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Alexander von Humboldt: „Copy of a letter read in the class of physical and mathematical sciences. Alexander Humboldt to Citizen Delambre, Perpetual Secretary of the National Institute. From Lima, the 25th November, 1802“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 19.07.2024].

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Titel Copy of a letter read in the class of physical and mathematical sciences. Alexander Humboldt to Citizen Delambre, Perpetual Secretary of the National Institute. From Lima, the 25th November, 1802
Jahr 1803
Ort London
in: The Monthly Magazine 16:2:105 (1. September 1803), S. 146–150.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua (mit lang-s); Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung, Kapitälchen; Schmuck: Initialen; Tabellensatz.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.17
Dateiname: 1803-Copie_d_une-09-neu
Seitenanzahl: 5
Spaltenanzahl: 9
Zeichenanzahl: 18828

Weitere Fassungen
Copie d’une lettre de M. Humboldt, adressée au C. Delambre, l’un des secrétaires perpétuels de l’Institut national (datée de Lima le 25 novembre 1802) (Paris, 1803, Französisch)
Auszug aus einem Briefe des Hrn. Alexander von Humboldt an Hrn. Delambre (Weimar, 1803, Deutsch)
Letter from M. Humboldt to C. Delambres, one of the perpetual Secretaries of the National Institute (London, 1803, Englisch)
Copie d’une lettre lue à la classe des sciences physiques et mathématiques de l’Institut national. Alexandre Humboldt au citoyen Delambre, secrétaire perpétuel de l’Institut national (Paris, 1803, Französisch)
Copie d’une lettre lue à la Classe des Sciences physiques et mathématiques de l’Institut national. Alexandre Humboldt, au cit. Delambre, Secrétaire perpétuel de l’Institut national (Paris, 1803, Französisch)
Alexandre Humboldt au Citoyen Delambre, Secrétaire perpétuel de l’Institut National (London, 1803, Französisch)
Kurzer Auszug aus Hrn. Alexand. v. Humboldt’s Brief (aus Lima vom 25 Nov. 1802) an B. Delambre zu Paris (Weimar, 1803, Deutsch)
Schreiben Alexanders v. Humbold, an den B. Delambre, immerwährenden Sekretär des National-Instituts, Lima, vom 25 Nov. 1802 (Ulm, 1803, Deutsch)
Copy of a letter read in the class of physical and mathematical sciences. Alexander Humboldt to Citizen Delambre, Perpetual Secretary of the National Institute. From Lima, the 25th November, 1802 (London, 1803, Englisch)
Extrait d’une lettre d’Alexandre Humboldt au C. Delambre, secrétaire-perpétuel de l’institut national (Brüssel, 1803, Französisch)
Letter from M. Humboldt to M. Delambre, relative to his Travels in South America (London, 1803, Englisch)
Copie d’une lettre de M. Humboldt, adressée au citoyen Delambre, l’un des secrétaires perpétuels de l’Institut national (datée de Lima le 25 novembre 1802) (Paris, 1803, Französisch)
Brief van Alexander v. Humbold aan den B. Delambre, Aanhoudenden Geheimschryver van het Nat. Institut te Parys (Haarlem, 1803, Niederländisch)
Briefe des Herrn Oberbergraths von Humboldt (Berlin; Stettin, 1803, Deutsch)
Brief des Herrn von Humboldt an Delambre, beständigen Secretär des Instituts (Leipzig, 1803, Deutsch)
A letter from Baron Humboldt to a member of the National Institute at Paris (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1804, Englisch)
[Copie d’une lettre de M. Humboldt, adressée au citoyen Delambre, l’un des secrétaires perpétuels de l’Institut national (datée de Lima le 25 novembre 1802)] (London, 1805, Englisch)
|146| |Spaltenumbruch|

copy of a letter read in the class of physical and mathe-matical sciences.

Alexander Humboldt to Citizen Delambre,Perpetual Secretary of the National In-ſtitute. From my worthy friend,

I JUST arrive from the interior of thecountry, where I have made experi-ments on a wide plain on the hourly vari-ations of the magnetic needle, and learnwith regret that the frigate Aſtigaraggawhich was only to have departed in a fort-night, is now going to ſet ſail for Cadizthis very night. For theſe five months itis the firſt opportunity we have had forEurope in the ſolitary regions on the Pa-cific Ocean; and want of time renders itimpoſſible for me to write as I ought tothe National Inſtitute, from which I havejuſt received the moſt affecting proofs of |Spaltenumbruch| the kindneſs with which it honours me.A few days before my departure fromQuito for Jaen and the Amazone, I re-ceived the letter which that Society ad-dreſſed to me by your hands. It is datedthe 2d Pluvioſe, 9th year, and has takentwo years to reach me in the Cordillierasof the Andes. It came to hand the dayafter my ſecond expedition to the crater ofthe volcano of Pichincha, whither I hadgone with an electrometer of Volta, andto meaſure the diameter, which I find to be752 toiſes, while that of Veſuvius is only312. This reminds me that on the ſum-mit of Guaguapichincha, (where I havebeen often, and which I regard as claſſicalground,) La Condamine and Bouguer re-ceived their firſt letter from the ci-devant Academy; and I imagine that Pichincha, ſi magna licet componere parvis, is a luckyſpot for natural philoſophers. How ſhallI expreſs to you, Citizen, the ſatisfactionwith which I peruſed this Letter of theNational Inſtitute, and the repeated aſſur- |147| |Spaltenumbruch| ance of your kind remembrance. Howdelightful is it to know that we live in thememory of thoſe whoſe labours daily ad-vance the progreſs of the human mind!—In the deſerts of the plains of Apure, inthe thick foreſts of Caſiguian and of theOrenoque, every where your names havebeen preſent to me; and running over inthought the different epochs of my wan-dering life, I have dwelt with tranſporton thoſe of the 6th and 7th year, when Ilived in the midſt of you, and where Laplace, Fourcroy, Vauquelin, Guyton, Chaptal, Juſſieu, Desfontaines, Hallé, Lalande, Prony, and eſpecially you, mygenerous and affectionate friend, loadedme with kindneſs in the plains of Lieur-ſaint. Accept all of you together the ho-mage of my tender attachment and myconſtant gratitude. Long before I received your letter inyour capacity of Secretary to the Inſtitu-tion, I addreſſed ſucceſſively to the Phyſi-cal and Mathematical Claſs, three letters;two from Santa-Fé de Bogota, accompa-nied with a treatiſe on the genus Chincona,(that is to ſay, ſpecimens of bark of ſevenſpecies; coloured drawings repreſentingtheſe vegetables with the anatomy of theflowers ſo different as to the length of theſtamina, and ſkeletons dried with care.)Doctor Mutis, who behaved moſt kindlyto me, and for whoſe ſake I went up theriver La Madelaine forty days journey, hasmade me a preſent of more than one hun-dred magnificent draughts, large folio,giving figures of new genera, and newſpecies of his manuſcript Flora of Bogo-ta. I thought that this collection, as in-tereſting for botany as remarkable for thebeauty of the colouring, could not be inbetter hands than in thoſe of Juſſieu, La-marck, and Desfontaines; and I haveoffered it to the National Inſtitute as afeeble mark of my attachment. Thiscollection and the Chinconas were ſent forCarthagena in South America about themonth of June this year: M. Mutis him-ſelf took in hand to forward them to Pa-ris. A third letter for the National In-ſtitute was ſent from Quito, with a geo-logical collection of the productions ofPichincha, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo.—How afflicting is it to remain in a ſad un-certainty concerning the arrival of theſearticles, and of the collections of raregrains which three years ago we directedto the Jardin des Plantes at Paris! My time is too ſhort to-day to give youan account of my travels and occupationsſince my return from Rio-Negro. Youknow that it was at the Havannah we re- |Spaltenumbruch| ceived a falſe report of the departure ofCaptain Baudin for Buenos-Ayres.—Faithful to my promiſe of joining himwherever I could, and perſuaded I ſhouldbe more uſeful to ſcience by uniting mylabour to that of the naturaliſts who fol-low Captain Baudin, I did not heſitate amoment to ſacrifice the little glory offiniſhing my own expedition; and Ifreighted immediately a ſmall veſſel at Ba-tabano, in order to proceed to Carthage-na. Storms retarded this ſhort paſſageupwards of a month, as the gales hadceaſed in the Southern Ocean, where I ex-pected to fall in with Captain Baudin. Ientered on the difficult route of Honda, ofIbague, of the paſſage of the mountain ofQuindiu, of Popayan, from Paſta to Qui-to. My health continued to reſiſt won-derfully well the change of temperatureto which one is continually expoſed in thisroute, deſcending every day from ſnowsof 2460 toiſes, to ſcorching valleys,where Reaumur’s thermometer is neverbelow twenty-four or twenty-ſix degrees.My companion, whoſe knowledge, cou-rage, and immenſe activity have been ofthe greateſt uſe to me in reſearches on bo-tany and comparative anatomy, Citizen Bonpland, has been ill of the tertian-ague for the ſpace of two months. Therainy-ſeaſon overtook us in the moſt criti-cal paſſage, on the flats of the Paſtas,and after a journey of eight months we ar-rived at Quito, where we learned that Ci-tizen Baudin had taken his route fromWeſt to Eaſt by the Cape of Good Hope.Accuſtomed to diſappointments, we com-forted ourſelves with the thoughts of hav-ing made ſo great ſacrifices with a gooddeſign. On looking at our herbarium, our meaſurements, barometrical and geo-deſical, our drawings, our experiments onthe air of the Cordillieras, we did not re-gret having viſited countries, the greaterpart unknown to naturaliſts. We feltthat man can depend on nothing but whatis produced by his own energy. The province of Quito, the moſt ele-vated flat in the world, rent by the greatcataſtrophe of the 4th February 1797, hasopened to us a vaſt field for natural obſer-vations. Such enormous volcanoes, whoſeflames riſe often to the height of one thou-ſand metres, have never produced any la-va. They emit water, hydrogen, ſulphu-rated gaz, mud, and carbonated argile.Since the year 1797 the whole of this partof the globe is agitated. We feel everymoment dreadful ſhocks; and in the plainsof Riobomba the ſubterraneous noiſe re-ſembles that of a mountain falling to |148| |Spaltenumbruch| pieces beneath our feet. The atmoſphe-ric air and the humid lands (all theſe vol-canoes are in a decompoſed porphyry,) ap-pear the great agents of theſe combuſtions,of theſe ſubterraneous fermentations. Hi-therto it was believed at Quito, that 2470toiſes was the greateſt height where mencould reſiſt the rarefaction of the air. Inthe month of March 1802, we ſpent ſomedays in the vaſt plains which ſurround thevolcano of Antiſana at 2107 toiſes, wherethe cattle, when purſued, often vomitblood. The 16th of March we diſcerneda path on the ſnow, a gentle ſlope, onwhich we mounted to the height of 2773toiſes. The air contained 0,008 of car-bonic-acid, 0,218 of oxigen, and 0,774of azote. The thermometer of Reaumur was only at 15°; it was not in the leaſtcold, yet we bled at lips and eyes. Theſite did not permit us to make an experi-ment with the compaſs of Borda, but in agrotto at 2467 toiſes. The intenſity ofin magnetic power was greater at that heightthan at Quito, in the ratio of 230 to 218.But it is not to be forgot, that often thenumber of oſcillations increaſes when theinclination diminiſhes, and that this inten-ſity is increaſed by the maſs of the moun-tain whoſe porphyries affect the magneticneedle. In the expedition I made on the 23d ofJune 1802, to the Chimborazo, we haveexperienced that with patience one mayſupport a ſtill greater rarefaction of air.—We reached to a greater height than LaCondamine (on the Corazon,) by 500toiſes. We carried inſtruments on theChimborazo to 3031 toiſes; ſeeing themercury deſcend in the barometer to 13inches 11, 2 lines; the thermometer be-ing 1° 3′ below zero. We bled ſtill at ourlips. Our Indians forſook us as uſual.—Citizen Bonpland and M. Montufar, ſonof the Marquis of Selvalegre at Quito,were the only people who perſiſted: we allfelt an uneaſineß, a debility, an inclinationto vomit, which certainly proceeds fromthe defect of oxygen in theſe regions morethan from the rarified air. I found only0.20 of oxygen at this immenſe height.—A horrid fiſſure prevented us from reach-ing to the very ſummit of Chimborazo,from which we were only 206 toiſes. Youknow that the height of this coloſſal maſsis ſtill uncertain. La Condamine meaſur-ed it from a great diſtance. He allows itnearly 3220 toiſes. Don George Juan gives it 3380. This difference does notproceed from the various altitudes whichtheſe aſtronomers adopt for the ſignal ofCarabouron. I meaſured in the plain of |Spaltenumbruch| Taſſia a baſe of 1702 metres, (forgiveme for ſpeaking ſometimes of toiſes andſometimes of metres, according to the dif-ference of the inſtruments I uſe: you maybe ſure that in publiſhing my operationsI ſhall reduce the whole to the metre andto the centigrade thermometer). Twogeodeſical operations give me Chimborazo3267 toiſes above the ſea: but the calcu-lation muſt be rectified by the diſtance ofthe ſectant from the artificial horizon, andother circumſtances. The volcano Tongouragoa has dimi-niſhed much ſince the time of La Conda-mine; inſtead of 2620 toiſes, I find it on-ly 2531; and I hope this difference doesnot proceed from an error in my opera-tions; ſince in my meaſures of Cayambo, Antiſana, Cotopaxi, and Illinga, I do notdiffer more than 10 or 15 toiſes from thereſult of La Condamine and Bouguer.—All the inhabitants of theſe miſerablecountries ſay that Tongouragoa is percep-tibly lower, while Cotopaxi, which hashad ſo violent exploſions, is as high as in1744, and even ſomewhat higher, unleſsthat ariſe from an error on my ſide. Butthe rocky ſummit of Cotopaxi ſhews thatit is a chimney which reſiſts and preſervesits figure. The operations we have madein the Andes of Quito, from January toJuly, brought the inhabitants the ſad newsthat the crater of Pichincha, which LaCondamine ſaw full of ſnow, burns anew;and that Chimborazo, whom they thoughtſo peaceable and harmleſs, has been a vol-cano, and perhaps one day will be ſoagain. We have burnt rock and pumice-ſtone at the height of 3031 toiſes. Woeto mankind if the volcanic-fire (for wemay ſay that the flat of Quito has beenone volcano with ſeveral tops,) breaksforth through the Chimborazo. It hasoften been ſaid in print that this mountainis of granite; but there is not one atomof that. It is here and there porphyry incolumns, encruſtating vitrous field-ſpath,horn-ſtone, and olivin. The bed of porphy-ry is 1900 toiſes thick. I might mentionto you on this occaſion a polar porphyry,which, analogous to the ſerpentine I havedeſcribed in the Journal de Phyſique, haspoles without attraction: I might quoteto you other facts relating to the greatlaw of the ſtratas, and their enormousthickneſs near the equator: but it wouldbe too much in a letter which may be loſt;and I will treat of that ſome other time.—I only add, that beſides the elephants’-teeth which we have ſent to Citizen Cu-vier from the flats of Santa Fé, of 1350toiſes in height, we keep for him others |149| |Spaltenumbruch| ſtill finer; ſome of a carnivorous-elephant,others of a ſpecies little different from thatof Africa, from the valley of Timana, thetown of Ibarra, and from Chili. Thus,then, is the exiſtence of that carnivorousmonſter certain from Ohio, in the 50th°north latitude to the 75th° ſouth latitude. I have ſpent very agreeable hours atQuito. The Preſident of the Audience,Baron de Corondeles, has loaded us withkindneſs; and for three years I have hadno reaſon to complain for once of theAgents of the Spaniſh Government.—Every where I have been treated with diſ-tinction, and with a delicacy which obligesme to an everlaſting gratitude. I havebeen very attentive to the pyramids and totheir foundation, which I do not believein the leaſt deranged as to the Pierres Mo-laires. A generous individual, a friendof ſciences and of learned men, ſuch as LaCondamine, Godin, and Bouguer—name-ly, the Marquis of Selvalegre, at Quito,thinks of rebuilding them—but this leadsme too far. After having paſſed the Aſſonay andCuença, (where they gave a bull-baiting,)we took the route of Loxa, to completeour operations on the Chincona. After-wards we ſpent a month in the province of Jaen, of Bracomoros, and in the Pongosof the Amazone, whoſe banks are adornedwith the Andira and Bougainvillea of Juſſieu. Methinks it is important to fixthe longitude of Tomependa and of Chu-changaChu-chunga, where begins the chart of La Con-damine, and to connect theſe points withthe coaſt. La Condamine could only fixthe longitude of the mouth of the riverNapo: there were then no time-pieces;ſo that the longitude of theſe places ſtandin need of ſeveral corrections. My chro-nometer of Louis Berthoud does wonders,as I am convinced by obſerving from timeto time the firſt Satellite of Jupiter; andby comparing point for point the differenceof my meridians from thoſe found at theexpedition of M. Fidalga, who, by theKing’s order, made trigonometrical ob-ſervations from Cumana to Carthagena. From the river Amazon we paſſed the Andes by the mines of Haalgayac, whichproduce a million of piaſtres yearly, andwhere the mine of grey argentiferous cop-per is found at 2065 toiſes. We camedown to Truxilla by Caſcamarca, (where,in the palace of Atatualpa, I have drawnthe arches of the Peruvian vaults. Con-tinuing by the deſerts of the South SeaCoaſt to Lima, where one half of the yearis covered with thick vapours, I made |Spaltenumbruch| haſte to arrive at Lima, in order to obſervethe Tranſit of Mercury on the 9th Nov.1802. Our collections of plants, and the draw-ings I have made of the anatomy of the genera, agreeably to the ideas Citizen Juſſieu had imparted to me in the Societyfor Natural Hiſtory, have greatly increaſ-ed the riches we have found in the provinceof Quito, at Loxa, at the Amazone, andin the Cordillieres of Peru. We havefound many plants ſeen by Joſeph Juſſieu,ſuch as the Llogue affinis quillajac, andothers. We have a new ſpecies of juli-enne, which is charming; collatix, paſ-ſiflora, and loranthus, a tree ſixty feethigh. We are very rich in palms andgramina, on which Citizen Bonpland has laboured very extenſively. We nowhave 3784 very complete deſcriptions inLatin, and nearly one third of the plantsin the Herbarium, which, for want oftime, we have not been able to deſcribe.There is not a vegetable of which we can-not point out the rock it inhabits, and towhat height in toiſes it mounts; ſo thatthe geography of plants will find in ourmanuſcripts very correct materials. Inorder to do ſtill better, Citizen Bonpland and I have often deſcribed the ſame plantſeparately. But two thirds of the deſcrip-tions, and more, belong to the ſole aſſidu-ity of Citizen Bonpland, whoſe zeal forthe progreſs of ſcience cannot be ſuffi-ciently admired. Juſſieu, Desfontaines,and Lamarck, have reared in him a diſ-ciple who will go great lengths. We have compared our herbarium withthoſe of M. Mutis; we have conſultedmany books in the immenſe library ofthat great man: we are perſuaded thatwe have found ſeveral new genera andnew ſpecies: but much time will be re-quired to determine what is really new.—We mention alſo a ſilicious ſubſtance ana-logous to the tabaſchin of the Eaſt Indies,which M. Mutis has analyſed. It isfound in the knots of a gigantic gramenwhich is confounded with the bambou;but its flower differs from that of the bambuſa of Schreber. I know not whe-ther Citizen Fourcroy has received themilk of the vegetable-cow, (as the In-dians call the tree.) It is a milk which,prepared with nitrous acid, produced acaoutchouc with a balsamic odour, butwhich, far from being cauſtic and hurtful,as all vegetable milks are, is nouriſhingand agreeable: we diſcovered it on thethe road of Orenoque, in a plantationwhere the negroes drink often of it. I |150| |Spaltenumbruch| ſent alſo to Citizen Fourcroy by Guada-loupe, and to Sir Joſeph Banks, by theTrinidad, our dapiché; or the white oxy-gen caoutchouc, which exudes from theroots of a tree in the foreſts of Pimichin,in the moſt remote corner of the world,towards the ſources of Rio Negro. At length, after waiting three years, La Mecanique Celeſte of Laplace is arriv-ed, (November 1802;) I have fallen uponit with unbounded eagernefs. This bookhas encouraged me to continue my re-ſearches on the tides of the atmoſphere, onwhich I made ſeveral obſervations at Cu-mana in the year 1799. I have mention-ed them in a letter to Citizen Lalande.— Godin knew ſomething about them, with-out pointing out a cauſe. Moſely, in awork on the maladies of the Tropics,ſays, that the barometer is at the maximum when the ſun is in the meridian; but thatis very falſe. The maximum takes placeat 21 h. and at 11 h.; the minimum at 4 h.and at 15\( \frac{1}{2} \)h. The Moon does not ſeemto alter the epochs ſo much as the quan-tity of elevations. I am now obſervingprincipally the days of oppoſition andconjunction; and as my barometer indi-cates the 20th part of a line, I doubt notbut Citizen Laplace, whoſe genius hasconquered the tides of the ſea, will alſodiſcover the laws of the tides of the air,when I ſhall have given him ſome thou-ſands of obſervations. See how ſtriking the phenomenon is: f. l.
24 November, 10 h. morn. 27 5 75
——— ——— 12 49 m. 5 45
——— ——— 2 0 5 25
——— ——— 3 30 5 10
———— —— 4 45 5 0
———— —— 5 30 5 10
——— ——— 7 0 5 40
——— ——— 8 0 5 60
——— ——— 9 0 5 65
——— ——— 10 30 5 65
I obſerve the hygrometer and barome-ter at the ſame time. My barometer isEngliſh. I have gone too far. I wiſhed to writemy friend Pommard. I have no moretime; he loves me, he will excuſe me. I don’t go to the Philippines. I paſsby Acapulco, Mexico, Havannah, to Eu-rope. I hope to embrace you in Septem-ber or October 1803, at Paris. I ſhall beat Mexico in February; in June at Ha-vannah. I think of nothing but of pre-ſerving and publiſhing my manuſcripts.—How much do I long to be at Paris!

Health and reſpect, Humboldt.