Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Address on the Progress of Applied Science in Canterbury [Philosophical Institute, 18th March, 1880.]

page break

Address on the Progress of Applied Science in Canterbury,

Christchurch: Printed at the "Lyttelton Times" Office, Gloucester Street. MDCCCLXXX.

page break

Address on the Progress of Applied Science in Canterbury.

Gentlemen,—It is now nearly 14 years since I had the honour of addressing you at the annual meeting of the Institute in 1866 on behalf of Dr Ven Haast, whose engagements in connection with the Paris Exhibition prevented him at that time from delivering the customary address. I then took advantage of the opportunity afforded me of reviewing the state of applied science in Canterbury, and in taking the Presidential chair to which you have recently called me, I think I cannot do better than to resume the consideration of this interesting subject, pointing out both what has been accomplished during the last 14 years, and at the same time calling your attention to some of the engineering questions which arise from the natural growth of the Colony, and on the satisfactory solution of which depends much of our future progress.

Railways.—The Lyttelton tunnel, which was in progress at the date of my last address (and which forms the key to the whole system of Canterbury railways), has long since been completed, and the extension of the railway system has proceeded with rapid strides until the aggregate length of the Canterbury Railways alone reaches to between 300 and 400 miles. I cannot but regret as an unfortunate circumstance, the change of gauge from 5ft 3in to 3ft 6in, a change, the heavy cost of which as regards the alteration of the lines constructed on the wider gauge, is trifling compared with the blow inflicted upon the future efficiency of the railway system throughout the Colony, an injury which, although at present scarcely felt, except in the increased cost of the maintenance and working of the narrower gauge, will be found productive of great difficulty whenever the traffic begins to exceed the limited carrying-capacity of a single narrow-gauge line. The popular feeling in favour of narrow gauge railways excited some ten years back by the persistent advocacy of the promoters of the Fairlie engine, would appear to have subsided under the crucial test of experience. It is now clearly understood that the constructive cost of a railway depends on the width of the rolling stock, the weight to be carried on each axle, and the speed at which the load is to be moved, and that the width between the rails is a matter which has little effect on the cost of first construction, whilst that of maintenance is inversely as the gauge, the cost of keeping in order a line of 3ft 6in gauge being greatly in excess of that of the maintenance of a line on the 5ft 3in gauge, the amount of traffic being the same. Further, it is easy to understand that the reduction of the gauge renders it necessary to lower the centre of gravity of the engine, which involves a corresponding reduction in the diameter of the driving wheels. It is self-evident that in an engine with 30 inch driving wheels, the number of strokes per minute made by the piston, must be double that required in an engine with 5ft driving wheels to travel at the same rate. But as with the reduction of the gauge, we have also a reduction in the width of the fire grate and the diameter of the boiler, the steam generating power is also reduced, and hence a reduction of gauge means practically a reduc- page 2 tion in speed. This is a point which is practically ignored by the advocates of narrow gauge, but it is one of the greatest importance in a financial point of view, when funds cannot be obtained for the construction of a double line; because on a single line of rail which can only be worked at low rates of speed, it may happen that the maximum carrying power is absorbed before the minimum paying limit has been reached by the traffic; whilst an increase of speed from 12 to 25 miles per hour would enable double the number of passenger trains to be run in the same time without any increase in the quantity of rolling stock or the number of servants employed. Briefly, then, to sum up some of the most important reasons against the employment of the narrower gauge, it may be said:—1. That the placing the rails closer together effects no appreciable diminution of the cost of construction whilst it greatly increases that of maintenance; and 2. That the reduction of speed consequent on the reduction of the diameter of the driving wheels and of the steam generating power of the engine, involves an additional outlay of capital in rolling stock and an increase in the staff necessary for working a remunerative traffic, as compared with lines worked at the speed ordinarily employed on gauges of 4ft 8½ in and upwards. Although the New Zealand railways have proved of immense benefit in developing the progress of the Colony, they cannot yet be said to be a success in a financial point of view, the working expenses at the present time absorbing an exceptionally large percentage of the receipts, thus failing altogether to provide for the interest of the loans under which they have been constructed, whilst no reserve fund has as yet been established for renewals. It would be altogether premature to give any opinion as to the causes for this unsatisfactory result, and it is to be hoped that, with the progress of settlement and the consequently increased passenger traffic on the branch lines, a far different proportion may be established between receipt and expenditure; but it will be interesting to watch future statistics and to analyse carefully the effect of the reduction of engine power and speed consequent on the use of the narrow gauge, upon the financial results of the next ten years' working of our lines. A careful comparison at the end of that period, of the working of the New Zealand, Queensland and Tasmanian lines on the 3ft 6in gauge with that of the New South Wales lines on the 4ft 8½ in, and of the Victorian lines on the 5ft 3in gauges respectively, cannot fail to give most instructive results. A very important question presents itself in connection with the future extension of the New Zealand railway system, viz., the gradients and motive power to be adopted in the construction of the lines across the ranges separating the East and West Coasts of the Middle Island. Whatever route may be selected between Canterbury and Westland, the nature of the country is such that surface gradients are for considerable distance quite unattainable on a direct line, whilst the extent of tunneling required to attain grades of even 1 in 50 would involve too great a cost for the work to be undertaken with any hope of a remunerative traffic. There are four ways which present themselves for overcoming this difficulty. 1. To obtain workable gradients by doubling back on the hillsides with a series of zigzags, as on the Blue Mountain line, N.S.W. 2. To adopt severe gradients worked by locomotives, with horizontal driving wheels, gripping a central rail as was done on the Mont Cenis Summit line, or with toothed drivers working on a rack, as on the Mount Righi line. 3. To introduce inclines worked with ropes by stationary engines, as on the Santo Paulo railway in Brazil. 4. To adopt the atmospheric system as on the St Germains railway near Paris. The first plan is costly, as to obtain locomotive gradients on some of the proposed routes the direct distance would be increased sixfold. The second plan is open to the objection of inefficiency; the gross load that can be taken up a steep incline in this way being very limited, whilst the engine itself forms a very considerable portion of the load. The third plan is perhaps the best where inclines are short and direct, but on a long winding incline the weight of the rope, and the fraction at the curves are serious obstacles to either efficient or economical working. Lastly the atmospheric system, which at first sight, would seem to afford a satisfactory solution of the problem, as being free from the objections which apply to the three first named plans, cannot be applied to gradients steeper than those which can readily be worked by the ordinary locomotive except with a size of exhaust pipe far in excess of any hitherto used, and at a corresponding cost; although there is little doubt that the mechanical efficiency of the plan would be perfect unless interfered with by the winter frost. It is worth while to consider how far it would be practicable to employ hydraulic propulsion by means of a piston working in a pipe similar to those used in the atmospheric system, the motive power being a stream of water forced through the pipe from a pumping station, advantage being taken of the ample water power afforded by the mountain torrents issuing from the passes. I make this suggestion as being a new application of stationary power which might be employed with advantage in situations where, from the length of the inclines and the sharpness of the curves, rope traction would be unsuitable, and haulage by ordinary locomotives impossible.

Roads.—Turning from railways to ordinary cart roads, it is gratifying to observe how efficiently the country has been opened up during the last few years, the mileage of metalled roads and the number of important bridges constructed under the management of the Road Boards being very considerable. A caution may here not be out of place with regard to the system ordinarily pursued of road-making on the plains. First, the ground is ploughed over, breaking up the natural crust and leaving the surface both rough and loose. Next, this loose stuff is dragged with scoops and harrows from the sides to the centre, leaving on each side an irregular water-table; and, page 3 lastly, round shingle is carted on to the crown of the road and spread on a portion of the width thus "formed," as the process is ironically called. The subsequent history of these roads is well known. Teamsters and horsemen shun the new metal (which soon becomes covered with a luxuriant growth of thistles), and travel on the unmetalled sides of the new formation. In a short time the light soil is blown by the summer wind, and scoured by the winter's rains until the water tables become deep and dangerous ruts, and the road sides are worn into hollows and it becomes necessary to reform and re-metal the whole road in order to make it passable. The final result is no doubt satisfactory, but the intermediate processes are costly to the ratepayers and harassing to travellers. It would be much better in the majority of cases to dispense with the forming process altogether, simply paring down lumps and filling up hollows and pig-rootings with stuff to be obtained from water-tables cut at the fencing line, and to form the slight crown required to throw off the water with the first coat of metal. On this system the natural crust remains unbroken, there is a better foundation for the metal, and as the whole width of the road is open for traffic, the metal when worked upon is less cut up, and lasts far longer without repair. I may here revert to a subject to which I repeatedly called the attention of the Government whilst I held the office of Provincial Engineer, viz., the importance of having all roads through hilly country carefully graded by men who have had a special training for this work, which is that of the civil engineer, not of the land surveyor. It would be difficult to overestimate the difficulty, expense and annoyance which has arisen, notably in Bank's Peninsula, but also in many other places, from the road reserves having been laid off without the regard to even the possibility of road construction within their limits, and looking to the probable extension of settlement amongst the net work of vallies lying between the foot-hills and the spurs of the great Alpine chain, it is desirable that a satisfactory system of roading these districts should be initiated at an early date before access to the land in the rear is blocked by the purchase of the points which are the key to the possession of the back country.

Geodetic Survey.—There are few things which in a scientific point of view it is more satisfactory to record than the establishment of the survey of geodetic survey initiated by the late Surveyor General, which may be succinctly described as the division of the country into circuits of such extent that within their limits the spherical form of the earth may be disregarded, the bearings of the sides of the minor triangulations being referred to a central meridian and the whole of the work calculated by plane trigonometry. It has been objected to this system that it is only a compromise, but such must be every system of projection on which it is proposed to represent a curved by a plane surface; and it has the great advantages of simplicity and efficiency, the theoretical errors arising from neglecting the [sphericity of the earth's surface being less than thos of actual measurement in ordinary work. I have always had a strong feeling in favour of using the conical projection for the working surveys of a new country, treating the latitude comprised in each map as the width of a frustrum of a cone. This system of plotting is, however, a scientific refinement, which is perhaps more a matter of sentiment than of practical utility, and it may be fairly said that the system set on foot by Mr Thomson leaves nothing to be desired with regard to the objects for which it is especially designed, namely, the correct description of all lands purchased from the Crown; whilst its simplicity commends it to all who are practically acquainted with the difficulties attending the establishment of boundaries which have been original fixed, without reference to a sound system of geodetic survey. In connection with the subject of geodetic survey, I cannot but refer with great satisfaction to the work now being carried on of determining the alignment of the roads through Christchurch and its suburbs, by fixing stone blocks at the intersections of the streets, by reference to which all future disputes as to frontage can be decided without difficulty. It would be a great boon to the public if the levels of these blocks above high water mark j were ascertained, and marked on the skeleton maps on which their positions are recorded.

Determination of Altitudes.—A much wanted work, which might be carried on with advantage in connection with the geodetic survey, is the determination over the whole country of a series of permanent bench marks, referred to high water mark at Port Lyttelton. The establishment of these bench marks would enable the Surveyors of the several road districts to refer levels taken by them to a common datum, so that the information recorded from time to time on the maps of the Road Board districts, would be at once available in the consideration of any extended scheme of drainage or irrigation. The cost of this work would not be great, whilst it would be difficult to over-estimate the value of the assistance which would be thus afforded in the development of the resources of the country.

Barometer Levels.—Some years ago I had the honour of submitting a paper to this Institution on the use of the aneroid barometer, accompanied by a set of tables, which have since been published, showing the altitudes in feet, corresponding to each 100th of an inch of mercurial pressure, calculated for a mean temperature of 32° Fahr.. and a mercurial pressure of 30in. at the sea level. It has been with much interest that I have subsequently learnt that the Prussian Government have made use of the aneroid in an extensive series of levelling operations, observers at bench marks determined by the spirit level, recording at short intervals throughout the day the variations from the normal atmospheric pressure due to the altitudes of the bench marks, these variations being applied as corrections to the field notes, which were afterwards completed by adding the altitudes corresponding to the corrected barometer readings. I need scarcely remind you that the great drawback to the use of barometer observa- page 4 tions in the determination of altitudes, has been the difficulty of making the necessary corrections for variations of temperature and moisture. The simple method of using the aneroid just described, entirely removes this objection, and the results of the Prussian work are stated to be minutely correct. I would suggest that great assistance might be rendered to all engaged upon pioneer work in the hilly districts, whether engaged in planning water races, laying out roads, or exploring for railway purposes, by establishing barometer observations on a more detailed scale than has yet been attempted, say at ten minute intervals from sunrise to sunset, the barometric wave being plotted on a large scale for each day and lithographed for general use, the normal reading due to the altitude of the station being taken as the datum, so that the variation at each minute of the day could be scaled of! the plot for the correction of the field notes of observers in all parts of the country. There should be one observing station on each coast, say at Lyttelton and Hokitika, and one at a high altitude on each side of the dividing range, say at the Bealey telegraph office and at the foot of the Otira Gorge. If this system were faithfully carried out, the work of preparing trial sections across the ranges would be greatly simplified, as the altitudes could be inserted in the corrected field notes from inspection of the tables with less trouble than is involved in making up a level book. And the system has, moreover, the advantage that the altitudes being all referred to the sea level, the work may be commenced at a number of points and plotted correctly in position without its being connected by actual observation, as would be required in work done with the spirit level. Thus, in crossing a mountain range through which it is proposed to tunnel, two points at the same level on opposite sides of the range can be found approximately by the barometer, without levelling over the summit, as would be necessary if the spirit level were used. The system of daily observations which I have just recommended would enable work of this kind to be carried out with a very considerable degree of accuracy, except in times of great atmospheric disturbance, which would be shown by differences between the variations recorded at the four permanent stations, and would, therefore, be readily detected.

Irrigation.—The irrigation of the Canterbury Plains has for a long time occupied public attention. It is now several years since works were started by the Provincial Government of Canterbury for the irrigation of the district between the Waimakariri and the Selwyn, and the headworks near Malvern, on the Kowai (from which the water is to be taken), have been completed for some time, and contracts are in hand under the Selwyn County Council for the completion of a portion of the race above Sheffield, but no plan has yet been adopted for the continuation of the race to the plains, or for the distribution of the water to consumers. The Selwyn County Council have also put in hand a plan for supplying water from the Hororata, one of the tributaries of the Selwyn, to a district comprising 70,000 acres between the Selwyn and Rakaia rivers, the head works of which are now being set out for contract. The system decided on is to take the water down the sides of the principal roads in small wooden flumes, the distribution being effected by branch races through the private properties, the control of the water being managed by upright shutters in the main and branch races. Going further south, the Ash-burton County Council is occupied with the consideration of the best means of watering the country between the Rakaia and Ashburton, but the engineering details are not yet before the public. The Canterbury Plains are remarkable for characteristics which can be best described by putting them in opposition with each other. Their fall seawards is very great, ranging from 20 to 40 feet per mile; yet the shingly soil is so absorbent, that the ordinary rainfall rapidly sinks into the ground. The summer droughts are often severe, yet from time to time there are excessive rainfalls which cover large districts with a sheet of water, the force of which is sufficient to carry away substantial fences and to scour deep gullies on the lines of the field-ditches and along the roads where the natural surface has been broken up in the process of road formation; and, lastly, whilst the principal rivers, which rise in the alpine chain, carry most water in the summer, when the snow is melting from the ranges, I the minor streams which rise in the gullies of the foothills are nearly dry at this season, although near their source they carry considerable streams which sink lower down into the loose shingle which forms their beds. The construction of water-races through a loose, porous soil on such a fall is a matter of serious difficulty. It was orginally proposed to construct the Malvern water-race on a serpentine plan, so as to reduce the gradient below the scouring point; but however desirable this may have been, the work remained in abeyance until the scheme was rendered impossible by the purchase of the lands I through which the race must have passed. The cost of either earthenware or iron pipes is simply prohibitive, considering the quantity of water to be delivered. Unlined open ditches would soon be scoured into gullies of great depth (the shingle becoming rapidly disintegrated be hydrostatic pressure), unless cut in a series of level pools with falls of timber or masonry at the changes of level. The plan recommended to the Selwyn County Council by the engineers called in to report upon the continuation of the works of the Malvern water-race (the first portion of which was constructed in level pools with concrete falls), was to construct the main races on the direct fall of the country, simply as open ditches lined with concrete, the branch races being merely timber flumes. Whatever system of construction be ultimately employed for the Malvern water-race, the importance of its object, and the great additional value which it will confer on the lands along which it passes, will lead to the works being watched with great interest, as their successful completion will be the signal for the initiation of page 5 similar works over a large area of country, in which settlement is retarded or almost entirely absent, on account of the absence of natural creeks, and the great depth to which it is necessary to sink to obtain water from wells.

River Conservation.—From the irrigation of the plains, the transition is natural to the consideration of the best means of keeping the rivers from changing their channels, and converting valuable estates into worthless shingle banks. Without any attempt to estimate the loss which has taken place from this cause, and speaking merely of cases coming within my personal knowledge, I may refer to the scouring away of several thousand acres in the vahey of the Rakaia, and the destruction of much valuable land on the Ashburton, whilst in the neighbourhood of Kaiapoi many rich farms have been ruined by the Waimakariri having taken a new course through Kaiapoi Island, which appears likely to become the permanent main channel, whilst the North Branch, which 13 years ago was carrying the great bulk of the water, is now silted up, and in many parts fenced and under crop. Only very recently the Selwyn County Council had made preparations for building a bridge over the Hororata, when the project had to be abandoned from the fact that the shingle brought down by freshes raised its bed in places above the level of the road on which the bridge was intended to be built. This is not the time to discuss the merits of different systems of river protection, and whether it is best to use groins, as employed by the South Waimakariri Board of Conservators; or training walls, as adopted on the plains of Lombardy by the Italian engineers; or the combination of groins and embankments now being tried in the Rhine Valley above Lake Constance; but I would call attention to two important axioms, which are of universal application:—1st. That no encroachment can be made upon the area of discharge of any river without an alteration being produced in its regime, either by the widening of its channel or the deepening of its bed; and 2nd. That no works of river improvement can be undertaken with the probability of a successful result, unless they are based on complete hydrographic surveys extending over the whole width of the stream to be dealt with. Bearing these two axioms in mind, I think it will be conceded, on the principle of prevention being better than cure, that the system to be pursued should be rather to regulate the regime of the rivers by placing each one in its entire course under the control of a River Commission, than to establish separate Boards of Conservators, acting independently of each other for the protection of the lands lying on the river banks; and I cannot better wind up these remarks on river conservation than by quoting a passage from a report on the state of the Waimakariri river recently made to the Kaiapoi Borough Council, in which the writer expresses himself as follows:—" It is very desirable that in future the whole of the river from bank to bank should be under one management, the object of which should be, not the protection of any particular district, but the establishment of a permanent channel, which shall carry down the flood water from the back country to the sea without injury to its banks, and without flooding the low-lying lands on the coast, and at the same time to concentrate the whole of the drainage of these districts in such a manner as to assist the navigation of the Estuary, and to do this without in any way reducing the area of the tidal backwater."

Water Supply of Towns.—Since I last addressed you the port town of Lyttelton has been reticulated and supplied with water from artesian wells at Heathcote, the water being pumped into a reservoir on a spur of the Port Hills, from which it flows by gravitation to the town through a main laid in the railway tunnel. Works are also in hand for supplying Timaru with water from the Pareora, several miles distant. The town of Christchurch is now well supplied with water for domestic purposes, very few houses being without artesian wells, the water from which rises several feet above the ground throughout the greater part of the town. Water is, however, urgently required for the extinction of fires, the supply for this purpose being limited to public tanks, also fed by artesian wells, but which are neither sufficiently large or numerous. If the streets were reticulated, the water now running to waste could be utilised to supply more than is required for the flushing of the street channels and the extinction of fires, and an ample supply for either of these purposes could be obtained at any part of the town by simply opening the nearest fire-plug. Considering the security to property and the reduction in the rates of insurance, which would naturally follow the making of ample provision for fire extinction, it is to be hoped that the City Council will before long put in hand this very necessary work.

Town Sewerage.—I have to record the establishment of a Drainage Board for the Christchurch district, which has already effected great improvements in the surface drainage of the town by the construction of storm-water sewers. The principal work, however, undertaken by the Board is the establishment of a complete system of deep sewera for removing the house slops and the excreta from the closets, it being proposed to pump up the sewage and discharge it on the sandhills to the east of the town. I may remind you that the opinions of experts at home run strongly both for and against this system. The advocates of water carriage for the excreta extol the cleanliness of that system, whilst their opponents point out the waste of water involved, the difficulty of keeping in order the most simple machinery in the houses inhabited by the working class, the amount of disease which usually attends the connections of the house drains with the sewers from the poisoning of the dwellings with sewer gas, and the difficulty of providing proper outfalls for the sewage without polluting the rivers and water-courses, or establishing disgusting nuisances in the shape of sewage irrigation works. It is unfortunately notorious that one of the largest and most successful schemes of page 6 sewerage (I refer to that lately established in London), has also been a gigantic failure in the last named respects, the River Thames having become polluted in a few years to an extent that could not have been credited, were it not for the minutely detailed official reports lately published, from which we learn not only that the concentrated sewerage and filth of the metropolis is daily floated up by the tide to be deposited at slack water, but that the river bed is in many place covered with deep deposits of sewage mud, which interfere with the navigation, and the partial removal of which by dredging will cause an annual outlay of many thousand pounds. In the case of Christchurch we have several circumstances favourable to sewer construction, as notably a supply of artesian water for flushing the house drains, and a considerable area of barren sandhills on the coast, which will probably absorb the sewage without unpleasant effects, but the results will be watched with much interest, not only by the medical profession, but by the public generally. I would urge on the. Board of Health the adoption of a system of fever maps, to be filled up periodically year by year, and by reference to which it would be clearly seen whether the recurrence of certain forms of disease is due to permanent local causes, or to special circumstances unconnected with locality; and it would be most interesting to trace out on a series of such maps how far disease is coincident with the saturation of the soil or the want of surface drainage, and to what extent typhoid fever prevails in places where the house drains are connected with the sewers, as compared with those localities in which the house slops are flushed down the open street channels. I would here call the attention of the medical members of the Institute to the amount of illness which is commonly reported to follow the opening of the ground for the construction of the Christchurch sewers. To an unprofessional observer, the stench arising from the rotting swamp vegetation turned up, and from the water pumped out of the excavations, is sufficient to account for much personal inconvenience, but it is very desirable that the subject should receive careful investigation. It would also be desirable to ascertain how far the results coincide with those which in the old world follow the stirring of the soil for the construction of new streets in old established cities, and which are known as diseases connected with what are comprehensively termed "les remuemens des terres." Whilst, however, a costly and comprehensive system of drainage is being carried out by the Drainage Board, there are many improvements which might be effected at little expense, and the neglect of which is most prejudicial to the public health, yet which receive no attention from the local authorities. Amongst these may be mentioned; the compulsory abolition of cesspits throughout the town and suburbs; the improvement of the surface drainage in those blocks where the street channels are laid at too high a level to take off the water from the adjoining properties; the laying down of proper channels to take the overflow from the artesian wells instead of allowing it to saturate the ground round the dwellings; the compulsory periodical removal of offal and refuse from the back yards, and the provision of proper soil pans for the closets, which should be taken away and cleansed instead of being merely emptied into the scavengers' carts. If these essentials were carried out throughout the city, and the artesian water distributed through the streets by a network of pipes connected with the public tanks, few cities would equal Christchurch in the completeness of its sanitary arrangements.

Street Tramways.—As connected with the subject of town improvement, I may mention that the first street tramway in Canterbury was opened for traffic in Christchurch on March 9, 1880. Street tramways have been in use for some time at Wellington and Dunedin, whilst at Nelson there is a line from the city to the port, which for many years has been successfully worked by horsepower.

Gas Lighting.—Gasworks are now established at Ashburton, Dunedin, and Lyttelton, as well as in Christchurch, but the price of gas has not yet been reduced sufficiently low to lead to its being generally used for cooking as in the neighbouring Colony of Victoria.

Harbour Works.—The successful completion of the Lyttelton harbour works under the direction of the Lyttelton Harbour Board, which has been little more than three years in existence, is one of the most gratifying instances of progress which I have to record. The two breakwaters, which separate the inner from the outer harbour, enclose a sheltered basin having an area of 110 acres, which has been dredged out to a depth of from 16 to 23 feet at low water, the rise of tide being about 7 feet. The whole length of wharfage provided by the breakwaters and jetties is about 11,000 feet, which gives ample room for berthing 20 ocean-going ships and steamers, as well as accommodating the intercolonial steam marine and the vessels engaged in the coasting trade. Rails are laid along the wharves, so that they form an extension of the railway station, the site of which has been obtained by reclaiming from the sea a largo area immediately in front of the town. The facilities thus given for discharging and loading vessels are very great; the large intercolonial steamers come direct to the jetties at all times of the tide, and English ships embark their passengers, and haul off from the wharves for a voyage half round the world at the hour previously advertised, with the punctuality of a river steamer. The Harbour Board have recently let a contract for the construction of a graving dock, capable of docking a first-class ironclad, which will have an entrance 62 feet wide, with a depth of 23 feet on the sill at high water. At Timaru a concrete breakwater is in course of construction, alongside which it is proposed to load and discharge shipping of large tonnage, when the work has been sufficiently advanced to give the requisite depth of water. This is an interesting engineering experiment, as the check given to the northerly set of the shingle is likely to lead to considerable hydro-graphic changes along the coast line; but it would be premature to express any opinion as to the ultimate success of the work.

page 7

Agricultural Machinery.—The introduction of agricultural machinery has attained a remarkable development amongst us, the moral effect of which is beginning to make itself felt in all directions. There is now no difficulty experienced for want of harvest hands; the crops are gathered in far more quickly and cheaply than could be done by manual labour alone; the farmers have a larger wages fund at their disposal for carrying on the ordinary work of the farm and the improvement of their lands; and men are beginning to look forward to steady employment throughout the year at tolerably uniform wages, instead of idling for weeks together in anticipation of harvest work at an extravagant rate of remuneration, which simply goes to swell the profits of the tavern-keeper.

There are many interesting details connected with my subject which I am obliged to pass over or to note with but a brief word of comment. In connection with harbour works, I may advert to the numerous lighthouses established on the New Zealand coasts, which enable our harbours to be approached night or day with equal facility. It is pleasant to record that full use is made by our Telegraph Department of the recent discoveries in telegraphy and telephony, and we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Christchurch Museum has become a "household word," not only in the Australasian Colonies, but in the mouths of European scientists; and that whilst Canterbury maintains the high place which from its first foundation it has taken amongst the neighbouring settlements, New Zealand itself is coming to the front amongst other nations in a manner which is remarkable, when we take into consideration the short term of years which has elapsed since its colonisation by a generation of pioneers of which the advanced guard is only now beginning to pass away from our midst. And lastly, in concluding these remarks, I wish to impress on your minds that the success which, under God's blessing, has attended the colonisation of New Zealand, has been in a great measure due to the scientific element which has pervaded the councils of its rulers. In spite of many mistakes and shortcomings, who can say how much of the prosperity and social well-being of the Canterbury settlers has not been due to the able administration of the Departments of Lands and Works in the Canterbury Province? And I think it important that this fact should be both recognised and publicly acknowledged, in order that in the development of our educational institutions, scientific training may receive its full share of attention, instead of being simply tolerated, or altogether set aside in favour of the study of dead languages, which the classicists of the old school deem the principal element in a so-called liberal education.

The study of Greek and Latin, however valuable as a system of mental training; as affording models for the expression of thought, and as a foundation for a thorough knowledge of the languages of western Europe, has no further result as a preparation for the active duties of life in that world into which man has been sent "to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow," nor can it for a moment be seriously contended that the study of the licentious obscenities of the Roman poets can have other than a degrading influence on the minds of our youths entering upon manhood.

The excellence of the literature of the Greeks and Romans was the natural reflexion of their national greatness. Their orators did not rise to fame through writing nonsense verses, nor did their authors perfect their style by translating unmeaning common-places into the disused languages of fallen nations. They spoke and wrote out of the fullness of their hearts of the stirring events passing before their eyes and of the national life in which they played no unimportant parts, and hence the nervous simplicity of the language they employed. If the Greeks as poets and historians have left us in their writings models of compositions which have never been surpassed, they were also the greatest sculptors and architects that the world has produced, as well, as being consummate geometricians, whilst they also excelled in astronomical and medical science. The heroes of the Iliad, those especially who had been liberally educated, according to the standard of that day, were not mere fighting men, but skilful mechanics, who prided themselves on the excellence of their work, and spared no pains to bring it to perfection. In that episode in the wanderings of Ulysses which is related in the sixth and seventh books of the Odyssey, and which will be always read with delight on account of the exquisite description of the well ordered home in Corfu, of which the fair Nausicaa was the brightest ornament; Ulysses is described as being struck with admiration at the sight of the well piled entrance to the harbour, and we have allusions to the systematic division of the waste lands amongst the first settlers in Corfu, the erection of houses and temples for the use of the new arrivals, and the supply of water to the port town, whilst Nausicaa extols her father's thoughtfulness for his household in bringing through the domestic offices a stream of water by means of pipes laid from the springs in his allotment. Even Nausicaa herself shows her mechanical instinct when she asks her father for the loan of the mule cart with "high" wheels, that she may lose no time whilst taking the family washing to the public washing troughs, erected by the municipal authorities near the beach, at some distance from the town. So again, amongst the ruins of Ephesus, recently laid open by the excavations made under the direction of Mr Wood; whilst we are struck with the richness of the sculptured decorations of the temple of the great Di and of the Ephesians, we are brought face to face with evidences of the attention paid to geodesy as shown by the boundary stones fixing the widths of the roads and watercourses, and by a decree recorded in one of the inscriptions, that in the division of an estate on the foreclosure of a mortgage, roads must be set out to the homesteads, the temples and the springs of water. What does all this mean, but that science and page 8 art went hand in hand in the training of the Greek, and were inseparably connected with every detail of public and private life?

And when we turn from Greece to Rome in her palmiest days, we find the same state of things to prevail, except that the art was less pure, and that there was a greater development in the direction of mechanical science. At the bottom of the success of the Romans as conquerors and colonisers, lay the broad fact that they were the greatest engineers of the time. Their harbours, their aqueducts, their bridges, their lines of road through Europe and the public buildings erected wherever their dominion extended, are simply so many illustrations of applied science in a high state of development. If Virgil wrote his æneid to the delight of Emperors and the torment of school boys, he wrote also on sowing and reaping, the breeding of stock and the keeping of bees. Cæsar's commentaries would never have been handed down to us as models of précis writing, if Cæsar himself had not been an able engineer officer, whose writings are marked by the clearness of arrangement and precision of detail which characterised his movements for the reduction of the Gaulish fortresses; and Cicero's attack upon the tribune Clodius, in which the latter is accused of desecrating the ashes of his Alban forefathers, had for its immediate occasion, the laying out of the road through Alba Longa, near Rome, when the engineers employed on its alignment cut through the ancient necropolis, which even at that remote date, had been buried for unknown ages under the tufas of the long extinct volcano of Mont Albano. If then we would truly follow the example left us by the Greeks and Romans, we shall, like them give due prominence in our educational course to scientific studies, bearing in mind that science is but another name for the knowledge of God's works and of His will as expressed in what we term natural laws, and that the better we; understand these laws, and the more we live in accordance with them, so in proportion will be not only our material prosperity, but our success in battling with the ignorance, disease, and misery, which must ever be present in this world whilst it is inhabited by sinful men.

And what work can be more noble than this? or how can we pay too much honour to those men who devote their lives to the advancement of science, casting as it were their bread on the waters of public opinion, and content to take for their reward the satisfaction of having worked for the benefit of their fellow men. Let this then be the spirit in which the work of this and of kindred institutions shall be carried on, each of its members, in his own special sphere of action, carefully recording facts and collecting data for future reference, on all points of scientific interest that come within his observation, without thought of personal distinction or consideration of pecuniary gain; and so by our separate, yet united endeavours, we may be able to assist in laying broad and deep, the solid foundations of a national life, greater and more noble than was that of the classical nations of antiquity, and in fostering the growth of a national literature, which shall continue to bear fruit after the very nanus of Greece and Rome have faded into oblivion.

Printed at the "Times" Office, Christchurch,