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a detachment large enough to affect seriously the general strength of her naval position.
A glance at the map confirms Admiral Mahan's statement. However, the control not only of the Persian Gulf but of Mesopotamia also is an important British interest. India is strongly protected towards the north and northwest by enormous mountains, but can comparatively easily be invaded by way of Mesopotamia and Persia, by the road taken by Alexander the Great and other conquerors, by which, as has been shown above, the railways of the future will connect India with Central Europe. Great Britain, as India's guardian, is therefore strongly interested that that most important line of approach should not be dominated by a great military Power to India's danger. Besides, England is on India's behalf strongly interested in Mesopotamia for economic reasons. India suffers from two evils : from famine and from over-population. Mesopotamia lies at India's door and can, as will presently be shown, produce enormous quantities of food and receive many millions of immigrants. As the climate of Mesopotamia is not very suitable for Europeans, it is only logical that over-populated India should be given an outlet upon the Euphrates and Tigris. Great Britain has a good claim upon the control of Mesopotamia. She has developed the trade along its rivers. British archæologists and engineers have explored the country, and British men of action have for decades striven to recreate its prosperity. Lastly, Englishmen have conquered it.
Mesopotamia has almost unlimited agricultural possibilities. Babylonia and Assyria were the cradle of Christian civilisation and perhaps of mankind. Chapter ii. verse 8, of the Book of Genesis tells us : 'And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.' The word “Eden' is the Sumerian word, as Assyriologists have told us, for plain. The ancient Babylonians also had a myth of a
great plain in the centre of which stood the Tree of Knowledge, and they possessed likewise the story of the Flood and of the Ark. In Genesis, chapter ii. verse 14, we read in the description of Paradise : ' And the name of the third river is Hiddekel : that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.' Assyriologists tell us that the four rivers mentioned in the Bible were the Euphrates and Tigris, and two of the huge artificial canals which the ancients had constructed. In chapter x. of Genesis we are made acquainted with Nimrod, Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, Nineveh, and other Babylonian names. Ur on the Euphrates near Babylon was the birthplace of Abraham. The ancient Jews placed their Paradise in Eden because Eden, the Mesopotamian plain, was then the garden of the world. Herodotus, who had visited Mesopotamia and the town of Babylon, and who wrote about the year 450 B.C., has told us—the translation is Rawlinson's :
But little rain falls in Assyria, enough, however, to make the corn begin to sprout, after which the plant is nourished and the ears formed by means of irrigation from the river. For the river does not, as in Egypt, overflow the corn-lands of its own accord, but is spread over them by the hand, or by the help of engines. The whole of Babylonia is, like Egypt, intersected with canals. The largest of them all, which runs towards the winter sun, and is impassable except in boats, is carried from the Euphrates into another stream, called the Tigris, the river upon which the town of Nineveh formerly stood.
Of all the countries that we know, there is none which is so fruitful in grain. It makes no pretension, indeed, of growing the fig, the olive, the vine, or any other tree of the kind, but in grain it is so fruitful as to yield commonly two hundredfold. The blade of the wheat plant and barley plant is often four fingers in breadth. As for the millet and the sesame, I shall not say to what height they grow, though within my own knowledge, for I am not ignorant that what I have already written concerning the fruitfulness of Babylonia must seem incredible to those who have never visited
Among the many proofs which I shall bring forward of the power and resources of the Babylonians the following is of special account. The whole country under the domination of the Persians, besides paying a fixed tribute, is parcelled out into divisions to supply food to the Great King and his Army. Now, out of the twelve months of the year, the district of Babylon furnished food during four, the other regions of Asia during eight; by which it appears that Assyria, in respect of resources, is one-third the whole of Asia.
Quintus Curtius, who wrote about 50 B.O., told us :
The pasturage between the Tigris and the Euphrates is represented as so rich and luxuriant that the inhabitants restrain the cattle feeding lest they should die by a surfeit. The cause of this fertility is the humidity circulated through the soil by subterranean streams, replenished from the two Rivers.
The great fruitfulness of Babylonia was praised by many ancient writers, such as Theophrastus, a disciple of Aristotle, Berosus, Strabo, Pliny, &c. According to Herodotus (III. 91, 92) Babylonia and Susiana paid to Darius a tribute of 1300 talents per year, and Egypt of only 700. Apparently Mesopotamia was at the time almost twice as wealthy as Egypt. According to the ancient writers, the fruitfulness of Babylonia exceeded that of Egypt. The account of the size of the town of Babylon given by Herodotus seems at first sight exaggerated. It seems incredible that Babylon should have covered an area five times as large as that of Paris. According to the account of Herodotus the circumference of the town was 480 stades, or 56 miles. On the other hand, the circumference of the town was, according to Strabo, 385 stades; according to Quintus Curtius, 368 stades; according to Clitarchus, 365 stades; and according to Ctesias, 360 stades. Four of the estimates given are strangely similar. As Babylon possessed an outer and an inner wall, it is assumed by many that Herodotus gave figures for the outer and the other writers for the inner line of fortifications.
Enormous towns testify to the wealth and populousness of a country. After Babylon's destruction it became a quarry and Seleucia and Ctesiphon were built with the stones of that city. The former town had, in the time of Pliny, 600,000 inhabitants, and 500,000 when destroyed by Cassius in A.D. 165. Ctesiphon, when taken by Severus in A.D. 232, must have been approximately as large, for it furnished 100,000 prisoners.
Assyria and Babylonia were the wealthiest countries of antiquity, and Mesopotamia was the richest part of the great Persian Empire. Persia's wealth was chiefly Babylonian wealth. In the Middle Ages, Baghdad arose among the Babylonian ruins, and between the tenth and eleventh centuries it had 2,000,000 inhabitants, 60,000 baths, 80,000 bazaars, &c. It was the capital of the gigantic Arab Empire, the wealth of which was founded upon the flourishing agriculture of the Babylonian plain.
In olden times Babylonia was perfectly irrigated. Under the Turks, the wonderful system of canals fell into neglect. The Babylonian plain became partly a desert and partly a swamp. Mesopotamia, which, in olden times, was the most densely populated part of the world, is at present the most sparsely peopled part of the Turkish Empire, as will be seen by reference to the table given in the beginning of this chapter. All Mesopotamia has at present only 2,000,000 inhabitants, or fourteen people per square mile.
Sir William Willcocks, a very eminent engineer, who has surveyed the country and planned a gigantic irrigation system, delivered, on March 25, 1903, before the Khedivial Geographical Society at Cairo, a lecture on the irrigation of Mesopotamia, in the course of which he stated :
We have before us the restoration of that ancient land whose name was a synonym for abundance, prosperity, and grandeur for many generations. Records as old as those of Egypt and as well attested tell of fertile lands and teeming populations, mighty kings and warriors, sages and wise men, over periods of thousands of years. And over and above everything else there is this unfailing record that the teeming wealth of this land was the goal of all Eastern conquerors and its possession the crown of their conquests. The Eastern Power which held this land in old historic days held the East. A land such as this is worth resuscitating. Once we have apprehended the true cause of its present desolate and abandoned condition we are on our way to restoring it to its ancient fertility. A land which so readily responded to ancient science and gave a return which sufficed for the maintenance of a Persian Court in all its splendour will surely respond to the efforts of modern science and return manifold the money and talent spent on its regeneration. ... Of all the regions of the earth, no region is more favoured by Nature for the production of cereals than the lands on the Tigris. Indeed, I have heard our former President, Dr. Schweinfurth, say, in this very hall, that wheat, in its wild uncultivated state, has its home in these semi-arid regions and from here it has been transported to every quarter of the globe. Cotton, sugar-cane, Indian corn, and all the summer products of Egypt will flourish here as on the Nile, while the winter products of cereals, leguminous plants, Egyptian clover, opium, and tobacco will find themselves at home as they do in Egypt. Of the historic gardens of Babylon and Bagdad it is not necessary for me to speak. A land whose climate allows her to produce such crops in tropical profusion, and whose snow-fed rivers permit of perennial irrigation over millions of acres, cannot be barren and desolate when the Bagdad Railway is traversing her fields and European capital is seeking a remunerative outlet.
According to the painstaking and conscientious investigations of Sir William Willcocks, the irrigable area of Mesopotamia is from two to three times as large as that of Egypt. It follows that that country should be able to nourish from two to three times as many people as Egypt, that its population might be increased from 2,000,000 to about