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Austria, and France, bordering on the Mediterranean and Black Sea, are the only important parts for the projected Indian trade by the Suez Canal. Yet all the Mediterranean provinces in Asia, Africa, and Europe, put together, do not consume one-eighth of the produce annually exported from India and China in American, English, Dutch, and Hanseatic bottoms.
M. Lesseps estimates this trade at one hundred millions of pounds sterling per annum, and the tonnage it occupies, at six millions. Of this amount, he boldly vindicates hulf as the minimum for his Ship Canal, and bases thereon the rentability of his scheme. But before I touch this matter, I will review the nautical part of my proposed theme--the Suez Canal.
In the winter of 1842–43, I made the voyage from Singapore to Hamburg, estimated at about 14,000 miles, in exactly four months' time, with a “ Hambro” bark of no extraordinary sailing qualities. We passed the Sunda Strait with the northeast monsoon, and steered from thence, assisted by the eastern trade-wind, in a direct course to the Cape land. In the vicinity of Madagascar, a gale of wind occasioned a heavy damage in our rigging, which it cost three days' time to repair before we could proceed on our voyage, and three days more we lost in Capetown. From this latter place, the southeastern trade-wind carried the vessel, in a direct course, past St. Helena and Ascension, to the height of Madeira, where we encountered variable winds. In the channel, westerly winds are rather more frequent, but still not so much as in the Strait of Gibraltar, where vessels very often are detained for weeks together, waiting for a favorable change of wind.
In July, 1843, I left Bremenhaven, on board a 150-ton schooner brig belonging to that port, en route for the Red Sea and Egypt Down to Funchal, the voyage was rather tedious; but from thence to the equator, easterly winds advanced us at a rate of 160 miles in 24 hours. We passed the line in 22° west of Greenwich, at an equal distance from both continents, so as to escape the calms which in these regions are so frequent and tedious in the vicinity of the land. From thence we approached the Brazilian coast to enter the western trade-wind, and descended in a slanting line towards the Cape of Good Hope, which we passed in about 42-3° south, continually assisted by the western trade-wind, by which we made, for 18 days in succession, without ever changing sails, from 204 to 206 miles in 24 hours. From the western trade-wind, steering north, we entered the eastern trade-wind, and finally the south west monsoon, but rather late in the season, else we would have had a fine run the whole distance up to Socotra.
The average run of a vessel of ordinary sailing qualities, both waysto and from India, as I experienced-may be set down at 120 miles in 24 hours.
Let us compare now the passage from Ilavre to Singapore, round the Cape of Good Hope, with the one from Marseilles to Singapore, through the proposed Suez-Pelasium Ship Canal, in order to illustrate the truism, that in navigation the straight line is not always the shortest-a fact of which M. Lesseps seems not aware. The distance from Havre to Singapore, by the Cape, may be set down at 13,500 miles, and the sailing time for an ordinary sailing craft, say at 112 days; whereas the distance from Marseilles to Singapore, on the straight line through the Red Sea, is but 7,000 miles.
The distance from Marseilles to Pelasium is about 1,600 miles. On account of the northerly winds in the Gulf of Lyons, and the western between Gibraltar and Cape Bonn, the average term of the voyage from Marseilles to Pelasium may be set down at 20 days, whereas 30 days in the contrary direction are hardly sufficient. The length of the canal will be about 100 miles, and the time to pass through, with the formalities to perform, will occupy 3 days.
In the port of Alexandria vessels are often detained from three to six weeks by contrary winds, which it would be rather dangerous to encounter in the back corner of the Mediterranean, where the ports of Alexandria and Suda, in Candia, are the only refuges available. But I will take no notice here of the more than probable loss of time to which sailing vessels coming from India night be exposed in Pelusium.
From Suez to Bab-el-Mandeb the distance is exactly 1,200 miles. The northern part of the Red Sea is swept by northerly winds nine months out of twelve; the southern part, on the contrary, has eight months south, (aseeab,) and four months north, (shamal,) wind. The worst is, these winds blow with few and but short interruptions, and make the navigation in this narrow sea very tiresome. From Bab-el-Mandeb to Suez, and vice versa, 25 days may be considered a good average run for a common sailing vessel ; of course, a clipper would do better, and would be more appropriate for such voyages in general.
The Guf of Aden, from Bab-el-Mandeb to Socotra, is 600 miles. The wind here is constantly east, but the current is in the contrary direction. If four days are sufficient to reach Bab-el-Mandeb from Socotra, eight are hardly suflicient on the return. From Socotra to Singapore the distance is about 3,500 miles, which, with the favorable monsoon, may easily be performed in 35 days; whereas against it, twice this time is hardly sufficient-proof, the English mail steamers, which perform the distance from Bombay to Aden, with the monsoon, in 7 days, and against it, in 12 and more.
From the preceding, it appears that the Suez-Pelusium Canal, in the performance of the 7,000 miles between Singapore and Marseilles, will hardly save 18 days on the Singapore-Havre route, round the Cape. This, of course, is understood with the monsoon to aid ; against it, the shorter distance would prove the longer passage of the two. As the monsoon changes every six months, many vessels which entered by the Red Sea might find it convenient even to return by the Cape; this would reduce still the number of the few customers to the projected canal.
That no sailing vessel from the United States, nor from England, Holland, or Germany-nay, even from Cadiz or Gibraltar, will ever dream of shortening the passage to Calcutta, Singapore, or Canton, by Lesseps' canal, will now be understood.
The average run of common sailing vessels in the Mediterranean mar be set down at 55 miles in 24 hours, and in the Red Sea, at 48. For the whole voyage from Marseilles to Singapore, with the southwest monsoon, the average run would be 70, and against the northeast monsoon, hardly 60 miles; whereas, as before stated, the average of the passage round the Cape of Good Hope reaches 120 miles. Then the chance, alluded to before, of having the vessel wind-bound at Pelasium for weeks together, makes the apparent economy of 18 days rather illusory.
The idea expressed by M. Lesseps in his memoir on the Suez Canal,
that the insurance companies would reduce the premiums for the shorter passage at least by half per cent, looks erroneous; and I should not wonder if, on the contrary, they would charge more, on account of the greater risks in the narrow Arabian Gulf and in the Mediterranean, than in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Calculating freight at $15 per ton for the 112 days' passage from Singapore to Havre, this will bring $12 50 for the 94 days' passage from Singapore to Marseilles, leaving $2 50 per ton apparent economy in favor of the latter passage.
Now, M. Lesseps intends to charge for passage through the canal, $2 per ton; and for anchorage and transit duty of the Egyptian government, 50 cents more must be calculated, which would absorb, to a fraction, the apparent economy of $2 50, as above stated.
Also, there is no economy of time or expenses suflicient to induce foreign shipping from outside the Mediterranean, i. e., sailing vessels, to patronize the new water communication--nay, it remains even to be proved practically that the merchants of Trieste, Genoa, or Marseilles will be able to draw Indian goods, by way of the Red Sea, as cheap as their rivals in the North, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. At all events, they will never be able to compete with them north of the Alps and in western Europe. This would reduce the participation of the Suez Canal shareholders in the Indo-Chinese trade to "half of the half” of M. Lesseps' estimate, to use an Oriental mode of expression adapted to the circumstance.
The shorter passage may be compared to an Oriental highroad-interesting, romantic, and all that, but carriages are not expected to pass; the longer way round the Cape of Good Hope, on the contrary, may be compared to a prosaic railway, where distance is of but little consideration.
The “Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez" offers75 per cent of the profits to the shareholders, who will lose their titles in
99 years. 15 per cent to the Egyptian government, which has to furnish, gratis, the
land and the stones; and 10 per cent to the directors of the enterprise, who hatched the scheme, and will lose nothing.
M. Lesseps estimates the cost of the canal, in round numbers, at forty millions of dollars, or two hundred millions of francs, and the shipping expected to pass through it, at three millions of tons, for which he charges $2 per ton
$6,000,000 Ten cents for anchorage, makes ................................... 300,000 Por passage of river boats on the branch canal from the Nile, say .....
300,000 For the produce of the tract of (desert) land to be ceded by the Egyptian government, he calculates not less than ............
1,339,200 Total of the gross proceeds of the canal...
$7,939,200 The projector avoids in his last figures the round numbers, probably to make their accuracy more plausible to the multitude; but the few acquainted with the real state of matters in Egypt, know that there are not hands enough for the cultivation of the arable lands, and that such an
income, from a tract of desert land in Egypt, is consequeutly but moonshine.
M. Lesseps has a great propensity for rounding off numbers, which proves that with him all is but guess-work, so he augments the gross proceeds to $8,000,000, and divides this amount according to the agreement, as follows: $2,000,000, i. e., 5 per cent interest on the capital, forming three-fourths
of the profits belonging to the shareholders. 4,000,000, 10 per cent dividend. 1,200,000, 3 per cent to the Egyptian government.
800,000, 2 per cent to himself and his associates.
The projector forgets here to deduct first, the expenses of administration and of maintevance in navigable state both the canal and its approaches from the sea-an item of considerable importance, as will be seen afterwards.
To judge from the precedents of the hydraulic engineer employed in this work, neither the estimate of the time nor of the cost he gives can be relied on; still I will give to him the benefit of his own estimate, viz., six years' time and $40,000,000 cost, and will turn my attention now to the rentability of the enterprise-a chapter which the mercantile reader more readily will appreciate.
As the Mediterranean markets offer no chance for the greater part of the staple products of India and China—say for tea, silk, rice, and linseed, and a very limited chance only for cotton, indigo, sugar, and spicesfurther, as they have neither coal, iron, lumber, naval stores, provisions, nor manufactures, in return, one-eighth of the tonnage at present employed in the Indo-Chinese trade, according to M. Lesseps' statement, would be fully enough. But, nevertheless, I will go to one-fifth of the 6,000,000 of tons-say To tons, 1,200,000, at $2.......
$2,400,000 For anchorage, as before, at 10 per cent, say .....
120,000 For passage of Nile boats on the branch canal, but..
80,000 Nothing the first six years for the tract of land to be ceded by the gov
Thus, the annual gross proceeds of the canal will be reduced to........
10 per cent.................................................
Which leaves for net proceeds the sum of ......................... $2,840,000
This amonnt, divided in the same ratio as before, shows the following profits :$1,755,000 i. e., 4 per cent for interest and dividends to the shareholders. 351,000
per cent, rent to the Egyptian government; and 234,000
per cent, plenty still to the directors. Should the giant moles and artificial ports of the Suez-Pelasium Canal cost $100,000,000, instead of $40,000,000, as estimated by M. Lesseps, then the 47 per cent of the shareholders will dwindle down to if per cent; and if the keeping in repair of these stupendous works arrives to anything like a proportionate figure, then the shareholders' pittance will shrink in altogether.
By private letters of the 19th of April last from Alexandria, I am informed that Sayd Pacha has become a subscriber to this canal stock for the sum of $400,000, and his courtiers and contractors in Alexandria and Cairo, for $7,600,000 more.
The principal object of the branch canal from the Nile, is to provide Suez with fresh water; but it seems, it is sought to make Suez also a grain market. Mecca and Medina, the holy cities, receive annually large supplies of grain from the Nile valley, by way of Kossier, the port of Esneh, and Kenneh. These markets are out of reach of the influence of European markets; grain is therefore always 40 to 50 per cent cheaper there than in the Delta; also, transport on camels' backs is very cheap in Upper Egypt; it amounts to but $2 per ton between Kenneh and Kossier
-probably less than the transport, say from Mansoora to Suez, canal charges included, would cost. It is therefore quite preposterous to believe that Suez, under such circumstances, will become the grain market for the holy cities.
Sayd Pacha, to humor the fanaticism of the Egyptians, restored the old Turkish dress in his army-an act which has been objected to formally by the Sultan, but as yet without effect. Sayd Pacha is decided to have his own will; he shows resistance to the Sultan's command, also, by augmenting his army, and especially by collecting an army of 80,000 men round Alexandria.
Art. IV.-DEDUCTIONS FROM PRUSSIAN VITAL STATISTICS.
The following deductions have been calculated from official documents furnished by the Prussian government to the English Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Those documents were published in the Sixth Report of the Registrar-General in England, a copy of which Report was obtained from the valuable statistical and mathematical library belonging to the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts : Population of Prussia at the end of the year 1840.................... 14,928,501 Increase of population during the three years 1838-39-40............. 830,376 Excess of births over deaths during the three years 1838-39-40 ....... 486,937
Leaving, of increase of population unaccounted for by excess of births over deaths, 343,439, which is 41.36 per cent of the total increase. The published Abstracts give no immigration nor emigration statistics. Appual rate of increase of population deduced from the numbers liv.
ing at the end of the years 1837 and 1840 ............. per cent 2 1.93 Annual rate of increase in the number of births deduced from the
numbers born in 1836-7-8 and those in 1839-40-41............. 1$ 1.55 Annual rate of increase in the number of deaths deduced from the nurnberg born in 1836-7-8 and those in 1839-40-41.............
1.64 Annual rate of increase of the excess of births over deaths deduced
from a comparison of the excess of 1836-7-8 with the excess of 1839-40-41.....
.......... 11 1.54 Proportion of annual marriages during the two years 1840-41 "
to the population at the end of 1840, 1 per cent, (.899) or..... 1 in 111 Average annual pumber of persons married during the same pe. riod, 2 per cent, (1.80) of population, or.....
or................... 1 in 56 Average annual number of births, still-born included, of the two
years 1840-41, 3.95 per cent of population, or............... 1 in 25 VOL. XXXV.-NO. I.