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The steamer came immediately alongside the wharf where the reception committee appointed by the Government, the delegation from the State Assembly, and a large number of invited citizens were collected to welcome the illustrious engineer and the other members of his party. By the aid of a carefully prepared chart he marked the location of the necessary breakwater, as well as the probable entrance to the great Isthmian Canal. de Lesseps declared his great satisfaction at the apparent practicability of the great undertaking, and more than once became enthusiastic in speaking of the prospect.
"There are," he said, "only two great difficulties to be overcome, the Chagres River, and the deep cutting at the summit.
All public lands necessary for the route of the canal, and stations, wharves, moorings and warehouses incident to its construction were ceded gratis.
This provision also contained the grant of a zone of land about 1,400 feet wide the entire length of the waterway.
That he was over-sanguine cannot be doubted, and that this fault led to his making serious mistakes none deny.
On the other hand he was in earnest in his enthusiasm for the success of the project, and fundamentally honest in his purpose. As one of his countrymen once remarked, "Of all the men high in authority engaged with De Lesseps on the enterprise, he was about the only one whose chief endeavor was not to feather his nest." Can it be wondered that a fabric built upon a foundation so faulty should be doomed to failure?
Nearly all European countries were represented however, the contingent from the United States numbering eleven.
The conference was presided over by Count De Lesseps, and continued in session for two weeks. Jackson on behalf of the English-speaking residents of the Isthmus.
His advent at Panama was heralded as a greater event than that of a conquering general returning home. Wyse, a lieutenant of engineers in the French army, and a brother-in-law of General Turr was delegated to visit the Isthmus, conclude negotiations and map out a feasible route.
A fine lunch was provided on the train, with wines, which gave entire satisfaction.
In Panama considerable preparation had been made to do fitting honor to the great impresario.
The international commission of individuals and engineers, known as the International Scientific Congress met in Paris on May 15, 1879.
There were present 135 delegates, most of whom were French.