Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 476–81.

Editor's Easy Chair



Regular Feature, Editorial


Travel, Exploration, Scientific Practitioners, Engineering, Skill, Railways, Miracle

    Remarks that it is, above all, 'human tradition and association [...] that makes the enchantment of travel', and the 'touch of civilization in the midst of barbarism is as refreshing as the care and the lullaby of the African women to Mungo Park'. In fact, the 'tropical splendor of the scene that Humboldt saw from the castle of Chapultepec may be, as travellers say, unrivalled, but the central charm to most travellers would be the fact that at the castle Humboldt beheld it'. (480) Alerts American readers, who tend to view their benighted southern neighbour as merely a 'kind of semi-tropical waste' (479), to the existence of the 'railway from Vera Cruz, two hundred and sixty miles, to the city of Mexico—a marvellous feat of scientific skill, crossing the mountains at a height of 8500 feet, and bearing you through every climate, amid unimaginable luxuriance and brilliancy of vegetation'. Indeed, the 'railway seems to be the spring' of the 'happy hope' that Mexico may be 'reviving' to become a 'sister republic', and these 'parallel lines of iron and of steel have worked many miracles, of which the United States are the witness. But the wonder of wonders, the greatest triumph of the railroad, will be the regeneration of Mexico'. (480)

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

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