CHRONICLE OF THE ISTHMUS.
Our edition of 15-18 August contained a telegraph message from
the General Clerk of Works announcing the introduction of the
waters of the Red Sea into the Bitter Lakes and the meeting of
the two seas in this basin.
||Eastern School, Last blow of the pickaxe given by Ali Pasha at
the reservoir of the plain of Suez around 1870
(Association du Souvenir de Ferdinand de Lesseps et du canal de
We eagerly awaited the news which left Alexandria on 19 so as
to receive more detailed knowledge of this important event, further
evidence to lay to rest those many dreadful apprehensions expressed
with such dogged persistence with regard to the filling of the
Following the date of the above-mentioned telegram (16) we received
our correspondence from Egypt until the 18, however it was preceded
by a second telegram from the General Clerk dated 19, of which
the highly satisfactory contents are presented here:
Ismailia, 19 August 1869, 8.17.
The waters of the Red Sea are running without overflow in the
Bitter Lakes. Steam navigation has been established on the canal.
The situation is excellent.
Our correspondence of 18 contains details of great interest regarding
the circumstances which marked this memorable introduction of
the Red Sea into the canal and the main basin of the isthmus.
We shall undertake a brief summary of these events although, in
view of what has now taken place, they are no longer of the same
degree of significance.
The festivities of 15 August were celebrated with great pomp in
Suez with one of the main attractions undoubtedly being the delicate
operation due to be undertaken that day. His Highness the khedive
had dispatched Ali Pasha Moubarek, Minister of Public Works, to
preside over the ceremony. The introduction of the waters was
accomplished with complete success, and a grand banquet to celebrate
this happy event brought together the main heads and employees
of the Company, the enterprise, and Egyptian authorities. Several
toasts were proposed; the first by Mr Voisin-Bey to the His Highness
the khedive, to which His Excellency the Minister of Public Works
replied with a toast to the French Emperor. This day, he said,
is a triple celebration of the Emperor, of France of civilisation,
for the opening of the communication between the two seas marks
the start of a new era in the advance of civilisation in the world.
Mr Emerat, French consul in Suez, proposed a toast to M. de Lesseps,
Chairman, and to the staff of the Company and the enterprise.
Mr Guichard toasted the town of Suez and its inhabitants.
Mr West, British consul in Suez and Director of the Peninsula
and Oriental Line, who, as our readers will know, has never neglected
the opportunity to testify to his sympathies for the enterprise,
drank to the canal and to its practical and commercial achievements.
Mr Giraud, chief engineer of the workshops of the imperial shipping
company, reiterated the toast to M. de Lesseps.
Mr Voisin went on to propose a toast to His Excellency Ali Pasha,
recalling that he has often been delegated by his Highness to
safeguard the maintenance of relations between the Egyptian government
and the Company.
The banquet drew to a close with a toast by Mr Voisin to the entrepreneurs
and their staff.
In the meantime, the waters of the Red Sea continued to flow into
the Bitter Lakes, and, at the end of the evening, an express messenger
arrived to announce that the waters were rising to the point of
becoming dangererous. The section heads went immediately to the
scene. During the night, a part of the overflow had come away,
however the waters were halted before the dam of the small lakes.
The following day the situation was brought under control. On
18, Mr Voisin, followed by the engineers of the Company, travelled
by boat the length of the canal from Suez to Chalouf. The appearance
of the canal, he wrote to M. de Lesseps, was splendid. I regret
that you were not there to enjoy it with us. The current was barely
perceptible; and the embankments were just as they should be.
It is on the day following the date of this letter, that is to
say 19, that the General Clerk of Works dispatched the telegram
in which he reported the situation as being excellent.
Our most recent information is to the effect that all is running
as well as might be possible on the Suez side. The waters of the
Red Sea are spreading steadily into the lakes, and filling from
the two ends at the North and South, by a height of six centimetres
per day. The height of the water in the lakes has already reached
more than 4 metres. It is therefore sure that in the first few
days of November, the waters will have filled to their fullest
extent, a height of 8 metres.
Other work is progressing according to schedule, and in the forthcoming
edition we shall be able to publish the cubic table executed from
15 July to 15 August.
We repeat that the canal will be open to shipping on 17 November