as soon as the finances will permit and entrust the work to a contractor, knowing that every one of the 1,250,000 piles needed for the sea dyke alone will be put in place and that not a hundredweight of the 70,000 tons of basalt blocks will be missing. The Dutchman is so loyal and feels so much national pride that no imperfect work is ever found in Government contracts.
An idea of the magnitude of the work can be formed by glancing at a few figures.
The sea dyke will be 24.8 miles long, 114.5 feet across the top and 21.6 feet above high water; the river Ysel is to be carried out into the sea a distance of 10.5 miles with a width of 948 feet; the entrance to Amsterdam must be widened by two miles; dykes around the polders will be necessary having an aggregate length of 198 miles with an average height of 11.4 feet; in the Island of Wieringen, 30 locks will be required, 33 feet wide and 16 feet deep; an encircling canal must be constructed from Enkhuyzen to Uitdam, a distance of eight miles; the sea dykes on the Frisian coast must be heightened at a cost of $240,000 and four pumping stations with an aggregate of 16,930 horse power must be installed.
Though the undertaking is great, the entire commission agreed that it should be done, and twenty-one out of the twenty-eight believed that the State should be in control rather than to grant the concession to a private party. When finished the State can issue another medal, like the one minted to celebrate the draining of the Haarlem Lake to bear the inscription:
"Zuider Zee, after having for centuries assailed the surrounding fields, to enlarge itself by their destruction, conquered at last by the force of machinery, has returned to Holland its invaded land." And the historian of the work will close his account of the material gain to the State by saying: "But this is not all; we have driven forever from the bosom of our country a most dangerous enemy; we have at the same time augmented the means for defending our capital in time of war. We have conquered a province in a combat without tears and without blood, where science and genius took the place of generals, and where polder workmen were the worthy soldiers. Persevering to surmount the obstacles of nature, and those created by man, the country has accomplished, to its great honor and glory, one of the grandest enterprises of the age."