« AnteriorContinuar »
houses and three temples, as stated by M. Caillaud, he could find no more than 87 scattered houses, or rather cells, the greater number of which did not exceed ten feet square, built with unhewn stones, and without cement; and the only appearance of a temple was a niche in the rock, without inscription or sculpture of any kind : there was no land for cultivation, nor any water within twenty-four miles; no communication with the sea but by a rough road over the mountains of twenty-five miles, and the shore was so covered with projecting rocks for twenty or thirty miles on each side, that there was no security even for the smallest boats, much less for ships trading to India. These, therefore, he was quite certain, could not be the remains of Berenice.
As, however, the site of this celebrated city had been fully described by the ancient writers, Mr. Belzoni determined to prosecute his researches; and at the end of twenty days, he discovered, close to the shore, the extensive ruins of an ancient city near the Cape Lepte Extrema, the Ras el Auf of the present day; the projection of which forms an ample bay,(now named Foul Bay,) having, at the bottom, an excellent harbour for vessels of small burden. These ruins, which are, beyond question, those of the celebrated emporium founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, were four days' journey from the rude cells of the quarrymen or miners, which M. Caillaud is stated to have so strangely mistaken for the magnificent vestiges of the ancient Berenicè. Several wells of bitter water were found among the ruins; and between them and the mountains was an extensive plain fit for cultivation. The remains of more than 3,000 houses were counted, about the centre of which were those of a temple with sculptured figures and hieroglyphics. The temple alone was built of calcareous stone; the materials of the houses consisting of coral rock and other beautiful petrifications; a mixture of Greek and Egyptian remains was observable both in the ruins of the temple and the houses.
Before we quit the subject of Mr. Belzoni, we shall just mention that, previously to his leaving Egypt, he made a tour to El Wah (the bushes), the northern Oasis. He found, as Hornemann had done, the tops of the hills of the desert encrusted with salt, and wells of sweet water rising out of a surface overspread with masses of salt; as Herodotus related two and twenty centuries ago. He found also the remains of what has been considered as the Temple of Jupiter Ammon; but the natives were as jealous and as unwilling to let him see this work of the infidels,' as Hornemann had found them to be. The fine rivulet of sweet water, whose source this traveller describes as being in a grove of date trees, and which Brown was told by the people was sometimes cold and sometimes warm,' was also visited by Mr. Belzoni; who says he proved the truth of what is stated by Herodotus, that this spring is warm in the mornings and evenings, much more so at midnight, and cold in the middle of the day. He procured some of the water, which he means to send to London to be analysed. Had Mr. Belzoni possessed a thermometer, he would have found that it was the temperature of the air which had changed, while that of the Fountain of the Sun' remained the same. The fact, however, of the great change of temperature in the twenty-four hours, which is always the case where beds of nitre are found, adds another to the many wonderful instances adduced of the minute attention and accurate observation of the most ancient and valuable writer of profane history.
Art. IV. 1. Report from the Select Committee on the Highways
of the Kingdom, together with the Minutes of Evidence taken
before them. pp. 58. 2. A Practical Essay on the scientific Repair and Preservation
of Public Rouds,-presented to the Board of Agriculture by
John Loudon M'Adam, Esq. pp. 18. 3. Remarks on the present System of Road Making, with Obser
vations deduced from Practice and Experience, &c. By John Loudon M‘Adam, Esq. General Surveyor of the Roads in
the Bristol District. pp. 47. 4. An Essay on the Construction of Roads and Carriages. By
Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Esq. F.R.S. M.R.L.A. 5. A Practical Treatise on the making and upholding of Pub
lic Roads, with a few Remarks on forming Approaches to Gentlemen's Houses ; and a Dissertation on the Utility of Broad Wheels and other Improvements. By James Paterson, Road
Surveyor, Montrose. A MONG the various branches of rural economy which claim
the attention of the public, the state of the roads is not one of the least important. All classes of his Majesty's subjects, from the driver of the barouche and four down to the humble cottager who, on the Saturday evening, trudges to the nearest markettown for her weekly supply of tea and sugar, are interested in performing their respective journies with as much facility as possible.
The increased population and internal commerce of the country, of course occasion an increased wear of the roads, which, in a variety of instances, are still further deteriorated by circumstances of a local nature. Inclosures, paradoxical as at first sight it may appear, have, we believe, in some cases produced this effect. While the greater part of any given district was in a state of uncultivated nature, the inhabitants maintained one or two formed
roads in the most important lines of communication, and in other directions took what track they chose, as a Calmuck over his steppe, or a La Platan over his savanna; while the labour and money appropriated to such purposes were applied entirely to the more favoured routes. When, however, in lieu of these common tracks, the high powers of an Inclosure act substituted regularly constructed highways, the road-revenue of the district, as well as the attention of the surveyor, was divided between several lines of road, instead of being concentrated upon one or two. Of inclosures indeed we would speak respectfully, not only as an improvement in other points of view, but as usually facilitating the intercourse between place and place. Canals are an improvement (if we may be guilty of the solecism) of a more questionable nature. One of the advantages which we were taught to expect from them, was the preservation of the roads, by the substitution of water-carriage for all heavy commodities. That this has in some degree been the case, we by no means deny. In particular districts however the effect has been the reverse, as the carriage of corn to the several wharfs, and of coal, stone, and slate from them, has contributed much to destroy the roads in their neighbourhood. In the case of turnpike-roads indeed, the increase of toll may nearly compensate the increase of wear; but to individual parishes, the expense arising from this wharf-traffic has in some instances that have come to our knowledge been enormous.
After all, we would not be understood as contending that the roads of the kingdom are worse than they were ten or twenty years ago; on the whole, perhaps, they are better. It admits of no dispute, however, that they are, generally speaking, bad, and infinitely worse than they would be if the laws for their maintenance were carried into effectual execution; or if the reparations of them were conducted by men of skill and activity: we congratulate, therefore, all the advocates for safe and expeditious travelling,' on the increasing influence of the system of Mr. M‘Adam. Mr. M‘Adam indeed appears to us to be the very Dr. Bell of road-makers. In both gentlemen we see the same zeal for the promotion of a useful object, the same activity of mind and body, the same disregard of personal inconvenience and fatigue. We may add, as another feature of resemblance, that many of the practices of each of these gentlemen had been previously adopted in a variety of instances, but that it required zeal and perseverance like theirs to recommend the entire system to the attention of the public. Increased experience has, with both of them, had the effect of strengthening their conviction of the excellence of their respective systems in general; while it has rendered them more diffident upon some of the minor VOL. XXIII. NO. XLV.
details, details. Mr. M'Adam, in bis memorial to the Board of Agriculture, says,
• Of that part of the system which relates to the construction of the roads and the appointment of general-surveyors of districts, the inemorialist speaks with that confidence which is the result of experience ;'but he adds, that, ' having now felt the difficulties of a profession, requiring much statistical information and practical knowledge of country work, with the regular habits of business, the estimation of his own abilities as a road-maker has been much lowered.'— Many things,' he says, “ which appeared proper in theory, were found unprofitable in practice; and others of obvious utility have been rendered difficult of execution from the obstacles of prejudice and ignorance.'
Dr. Bell has not, so far as we know, made a similar avowal in words, but lie has in fact;—by the many changes, which, to the no small discomtiture of distant country schoolmasters, he has so rapidly introduced in his rules and instructions, which were once supposed to be as unalterable as those of the Medes and Persians.
It is a fortunate coincidence that Mr. M‘Adam's system has attracted so much notice, at a time when employment for the labouring classes is become an object of most anxious inquiry; as it is to be executed by the labour of men, rather than by that of horses; and its operations are to be carried on principally in the winter, when the deficiency of work for the agricultural poor is most pressing. We certainly are desirous of contributing our humble assistance to the promotion of such desirable objects. The treatises of Mr. M'Adam, (whom we must be permitted to consider as an adopted Englishman,) Mr. Edgeworth, and Mr. Paterson enable us to lay each part of the united kingdom under contribution for materials; while the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons gives us something like the collective wisdom of the empire.
We have before us two publications by Mr. M'Adarn. The first, which was pretty widely circulated last summer by the Board of Agriculture, consists principally of Instructions for the repair of old roads; the second contains remarks on the mode of making roads; on commissioners and their officers, and on the care of the finances.
Mr. Paterson's is a neatly printed little volume, written in a style which the nature of the subject and the modest pretensions of the author preclude us froin criticizing. Mr. Edgeworth's treatise has been long before the public. It is the work of a man of science, combined with much practical knowledge of his subject. The greater part of this volume consists of remarks on wheel carriages, accompanied with an account of some very ingenious and accurate experiments for ascertaining their relative facilities of draught. The remarks on road-making, which were, we believe, first published eleven or twelve years ago, are sensible and judicious.
The Report of the Committee of the House of Commons (which confessedly originated in the improvements effected by Mr. M'Adam) is drawn up with much care, and attention to the interesting body of evidence on which it is grounded. From this evidence we shall make a few extracts; and then, from the mass of materials before us, endeavour to digest into one view some of the leading principles in the art of road-making.
The first witness examined is Charles Johnson, Esq., superintendent of mail-coaches under the Postmaster-General. He states that there is great want of skill io forming the road and keeping it in repair, particularly near London ;'— that the whole town of Egham had been covered with gravel unsifted, eight or nine inches deep from side to side; of which the consequence was, that the Exeter mail lost ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes every night.'-He adds, 'we were given afterwards to understand, that the commissioners had put this particular road under the care of Mr. M'Adam, and at this time I have no sort of occasion whatever to complain of it.
He is followed by four of the principal coach proprietors in and near London. These gentlemen all concur in their opinion of the badness of the roads near the metropolis,-in complaining of their too great convexity, and of the unskilful manner in which the materials are applied. They all concur, too, in praising Mr. M‘Adam. It may be interesting to that portion of our readers, who avail themselves occasionally of the facilities of locomotion furnished by these useful members of society, to give some of the facts detailed in their evidence.
Mr. Waterhouse, whose vehicular head-quarters are at the Swan with Two Necks, keeps 400 horses; those worked within 50 miles of London (which cost on the average £:30 each) last about four years; those at a greater distance (costing £15 each) six years. He
says that eight horses on the more distant roads would perform as many miles as ten nearer London; that ihree horses would draw the mail on Mr. Telford's roads in North Wales with as much ease as four on the road from London to Dunchurch
-the excellence of Mr. Telford's roads consisting principally in the smallness of their convexity. Mr. Horne of Charing Cross also keeps 400 horses: he buys 150 every year;-those worked near London last but three years; those at a greater distance double the tinie, in consequence of their work being lighter, their food better, and their lodging more airy. Mr. Eames (of the White Horse, Fetter Lane) keeps about 300 horses : he finds them last three years in post