Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of

The whole length of the road, from Baltimore to Pittsburg, will be about 330

miles. The most difficult and expensive portion of this railroad has, we believe, been already completed : it extends from Baltimore to a place on the Potomac river called the Point of Rocks, a distance of seventy miles. It consists of a double track; and it appears, by the reports quoted at the head of this article, that on the 1st December, 1831, the communication was opened between Baltimore and the city of Frederick, and has been continued without interruption since that time. The communication between the Point of Rocks and Baltimore commenced on the 1st April, 1832. The directors state, in their seventh report, dated in October 1833, that they are justified in assuring the stockholders of their entire confidence in the final success of the work ; that the practicability of applying steam power upon it had been satisfactorily ascertained ; and that new sources

revenue, not contemplated by the original projectors, had been developed, by the opening of adjacent quarries, and the felling of forests, the products of which have become objects of transport upon the railroad. They had entered into a compromise with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, to carry the railway along the bank of that canal, to a place called Harper's Ferry; which distance, it was calculated, would be completed by the 1st of January, 1835. This section of the road, communicating with the Winchester and Potomac railroad, which likewise terminates at Harper's Ferry, opens a continued railroad communication between Baltimore and the rich valley of Virginia. The thriving and enterprising town of Winchester would thus be likewise connected with Baltimore ; nor would it be too much to anticipate that the line of communication would be continued by Stanton, in a south-westerly direction, to the cotton districts of Tennessee; finding its way to the tributaries of the Ohio, and connecting, by a grand line of communication, the waters of the Atlantic with those which empty themselves through the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the autumn of 1830 was commenced a line of railroad, extending from Baltimore to the town of York, in Pennsylvania, a distance of seventy miles. This road is formed of wooden string pieces, shod with iron rails, two inches broad, and half an inch thick.

In 1831 was commenced a line of railroad to connect the northern and southern states, commencing at Petersburg, in Virginia, and terminating at Wolden, on the Roanoke. The structure is similar to that of the last-mentioned line.

The South Carolina railroad was commenced in the autumn of 1830, and nearly 100 miles of the line were completed in 1833. The road extends from the city of Charleston to the town of

[ocr errors]

Hamburg, situate on the Savannah, opposite to Augusta. This is a single line of road 1354 miles in length. The plan is nearly straight, and the undulations extremely gentle; no slope exceeding thirty feet in a mile, with the exception of one inclined plane, which is worked by a stationary engine. The rails are flat iron bars, attached to strong wooden beams. These beams are supported throughout almost the whole length of the road on piles driven into the ground, secured also by strong ties. In some of the marshes which are crossed by the road, these piles are driven to a great depth. On this road there are but few embankments; the valleys being almost invariably crossed by viaducts supported by piles and carpentry. In fact, the railway is described as resembling a continuous bridge. Locomotive engines have been for some time worked on this road. It is intended that this great line of communication shall be continued from Augusta to the Tennessee river, a distance of about 230 miles.

In our enquiries regarding the American Railroad Companies, we have been struck by the public spirit and candour which characterise the proceedings of our Transatlantic countrymen. This is especially conspicuous when we compare the meagre statements put forth by the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad Directors, with the copious and satisfactory reports published by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. The reports now before us, published between the years 1828 and 1833, occupy upwards of a thousand octavo pages, illustrated with numerous plans and tables. In these we find not merely the formal reports of the directors, but also the detailed reports of the engineers, and of the subordinate engineers to the engineers in chief. We find also the most minute details of the various contracts, with the names of the contractors. These details are not merely submitted to the stockholders themselves, but are laid before the public. The volumes in which they are recorded form a rich storehouse of knowledge for guidance in other similar enterprises ; whilst the publicity thus given to every particular, operates as a check upon the spirit of jobbing. It is only by this carefully recorded experience, that we can hope to see this new and powerful means of transport brought to perfection. In the absence of such information, every new undertaking will have to work its way, in a great measure, in the dark, reproducing, at infinite labour and expense, the precious fruits of that experience which are withheld by those who have already obtained them.

Art. VII.- Slight Reminiscences of the Rhine, Switzerland,

and a Corner of Italy. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1834.

IF

Sterne had extended his amusing notice from travellers to

books of travels, he would have found variety quite as great, and classification rather more difficult. There is in them as much diversity as in works of imagination; and we cannot take up a new poem or novel with more uncertainty as to the character of its contents, than the last new record of a foreign tour. Between the best and the worst in every class of literature there is of course a vast difference; but we are speaking of the varieties, not of excellence, but of style. Exclude the badtake only the good, and what dissimilarity do we still find! The same compartment of a classified library comprises Humboldt's * Personal Narrative,' and · Matthew's Diary of an Invalid’—both good of their kind—yet how unlike! A person who professed a preference for Travels, and was equally pleased with these two excellent productions, could scarcely be accused of an exclusive taste. These works, it is true, do not belong to the same class-but, even in the same, what dissimilarity! Look at two journalizing tourists in the same country, How compare the light and easy fluency of Matthews, with the terse epigrammatic pedantry of Forsyth! and which again of these can we place in the same category with the diffuse and languid Eustace ? As well could we match the attractive inaccuracies of the enthusiastic and eloquent Clarke with the dull fidelity of Coxe; or the sententious wisdom of Johnson's ? Tour to the Hebrides,' with the froth of Carr's 'Caledonian Sketches. In attempting to classify books of travels, we shall find that in all of them one of two styles prevails—the historical, or the personal. They are either descriptions of the visited country, in which the author himself is little prominent; or they are records of his feelings and adventures. Of these two kinds the latter is generally to be preferred. It is to be preferred, not on account of its egotism–for nothing that deserves that obnoxious name is necessarily inherent in a personal narrative—but for the sake of the stricter fidelity and vividness of effect which such a narrative is likely to insure. A model among works of this kind was the Journal of the lamented Bishop Heber—a free current of unlaboured truth, flowing, sparklingly and unostentatiously,--adorned in its course by the candour, the benevolence, the acuteness, the sound judgment, and the poetical fancy of that distinguished writer. To rival in every respect its unstudied merits would demand an equality of talent. To attain excellences similar in degree may not be possible; yet may it serve to show what they should be in kind. Works of this description do not always sufficiently possess the distinctive qualities of their class. When the Journal borrows from the commonplace-book, and is prodigal in quotationswhen it evinces an ambition to display rather what the traveller has read than what he has observed when instead of the brief and apposite reflection naturally suggested by the passing occurrence, it includes elaborate disquisitions—when the limæ labor is apparent,—then has it deviated from its true province, and it is no longer good of its kind. A Journal should be, what that name implies—a record of daily impressions. It should convey to us the sight that was seen, the tale that was heard, the emotion that was felt, the reflection that was suggested—set down at once in all their freshness and even, (if it so be,) in all their inaccuracy. The impression of the moment will have a bloom and vividness which tardy recollections hardly ever can bestow. As for their inaccuracy-even if they are hasty opinions, which the writer afterwards finds cause to change, yet will they still possess one species of accuracy. They will be genuine records of the actual effect produced at the time on the mind of the traveller. The impression may be erroneous; yet that it was produced is a positive fact, which, though less valuable than many others, is not unimportant, and far from being uninteresting.

If we could imagine ourselves sitting in judgment upon a foreign nation, or writing the history of a country or people, we ought to desire a careful and impartial deduction from the well-sifted evidence of numerous pens.

We should want, rather the average truth than the best statement of a single case. But if we eschew the painful process of investigation and comparison, and desire only the immediate gratification derived from the reception of new ideas, give us the single narrative fresh from the pen of an intelligent witness, who possesses the art of communicating his impressions, of placing us in his position, and making us see, hear, and feel in fancy, what he saw, heard, and felt in reality. Such narratives, compared with general statements, are what pictures are to plans. In each instance what the former gains in individuality, it also gains in vividness and force. It conveys less knowledge of the whole, but a more lively comprehension of a particular part. It is interesting, for instance, to examine a plan of Rome, or designs and measurements of its architectural remains. But for our pleasure, give us rather a single picture which should make us feel that we are seeing all that was seen from that one spot by the artist who painted it—that even so looked that deep blue line of distant hills—that even so rose that stately ruin, distinct and clear against an azure sky—that even so emerged that identical fragment of a marble shaft from amidst that graceful cluster of acanthus.

The knowledge of all that may be learned through the generalities of comprehensive description, comes to us not with half the pleasure which we derive from being able to station ourselves in imagination by the side of the traveller, and witness the identical scene and circumstance which is called into being by his pen or pencil. The present year has been fertile in works which, in a greater or less degree, have afforded this gratification. Some are recommended principally, by the information they convey ; others less by what they tell than by the manner in which they tell it. Such is that agreeable volume, · Bubbles from the • Brunnens of Nassau,' by Sir Francis Head; such, too, the very entertaining work before us, modestly entitled “ Slight Re( miniscences.' We learn from the preface that an incorrect edition of all, except the supplementary chapters, was printed at Paris for private distribution in 1830. The authoress (for it is by a female hand) also thus apologizes for its supposed deficiencies.

If it has any merit, it is that of truth; for I am not conscious of having noted down any thing which I have not looked at with my own eyes; though I may perhaps have seen sunbeams, where others saw shadow3,-or the contrary.

• I have had no advantage of encouragement or advice, no literary friend or counsellor, none to interest themselves in my success, or to be mortified by my failure, beyond the precincts of my own fireside. My notes have never been submitted to any other eyes than those too par. tial to be critical ; they are probably full of inaccuracies, and perhaps of repetitions. I have no skill in composition, nor opportunity of referring to any judgment but one which affection renders fallible ; if I had, they might be better. As it is, I must trust to the gentle virtue of indulgence, without venturing to count upon the more encouraging sentiment of approbation.'

The humility of these apologies will be thought overweening ; and the authoress is deprecating a severity of criticism which she is not likely to incur. Rarely have we seen a work, which, without either interesting the feelings, or augmenting our knowledge, renders itself so acceptable as a companion. It is not much easier to describe what constitutes an agreeable booka book which we treat as society, and take up by way of relaxation to while away a vacant hour-than to define that felicitous combination of social qualities which constitute an agreeable companion. One may enumerate good-humour, tact, wit,

« AnteriorContinuar »