Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"The idea of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific is not new. Columbus wore out the last days... life in searching for a natural passage"

"The idea of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific is not new. Columbus wore out the last days of his checkered life in searching for a natural passage, and the vastness and sublimity of the enterprise suited the daring imagination of the early Spaniards.

From the formation of the continent and the falling off in height of the range of the Andes, it has ever since engaged the attention of reflecting men. Even during the deathlike sleep of Spanish dominion a survey was made under the direction of the captain-general; but the documents remained buried in the archives of Guatimala [sic] until the emancipation of the colonies, when they were procured and published by Mr. Thomson, who visited that country under a commission from the British government." - John Lloyd Stephens. Incidents of Travel in Central-America, Chiapas and Yucatan. Illustrated by Numerous Engravings. London (1841), Volume I, p.414
From Wikipedia:
John Lloyd Stephens (November 28, 1805 – October 13, 1852) was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad. In 1839, President Martin Van Buren commissioned Stephens as Special Ambassador to Central America. While there, the government of the Federal Republic of Central America fell apart in civil war. His Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán gives a vivid description of some of those events which Stephens witnessed.
A few years earlier, he had traveled to the Middle East, publishing Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land (1837), one of the best (and earliest) American account of the region (and where I'd first heard of him when writing my book on Egyptian travel accounts, Nile Notes of a Howadji (1992).

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