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SUBTES OF THE NORTHERN WATERS, COASTS AND ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC OCKAN, &c.
Mr. Joan CoCHRANE, from the Committee on Commerce, made the following report, February 18, 1861:
The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred the memorial of Perry McD. Collins, asking the aid of Congress, in order to make a thorough exploration and survey of the coasts, islands and sous of the Russian possessions, both in Asia and America, from the mouth of the Amoor River, in Asiatic Russia, to the contines of the Russian possensions in America, adjoining the possessions of Great Britain, in view of the construction of a line of telegraph, which shall unite the city of Now York, in the United States of America, and consequently tho whole of the United States, Canada and the British possessions in Amerion, with not only London, but with all the great capitals of Europe and Asia, respectfully report : That the committee have had under consideration the said memorial
, and, after mature reflection and a study of the im portance of the proposition, have been deeply impressed with its grout value to commerce.
In the first place, what is it that Mr. Collins proposen?
“The telegraphic union of Europe with America, overland, via Anintio Russia and Behring's Straits."
Can this be accomplished ? Let us see.
It is already known to practical working telegraphints, that high Intitudes add to rather than retard the electric current. During snowstorms the escape of electricity over the common wire and polo telegraph is essentially diminished ; thus, while rain and moisture are good con. ductors, snow, ice and a dry, cold atmosphere are good non-conductors or insulators ; consequently, high latitudes are favorable to the free and rapid passage of the electric current.
But in this connection we do not have to depend upon theory alone to substantiate the truth of the foregoing proposition ; we have existing lines of telegraph stretching from Berlin to Vienna, from Vienna to HL, Petersburg, from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and froin Moscow esat, waard to Perm—all to the north of 47', and as high as 60" worth latitude, Here, then, we have positive and irrefragable proof of the practicability of telegraphic communication in very high latitudes.
Being satisfied that ulegraphic communication can be successfully maintained in high latitudes, we will, in the next place, inquire me to the country over which it is proposed to construit this line, in view of its practical maintenance.
It is well known, that from MumcuW to Kamwhatka tha Kurian you ernment hoid absolute sway, and have a continual system of overlau communication, almiutely free from interruption, ) fut as the inhabitants of the whole intervening cuntry is emered. There is with the whole line a sitge bustie trive or nation. The aimustuta, th« p«uful, tho, fratri. aréhai svas vaistaised by the imperii guverunt ner this youtuwut
of country might be a profitable, a humane and a practical study of our own government in the control and government of the red tribes inhabiting the great interior of our own country, from the borders of Missouri to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
The accompanying papers indicate more precisely the different routes by which it is proposed to reach the American shore. Therefore, we do not propose to examine them in detail. We will not refrain, however, from expressing our conviction, in view of all the difficulties, physical, mechanical and experimental, that the route which involves the least amount of submerged cable should take preference. Up to the present time experience has proved that submerged cables of any great length are, practically, of no value for telegraphic purposes. Without going into lengthened or tedious detail, we have sufficient evidence of the truth of this proposition, not in isolated or unimportant cases, but in gigantic and costly efforts to unite continents.
First in time and place were the efforts to unite Europe and Africa, next Europe and America, and lastly Africa and India. All these great schemes have failed, apparently from physical difficulties; for if science, ingenuity, hardihood and indomitableness ever gained a victory by their united efforts in a great cause, we certainly should have had, ere this, telegraphic communication nearly around the earth. We all know the history of the Atlantic cable, and of other long, deep-sea cables, but perhaps the facts in regard to the Suez and Kurachee cable, or, as it is more familiarly known, " the Red Sea cable,” because quite recent, may be instructive.
The British government, being very anxious to establish telegraphic communication between her own insular shores and her far-off Indian possessions, determined either to construct or to encourage to be constructed submerged lines from England to Gibraltar, from Gibraltar to Malta, thence to Egypt and overland to Suez, from whence a cable was to stretch along the bottom of the Red Sea to Aden, along the Arabian coast to Muscat, and thence under the Arabian Sea' to the mouths of the Indus.
This gigantic work was to place Bombay, Calcutta and Singapore in the immediate and visible presence of the Foreign Office, where, in peace or in war, by night or by day, secured from friend or enemy, from accident or design, the premier and viceroy could hold council over the destinies of India, six thousand miles distant.
Under tenders to the British government a company was formed, with a capital of £1,000,000, for the construction of the line from Suez to Kurachee, in India. Five per cent. interest per annum was guaranteed by the government for fifty years upon the capital; provided, only, that the company expended the money in good faith, whether the cable proved permanently a working telegraph or not. These were the best terms the government could get; the contract was made, and the cable has been submerged; it worked for a short time, and then, like its great predecessor, the Atlantic cable, ceased to speak.
Very recent accounts tell us, that after every effort upon the part of the most able and efficient practical telegraphists, like the Atlantic cable, it has been abandoned to the fishes, and remains only as another gigantic monument to the perseverance and liberality of the English government and nation in works of public utility and national import
ance. Thus we perceive that, up to the present time, some ten thousand miles of deep-sea submerged cable has been lost or abandoned, costing, in the aggregate, not far from ten millions of dollars. We therefore consider, that without some new plan by which a telegraph can be constructed, or the application of some new principle in electricity by which the known difficulties can be overcome, Europe and America must remain as far asunder as if electricity had never been discovered, or Morsk, WHEATSTONE, AMPHERE and Siernens never had lived.
But must mankind, by the intervention of the Atlantic Ocean, be for ever barred from the advantages of this agent? We hope not.
Mr. Collins has, we think, demonstrated the practicability of the construction of a telegraph line from Moscow to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Here he was compelled to pause in the personal inspection and exploration of the proposed route, for want of adequate means to cross to the American coast. We perceive, in tracing the route over which it is proposed to construct this line of telegraph, that there are many elements of success in it, besides the fact that no very large bodies of water obstruct its pathway.
The Russian government is now engaged in pushing forward a line to the East, which has already reached Perm, one thousand miles cast of Moscow, and is to be continued to the mouth of the Amoor. This line, with its system of lateral branches, unites the whole of Europe, taps the Caspian provinces of Russia, Circassia, Georgia, Persia and British India, and, consequently, whatever telegraphic connection may exist between Europe and Africa.
Penetrating eastward through the extensive mining districts of the Ural, it leaps from town to town and city to city, until Omsk is reached, from whence a branch will penetrate to the frontier of Chinese Tartary and Kokhan, on the route of the great central caravan trade, vibrating through that immense country between Persia on the west and Manchooria on the east.
Pausing for a few moments at this point, we should take at least a hasty glance of a country which may in a few years figure as one of interest. Russia has been steadily pushing at this point to the south, until she has touched, as it were, British India; not that she lusim sim yet joined territory, but that she has tapped Indian commerco. Turkinian to the west, Thibet to the south, Bucharia, Koko-Nor and inner Mongolia to the east, all combine to make this southern central wedge, driven by Russia into the very heart of Central Anio, a point that must eventually gather around it an extended and lucrative commerce,
This central gate of inner Asia, through which the whole commerce of a vast and populous country must flow, ik renowned in hintory so the pathway of nations—the only practicable paus between Lantern and Western Asia as a central route. Through this gate the Great Mogul, Genghis, led his victorious boxtx, under the banners of a thourand chiefs, where Octai and Trock followed, and wbore Marco Polo raw an Asiatic Italy, rich in fruits and vines, wines and silks, and all the mark of wealth and luxury.
The approach of Rubria to the centre of Northern India is really a matter of interest to the civilized world, becaux it will evidently opali that Litherto maled exuntry to the knowledge of the world and us merce. It is only a little to the suth of the point yaked by the lata,
Russian-Chinese treaty that the great pioneer in Asiatic exploration, Marco Polo, passed, on his way to the court of Kublai Khan.
Yarkand is but five degrees south of the Russian post of Varnoë. Marco Polo describes the countries through which he passed on the line of Casgar, Yarkand, Hoton and Pein.
“ That these countries contain many castles and cities; that the people, besides much merchandise and manufactures, have fine gardens, vineyards and orchards, with a good supply of silk, and all necessaries in great abundance; cotton is also grown, and the artisans are most skilful; they have also many precious stones.”
In fact, Marco Polo's description of the countries passed through in these central regions make them quite a second Italy in climate and productions.
The province of Hoton alone is estimated to have (now) a population of two millions and a half. It is through this country, which is, as it were, a gate, in consequence of the approach of the Altai chain of mountains from the north and the Himalaya from the south, without uniting, that an easy passage is found from Eastern to Western Asia, and may be compared, physically, in some respects, as a means of communication with the Gila route, in traversing our continent.
At the Gila the Rocky Mountains have been broken down, while the Sierra Madre have not yet raised their formidable barriers. Now, suppose the Atlantic side had a population of some three hundred millions, and the Pacific side two hundred millions, even without rail-roads or steamboats, one could very readily conceive that there would be a very large commerce between the two sections through this pass, even if it had to be carried on the backs of animals, or even of men. But with the hardy Bactrian camel, a train of which is nearly equal to one of our great freight trains on a rail-road, the commerce would of necessity and naturally be very considerable. Such is the gate of Central Asia now.
The most southern outpost of Russia in this section is in about 43° north latitude, and 78° east longitude; Yarkand is 5° southwest ; Samerkand, Kokan and Bucharia west by south; on the high caravan route to Persia via Yarkand, Saddak and Cashmere, you reach Cabul; while through Hoton and Murgen the Koko-Nor is reached on the navigable waters of the Ho-ang-ho.
Saddak, it must be remembered, is on the waters of the Indus, and consequently on the high road to British India, and only 8° southwest of the Russian frontier. A glance at the map of Asia will at once show the importance of this gate; and if Russia should will to set up a great national fair there, an Asiatic Nijne-Novgorod would soon spring into existence.
It is not necessary to follow very closely the route proposed to be traversed by the main trunk line of telegraph; we see that it follows along the great post and caravan route, reaching from Moscow to the heart and centre of Russo-Chinese commerce at Kyachta, about four thousand miles to the east.
After leaving Omsk, we have found many towns and cities besides Irkoutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, at which point concentrates the commerce of a vast country. Irkoutsk holds the keys and unlocks all that is to the east for the west, and all that is to the west for the easta beautiful city, half barbaric, half Asiatic, where refinement and the civilization and the energy of Europe have met, subdued and utilized the fierce hordes of the Steppes.
From Irkoutsk to kyachta, and from Kyachta to Pekin, Nankeen, Shanghai, Amoy and Hong Kong, seems to be the natural route, all by land, which shall place China, from the great wall to the sea, all under magnetic influence.
From this, via the Amoor River, to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, though a new field, is one of much interest; and though but recently brought to the knowledge of the country through the report of Mr. Collins' explorations, recent events have brought it prominently before the commercial world. By the treaty between China and Russia, concluded at Pekin on the 14th November, 1860, it is provided :
“ Art. 1. Henceforth the eastern frontier between the two empires shall commence from the junction of the rivers Schilkah and Argoen, will follow the course of the river Amoor to the junction of the Ousuree with the latter. The land on the left (north) bank of the river Amoor belongs to the empire of Russia, and the territory on the right bank, (to the south,) to the junction of the river Ousuree, to the empire of China. Further on, the frontier line between the two empires, from the point of the issue of the river Sou-gat-chu, divides the Lake Hlinka, and takes the direction of the river Be-lin-ho; (Tour;) from the mouth of the river it follows the mountain range to the mouth of the river lloup-i-tou, (Houp-tou,) and from thence (that point) the mountains situated between the river Koun-choun and the sea, as far as the river Thou-men-Kiang. Along this line equally the territory on the sea-side belongs to the empire of Russia, and that to the west to the empire of China. The frontier line rests on the river Thou-men-Kiang, at twenty Chinese versts (li) above its mouth into the sea."
“On the wbole of the frontier line established by this treaty trale free of all duties or restrictions is established between the subjects of the two empires. The local authorities are bound to give special protection to such trade, and to thore who exercize it."
Free intercourse is also extended to the citizens of breathe nations, Tinia, at one stroke, the barrier of Chinese excin ivoneza has been broken dermis along the wbole Dorthern boardary, and the Amet kivet has been opened to free tra le from its stres to the way This new liberal van mercial and brandiary treaty most won *** a warfisl change in the interior eommerse th.21.62*t country.ani mnat, make the Aman kiwar a great commerciai a:h127.
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