« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK thofe improvements extend themselves to the inI. land parts of the country. A broad-wheeled
waggon, attended by two men, and drawn by eight horses, in about fix weeks time carries and brings back between London and Edinburgh near four ton weight of goods. In about the fame time a ship navigated by fix or eight men, and failing between the ports of London and Leith, frequently carries and brings back two hundred ton weight of goods. Six or eight men, therefore, by the help of water-carriage, can carry and bring back in the fame time the fame quantity of goods between London and Edinburgh, as fifty broad-wheeled waggons, attended by a hundred men, and drawn by four hundred horfes. Upon two hundred tons of goods, therefore, carried by the cheapest landcarriage from London to Edinburgh, there must be charged the maintenance of a hundred men for three weeks, and both the maintenance, and, what is nearly equal to the maintenance, the wear and tear of four hundred horfes as well as of fifty great waggons. Whereas, upon the fame quantity of goods carried by water, there is to be charged only the maintenance of fix or eight men, and the wear and tear of a fhip of two hundred tons burthen, together with the value of the fuperior risk, or the difference of the infurance between land and water-carriage. Were there no other communication between those two places, therefore, but by land carriage, as no goods could be transported from the one to the other, except fuch whofe price was very confi.
derable in proportion to their weight, they could c HAP. carry on but a fmall part of that commerce which at prefent fubfifts between them, and confequently could give but a small part of that encouragement which they at prefent mutually afford to each other's industry. There could be little or no commerce of any kind between the diftant parts of the world. What goods could bear the expence of land-carriage between London and Calcutta? Or if there were any fo precious as to be able to support this expence, with what fafety could they be transported through the territories of fo many barbarous nations? Those two cities, however, at prefent carry on a very confiderable commerce with each other, and by mutually affording a market, give a good deal of encouragement to each other's industry.
Since fuch, therefore, are the advantages of water-carriage, it is natural that the firft improvements of art and industry fhould be made where this conveniency opens the whole world for a market to the produce of every fort of labour, and that they should always be much later in extending themselves into the inland parts of the country. The inland parts of the country can for a long time have no other market for the greater part of their goods, but the country which lies round about them, and feparates them from the fea-coaft, and the great navigable rivers. The extent of their market, therefore, muft for a long time be in proportion to the riches and populousness of that country, and confequently their improvement must always be pofterior to
BOOK the improvement of that country. In our North American colonies the plantations have conftantly followed either the fea-coaft or the banks of the navigable rivers, and have fcarce any where extended themfelves to any confiderable diftance from both.
The nations that, according to the best authenticated hiftory, appear to have been firft civilized, were thofe that dwelt round the coaft of the Mediterranean fea. That fea, by far the greatest inlet that is known in the world, having no tides, nor confequently any waves except fuch as are caused by the wind only, was, by the fmoothness of its furface, as well as by the multitude of its iflands, and the proximity of its neighbouring fhores, extremely favourable to the infant navigation of the world; when, from their ignorance of the compafs, men were afraid to quit the view of the coast, and from the imperfection of the art of fhip-building, to abandon themselves to the boisterous waves of the ocean. To pafs beyond the pillars of Hercules, that is, to fail out of the Streights of Gibraltar, was, in the antient world, long confidered as a moft wonderful and dangerous exploit of navigation. It was late before even the Phenicians and Carthaginians, the most skilful navigators and shipbuilders of thofe old times, attempted it, and they were for a long time the only nations that did attempt it.
Of all the countries on the coaft of the Mediterranean fea, Egypt feems to have been the first in which either agriculture or manufactures were cultivated
cultivated and improved to any confiderable c H A P. degree. Upper Egypt extends itself nowhere above a few miles from the Nile, and in Lower Egypt that great river breaks itself into many different canals, which, with the affistance of a little art, feem to have afforded a communication by water-earriage, not only between all the great towns, but between all the confiderable villages, and even to many farm-houses in the country; nearly in the fame manner as the Rhine and the Maefe do in Holland at prefent. The extent and eafinefs of this inland navigation was probably one of the principal caufes of the early improvement of Egypt.
The improvements in agriculture and manufactures feem likewife to have been of very great antiquity in the provinces of Bengal in the East Indies, and in fome of the eaftern provinces of China; though the great extent of this antiquity is not authenticated by any hiftories of whose authority we, in this part of the world, are well affured. In Bengal the Ganges and several other great rivers form a great number of navigable canals in the fame manner as the Nile does in Egypt. In the Eastern provinces of China too, feveral great rivers form, by their different branches, a multitude of canals, and by communicating with one another afford an inland navigation much more extenfive than that either of the Nile or the Ganges, or perhaps than both of them put together. It is remarkable that neither the antient Egyptians, nor the Indians, nor the Chinese, encouraged foreign commerce, but
BOOK feem all to have derived their great opulence I. from this inland navigation.
All the inland parts of Africa, and all that part of Afia which lies any confiderable way north of the Euxine and Cafpian feas, the antient Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, feem in all ages of the world to have been in the fame barbarous and uncivilized ftate in which we find them at present. The fea of Tartary is the frozen ocean which admits of no navigation, and though fome of the greatest rivers in the world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater part of it. There are in Africa none of thofe great inlets, fuch as the Baltic and Adriatic feas in Europe, the Mediterranean and Euxine feas in both Europe and Afia, and the gulphs of Arabia, Perfia, India, Bengal, and Siam, in Asia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of that great continent: and the great rivers of Africa areat too great a distance from one another to give occafion to any confiderable inland navigation. The commerce befides which any nation can carry on by means of a river which does not break itself into any great number of branches or canals, and which runs into another territory before it reaches the fea, can never be very confiderable; because it is always in the power of the nations who poffefs that other territory to obftruct the communication between the upper country and the fea. The navigation of the Danube is of very little ufe to the different