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been partially obviated by the overland route
opened up by the ill-rewarded Waghorn.
The western barrier has yet to be broken

Now that we can shake hands with Brother
Jonathan in twelve days by means of weekly
steamers; travel from one end of Great
Britain to another, or from the Hudson to the
Ohio, as fast as the wind, and make our words
dance to distant friends upon the magic tight
wire a great deal fasternow that the European
and Columbian Saxon is spreading his
children more or less over all the known
habitable world: it seems extraordinary that
the simple expedient of opening a twenty-
eight mile passage between the Pacific and
Atlantic Oceans, to save a dangerous voyage
of some eight thousand miles, has not been
already achieved. In this age of enterprise
that so simple a remedy for so great an evil
should not have been applied appears
astonishing. Nay, we ought to feel some shame
when we reflect that evidences in the
neighbourhood of both Isthmuses exist of such
junctions having existed, in what we are
pleased to designate ' barbarous ' ages.

Does nature present insurmountable
engineering difficulties to the Panama scheme?
By no means: for after the Croton aqueduct,
our own railway tunnelling and the Britannia
tubular bridge, engineering difficulties have
become obsolete. Are the levels of the Pacific
and the Gulph of Mexico, which should be
joined, so different, that if one were admitted
the fall would inundate the surrounding
country? Not at all. Hear Humboldt on
these points.

Forty years ago he declared it to be his firm
opinion that ' the Isthmus of Panama is suited
to the formation of an oceanic canalone
with fewer sluices than the Caledonian Canal
capable of affording an unimpeded passage,
at all seasons of the year, to vessels of that
class which sail between New York and Liverpool,
and between Chili and California.' In
the recent edition of his ' Views of Nature,'
he ' sees no reason to alter the views he has
always entertained on this subject.'
Engineers, both British and American, have
confirmed this opinion by actual survey.
As, then, combination of British skill, capital,
and energy, with that of the most 'go-ahead'
people upon earth, have been dormant,
whence the secret of the delay? The answer
at once allays astonishment:—Till the present
time, the speculation would not have ' paid.'

Large works of this nature, while they
create an inconceivable development of
commerce, must have a certain amount of a
trading population to begin upon. A gold-
beater can cover the effigy of a man on
horseback with a sovereign; but he must
have the sovereign first. It was not merely
because the full power of the iron rail to
facilitate the transition of heavy burdens had
not been estimated, and because no Stephenson
had constructed a ' Rocket engine,' that a
railway with steam locomotives was not
made from London to Liverpool before
1836. Until the intermediate traffic between
these termini had swelled to a sufficient
amount in quantity and value to bear
reimbursement for establishing such a mode of
conveyance, its execution would have been
impossible, even though men had known how
to set about it.

What has been the condition of the
countries under consideration? In 1839, the
entire population of the tropical American
isthmus, in the states of central America
and New Grenada did not exceed three
millions. The number of the inhabitants
of pure European descent did not
exceed one hundred thousand. It was only
among this inconsiderable fraction that
anything like wealth, intelligence, and enterprise,
akin to that of Europe, was to be found; the
rest were poor and ignorant aboriginals and
mixed races, in a state of scarcely demi-
civilisation. Throughout this thinly-peopled and
poverty-stricken region, there was neither
law nor government. In Stephens's ' Central
America,' may be found an amusing account
of a hunt after a government, by a luckless
American diplomatist, who had been sent to
seek for one in central America. A night
wanderer running through bog and brake
after a will-o'-the-wisp could not have
encountered more perils, or in search of a
more impalpable phantom. In short, there
was nobody to trade with. To the south
of the Isthmus, along the Pacific coast of
America, there was only one station to
which merchants could resort with any fair
prospect of gainValparaiso. Except Chili,
all the Pacific states of South America were
retrograding from a very imperfect civilisation,
under a succession of petty and aimless
revolutions. To the north of the Isthmus
matters were little, if anything, better. Mexico
had gone backwards from the time of its
revolution; and, at the best, its commerce in
the Pacific had been confined to a yearly
ship between Acapulco and the Philippines.
Throughout California and Oregon, with the
exception of a few European and half-breed
members, there were none but savage
aboriginal tribes. The Russian settlements in the
far north had nothing but a paltry trade in furs
with Kamschatka, that barely defrayed its own
expenses. Neither was there any encouragement
to make a short cut to the innumerable
islands of the Pacific. The whole of
Polynesia lay outside of the pale of civilisation.
In Tahiti, the Sandwich group, and the
northern peninsula of New Zealand,
missionaries had barely sowed the first seeds
of morals and enlightenment. The limited
commerce of China and the Eastern
Archipelago was engrossed by Europe, and took
the route of the Cape of Good Hope, with
the exception of a few annual vessels that
traded from the sea-board States of the
North American Union to Valparaiso and