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Alexander von Humboldt: „The Isthmus of Darien“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <https://humboldt.unibe.ch/text/1853-Junction_of_the-14-neu> [abgerufen am 27.09.2023].

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Titel The Isthmus of Darien
Jahr 1853
Ort Cirencester
Nachweis
in: Wilts and Glo’stershire Standard And Cirencester and Swindon Express 18:858 (20. August 1853), S. 4.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung.
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.49
Dateiname: 1853-Junction_of_the-14-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 1
Zeichenanzahl: 5771

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|Seitenumbruch|

THE ISTHMUS OF DARIEN.


LETTER FROM BARON ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT TOLIONEL GISBORNE, ESQ., M.A., C.E.(Translated from the French original.)

I trust you will excuse the oldest among the tra-vellers, in both the tropics of America and the steppesof Siberia, for having so long delayed to thank youfor the information I derived from your interestingjournal, &c., on the junction of the Atlantic with thePacific. The position I occupy in this country, andthe ardent desire I feel to finish, before my death, somescientific works which I had the imprudence to begin,considerably interrupt the even course of my corre-spondence. I therefore hope that I shall meet, on yourpart also, with that indulgence which your countrymenhave shown me during so long a period. I have not been beyond the Rio Rimo, which lieseast of the mouth of the Atrato, since the time whenI left the Island of Cuba, on my way to Lima, byBogota, Quito, and the river Amaxon, for the purposeof observing the passage of Mercury through the solardise. I was then on friendly terms with a very in-telligent merchant. Don Ignacio Iombo, of Cartagena,in America, and I recollect that the Casso (TreasuryConvoy) of Guayaquil was then on its way to Europe,by the road from Cupicà to the Atrato, which wasfirst opened by the Biscayan pilot Poguerache.Knowing geologically, the interruption of the moun-tain chains, and the depression of the range in theeastern part of the Isthmus, my attention has remainedfixed during this half century on the Bay of SanMiguel and the route from Cupicà to the Rio Napipi.Owing to my friendly relations with General Bolivar,I obtained, through him, the first line of levels acrossthe Isthmus of Panama. Ever since, the subject hasnot ceased to occupy my mind, as the various worksand maps which I published since 1810 and my corre-spondence with various statesmen will testify. But allmy striving and urging only led to imperfect trials andprojects calculated for a line to the west of themeridian of Panama and Portobello, none of whichover gained my confidence. I had, however, thegratification of seeing my views honoured by an emi-nent member of Her Britannic Majesty’s navy, CaptainFitxroy. (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XX., p. 20.) The increase of human knowledge, and the immenseprogress of science, arts, and industry among thewestern nations, have given us powers which only callfor application. Everything depends on energy andperseverance. I therefore congratulate you, Sir, andyour couragcous friend, Dr. Cullen, as well as SirCharles Fox, Mr. Henderson, and Mr. Brassey, forhaving given your names to so noble an undertaking.I have always considered, firstly, the opening of anoceanic canal, without locks; and secondly, the cutat Huchuccoca, in the valley of Mexico (which is ona comparatively smaller scale, as may be seen by themap and section I published), as two events calcu-lated highly to improve the relations between thedifferent families of the human species. In fact, sucha work as the one you contemplate will bring EasternAsia nearer to the nations of Europe and America.It will render the whole globe more easy to be tra-velled over—this little globe, of which ChristopherColumbus, in one of his letters to the Queen of Spain,said, “el mundo es poco.” It will facilitate the diffusionof productions, especially of precious metals, of whichthe relative value (1 to 15 5-6ths) would change toosuddenly without this “permeability” of the world. As early as the discovery of the new continent,civilisation had spread, in a direction from north tosouth, over those portions of America which lie oppositeto Asia, those on the European side being then occu-pied by barbarous hunting tribes. The finest harbours,the most precious products, are likewise found in theWest. Even the currents of the air, by their direction,contribute towards the preponderance of West Ameri-can power over the rich countries of Asia. The in-creasing importance of the west coast of Americapromises to balance, at some future time, the surprisingprogress of the Atlantic States, provided the westernStates keep themselves free from that hideous disease—slavery of coloured people. Indeed, Sir, I feel the most ardent wishes for thehappy success of this occanic canal. The attentionwhich the public of the two continents bestows alreadyupon your undertaking will increase, as soon as youare enabled—assisted by further explorations, and asurvey extending over all details, and carried on by agreat number of experienced men—to publish on alarge scale maps and sections of the line fixed upon be-tween Puerto Escoces and the Gulf of San Miguel.The changes which the success of your undertaking issure to effect in the international commerce of theworld will only disturb such people as in the narrow-ness of their views oppose themselves to the naturaland Providential course of events, and shed tears overthe unfortunate discovery of America. The RioHuaxacualco, with its portage to the Rio Chimalapa(Tchuantepec), of which I published the first map afterthe itineraries discovered by me in the archives of thevice-kingdom of Mexico, will always be of great im-portance, owing to its position opposite Louisiana, inthe Gulf of Mexico, which has all the appearance ofsoon becoming a mare clausum—a lake of the UnitedStates. The nature of the soil, however, does notallow great works to be carried out in that locality;besides, you know the difficulties impeding anycanalisation or rectification of rivers of great length,and the great variations of the volume of water, as inthe river San Juan; but a railway would be a greatadvantage to the Southern States.