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Alexander von Humboldt: „The Isthmus of Darien. Letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt to Lionel Gisborne, Esq., M. A., C. E.“, 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-16-neu> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel The Isthmus of Darien. Letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt to Lionel Gisborne, Esq., M. A., C. E.
Jahr 1853
Ort New York City, New York
Nachweis
in: The New-York Times 2:603 (24. August 1853), S. 3.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung, Kapitälchen.
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.49
Dateiname: 1853-Junction_of_the-16-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 4
Zeichenanzahl: 7411

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|Seitenumbruch|

The Isthmus of DarienLETTER FROM BARON ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDTTO LIONEL GISBORNE, ESQ., M. A., C. E.Translated from the French original.

Sir: I trust that you will excuse the old-est among the travelers, in both the tropics of Ame-rica and the steppes of Siberia, for having so longdelayed to thank you for the information I derivedfrom your interesting journal, &c., on the junctionof the Atlantic with the Pacific. The position Ioccupy in this country, and the ardent desire I feelto finish, before my death, some scientific workswhich I had the imprudence to begin, considerablyinterrupt the even course of my correspondence. Itherefore hope that I shall meet, on your part also,with that indulgence which your countrymen haveshown me during so long a period.“I have not been beyond the Rio Rimo, whichlies east of the mouth of the Atrato, since the timewhen I left the Island of Cuba, on my way to Limaby Bogota, Quito, and the River Amazon, for thepurpose of observing the passage of Mercurythrough the solar disc. I was then on friendly termswith a very intelligent merchant, Don IgnacioIombo, of Carthagena, in America: and I recollectthat the Casso (treasury convoy) of Guayaquil, wasthen on its way to Europe, by the road from Cupicàto the Atrato, which was first opened by the Biscayan pilot, Poguerache. Knowing, geologically, theinterruption of the mountain chains, and the depres-sion of the range in the eastern part of the Isthmus,my attention has remained fixed during this last halfcentury on the Bay of San Miguel and the routefrom Cupicà to the Rio Napipi. Owing to myfriendly relations with General Bolivar, I ob-tained through him the first line of levels across theIsthmus of Panama. Ever since, the subject hasnot ceased to occupy my mind, as the various worksand maps which I published since 1810, and mycorrespondenee with various statesmen will testify.But all my striving and urging only led to imperfecttrials and projects, calculated for a line to the westof the meridian of Panama and Portobello, none ofwhich ever gained my confidence. I had, however,the gratification of seeing my views honored by aneminent member of Her Britannic Majesty’s Navy,Captain Fitzroy. (Journal of the Royal Geographi-cal Society, Vol. xx., p. 30)“The increase of human knowledge, and the im-|Seitenumbruch| mense progress of science, arts, and industryameng the western nations, have given us powerswhich only call for application. Everything de-pends upon energy and perseverance. I thereforecongratulate you, Sir, and your courageous friend,Dr. Cullen, as well as Sir Charles Fox, Mr.Henderson, and Mr. Brassey, for having givenyour names to so noble an undertaking. I havealways considered, firstly, the opening of an oceaniccanal, without locks; and secondly, the cut atHuchuecoca, in the valley of Mexico (which is ona comparatively smaller scale, and may be seen bythe map and section I published,) as two eventscalculated highly to improve the relations betweenthe different families of the human species. In fact,such a work as the one you contemplate will bringEastern Asia nearer to the nations of Europe andAmerica. It will render the whole globe moreeasily traveled over—this little globe, of whichChristopher Columbus, in one of his letters tothe Queen of Spain, said, ‘el mundo es poco.’ Itwill facilitate the diffusion of productions, especial-ly of precious metals, of which the relative value(1 to 55 5.6ths) would change too suddenly withoutthis ‘permeability’ of the world.“As early as the discovery of the new continent,civilization had spread, in a direction from north tosouth, over those portions of America which lieopposite to Asia, those on the European side beingthen occupied by barbarous hunting tribes. Thefinest harbors, the most precious products, are like-wise found in the West. Even the currents of theair, by their direction, contribute towards the pre-ponderance of West American power over the richcountries of Asia. The increasing importance ofthe west coast of America promises to balance, atsome future time, the surprising progress of theAtlantic States, provided the Western States keepthemselves free from that hideous disease—slaveryof colored people.|Seitenumbruch| “Indeed, Sir, I feel the most ardent wishes forthe happy success of this oceanic canal. The at-tention which the public of the two continents be-stows already upon your undertaking will increase,as soon as you are enabled, assisted by further ex-plorations, and a survey extending over all details,and carried on by a great number of experiencedmen, to publish, on a large scale, maps and sectionsof the line fixed upon between Puerto Escoces andthe Gulf of San Miguel. The changes which thesuccess of your undertaking is sure to effect inthe international commerce of the world will onlydisturb such people as in the narrowness of theirviews oppose themselves to the natural and Provi-dential course of events, and shed tears over theunfortunate discovery of America. The RioHuaxacualco, with its portage to the Rio Chimala-pa, (Tehuantepec,) of which I published the firstmap after the itineraries discovered by me in thearchives of the vice-kingdom of Mexico, will al-ways be of great importance, owing to its positionopposite Louisiana, in the Gulf of Mexico, whichhas all the appearance of soon becoming a mareclausum—a lake of the United States. The natureof the soil, however, does not allow great works tobe carried out in that locality; besides, you knowthe difficulties impending any canalization or recti-fication of rivers of great length, and the great va-riations of the volume of water, as in the riverSan Juan; but a Railway would be a great advan-tage to the Southern States.“The great interest which every one at thepresent time takes in the canalization of the Isth-mus, recalls a similar fact to my memory, remind-ing me of the sudden interest created by the discov-ery of guano.|Seitenumbruch| “I was the first who brought guano to Europe, ofwhich Klaproth and Vauquelin published an an-alysis. During 40 years I preached, but always invain, the usefulness of this substance, and in vaindid I recommend its employment in fertilizing thefields of Europe. But it is only 15 or 18 yearssince it has at last become a great article of com-merce.“I beg of you, my dear Sir, to present my kindremembrance to the excellent and able Mr. Peter-man, &c., Alexander Von Humboldt.“P. S.—I am not surprised at the difference be-tween the level you found at Turbaco and my ownstatement. To this, however, I had prudentlyadded ‘doubtful barometrical observation.’ (Seemy Recueil d’Observations Astronomiques et deMesures Barométriques, vol. i. p. 299.) The factthat the gas issuing from the little volcanoes atTurbaco is inflammable in its natural state has al-ready been communicated by Colonel Acosta.(Journal, p. 65). It appears that the gaseous fluidwhich issues from the ‘salses’ is not the same at alltimes. I find in my journal that, in 1801, the flameof any burning substance was suddenly extinguishedon being thrown into a bottle containing air fromthese little volcanoes.Parrot, also, in the mud volcanoes in theisland of Taman found only azote, although thegas emitted would burn at other times. (See myRelation Historique, vol. xii, chap. 20, p. 367—371.)”