who considers society divided as into two grand periods: the ancient, wherein each nation sought to enrich and aggrandize itself at the expense of its neighbour, by invasion and plunder. Under this system (which was that of Greece and Rome, so much and so foolishly vaunted) the idlers--the non-producers--monarchs, nobles, the military and the priesthood, were numerous: industry was confined to slaves, or to the lowest classes of society, and deemed dishonourable, and disreputable. War was the favourite and fashionable pursuit; and warriors were ranked among their di
There is a coal-mine, four miles from Halifax in Yorkshire (England). A Waggon containing a steam-engine, drags after it on an iron rail-way,
at the rate of four miles per hour, twenty-two waggons, each containing three tons of coals.
# M. Compte in bis Censeur. Essay the first.
vinities. In such a state of things virtue might well signify both valour, and good conduct. Under this system, civilization could not permanently advance; the rights of men and of citizens were such only as a proud and warlike class of society, supported by a priesthood, might indulgently allow; the properties and persons of weaker nations were seized on and converted to the use of the conquerors; and the vanquished were made slaves.
Such are the glorious times of Greece and Rome, whose detestable morals, manners, and maxims, have been the theme of ignorant panegyric for ages past. This was the period of incivilized society. "The modern system of civilization proceeds on the endeavour to make every member of society a producer, by the habitual exertion of some useful kind of industry: to gain by the prosperity, not by the misery of neighbouring nations: by barter, and not by plunder: to stimulate industry abroad for this
purpose, as well as at home: to lessen as far as possible the number of drones in the hive, to diminish the class of idlers and non-producers: to diminish also as far as possible, all necessity for naval and military systems: and generally, to abolish as far as possible, all orders of men, who have no means of living but on the industry of the producing class.
It is upon this ground in particular, that the French author in question, finds fault with Buonaparte and his system; who brought back the ancient maxims of war, rapine and plunder; who filled the country with swarms of idle soldiery; and established as a permanent tax upon the people, a devouring military aristocracy; an imperial court, an imperial army, an imperial priesthood, imperial musicians, dramatists, historians, orators, poets, and panegyrists, whose occupation was to varnish over the existing order of things, and to worship, with blasphemous adulation, the powers that be. It was indeed a discovery in this country of far more importance at the time, than any even of Fulton's, that it was possible for a people to govern themselves and be happy without bishops, without nobles, without kings.'
By what arguments Fulton supported his favourite doctrine of free trade, we know not, till his works shall be published, if this should ever be: but in the present state of things, it should seem as if we were compelled in this country into the measure of protecting regulations, in self defence against those nations whose conduct calls upon us to mete unto others, the measures dealt out to ourselves. The despotic conduct of Great Britain upon
ocean, and the high tone assumed by her late negociators in Europe upon that subject, may give rise to another armed neutrality, with Russia as before at the head of it: there is good reason to believe that the measure is even now meditated; but whenever free trade is adopted as a maxim among the European powers, or whenever it may be declared as a position of the law of nature and nations that the flag shall protect the property, it will be a theoretical declaration only, as it was under the former armed neutrality: the strongest maval
power will use that power in time of war against the neutrals
who cannot protect themselves; nor will any thing be sufficient to establish the maxims in practice, but some easy, cheap, speedy and effectual means of destroying a vessel of war. Whoever shall make and establish such a discovery, will be ranked deservedly as among the greatest benefactors of the human race: a train of reflection somewhat of this kind, induced Fulton to turn his attention, about the close of the year 1797, to submarine navigation, and torpedo war.
It is likely, that the ingenious and nearly successful attempt of Mr. Bushnel to destroy the English fleet, so harmoniously commemorated in the battle of the kegs, suggested the idea of submarine navigation with a similar view, to Mr. Fulton. Mr. Colden gives a pretty full history of Mr. Fulton's attempts to attack ships by diving boats and torpedoes; and of his machine to cut cables under water. The account thus given by Mr. Colden, fully sanctions the opinion, that if the plans were pursued with proper spirit, and the trifling expense attending them borne by government, until time and opportunity be given to gain experience, and to overcome the difficulties from which no new experiment is ever free, the plan would succeed; and that, to the utmost extent of Fulton's calcula
One principal difficulty he had overcome sometime before his decease by the assistance of a chemical friend in New York, well able to render him this kind of assistance; that is, the difficulty of ensuring the communication of fire to the chamber for reservoir of powder, when the lock was struck; we were present at some of those experiments, and know that the means employed were competent to the end proposed. But Fulton was a projector: he belonged to no political party: he had no political infiuence: he was merely a man of science, ardent in pursuit of schemes for the public good, which promised no benefit to influential individuals: he was listened to, and feebly encouraged: a projector is not a favourite character, and his plans fell through. The report of commodore Rodgers against them, was not warranted by the experiment that occasioned it. Fulton had explained exactly and minutely to the commodore, the whole of his plan, and all the means proposed to be taken to blow up the Argus, a vessel destined to the experiment. Commodore Rodgers having carefully made himself master of all Fulton's plans and descriptions, and of all the particulars of his intended attack with a boat and eight men, so fortified the Argus, that the boat could not approach it. Fulton not apprized of this not instructed in the means of defence proposed to be adopted-taken unawares, retreated from the attack, and commodore Rodgers reported the whole of the plan impracticable. Now, it was sufficient to show its practicability, that commodore Rodgers after being minutely instructed by Fulton himself, should be obliged to resort to these troublesome and expensive precautions; which although they were sufficient to repel the attack of one torpedo boat, would have been absolutely nugatory against half a dozen. In fact, it is too much to expect from naval commanders that they should give their approbation to a plan calcu
lated to destroy a naval force with certainty; nor are these gentlemen proper persons to be appointed judges of such an experiment. Yet under all these disadvantages, the report of commodore Rodgers stood alone. But the time will yet come when the experiment will again be made, and perhaps with all the effect that Fulton expected.
Mr. Colden is aware of the objections that have been made to Fulton on account of his applying to the executive of France and England to promote the plan of torpedo warfare. It is probable that Fulton having but one object in view, the destruction of that dreadful machine, a ship of war, which carries death and devastation to the remotest quarters of the globe, cared little whether the expense of his experiments were defrayed by France, Great Britain, or America: his object at first was not national, but meant for the promotion of the peace of the world. When America became involved in the European contests, the experiment became of more importance to his native country than to any other; and here he proposed and endeavoured to pursue it to its full effect.
We come now to that project of Fulton's which has conferred the highest honour on his name, and wherein no room is left to dispute the success of it: navigation by means of steam. This he proposed in a letter to lord Stanhope, dated 30th September, 1793, whose reply acknowledging the receipt of the letter of that date, is dated 7th October 1794. Some mistake in the trial before the legislature of New Jersey as to a copy of Fulton's letter to lord Stanhope, makes these dates worth remembering. That mistake is fully and satisfactorily cleared up by Mr. Colden, so that no doubt can now remain on the subject.
In the article steam boats in Rees's Encyclopædia, an article drawn up with great ability, the history of steam boat navigation, is given with such determined negligence of American claims upon this invention, that it can only be paralleled by the disgraceful want of notice of Mr. Hare's and M'Cloud's blow pipes in the accounts given of Dr. Clarke's pretended discoveries. Such conduct confers no credit on English fairness or veracity. But what credit can be given to British relations, after perusing the public inscriptions on the monuments of general Ross and sir Peter Parker! 'documents, purposely calculated to mislead the future historian, and which set veracity at utter defiance. To such relations we can apply no other observation than the motto to Godwin's St. Leon. The account in Rees's compilation is substantially as follows.
Captain Savary suggested the application of steam boats to ships in 1702.
Mr. Jonathan Hull, in 1736, took out a patent for towing vessels into harbour by means of a boat with paddles worked by steam: but nothing was done.
Mr. Buchanan in his treatise on propelling vessels, says that Mr. Millar of Dalwinson first actually tried to move vessels by steam. His was a double vessel moved by paddles placed in the middle: the experiment did not answer.