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Country West of the Blue Mountains.

The country to the westward of the Blue Mountains ranks next in contiguity to Sydney, and claims pre-eminence not so much from any superiority of soil in those parts of it which have been explored, as from its amazing extent, and great diversity of climate. These mountains, where the road has been made over them, are fifty-eight miles in breadth; and as the distance from Sydney to Emu Ford, at which place this road may be said to commence, is about forty miles, the beginning of the vast tract of country to the westward of them, it will be seen, is ninety-eight miles distant from the capital.

The road which thus traverses these mountains is by no means difficult for waggons, until you arrive at the pass which forms the descent into the low country. There it is excessively steep and dangerous; yet carts and waggons go up and down it continually: nor do I believe that any serious accident has yet occurred


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in performing this very formidable undertaking.

Still the discovery of a safer and more practicable pass would certainly be attended with a very beneficial influence on the future progress of colonization in this great western wilderness. Every attempt, however, to find such a one has hitherto proved abortive; and should the future efforts which may be made with this view prove equally so, there can be little doubt, that the communication between the eastern and western country will be principally maintained by means of horses and mules with packs and panniers.

The elevation of these mountains above the level of the sea, has not yet been determined; but I should imagine that it cannot exceed four thousand feet. For the first ten or twelve miles they are tolerably well clothed with timber, and produce occasionally some middling pasture; but beyond this they are excessively barren, and are covered generally with a thick brush, interspersed here and there with a few miserable stunted gums. They bear, in fact, a striking similarity, both in respect to their soil and productions, to the barren wastes on the coast of Port Jackson. They are very rocky, but they want granite, the distinguishing characteristic


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of primitive mountains. Sandstone thickly studded with quartz and a little freestone, are the only varieties which they offer; a circumstance the more singular, as the moment you descend into the low country beyond them, granite is the only sort of stone that is to be met with for upwards of two hundred miles.

For the whole of this distance to the westward of these mountains, the country abounds with the richest herbage, and is upon the whole tolerably well supplied with running water. In the immediate vicinity of them there is a profusion of rivulets, which discharge themselves into the western river; or, as it is termed by the natives, the Warragambia, the main branch, as I have before observed, of the Hawkesbury. From the moment, however, that the streams begin to take a western course, the want of water becomes more perceptible, and increases as you proceed into the interior, particularly in a south-west direction.

This large and fertile tract of country, is in general perfectly free from underwood; and in many places, is without any timber at all. Bathurst Plains, for instance, where there is a commandant, a military depôt, and some few settlers established, have been found by actual


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admeasurement, to contain upwards of sixty thousand acres, upon which there is scarcely a tree. The whole of this western country, indeed, is much more open and free from timber than the best districts to the eastward of the Blue Mountains.

The depôt at Bathurst Plains, is 180 miles distant from Sydney; and the road to it presents no impediment to waggons, but the descent from the mountains into the low country; and even this does not prevent the inhabitants from maintaining a regular intercourse with that town, and receiving from it all the supplies which they require. The difficulty, however, of thus communicating with the capital, is such as to preclude this vast tract of country from assuming an agricultural character; except in as far as the raising of grain for a scanty population of shepherds and herdsmen, may entitle it to this denomination; since there are no navigable rivers, at all events for many hundred miles into the interior, and the difficulty and expence of a land-carriage across the Blue Mountains, will always prevent the inhabitants of that part of this vast western wilderness, which is at present explored, from entering into a competition with the colonists in the immediate vicinity of Port Jackson. By way, however, of set-off against the anifest


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superiority, which the districts to the eastward of the mountains possess in this respect over the country to the westward of them; this latter is certainly much better adapted for all the purposes of grazing and rearing cattle. The herbage is sweeter and more nutritive, and there is an unlimited range for stock, without any danger of their committing trespass. There is besides, for the first two hundred miles, a constant succession of hill and dale, admirably suited for the pasture of sheep, the wool of which will without doubt eventually become the principal export of this colony, and may be conveyed across these mountains at an inconsiderable expense.

The discovery of this vast and as yet imperfectly known tract of country, was made in the year 1814, and will doubtless be hereafter productive of the most important results. It has indeed already given a new aspect to the colony, and will form at some future day, a memorable era in its history. Nothing is now wanting to render this great western wilderness the seat of a powerful community, but the discovery of a navigable river communicating with the western coast. That such exists, although the search for it has hitherto proved ineffectual, there can be no doubt, if we may be allowed to judge from analogy; since in the whole compass of


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the earth, there is no single instance of so large a country as New Holland, not possessing at least one great navigable river. To ascertain this point has been one of the leading objects of Governor Macquarie's administration, ever since the discovery of the pass across the mountains. Several unsuccessful expeditions have been fitted out with this view from Sydney, both by sea and land. The last of which we have learned the result, was conducted by Mr. Oxley, the surveyor-general, and is most worthy of notice, as well from the extent of country which he traversed, as from the probability that the river which he discovered, discharges itself into the ocean on some part of the western coast. The summary of this journey is contained in the following letter, addressed by him to the governor on his return from this expedition to Bathurst Plains.

Bathurst, 30th August, 1817.

SIR,”

I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency with my arrival at this place last evening, with the persons comprising the expedition to the westward, which your Excellency was pleased to place under my direction.

Your Excellency is already informed of my proceedings up to the 30th of April. The limits


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of a letter will not permit me to enter at large into the occurrences of nineteen weeks; and as I shall have the honour of waiting on your Excellency in a few days, I trust you will have the goodness to excuse the summary account I now offer to your Excellency.

I proceeded down the Lachlan in company with the boats until the 12th of May, the country rapidly descending until the waters of the river rose to a level with it, and dividing into numerous branches, inundated the country to the west and north-west, and prevented any further progress in that direction, the river itself being lost among marshes: up to this point it had received no accession of waters from either side, but on the contrary was constantly dissipating in lagoons and swamps.

The impossibility of proceeding further in conjunction with the boats being evident, I determined upon maturer deliberation, to haul them up, and divesting ourselves of everything, that could possibly be spared, proceed with the horses loaded with the additional provisions from the boats, in such a course towards the coast as would intersect any stream that might arise from the divided waters of the Lachlan.

In pursuance of this plan, I quitted the river


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on the 11th May, taking a south-west course towards Cape Northumberland, as the best one to answer my intended purpose. I will not here detail the difficulties and privations we experienced in passing through a barren and desolate country, without any water but such rain water as was found remaining in holes and the crevices of rocks. I continued this course until the 9th of June, when having lost two horses through fatigue and want, and the others in a deplorable condition, I changed our course to north, along a range of lofty hills, running in that direction, as they afforded the only means of procuring water until we should fall in with some running stream. On this course I continued until the 23d of June, when we again fell in with a stream, which we had at first some difficulty to recognise as the Lachlan, it being little larger than one of the marshes of it, where it was quitted on the 17th of May.

I did not hesitate a moment to pursue this course; not that the nature of the country, or its own appearance in any manner indicated that it would become navigable, or was even permanent; but I was unwilling that the smallest doubt should remain of any navigable waters falling westward into the sca, between the limits pointed out in my instructions.




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I continued along the banks of the stream until the 8th of July, it having taken during this period a westerly direction, and passing through a perfectly level country, barren in the extreme, and being evidently at periods entirely under water. To this point it had been gradually diminishing, and spreading its waters over stagnated lagoons and morasses, without receiving any stream that we knew of during the whole extent of its course. The banks were not more than three feet high, and the marks of flood in the shrubs and bushes, shewed that at times it rose between two and three feet higher, causing the whole country to become a marsh, and altogether uninhabitable.

Further progress westward, had it been possible, was now useless, as there was neither hill nor rising ground of any kind within the compass of our view, which was only bounded by the horizon in every quarter, entirely devoid of timber except a few diminutive gums on the very edge of the stream, might be so termed. The water in the bed of the lagoon, as it might now be properly denominated, was stagnant; its breadth about twenty feet, and the heads of grass growing in it, shewed it to be about three feet deep.

This originally unlooked for and truly singular


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termination of a river, which we had anxiously hoped and reasonably expected would have led to a far different conclusion, filled us with the most painful sensations. We were full five hundred miles west of Sydney, and nearly in its latitude; and it had taken us ten weeks of unremitted exertion to proceed so far. The nearest part of the coast about Cape Bernouilli, had it been accessible, was distant about a hundred and fifty miles. We had demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no river whatever could fall into the sea, between Cape Otway and Spencer's Gulph; at least none deriving their waters from the eastern coast, and that the country south of the parallel of 34°, and west of the meridian of 147° 30' East, was uninhabitable and useless for all the purposes of civilized man.

It now became my duty to make our remaining resources as extensively useful to the colony as our circumstances would allow: these were much diminished: an accident to one of the boats, in the outset of the expedition, had deprived us of one-third of our dry provisions, of which we had originally but eighteen weeks; and we had been in consequence for some time on a reduced ration of two quarts of flour per man, per week. To return to the depôt by the route we had come, would


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have been as useless as impossible; and seriously considering the spirit of your Excellency's instructions, I determined upon the most mature deliberation, to take such a route on our return, as would, I hope, best comport with your Excellency's views, had our present situation ever been contemplated.

Returning down the Lachlan, I re-commenced the survey of it from the point in which it was made, the 23d of June; intending to continue up its banks until its connection with the marshes, where we quitted it on the 17th May, was satisfactorily established, as also to ascertain if any streams might have escaped our research. The connection with all the points of the survey previously ascertained, was completed between the 19th of July and the 3d of August. In the space passed over within that period, the river had divided into various branches, and formed three fine lakes, which, with one near the determination of our journey westward, were the only considerable pieces of water we had yet seen; and I now estimated that the river, from the place where first made by Mr. Evans, had run a course, taking all its windings, of upwards of twelve hundred miles; a length of course altogether unprecedented, when the single nature of the river is considered, and


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that its original is its only supply of water during that distance.

Crossing at this point it was my intention to take a north-east course, to intersect the country, and if possible ascertain what had become of the Macquarie river, which it was clear had never joined the Lachlan. This course led us through a country to the full as bad as any we had yet seen, and equally devoid of water, the want of which again much distressed us. On the 7th of August the scene began to change, and the country to assume a very different aspect: we were now quitting the neighbourhood of the Lachlan, and had passed to the north-east of the high range of hills, which on this parallel bounds the low country to the north of that river. To the north-west and north, the country was high and open, with good forest land; and on the 10th we had the satisfaction to fall in with the first stream running northerly. This renewed our hopes of soon falling in with the Macquarie, and we continued upon the same course, occasionally inclining to the eastward, until the 19th passing through a fine luxuriant country, well watered, crossing in that space of time nine streams, having a northerly course through rich vallies; the country in every direction


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being moderately high and open, and generally as fine as can be imagined.

No doubt remained upon our minds that those streams fell into the Macquarie, and to view it before it received such an accession, was our first wish. On the 19th we were gratified by falling in with a river running through a most beautiful country, and which I would have been well contented to have believed the river we were in search of. Accident led us down this stream about a mile, when we were surprised by its junction with a river coming from the south, of such width and magnitude, as to dispel all doubts as to this last being the river we had so long anxiously looked for. Short as our resources were, we could not resist the temptation this beautiful country offered us, to remain two days on the junction of the river, for the purpose of examining the vicinity to as great an extent as possible.

Our examination increased the satisfaction we had previously felt: as far as the eye could reach in every direction, a rich and picturesque country extended, abounding in limestone, slate, good timber, and every other requisite that could render an uncultivated country desirable.


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The soil cannot be excelled, whilst a noble river of the first magnitude affords the means of conveying its productions from one part to the other. Where I quitted it its course was northerly, and we were then north of the parallel of Port Stevens, being in latitude 32° 45' South, and 148° 58' East longitude.

It appeared to me that the Macquarie had taken a north north-west course from Bathurst, and that it must have received immense accessions of water in its course from that place. We viewed it at a period best calculated to form an accurate judgment of its importance, when it was neither swelled by floods beyond its natural and usual height, nor contracted within its limits by summer droughts: of its magnitude when it should have received the streams we had crossed, independent of any it may receive from the east, which from the boldness and height of the country, I presume, must be at least as many, some idea may be formed, when at this point it exceeded in breadth and apparent depth, the Hawkesbury at Windsor. Many of the branches were of grander and more extended proportion than the admired one on the Nepean River from the Warragambia to Emu Plains.

Resolving to keep as near the river as possible


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during the remainder of our course to Bathurst, and endeavour to ascertain at least on the west side, what waters fell into it, on the 22d we proceeded up the river, and between the point quitted and Bathurst, crossed the sources of numberless streams, all running into the Macquarie; two of them were nearly as large as that river itself at Bathurst. The country from whence all these streams derive their source, was mountainous and irregular, and appeared equally so on the east side of the Macquarie. This description of country extended to the immediate vicinity of Bathurst; but to the west of those lofty ranges, the country was broken into low grassy hills, and fine valleys watered by rivulets rising on the west side of the mountains, which on their eastern side pour their waters directly into the Macquarie.

These westerly streams appeared to me to join that which I had at first sight taken for the Macquarie; and when united fall into it at the point at which it was first discovered, on the 19th inst.

We reached this place last evening, without a single accident having occurred during the whole progress of the expedition, which from this point has encircled within the parallels of 34° 30' South, and 32° South, and between the


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meridians of 149° 43' and 143° 40' East, a space of nearly one thousand miles.

I shall hasten to lay before your Excellency the journals, charts, and drawings, explanatory of the various occurrences of our diversified route; infinitely gratified if our exertions should appear to your Excellency commensurate with your expectations, and the ample means which your care and liberality placed at my disposal.

I feel the most particular pleasure in informing your Excellency of the obligations I am under to Mr.Evans, the Deputy Surveyor, for his able advice and cordial co-operation throughout the expedition, and as far as his previous researches had extended, the accuracy and fidelity of his narration was fully exemplified.

It would perhaps appear presuming in me to hazard an opinion upon the merits of persons engaged in a pursuit of which I have little knowledge; the extensive and valuable collection of plants formed by Mr. A. Cunningham, the king's botanist, and Mr. C. Frazer, the colonial botanist, will best evince to your Excellency the unwearied industry and zeal bestowed on the collection and preservation of them: in every other respect they also merit the highest praise.




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From the nature of the greater part of the country passed over, our mineralogical collection is but small. Mr. S. Parr did as much as could be done in that branch, and throughout endeavoured to render himself as useful as possible.

Of the men on whom the chief care of the horses and baggage devolved, it is impossible to speak in too high terms. Their conduct in periods of considerable privation, was such as must redound to their credit; and their orderly, regular, and obedient behaviour, could not be exceeded. It may be principally attributed to their care and attention that we lost only three horses; and that, with the exception of the loss of the dry provisions already mentioned, no other accident happened during the course of it. I most respectfully beg leave to recommend them to your Excellency's favourable notice.

I trust your Excellency will have the goodness to excuse any omissions or inaccuracies that may appear in this letter; the messenger setting out immediately will not allow me to revise or correct it.

I have the honour, &c.

J. OXLEY, Surveyor-Gen.”

To his Excellency Lachlan Macquarie, Esq.




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The course and direction of this river is the object of two expeditions, of which we may shortly expect to learn the result. One is by land, and conducted by the same gentleman; the other by sea, and under the command of Lieutenant King, R.N.; whose father, Captain King, was formerly Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island, and afterwards Governor in Chief of New South Wales.

If the sanguine hopes to which the discovery of this river has given birth, should be realized, and it should be found to empty itself into the ocean, on the north-west coast, which is the only part of this vast island that has not been accurately surveyed, in what mighty conceptions of the future greatness and power of this colony, may we not reasonably indulge? The nearest distance from the point at which Mr. Oxley left off, to any part of the western coast, is very little short of two thousand miles. If this river, therefore, be already of the size of the Hawkesbury at Windsor, which is not less than two hundred and fifty yards in breadth, and of sufficient depth to float a seventy-four gun-ship, it is not difficult to imagine what must be its magnitude at its confluence with the ocean; before it can arrive at which it has to traverse a country nearly two thousand miles in extent. If it possess the usual sinuosities


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of rivers, its course to the sea cannot be less than from five to six thousand miles, and the endless accession of tributary streams which it must receive in its passage through so great an extent of country, will without doubt enable it to vie in point of magnitude with any river in the world. In this event its influence in promoting the progress of population in this fifth continent, will be prodigious, and in all probability before the expiration of many years, give an entirely new impulse to the tide of population: and here it may not be altogether irrelevant, to enter into a short disquisition on the natural superiority possessed by those countries which are most abundantly intersected with navigable rivers. That such are most favourable for all the purposes of civilized man, the history of the world affords the most satisfactory proof There is not, in fact, a single instance on record of any remarkable degree of wealth and power having been attained by any nation which has not possessed facilities for commerce, either in the number or size of its rivers, or in the spaciousness of its harbours, and the general contiguity of its provinces to the sea. The Mediterranean has given rise to so many great and powerful nations, only from the superior advantages which it afforded for commerce during the long infancy of navigation. The number and fertility of its islands, the serenity of its climate,


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the smoothness of its waters, the smallness of its entrance, which although of itself sufficient to indicate to the skilful pilot the proximity of the ocean, is still more clearly defined by the Pillars of Hercules, towering on each side of it, and forming land-marks not to be mistaken by the timid, the inexperienced, or the bewildered. Such are the main causes why the Mediterranean continued until the discovery and application of the properties of the magnet, the seat of successive empires so superior to the rest of the world in affluence and power. It is indeed almost impossible to conceive, how any considerable degree of wealth and civilization can be acquired without the aid of navigation. From the moment savages abandon the hunter state, and resign themselves to the settled pursuits of agriculture, the march of population must inevitably follow the direction of navigable waters; since in the infancy of societies these furnish the only means of indulging that spirit of barter which is co-existent with association, is the main spring of industry, and the ultimate cause of all civilization and refinement. In such situations the rude canoe abundantly suffices to maintain the first necessary interchanges of the superfluities of one individual for those of another. Roads, waggons, &c. are refinements entirely unknown in the incipient stages of society. They are the gradual results of civilization,


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and consequent only on the accumulation of wealth and the attainment of a certain point of maturity. Canals are a still later result of civilization, and are undoubtedly the greatest efforts for the encouragement of barter, and the developement of industry, to which human power and ingenuity have yet given birth. But after all, what are these artificial channels of communication, these ne plus ultras of human contrivance, compared with those natural mediums of intercourse, those mighty rivers which pervade every quarter of the globe? What are they to the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges, the Mississippi, or the Amazon? What are they, in fact, compared even with those infinite minor navigable streams, of which scarcely any country, however circumscribed, is entirely destitute? What! but mere pigmy imitations of nature, which wherever there is a sufficient number of rivers, will never be resorted to, unless it be for the purpose of connecting them together, or of avoiding those long and tedious sinuosities to which they are all more or less subject.

Viewing therefore this newly discovered river only in the light of a river of the first magnitude, it must be evident that this important discovery will have an incalculable influence on the future progress of colonization; but to


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be enabled fully to estimate the beneficial consequences of which it will be productive; it is essential to take into the estimate, the probable direction of its course, and the point of its confluence with the ocean. This I have already stated is with good reason imagined to be on the north-west coast; since every other part of this vast island has been so accurately surveyed, as scarcely to admit of the possibility of so large a river falling into the sea in any other position. Assuming, therefore, that the source of this river is in the direction thus generally supposed, it will be seen that it will surpass all the rivers in the world in variety of climate; since reckoning merely from the spot where Mr. Oxley discovered it to its conjectural embouchure, there will be a difference of latitude of twenty degrees. Even omitting, then, to take into computation the probable length of its course from the place where it first becomes navigable, to the point where that gentleman fell in with it, (and it was there running from the south, and must have already been navigable for a considerable distance, if we may judge from its size,) the world does not afford any parallel of a river traversing so great a diversity of climate. The majority indeed of the rivers, which may be termed “rivers of the first magnitude,” run from west to east, or from east to west, and consequently vary their climate only in proportion


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to their distance from the sea, to the elevation of their beds, and to the extent of country traversed by such of their branches as run at right angles with them. Of this sort are the St. Lawrence, in North America, the Oronoko and Amazon, in South America; the Niger, Senegal and Gambia, in Africa; the Danube and Elbe, in Europe; and the Hoang Ho, and Kiang Keou in Asia. It must indeed be admitted, that every quarter of the globe furnishes some striking exceptions to this rule, such as the Mississippi and River Plate in America; the Nile, in Africa; the Rhine, the Dniester, the Don, and the Volga, in Europe; and the Indus and Ganges, in Asia; all of which certainly run from north to south, or south to north, and consequently command a great variety of climate.

In this respect, however, none of them will be worthy of comparison with this newly discovered river, if the point of its confluence with the ocean should happily be where it is conjectured. And yet we find that all the countries through which the above-named rivers pass, either have been, or promise to be, the seats of much more wealthy and powerful nations than the countries through which those rivers pass whose course is east or west. The cause of this superiority of one over the other, is to be traced to the greater diversity of productions, which


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will necessarily be raised on the banks and in the vicinity of those rivers whose course is north or south, a circumstance that is alone sufficient to ensure the possessors of them, under Governments equally favourable to the extension of industry, a much greater share of commerce and wealth than can possibly belong to the inhabitants of these rivers whose course is in a contrary direction: and this for the simplest reason; because rivers of the former description contain within themselves, many of those productions which the latter can only obtain from abroad. In the one, therefore, there is not only a necessity for having recourse to foreign supply, which does not exist in the other, but also a great prevention to internal navigation, arising from the sameness of produce, and the consequent impediment to barter, which must prevail in a country where all have the same commodities to dispose of, where all wish to sell and none to buy. To this manifest superiority which rivers runningon a meridian claim over those running on a parallel, there is no counterpoise, since they both contain equal facilities for exporting their surplus productions, and receiving in exchange the superfluities of other countries. It may, indeed, here be urged, that there is, upon the whole, no surplus produce in the world; and that, as the surplus, whatever may be its extent, of one country, may be always


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exchanged for that of another, as great a variety of luxuries may be thus obtained by the inhabitants of rivers that run in an eastern or western direction as can possibly be raised by the inhabitants of rivers that run in a northern or southern; and that consequently the same stimulus to an inland navigation will be created by the eventual distribution of the various commodities procured by foreign commerce, as if they had been the products of the country itself. To this it may be replied, that although a much greater variety of products may undoubtedly be imported from foreign countries, than can possibly be raised within the compass of any one navigable river, such products cannot afterwards be sold at so cheap a rate. In all countries, therefore, where such products are imported from abroad, the increase in their price must occasion a proportionate diminution in their consumption, and in so far inevitably operate as a check to internal navigation.

This variety of production, and the additional encouragement thus afforded by it, to what is well known to be one of the main sources of national wealth, is sufficient to account for the superior degree of civilization, affluence, and power, which have in general characterized those countries whose rivers take a northern or southern course. Some few nations, indeed,


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which do not possess such great natural advantages, have supplied the want of them by their own skill and industry, and have in the end triumphed over the efforts of nature to check their progress. Of a people who have thus overstepped these natural barriers opposed to their advancement, and in spite of them attained the summit of wealth and civilization, China perhaps furnishes the most remarkable example. The two principal rivers of that country, the Hoang Ho, or Yellow River, and the Kiang Keou, or Great River, runs from west to east; yet by means of what is termed by way of eminence, “The Great Canal,” the Chinese have not only joined these two mighty streams together, but have also extended the communication to the northward, as far as the main branch of the Pei Ho, and to the southward as far as the mouth of the Ningapo: thus establishing by the intervention of this stupendous monument of human industry and perseverance, and the various branches of the four rivers which it connects, an inland navigation between the great cities of Peking and Nanking, and affording every facility for the transport of the infinite products raised within the compass of a country containing from twelve to fifteen degrees difference of latitude, and about the same difference of longitude; or, in other words, a surface of about five hundred and eighteen thousand four hundred square miles.




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This instance, however, of equal or superior civilization thus attained by a nation, notwithstanding the principal rivers of their country run from west to east, does not at all militate against the natural superiority which has been conceded to those countries whose rivers run in a contrary direction: it only shews what may be effected by a wise and politic government averse to the miseries of war, and steadily bent on the arts of peace. The very attempts, indeed, of this enlightened people to supply the natural deficiencies of their country by canals, are the strongest commendations that can be urged in favour of a country where no such artificial substitutes are necessary; where nature, of her own lavish bounty has created facilities for the progress of industry and civilization, which it would require the labour and maturity of ages imperfectly to imitate.

How far, indeed, these mighty contrivances of the all-bounteous Creator, for the promotion and developement of industry, outstrip all human imitation, the occurrences of the passing hour furnish the most satisfactory and conclusive evidence. The vast tide of emigration which is incessantly rolling along the banks of the Mississippi, and of its tributary streams, and the numberless cities, towns, and settlements, that have sprung up as if it were by the agency of magic, in what but a few years back was one


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boundless and uninterrupted wilderness, speak a language not to be mistaken by the most ignorant or prejudiced. The western territory, which though a province but of yesterday, soon promises to rival the richest and most powerful members of the American union, affords an instance of rapid colonization, of which, the history of the world cannot produce a parallel, and offers an incontestable proof of the natural superiority which countries, whose rivers run in a northern or southern course, possess over all others.

But this fact is not merely established by the experience of the present day, it is equally authenticated by the testimony of past ages. What was the reason why Egypt was for so many centuries the seat of affluence and power, but the Nile? that India is still rich and populous, but the Indus and Ganges? These countries, indeed, are no longer the great and powerful empires they were, although the natural advantages of their situations are still unchanged. But what mighty ravages will not a blood-thirsty and overwhelming despotism effect? What health and vigor can belong to that body politic which is forced to inhale the nauseous effluvia of tyranny? Prosperity is a plant that can only flourish in an atmosphere fauned by the wholesome breath of freedom. The highest fertility of soil, the greatest benignity of climate, the


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most commanding superiority of position, will otherwise be unavailing. Freedom may in the end convert the most barren and inhospitable waste into a paradise; but the inevitable result of tyranny is desolation.

The probable course of this newly discovered river, being thus in every respect so decidedly favourable for the foundation of a rich and powerful community, there can be little doubt that the government of this country will immediately avail itself of the advantages which it presents, and establish a settlement at its mouth. What a sublime spectacle will it then be for the philosopher to mark the gradual progress of population from the two extremities of this river; to behold the two tides of colonization flowing in opposite directions, and constantly hastening to that junction, of which the combined waters shall overspread the whole of this fifth continent!

What a cheering prospect for the philanthropist to behold what is now one vast and mournful wilderness, becoming the smiling seat of industry and the social arts; to see its hills and dales covered with bleating flocks, lowing herds, and waving corn; to hear the joyful notes of the shepherd, and the enlivening cries of the husbandman, instead of the appalling


  ― 89 ―
yell of the savage, and the plaintive howl of the wolf; and to witness a country which nature seems to have designed as her master-piece, at length fulfilling the gracious intentions of its all-bounteous Author, by administering to the wants and contributing to the happiness of millions.

What a proud sight for the Briton to view his country pouring forth her teeming millions to people new hives, to see her forming in the most remote parts of the earth new establishments which may hereafter rival her old; and to behold thousands who would perish from want within her immediate limits, procuring an easy and comfortable subsistence in those which are more remote; and instead of weakening her power and diminishing her resources, effectually contributing to the augmentation of both, and forming monuments which may descend to the latest posterity, indestructible records of her greatness and glory.

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