THE PANAMA CANAL.
A paper in the Vienna Monthly Magazine for the East, published by the Austrian Oriental Museum, gives an account of proposals which have been made from time to time for cutting a canal through the Isthmus of Panama. As far back as 1551 Francisco Lopez de Gomara, in his history of the two Indies, mentions three lines by which he believed the Atlantic might be connected with the Pacific. The three routes indicated by this old writer are those which lately, after a lapse of three centuries, have been again examined—namely the one across the Isthmus of Tehautee--pec, to which Ferdinand Cortez had devoted especial attention; the Lake of Nicaragua route, which had attracted the notice of Gil Gonzales Davila ; and the shorter line across the Isthmus of Panama, of which mention has been made by Francisco Pizzaro. Unfortunately the prosecution of the enterprise, at a time when Spain still possessed the moans, power, and energy to successfully accomplish it, was prevented by ignorance and superstition. Father Jose de Acosta, a member of the Society of Jesus, in a, work published by him in 1588, denounced the then apparently much talked of idea of cutting a canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific as an impious conception, asserting that the “ punishment of heaven would most assuredly fall upon those who presumed to endeavor to alter the wise arrangements of Providence.” Opposed by the Church, any project which may have been formed for uniting the two oceans was abandoned ; and after the accession of Phillip IT., Spain rapidly lost the last traces of the energy necessary for accomplishing any great enterprise. Through the succeeding centuries, however, the idea of cutting the canal constantly occupied the attention of distinguished men of different nations, and in 1829 a mission was sent by the King of the Netherlands to Guatemala to enter into negotiations on the subject. Matters were progressing favorably when the revolution of 1830 proved fatal to the •scheme. In 1844, again, the Government of Nicaragua made overtures on the subject to the King of the Belgians, but the proposed plan was shipwrecked on political obstacles, and negotiations subsequently entered into with France also proved fruitless.
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