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RO A D S.
HEN the state of a society has arrived at a high degree of industry and wealth, so many persons, and such quantities of goods, are set in motion, for the purpose of administering to its business and its luxuries, that it becomes of the greatest importance to construct the public roads in such a manner as to admit of travelling with rapidity and safety, and of reducing the cost of the carriage of goods to the lowest possible point.
To explain how these objects can be most effectually secured is the purpose of the following pages.
The measures necessary to be taken for affording the means of travelling with rapidity and
safety, and of transporting goods at low rates of carriage, form an essential part of the domestic economy
every people. The making of roads, in point of fact, is fundamentally essential to bring about the first change that every rude country must undergo in emerging from a condition of poverty and barbarism. It is, therefore, one of the most important duties of every government to take care that such laws be enacted, and such means provided, as are requisite for the making and maintaining of well-constructed roads into and throughout every portion of the territory under its authority.
M. Storch most correctly says, that, “after giving protection to property and person, a government can bestow on a nation no greater benefit than the improvement of its harbours, canals, and roads."*
Speaking of roads, the Abbé Reynal justly remarks, “ Let us travel over all the countries of the earth, and whenever we shall find no facility of travelling from a city to a town, or from a village to a hamlet, we may pronounce the people to be barbarians.”
It has been well said by a writer in the first volume of the Communications to the Board of
* Cours d'Economie Politique, vol. i. p. 188.
Agriculture, that “the conveniencies and beneficial consequences which result from a free and easy communication between different parts of a country are so various, the advantages of them so generally and so extensively felt by every description of individuals from the highest to the lowest, that no labour or expense should be spared in providing them. Roads, canals, and navigable rivers, may be justly considered as the veins and arteries through which all improvements flow. How many places in almost every country might be rendered doubly valuable, if access to them were practicable and easy!” Adam Smith says,
“ Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expense of carriage, put the remote parts of a country nearly on a level with those in the neighbourhood of a town; they are, upon that account, the greatest of all improvements.”
The establishing generally throughout a country of perfect roads is an object of no small importance in regard to public economy. In proportion as roads are level and hard, there will be a saving of horse labour ; fewer horses will be required; they will last longer, and a cheaper description of horse may be employed less engin food will be consumed, and fewer servants will be wanted. In consequence of this reduction
of expense, the charges for travelling will be lowered, and also the rates for the carriage of goods. An aggregate saving of expense to the public will thus annually take place, amounting to a considerable sum, either to be applied to other expenses, or to the accumulation of the national capital.
Before proceeding to show what is necessary to be done to secure good roads in this country, it will be useful to mention the conduct of other nations in this branch of political economy.
A description of this kind may serve to give a better tone to the ideas of those country gentlemen who are the trustees of the interests of the public in its road concerns; and encourage them to form a larger and more correct conception of their duties and their responsibility.
The following quotations are taken from the French Encyclopædia, under the head of Chemin. The very interesting information they contain will be a sufficient apology for their length:
“ The police of roads does not begin to show itself as worthy of consideration until the prosperous times of Greece. The senate of Athens watched over them. The Lacedæmonians, Thebans, and other states, confided them to the care of the most eminent men. It does not, how
ever, appear that this display of management produced any considerable effect in Greece. It was reserved for a commercial people to observe the benefits of facility of travelling and transporting goods; hence it is that the invention of paved roads is given to the Carthaginians.
“ The Romans did not neglect the example of the Carthaginians, and that part of their labours is not the least glorious to this people. The first road they made was the Via Appia, the second the Via Aurelia, the third the Via Flaminia. The public and the senate held the roads in such estimation, and took so great an interest in them, that under Julius Cæsar the principal cities of Italy all communicated with Rome by paved roads.
“ Their roads from that period began to be extended into the provinces.
During the last African war, the Romans made a road with rectangular broken stones (de cailloux taillés en quarré), from Spain through Gaul to the Alps. Domitius Enoberbus paved the Via Domitia, which led to Savoy, Dauphiny and Provence. The Romans made in Germania another Via Domitia.
• Augustus, when emperor, paid more attention to the great roads than he had done during his consulate. He conducted roads into the Alps;