Page images


The vast field of enterprise opened by the expansion of steam navigation, cannot fail to produce a sensation of astonishment in the minds of most individuals; and to casual and inexperienced observers of passing events, the rapid Btrides made under the direction of those who have encouraged the movement, must appear to be associated with that indomitable attempt to extend the links in the grand chain of communication, so as to embrace the whole of the civilized world within the range of what may be described as our every day occupations. The circumstance that a contract has just been concluded with the General Screw Steam Company, for a monthly communication with the Cape of Good Hope, and also the rapid progress making by the Royal West India Mail Company to complete their arrangements for starting the Brazilian line in the early part of the ensuing year, has given the subject a fresh interest in a public point of view, and affords us the opportunity of a few passing observations.

To look back at the period when the power of steam was first applied to navigation, or to trace its course in connection with the facilities it has afforded in channel conveyance or continental communication, is a task we need not impose upon ourselves. The history of the last half century is sufficient to record its achievements, and to show incoutestably the advantages which have resulted from its employment. What is now simply proposed to be done is, to inquire how far, and in what manner, our colonial possessions or distant points of intercourse have been, or are likely to be, supplied with this means of connection between themselves and the parent country, or such countries whose connection it may be considered desirable to cultivate.

It is certainly withiu the last fifteen years that fleets of steamers—the property of individual companies, supported by government contracts for performance of mail service—have covered our seas. Taking these in the order in which their importance gives them rank, we must first name the Peninsular and Oriental; secondly, the Royal West India Mail Company; thirdly, the Cunord, Halifax and Boston Company; and, fourthly, the General Screw Company. The General Steam Company, although holding a very prominent position, is more closely allied with the trade of the continent and the north of Europe, and does not, therefore come immediately within the scope of our notice. By the Peninsular and Oriental Company, the whole of the Indian route, exclusive of its Spanish and Portuguese junctions, is supplied; and from Malta, through the whole course of the voyage, even to Hong Kong, the lengthy arterial line of communication has been kept up with undeviating punctuality. The Royal Mail Steam Company has, probably, scarcely proved so fortunate in the performance of the public service assigned it The West India line has, from time to time, failed; and the Mexican mails have, through difficulties which could not be well avoided, frequently missed, or have been anticipated. These errors have, at length, been rectified, and there is now the promise of the West India and the Mexican routes being established at once, on a perfect and punctual footing. The experiment of the Brazilian line is one of no ordinary character. That it may prove successful, all who are interested in the trade of Rio, Bahia, Pernambuco and Buenos Ayrea, evidently strongly wish; since it is now alone these places that the old government packets are allowed to monopolize, much to the inconvenience of business intercommunication. Of the importance of as speedily as possible effecting a steam route to the Cape there can be no question. The powerful passive resistance to the introduction of the convict system, by the settlers, has possibly prompted Sir Horry Smith to lay representations before the government respecting it. Whatever may have been the conclusions arrived at in this matter, it is self-evident that, if the great chain is t<> be carried out with proper consideration to the wants of the mercantile community, this colony could not be omitted.

That intercommunication exists in the closest possible relationship between England and America, none will have the temerity to dispute. The Cunard Company satisfactorily establish the degree of connection between Liverpool and the ports on the seaboard of the United States. Already the laurels this company have gained are to be disputed by the American company known as Collins' line, the trips of whose vessels show a spirit of competition which will at least produce vigilance and exertion, so as to ensure in each case regularity and dispatch. Who shall profess to contemn the Bpirit of Anglo-Saxon enterprise and adventure, when it is discovered that by this means the position of two great nations, divided by the broad Atlantic, is recognized at the expiration of little less than a fortnight The extension of tteam navigation, both by England and America, it one of the great wonders of the age. The same mighty agent which, through the assistance of the rail, conveys to the remotest inland localities, with unparalleled celerity, the impressionable circumstances of the hour, carries alike, with proportionate punctuality, similar intelligence over the rough paths of the ocean, wherever encompassing the known habitable world.


The supply of steam communication to the Cape of Good Hope and the Brazils, leaves only unprovided a group of settlements which, as far as the complete absence of all such connection is concerned, renders it absolutely necessary that further delay should not be permitted. The Australian colonies deserve, and ought to be permitted to enjoy, this privilege. They stand in a progressive condition, as recent parliamentary statistics will clearly establish. The increase of population, according to an analysis of the document referred to, appears to bo, in the last ten years, as follows: New South Wales, 93 per cent; Van Diemen's Land, 69 per cent; South Australia, 286 percent; and Western Australia, 107 per cent As regards the entire population of these colonies, it may be stated that the progress has been from 170,676 souls in 1839, to 333,764 in 1848, exhibiting an augmentation of 163,088, or at the rate of 95J per cent The balance of trade in 1848 was in favor of Australia, the imports being £2,578,442, and the exports £2,854,315, while the total tonnage inwards and outwards was 694,904 tons.

Facts such as these are appreciable by the meanest comprehension. It cannot be said that the large and growing interest of the wool trade of New South Wales, does not merit the facilities sought to be obtained, or that the mining prosperity of South Australia, and the Indian trade of Western Australia, fail to require the various benefits that would inevitably spring therefrom. The question of route may be one which may have aided in deferring temporarily the practical accomplishment of the undertaking; but this should not be allowed to interfere to the extent it has, when it is so clearly to be perceived what results must follow.

India, connected from port to port by her fleet of steamers; the West Indies, in every respect, fully accommodated, even in conjunction with Mexico; England and America, hand in hand, as it were, through the medium of her hebdomadal mails; the Brazils and the Cape of Good Hope afforded ample room for their communication, Australia will, when suffered, join the throng, forming the complete bond of union created and nurtured by this fostering power. Whatever revolutions in our commercial career may succeed these changes—promoted, as they must sooner or later be, by the other branches of communication in the Atlantic and Pacific—there is little fear of their not warranting the experiments that have been attempted in our own period.—London Shipping Gazette.


The canal movements to and from Toledo for the past season exhibit a gratifying increase over those of 1850.

The account is made up to 10th November of each year. Reduced to tons the amount will be nearly as follows:—

1850. 184,000 | 1861 250,000 | Increase 66,000

tons, being over 86 per cent. The Miami Canal, connecting Cincinnati and Toledo encountered this season a new rival, for river and lake exchanges, in the Cleveland Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad. The canal has vindicated its power, by holding its own, against both the railroads connecting Cincinnati with Lake Erie at Cleveland and Sandusky city. When the latter road (Mad River,) shall be re-laid with a T rail, the tolls on the canal will have to be reduced, for many articles, to enable it to compete successfully with that road.


A company has been formed for the purpose of establishing a line of steamers from this port to Rio in the first instance. Three screw steam-ships, of from 1600 to 1700 tons, and 800 horse-power each, and with an average speed of ten knots per hour, are to be built as a beginning. There are to be branch steamers on the river Plate. The boats will call at Lisbon for passengers and fuel and the departures will be monthly. It is calculated that the whole distance will be run in thirty-five days, including the detention at Rio, which will be reached in twenty-five days. The first steamer is to be dispatched on the 21st of June, and to arrive at Rio on the 16th of July, leaving that port on the 81st, and reaching Liverpool again on the 26th of August, 1862.


[ocr errors]


One of the most interesting facts in relation to the onward course of things which characterizes the present age is, that the Viceroy of Egypt has sanctioned the project of a railroad from Alexandria to the Isthmus of Suez, by the way of Cairo. It is said that the Viceroy is able at any time to place a hundred thousand Arabs at work on the proposed route, and, as he is a very enterprising monarch, it is supposed that he * will not suffer the improvement to languish. The spirit of progress was never so active as it is at present. Every nation in Europe is exhibiting striking evidences of this fact Even the Sultan of Turkey has roused himself from the long dream in which his government has indulged, and is now busily engaged in introducing reforms from other nations in Europe. The hoary old despotisms of Asia must also renounce their torpor and decrepitude, be rejuvenated and enter on the grand career of improvement. Railways and telegraphic lines will hereafter pierce the solitudes of Oriental despotism, and open up highwaysfor the exchange of the products of mind as well as of manufactures and agriculture.



We cheerfully give place to the subjoined letter of Mr. Watson G. Haynes, well known throughout the country for his untiring devotion to the cause of improving the condition of seamen, and especially for his successful efforts to abolish the use of the lash in the United States Navy. Having devoted several years to the accomplishment of these benevolent objects, with no other resources than a 6tout heart and a strong will, Mr. Haynes has now turned his attention to the production of an article that promises not only to benefit the country, but afford him a pecuniary competency. Freeman Hunt, Esq., Editor Merchants' Magazine:

Dear Sir :—Knowing something of your knowledge of the commercial affairs of the world, and of your desire to lay before your readers information calculated to benefit them, I have taken the liberty of addressing to you a few remarks touching the growth and cultivation of the Ozieb, or Basket Willow.

From the best information I can obtain, there are from four to five million of dollars' worth of willow annually imported into this country from France and Germany. The

{>rice ranges from $100 to $130 per ton weight—the quantity imported may appear arge, and yet it iB not sufficient for the consumption. In view of this importation, and the large sums expended for willow, would it not be well for some of your wealthy readers and landholders to give a little attention to this subject. Loudon, in his Arboretum, (vol. 3.) gives an account and description of one hundred and eighty-three varieties of this plant. Knowing nothing of botany, I will confine myself exclusively to the three kinds best adapted for basket making, farming, tanning and fencing.

The S.ilix Viminalis is that specimen of all others best calculated for basket-makers. An acre of this properly planted and cultivated upon suitable soil, will yield at least two tons weight per year, costing about $35 per ton for cultivating and preparing for market.

This kind of willow, grown in this country, and sent to market free from bruises, breaks and mildew, will at all times command the highest price.

The importers (quite naturally) discountenance the idea of attempting the cultivation in this country, alleging as a reason that the flies will seriously damage the crop, and that labor is so high, it will never pay. To this I have to say, that I have growing as good a quality of willow as grown in any part of the world; that from two acres cut last year, the proceeds, clear of all expense, was the snug little sum of $333 75; and if any person requires stronger proof than this of the feasibility of growing willow profitably in this country. I can refer them to John Bevridge, Efo., of Ncwburg, N. I., and Dr. Charles W. Grant, M. D., of the same place, a practical botauist, and thoroughgoing horticulturist, who has given much time and attention to this subject, and has the best and greatest variety of willow, and the largest quantity planted, of any one in the United States. All his stock is imported, and in fine condition for propagating.

The people of England, like us at present, until the year 1808, relied entirely for their supply upon continental Europe. Their supply was cut off by the breaking out of the war between Great Britain and France, so that after that date they were compelled to rely upon their own crops, and many associations in England offered large premiums on the best productions of willow.

- The late Duke of Bedford, one of the best farmers and horticulturists of that day, gave much attention to the subject, which is rigorously prosecuted by his son, the present Duke, and brother to Lord John Russell. Hi9 grace had one specimen which is extensively planted in and about the Park at Wooburu Abbey, Woobum, Bedfordshire. In England this plant is highly prised for its beauty, rapidity of growth, out-growing all other trees, and giving a fine shade in two or three years. This is the Salix Alba, or Bedford Willow. The bark is held in high estimation for tanning; the wood for shoe-makers' lasts, boot-trees, cutting-boards, gun and pistol stocks, and house timber. The wood being fine-grained and susceptible of as fine a polish as rosewood or mahogany. An acre of this kind of wood, tenyears old, has sold in England for £155. , The next species is the Huntingdon Willow, or Salix Capua, which is also a good basket willow, and is used extensively in England for hoop poles and fencing by the farmers. Their manner of planting when for fencing, is by placing the ends of the cuttings in the ground, and then working them into a kind of trelis-work, and passing a willow withe around the tops or ends, so as to keep in shape for the first two years. They then cut the tops off yearly and sell them to the basket-makers; thus having a fence and crop from the same ground.

Another description of fence is also made from the salix capua, known in England by the name of hurdle fences, which may bo removed at the pleasure or discretion of the proprietor.

The salix alba is extensively used by retired tradesmen who build in the country, for the purpose of securing shade in a short time, and by the nobility around their fish ponds and mill dams, and along their water courses and avenues. This is the principal wood used in the manufacture of gunpowder in England. It has also been asserted by several English noblemen that their fish succeeded much better in ponds surrounded by willow (salix alba) than in waters where other trees were contiguous.

The price of cuttings in England are as follows:—1 year old, £1; 2 years old, £2; 8 years old, £4; 4 years old, £5 10s; 5 ycare old, £6 10s. For any kind of willow it requires about 12,000 cuttings to plant one acre; cuttings 3 years old will pay an interest the year after planting of about 26 per cent. The second year of at feast 50, and by the fourth year the crop ought to yield about H tons.

Capitalists are generally contented with an interest of 10 per cent per annum, while here is a business which will pay at least ten times that amount.

There are hundreds of thousands of acres of land at present in this country, not paying per cent per annum, which might be planted with willow, and would yield an immense profit.

The facts stated by me are open to all who may think proper to investigate. We send clocks, corn, flour, shoes and broom corn to England, and I can see no reason why we can't send willow there. I am fully convinced that willow may be grown profitably in this country at $50 per ton weight. It may be asked and wondered why I do not go extensively into this business myself. The question is easily answered. I have not the capital, but am getting into it as fast as my limited means will permit If I bad the means I would purchase lands and plant thousands of acres of willow; and find a ready market for it. In conclusion, I have to say, that I have no cuttings for sale myself, but that I will cheerfully give any reasonable explanation to any inquiries by letter, post paid. I am, dear sir, very respectfully,


GiREisos's Lakdimq, Putnam Co. N. Y., Dec 4, 1851.

ON THE CULTURE OF FLAX. A Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature, appointed to procure information concerning the culture of flax and the probability of its substitution for cotton in the manufacture of its cheap fabrics, report that there is no doubt that the plant can be raised abundantly in every State in the Union under proper tillage, without exhausting the Boil; and that it is but reasonable to conclude, from recent developments, that flax may soon be adopted to a considerable extent, as a substitute for cotton, in the manufacture of the class of fabrics referred to. It is affirmed that not less than 46,000 acres of land in the State of New York were sown with flax in 1849.


The subject of cultivating the Beet-root, with a view to the manufacture of Sugar, is now engrossing a good deal of public attention. Ireland is said, by Mr. Sullivan, the chemist to the Museum of Iribh industry in Dublin, to possess great capabilities for the production of Beet root in large quantities, and of very superior qualities—the Irish root possessing at least as much saccharine matter as that of France or Germany. The statistics of beet-root sugar are very curious and instructive. In 1841, the production of this article in Europe was estimated at 55,000 tons; in 1847, it was said to be 100,000 tons, and in 1850, it is calculated to be 190,000 tons. The manufacture is said to be rapidly increasing, and realizing a great profit to those who are engaged in it. We see no reason why it should not be prosecuted as favorably in Ireland as in Bussia, Prussia, Belgium and France, the countries at present most largely engaged in its production.


Fbeeman Hcnt, Esq., Editor of the Merchants' Magazine, etc:

This valuable vegetable fiber is at the present moment attracting much attention on account of many advantages to be derived from its capability of being spun upon cotton, wool and silk, and Chevalier Claussen's patent for converting flax into flaxen cotton, bids fair to create a new era in this branch of domestic industry.

The flax or linen crops offers great advantages to the farmer, who will ere long make a good use of them; the flax or linen fiber, by the new process, may be pulled when quite ripe and yellow, so as to allow the seed to be recovered, which can be employed either for planting again or for obtaining the linseed oil and linseed cake; the straw may, within three hours after being gathered, be converted into the proper material for linen manufactures ; its long fiber may then be scutched and adapted for spinning on cotton machinery. Yarn may be spun on cotton machinery either alone or mixed in various proportions with the Southern cotton, whereby it receives the name of Flax Cotton ; or it may be mixed with wool in all proportions, and is then called Flax Wool, from which flannels, fine cloth, dyed in various colors, may be obtained. If the flax fibre is mixed with silk, it is called Flax Silk, and a yarn may be obtained from it All these applications deserve the serious attention of the agriculturist and manufacturer as well as the merchant.

The annual imports into the United States of linen manufactures is about $6,000,000

Flaxseed from Calcutta and Russia,, t 1,000,000

linseed oil, from England and Holhind, 1,600,000

The soil in this country is very apt to grow the flax, and of better quality than in Europe. The manufactured products of the flax are to the farmer and manufacturer equally profitable, and enhance as much the value over the raw material as the raw cotton does to its fabrics; nay, more, linen can be obtained at a much less price from the flax than cotton goods from the raw material The flax cotton is prepared with but a trifling expense, and made as white, soft and fine as any cotton, in fact of a richer and more glossy silk-like appearance, which can be spun into very fine yarns, as cheaply as cotton; now, if we consider the price, it is decidedly in favor of linen or flax; it does not exceed seven cents per pound when manufactured; white cotton leaves no margin at this price to the planter or manufacturer. It is well known that the seed of the flax is a profitable branch of husbandry; a few years ago I purchased the seed in Cincinnati for 60 cents a bushel; one bushel of seed will yield two gallons of linseed oil; at the present rate of foreign linseed oil, 68 cents per gallon would yield a profit of 82 cents for each bushel, independent of the linseed cake, which is worth nearly 25 cents to the bushel of seed.

The states of New York, Ohio, Ulinois, Missouri and Iowa are now making efforts to produce flax, and save the seed, and from all indications flax will become as important a staple to the Northern and Western states as the cotton is to the Southern states; less liable to such fluctuations in price than cotton. Having been present in the new establishment at Stepney Green, London, and passed personally the raw flax through all its stages from the straw to the flax cotton, and brought with me the samples of each process, I can speak advisedly on the subject, and feel satisfied that the .process patented by the Chevalier Claussen is the simplest, best and most expditious, and superior to any other existing; it is called the chemical process, for the reason that a chemical action is required to split the fiber, which is accomplished by the ac

« PreviousContinue »