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§. XXXII.

Direflions forfloating these Fields at Pleasure,.

But this is not the only use that might be made of these sluices. Water is only prejudicial to the farmer when it comes at improper seasons, or in an impetuous manner, or remains longer upon the ground than he might incline; but, if it is entirely under his command, he may often employ it with very great advantage. Many of the fields in Holland are covered all winter with water, and are, by this means, rendered extremely fertile. And, as all rivers during inundations are strongly impregnated with the finest particles of vegetable mold, and rich manures washed away from fertile fields by the violent rains, it is not to be doubted, but that,

if if the water, when in this state, was allowed to glide slowly in upon a field till it was covered with it to a considerable depth, and there detained in a stagnant state till all these fine faeculae were deposited upon the field, and was then drawn gently off, it would afford a very rich and valuable dressing, somewhat similar to that which annually fertilizes Egypt by the overflowing of the Nile. For this river, coming with great rapidity through the country of Ethopia, enters Egypt strongly impregnated with the best vegetable mold; and, gliding flowly over these level plains, being still farther retarded in its course by the north wind, which at that time continually blows upon this coast, the earth is allowed gradually to subside, and forms that rich flime which covers the whole country when the Nile retires within its bed, and gives to it the amazing fertility for which Egypt has been famous since the ear-» liest ages of antiquity. Now, although it is

not not to be expected, that an inundation which continues only for such a short time, and rises to such an inconsiderable height above the surface of the earth, as any that we ever experience, could produce such great effects as this more perfect annual overflowing does with them; yet, by the contrivance I have mentioned, the farmer might reap the same improvement in kind, although not in degree; and, having it in his power to repeat it as often as an inundation happened, if he should so incline, it is hard to tell what a degree of fertility this might produce in time.

To obtain all these advantages, when he wishes to lay any particular field under water, he needs only to put a gag into the folding sluice, so as to prevent it from shutting close; and having, at the same time, opened the inner-sluice, allow it to remain in that state till an inundation happens; at which time the water from the river will enter freely by the conduit, and flow gently in upon the field till it rises to the fame height with the river. And, when it is as high as he inclines, he may shut the inner-fluice, which will detain the whole of the water in the field as long as he shall think proper; and, when the river is fallen in, and the water has deposited its sediment, he may open the sluice and let it run off at leisure.

In this manner, these fields may be richly impregnated, and kept in high order, with the greatest ease to the farmer, instead of having the crops of them frequently destroyed, and the finest mold washed away, as is usual, by the ordinary way of management.

But, although this method of admitting the water might answer very well in those situations where the ground is so low as to be considerably below the surface of the water in the river in ordinary inundations; yet, to such^ as lie so high as to be above the level of the water, excepting upon very extraor

dinary occasions, it eould be of very little seryice. And, as it will always be of great use, on every occasion of this fort, to cover the field to as great a depth of water as possible; it will, in general, be prudent, in every man who means to avail himself of this circumstance, to introduce the water to his fields in the following manner,

As every river flows downwards in its course in a lesser or greater degree, it is in the power of any one who chuses it, to raise a small current ot water drawn from the river, to some height above the level of its surface, at any particular place, merely by cutting a tract for it upon the banlf, and making it slow in a bed nearer a horizontal direction than that of the river, as we see daily practised with regard to mill-leads, (mill-races,) &c.

Now, with regard to the present case, i{ may be in general in die power of those who

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