Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/360

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were limited to the demands of the time, and controlled by the necessity for a profitable investment. He had no expectation that the two cities would embark in the enterprise. Indeed, in one of bis letters so late as April 14, 1860, he says, "As to the corporations of New York and Brooklyn undertaking the job, no such hope may be entertained in our time." In eight years thereafter, these cities had undertaken the task upon a scale of expense far exceeding his original ideas of a structure to be built exclusively by private capital for the sake of profit.

How came this miracle to pass? The war of the rebellion occurred, delaying for a time the further consideration of Roebling's ideas. This war accustomed the nation to expenditures on a scale of which it had no previous conception. It did more than expend large sums of money. Officials became corrupt, and organized themselves for plunder. In the city of New York especially, the government fell into the hands of a band of thieves, who engaged in a series of great and beneficial public works, not for the good they might do, but for the opportunity which they would afford to rob the public treasury. They erected court-houses and armories; they opened roads, boulevards, and parks; and they organized two of the grandest devices for transportation which the genius of man has ever conceived: a rapid transit railway for New York,' and a great highway between New York and Brooklyn. The bridge was commenced, but the ring was driven into exile by the force of public indignation, before the rapid-transit scheme, since executed on a different route by private capital, was undertaken. The collapse of the ring brought the work on the bridge to a stand-still.

It was a timely event. The patriotic New-Yorker might well have exclaimed, just before this great deliverance, in the words of the consul of ancient Rome, in Macaulay's stirring poem:

"And if they once may win the bridge,
"What hope to save the town?"

Meanwhile, the elder Roebling had died, leaving behind him his estimates and the general plans of the structure, to cost, independent of land damages and interest, about $7,000,000. This great work, which, if not "conceived in sin," was "brought forth in iniquity," thus became the object of great suspicion, and of a prejudice which has not been removed to this day. I know that to many I make a startling announcement when I state the incontrovertible fact that no money was ever stolen by the ring from the funds of the bridge; that the whole money raised has been honestly expended; that the estimates for construction have not been materially exceeded, and that the excess of cost over the estimates is due to purchases of land which were never included in the estimates, to interest paid on the city subscriptions, and to the cost of additional height and breadth of the