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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-19-neu> [abgerufen am 23.07.2024].

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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 Boston, Massachusetts; New York City, New York
Nachweis
in: Littell’s Living Age 487 (17. September 1853), S. 763–764.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung, Kapitälchen.
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.49
Dateiname: 1853-Junction_of_the-19-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 2
Spaltenanzahl: 3
Zeichenanzahl: 6489

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The Isthmus of Darien. Letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt to Lionel Gisborne, Esq., M. A., C. E. (New York City, New York, 1853, Englisch)
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Junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Panama City, 1853, Englisch)
The Isthmus of Darien. Letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt to Lionel Gisborne, Esq., M. A., C. E. (Boston, Massachusetts; New York City, New York, 1853, Englisch)
Letter from Baron Alexander von Humboldt to Lionel Gisborne, Esq., M.A., C.E. (Sydney, 1853, Englisch)
|763| |Spaltenumbruch|

THE ISTHMUS OF DARIEN. letter 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 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 inthis country, and the ardent desire I feel tofinish, before my death, some scientific workswhich I had the imprudence to begin, con-siderably interrupt the even course of mycorrespondence. I therefore hope that I shallmeet, on your part also, with that indulgencewhich your countrymen have shown me dur-ing so long a period. I have not been beyond the Rio Rimo, whichlies east of the mouth of the Atrato, since thetime when I left the Island of Cuba on myway to Lima by Bogota, Quito, and theRiver Amazon, for the purpose of observingthe passage of Mercury through the solardisc. I was then on friendly terms with avery intelligent merchant, Don IgnacioIombo, of Carthagena, in America; and Irecollect that the Casso (treasury convoy) ofGuayaquil, was then on its way to Europe, bythe road from Cupicà to the Atrato, whichwas first opened by the Biscayan pilot,Poguerache. Knowing, geologically, the in-terruption of the mountain chains, and thedepression of the range in the eastern part ofthe Isthmus, my attention has remained fixedduring this last half century on the Bay ofSan Miguel and the route from Cupicà to theRio Napipi. Owing to my friendly relationwith General Bolivar, I obtained throughhim the first line of levels across the Isthmusof Panama. Ever since, the subject has notceased to occupy my mind, as the variousworks and maps which I published since 1810,and my correspondence with various statesmen |Spaltenumbruch| will testify. But all my striving and urgingonly led to imperfect trials and projects, cal-culated for a line to the west of the meridianof Panama and Portobello, none of which evergained my confidence. I had, however, thegratification of seeing my views honored by aneminent member of Her Britannic Majesty’sNavy, Captain Fitzroy. (Journal of the RoyalGeographical Society, Vol. xx., p. 30.) The increase of human knowledge, and theimmense progress of science, arts, and indus-try, among the western nations, have givenus powers which only call for application.Everything depends upon energy and persever-ance. I therefore congratulate you, sir, andyour courageous friend, Dr. Cullen, as well asSir Charles Fox, Mr. Henderson, and Mr.Brassey, for having given your names to sonoble an undertaking. I have always con-sidered, firstly, the opening of an oceaniccanal, without locks; and, secondly, the cutat Huchuecoca, in the valley of Mexico (whichis on a comparatively smaller scale, and maybe seen by the map and section I published),as two events calculated highly to improvethe relations between the different families ofthe human species. In fact, such a work asthe one you contemplate will bring EasternAsia nearer to the nations of Europe andAmerica. It will render the whole globemore easily travelled over — this little globe,of which Christopher Columbus, in one of hisletters to the Queen of Spain, said, “el mundoes poco.” It will facilitate the diffusion of pro-ductions, especially of precious mentals, ofwhich the relative value (1 to 15 5-6ths)would change too suddenly without this“permeability” of the world. As early as the discovery of the new con-tinent, civilization 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 products, are likewise foundin the West. Even the currents of the air,by their direction, contribute towards thepreponderance of West American power overthe rich countries of Asia. The increasingimportance of the west coast of America prom-ises to balance, at some future time, the sur-prising progress of the Atlantic States, pro-vided the Western States keep themselves freefrom that hideous disease — slavery of coloredpeople. Indeed, sir, I feel the most ardent wishesfor the happy success of this oceanic canal.The attention which the public of the twocontinents bestows already upon your under-taking will increase, as soon as you are en-abled, assisted by further explorations, and asurvey extending over all details, and carriedon by a great number of experienced men, topublish, on a large scale, maps and sections |764| |Spaltenumbruch| of the line fixed upon between Puerto Escocesand the Gulf of San Miguel. The changeswhich the success of your undertaking is sureto effect in the international commerce of theworld will only disturb such people as in thenarrowness of their views oppose themselvesto the natural and providential course ofevents, and shed tears over the unfortunatediscovery of America. The Rio Huaxacualco,with its portage to the Rio Chimalapa (Te-huantepec), of which I published the firstmap after the itineraries discovered by me inthe archives of the vice-kingdom of Mexico,will always be of great importance, owing toits position opposite Louisiana, in the Gulf ofMexico, which has all the appearance of soonbecoming a mare clausum — a lake of theUnited States. The nature of the soil, how-ever, does not allow great works to be carriedout in that locality; besides, you know thedifficulties impending any canalization orrectification of rivers of great length, and thegreat variations of the volume of water, as inthe river San Juan; but a Railway would bea great advantage to the Southern States. The great interest which every one at thepresent time takes in the canalization of theIsthmus, recalls a similar fact to my memory,reminding me of the sudden interest createdby the discovery of guano. I was the first who brought guano to Europe,of which Klaproth and Vauquelin publishedan analysis. During 40 years I preached, butalways in vain, the usefulness of this sub-stance, and in vain did I recommend its em-ployment in fertilizing the fields of Europe.But it is only 15 or 18 years since it has atlast become a great article of commerce. I beg of you, my dear sir, to present mykind remembrance to the excellent and ableMr. Peterman, &c.

Alexander Von Humboldt.