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COPIES of CORRESPONDENCE between Individuals in this country and

Her Majesiy's Government, relative to proposed Railway across the Isthmus of Kraw : and of Despatch from the Governor General of India, with its Enclosures, on the same subject.

Mi. H. Wise to Sir Charles Wood.

Lloyds, 29 December 1859. I have the honour to inform you, that in reply to my application on the subject, I have received an official communication from the Government of Siam, sanctioning the construction of a railway across the narrow strip of Siamese territory which divides the Bay of Bengal from the Gulf of Siam, or, in other words, the Indian Ocean from the China Sea, whereby the distance to China will be corisiderably lessened, and the detour round the Malayan peninsula avoided. The reasons which have influenced the first King of Siam to make this valuable concession, afford satisfactory proof of the enlightened views entertained by the ruler of that interesting country. The Prime Minister writes from Bang-Kok on this point, as follows :—“ His Majesty would be averse to the proposed transit, were it not that it is connected with the advancement of civilization, to which end His Majesty has ever contributed his Royal support.” You will also be gratified, sir, to learn that the Government of Siam concede the right of navigating the rivers by which each end of the railway will be approached, and agree that the land required for the line shall have a boundary of one English statute mile in breadth throughout. It is also agreed, that the servants of the contractors of the railway, while resident in the Siamese dominions, shall be regarded as British subjects coming under the provisions of the treaty recently concluded with Her Majesty.

The length of the line will not much exceed 50 miles, and when this important connecting link in the chain of our communication with China is completed, the transit overland of mails and passengers from the Bay of Bengal to the Gulf of Siam, or vice versů, will be accomplished in about two hours, whereas the passage from sea to sea, via the present circuitous route through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, is seldom performed by sailing vessels in less than three weeks, and it frequently occupies double that time, owing to the calms and light airs prevalent throughout the Straits at all seasons of the year. You will gather, sir, from the preceding remarks, and from the statements contained in the accompanying memorandum relating to the railway:

1. That as there are no political, physical, or engineering difficulties of any kind, the line can be quickly and cheaply constructed.

2. That the communications by water with each end of the line are unexceptionable.

3. That the line commencing in sight of, and only two miles distant from the southern boundary of our Tenasserim Provinces, will proceed through a district equal in salubrity of climate, and richness of soil, to that highly favourable British settlement, Penang, the garden of the Indian Archipelago.

I may also, sir, point out that the railway will greatly facilitate the extension of telegraphic communication with China, by affording the necessary protection to the cables employed on that line—electric cables from Rangoon, traversing the Isthmus of Kraw by the side of the railway, and continued through the soft mud in the Gulf of Siam, along the coasts of Cochin China, and China, to Hong Kong, will be liable to fewer casualties than those cables which must inevitably cross many miles of jagged coral, if laid down by the Straits route.

It should likewise be mentioned that the reduction in the mileage of the steam vessels employed in the conveyance of the China mails, reckoning only the

number of passages now made, viz., two each way monthly, will exceed, when the new route is adopted, and the packets run to and from each terminus, 35,000 miles per annum, causing thereby a large annual saving in the expenditure for coals, wages, provisions, &c. connected with the performance of that part of the postal contract.

The geographical position of the line situated on, and forming part of the great highway both from Europe and India to China, is unrivalled. In fact, the railway may be fairly considered the complement, as it were, of the measures proposed and adopted during the last 20 years for perfecting one main direct line, by which alone all nations can communicate rapidly with China. It has been truly observed, " that two empires with 400 millions of population, have been thrown open to the energy and enterprise of the western world. France is already approaching those countries by the settlements she proposes to establish in Cochin China; and the rapid transmission of the treaty of Tien-Tsin to St. Petersburgh proves that Russia is not idle."

As you, sir, must be fully' alive to these and other indications, I cannot suppose that Her Majesty's Government will view with indifference a work which concerns the whole civilised world.

The Honourable Frederick Bruce, Her Majesty's representative in China, informed me before leaving England that he had thoroughly investigated the question of shortening the distance to China by making the Isthmus route available, and that he duly estimated its political importance. Mr. Bruce also concurred with me in thinking that the substitution of a railway for the canal I originally proposed, was for many reasons prudent and judicious. The Government of Siam, after considering the representations I made relative to both plans, have arrived, it appears, at the same conclusion.

I beg permission to add that I deemed it my duty to furnish Her Majesty's consul at Bang-Kok with a copy of my application to the first King of Siam respecting the railway. Sir Robert Schomburgk, I find by the tenor of his reply to that communication, entertains the same opinions as Mr. Bruce; he also adverts to the advantages which the line will confer on the commercial community, and expressed the satisfaction it will afford him to give all the assistance in his power to so useful an undertaking. You are, I presume, aware, sir, that Sir John Bowring, late Governor of Hong Kong, has for many years given his attention to the Isthmus route, and although strongly in favour of a canal, he will, I am sure, on learning the decision of the Siamese Government, heartily concur in the mode now proposed for accelerating our communication with China.

You will, I am satisfied, sir, fully appreciate the great value and importance of the railway to our policy and progress in the East, and considering how many objects of public utility it will facilitate, especially in reference to our relations with India and China, and the urgent necessity that may at any hour again arise for the rapid transit of troops to or from those countries, I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government will afford their cordial support and encouragement to those parties who accomplish a work of such vast consequence to the political and commercial interests of this country.

MEMORANDUM relating to the Isthmus of Kraw RailwAY.

The direction of the line, commencing on the south bank of the Pak-Chan River, in the Bay of Bengal, and terminating on that of the Champon River in the Gulf of Siam, will proceed southward of the road travelled by Major-general Tremenheere, who, in March 1843, when executive engineer of the Tenasserim Provinces, walked across the Isthmus. The line will nearly approach the track of land marked out by Sir Robert Schomburgk as the course of the proposed canal, and will run through a more lerel district than that visited by Major General Tremenheere. From the statements in that officer's report relative to the general features of the country in this part of the isthmus, and especially his reference to the alluvial plains of both the Pak-Chan and Champon Rivers, it is manifest that no obstacles of a physical nature exist, and, consequently, there are no engineering difficulties of any kind to prevent the line from being quickly and cheaply constructed.

ös The entrance of the Pak-Chan River,” Major General Tremenheere states, “is about two miles wide, affording ample room and deep water for the admission of ships of the largest burthen. For the first ten iniles it is very slightly contracted in breadth, and has

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110 red, by the House of Commons, to be printed,17" March, 1863.

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