Hide Articles List

8 articles on this Page

GTGRITTTLTTTRAL.

[No title]

t

[No title]

LECTURE "BY MR D. DAVIES AT…

News
Cite
Share

LECTURE "BY MR D. DAVIES AT OSWESTRY, ON THE OPENING OF THE SUEZ CANAL. On Thursday week, a lecture-or rather a narrativeâ having for its subject, The opening of the Suez Canal," was delivered in the Victoria Rooms, by Mr David Davies, of Llandinam. The lecture was originally delivered at Llandinam, some two or three weeks back, and a deputa- tion of the employes of the Cambrian Railway then waited upon Mr Davies, and preferred a request that he would consent to deliver it in Oswestry, for the benefit of the Reading Room and Library which have been established in connection with the works of the Cambrian Railway Company, of which Mr Davies is one of the directors. The chair was occupied by Captain Pryce (Cyfronydd), deputy chairman of the Cambrian Railway Company, and on the platform were Captain Johns, Mr Falshaw, who was Mr Davies's fellow traveler in the East, Mr Thomas Savin, Mr George Lewis, Mr George Owen, Mr Alexander Walker, and Mr E. Elias. The room was crowded by a respectable auditory, consisting chiefly of the employes of the railway company. In opening the pro- ceedings. a i. Capt. PRYCE said-Ladies and gentlemen,âPerhaps a few words may be desirable in the way of explanation of the circumstances under which my friend, Mr David Davies, appears before you this evening. It happened that a short time ago, at one of our Board meetings, we saw that Mr Davies was about to deliver a narrative on the open- ing* of huez Canal, in his own neighbourhood of Llandinam, the following day. Associated as we have been with Mr Davies for many years, and knowing him as a man of great ability, and keen discernment, we were fully satisfied that a narrative of his tour in the East could not fail to be both instructive and entertainingâ(hear, hear)âand to us it was a sourse of great disappointment that we had not previously heard of his proposed lecture. A suggestion was made that Mr Davies should deliver the lecture to those connected with the Cambrian Railway, and to the employes at the works. Then a second suggestion was made, that he should give a narrative in these rooms, more of a public character, and that his audience should not be confined exclusively to the railway people. Mr Davies had naturally some hesitation in coming forward as a lec- turer his inclination prompted him to say nay to the request, but his good nature prevailed, and he could not say nay to us (Applause.) Thus, as you see, Mr Davies appears before us this evening, not as a public lec- turer, but to tell us in a narrative form what he has seen at the opening of the Suez Canal, and on his visit to the Holy Land. (Applause.) i .i. i-nAVIU, V? £ S' ^h.° was loudly applauded, said that the kind explanation which the chairman had given the meeting saved him the trouble of offering any preliminary remarks as to why he presented himself before them that evening, to tell them a little about his journey to the East, what he saw at the opening of the Suez Canal, and what he thought about that great undertaking. The Os- westry Advertizer flattered him by announcing that he was going to give a lecture on The opening of the Suez Canal. He was rather too old to begin lecturing- although he felt twenty years younger since his visit to the East-but all that he wished to do, and pur- posed doing, was to lay before them a plain, unvarnished tale of what he saw on his travels, and what opinion he had formed of the people and the country he had visited. He was at a loss to know what portion of his experience in Egypt would be most interesting to the audience. The ladies would prefer one version, which perhaps the railway meir, whom he had expected to find his sole audience, would not care to hear about; but he would do his best to please all, and remembering that he was a "Jack of all trades," he believed that if he confined himself to what was new and striking to him, those were the parts which would interest those whom he addressed. The Canal, to which he would first allude, they had probably heard and read much about. It crossed the lower part ofthe desert, commencing at Port Said and ending at Suez. In its con- struction perhaps the greatest difficulty which presented it- self to the promoters was money. The Canal had cost about 16! millious, and the work had been carried out under great disadvantages. One of the greatest disadvantages, perhaps, was that England, a great commercial nation, did not support the enterprize either morally or physically; little or none of the funds had come from England. The money once raised, one primary difficulty, was overcome, but other great obstacles presented themselves in the car- rying out of the great scheme. The climate was one in which few except the natives could exist. The natives were not very partial to hard work, and although the in- ducement of high wages was held out, the labourers were generally pressed into the service and draughted into the job by compulsion. The money and the labour being provided for, another difficulty presented itself in the water, and a fresh-water channel over 100 miles in length had to be constructed. The works had occupied a little over ten years in completion-although in his opinion, which was not exclusive but was the opinion of many pro- fessional engineers, this big job was still far from com- plete. The breadth of the Canal was 170 feet at the level of the water, but at the banks the width was greater they being in some places 40 or 50 feet above the level of the stream. In the fdtes which formed an important feature in the opening of the Canal he took little or no interest, and of these they had probably had a surfeit in the long reports which had appeared in the papers-the object of his visit having been to get at the practical part of the business; how the Canal had been constructed, to look at the features of the country, its inhabitants, their mode of living, and how they farmed their land. Pursuing his enquiries as a practical man, he learned that the cubical contents taken out of the Canal amounted to about 90,000,000 cubic yards, or in other words as much earth as would make 1,800 miles of an average railway, or about five times as much as he and his friend Mr Savin had to do in the construction of the railways which they had made in Wales. A large expense had been incurred in the construction of the breakwaters, formed of large blocks of concrete) which had been erected as protections to the shipping in the bays which had been formed at either end of the Canal, in the Mediterranean and in the Red Sea. Deducting the cost of these, and of other necessary ex- penses, he found that the cost for the excavation gave 2s. 10Jd. per cubic yard for the work done. The question naturally suggested itself, Why should this work cost so much when it could be done in England at about lOd. per yard?" They must bear in mind that the wind interfered very considerably with the sand which constituted the cutting, and that the difficulty attendant upon the excavation was greatly increased from the fact that nearly 30,000,000 cubic yards were under water. Practical men in England had assured him that this under-water excava- tion cost less than the excavation upon dry land, and to convince himself upon the truth of this vexed question he had made careful inquiry. The excavation was carried out in four different manners. About a quarter of it was done by means of camels and asses, and from an observa- tion which he had made at Ismailia as to the carrying capacity of these beasts of burden, he found that assuming that camels and asses did one-fourth of the excavating, it would take 750 camels and the same number of asses ten years to do this proportion of the work. Another fourth of the work had been done by means of locomotives, which took the tops off, and "tipped" the sand at a greater dis- tance from the Canal than did asses or camels. Another portion of the work had been got through by means of stationary engines, which seemed to have done the greater part of the work near the Red Sea end. The work which had been done by the dredging machines he estimated at rather more than a fourth, these machines having been found most useful in dredging the entrances to the harbours at Port Said and Suez. After giving a description of the dredging machines, and of the manner in which they per- formed their important share of the work, Mr Davies con- tinued that to his mind there was really nothing very extraordinary about the Canal, save the magnitude of the work, and the difficulties with which M. de Lesseps and his fellow-workers had to contend, in the way of money, labour, and engineering difficulties. The Canal, which was stated to be completed, was supposed to be 25ft. deep, but really in some places the depth was but 18ft. Thus a ves- sel drawing more than 17ft. or 18ft. could not pass through the Canal, and to make the Canal what it was intended it should be, many alterations were necessary. Take for in- stance the case of the Peninsular and Oriental boats, the majority of which when laden drew over 20ft. of water; in the existing state of the Canal those vessels could not pass through. The Peninsular and Oriental Company were building larger vessels they had only two or three out of their fleet of fifty which could get through the Canal; and was the Peninsular and Oriental Company to be shut out from using the Canal, and from availing them- selves of the benefits which must necessarily attend from their being able to avail themselves, through the medium of the Canal, of having a shorter passage to India? Was the Peninsular and Oriental Company to allow small steamers which were building at various parts for this very purpose to run away with their traffic; or was the company to go to the expense of constructing a new fleet of boats, building new vessels at a cost of from jS90,000 to 2150,000 each? What would they do with their old boats, assuming that they cared to rush into the cost of building a new fleet, solely for the purpose of running via the Suez Canal? A sum of 22,500,000 or 23,000,000 would amply suffice to render the Canal serviceable to vessels of large burden, to make the Canal twice its present width, and if England would not advance this amount, it would pay the shareholders in the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Ship Company to sub- scribe the sum themselves. (Hear, hear.) The dredging machines were all ready for the work for which they were specially constructed, and with these machines on the spot, the work necessary to complete the Canal might be carried out at comparatively little cost. At present the Canal was "smothered up it had not room enough, and the sand was blown down from the embankment whilst they were sleeping, and in the daytime it was carried away by the wash" of the steamers. He doubted whether the revenue raised from the passage of small vessels would keep the Canal going, and great difficulties must present themselves unless they widened it so that a large draught vessel could go through. Not being one of the guests invited by the Khedive, he went about the work in his own way, and did his sight-seeing probably to as great advantage as did any of the great potentates and numer- ous guests. At Ismailia he was greatly struck with the sight which presented itself. The Arabs had met there to the number of nearly 60,000, all the Sheiks and principal men, with their tents, horses, cows, and camels, being con- gregated together at this place. It was really a town in the desert, its extent covering about 150 acres, mapped out in streets of tents. At night the scene was very say and striking; all the tents were lit up, and the sound of every old string, of every old instrument which had twanged since the time of Adam, had its representative. The streets were brilliantly illuminated with thousands of lamps and lanterns, and the place was alive with merry- making and Arab jollity. After giving a humorous account of the fetes which celebrated the visit of the Empress of the French, the European fete, and the diffi- culties which attended the ball given by the Viceroy in the Desert. Mr Davies took his hearers through the Canal to Suez, which he described as a very wretched place- a heap of houses constructed of mud. Thence he returned to Ismailia, and found his way back to Port Said, traversing .the Canal in a small boat. From Port Said he went to Lower Egypt, visiting Alexandria, the Liverpool of the East, a thriving, busy town, with a population of 150,000, one third being Europeans. The principal char- acteristics of Alexandria he found to be the great number of curs which swarmed the town at night, and the abom- inable state of the streets, there being in the dry season a deposit of about six inches of dust on the roads, which after rain formed itself into about eighteen inches of muck," very similar to the black grease which is used in greasing earth waggons. After a visit to Pompey's Pillar he left Alexandria, the trouble owing to the importunities of the natives, in carrying one's luggage to and from the railway station being an undertaking upon which no man would care to venture twice. Leaving Alexandria he caught a sight of the sheep with the wonderful tails, the characteristics of this breed being that the more one feeds them, the thinner they get, the tail, which often weighed a great weight, getting all the benefit of the feeding Giving an interesting account of the rising of the Nile' and of the pastoral life of the inhabitants of Lower Egypt, Mr Davies passed on to the subject of the railways in Egypt. These were very peculiar and primitive in their construction. They were made with baskets, which were used to carry the earth; there was not a shovelful of ballast along the entire length of the line except in the Desert, and of sleepers they were wholly guiltless. The rails were kept together by means of "tire" rods, and looking at the men on the permanent way at v-rCL if reverted to the very different manner in which Mr lanner and his men got through their work In Egypt from twenty to twenty-five Arabs, big, stout, stalwart fellows were kept to do the same work which five Englishmen did very easily. They had levers to pack the chairs, and whilst one man worked, the other four stood by and looked on to see that he did it right. On account of the dry weather, the road was very good, and they ran between Alexandria and Cairo in a little better than four hours, running at the rate of about thirty miles an hour. Passing on to Cairo he found that the Khedive was engaged in making a new road, the waggons used for the pupose of conveying the "metalling" from the quarry to the town along a little branch railway being from Ashhury's works. He stood by looking at the Arabs unloading the waggons, and he never felt a greater inclination to hasten any man's work by means of a stick. There were eight big, hulking Arabs engaged in unloading the stones by means of a little basket and a scraper, with which they very gently scraped up the stones into the basket. Then shouldering their little basket they went out of the truck, and with a great effort deposited their I I I. I ioaa a tittle distance off. A single man with a shovel could have done the work in half the time that these Arabs took to do it. When they were asked, Why dont you use a shovel;" they would say, "Our fathers never did so, and why should we ?" The women chiefly carried the soil by means of small baskets, which they "tipped" on the embankments. At Cairo he was troubled and astonished by the presence of a fellah," who, clad in white, preceded their carriage, calling to the people to clear the way, thus giving rise to the fear that he and his friend had been mistaken for two great English lords ihe architecture of Cairo, its streets, the business" habits and domestic customs of its people, were next touched upon, and also the mosques and water works which have been constructed in the town, were briefly adverted to. From Cairo a visit was made to the Pyra- mids, about which there was no particular feature, except the vast amount of stone which had been collected, show- ing that the ancient Egyptians could manage works which would puzzle modern ingenuity and skill to devise. In company with Mr Falshaw, he ascended one of the pyramids, 475 feet high, with the assistance of four well- nigh shirtless Arabs, who persistently clamoured for backsheesh." The condition of these attendants was so primitive as regarded costume, that although they assured Mr Davies that they had had the honour of escorting a lady to the summit of the pyramid, he was not disposed to place any great credence upon such an an assertion. After thanking the audience for the attention they had paid and reminding them that he had done his best to avoid the beaten track which had been gone over by so many travelers in books, which were within the reach of all who cared to extend their enquiries beyond the brief remarks which he had addressed to them, and re- marking that he had endeavoured to give a brief account of things not generally known about Egypt, Mr Davies resumed his seat, amidst loud applause, having spoken for upwards of two hours. Captain PRYCE-I have very great pleasure in rising to propose that a vote of thanks be given to Mr Davies for his very entertaining and instructive lecture. I remember upon a recent occasion Mr Davies got up to make a speech, and he commenced by saying that he was no orator; that rf he was a worker, not a talker. (Hear, hear.) He proved that by making the best speech of the afternoon, a speech which fairly carried away the meeting with him. Now a a man who can speak in the fluent manner which Mr Davies has done to-night, without referring to a note, a. sketch, or even a map throughout the course of a two hours' lecture, is, I think, certainly entitled to the name of d a lecturer. (Applause.) I do not know what impression i Mr Davies may have made upon you, but it seems to me that Mr Davies differs very much from the ordinary lecturers, gentlemen who try to magnify effects, to draw the long bow but the great charm of the lecture of this evening has been that all that Mr Davies has said bore the stamp of truth, nay, even more than that, great originality. (Applause.) I am sure that you will all agree with me, wlien I remark that Mr Davies is one of those who, when he travels, travels to some purpose, and keeps his eyes open. I think that you will all join with me in giving him a hearty vote of thanks for his very able and instructive lecture. (Applause.) Capt. JOHNS, in seconding the vote of thanks, ventured the hope that this would not be the last occasion upon which they would hear news from the East from Mr- -ri Davies. (Applause.) Mr Davies had been over Syria, had paid a visit to Jerusalem and to other spots of deep interest in the Holy Land, and he was quite stire that these places had engaged quite as much of the observation "⢠of Mr Davies as had his Egyptian tour. He (Capt. Johns) r. hoped that they would obtain a pledge from him that they should, at a future day, hear of his travels in other parts- of the East before they gave him a final vote of thanks. (Applause.) Mr FALSHAW humorously asked whether the chairman did not think that the vote of thanks was rather due to him than to Mr Davies; because had it not been for him Mr Davies probably would never have gone to Egypt. His visit occurred in this way. There was a very warm meeting at Crewe, and coming out of the room after a ratherisharp discussion, he met Mr Davies, bent on a simi- lar errand as himself, a cooling walk upon the platform. He said to Mr Davies, "I am going to the opening of the Suez Canal; I have got an invitation from the Khedive." "Have you," asked Mr Davies, and are you going?" "By all means," was the answer; and the rejoinder came sharp enough, without any deliberation, "Well, then I'll go with you"â(laughter)âand so they packed up their traps and were very soon off to Egypt. Lest Mr Davies should arrogate too high an opinion of himself respecting the fellah" in a white robe who ran before them through Cairo, lest Mr Davies should be carried away with the idea that he was some great potentate, he (Mr Falshaw) proposed to let the audience into a little secret of Mr Davies's doings in the East. He had actually seen Mr Davies mounted on a donkey, and doing the five miles be- tween Ghizeh and the Pyramids in that fashion! (Laugh- ter.) Nay, more than that, he absolutely forgot that he was a man of the mature age he had reached, and going back to the sports of his boyhood, he gravely commenced running races and amusing himself in that boyish manner (Laughter.) The vote of thanks having been carried by acclamation, Mr DAVIES, in acknowledging it, said-I wish you would not keep calli-ig it a lecture; but at the same time I am much obliged to Captain Pryce, to Captain Johns, and to my friend, the Baillie," as we used to call him out there, for what they have said about me, and to you all for supporting them. I never expected to have such compliments paid me, or to have an additional compliment in the presence of so many ladies; but if I have been the means of pleasing you, then I am well pleased. (Applause ) I will consider about coming here a second time, and let you know. You see you are rather enthusiastic now, so I think you had better sleep upon the matter, and ask me again mucoid blood; because, you see, you may change your opinion in the morning. Then you can ask me, and what- ever I promise I will perform; but at present I think you are a little too enthusiastic. (Applause.) Mr FALSHAW then moved a vote of thanks to the Chair- man, which was seconded by Mr THOMAS SAVIN, and the compliment having been acknowledged by Capt, PRYCE the company separated shortly before ten o'clock.

THE NEW SHERIFFS.

[No title]

[No title]