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selves here to the problem of the communication between the two seas, in all the generality of which it is susceptible. We shall present in one view nine points, several of which are not sufficiently known in Europe, and all offer a greater or less probability either of canals or interior river communications. At a time when the New Continent, profiting by the misfortunes and perpetual dissentions of Europe, advances rapidly toward civil. ization; and when the commerce of China, and the north-west coast of America, becomes yearly of greater importance, the subject which we here summarily discuss is of the greatest interest for the balance of commerce*, and the political preponderancy of nations.
These nine points, which at different times have fixed the attention of statesmen and merchants in the colonies, present very different advantages. We shall range them according to their geogra. phical position, beginning with the most northern part of the New Continent, and following the coasts to the south of the island of Chiloe. It can only be after having examined all the projects hitherto formed for the communication of the two seas, that the government can decide which of them merits the preference. Before this examination, exact materials for which are not yet col. lected, it would be imprudent to cut canals in the isthmuses of Guusacualco or Panama.
* It may be necessary to inform the reader, that he is indebted for this term, at present in some sort of disrepute from the proscription of political economists, however much the idea may still haunt the wise heads of our commercial men, to the author and not to me. Trans.
1. Under the 54° 37' of north latitude, in the parallel of Queen Charlotte's Island, the sources of the river of Peace, or Ounigigah, approach to within seven leagues of the sources of the Tacoutche Tesse, supposed the same with the river of Colombia. The first of these rivers discharges itself into the Northern Ocean, after having mingled its waters with those of the Slave Lake, and the river Mackenzie. The second river, Colombia, enters the Pacific Ocean, near Cape Disappointment, to the south of Nootka Sound, according to the celebrated voyag r Vancouver, under the 46° i9' of laritude. The Cordillera, or chain of the stony mountains, abounding in coal, was found by M. Fiedler to be elevated in some places 3520 English feet*, or 550 toises above the neighbouring plains. It se
* If it be true that this chain of mountains enters the region of perpetual snow (Mackenzie, vol. III. p. 331), their absulute height should be at least from 1000 tp 1100 toises (from 0400 to 7040 English feet); from whence it would follow, either that the neighbouring plains, on which M. Fiedler was stationed to establish his measurements, are elevated from 450 to 550 toises above the level of the sea, or that the summits, of which this traveller indicates the height, are not the most elevated of the chain crossed by Mackenzje.
parates the sources of the rivers of Peace and Colombia. According to Mackenzie's account, who passed this Cordillera in the month of August, 1793, it is practicable enough for carriages, and the mountains appear of no very great elevation.. To avoid the great windling of the Colombia, another communication still shorter might be ope: ed from the sou ces of the Tocoutche Tesse to the Salmon river, the mouth of which is to the east of the Princess Royal islands, in the 52° 26' of latitude. Mackenzie rightly observes, that the government which should open this communication between the two oceans, by forming regular estab ishments in the interior of the country, and at the extremities of the rivers, would get posses. sion of the whole fur trade of North America, from the 48° of latitude to the pole, excepting a part of the coast which has been long included in Russian America. Canada, from the multitude and course of its rivers, presents facilities for internal commerce similar to those of Oriental Siberia. The mouth of the river Colombia seems to invite Euro, eans to found a fine colony there, for its banks afford fertile land in abundance covered with superb timber It must be allowed, however, that notwithstanding he examivation by Mr. Broughton, we still know but a very small part of Colombia, wi ich, like the Severn and the Thames, appears of a disproportionate contraction
as it leaves the coast. Every geographer who carefully compares Mackenzie s maps with Vancouver's, will be astonished that the Colombia in descend. ing from these stony mountains, which we cannot help considering as a prolongation of the Andes of Mexico, should traverse the chain of mountains which approach the shore of the Great Ocean, whose principal summits are Mount St. Helen and Mount Rainier. But M. Malte-Brun has started important doubts concerning the identity of the Tacoutche Tesse and the Rio Colombia. He even presumes that the former discharges itself into the gulf of California *; a bold supposition, which would give to the Tacoutche Tesse a course of an enormous length. It must be allowed that all that part of the west of North America is still but very imperfectly known.
In the 50° of latitude, the Nelson river, the Saskashawan, and the Missoury, which may be regarded as one of the principal branches of the Mississippi, furnish equal facilities of communi. cation with the Pacific Ocean. All these rivers take their rise at the foot of the Stony Mountains. But we have not yet sufficient acquaintance with the nature of the ground through which the communication is proposed to be established, to pro- ; nounce upon the utility of these projects. The journey of Captain Lewis, at the expense of the
* Geogr. Mathem. vol. XV. p. 117.
Anglo-American government, on the Mississippi and the Missoury, may throw considerable light on this interesting problem.
2. Under the 40° of latitude, the sources of the Rio del Norte, or Rio Brazo, a considerable river which flows into the gulf of Mexico, are only separated from the sources of the Rio Colorado by a mountainous tract of from twelve to thirteen leagues of breadth. This tract is the continuation of the Cordillera of the Cranes, which stretches towards the Sierra Verde and the lake of Timpanogos, celebrated in the Mexican history. The Rio S. Rafael and the Rio S. Xavier are the principal sources of the river Zaguananas, which, with the Rio de Nabajou, forms the Rio Colorado: the latter has its embouchure in the gulf of California. These regions, abounding in rock salt, were examined in 1777 by two travellers full of zeal and intrepidity, monks of the order of St. Francis, Father Escalante and Father Antonio Velez. But however interesting the Rio Zaguananas and the Rio del Norte may one day become for the internal commerce of this northern part of New Spain, and however easy the carriage may be across the mountains, no communication will' ever result from it comparable to that opened directly from sea to sea.
. The isthmus of Tehuantepec comprises, under the .6° of latitude, the sources of the Rio Huasacuukio, which is discharged into the gulf of