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seven feet in diameter carried upwards of 2,000 yards from the western side of Shakespeare Cliff under the sea, that a tunnel can easily and cheaply he made in the lower chalk, and that the amount of water to be looked for in that part of the chalk under the sea is altogether unimportant. They have heen working in the same impervious stratum as the French at Sangatte, and they propose to continue in that stratum until the French and English tunnels meet in the centre of the Channel, if the agreement hetwecn the French and British Governments in 1875 be carried out, and their enterprise be sanctioned by Parliament. Their rivals propose to begin in the water-bearing chalk, and to work downwards Until they arrive at the same point; but up to the present time have done nothing to show the practicability of their scheme.
What proof, it may well be asked, is there that an enterprise of this magnitude can be carried out? The geological conditions are most singularly favourable. The chalk on both sides dips gently in an easterly direction, and the impervious stratum is of the same character and thickness on both sides, and has been shown to be continuous at the bottom of the Channel at the base of the submerged chalk downs. There is no trace of large water-bearing fissures at that horizon in the rocks in the French and English downs, and therefore there is no reason to suspect their presence in the line of the tunnel under the Channel. The rock is soft and easily cat by the boring machine which has done the work on the English side, and is now pushing on the French driftway at the rate of eighteen yards per week. This machine is driven by compressed air, and needs only the services of three men, two at the working face and one to control the engine. The material cut away is delivered by buckets, working on an endless chain, after the fashion of a dredge, into trucks at the back and carried away. The compressed air having done its work causes a most perfect ventilation. A special form, too, of air locomotive has been devised for use in the tunnel, which is capable of taking a heavy train from England to France without stoppage. The use of compressed air indeed puts an end to all those difficulties as to ventilation which are so serious in the short tunnels of the metropolitan railways, and as the air pipes will be carried through, the ventilation can be regulated with the greatest nicety. The question of length—some twenty-four miles—thus becomes comparatively unimportant, and resolves itself practically into the question of time and of cost.
The cost is assumed by the opponents of the tunnel to be so great as to render it impossible for it to be a commercial success. Judging from the present expenditure, and taking into consideration the soft impervious nature of the rock, and the wonderfully well adapted boring machine, there is no reason to suppose that it will be much over 3£ million pounds, which is a very small sum for an undertaking of such magnitude. The question, however, of cost is one which does not concern the general public, because the French and English railway companies are prepared to find the money. They are perfectly able to look after their own interests. If the "canny Scots" find that it answers their purpose to build over again the Tay Bridge, at an expense of between one and two millions, that they may bring the small population to the north of the Tay into more rapid communication with that on the south, and to contemplate a bridge over the Forth, there can be no doubt that the tunnel connecting the English and French railway systems would confer corresponding benefits on the promoters and on the public, and not merely the "immunity from sea sickness" which Lord Wolseley thinks the only gain. The advantages of a more rapid and easier communication are so fully recognized by men engaged in commerce that it is unnecessary to dwell on the results of a closer intercourse between the two countries. We may, however, note among the statesmen in favour of this closer intercourse the name of Mr. Cobden, as well as that of Mr. Gladstone.
The next' question to be considered is the probable effect of a tunnel on our national security. In the opinion of Lord Wolseley, it would expose the country to the perils of invasion. He argues that it would be possible to surprise Dover, to prevent the tunnel' being destroyed, and then to pour troops through it too quickly to allow of our small army blocking a march on London. The Duke of Cambridge also holds the same views. On the other hand, equally high authorities on the question of defence hold that it would not be a danger, in a military sense, to the country. Sir John Adye, the Surveyor-General of Ordnance, writes that the defence of the tunnel exit is a simple operation, and he justly points out " that the invention of steam as a motive power for ships, and the creation of large harbours on the French coast, are more serious matters for us, in a military point of view, than any amount of tunnels are likely to be." Sir Andrew Clarke, Head of the School of Military Engineering, holds that there would be no difficulty in destroying the tunnel at any time, and that the military objections against the tunnel are not capable of being maintained. The report of the Scientific Committee obviously is the result of a divided opinion. Their answer to the question, How far will these proposals (the means of guarding the tunnel), "beyond all reasonable doubt, secure the use of the tunnel, in every imaginable contingency, being denied to an enemy?" is "that the application of the principles and measures adopted by them should, with that amount of intelligence, fidelity, and vigilance which the State has a right to expect from its servants, effect this; but it must always be borne in mind that in dealing with physical agencies an amount of uncertainty exists which can never be wholly eliminated, and that it is equally impossible to eliminate human fallibility." They further add that "it would be presumptuous to place absolute reliance upon even the most comprehensive and complete arrangements which can be devised, with a view of rendering the tunnel absolutely useless to an enemy, 'in every imaginable contingency.5" Of course we cannot do away with the element of uncertainty in any human affairs.
Nelson's famous motto, that "England expects every man to do his duty," recommends itself to our common sense, rather than that latent in this singular rider of the Scientific Committee, and which appears also to lurk in Lord Wolseley's memorandum, "that England expects every man not to do his duty" in guarding a hole in the neighbourhood of Dover. If the garrison are so stupid and careless as they are assumed to be, it may well be asked whether our great military expenditure is satisfactorily administered. To an ordinary layman it appears little less than ridiculous to suppose that a large army of invasion, with its enormous stores, could be collected together in Northern France, and that Dover could be taken by a coup de main without any warning, in these days of telegraphs and of rapid communication. It is no compliment, either to our military or engineering skill, to be told that we cannot calculate on holding or blocking our end of a tunnel. Were, however, Dover taken by the enemy the tunnel could easily be blocked from the sea. Before the plans of the Submarine Continental Railway were altered, in consequence of the report of the Scientific Committee, arrangements were made for having the English end of the tunnel commanded from the sea, which, for military purposes, would put it on the same kind of footing as a large steamer, to be easily destroyed by our navy. If we have lost our supremacy of the sea, the question of tunnel or no tunnel is of comparatively little importance. In a word, there are no objections urged against the scheme which might not equally be used against any other means of swift locomotion. England has become great, as an eminent American has observed on this question, by taking greater risks than that of a tunnel under the Channel. This country did not become great through fear. If we shut ourselves up and place a bar to free intercourse with our neighbours, we shall act in contradiction to all our liberal traditions, and revert to a policy like that of China, and, till lately, of Japan. The "Silver Streak" is not endangered, as some writers fancy by the tunnel, but will ward off invasion in the future as it has done in the past, so long as, but no longer than, we are masters of the sea.
W. Boyd Dawkins.
THE PROSPECT OF REFORM.
THE speeches of the recess have proclaimed the strength of the Government and the effacement of the Opposition. At the beginning of the fourth Session of its power the second Administration of Mr. Gladstone holds greater authority than at any previous time. The Prime Minister's ascendancy has absorbed and assimilated Liberalism of every kind. He has boundless influence in the constituencies, and is regarded with loyalty by his colleagues of the Cabinet and by the party of which he is supreme chief. The procedure of the House of Commons has been reformed according to his design, except in one point—the amendment of Rule 2—upon which, unwisely and unwillingly, he surrendered his judgment to that of some of his followers. One of the troubles of this coming Session will be the forty-member power of determining the order of the day. Never had a Government, to all superficial appearance, a fairer or a larger opportunity for the business of domestic reform. If the Government could accomplish all that the Prime Minister desires, we should need only to examine Mr. Gladstone's speeches, and to follow the fulfilment of his promises. But the reality is far different. The prospect of reform in this Parliament is as yet very uncertain. No really great measure of reform has distinguished its career. The Irish Land Bill was of greater complexity and difficulty than the Bill dealing with the Irish Church, but in the page of history its mark will be slight compared with that of the Act of 1869. The harvest of reform in this Parliament must needs be late; it will therefore be precarious. In an unusual degree it will be dependent upon political weather outside the Cabinet; within, these may be storms; but, so long as Mr. Gladstone holds his place, such internal tempests will serve only to exhibit, as lightning does at night, the towering eleva
tion of the conductor by which all danger is carried harmlessly away.
It is because I believe the prospect of reform to be somewhat delusive; because I am convinced that inert confidence in a Government weakens the power of the administration to effect reform; because I feel that at no time were greater efforts and a closer vigilance needful on the part of those who desire to secure this harvest, that I propose to submit some considerations such as Ministers are, by their responsibility, disabled from suggesting. The most patent fact is the disorder of the Opposition. It seems to me, after three years' constant attendance in Parliament, that one of the greatest advantages which a politician derives from being in the House of Commons, is that he gains esteem and respect for his adversaries. There is a saving in Ireland that "the devil you know is better than the devil yon don't know." I confess that my short experience has produced a desire to moderate expressions of political hostility, a clearer appreciation of the views represented by various sections of the House, and much personal regard for those to whom I am opposed. In all sincerity I wish the Opposition displayed more cohesion and greater power. It would better the prospect of reform. The responsibilities of a disciplined force are successfully evaded by lawless bands. If Mr. Gladstone were encountered from the other side of the table with a greater equality of power, he would be less tormented by the mosquitoes of Opposition. The tactics of the Opposition this year must be dilatory, and it seems likely that circumstances will give them a great opportunity. The President of the Local Government Board told his constituents -that the Government programme would open with the Corrupt Practices Bill, a necessary and urgent measure, bristling with points for discussion and amendment. An Opposition desiring to bring a Government to face the penultimate Session of their triumphant Parliament with a heap of unredeemed pledges, could hardly desire a better chance. The Bill will pass; but so it would if it were brought in on the first of June, with the intention of prolonging the Session, if necessary, until it was disposed of. The aim of the Conservative party will be to prevent the passing of the County Boards Bill, and the Government will be indirectly aiding them if they defer its introduction till after Easter. A difference between a Ministerial programme and a menu is that in the former it is well to serve the piece de resistance early. Mr. Chaplin would prefer a County Government Bill of Mr. Sclater Booth's manufacture to one of Sir Charles Dilke's, and if Ministers begin the Session with an understanding that the Committee on the County Bill will not open till after "Whitsuntide, he and his friends will naturally feel jubilant.
The second Bill is to be for the reform of London government.