canal between Rassova and Kustendji

Posted on July 16th, 2010 by admin and filed under Danube Channel
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rev. Henry Christmass, The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Medjid Khan: A brief memory of his live and reign, with notices of the Country, its Army, Navy & present Prosperity, London: John Farquah Shaw, 1854, p. 74.

[Russia bad, Islamists good etc. etc. etc.] ” why does Russia thwart every effort to effect a canal from Rassova to Kustendji, which would open the trade of Hungary and the interior of the Austrian empire to Western Europe? ” … [Russia bad, Islamists good, etc. etc.]

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 2:30 AM and is filed under Danube Channel. RSS 2.0 feed.

old roman canal Danube

Posted on July 16th, 2010 by admin and filed under Danube Channel
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The World’s Hightway. From the “Calcutta Review”, March 1856, London: John Weale, 59, High Holborn, 1856, p. 38

“My dear Sir, I wrote you from Paris in haste when I was leaving for Strasbourg. I only cursorily referred to the communication with Prince Callimaki, which was satisfactory, as he interested himself much in it — and is considered to be an able man. He gave me strong letters to Constantinople, advised crossing by a boat bridge, and not thinking of a fixture. Knew the nature and extent of the existing trade between Constantinople and Adrianople, and between Scutari and Isnikmid, fully asured that it would render a line there as a beginning, remunerative; had seen the iron mines worked by Government, about Nessa Sophia, and Philippoli, which yielded good metal, and believed coal was in abundance, extending all along the coast of the Black Sea, from the Danube mouths to the Straits, and projecting far into the Black Sea; considered the Balkan an engineering difficulty by no means insuperable, and the contry between Akserai and Sovea in Asiatic Turkey, killy and uneven– the rest all level, and easily adapted to railway purposes; it had been intended to re-open an old Roman canal which united the Danube with the Black Sea, and saved a detour, but it had not been begun yet. He considered that Turkey was a rich country, which only required such a work as this to show what it contained, and that it hadnever yet had the opportunity of showing of waht it was capable. He took a great deal of trouble, and appeared very confident that if steadily followed up, there can be no doubt of Turkey’s cordial concurrence. He thought that perhaps the Balkan might be avoided, by following the course of the Danube along the canal line, and then skirting the Black Sea to Constantinople. These are, however, questions of detail for the future. He thinks also that it would be necessary for the work to be done bypublic companies with Government support, and not by the Government itself, in an undertaking of this nature.”

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 2:14 AM and is filed under Danube Channel. RSS 2.0 feed.

Edmund Spencer, “Travels in European Turkey, in 1850″

Posted on November 12th, 2009 by admin and filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel, Navigation and trade, paysan du danube topos in literature
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Edmund Spencer, “Travels in European Turkey, in 1850: through Bosnia, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thrace, Albania, and Epirus, with a visit to Greece and the Ionian Isles, and a homeward tour through Hungary and the Slavonian provinces of Austria on the Lower Danube”, London, Colburn and Co., 1851, vol. 2, p. 404

We would recommend the traveller, who may be desirous to make the tour of the Danube from Constantinople, to land at the little port of Kostendshe, on the Black Sea, by which he will escape a long and disagreeable voyage round by Soulina, the only navigable channel of all the outlets of the Danube. At Kostendshe he will find an agent of the Austrian Navigation Company, whose duty is to aid the traveller and attend to his wants. There are vehicles always in readiness to convey him to Tchernawoda, on the Danube, where he can amuse himself by visiting the villages of the Bulgarians in the neighbourhood till the arrival of the steam-boat.

In the time of the Romans, the Emperor Trajan entertained the idea of making a canal from this place to the Euxine, which, if completed, would shorten the distance from about three hundred miles to thirty, an enterprise that might be carried into effect at a very trifling expense, when we consider that the ground is quite level, with the Karasou lake in the centre of sufficient depth to assist the undertaking.

The late Sultan Mahmoud, who was really a man of energy, caused the ground to be measured and marked [p. 405] out, and would have carried the work into execution, had he not been prevented by the Cabinet of St. Petersburg. We presume, because it was contrary to the treaties of the navigation of the Danube, which secured to Russia the only practicable route to the Black Sea — that by Soulina; but as this treaty has expired or was said to expire in 1850, leaving the navigation of the Danube open to every nation, this much-desired work ought to be carried into execution, which would not only pay the contractors an immense profit, but considerably benefit the commerce of the Lower Danube. We fear, however, that the weak sovereigns of Austria and Turkey dread the displeasure of the Autocrat too much to carry the design of the vigorous Roman into execution.

In the mean time the poor mariner is obliged to adopt the long and tortuous route, the Soulina channel, which, owning to the accumulation of sand at the bar, can only receive vessels of a hundred and fifty tons burden; and we have still greater cause to regret, the non-completion of this work, when we remember the number of lives that are lost every year by malaria and fever during this voyage, rendered so long and tiresome, by endeavouring to avoid the sand-banks, as the mariner is almost certain to carry home with him the seeds of a disease, which it is said never leaves him.

Such a canal as we have alluded to, if constructed of sufficient depth for large merchant vessels, would materially facilitate navigation; for after passing the Delta of the Danube, the river deepens considerably till we arrive at Kladesitza, in Servia; here the navigation [p. 406] of the Danube is again interrupted by a ridge of rocks running across the river, called the Demirkapa (iron gate), and notwithstanding all Count Sz’echenyi, that excellent Hungarian, had done to deepen the bed of the river, the passage is still dangerous. This was proved a few years since by the loss of a vessel, its crew and passengers. The boat, on arriving in the midst of the rapids struck against a rock, became unmanageable and turning round with the most frightful rapidity, was instantly submerged in a whirlpool sufficient to engulf a man-of-war. The only panssenger that escaped was na Osmanli, who, being doubtful fo the ability of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the Danube to ensure the safety of the vessel, landed with the intention of pursuing his journey on the banks of hte river till the danger was past. But the laughter and ridicule of his fellow passengers induced him ot alter his determination, and as he was in the act of stepping on board, a ring containing an amulet slipped from his finger, this was decisive — he would not tempt Kismet, and thus to the loss of a ring he owed his life.

Like that between Kostendshe and Tchernawoda, this break in the navigation of the Danube might easily be avoided by cutting a canal on the Servian side of the river at Kladesitza, which would then open an uninterrupted communication from the Black Sea into the heart of Germany, and shorten the route between Constantinople and Vienna, to a five days’ voyage at the utmost. It would appear, from the appearance of the marsh, that a canal had actually existed here, at some time or other, perhaps the work of the Romans, [p. 407] and which on their expulsion from the country, and the barbarism that followed, fell into disuse, and in process of time became filled up.

Can anything afford a more decisive proof than this, of the want of energy and enterprize in the inhabitants of these provinces; and of the indolent supineness of their rulers. We may ridicule the apathy and inertness of the Turks, yet here we see the noblest river in Europe running a course of eighteen hundred miles from its source to the Black Sea, traversing a succession of the most fertile countries, and uniting by the most natural, direct, and least expensive route the commerce of Central Europe with the vast countries of the East, still remaining in a state of nature. Every successive flood carries away with it the soil, and not unfrequently even the villages on its banks, and form accumulations, which impede navigation, together with vast marshes and stagnant lakes, from which arise exhalations, the most prejudicial to the health of man.

A few hundred thousand Anglo-Saxon colonists, if they found these countries a desert, would have done more in fifty years for the navigation of this noble river, and the salubrity of its banks, than all its Czars, Kaisers and Padishahs, Krals and Ko:nigs, Herzogs, Hospodars, Beys, and noble Princes, have effected in centuries. It is true they perfectly understand the parade, the marching, drilling and stuffing of soldiers (we do not mean internally), the ‘eclat and magnificence of courtly etiquette, the maintenance of an army of spies and court favourites, nor are any more sensitive [p. 408] to an invasion of their own royal will, or more prompt in cutting the throats of their own subjects, and those of their neighbours, about some crochet of precedency, or an acre of disputed territory. To support htese undertakings money is ever forthcomming; but for the execution of any great work of public utility, the advancement of industry and commerce, there is not a farthing to be found in the exchequer. Can we then wonder at the discontent of a people, ground down by taxation to support all this theatrical display, and finery of the State; or at Socialism, Republicanism, Deutsch-catholicism, Panslavism, Panteutonism, and all the other isms, which have already shaken Europe to its centre ?

Let, then, the rulers of Europe combine with one accord, and

Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 12:34 AM and is filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel, Navigation and trade, paysan du danube topos in literature. RSS 2.0 feed.

The Dublin Review (1837), review of books

Posted on September 13th, 2009 by admin and filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel
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The Dublin Review, vol. III, July&October 1837

p. 215:

This, it must be avowed, is but a scanty description of the most ” magnificent horror” on the Danube. Our voyager affords us no temptation to delay with him until he arrives at Silistria, where the Danube becomes so broad, that to those who coast the Bulgarian side, the Wallachian shore is scarcely visible. The banks now became only a continued series of marshes, fertile, to an awful degree, of musquitoes, sand-flies, and hornets, who, sometimes alternately, sometimes en masse, attacked the unfortunate passengers. At night, the plagues were most numerous, and most tormenting. They entered the cabin in such clouds, as to extinguish all the lights. Their appetite for blood is insatiable. Woe ! to the untanned European who ventures beyond Silistria without a musquito net, for if he escape from their assaults, and the chorus of their hum, to which the weeping of Pandemonium is melody itself, by taking refuge on the deck, it is but passing from Scylla to Charybdis, for there he will probably catch the intermittent fever, another offspring of the
swamps.

Such was the rapidity of the current beyond Silistria, that even without the assistance of the engine, the steamer was borne onward with astonishing velocity to Hirsova, formerly a fortified town, constructed on a series of rocky eminences, which, in the last war, resisted the siege of the Russians for two months. It is now in ruins, the few habitations which are found there consisting entirely of mud. The rock on which the citadel stood, affords an extensive prospect over the vast plains of Wallachia and Bulgaria, to the chain of the Balkans, plains, blessed with a fine climate and a fertile soil, which industry might enrich with every species of useful produce, but which is now a wilderness. Pelicans and eagles are seen here in great abundance. Braila, the next port visited by the Pannonia, is
a commercial town of considerable importance in Wallachia. It has been recently resorted to by several English vessels. At a short distance beyond it is Galatz, in Moldavia, a town, which though chiefly consisting of mud houses, contains upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants, and has been rising rapidly in importance since the establishment of steam-boats on the Danube.

p. 216

Before that epoch, as we may justly style it, Galatz exhibited a picture of wretchedness. But Mr. Spencer mentions signs of improvement, which, though few, it is delightful to contemplate : an air of animation in the port pretty villas rising on the heights some eight or ten mercantile vessels, chiefly British, lying in the river and two Austrian steamers, one of which, the ” Ferdinando Primo,” trades between Galatz and Constantinople.

” In wandering through the town, I was more pleased with the aspect of the inhabitants than of their dwellings, as they formed a variety of groupes at once picturesque and interesting. In one place, under the verandah of a coffee-house, sat a crowd of Turks, languidly smoking the tchibouque: in another were to be seen, sauntering along the beach, a long range of most primitive-looking carriages, driven by Jews, Turks, Greeks or Moldavians, in their respective costumes, and attended by bare-legged footmen. Here the awkward military were attempting to perform their European evolutions ; and a stranger, on observing them, might deem they were afraid of gunpowder, as they never fired a salute without first making the sign of the cross on their foreheads. There Jews, in their long vestments and high fur caps, were selling their flimsy wares at a profit of cent, per cent., to the crew of an English vessel just released from quarantine ; and, to complete the picture, hundreds of men and boys were breasting the silvery current of the river, unencumbered with the superfluity of bathing dresses, beneath the eyes of numbers of fair ladies, who nevertheless seemed to regard the matter with the most perfect nonchalance.” vol. i. 84-5.

Mr. Spencer embarked on board the Ferdinando for Constantinople. Below Ismael, in the palmy days of Ottoman ascendancy one of the most beautiful and commercial towns in the empire, but now scarcely entitled to a dot on the map, commences the Delta of the Danube a vast sea, thickly studded with swampy islands covered with bulrushes the very type of extreme desolation. Among these islands, the river divides itself into various arms. some say seven, some six five four. The principal is the Suline, which mariners generally use, and the central line of which, according to the treaty of Adrianople, divides the Russian from the Turkish dominions.
Along this arm the Ferdinando was hurried with amazing velocity into the Euxine; the river still preserving its yellow turbid character for an immense distance, as it rolled through the clear dark-blue waters of the sea. It happened that at the moment a thunderstorm came on : the waves rose in mountains the tempest drove the steamer, like a feather, through the surge but she rode gallantly through, and, in a short time, reached Varna. The following morning her voyage to Stamboul was accomplished. Mr. Spencer states, that exclusive of table charges, which are

p. 217

rather high, the sum of eleven pounds sterling would cover the whole of his expenses from Vienna to Constantinople ; and that casting anchor each night at sunset, the tourist might perform the voyage, from one capital to the other, with the greatest ease,
in eight days. In the still imperfect state of things, he may, however, allow four days more for accidents.

The British trade to the Danube is as yet confined to sailing vessels, which proceed no higher than Galatz and Braila. Such is the force of the current, that no wind can contend against it; and it therefore becomes necessary to employ a considerable number of men to drag the vessels to their destination. The shore, unfortunately, is so marshy, and, where it ceases to be a swamp, so rocky, that the labour of these men is tremendous. The Russian authorities afford little encouragement to our enterprise in that quarter ; indeed, at first, they attempted, under the various pretexts of tolls and quarantine laws, to exclude us altogether from the Danube. But, a well-timed and vigorous remonstrance from Lord Palmerston, has put an end to those manoeuvres. Still the upward navigation of the Danube, especially through the embouchures, must be attended with many difficulties, which steam-power alone can overcome. It is certainly possible to cut a canal, or rather as some say, to re-open an old arm of the Danube, now filled up with sand, which, in ancient times, connected that river with the Euxine at Kustendji. The map shews, a little below Silistria, the lake of Rassova, extending thirteen miles in length, communicating with the Danube. From the eastern extremity of that lake to the
coast of the Black Sea, the direct distance does not appear to be quite twenty miles a distance not to be compared to that
through which the Dutch have cut from Amsterdam to the Helder, for their frigates and East India ships, merely to avoid the intricacies of the Zuyderzee. Such a canal, if executed upon an adequate scale, would be attended with great advantages. To
the merchant proceeding from the Bosphorus, it would shorten the way into the Danube by more than two hundred miles ; it would give him solid towing-ground, and would save him altogether from the necessity of passing near the frontiers of Russia. He might go up to George va, or even to Gladova, with ease, or descend to Braila and Galatz, with still more facility. That this great work will be achieved one day, we entertain little doubt ; but that day must be still distant, unless the undertaking be confided to British enterprise, capital, and skill. The natural riches of Moldavia, Wallachia, Servia, and Hungary, not to go farther, would alone justify such a labour, and even repay it, ” beyond the dreams of avarice.”

Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2009 at 11:29 PM and is filed under Dacia Felix, Danube Channel. RSS 2.0 feed.