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Alexander von Humboldt: „Baron Humboldt and american affairs“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 23.07.2024].

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Titel Baron Humboldt and american affairs
Jahr 1855
Ort New York City, New York
in: New-York Tribune 15:4442 (16. Juli 1855), S. 5.
Sprache Englisch
Deutsche Übersetzung dieses Textes
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung, Kapitälchen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: VII.86
Dateiname: 1855-Baron_Humboldt_and-1-neu
Seitenanzahl: 1
Zeichenanzahl: 6944


Baron Humboldt And American Affairs.

To the Editor of The N.Y. Tribune. Sir: Baron von Humboldt called my attention aday or two since to a paragraph copied from someother paper into The Semi-Weekly Tribune of May12, headed “A Huge Pile of Serpents,” and begin-ning thus: “Baron Humboldt says: In the savan-“nahs of Izacubo, Guiana, I saw the most wonderful“and terrible spectacle that can be seen,” &c. Hesmiled at the idea of this story being attributed tohim, for he never was in the country mentioned, andcertainly could never have given such a descriptionof a sight which he never saw anywhere. He spokeof this paragraph however, not on account of any im-portance he attached to it or its correction, but as af-fording him an opportunity of mentioning a fact inrelation to himself personally, which he requested meto make known through the columns of The Tribune. For some twelve or fourteen years, he says, he hasbeen annoyed by the use of his name by various per-sons in America, especially in Central and SouthAmerica, who have, as supposed connections of his,enjoyed and in some cases abused the confidence ofgenerous persons who wished and thought to do himhonor. His brother left no children, he himself nevermarried, and he is alone the last of his race. There isno person living who can claim anything as a connec-tion of his. That there may be other persons in theworld by the name of Humboldt he of course does notdeny, but the probability is that many pretended dis-coveries in science, which have been promulgated bypeople calling themselves by that name, have onlybeen the offspring of a desire to swindle and humbugin a more secure and effectual manner. I think, butam not sure, that in this connection he spoke of aridiculous story of some Humboldt or other havingfive hundred negroes placed in his hands to be ex-perimented on in innoculating for the yellow fever. The long letters which occasionally reach him fromAmerica and the West Indies from people who have,as they suppose, cherished members of his family inillness, or otherwise founded a claim upon his noticeor friendship, are a serious annoyance, though the sci-entific absurdities published in the papers under thesanction of his name partake more of the ludicrous. This noble and venerable man, though now someyears beyond four score, still retains a lively interestin the progress of our country. To every Americanwhom he meets he speaks of his friends, Jefferson andGallatin, and laments the change on the question ofSlavery which has come over our Government sincetheir day. He speaks of Webster’s last days with ex-pressions of the sincerest and deepest regret; nor doeshe omit any opportunity to impress upon the minds ofAmericans the deep moral degradation in which theUnited States as a nation has plunged itself within thelast few years. Though an intimate friend of theKing, it is said (of course he says nothing of this) thatthe subject of politics and political affairs is neverspoken of between them. From the interest withwhich he watches the development and progress ofthe Republican idea in America it would seem thatpolitics must indeed be banished from among the sub-jects which he can discuss with Frederick William.At his request I showed him on the map the bound-aries of the new Territories, Kansas and Nebraska—his map, though recent, dating back beyond theDouglas and Pierce outrage. It is very gratifiying to our national pride to hearhis praises of some of our authors, Prescott being, inhis opinion, one of the finest, if not the finest, historiannow living and writing in the English language. He hasseveral times expressed his wish that he could knowthat man. Of Prescott’s works I think he likes bestthe “Ferdinand and Isabella.” As to the “Conquest of“Mexico,” could the distinguished author have traveledto Mexico and viewed with his own eyes the sceneshe describes, so as to have, in addition to the eleganceof his style and extreme accuracy, added the charmof description of scenes he personally knew, Hum-boldt seems to think the book would have been per-fect. It is natural that he should feel something of awant of this kind in a work upon Mexico, but I donot see how a reader who has not the personal recol-lections of the Baron can feel this want. Parts of Owen’s great report upon the Lake Supe-rior region have pleased him much. I was surprisedthat Whitney’s new work on the Mineral Resourcesof the United States had not reached his notice, forthe great chemist, Rose, had made it the subject ofseveral papers before the Geographical Society; butHumboldt seldom goes out to such meetings now. The following passages from a note written soonafter reading in the The Tribune the account of theopening of the Panama Railroad, I think may betranslated for your paper without any impropriety, asa breach of the sanctity of private correspondence: “Le chemin de fer de Panama a été proposé parmoi, dès l’Année 1805, avec le projét beaucoup plusutile et tres executable du canal oceanique du Capicaà l’Atrato. “Les tristes debats sur la propagation du systeme del’esclavage ont hereusement offert l’occasion àquelques ames nobles de prononcer des paroles con-solantes. Il ne s’agit pas de demander à la fois l’abo-lition de l’esclavage, mais d’amener peu à peu desadoucissements dans la legislation actuelle par ne plusvendre l’enfant à la mamelle. La pretention du Pres-ident dans la lettre à M. Soulé de se croire en droitde conquerer l’ile de Cuba lorsque un etat voisin faitmine de rendre sa legislation plus humaine, m’a parudes plus sauvages.” I give the following transversion of these para-graphs: “The Panama Railroad was proposed by me asearly as 1805, with the imposing project, which wouldbe far more useful and quite as practicable, of aninteroceanic Canal between Capica and Atrato. “The sad debates which have taken place on theextension of the system of Slavery have happilyoffered an opportunity to a few noble souls to speakwords of consolation. There is no need of demand-ing immediately the abolition of Slavery, but of grad-ually introducing mitigations into the present legisla-tion, so that the babe may no longer be sold from thebreast. The claim of the President in his letter to Mr.Soulé, that believed he had a right to conquer theIsland of Cuba when a neighboring State untertookto render its legislation more humane, appears to meto be a most barbarous one.” Tastes may differ, but I would rather have thehonor of the approbation expressed in these lines ofthe noble course pursued by Seward, Sumner andChase than the title of President, which Pierce wears, so obtained! The approval of Humboldt is worththat of all the men-stealers and women-sellers fromthe Potomac to the boundary of Mexico. Your obedient servant, AN AMERICAN IN GERMANY. Berlin, Prussia, June 10, 1855.