Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/175

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INVENTIONS AT PANAMA. 165

shorter water-way between our Atlantic and Pacific coasts. And cer- tainly no other nations offer greater achievements in inventions and execution as a guarantee of success.

Nothing, perhaps, so strongly characterizes this century as the ad- vance man is making in exploring, understanding, and obtaining a mastery over Nature. This process of mastery could scarcely pro- ceed in a more instructive way than by tracing its stages in the in- stances we have considered. The Alps and the two Isthmuses illus- trate it in a not unfitting way. It is safe, probably, to say that the power to excavate earth, to excavate and blast rock, is from five to ten times as great as when a man, wholly unknown to fame, landed with a handful of his countrymen where the city of Port Said nov/ stands and began the excavation of Suez.

In regard to the present enterprise upon the American Isthmus, if we take into account its magnitude and the difticulties involved, it represents without doubt the greatest effort in the line of industry and peaceful achievement man has yet put forth. De Molinari, the Belgian economist, computed that the stock of machinery for the excavation represented the labor of half a million men. Such a fact indicates how far the process of conquering Nature has been carried. The world is watching, with no doubt a degree of skepticism, the way in which the remaining work is being done ; and in scientific circles es- pecially an eager interest will continue to be manifested in this great struggle of skill and inventive genius against the forces and obstinacy of Nature. It may be protracted, but it must be in the end successful.

Addenda. — In the article in " The Popular Science Monthly " for July, entitled " The Panama Canal," a statement occurs, page 329, with reference to a report to the Navy De- partment by Lieutenant C. C. Rogers upon the state of the work in March. This state- ment is not in all respects correct. The foot-note in which it occurs was based upon a dispatch from Washington, not seen by the writer until after the proof-sheets had been returned. Subsequently a rectified statement was obtained from Lieutenant Rogers. As the views of the latter are soon to be given to the public in full — not a few await them with interest — and probably in advance of the publication of the present article, no spe- cial importance attaches to a correct statement here of his positions. The writer quotes, however, with the permission of Lieutenant Rogers, the following from a letter in which he defines his views. The passage quoted refers, not to the chances of the completion of the canal (for its completion Lieutenant Rogers thinks more than probable), but to the chances of its completion by the present company. As regards the dispatch already re- ferred to, he says : " The reporter has called largely upon his imagination in saying that I doubt whether the French company will be able to complete the canal. If the new loan be wisely spent, and a good showing results, their chances for so doing will be good ; for the necessity of finishing the work will be apparent." Respecting statements fre- quently set afloat as to alleged mismanagement, and likewise the company's chances of success, he adds : " One who thinks that the officers do not realize the question in its true aspect, who regards the engineers as inefficient, and the whole company as blind, is in great error. If they do as well in the next eighteen months as during the past year, their chances of completing the canal will be more than good."

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