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Alexander von Humboldt: „Junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 24.03.2023].

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Titel Junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
Jahr 1853
Ort Panama City
in: The Panama Herald 3:61/223 (17. September 1853), [o. S.].
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung, Kapitälchen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.49
Dateiname: 1853-Junction_of_the-18-neu
Seitenanzahl: 2
Zeichenanzahl: 7466

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From the Dally News. August 8thJunction of the Atlantic and PacificOceans.

The following is the translation of a letteron this subject, addressed by Baron AlexanderVon Humboldt to Mr Lionel Gisborne: Sir: I trust you will excuse the oldestamong the travellers in both the tropics ofAmerica and the steppes of Siberia, for hav-ing so long delayed to thank you for the in-formation I derived from your interestingjournal, &c., on the junction of the Atlanticwith the Pacific. The position I occupy isthis country, and the ardent desire I feel tofinish, before my death, some scientific workswhich I had the imprudence to begin, consi-derably interrupted the even course of mycorrespondence I therefore hope that I shallmeet, on your part also, with that indulgencewhich your countrymen have shown me duringso long a period. I have not been beyond the Rio Rimo,which hes east of the mouth of the Atrato.—It was at the time when I left the island ofCuba, on my way to Lima, by Bogota, Quito,and the river Amazon, for the purpose of ob-serving the passage of Mercury through thesolur dise. I was then on friendly terms witha very intelligent merchant, Don TynacioTombo, of Cartagena, in America; and I recol-lect that the Casso (treasury convoy) ofGuayquil was then on its way to Europe, bythe road from Cupiea to the Atrato, whichwas first opened by the Biscayan pilot Po-guerache. Knowing geologically the inter-ruption of the mountain chains, and the de-pression of the lange in the eastern part of theIsthmus, my attention has remained fixed,during this last half century, on the Bay ofSan Miguel, and the route from Cupica to theRio Napipi. Owing to my friendly relations with GeneralBolivar, I obtained through him the first lineof levels across the Isthmus of Panama. Eversince the subject has not ceased to occupy mymind, as the vatious works and in ips which Ipublished since 1810, and my correspondencewith various statesmen will testify. But allmy striving and urging only led to imperfecttrials; and projects calculated for a line to thewest of the ineridian of Panaina and Portobelo,none of which ever gained my confidence. Ihad, however, the gratification of seeing myviews honored by an eminent member of HerBritannic Majesty’s Navy, Captain Fitzroy —(Journal of the Royal Georgian Society, vol.xx., 2.) The increase of human knowledge,and the immense ptogress of science, arts, andindustry among the western nations, havegiven us powers which only call for applica-tion. Everything depends upon energy and perse-verance. I therefore congratulate you, sir, andyour couingeous friend Mr. Cullen, as well asSir Charles Fox, Mr. Henderson, and MrBrassey, for having given your names to sonoble an undertaking. I have alwaya consi-dered, firstly, the opening of an oceanic canalwithout locks, and secondly, the cut at Huch-uecoca, in the valley of Mexico (which is ona comparatively smaller scale, as may be seenfrom the map, and section published), as twoevents calculated highly to improve the rela-tions between the different families of the hu-man species. In fact, such a work as the oneyou contemplate will bring Eastern Asia near-et to the nations of Europe and America. Itwill render the whole globe more easy to betravelled over; this little globe, of whichChristopher Columbus, in one of his letters tothe Queen of Spain, said —“ El mundo es poco. It will facilitate the diffusion of productions,especilly of precious motals, of which the re-lative value (1 to 15 5-6) would change toosuddenly without this “permeability” of theworld. As early as the discovery of the new conti-nent, civilisation had spread, in a directionfrom north to south, over those portions ofAmerica which lie opposite to Asia, those onthe European side being then occupied bybarbarous hunting tribes. The finest harbors, the most precious pro-ducts, are likewise found in the west. Even the currents of the air, by their direc-tion, contribute towards the preponderance ofWest American power over the rich countriesof Asia. The increasing importance of thewest coast of America promises to balance, atsome future time, the surprising progress ofthe Atlantic States provided the Western |3| States keep themselves free from that hiddeousdisease—slavery of the colored people Indeed, sir, I feel the most ardent wishes forthe happy success of this oceanic canal. Theattention which the public of the two conti-nents bestow alrendy upon your undertaking,will increase as soon as you will be enabled,assisted by farther explorations, and a surveyextending over all details, and carried on by agreat number of experienced men, to publish,on a large scale, maps and sections of the linefixed opon between Puerto Escoces and theGulf of San Miguel. The changes which thesuccess of the undertaking is sure to effect inthe international commerce of the world, willonly disturb such people, as in the narrownessof their views, oppose themselves to the na-tural and providential course of ovents, andshed tears over the unfortunate discovery ofAmerica. The Rio Huaxacualco with itsportage to the Rio Chimalapa (Tehuantepec),of which I published the first map after theitineraries discovered by me in the archives ofthe Vice Kingdom of Mexico, will always beof great importance, owing to its position op-posite Louisiana, in the Gulf of Mexico, whichhas all the appearance of soon becoming a mare clausum—a lake of the United Statos.—The nature of the soil, however, does not al-low great works to be carried out in that lo-cality; besides, you know the difficulties im-peding any canalisation or rectification of riversof great length, and the great variations of thevolume of water, as in the river San Juan —But a railway would be a great advantage tothe southern states. The great interest which every one at thepresent time takes in the caualisation of theIsthmus, recalls a similar fact to my memory,reminding me of the sudden interest createdby the discovery of guano. I was the firstwho brought guano to Europe, of which Klap-roth and Vauquelin published an analysis.—During forty years I preached but always invain, the usefulness of this substance, and invain did I recommend its employment in for-tilizing the fields in Europe. But it is only15 or 18 years since it has at last become agreat article of commerce. I beg of you, my dear sir, to present mykind remembrance to the excellent and ableMr. Petermann, and to &c.,

Alexander von Humboldt.

P. S. I am not surprised at the differencebetween the level you found at Turbaco, andmy own statement. To this, however, I hadprudently added “doubtful barometrical observation” (Sec my Recueil d’ObservationsAstronomiques et de Mesures Barometriques, vol. I., p. 299.) The fact that the gas issuingfrom the little volcanoes at Tuibaco is inflam-mable in its natural state has already beencommunicated by Gol. Acosta (Journ., p. 65)It appears that the gaseous fluid which issuesfrom the salses is not the same at all times.—I find in my journal, that in 1801, the flameof any burning substance was suddenly extin-guished on being thrown into a bottle contaming air from those little volcanoes. Parrotalso; in the mud volcanoes in the island ofTaman, found only azote, although the gasemitted would burn at other times. (See my Relation Historique, vol. XV., c. 29, pp. 367-371.)