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lands. Though an equal annual rainfall in the Great Plains region is not sufficient to produce forest growth, the Netherlands were practically entirely forest-clad at a period not so very remote, and probably would be so now but for the deforestation which has naturally attended its settlement. This anomaly is easily explained by three factors: the consistency of the Dutch soil, which renders it capable of absorbing and holding large quantities of water; the inexhaustible perennial streams and other bodies of water that feed it, and last, but not least, the even distribution

of the rainfall throughout the year. The lack of ample precipitation is thus more than offset by the humid condition of the soil, which makes aridity impossible.

After reviewing all the difficulties and perils with which the Hollander has had to contend in the building up of his country, it at first sight appears strange that he should ever give up any portion of his valuable lands to the dangerous element that he has for centuries fought so desperately. But as in the course of the history of every nation it sometimes becomes necessary that the welfare of one or more individuals should be sacrificed for the good of the country or of the world at large, so there are times when the people of the Netherlands do not hesitate to cause large areas of land to be inundated in order to save what is dearer and more valuable. Recourse is had to such practice during the season of high waters on the rivers and also during times of war.


The rivers that flow through the Netherlands, like most streams of the northern hemisphere that flow in a northerly direction, are subject during the early spring months to ice jams and sudden flood discharges along their lower courses-a condition well nigh inevitable, as their waters flow from a warmer to a colder climate. In the Netherlands the Rhine, owing to the many channels into which it divides, can be controlled with far greater security than the Meuse, which, though a much smaller river, has a greater fall, and in its narrow, tortuous bed becomes when swollen a source of great danger, threatening to overtop its dikes. Sandbags and the many other devices employed so extensively in similar cases of emergency along the Mississippi levees are then used, but the most efficient relief

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is afforded by allowing the swollen river to discharge a large part of its burden into the adjacent country. This is effected by providing at suitable points low dikes over which the water will run on reaching the danger line. These low dikes or weirs, known in Dutch as "overlaten," might well be compared to safety-valves. Their location is chosen in such a manner that the water discharged into the open country will do comparatively little harm, and, being confined by dikes especially designed for that purpose, is made to find its way to some low point farther down the river or near the latter's mouth.

Overlaten existed many years ago on all the large rivers, and although their use has saved the country much damage and expense, it has proved a serious evil in another way. It is obvious that whenever a river at the flood stage is


deprived at some point along its course of a large share of its burden the natural consequence is a lessening of the current below such a point and the depositing of a vast amount of sediment. only is this deposition of sediment at a time when the river transports a maximum amount a very serious evil, but the slackening of the current also offers most favorable conditions for the formation of ice jams. During the past years all the overlaten have been abolished with the exception of one on the Meuse, known as the Beerse Overlaat, which exceeds two miles in length and has been known to discharge with a head of three feet during severe floods, the river at such times being relieved of more than a third of its total flow. The policy at present is to increase the capacity of the river channels by deepening and widening the mouths, and in


creasing their fall by regulating and dredging their beds. The amount of dredging annually by the government and by private parties reaches a very considerable figure. Nearly all of the sand and gravel used in dike-construction is obtained from the river bottoms by dredging.


In conclusion, a word should be said about the practice of inundating lands. for defensive purposes. The efforts of the Dutch to flood their country, as described in Motley's Rise and Fall of the Dutch Republic, and later again in 1672, at the time of the war with France, are well known to those familiar with the history of the Netherlands. The methods employed in those days were not as successful as they might have been, and the blunders that were committed would have led to disastrous results but for the greater ignorance displayed by the attacking party. Thus, in 1672, the French army of invasion could not be prevented from draining some of the inundated lands, although their lack of knowledge of the complicated situation. did not permit them to succeed at the time. When cold weather set in the manipulation of the water by the Dutch was so defective that large areas were allowed to freeze over, and the enemy was actually enabled to execute movements on the ice.

The enormous strength of defensive works of this class was, however, amply proved and the Government at the present day has provided an elaborate system

for flooding, which forms part of the military defenses of the lower provinces. Lands to be flooded are provided with special gage rods or bench-marks indicating the depth of water required in order to be effective. Special gates have been constructed in the dikes where water is to be turned onto the land, in order to avoid the slow and undesirable process of piercing dikes. The amount of water that is to be drawn for such purposes from bosoms and canals, the discharge that is to pass the gates in a given time, and the ultimate time required to flood a particular area to a certain depth are quantities that have been determined for each section of land with a nicety which no one can fail to appreciate who is familiar with hydraulic computations of the flow of water in open channels and through orifices.


There are at present about 1,000 miles of sea dikes in the Netherlands. total length of dikes is difficult to estimate, and even if it could be estimated would mean but little, for it must be remembered that the dikes have for the most part in the course of time been destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly. It has not been so much a question of building them as it has been of maintaining them and keeping them where they were. Besides protecting the country from the invasions of both fresh and salt waters, the dikes have served to reclaim no less than 210,000 acres, nearly all of which are good, fertile land. It is to be hoped that the stupendous project of reclaiming the Zuider Zee will some day be carried into effect, whereby there would be added to the kingdom some half million acres of land.




HANKS to intelligence and honesty in the administration of our finances, the continual annual deficit that formerly afflicted Mexico, as it afflicts at present other nations, disappeared in the fiscal year 1894-'95, and in its stead we have since had a surplus. The surplus in that year was $2,373,434.42, and in the following year more than doubled, rising to $5,451,347.29.

These results are the more surprising when it is remembered that a good part of our revenue is derived from import duties, and it might be supposed that the rapid development and progress of our industries would diminish that source of revenue.

The invoice value of our imports for 1896-'97 was $42,204,095 in gold. Three years later, in 1899-1900, they had increased by nearly one-half, reaching $61,318,175. The invoice value of our exports (in silver) amounted to $86,058,210 in 1892-'93, to $104,741,443 in 1896-'97, and to $142,615,070 in 18991900. The value of gold exported from Mexico in 1892-'93 was $1,451,011, and during the next seven years increased many fold, reaching $7,441,290 in 1899

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To prove the financial credit of Mexico in the world, I will mention the conversion of our public debt from an interest rate of 6 per cent into another of 5 per cent. The contract for this operation, executed personally by our intelligent minister of finance, and involving a loan of 22,700,000 pounds, was signed in Berlin by different banking-houses from that city, London, New York, and the national bank of Mexico, on July 1, 1899. The conditions were as favorable as could be offered to any nation of wellestablished credit, and in the short time open for subscriptions the public of London, Amsterdam, New York, and Berlin subscribed for nearly twenty millions of pounds instead of for the 13,000,000 offered in the markets of those cities. The advantages for our treasury are not only the reduction of the disbursements for interest, a reduction amounting annually to more than $1,800,000, but the reëntry into the treasury of values mortgaged before as securities.

To give the last proof of the credit of Mexico, I will add that the bonds of the new loan began to be sold above par only a few months after they were issued.

The laws issued by the department on institutions of credit have produced good effects, and in November last we had 18 banks of emission, with a paid-up capital of $52,900,000, and with notes in

* Concluded from the May number.

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