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ness and a minimum cost of repairs would be insured.
On such principles the work for each site was determined. In some places, the danger of land attacks was small; then the earthen cover was omitted. In some instances, shoals were chosen as sites; then compact, castellated works were designed. In some, only a small fire was needed; then the works were restricted in proportion. Each locality had its peculiarities, and demanded a special solution; but in all cases there were distinct rational principles to be applied. Doubtless some mistakes, of greater or less magnitude, have been committed, but, as a whole, we think the system adopted was most excellent, and that its execution has been as faithful as possible. We believe it to be a fact, that our sea-coast fortifications, so far as they have been constructed, may claim a decided superiority, both in plan and in execution, over those of any other country, and that, when complete, and vitalized by garrisons, they will constitute the securest possible bulwark against bombardments, and a most important check on grand descents.
Several successive boards of engineers have continued and extended the studies of the first board, with no less talent and patriotic fidelity, applying all their skill in perfecting the plans and in regulating the important details of the several constructions. The corps of engineers, selected from the most distinguished graduates of the Military Academy, has had for its chief occupation the actual construction of these works; and there can be but one opinion as to the professional resources and sterling integrity with which this important trust has hitherto been discharged. It is certainly but a rational deference to concede respect to the deliberate and conscientious views which have been unanimously entertained by this accomplished body of men, so thoroughly and carefully trained in the highest military science-a body which contained, without being overshadowed by, such men as the Swifts, McRee, Armistead, Totten, Thayer, De Russey, Delafield, Brewerton, Courtenay, Mordecai, A. D. Bache, Brown, the Mansfields, Lee, Mahan, Bartlett, and many others, scarcely less distinguished for the highest grade of professional abilities and personal character.
The questions involved in our system
of fortifications are essentially questions of fact-pure, bold, absolute fact; not of poetry, not of speculation, not of eloquence, not of popularity, but, we repeat it, questions of downright fact. Now, in such a case,, what are any man's opinions worth, who has not taken pains to inform himself thoroughly on all the essential and complex elements involved? Truly, they are so little worth, that their superabundance amounts to a bankruptcy of all sound judgment. What is the sense of taking, as leaders of opinion, men of gifted imagination and copious speech, who really know only just enough of the subject to thoroughly misunderstand it? It is a flagrant intellectual vice of our community, that we do not duly discriminate the relative value of opinions, except, indeed, where our personal interests are directly involved. The ad captandum philippics of the newspaper declaimer, and the conspicuous nonsense of Buncombe orators, are too often permitted to exercise a greater influence on the decision of our important questions of national policy than the deliberate conclusions of the true investigator, who has devoted the study of a lifetime to a calm examination of all the phases and bearings of a single great topic. In a complicated issue of natural or physical science, or of social and political fact, the deliberate opinion of one intelligent man, who has thoroughly studied the whole matter, is worth more than any possible aggregate of off-hand opinions from the uninformed. We
well understand the necessity for a subdivision of mechanical labor: we ought still more to appreciate the value of specializing the subdivisions of intellectual labor. We ought to understand that, on a question of fossil icthyology, the opinion of Agassiz or Hall is of more intrinsic value, to an impartial Owen or Miller, than would be the vote of twenty millions of freemen, whose knowledge might extend to every theme except paleontology.
The progress of our system of fortifications cannot be better exhibited than by giving a tabular statement of the individual works completed, or in progress; their respective appropriate war garrisons; their aggregate armaments when completed (not that fixed by the Board of 1854); their cost up to 1852; and the estimated cost, at that date, of completing those which were unfinished.
the very port whence war would send forth the most efficient privateers, has no protection worth mentioning. Eastport, Gloucester, Salem, Provincetown, Stonington, New Haven, Georgetown, S. C., Port Royal, Galveston, Brazos Santiago, San Diego, Columbia River, and many other points of kindred importance, may be specified as in the same undefended category. A single armed vessel could make a clean sweep of most of these ports. Such temporary works as could be thrown up in an emergency, would be so easily taken by boat parties, as to be thoroughly unreliable for sole securities. The rapidity with which the system should be pushed forward, and the extent to which it should be expanded over these points, are subjects on which some difference of opinion exists; but we are, by general consent, still far within the proper limits, both of rate and extent.
The necessity of strong defenses on our Pacific frontier, has been so clear, since the sudden development of California, that no reasonable person could question it. A special commission of army and navy officers, in 1850, examined our Pacific coast, for the selection of military and naval sites. This duty has been satisfactorily consummated, and liberal appropriations have already been made for the defenses of San Francisco. The erection of strong works, to guard the Golden Gate, and on Alcatraz Island, has been pushed forward with vigor, during the last two years; and ere long, if Congress be not derelict, our Pacific metropolis, and its noble interior waters, will rest secure, behind batteries of tremendous power.
The works at Key West and Tortugas, for the refuge and protection of our immense Gulf commerce, have been steadily prosecuted since their commencement, and will soon afford secure harbors of refuge, on the very key points of our Gulf navigation. The few works demanded on our Canada frontier are of a simple and inexpensive character -their whole actual and estimated cost, including the work at Rouse's Point, on the outlet of Lake Champlain, being only $1,141,292. When we consider that the British naval strength on Lake Ontario decidedly exceeds our own, that England now has the entire command of the St. Lawrence, and that the strong fortifications of Quebec give her an almost impregnable strong-hold in
The aggregate influence of all recent improvements in cannon and projectiles has been, to give a decided augmentation of relative strength to forts compared with fleets. Our 8 and 10 inch Columbiads cannot, anywhere, be surpassed, in all the elements of an effective sea-coast gun. They are superior to the so-called Paixhan guns, as they were of prior invention-they involve the same principle better carried out. During the last winter, a special Board readjusted the armaments of our several fortifications, and, to a great extent, adopted Columbiads, and the heaviest calibres. It remains for Congress to do a duty which has been shamefully neglected, by granting the necessary appropriations for promptly preparing this new armament. The general introduction of the horizontal firing of large shells, has given a great advantage to forts; for, while these missiles crush, like eggshells, against heavy granite walls, doing no serious damage, they penetrate the wooden sides of vessels, and, there lodging, tear fearful chasms by their explosions. Now this explosion, in or between the sides of a man of war, can be absolutely insured, by adjusting the charge of the gun, or otherwise. It will be readily seen that wooden walls cannot survive, even for a few minutes, a brisk shelling of this kind; thus, they are wholly at the mercy of well-served Columbiad batteries, in case of attack. Though this position still wants a complete experimental verification, we suppose it will now hardly be questioned. When, to this, we add the effects of hot shot, in setting fire to ships' sides, the contest becomes hopelessly unequal.
The capacity of steamers, to resist a fire of artillery, is much smaller still, as they are so liable to derangement of machinery, from shot and shells. has been truly said: "Compared to a sailing ship, a steamer has twenty mortal purts to one." Bearing but small armaments, they can neither give nor endure a heavy fire, and are in no wise fitted to operate directly against forts. They are, in some respects, of very great military importance; for they will not only facilitate the transportation of
expeditions across the Atlantic, and give unprecedented mobility to operations along our coasts; but they will make it possible, on account of their slight draft, for an enemy to use various channels, which were before closed by their shoalness. This fact will necessitate the erection of forts at certain points, which otherwise might safely have been neglected. Moreover, the great rapidity with which an expeditionary force can be dispatched by steamers, entails an additional obligation to have our coast defenses always in perfect readiness, in peace as in war.
The value of submarine explosive agencies, in harbor defense, may prove quite considerable. The ideas of David Bushnell and Robert Fulton would again be revived, and probably realized, should we be involved in a naval war. While
such devices could not, alone, be relied on, as defenses, they would make an enemy very chary of trusting himself within reach of submarine foes, and hence the more expeditious and imperative during bombardments. Ingenuity will, doubtless, in case of need, find ample means of annoying and harassing an enemy in our waters; but, as serious and sole defenses, all such temporary devices are utterly at fault, and to the last degree precarious.
Our forts are to derive their efficiency from garrisons, composed, in great part, of those whose homes are to be defended. It is a most valuable feature of our system, that the material of defense can so readily be brought into action, by men not trained to military service. The manual of heavy guns can be quickly
learned by intelligent men, who, under cover of walls and parapets, can be relied on to serve them well in action, without the long shoulder-to-shoulder training demanded to insure steadiness in field evolutions. A well-armed fort, served by the spirited and quick-witted population of one of our New England towns, would give such formidable battle as no fleet could long withstand. A nucleus garrison, thoroughly trained in defensive service, would give a right direction to the entire local force.
Finally, the defense of the country is among our highest obligations, not only when war is actually resounding along our coasts, but now and always. by preparation, not less than by participation. Though in no wise alarmists, we would earnestly urge the performance of this duty. We have advocated what we sincerely believe to be our true system of defensea system which has not yet, altogether, cost the amount required for a single year's support of the British navy. It is a system which can, in a few years, be completed, and which, once finished, will, for a slight expense of repairs and keeping, be always ready for emergencies. The commerce, whence our national revenue is almost entirely derived, is preeminently the interest served by our defenses, and may, with special justice, demand this protection. If we forecast the future of this commerce, and of all our national destiny, every vision of promised magnificence warns us to look well to those bulwarks of defense under cover of which we may safely ride out every storm of war.
THERE is a great deal of talent displayed, we think, by the writers of our modern novels-imagination, discernment, and dramatic skill-and yet it is a talent quite undisciplined, and devoid of true principles of art. We have often been struck, in reading some of the trashiest even of our American romances, with a certain vigorous imagination which they discover, but which is utterly untrained by judgment. You will find in them passages of brilliant description, single scenes of remarkable dramatic effect, glimpses of original and well-sustained character; while, as a whole, they will be quite contemptible. The contrast, or defect, arises out of the infantile condition of our literature, which is buoyant and full of promise, but for the most part immature. Our writers have not yet learned to trust to their own better inspirations, but are imitative, and consequently led away, from truth and nature, into a kind of mongrel product, which is not wholly their own, nor yet that of anybody else. Of course, there are many exceptions, and we speak of the young and unknown class of writers.
But there are signs of improvement every day. The leading novels of the month are: Edith, or the Quaker's Daughter; Lanmere, by MRS. DORR, Wolfsden, Home, The New Purchase, Dreams and Realities of a Pastor and Teacher, and they are considerably better than the Newsboy, and Watchman class, of which we have formerly spoken. Edith is, indeed, a work of a great deal of power; and, but for a melodramatic tendency at the close, where a romantic Indian girl, and a female devil, called Henriette, are introduced, would be beautiful. The story relates to those days of our early New England history, when the Pilgrims conceived it necessary to purify their Zion of the sect of Quakers, and its principal personages are a sweet Quaker maiden, her father, a lively but somewhat thoughtless friend, a hypocritical priest, and a noble English family. These are mostly drawn with vigor and discrimination, the young Quakeress in particular, and the young English doctor, while the scenes in which the Quaker father appears are full of ener
gy and stern truthfulness. The peculiarly selfish character of Henriette is well conceived, and well executed at the outset, but is exaggerated at the close, and made the means of introducing unpleasant incidents, which mar the general beauty of the other parts. Nor does the improbable Indian woman add to the interest of the tale. Had the writer been less ambitious of effects. and studied simplicity more, she would have made her story a fine historical idyl, out of the material furnished by the period and characters she has chosen to illustrate. The theme is a suggestive one, and would repay another and more careful treatment.
Mrs. Dorr's Lanmere is a pleasant narrative, told with considerable grace and ease, and discovers, in the principal character-that of the pretty Bessie-a good insight into the workings of the female mind. It cannot be said to exhibit much originality, either in the structure of the plot, or in the invention of persons, but is, on the whole, quite free from offenses of any kind. It will be objected to her men-who are nearly all marvelously fine fellows, indeed, saints in their way-that they are not sufficiently discriminated, being made too much on the same pattern, and that not taken from everyday life, but from the writer's ideal abstracts. We have ourselves a good opinion of human nature, and have met not a few good people, in the course of our sojourn on earth, but we have never happened to stray into any small village where there were so many special types of goodness, both male and female. A downright rascal or two, among the lot, would somewhat relieve the monotony of the life at Lanmere, or, if not a rascal, some fellow, at any rate, with a very decided human nature in him. It would do both the men and women good to be stirred up by a stalwart specimen of humanity, not afraid to be slightly wicked at times, or to disturb the summer weather with an occasional growl of thunder, or a flash of lightning.
Wolfsden is a tale of New England domestic life, faithful to local scenery and manners in many respects, and not without merit as a fable. It has little of that maudlin sentimentality in it, which is the bane