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Roads

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ROADS, as regards the history of road-making, the first steps towards the construction of permanent and durable roadways are said to have been taken by the Greeks, and also that this people expended considerable care and labour in their construction. But more noted than the Greeks in this matter, were the Carthaginians, from whom the Romans are by some reported to have derived their success in similar works. The first Roman road was constructed during the censorship of Appius Claudius, about 309, B.C. ; it was first carried to Capua, and afterwards extended to Brundusium, a length of 350 miles ; its breadth is about 14 feet, and its thickness, 3 feet ; the paving being laid upon a foundation of rough stones cemented with mortar, and that again upon a bed of gravel. This road is still entire ; it was called the Via Appia in honour of the consul, as was the second, the Via Aurelia, and the third the Via Flaminia. In the time of Julius Cesar, the number of roads had greatly increased, so that all the principal cities of Italy were con nected with Rome by paved roads, and from that period such means of communication began to be extended into the provinces, their principal object being to provide a ready mode of access into distant provinces, for the passage of troops and similar purposes.

Augustus, when emperor, paid more attention to the great roads than he had done during his consulate. He conducted roads into the Alps ; his plan was to continue them to the eastern and western extremities of Europe. 1 to gave orders for making an infinite number in Spain ; he enlarged and extended the Via Medina to Gades. At the same time, and through the same mountains, there were opened two roads to Lyons, one of them traversed the Tarcntaise, and the other was made to the Alphenin.

Agrippa seconded Augustus ably in this part of his govern ment. It was at Lyons he began the extension of roads throughout all Gaul. There are four of them particularly remarkable for their length, and the difficulty of the country through which they passed. One traversed the mountains of Auvergne, and penetrated to the bottom of Aquetaine. Another was extended to the Rhine at the mouth of the Meuse, and followed the course of the river to the German Ocean ; the third crossed Burgundy, Champagne, and Picardy, and ended at Boulogne-sur-mer ; the fourth extended along the Rhone, entered the bottom of Languedoc, and terminated at Marseilles. From these principal roads, there

were an infinite number of branch roads, namely, to Treves, Strasburg, Belgrade, &e. There were also great roads from the eastern provinces of Europe to Constantinople, and into Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, and to the north of the Danube at Torres.

The seas were able to cut across the roads undertaken by the Romans, but not to stop them. Witness Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, England, Asia, and Africa, the roads of which countries communicated with the roads of Europe by the nearest ports. 'What labours ! when we embrace in one point of view, the extent and the difficulties which opposed them selves—the forests opened, the mountains cut through, the hills lowered, the valleys filled up, the marshes drained, and the bridges that were built.

"The Roman roads," says Mr. Tredgold, " ran nearly in direct lines ; natural obstructions were removed or overcome by the effort of labour or art, whether they consisted of marshes, lakes, rivers, or mountains. In flat districts, the middle part of the road was raised into a terrace.

" In mountainous districts, the roads were alternately cut through mountains, and raised above the valleys, so as to preserve either a level line or a uniform inclination. They founded the road on piles, where the ground was not solid ; and raised it by strong side-walls, or by arches and piers, where it was necessary to gain elevation. The paved part of the great military road was sixteen Roman feet wide, with two side-ways, each eight feet wide, separated from the middle way by two raised paths of two feet each." Even to such a remote province as Britain were such means of communication opened, good evidence of which still exists in the present day. in this country, a grand trunk, as it may be called, passed from the south to the north, and another to the west, with branches in almost every direction that general convenience and expedition could require. What is called the Watling street, led from Nichborough, in Kent, the ancient Ruterpice, north-cast through London to Chester. The Ermine street passed from London to Lincoln, thence to Carlisle and into Scotland.

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