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" THE heights by great men reached and kept 

Were not attained by sudden flight; 

But they, while their companions slept, 

Were toiling upward in the night." 


" A MAN who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered 
the value of life." DARWIN. 









BrDtratr this book. 


GARFIELD said, " No page of human history is 
so instructive and significant as the record of those 
early influences which develop the character and 
direct the lives of eminent men." 

These sketches show how young men have over- 
come difficulties, sometimes poverty, sometimes 
illness ; how they have made failures before find- 
ing their true vocation. They show the results 
of energy, perseverance, and untiring devotion ; 
how a cheerful face and a hopeful spirit like 
Agassiz's, or a gentle and kindly nature like 
Darwin's, can win its way against opposition. 

A sketch of Benjamin Franklin, which otherwise 
would have a place in this volume, will be found 
in " Famous American Statesmen " ; also one of 
Michael Faraday, in "Poor Boys Who Became 

S. K. B. 








^-iSiR HUMPHREY DAVY ....< 139 





Louis AGASSIZ 302 





"rpHE same memorable day is marked by the 
-J- setting of one of the most brilliant stars in 
the firmament of art and the rising of another 
in the sphere of science, which was to enlighten 
the world with beams of equal splendor. On 
the 18th of February, 1564, Michael Angelo Buo- 
narotti closed his eyes at Kome, and Galileo 
Galilei first saw the light at Pisa." 

Thus writes young Karl von Gebler, in the best 
life of Galileo ever written, his dying contribu- 
tion to literature. Some other authorities place 
Galileo's birth on February 15. 

He was the oldest in a family of five children 
born to Vincenzo Galilei, a Florentine noble, and 
Giulia Ammanati, who also belonged to an ancient 
family. Vincenzo wrote learnedly about music, 
and taught his boy to play on the lute and the 
organ; but he was poor and life was a struggle. 
However beneficial poverty may be in the develo'p-J 
ment of character, most of us do not crave it for 
our children, so Vincenzo decided to place his son 
where he could earn a comfortable support. Music 
did not bring money. Galileo therefore should 


become a dealer in cloth ; a necessity of life, rather 
than a luxury. 

But the boy soon showed great skill in music, 
surpassing his father. He excelled in drawing and 
color, and could have become a noted artist. He 
loved poetry, and had a decided taste for mechan- 
ics, making machines of great ingenuity. It soon 
became evident that such a lad would not be satis- 
fied to spend his life trading in wool. 

He must be educated, but how ? The family had 
moved from Pisa, where there were schools of 
repute, to Florence. An effort .had to be made, by 
the greatest economy, to prepare Galileo to go 
back to the Pisan University. He showed great 
aptitude for Latin and Greek, and at seventeen 
was ready for Pisa. 

For what profession should he study ? Not what 
best suited his tastes, but that in which his father 
thought he could make money, medicine. Poor 
Vincenzo ! who can blame him that he hated pov- 
erty for his brilliant son ? 

At college, Galileo became an ardent student of 
philosophy, and because he dared to think for him- 
self, and did not always agree with the teachings 
of Aristotle, he was called "the wrangler." Until 
he was twenty he was scarcely acquainted with 
the rudiments of mathematics, because his father 
thought this study was a waste of time for a man 
who was to become a physician. How many par- 
ents make the mistake of bending their children 
to their own plans, instead of ascertaining what a 


boy or girl can do best in the world, and then fit- 
ting him or her for it ! 

While Galileo was studying medicine in Pisa, 
boarding with a relative, the court of Tuscany 
came to the city for a few months. Among the 
suite was Ostilio Eicci, a distinguished mathemati- 
cian, and Governor of the Pages of the Grand 
Ducal Court. He was a friend of the Galilei fam- 
ily, and was pleased to see the bright young son, 
Galileo. When he taught Euclid, the medical 
student would stand shyly at the schoolroom 
door, and listen with intense interest. Soon he 
began to study mathematics secretly ; then begged 
Ricci to teach him, who gladly consented, till the 
father forbade it, seeing that Euclid interfered 
with medicine. 

Meantime, the youth of nineteen, kneeling at 
prayers in the Pisa Cathedral, had dreamily 
watched a bronze lamp swinging from an arch. 
The oscillations were at first considerable, but as 
they grew less and less, Galileo observed that 
they were all performed in the same time, measur- 
ing the time by feeling his pulse. The idea 
occurred to him that an instrument could be con- 
structed which should mark the rate and varia- 
tion of the pulse. He began to experiment, and 
soon invented the pulselogia, which the physicians 
hailed with great delight. The pendulum was 
not applied to clocks till a half-century later, 
but its invention attracted the attention of all 


After four years' residence at Pisa, Vincenzo 
Galilei appealed to the reigning Grand Duke, Fer- 
dinand de Medici, to grant to his son one of the 
forty free places founded for poor students, but 
the request was denied, and Galileo, unable to pay 
for his doctor's degree, was obliged to leave the 
university without it. Already he had learned 
bitter lessons of privation and disappointment, but 
youth has a brave heart, and looks ever toward the 

He went back to his home in Florence to study 
the works of Archimedes, whom he called his 
"master," to write his first essay on his Hydro- 
static Balance, and to earn the reputation of a bold 
inquirer in geometrical and mechanical specula- 
tions. The father had now given up all hope 
of a fortune coming through medicine ! Hence- 
forward, the genius which was to shed lustre on 
his own name, otherwise buried in obscurity, 
was to have its own bent, and work out its own 

If we are in earnest, a door opens sooner or 
later; but our own hands usually open it. At 
twenty-four a door opened to Galileo. Marquis 
Guidubaldo, a celebrated mathematician, apprecia- 
ting what the young scientist had done, began a 
correspondence with him, and a valuable friendship 
resulted. The marquis asked him to study the 
position of the centre of gravity in solid bodies. 
Galileo applied himself to it, and wrote a valuable 
essay, which waited fifty years for publication. 


Perhaps no person can be really great who has 
not learned patience, and Galileo had many lessons 
in this virtue before he died. 

Through the influence of the marquis, he was 
brought to the notice of Ferdinand I., reigning 
Grand Duke, who appointed him to the mathe- 
matical professorship at Pisa. This was a great 
honor for a young man of twenty -six, one who had 
been too poor to take his degree. The salary was 
small, less than a hundred dollars a year ; but he 
earned somewhat by the practice of medicine, by 
lectures on Dante and other literary subjects, and 
by lessons to private pupils. Of course, he had 
little or no leisure ; but he thus learned one of the 
most valuable lessons of life, to treasure time as 
though it were gold. How glad his father and 
mother must have been that their wool projects 
had come to naught ! 

The professors at Pisa, with a single exception, 
Jacopo Mazzoni, in the chair of philosophy, were 
opposed to the new-comer. They were all disciples 
of Aristotle, and had not Galileo, when a boy 
among them, dared to oppose the great Grecian ? 
And now, to make matters worse, he had taken 
some friends to the top of the Leaning Tower, and 
had put to the test the belief of two thousand 
years, that the rate at which a body falls de- 
pends upon its weight. When the different weights 
fell to the pavement at the foot of the Leaning 
Tower, at the same time, the learned were as- 
tonished. If Aristotle could be wrong in one 


thing, he might in others, and this young man 
would revolutionize the teaching of the times ! 

The feeling became so strong against the inves- 
tigator that after three years at Pisa he resigned. 
When will the world learn toleration for those 
whose opinions are different from the popular 
thought ? From Galileo to Darwin we have per- 
secuted the men and women whose views were 
unlike our own in theology, in science, or in social 

Through his friend, the Marquis Guidubaldq, the 
mathematical professorship at Padua was obtained 
for Galileo. He was now twenty-nine, and becom- 
ing widely known throughout Italy. His father 
had just died, leaving the whole family, a wife and 
four children, dependent upon him for support ; 
not a small matter for an ambitious and hard- 
working professor. 

Padua gave the young man cordial welcome. 
Vincenzo Pirielli, a learned nobleman, who pos- 
sessed eighty thousand volumes, mentioned him to 
Tycho Brahe, the great Danish astronomer, as a 
man whom it would be well to cultivate ; but the 
Dane was too cautious about his own reputation, 
and did not write Galileo till eight years later, 
and died the following year. 

An associate of Tycho Brahe was wiser than his 
master, and sent Galileo his new book, " Prodromus 
Dissertationum Cdsmographicum." A warm letter 
of thanks went back to the immortal John Kepler, 
saying : " Many years ago I became a convert to 


the opinions of Copernicus, and by that theory 
have succeeded in fully explaining many phenom- 
ena which on the contrary hypothesis are al- 
gether inexplicable. I have drawn up many argu- 
ments and compilations of the opposite opinions, 
which, however, I have not hitherto dared to pub- 
lish, fearful of meeting the same fate as our master 
Copernicus, who, although he has earned for him- 
self immortal fame amongst the few, yet amongst 
the greater number appears as only worthy of hoot- 
ing and derision ; so great is the number of fools." 

John Kepler, like Galileo, lived a pathetic life. 
His childhood was spent in the little beer-shop of 
his wretchedly poor father. At six he had a severe 
attack of small-pox, and his eyes were permanently 
weakened. He was put to the plough, but his 
delicate body could not bear the work. At last, 
through charity, he became a theological student 
at Tubingen. But here he began to think for him- 
self, and, probably, would have been obliged to 
leave the university. 

Fortunately for science, he heard some lectures 
given by Michael Mostlen, famous in mathematics 
and astronomy. A new world opened to Kepler. 
He applied himself with all the ardor of youth, 
and at twenty -two became professor of mathemat- 
ics at Gratz, in Styria. He was soon driven away 
from this Catholic stronghold, on account of his 
Protestant faith. Tycho Brahe heard of his needs, 
and made him his assistant at Prague, with a salary 
of seven hundred and fifty dollars a year. This 


seemed regal splendor to the poor astronomer. Now 
he studied the heavens with hope and delight. 

But sorrows soon came. His children died, his 
wife became insane, and died also. The salary 
could not be paid, on account of the religious wars 
which convulsed Germany. He wrote almanacs, 
took private pupils, and in all ways tried to sup- 
port his second wife and children, while he studied 
the heavens year by year, discovering his three 
great laws. The mathematical calculations for the 
first law, that the planets move in elliptical orbits 
round the sun, which is placed at one of the foci, 
filled seven hundred pages. His "Harmonies of 
the World " contained his third great law : " The 
squares of the periodic times of the planets are 
proportioned to the cubes of their mean distances 
from the sun." 

Such was his joy when he discovered this law, 
after seventeen years of labor, that he said, "I 
have written my book. It will be read ; whether 
in the present age or by posterity matters little. 
It can wait for its readers. Has not God waited 
six thousand years for one to contemplate his 
works?" In a last fruitless attempt to recover 
twenty-nine thousand florins, owed him by the 
government, worn out with want and disappoint- 
ment, he fell ill and died at Eatisbon, leaving 
thirty -three works, twenty -two volumes in manu- 
script, and his family in the direst poverty. Such 
was the man who admired Galileo in his youth, 
and who stands with him in the admiration of the 


generations that have come and gone since these 
two men lived and wrote and suffered. 

At Padua, Galileo soon attracted great numbers 
to his class-room. Often a thousand gathered to 
hear his lectures, and when the hall was too 
cramped, he spoke to the people in the open air. 
He was above the middle height, well proportioned, 
with cheerful countenance, witty in conversation, 
and enthusiastic in his manner. So learned that 
he could repeat by heart much of the works of 
Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and Seneca ; he was yet mod- 
est and unassuming, saying that he never met a 
man so ignorant but that something might be 
learned from him. 

He labored incessantly. He wrote treatises on 
Fortifications, on Mechanics, on Gnomonics, on the 
laws of motion, on the celestial globe, which were 
copied by his pupils, and sent by them far and 
wide over Europe. He took a workman into his 
family, and began to superintend the making of the 
compass which he had invented, and the thermo- 
scope, or heat indicator, which led in later years to 
the thermometer. His experiment was made by a 
" glass bottle about the size of a hen's egg, the 
neck of which was two palms long, and as narrow 
as a straw. Having well heated the bulb in his 
hands, he placed its mouth in a vessel containing a 
little water, and withdrawing the heat of his hand 
from the bulb, instantly the water rose in the neck, 
more than a palm above the level of the water in 
the vessel." 


During the first six years at Padua, his salary 
rose from about one hundred dollars to five hundred 
dollars, yearly. All this time, when his mind 
should have been free from care for his great work, 
he was beset with difficulties. His sister, Virginia, 
had married before his father's death, but a prom- 
ised dowry had never been paid, and now the 
brother-in-law demanded the payment. The mother, 
worried over the prospect, wrote to her son, Galileo, 
" If you carry into effect your intention of coming 
here next month, I shall be rejoiced, only you 
must not come unprovided with funds, for I see 
that Benedetto is determined to have his own, that 
is to say, what you promised him ; and he threatens 
loudly that he will have you arrested the instant 
you arrive here. And as I hear you bound your- 
self to pay, he would have the power to arrest you, 
and he is just the man to do it. So I warn you, 
for it would grieve me much if anything of the kind 
were to happen." 

Livia, another sister, had become engaged to a 
Pisan gentleman, with the promise of a dowry of 
eighteen hundred ducats, eight hundred of which 
must be paid down. The " Pisan gentleman " 
could not burden himself with a wife, without 
funds to help support her and himself. So Galileo 
generously, if not wisely, borrowed six hundred 
ducats, and paid the necessary eight hundred, giving 
his sister beautiful clothes and house furnishings. 

Besides these sisters, Galileo had a lazy brother 
to provide for, Michelangelo, a young man of some 


musical talent and elegant manners, with the not 
unusual gift of being able to spend much and earn 
little. Galileo obtained a situation for him with 
a Polish prince, and spent two hundred crowns 
in getting him ready for the new position. He 
went thither, but soon returned, and another place 
had to be procured for him, at the court of the 
Duke of Bavaria. 

While there, instead of helping to pay his sis- 
ter's dowry, as he had promised, he married; had 
an extravagant wedding feast, and then wrote his 
hard-working brother : " I know that you will say 
that I should have waited, and thought of our 
sisters before taking a wife. But, good heavens ! 
the idea of toiling all one's life just to put by a few 
farthings to give one's sisters ! This yoke would 
be indeed too heavy and bitter; for I am more 
than certain that in thirty years I should not have 
, saved enough to cover this debt." 
j^ With all the pressure upon him for money, 
Galileo kept steadily on in his absorbing studies. 
In the year 1609, he constructed a telescope. It is 
true that Hans Lipperhey, of Germany, had in- 
vented a spy-glass, and presented it to Prince 
Maurice, so that the principle was understood ; but 
nobody gave it practical illustration till Galileo, 
having heard of the glass, began to reflect how an 
instrument could be made to bring distant objects 
near. In a leaden tube, he fixed two glasses, both 
having one side flat, and the other side of the one 
concave, and the other convex. By this, objects 


appeared three times nearer and nine times larger. 
A few days later, he hastened with his leaden tube 
to Venice, to exhibit it to the Doge and the Senate. 
He wrote to a friend : 

" Many gentlemen and senators, even the oldest, 
have ascended at various times the highest bell- 
towers in Venice, to spy out ships at sea, making 
sail for the mouth of the harbor, and have seen 
them clearly, though without my telescope they 
would have been invisible for more than two hours. 
The effect of this instrument is to show an object 
at a distance of, say, fifty miles, as if it were but 
five miles off. 

" Perceiving of what great utility such an instru- 
ment would prove in naval and military operations, 
and seeing that His Serenity greatly desired to pos- 
sess it, I resolved four days ago to go to the palace 
and present it to the Doge as a free gift. And on 
quitting the presence-chamber, I was commanded 
to bide awhile in the hall of the senate, where- 
unto, after a little, the Illustrissimo Prioli, who 
is Procurator and one of the Eiformatori of the 
University, came forth to me from the presence- 
chamber, and, taking me by the hand, said, 'that 
the senate, knowing the manner in which I had 
served it for seventeen years at Padua, and being 
sensible of my courtesy in making it a present 
of my telescope, had immediately ordered the 
Illustrious Rlformatori to elect me (with my good- 
will) to the professorship for life, with a stipend of 
one thousand florins yearly.' " 


This must have been a comfort to the now 
famous Galileo, as it was, doubtlesss, to the use- 
less Michelangelo, and the two brothers-in-law ! 
He could now live in comparative peace and 

On his return to Padua, he began eagerly to 
study the heavens. He found that the surface of 
the moon was mountainous ; that the Milky Way 
was composed of an immense number of small 
stars and nebulous matter ; that Orion, instead of 
being made up of seven heavenly bodies, had over 
five hundred stars ; and that the Pleiades were not 
seven, but thirty-six. In January, 1610, he dis- 
covered the four moons of Jupiter, and that they 
revolved around him. July 25 of the same year, 
he discovered the ring of Saturn ; in October, the 
phases of Venus, and later, the solar spots. 

Florence and Padua were in a blaze of excite- 
ment. These new discoveries seemed to prove 
that the earth was not the centre of the universe, 
/ but that Copernicus was right when he declared 
the sun to be the centre. Great opposition began 
to develop itself. Some of the Aristotelians de- 
clared that the telescope of Galileo showed things 
which do not exist. "It was ridiculous," they 
said, "that four planets (Jupiter's moons) were 
chasing each other around a large planet. 

"It is angels who niake Saturn, Jupiter, the, 
sun, etc., turn round. If the earth revolves, it 
must also have an angel in the centre to set it in 
motion; but if only devils live there, it would, 


therefore, be a devil who would impart motion to 
the earth. 

" The planets, the sun, the fixed stars, all belong 
to one species ; namely, that of stars they, there- 
fore, all move, or all stand still. 

"It seems, therefore, to be a grievous wrong to 
place the earth, which is a sink of impurity, among 
the heavenly bodies, which are pure and divine 

Libri, one of the Pisan professors, spoke of the 
new discoveries as "celestial trifles." When he 
died, Galileo naively remarked, "Libri did not 
choose to see my celestial trifles while he was on 
earth ; perhaps he will, now he is gone to heaven." 

Galileo now longed for freedom from teaching, 
that he might have his time for study and writing. 
He had planned, he said, "two books on the sys- 
tem of the universe ; an immense work (idea, con- 
cetto), full of philosophy, astronomy, and geometry : 
three books on local motion, a science entirely 
new; no one, either ancient or modern, having 
discovered any of the marvellous accidents which 
I demonstrate in natural and violent motions ; so 
that I may, with very great reason, call it a new 
science, discovered by me from its very first prin- 
ciples : three books on mechanics, two on the 
demonstration of its first principles, and one of 
problems ; and though this is a subject which has 
already been treated by various writers, yet all 
which has been written hitherto neither in quan- 
tity nor otherwise is the quarter of what I am 


writing on it. I have also various treatises on 
natural subjects, on sound and speech, on sight 
and colors, on the tide, on the composition of con- 
tinuous quantity, on the motion of animals, and 
others ; besides, I have also an idea of writing 
some books on the military art, giving not only a 
model of a soldier, but teaching, with very exact 
rules, all which it is his duty to know that de- 
pends on mathematics ; as, for instance, the knowl- 
edge of encampment, drawing up battalions, 
fortifications, assaults, planning, surveying, the 
knowledge of artillery, the use of various instru- 
ments, etc." 

With all this work in mind, he resigned the 
professorship at Padua, and removed to Florence, 
the Grand Duke Cosmo II. giving him a yearly 
salary of about one thousand dollars, and the title 
of Philosopher to His Highness. 

His first thought, as ever, was for his family. 
He asked an advance of two years' salary, and 
paid the dowry debts of his sisters' grasping hus- 

In 1611. his expenses paid by the Grand Duke, 
he went to Eome to show his " celestial novelties," 
as they were called, to the pope and the cardinals. 
He was received with great attention, and all . 
seemed delighted to look upon the wonders of the \ 
heavens, provided always that nothing could be 
proved against the supposed assertion of the Bible 
that the earth did not move ! 

Galileo soon published his " Discourse on Float- 


ing Bodies," which aroused violent opposition; 
" Spots observed on the Body of the Sun," and the 
" Discourse on the Tides." 

Four years later, he was again in Rome to plead 
for the Copernican system, and to defend his own 
conduct in advocating a thing in opposition to the 
Catholic church. He said : " I am inclined to 
think that the authority of Holy Scripture is 
intended to convince men of those truths which 
are necessary for their salvation, and which, being 
far above man's understanding, cannot be made 
credible by any learning, or any other means than 
revelation by the Holy Spirit. But that the same 
God, who has endowed us with senses, reason, and 
understanding, does not permit us to use them, 
and desires to acquaint us in any other way with 
such knowledge as we are in a position to acquire 
for ourselves by means of those faculties, that, it 
seems to me, I am not bound to believe, especially 
concerning those sciences about which the Holy 
Scriptures contain only small fragments and vary- 
ing conclusions; and this is precisely the case 
with astronomy, of which there is so little that the 
planets are not even all enumerated." 

However, in spite of Galileo's logic, the church 
decreed that all books which stated the Copernican 
system as true should be prohibited ; as a mathe- 
matical hypothesis, it might be speculated upon. 
This was a great disappointment to Galileo, who 
loved and revered the Roman Catholic faith. He 
went home to the Villa Segni, at Bellosguardo, 


near Florence, and for seven years led a studious 
and secluded life. 

His greatest com fort, .during these quiet years, 
was the devotion of his daughter, Polissena, who 
had entered a convent as Sister Maria Celeste. 
While in Padua, Galileo had three children by 
Marina Ganiba, a Venetian woman of inferior sta- 
tion. She afterwards married a man of her own 
class, and Galileo took his children to his own 
home ; a condition of things possible with the low 
moral standard of the time. The two daughters 
were placed in a convent, while the sou, Vincenzo, 
was educated for the profession of medicine, but 
he seems to have been a disappointment and a 
source of discomfort. 

Maria Celeste, in the convent of St. Matthew, lov- 
ing and tender, and helpful to all around her, wrote__ 
constantly to the man whom she idolized. " I put 
by carefully," she says, " the letters you write me 
daily, and when not engaged with my duties, I read 
them over and over again. This*, is the greatest 
pleasure I have, and you may think how glad I am 
to read the letters you receive from persons who, 
besides being excellent in themselves, have you in 

Again she writes, " I leave you to imagine how 
pleased I am to read the letters you constantly send 
me. Only to see how your love for me prompts 
you to let me know fully what favors you receive 
from these gentlemen is enough to fill me with joy. 
Nevertheless I feel it a little hard to hear that you 


intend leaving home so soon, because I shall have 
to do without you, and for a long time too, if I am 
not mistaken. And your lordship may believe 
that I am speaking the truth when I say that ex- 
cept you there is not a creature who gives me 
any comfort. But I will not grieve at your de- 
parture because of this, for that would be to com- 
plain when you had cause for rejoicing. Therefore 
I too will rejoice, and continue to pray God to give 
you grace and health to make a prosperous journey, 
so that you may return satisfied, and live long and 
happily, all which, I trust, will come to pass by 
God's help. 

" I send two baked pears for these days of vigil. 
But as the greatest treat of all, I send you a rose, 
which ought to please you extremely, seeing what 
a rarity it is at this season. And with the rose, 
you must accept its thorns, which represent the 
bitter passion of our Lord, while the green leaves 
represent the hope we may entertain that through 
the same Sacred Passion we, having passed through 
the darkness of this short winter of our mortal life, 
may attain to the brightness and felicity of an 
eternal spring in heaven." 

"Only in one respect does cloister life weigh 
heavily on me ; that is, that it prevents my attend- 
ing on you personally, which would be my desire, 
were it permitted. My thoughts are always with 
you." ' 

And so the seven years of study went by, with 
the sweet love of Maria Celeste to brighten them. 


There are none so great that they can live without 

At the end of the seven years, Urban VIII. came 
to the pontifical throne, and Galileo and other 
scientists rejoiced, for he had seemed liberal in 
thought and generous in heart. When he was 
cardinal, he had sent a letter to Galileo, saying, 
" The esteem which I always entertain for yourself 
and your great merits has given occasion to the 
enclosed verses. If not worthy of you, they will 
serve at any rate as a proof of my affection, while 
I purpose to add lustre to my poetry by your 
renowned name. Without wasting words, then, in 
further apologies, which I leave to the confidence 
which I place in you, I beg you to receive with 
favor this insignificant proof of my great affec- 

At Easter, 1624, Galileo, now sixty years old, re- 
solved to proceed to Home, to welcome the new 
pope, and urge his approval of the Copernican 
theory. Frail in health, he was carried most of 
the way in a litter. During a visit of six weeks, 
he had six long audiences with Urban VIII. ; but, 
though he was affably received, the pope was in no 
wise convinced, but rather tried to convince Galileo 
that he was in error. 

Yet so kind was he that Galileo went back to 
Florence with the hope and belief that he could 
bring out his great work, " Dialogues on the Two 
Principal Systems of the World, the Ptolemaic and 
Copernican," without opposition from the church. 


In this book, Galileo gave the results of scientific 
research and discovery in the half century preced- 
ing, using such clear yet brilliant style in writing 
as to make the work attractive even to the un- 

It was ready for publication in March, 1630, but 
to be sure that the pope did not object, Galileo 
was urged to go in person to Kome. He went and 
presented the matter to Urban, who gave his con- 
sent provided that the title should show that the 
Copernican system was treated as a hypothesis 
merely, and that he, the pope, should write the 
closing argument. 

Rather than forego the publication of that upon 
which he had worked for years, Galileo consented, 
and returned to Florence. A license to publish 
was then obtained from the Inquisitor-General, and 
the Vicar-General of Florence, after great delay. 
A second and a third time the papal authorities 
wished to look over the manuscript. Two years 
went slowly by. 

Other anxieties came to the man of sixty-eight, 
besides the long delay. The impecunious Michel- 
angelo sent his wife, seven children, and a German 
nurse, to the home of Galileo, to be taken care of. 
The eldest nephew was sent to Kome to study mu- 
sic. He was found to be obstinate, impudent, and 
dissolute, " wicked ways " which his weak and in- 
dulgent father said " he did not learn from me, or 
any one else belonging to him. It must have been 
the fault of his wet nurse ! " 



Galileo's son Vincenzo had married and brought 
his wife home to live. Strange fortune for this 
man of genius ! Strange that he must have help- 
less relatives, and constant pecuniary troubles. 
Most great lives are as pathetic as they are great. 

As ever, the one gleam of light was the daily let- 
ter from Maria Celeste, in which she expressed a 
tenderness beyond what any daughter ever had for 
a father. " But I do not know how to express my- 
self, except by saying that I love you better than 
myself. For, after God, I belong to you ; and 
your kindnesses are so numberless that I feel I 
could put my life in peril, Avere it to save you from 
any trouble, excepting only that I would not offend 
His Divine Majesty." 

Finally Galileo moved to Arcetri, over against 
the convent, to be near the one who alone satisfied 
his heart. 

In January, 1632, the " Dialogues " appeared. 
Copies were sent to his friends and disciples 

1 throughout Italy. The whole country applauded, 
and at last Galileo seemed to have won the homage 
he had so long deserved. 

But a storm was gathering. Enemies were at 

- work prejudicing the mind of Urban VIII., making 
him feel that Galileo had wrought evil to the 
church. At once an order came from the Inquisi- 
tion to secure every copy in the booksellers' shops 
throughout Italy, and to forward all copies to 

In October of the same year of publication, 


Galileo was summoned to appear at Rome, to 
answer to that terror of past centuries, the charge 
of heresy. His friends urged that he was old .and 
feeble, and that he would die on the journey, but 
Urban's commands were peremptory. 

Galileo was deeply depressed by the summons, 
and wrote a friend : " This vexes me so much that 
it makes me curse the time devoted to these 
studies, in which I strove and hoped to deviate 
somewhat from the beaten track generally pursued 
by learned men. I not only repent having given 
the world a portion of my writings, but feel in- 
clined to suppress those still in hand, and to give 
them to the flames, and thus satisfy the longing 
desire of my enemies, to whom my ideas are so 

On January 20, 1633, the decrepit old man set out 
in a litter for Home, arriving on February 13. On 
April 12, he was brought before the Inquisition, 
and briefly examined and then remanded to prison, 
though treated with great leniency. The anxiety 
and deprivation from outdoor exercise brought on 
illness, and he was confined to his bed till led a 
second time before the Inquisition, April 30. 

Weak, aged, in fear of torture, he made the mel- 
ancholy confession that his "error had been one 
of vainglorious ambition, and pure ignorance and 
inadvertence." Pure ignorance! from the man 
who had studied for fifty years all that the world 
knew of science ! But he recalled how men had 
died at the stake for offending the church. The 


world is not full of men and women who can suffer 
death for their convictions, however much we may 
admire such courage. On May 10, he was sum- 
moned a third time before the Inquisition, and told 
that he had eight days in which to write his 
defence. In touching language he stated how the 
book had been examined and re examined by the 
authorities, so that there might be nothing hetero- 
dox in it ; and then he urged them to consider his 
age and feeble health. 

A fourth time he came before the Holy Congre- 
gation, June 21, and was asked whether he held 
that the sun is the centre of the solar system, 
and that the earth is not the centre, and that it 
moves. He replied, " I do not hold, and have not 
held this opinion of Copernicus since the command 
was intimated to me that I must abandon it ; for 
the rest, I am here in your hands, do with me 
what you please." 

And then June 22, in the forenoon, in the large 
hall of the Dominican Convent of St. Maria sopra 
la Minerva, in the presence of cardinals and prel- 
ates, he heard his sentence. 

" The proposition that the sun is the centre of 
the world and does not move from its place is 
absurd, and false philosophically, and formally her- 
etical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy 

" The proposition that the earth is not the centre 
of the world and immovable, but that it moves, and 
also with a diurnal motion, is equally absurd and 


false philosophically ; and theologically considered, 
at least, erroneous in faith. . . . Invoking, there- 
fore, the most holy name of our Lord Jesus Christ 
and of His most glorious mother and ever Virgin 
Mary ... we say, pronounce, sentence, declare, 
that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters 
adduced in process, and by you confessed as above, 
have rendered yourself, in the judgment of this 
Holy Office, vehemently suspected of heresy, 
namely, of having believed and held the doctrine, 
which is false and contrary to the sacred and 
divine Scriptures, that the sun is the centre of 
the world and does not move from east to west, 
and that the earth moves and is not the centre of 
the world. . . . We condemn you to the formal 
prison of this Holy Office during our pleasure, and, 
by .way of salutary penance, we enjoin that for 
three years to come you repeat once a week the 
seven Penitential Psalms." 

Galileo was also required to " abjure, curse, and 
detest the aforesaid errors and heresies." And 
then the white-haired man of seventy, humbly 
kneeling before the whole assembly, made the 
pitiful abjuration of his belief. " I abjure with a 
sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I curse and de- 
test the said errors and heresies, and, generally, all 
and every error and sect contrary to the Holy Cath- 
olic Church." 

Pitiful spectacle of intolerance ! If we of this 
nineteenth century have learned to tolerate and 
treat with respect the beliefs of others though 


widely divergent from our own, perhaps this 
wretched drama was not acted in vain. 

It has been said that Galileo exclaimed as he 
rose from his feet, " E pur si muove," "It moves, 
for all that," but this would have been well nigh 
an impossibility, in the midst of men who would 
instantly have taken him to a dungeon, and the 
story is no longer believed. 

On July 9, poor Galileo was allowed to leave 
Rome for Siena, where he stayed five months in 
the house of the archbishop, and then became a 
prisoner in. his own house at Arcetri, with strict 
injunctions that he was " not to entertain friends, 
nor to allow the assemblage of many at a time." 

He wrote sadly to Maria Celeste, " My name is 
erased from the book of the living." Tender 
words came back, saying that it seemed " a thou- 
sand years " since she had seen him, and that she 
would recite the seven penitential psalms for him, 
"to save you the trouble of remembering it." 

In less than a year, sweet Maria Celeste had 
said the last psalms for him. She died April 1, 
1634, at thirty-three years of age, leaving Galileo 
heart-broken ; " a woman," he said, " of exquisite 
mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly at- 
tached to me." 

He went to work on another book, but he said, 
pathetically, " I hear her constantly calling me ! " 
Beautiful spirit, that will forever shed a halo 
around the name of Galileo Galilei ! 

In the summer of 1636, he completed his " Dia- 


logues on Motion," and sent it to Leyden for publi- 
cation. The next year he made his last discovery, 
known as the moon's librations. 

The house at Arcetri had become dark and 
lonely. The wife of Michelangelo, her three 
daughters and a son, had all died of the plague. 
It was doubly dark, for Galileo had become hope- 
lessly blind, " so that this heaven, this earth, this 
universe, which I by my marvellous discoveries 
and clear demonstrations had enlarged a hundred 
thousand times beyond the belief of the wise men 
of bygone ages, henceforward for me is shrunk 
into such a small space as is filled by my own 
bodily sensations." 

His last work was a short treatise on the second- 
ary light of the moon. " I am obliged now," he 
said, sadly, "to have recourse to other hands and 
other pens than mine since my sad loss of sight. 
This, of course, occasions great loss of time, par- 
ticularly now that my memory is impaired by 
advanced age ; so that in placing my thoughts on 
paper, many and many a time I am forced to have 
the foregoing sentences read to me before I can 
tell what ought to follow ; else I should repeat the 
same thing over and over." 

He had planned other work, but death came on 
the evening of January 8, 1642, eight years after 
Celeste left him. His beloved pupils, Torricelli 
and Viviani, and his son Vincenzo, stood by his 
. He desired to be buried in the family vault of 


the Galilei in Santa Croce, at Florence, and the 
city at once voted a public funeral and three thou- 
sand crowns for a marble mausoleum. But the 
church at Kome prevented, lest the pernicious 
doctrine that the earth moves, should thereby 
have confirmation. He was therefore buried in 
an obscure corner of Del Noviziato, a side chapel 
of Santa Croce. 

A century later, March 12, 1737, in the presence 
of the learned men of Italy, with great ceremony, 
the bones of Galileo were removed to a new rest- 
ing-place in Santa Croce, and buried with his be- 
loved friend, Viviani. An imposing monument 
was erected over him. The truth finally tri- 
umphed, as it always does. The works of Galileo, 
in sixteen volumes, are no longer prohibited, as 
thev were in his lifetime. 


IN the same year, 1642, in which Galileo, sad 
and blind, went away from the earth, Sir Isaac 
Newton came to make his home upon it. 

He was born December 25, the only child of 
Isaac Newton and Hannah Ayscough. The father 
died at thirty-seven, a few months after his mar- 
riage, and the young wife, after the birth of her 
child, was both father and mother to the helpless 
infant. He was so frail that there seemed little 
probability that he could live to manhood, or even 
boyhood. Naturally, between mother and son 
there grew a most ardent affection, which neither 
time nor death could change. 

The manor-house of Woolsthorpe in Colster- 
worth, Lincoln county, was a two-story stone 
building, owned for a century by the Newton fam- 
ily, and bringing a limited income from the little 
farm in connection with it. Here Isaac passed his 
childhood, going to the schools near by, and learn- 
ing to read, write, and cipher. 

At twelve, he was sent to the public school at 
Grantham, where he showed little taste for study, 
and managed easily to stand at the foot of his 



class. When he was the last in the lowermost 
form but one, the boy next above him, as they 
were going to school, gave Isaac a kick, which 
occasioned severe pain. Stirred with wrath, Isaac 
challenged the other boy to a fight. For this 
purpose, they repaired to a neighboring church- 
yard, where young Newton, though much the 
smaller and weaker of the two, pounded his 
antagonist till he was glad to come to any terms 
of submission. 

He resolved now that this boy should no longer 
stand above him in scholarship, and with a new 
ambition and energy born of his insult, he soon 
rose to the highest place in the school. It was 
not idleness, probably, that made Newton a poor 
scholar, but his mind was absorbed with making 
saws, hammers, hatchets, and other tools. 

He made a windmill and placed it on the top of 
his home, the wind putting it in motion. When 
there was no wind, a novel expedient was resorted 
to. A mouse, which was called "the miller," was 
trained to turn the windmill by walking on a 
tread wheel, with some corn just beyond his reach! 
All through life, he was exceedingly kind to ani- 
mals, and could never tolerate shooting or hunting 
for sport. He objected to one of his nephews, 
when praised in his presence, ".that he loved kill- 
ing of birds," and this was sufficient to win his 
disesteem. It is probable, therefore, that the 
little mouse was kindly cared for by the young 


He also made a water clock, about four feet 
high, with a dial-plate at the top, with figures of 
the hours. The index was turned by a piece of 
wood, which either fell or rose by water dropping. 
Every morning the lad supplied his clock with the 
proper amount of water. 

Besides these, he invented a four-wheeled car- 
riage, which was moved with a handle by the per- 
son who sat in it. For his boy friends, he made 
lanterns of " criinpled paper " with a candle inside, 
to light them to school in the dark winter morn- 
ings, and paper kites of the best form and propor- 
tion. In dark nights he tied the lanterns to the 
tails of his kites, and ignorant people sometimes 
mistook them for comets ! 

On the manor-house at Woolsthorpe he carved 
sun-dials, which were visible a century later. He 
was a '-sober, silent, and thinking lad," who was 
always hammering in his room, or making draw- 
ings with his pen and pencil, designing with char- 
coal on his walls, birds, animals, ships, and 
mathematical diagrams. 

Mrs. Newton, the mother, had married again, 
after a singular courtship. "Mr. Smith, a neigh- 
boring clergyman, who had a very good estate, had 
lived a bachelor till he was pretty old, and, one of 
his parishioners advising him to marry, he said he 
did not know where to meet with a good wife. 
The man answered, 'The widow Newton is an 
extraordinary good woman.' 'But,' said Mr. 
Smith, 'how do I know she will have me, and 


I don't care to ask and be denied ; but if you will 
go and ask her, I will pay you for your day's 

" He went accordingly. Her answer was, she 
would be advised by her brother Ayscough, upon 
which Mr. Smith sent the same person to Mr. 
Ayscough on the same errand, who, upon con- 
sulting with his sister, treated with Mr. Smith, 
who gave her son Isaac a parcel of land, one of 
the terms insisted upon by the widow if she mar- 
ried him." 

Though for a time she was thus removed from 
Isaac, leaving him with his grandmother, on the 
death of Eev. Mr. Smith, she returned to the 
manor-house. . 

When Isaac had reached his fifteenth year, his 
mother, not seeming to think of any profession for 
her mechanical son, decided to make of him a 
farmer and grazier. On Saturdays, the market day 
at Grantham, she would send him with grain and 
other agricultural produce, in the care of an old 
and trusty servant. The boy had no taste for 
selling produce, and would hasten to the attic in 
the house of Mr. Clark, an apothecary, with whom 
he had boarded while at school, and there spend 
his hours in reading old books, till the time came 
for him to go home, the servant meantime having 
sold the vegetables. 

Sometimes, however, the lad would not go as far 
as Grantham, but, seating himself beside a hedge 
along the road, would read some favorite author 


till the servant returned. When his mother sent 
him to watch the cattle^ they enjoyed a neighbor's 
corn-field, while he enjoyed a book or whittled out 
water-wheels. It did not seem intentional dis- 
obedience toward a mother of whom he was very 
fond, but complete absorption in some other pur- 

When he was sixteen he was" greatly interested 
in finding the proper form of a body which would 
offer the least resistance when moving in a fluid. 
In a severe storm, to test the force of the gale, 
he jumped first in the direction in which the wind 
blew, and then in opposition to the wind, and 
after measuring the length of the leap in both 
directions, and comparing it with the length to 
which he could jump in a perfectly calm day, he 
was enabled to compute the force of the storm. 

His mother soon found that her boy would not 
make a successful farmer, and sent him back to 
school at Grantham, to prepare for Trinity College, 
Cambridge, which he entered when he was nine- 

It is probable that the time spent at Grantham 
was a happy time; for "young Newton there met 
and, it is said, loved Miss Storey, sister of Dr. 
Storey, a physician near Colsterworth, and daugh- 
ter of the apothecary's second wife. She was two 
or three years younger than Newton, a girl of 
attractive face and unusual talents. As his income 
as a Fellow was small, after leaving college, they 
did not marry, though his interest in her continued 


unabated through life. Though she was twice 
married, he never paid a visit to Woolsthorpe 
without going to see her, and liberally relieved 
her from little pecuniary embarrassments, when 
his own circumstances had become easy. How 
the world loves constancy; an affection which 
knows no change ! That he would have been 
happier in those quiet years of study, even in his 
poverty, had he married, is probable ; but that the 
world gained by his undivided devotion to science, 
is equally probable. 

On July 8, 1661, Newton entered college, and 
soon, through the study of Descartes' Geometry, 
showed his skill in higher mathematics. And now 
began an almost unexampled development of mind. 

At twenty-two, he was studying a comet so 
closely, and the circles and halo round the moon, 
that he impaired his health by sitting up late at 
night. In 1665, May 20, when he was twenty- 
three, he committed to writing his first discovery 
of fluxions " the infinitely small increase or de- 
crease of a variable or flowing quantity in a cer- 
tain infinitely small and constant period of time." 

The same year, when the college had been dis- 
missed on account of the plague in Cambridge, 
Newton made his immortal discovery of the At- 
traction of Gravitation. While sitting alone in his 
garden at Woolsthorpe, and observing an apple fall 
to the ground, it occurred to him that as the same 
power by which the apple fell was not sensibly 
diminished at the summits of the loftiest spires, 


nor on the tops of the highest mountains, it might 
extend to the moon, about which he had been study- 
ing, and retain her in her orbit. If to the moon, 
why not to the planets ? 

The tree from which the apple fell was so much 
decayed in 1820, that it was cut down, but the 
wood was carefully preserved by Mr. Turnor of 
Stoke Rocheford. 

In the beginning of the following year, 1666, 
when Newton was twenty-four, he purchased a 
prism, in order to make some experiments on Des- 
cartes' theory of colors. He made a hole in his 
windoAv shutter, darkened the room, and admitted 
a ray of the sunlight. On the opposite wall he 
saw the solar or prismatic spectrum, an elongated 
image of the sun, about five times as long as it was 
broad, and consisting of seven different colors ; red, 
orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. 
White light was thus discovered to be of a com- 
pound nature ; a mixture of all the colors. He 
said, "Whiteness is the usual color of light; for 
light is a confused aggregate of rays endued with 
all sorts of colors, as they are promiscuously darted 
from the various parts of luminous bodies." If any 
one color predominates, the light will incline to 
that color, as the yellow flame of a candle. Here- 
tofore, there had been all sorts of conjectures 
about the nature and origin of colors. Descartes 
believed them to be a modification of light, depend- 
ing on the direct or rotary motion of its particles. 
But Newton showed by many experiments that 


color is a property of light, or innate in light itself. 
We speak of a thing as red because it reflects red, 
and absorbs all the other colors. The green leaf 
stops or absorbs the red, blue, and violet rays of 
the white light, and reflects and transmits only 
those which compose its green. 

He also found that the red rays are refracted or 
turned out of their course least of all the colors, 
and violet most, thereby discovering the different 
refrangibility of the rays of light; "a discovery 
which has had the most extensive applications to 
every branch of science, and, what is very rare in 
the history of inventions, one to which no other 
person has made the slightest claim." 

His beautiful experiments with rings resulted in 
his Scale of Colors, of great value in optical re-^, 

In 1668, when Newton was twenty-six, he con. 
structed a small reflecting telescope, and soon a 
larger one, which he sent to the Eoyal Society ; and 
was made a member of that body in 1671. Two 
years previously he had been appointed to the Luca- 
sian professorship of mathematics at Cambridge. 

He Avas now, at twenty-seven, spoken of as a 
man of "unparalleled genius." He had discovered 
the compound nature of white light, the attraction 
of gravity, fluxions, and made the first reflecting 
telescope ever directed toward the heavens, though 
one had been invented previously, by James 
Gregory, of Aberdeen. The boy who had thought 
of a mouse to turn his windmill had thought out 


some of the sublimest things in nature, and was 
henceforward to rank as one of the few master- 
minds of science. Newton's doctrine of colors met 
with the most bitter opposition. At last, he became 
so tired of the controversy, that he wrote Leibnitz, 
" I was so persecuted with discussions arising out of 
my theory of light, that I blamed my own impru- 
dence for parting with so substantial a blessing as 
my quiet to run after a shadow." To another he 
wrote, " I see I have made myself a slave to philos- 
ophy ; but if I get free of Mr. Linus's business, I will 
resolutely bid adieu to it eternally, excepting what I 
do for my private satisfaction, or leave to come out 
after me; for I see a man must either resolve 
to put out nothing new, or to become a slave to de- 
fend it." 

Newton was also troubled pecuniarily at this 
time, and asked to be excused from the weekly 
payments to the Royal Society, thereby resigning 
his membership. He even meditated the study of 
law, as his income was so limited. Strange that 
so many of the great things of this life are wrought 
out by those who are in sorrow or privation. 

But amid all the opposition to his discoveries 
and his poverty, the unparalleled devotion to 
study was continued. When he was weary of 
other branches, he said " he refreshed himself with 
history and chronology." Years afterward he pub- 
lished the " Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amen- 
ded, to which is prefixed a short chronicle, from the 
first memory of things in Europe, to the Conquest 


of Persia, by Alexander the Great." Says a gentle- 
man who was with him for years, " I never knew 
him to take any recreation or pastime, either in< 
riding out to take the air, walking, boating, or anyj 
other exercise whatever, thinking all hours losta 
that were not spent in his studies, to which he kept 
so close that he seldom left his chamber except at 
term time, when he read in the schools, as being 
Lucasianus Professor, where so few went to hear 
him, and fewer that understood him, that often- 
times he did in a manner, for want of hearers, read 
to the walls. . . . 

" So intent, so serious upon his studies that he 
ate very sparingly, nay, ofttimes he has forgot 
to eat at all, so that, going into his chamber, I have 
found his mess untouched, of which when I have 
reminded him he would reply, ' Have I ? ' and 
then making to the table, would eat a bit or two , 
standing, for I cannot say I ever saw him sit at 
table by himself. At some seldom entertainments 
the masters of colleges were chiefly his guests. 

" He very rarely went to bed till two or three of 
the clock, sometimes not till five or six, lying about 
four or five hours, especially at spring and fall of 
the leaf, at which times he used to employ about 
six weeks in his elaborately, the fire scarcely going 
out either night or day, he sitting up one night, 
and I another, till he had finished his chemical ex- 
periments, in the performances of which he was the 
most accurate, strict, exact. ..." 

When his most intense studies were carried on, 


" he learned to go to bed at twelve, finding by expe- 
rience that if he exceeded that hour but a little, it 
did him more harm in his health than a whole 
day's study." 

" He very rarely went to dine in the hall, except 
on some public days, and then if he has not been 
minded, would go very carelessly, with shoes down 
at heels, stockings untied, surplice on, and his head 
scarcely combed. ... At some seldom times when 
he designed to dine in the hall, he would turn to 
the left hand and go out into the street, when mak- 
ing a stop when he found his mistake, would has- 
tily turn back, and then sometimes, instead of 
going into the hall, would return to his chamber 
again. ... In his chamber he walked so very much 
that you might have thought him to be educated 
at Athens, among the Aristotelian sect." 

So absent-minded was he, the story is told 
of him, that going home to Colsterworth, he led 
his horse up a hill. When he designed to remount, 
the animal had slipped the bridle and gone away 
unperceived, though Newton held the bridle in his 
hand all the time. He would often sit down on 
his bedside after he rose, and remain there for 
hours without dressing, so completely absorbed 
was he in his thought. How few in all this 
world have been so devoted to science ! And yet 
how many expect success without this devotion ! 

The same gentleman writes of Newton, "His 
carriage was very meek, sedate, and humble, never 
pemingly angry, of profound thought, his counte- 


nance mild, pleasant, and comely. I cannot say I 
ever saw him laugh but once." 

In 1687. when Newton was forty-five, his Philo- 
sophic? Naturalis Principia Mathematica was pub- 
lished. " The Principia consists of three books. 
The First Book, besides the definition and axioms, 
or laws of motion, with which it begins, consists of 
fourteen sections, in the first of which the author 
explains the method of prime and ultimate ratios 
used in his investigations, and which is similar to 
the method of fluxions. The other sections treat 
of centripetal forces, and motions in fixed and 
movable orbits. 

" The Second Book consists of nine sections, and 
treats of bodies moving in resisting media, or 
oscillating as pendulums. 

"The Third Book consists of five sections, on 
the Causes of the System of the World, on the 
Quantity of Lunar Errors, on the Quantity of / 
the Tides, on the Precession of the Equinoxes, L 
and on Comets." 

The great principle of the Principia is universal 
gravitation, " That every particle of matter in the 
universe is attracted by or gravitates to every 
other particle of matter, with a force inversely pro- 
portional to the squares of their distances." By 
the laws of gravity, Newton was enabled to cal- 
culate the quantity of matter in the sun, and in all 
the planets, and even to determine their density, 
results which Adam Smith said " were above the 
reach of human reason and experience." He ascer- 


tained that the weight of the same body would be 
twenty-three times greater at the surface of the 
sun than at the surface of the earth, and that the 
density of the earth was four times greater than 
that of the sun. He found the true figure of the 
earth ; he explained the phenomena of the tides. 

Of the " Principia," Sir David Brewster says, in 
his able life of Sir Isaac Newton, it is "a work 
which will be memorable not only in the annals of 
one science or of one country, but which will form 
an epoch in the history of the world, and will ever 
be regarded as the brightest page in the records 
of human reason, a work, may we not add, which 
would be read with delight in every planet of our 
system, in every system of the universe. What 
a glorious privilege was it to have been the author 
of the ' Principia ' I 

" There was but one earth upon whose form, and 
tides, and movements, the philosopher could exer- 
cise his genius, one moon whose perturbations 
and inequalities and actions he could study, one 
sun whose controlling force and apparent motions 
he could calculate and determine, one system of 
planets whose mutual disturbances could tax his 
highest reason, one system of comets whose 
eccentric paths he could explore and rectify, 
and one universe of stars to whose binary and 
multiple combinations he could extend the law of 
terrestrial gravity. 

"To have been the chosen sage summoned to 
the study of that earth, these systems, and that 


universe, the favored lawgiver to worlds unnum- 
bered, the high priest in the temple of boundless 
space, was a privilege that could be granted 
but one member of the human family; and to 
have executed the last was an achievement which, 
in its magnitude, can be measured only by the 
infinite in space, and in the duration of its tri- 
umphs by the infinite in time. . That sage, that 
lawgiver, that high priest was Newton." 

The "Principia" created the greatest interest 
throughout Europe, but met with violent opposi- 
tion. While Laplace said it would take "pre- 
eminence above all the other productions of human 
genius," the majority could not believe that great 
planets were suspended in empty space, and re- 
tained in their orbits by an invisible power in the 

When Newton presented copies to the heads of 
colleges, some of them, Dr. Babington of Trinity 
among the number, said, "they might study seven 
years before they understood anything of it." 

In 1687, Newton's method of fluxions was first 
published, twenty years after its invention, and 
then because the friends of Leibnitz, the author 
of the "Differential Calculus," claimed priority of 
discdvery. The quarrel aroused the scientific 
world, embittered the silent mathematician, and 
impaired his health. 

In 1689, when he was forty-seven, he was chosen 
member of parliament, and represented Cambridge 
University in the House of Commons for thirteen 


months. He took no active part in the debates, 
but was of course respected for his wonderful mind. 

This same year, his beloved mother died. Anx- 
iously he had watched through whole nights by 
her bedside, seeking in all ways to keep her from 
leaving him alone in the world. 

He was now nearly fifty. His life had been 
laborious, with an insufficient income. His friends, 
John Locke among the number, tried to obtain 
various positions for him, but failed. They rec- 
ommended him for provost of King's College, but 
the position could not be obtained because he had 
not taken priest's orders. 

Seemingly unappreciated, worn with his inces- 
sant brain work, his appetite failing, and unable to 
sleep, with neither mother nor wife to comfort 
him, the sensitive organization of the great man 
became overstrained, and mind and body were 
unfitted for work. It is stated that his ill health 
was in part consequent upon the burning of some 
manuscripts on optics, by a lighted candle on the 
table among his papers. 

When he was .fifty-three, the long hard road of 
poverty turned into a highway of plenty, through 
the influence of a friend. Charles Montague, an 
associate of Newton at the university and also in 
parliament, though nineteen years his junior, 
intellectual affinities are uninfluenced by age, 
had been made Commissioner of the Treasury, 
then Privy Councillor, then Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, and later still, Baron of Halifax. 


Lord Halifax appointed Newton to be Warden 
of the Mint, and then Master, with an income of 
between six thousand and seven thousand five 
hundred dollars annually, which position he held 
for the remainder of his life. His home in Lon- 
don, where he kept six servants, with his brilliant 
niece, Miss Catherine Barton, for his companion, 
became a place of rest and comfort to the tired 
philosopher. Lord Halifax was a great admirer 
of .Newton's niece, Miss Catherine Barton, to 
whom he left, at his death, a beautiful home and 
twenty-five thousand dollars, "as a token of the 
sincere love, affection, and esteem I have long had 
for her person, and as a small recompense for the 
pleasure and happiness I have had in her conver- 

The days of privation were over, and Newton 
had earned this rest and prosperity. Great people 
often came to dine with him. At one of his din- 
ners, Newton proposed to drink, not to the health 
of kings and princes, but to all honest persons, 
to whatever country they belonged. " We are all 
friends," he added, "because we unanimously aim 
at the only object worthy of man, which is the 
knowledge of truth. We are also of the same relig- 
ion, because, leading a simple life, we conform 
ourselves to what is right, and we endeavor sin- 
cerely to give to the Supreme Being that worship 
which, according to our feeble lights, we are per- 
suaded will please him most." 

Other honors now come to Newton. In 1703, 


he was elected President of the Koyal Society, 
and was annually .reflected during the remaining 
twenty-five years of his life. On April 16. 1705, 
when he was sixty-three, Queen Anne conferred 
the honor of knighthood upon her most illustrious 
subject, Sir Isaac Newton, before a distinguished 
company at Cambridge University. In 1704, the 
year previous, his great work on optics had been 
published, written over twenty years before. 

About this time, it seems that the great philoso- 
pher would have liked to marry Lady Norris, the 
widow of Sir William Norris, Baronet of Speke, 
and Member of Parliament. Sent to Delhi as 
ambassador to the Great Mogul, he died in 1702, 
between Mauritius and St. Helena, on his home- 
ward passage. He was the third husband to 
Lady Norris, and Sir Isaac, now over sixty, de- 
sired to be the fourth, as appears from the follow- 
ing letter : 

"Madam, Your ladyship's great grief at the 
loss of Sir William shows that if he had returned 
safe home, your ladyship could have been glad to 
have lived still with a husband, and therefore your 
aversion at present from marrying again can pro- 
ceed from nothing else than the memory of him 
whom you have lost. To be always thinking on 
the dead, is to live a melancholy life among sepul- 
chres, and how much grief is an enemy to your 
health, is very manifest by the sickness it brought 
when you received the first news of your widow- 


hood. And can your ladyship resolve to spend the 
rest of your days in grief and sickness ? 

"Can you resolve to wear a widow's habit per- 
petually, a habit which is less acceptable to com- 
pany, a habit which will be always putting you in 
mind of your lost husband, and thereby promote 
you grief and indisposition till you leave it off? 
The proper remedy for all these mischiefs is a new 
husband, and whether your ladyship should admit 
of a proper remedy for such maladies, is a question 
which I hope will not need much time to consider 

" Whether your ladyship should go constantly in 
the melancholy dress of a widow, or nourish once 
more among the ladies ; whether you should spend 
the rest of your days cheerfully or in sadness, in 
health or in sickness, are questions which need not 
much consideration to decide them. Besides that 
your ladyship will be better able to live according 
to your quality by the assistance of a husband than 
upon your own estate alone ; and, therefore, since 
your ladyship likes the person proposed, I doubt 
not but in a little time to have notice of your 
ladyship's inclinations to marry, at least, that 
you will give him leave to discourse with you 
about it. 

" I am, madam, your ladyship's most humble and 
most obedient servant." 

If Lady Xorris " liked the person proposed," as 
Sir Isaac imagined, a marriage was not the result. 
It is just possible that he was like Leibnitz, who 


proposed to a lady when he was fifty. The 
lady asked for time to take the matter into 
consideration, and as Leibnitz thus obtained leis- 
ure to consider the matter again, he was never 

For thirteen years Sir Isaac lived on Jermyn 
Street, London; then moved to Chelsea, a place 
dear to those who love George Eliot or admire 
Carlyle ; and then to Martin Street, near Leicester 

In his latter years he wrote much on theological 
subjects, especially to prove the existence of a 
Deity. When he was eighty -three he published a 
third edition of the " Principia." At eighty-five he 
read manuscript without spectacles. He reasoned 
as acutely as ever, his memory alone failing. 

On March 2, 1727, he presided at a meeting of 
the Royal Society. He was taken ill on the fol- 
lowing day, and, although a great sufferer for sev- 
eral days, never uttered a complaint. He died on 
Monday, March 20, and his body was laid in the 
Jerusalem Chamber, and thence conveyed to West- 
minster Abbey for burial. The pall was supported 
by the Lord High Chancellor and several Dukes and 

On the front of his monument are sculptured 

-youths, bearing in their hands emblematic designs 

. of Newton's principal discoveries. One carries a 

prism, another a reflecting telescope, a third is 

^weighing the sun and planets with a steelyard, 

a fourth is employed about a furnace, and two 


others are loaded with money newly coined. The 
monument bears this inscription. 


Who by a vigor of mind, almost supernatural, 

First demonstrated 

The motions and figures of the Planets, 
The Paths of the Comets, and the 

Tides of the Ocean. 
He diligently investigated 

The different refrangibilities of the Rays of Light, 
And the properties of the Colors to which 

they give rise. 

An Assiduous, Sagacious, and Faithful Interpreter 

of Nature, Antiquity, and the Holy Scriptures, 

He asserted in his Philosophy the Majesty of 

God, and exhibited in his Conduct the 

simplicity of the Gospel. 

Let Mortals rejoice that there has existed 

such and so great 


Born 25 Dec., 1642; Died 20 March, 1727. 

A beautiful full-length, white marble statue of 
Sir Isaac was erected in the ante-chapel of Trinity 
College, where he had done his wonderful work, 
when scarcely more than a boy. 

While he gave generously during his life, he said, 
"they who give nothing till they die, never give 
at all," he left a personal estate of one hundred 


and sixty thousand dollars, to be divided among his 
nephews and nieces. 

The world honored him at last, and has through 
all the years. Bishop Burnet said, " Newton had 
the whitest soul he ever knew." His habits were 
of the best. When asked to take snuff or tobacco, 
he declined, saying, " he would make no necessities 
to himself." 

He was modest to the last, saying, " that what- 
ever service he had done the public was not owing 
to any extraordinary sagacity, but solely to in- 
dustry and patient thought." He said, a short 
time before his death: "I do not know what I 
may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to 
have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, 
and diverting myself in now and then finding a 
smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, 
whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered 
before me." 



IT was on the 24th of July that we left Stock- 
holm, the Venice of the North, built on her 
nine islands, for the famous university town of 
Upsala, Sweden. The ride, of about two hours 
by rail, lay along fine fields of wheat, blue with 
corn-flowers, and past comfortable-looking red farm- 
houses and barns. 

The town, of thirteen thousand people, is quaint 
and quiet, yet most interesting to a stranger. We 
wander over the grand old Gothic cathedral, begun 
six hundred years ago. Here is the silver-gilt sar- 
cophagus of King Eric IX., who died in 1160, and 
of John III. Here, also, that of Gustavus Vasa, 
the deliverer of Sweden, on a high marble pedes- 
tal supported by pillars, a recumbent figure of a 
wife on either side. A third wife is buried near 
by. The walls of the chapel where he lies are 
covered with frescoes, depicting scenes in that 
wonderful life; from the rags of the miner, to 
the sumptuousness of the throne. 

But especially are we interested in a plain slab, 
underneath which sleeps the man who, more than 
any other, has immortalized Upsala University, 


and helped to make Sweden an intellectual and 
studious country. Near by is the monument of 
dark porphyry, with the plain, shaven face in 
bronze, wreathed with laurel, and the words 
" Carolo a Linne Botanicorum Principi Amid et 
Discipuli, 1798." 

Then we turn our steps to the University, the 
pride and hope of Sweden. Here fifteen hundred 
gather, not in dormitories which were tried fifty 
years ago and discarded but scattered in various 
homes, as in the German universities. Women are 
educated here on equal terms with men, and we 
are assured by the professors that, though admitted 
only a few years ago, their presence is most help- 
ful, arid the plan has proved entirely successful. 
IN"O duels are allowed, these having been abolished 
by stringent laws two hundred years ago ; a thing 
Germany should long since have done, and thus 
ended this brutal custom. 

Here is the Astronomical Observatory, the Chem- 
ical Laboratory, Anatomy Building, Academic De- 
partment, and handsome library with two hundred 
thousand volumes and over seven thousand manu- 
scripts. Here we look at the celebrated "Codex 
Argenteus," a translation of the four Gospels by 
Bishop Ulfila, dating from the second half of 
the fourth century, written on one hundred and 
eighty-eight leaves of parchment gold and silver 
letters on a reddish ground ; and the manuscript 
of Frithiof's Saga, by Tegner. 

Now we visit the Botanic Garden, which Linnseus 


so loved and developed, and go over the two-and-a- 
half-story stuccoed house, cream-colored, where the 
great naturalist lived and entertained princes. 
Under these dark poplars, enormous in size, he 
taught the pupils who came from all parts of the 
world to hear him. The dark, closed blinds are as 
he left them, for Sweden would not change one 
thing about the precious home. Too little in our 
own country do we treasure the homes of those 
who give honor to the nation. 

The history of Linnaeus is, indeed, a romance. 
Few have had such great struggles with poverty ; 
few have come off such conquerors. Few lives 
have given to the world such lessons of cheerful- 
ness, of perseverance, and of untiring industry. 
He was born, May, 1707, at Kashult, in the south 
of Sweden, the son of a poor minister, and the 
eldest of five children. The father, Nils Linnaeus, 
had obtained his education by the hardest toil, and, 
while he had only poverty to offer his family, he 
gave them what money could not buy, tender af- 
fection, and the inspiring influence of a cultivated 
mind that loved nature and studied her closely. 
His mother, Christina, a woman of sense, pru- 
dence, and good judgment, was his idol. He wrote 
of her in later years : " She possessed all the vir- 
tues of her sex, devoting the utmost attention to 
impressing on my mind the love of virtue, both m 
precept and example." 

From a child he was fond of his father's garden, 
and gathered from the fields all kinds of wild 


flowers. He says of himself in his autobiography : 
" He was scarcely four years old when he accom- 
panied his father at a feast at Mokler, and in the 
evening, it being a very pleasant season of the 
year, the guests seated themselves on some flowery 
turf, listening to the pastor, who made various re- 
marks on the names and properties of the plants, 
showing them the roots of the succisa, tormentilla, 
orchids, etc. The child paid the most uninter- 
rupted attention to all he saw and heard, and from 
that hour never ceased harassing his father about 
the name, qualities, and nature of every plant he 
met with ; indeed, he very often asked more 
than his father was able to answer, but, like other 
children, he used immediately to forget what he 
had learned, and especially the names of plants. 
Hence the father was sometimes put out of humor, 
and refused to answer him unless he would promise 
to remember what was told him. Nor had this 
harshness any bad effect, for he afterward retained 
with ease whatever he heard." 

When he was eight, a piece of ground was 
assigned him, which was called " Carl's Garden." 
Here he gathered plants and flowers, and intro- 
duced so many rare weeds that his father had great 
trouble in eradicating them ! So interested did 
Carl become, that he had nests of wild bees and 
wasps, not agreeable playthings usually. 

But the play days with weeds and wasps came 
to an end, for the bright boy had to go to school. 
His first teacher was " a passionate and morose 


man, better calculated for extinguishing a youth's 
talents than for improving them," and the next 
" pursued the same methods, preferring stripes and 
punishments to encouragements and admonitions." 
There was little time now for the precious study of 
flowers. At seventeen he had to go to a gymnasium 
or high school, where he would be taught classics, 
and made ready for the ministry, like his father. 
He had no fondness for the languages, neither for 
theology or metaphysics : but having obtained two 
books on botany, he read them day and night, com- 
mitting them to memory. The teachers and 
scholars called him "the little botanist." 

What was his father's chagrin, when he came to 
the school to visit him, to hear that Carl was quite 
unfit for the ministry, but would probably make a 
good tailor or shoemaker ! Poor as he was, he 
had kept his boy at school for about twelve years. 
Now, well-nigh disheartened, he stopped, on his 
way home, to confer with his family physician, Dr. 
Rothmann. That good man suggested that the 
boy might like medicine, and accomplish great 
things in natural history. He offered to take him 
into his own home, and give him lessons in physiol- 
ogy, which kind proposal the father accepted, 
though with little faith. The doctor also taught 
him botany, and Carl grew happy under the new 

The next year he was sent to the University of 
Lund, with the following not very creditable certif- 
icate from the head master of the Gymnasium : 


" Youth at school may be compared to shrubs in a 
garden, which will sometimes, though rarely, elude 
all the care of the gardener, but if transplanted 
into a different soil, may become fruitful trees. 
With this view, therefore, and no other, the bearer 
is sent to the University, where it is possible that 
he may meet with a climate propitious to his 
progress." Through a friend, entrance was obtained 
without showing the obnoxious certificate. 

Carl took lodgings at the house of Dr. Stobseus, 
physician to the king, who gave him access to his 
minerals, shells, and dried plants. Delighted at 
this, the youth at once began to make a collection 
of his own, and glue them on paper. He longed to 
gain access to Dr. Stobaeus's library, but how 
should it be accomplished ? Finally a young Ger- 
man student, to whom he taught physiology, sur- 
reptitiously gained the books needed, and young 
Linnaeus spent nearly the whole nights in reading. 
The doctor's aged mother did not understand why 
their lodger kept his light burning into the small 
hours, and besought her son to investigate. He 
did so, and found the crestfallen Carl reading his 
own library books. He forgave the student, took 
him to his own table and treated him as a son. 

Advised by Dr. Kothmann to go to Upsala for 
better medical opportunities, he proceeded thither, 
and here began his bitterest poverty. His father 
could give him only forty dollars. As he was un- 
known, and without influence, he could obtain no 
private pupils. Starvation actually stared him in 


the face. He says, " he was obliged to trust to 
chance for a meal, and in the article of dress, was 
reduced to such shifts that he was obliged, when 
his shoes required mending, to patch them with 
folded paper, instead of sending them to the cob- 
bler." Often hungry and half clothed, there 
seemed nothing before the poor Swedish lad but 
obscurity and early death. 

One day in autumn, as he was examining some 
plants iri the Academical Garden, a venerable 
clergyman, Dr. Olaf Celsius, saw him, and asked 
him where he came from, how long he had been at 
the college, and what he knew about plants. He, 
too, was interested in botany, and was preparing a 
work on the plants mentioned in the Bible. Per- 
haps something in Carl's face or manner touched 
the minister's heart, for he asked him to go home 
with him, and soon offered him board in his own 
house, and gave him access to his valuable library. 

The tide of adversity was beginning to turn. 
Some pupils were obtained, and a little money 
flowed into the empty pockets. At twenty-two, by 
a close examination of the stamens and pistils of 
flowers, he decided upon a new method of arrange- 
ment by the sexes of plants, which, in after years, 
became the basis of his great fame. This procured 
him the appointment of Assistant Lecturer to Dr. 
Rudbeck in the Botanical Garden, where, but a 
year before, he had asked to be the gardener ! 

He still had little money, but, what was equally 
useful, some leisure time. He began his great 


works, which were not completed for seven years, 
" Bibliotheca Botanica," " Classes Plantarum," 
" Critica Botanica," and " Genera Plantarum," let- 
ting," as he said, "not a minute pass unoccupied 
during his residence at Upsala. For the latter 
work he examined the characters of eight thousand 

Scarcely had he begun this valuable labor, when 
the envy of one of the professors became as hard 
to bear as his previous poverty, and, through 
friends, he obtained an appointment to study the 
natural history of Lapland. It was a hazardous ex- 
pedition for a young man of twenty-five. Now he 
climbed steep rocks, " which." he says, " broke loose 
from a spot which my late guide had just passed, 
and fell exactly where I had been, with such force 
that it struck fire as it went." Once, when float- 
ing down a river, the raft parted in the middle, and 
he narrowly escaped drowning. " All my food," he 
says, "in those fatiguing excursions, consisted, for 
the most part, of fish and reindeer's milk. Bread, 
salt, and what is found everywhere else, did but 
seldom recreate my palate." He travelled nearly 
four thousand miles, mostly on foot, often through 
bogs and marshes, with the water to his knees, yet 
always cheerful, always enthusiastic. On present- 
ing his report to the University, on his return 
home, they gave him about fifty dollars for his 
travelling expenses for five months ! 

A single incident shows the tender heart of the 
young explorer. Very few birds were visible ex- 


cept the ptarmigan. He says : "The little Alpine 
variety of the ptarmigan was now accompanied by 
its young. I caught one of these, upon which the 
hen ran so close to me that I could easily have 
taken her also. She kept continually jumping 
round and round me, but I thought it a pity to 
deprive the tender brood of their mother ; neither 
would my compassion for the mother allow me long 
to detain her offspring, which I returned to her in 
safety." Tenderness to animals seems to be a 
striking characteristic of great men and women. 

During the journey, he found a modest little 
flower in the great northern forests, in the moss, 
and this he named Llnncea borealis, thinking it 
was so like himself, expanding in obscurity. He 
chose for his motto, Tantus amor florum, "So great 
is the love for flowers." 

On his return to Upsala, he began courses of pri- 
vate lectures in medicine, but so bitter was the 
envy of the before-mentioned professor that the 
archbishop was prevailed upon to prohibit private 
lectures. Thus deprived of a livelihood, Linnaeus 
turned his attention to mineralogy, visiting the 
Swedish mines. The Governor of Dalecarlia was 
so pleased with him that he engaged him to inves- 
tigate the productions of his country. Here he 
fell in love with the daughter of John Moreeus, a 
well-to-do physician. 

Sara Elizabeth reciprocated the affections of the 
young man, who was told by the father that he 
must wait three years for a final answer ; for, in 


truth, Linngeus's financial prospects were not 
bright. The University of Upsala did not want 
him, and there seemed to be no hope of writing 
or publishing his books on botany. But a man 
usually achieves little, who does not fight his 
way at every step. Now, indeed, for love's sake 
he must make his mark. 

After saving about seventy-five dollars, he de- 
cided to go to Germany, and take his doctor's 
degree ; but first he must visit his home, out of 
which his beloved mother had gone at forty-five. 
" Alas ! alas, my mother ! " was all he could say, as 
the tears fell fast upon her grave. She had wit- 
nessed his poverty and his heroism ; she was not to 
witness his great renown. 

At Hamburg he spent a month, receiving civili- 
ties from many scientific men. He showed his 
good sense in feeling in no wise humiliated be- 
cause he was poor, a valuable lesson for poor young 
men and women to learn. At Leyden, good for- 
tune came to him. Dr. Gronovius was so pleased 
with the manuscript of his " Sy sterna Naturae " that 
he requested to publish it at his own expense. By 
his advice, Carl waited upon the celebrated physi- 
cian, Boerhaave, and after eight days gained ad- 
mittance. So famous was this man that when the 
Emperor of China sent a letter to " Boerhaave, the 
famous physician in Europe," it easily reached him. 
He advised a rich ban-ker, Mr. Clifford, to have 
Linnaeus describe his magnificent collection of 
plants, and to send him to England and elsewhere, 


to collect specimens for him. This was indeed a 
blessing. "Here in England," he says, "I lived 
like a prince, and had one of the finest gardens of 
the world under my inspection." A society in 
Amsterdam advanced the money to pay for the 
plates for his "Mora Lapponica," and fame seemed 
really to be coming at last. 

In his visit to England, Sir Hans Sloane, who 
founded the British Museum, looked upon him 
coldly because he had suggested a different sys- 
tem in natural history from his own ! At Oxford, 
Dillenius said to friends, sarcastically : " See, this 
is the young man who confounds all botany!" 
Linnaeus felt hurt, and, when about to take his 
departure from the city, asked the scientist why 
he had treated him thus. After the young student 
had explained his work, Dillenius became his warm 
friend, and pressed him to stay, and even to share 
his salary with him. Linnaeus was greatly pleased 
with London, and when he saw the golden furze in 
its green leaves, fell on his knees before it. 

On his return to Germany he went to the death- 
bed of Boerhaave, whose parting words were : " I 
have lived out my time and done what I could. 
May God preserve thee, from whom the world 
expects much more ! Farewell, my dear Linnaeus ! " 

He now hastened to the idol of his heart in 
Sweden, and what was his amazement to find that 
the friend to whom he had intrusted his correspon- 
dence with Sara Elizabeth had been trying to win 
her for himself! Perhaps it would have been 


quite as well for Linnaeus had he succeeded ! How- 
ever, matters were amicably adjusted, and the long 
waiting lover became engaged. 

He repaired at once to Stockholm to begin the 
practice of medicine, still keeping as near Upsala 
University as possible. And here troubles began 
anew. He says : " Being unknown to everybody, 
people were unwilling to trust their lives in my 
hands. Nay, they even hesitated to trust me with 
their dogs ! Abroad, I had been honored in every 
place as Princeps Botanicorum ; but in my own 
country I was looked upon as a Klim, newly 
arrived from the subterranean regions ! No one 
cared how many sleepless nights and toilsome 
hours I passed. Had I not been in love I would 
certainly have left Sweden and gone abroad." 

After a time a fortunate cure effected by him 
brought him speedy popularity. "No invalid 
could now recover without my assistance. I was 
busy from four in the morning till late in the 
evening; nor were my nights left undisturbed." 
He was soon chosen a member of the Upsala 
Academy, and at the request of the king, through 
his tutor, Count Tessin, gave public lectures on 
botany and mineralogy. 

And now the rising botanist desired to claim his 
bride. They were accordingly married June 26, 
1739, when Linnaeus was thirty-two. Dr. Moraeus 
had waited long enough to see that his daughter 
was making no mistake. Life now flowed on 
smoothly. If the "little wife," as he called her, 


governed him with no very gentle sway in after 
years, she had great influence over him, and it is 
said that at her instigation he persecuted his only 
son. All the more is Linnaeus to be admired for 
accomplishing such a grand work with domestic 
hindrances. It takes a very great man to be great 
when his home is not a help to him ! However, he 
always regarded her as " one of the choicest gifts 
bestowed upon him." 

His medical practice brought him plenty of 
money, but he wrote to a friend : " Once I had 
plants and no money: now what is money good 
for without plants ? " Soon the desire of his heart 
was granted, and he was made Professor of Botany 
at Upsala University, also superintendent of the 
Botanical Garden. 

Now he says : " I render thanks to the Al- 
mighty, who has ordered my lot so that I live at 
this day ; and live, too, happier than the King of 
Persia. I think myself thus blessed because in 
this academic garden I am principal. This is my 
Khodus, or, rather, my Elysium ; here I enjoy the 
spoils of the East and the West, and, if I mistake 
not, that which far excels in beauty the garments 
of the Babylonians and the porcelain of China." 

His fame grew rapidly. He published, in 1745, 
his "Flora Suecica," and a year later his "Fauna 
Suecica," a description of Swedish plants and 
animals. His lectures soon, by their enthusiasm 
and eloquence, brought listeners from all parts of 
Europe. The number of students in the university 


grew from five hundred to fifteen hundred, young 
men coming even from America to hear the great 
botanist. During the summer he made excursions 
twice a week, often at the head of two hundred 
students, and when some rare plant was discovered, 
the news was announced to the others by horn or 
trumpet. His scholars, imbued with his spirit, 
went over the world in scientific investigation. 
Some died in the Arabian deserts; some in the 
swamps of Africa. From foreign students he 
would take no fee, as he desired to show them 
how he loved his work. Once he said to a Ger- 
man student : " Tell me, candidly, are you rich, 
and can you afford it ? If you can, then give the 
money to my wife ; but, if you be poor, so help me 
Heaven, I will not take a single farthing from 
you ! " 

Most of the scientific societies of Europe made 
him a member after his great works were pub- 
lished. The Imperial Academy called him " Dios- 
corides Secundus"; a gold medal was struck in 
his honor in 1746, and the king made him dean of 
the College of Physicians. He published two val- 
uable medical books, and received the honor of the 
Knight of the Polar Star, never before conferred 
for literary merit. He was made a noble, and 
took for his motto, Famam extendere factis, adorn- 
ing his crest with the little flower which he dis- 
covered in his poverty. He was made rector of 
the university, holding the position for several 
years. How different from the time when he 



could obtain only a chance meal, and covered up 
the holes in his torn shoes ! 

He bought two estates, living at one of them 
Hammerby for fifteen years. In 1774, when he 
was sixty-seven, he suffered an attack of apoplexy 
in the Botanical Garden, and, two years later, 
another stroke made him a paralytic. When he 
could no longer walk, he used to be carried to his 
museum, and look long and earnestly at his treas- 
ures, gathered from every clime. His memory so 
failed him that he mixed the Greek and Latin let- 
ters, and forgot even his own name. On the 10th 
of January, 1778, death came to him in his sleep. 

The university went into mourning, the king 
made a public address, and the whole nation re- 
garded it as an irreparable loss. His herbarium 
and library were sold, after a time, by the wife, to 
Sir James E. Smith, the founder of the Linnaean 
Society, of London, where these treasures are now 
to be seen, and most of the one hundred and eighty 
works which he published during forty-five years. 
It is said that the King of Sweden, on learning 
that the work of Linnaeus was going out of the 
country, sent a man-of-war to recover it, but with- 
out avail. 

Linnaeus was small in body, with large head, and 
the bright, piercing eyes which usually characterize 
men and women of genius. 

Of his six children, the oldest soon became pro- 
fessor of botany, to assist, and then succeed, his 
father, but he lacked the parent's just and honora- 


ble love of fame. The eldest daughter inherited 
much of his ability, being the first to discover the 
luminous property of the nasturtium flowers at 
night. Sara Elizabeth survived her noble hus- 
band many years, and now lies beside him in the 



I'N" the town of Montbeliard, France, then belong- 
ing to the Duke of AViirtemberg, August 23, 
1769, was born the founder of the Science of Com- 
parative Anatomy ; the greatest naturalist of his 
time, Georges Leopold Chretien Frederic Dagobert 
Cuvier. His father was a brave officer in a Swiss 
regiment, who at fifty married a young lady of 
unusual ability. Their first son died, and the 
second, Georges, was so feeble in constitution that 
his life was saved only by the tenderest care of 
his mother. 

For this mother the boy cherished the most 
ardent affection. While she lived, there was noth- 
ing left undone that a loving nature could do for 
her. When she died, everything connected with 
her memory became sacred. When Cuvier had be- 
come honored by kings and nobles, when the great 
from all the world delighted to bring him offer- 
ings, nothing so touched his heart as the gift of a 
bouquet of red stocks, her favorite flower. Per- 
chance the benignity that came into his face in 
later years was the result of these sweet remem- 

She taught him to read at four, and, though igno- 


rant of Latin, she made him repeat his lessons to 
her daily, so that he was the best prepared of any 
boy in school. She read to him history and gen- 
eral literature. She made him draw under her 
inspection. She talked with him about books till 
a passion for reading became the chief character- 
istic of his nature. No wonder that he loved such 
an inspiring woman. The history of most great 
men emphasizes the fact that the mothers cannot 
be too highly educated. At ten years of age he 
was placed in a high school, called a Gymnase, 
where for four years he studied Latin, Greek, 
history, geography, and mathematics, and was 
constantly at the head of his classes. Naturally 
enthusiastic, he played as heartily as he studied. 

As is often the case, a book turned the course of 
his life, and made him famous. At the Gymnase 
he found a work of Gesner, the Swiss naturalist, 
and this, with its colored plates, first turned his 
attention to natural history. This liking was in- 
tensified by finding at the house of a relative the 
complete works of Buffon, the noted naturalist, who 
wrote thirty-six volumes in his own brilliant and 
poetic style, describing the animal kingdom. The 
boy became intensely interested in the habits of 
quadrupeds and birds ; their form, their color, and 
their homes. He copied the illustrations in the 
work, and colored them with paint or pieces of silk. 
He always carried a volume of Buffon in his pocket 
to read when he had a moment of leisure. At 
twelve, he was a well-read naturalist. 


In his last year in the Gymnase, when he was 
fourteen, he chose a certain number of his school- 
fellows, and formed an Academy. Every Thurs- 
day he gathered the lads into his room, and 
placing them around a table, seated himself upon 
his bed, and after some book had been read on 
natural history, philosophy, history, or travels, he 
asked their opinions of it, and then, being pres- 
ident, summed up the argument in a clear and 
concise manner. The mother's seed-sowing in the 
mind of her ardent boy was bearing fruit. 

As the family were poor, and had only a soldier's 
pension to support them, it was decided that Georges 
should enter the free school at Tubingen, and pre- 
pare for the church. But the principal of the 
Gymnase, who had never forgiven the boy for 
some playful trick, placed his composition in the 
third rank. Georges knew that it deserved the first 
rank, and that this low standard would affect his 
position in college. He, therefore, resolved not to 
enter Tubingen, and, though he was thereby lost to 
the church, he was saved for great scientific work. 

A fortunate thing now happened. A woman, a 
princess, who knew about the bright boy, spoke of 
him to her brother, Duke Charles of Wtlrtemberg. 
When the duke visited Montbeliard, he sent for the 
lad, questioned him as to what he had learned, asked 
to see his drawings, and ended by sending him free 
of expense to the University of Stuttgart, to enter 
his own Academy, called the Academy Caroline. It 
seemed a little thing for a lady to speak of a boy's. 


studiousness and great love of books, but it proved 
a great thing for Georges Cuvier and for the scien- 
tific world. Thousands of women and men could 
do more of these little acts of kindness, if they 
only thought of it. Well said Thomas Hood : 

" Evil is wrought by want of thought, 
As well as want of heart." 

The boy of fourteen said good-by to his devoted 
mother, and started for Stuttgart, seated between 
the Chamberlain and the Secretary of the Grand 
Duke. Both spoke German all the way, and the 
lonesome boy did not understand a word. He 
entered the Academy May 4, 1784, and for four 
years studied mathematics, law, philosophy, finance, 
and the like. 

But he lost no opportunity to study natural 
history. A professor gave him the works of 
Linneeus, and he gained inspiration from the 
young man who could travel four thousand miles 
through the marshes of Lapland, nearly barefoot 
and half-starved, in his study of plants. Georges 
now collected a herbarium. When he had leisure, 
he drew and colored insects, birds, and flowers with 
great accuracy. He kept a number of living insects 
in his room, constantly feeding them, and watching 
their habits. He said years afterward, " If I had 
not studied insects from choice, when I was at col- 
lege, I should have done so later, from a conviction 
of its necessity." He declared that the wonders he 


met with in the organization of insects always 
elevated his thoughts. 

Nine months after his arrival in Germany, he 
won the prize at the Academy for excellence in the 
German language, receiving the order of Cheval- 
erie, an honor given only to five or six out of four 
hundred pupils. This entitled the recipients to 
dine at a separate table, and to enjoy many advan- 
tages under the immediate patronage of the Grand 

When the four years of college life were over, 
the father's pension having ceased on account of 
the disturbed financial condition of France, the 
youth of eighteen needed to find employment at 
once. Nothing seemed open to him but the posi- 
tion of tutor in a private family, a thing much 
deprecated by his school-fellows, who had already 
built many air-castles for his future. 

But young Cuvier had the courage and the 
wisdom to do what necessity required, and to do 
it cheerfully. In July, 1788, he entered the family 
of Count d'Hericy in Caen, Normandy, and for six 
years taught his only son. He took with him, says 
a friend, " these admirable foundations for glory : 
a love of labor, depth of reflection, perseverance, 
and uprightness of character." While teaching 
here, he met the nobility of the surrounding coun- 
try, increasing thereby his polish of manner and 
tact, for which he was celebrated all his life. 

Living by the sea, he was led to study marine 
animals. The casual dissection of a calainar, a 


species of cuttle-fish, influenced him to study the 
anatomy of mollusca, which afterward led to his 
great classification of the whole animal kingdom. 
In this obscure corner of Normandy, the young 
teacher observed, and committed his observations 
to paper. Some young men would not have found 
time for such work. Those only succeed who have 
sufficient force of character to make time for what 
they wish to do. To allow one's time to be wasted, 
is to allow one's opportunities for eminence to go 
by forever. 

Xearly every evening Cuvier attended a small 
society of which he was secretary, which gathered 
chiefly to discuss agricultural and kindred topics. 
M. Tessier, living there in exile under an assumed 
name, the author of several valuable articles in 
the Encyclopedia, was often present, and be- 
tween him and the young secretary a warm 
friendship soon existed. As the friendship of the 
Marquis Guidubaldo proved valuable to Galileo, so 
that of M. Tessier proved of great benefit to 
Cuvier. He led the young and comparatively 
unknown naturalist, though some of his articles 
had been published in learned journals, to corre- 
spond with Geoffroy St. Hilaire, De Lacepede, 
and others on scientific subjects. Through their 
influence he was finally called to Paris, made a 
member of the Commission of Arts, and professor 
at the Central School of the Pantheon. 

He was only twenty-six, and this was but the 
beginning of honors. Here he composed his " Ele- 


mentary Treatise on the Natural History of Ani- 
mals." His great desire was to be attached to the 
Museum of Natural History, where he could study 
the collections and enlarge them. Very soon after 
his arrival in Paris, M. Mertrud was appointed to 
the newly created chair of Comparative Anatomy 
at the Jardin des Plantes. He was advanced in 
years. And now came the opportunity for friend- 
ship to do its work. Geoffrey St. Hilaire and De 
Lacepede were his colleagues. They urged that 
their friend Cuvier be appointed assistant, and 
Mertrud gladly consented. This was indeed an 
honor, since Daubenton, Buff on, Lamarck, and other 
European celebrities had filled this position. 

Cuvier at once sent for his aged father, now 
nearly eighty years old, and his only brother, 
Frederic, to make their home with him. The 
precious mother had died two years previously. 
She did not live to see the fame of her eldest son, 
but she must have been convinced of his future 
greatness, and been comforted by the prospect. 

From the moment of entering upon his new 
work, Cuvier began to develop that wonderful 
collection in comparative anatomy which is now 
so celebrated. Nothing ever turned him from his 
purpose of making this the most extensive col- 
lection in the world; no sorrow, no legislative 
duties, no absence. No one who has visited Paris 
will ever forget the seventy -five acres in the Jar- 
din des Plantes, with trees and flowers from all 
the world ; with thirteen rooms filled with skele. 


tons and anatomical preparations of all kinds ; 
with eleven rooms in the gallery of anthropology 
containing every variety of the human species, in 
casts, mummies, and fossils; with the gallery of 
zoology containing over two thousand mammalia, 
belonging to five hundred species, as many reptiles, 
ten thousand birds, and over twenty-five hundred 
fishes ; with immense geological, mineralogical, 
and botanical collections ; all a marvel of industry 
and learning. 

Cuvier now worked unceasingly. Sometimes his 
salary was in arrears, but he bore it cheerfully, as 
he wrote a friend : " You are not to suppose that 
Paris is so highly favored ; for twelve months' pay 
are now due at the Jardin des Plantes, and all the 
national establishments for public instruction, in 
Paris as well as at Strasburg ; and if we envy the 
elephants, it is not because they are better paid 
than we are, but because while living on credit, as 
we do, they are not aware of it, and consequently 
are insensible to the pain it gives. You know the 
saying about the French, that when they have no 
money they sing. We savants, who are not musi- 
cians, work at our sciences instead of singing, 
which comes to the same thing." He is a hero, 
indeed, who can breast poverty, and work and sing 
in the midst of hardship. When he published his 
"Annals of the Museum," he not only drew, but 
often engraved the plates himself, when he was 
unable, for lack of means, to hire it done. 

The National Institution was founded in 1796, 


and Cuvier was associated with his friends De 
Lacepede and Daubenton, in the section of zoology, 
holding the position of Secretary of Natural Sci- 
ences till his death. 

Four years later, in 1800, the first two volumes 
of his " Lessons in Comparative Anatomy " were 
published, and met with great success. The last 
three volumes were issued five years later. 

In this year, 1800, Cuvier received another honor, 
that of the professorship of Natural Philosophy 
in the College de France. He was now but thirty- 
one. The following year, Napoleon I., who was 
usually wise in his selection of men, appointed 
him one of the six inspectors-general of education, 
to establish public schools in thirty towns of 

Every moment now seemed occupied, and yet 
while the brain was busy perchance the heart was 
lonely. The father had died two years after the 
mother. The wife of his brother Frederic had 
died, also, and the two brothers were left alone. 
At thirty-four, Cuvier decided to take into his 
heart and home the widow of M. Duvaucel, Fer- 
mier-General, who had perished on the scaffold in 
1794. The family had lost all their money in the 
French Revolution, and Madame Duvaucel had 
four large children to be supported ; but Cuvier 
loved her for her rare mind and sweet disposition, 
and she blessed the remaining years of his life. 
An educated man needs companionship in mind; 
not simply r. housekeeper. 


Six years later one of her sons was assassinated 
in Portugal, during the retreat of the French army. 
Another, while collecting for the Museum of Paris, 
died in Madras, a young man of great talent and 
much beloved. A daughter, Mile. Duvaucel, lived 
to be the comfort of Cuvier's declining years. 

Happy in his home and absorbed with his work, 
Cuvier went forward to new labors and new 
honors. M. Mertrud had died, and, instead of 
being assistant at the Jardin des Plantes, Cuvier 
was now professor. In 1808 Napoleon made him 
counsellor for life of the Imperial University. 
The next year he organized new academies in 
the Italian States, which were now annexed to 
France. In 1811 he was sent on a similar mission 
to Holland and the Hanseatic towns, and was 
made a chevalier, which rank was assured to his 
heirs. Though he disliked to be absent from his 
family, he went where duty called him, and wrote 
back fond letters to his wife. 

" MY TENDER FRIEND, The weather, the road, 
the horses, and the postilions have proved so excel- 
lent that we have reached Porte Sainte Mayence 
before six o'clock; and I have bitterly regretted 
the two or three good hours that I might still 
have passed with thee, without in the least de- 
laying my journey. At least believe that I have 
passed them in my imagination, and that the 
remembrance of thy caresses and tender friend- 
ship will form the happiness of my whole way." 
After some words to the children, he added, 


" We are quite well, my good friend ; we have 
crossed an agreeable country ; and we are in a 
tolerable inn. Our carriage appears to be quite 
able to bear the journey ; thus, up to this mo- 
ment, all goes well. Pray to God that this may 
last ; thou art so good that he cannot refuse thee. 
Adieu. A thousand tender kisses. G. C." 

This year, 1811, appeared one of his most im- 
portant works that on " Fossil Remains," which 
wrought a revolution in the study of geology. By 
comparing living and fossil animals, Cuvier showed 
that huger creatures had lived on the earth and 
become extinct before the creation of man. In the 
first epoch he found great reptiles, like the 
Ichthyosaurus, thirty feet long, and the Megalo- 
saurus, seventy feet long. In the second epoch, he 
found the Paleotherium ; in the third, the Mam- 
moth, Mastodon, and gigantic sloth; and in the 
fourth epoch, man. So closely had he stiidied the 
relations of the organs of animals, that he could 
reconstruct the extinct fossil from a single bone. 
He had already prepared, at the request of Napo- 
leon, a brilliant " Report on the Progress of Natural 
Sciences from the year 1789." 

In 1813, though a Protestant, he was sent to 
Rome to organize a university, and was made 
Master of Requests in the Council of State. Napo- 
leon also appointed him Commissaire Imperial 
Extraordinaire, and sent him to endeavor to raise 
the people on the left bank of the Rhine in favor 
of France, against the invading troops then march- 


ing upon them. But Cuvier was stopped at Nancy 
by the entrance of the allied armies, and obliged 
to return. 

He was now famous, and his company and coun- 
sel were sought by the learned and the great. 
And he was still a comparatively young man, 

But life had great sorrows in the midst of this 
prosperity. His first child, a son, had died a few 
weeks after his birth. His daughter Annie had 
died in 1812, at the age of four, and now in 1813, 
while he was absent in Rome, his only son, Georges, 
a boy of seven, had been taken from him. The 
blow was a terrible one. For many years he never 
saw a boy near that age, without being deeply 
affected. He would stop on the streets to watch a 
group of boys playing, and then go on sadly, think- 
ing of the one he had buried. 

In 1814, Cuvier was raised to the rank of Coun- 
sellor of State, and Chancellor of the University. 
When Napoleon was asked why he had appointed 
a savant to a political position, he replied, "that 
he may be able to rest himself sometimes," know- 
ing that to a man like Cuvier change was the most 
helpful rest. When Napoleon abdicated his throne, 
and Louis XVIII. came to power, Cuvier was re- 
tained in office, for his rare administrative ability, 
and upright life. 

Three years later, the first edition of his " Ani- 
mal Kingdom " appeared, and is now to be seen in 
the British Museum, in seventeen volumes. This 


work has served as the basis for subsequent zoologi- 
cal classification. Cuvier studied minutely the 
interior structure of animals, and based his classi- 
fication on this, instead of exterior resemblance. 

After this great work was published, Cuvier 
went with his family to London, for a rest of six 
weeks. Here he received distinguished attention 
from Sir William Herschel, and other learned men. 

In 1819, he was appointed President of the Com- 
mittee of the Interior, and in this position, which 
he held for life, it is believed ten thousand various 
matters passed through his hands each year, for 
his examination and decision. He officiated at the 
crowning of Charles X., as one of the presidents of 
the Council of State, and received from that mon- 
arch the decoration of Grand Officer of the Legion 
of Honor. His former sovereign, the King of 
Wtirtemberg, appointed him Commander of the 
Order of the Crown. 

All this time in which he was doing earnest and 
responsible work for his country, he was writing 
and lecturing almost constantly. So careful was 
he of his time, that he always read or wrote as he 
was riding in his carriage through the streets of 
Paris. A lamp in the back of his carriage he used 
at night, till he found that he was injuring his 
eyes. Even while he was sitting for a portrait, 
to be used as a frontispiece for his book, "Dis- 
course on the Revolutions of the Globe," his wife's 
daughter read to him the " Fortunes of Nigel." In 
the evenings, when he was too tired for scientific 


research, his wife or daughter read to him general 

Every Saturday evening a reception was held at 
the home of Baron Cuvier, and there one was sure 
to meet the most brilliant and learned from all 
parts of Europe, whether rich or poor. . . . 

Cuvier delighted everybody by his courtesy and 
his cordiality. Another person also was the life of 
these gatherings, his beautiful daughter Clemen- 
tine, his only remaining child. Never strong in 
body, she had been reared with the tenderest care. 
Devoted to all good Avork, reading to aged women, 
visiting the poor, educated, and of extreme loveli- 
ness of character, she was the idol of her family 
and of society. On the 25th of August, 1828, she 
was to have been married, but, while in the midst 
of the preparations, she fell ill of consumption, and 
died the following month, September 28. 

The effect on both parents was crushing. Cuvier's 
light hair grew white, and lines gathered in his 
face. After two months he took his place again 
at the head of the Committee of the Interior. He 
listened attentively to all the discussions, but when 
it came his turn to speak, he burst into tears, and 
covered his bowed face in his hands, and sobbed 
bitterly. Finally he raised his head and said, 
"Pardon me, gentlemen, I was a father, and I 
have lost all ! " and then with a violent effort he 
resumed the business of the day, with his usual 

He devoted himself now more than ever to his 


books, as though he must use every moment, or be 
prostrated with grief. This same year, 1828, the 
first book in a series of twenty volumes, beautifully 
illustrated, appeared, on the "Natural History of 
Fishes, containing more than five thousand species 
of those animals, described after nature, and dis- 
tributed according to their affinities, with obser- 
vations on their anatomy, and critical researches 
on their nomenclature, ancient as well as modern." 

In 1832, he was created a Peer of France, by 
Louis Philippe. Every honor had come that could 
be asked or desired. His books were eagerly read ; 
crowds attended his lectures ; he was loved, hon- 
ored, and revered ; but death had robbed him of 
the sweetest things in life. 

On Tuesday, May 8, 1832, he lectured as usual 
before the College de France, on the " History and 
Progress of Science in all Ages." In the evening 
he felt a numbness in his right arm. It was the 
beginning of the end. Paralysis soon developed. 

He said to M. Pasquier, President of the Cham- 
ber of Peers, " Behold a very different person to 
the man of Tuesday of Saturday. Nevertheless, 
I had great things still to do. All was ready in 
my head ; after thirty years of labor and research, 
there remained but to write ; and now the hands 
fail, and carry with them the head." 

M. Pasquier tenderly expressed the universal 
interest felt for M. Cuvier. "I like to think 
so," said the dying man ; " I have long labored 
to render myself worthy of it." He is to be 


pitied, indeed, who does not care whether the 
world loves him. 

On May 13, the nomination of Cuvier to the 
presidency of the whole Council of State was 
taken to the sovereign for his signature, but it 
came too late. Cuvier died that day. Four hours 
before his death he had asked to be taken into the 
room where he had met and talked with so many 
of the renowned of earth, and where his Clem- 
entine had charmed them by her presence. And 
there he died. 

He was buried in Pere la Chaise, by his own 
request, under the tombstone which covered Clem- 
entine, and whose death had virtually caused his 
own. His coffin was borne by the pupils of the dif- 
ferent colleges in which he had taught, thousands 
following it to the cemetery. His library of nine- 
teen thousand volumes was purchased by the gov- 
ernment for the Jardin des Plantes. There was no 
child left to bear his titles. 

Not only do the books of such a man live ; his 
whole life, with its untiring energy, its prompt- 
ness, its order, its unfaltering purpose, its high 
aims, as well as its tenderness and nobility of 
heart, is a constant inspiration. 



IN" Hanover, Germany, in the year 1732, Isaac 
Herschel and a plain, industrious girl, Anna 
Use Moritzen, began their home life together. 
The young man did not like the calling of his 
father, the cultivating of the royal gardens, and 
learned to play the oboe in the royal band. 

He became skilled in music, and, as, one after 
another, ten children were born into the little 
home, he taught them to play on the violin and 
oboe, and such other branches of knowledge as he 
possessed. After a time his health became impaired 
with exposure in the Seven Years' War, and then he 
earned his living by lessons in music, given to 
scholars at his home. 

The children attended the garrison school in 
Hanover, and learned the ordinary rudiments, 
besides French and German. Though the father 
sometimes copied music half the night to eke out 
his scanty living, he spared no pains to teach them 
all he could of his favorite art. 

The fourth son, William, born November 15, 
1738, not only learned French and English rapidly, 
but studied Latin and arithmetic with the teacher, 


after hours. He became passionately fond of 
books, reading their own little store with avidity. 
The mother, who could not even write, viewed 
with alarm this intellectual development, feeling 
that her children, if they became learned, would go 
away from home possibly from Germany. Poor, 
ignorant heart ! She cooked and sewed, and pre- 
vented her daughters from learning French or 
drawing; but her weak hand could not stay the 
power of a mind like William's, bent on acquiring 

Caroline, the eighth child, born in 1750, twelve 
years younger than William, looked upon this 
brother as a marvel; and shy, plain, and silent her- 
self, watched the boy with pride, who, perchance, 
would be somebody by and by. Alexander, a 
little older than Caroline, was skilled on the vio- 
loncello, and both the boys became members of the 
Hanover foot guards. 

Years later, Caroline gave this picture of that 
early life : " My brothers were often introduced 
as solo performers and assistants in the orchestra of 
the court, and I remember that I was frequently 
prevented from going to sleep by the lively criti- 
cism on music, on coming from a concert ; or by con- 
versations on philosophical subjects, which lasted 
frequently till morning, in which my father was a 
lively partaker and assistant of my brother Will- 
iam, by contriving self-made instruments. . . . 

" Often I would keep nrf self awake that I might 
listen to their animating remarks, for it made me 


so happy to see them so happy. But generally 
their conversation would branch out on philo- 
sophical subjects, when my brother William and 
my father often argued with such warmth that my 
mother's interference became necessary ; when the 
names Leibnitz, Newton, and Euler sounded rather 
too loud for the repose of her little ones, who ought 
to be in school by seven in the morning. But it 
seems that on the brothers retiring to their own 
room, where they shared the same bed, my brother 
William had still a great deal to say; and fre- 
quently it happened that when he stopped for an 
assent or reply, he found his hearer was gone to 
sleep, and I suppose it was not till then that he 
bethought himself to do the same. 

" The recollection of these happy scenes confirms 
me in the belief, that had my brother William not 
then been interrupted in his philosophical pursuits, 
we should have had much earlier proofs of his 
inventive genius. My father was a great admirer 
of astronomy, and had some knowledge of that 
science ; for I remember his taking me, on a clear 
frosty night, into the street, to make me acquainted 
with several of the most beautiful constellations, 
after we had been gazing at a comet which was 
then visible. And I well remember with what de- 
light he used to assist my brother William in his 
various contrivances in the pursuit of his philo- 
sophical studies, among which was a neatly turned 
four-inch globe, upon which the equator and eclip- 
tic were engraved by my brother." 


When William was seventeen, the guards went 
to England for a year, and on their return home 
he brought one precious memento of the country, 
Locke "On the Human Understanding." Such a 
boy would not remain in the foot guards forever. 
He was delicate in health, so that his parents re- 
moved him from the army. 

At nineteen, he determined to try his fortune in 
England. He said good-by to the culture-loving 
and warm-hearted father, to the poor mother who 
knew " no other wants than good linen and cloth- 
ing," and started out to make his way in the world. 
For three years nothing is known of him, save that 
he passed through many hardships. He played in 
military bands whenever and wherever he could 
find a situation, or at concerts, and led probably a 
cramped and obscure life. 

There was little prospect then that he would be- 
come, as Prof. Edward S. Holden says in his admi- 
rable life, "the greatest of practical astronomers, 
and one of the world's most profound philoso- 
phers." What the poor German youth thought 
and felt in those years of trial, we do not know. 
He had one resource in his loneliness, the reading 
of useful books. 

After about three years, a fortuitous circumstance 
occurred. It proved " fortuitous " only because 
young Herschel had studied music faithfully, and 
had made himself ready to fill a fine position, if, 
poor and without influence, such a position could 
be obtained. 


As Dr. Miller, a noted organist, " was dining at 
Pontefract with the officers of the Durham militia, 
one of them, knowing his love of music, told him 
they had a young German in their band, as a per- 
former on the oboe, who was also an excellent 
performer on the violin. The officer added that if 
Miller would come into another room, this German 
should entertain him with a solo. The invitation 
was gladly accepted, and Miller heard a solo of 
Giardini's executed in a manner that surprised 

"He afterwards took an opportunity of having 
some private conversation with the young musician, 
and asked him whether he had engaged himself 
for any long period to the Durham militia. The 
answer was, ' Only from month to month.' 

" ' Leave them, then,' said the organist, ' and 
come and live with me. I am a single man, and 
think we shall be happy together ; and doubtless 
your merit will soon entitle you to a more eligible 

"The offer was accepted as frankly as it was 
made, and the reader may imagine with what satis- 
faction Dr. Miller must have remembered this act 
of generous feeling, when he heard that this young 
German was Herschel, the astronomer. ^My 
humble mansion,' says Miller, ' consisted at that 
time but of two rooms. However, poor as I 
was, my cottage contained a library of well chosen 

"He took an early opportunity of introducing 


his new friend at Mr. Cropley's concerts. The 
first violin was resigned to him, ' and never/ says 
the organist, ' had I heard the concertos of Corelli, 
Geminiani, and Avison, or the overtures of Handel, 
performed more chastely, or more according to the 
original intention of the composers, than by Mr. 

" ' I soon lost my companion ; his fame was 
presently spread abroad ; he had the offer of pupils, 
and was solicited to lead the public concerts both 
at Wakeh'eld and Halifax. A new organ for the 
parish church of Halifax Avas built about this time, 
and Herschel was one of the seven candidates for 
the organist's place. They drew lots how they 
were to perform in succession. Herschel drew the 
third ; the second fell to Dr. Wainwright, of Man- 
chester, whose finger was so rapid that old Snetzler, 
the organ-builder, ran about the church exclaiming, 
" He run over te keys like one cat ; he will not (jive 
my piphes room for to shpeak." 

" ' During Mr. Wainwright's performance,' says 
Miller, 'I was standing in the middle aisle with 
Herschel. " What chance have you," said I, " to 
follow this man ? " He replied, " I don't know, I 
am sure fingers will not do." On which he as- 
ceiiofed the organ loft, and produced from the organ 
so uncommon a fulness, such a volume of slow, 
solemn harmony, that I could by no means account 
for the effect. After this short extempore effusion, 
he finished with the Old Hundredth psalm-tune, 
which he played better than his opponent. 


" ' " Ay, ay," cried old Snetzler, " tish is very goot, 
very goot inteet. I will hef tish man, for he gives 
mypiphes room for to shpeak." Having afterwards 
asked Mr. Herschel by what means, in the begin- 
ning of his performance, he produced so uncommon 
an effect, he replied, " I told you fingers would not 
do ! " and, producing two pieces of lead from his 
waistcoat pocket, " One of these," said he, " I placed 
011 the lowest key of the organ, and the other upon 
the octave above ; thus, by accommodating the har- 
mony, I produced the effect of four hands, instead 
of two." ' " 

Herschel was the successful candidate among 
the seven. He was now twenty-seven years old. 
Only once do we learn of his going home to Ger- 
many, and that in the year previous. Of this visit, 
Caroline, now grown to fourteen, says, " Of the 
joys and pleasures which all felt at this long- 
wished-for meeting with my, let me say my dearest 
brother, but a small portion could fall to my share ; 
for with my constant attendance at church and 
school, besides the time I was employed in doing 
the drudgery of the scullery, it was but seldom I 
could make one in the group when the family were 
assembled together. 

" In the first week, some of the orchestra were in- 
vited to a concert, at which some of my brother Will- 
iam's compositions overtures, etc. and some of 
my eldest brother, Jacob's, were performed, to the 
great delight of my dear father, who hoped and 
expected that they would be turned to some profit 


by publishing them, but there was no printer who 
bid high enough." 

After a year at Halifax, Herschel obtained a 
position as organist at the Octagon Chapel in Bath, 
a fashionable city of England. This was another 
and higher step on the road to fame. He now 
gave nearly forty lessons a week to pupils. He 
composed music, and wrote anthems, chants, and 
psalm-tunes for the cathedral choir where he 
played. He became so popular from his real 
ability, coupled with pleasing manners, that he 
was occupied in teaching from fourteen to sixteen 
hours daily. 

But he die" 1 more than this. As his hopes bright- 
ened, he determined to devote every minute to the 
pursuit of knowledge, in which he found his great- 
est happiness. He studied Greek and Italian. He 
would unbend his mind, after he retired, with Mac- 
laurin's "Fluxions," or Kobert Smith's "Complete 
System of Optics," and Lalande's Astronomy. 

What if he had devoted this time to ease or 
amusement ! Would he have become learned or 
distinguished ? Every young man and woman is 
obliged to decide the matter for himself and her- 
self. We cannot idle away life and be great. 

In 1767, the fond father, Isaac, died of paralysis. 
Caroline, who loved him tenderly, was desolate. He 
had taught her the violin when the prosaic mother 
" was either in good humor, or out of the way." 
It is quite possible that music, like inventions, did 
not bring an adequate support for ten children, and 



that the practical mother wished her daughter to 
learn something whereby she could earn a living. 
She thereupon sent her two or three months to a 
seamstress to be taught to make household linen. 
After a time a delightful proposition came from the 
organist at Bath. He would take her to England, 
and see if she "could not become a useful singer 
for his winter concerts and oratorios." If she did 
not succeed, after two years, he would carry her 
back to Germany. 

In 1772, William came to Hanover and took his 
sister to Bath, at 7 New Kings Street. She was 
now twenty -two ; an untutored girl, with a bright, 
eager mind, and a heart that went out to her 
brother in the most rapt devotion. History does 
not show a more complete, single-hearted, subser- 
vient affection, nor a sadder picture of a woman's 
sorrow in later years, in consequence of it. 

At once Caroline began her work of voice cul- 
ture, lessons in arithmetic, English, and in keep- 
ing accounts, from her brother, and in managing 
the house. Alexander, now in England, boarded 
with William, and he and Caroline occupied the 
attic. The first three winter months were lonely, 
as she saw little of William. 

"The time," she says, "when I could hope to re- 
ceive a little more of my brother's instruction and 
attention was now drawing near ; for after Easter, 
Bath becomes very empty, only a few of his 
scholars, whose families were residents in the 
neighborhood, remaining. But I was greatly dis- 


appointed, for, in consequence of the harassing and 
fatiguing life he had led during the winter months, 
he used to retire to bed with a basin of milk or 
glass of water, and Smith's Harmonics and Optics, 
Ferguson's Astronomy, etc., and so went to sleep 
buried under his favorite authors ; and his first 
thoughts on rising were how to obtain the instru- 
ments for viewing those objects himself of which 
he had been reading. 

"There being in one of the shops a two-and-a 
half-foot Gregorian telescope to be let, it was for 
some time taken in requisition, and served not only 
for viewing the heavens, but for making experi- 
ments on its construction. ... It soon appeared 
that my brother was not contented with knowing 
what former observers had seen, for he began to 
contrive a telescope eighteen or twenty feet 
long. ... I was much hindered in my musical 
practice by my help being continually wanted in 
the execution of the various contrivances, and I 
had to amuse myself with making the tube of 
pasteboard for the glasses, which were to arrive 
from London, for at that time no optician had 
settled at Bath. But when all was finished, no 
one besides my brother could get a glimpse of 
Jupiter or Saturn, for the great length of the tube 
would not allow it to be kept in a straight line. 
This difficulty, however, was soon removed by sub- 
stituting tin tubes." 

Herschel had attempted to buy a telescope, but 
found the price far beyond his means. But he was 


not discouraged. " Caroline soon saw " almost every 
room turned into a work-shop. A cabinet-maker 
making a tube and stands of all descriptions in a 
handsomely furnished drawing-room ; " this could 
be so occupied when the music scholars had left 
Bath in their vacation ; " Alex putting up a huge 
turning machine in a bedroom, for turning pat- 
terns, grinding glasses, and turning eye-pieces, 

The longed-for time to see more of her brother 
never came to Caroline, except as she finally grew 
into his life-work, and became his second self. 

He had one unalterable purpose, the study of 
the construction of the heavens. Nothing ever 
drew him from it. Nothing ever could draw him. 
And herein lay one of the elements of his great 
power. As an English writer has well said : " So 
gentle and patient a follower of science under diffi- 
culties scarcely occurs in the whole circle of biog- 
raphy." Yes, he was " gentle and patient," but with 
an untiring and never ending perseverance. Too 
poor to buy telescopes, he made them. With no 
time to read books during the day, he took the 
hours from sleep. With little opportunity for 
education, he educated himself. 

In 1774, the music teacher made for himself a 
five-aud-one-half-foot Gregorian telescope ; and a 
year later, a Newtonian, with a four-and-a-half-inch 
aperture, which magnified two hundred and twen- 
ty-two times. The making of these instruments 
showed great mechanical skill and accurate knowl- 

92 *'//* W r J/. vlA T Z) CAROLINE HERSCHEL. 

edge. He began now to study "the heavens in 
earnest, but the teaching must go on to provide 
daily bread. He directed an orchestra of nearly one 
hundred pieces, and Caroline copied the scores and 
vocal parts. So absorbed was he in his astronomi- 
cal work, however, that at the theatre, between the 
acts, he would run from the harpsichord to look at 
the stars. This boyish eagerness and naturalness 
he kept through life. 

He soon made a seven-foot reflector, then a ten- 
foot reflector. The mirrors for these telescopes 
were all made by hand, machines for the purpose 
not being invented till ten or more years later. 
Alexander, with his mechanical skill, assisted, and 
Caroline was always busy at the work. She says, 
" My time was taken up with copying music and 
practising, besides attendance on my brother when 
polishing; since, by way of keeping him alive, I 
was constantly obliged to feed him, by putting his 
victuals by bits into his mouth. This was once the 
case, when, in order to finish a seven-foot mirror, he 
had not taken his hands from it for sixteen hours 
together. In general he was never unemployed at 
meals, but was always at those times contriving or 
making drawings of whatever came in his mind. 
Generally I was obliged to read to him while he 
was at the turning-lathe, or polishing mirrors, 
' Don Quixote,' ' Arabian Nights' Entertainment,' 
the novels of Sterne, Fielding, etc. ; serving tea 
and supper without interrupting the work with 
which he was engaged.". . . 


So busy that he could not find time to eat or 
! Rare devotion of a rare mind ! He now 
began to study every star of the first, second, third, 
and fourth magnitudes in the sky. He carefully 
observed the moon, and measured the height of 
about one hundred of her mountains. Her extinct 
volcanoes, and her unpeopled solitudes, without 
clouds or air, were an impressive study. 

He was now forty years old, not young to 
begin the study of a new and illimitable science, 
but not too old, for one is never too old to begin a 
great or a noble work. 

Through Dr. William Watson, Fellow of the 
Eoyal Society, who happened if anything ever 
happens in this world to see Herschel at his 
telescope, he became a member of the Philosophi- 
cal Society of Bath, and soon in 1780 sent two 
papers to the Royal Society, the one on the peri- 
odical star in Collo Ceti, and the other on the 
mountains of the moon, which were read by Dr. 
William Watson, Jr. 

When he was forty -three, he says, " I began to 
construct a thirty -foot aerial reflector, and, having 
made a stand for it, I cast the mirror thirty-six 
inches in diameter. This was cracked in cooling. 
I cast it a second time, and the furnace I had 
built in my house broke." But he persevered. 
This same year, 1781, after he had lived in Bath 
nine years, on the night of Tuesday, March 13, 
having removed to a larger house, 19 New King 
Street, he says, "In examining the small stars in 


the neigliborhood of H. Geminorum I perceived 
one that appeared visibly larger than the rest; 
being struck with its uncommon appearance, I 
compared it to H. Geminorum and the small star 
in the quarter between Auriga and Gemini, and, 
finding it so much larger than either of them, I 
suspected it to be a comet." 

The orbit of this "comet" was computed and 
its distance from the sun found to be eighteen 
hundred million miles ! The world soon awoke to the 
fact that a new planet had been found, the great- 
est astronomical discovery since Galileo invented 
the telescope, and the unknown musician at Bath 
had become famous ! So little was Herschel known 
at this time, that one journal called him Mersthel, 
another Herthel, and still another Hermstel. 

In December of the same year, 1781, Herschel 
was elected a Fellow of the Koyal Society and 
received the Copley gold medal. He was no 
longer the poor German youth playing the oboe 
among the guards ; he was the renowned dis- 
coverer. He called the planet Georgium Sidus, 
in honor of his sovereign, George III., but it was 
decided later to call it Uranus, from Urania the 
muse of astronomy. 

Herschel went eagerly on with his work. Fame 
did not change his simple nature. The truly great 
are never ostentatious. He erected in his gar- 
den a stand for his twenty-foot telescope, and per- 
fected his mirrors. " Though at times," says 
Caroline, " much harassed with business, the mir- 


ror for the thirty-foot reflector was never out of 
his mind, and if a minute could 'but be spared in 
going from one scholar to another, or giving one 
the slip, he called at home to see how the men 
went on with the furnace, which was built in a 
room below, even with the garden." 

The next year, 1782, Herschel went to London, and 
met with a gracious reception from George III. 
He wrote back to his devoted sister : " Dear Lina : 
All my papers are printing, with the postscript 
and all, and are allowed to be very valuable. You 
see, Lina, I tell you all these things. You know 
vanity is not my foible, therefore I need not fear 
your censure. Farewell. 

" I am your affectionate brother, 


Again he wrote, 

"I pass my time between Greenwich and Lon- 
don, agreeably enough, but am rather at a loss for 
work that I like. Company is not always pleas- 
ing, and I would much rather be polishing a specu- 
lum. ... I am introduced to the best company. 
To-morrow I dine at Lord Palmerston's, next day 
with Sir Joseph Banks, etc., etc. Among opti- 
cians and astronomers nothing now is talked of 
but what they call my great discoveries. Alas ! 
this shows how far they are behind, when such 
trifles as I have seen and done are called great. 
Let me but get at it again ! I will make such tele- 
scopes, and see such things that is, I will 
endeavor to do so." 


And this great ambition nerved him for action, 
continued and laborious, as long as he lived. He 
was never satisfied ; always achieving. Little can 
be expected from those who are easily satisfied. 

George III. wisely appointed Herschel Koyal 
Astronomer, though with the too small salary of 
one thousand dollars yearly. He came back to 
Bath only to perform the last musical duty on 
Whit Sunday, 1782, the anthem for the day being 
his own composition, and to say good-by to his 

He moved to Datchet in 1782, and set up his 
twenty-foot telescope. In 1783 he had made three 
reviews of the heavens. In 1784 he made a fourth 
review with his twenty-foot telescope. Caroline 
says: "My brother began his sweeps when the 
instrument was yet in a very unfinished state, and 
my feelings were not very comfortable when every 
moment I was alarmed by a crash or a fall, know- 
ing him to be elevated fifteen feet or more on a 
temporary crossbeam, instead of a safe gallery. 
The ladders had not even their braces at the bot- 
tom ; and one night, in a very high wind, he had 
hardly touched the ground before the whole appa- 
ratus came down. ... I could give a pretty long 
list of accidents which were near proving fatal to 
my brother as well as myself." 

A gentleman who visited him at Datchet wrote : 
" The thermometer in the garden stood at 13 Fahr- 
enheit ; but in spite of this, Herschel observes the 
whole night through, except that he stops every 


three or four hours and goes in the room for a few 
moments. For some years Herschel has observed 
the heavens every hour when the weather is clear, 
and this always in the open air, because he says 
that the telescope only performs well when it is at 
the same temperature as the air. He protects him- 
self against the weather by putting on more cloth- 
ing. He has an excellent constitution, and thinks 
about nothing else in the world but the celestial 

But, occupied as Herschel was about "celestial 
bodies," he yet found time to think about earthly 
things, for we find him at forty-five, May 8, 1783, 
marrying Mary, the wealthy widow of John Pitt, 
Esq., a lady of much intelligence and amiability. 

The sad feature of the new relationship was the 
misery it brought to Caroline. Her whole life had 
centred in William. For eleven years she had 
devoted every moment, every wish, every thought 
to him. She had watched all night among the 
stars with him, month after month, and year after 
year, in cold and in heat, and superintended his 
home by day. His every desire was her law. She 
loved no other, and he was her all. Perhaps she 
ought to have known that another might come into 
his life, but she trusted blindly, and did not ques- 
tion the future. 

When the wife came into the home, Caroline went 
out of it forever. For more than twenty years 
she lived in lodgings, always " cheerless and soli- 
tary," her only happiness found in coming day by 


day to help her brother in his great work. Some- 
times, when the wife was absent, Caroline came 
back for a few days and lived over the old unal- 
loyed life, and then went back to her lonely 

For ten years following this marriage, she prob- 
ably told her heart-aches in her journal ; but before 
her death she destroyed the record of these years, 
that the feelings of those who were alive might not 
be pained. In later days she became more recon- 
ciled to Lady Herschel, as " a dear sister, for as such 
I now know you," and idolized their only son, the 
renowned Sir John Herschel, born nine years after 
their marriage. 

In 1785, Herschel began to construct his great 
forty-foot telescope, and the next year removed to 
Slough, not far from Windsor. "In the whole of 
the apparatus," he said, " none but common work- 
men were employed, for I made drawings of every 
part of it, by which it was easy to execute the work, 
as I constantly inspected and directed every per- 
son's labor : though sometimes there were not less 
than forty different workmen employed at the same 
time. While the stand of the telescope was pre- 
paring, I also began the construction of the great 
mirror, of which I inspected the casting, grinding, 
and polishing; and the work was in this manner 
carried on with no other interruption than that 
occasioned by the removal of all the apparatus and 
materials from where I then lived, to my present 
situation at Slough." He had his first view through 


the telescope February 19, 1787. George III. gave 
twenty thousand dollars for the building of this in- 
strument, and one thousand dollars yearly for its 

A half-century afterwards, the woodwork having 
become decayed, it was taken down, the great tube 
laid horizontally, and, after Sir John Herschel and 
his family had passed through it, a poem written 
by Sir John having been read, it was sealed Jan- 
uary 1, 1840, and placed on piers. 

With this great telescope, Herschel discovered 
two satellites of Saturn, Mimas and Enceladus ; one 
on August 27, 1789, and the other on September 17 
of the same year. Two years before this, January 
11, 1787, he discovered two satellites of Uranus, 
Oberon and Titania. Sixty years afterwards, Mr. 
Lassell, of England, discovered the remaining two 
satellites of Uranus, called Ariel and Umbriel. 

From this time his work went forward grandly. 
He had already completed more than two hundred 
seven-foot, one hundred and fifty ten-foot, and 
eighty twenty -foot mirrors. For many of the 
telescopes sent abroad he made no stands, but 
provided the drawings. He wrote much about 
Saturn and its rings, and showed that.its most 
distant satellite, Japetus, turns once on its axis 
in each revolution about its primary, as our moon 
does about the earth. 

He studied carefully the nature of the sun, its 
probable gaseous surface, and its spots, and was 
the first to suspect their periodic character. What 


would Herschel have said to the wonderful photo- 
graphic representations of these spots given by 
Professor Langley, in his New Astronomy ; spots 
which are one billion square miles in size; more 
than five times the surface of the land and water 
on the earth ? He saw, as astronomers to-day see, 
that heat cannot be produced without expenditure 
of force ; and that the sun is probably cooling, even 
though scarcely perceptibly for ages to come. He 
saw what science now generally concedes, the rise 
and fall of the solar system ; its gradual fitness for 
the coming of man, through almost coiintless cen- 
turies ; and its final unfitness, when his generations 
shall have gone forever. 

He wrote much about the Milky Way, believing 
at first that it could be completely resolved into 
stars, about eighteen millions of them ; but later 
he changed his theory, having found so much 
nebulous matter in a state of condensation as 
though new worlds were forming, possibly to be 
the homes of some new race, or of man in the 
ages to come. 

His study of the variable stars attracted wide 
attention. He found that the star Mira Ceti was 
for several months invisible to the naked eye ; 
then it grew brighter and brighter, and finally 
disappeared for months, as before. He saw that 
other stars are periodic, and came to the con- 
clusion that this is occasioned by the rotation of 
the star upon its axis, by which different parts of 
its surface are presented to us periodically. 


He made a catalogue of double stars, and found 
by laborious calculations that such stars have a 
common centre of gravity ; that one sun revolves 
about another. He found that our solar system 
has a motion of its own ; a grand orbit round some 
as yet unknown centre, and that other systems 
have a like motion. 

What this centre may be, whether a great sun 
like Sirius, one hundred times larger than ours, 
with unknown powers and unknown uses, is of 
course only conjecture. 

Herschel gave much attention to nebulae, discov- 
ering and describing twenty -five hundred new neb- 
ulae and clusters. He gave his life to the study 
of the construction of the heavens. Concerning 
his statement of the general construction, Profes- 
sor Holden, himself a brilliant astronomer, says : 
" It is the groundwork upon which we have still 
to build. ... As a scientific conception it is perhaps 
the grandest that has ever entered into the human 
mind. As a study of the height to which the 
efforts of one man may go, it is almost without a 
parallel. ... As a practical astronomer he remains 
without an equal. In profound philosophy he has 
few superiors. By a kindly chance he can be 
claimed as the citizen of no one country. In very 
truth his is one of the few names which belong to 
the whole world." 

The distinguished man, though unassuming and 
gentle in manner, must have had a realizing sense 
of the greatness of his work, for he said, " I have 


looked further into space than ever human being 
did before me. I have observed stars of which 
the light takes two millions of years to travel to 
this globe." 

He gave much study to light and heat. So 
boundless was his knowledge believed to be, that 
a farmer called one day to ask the proper time for 
cutting his grass. 

"Look at that field, " said the scientist, "and 
when I tell you it is mine, I think you will not 
need another proof to convince you that I am no 
more weatherwise than yourself or the rest of my 

He worked earnestly till he was seventy-six, 
always depending upon his faithful and insepara- 
ble Caroline for aid in his labors. He made a tele- 
scope for her, with which she swept the heavens 
for comets, finding eight, five of which she discov- 
ered for the first time. 

At seventy-six his health began to fail. He had 
worked incessantly from his struggling boyhood, 
but brain work does not wear us out; care and 
anxiety bring the marks of age upon us. He now 
took little journeys away from Slough for change 
of scene and air, while Caroline stayed at home to 
copy his papers for the Eoyal Society, and to 
arrange his manuscripts. In 1816, he was made a 
knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, 
by the Prince Kegent, and in 1821 was the first 
president of the Eoyal Astronomical Society, his 
son being its first foreign secretary. 


In February, 1818, Caroline spent twelve pre- 
cious days with her brother, "not in idleness," she 
says, " but in sorrow and sadness. He is not only 
unwell, but low in spirits." Later he went to 
Bath with Lady Herschel. " The last moments 
before he stepped into the carriage," says the lov- 
ing Caroline, "were spent in walking with me 
through his library and workrooms, pointing 
with anxious looks to every shelf and drawer, 
desiring me to examine all and to make memo- 
randums of them as well as I could. He was 
hardly able to support himself, and his spirits 
were so low, that I found difficulty in command- 
ing my voice so far as to give him the assurance 
he should find on his return that my time had not 
been misspent. 

" When I was left alone I found that I had no 
easy task to perform, for there were packets of 
writings to be examined which had not been 
looked at for the last forty years. But I did 
not pass a single day without working in the 
library as long as I could read a letter without 
candle-light, and taking with me papers to copy, 
etc., which employed me for the best part of the 
night, and thus I was enabled to give my brother a 
clear account of what had been done at his return." 

On the 4th of July, 1819, Herschel sent a note 
to his dear co-worker. " Lina, There is a great 
comet. I want you to assist me. Come to dine 
and spend the day here. If you can come soon 
after one o'clock we shall have time to prepare 


maps and telescopes. I saw its situation last 
night, it has a long tail." 

Caroline wrote on this small slip of yellow 
paper : " I keep this as a relic ! Every line now 
traced by the hand of my dear brother becomes a 
treasure to me." 

Every day hereafter she spent the forenoon with 
Sir William. On the 15th of August she went as 
usual and found that he was confined to his room. 
" I flew there immediately," she says. " As soon as 
he saw me, I was sent to the library to fetch one 
of his last papers and a plate of the forty-foot tele- 
scope. But for the universe I could not have 
looked twice at what I had snatched from the 
shelf, and when he faintly asked if the breaking 
up of the Milky Way was in it, I said ' Yes ! ' and 
he looked content. I cannot help remembering 
this circumstance, it was the last time I was sent 
to the library on such an occasion. That the anx- 
ious care for his papers and workroom never ended 
but with his life was proved by his frequent 
whispered inquiries if they were locked and 
the key safe, of which I took care to assure him 
that they were, and the key in Lady Herschel's 

"After half an hour's vain attempt to support 
himself, my brother was obliged to consent to be 
put to bed, leaving no hope ever to see him rise again. 
Eor ten days and nights we remained in the most 
heart-rending situation till the 25th of August, 
when not one comfort was left to me but that of 


retiring to the chamber of death, there to ruminate 
without interruption on my isolated situation. Of 
this last solace I was robbed on the 7th of Septem- 
ber, when the dear remains were consigned to the 

Faithful and devoted watcher over his dead 
body, to the last ! When he had been buried in 
the little church at Upton, Windsor, at the age of 
eighty-four, honored by all Europe and America, 
Caroline could live no longer where remembrance 
of him made it intolerable. 

She went back to Hanover, " a person," she said, 
sadly, " that has nothing more to do in this world," 
to live with her brother Dietrich. She had come 
to England, a girl of twenty-two ; she went back 
an elderly woman, seventy-two. The home in Ger- 
many did not prove a happy one, but how could it 
without William ? She lived simply, not spending 
half of the five hundred dollars a year left her by 
her dead brother. 

She had already published " A Catalogue of eight 
hundred and sixty Stars, observed by Flamsteed, 
but not included in the British Catalogue," and " A 
General Index of Reference to every Observation 
of every star in the above mentioned British Cata- 
logue." She also prepared " The Reduction and 
Arrangement, in the form of a Catalogue in Zones, 
of all the Star Clusters and Nebulae observed by 
Sir William Herschel in his Sweeps," "a work," 
said Sir David Brewster, "of immense labor; an 
extraordinary monument of the unextinguished 


ardor of a lady of seventy-live in the cause of 
abstract science." 

For this the Royal Astronomical Society voted 
her the gold medal, and gave her the unusual dis- 
tinction of honorary membership. 

Sixteen years after her return to Hanover, Sir 
John Herschel, her nephew, who had made his 
wonderful review of the southern heavens, dis- 
covering as many new nebulae as his father, took 
his only boy, Willie, to see her. 

She was now eighty-eight. The visit was over- 
whelming to her affectionate heart. She watched 
the child with the most intense delight. Fearing 
the results if she knew the time of their departure 
for England, Sir John, with mistaken kindness, 
went away at four o'clock in the morning, without 
saying good-by. But the anguish of separation was 
thereby rendered greater. 

The years went by slowly. On her ninety-sixth 
birthday the King of Prussia sent her a gold 
medal, Alexander von Humboldt writing her a let- 
ter from Berlin to accompany it. 

January 14, 1848, at the age of almost ninety- 
eight, Caroline Herschel died, and was buried from 
the same garrison church where nearly a century 
before she had been christened. In her coffin was 
placed, by her desire, a lock of her brother's hair. 
Beautiful affection ! great co-workers in their im- 
mortal study of unnumbered worlds ! 



THE great Agassiz, in his eloquent address, in 
Boston, on the hundreth anniversary of the 
birth of Humboldt, said : " All the fundamental 
facts of popular education in physical science, be- 
yond the merest elementary instruction, we owe 
to him. We are reaping daily in eveiy school 
throughout the broad land, where education is the 
heritage of the poorest child, the intellectual har- 
vest sown by him. 

" There is not a text-book of geography, or a school 
atlas in the hands of our children to-day, which 
does not bear, however blurred and defaced, the 
impress of his great mind. But for him our geog- 
raphies would be mere enumerations of localities 
and statistics. He first suggested the graphic 
methods of representing natural phenomena which 
are now \iniversally adopted. The first geological 
sections, the first sections across an entire conti- 
nent, the first averages of climate illustrated by 
lines, were his. Every school-boy is familiar with 
his methods now, but he does not know that Hum- 
boldt is his teacher. ..." 

Naturally we ask how such a man rose to fame, 


and what incited him to stand among the few 
intellectual leaders of the world. 

Frederick William Henry Alexander von Hum- 
boldt was born September 14, 1769, in Berlin, the 
same year as Baron Cuvier. Unlike Cuvier, he 
came into a home of wealth and culture. His father 
was a Prussian officer and chamberlain to the king. 
His mother, the widow of Baron von Hollwede, 
married Major von Humboldt when he was forty- 
six years old, bringing into the family much landed 
property. Three children were born to them^ a 
daughter who died in infancy, and the famous 
brothers, William and Alexander, the former two 
years older than the latter. 

The father, an exceedingly amiable and benevo- 
lent man, died when Alexander was but ten years 
old. The mother, left with her two sons, was wise 
enough to select superior tutors for them, deeming 
a good education their best preparation for a useful 

Much of their time was spent at their summer 
home at Tegel, on the banks of the Havel, about eight 
miles from Berlin. In 1778 Goethe went there for 
a visit, and the two Humboldt lads, nine and eleven 
years of age, played and talked with the leading 
mind of Germany. 

The children were not altogether happy there, as 
Alexander wrote a friend years afterward. " Vine- 
clad hills which here we call mountains, extensive 
plantations of foreign trees, the meadows surround- 
ing the house, and lovely views of the lake with its 


picturesque banks awaiting the beholder at every 
turn, render this place undoubtedly one of the most 
attractive residences in the neighborhood. If, in 
addition, you picture to yourself the high degree of 
luxury and taste that reigns in our home, you will 
indeed be surprised when I tell you that I never 
visit this place without a certain feeling of melan- 
choly. ... I passed most of that unhappy time 
(my youthful days) here at Tegel, among people 
who loved me, and showed me kindness, but with 
whom I had not the least sympathy, where I was 
subjected to a thousand restraints and much self- 
imposed solitude, and where I was often placed in 
circumstances that obliged me to maintain a close 
reserve, and to make continual self-sacrifices. 

" Now that I am my own master, and living here 
without restraint, I am unable to yield myself to 
the charms of which nature is here so prodigal, be- 
cause I am met at every turn by painful recollec- 
tions of my childhood, which even the inanimate 
objects around me are continually awakening. Sad 
as such recollections are, however, they are inter- 
esting from the thought that it was just my resi- 
dence here which exercised so powerful an influence 
in the formation of my character and the direction 
of my tastes to the study of nature." 

Much which seems trying and unsatisfactory is, 
after all, our best discipline for life. The strong- 
est and noblest characters are not developed in the 
perpetual sunshine of happiness. Eain and sun 
are alike necessary for growth. 


Alexander early showed great fondness for nat- 
ural history, collecting flowers, plants, butterflies, 
shells, and stones, so that he was called the " Little- 
Apothecary." He likewise found great delight in 
drawing. He says of himself: "Until I reached 
the age of sixteen, I showed little inclination for 
scientific pursuits. I was of a restless disposition, 
and wished to be a soldier. This choice was dis- 
pleasing to my family, who were desirous that I 
should devote myself to the study of finance, so 
that I had no opportunity of attending a course of 
botany or chemistry ; I am self-taught in almost 
all the sciences with which I am now so occupied, 
and I acquired them comparatively late in life. Of 
the science of botany I never so much as heard till 
I formed the acquaintance in 1788 of Herr Willde- 
now, a youth of my own age, who had just been 
publishing a Flora of Berlin. His gentle and 
amiable character stimulated the interest I felt in 
his pursuits. I never received any lessons pro- 
fessedly, but I used to bring him the specimens 
I collected, and he gave me their classifications. I 
became passionately devoted to botany, and took 
especial interest in the study of cryptogamia. The 
sight of exotic plants, even when only as dried 
specimens in an herbarium, fired my imagination 
with the pleasure that would be derived from the 
view of a tropical vegetation in southern lands." 

At sixteen, then, the boy did not know for what 
he was best fitted in life. How important for 
young men and women to study themselves, and 


know their own tastes and capacities ! At nineteen 
he had never heard of botany, and yet he became 
one of the most distinguished of botanists ! 

The boy also longed to go to sea, not an unusual 
desire in restless and ambitious natures. But he 
was frail in body, and gave little evidence that he 
would ever be able to accomplish any of the things 
for which he longed. 

At nineteen he was ready for college, and with 
his brother entered at Frankfort-on-the-Oder. He 
gave his time largely to finance and political econ- 
omy, by his mother's desire, that he might be able 
to act in some capacity under the government. - 

At college, as ever after in life, he found one de- 
voted friend, who became his inseparable compan- 
ion. At Frankfort, it was Wegener, a young 
theologian, with a warm heart, and great zeal for 
knowledge. Nor did this friendship cease when 
he went to Gottingen some months later, for better 
opportunities in the study of science. He wrote to 
Wegener : " If God only spare us, nothing can 
break the bond between two friends who aje to each 
other more than brothers. . . . My fervent love and 
sincere friendship for you are as imperishable as 
the soul which gives them birth. . . . How happy, 
how inexpressibly happy should I be, if I had a 
friend like you by my side ! . . . I doubt not that 
among eight hundred men there must be some with 
whom I could form a friendship, but how long is it 
often before we find each other out ! Were not you 
and I acquainted for three months before we dis- 


covered how completely we were made one for the 
other ? To be without a friend, what an existence ! 
And where can I hope to find a friend whom I 
could place by your side in my affections ! " 

These words seem like those of a lover, or an 
affectionate woman, but they come from a mind 
that now, as in after years, towered like a giant oak 
in the trees of a forest. Beautiful union of brain 
and heart ! Such only makes an ideal character. 

Humboldt had already met Willdenow, and begun 
to love botany. Again he writes to Wegener : " I 
have just come in from a solitary walk in the 
Thiergarten," he was for a short time in Berlin, 
" where I have been seeking for mosses, lichens, 
and fungi, which are just now in perfection. How 
sad to wander about alone ! And yet there is 
something attractive in this solitude, when occu- 
pied with nature. ... I am collecting materials for 
a work on the various properties of plants, medi- 
cinal properties excepted; it is a work requiring 
such great research, and such a profound knowl- 
edge of botany, as to be far beyond my unassisted 
powers, and I am therefore endeavoring to enlist 
the cooperation of several of my friends. , . . Pray 
do not imagine that I am going to appear as an 
author forthwith ; I do not intend that shall hap- 
pen for the next ten years, and by that time I 
trust I shall have discovered something startlingiy 
new and important." 

Gb'ttingen was now at the height of its glory. 
Humboldt attended courses of lectures on archae- 


ology, on trade and commerce, on light, heat, and 
electricity, on agriculture, and on ancient tragic 
poets, under Heyne, of whom he said, " Heyne is 
undoubtedly the man to whom this century is the 
most deeply indebted ; to him we owe the spread 
of religious enlightenment, by means of the edu- 
cation and training he has instituted for young 
village school-masters ; to him is due the introduc- 
tion of a more liberal tone of thought, the estab- 
lishment of a literary archaeology, and the first 
association of the principles of aesthetics with the 
study of philology." 

Humboldt was also fond of Greek. He said, 
"The more I know of the Greek language, the 
more am I confirmed in my preconceived opinion, 
that it is the true foundation for all the higher 
branches of learning." 

With some friends, he soon founded the 
Philosophical Society, which, with the admirable 
libraries and museums at hand, became of great 
assistance to the students. 

The next year, 1790, he had become so interested 
in science, that he wrote Wegener : " I was away 
from Gottingen for two months, spending the 
vacation in making a scientific tour with a Herr 
van Genns, a Dutchman with whom I became ac- 
quainted through his writings on botanical sub- 
jects. . . . Amid the numberless distractions of the 
journey, which was made sometimes on foot and 
sometimes by carriage, and with the incessant 
occupation of packing up minerals and plants, 


I was not very well able to write to you." The 
result of this tour was a pamphlet, " Mineralogical 
Observations on some Basalts of the Rhine." His 
next works were two small treatises, " The Aqueous 
Origin of Basalt," and "The Metallic Seams in 
the Basalt at Unkel." And this youth of twenty- 
one was self-taught both in mineralogy and geology ! 

The wonder was not so great, perhaps, that a 
young man of his age should have written these 
sketches, as that, being wealthy and of the best 
social position, the temptations to ease and enjoy- 
ment did not draw him away from such subjects. 
Poverty may not be a delight, but the larger part 
of the world's work has been done under its stimu- 
lus. Wealth should be an incentive, because it 
gives leisure for careful study, but this is not 
always the case. 

At Gb'ttingen, Humboldt found a friend among 
the eight hundred. At the house of Heyne he 
made the acquaintance of George Foster, Heyne's 
son-in-law, a man who exerted a remarkable and 
lasting influence over him. Foster was thirty- 
six; Humboldt, fifteen years his junior. He had 
been around the world with Captain Cook in his 
second voyage, and had published an able book 
upon the subject. He was skilled in chemistry, 
philosophy, literature, and politics, understood 
Latin, Greek, French, English, Dutch, and Italian, 
and was somewhat conversant with the Swedish, 
Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Polish lan- 


The influence of such a man can well be imag- 
ined. He became a guiding star to the young 
Gottingen student. If we could but estimate the 
value of right friendships in life ! We flatter our- 
selves that we are too strong to be influenced, and 
yet we are greatly influenced for good or for evil 
by those with whom we associate. Humboldt 
always chose intellectual friends, and the natural 
result followed. 

In the spring of 1790, he left Gottingen, and, 
with Foster and Van Genns. took a journey to the 
Lower Rhine, Holland, Belgium, England, and 
France, studying docks, mines, botanic gardens, 
manufactures, and churches, and visiting literary 
celebrities. Still the new friends did not take the 
place of the old, for he writes to Wegener : " I 
beseech you, dearest Wegener, by all the affection 
which you know I bear you, never to forget our 
brotherly love and friendship. You are infinitely 
more to me than I can ever be to you. I have now 
seen the most celebrated places in Germany, Hol- 
land, and England but, believe me, I have in 
seeing them never been so happy as while sitting 
in Steinbart's arm-chair." 

The influence of this journey was never lost. 
Sixty -eight years afterward, Humboldt said : " For 
the space of thirty years I have never known lei- 
sure but of an evening, and the half-century that I 
have spent in this ceaseless activity has been occu- 
pied in telling myself and others how much I owe 
my teacher and friend George Foster in the gener- 


alization of my views on nature, and in the 
strengthening and development of that which had 
already dawned in me, before those happy days of 
intimate friendship." 

In the latter part of 1790, Humboldt went to 
Hamburg, to enter the School of Commerce. He 
wished to study political economy further, and to 
learn practical book-keeping. He wrote to a friend : 
"I am contented with my mode of life at Hamburg, 
but not happy, less happy even than at Gottingen, 
where the monotony of my existence was relieved 
by the society of one or two friends and the vicin- 
ity of some moss-grown mountains. I am, however, 
always contented when I feel that I am accomplish- 
ing the purpose I have in view. . . . My leisure 
hours are occupied with geology and botany. . . . 
In addition, I have begun to learn Danish and 

To Wegener he writes: "I have made consider- 
able progress in general information, and I am 
beginning to be somewhat more satisfied with my 
attainments. I worked very hard at Gottingen, 
but all I have learned makes me feel only the 
more keenly how much remains still to know. 
My health suffered severely, but improved some- 
what during my journey with Foster; yet even 
here I continue so closely occupied that I find it 
difficult to spare myself. There is an eager im- 
pulse within me, which often carries me, I fear, 
beyond the bounds of reason; and yet such impet- 
uosity is always necessary to insure success." 


The "eager impulse" was a sure indication of 
something to be accomplished by and by. Success 
does not come with half-hearted effort; it comes 
only through a force and persistence that will 
allow no barriers between us and the goal. 

At Easter, 1791, Humboldt left Hamburg and 
hastened to the famous School of Mines at Frei- 
berg, to study under the celebrated Werner. Here, 
as ever, he attached one ardent friend to himself, 
Freiesleben, a student in geology. Here every 
moment was occupied. He studied the works of 
the French chemists ; Guytou de Moreau, Four- 
croy, Lavoisier, and Berthollet. He was daily in 
the mines, from six o'clock till twelve. He 
crowded six lectures into each afternoon. He 
made a study of the vegetation of that lower 
world, from which the sunlight is ever excluded, 
and the results were used later in his comprehen- 
sive work, " Flora Subterranea Fribergensis." He 
wrote articles for several scientific journals. A 
busy life, indeed, for the young man of twenty- 

His friend Freiesleben says of Humboldt at this 
time : 

"The salient points of his attractive character 
lay in his imperturbable good-nature, his benevo- 
lence and charity, his remarkable and unselfish 
amiability, his susceptibility of friendship and 
appreciation of nature ; simplicity, candor, and 
the absence of all pretension characterized his 
whole being ; he possessed conversational powers 


that made him always lively and entertaining, to- 
gether with a degree of wit and humor that led 
him sometimes to waggishness. It was these 
admirable qualities which in later years enabled 
him to soften and attach to himself the untutored 
savages, among whom he dwelt for months at 
a time, which obtained for him in the civilized 
world admiration and sympathy wherever he went, 
and which gained for him, while a mere student, 
the esteem and devotion of all classes at Freiberg. 

" He was kindly disposed towards every one, and 
knew how to make himself useful and entertaining 
in every circle of society ; and it was only against 
every species of inhumanity and coarseness, against 
every kind of insolence, injustice, or cruelty, that 
he ever manifested either scorn or indignation." 

How the world loves " unselfish amiability ; " a 
person who goes through life thinking for others, 
not irritable, not supersensitive, not censorious ! 
^ On Humboldt's return to Berlin in 1792, he was 
at once made " Assessor in the Administrative De- 
partment of Mines and Smelting Works," a posi- 
tion for which he had previously applied. As a 
rule, places do not seek persons, however brilliant ; 
they must seek places. 

This was a tine opening for a young man, not yet 
twenty-three. He went to work with unbounded 
energy. He investigated the general form of 
mountains, collected information as to former 
methods of working the mines, by having three 
chests of mining documents, belonging to the six- 


teenth century, brought to him for careful study, 
and made a report on the salt, alum, and vitriol 
works, and on the porcelain manufactory. The 
government authorities were so pleased with his 
thorough report that he was appointed superinten- 
dent of mines in the two Franconian duchies. 

He wrote to Freiesleben : " I am qiiite intoxicated 
with joy. ... Do not feel anxious about my health ; 
I shall take care not to over-exert myself, and after 
the first the work will not be heavy. I cannot con- 
clude without acknowledging that it is again to you 
that I am indebted for this happiness ; indeed I feel 
it only too keenly. What knowledge have I, dear 
Freiesleben, that has not been taught me by you ! . . . 
How sweet is the thought to me that it is to you 
that I owe all this ; it seems as if it bound me 
closer to you, as if I carried something about me 
that had been planted within me and cultivated by 
yourself. . . ." 

Thus all through life was the appreciative, warm- 
hearted man glad to show his gratitude for the 
stimulus of intellectual friends. 

Who does not love to be appreciated! How 
many of us wait to say kind things to our friends 
until death makes it impossible ! 

Again he wrote : " I possess a certain amount of 
vanity, and am willing to confess it ; but I know 
the power of my own will, and I feel that whatever 
I set myself to do I shall do well." 

While so earnestly engaged in study, Humboldt. 
with his benevolent heart, could not see the chil- 


dren of the miners grow up in ignorance. He 
therefore opened free schools for them, and paid 
the teachers from his own purse. Not many young 
men at twenty-four would have thought of so 
admirable a plan. 

Meantime he was experiencing the first keen joy 
of fame. The Elector of Saxony had sent the 
author of "Flora Fribergensis " a gold medal. 
The Swedish botanist Vahl had named a magnifi- 
cent species of an East Indian laurel after him, 
the laurifolia Humboldtia. It had paid to be a 
student ; to be led by the " eager impulse " within 

The next year he wrote to Freiesleben : 

"You are aware that I am quite mad enough to 
be engaged upon three books at once. ... I have 
discovered several new lichens. I have also been 
occupied upon the history of the weaving of the 
ancients. . . . My head is quite distracted with all 
I have to attend to mining, banking, manufac- 
turing, and organizing; . . . the mines, however, 
are prospering. ... I am promoted to be counsel- 
lor of mines at Berlin, with a salary, probably, of 
fifteen hundred thalers (here I have four hundred), 
and, after remaining there a few months, I shall 
most likely be appointed director of mines, either 
in Westphalia or Kothenburg, and receive from 
two thousand to three thousand thalers. I tell 
you everything, and open my heart to you." 

In 1795, having resigned his position in the ser- 
vice of the state, because of his desire for travel 


and scientific work, with two friends, Freiesleben, 
and Lieutenant Beinhard von Haften, of West- 
phalia, he journeyed to Venice, going through the 
Tyrol and the Alps into Switzerland. They visited 
the mountains around Schaffhausen, Zurich, and 
Berne, and such notable men of science as De Luc, 
Pictet, and Saussure. As Freiesleben said, "No 
subject having any reference to the physical con- 
stitution of the earth, the atmosphere, or any 
point of natural history, was allowed to escape his 

An especial bond united Huinboldt and the 
highly educated Von Haften, since between the 
latter's sister Minette and the young scientist there 
existed a devoted affection. This was cherished 
for ten years, but Huniboldt's life of travel and 
exposure prevented a union which both ardently 
desired. He sacrificed his affections to science, 
and the loneliness of his later years proved the 
unwisdom of his choice. 

On his return home, Huinboldt set himself ear- 
nestly to the writing of two books : one on geol- 
ogy, the disposition of strata in mountain masses ; 
the other on the " Excitability of the Nerves and 
Muscles," describing over four thousand experi- 
ments. His devotion to science was shown by 
the painful experiments upon his own body, which 
brought permanent harm, to his nervous system. 

He wrote to a friend : " I applied two blisters to 
my back, each of the size of a crown-piece, and 
covering respectively the trapezius and deltoid 


muscles. . . . When the blisters were cut, and con- 
tact made with zinc and silver, I experienced a 
sharp pain, which was so severe that the trapezius 
muscle swelled considerably, and the quivering 
was communicated upwards to the base of the 
skull and the spinous processes of the vertebrae." 

He also experimented with the noxious gases in 
mines, inventing lamps which were the forerunner 
of Sir Humphrey Davy's. Sometimes he was 
deprived of consciousness by the gases and saved 
only by the timely aid of friends. 

Always longing for foreign travel, he went to 
Weimar, to make himself more fully ready for it, 
especially by the study of anatomy. Here lived 
his brother William, who had married a brilliant 
and intellectual woman, the intimate friend of 
the wife of Schiller. 

Here Humboldt and Goethe became earnest 
friends. Goethe says : " During Humboldt's visit, 
my time has been usefully and agreeably spent ; 
his presence has had the effect of arousing from its 
winter sleep my taste for natural science." Years 
afterward Goethe said to Eckermann : " Alexander 
von Humboldt has been with me for some hours 
this morning ; what an extraordinary man he is ! 
Though I have known him for so long, I am always 
struck with fresh amazement in his company. He 
may be said to be without a rival in extent of 
information and acquaintance with existing sci- 
ences. He possesses, too, a versatility of genius 
which I have never seen equalled. Whatever may 


be the subject broached, he seems quite at home in 
it, and showers upon us treasures in profusion 
from his stores of knowledge. He resembles a 
living fountain, whence flow many streams, yield- 
ing to all comers a quickening and refreshing 
draught. He will remain here a few days, and 
I already feel that I shall have lived through years 
in the time." 

That Humboldt valued this friendship is shown 
by the dedication to Goethe of the first part of his 
" Travels in America." 

The project of foreign travel was long delayed 
by sickness, war, and various disappointments. 
But, in life, obstacles are the common lot of mor- 
tals, and he alone is wise who breasts them cheer- 
fully, patiently, and persistently. Humboldt said, 
<< It is impossible not to feel the severity of this 
disappointment; but it is the part of a man to 
work, and not to yield to unavailing regrets." 

" Hard ! well, and what of that ? 

Didst fancy life one summer holiday, 

With lessons none to learn, and naught but play ? 

Go, get thee to thy task. Conquer or die ! 

It must be learned. Learn it then, patiently." 

At last, in 1799, when Humboldt was thirty, the 
long contemplated journey to South America was 
about to be realized. He had already published 
some astronomical treatises on the determination 
of latitudes, trigonometrical measures of the Alpine 
ranges, etc. ; had given lectures in Paris, before 


the National Institute, on the nature of nitrous 
gas, and the possibility of a more exact analysis of 
the atmosphere ; and had spent some time in Spain, 
with the well known botanist Bonpland, in collect- 
ing plants, and making observations in connection 
with meteorology, geology, and magnetism. While 
at Madrid, through Herr von Forell, a distin- 
guished patron of science, Humboldt was received 
at court and obtained permission of the king to 
visit the Spanish colonies in America. 

At his own expense,the best scientific instruments 
were procured, and June 5, 1799, at two o'clock in 
the afternoon, he and Bonpland, with their crew 
and a few others, sailed away, in the corvette Pi- 
zarro, for a five years' journey. He sent tender 
farewell messages back to " his family," as he 
called William's children, and then stifled any feel- 
ings of loneliness or homesickness which he had in 
his heart, by his favorite motto, "Man must ever 
strive after all that is good and great." 

June 20, they were at the foot of the Peak of Ten- 
eriffe. He wrote to his brother : " I am quite in a 
state of ecstasy at finding myself at length on 
African soil, surrounded by cocoa-nut palms and 
bananas. ... I returned last night from an excur- 
sion up the peak. What an amazing scene ! What 
a gratification ! We descended some way into the 
crater, perhaps farther than any previous scientific 
traveller. . . . What a remarkable spectacle was 
presented to us at this height of eleven thousand five 
hundred feet. ... At two in the morning we were 


already on our way towards the last cone. The 
heavens were bright with stars, and the moon shone 
with a gentle radiance ; but this calm was soon to 
be disturbed. The storm raged violently round 
the summit ; we were obliged to cling fast to the 
edge of the crater. The wind rushed through the 
rifts with a noise like thunder, while a veil of 
cloud separated us from the world below." 

After a voyage of nineteen days, the ship entered 
the harbor of Cumana, on the north coast of South 
America. Here they enjoyed the new and strange 
scenes ; the houses built of satin-wood ; the cop- 
per-colored Indians outside the town, living in 
bamboo huts, covered with the leaves of the cocoa- 
nut palm ; these great trees from fifty to sixty feet 
high, with large red bunches of flowers. " Even 
the crabs," said Humboldt, " are sky-blue and gold ! " 

By November they had dried more than sixteen 
hundred plants, and described about six hundred 
new varieties. He had taken observations of the 
solar eclipse of October 28, and so severely burnt 
his face that he was obliged to remain in bed for 
two days. 

Going to Caracas, they spent two months and a 
half climbing mountains, visiting hot springs, and 
forming an intimate acquaintance with tigers, croc- 
odiles, monkeys, and boa constrictors. Here they 
discovered the singular cow-tree, with dry and tough 
leaves, but which gives out a sweet nourishing milk 
when an incision is made in its stem. " At sunrise 
this vegetable spring is the richest : then the 


negroes and the natives come from all sides, pro- 
vided with large vessels to collect the milk, which 
turns yellow and thickens on the surface." 

In February, 1800, the travellers traced the 
water system of the Orinoco, often in the midst 
of danger. Once, in a severe storm, their boat was 
two-thirds full of water. " Our position," says 
Humboldt, " was truly appalling ; the shore was 
distant from us more than a mile, where a number 
of crocodiles could be discerned lying half out of 
the water. Even if we had gained the shore 
against the fury of the waves and the voracity of 
the crocodiles, we should infallibly have either per- 
ished from hunger or been torn in pieces by the 
tigers, for the woods upon these shores are so 
dense and so intertwined with lianas as to be abso- 
lutely impenetrable. The strongest man, axe in 
hand, could hardly make his way in twenty days 
for the distance of a league. The river too is so 
little frequented that even an Indian canoe scarcely 
passes oftener than once in two months. At this 
most momentous and perilous crisis a gust of wind 
filled the sails of our little vessel and effected in a 
marvellous manner our deliverance." 

To his botanist friend, Willdenow, he writes : 
"During four months of this journey we passed 
the night in forests, surrounded by crocodiles, boa 
constrictors, and tigers, which are here bold enough 
to attack a canoe, while for food we had nothing 
better than rice, ants, bananas, and occasional^ 
the flesh of monkeys, with only the waters of the 


Orinoco wherewith to quench our thirst. Thus 
have we with difficulty toiled, our hands and faces 
swollen with mosquito bites, from Mondvaca to 
the volcano of Duida, from the limits of Quito to 
the frontier of Surinam through tracts of coun- 
try extending over twenty thousand square miles, 
in which no Indian is to be met with, and where 
the traveller encounters only apes or serpents. 

"In Guiana the mosquitoes abound in such 
clouds as to darken the air, and, as it is absolutely 
necessary to keep head and hands constantly cov- 
ered, no writing can be done by daylight ; the in- 
tolerable pain produced by the attacks of these 
insects renders it impossible to hold the pen steadily. 
All our work had therefore to be carried on by the 
light of a fire, in an Indian hut, where no ray of 
sunlight could penetrate, and into which we had to 
creep on our hands and knees. Here, if we escaped 
the torment of the mosquitoes, we were almost 
choked by the smoke. At Maypures, we and the 
Indians took refuge in the midst of the cascade, 
where the spray from the foaming stream kept off 
the insects. At Higuerote, the people are accus- 
tomed at night to lie buried three or four inches 
deep in sand, with only the head exposed." 

Sometimes twenty-four Indians were in Hum- 
boldt's employ for months together, and fourteen 
mules were required to carry his instruments and 

After a year and a half spent in South America, 
Humboldt sailed for Cuba, where he remained for 


several months, collecting material for his " Polit- 
ical Essay on the Island of Cuba." From there he 
went to Quito, in Ecuador, crossing one of the 
most difficult passes in the Andes, "the path so 
narrow that it rarely exceeds twelve or sixteen 
inches in width, and for the most part resembles 
an open gallery cut in the rock," and the Paramos 
of Pasto, "desert regions where, at a height of 
about twelve thousand feet above the sea, all vege- 
tation ceases, and the cold is so intense as to pene- 
trate to the very bones." 

In June, 1802, they reached Quito, where, five 
years previously, an earthquake had destroyed 
forty thousand people. This month they made 
the ascent of Chimborazo, at that time regarded as 
the highest mountain in the world. "At certain 
places," he says, "where it was very steep, we 
were obliged to use both hands and feet, and the 
edges of the rock were so sharp that we were 
painfully cut, especially on our hands." As they 
climbed on, " one after another, we all began to feel 
indisposed, and experienced a feeling of nausea 
accompanied by giddiness, which was far more 
distressing than the difficulty of breathing. . . . 
Blood exuded from the lips and gums, and the 
eyes became bloodshot. ... A few rock-lichens 
were to be observed above the line of perpetual 
snow, at a height of sixteen thousand nine hundred 
and twenty feet ; the last green moss we noticed 
was growing about twenty-six hundred feet lower. 
A butterfly was captured by M. Bonpland, at a 


height of fifteen thousand feet, and a fly was ob- 
served sixteen hundred feet higher. . . . When we 
were at a height of about seventeen thousand four 
hundred feet we encountered a violent hailstorm." 
The height of the mountain is over twenty-one 
thousand feet. 

The intrepid Humboldt four times crossed the 
Andes ; he travelled over Peru ; he called attention 
to the fertilizing properties of guano, and then he 
sailed for Mexico, where he remained for a year. 
Here he met a lady greatly esteemed in that coun- 
try, called the "fair Rodriguez," the most beauti- 
ful woman he had seen in his journeys, but whom 
he admired more " for her graces of mind than her 
beauty of person." He regarded her as an Ameri- 
can Madame de Stae'l. It is asserted that the 
grave man of science was deeply interested, but 
it was too late she was already the wife of an- 
other, and had two children. Humboldt, like 
most other great men, all his life enjoyed the 
society of intellectual women, who were a constant 

After two months passed at Havana, Humboldt 
came to the United States, spending three weeks 
with President Jefferson, at his home at Monticello. 
He never failed to speak in grateful terms of the 
courtesy he received from Americans. He studied 
carefully our institutions, and greatly admired the 
republic ; slavery alone saddened him. 

On July 9, 1804, after five years of absence, he 
set sail for France. Europe received him with 


universal joy. He had been reported dead. He 
was thirty-five, handsome, "and famous. He had 
travelled over forty thousand miles, and brought 
back over sixty thousand specimens of plants. He 
was made a member of the Royal Academy of 
Sciences in Berlin, and later a member of the 
Legion of Honor, and of about one hundred and 
fifty other societies; indeed, of all the great asso- 
ciations of the land. 

And now the result of his travels must be given 
to the world in books. While he was preparing 
them, he yet found time to spend months together 
in the Ecole Polytechnique, experimenting in 
chemistry with his devoted friend Gay-Lussac ; 
with Biot, he made investigations in magnetism ; 
with Arago, in astronomy ; with Cuvier, in an- 

Most of the time from 1808 to 1827, nineteen 
years, he remained in Paris, devoting his time to 
his great work. In the forenoons he usually 
studied and experimented: from twelve to seven 
he wrote, and then, if his evenings were spent 
socially, he wrote again from midnight till half- 
past two, usually allowing himself only four hours 
for sleep. So popular was he that he often went 
to five receptions in an evening. 

Year after year his works on America appeared, 
till twenty -nine volumes were published ! The first 
part was entitled, " Voyage in the Equatorial Regions 
of the New Continent." This described a portion of 
his journey in three volumes ; views of the Cordil- 


ieras and the native peoples of America, one volume 
with sixty plates ; an atlas of the new continent, 
with thirty-nine maps ; a critical examination of 
the history of the geography of the middle ages, in 
five volumes. The second part related largely to 
zoology and comparative anatomy in. the new re- 
gions ; the third part related chiefly to Mexico ; the 
fourth part to astronomical observations, measure- 
ment with the barometer, etc. ; the fifth part, 
geology, and the geography of plants ; the sixth 
part, plants in Mexico, Cuba, and South America, 
in two volumes, with nearly one hundred and fifty 
engravings ; two volumes more, with one hundred 
and twenty colored plates ; seven volumes of new 
species, with seven hundred engravings, and several 
other books. The expense of bringing out these 
works was enormous ; the copper-plate illustra- 
tions cost in printing and paper alone about one 
hundred and seventy thousand dollars. 

As the price of the volumes was about twenty- 
seven hundred dollars, the number of purchasers 
was comparatively limited. Humboldt had used 
all his fortune in his journeys and in publishing 
his books, and was now a poor man, dependent 
upon a pension from his king. But he was the 
pride of his nation, and beloved in France as 

Humboldt and Guizot were like brothers, and 
for forty years corresponded affectionately with 
each other. Arago he held "dearest in this life." 
His last letter to Arago, " small in size but so full 


of matter," was the greatest comfort to the dying- 

During all these busy twenty years he had honors 
heaped upon him. He was offered the position of 
Ambassador to Vienna, but declined. He accom- 
panied the King of Prussia to England in 1814, 
and was with him at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle 
and at the Congress of Verona. 

Busy as he was, he seemed to find time to be- 
friend everybody, especially young men. Liebig 
says in the preface of his work dedicated to Hum. 
boldt : " During my residence in Paris, I gave a 
course of lectures at the Academy in the winter of 
1823-4, upon an analytic investigation of Howard's 
fulminating mercury and silver my first effort 
in the field of science. 

" At the close of the sitting of March 22, 1824, 
while busy packing up my apparatus, a gentleman 
came up to me from among a' group of academi- 
cians, and entered into conversation. In the most 
winning manner, he made inquiry as to the objects 
of my study, my present occupations, and the 
plans I had laid for the future. We separated 
without my knowing to whom I was indebted for 
this kind expression of interest, for my shyness 
and inexperience had not allowed me to make the 

"This conversation laid the foundation of my 
future career, for I thus acquired a kind friend 
and a powerful patron in my scientific undertak- 
ings. . . . 


"From that time all doors were thrown open to 
me, I had access to every institution and every 
laboratory : the great interest you took in me pro- 
cured the love and intimate friendship of my 
instructors, Gay-Lussac, Dulong, and Thenard, to 
all of whom I became deeply attached. The con- 
fidence which you accorded me was the means of 
my introduction into a sphere of labor which dur- 
ing the last sixteen years it has ever been my 
ambition worthily to occupy." 

When Agassiz was a poor medical student in 
Paris, Humboldt visited him. Agassiz says : 

" After a cordial greeting, he walked straight to 
what was then iny library a small book-shelf 
containing a few classics, the meanest editions, 
bought for a trifle, along the quays, some works on 
philosophy and history, chemistry and physics, his 
own ' Aspects of Nature,' ' Aristotle's Zoology,' 
'Linnaeus' Systema Naturae,' in several editions, 
'Cuvier's Kegne Animal,' and quite a number of 
manuscript quartos, copies which, with the assist- 
ance of my brother, I had made of works I was too 
poor to buy, though they cost but a few francs a 
volume. . . . 

" It was no doubt apparent to him that I was not 
over-familiar with the good things of this world, 
for I shortly afterward received an invitation to 
meet him at six o'clock in the Galerie Vitree of the 
Palais Royal, whence he led me into one of those 
restaurants the tempting windows of which I had 
occasionally passed by. When we were seated, he 


half laughingly, half inquiringly, asked me whether 
I would order the dinner. I declined the invita- 
tion, saying that we should fare better if he would 
take the trouble. And for three hours, which 
passed like a dream, I had him all to myself. 
How he examined me, and how much I learned in 
that short time ! How to work, what to do, and 
what to avoid ; how to live ; how to distribute my 
time ; what methods of study to pursue ; these 
were the things of which he talked to me on that 
delightful evening." 

Noble Humboldt ! so great that everybody hon- 
ored and looked up to him ; so kindly interested 
in others that everybody loved him ! 

In 1827, at the request of his king, Humboldt 
returned to Berlin, and became chamberlain, with 
a yearly salary of five thousand thaler s. He gave 
this year, before the university, a course of free, 
public lectures upon physical geography, sixty- 
nine in all, which afterwards formed the basis of 
his grandest work, "Cosmos." The first four lec- 
tures were a general description of nature ; then 
astronomy, the principal outlines of geology and 
meteorology, the distribution of plants and animals, 
the history of the study of our globe, volcanoes, 
the ocean, the atmosphere, and the human race. 

The lectures were crowded and the applause 
unexampled. A second course, of sixteen lectures, 
was given to the public in the music hall, the 
royal family coming with the thousands who gath- 
ered each evening. 


A grand way to educate the people ! Would that 
at the expense of some philanthropist such a 
course might be given in every city. 

In 1829, at the request of Emperor Nicholas, 
Humboldt made a scientific expedition to eastern 
Russia, travelling over nine thousand miles in 
twenty-five weeks. He was now in his sixtieth 
year, but he climbed high mountains with no 
apparent fatigue. 

The emperor was delighted with the results of 
the expedition, which were published in several 
volumes. He said, "Your sojourn in Russia has 
been the cause of immense progress to my coun- 
try; you spread a life-giving influence wherever 
you go." He presented Humboldt with a sable 
cloak worth five thousand rubles, and a malachite 
vase seven feet high, worth nearly forty thousand 

The death of friends saddened this busy year, 
1829. William's wife had died, and left him 
utterly desolate. In his ministry to several coun- 
tries, she had honored and graced his diplomatic 
positions. He did not long survive her. " Wholly 
given up to grief," said Alexander, "he seeks in 
the depth of his misery the only consolation that 
can render life supportable, while he occupies 
himself with intellectual pursuits as with the 
drudgery of a task." 

He died four years later, tenderly watched over 
by his illustrious brother, to whom he said in 
dying, " Think of me of^ten, but always with cheer- 


fulness. I have been very happy, and even to-day 
has been a glorious day with me, for there is noth- 
ing more beautiful than love. I shall soon be with 
the mother, and enter upon a higher order of being." 

This death was a great blow to Alexander. He 
said, " I am quite bereft of hope. I did not think 
that my old eyes could have shed so many tears. 
... I am the unhappiest of men. ... I have lost 
half of myself." A few months later William's 
eldest daughter, Caroline, died, to whom Alexander 
was tenderly attached. From henceforth his life 
was devoted to his sovereign Frederick William IV., 
to " Cosmos," and to his ever widening circle of 
friends. Two thousand letters or more came to 
him yearly, and till late in life he answered each 
one, and answered it promptly, showing thereby 
how truly well bred he was in manner, and how 
truly kind in heart. 

In 1834, when he was sixty-five, he began the 
publication of " Cosmos," in five volumes, the "most 
comprehensive compendium of modern science." It 
was soon translated into English, meeting with a 
cordial reception in that country, and into French, 
Dutch, and Italian. 

Even at the age of sixty-five, so eager was he to 
know more that he attended courses of lectures on 
Grecian antiquities and literature, and upon chem- 
istry, taking notes among the young university 
students. He now lived with the king, at Sans- 
Souci, spending every evening with him, and be- 
coming the confidential friend of both king and 


queen. When Humboldt was ill, the king would 
read to him by the hour. 

Frederick William IV. conferred on him the 
decoration of the Star of the Red Eagle, the Order 
of the Black Eagle, the highest honor in the royal 
'power to confer, and the Order of Merit, given to 
those " who throughout Europe have won for them- 
selves a name either in the arts or sciences." 

Till the last years of his life Humboldt showed 
the same marvellous energy and industry. At 
eighty he said, " I am more than ever filled with a 
zest for work and literary distinction." When he 
wrote to friends for information in finishing " Cos- 
mos," he asked for speedy answers, saying, "The 
dead ride fast." On the fortieth anniversary of his 
return to Europe, a fete was given in his honor, by 
the Berlin Academy. Later his bust was placed in 
the French Institute. The freedom of the city of 
Berlin was presented to him. America sent him 
in 1858, on his eighty-ninth birthday, an album 
of nine maps, showing the scores of towns, coun- 
ties, rivers, bays, and mountains which had received 
his name. Letters came from all parts of the 
world, breathing love and admiration. Yet, with 
all this honor, he was often lonely, and spoke of 
the ennui of life. After the regency, Humboldt 
lived at Berlin, in an unostentatious home, with his 
attendant, Seifert. 

On May 6, 1859, at half-past two in the after- 
noon, death came to Alexander von Humboldt, at 
the age of ninety. His mind was clear to the last. 


All ranks gathered at the public funeral, for all, 
from king to peasant, had lost a friend. With un- 
covered head, the Prince Kegent received the pro- 
cession at the door of the cathedral, amid the toll- 
ing of the bells, and then they buried him at the 
summer home of his childhood, Tegel, by the side 
of William. 

A new edition of his select works, including 
" Cosmos," was published in Stuttgart, in 1874, in 
thirty-six volumes. 

Great in learning, great in achievement, great in 
will-power; unwise sometimes in utterance, as in 
the Varnhagen letters how seldom is it safe or 
wise to express our inmost thoughts ; sarcastic 
sometimes in his language a dangerous power; to 
be used sparingly, if indeed ever, and yet withal 
a noble, unselfish, marvellous-minded man, who, 
as Agassiz says, " exerted upon science a personal 
influence which is incalculable." 



COLERIDGE said, "Had not Davy been the 

Vy first chemist, he probably would have been 
the first poet of his age." 

Said Professor Silliman's "American Journal of 
Science and Arts : " " His reputation is too inti- 
mately associated with the eternal laws of nature to 
suffer decay ; and the name of Davy, like those of 
Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton, which grow 
greener by time, will descend to the latest pos- 

Davy was poor and self-taught, but he triumphed 
over obstacles, and died universally lamented. 

The eldest son in a family of five children, Hum- 
phrey Davy was born at Penzance, Cornwall, Eng- 
land, December 17, 1778, the year in which Carl 
Linnaeus died. He was a bright, active child, 
making rhymes when he was five years old, and 
renitjng them at the Christmas gatherings. In 
consequence of his retentive memory, he could 
repeat a great part of " Pilgrim's Progress " before 
he could read it. This book and " JSsop's Fables " 
were his favorites. 

When Humphrey was six, he was sent to a gram- 
mar school kept by Rev. Mr. Coryton, a man who 


had the vicious habit of punishing by pulling the 
pupils' ears. On one occasion, Humphrey came to 
school with a large plaster on each ear. Upon 
being asked what was the matter, he said, with a 
grave face, that he had "put the plasters on to 
prevent a mortification ! " 

As he grew older, he composed Latin and Eng- 
lish verses easily, and was in great demand among 
the boys as a writer of valentines and love-letters. 
Though shy in manner, with his vivid imagination 
and flow of language, he told stories remarkably 
well, and might have been seen, often, in a cart at 
the Star Inn, addressing a most attentive audience. 

Says his brother, Dr. John Davy, " Humphrey, 
when a boy, was fond of declaiming, and indulged 
in it in his solitary Avalks and rambles. On one 
occasion it is recorded of him, that, on his way to 
visit a poor patient in the country (during his ap- 
prenticeship), in the fever of declamation, he threw 
out of his hand a vial of medicine which he had to 
administer, and that when he arrived at the bed- 
side of the poor woman he was surprised at the 
loss of it. The potion was found the next day in 
a hay-field adjoining the path." 

When Humphrey was fourteen he attended the 
Truro Grammar School for a year, where he was 
greatly liked for his good-humor, affectionate dis- 
position, and originality. Says Mr. Nicholls, a 
school friend, "I can never forget that as boys 
we knew and loved each other. I recollect a visit 
he paid in company with his aunt at my father's, 


who then resided at Lanarth. He was a great 
favorite; but there was even then an original 
mode of thinking and acting observable in him, 
one instance of which I well remember ; it was 
on rather a hot day, when my father, mother, your 
aunt, Humphrey, and myself, were to walk to a 
place a mile or two distant, I forget for what pur- 
pose. Whilst others complained of the heat, and 
whilst I unbuttoned my waistcoat, Humphrey ap- 
peared with his great-coat close-buttoned up to his 
chin, for the purpose, as he declared, of keeping 
out the heat. This was laughed at at the time, but 
it struck me then, as it appears to me now, as 
evincing originality of thought and an indisposition 
to be led by the example of others." 

At fifteen his school education was considered 
complete. The next year he studied French, gave 
a good deal of time to fishing, of which he was 
always fond, and apparently had little definite pur- 
pose. About this time his father died, and the 
straitened circumstances of the family now seemed 
to awaken all the energy and nobility of his nature. 
Seeing his mother in deep affliction, he begged her 
not to grieve, saying that " he would do all he co^ld 
for his brothers and sisters." And he never forgot 
this promise. 

The following year he was apprenticed to Mr. 
Bingham Borlase, practising surgeon and apothe- 
cary in Penzance. Young Davy now seemed des- 
tined to become a physician, but* his note-books 
show that he intended to know other things besides 


medicine. He laid out a plan for study : theology, 
logic, astronomy, mathematics, Latin, Greek, Ital- 
ian, Spanish, and Hebrew. 

He said later, "Almost all great deeds arise from 
a plenitude of hope or desire. No man ever had 
genius who did not aim to execute more than he 
was able." And all his life he planned to do twice 
as much as he was ever able to do. And yet he 
knew that he must bind himself to &few things, if 
he would succeed. He said, "In minds of great 
power, there is usually a disposition to variety of 
pursuits, and they often attempt all branches of 
letters and science, and even the imitative arts ; 
but if they become truly eminent, it is by devotion 
to one object at a time, or at most two objects. 
This sort of general pOAver is like a profusion of 
blossoms on a fruit tree, a symptom of health and 
strength ; but if all are suffered to become fruit, all 
are feeble and bad; if the greater portion is de- 
stroyed by accident or art, the remainder, being 
properly nourished, become healthy, large, and 
good." In these early note-books, he began to 
show an unusual and mature mind. He wrote 
essays: "On the Immortality and the Immateri- 
ality of the Soul," " On Governments," " On Moral 
Obligation," and the like. Of Friendship, he wrote 
at seventeen : " It is a composition of the noblest 
passions of the mind ; a just taste and love of vir- 
tue, good-sense, a thorough candor and benignity 
of heart, and a generous sympathy of sentiment 
and affections, are the essential ingredients of this 


nobler passion. When it originates from love and 
esteem, is strengthened by habit, and mellowed by 
time, it yields infinite pleasure, ever new and 
ever growing. It is the best support amongst the 
numerous trials and vicissitudes of life, and gives 
a relish to most of our enjoyments. What can be 
imagined more comfortable than to have a friend to 
console us in afflictions, to advise ^with us in doubt- 
ful cases, and share our felicity ? ... It exalts our 
nobler passions, and weakens our evil inclinations ; 
it assists us to run the race of virtue with a steady 
and undeviating course. From loving, esteeming, 
and endeavoring to felicitate particular people, a 
more general passion will arise for the whole of 

He finishes this essay with an allegory. God is 
described as deliberating with the angels on the pro- 
priety of creating woman. Justice, Peace, and Vir- 
tue plead against her creation, as through her Adam 
will be driven out of Paradise. Then Divine Love 
stands before Jehovah, her countenance covered 
with smiles. "Create her," she says, " for Paradise 
itself will afford no delight to man without woman. 
She will be the" cause of his misery, but she will 
likewise be the cause of all his happiness. She will 
console him in affliction; she will comfort and har- 
monize his soul ; she will wipe the tears from his 
eyes, and compose the fury of his passions. Her 
friendship shall make him virtuous, and her love 
shall make him happy ; and, lastly, the tree of their 
transgression, and the plant of immortality, nour- 


ished by the blood of her son, shall flourish, and 
grow out of Paradise, and overspread the earth : 
man shall eat of their fruit, and be immortal and 

All through these early note-books are scattered 
his poems, showing a passion for the blue sea at 
Penzance, and an unbounded love of nature. 

Just as he was entering his nineteenth year, 
young Davy began the study of chemistry, as a 
branch of his profession. He read "Lavoisier's 
Elements of Chemistry," and" "Nicholson's Dic- 
tionary of Chemistry." Suddenly a new world 
seemed to open before him. He began to think 
for himself, and to make experiments. As his 
means were limited, his apparatus consisted of 
vials, wine-glasses, tea-cups, tobacco-pipes, and 
earthen crucibles. 

His first experiments were the effects of acids 
and alkalies on vegetable colors, the kind of air 
in the vesicles of common seaweed, and the solu- 
tion and precipitation of metals. These were 
made in his bedroom in Mr. Tonkin's house, or in 
the kitchen, when he required fire. This old 
gentleman had brought up his mother and her 
two orphan sisters, and now was like a father to 
Humphrey. He said, "This boy, Humphrey, is 
incorrigible. Was there ever so idle a dog ! He 
will blow us all into the air." He was at this time 
probably making a detonating composition, which 
he called "thunder power," his sister Kitty being 
his assistant. 



At this time, a young man came to board at the 
house of Mrs. Davy, Gregory Watt, the only child 
of James Watt, the inventor of the steam-engine. 
He was the idol of his parents ; possessed of a 
mind so unusual in its passionate love for knowl- 
edge, and a nature so companionable, that every- 
body loved him. He was twenty -one, and Hum- 
phrey nineteen. 

Between these two young men there grew a most 
ardent and lasting friendship ; lasting because it 
had the only sure foundation, moral and mental 
worth. They were always together. They visited 
the neighboring mines and mountains, and came 
home with their pockets filled with minerals. 

The brilliant Gregory died at twenty -eight, but 
Davy lived to show the fruits of one of the most 
beautiful things in life, the affinity of two noble 
and intellectual souls, with similar tastes and aspi- 
rations. This death was a great loss to Humphrey. 
He wrote to a friend : " Poor Watt ! He ought not 
to have died. I could not persuade myself that he 
would die : and until the very moment when I was 
assured of his fate, I would not believe he was in 
any danger. 

" His letters to me only three or four months ago 
were full of spirit, and spoke not of any infirmity 
of body, but of an increased strength of mind. 
Why is this in the order of nature, that there 
is such a difference in the duration and destruc- 
tion of her works ? If the mere stone decays, it is 
to produce a soil which is capable of nourishing 


the moss and the lichen; when the moss and the 
lichen die, and decompose, they produce a mould, 
which becomes the bed of life to grasses, and to 
more exalted species of vegetables. Vegetables 
are the food of animals ; the less perfect animals 
of the more perfect ; but in man the faculties and 
intellect are perfected. He rises, exists for a little 
while in disease and misery ; and then would seem 
to disappear, without an end, and without produc- 
ing any effect. 

"We are deceived, my dear Clay field, if we 
suppose that the human being, who has formed 
himself for action, but who has been unable to act, 
is lost in the mass of being ; there is some arrange- 
ment of things which we can never comprehend, 
but in which his faculties will be applied. . . . 
Gregory was a noble fellow, and would have been 
a great man. Oh ! there was no reason for his 
dying he ought not to have died." 

This death broke the spirit of James Watt, the 
father, who ever after kept beside him, in the attic 
at Heathfield, the little, old-fashioned hair trunk 
of his beloved Gregory, full of his school-books, 
letters, and childish toys. It stands to-day, where 
it did eighty years ago, beside the mouldering 
beams of the sculpture machine. That life is 
not short, however few the years, which leaves 
such an undying influence and such beautiful 

Humphrey was now twenty-six, and much had 
come into his young life. He had applied himself 


with zeal to his professional studies, had read 
Locke, and Eollin, and Gibbon, and Shakspeare, 
and at twenty had been appointed to take charge 
of the Pneumatic Institution at Clifton, established 
by Dr. Beddoes. It had been founded to give an 
opportunity of trying the medicinal effects of vari- 
ous gases, and was supported by liberal men of 
science. So distressed was his old friend, Mr. 
Tonkin, that he should give up the idea of being a 
surgeon in Penzance, that he revoked a legacy he 
had made him in his will ! 

Davy's life was now an extremely busy one. He 
published, when he was twenty-one, his " Essays 
on Heat and Light," beginning his work, like Sir 
Isaac Newton, when but a youth. He discovered 
silica in the epidermis of the stems of weeds, corn, 
and grasses. He found the intoxicating effects of 
breathing nitrous oxide, April 9, 1799, and his 
experiments on this subject were published the 
following year. He spent ten months of incessant 
labor in them, often endangering and once nearly 
losing his life from breathing carburetted hydro- 
gen. He made experiments on galvanic electric- 
ity, increasing the powers of the Galvanic Pile 
of Volta. He also planned and partly wrote an 
epic poem on the deliverance of the Israelites from 

Worn with overwork, he returned to see his wid- 
owed mother at Penzance. He had been absent a 
year. How glad were all to greet the rising young 
scientist ! Not least glad was Davy's water spaniel, 


Chloe. When very small, and about to be drowned, 
he begged her as a gift, and with great care reared 
her to be his hunting and fishing companion. At 
first she did not know him, but when, with his 
peculiarly musical voice, he called her by name, 
" she was in a transport of joy." 

Davy never forgot his early life at Penzance. In 
his will he left a sum of money to be paid annually 
to the master of the grammar school, " on condition 
that the boys may have a holiday on his birthday." 

One secret of Davy's early success was, no doubt, 
his ambition. He used to say that he had been 
kept largely from the temptations of youth by " an 
active mind, a deep ideal feeling of good, and a look 
toivards future greatness." The young man or 
woman who definitely plans to be somebody seldom 
finds any obstacles along the road too great to be 

He wrote in his note-book : " I have neither 
riches, nor power, nor birth to recommend me ; yet, 
if I live, I trust I shall not be of less service to 
mankind, and to my friends, than if I had been born 
with these advantages." 

At the Pneumatic Institution he found in Mrs. 
Beddoes "the best and most amiable woman in the 
world," a helper in the development of his genius. 
Like the wife of William Humboldt, and like any 
other woman who combines heart and intellect, Mrs. 
Beddoes gathered about her, in her home, Coleridge 
and Southey, and other bright minds of Clifton. 
Here Davy, scarcely more than a boy, with his soft 


brown curling hair, his beautiful smile, and his 
" wonderfully bright eyes, which seemed almost to 
emit a soft light, when animated," in the midst of 
congenial friends, was stimulated to do his best. 

Years after this, Wordsworth gave Dr. John 
Davy a letter to Coleridge, on the back of which 
he had written : " This from Davy, the great chem- 
ist. It is an affectionate letter." 

" MY DEAR COLERIDGE, My mind is disturbed, 
and my body harassed by many labors ; yet I can- 
not suffer you to depart, without endeavoring to 
express to you some of the unbroken and higher 
feelings of my spirit, which have you at once for 
their cause and object. 

" Years have passed away since we first met ; 
and your presence, and recollections with regard to 
you, have afforded me continued sources of enjoy- 
ment. Some of the better feelings of my nature 
have been elevated by your converse, and thoughts 
which you have nursed have been to me an eternal 
source of consolation. 

" In whatever part of the world you are, you will 
often live with me, not as a fleeting idea, but as a 
recollection possessed of creative energy, as an 
imagination winged with fire, inspiring and re- 
joicing. . . . 

" May blessings attend you, my dear friend ! Do 
not forget me : we live for different ends, and with 
different habits and pursuits ; but our feelings with 
regard to each other have, I believe, never altered. 
They must continue ; they can have no natural 


death ; and I trust they can never be destroyed by 
fortune, chance, or accident." 

Thus his sweet, kindly nature was an inspiration 
to others. He believed in amiability. He said, 
later, of temper in the marriage state : " Upon 
points of affection it is only for the parties them- 
selves to form just opinions of what is really nec- 
essary to ensure the felicity of the marriage state. 
Riches appear to me not at all necessary; but 
competence, I think, is ; and after this more de- 
pends upon the temper of the individual than upon 
personal or even intellectual circumstances. The 
finest spirits, the most exquisite wines, the nectars 
and ambrosias of modern tables, will be all spoilt by 
a few drops of bitter extract ; and a bad temper has 
the same effect in life, which is made up, not of 
great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in 
which smiles and kindness, and small obligations 
given habitually, are what win and preserve the 
heart and secure comfort." 

When Davy was twenty-three, a brilliant opening 
came to him ; came as it did to Cuvier, Newton, 
and others, through the influence of a friend. Count 
Rumford had been instrumental in founding the 
Royal Philosophical Institution for the diffusion of 
a knowledge of science. Through his works on 
heat, nitrous oxide, and galvanic electricity, Davy 
had made the acquaintance of Dr. Hope, the dis- 
tinguished professor of chemistry in the University 
of Edinburgh. He recommended Davy to Count 
Rumford, as fitted for the professorship of chemis- 


try in the Koyal Institution, an appointment, Davy 
wrote to his mother, " as honorable as any scientific 
appointment in the kingdom, with an income of at 
least five hundred pounds a year." He had evi- 
dently kept the " look towards future greatness " 
in his heart. 

Six weeks after his arrival in London, in the 
spring of 1801, Davy gave his first lecture, upon the 
history of galvanism, and the different modes of 
accumulating galvanic influence. "The sensation 
created by his first course of lectures at the Institu- 
tion," says the Philosophical Magazine, " and the 
enthusiastic admiration which they obtained, is at 
this period hardly to be imagined. Men of the first 
rank and talent, the literary and the scientific, 
the practical and the theoretical, blue-stockings 
and women of fashion, the old and the young, all 
crowded, eagerly crowded, the lecture-room. His 
youth, his simplicity, his natural eloquence, his 
chemical knowledge, his happy illustrations and 
well conducted experiments, excited universal at- 
tention and unbounded applause. Compliments, 
invitations, and presents were showered upon him 
in abundance from all quarters ; his society was 
courted by all, and all appeared proud of his ac- 
quaintance." He usually wrote his lecture the day 
before he delivered it, on this day dining in his 
own room, generally on fish. His manner in speak- 
ing was very animated, but natural. He believed 
in enthusiasm. He said, " Great powers have never 
been exerted independent of strong feelings. The 


rapid arrangement of ideas from their various anal- 
ogies to the equally rapid comparisons of these 
analogies, with facts uniformly occurring during 
the progress of discovery, have existed only in those 
minds where the agency of strong and various 
motives is perceived of motives modifying each 
other, mingling with each other, and producing that 
fever of emotion which is the joy of existence and 
the consciousness of life." 

Coleridge used to say, " I attend Davy's lectures 
to increase my stock of metaphors." 

In the spacious and well supplied laboratory of 
the Institution, in making his experiments, says 
his brother, "his zeal amounted to enthusiasm, 
which he more or less imparted to those around 
him. With cheerful voice and countenance, and a 
hand as ready to manipulate as his mind was quick 
to contrive, he was indefatigable in his exertions. 
He was delighted with success, but not discouraged 
by failure ; and he bore failures and accidents in 
experiments with a patience and forbearance, even 
when owing to the awkwardness of assistants, which 
could hardly have been expected from a person of 
his ardent temperament." 

He was very happy in these years of work. Says 
his brother: "In going to bed, and rising, and 
sometimes in the dead of night, I used to hear him, 
in a loud voice, reciting favorite passages in prose 
or verse, or declaiming some composition of his 
own, or humming some anglers song-." 

He spent his evenings often in society, but wrote 


to a friend concerning himself : " Be not alarmed, 
my dear friend, as to the effect of worldly society 
on my mind. . . . There are in the intellectual 
being of all men paramount elements, certain 
habits and passions that cannot change. I am a 
lover of nature with an ungratified imagination. 
I shall continue to search for untasted charms, for 
hidden beauties. My real, my waking existence is 
amongst the objects of scientific research. Common 
amusements and enjoyments are necessary to me 
only as dreams to interrupt the flow of thoughts 
too nearly analogous to enlighten and vivify." 

During his vacations he explored most parts of 
Great Britain, the Hebrides, and Ireland, studying 
the geological structure, collecting agricultural 
knowledge, and making sketches. He never hesi- 
tated to ask questions, and often the miners and 
farmers thought they had never seen a person so 

In his early years at the Institution he was asked 
to investigate astringent vegetables in connection 
with tanning. He entered the work with his usual 
ardor ; visited tan-yards, and made the acquaintance 
of practical farmers. In 1802 he began to deliver, 
at the request of the Board of Agriculture, a course 
of lectures, " On the Connection of Chemistry with 
Vegetable Physiology." He had made himself 
acquainted with the different kinds of soil and 
the various methods of agriculture. For ten 
years he delivered these lectures at the meet- 
ings of the Board. They were published in 


book form, and translated into almost every Euro- 
pean language. 

" We feel grateful," said the Edinburgh Review, 
" for his having thus suspended for a time the 
labors of original investigation, in order to apply 
the principles and discoveries of his favorite science 
to the illustration and improvement of an art which, 
above all others, ministers to the wants and comforts 
of man." 

He now continued his work with the voltaic pile 
or battery. If water could be decomposed by it, 
why not some substances heretofore regarded as 
simple or elementary bodies ? 

In October, 1806, he discovered that potash and 
soda can be decomposed, with potassium and sodium 
as resultant bases. 

When he saw the minute globules of potassium 
burst through the crust of potash, and take fire as 
they entered the atmosphere, he is said to have 
bounded about the room in ecstatic delight, some 
time elapsing before he could compose himself 
sufficiently to go on with his experiment. 

He had worked so constantly that he became very 
ill, and for several weeks his life was despaired of. 
All London was agitated over the expected death 
of the young chemist. Bulletins were prepared by 
the physicians morning, noon, and night, for the 
scores who came to ask concerning him. 

When he had recovered and returned to his work, 
the Royal Institution provided him with a voltaic 
battery of six hundred double plates of four inches 


square, four times as powerful as any that had been 
constructed, and not long after, one of two thousand 
plates. Scientific papers were constantly coming 
from his pen. He soon decomposed boracic acid 
with the battery. By heating boron in oxygen, it 
burnt, and was reconverted into boracic acid. In 
his experiments with muriatic acid gas he found 
chlorine to be a simple substance, and discovered 
euchlorine, a compound of chlorine and oxygen. 

He had already been made a fellow of the Royal 
Society at twenty-five, and at twenty-nine one of 
the secretaries. His lectures were crowded, as 
ever, by a thousand people. The Dublin Society 
now invited him to give courses of lectures in 1810 
and 1811, which he did, ticket-holders each paying 
ten dollars for a course. So difficult was it to gain 
admission to the lectures that many offered from 
fifty to a hundred dollars for a course ticket ! 

He writes these facts to his mother, and adds, 
" This is merely for your eye : it may please you 
to know that your son is not unpopular or useless. 
Every person here, from the highest to the lowest, 
shows me every attention and kindness. 

" I shall come to see you as soon as I can. I 
hear with infinite delight of your health, and I hope 
Heaven will continue to preserve and bless a mother 
who deserves so well of her children." 

Trinity College, Dublin, conferred upon him the 
degree of Doctor of Civil Law. Cuvier said of him : 
"Davy, not yet thirty-two, in the opinion of all 
who could judge of such labors, held the first rank 


among the chemists of this or of any other age." 
The National Institute of France had awarded him 
the prize given by Napoleon to the greatest dis- 
covery by the means of galvanism. 

And yet all this fame and honor had been won 
by incessant labor. He writes to his mother : " At 
present, except when I resolve to be idle for 
health's sake, I devote every moment to labors 
which I hope will not be wholly ineffectual in 
benefiting society, and which will not be wholly 
inglorious for my country hereafter ; and the feel- 
ing of this is the reward which will continue to 
keep me employed." 

His brother John, who had been for three years 
at the Royal Institution, now went to Edinburgh 
to study medicine. Davy writes him : " Let no 
difficulties alarm you, you may be what you please. 
Trust me, I know what your powers are. Preserve 
the dignity of your mind, and the purity of your 
moral conduct. You set sail with a fair wind on 
the ocean of life. You have great talents, good 
feelings, and an unbroken and an uncorrupted spirit. 
Move straight forward on to moral and intellectual 
excellence. Let no example induce you to violate 
decorum, no ridicule prevent you from guarding 
against sensuality or vice. Live in such a way that 
you can always say, the whole world may know 
what I am doing." 

In 1812 Davy was knighted by the Prince Regent. 
Only thirty-three, and he had come to great renown ! 

And now an important change was to come into 


his life. During the preceding year he had become 
acquainted with Mrs. Appreece, towards whom es- 
teem gradually ripened into affection. When their 
marriage had been decided upon, he wrote his 
mother : " I am the happiest of men, in the hope of 
a union with a woman equally distinguished for 
virtues, talents, and accomplishments. . . . You, I 
am sure, will sympathize in my happiness. I be- 
lieve I should never have married but for this 
charming woman, whose views and whose tastes 
coincide with my own, and who is eminently 
qualified to promote my best efforts and objects 
in life." 

To his brother he writes : " I have been very 
miserable. The lady whom I love best of any hu- 
man beings has been very ill. She is now well, and 
I am happy. Mrs. Appreece has consented to marry 
me : and when the event takes place I shall not 
envy kings, princes, or potentates. ... I am going 
to be married to-morrow ; and I have a fair prospect 
of happiness, with the most amiable and intellectual 
woman I have' ever known." How love idealizes 
all things, makes a new heaven and a new earth 
for us ! He found in her the two needed qualities 
for happiness; amiability, without which the life 
of a man is usually made wretched, and intellectu- 
ality, without which a cultivated man can have 
little companionship in a wife. 

The marriage seems to have been a happy one, 
for he writes to John later : " Lady D. is a noble 
creature, and every day adds to my contentment by 


the powers of her understanding, and her amiable 
and delightful tones of feeling." 

Like the wife of Herschel, she was a wealthy 
widow, so that after his marriage Davy was en- 
abled to travel, and devote himself wholly to origi- 
nal investigation. He resigned his professorship 
at the Royal Institution after twelve most useful 

His " Elements of Chemical Philosophy " was 
now published, and dedicated to Lady Davy. After 
a pleasure trip with his wife to the highlands of 
Scotland, taking his portable chemical apparatus 
with him for study, they took a journey to France, 
Italy, Sicily, and Germany, accompanied by Mr. 
Michael Faraday, afterward so celebrated, then " his 
assistant in experiments and writing." 

In Paris, where he spent two months, he discov- 
ered that iodine is a simple substance, analogous to 
chlorine. Here he became the intimate friend of 
many distinguished men. "Humboldt," he said, 
" was one of the most agreeable men I have ever 
known ; social, modest, full of intelligence, with 
facilities of every kind ; almost too fluent in con- 
versation. His travels display his spirit of enter- 
prise. His works are monuments of the variety of 
his knowledge and resources." 

Gay-Lussac he placed " at the head of the living 
chemists of France." 

At Fontainebleau, on the banks of the Rhone, at 
Mont Blanc, at Vaucluse, Sir Humphrey's artistic 
nature voiced itself in song. He had the poet's 


temperament, intense, quick, earnest, ardent, aspir- 
ing. He loved science, and paid her homage ; he 
loved poetry, and made her his rest and solace and 

At Florence he studied the diamond, and found 
it merely crystallized carbon. At Home he met 
Canova, who showed him great attention, and to 
whom he wrote this sonnet : 

"Thou wast a light of brightness in an age 

When Italy was in the night of art : 
She was thy country ; but the world thy stage, 

On which thou actedst thy creative part. 
Blameless thy life thy manners, playful, mild, 
Master in art, but Nature's simplest child. 
Phidias of Rome! like him thou stand' st sublime: 
And after artists shall essay to climb 
To that high temple where thou dwell'st alone, 
Amidst the trophies thou from time hast won. 
Generous to all, but most to rising merit; 
By nobler praise awakening the spirit; 
Yet all unconscious of the eternal fame, 
The light of glory circling round thy name! " 

At Milan he met Volta, nearly seventy years old. 
"His conversation was not brilliant," he said ; "his 
views rather limited, but marking great ingenuity. 
His manners were perfectly simple." 

Around Naples he investigated the phenomena 
of volcanic eruptions. On his return to London 
they bought a house in Grosvenor Square. He now 
published several papers : " Experiments and Ob- 
servations on the Colors used in Painting by the 
Ancients " ; " Experiments on a Solid Compound of 


Iodine and Oxygen, and on its Chemical Agencies " ; 
'' Action of Acids on the Salts usually called the 
Hyper-oxymuriates, and on the Gases produced 
from them." 

All his life, besides his ambition to be great, he 
desired to aid his fellow-men, and in the year 1815 
he made a discovery which placed him among the 
benefactors of the race. In 1812 a terrible explo- 
sion of gas had taken place in a mine, causing the 
death of nearly a hundred men. The mine was on 
fire, and the mouth had to be closed, thus bringing 
sure death to the poor creatures within. Such acci- 
dents were so frequent, that a committee of mine 
proprietors visited the great chemist, to see if 
science could suggest a remedy. 

He at once visited several mines, investigated 
fire-damp, and found it to be light carburetted 
hydrogen. After a long and careful series of exper- 
iments through several months, he invented the 
safety -lamp, " a cage of wire gauze, which actually 
made prisoner the flame of the fire-damp, and in its 
prison consumed it ; and whilst it confined the dan- 
gerous explosive flame, it permitted air to pass and 
light to escape ; and though, from the combustion 
of the fire-damp, the cage might become red hot, 
yet still it acted the part of a safety-lamp." 

Sir Humphrey at thirty-seven had immortalized 
himself. At a public dinner given in his honor at 
Newcastle, a service of plate worth over twelve 
thousand dollars was presented to him. After his 
death this service was given to the Royal Society 


by his widow, to be sold, and the proceeds applied 
to the encouragement of science. Emperor Alex- 
ander of Eussia sent him a splendid silver-gilt vase, 
with a personal letter ; his own sovereign conferred 
a baronetcy upon him. 

When Davy was urged by some friends to take 
out a patent upon the safety -lamp, and thus make 
five or ten thousand a year for himself, he said, " I 
never thought of such a thing : my sole object was 
to serve the cause of humanity ; and if I have suc- 
ceeded, I am amply rewarded in the gratifying re- 
flection of having done so. I have enough for all 
my views and purposes ; more wealth could not 
increase either my fame or my happiness. It might 
undoubtedly enable me to put four horses to rny 
carriage ; but what would it avail me to have it 
said that Sir Humphrey drives his carriage and 
four ? " 

He said later of his discovery of the safety-lamp : 
" I value it more than anything I ever did : it was 
the result of a great deal of investigation and labor ; 
but if my directions be attended to, it will save the 
lives of thousands of poor men. I was never more 
affected than by a written address which I received 
from the working colliers when I was in the North, 
thanking me on behalf of themselves and their 
families for the preservation of their lives." 

Sir Humphrey used to say : " Whoever wishes to 
enjoy peace, and is gifted with great talents, must 
labor for posterity. In doing this he enjoys all the 
pleasures of intellectual labor, and all the desire 


arising from protracted hope. He feels no envy 
nor jealousy ; his mark is too far distant to be seen 
by short-sighted malevolence, and therefore it is 
never aimed at. ... To raise a chestnut on the 
mountain, or a palm in the plain, which may afford 
shade, shelter, and fruit for generations yet unborn, 
and which, if they have once fixed their roots, re- 
quire no culture, is better than to raise annual 
flowers in a garden, which must be watered daily, 
and in which a cold wind may chill or too ardent a 
sunshine may dry. . . . The best faculties of man 
are employed for futurity : speaking is better than 
acting, writing is better than speaking." 

In the spring of 1818 he took his second conti- 
nental journey with his wife, going through Austria, 
Germany, and Italy. Commissioned by his king, 
he made some researches on Herculaneuin manu- 

On his return to England he was made President 
of the Koyal Society, the position so ably filled by 
Sir Isaac Newton. Every Saturday evening, poets, 
artists, and men of science gathered at his recep- 
tions. This office he held for seven years, till his 
declining health compelled his resignation. 

In December, 1821, Davy paid a visit to his old 
home in Penzance, and saw his mother for the last 
time before her death. A public dinner was given 
him by his townsmen, which honor he greatly ap- 
preciated. He was no longer the poor lad among 
them. " Every heart, tongue, and eye were as one 
to do honor to him who had not only rendered the 


name of their town famous and imperishable as 
science itself, but who had added lustre to the 
intellectual character of their country." 

From year to year he continued his experiments. 
Urged by the commissioners of the navy to remedy 
the corrosion of copper sheathing on vessels by sea 
water, he succeeded in rendering the copper nega- 
tively electrical by small pieces of tin, zinc, or iron 
nails. Shells and seaweeds adhered to the non- 
corroded surface, but the principle of galvanic 
protection has been applied to various important 

In 1824, Sir Humphrey took a journey to Nor- 
way, Sweden, and Denmark, visiting Berzelius of 
Sweden, " one of the great ornaments of the age," 
he said, and Oersted of Denmark, distinguished for 
his discovery of electro-magnetism. 

Towards the close of 1826, when he was only 
forty-eight, Davy was attacked by paralysis in the 
right side, having suffered for a year with numb- 
ness and pain in his right arm. During his con- 
finement in his room, he corrected the proof sheets 
of his " Discourses to the Royal Society," published 
in January, 1827. 

In this year, having improved, he went through 
France, Italy, and Switzerland, hunting and fishing 
as in his boyhood, and writing " Salmonia, or Days 
of Fly Fishing," giving descriptions of his journey 
and his observations on natural history. 

In the spring of 1828, he made another journey, 
to Southern Austria, spending the winter in Italy, 


and writing his "Consolation in Travel," which 
Cuvier called the work of a dying Plato. "I was 
desirous," he says, " of again passing some time in 
these scenes, in the hope of reestablishing a 
broken constitution ; and though this hope was a 
feeble one, yet, at least, I expected to spend a few 
of the last days of life more tranquilly and more 
agreeably than in the metropolis of my own coun- 
try. Nature never deceives us. The rocks, the 
mountains, the streams, always speak the same 
language. A shower of snow may hide the ver- 
dant woods in spring ; a thunder storm may render 
the blue limpid streams foul and turbulent : but 
these effects are rare and transient ; in a few hours, 
or at least days, all the sources of beauty are 
renovated ; and Nature affords no continued trains 
of misfortunes and miseries, such as depend upon 
the constitution of humanity, no hopes forever 
blighted in the bud, no beings full of life, 
beauty, and promise, taken from us in the prime 
of youth. Her fruits are all balmy, bright, and 
sweet ; she affords none of those blighted ones so 
common in the life of man, and so like the fabled 
apples of the Dead Sea, fresh and beautiful to 
the sight, but, when tasted, full of bitterness and 

From Rome he writes to a friend, a year later, 
in the spring of 1829 : " I am here wearing away 
the winter, a ruin amongst ruins ! . . . I fight 
against sickness and fate, believing I have still 
duties to perform, and that even my illness is con- 


nected in some way with my being made useful to 
my fellow-creatures* I have this conviction full on 
my mind, that intellectual beings spring from the 
same breath of infinite intelligence, and return to 
it again, but by different courses. Like rivers 
born amidst the clouds of he'aven, and lost in the 
deep and eternal ocean, some in youth, rapid and 
short-lived torrents ; some in manhood, powerful 
and copious rivers ; and some in age, by a winding 
and slow course, half lost in their career, and mak- 
ing their exit by many sandy and shallow mouths." 

Davy was destined to go back to the Infinite 
Intelligence in manhood, "a powerful and copious 
river," however much he " fought against sickness 
and fate." 

On February 23, 1829, he dictated a letter to his 
brother John : " I am dying from a severe attack 
of palsy, which has seized the whole body, with 
the exception of the intellectual organ." He 
added in his own hand, just legible, " Come as 
quickly as possible." 

When the brother arrived, and was overcome 
with grief, Sir Humphrey received him with a 
cheerful smile, and bade him not to grieve, but 
consider the event like a philosopher. He talked 
more earnestly than ever, and his mind seemed all 
aglow as with the brilliancy of a setting sun. 

At one time he was so near death, that he said 
" he had gone through the whole process of dying, 
and that when he awoke he had difficulty in con- 
vincing himself that he was in his earthly exist- 


ence." Keviving somewhat, they journeyed from 
Italy to Geneva, by slow and easy travel, arriving 
May 28, 1829. In the night, at half-past two, Sir 
Humphrey was taken very ill, and died almost im- 

He was buried JunB 1, in the cemetery outside 
the walls of the city, having requested to be in- 
terred where he died, without any display. The 
grave is marked by a simple monument erected by 
his wife. She also founded a prize in his honor, 
to be given every two years, for the most original 
and important discovery in chemical science. 
Only fifty, and his work finished, no not fin- 
ished, for his books and his discoveries, his char- 
acter, with its earnest perseverance, its tenderness, 
its sympathy, its noble aspirations, and its help- 
fulness to mankind, will live forever ! 



rr^HE problem why certain men and women 
-L come to eminence, and why others, with 
apparently as much ability, remain forever in 
obscurity, is an interesting one to solve. Most 
persons desire fame ; most persons desire wealth ; 
but, for one reason or another, thousands fail to 
achieve what they desire. They lack either single- 
ness of aim, or adequate perseverance, or deter- 
mined will, or sound judgment, or, instead of 
mastering circumstances, they permit circumstances 
to master them. 

It is so easy to be turned aside in life by trivial 
matters ; to be interested in our neighbor's wed- 
ding, or our neighbor's profits and losses. Those 
who oversee the affairs of others rarely oversee 
their own. Men become very busy over clubs 
and pastimes ; women, over social gatherings and 
appearance, and die with little accomplished. 

Auduboirs life furnishes a unique illustration 
of the result of having a definite purpose, and 
bending all one's energies to it, till success is 

John James Audubon was born at New Orleans, 
May 4, 1780, in the land of orange groves and 


magnolias, of birds and sunshine. His grandfather 
was a poor fisherman of La Vendee, France, with 
twenty-one children. Unable to support them, 
they made their way iu life as best they could. 

When John's father was twelve years old, the 
fisherman gave him "a shirt, a dress of warm 
clothing, his blessing, and a cane, and sent him 
out to seek his fortune." He went to Nantes, 
shipped before the mast ; at twenty -one commanded 
a vessel, and at twenty-five was owner and captain 
of a small craft. 

Going to St. Domingo, West Indies, he pur- 
chased a small estate. Ambitious, as are all persons 
who succeed, he soon secured an appointment from 
the Governor of St. Domingo, returned to France, 
made the acquaintance of influential men, and 
obtained an appointment in the Imperial navy, 
with the command of a small vessel of war. 

He had what all persons need, true self-appreci- 
ation ; quite another quality from self-conceit. 
To believe that we can do things, having kept our 
characters such that we respect ourselves, is a 
strong indication that we shall prosper if we make 
the attempt. 

Frequently visiting America in his ship, 
Audubon purchased land in Louisiana, Virginia, 
and Pennsylvania. In the former State he married 
a lady of Spanish extraction, Anne Moynette, both 
beautiful and wealthy. Of their three sons and 
one daughter, John James was the youngest son. 

The mother was not spared to rear the distin- 


guished naturalist, but perished a few years after 
his birth, in the insurrection of the colored people 
of St. Domingo. The father, having purchased a 
beautiful estate on the Loire, nine miles from 
Nantes, married a second time, a woman who 
proved a most indulgent mother to her husband's 
children. Having none of her own, she humored 
John in every way, and allowed him to gather 
moss, curious stones, birds' nests, indeed, every- 
thing which belongs to natural history, to his 
heart's content. 

On the return of Commodore Audubon to France, 
finding that the boy was following the bent of his 
own mind, to the neglect of a solid education, in 
spite of the tears and entreaties of his wife, he 
sent him away to school. For a year John was 
obliged to apply himself closely to mathematics, 
taking a ramble to collect specimens whenever it 
was possible. He studied drawing under the cele- 
brated painter David, and learned to play well on 
the violin, flute, flageolet, and guitar. 

His father had hoped that he would become a 
soldier under Napoleon, but a lad who could lie 
on his back under a tree for three Aveeks, and 
watch with a telescope the habits of some little 
gray birds of the color of the bark of the tree, 
would not care much for the smoke and din of 
battle. He was therefore sent to America, to look 
after his father's property. 

With a heavy heart the youth said good-by 
to France, where he had already sketched two 


hundred varieties of birds from life. Arriving in 
New York, he became ill of yellow fever, and was 
carried to the home of two Quaker ladies in 
Morristown, whose kindness doubtless saved his 

When he had recovered, he went to his father's 
farm at Mill Grove, near the Schuylkill Falls, 
Pennsylvania, and found, as he said, "a blessed 
spot." He was free, now, to study natural history ; 
no more mathematics ; no more urging to become 
a soldier. He was delighted with the mill 
attached to the property, and with the pewees who 
built their nests near by. " Hunting, fishing, and 
drawing occupied my every moment," he says ; 
" cares I knew not, and cared nothing for them." 

An English gentleman, William Bake well, 
descended from the Peverils of Derbyshire, ren- 
dered historical by Scott's novel " Peveril of the 
Peak," owned the adjoining property. Audubon, 
being French, did not court the acquaintance of the 
Englishman, indeed avoided him, till one day, as 
he was following some grouse down the creek in 
winter, he met Mr. Bakewell. 

"I was struck with the kind politeness of his 
manners," says Audubon, "and found him a most 
expert marksman, and entered into conversation. 
I admired the beauty of his well trained dogs, and 
finally promised to call upon him and his family. 
Well do I recollect the morning, and may it please 
God may I never forget it, when for the first time 
I entered the Bakewell household. It happened 


that Mr. Bakewell was from home. I was shown 
into a parlor, where only one young lady was 
snugly seated at work, with her back turned 
towards the fire. She rose on my entrance, offered 
me a seat, and assured me of the gratification her 
father would feel on his return ; which, she added 
with a smile, would be in a few minutes, as she 
would send a servant after him. Other ruddy 
cheeks made their appearance, but, like spirits gay, 
vanished from my sight. Talking and working, 
the young lady who remained made the time pass 
pleasantly enough, and to me especially so. It 
was she, my dear Lucy Bakewell, who afterwards 
became my wife, and the mother of my children." 

Mr. Bakewell soon returned, and lunch was 
provided before leaving on a shooting expedition. 
" Lucy rose from her seat a second time, and her 
form, to which I had before paid little attention, 
seemed radiant with beauty, and my heart and 
eyes followed her every step. The repast being 
over, guns and dogs were provided, and as we left 
I was pleased to believe that Lucy looked upon me 
as a not very strange animal. Bowing to her, I 
felt, I knew not why, that I was at least not 
indifferent to her." 

Thus was begun a beautiful affection that ran 
like a thread of gold through the darkness and 
light of two struggling lives. The friendship 
increased as the months went by, for the youth, 
alone in a strange country, devoted to his foster- 
mother, needed a woman's love and tenderness to 


cheer him. Lucy Bakewell taiight Audubon 
English, and he in return gave her drawing lessons. 

At Mill Grove the weeks passed pleasantly, is 
not the world always beautiful when we love some- 
body ? Audubon says in his journal : " I had no 
vices ; but was thoughtless, pensive, loving, fond 
of shooting, fishing, and riding, and had a passion 
for raising all sorts of fowls, which sources of 
interest and amusement fully occupied my time. 
... I ate no butcher's meat, lived chiefly on fruits, 
vegetables, and fish, and never drank a glass of 
spirits or wine until my wedding day. To this I 
attribute my continual good health, endurance, and 
an iron constitution." 

Here at Mill Grove, while yet a boy, he planned 
his great work, the "Birds of America," their 
habits, and a description of them. This one idea 
dominated Audubon's life. Through poverty and 
suffering, this one desire was ever before him. It 
is well to plan early in life what we wish to do, 
and then do it. 

One writer has well said of Audi^on : " For 
sixty years or more he followed, with more than 
religious devotion, a beautiful and devoted pursuit, 
enlarging its boundaries by his discoveries, and 
illustrating its objects by his art. In all climates 
and in all weathers ; scorched by burning suns, 
drenched by piercing rains, frozen by the fiercest 
colds : now diving fearlessly into the densest 
forest, now wandering alone over the most savage 
regions ; in perils, in difficulties, and in doubts ; 


with no companion to cheer his way, far from the 
smiles and applause of society ; listening only to 
the sweet music of birds, or to the sweeter music 
of his own thoughts, he faithfully kept his path. 

" The records of man's life contain few nobler 
examples of strength of purpose and indefatigable 
energy. Led on solely by his pure, lofty, kindling 
enthusiasm, no thirst for wealth, no desire of dis- 
tinction, no restless ambition of eccentric character, 
could have induced him to undergo as many sacri- 
fices, or sustained him under so many trials. 
Higher principles and worthier motives alone 
enabled him to meet such discouragements and 
accomplish such miracles of achievement. He 
has enlarged and enriched the domains of a pleas- 
ing and useful science ; he has revealed to us the 
existence of many species of birds before unknown ; 
he has given us more accurate information of the 
forms and habits of those that were known ; he 
has corrected the blunders of his predecessors ; 
and he has imparted to the study of natural history 
the grace and fascination of romance." 

At Mill Grove he came near losing his life, on a 
duck-shooting expedition, by falling through an 
air hole in the ice. It was three months before he 

At this time " a partner, tutor, and monitor," Da 
Costa, whom Audubon's father had sent over to 
superintend a lead-mine enterprise at Mill Grove, 
refused to give money to the son and objected to 
his marrying Lucy Bakewell. Eesenting the die- 


tation of Da Costa, young Audubon determined to 
go to France and lay the matter before his father. 
Da Costa would give him no money, but a letter of 
credit upon an agent in New York. The youth, 
nothing daunted, walked all the way to New York, 
was refused the money by the agent, who hinted 
that the lad should be seized and shipped to China, 
borrowed his passage money, went to France, 
caused the removal of Da Costa, and obtained 
his father's consent to his marriage. For a year he 
resided at Nantes, shooting, stuffing birds, and 
drawing for his beloved book. Then all French- 
men being liable to conscription under Napoleon, 
the Commodore obtained leave for his son to 
return to America. 

Once again he was at his dear Mill Grove. In 
his room " the walls were festooned with all sorts 
of birds' eggs, carefully blown out and strung on a 
thread. The chimney piece was covered with 
stuffed squirrels, raccoons, and opossums, and the 
shelves around were likewise crowded with speci- 
mens, among which were fishes, frogs, snakes, liz- 
ards and other reptiles." 

. Lucy's father, concluding that the study of natu- 
ral history might not bring pecuniary support for 
his daughter, suggested to Audubon that he obtain 
some knowledge of commercial pursuits. Love 
seldom asks about ways and means ; too seldom, in 
fact, for subsequent happiness. Audubon entered 
the counting-house of Mr. Benjamin Bakewell of 
New York, and soon lost some hundreds of pounds 



by a bad speculation in indigo. The drying of 
bird's skins in his rooms was so disagreeable to his 
neighbors that a message was sent him, through a 
constable, insisting on his abating the nuisance ! 

Finance did not seem the specialty of the young 
man, and he returned to Mill Grove. 

Dear as the place was to him, he sold it, invested 
the capital in goods, married Lucy Bakewell, April 
8, 1808, when he was twenty-eight years old, and 
started for the West. They were twelve days in 
sailing down the Ohio River in a flat-bottomed 
float, called an ark. He engaged in trade at Louis- 
ville, and the young couple were extremely happy. 
Fortunate it was that they had these few months 
of comfort, for hardship was soon to test their 

The war of 1812 so crippled business that he 
and his partner decided to go to Hendersonville, 
while Lucy and her infant son went home to her 
father for a year. If Mr. Bakewell ever regretted 
the choice which his daughter had made, she did 
not, and never failed, when days were darkest, to 
encourage him to write and win renown. When 
all others bemoaned his lack of business success, 
and his devotion to a non-paying pursuit, she alone 
was his comforter, and was willing to suffer poverty 
if thus his great work might be done. 

There was no success at Hendersonville, and the 
goods were taken to St. Genevieve. Here the part- 
ner married, and Audubon sold his interest to him, 
purchased a horse, and started across the country 


to see his wife, who had meantime come back from 
Pennsylvania to Hendersonville, Ky. In this trip 
he came near losing his life. He says : " I found 
myself obliged to cross one of the wild prairies 
which, in that portion of the United States, vary 
the appearance of the country. The weather was 
fine, all around me was as fresh and blooming as if 
it had just issued from the bosom of nature. My 
knapsack, my gun, and my dog were all I had for 
baggage and company. But although well moc- 
casined, I moved slowly along, attracted by the 
brilliancy of the flowers, and the gambols of the 
fawns around their dams, to all appearance as 
thoughtless of danger as I felt myself." 

After travelling all day, he reached a log cabin. 
"Presenting myself at the door, I asked the tall 
figure, which proved to be a woman, if I might take 
shelter under her roof for the night. Her voice 
was gruff, and her dress negligently thrown about 
her. She answered in the affirmative. I walked 
in, took a wooden stool, and quietly seated myself 
by the fire. The next object that attracted my 
notice was a finely formed young Indian, resting 
his head between his hands, with his elbows on his 
knees. A long bow rested against the log wall 
near him, while a quantity of arrows and two or 
three raccoon skins lay at his feet. He moved not ; 
he apparently breathed not. Accustomed to the 
habits of the Indians, and knowing that they pay 
little attention to the approach of civilized stran- 
gers, I addressed him in French, a language not 


unfrequently partially known to the people of that 
neighborhood. He raised his head, pointed to one 
of his eyes with his finger, and gave me a signifi- 
cant glance with the other ; his face was covered 
with blood. 

" The fact was, that an hour before this, as he 
was in the act of discharging an arrow at a raccoon 
in the top of a tree, the arrow had split upon the 
cord, and sprung back with such violence into his 
right eye as to destroy it forever. 

" Feeling hungry, I inquired what sort of fare I 
might expect. Such a thing as a bed was not to 
be seen; but many large, untanned buffalo hides 
lay piled in a corner. I drew a time-piece from my 
pocket, and told the woman that it was late, and 
that I was fatigued. She espied my watch, the 
richness of which seemed to operate on her feelings 
with electric quickness. She told me there was 
plenty of venison and jerked buffalo meat, and that 
on removing the ashes I should find a cake. But 
my watch had struck her fancy, and her curiosity 
had to be gratified by an immediate sight of it. I 
took off the gold chain which secured it around 
my neck, and presented it to her. She was all 
ecstasy, spoke of its beauty, asked me its value, 
and put the chain round her brawny neck, 
saying how happy the possession of such a 
watch would make her. Thoughtless, and, as 
I fancied myself, in so retired a spot, secure, I 
paid little attention to her talk or her movements. 
I helped my dog to a good supper of venison, and 


was not long in satisfying the demands of my 
own appetite. 

" The Indian rose from his seat as if in extreme 
suffering. He passed and repassed me several 
times, and once pinched me on the side so vio- 
lently, that the pain nearly brought forth an ex- 
clamation of anger. I looked at him ; his eye met 
mine, but his look was so forbidding that it struck 
a chill into the more nervous part of my system. 
He again seated himself, drew his butcher-knife 
from its greasy scabbard, examined its edge, as I 
would do that of a razor suspected dull, replaced 
it, and, again taking his tomahawk from his back 
tilled the pipe of it with tobacco, and sent me 
expressive glances whenever our hostess chanced 
to have her back towards us." 

Audubon now perceived his danger. "I asked 
the woman for my watch, wound it up, and, under 
the pretence of wishing to see how the weather 
might probably be on the morrow, took up my gun, 
and walked out of the cabin. I slipped a ball into 
each barrel, scraped the edges of my flints, renewed 
the primings, and, returning to the hut, gave a favor- 
able account of my observations. I took a few 
bear-skins, made a pallet of them, and, calling my 
faithful dog to my side, lay down, with my gun 
close to my body, and in a few minutes was, to all 
appearance, fast asleep." 

Soon two young, stalwart Indians arrived at the 
cabin, bearing a dead stag on a pole. These were 
the Indian woman's sons. She and they drank 


whiskey, and then took a large carving-knife to a 
grindstone, and sharpened it. " I saw her pour the 
water on the turning machine," says Audubon, 
" and watched her working away with the danger- 
ous instrument, until the cold sweat covered every 
part of my body, in despite of my determination 
to defend myself to the last. Her task finished, 
she walked to her reeling sons, and said, 'There, 
that'll soon settle him ! Boys, kill you and then 
for the watch ! ' " 

Just at this moment the door suddenly opened, 
and two travellers entered. The mother and her 
sons were bound, and Audubon's life was saved. 

He arrived at last at Hendersonville, and soon 
went into business with a brother-in-law at New 
Orleans. He embarked all the fortune at his dis- 
posal, and lost it all. 

His father had already died, leaving Audubon 
an estate in France, and seventeen thousand dol- 
lars deposited with a merchant in Eichmond, Va. 
The merchant died insolvent, and Audubon never 
received a dollar. He made no effort to possess 
the property in France, and years afterwards it 
was transferred to his sister Rosa. He now began 
to feel anxious about the future. A second son, 
John, had been born to him, and he must try once 
more to earn in business. Gathering a few hun- 
dred dollars, he purchased some goods in Louis- 
ville, and returned to Hendersonville. A former 
partner joined him, advised erecting a steam mill, 
which was done. Several men invested capital in 


the enterprise, and a complete failure resulted. 
Audubon gave up all the property he possessed to 
his creditors, and left Hendersonville with his sick 
wife, his gun, his dog, and his drawings. 

They reached Louisville, and were kindly received 
by a relative. How could he support his family ? 
The outlook was not hopeful. He would try mak- 
ing crayon portraits. He succeeded so well that a 
farmer came in the middle of the night to request 
a picture of his mother before she died, and the 
work was done by candle-light. 

Invited to Cincinnati to become curator of the 
museum, Audubon accepted, and opened a drawing- 
school in that city. But very little money resulted, 
and he resolved to seek a new field of labor. Get- 
ting letters of recommendation from General, after 
wards President, Harrison, and from Henry Clay, 
he started, October 12, 1820, for New Orleans. 
Stopping for a time at Natchez, he and a companion 
found themselves destitute of shoes. Going to a 
shoemaker, he asked to sketch a crayon portrait of 
himself and his wife in return for two pairs of 
boots. The offer was accepted, and Audubon and 
his friend found themselves again in suitable con- 
dition for travelling. How different all this from 
the former easy life at Mill Grove ! 

Arriving at New Orleans, what little money he 
possessed was stolen, he could find no work, and he 
was obliged to live on the boat in which he had 
come thither. He writes in his journal : " Time 
passed sadly in seeking ineffectually for employ- 


ment. I was fortunate in making a hit with the 
portrait of a well known citizen of New Orleans. 
I showed it to the public ; it made a favorable 
impression, and I obtained several patrons. A few 
orders for portraits relieved my necessities, and, 
continuing my work of painting birds, the time 
passed more pleasantly." 

He was always planning for wider opportunities 
to study birds for his book. In the midst of his 
dire poverty, he did not forget this. Now he hoped 
to join the expedition which surveyed the boundary 
line of the territory ceded to the United States by 
Spain, and he says, " Saw nothing but hundreds of 
new birds in imagination within range of my gun." 
But this, like other plans, came to naught, for 
poverty binds with strong cords, and it requires 
almost superhuman strength to break them. 

At last, in the family of Mrs. Perrie, who owned 
a plantation at Bayou Sara, in Louisiana, he ob- 
tained a situation. He was to teach drawing to 
her daughter for sixty dollars a month, having his 
afternoons for his work. Her desire was, under the 
guise of employment, to help the poor naturalist. 

After fourteen months since leaving Cincinnati, 
during Avhich time, he says, "I have finished sixty- 
two drawing of birds and plants, three quadrupeds, 
two snakes, fifty portraits of all sorts, and have 
subsisted by my humble talents, not having had a 
dollar when I started," he sent for his family to 
come to him. A house was rented on Dauphine 
Street, at seventeen dollars a month. Now if they 


starved, they would starve together. Being asked 
to join in painting a panorama of the city, he said, 
" My birds, my beloved birds of America, occupy 
all my time, and nearly all my thoughts, and I do 
not wish to see any other perspective than the last 
specimen of these drawings." He was now forty- 
two, and life was none too long, at the best. No 
wonder he was anxious about his book. 

During the first months of 1822, after his family 
came, there are no records of his life. He was too 
poor to buy a journal. Mrs. Audubon had found a 
situation as governess in a family. Audubon was 
depressed in spirits, and poor health was the result. 
If some person with wealth had only been wise 
enough to have helped the man of talent ! We 
build colleges and churches, and this is well ; but 
often neglect the brilliant man or woman near our 
own door, who might bless the world. Brains do 
not always win pecuniary success. We sometimes 
go to extremes in America by advocating self- 
dependence, and let a refined and sensitive soul 
break because it cannot breast the world. We for- 
get that on et 1 J ii we are to be our brother's keeper. 
Perchance -we shall remember it beyond ! 

Finally Audubon left New Orleans, procuring 
passage on a boat to Natchez, by a crayon portrait 
of the captain and his wife. In the family of a 
Portuguese gentleman in that city, he taught 
drawing, music, and French, and also drawing in 
a college nine miles from Natchez, but he was still 
depressed. " While work flowed in upon me," he 


says, "the hope of my completing my book upon 
the birds of America became less clear ; and, full of 
despair, I feared my hopes of becoming known to 
Europe as a naturalist were destined to be blasted." 

To feel within one's breast the aspiration which 
is God-given, arid know that one has genius, and 
yet be bound hand and foot by circumstances, 
what is harder ? 

Poor Audubon ! with his lessening hope of 
"becoming known to Europe." His wife had 
come to Natchez and obtained a position as teacher, 
similar to the one she had held in New Orleans. 
Poverty had tested their love, but it had stood the 
test. Audubon had made a copy of the " Death of 
Montgomery ; " and for this friends raffled, and 
gave him the proceeds, three hundred dollars, and 
the picture also. 

Mrs. Audubon now made an engagement with 
a lady at Bayou Sara, to teach her children with 
her own, and a limited number of pupils. Seeing 
that his family would now be provided for, "I 
determined," he says, " to break through all bonds, 
and pursue my ornithological pu Its. My best 
friends solemnly regarded me as madman, and 
my wife and family alone gave me encouragement. 
My wife determined that my genius shxmld prevail, 
and that my final success as an ornithologist should 
be triumphant." 

Blessed faith of woman ! Giving a love that 
knows only self-sacrifice ; that braves all, bears all, 
and finally wins all for its beloved object. 


The oldest son, Victor, was placed in the count- 
ing-house of a friend at Louisville, and Audubon 
sought Philadelphia, " as a desperate venture," he 
says, to see if means could not be obtained to 
further his work. He took a room, and began 
to give lessons in drawing. He said plaintively in 
his journal, " I have now been twenty-five years 
pursuing my ornithological studies," and yet the 
book was not written. Fortunately he obtained 
a letter of introduction to the portrait-painter 
Sully, "a man after my own heart, and who 
showed me great kindnesses." He gave Audubon 
instruction in oil, and would take no pay for it, 
and the naturalist was " overwhelmed with his 
goodness." Audubon found another warm-hearted 
friend, Edward Harris, a young ornithologist, 
who, as he was bidding Audubon good-by, 
squeezed a hundred-dollar bill into his hand, say- 
ing, "Mr. Audubon, accept this from me; men 
like you ought not to want for money." "I could 
only express my gratitude," says Audubon, "by 
insisting on his receiving the drawings of all my 
French birds, which he did, and I was relieved." 

A friend now took him to visit Mill Grove. " As 
we entered the avenue leading to Mill Grove," he 
says, " every step brought to my mind the memory 
of past years, and I was bewildered by the recollec- 
tions until we reached the door of the house, which 
had once been the residence of my father as well 
as myself. . . . After resting a few moments, I 
abruptly took my hat, and ran wildly towards the 


woods, to the grotto where I first heard from my 
wife the acknowledgment that she was not indif- 
ferent to me. It had been torn down, and some 
stones carted away; but, raising my eyes toward 
heaven, I repeated the promise we had mutually 
made. We dined at Mill Grove, and as I entered 
the parlor I stood motionless, for a moment, on the 
spot where my wife and myself were forever 

He then went to New York, and a friend took 
him to the Lyceum. " My portfolio was examined 
by the members of the Institute," he says, " among 
whom I felt awkward and uncomfortable. After 
living among such people, I feel clouded and 
depressed; remember that I have done nothing, 
and fear I may die unknown. I feel I am strange 
to all but the birds of America. In a few days 
I shall be in the woods, and quite forgotten." The 
next day, he writes in his journal : " My spirits 
low, and I long for the woods again; but the 
prospect of becoming known prompts me to remain 
another day." 

From this city he journeyed West. " All trem- 
bling I reached the Falls of Niagara, and oh, what 
a scene ! My blood shudders still, although I am 
not a coward, at the grandeur of the Creator's 
power ; and I gazed motionless on this new display 
of the irresistible force of one of his elements." 

At Buffalo, he took a deck-passage on board a 
schooner bound for Erie, using his buffalo-robe and 
blanket to sleep on. At Pittsburg, he spent a 

186 jony JAMES AUDUBON. 

month scouring the country for birds, and contin- 
ued his drawings. Arriving at Cincinnati, he says, 
" I was beset by claims for the payment of articles 
which years before had been ordered for the 
Museum, but from which I got no benefit. With- 
out money, or the means of making it, I applied to 
Messrs. Keating and Bell for the loan of fifteen 
dollars ; but had not the courage to do so until I had 
walked past their house several times, unable to 
make up my mind how to ask the favor. I got the 
loan cheerfully, and took a deck-passage to Louis- 
ville. I was allowed to take my meals in the 
cabin, and at night slept among some shavings 
I managed to scrape together. The spirit of con- 
tentment which I now feel is strange ; it borders 
on the sublime ; and, enthusiast or lunatic, as some 
of my relatives will have me, I am glad to possess 
such a spirit." 

At last he reached Bayou Sara, and saw his wife ; 
"and, holding and kissing her, I was once more 
happy, and all my toils and trials were forgotten." 

Mrs. Audubon had been extremely fortunate. 
She was earning nearly three thousand dollars a 
year. This she offered to her husband to help the 
publication of the book. He was invited to teach 
dancing, and a class of sixty was soon organized. 
From this source he received about two thousand 
dollars. The tide of fortune had turned at last, 
and he began to prepare for a trip to England. 
He was forty-six. Life had been indeed a struggle. 
He had wandered over the country, with scanty 


food and poor attire, always in debt, but he had 
drawn his birds ; and now the money was actually 
in his hands, whereby he could, perhaps, "be 
known in Europe." And Lucy Audubon had made 
it possible ! 

He had gained much by his trials. He had 
learned what most of us take a life-time to learn, 
patience ; not to speak harshly when others are 
harsh. He said, " To repay evils with kindness is 
the religion I was taught to practise, and this will 
forever be my rule." He had learned that much 
in life is trivial, that most things are " not matters 
of life and death ; " little worries come to all, and 
can be borne the momentous things of life are 
really few. 

April 26, 1826, Audubon sailed for England. 
Arriving at Liverpool, he was able to arrange for 
the display of his drawings at the Liverpool 
Exhibition. The entrance fee was one shilling, 
and the receipts were from fifteen to twenty dollars 
a ' day. Surely fame was coming at last. Lord 
Stanley spent five hours in examining the collec- 
tion, and said, " This work is unique, and deserves 
the patronage of the Crown." He invited Audu- 
bon to visit him at his town house in Grosvenor 
Square. The naturalist made portraits of various 
friends who were desirous of obtaining specimens 
of his drawing. From the exhibition of his 
pictures in Liverpool he realized five hundred 

From this city he went to Manchester, and from 


thence to Edinburgh. Here he met the naturalist 
Professor Jameson, who promised to introduce his 
book to the public in his " Natural History Maga- 
zine." Professor Wilson (Christopher North) vol- 
unteered to introduce Audubon to Sir Walter Scott. 
Audubon was asked to sit for his portrait. The 
Royal Institution offered their rooms for the ex- 
hibition of his drawings, and the receipts were 
from twenty -five to seventy-five dollars a day. 

Truly things had changed, since those desolate 
days in America, when he slept on the deck of a 
steamboat, because unable to pay for a bed, and 
could not summon the courage to ask the loan of 
fifteen dollars. 

Invited to dine with the Antiqiiarian Society, 
he met Lord Elgin, who presided, and was obliged 
to respond to a flattering toast, which made him 
"feel very faint and chill. I was expected to 
make a speech," he says, "but could not, and 
never had tried. Being called on for a reply, I 
said, 'Gentlemen, my incapacity for words to 
respond to your flattering notice is hardly exceeded 
by that of the birds now hanging on the walls of 
your institution. I am truly obliged to you for 
your favors, and can only say, God bless you all, 
and may your society prosper.' I sat down with 
the perspiration running over me." 

Professor Wilson prepared an article upon 
Audubon and his work for "Blackwood's Maga- 
zine." His picture was hung in the Exhibition 
room. He was made a member of the Wernerian 


Natural History Society, and of the Eoyal Society. 
He was pleased, and said, "So, poor Audubon, if 
not rich, thou wilt be honored at least, and held in 
high esteem among men." 

No wonder he wrote to his wife : " My success 
in Edinburgh borders on the miraculous. My book 
is to be published in numbers, containing four birds 
in each, the size of life, in a style surpassing any- 
thing now existing, at two guineas a number. The 
engravings are truly beautiful ; some of them have 
been colored, and are now on exhibition. ... I ex- 
pect to visit the Duke of Northumberland, who has 
promised to subscribe for my work. . . . One hun- 
dred subscribers for my book will pay all expenses. 
Some persons are terrified at the sum of one hun- 
dred and eighty guineas for a work," nearly a 
thousand dollars, "but this amount is to be 
spread over eight years, during which time the 
volumes will be gradually completed. I am feted, 
feasted ; elected honorary member of societies, 
making money by my exhibition and by my paint- 
ings. It is Mr. Audubon here, and Mr. Audubon 
there, and I can only hope that Mr. Audubon will 
not be made a conceited fool at last." There was 
no fear of this. He always remained the modest, 
earnest, devoted student of nature. 

He read before the Natural History Society a 
paper on the habits of the wild pigeon. He says, 
" I began that paper on Wednesday, wrote all day, 
and sat up until half-past three the next morning ; 
and so absorbed was my whole soul and spirit in 


the work, that I felt as if I were in the woods of 
America among the pigeons, and my ears were 
filled with the sound of their rustling wings. 
After sleeping a few hours, I rose and corrected it. 
. . . Captain Hall expressed some doubts as to my 
views respecting the affection and love of pigeons, 
as if I made it human, and raised the possessors 
quite above the brutes. I presume the love of the 
mothers for their young is much the same as the 
love of woman for her offspring. There is but one 
kind of love ; God is love, and all his creatures 
derive theirs from his : only it is modified by the 
different degrees of intelligence in different beings 
and creatures." 

With all this attention, his heart was never 
callous to suffering. " I was sauntering along the 
streets," he says, " thinking of the beautiful aspects 
of nature, meditating on the power of the great 
Creator, on the beauty and majesty of his works, 
and on the skill he had given man to study them, 
when the whole train of my thoughts was suddenly 
arrested by a ragged, sickly-looking beggar boy. 
His face told of hunger and hardship, and I gave 
him a shilling and passed on. But turning again, 
the child was looking, after me, and I beckoned to 
him to return. Taking him back to my lodgings, I 
gave him all the garments I had which were worn, 
added five shillings more in money, gave him my 
blessing, arid sent him away rejoicing, and feeling 
myself as if God had smiled on me." 

There is no sympathy so sweet as that born of 


experience. Noble-hearted Audubon ! God had 
indeed "smiled on him." Hereafter he was to 
walk in the sunlight of that smile. He was to 
work, of course, for there is no approbation for 
idleness, but he was to know want no more. 

March 17, 1827, he issued the prospectus of his 
book, which was to cost him over one hundred 
thousand dollars. Here was courage, but he had 
been fighting obstacles all his life, and he believed 
he could succeed. In this he said, " The author 
has not contented himself, as others have done, 
with single profile views, but in very many in- 
stances has grouped his figures so as to represent 
the originals at their natural avocations, and has 
placed them on branches of trees, decorated with 
foliage, blossoms, and fruits, or amidst plants of 
numerous species. Some are seen pursuing their 
prey through the air, searching for food amongst 
the leaves and herbage, sitting in their nests, or 
feeding their young ; whilst others, of a different 
nature, swim, wade, or glide in or over their 
allotted element." 

Leaving Edinburgh, Audubon visited Newcastle, 
Leeds, York, Shrewsbury, and Manchester, securing 
a few subscribers to his work, at one thousand 
dollars each. It seemed difficult enough to spend 
a lifetime in preparing the book, without being 
obliged to perform the irksome and trying task of 
selling it ; but fame asks Herculean labors of its 

Often he was pained by ill-mannered refusals. 


How few are like Longfellow, who could say " no " 
so kindly, that it almost seemed like "yes." 
Audubon tells, in his journal, of an interview with 
the great banker Rothschild. On opening the 
letter brought by the naturalist, the baron said, 
" This is only a letter of introduction, and I expect 
from its contents that you are the publisher of 
some book or other, and need my subscription.'' 

No man can be truly great who knows how to be 
uncivil ! 

"Sir," he added, "I never sign my name to any 
subscription list, but you may send in your work 
and I will pay for a copy of it. I am busy, I wish 
you good-morning." 

When the book was sent, the baron exclaimed, 
" What, two hundred pounds for birds ! Why, sir, 
I will give you five pounds, and not a farthing 
more!" This offer was "declined with thanks," 
and the book taken back to the publishers. 

Very different from Rothschild was Sir Thomas 
Lawrence, the painter. Overwhelmed with work, 
he insisted on Audubon's remaining to his simple 
breakfast of boiled eggs and coffee, called at his 
rooms later, examined his drawings, and said he 
would bring a few purchasers, that very day. " In 
about two hours," says Audubon, "he returned 
with two gentlemen, to whom he did not introduce 
me, but who were pleased with my work, and one 
purchased the ' Otter Caught in a Trap,' for which 
he gave me twenty pounds sterling, and the other, 
'A Group of Common Rabbits,' for fifteen sover- 


eigns. I took the pictures to the carriage which 
stood at the door, and they departed, leaving me 
more amazed than I had been by their coming. 

" The second visit was much of the same nature, 
differing, however, chiefly in the number of per- 
sons he brought with him, which was three instead 
of two ; each one of whom purchased a picture, at 
seven, ten, and thirty-five pounds respectively ; 
and, as before, the party and the pictures left 
together in a splendid carriage with liveried foot- 
men. I longed to know their names, but, as Sir 
Thomas was silent respecting them, I imitated his 
reticence in restraining my curiosity, and remained 
in mute astonishment. . . . 

"Without the sale of these pictures, I was a 
bankrupt, when my work was scarcely begun, and 
in two days more I should have seen all my hopes 
of the publication blasted; for Mr. Havell, the 
engraver, had already called to say that on Satur- 
day I must pay him sixty pounds. I was then not 
only not worth a penny, but had actually borrowed 
five pounds a few days before, to purchase materi- 
als for my pictures. But these pictures which Sir 
Thomas sold for me enabled me to pay my bor- 
rowed money, and to appear full-handed when Mr. 
Havell called. Thus I passed the Rubicon ! " 

Blessings on thee, Sir Thomas Lawrence, carry- 
ing out Emerson's divine motto, "Help some- 
body ! " 

But Aiidubon did something more than try to 
obtain subscribers for his book. He says : " At 


that time I painted all day, and sold my work dur- 
ing the dusky hours of evening, as I walked 
through the Strand and other streets where the 
Jews reigned ; popping in and out of Jew shops or 
any others, and never refusing the offers made me 
for the pictures I carried fresh from the easel- 
Startling and surprising as this may seem, it is 
nevertheless true, and one of the curious events of 
my most extraordinary life. Let me add here, 
that I sold seven copies of the -Entrapped Otter,' 
in London, Manchester, and Liverpool, besides one 
copy presented to my friend Mr. Richard Bath- 
bone. In other pictures, also, I have sold from 
seven to ten copies, merely by changing the course 
of my rambles ; and strange to say, that when, in 
after years and better times, I called on the differ- 
ent owners to whom I had sold the copies, I never 
found a single one in their hands." 

Painting all day, and selling his pictures at 
night along the streets of London, all to bring out 
the " Birds of America " ! What a life history is 
between the leaves of that great work ! 

Sometimes, in his wanderings, he met poverty 
that made him " sick of London ; " an artist making 
caricatures, while his wife and six little children 
begged ; but he always gave part of what he had, 
and went back to his work, more than ever deter- 
mined to win. 

September 1, 1828, Audubon went to Paris, 
going first to Baron Cuvier. He was busy who 
is not that accomplishes anything ? and, while he 


cordially invited Audubon to dine, went on study- 
ing a small lizard. " Great men show politeness in 
a particular way," says Audubon ; " they receive 
you without much demonstration ; a smile suffices 
to assure you that you are welcome, and keep 
about their avocations as if you were a member of 
the family." 

Cuvier made a report of Audubon's work to the 
Academy of Sciences. He said, "It may be de- 
scribed in a few words as the most magnificent 
monument which has yet been erected to ornithol- 
ogy. . . . Formerly the European naturalists were 
obliged to make known to America the riches she 
possessed. ... If that of Mr. Audubon should be 
completed, we shall be obliged to acknowledge that 
America, in magnificence of execution, has sur- 
passed the world." 

Audubon also made the acquaintance of Baron 
Humboldt, Geoff roy Saint-Hilaire, and of Gerard, 
the painter, who said, " You are the king of orni- 
thological painters. We are all children in France 
or Europe. Who would have expected such things 
from the woods of America ! " 

After two months in Paris, he returned to Lon- 
don, and soon sailed for America. Once on his 
native soil, he says, " My heart swelled with joy, 
and all seemed like a pleasant dream at first ; but 
as soon as the reality was fairly impressed on my 
mind, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. I 
clasped my hands, and fell on my knees, and, 
raising my eyes to heaven, I offered my thanks to 


our God, that he had preserved and prospered me 
in my long absence, and once more permitted me to 
approach these shores so dear to me, and which 
hold my heart's best earthly treasures." 

He soon reached the Bayou Sara, and " came 
suddenly on my dear wife : we were both overcome 
with emotion, which found relief in tears." 

He remained with his wife three months, collect- 
ing birds and making drawings, and then both 
sailed together for England. 

During his absence he had been made a fellow 
of the Eoyal Society of London, much to his 
delight. Now that his " Birds of America " was 
coming out, he began earnestly upon a new work, 
"Ornithological Biography of the Birds of Amer- 
ica," containing nearly three thousand pages, and 
published for him by Mr. Black of Edinburgh. 
Two publishers refused this famous work, and 
Audubon published at his own expense. The first 
volume was finished in three months, and Mrs. 
Audubon copied it entire to send to America to 
secure copyright. 

Audubon worked untiringly. He wrote all day 
long, and " so full was my mind of birds and their 
habits, that in my sleep I continually dreamed of 

The "Birds of America" received good reviews 
in " Blackwood's Magazine," and elsewhere. Audu- 
bon said, "I have balanced my accounts with the 
'Birds of America,' and the whole business is really 
wonderful ; forty thousand dollars have passed 


through my hands for the completion of the first 
volume. Who would believe that a lonely indi- 
vidual, who landed in England without a friend 
in the whole country, and with only sufficient pecu- 
niary means to travel through it as a visitor, could 
have accomplished such a task as this publication ! 
Who would believe that once, in London, Audubon 
had only one sovereign left in his pocket, and did 
not know of a single individual to whom he could 
apply to borrow another, when he was on the verge 
of failure in the very beginning of his undertaking ! 
And, above all, who would believe that he extricated 
himself from all his difficulties, not by borrowing 
money, but by rising at four o'clock in the morn- 
ing, working hard all day, and disposing of his 
works at a price which a common laborer would 
have thought little more than sufficient remunera- 
tion for his work ! " 

In the four years required to bring out the work, 
fifty-six of his subscribers, representing the sum of 
fifty-six thousand dollars, abandoned him, and he 
was obliged to leave London, and go into the 
provinces to supply their places. 

September 3, 1831, Audubon returned to America, 
spent the winter in Eastern Florida, searching for 
birds and animals, and then some months in Labra- 
dor, having sent Victor to England to superintend 
the engraving of the drawings. In Labrador he 
collected one hundred and seventy-three skins of 
birds, and studied carefully the habits of the eider- 
duck, loons, wild geese, and other birds. Some- 


times he was so weary from drawing that " my 
neck and shoulders, and most of all my fingers, 
have ached from the fatigue. The fact is, I am 
growing old too fast, alas ! I feel it, and yet work 
I will, and may God grant me life to see the last 
plate of my mammoth work finished. 

"Labrador is so grandly wild and desolate," he 
said, "that I am charmed by its wonderful dreari- 
ness. . . . And yet how beautiful it is now, when 
your eye sees the wild bee, moving from one flower 
to another in search of food, which doubtless is as 
sweet to her as the essence of the orange and mag- 
nolia is to her more favored sister in Louisiana. 
The little ring-plover rearing its delicate and tender 
young; the eider-duck swimming man-of-war-like 
amid her floating brood, like the guardship of a 
most valuable convoy ; the white-crowned bunting's 
sonorous note reaching your ears ever and anon ; 
the crowds of sea-birds in search of places wherein 
to repose or to feed." 

On his return from Labrador, he went to Phila. 
delphia, Avhere he was arrested for one of his old 
partnership debts, and would have been taken to 
prison except for a friend who kindly offered bail. 
From here he went to the house of an old friend, 
Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, S. C., whose 
two daughters subsequently married the two sons 
of Audubon, Victor and John. He returned to 
London, and in 1834 and 1835 published the sec- 
ond and third volumes of the " Ornithological 
Biography." . 


In 1836 he came back to America for further 
research, and received a warm welcome from dis- 
tinguished men. Daniel Webster and Washington 
Irving became his earnest friends. The latter 
said that his work " was highly creditable to the 
nation," and deserved "national patronage." He 
dined with Andrew Jackson at the White House. 
On his return to England he wrote the fourth 
volume of the "Ornithological Biography," and 
the fifth the following year. 

This year, 1839, he returned to America to spend 
the rest of his life, purchased a home on the banks 
of the Hudson in upper New York, which he called 
" Minnie's Land," the Scotch word for mother, this 
being the name by which he generally addressed his 
wife, to whom he left the whole of it at his death. 

He was now sixty, but his work was not done. 
He immediately began to bring out his " Birds of 
America " in seven octavo volumes, with the figures 
reduced and lithographed. He exhibited in New 
York his wonderful collection of drawings, several 
thousands of birds and animals, all the size of life, 
by his own hands. 

In 1843, taking his son Victor, he started on an 
expedition to the Yellowstone River, to collect 
animals and drawings for another great work, the 
"Quadrupeds of North America." After nearly a 
year he returned, and began his book. In two 
years the first volume was ready ; but after this he 
could do no more. The rest of the great work wae 
finished by his sons after his death. 


In 1848 the quick, active mind failed. His wife 
read to him, led him like a child, and at the last 
fed him. One, at least, had never failed him, since 
the day when she gave the money she earned to 
send him to Europe to win renown. 

On Thursday morning, January 27, 1851, the 
eyes dulled for so long once more showed their 
former lustre and beauty. Audubon did not speak, 
but he seemed to know that the time had come 
for the last journey. He reached out his arms, 
clasped the hands of his wife and children, and 

Four days later, surrounded by distinguished 
friends, he was buried in Trinity Church cemetery, 
where his sons now rest beside him. A singularly 
guileless, sweet-natured man, who willed to do all 
this great work when a boy, and achieved it when 
a man, because he had willed it. 

Well says General James Grant Wilson, in the 
life of Audubon so admirably prepared by his 
wife, " Long after the bronze statue of the natural- 
ist, that we hope soon to see erected in the Central 
Park, shall have been wasted and worn beyond rec- 
ognition by the winds and rains of Heaven, while 
the towering and snow -covered peak of the Rocky 
Mountains known as Mount Audubon shall rear 
its lofty head among the clouds, while the little 
wren chirps about our homes and the robin and 
reed-bird sing in the green meadows, while the 
melody of the mocking-bird is heard in the- cypress 
swamps of Louisiana, or the shrill scream of the 


eagle on the frozen shores of the Xorthern seas, 
the name of John James Audubon, the gifted artist, 
the ardent lover of nature, and the admirable 
writer, will live in the hearts of his grateful coun- 


SAMUEL F. B. MORSE was born at the foot of 
Breed's Hill, Charlestown, Mass., April 27, 
1791. He was the eighth child in a family of 
eleven children, all of whom, except three sons, 
Samuel, Richard, and Sidney, died in their infancy. 

The father, Jedediah Morse, was a doctor of 
divinity, having studied under Jonathan Edwards, 
and was also* a journalist and writer of books. He 
helped to establish the "Boston Recorder," now 
the " Congregationalist," and with others laid the 
foundations of the Theological Seminary at Ando- 
ver, the American Board of Foreign Missions, the 
American Bible Society, and the American Tract 
Society. He was an impulsive, hopeful man of 
wonderful energy, and, as Daniel Webster said, he 
was " always thinking, always writing, always talk- 
ing, always acting." 

His wife, Elizabeth Ann Breese, was the grand- 
daughter of Samuel Finley, President of Princeton 
College, a w r oman of strong will, excellent judg- 
ment, and extremely pleasant manners. From the 
one, the boy Finley inherited energy and hope ; 
from the other, agreeable manners and indomitable 



[From the 1'u. trait Gallery of Eminent Men anil Women.] 


At four years of age Finley was sent to a school 
near the parsonage, kept by " Old Ma'am Rand." 
Being an invalid, she governed with a long rattan 
which reached from her chair across the school- 
room. Finley, early developing artistic tastes, 
sketched the teacher's face with a pin on a chest 
of drawers. Probably the picture was not hand- 
some, for the offender was punished by being 
pinned to her dress. Breaking away, and carrying 
part of the dress with him, the rattan did its ap- 
propriate work ! 

At seven he was sent to a school at Andover, and 
fitted for Phillips Academy. He received helpful 
letters from his father. At ten, Dr. Morse writes 
him : " Your natural disposition, my dear son, ren- 
ders it proper for me earnestly to recommend to 
you to attend to one thing at a time ; it is impossi- 
ble that you can do two things well at the same 
time, and I would therefore never have you attempt 
it. Never undertake to do what ought not to be 
done, and then, whatever you undertake, endeavor 
to do it in the best manner. It is -said of DeWitt, 
a celebrated statesman in Holland, who was torn 
to pieces in the year 1672, that he did the whole 
business of the republic, and yet had time left to 
go to assemblies in the evening, and sup in com- 

" Being asked how he could possibly find time 
to go through so much business, and yet amuse 
himself in the evenings as he did, he answered : 
1 There was nothing so easy, for that it was only 


doing one thing at a time, and never putting off 
anything till to-morrow that could be done to-day.' 
This steady and undissipated attention to one 
object is a sure mark of a superior genius, as 
hurry, bustle, and agitation are the never-failing 
symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind." 

At this early age Finley pored over Plutarch's 
"Lives' of Illustrious Men," and resolved, as 
many another boy from reading these volumes, to be 
somebody. There is scarcely a more important 
thing for a child than that parents should put into 
his or her hands stimulating and helpful books. 
When Finley was thirteen, he wrote a sketch of the 
" Life of Demosthenes," and sent it to his father. 

At fourteen he was admitted to the Freshman 
class at Yale, but did not attend college till the 
following year. He was a good scholar in geom- 
etry and history, but was especially fond of nat- 
ural philosophy and chemistry. Under Professor 
Jeremiah Day he began to study electricity, and 
witnessed the following experiments with great 
interest : " Let the fluid pass through a chain, or 
through any metallic bodies placed at small dis- 
tances from each other, the fluid in a dark room 
will be visible between the links of the chain, or 
between the metallic bodies. ... If the circuit 
be interrupted by several folds of paper, a perfo- 
ration will be made through it, and each of the 
leaves will be protruded by the stroke from the 
middle to the outward leaves." 

Writing upon this subject sixty years afterward, 


Morse said, "The fact that the presence of elec- 
tricity can be made visible in any desired part of 
the circuit was the crude seed which took root in 
my mind, and grew up into form, and ripened into 
the invention of the telegraph." 

Under Professor Benjamin Sillimah, a name 
greatly honored in science, Morse found great 
delight and profit. He wrote to his parents, that 
he should bring home "a chemical trough, gun- 
barrels, retorts, etc." 

With this fondness for science, Morse showed a 
decided ability in art. He took pictures of his 
classmates, at one dollar each, and miniatures on 
ivory at five dollars each, thus helping to pay his 
expenses. The price charged was very low, but 
possibly it was all the pictures were worth, for as 
yet he had never taken a lesson. 

Long before his college course was at an end, he 
had decided to become a painter, probably much 
against the unspoken wishes of his parents, who 
must have felt that poverty would be his compan- 
ion, for some years, at best. 

On going home to Charlestown, he attended a 
course of anatomical and surgical lectures in 
Boston. Washington Allston, then at the head of 
his profession in America, had spent two years in 
Boston, and was about to return to Europe. Morse 
went with him and took lodgings in London. At 
once he wrote home, "I only wish you had this 
letter now to relieve your minds from anxiety, for 
while I am writing I can imagine mother wishing 


that she could hear of my arrival, and thinking of 
thousands of accidents which may have befallen 
me. I wish that in an instant I could communicate 
the information / but three thousand miles are not 
passed over in an instant, and we must wait 
four long weeks before we can hear from each 

On the outside of this letter, yellow with age, 
he wrote toward the end of his life, " LONGING FOR 


In London he soon met Benjamin West, born in 
Springfield, Penn., then at the head of the Royal 
Academy in England. He had been poor and 
obscure ; now he was distinguished, and courted 
even by royalty. Morse, ever ambitious, soon ar- 
ranged to study under West, and became his 
devoted admirer. He wrote home : " Mr. West is 
in his seventy-fourth year, but to see him you 
would suppose him only about five-and-forty. . . . 
He expressed great attachment to his native coun- 
try, and he told me, as a proof of it, he presented 
them with this large picture (' Christ Healing the 
Sick'). I walked through his gallery of paintings of 
his own production. There were upwards of two 
hundred, consisting principally of the original 
sketches of his large pieces. He has painted in 
all upward of six hundred pictures, which is more 
than any artist ever did. with the exception of 
Rubens. Mr. West is so industrious now that it is 
hard to get access to him, and then only between 
the hours of nine and ten in the morning. He is 


working on eight or nine different pieces at present, 
and seems to be more enthusiastic than he ever 
was before. . . . No man, perhaps, ever passed 
through so much abuse, and I am confident no one 
ever bore up against its insolence with more noble- 
ness of spirit. With a steady perseverance in the 
pursuit of the sublimest profession, he has travelled 
on, heedless of his enemies, till he is sure of im- 
mortality. , 

" Excuse my fervor in the praise of this extraor- 
dinary man. ... I think there can be no stronger 
proof that human nature is the same always, 
than that men of genius in all ages have been 
compelled to undergo the same disappointments, 
and to pass through the same storms of calumny 
and abuse, doomed in their lifetime to endure 
the ridicule or neglect of the world, and to wait 
for justice till they were dead." 

How well, unknowingly, Morse foretold his own 
career ; disappointments, abuse, ridicule ! 

Stimulated by the industry and renown of West, 
he worked at his drawing from half-past seven in 
the forenoon until five in the afternoon, and then 
again in the evening. He learned what all per- 
sons learn, sooner or later, that there is no easy 
road to fame. 

West encouraged the young artist, and this 
added fuel to the flame of ambition. Desiring ad- 
mission to the Eoyal Academy, he spent two weeks 
in making a drawing from a small cast of the 
Farnese Hercules. Showing it to Mr. West for 


his criticism, West said, " Very well, sir, very well ; 
go on and finish it." 

" It is finished," replied Morse. 

" Oh, no," said Mr. West ; " look here, and here, 
and here." 

Morse drew a week longer, and again presented 
it. "Very well, indeed, sir," he said; "go on and 
finish it." 

" Is it not finished ? " asied Morse, half discour- 

" Not yet," said West ; " see, you have not 
marked that muscle, nor the articulations of the 

A third time he presented the drawing, and re- 
ceived the same advice as before. "I cannot 
finish it," said Morse, despairingly. 

"Well," said West, "I have tried you long 
enough. Now, sir, you have learned more by this 
drawing than you would have accomplished in double 
the time by a dozen half-finished beginnings. It 
is not numerous drawings, but the character of one, 
which makes a thorough draughtsman. Finish one 
picture, sir, and you are a painter." 

Morse was now admitted to the Eoyal Academy, 
and had visions of becoming great. He writes 
home : " I have just finished a model in clay of a 
figure (' The Dying Hercules '), my first attempt at 
sculpture. Mr. Allston is extremely pleased with 
it ; he says it is better than all the things I have 
done since I have been in England, put together, 
and says I must send a cast of it home to you, and 


that it will convince you that I shall make a 
painter. . . . Mr. West also was extremely de- 
lighted with it. He said it was not merely an 
academical figure, but displayed thought. He 
could not have paid me a higher compliment. . . . 
My passion for my art is so firmly rooted that I 
am confident no human power could destroy it. 
The more I study, the greater I think is its claim 
to the appellation of divine, and I never shall be 
able sufficiently to show my gratitude to my parents 
for enabling me to pursue that profession without 
which I am sure I should be miserable. And if it 
is my destiny to become GREAT, and worthy of a 
biographical memoir, my biographer will never be 
able to charge upon my parents that bigoted attach- 
ment to any individual profession, the exercise of 
which spirit by parents toward their children has 
been the ruin of some of the greatest geniuses." 

The model of the " Dying Hercules " was sent 
to the Society of Arts at the Adelphi, and Morse 
received the gold medal given for the best work in 
painting, sculpture, and architecture. 

Morse had taken letters of introduction to 
several prominent persons, like Wilberforce and 
Zachary Macaulay, the father of the historian, but 
he was too busy to use them. He gives another 
reason also poverty. He says, " With regard 
to my expenses, I got through the first year with 
two hundred pounds, and hope the same sum will 
carry me through the second. If you knew the 
manner in which we live, you would wonder how 


it was possible I could have made so great a change 
in my habits. I am obliged to screw and pinch 
myself in a thousand things in which I used to 
indulge myself at home. ... I breakfast on simple 
bread and butter, and two cups of coffee; I dine 
on either beef, mutton, or pork (veal being out of 
the question, as it is one shilling and six pence per 
pound), baked, with potatoes, warm perhaps twice 
a week, all the rest of the week cold; at tea, 
bread and butter, with two cups of tea. This is 
my daily round. 

" I have had no new clothes for nearly a year ; 
my best are threadbare, and my shoes are out at 
the toes ; my stockings all want to see my mother, 
and my hat is growing hoary with age. . . . ' But,' 
you will say. ' what do you do with the money, if 
you live thus sparingly ? ' Why, I will tell you 
the whole. When I first came to London, I was 
told, if I meant to support the character of a gen- 
tleman, I must take especial care of my personal 
appearance ; so I thought it a matter of course that 
I must spare no expense in order to appear well. 
So, this being first in my mind, I (supposing very 
wisely that London folks had nothing else to do 
but to see how I was dressed) laid out a consider- 
able part of my money on myself; meanwhile, 
picture-galleries and collections, with many other 
places which I ought constantly to have visited, 
and which cost some money, were neglected. And 
why ? Because I could not afford it. 

" Well, in process of time, I found no very par- 


ticular advantage to be gained by supporting the 
character of a gentleman, for these reasons : in the 
first place, nobody saw me ; in the second place, if 
they had seen me, they would not have known me ; 
and, thirdly, if they had known me, they would not 
have cared a farthing about me. So I thought 
within myself what I came to England for, and 
I found that it was not to please English folks, 
but to study painting ; and, as I found I must sac- 
rifice painting to dress and visiting, or dress and 
visiting to painting, I determined on the latter, 
and ever since have lived accordingly, and now the 
tables. are turned. I visit galleries and collections, 
purchase prints, etc. ; and when I am asked why 
I don't pay more attention to my dress, I reply 
that I cannot afford it." 

Morse had now painted the "Death of Her- 
cules," a large picture, eight feet by six feet and 
a half. The painting was received at the ex- 
hibition at Somerset House, though six hundred 
other works were refused. It was adjudged by 
the press to be one of the best nine among a thou- 
sand pictures ; many of them by such men as Tur- 
ner, Lawrence, and Wilkie. Surely, he had reason 
to be encouraged. 

What little leisure Morse could obtain he spent 
in reading the old poets, Spenser, Chaucer, Dante, 
and Tasso. He now made the acquaintance of 
Rogers, Coleridge, and others. Once, as he was 
going into the country with Coleridge, he took in 
the carriage Irving's " History of New York." On 


retiring, Coleridge took the book and began to 
read. Morse fell asleep, and in the morning was 
surprised to find the lights burning, and his friend 
still reading. It was now ten o'clock, and Cole- 
ridge was so absorbed that he did not know that 
the whole night had passed. Later, Irving and 
Coleridge became warm friends. 

In need of money, Morse repaired to Bristol, 
where he spent several months, having had the 
promise of work ; but not a single person called 
to look at his pictures, and not one came for a por- 
trait. He had already been abroad four years, 
and now stern necessity called him home. He 
had just finished a large picture, " The Judgment 
of Jupiter in the Case of Apollo, Marpessa, and 
Ida," to compete for the highest prize offered by 
the Eoyal Academy for historical composition; 
but as he could not be present to receive the pre- 
mium, he was not allowed to enter the picture. 
He accordingly brought it home with him, arriving 
in Boston October 18, 1815. 

Dr. Morse had engaged a studio for his son in 
Boston, and the "Judgment of Jupiter" was 
opened for exhibition. People came, and saw, and 
praised, and went away without leaving any orders 
for pictures. A year went by, and not one person 
offered to buy the " Judgment of Jupiter," an'd not 
one person ordered a historical work. This was 
indeed discouraging to an enthusiastic artist. He 
began now to turn his mind toward invention, for 
which he had a natural tendency ; and during the 


evenings he thought out an improvement in the 
common pump, one that could be adapted to 
the forcing-pump in the fire-engine. The pump 
and the " Judgment of Jupiter " certainly had not 
very much in common. 

The patent pump was put on exhibition on 
Gray's Wharf in Charlestown, but it did not cause 
money to flow into the pockets of its inventor. 

Disappointed in his art work, Morse took letters 
of introduction from his father to several ministers 
in the neighboring towns, and started out to paint 
portraits at fifteen dollars apiece. This was not 
very much better than the five-dollar miniatures 
on ivory while in college, especially as he had been 
to the expense of four years in Europe. 

At Concord, X. H., he had good success, writing 
home that he had " painted five portraits, had two 
more engaged, and many more talked of." While 
in London he had written to his parents, " I came 
very near being at my old game of falling in 
love ; but I find that love and painting are quar- 
relsome companions, and that the house of my 
heart was too small for both of them, so I have 
turned Mrs. Love out-of-doors. 'Time enough,' 
thought I (with true old-bachelor complacency), 
( time enough for you these ten years to come.' " 

But Morse did not wait ten years, for at twenty- 
four he fell in love with Lucretia P. Walker of 
Concord, and was engaged to her. She was not 
only beautiful, but of the same lovable and intel- 
lectual type as Grace Webster, who held the heart 


of Daniel Webster while lie lived. She combined 
sound judgment with much tenderness of feeling. 
Morse was a tall, graceful, handsome young man, 
with blue eyes and winsome manners. 

Dr. Morse and his wife at once sent for their 
prospective daughter to visit them. She came, and, 
as she pleased a mother who idolized Finley, it is 
safe to conclude that she was indeed lovely. 

In January, 1818, having been assured that he 
would find work in Charleston, S. C., he sailed 
from New York, and met with a pleasant recep- 
tion in the home of his uncle, Dr. Firiley. He 
found the society agreeable, but month after month 
passed, and there was not a single request for a 
portrait. At last, as he was about to return to 
New England, he begged his uncle to sit for a 
painting, as a small return for his kindness. He 
did so, and an admirable picture resulted. 

Friends came to see it. At once Charleston per- 
ceived that a real artist was in the city. He soon 
had one hundred and fifty orders at sixty dollars 
each ! Hope came again to his heart ; after a few 
months he returned to Boston, and October 1, 1818, 
he married Lucretia Walker. 

At the request of the Common Council of 
Charleston, he now painted the portrait of James 
Monroe, then President of the United States, and 
a year later went again to South Carolina, leaving 
his wife and an infant daughter in Concord, with 
her parents. On his return, Dr. Morse having re- 
signed his pastorate at Charlestown, and moved to 


New Haven, Ct., Finley also moved thither. Here 
he found delight in renewing his studies of 
galvanism and electricity under Professor Silli- 

Tiring of portraits, and longing for preeminence 
in art, he conceived the idea of a historical piece, 
the * House of Representatives," with eighty por- 
traits of individual members. For this purpose he 
went to Washington, and began his work in ear- 
nest. He writes to his young wife : " I am up at 
daylight, have my breakfast and prayers over, and 
commence the labors of the day long before the 
workmen are called to work on the Capitol by the 
bell. This I continue unremittingly till one 
o'clock, when I dine in about fifteen minutes, and 
then pursue my labors until tea, which scarcely 
interrupts me, as I often have my cup of tea in 
one hand and pencil in the other. Between ten 
and eleven o'clock I retire to rest. This has been 
my course every day (Sundays, of course, excepted) 
since I have been here, making about fourteen 
hours study out of the twenty-four. This, you 
will say, is too hard, and that I shall injure my 
health. I can say that I never enjoyed better 
health, and my body, by the simple fare I live on, 
is disciplined to this course. ... I have had a 
great deal of difficulty with the perspective of my 
picture. But I have conquered, and have accom- 
plished my purpose. After having drawn in the 
greater part three times, I have as many times 
rubbed it all out again. I have been, several 


times, from daylight until eleven o'clock at night, 
solving a simple problem. 

"How I do long to see that dear little girl of 
mine, and to hear her sweet prattle ! Instruct her 
early, my dear wife, in the most important of all 
concerns ; teach her that there is a great Father 
above, her obligations to him and to her Saviour. 
Kiss her often for papa, and tell her he will come 
back one of these days." 

So absorbed did he become in this picture, that 
once he arose in the night, mistaking the light of 
the moon for the day, and went to his work, and 
another time attempted to enter the hall on Sun- 
day, forgetting even the days of the week. When 
the work was finished and exhibited, everybody 
was too much interested in his own affairs to care 
about congressmen, and the picture failed to attract 
the public. It proved a loss pecuniarily, and was 
purchased by an Englishman and taken to England. 
Twenty-five years afterward, it was found in the 
third story of a store in New York, nailed against 
a board partition, and covered with dust. It had 
been sent over from London by a house which had 
advanced a sum of money upon it while in Eng- 
land. The picture afterward became the property 
of the artist Daniel Huntington. 

Morse now went to Albany, hoping to obtain 
some patronage from public men. After long 
waiting, he writes to his wife : " I have not as yet 
received any application for a portrait. Many tell 
me I have come at the wrong time the same tune 


that has been rung in my ears so long ! I hope 
the right time will come by and by. The winter, 
it is said, is the proper season ; but, as it is better 
in the South in that season, and it will be more 
profitable to be there, I shall give Albany a thor- 
ough trial and do my best. If I should not find 
enough to employ me here, I think I shall return 
to New York and settle there. This I had rather 
not do at present, but it may be the best that I 
can do. Roaming becomes more and more irk- 
some. Imperious necessity alone drives me to this 
course. Don't think by this I am faint-hearted. 
I shall persevere in this course, painful as is the 
separation from my family, until Providence 
clearly points out my duty to return." 

Morse now turned his attention to the invention 
of a machine for carving marble, from which he 
hoped for pecuniary success, but success did not 
result from it. He now went to New York to try 
his fortune. But things were no brighter. 

He wrote to Lucretia : " My last two letters 
have held out to you some encouraging prospects 
of success here, but now they seem darkened again. 
I have had nothing to do this week thus far but to 
wait patiently. I have advertised in both of the 
city papers that I should remain one week to re- 
ceive applications, but as yet it has produced no 
effect. ... I sleep in my room on the floor, and 
put my bed out of sight during the day, as at 
Washington. ... I have been active in calling on 
my friends and inviting them to my room ; they 


have promised to come, but as yet few have called. 
As far as human foresight can perceive, my pros- 
pects seem gloomy indeed. The only gleam of 
hope and I cannot underrate it is from confi- 
dence in God. When I look upward, it calms my 
apprehensions for the future, and I seem to hear 
a voice saying : ' If I clothe the lilies of the field, 
shall I not also clothe you ? ' Here is my strong 
confidence, and I will wait patiently for the direc- 
tion of Providence." 

Again he writes to his wife : " My cash is almost 
gone, and I begin to feel some anxiety and per- 
plexity to know what to do. I have advertised, 
and visited, and hinted, and pleaded, and even 
asked one man to sit, but all to no purpose. . . . 
My expenses, with the most rigid economy too, are 
necessarily great ; my rent to-morrow will amount 
to thirty-three dollars, and I have nothing to pay 
it with. What can I do ? I have been here five 
weeks, and there is not the smallest prospect now 
of any difference as to business." 

He now attempted to obtain a situation in the 
legation about to be sent to Mexico. The place 
was promised, and Morse went to Washington, 
only to find that the expedition had been aban- 

There was an occasional rift in the clouds, as 
when the corporation of the city of New York com- 
missioned Morse to paint for them" a portrait of 
General Lafayette, then in Washington, the price 
to be about one thousand dollars. As Sully, Peale, 


Inman, and other prominent artists were competi- 
tors in the application for this picture, to receive 
the commission was indeed an honor. 

Morse now wrote cheerfully to his wife : " When 
I consider how wonderfully things are working for 
the promotion of the great and long desired event, 
that of being constantly with my dear family, 
all unpleasant feelings are absorbed in this joyful 
anticipation, and I look forward to the spring of 
the year with delightful prospects of seeing my 
dear family permanently settled with me in our 
own hired house here." 

February 8, 1825, he wrote his wife that he had 
met Lafayette, " the man whose beloved name has 
rung from one end of this continent to the other, 
whom all flock to see, whom all delight to 

That very day a letter was penned him, not this 
time by the wife, but by his father. " My affection- 
ately beloved son: Mysterious are the ways of 
Providence. My heart is in pain and deeply sor- 
rowful, while I announce to you the sudden and 
unexpected death of your dear and deservedly 
loved wife. Her death proved to be an affection of 
the heart, incurable had it been known. ... I 
wrote you yesterday that she was convalescent. So 
she then appeared and so the doctor pronounced. 
She was up about five o'clock yesterday afternoon, 
to have her bed made, as usual ; was unusually 
cheerful and social ; spoke of the pleasure of being 
with her dear husband in New York ere long; 


stepped into bed herself, fell back, with a momen- 
tary struggle, on her pillow ; her eyes were imme- 
diately fixed, the paleness of death overspread her 
countenance, and in five minutes more, without the 
slightest motion, her mortal life terminated. 

" It happened that, just at this moment, I was 
entering her chamber-door, with Charles in my 
arms, to pay her my usual visit, and to pray with 
her. The nurse met me affrighted, calling for help. 
Your mother, the family, and neighbors, full of the 
tenderest sympathy and kindness, and the doctor, 
thronged the house in a few minutes ; everything 
was done that could be done, to save her life. But 
her appointed time had come, and no earthly skill 
or power could stay the hand of death. It was the 
Lord who gave her to you, the chiefest of all your 
earthly blessings, and it is he that has taken her 
away ; and may you be enabled, my son, from 
the heart to say, 'Blessed be the name of the 
Lord ! ' " 

The heart of Morse was well nigh broken. The 
woman he had idolized had gone from him in a 
moment. He wrote back to his father : " Oh, is it 
possible ? is it possible ? Shall I never see my 
dear wife again ? But I cannot trust myself to 
write on the subject. I need your prayers, and 
those of Christian friends, to God for support. I 
fear I shall sink under it. 

" Oh, take good care of her dear children ! 
"Your agonized son, 



Travelling by stage, lie did not reach New Haven 
till his wife had been buried a week. A month 
later he wrote to a friend : " I dare not yet give 
myself up to the full survey of its desolating 
effects ; every day brings to my mind a thousand 
new and fond connections with dear Lucretia, all 
now ruptured. I feel a dreadful void, a heart-sick- 
ness, which time does not seem to heal, but rather 
to aggravate. You know the intensity of the 
attachment which existed between dear L. and me, 
never for a moment interrupted by the smallest 
cloud ; an attachment founded, I trust, in the 
purest love, and daily strengthening by all the 
motives which the ties of nature and more 
especially of religion furnish. 

" I found in dear L. everything that I could wish. 
Such ardor of affection, so uniform, so unaffected, 
I never saw nor read of, but in her. My fear with 
regard to the measure of my affection toward her, 
was not that I might fail of ' loving her as my own 
flesh,' but that I should put her in the place of Him 
who has said, < Thou shalt have no other gods but 
me.' I felt this to be my greatest danger, and to be 
saved from this idolatry was often the subject of 
my earnest prayers. If I had desired anything 
in my dear L. different from what she was, it would 
have been that she had been less lovely. My whole 
soul seemed wrapped up in her ; with her was 
connected all that I expected of happiness on 

She was but twenty -five, and had shared only the 


sorrows and privations of her young husband. 
How pitiful it seemed that she could not live to 
share his grand success. Whatever may come into 
a man's life afterwards, he never forgets an affec- 
tion like this. It blossoms in the warm sunlight 
of his youth ; it never withers, even though other 
flowers take root in the heart. 

Truly says George Eliot : " There is no despair 
so absolute as that which comes with the first 
moments of our first great sorrow, when we have 
not yet known what it is to have suffered and be 
healed, to have despaired and to have recovered 

This despair seemed to have settled upon Morse. 
He went back to New York, and now had plenty of 
work, but he said, " After being fatigued at night, 
and having my thoughts turned to my irreparable 
loss, I am ready almost to give up. The thought 
of seeing my dear Lucretia, and returning home to 
her, served always to give me fresh courage and 
spirits whenever I felt worn down by the labors of 
the day, and now I hardly know what to substitute 
in her place." 

Hard, indeed, it seemed, that this " plenty of 
work " did not come in Lucretia' s life-time. Why 
are so many of the best and sweetest things in this 
world a little too late in their coming ? Is it 
because perfection attained is not best for mor- 
tals ? 

About this time the National Academy of Design 
was organized, and Morse was made president, 


holding this position for eighteen years, till his 
work on the telegraph required his whole attention. 
These years were extremely busy years. So 
numerous were his sitters, that he was obliged to 
send many to his artist friends. In his evenings 
he prepared a series of lectures on the Fine Arts, 
which he delivered to large and fashionable audi- 
ences at the New York Athenaeum. He also wrote 
at this time a life of Lucretia Maria Davidson, a 
young poet who died at Plattsburg, N. Y., when 
she was seventeen, and several pamphlets against 
the growing power of the Romish Church. 

Four years after the death of his wife he sailed 
for Italy, still further to study his beloved art. 
In London he again met Kogers, the poet, " he 
has not the proverbial lot of the poet, he is not 
poor, for he is one of the wealthiest bankers, and 
lives in splendid style," said Morse, Turner, " the 
best landscape-painter living," Irving, our secretary 
of legation, and other distinguished men. 

For three years Morse remained in Europe, in 
Eome becoming the friend of Thorwaldsen, whose 
portrait he painted ; in Florence, of Horatio Green- 
ough, the sculptor, of James Fenimore Cooper, 
and many others. In Paris, Morse painted the 
"Gallery of the Louvre," working from nine till 
four daily, meeting Baron Humboldt, and receiving 
the cordial hospitality of General Lafayette. 
^ October 1, 1832, he sailed from Havre, on the 
packet ship Sully, for New York. That passage 
marked an epoch not only in the life of S. F. B. 


Morse, but an epoch in American progress. At 
the dinner-table the conversation turned upon recent 
discoveries in electro-magnetism, and the experi- 
ments of Ampere with the electro-magnet. Morse 
said, " If the presence of electricity can be made 
visible in any part of the circuit," and he had seen 
that it could years before in the class-room at Yale 
College, " I see no reason why intelligence may not 
be transmitted instantaneously by electricity." 

He thought the subject over as he walked upon 
the deck, and as he lay in his berth, too deeply 
interested to sleep. If intelligence could be trans- 
mitted, it could be recorded. He took from his 
pocket a note-book, and thought out his alphabet 
of dots and lines. He showed his sketches to his 
fellow-passengers, not a wise thing, as it proved, 
when, later, one of the persons on board laid claim 
to the invention, causing some years of litigation. 

When the vessel reached New York, Morse said, 
"Well, captain, should you hear of the telegraph 
one of these days as the wonder of the world, 
remember the discovery was made on board the 
good ship Sully." 

Electricity had been known and studied since 
early times. It had been ascertained that the 
electric force could be stored up. as in the Leyden 
jar, and that it could be conducted through long 
metallic wires. The discovery of the Voltaic pile, 
or battery, in 1800, gave a great impetus to the 
study. Oersted of Copenhagen found that the 
position of the magnetic needle may be changed 


by the electric current, and that a magnet will 
induce electricity in a coil of wire. Schweigger 
of Halle discovered that "the deflection of the 
needle may be increased by coiling an insulated 
wire in a series of ovals or flat rings, compactly 
disposed, in a loop, and conducting the current 
around the needle from end to end." Ampere 
developed the theory of electro-magnetism, and 
proposed to the French Academy in 1820 a plan 
for a telegraph, in which there was to be a needle 
for each letter/] 

In 1827 Morse had listened to a course of lectures, 
given by Prof. James Freeman Dana, upon these 
matters, so that the subject was still fresh in his 
mind when he crossed the ocean in the Sully. 
Prof. Joseph Henry's important discoveries were 
also well known. 

!_Says Prof. E. K Horsford of Cambridge, Mass., 
in the admirable life of Morse written by Dr. 
Samuel Irenaeus Prime : " He knew generally, 
when he stepped on board the Sully, in 1832, 
that a soft-iron horseshoe-shaped bar of iron could 
be rendered magnetic while a current of galvanic 
electricity was passing through a wire wound round 
it; and he knew that electricity had been trans- 
mitted, apparently instantaneously, through wires 
of great length, by Franklin and others. ... In 
the leisure of ship-life the idea of a recording/ 
electric telegraph seized Professor Morse's mind, 
and he gave expression to his conviction that it was 
As it was possible to dispatch and to 


arrest the current, he conceived that some device 
could be found for compelling it to manifest it- 
self by this intermittent action, and produce a 

" He knew, for he had witnessed it years before, 
that by means of a battery and an electro-magnet 
reciprocal motion could be produced. He knew 
that the force which produced it could be trans- 
mitted along a wire. He believed that the battery 
current could be made, through an electro-magnet, 
to produce physical effects at a distance. He saw 
in his mind's e}*e the existence of an agent and a 
medium by which reciprocal motion could be not 
only produced, but controlled, at a distance. The 
question that addressed itself to him at the outset 
was naturally this : ' How can I make use of the 
simple up-and-down motion of opening and closing 
a circuit to write an intelligible message at one end 
of a wire, and at the same time print it at the 
other?' . . . 

" Like many a kindred work of genius, it was in 
nothing more wonderful than in its simplicity. 
First, he caused a continuous ribbon or strip of 
paper to move under a pencil by clock-work, that 
could be wound up. The paper moved horizontally. 
The pencil moved only up and down ; when resting 
on the paper it made a mark if for an instant 
only, a dot ; if for a longer time, a line. When 
lifted from the paper it left a blank. . . . The 
grandeur of this wonderful alphabet of dots, lines, 
and spaces has not been fully appreciated. . . . 


" Not one of all the brilliant scientific men who 
have attached their names to the history of electro- 
magnetism had brought the means to produce the 
practical registering telegraph. Some of them had 
ascended the tower that looked out on the field of 
conquest. Some of them brought keener vision 
than others. Some of them stood higher than 
others ; but the genius of invention had not recog- 
nized them. There was needed an inventor."^! 

As soon as Morse left the ship Sully, and met 
his brothers Richard and Sidney, he told them that 
he had made an important invention, " one that 
would astonish the world, and of the success of 
which he was perfectly sanguine." He became an 
inmate of Richard's house, living there several 

From this time onward for twelve years he 
labored to give his telegraph to mankind; labored 
in the midst of distressing poverty, the ridicule of 
acquaintances, and the indifference of the world. 
Three motherless children were dependent upon 
him, but he could do little for them. 

On the corner of Nassau and Beekman Streets, 
in the newspaper building erected by his brothers, 
they were the editors and proprietors of the 
" New York Observer," in the fifth story, a room 
was assigned to him which he used for studio, 
sleeping-room, kitchen, and workshop. On one 
side was his cot, on the other his tools and crude 
machine. He whittled the models, and then made 
the moulds and castings. Here, from day to day, 


the simplest food was brought him, he preparing 
his own tea. 

In the year 1835, having been appointed professor 
of the Literature of the Arts of Design in the New 
York City University, he took rooms in the third 
story of the university building. " There," he says, 
"I immediately commenced, with very limited 
means, to experiment upon my invention^My first 
instrument was made up of an old picture or canvas 
frame fastened to a table ; the wheels of an old 
wooden clock, moved by a weight to carry the 
paper forward ; three wooden drums, upon one of 
which the paper was wound and passed over the 
other two; a wooden pendulum suspended to the 
top piece of the picture or stretching-frame, and 
vibrating across the paper as it passes over the 
centre wooden drum ; a pencil at the lower end 
of the pendulum, in contact with the paper ; an 
electro-magnet fastened to a shelf across the picture 
or stretching-frame, opposite to an armature made 
fast to the pendulum ; a type rule, and type for 
breaking the circuit, resting on an endless band, 
composed of carpet-binding, which passed over two 
wooden rollers, moved by a wooden crank, and 
carried forward by points projecting from the bot- 
tom of the rule downward into the carpet-binding ; 
a lever, with a small weight on the upper side ; and 
a tooth, projecting downward at one end, operated 
on by the type ; and a metallic fork, also projecting 
downward over two mercury -cups ; and a short cir- 
cuit of wire, embracing the helices of the electro- 


magnet connected with the positive and negative 
poles of the battery, and terminating in the 

Morse was now so poor that he bought his food 
in small quantities from some grocery, and pre- 
pared it himself. He says, " To conceal from my 
friends the stinted manner in which I lived, I was 
in the habit of bringing my food to my room in 
the evenings, and this was my mode of life for 
many years." 

In this year, 1835, says Professor Horsford, 
" Morse made his discovery of the relay, the most 
brilliant of all the achievements to which his name 
must be forever attached. It was the discovery of 
a means by which the current, which through dis- 
tance from its source had become feeble, could be 
reenforced or renewed. This discovery, according 
to tlie different objects for which it is employed, is 
variously known as the registering magnet, the 
local circuit, the marginal circuit, the repeater, 
etc. It made transmission from one point on a 
main line through indefinitely great distances, and 
through an indefinite number of branch lines, and 
to an indefinite number of way-stations, and regis- 
tration at all, possible and practicable, from a 
single act of a single operator." 

Poo'r, longing for money to carry forward his 
plans, despondent lest some one think out a kin- 
dred machine and supplant him, Morse was also 
suffering from injustice in his art work. Our 
government having offered to American artists 


commissions to paint pictures for the panels in the 
Kotunda of the Capitol, the friends of Morse urged 
that he, as the president of the National Academy 
of Design, be one of the artists chosen by the com- 
mittee. John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the 
United States, and one of the committee, urged 
that foreign artists be allowed to compete, stating 
that no American artists were competent for the 
work. This, of course, gave offence, and James 
Fenimore Cooper wrote a severe article, in the 
"New York Evening Post," upon Mr. Adams's re- 
marks. The article was attributed to Morse, and 
his name was rejected by the committee. This 
was a great disappointment. 

He said, years afterward, " The blow I received 
from Congress . . . has almost destroyed my 
enthusiasm for my art. ... I have not painted a 
picture since that decision. . . . When I applied 
to paint one of the Rotunda pictures, I was in my 
full vigor. I had just returned from three years' 
hard study in Italy, . . . and felt a consciousness 
of ability to execute a work creditable to my coun- 
try. I hazarded everything almost for this single 
object. When so unexpectedly I was repelled, I 
staggered under the blow. I have endeavored in 
every way to prevent its effects upon my mind ; but 
it is a thorn which perpetually obtrudes its point, 
and would goad me to death were it not for its 
aspect in the light of God's overruling providence. 
Then all is right." 

From time to time prominent men came to the 


university, to see the telegraph. They saw, thought 
it wonderful, doubted its practicability, and did 
not offer to invest any money in the enterprise. 
Finally, in 1837, Mr. Alfred Vail, a young graduate 
of the University of the City of New York, became 
interested, helped to construct an improved machine 
at his father's brass- works at Speedwell, 1ST. J., for 
Morse to take to Washington for exhibition, and 
provided the means for his going. 

After five long years, Morse had finally found 
some one ready to help. Arriving at Washington, 
he obtained the use of the room of the Committee 
on Commerce, to show his telegraph. Congressmen 
came, wondered, and went away doubting. 

He now caused a respectful memorial to be pre- 
sented to Congress, asking an appropriation of 
thirty thousand dollars, to test the telegraph be- 
tween two cities. The petition was referred to a 
committee, quietly ignored, and Morse heard no 
more concerning it/3 

He sailed for Europe in 1838, to take out a 
patent for his work, but could obtain none in 
England, as Wheatstone and Cooke had already 
patented a magnetic-needle telegraph, entirely un- 
like that of Morse, invented four years later, says 
Professor Horsford, but brought before the public 
about the same time, 1837. In point of active use, 
Wheatstone's preceded Morse's telegraph by six 
years, on account of the indifference of Congress 
in helping the inventor. 

In Paris, Morse submitted his telegraph to the 


Institute, and Arago, Humboldt, and others were 
delighted with it. As Morse was sending a word 
from one room to the other, Robert Walsh said to 
him, "The next word you may write is 'IMMOR- 
TALITY,' for the sublimity of this invention is of 
surpassing grandeur. I see now that all physical 
obstacles, which may for a while hinder, will inevi- 
tably be overcome. The problem is solved ; MAN 


Morse returned to New York after eleven 
months, disappointed that Congress had done noth- 
ing, " without," as he said, " a farthing in my 
pocket, and have to borrow even for my meals." 
In Paris, having learned from M. Daguerre, the in- 
ventor of the daguerreotype, the process, Morse 
introduced it in this country, and earned enough 
by taking pictures to reimburse him for his Euro- 
pean journey. Many crowded to his rooms to be 
taught, and he cheerfully imparted the knowledge 
he possessed. 

As the months went by and Congress did noth- 
ing, Morse became despondent. He had not the 
means even to pay postage on letters. He said, 
" I am sick at heart. ... I feel at times almost 
ready to cast the whole matter to the winds, and 
turn my attention forever from the subject." The 
Vails were unable to help the enterprise further, 
at present. Morse was still teaching a few pupils 
at the university. Gen. Strother, of Virginia, 
"Porte Crayon," thus tells of Morse's pecuniary 


condition : " He was very poor. I remember that 
when my second quarter's pay was due, my re- 
mittance from home did not come as expected; 
and one day the professor came in, and said, 
courteously : 

" ' Well, Strother, my boy, how are we off for 
money ? ' 

" ' Why, professor,' I answered, ' I am sorry to 
say I have been disappointed; but I expect a 
remittance next week.' 

" ' Next week,' he repeated, sadly ; ' I shall be 
dead by that time.' 

" ' Dead, sir ? ' 

" ' Yes, dead by starvation ! ' 

" I was distressed and astonished. I said, hur- 
riedly : ' Would ten dollars be of any service ? ' 

" ' Ten dollars would save my life ; that is all it 
would do.' 

" I paid the money, all that I had, and we dined 
together. It was a modest meal, but good, and, 
after he had finished, he said : ' This is my first 
meal in twenty-four hours. Strother, don't be an 
artist. It means beggary. Your life depends 
upon people who know nothing of your art, and 
care nothing for you. A house-dog lives better, 
and the very sensitiveness that stimulates an 
artist to work keeps him alive to suffering.' " 

Even the janitor of the University building said 
to a young man who was looking for a studio for 
himself : " You will have an artist for your neigh- 
bor, though he is not here much of late ; he seems 


to be getting rather shiftless, he is wasting his 
time over some silly invention, a machine by which 
he expects to send messages from one place to 
another. He is a very good painter, and might do 
well if he would only stick to his business ; but, 
Lord ! " he added, with a sneer of contempt, " the 
idea of telling by a little streak of lightning what 
a body is saying at the other end of it ! " 

"Judge of my astonishment," says the young 
man, " when he informed me that the ( shiftless 
individual,' whose foolish waste of time so much 
excited his commiseration, was none other than the 
president of the National Academy of Design, 
the most exalted position, in my youthful artistic 
fancy, it was possible for mortal to attain." 

Once more, in some way, Morse obtained the 
money to go to Washington, and make another 
effort. December 30, 1842, a bill was at last 
submitted, asking for the thirty-thousand-dollar 
appropriation. It received much ridicule from 
some of the members. One suggested that there 
should be an appropriation for mesmeric experi- 
ments ; another suggested the same for Millerism. 
At last the vote was taken in the House, Morse 
sitting in the gallery watching the result with 
feverish anxiety. The vote stood 89 yeas to 83 

Would it pass the Senate ? The amount of 
business to be transacted made its coming up 
improbable. The last day of the session came. 
Morse sat all the day and evening in the gallery, 


and finally went to his hotel, nearly prostrated 
from disappointment. 

In the morning, as he came down to breakfast. 
Annie Gr. Ellsworth, the daughter of his old friend, 
the Commissioner of Patents, came toward him 
with a bright smile, saying : " I have come to 
congratulate you ! " 

" For what, my dear friend ? " 
" On the passage of your bill." 

Morse could scarcely believe the good news, 
that the bill had passed, in the last moments of the 
session, without opposition. He was nearly over- 
come with joy, and told the young lady that she 
should send the first message over the first line. 

He at once proceeded to construct the first line 
of his electric telegraph between Washington and 
Baltimore. Ezra Cornell, later one of the most 
successful constructors and largest proprietors of 
telegraphs, and the founder of Cornell University, 
was employed at a salary of one thousand dollars a 

After many perplexities, the line was completed. 
On May 24, 1844, Morse invited his friends to 
assemble in the chamber of the United States 
Supreme Court, where he had his instrument in 
connection with Baltimore. Annie Ellsworth's 
mother had suggested to her these words from the 
Bible, for the first message : " What hath God 
wrought ! " No words could have been more in 
accordance with Morse's feelings. Taking his seat 
at the instrument, he spelled out the words, and 


instantly they were received by Mr. Vail in 
Baltimore, who resent them the same moment to 
Washington. The strip of paper on which this 
message is printed is now in the Athenaeum at 
Hartford, Conn. 

What must have been Professor Morse's feelings 
at that moment. The day of triumph had come 
the twelve weary years of poverty were over. 
Hereafter he was to be like one of the princes of 
the world. 

A telegraph company was formed which offered 
to sell the telegraph to the government for one 
hundred thousand dollars. Congress refused to 
buy, much to the subsequent profit of the Morse 
company. In less than thirty years, the Morse 
telegraph was used in America upon two hundred 
and fifty thousand miles of wire, and in foreign 
countries upon six hundred thousand miles of wire, 
while the telegraph receipts throughout the world 
were about forty million dollars yearly.^ 

There were many amusing incidents in connec- 
tion with this early telegraph. " A pretty little 
girl tripped into the Washington City termination, 
and, after a great deal of hesitation and blushing, 
asked how long it would take to send to Balti- 
more. The interesting appearance of the little 
questioner attracted Mr. Morse's attention, and he 
very blandly replied, ' One second ! ' 

"'Oh, how delightful, how delightful!' ejacu- 
lated the little beauty, her eyes glistening with 
delight. ' One second only ; here, send this even 


quicker if you can.' And Mr. Morse found in his 
hand a neatly folded, gilt-edged note, the very 
perfume and shape of which told a volume of love. 

" ' I cannot send this note,' said Mr. Morse, with 
some feeling ; ' it is impossible.' 

" ' Oh, do, do ! ' implored the distracted girl. 
' William and I have had a quarrel, and I shall die 
if he don't know that I forgive him in a second. 
I know I shall.' 

"Mr. Morse still objected to sending the note, 
when the fair one, brightening up, asked, ' You will, 
then, send me on, won't you ? ' 

" ' Perhaps,' said one of the clerks, ' it would 
take your breath away to travel forty miles in a 

" ' Oh, no, it won't ! no, it won't, if it carries me 
to William ! The cars in the morning go so slow I 
can't wait for them.' 

"Mr. Morse now comprehended the mistake 
which the petitioner was laboring under, and at- 
tempted to explain the process of conveying impor- 
tant information along the wires. The letter-writer 
listened a few moments, impatiently, and then 
rolled her burning epistle into a ball, in the excite- 
ment under which she labored, and thrust it into 
her bosom. 

" ' It's too slow ! ' she finally exclaimed ; ' it's too 
slow ! and my heart will break before William 
knows I forgive him ; and you are a cruel man, 
Mr. Morse,' said the fair creature, the tears coming 
into her eyes, ' that you won't let me travel by the 


telegraph to see William.' And, full of emotion^ 
she left the office." 

All these years Morse was longing for a home. 
In 1845 he wrote his daughter, who was now mar- 
ried and living in Porto Kico, in the West Indies, 
"I do long for the time, if it shall be permitted, 
to have you, with your husband and little Charles, 
around me ; I feel my loneliness more and more 
keenly every day. Fame and money are, in them- 
selves, a poor substitute for domestic happiness : 
as means to that end, I value them. Yesterday 
was the sad anniversary (the twentieth) of your 
dear mother's death, and I spent the most of it in 
thinking of her." 

Two years later he purchased two hundred acres 
on the Hudson Biver, near Poughkeepsie, calling it 
" Locust Grove," and built a handsome and spacious 
Italian villa for his residence. With the telegraph 
in his library, he could now converse with men in 
all parts of the world. Here he gathered his chil- 
dren and grandchildren around him. He was now 
fifty-six years old. Fame and money had come 
late in life. The next year he married Miss Sarah 
E. Griswold, the daughter of his cousin, a lady 
thirty years his junior. 

His life here was peaceful and happy, most of 
the day being spent in reading and writing. He 
was very fond of nature. One of his daughters 
writes : " He loved flowers. He would take one in 
his hand, and talk for hours about its beauty, its 
wonderful construction, and the wisdom and love of 


God in making so many varied forms of life and 
color to please our eyes. In his later years he 
became deeply interested in the microscope, and 
purchased one of great excellence and power. For 
whole hours, all the afternoon or evening, he would 
sit over it, examining flowers, or the animalcula in 
different fluids. Then he would gather his children 
about him, and give us a sort of extempore lecture 
on the wonders of creation, invisible to the naked 
eye, but so clearly brought to view by the magni- 
fying power of the microscope. 

" He was very fond of animals, cats and birds in 
particular. He tamed a little flying-squirrel, and it 
became so fond of him that it would sit on his 
shoulder while he was at his studies, and would eat 
out of his hand, and sleep in his pocket. To this 
little animal he became so much attached that we 
took it with us to Europe, where it came to an 
untimely end, in Paris, by running into an open fire." 

In New York he bought a large house, No. 5 
West Twenty-second Street, for his winter resi- 
dence, and, on a vacant lot adjoining, erected an 
elegant building for his library and study. What 
a contrast between this and the time when " Porte 
Crayon" gave him ten dollars, which Morse said 
would save his life ! 

Honors now poured in upon him. In 1835 he 
had been elected a member of the Historical Insti- 
tute of France. 

In 1837, a member of the Eoyal Academy of 
Fine Arts of Belgium. 


In 1839 the Great Silver Medal of the Academy 
of Industry of Paris was voted him. 

In 1841, a corresponding member of the National 
Institution for the Promotion of Science at Wash- 

In 1842, the gold medal of the American Institute. 

In 1845, a corresponding member of the Archae- 
ological Society of Belgium. 

In 1846, Doctor of Laws by Yale College. 

In 1848, the first decoration ever bestowed by 
the Sultan of Turkey upon a citizen of the United 
States, Nishan Iftikar, in diamonds ; he was also 
made a member of the American Philosophical 
Society, Philadelphia. 

In 1849, a Fellow of the American Academy of 
Arts and Sciences, Boston. 

In 1851, a golden snuff-box containing the Prus- 
sian golden medal for scientific merit. 

In 1852, the Great Gold Medal of Arts and 
Sciences from the King of Wurtemberg. 

In 1855, the Great Gold Medal of Science and 
Art from the Emperor of Austria. 

In 1856, the brevet and decoration as Chevalier 
of the Imperial Order of the Legion of Honor, 
from the Emperor of France. 

In 1856, the Cross of the Order of Dannebrog 
from the King of Denmark. 

In 1858, a member of the Royal Academy of 
Sciences in Sweden. 

In 1859, the order of knighthood and Com- 
mander of the First Class of the Royal Order 


of Isabella the Catholic, from Isabella II. of 

In 1860, Knight of the Tower and Sword, from 
the King of Portugal. 

In 1864, Chevalier of the Eoyal Order of Saints 
Lazaro and Mauritio, from Victor Emmanuel II., 
King of Italy. 

In 1866, honorary member of the Societe de 
Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle of Geneva, 

In 1857, Morse aided in the attempt to lay the 
Atlantic cable, being made electrician of the com- 
pany. This was eminently fitting, as he had laid 
the first submarine cable, in 1842, October 18 ; one 
moonlight night in the harbor of New York City, 
between Castle Garden and Governor's Island. 

In 1858, France, Austria, Belgium, the Nether- 
lands, Piedmont, Eussia, the Holy See, Sweden, 
Tuscany, and Turkey presented Mr. Morse with 
an honorary gratuity of four hundred thousand 
francs, "as a reward, altogether personal, of your 
useful labors." 

During an extended trip in Europe, he was pre- 
sented at the Court of Alexander III. in Eussia, 
and met Baron Humboldt at Potsdam, from whom 
he received a large photograph of himself, on 
which he wrote in French: "To Mr. S. F. B. 
Morse, whose philosophic and useful labors have 
rendered his name illustrious in two worlds. The 
homage of the high and affectionate esteem of 
Alexander Humboldt." After also visiting his 


daughter in the West Indies, his return to Pough- 
keepsie in 1859 was made by the people a time 
of rejoicing. Crowds flocked to the station to wel- 
come him. The children of the public schools 
joined in the procession, while bells rung, flags 
waved, and bands played, as they followed the car- 
riage of Professor Morse to the gateway of his 
residence, which had been festooned with flowers 
and evergreens. Was ever a man more honored ? 
The world loves heroes, though it takes very little 
pains to help men or women to achieve greatness. 

In 1866, Morse crossed the ocean again to give 
his children the opportunity of study abroad. 
He was now seventy-five years old, yet seemingly 
as vigorous as ever. At the Paris Exposition he 
was one of the cgmmittee upon telegraphic instru- 
ments. At Diisseldorf, he was received with great 
enthusiasm by the artists of the city. He pur- 
chased there five valuable pictures, as he was now 
in circumstances to be a patron of art. He also 
purchased Allston's celebrated painting of " Jere- 
miah," for seven thousand dollars, and gave it to 
Yale College ; a portrait of Allston, at five hun- 
dred dollars, he presented to the Academy of De- 
sign. Thus did he remember the man who had 
been his friend in his young manhood. 

Morse also gave to the Union Theological Semi- 
nary, in the city of New York, ten thousand dollars, 
endowing a lectureship on the "Belation of the 
Bible to the Sciences," named in honor of his 


In 1868, a public dinner was given Professor 
Morse in New York, by the distinguished men of 
the day. Chief Justice Chase presided, and made 
an able address. After recounting the discoveries 
of others in electricity, "not least illustrious 
among these illustrious men, our countryman 
Henry," he said : " And it is the providential 
distinction and splendid honor of the eminent 
American who is our guest to-night that, happily 
prepared by previous acquirements and pursuits, 
he was quick to seize the opportunity, and give to 
the world the first recording telegraph. Fortunate 
man ! thus to link his name forever with the great- 
est wonder and the greatest benefit of the age ! " 
Other addresses were made by Bryant, Evarts, and 
many prominent men. 

In 1871, June 10, a bronze statue of Professor 
Morse was unveiled in Central Park, the money for 
it being raised, in small amounts, from telegraphic 
operatives all over the country. In the evening, a 
brilliant reception was tendered him in the Acad- 
emy of Music, the following despatch being sent 


And then the white-haired Morse, now eighty 
years old, took his seat at the instrument, and 
signed his name to his message " S. F. B. Morse." 
The entire audience rose and cheered, and many eyes 
filled with tears, as he gave his farewell address. 


The last time Mr. Morse appeared in public was 
when he unveiled the statue of Benjamin Franklin 
in Printing-House Square, in front of the City Hall, 
January 17, 1872. 

Death came in a few weeks. To his pastor, 
Rev. Dr. Adams, he said in response to a remark 
concerning the goodness of God to him in the past, 
" The best is yet to come." 

Near the last, when the physicians were inspect- 
ing his lungs, and tapping upon his breast, one 
said, " This is the way we doctors telegraph." 

" Very good," said the dying man, and passed 
away, April 2. 1872. 

He was buried with distinguished honors from 
Madison Square Presbyterian Church, New York. 
Scientific, philanthropic, and religious institutions 
everywhere adopted resolutions of respect for his 
memory. A solemn service was held in the hall 
of the House of the Eepresentatives at Washing- 
ton, April 16, with appropriate addresses from 
Garfield and others. An oil painting of Professor 
Morse hung in front of the main gallery, sur- 
rounded by the historic words, "What hath God 
wrought ! " Telegraphic messages were sent from 
Europe, Asia, and Africa, to this memorial meeting. 
Did any of those present remember how Congress 
allowed him nearly to die of despair and want, 
only a few years before ? Truly a life that reads 
like a romance, in its misfortunes and its fortunes ! 
Through all the days of poverty, as well as pros- 
perity, Morse preserved his earnest Christian char- 


acter, and his childlike, tender, loving nature. 
Trials did not embitter him, as they sometimes do, 
and honors did not exalt him above his fellows. 
American history does not furnish a more sublime 
illustration of faith in God and indomitable per- 


ALILEO studied and found out the truth that 
the earth moves around the sun, and died 
recanting it. 

Buffon, the great French naturalist, studied, and 
ascertained that the earth has been subject to 
changes which must have required millions of 
years. He wrote : " The waters of the sea have 
produced the mountains and valleys of the land 
the waters of the heavens, reducing all to a level, 
will at last deliver the whole land over to the sea, 
and the sea, successively prevailing over the land, 
will leave dry new continents like those which we 

He was at once summoned before the Faculty of 
Theology in Paris to recant his opinions, saying, 
"I declare that I had no intention to contradict 
the text of Scripture; that I believe most firmly 
all therein related about the creation, both as to 
order of time and matter of fact ; / abandon every- 
thing in my book respecting the formation of the 
earth, and, generally, all which may be contrary to 
the narration of Moses." 

A little more than a century later, at Kinnordy, 
Forfarshire, Scotland, a boy was born, Charles 



Lyell, who was destined not only to make geology 
as fascinating to the world as a novel, but to 
prove more fully and conclusively than any one 
had previously done that the world is not only six 
thousand years old, but perhaps six thousand mil- 
lion years old ; and that man has lived here not 
for a few centuries only, but for thousands of 
centuries. Lyell knew and felt what the Christian 
world has come to feel, that truth must and will 
stand, and that there is no real conflict between 
science and religion. 

Charles Lyell, the eldest of ten children, having 
two brothers and seven sisters, was born November 
14, 1797. He had the early training of an educated 
and refined father, a man who had devoted himself 
to the study of botany, and written several works 
on Dante. The mother was a woman of practical 
common-sense, and from her, doubtless, Charles 
inherited that good judgment which characterized 
all his work and life. 

At seven the child was sent to Ringwood, to a 
school kept by Rev. E. S. Davies. Here, being the 
youngest, and one of the gentlest, he was spared 
the roughness too often found in boys' schools. 
At ten he and his brother Tom were sent to a 
school in Salisbury, sixteen miles from Bartley 
Lodge, whither the family had moved from Kin- 

Though they missed their favorite sport of hay- 
making, they enjoyed walks to Old Saruin, a 
famous camp of Roman times. Here the boys 


amused themselves by heaping up piles of chalk 
flints on the opposite ridges, and letting them roll 
down, and dash against each other like two armies. 

The teacher, Dr. Kadcliffe, was called " Blue- 
beard," from having his fourth wife. The boys, 
however, liked him, because he had the rare merit 
of being impartial, while they were never tired of 
annoying another teacher, who had his favorites. 
Says Lyell of these early days, " Monsieur Borelle's 
room was within one in which I and eight others 
slept. One night, when we were very angry with 
him for having spatted us all round with a ruler, 
for a noise in the schoolroom which only one had 
made, and no one would confess, we determined to 
be revenged. We balanced a great weight of heavy 
volumes on the top of the door, so that no one 
could open it without their falling on his head. 
He was caught like a mouse in a trap, and threw a 
book in a rage at each boy's head, as they lay 
shamming sound asleep. 

"Another stratagem of mine and young Prescott 
(son of Sir G. P.) was to tie a string across the 
room from the legs of two beds, so as to trip him 
up ; from this string others branched off, the ends 
of which were fixed to the great toes of two sound 
sleepers, so that when Monsieur drew the lines, 
they woke, making a great outcry. At last we 
wearied him out, and he went and slept elsewhere. 

" I conclude that there were far too many hours 
allotted to sleep at this school, for at all others we 
were glad to sleep after the labors of the day, and 


got punished for late rising in the morning, and 
being too late for roll-call. Here, on the contrary 
a great many of our best sports were at night, par- 
ticularly one, which, as very unique and one which 
lasted all the time I was there, I must describe. It 
consisted of fighting, either in single combat, or 
whole rooms against others, with bolsters. These 
were shaken until all the contents were at one end, 
and then they were kept there by a girth of string 
or stockings. This made a formidable weapon, the 
empty end being the handle, and the ball at the 
other would hit a good blow, or coil round a fellow's 
leg, and by a jerk pull him up so that he fell back- 
wards. . . . The invading party were always to 
station a watch at the head of the stairs, to give 
notice of the approach of ' Bluebeard,' for he was 
particularly severe against this warfare, though he 
never succeeded in putting it down. He used to 
come up with a cane, which, as none were clothed, 
took dire effect on those caught out of bed. He 
had a fortunate twist in his left foot, which made 
his step recognizable at a distance, and his shoe to 
creak loudly. This offence was high treason, not 
only because it led to broken heads, and made a 
horrible row in the night, but because Mrs. Ead- 
cliffe found that it made her bolsters wear out most 

Charles grew ill at Salisbury, and was taken 
home for three months. " I began," he says, " to 
get annoyed with ennui, which did not improve my 
health, for I was always most exceedingly mis- 


erable if unemployed, though I had an excessive 
aversion to work unless forced to it. It happened 
that, a little before this time, my father had for a 
short time exchanged botany for entomology, a fit 
which only lasted just long enough to induce him 
to purchase some books on the latter subject, after 
which he threw it up ; principally, I believe, from 
a dislike to kill the insects. I did not like this 
department of the subject either. . . . 

"Collecting insects was just the sort of desultory 
occupation which suited me at that time, as it gave 
sufficient employment to my mind and body, was 
full of variety, and to see a store continually 
increasing gratified what in the cant phrase of the 
phrenologist is termed the 'accumulative propen- 
sity.' I soon began to know what was rare, and 
to appreciate specimens by this test. In the even- 
ings I used to look over ' Donovan's Insects,' a 
work in which a great number of the British 
species are well given in colored plates, but which 
has no scientific merit. This was a royal road of 
arriving at the names, and required no study, but 
mere looking at pictures. At first I confined my 
attention to the Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths, 
etc.), as the most beautiful, but soon became fond 
of watching the singular habits of the aquatic 
insects, and used to sit whole mornings by a pond, 
feeding them with flies, and catching them if I 

" I had no companion to share this hobby with 
ine, no one to encourage me in following it up, yet 


my love for it continued always to increase, and it 
afforded a most varied source of amusement. . . . 
Instead of sympathy, I received from almost every 
one else beyond my home either ridicule, or hints 
that the pursuits of other boys were more manly. 
. . . The disrepute in which my hobby was held 
had a considerable effect upon my character, for I 
was very sensitive of the good opinions of others, 
and therefore followed it up almost by stealth ; so 
that, although I never confessed to myself that I 
was wrong, but always reasoned myself into a be- 
lief that the generality of people were too stupid 
to comprehend the interest of such pursuits ; yet, 
I got too much in the habit of avoiding being seen, 
as if I was ashamed of what I did." 

The temporary ill-health of the schoolboy led to 
the long hours of observation of nature ; these led 
to a devotion to science, which brought a world- 
wide fame. Thus, often, that which seems a 
hindrance in life proves a blessing in the end. 

At twelve, Charles was placed in a school where 
there were seventy boys, with much fagging and 
fighting. That this roughness was not in accord- 
ance with his noble and refined nature is shown by 
his words, years afterwards : " Whatever some may 
say or sing of the happy recollections of their 
school days, I believe the generality, if they told 
the truth, would not like to have them over again, 
or would consider them as less happy than those 
which follow. . . . The recollection of it makes me 
bless my stars I have not to go through it agaiii. 


"My ambition," he says, "during the second 
half-year was excited by finding myself rising 
near the top of a class of fifteen boys in which I 
was ; and when miserable, as I often was, with the 
kicks and cuffs I received, I got into a useful habit 
of thinking myself happy when I got a high num- 
ber in the class-paper." Each year he received a 
prize for speaking, and often prizes for Latin and 
English original composition. 

At seventeen young Lyell entered Exeter Col- 
lege, Oxford. He still devoted many hours to 
entomology, and took some honors in classics. A 
book, as is often the case, had already helped to 
shape his life. He had found and read, in his 
father's library, Bakewell's "Geology," and was 
greatly excited over the views there expressed 
about the antiquity of the earth. Dr. Buckland, 
Professor of Geology at Oxford, was then at the 
height of his fame, and Lyell at once attended a 
course of his lectures and took notes. 

College life was having its influence over the 
youth, for he wrote to his father : " It is the seeing 
the superiority of others that convinces one how 
much is to be and must be done to get any fame ; 
and it is this which spurs the emulation, and feeds 
that < Atmosphere of Learning,' which Sir Joshua 
Eeynolds admirably describes as 'floating round 
all public institutions, and which even the idle 
often breathe in, and then wonder how they came 
by it.' " 

And yet Lyell, like most students, found it a 


difficult matter to decide what was best for a life- 
pursuit. His father wished him to study law. In 
reply, the son says : " As for the^ confidence and 
quickness which you were speaking of, as one of 
the chief requisites of the Bar, I don't know 
whether intercourse with the world will supply it, 
but God knows, I have little enough of it now in 

During his college course, Lyell made a journey 
with some friends to Staffa, and wrote a poem upon 
the place, and then, with his parents and his eldest 
sisters, travelled in France, Switzerland, and Italy. 
Here, in the midst of art and beautiful scenery, 
his mind still turned toward science. He thought 
the collections in comparative anatomy in the 
Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, would tempt any one 
to "take up ardently the study of anatomy." 
In Cuvier's lecture-room, filled with fossil re- 
mains, he found " three glorious relics of a former 
world, which have added several new genera to the 

In the Jura chain he concluded the limestone 
to be "of a different age from what we passed 
through before Dijon, for the latter abounded in 
organic remains, whereas I could not discover one 
fossil in the Jura. By the roadside I picked up 
many beautiful petrifactions, which must be form- 
ing daily here, where the water is charged plenti- 
fully with lime." 

" The rock of the Col de Balme," he said, " is a 
brown, ligneous slate, with some veins of white 


quartz intersecting it : the appearance is very curi- 
ous. On the top was the richest carpet of turf I 
ever saw, spangled with thousands of the deep 
blue gentian, red trefoil, and other mountain 
flowers." Nothing said about law, but much about 
rocks ! 

At twenty-two Lyell graduated from Oxford. 
The same year he became a Fellow of the Geologi- 
cal Society of London, and also of the Linnsean 
Society, and, in accordance with his father's prefer- 
ence, began the study of law in London. 

But the way to success is almost never easy. 
Lyell's eyes became very weak, and he was obliged 
to desist from reading, and go to Home with his 
father. Many a young man, well-to-do, would have 
given up a profession, preferring a life of leisure. 
Not so Charles Lyell. On his return he inspected 
Ronmey Marsh, an extensive tract of land, formerly 
covered by the sea, and also the Isle of Wight, 
and wrote his first scientific paper on the geology 
of some rivers near his native place in Forfarshire. 
At twenty-six he was made secretary of the Geo- 
logical Society. Already such men as Dr. Buck- 
land felt the deepest interest in the enterprising 
young student, who was devoting himself to original 

And now he was going to Paris, to perfect him- 
self in French. Dr. Buckland and others gave 
him letters of introduction to such persons as 
Humboldt and Cuvier. Fortunate young Lyell ! 
Such men would fan the flame of aspiration to a 
white heat. 


Once in Paris, the stimulus of great minds did 
its accustomed work developed and beautified 
another mind. He attended a levee at Alexander 
Brongniart's, "who among the English geologists 
has the highest reputation both for knowledge and 
agreeable manners of all the French savans" he 
wrote home to his father. Again he wrote : " My 
reception at Cuvier's last Saturday will make me 
feel myself at liberty to attend his soirees next 
week, and they are a great treat. He was very 
polite, and invited me to attend the Institute 
on Monday. There he introduced me to several 
geologists, and put me in an excellent place for 

"Humboldt addressed me, as Duvau had done, 
with, 'I have the honor of being familiar with 
your name, as your father has labored with no 
small success in botany, particularly the cryptoga- 
mise. . . .' He was not a little interested in hear- 
ing me detail the critiques which our geologists 
have made on his last geological work. a work 
which would give him a rank in science if he had 
never published aught besides. He made me a 
present of his work, and I was surprised to find 
how. much he has investigated the details of our 
English strata. ... He appears to work hard at 
astronomy, and lives in a garret for the sake of 
that study. The King of Prussia invited him to 
adorn his court at the last Congress ; thence he 
went to Vesuvius just after the grand eruption, and 
brought away much geological information on that 


head, which he was good enough to communicate 
to me. He speaks English well. I attend lectures 
at the Jardin du Roi, on mining, geology, chemistry, 
and zoology, all gratis ! by the first men. ... I 
have promised Humboldt to pass the afternoon to- 
day in his study. His new edition serves as a 
famous lesson to me, in the comparison of England 
and the Continent. There are few heroes who lose 
so little by being approached as Humboldt." 

Who shall estimate the value of such a friendship 
to a young man ! It was a foregone conclusion 
that Lyell and Agassiz and Liebig, and others, who 
sought the society of such as Humboldt, and were 
ivilling to work, would come to greatness. 

Cuvier introduced Lyell to Professor Van Breda 
of Ghent, who gave him letters to all the Dutch 
universities, Ghent, Amsterdam, Haarlem, and 

The next year, 1824, Lyell made a geological 
tour with M. Constant Prevost, a noted French 
geologist, from London to Bristol and Land's End, 
and with Dr. Buckland, in Scotland, where they 
dined with the far-famed Francis Jeffrey, editor of 
the "Edinburgh Review." Ly ell's eyes still trou- 
bled him so that he could scarcely write letters 
home ; but he was laying up a store of knowl- 
edge from which the world was to profit in a few 

In 1825, his eyes having improved, he resumed 
his law study, and was admitted to the bar. But 
he could not give up geological work, and published 


several papers, one on a dike of serpentine, 
another on shell marl and fossil fruit, and others 
on plastic clay in Hampshire and the fresh-water 
strata of Hants. He had been made a Fellow of 
the Royal Society at twenty-nine, and was one of 
the writers in the " Quarterly Review." 

The law work went on, but it was easy to see 
where his heart was. He wrote a friend that he 
had been " devouring " Lamarck : " That the earth 
is quite as old as he supposes has long been my 
creed, and I will try before six months are over to 
convert the readers of the ' Quarterly ' to that 
heterodox opinion. . . . Buckland has got a letter 
from India about modern hyaenas, whose manners, 
habitations, diet, etc., are everything he could 
wish, and as much as could be expected had they 
attended regularly three courses of his lectures." 

At thirty-one Lyell had made up his mind " that 
there is most real independence in that class of 
society who, possessing moderate means, are en- 
gaged in literary and scientific hobbies ; " he had 
given up the law, and planned the book that was 
to make him famous " Principles of Geology." 
He travelled now extensively in Italy and France, 
studying volcanoes, glaciers, and fossils. At Au- 
vergne, he began work with his dear friend Mur- 
chison at six o'clock in the morning, " and neither 
heat nor fatigue has stopped us an hour," he 
writes to his parents. "I have really gained 
strength so much, that I believe that I and my 
eyes were never in such a condition before ; and, 


I am sure that six hours in bed, which is all we 
allcrvr, and exercise all day long for the body, and 
geology for the mind, ... is the best thing that 
can be invented in this world for my health and 

Eighteen hours of labor daily, and yet he was 
happy ! He had found his life-work now. To a 
sister he writes about the beetles at Aix. He can- 
not be laughed out of this study as when a boy. 
He has been to Parma, to see Professor Guidotti's 
"finest collection of fossil-shells in Italy, . . . 
spending three days, from six o'clock in the 
morning till night, exchanging our respective 

To his sisters he writes all his discoveries in 
rocks and fossils, with the enthusiasm of a boy. 
" I rode to the upper Val d'Arno, a famous day 
for me, an old lacustrine deposit, corresponding 
delightfully with our Angus lakes in all but age 
and species of animals ; same genera of shells. 
They have just extracted the fortieth skeleton of 
hippopotamus ; have got about twenty elephants, 
one or two mastodons, a rhinoceros and stags, and 
oxen out of number. . . . At Rome I found the 
geology of the city itself exceedingly interesting. 
The celebrated seven hills, of which you have read, 
and which in fact are nine, are caused by the Tiber 
and some tributaries, which have cut open valleys 
almost entirely through volcanic ejected matter, 
covered by travertine containing lacustrine shells." 

He made the ascent of Etna, and sketched the 


crater. "Inside the crater, near the lip, were huge 
masses of ice, between which and the scoriae and 
lava of the crater issued hot sulphurous vapors, 
which I breathed in copiously ; and for six hours 
after I could not, even after eating and drinking, 
get the horrid taste out of my mouth, for my lungs 
had got full of it. The wind was so high, that the 
guide held my hat while I drew ; but though the 
head was cold, my feet got so hot in the cinders, 
that I was often alarmed that my boots would be 

In 1830, the first volume of " Principles of Geol- 
ogy, being an Attempt to Explain the Former 
Changes of the Earth's Surface by Reference to 
Causes now in Operation," was published. "It 
will not pretend," he wrote to Murchison, "to give 
even an abstract of all that is known in geology, 
but it will endeavor to establish the principles of 
reasoning in the science ; and all my geology will 
come in as illustration of my views of those princi- 
ples, and as evidence strengthening the system 
necessarily arising out of the admission of such 
principles, which, as you know, are neither more 
nor less than that no causes whatever have from 
the earlist time to which we can look back, to the 
present, ever acted, but those now acting. ... I 
must go to Germany. . . . Their language must 
be learnt ; the places to which their memoirs relate, 
visited ; and then you may see, as I may, to what 
extent we may indulge dreams of eminence, at 
least as original observers." He, too, like all the 


other great ones, indulged in "dreams of emi- 
nence." Did ever man or woman achieve anything 
worthy without these dreams ? 

He had worked earnestly upon the " Principles," 
which showed wonderful research, study, and 
thought. He said, " The facts which are given in 
a few sentences require weeks of reading to 
obtain. . . . By the aid of a good amanuensis, my 
eyes hold out well." 

The sale of the book was large and satisfactory. 
It was, of course, opposed, from its advanced views 
as to the age of the world, but Lyell wisely made 
no reply. He said, " I have sworn to myself that 
I will not go to the expense of giving time to com- 
bat in controversy. It is an interminable work." 
A great lesson, learned early. 

In 1831 he visited Germany. Now he wrote 
home not only to his family, but to another, who 
was hereafter to brighten and beautify his life 
Mary Horner, the daughter of a prominent scientist. 
To great personal beauty she added unusual men- 
tal ability. Wise man indeed was Charles Lyell 
to have known, what some fail to know beforehand, 
that intellect demands intellect for the best com- 

He wrote to her : " I am sure you will work at 
it " (the German language) " with more zeal if 
you believe you can help me by it, as I labor with 
greater spirit, now that I regard myself as em- 
ployed for you as well as for myself. Not that 
I am at all sanguine about the pecuniary profits 


that I shall ever reap, but I feel that if I could 
have fair play for the next ten years, I could gain 
a reputation that would make a moderate income 
for the latter part of my life, yield me a command 
of society, and a respect that would entitle me to 
rest a little on my oars, and enable me to help 
somewhat those I love. ... As to geology having 
half of my heart, I hope I shall be able to give my 
whole soul to it, with that enthusiasm by which 
alone any advance can be made in any science, or, 
indeed, in any profession." 

In 1832 Lyell was made professor of geology in 
King's College, London, which position he resigned 
later, because he wished " the power of command- 
ing time to increase his knowledge and fame." 
This year also, July 12, when he was thirty-five, 
he was married to Mary Homer, and made a tour 
up the valley of the Rhine. 

The earnest life was now more earnest and busy 
than ever. He said, "I am never so happy as 
when, at the end of a week, I feel I have employed 
every day in a manner that will tell to the rest of 
my life." Would that all of us could live after so 
noble a plan ! 

" Unless I can feel that I am working to some 
decided end, such as that of fame, money, or partly 
both, I cannot be quite happy, or cannot feel a 
stimulus to that strenuous application without 
which I should not remain content." He had 
learned what " strenuous application " means, and 
knew that there is no success without it. When 


congratulated by his friends " in not looking older 
for his hard work," he said, " The way to do much 
and not grow old is, to be moderate in not going 
out, to work a few hours, or half-hours, at a time, 
. . . and to go to bed at eleven o'clock." He 
would not accept many invitations socially. "A 
man should have some severity of character, and 
be able to refuse invitations, etc.," he said. " The 
fact is, that to become great in science, a man must 
be nearly as devoted as a lawyer, and must have 
more than mere talent. ... I think I never do so 
much as when I have fought a battle not to go 
out." Those who have written books will appreci- 
ate this statement, and recall the many days when 
they have closed the shutters and worked, though 
they longed to be out-of-doors in the sunlight. 

In 1833, the year after his marriage, he gave by 
invitation a course of seven lectures before the 
Royal Institution, a high honor. In 1834, he 
passed several months in Sweden, and wrote back 
to his " dearest Mary," "I have been ten hours 
without a word with my love, but thinking of her 
more than half the time, and comforting myself 
that she is less alone than I am." . . . He kept a 
journal for her of his daily work. 

" It is now twenty-five days that we have been 
separated, and I have often thought of what you 
said, that the active occupation in which I should 
constantly be engaged would give me a great 
advantage over you. I trust, however, that you 
also have been actively employed. At leisure 


moments I have done some things towards planning 
my next volume. It will be necessary for us to 
have a work together at fossils at Kinnordy, first, 
and then in town, and then in Paris." Thus fully 
had the young wife entered into his studies. 

In 1835, having received the gold medal of the 
Koyal Society, for his " Principles of Geology," 
now in its fourth edition, which Sir John Herschel 
said he had read three times, he was elected 
president of the Geological Society of London, 
and made extensive researches in Switzerland, 
Germany, and Scotland. 

In 1841, already famous as well as beloved, 
Lyell was invited to give twelve lectures before 
the Lowell Institute, in Boston. He and his wife 
spent thirteen months in the United States, study- 
ing the country geologically; its social life, its 
politics, and our benevolent and educational institu- 
tions. Between two and three thousand persons 
came, both morning and evening, to listen to the 
distinguished scholar, who had travelled almost the 
world over to study his beloved science. 

Close friendships were formed with some of our 
most prominent men, like Prescott and Ticknor. 
Lyell visited the great lakes, and compared the 
supposed ancient boundaries of Lake Ontario, 
when it was one hundred and fifty feet higher, with 
its present shore. He made a careful study of 
Niagara Falls, which cuts its deep gorge toward 
Lake Ontario, for seven miles, and estimated that 
it wore away a foot a year. If so, he argued that 


at least thirty-five thousand years have passed 
since the river began to cut its passage between 
the high rocky walls. " What would I give," said 
Lyell, " for a daguerrotype of the scene as it was 
four thousand, and again forty thousand years ago ! 
Even four centuries would have been very impor- 
tant." Authorities differ as to the rate of the 
recession of the falls. Some estimate an inch 
instead of a foot yearly, requiring a period of 
more than four hundred thousand years. 

In 1845, Lyell published his " Travels in North 
America, with Geological Observations," and in 
September of the same year, returned again to our 
country, spending nine months in travel and study, 
and bringing out later, in 1849, his " Second Visit 
to the United States of North America." 

Already his " Elements of Geology " had ap- 
peared, which went through several editions. A 
seventh edition of the " Principles " had been 
published. He had also been knighted by the 
Queen, for his rare scholarship. Honored at home 
and abroad, working ardently and earnestly, often 
with failing sight, he had already won for himself 
the eminence of which he had dared to dream 
years before. 

Of course he was welcomed at all great gather- 
ings. Macaulay and Hallam, Milmore and Mrs. 
Somerville, Kogers, aiid scores of others were often 
at his home. 

In 1851, he was appointed one of the Royal Com- 
missioners for the first Great Exhibition held in 


Hyde Park, London, and a year later gave a second 
course of lectures at the Lowell Institute, Boston. 
So kindly and cordially had he written concerning 
us and our country, that he received the heartiest 
welcome. He had carried out in his life what he 
wrote to beautiful Mary Homer, twenty years 
before : " I hope we shall both of us contrive to 
cultivate a disposition which David Hume said 
was better than a fortune of one thousand pounds 
a year to look on the bright side of things. I 
think I shall, and I believe you will." The sweet- 
natured and great-minded man had looked on the 
bright side of America, and seen the good rather 
than the evil. He believed in our future. When 
Prescott died, to whom he was devotedly attached, 
he said : " From such a soil and in such an atmos- 
phere, great literary men must continue to spring 

All through our Civil War, he had known and 
loved us so well, that he was, like John Bright, our 
constant advocate. He deprecated the course of 
some of the English newspapers. " The integrity 
of the empire," he said, "and the non-extension 
and for the last two years the extinction of slavery 
constitute to my mind better grounds for a pro- 
tracted struggle than those for which any war in 
our time, perhaps in all history, has been waged. 
... I am in hopes that the struggle in America 
will rid the country in the course of twenty years 
of that great curse to the whites, slave labor, and, 
if so, it may be worth all it will cost in blood and 
treasure. . . ." 


" Had the States been dismembered, there would 
have been endless wars, more activity than ever in 
breeding slaves in America, and a renewal of the 
African slave-trade, and the future course of civili- 
zation retarded in that continent in a degree which 
would not, in my judgment, be counterbalanced by 
any adequate advantage which Europe would gain 
by the United States becoming relatively less 
strong. ... I believe that if a small number of 
our statesmen had seen what I had seen of America, 
they would not have allowed their wishes for dis- 
memberment to have biassed their judgment of 
the issue so much." 

In 1853, at the request of his government, he 
came to New York, as one of the commissioners to 
the International Exhibition. Of course, now, 
wherever he travelled, either in Europe or America, 
he met the distinguished, and was honored by them. 
He was the friend of Berzelius, the noted chemist 
of Sweden, and of the great Liebig of Germany. 
Professor Bunsen of Heidelberg said, that all his 
taste for geology had been derived from Lyell's 

During the next few years, he was much in 
Holland, France, and Germany, preparing for the 
publication of another great work in 1863, the 
"Antiquity of Man." He had made a careful 
study of the ancient Swiss Lake-dwellings, erected 
on piles in the midst of the water, connected with 
the land by bridges. On Lake Neuchatel it is 
estimated that there were more than forty such 


circular houses. At Wangen, near Stein, on Lake 
Constance, it is believed forty thousand piles were 
used. Some five thousand objects have been found, 
comprising flax, not woven, but plaited ; carbonized 
wheat, and the bones of the dog, ox, sheep, and 
goat. The arrow-heads, hatchets, and the like, 
belong to the stone age, which geologists place, 
at the least, seven thousand years ago. At Zurich 
one human skull was found belonging to this early 
stone age. No traveller should pass through 
Zurich without seeing these memorials of a 
people who lived in the dawn of civilization, when 
the world was being made ready for the more 
perfect man. 

Lyell had studied also the Danish " kitchen- 
middens," familiar to those who have been care- 
fully over the museums at Copenhagen. These 
shell-mounds, the refuse heaps of this ancient race, 
are sometimes one thousand feet long and two hun- 
dred wide. As far back as the time of the Eomans 
the Danish isles were covered with magnificent 
beech forests. In the bronze age there were no 
beech trees, but oaks. In the stone age the Scotch 
fir prevailed, and thousands of years must have 
elapsed while these giant forests succeeded each 

The delta and alluvial plain of the Mississippi 
Lyell found to consist of sediment covering an 
area of thirty thousand square miles, several hun- 
dred feet deep. Taking the amount deposited 
annually, it would require from fifty to one 


hundred thousand years to produce the present 

The coral reefs of Florida, built up at the rate of 
one foot in a century, each reef adding ten miles 
to the coast, have required, according to Agassiz, 
at least one hundred and thirty-five thousand years 
for building. Human remains in a bluff on the 
shores of Lake Monroe, in Florida, he shows to be 
at least ten thousand years old. 

Under the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, seven- 
teen canoes have been dug up, one in a vertical 
position, as if it had sunk in a storm, with the 
prow uppermost. Twelve canoes one hundred 
yards back from the river were found nineteen 
feet beneath the surface. Almost all were single 
oak trees, hollowed out by blunt tools, probably 
stone axes, aided by fire, relics of the stone age. 

In caverns near Liege, France, human bones have 
been found, with the cave-bear, elephant, rhinoce- 
ros, and other species now extinct. Skulls found 
in these primeval caves, especially one near Diis- 
seldorf, called the "Neanderthal," "is the most 
brutal of all known human skulls, resembling those 
of the apes." These rude men probably were living 
at the same time, or even later, than the makers of 
the " refuse heaps " of Denmark. 

Wales has been under the sea to the depth of 
fourteen hundred feet, as proved by glacial shells ; 
its submergence and reelevation would require, by 
careful computation, about two hundred and twenty- 
four thousand years. 


Lyell showed that the Alps, Andes, and Hima- 
laya Mountains were all elaborated under water. 
" The Alps have acquired four thousand, and even, 
in some places, more than ten thousand feet of 
their present altitude since the commencement of 
the Eocene (dawn of recent) period. ... It is not 
too much to say that every spot which is now dry 
land has been sea at some former period, and every 
part of the space now covered by the deepest ocean 
has been land. The present distribution of land 
and water encourages us to believe that almost 
every conceivable transformation in the external 
form of the earth's crust may have been gone 
through. In one epoch the land may have been 
chiefly equatorial ; in another, for the most part 
polar and circumpolar." 

Lyell showed also the great age of the world by 
the changes which have taken place in climate. In 
Greenland are a multitude of fossil plants, which 
show that it formerly enjoyed a mild and genial 
climate. Fossil tulip and walnut trees have been 
found within the Arctic circle. 

" On the North American continent, between 
the Arctic circle and the forty-second parallel of 
latitude," said Lyell, "we meet with signs of ice- 
action on a scale as grand, if not grander than in 
Europe." The drift covered from the Atlantic 
border of New England and Labrador westward to 
Dakota and Lake Winnipeg, and farther north, 
across the continent. Some stones in this bed of 
ice were thirty feet square, weighing over four 


million pounds. Some boulders from the Alps, 
weighing three thousand tons each, are now found 
on the Juras. "It must, I think," said Lyell, "be 
conceded that the period required for the coming- 
on of the greatest cold, and for its duration when 
most intense, and the oscillations to which it was 
subject, as well as the retreat of the glaciers and 
the ' great thaw,' or disappearance of snow, from 
many mountain-chains where the snow was once 
perpetual, required not tens, but hundreds, of 
thousands of years." 

In Arctic Siberia herds of elephants must have 
roamed, as their bodies, covered with hair and flesh, 
have been dug up in recent years. Great Britain 
and Europe have been much warmer than now. 
Our own immense coal fields show a former tropical 
climate, with their great tree-ferns and tree-rushes, 
while the remains of reindeers have been found in 

No wonder Lyell became fascinated with the 
history of the changes of this planet, and the life 
of man before historic times. A great book seemed 
open to him, and he studied it by night and by 
day : the Archaean Time no life ; Paleozoic Time, 
including the Silurian Age, with its shells and 
trilobites ; the Devonian, with its fishes ; Carbonif- 
erous, with its coal plants ; Mesozoic Time, includ- 
ing the Eeptilian Age with its reptiles ; Cenozoic 
Time, including the Mammalian or Tertiary, with 
its mammals, and Quaternary, or age of man. 
Paleozoic means " ancient life ; " Mesozoic, " middle 
life ; " Cenozoic, " recent life." 


Lyell divided the Tertiary strata into three 
groups : Eocene, recent dawn ; Miocene, less re- 
cent ; Pliocene, more recent. In the Eocene Age 
Great Britain was sub-tropical, and, in North Amer- 
ica, Vermont was like North Carolina in tempera- 
ture. Then came the Glacial Period, with ice 
probably five thoiisand feet thick over New Eng- 
land. Then the Ghamplain Period, with its floods, 
continents depressed, and climate warm, followed 
in Europe by a second Glacial Period. 

The " Antiquity of Man " had an extensive sale. 
Honors were now showered upon Sir Charles Lyell. 
He was offered the Presidency of the Koyal Society, 
and a seat in Parliament for the University of 
London, but declined both. Oxford University 
had already conferred upon him the degree of D. 
C. L., and the Institute of France had made him 
corresponding member. By request of the queen, 
he visited her at Osborne, she having made him a 
baronet. Emperor William conferred upon him 
the Order of Merit, given also to Humboldt, and 
the London Eoyal Society, its highest honor, the 
Copley gold medal. 

In the spring of 1873, his " dearest Mary " died, 
leaving him heart-broken. She was mourned in 
America as well as Europe. The "Boston Adver- 
tiser " said, " Strength and sweetness were hers, 
both in no common measure. . . . She became to 
her husband not merely the truest of friends, and 
the most affectionate and sympathizing of compan- 
ions, but a very efficient helper. She was frank, 


generous, and true ; her moral instincts were high 
and pure ; she was faithful and firm in friendship. 
. . . This woman so widely informed, so true, so 
strong, so brave, seemed all compact of softness, 
sweetness, and gentleness ; a very flower that had 
done no more than drink the sunshine and the 
dew. In her smile, her greeting, the tones of her 
voice, there was a charm which cannot be described, 
but which all who knew her have felt and will re- 
call. . . . During the war there was not a woman 
or a man in England that stood by the Union and 
the government more ardently and fearlessly than 
she." Lady Lyell was an efficient linguist, and a 
woman of unusual mental power. The success of 
her husband was in part the result of her lovely 
character. Had she sought society while he needed 
quiet for his work, had she been fond of dress 
when their income was limited and necessarily 
used in his extensive travels, his life might have 
been a failure. They had what Tolstoi well calls 
" the friendship of the soul ; identity of sentiment 
and similarity of ideal." Too often in this world 
persons marry " opposites," and walk, alas ! in 
opposite directions all their lives. 

Lyell now worked on, for he said he must carry 
out what he had planned with her. In 1872 the 
eleventh edition of the " Principles " appeared. 
Lyell, though formerly an opponent, had become 
convinced of the truth of evolution, advocated by 
his devoted friend Darwin, and was proud of our 
own distinguished botanist Asa Gray, whose arti- 


cles, he said, " were the ablest, and, on the whole, 
grappling with the subject, both as a naturalist and 
metaphysician, better than any one else on either 
side of the Atlantic." 

Lyell believed ever in " an infinite and eternal 
Being." He said, " In whatever direction we pursue 
our researches, whether in time or space, we dis- 
cover everywhere the clear proofs of a Creative in- 
telligence, and of his foresight, wisdom, and power." 

He used to quote Professor Agassiz, who said, 
" Whenever a new and startling fact is brought to 
light in science, people first say, 'It is not true,' 
then that 'it is contrary to religion/ and lastly 
that ' everybody knew it before.' " 

For the last ten years of his life, unable to use 
his eyes to any great extent, Lyell had the assist- 
ance, as secretary, of the able author of the " Fairy 
Land of Science," Miss Arabella Buckley, now 
Mrs. Fisher. And yet he accomplished more than 
most people with the best of eyes. 

Two years after his wife's death, while at work 
on the twelfth edition of the "Principles," the 
end came, February 22, 1875. He was buried in 
Westminster Abbey, beside his friend Sir John 
Herschel, the Duke of Argyll, Professor Huxley, 
and other noted men acting as pall-bearers. Said 
the Dean of Westminster, in the funeral sermon 
preached in the Abbey, " He followed truth with 
a zeal as sanctified as ever fired the soul of a mis- 
sionary, and with a humility as child-like as ever 
subdued the mind of a simple scholar. . . . From 


early youth to extreme old age, it was to him a 
solemn religious duty to be incessantly learning, 
constantly growing, fearlessly correcting his own 
' mistakes, always ready to receive and reproduce 
from others that which he had not in himself. 
Science and religion for him not only were not 
divorced, but were one and indivisible." Tnily 
said Tyndall, Huxley, and others, "For the last 
twenty-five years he has been the most prominent 
geologist in the world; equally eminent for the 
extent of his labors and the breadth of his philo- 
sophical views." 

To the last Sir Charles Lyell kept his affection- 
ate, tender heart, with gentle and kindly manners. 
He was fair to his opponents, and appreciative of 
all talent. He took time to help others. He urged 
the name of Agassiz as the lecturer before the Low- 
ell Institute, Boston, and we all know the grand 
results of his coming. Those who have no time to 
help others usually fail of help when their own 
time of need comes. Lyell was singularly free 
from vanity, egotism, or jealousy. He loved nat- 
ure devotedly, the grandeur of the sea especially 
impressing him ; he never tired of wandering alone 
beside it. He had great steadiness of purpose, 
and calm judgment. His perseverance was untir- 
ing; his power of work remarkable; his sympathy 
boundless. He was never narrow or opinionated. 
He died as he had lived ; honored the world over 
for his amazing knowledge, and loved for his un- 
selfish, earnest, and beautiful character. 



ON Thursday evening, January 16, 1879, a 
large company gathered in the hall of the 
House of Kepresentatives at Washington. They 
came to honor the memory of one of our greatest 
in science, since Franklin, Joseph Henry, the 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Ad- 
dresses Avere made by the Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, 
Professor Asa Gray, a most distinguished scientist, 
the Hon. James A. Garfield, General W. T. Sher- 
man, the Hon. S. S. Cox, and others. 

Not alone at the Capitol were memorial services 
held for Professor Henry. Before the United 
States National Academy of Sciences, before the 
American Association for the Advancement of 
Science, before the Philosophical Society of Wash- 
ington, of all these he had been president, be- 
fore the College of New Jersey at Princeton, where 
he was Professor of Natural Philosophy for four- 
teen years, before the Albany Institute, of which 
he was one of the original members, and before 
various other societies in which he had been a lead- 
ing spirit, heartfelt testimony was given to Amer- 
ica's loss in the death of a great scholar and a good 



Joseph Henry was born in Albany, N. Y., 
December 17, 1797, or 1799, probably the latter 
date, this uncertainty arising from the illegibility 
of the faded records in the old family Bible. His 
grandparents came from Scotland, landing in this 
country June 16, 1775, the day before the battle 
of Bunker Hill. The father, William Henry, of 
whom little is known, died when his first son, 
Joseph, was nine years old. The boy had gone 
two years previously to live with his maternal 
grandmother at Galway, in the county of Sara- 
toga, N. Y. 

Joseph's mother is remembered as a lady of great 
refinement, delicate in form and feature, and very 
beautiful in her youth. She was deeply devotional, 
and probably to this fact is partially due Professor 
Henry's earnest religious character through life. 

At the district school of Galway, under Israel 
Phelps, Joseph exhibited no special aptitude for 
books, though he showed an inquisitive mind. At 
the age of ten, he was placed in a store kept by a 
Mr. Broderick, who was very kind to him, allow- 
ing him to attend school in the afternoons. 

His fondness for reading developed from a sin- 
gular circumstance. Having lost a pet rabbit, 
which had run into an opening in the foundation 
wall of the village meeting-house, he crept through 
the hole on his hands and knees, to find the run- 
away. Discovering a light through a crevice, boy- 
like, he decided to investigate his surroundings. 
He soon reached the vestibule of the building, and 


found there a book-case containing the village 
library. The first book which attracted his atten- 
tion was Brooke's "Fool of Quality," a work of 
fiction. He began to read, and soon forgot about 
his rabbit. 

From this time he made frequent visits to the 
library, by the underground passage, reading all 
the novels he could find. In the evening, to the 
lads who gathered about the stove in the village 
store, he rehearsed the wonderful things he had 
read. He was a handsome, slender lad, of delicate 
complexion, vivacious manners, and a great favor- 
ite. Mr. Broderick, the proprietor, enjoyed the 
stories, and finally obtained proper access to the 
library for his young clerk. 

When about thirteen or fourteen, Joseph was 
apprenticed to Mr. John F. Doty of Albany, a 
watch-maker and silversmith. He found very 
little pleasure in the trade, and was probably glad 
when, after two years, the apprenticeship came to 
an end, through Mr. Doty leaving the business. 

Of course he was out of work. He was very 
fond of the theatre, and, having been behind the 
scenes, had learned how stage effects are produced. 
He now joined a private theatrical company, called 
" The Kostrum," and was soon made president of 
the society. He dramatized a story, and wrote a 
comedy, both of which were acted. He seemed 
destined to become an actor, probably not with the 
approval of his Scotch Presbyterian mother. 

Lives are sometimes changed by seemingly triv- 


ial events, yet nothing is trivial that influences a 
human being. Garfield said, " To every man of 
great original power there comes, in early youth, 
a moment of sudden discovery of self-recogni- 
tion when his own nature is revealed to himself, 
when he catches for the first time a strain of that 
immortal song to which his own spirit answers, 
and which becomes thenceforth and forever the 
inspiration of his life. 

" ' Like noble music unto noble words.' " 

That "moment of sudden discovery" came to 
Henry at sixteen. A slight accident had confined 
him to his mother's house for a few days. A 
young Scotch gentleman, Eobert Boyle, who was 
boarding with her, had left upon the table of his 
chamber an unostentatious book, " Lectures on 
Experimental Philosophy, Astronomy, and Chem- 
istry : by G. Gregory, D.D., Vicar of Westham." 

The book begins by asking several questions : 
" You throw a stone, or shoot an arrow into the 
air; why does it not go forward in the line or 
direction that you give it ? Why does it stop at 
a certain distance, and then return to you ? . . . 
On the contrary, why does flame or smoke always 
mount upward, though no force is used to send 
them in that direction ? And why should not the 
flame of a candle drop toward the floor when you 
reverse it, or hold it downward, instead of turning 
up and ascending into the air ? ... Again, you 
look into a clear well of water, and see your own 


face and figure, as if painted there. Why is this ? 
You are told that it is done by reflection of light. 
But what is reflection of light ? " 

Henry took up this book and began to read. 
Soon it seemed more interesting than Brooke's 
" Fool of Quality " and all the romances. At the 
very next meeting of the theatrical society, he 
resigned the presidency, telling his companions 
that he should devote his life to solid studies. 

Eobert Boyle, seeing that the youth was inter- 
ested in the book, gave it to him. It was ever 
after preserved in Professor Henry's library, with 
these words written on the fly-leaf : " This book, 
although by no means a profound work, has, 
under Providence, exerted a remarkable influence 
upon my life. It accidentally fell into my hands 
when I was about sixteen years old, and was the 
first work I ever read with attention. It opened 
to me a new world of thought and enjoyment ; 
invested things before almost unnoticed with the 
highest interest ; fixed my mind on the study of 
nature, and caused me to resolve, at the time of 
reading it, that I would immediately commence to 
devote my life to the acquisition of knowledge." 

This resolution was at once put in practice, by 
attending a night-school, where he soon learned all 
that the master could teach. His next attempt at 
education was to learn grammar of a travelling 
teacher, and so skilled did he become that he made 
a grammatical tour of the country districts, in imi- 
tation of his instructor, earning enough money to 


enter the Albany Academy. When more money 
was needed, the enterprising youth found a situa- 
tion as head of a district school, at eight dollars a 
month ! He pleased his patrons so well that he 
received fifteen dollars for the second month. 
Later, he became an assistant in the academy, 
while still a pupil. 

Says Orlando Meads, LL.D. : " When a boy in 
the Albany Academy in 1823 and 1824, it was my 
pleasure and privilege, when released from recita- 
tions, to resort to the chemical laboratory and lec- 
ture room. There might be found from day to day 
through the winter, earnestly engaged in experi- 
ments upon steam and upon a small steam-engine, 
and in chemical and other scientific investigations, 
two young men both active members of the 
'Lyceum,' then very different in their external 
circumstances and prospects in life, but of kindred 
tastes and sympathies ; the one was Eichard Var- 
ick De Witt, the other was Joseph Henry, as yet 
unknown to fame, but already giving promise of 
those rare qualities of mind and character which 
have since raised him to the very first rank among 
the experimental philosophers of his time. 

" Chemistry at that time was exciting great inter- 
est, and Dr. Beck's courses of chemical lectures, 
conducted every winter in the lecture room of the 
academy, were attended not only by the students, 
but by all that was most intelligent and fashion- 
able in the city. Henry . . . was then Dr. Beck's 
chemical assistant, and already an admirable ex- 


perimentalist, and he availed himself to the utmost 
of the advantages thus afforded of prosecuting his 
investigations in chemistry, electricity, and galva- 
nism." Dr. T. Eomeyn Beck, the principal, had 
become interested in the studious young man, and, 
when he left the academy, recommended him to 
one of the trustees, General Stephen Van Rensse- 
laer, as a private tutor to his sons. Young Henry's 
services were engaged, and, as his teaching required 
but about three hours each day, he devoted his 
leisure to higher mathematics, in conjunction with 
chemistry, physiology, and anatomy, as he had 
decided to become a physician. In his mathemati- 
cal studies he went so far as to read the Mecanique 
Analytique of La Grange. 

His delicate constitution seemed unable to bear 
the continued strain of study and teaching, and at 
twenty-six, through the friendship of an influential 
judge, Henry received the appointment of engineer 
in the survey of a road between the Hudson River 
and Lake Erie, a distance of about three hundred 
miles. This gave him out-of-door life, which he 
needed, and, though much of his work was done in 
winter, in deep snow, making his way through 
dense forests, he entirely regained his health, and 
gave such excellent satisfaction that he was asked 
to construct a canal in Ohio, and assist in a min- 
ing enterprise in Mexico. Both of these he re- 
fused, accepting the chair of Mathematics and 
Natural Philosophy in the Albany Academy, at the 
urgent solicitation of his friend, Dr. Beck. 


Elected in the spring, and not entering upon his 
work till autumn, he spent the intervening months 
in geological exploration in New York State. 
Every hour was occupied. He had commenced 
solid study in earnest, as he had told the members 
of the " Rostrum " he should do. 

Having entered upon his profession, he taught 
mathematics seven hours daily. But he found 
time to make experiments in natural philosophy. 
The first paper which he brought before the Albany 
Institute was, "On the Chemical and Mechanical 
Effects of Steam: with Experiments designed to 
illustrate the Great Reduction of Temperature in 
Steam of High Elasticity Avhen suddenly expanded." 

His next published scientific paper was, " On the 
Production of Cold by the Rarefaction of Air : ac- 
companied by Experiments." " One of these ex- 
periments most strikingly illustrated the great 
reduction of temperature which takes place on the 
sudden rarefaction of condensed air. Half a pint 
of water was poured into a strong copper vessel of 
a globular form, and having a capacity of five gal- 
lons ; a tube of one-fourth of an inch caliber, with 
a number of holes near the lower end, and a stop- 
cock attached to the other extremity, was firmly 
screwed into the neck of the vessel ; the lower end 
of the tube dipped into the water, but a number of 
holes were above the surface of the liquid, so that 
a jet of air mingled with water might be thrown 
from the fountain. 

" The apparatus was then charged with con- 


densed air, by means of a powerful condensing 
pump, until the pressure was estimated at nine 
atmospheres. During the condensation, the vessel 
became sensibly warm. After suffering the appa- 
ratus to cool down to the temperature of the room, 
the stop-cock was opened : the air rushed out with 
great violence, carrying with it a quantity of water, 
which was instantly converted into snow. After a 
few seconds, the tube became filled with ice, which 
almost entirely stopped the current of air. The 
neck of the vessel was then partially unscrewed, 
so as to allow the condensed air to rush out around 
the sides of the screw ; in this state the tempera- 
ture of the whole interior atmosphere was so much 
reduced as to freeze the remaining water in the 

Other pamphlets followed this publication, but 
in 1831 a notable paper in the " American Journal 
of Science and the Arts " brought Henry's name to 
the front line of discoverers in electro-magnetism. 
Sturgeon made the first electro-magnet; Henry 
made the electro-magnet what it is. 

Says W. B. Taylor, in an address before the 
" Philosophical Society of Washington : " " The 
electro-magnet figured and described by Sturgeon' 
consisted of a small bar or stout iron wire bent into 
a Q or horse-shoe form, having a copper wire wound 
loosely around it in eighteen turns, with the ends 
of the wire dipping into mercury-cups connected 
with the respective poles of a battery having one 
hundred and thirty square inches of active surface." 


Henry improved upon this in 1828, but in 
March of 1829 he exhibited before the Institute a 
somewhat larger magnet. " A round piece of iron 
about one-quarter of an inch in diameter was bent 
into the usual form of a horse-shoe, and, instead of 
loosely coiling around it a few feet of wire as is 
usually described, it was tightly wound with thirty- 
five feet of wire covered with silk, so as to form 
about four hundred turns ; a pair of small galvanic 
plates, which could be dipped into a tumbler of 
diluted acid, was soldered to the ends of the wire, 
and the whole mounted on a stand. With these 
small plates, the horse-shoe became much more 
powerfully magnetic than another of the same size 
and wound in the usual manner, by the application 
of a battery composed of twenty-eight plates of 
copper and zinc each eight inches square." 

"To Henry, therefore," says Mr. Taylor, "be- 
longs the exclusive credit of having first con- 
structed the magnetic ' spool ' or ' bobbin,' that 
form of coil since universally employed for every 
application of electro-magnetism, of induction, or 
of magneto-electrics. This was his first great con- 
tribution to the science and to the art of galvanic 
magnetization. . . . 

" But, in addition to this large gift to science, 
Henry has the preeminent claim to popular grati- 
tude of having first practically worked out the 
differing functions of two entirely different kinds 
of electro-magnet ; the one surrounded with numer- 
ous coils of no great length, designated by him 


the ' quantity ' magnet, the other surrounded with 
a continuous coil of very great length, designated 
by him the ' intensity ' magnet. . . . Never should 
it be forgotten that he who first exalted the ' quan- 
tity ' magnet of Sturgeon from a power of twenty 
pounds to a power of twenty hundred pounds was 
the absolute CREATOR of the ' intensity ' magnet ; 
and that the principles involved in this creation 
constitute the indispensable basis of every form of 
the electro-magnetic telegraph since invented." 

Professor Silliman of Yale College said : " Henry 
has the honor of having constructed by far the most 
powerful magnets that have ever been known ; and 
his last, weighing (armature and all) but 82 
pounds, sustains over a ton; which is eight times 
more powerful than any magnet hitherto known in 

" In 1831," says Professor Henry, " I arranged 
around one of the upper rooms of the Albany 
Academy a wire of more than a mile in length, 
through which I was enabled to make signals by 
sounding a bell. The mechanical arrangement for 
effecting this object was simply a steel bar, perma- 
nently magnetized, of about ten inches in length, 
supported on a pivot, and placed with its north end 
between the two arms of a horse-shoe magnet. 
When the latter was excited by the current, the 
end of the bar thus placed was attracted by one 
arm of the horse-shoe and repelled by the other, 
and was thus caused to move in a horizontal plane 
and its further end to strike a bell suitably ad- 


justed." This was the first " sounding " electro- 
magnetic telegraph. With this growing fame he 
was not disposed to think too highly of himself. A 
friend, noticing a look of sadness in the face of the 
young professor, said to him, " Albany will one 
day be proud of her son ; " and so it proved. 

A year before this, in May, 1830, Professor 
Henry had married, at thirty-one, Harriet L. Alex- 
ander of Schenectady, N. Y., a cultivated and help- 
ful woman. 

In 1832, Princeton College needed a professor 
of natural philosophy. Henry's friends heartily 
commended him for the position. Silliman said, 
" Henry has no superior among the scientific men 
of the country," and Professor Kenwick of Colum- 
bia College, New York, said, " He has no equal." 

After six years at the Albany Academy, Henry 
removed to Princeton, where for fourteen years he 
added constantly to his fame and usefulness by 
original work. Of his discoveries in these fruitful 
years he gives the following summary, at the re- 
quest of a friend : 

" I arrived in Princeton in November, 1832, and, 
as soon as I became fully settled in the chair which 
I occupied, I recommenced my investigations, con- 
structed a still more powerful electro-magnet than 
I had made before, one which would sustain over 
three thousand pounds, and with it illustrated 
to my class the manner in which' a large amount of 
power might, by means of a relay magnet, be called 
into operation at the distance of many miles. . . . 


The electro-magnetic telegraph was first invented 
by me, in Albany, in 1830. ... At the time of 
making my original experiments on electro-mag- 
netism in Albany, I was urged by a friend to take 
out a patent, both for its application to machinery 
and to the telegraph ; but this I declined, on the 
ground that I did not then consider it compatible 
with the dignity of science to confine the benefits 
which might be derived from it to the exclusive 
use of any individual. In this perhaps I was too 

Professor Asa Gray well said, " For the tele- 
graph and for electro-magnetic machines, what 
was now wanted was not discovery, but invention ; 
not the ascertainment of principles, but the devis- 
ing of methods." Morse is not to be less honored 
because somebody discovered the principle, which 
he and others utilized for the race, any more 
than Edison, Bell, and others, because Faraday 
and Henry helped to make their grand work 

"My next investigation, after being settled at 
Princeton," says Professor Henry, " was in relation 
to electro-dynamic induction. Mr. Faraday had dis- 
covered that when a current of galvanic electricity 
was passed through a wire from a battery, a cur- 
rent in an opposite direction was induced in a wire 
arranged parallel to this conductor. I discovered 
that an induction of a similar kind took place in 
the primary conducting wire itself, so that a cur- 
rent which, in its passage through a short wire 


conductor, would neither produce sparks nor shocks 
would, if the wire were sufficiently long, produce 
both those phenomena. . . . 

" A series of investigations was afterwards made, 
resulting in producing inductive currents of differ- 
ent orders, having different directions, made up of 
waves alternately in opposite directions. . . . 

''Another series of investigations, of a parallel 
character, was made in regard to ordinary or fric- 
tional electricity. In the course of these it was 
shown that electro-dynamic inductive action of 
ordinary electricity was of a peculiar character, 
and that effects could be produced by it at a re- 
markable distance. For example, if a shock were 
sent through a wire on the outside of a building, 
electrical effects could be exhibited in a parallel 
wire within the building.". . . 

After this, investigations were made in atmos- 
pheric induction ; induction from thunder clouds ; 
in regard to lightning rods ; on substances capable 
of exhibiting phosphorescence, such as the diamond, 
which, when exposed to the direct rays of the sun, 
and then removed to a dark place, emits a pale blue 
light ; on a method of determining the velocity of 
projectiles ; on the heat of the spots on the sun as 
compared with the rest of his disk ; the detection 
of heat by the thermal telescope "when the 
object was a horse in a distant field, the radiant 
heat from the animal was distinctly perceptible at 
a distance of at least several hundred yards ; " 
on the cohesion of liquids ; on the tenacity of soap- 


water in films ; on the origin of mechanical power, 
and the nature of vital force. 

Henry says : 

"The mechanical power exerted by animals is 
due to the passage of organized matter in the 
stomach, from an unstable to a stable equilibrium ; 
or, as it were, from the combustion of the food. It 
therefore follows that animal power is referable to 
the same source as that from the combustion of 
fuel namely, developed power of the sun's 
beams. But, according to this view, what is 
vitality? It is that mysterious principle not 
mechanical power which determines the form 
and arranges the atoms of organized matter, em- 
ploying for this purpose the power which is derived 
from the food. . . . 

" Suppose a vegetable organism impregnated with 
a germ (a potato, for instance) is planted below the 
surface of the ground, in damp soil, under a temper- 
ature sufficient for vegetation. If we examine it 
from time to time, we find it sending down rootlets 
into the earth, and stems and leaves upward into 
the air. After the leaves have been fully expanded 
we shall find the tuber entirely exhausted, nothing 
but a skin remaining. The same effect will take 
place if the potato be placed in a warm cellar ; it 
will continue to grow until all the starch and 
gluten are exhausted, when it will cease to in- 
crease. If, however, we now place it in the light, 
it will commence to grow again, and increase in 
size and weight. If we weigh the potato previous 


to the experiment, and the plant after it has ceased 
to grow in the dark, we shall find that the weight 
of the latter is a little more than half of the origi- 
nal tuber. The question then is, what has become 
of the material which filled the sac of the potato ? 
The answer is, one part has run down into carbonic 
acid and water, and in this running down has 
evolved the power to build up the other part into 
the new plant. After the leaves have been .formed 
and the plant exposed to the light of the sun, the 
developed power of its rays decomposes the car- 
bonic acid of the atmosphere, and thus furnishes 
the pabulum and the power necessary to the 
further development of the organization. 

"The same is the case with wheat, and all other 
grains that are germinated in the earth. Besides 
the germ of the future plant, there is stored away, 
around the germ, the starch and gluten to furnish 
the power necessary to its development, and also 
the food to build it up, until it reaches the surface 
of the earth and can draw the sources of its future 
growth from the power of the sunbeam. In the 
case of fungi and other plants that grow in the 
dark, they derive the power and the pabulum from 
surrounding vegetable matter in process of decay, 
or in that of evolving power.". . . 

"What then is the office of vitality? We say 
that it is analogous to that of the engineer who 
directs the power of the steam-engine in the execu- 
tion of its work." 

"If he had published in 1844, with some ful- 


ness, as he then wrought them out," says Professor 
Gray, "his conception and his attractive illustra- 
tions of the sources, transformation, and equiva- 
lence of mechanical power, and given them fitting 
publicity, Henry's name would have been promi- 
nent among the pioneers and founders of the 
modern doctrine of the conservation of energy." 

Henry always defined science as the " knowledge 
of natural law," and law as the "will of God." 
He fcmnd all things, even the storms, under the 
" control of laws fixed, immutable, and eternal," 
and rejoiced in believing that " a Supreme Intelli- 
gence who knows no change " governs all. For 
him there was never any conflict between science 
and religion. 

In February, 1837. Henry went to Europe, accom- 
panied by Prof. Alexander D. Bache, at the head 
of the United States Coast Survey for eighteen 
years. He became the friend of Faraday ; of Wheat- 
stone, then Professor of Experimental Philosophy 
in King's College, who was engaged in developing 
his system of the needle telegraph ; of Arago, 
Gay-Lussac, and other noted men. " At Kingjs Col- 
lege," says Prof. Alfred M. Mayer, "Faraday, 
Wheatstone, Daniell, and Henry had met to try and 
evolve the electric spark from the thermopile. 
Each in turn attempted it and failed. Then came 
Henry's turn. He succeeded, calling in the aid of 
his discovery of the effect of a long interpolar wire 
wrapped around a piece of soft iron. Faraday be- 
came as wild as a boy, and, jumping up, shouted : 


' Hurrah for the Yankee experiment ! ' " " It is 
not generally known or appreciated," says Profes- 
sor Mayer, "that Henry and Faraday independ- 
ently discovered the means of producing the elec- 
tric current and the electric spark from a magnet. 
. . . Henry cannot be placed on record as the first 
discoverer of the magneto-electric current, but it 
can be claimed that he stands alone as its second 
independent discoverer." Both James D. Forbes 
of Edinburgh and Henry obtained the spark, but 
were anticipated by Faraday. 

Henry spoke before the various scientific socie- 
ties. He was no longer the apprentice, to a watch- 
maker, or the leader of private theatricals, but a 
distinguished scholar. By his own will and energy 
he had attained to this enviable position. 

Meantime a man of science, in England, had 
thought out a great project for the benefit of his 
fellow-men. James Smithson. a wealthy English 
chemist, a Fellow of the Royal Society, unmarried, 
died in 1829. He left his property, over five hun- 
dred and forty thousand dollars, after the death of 
his nephew, provided that he died childless, "to 
the United States of America, to found at Wash- 
ington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, an establishment for the increase and diffusion 
of knowledge among men." The nephew died six 
years later, unmarried. 

This was indeed a wonderful gift, and from a 
stranger! Difficulties at once presented them, 
selves. How could the property be used " for the 


increase and diffusion of knowledge among men " ? 
" For ten years," says Garfield, " Congress wrestled 
with those nine words of Smithson, and could not 
handle them. Some political philosophers of that 
period held that we had no constitutional authority 
to accept the gift at all, and proposed to send it 
back to England. Every conceivable proposition 
was made." 

John Quincy Adams desired a great astronomi- 
cal observatory. One person wished an agricul- 
tural school ; another, a college for women ; another, 
that the funds should be devoted to meteorological 
observations all over the Union. Finally, a board 
of regents was appointed, with power to choose a 
suitable person as secretary. 

He must be a learned man, a wise financier, with 
good judgment and pleasant manners. Professor 
Henry fulfilled all the conditions. He was admired 
for his learning ; in finance he was wise, as thirty 
years have proved, the institute with its endow- 
ment now being valued at one and a half million 
dollars ; his kindly manner made him accessible, 
willing to listen to any one who hoped or believed 
he had discovered something in the line of knowl- 
edge. A man who can be harsh or cold to an igno- 
rant person, or indeed to anybody, does not deserve 
to hold any public position. With natural quick- 
ness of temper in early life, he had gained remark- 
able self-control. Like Baron Cuvier, he had no 
tolerance for sarcasm or " practical jokes." Henry 
was unanimously chosen, entering upon his duties 


December 3, 1846. He had a definite plan of the 
work which ought to be done, and " after due 
deliberation it received the almost unanilnous ap- 
proval of the scientific world." 

He believed that the money should be used in 
original scientific work ; by helping men to publish 
the results of such work j to aid in varied explora- 
tions; to send scientific publications all over the 
world. The institution is now the principal agent 
of scientific and literary communication between 
the old world and the new. The number of for- 
eign institutions and correspondents receiving the 
Smithsonian publications exceeds two thousand, 
scattered from New Zealand and India to Yoko- 
hama, in Japan, and Cape Town, in Southern Africa. 
The weight of matter sent abroad for ten years, 
ending 1877, was ninety-nine thousand pounds. 
Among the first subjects taken up by the institu- 
tion for investigation was that of American 
archaeology, an attempt to ascertain the industrial, 
social, and intellectual character of the earliest 
races on our continent. The first publication of 
" Smithsonian Contributions " was a work on the 
mounds and earthworks found in the Mississippi 
valley, a most fascinating study. 

The Smithonian, " first in the world, organized a 
comprehensive system of telegraphic meteorology, 
and has thus given first to Europe and Asia, and 
now to the United States, that most beneficent 
national application of modern science the storm 


So much of value has been gathered by govern- 
ment surveys and by voluntary contribution that 
the institution has sent duplicates to various soci- 
eties of specimens in geology, mineralogy, botany, 
zoology, and archaeology, while it has remaining, 
" boxed up, varieties of art and nature " more than 
enough to twice fill the halls and galleries of the 

The work of Professor Henry grew more and 
more onerous, but he seemed to leave nothing un- 
done. For many years he served gratuitously as 
chairman of the Lighthouse Board. When a sub- 
stitute was needed for sperm oil, after almost num- 
berless experiments, he showed that lard oil is the 
best illuminant, thereby saving the country over 
one hundred thousand dollars yearly, since 1865. 

During the last twelve years of his life, he de- 
voted much time to our system of coast fog-signals, 
making " contributions to the science of acoustics, 
unquestionably the most important of the cen- 

Observations were made, among other places, at 
Block Island and Point Judith. The distance be- 
tween these fog-horns is seventeen miles, and the 
sound of one can be distinctly heard at the other 
when the air is quiet and homogeneous ; but if the 
wind blows from one towards the other, the listener 
at the station from which the wind blows is un- 
able to hear the other horn. 

While at work in the Lighthouse Depot, in Staten 
Island, December, 1877, Henry's right hand became 


in a paralytic condition. This foretold that the 
end was near. He died at noon, May 13, 1878, 
asking, with his latest breath, which way the wind 
came, as though still thinking how to save human 
lives in a fog at sea. He was buried May 16, at 
Eock Creek Cemetery, near Georgetown, D. C. 
He was ready when death came. Two weeks 
before, he said to a friend: "I may die at any 
moment. I would like to live long enough to 
complete some things I have undertaken, but I 
am content to go. I have had a happy life, and I 
hope I have been able to do some good." 

Several times during his connection with the 
Smithsonian Institution he was offered more lucra- 
tive positions, but he remained where he believed 
he could be most useful. He was called to the 
professorship of chemistry in the Medical Depart- 
ment of the University of Pennsylvania, with 
double the salary of his secretaryship; but he 
declined. He was urged also to take the pres- 
idency of the college at Princeton. John C. 
Calhoun desired him to accept a professorship in 
the University of Virginia, as there were so many 
difficulties in connection with the secretaryship. 
Henry declined, saying that " his honor was com- 
mitted to the institution." Calhoun grasped his 
hand, exclaiming, "Professor Henry, you are a 
man after my own heart." 

He seemed to have no time to accumulate money. 
Fortunately, a fund of forty thousand dollars has 
been raised by friends, the income of which goes 


to his family during life, and afterwards to the 
National Academy of Sciences, to be devoted to 
original research. 

In character he was above reproach. He said, 
" I think that immorality and great mental power 
exercised in the discovery of scientific truths are 
incompatible with each other ; and that more error 
is introduced from defect in moral sense than from 
want of intellectual capacity." 

He loved nature. "A life devoted exclusively 
to the study of a single insect," he said, "is not 
spent in vain. No animal, however insignificant, 
is isolated ; it forms a part of the great system of 
nature, and is governed by the same general laws 
which control the most prominent beings of the 
organic world." In 1870, when gazing upon the 
Aar glacier, from the Ehone valley, he exclaimed 
to his daughter, while the tears coursed down his 
cheeks : " This is a place to die in. We should go 
no further." A really great man is never afraid to 
show that he has a tender heart. 

He loved his home. Out from it, in his early 
married life, two children went by death, and later, 
an only son in his early manhood. Three daughters 
were left him. One of them records in her diary : 
" Had father with us all the evening. I modelled 
his profile in clay, while he read * Thomson's Sea- 
sons ' to us. In the earlier part of the evening 
he seemed restless and depressed, but the influence 
of the poet drove away the cloud, and then an 
expression of almost childlike sweetness rested 


upon his lips, singularly in contrast, yet beauti- 
fully in harmony, with the intellect of the brow 

Again she writes : " We were all up until a late 
hour, reading poetry with father and mother, father 
being the reader. He attempted -Cowper's Grave,' 
by Mrs. Browning, but was too tender-hearted to 
finish the reading of it. We then laughed over 
the 'Address to the Mummy,' soared to heaven 
with Shelley's 'Skylark,' roamed the forest with 
Bryant, culled flowers from other poetical fields, 
and ended with ' Tarn O'Shanter.' I took for my 
task to recite a part of the latter from memory, 
while father corrected, as if he were 'playing 
schoolmaster.' " 

He was orderly and painstaking in his work, 
deciding with great caution. Prof. Asa Gray tells 
a story of his boyhood which well illustrates this. 
"It goes back to the time when he was first al- 
lowed to have a pair of boots, and to choose for 
himself the style of them. He was living with his 
grandmother, in the country, and the village Crispin 
could offer no great choice of patterns ; indeed, it 
was narrowed down to the alternative of round 
toes or square. Daily the boy visited the shop and 
pondered the alternatives, even while the manu- 
facture was going on, until, at length, the shoe- 
maker, who could brook no more delay, took the 
dilemma by both horns, and produced the most re- 
markable pair of boots the wearer ever had ; one 
boot round-toed, the other square-toed. . . . He 


probably never again postponed decision till it was 
too late to choose." 

A single incident illustrates the kindness of the 
man, who was always called the " model of a Chris- 
tian gentleman." "Early in the war, in the au- 
tumn of 1861, a caller at the presidential mansion, 
very anxious to see the chief magistrate of the 
nation, was informed that he could not then be 
seen, being engaged in an important private con- 
sultation. The caller, not to be repulsed, wrote on 
a piece of paper that he must see Mr. Lincoln per- 
sonally, on a matter of vital and pressing impor- 
tance to the public welfare. This, of course, 
secured his admission to the presence of Mr. 
Lincoln, who was sitting with a middle-aged gen- 
tleman. Observing the hesitancy of the visitor, 
the President told him he might speak freely, as 
only a friend was present. 

" Whereupon the visitor announced that for sev- 
eral evenings past he had observed a light exhib- 
ited on the highest of the Smithsonian towers, for 
a few minutes, about nine o'clock, with mysterious 
movements, which, he felt satisfied, were designed 
as signals to the rebels encamped on Munson's 
Hill, in Virginia. Having gravely listened to this 
information with raised eyebrows, but a subdued 
twinkle of the eye, the President turned to his 
companion, saying, ' What do you think of that, 
Professor Henry ? ' 

" Rising with a smile, the person addressed re- 
plied that, from the time mentioned, he presumed 


the mysterious light shone from the lantern of an 
attendant who was required at nine o'clock each 
evening to observe and record the indications of the 
meteorological instruments placed on the tower. 
The painful confusion of the officious informant at 
once appealed to Henry's sensibility, and, quite un- 
mindful of the President, he approached the visitor, 
offering his hand, and with a courteous regard 
counselled him never to be abashed at the issue of 
a conscientious discharge of duty, and never to let 
the fear of ridicule interfere with its faithful exe- 

Henry had learned how to triumph over the mis- 
fortunes of life. In 1865, the Smithsonian build- 
ing was partially burned, with nearly one hundred 
thousand letters, his notes of original research 
for thirty years, the annual report in manuscript, 
ready for the press, a valuable library, etc. 

" A few years ago," he said, " such a calamity 
would have paralyzed me for future efforts, but in 
my present view of life I take it as the dispensa- 
tion of a kind and wise Providence, and trust that 
it will work to my spiritual advantage." 

A bronze statue of Joseph Henry, by W. "W. 
Story, costing fifteen thousand dollars, was un- 
veiled in the grounds of the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion, April 19, 1883. Ten thousand people were 
assembled to witness the ceremonies. Noah Por- 
ter, ex-president of Yale College, delivered the 
oration. There it will tell the story of a self-made 
man of whom Garfield said : " Remembering his 


great career as a man of science, as a man who 
served his government with singular ability and 
faithfulness, who was loved and venerated by every 
circle, who blessed with the light of his friendship 
the worthiest and the best, whose life added new 
lustre to the glory of the human race, we shall be 
most fortunate if ever in the future we see his 
like again." 

Prof. Joseph Henry was succeeded by Prof. 
Spencer F. Baird as secretary of the Smith- 
sonian Institution. He died August 19, 1887, and 
Prof. S. P. Langley was called to the position, 
accepting the office November 18, 1887. The 
mantle of Henry has fallen upon a worthy succes- 
sor; a scholar who has given us, among other 
works, the "New Astronomy," whose beauty of 
diction, breadth of knowledge, and exquisite illus- 
trations are so well remembered, as it appeared 
first in the pages of the Century Magazine. 


IN the midst of as beautiful scenery as one finds 
on earth, snow-white Alps, blue lakes, great 
fields of purple crocus, and picturesque homes, 
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born at Motier, 
on Lake Morat, Switzerland, May 28, 1807. 

His father, a clergyman, descended from a long 
line of clergymen, was a gentle but efficient man, 
universally esteemed. His mother, Rose Mayor, 
the daughter of a physician on the shore of Lake 
Neuchatel, was a woman of strong character and 
most tender affection. She had buried her first 
four children ; therefore Louis was cared for with 
unusual solicitude. 

Until he was ten years old, he was taught by his 
parents, and allowed to develop his natural tastes. 
Possibly his sweetness of disposition resulted, in 
part, from the wise training of the father and 
mother. ,, Doubtless as many children are spoiled 
by undue thwarting and irritating as by over-in- 
dulgence. Though Louis met almost unsurmount- 
able obstacles later in life, he was able to rejoice, 
having enjoyed a sunny childhood. Such a child- 
hood we can give to our children but once. 

In a great stone basin back of the parsonage, the 
boy made his first aquarium. There he gathered 


fishes, frogs, tadpoles, indeed, everything which he 
could obtain from Lake Morat. In the house he 
had pet birds, hares, rabbits, field-mice, with their 
families, all cared for as though they were royal 

He was skilful as a carpenter and boot-maker. 
When the village cobbler came to the house, two or 
three times a year, to make shoes for the family, 
the lad was quick to imitate him, and made well 
fitting shoes for his sister's dolls. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Gary Agassiz, in her fascinating 
life of her husband, tells this incident of his boy- 
hood : " Though fond of quiet, indoor occupation, 
he was an active, daring boy. One winter day, 
when about seven years of age, he was skating 
with his little brother Auguste, two years younger 
than himself, and a number of other boys, near the 
shore of the lake. They were talking of a great 
fair held that day at the town of Morat, on the 
opposite side of the lake, to which M. Agassiz had 
gone in the morning, not crossing, upon the ice, 
however, but driving around the shore. 

" The temptation was too strong for Louis, and 
he proposed to Auguste that they should skate 
across, join their father at the fair, and come home 
with him in the afternoon. They started accord- 
ingly. The other boys remained on their skating 
ground till twelve o'clock, the usual dinner hour, 
when they returned to the village. Mme. Agassiz 
was watching for her boys, thinking them rather 
late, and, on inquiring for them among the troop of 


urchins coming down the village street, she learned 
on what errand they had gone. Her anxiety may 
be imagined. The lake was not less than two 
miles across, and she was by no means sure that 
the ice was safe. 

" She hurried to an upper window with a spy- 
glass, to see if she could descry them anywhere. 
At the moment she caught sight of them, already 
far on their journey, Louis had laid himself down 
across a fissure in the ice, thus making a bridge 
for his little brother, who was creeping over his 
back. Their mother directed a workman, an ex- 
cellent skater, to follow them as swiftly as possi- 
ble. He overtook them just as they had gained 
the shore, but it did not occur to him that they 
could return otherwise than they had come, and he 
skated back with them across the lake. Weary, 
hungry, and disappointed, the boys reached the 
house without having seen the fair or enjoyed the 
drive home with their father in the afternoon." 

At ten, Loujs was sent to a school for boys at 
Bienne, where, though the children studied nine 
hours a day, the time was wisely divided between 
work and play, so that they were kept well and 
happy. The lad always remembered affectionately 
his teacher at this school, Mr. Eickly. When the 
vacations came, Louis and Auguste walked twenty 
miles home to Motier, and did not find the journey 
long or tedious. 

At fourteen, Louis left Bienne, having finished 
his education, as he supposed, prior to entering the 


business house of his uncle, Francois Mayor, at 
Neuchatel. That his young mind turned longingly 
towards a different future, may be seen from his 
desires written at this time on a sheet of foolscap. 
" I wish to advance in the sciences, and for that 
I need D'Anville, Bitter, an Italian dictionary, a 
Strabo in Greek, Mannert and Thiersch ; and also 
the works of Malte-Brun and Seyfert. I have re- 
solved, as far as I am allowed to do so, to become a 
man of letters, and at present I can go no further : 
first, in ancient geography, for I already know all 
my note-books, and I have only such books as Mr. 
Rickly can lend me; I must have D'Anville or 
Mannert ; second, in modern geography also, I 
have only such books as Mr. Rickly can lend me, 
and the Osterwold geography, which does not ac- 
cord with the new divisions ; I must have Ritter 
or Malte-Brun ; third, for Greek I need a new 
grammar, and I shall choose Thiersch; fourth, I 
have no Italian dictionary, except one lent me by 
Mr. Moltz ; I must have one ; fifth, for Latin I 
need a larger grammar than the one I have, and I 
should like Seyfert; sixth, Mr. Rickly tells me 
that, as I have a taste for geography, he will give 
me a lesson in Greek (gratis) in which we would 
translate Strabo, provided I can find one. For all 
this I ought to have about twelve louis. I should 
like to stay at Bienne till the month of July, and 
afterward serve my apprenticeship in commerce at 
Neuchatel for a year and a half. Then I should 
like to pass four years at a university in Germany, 


and finally finish my studies at Paris, where I 
would stay about five years. Then, at the age of 
twenty-five, I could begin to write." 

At this early age, then, he was thinking of being 
an author ! 

He begged his parents to defer the business 
project for two years, that he might study at the 
College of Lausanne. They were willing and glad 
to please their boy ; but they knew from experience 
the ills of poverty, and they hoped to save him 
from it by a wise choice of a life-work. 

They gratified him, however, and he went to 
Lausanne. His uncle, Dr. Mathias Mayor, a physi- 
cian of Lausanne, seeing that the boy was deeply 
interested in anatomy, advised that he should 
study medicine ; so this was decided upon, as being 
more in accord with Louis' tastes than business. 

As poor Vincenzio Galileo found it a difficult 
matter to make a wool merchant or a doctor out 
of a boy destined to be a man of science, so did 
the father of Louis Agassiz. 

At seventeen, Louis left Lausanne for the medi- 
cal school at Zurich. Here he became the friend 
as well as pupil of Professor Schinz, who held the 
chair of Natural History and Physiology. He 
gave young Agassiz a key to his private library, 
and also to his collection of birds ; of course, the 
love for natural history grew - stronger. Both 
boys, for Auguste had come to Zurich with his 
brother, were too poor to buy books even when 
they cost but a dollar a volume. The Swiss minis- 


ter was saving to the uttermost to pay for board 
and decent clothes for his sons, to say nothing of 
books. Therefore the use of Schinz's library was a 
great favor. 

Said Agassiz in after years, "My inability to 
buy books was, perhaps, not so great a misfortune 
as it seemed to me ; at least, it saved me from too 
great dependence on written authority. I spent 
all rny time in dissecting animals and in studying 
human anatomy, not forgetting my favorite amuse- 
ments of fishing and collecting. I was always sur- 
rounded with pets, and had at this time some 
forty birds flying about my study, with no other 
home than a large pine-tree in the corner. I still 
remember my grief when a visitor, entering sud- 
denly, caught one of my little favorites between the 
floor and the door, and he was killed before I could 
extricate him. Professor Schinz's private collection 
of birds was my daily resort, and I then described 
every bird it contained, as I could not afford to buy 
even a text-book of ornithology. 

" I also copied with my own hand, having no 
means of purchasing the work, two volumes of 
Lamarck's ' Animaux sans Vertebres,' and my dear 
brother copied another half-volume for me. I 
finally learned that the study of the things them- 
selves was far more attractive than the books I so 
much coveted, and when, at last, large libraries 
became accessible to me, I usually contented my- 
self with turning over the leaves of the volumes 
on natural history, looking at the illustrations, and 


recording the titles of the works, that I might 
readily consult them for identification of such-- 
objects as I should have an opportunity of exam- 
ining in nature." 

The boys remained two years at Zurich. One 
vacation, as they were walking home, the family 
having moved from Motier to Orbe, they were over- 
taken by a gentleman who asked them to ride, 
shared his lunch with them, and took them to their 
own door. Some days afterward he wrote to M. 
Agassiz that he had been so impressed by his son 
Louis that he wished to adopt him and provide 
for him through life. 

This request caused great commotion in the little 
home, for the writer of the letter was a man of 
wealth in Geneva, but, after careful consideration, 
both parents and son declined the offer, preferring 
to struggle with poverty rather than bear separa- 

At the end of the two years in Zurich, Auguste 
went to the commercial house of his uncle at 
Xeuchatel, and Louis to the University of Heidel- 
berg, taking letters of introduction from Professor 
Schinz and others. Professor Tiedemann, the 
chancellor, had studied with Schinz ; therefore. 
Agassiz received a warm welcome, and an offer of 
books from his library. 

The young student worked earnestly. He wrote 
to his father : " Every morning I rise at six o'clock, 
dress and breakfast. At seven I go to my lectures 
given during the morning. ... If, in the interval, 


I have a free hour, as sometimes happens from ten 
to eleven, I occupy it in making anatomical prepa- 
rations. . . . From twelve to one I practise fencing. 
We dine at about one o'clock, after which I walk 
till two, when I return to the house and to my 
studies till five o'clock. From five to six we have 
a lecture from the renowned Tiedemann. After 
that, I either take a bath in the Neckar, or another 
walk. From eight to nine I resume my special 
work, and then, according to my inclination, go to 
the Swiss Club, or, if I am tired, to bed. I have 
my evening service and talk silently with you, 
believing that at that hour you also do not forget 
your Louis, who thinks always of you." 

At Heidelberg, like Humboldt, Agassiz needed a 
congenial friend, and found one in Alexander 
Braun, of Carlsruhe, an ardent lover of botany, 
afterward Director of the Botanical Gardens in 
Berlin. He wrote to his parents concerning Agas- 
siz, " a rare comet on the Heidelberg horizon. . . . 
Not only do we collect and learn to observe all 
manner of things, but we have also an opportunity 
of exchanging our views on scientific matters in 
general. I learn a great deal from him, for he is 
much more at home in zoology than I am. He is 
familiar with almost all the known mammalia, 
recognizes the birds from far off by their song, and 
can give a name to every fish in the water. 

" In the morning we often stroll together thro, * 
the fish market, where he explains to 
different species. He is going to 


stuff fishes, and then we intend to make a collec- 
tion of all the native kinds. Many other useful 
things he knows ; speaks German and French 
equally well, English and Italian fairly, so that I 
have already appointed him to be my interpreter on 
some future vacation trip to Italy. He is well 
acquainted with ancient languages also, and studies 
medicine besides." 

Schimper, another brilliant botanist, was a friend 
of both Braun and Agassiz. The professor in 
zoology, Leuckart, was very fond of these bright 
pupils, and allowed himself to be gotten up at 
seven in the morning, to give them extra lectures. 

When vacation came, Braun took Agassiz to his 
home ; a cultured place, rich in books, music, and 
collections of plants and animals. Agassiz was 
very happy there ; possibly the happiness was 
increased by the fact that Braun had a lovely and 
artistic sister, Cecile. Agassiz wrote home, "My 
happiness would be perfect were it not for the pain- 
ful thought which pursues me everywhere, that I 
live on your privations ; yet it is impossible for me 
to diminish my expenses further. You would lift 
a great weight from my heart if you could relieve 
yourself of this burden by an arrangement with 
my uncle at Neuchatel. . . . Otherwise I am well, 
going on as usual, always working as hard as I can, 
and I believe all the professors whose lectures I 
^end are satisfied with me." 

to m, ^g S p r i n g of 1827, when Agassiz was twenty, 
dress anu ^ Qn -^ of typhus fever, and it was 
given during u 


feared he would not recover. As soon as possible 
he was removed to Braun's home, and most tenderly 
cared for. When he became able, he went to his 
own home, at Orbe. From there he writes to Braun : 
" I had the good fortune to find at least thirty 
specimens of Bombinator obstetricans, with the 
eggs. Tell Dr. Leuckart that I will bring him 
some, and some for you also. I kept several 
alive, laid in damp moss ; after fourteen days the 
eggs were almost as large as peas, and the little 
tadpoles moved about inside in all directions. The 
mother stripped the eggs from her legs, and one of 
the little tadpoles came out, but died for want of 
water. Then I placed the whole mass of eggs in a 
vessel filled with water, and behold ! in about an 
hour some twenty young ones were swimming freely 
about. I shall spare no pains to raise them, and I 
hope, if I begin aright, to make fine toads of them 
in the end. My oldest sister is busy every day in 
making drawings for me to illustrate their gradual 

In the fall of 1827, Agassiz and Braun, after spend- 
ing a little more than a year at Heidelberg, went to 
the University of Munich, there meeting Schimper. 
He wrote home, that from one of his windows he 
could see " the whole chain of the Tyrolean Alps, 
as far as Appenzell. ... It is a great pleasure to 
have at least a part of our Swiss mountains always 
in sight. To enjoy it the more, I have placed my 
table opposite the window, so that every time I lift 
iny head my eyes rest on our dear country." 


At Munich, the young students were stimulated 
by the presence of many noted men. Dollinger 
lectured on comparative anatomy ; Schelling, on 
philosophy; Oken, on natural history, physiology, 
and zoology ; Martius, on botany. 9 Agassiz and 
Braun roomed in Dollinger's house. This room 
soon became the intellectual centre for the bright 
men of the college, and was called "the little 
academy." Here different students gave lectures, 
each on his special subject of study ; the professors, 
even, coming as listeners. 

" In that room," said Agassiz, years later, " I 
made all the skeletons represented on the plates of 
Wagler's ' Natural System of Keptiles ' ; there I 
once received the great anatomist Meckel, sent to 
me by Dollinger to examine my anatomical prepa- 
rations, and especially the many fish-skeletons I 
had made from fresh-water fishes. By my side 
were constantly at work two artists ; one engaged 
in drawing various objects of natural history, the 
other in drawing fossil fishes. I kept always one, 
and sometimes two artists, in my pay. It was not 
easy, with an allowance of two hundred and fifty 
dollars a year ; but they were even poorer than I, 
and so we managed to get along together. My 
microscope I had earned by writing." Poor Agas- 
siz ! he was yet to see greater pecuniary trials than 

Says Mr. Dinkel, one of the artists who worked 
with Agassiz for many years : " I soon found my- 
self engaged four or five hours almost daily in 


painting for him fresh-water fishes from the life, 
while he was at my side, sometimes writing out his 
descriptions, sometimes directing me. . . . He never 
lost his temper, though often under great trial ; he 
remained self-possessed, and did everything calmly, 
having a friendly smile for every one, and a help- 
ing hand for those who were in need. He was at 
that time scarcely twenty years old, and was already 
the most prominent among the students of Munich. 
They loved him, and had a high consideration for 
him. ... He liked merry society, but he himself 
was in general reserved, and never noisy. He 
picked out the gifted and highly learned students, 
and would not waste his time in ordinary conver- 
sation. Often, when he saw a number of students 
going off on some empty pleasure-trip, he said to 
me, ' There they go with the other fellows. ... I 
will go my own way, Mr. Dinkel, and not alone. 
I will be a leader of others.' " 

Agassiz writes to his brother Auguste : " It will 
interest you to know that I am working with a 
young Dr. *Born upon an anatomy and natural his- 
tory of the fresh-water fishes of Europe. We have 
already gathered a great deal of material, and I 
think by the spring, or in the course of the summer, 
we shall be able to publish the first number. . . . 
I earnestly advise you to while away your leisure 
hours with study. Eead much, but only good and 
useful books. . . . Remember that statistical and 
political knowledge alone distinguishes the true 
merchant from the mere tradesmen, and guides him 


in his undertakings. . . . Write me about what you 
are reading, and about your plans and projects, for 
I can hardly believe that any one could exist with- 
out forming them ; I, at least, could not." 

It is not strange that the watchful mother begins 
to be anxious, for she hears nothing from her son 
about her " project " of medicine. She writes him 
that she detects in his letters " a certain sadness 
and discontent." " How is it," she says, " that you * 
look forward only with distaste to the practice of 
medicine ? Have you reflected seriously before 
setting aside this profession ? Indeed, we cannot 
consent to such a step ; you would lose ground in 
our opinion, in that of your family, and in that of 
the public you would pass for an inconsiderate, 
fickle young fellow, and the slightest stain on your 
reputation would be a mortal blow to us. ... Of 
course you will not gather roses without thorns. 
Life consists of pains and pleasures everywhere. 
To do all the good you can to your fellow-beings, 
to have a pure conscience, to gain an honorable 
livelihood, to procure for yourself by work a little 
ease, to make those around you happy, that is true 
happiness ; all the rest but mere accessories and 

And then the good Swiss minister adds, thus to 
quiet his son's restless nature, " If it be absolutely 
essential to your happiness that you should break 
the ice of the two poles in order to find the hairs 
of a mammoth, ... at least wait till your 
trunk is packed and your passports are signed 


before you talk with us about it. Begin by reach- 
ing your first aim, a physician's and surgeon's 
diploma. . . . My own philosophy is to fulfil my 
duties in my sphere, and even that gives me more 
than I can do." Fortunately Louis Agassiz did 
not possess the kind of philosophy that brings con- 
tent in a small parish on a Swiss lake ; his sphere 
was to be the world, and two continents were to be 
proud of him. 

In 1817, the King of Bavaria had sent two natu- 
ralists. M. Martius and M. Spix, on an exploring 
expedition to Brazil. They returned in four years, 
laden with treasures. M. Martius issued colored 
illustrations of all the unknown plants he had col- 
lected, and M. Spix several volumes on the mon- 
keys, birds, and reptiles of Brazil. He had in- 
tended to give a complete natural history of Brazil, 
but died before his work was finished. Martius 
asked Agassiz to continue the work of Spix, in the 
line of fishes. 

Agassiz writes to his sister Cecile : " I hesitated 
for a long time to accept this honorable offer, fear- 
ing that the occupation might withdraw me too 
much from my studies ; but, on the other hand, the 
opportunity for laying the foundation of a reputa- 
tion by a large undertaking seemed too favorable 
to be refused. The first volume is already finished, 
and the printing was begun some weeks ago. . . . 
Already forty colored folio plates are completed. 
Will it not seem strange when the largest and 
finest book in papa's library is one written by his 


Louis ? Will it not be as good as to see his pre- 
scription at the apothecary's ? It is true that this 
first effort will bring me in but little ; nothing at 
all, in fact, because M. de Martins has assumed 
all the expenses, and will, of course, receive the 
profits. My share will be a few copies of the book, 
and these I shall give to the friends who have the 
first claim." 

He writes to his father, as though half apolo- 
gizing for the fact that he is writing a book on natu- 
ral history, at the same time showing the real 
purpose of his life : " I wish it may be said of 
Louis Agassiz that he was the first naturalist of 
his time, a good citizen, and a good son, beloved of 
those who knew him. I feel within myself the 
strength of a whole generation to work toward 
this end, and I will reach it if the means are not 

Thus early in life he had fixed the mark to 
which he Avould attain, " the first naturalist of his 
time." No wonder he succeeded, when he felt 
within himself "the strength of a whole genera- 
tion to work toward this end." 

In the summer of 1829, when he was twenty -two, 
the first part of the "Brazilian Fishes" was pub- 
lished, and a copy sent to the fond parents. Good 
M. Agassiz wrote back : " I have no terms in 
which to express the pleasure it has given me. In 
two words, for I have only a moment to myself, I 
repeat my urgent entreaty that you would hasten 
your return as much as possible. . . . The old 


father, who waits for you with open heart and 
arms, sends you the most tender greeting." He 
had been devoting his time to science just what 
they feared, but how proud they were to have 
him succeed ! 

Cuvier, the great leader in zoology, to whom the 
book was dedicated, wrote back : " You and M. de 
Martius have done me honor in placing my name 
at the head of a work so admirable as the one you 
have just published. The importance and the 
rarity of the species therein described, as well as 
the beauty of the figures, will make the work an 
important one in ichthyology, and nothing could 
heighten its value more than the accuracy of your 
descriptions. It will be of the greatest use to me 
in my ' History of Fishes.' ... I shall do all in 
my power to accelerate the sale among amateurs, 
either by showing it to such as meet at my house, 
or by calling attention to it in scientific journals." 

Another project had now taken form in Agassiz's 
active brain, his great work on " Poissons Fossiles," 
which a few years later placed him in the front 
rank of scientific men. He wrote to Auguste: 
" Having, by permission of the director of the 
museum, one of the finest collections of fossils in 
Germany at my disposition, and being also allowed 
to take the specimens home as I need them, I have 
undertaken to publish the ichthyological part of 
the collection. Since it only makes the difference 
of one or two people more to direct, I have these 
specimens also drawn at the same time. Nowhere 


so well as here, where the Academy of Fine Arts 
brings together so many draughtsmen, could I have 
the same facility for completing a similar work ; 
and as it is an entirely new branch, in which no 
one has as yet done anything of importance, I feel 
sure of success ; the more so because Cuvier, who 
alone could do it (for the single reason that every 
one else has till now neglected the fishes), is not 
engaged upon it. Add to this that just now there 
is a real need of this work for the determination of 
the different geological formations." And then he 
urges Auguste to intercede with his uncle at Neu- 
chatel for one hundred louis. " At this very time, 
when he was keeping two or three artists on his 
slender means," says his wife, "he made his own 
breakfast in his room, and dined for a few cents 
a day at the cheapest eating-houses. But where 
science was concerned the only economy he rec- 
ognized, either in youth or old age, was that of 
an expenditure as bold as it was carefully con- 

He was now at work finishing the "Brazilian 
Fishes," and carrying forward the " Fresh- Water 
Fishes " and the " Fossil Fishes." Besides these, 
he read medical works till midnight, and wrote 
seventy-four theses on anatomical, pathological, 
surgical, and obstetrical subjects. 

He took his degree of medicine April 3, 1830. 
He writes to his mother: "The whole ceremony 
lasted nine days. At the close, while they consid- 
ered my case, I was sent out of the room. On my 


return, the dean said to me, ' The faculty have been 
very much ' (emphasized) ' pleased with your an- 
swers ; they congratulate themselves on being able 
to give the diploma to a young man who has 
already acquired so honorable a reputation.' . . . 
The rector then added that he should look upon it 
as the brightest moment of his rectorship when he 
conferred upon me the title I had so well merited." 

And the glad mother writes back : " I cannot 
thank you enough, my dear Louis, for the happi- 
ness you have given me in completing your medi- 
cal examinations, and thus securing to yourself a 
career as safe as it is honorable. . . . You have 
for my sake gone through a long and arduous task ; 
were it in my power I would gladly reward you, 
but I cannot even say that I love you the more for 
it, because that is impossible. My anxious solici- 
tude for your future is a proof of my ardent affec- 
tion for you ; only one thing was wanting to make 
me the happiest of mothers, and this, my Louis, 
you have just given me." 

Agassiz had taken the degree of Doctor of 
Philosophy, a year earlier. " The time had come," 
said he, years afterward, " when even the small 
allowance I received from borrowed capital must 
cease. I was now twenty-four years of age. 
I was Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine, and 
author of a quarto volume on the fishes of Brazil. I 
had travelled on foot all over Southern Germany, 
visited Vienna, and explored extensive tracts of the 
Alps. I knew every animal, living and fossil, in the 


museums of Munich, Stuttgart, Tubingen, Erlangen, 
Wurzburg, Carlsruhe, and Frankfort ; but my pros- 
pects were as dark as ever, and I saw no hope of 
making my way in the world, except by the practi- 
cal pursuit of my profession as physician." 

December 4, 1830, Agassiz said good-by to Mu- 
nich, and started with Mr. Dinkel, his artist, for 
Concise, his father having moved there from Orbe. 
Here he remained a year, arranging, meantime, 
his own valuable collections in natural history, at 
the house of his grandfather Mayor, at Cudrefin, 
on Lake Neuchatel, and practising a little in medi- 
cine, in the neighboring villages. 

He longed to go to Paris for study, but poverty 
was his constant companion. Finally, an old friend 
of his father, a Swiss clergyman, M. Christinot, 
having come into possession of a small amount of 
money, urged his young friend to take it. His 
uncle also contributed a little, and Agassiz and 
Dinkel left for Paris in September, 1831. 

On their arrival they found inexpensive lodgings, 
and at once began to work in the museums. He 
writes to his sister Olympe : " M. Cuvier and M. 
Humboldt especially treat me on all occasions as 
an equal, and facilitate for me the use of the scien- 
tific collections so that I can work here as if I were 
at home. ... In the morning I follow the chemi- 
cal courses at the Pitie. ... At ten o'clock, or 
perhaps at eleven, I breakfast, and then go to the 
Museum of Natural History, where I stay till dark. 
Between five and six I dine, and after that turn to 


such medical studies as do not require daylight. 
... On Saturday only, I spend the evening at M. 

He writes later to his brother that there is an- 
other excellent reason why he does not spend more 
evenings in society, because he has " no presentable 
coat. . . . You can imagine that, after the fuel bill 
for the winter is paid, little remains for other 
expenses out of my two hundred francs a month, 
five louis of which are always due to my compan- 
ion. Far from having anything in advance, my 
m on tli's supply is thus taken up at once." Evidently 
he had no more money than when he and Auguste 
copied whole volumes at the Zurich school. 

Cuvier was so much drawn to the young natural- 
ist that he gave him and his artist a corner in one 
of his own laboratories, and, more than this, his 
drawings of fossil fishes and notes which he had 
taken in the British Museum and elsewhere. 
Cuvier said, three months later, with regard to 
some work, "You are young; you have time 
enough for it, and I have none to spare." 

Agassiz now studied fifteen hours daily, some- 
times seventeen. Cuvier commended his devotion, 
but said one evening as he left him, " Be careful, 
and remember that work kills." The next day he 
was paralyzed and died soon after, Agassiz never 
seeing him again. 

It became evident that Paris, with her scientific 
treasures, could not be enjoyed longer. He must 
go back to Switzerland, and find a place to teach, 


as his sympathetic mother urged him to do. Just 
when the sky was darkest, a letter came from 
Humboldt, enclosing a check for one thousand 
francs ! " Consider it," he said, " an advance which 
need not be paid for years, and which I will gladly 
increase when I go away or even earlier. It would 
pain me deeply should the urgency of my request, 
made in the closest confidence, in short, a trans- 
action as between two friends of unequal age, 
be disagreeable to you. I should wish to be pleas- 
antly remembered by a young man of your charac- 
ter. Yours, with the most affectionate respect, 
Alexander Humboldt." 

How delicately offered was this charity in the 
guise of a loan ! To give is blessed ; to give with- 
out wounding the recipient is more blessed still ! 

The tender heart of Agassiz was deeply moved. 
He wrote his mother : " Oh ! if my mother would 
forget for one moment that this is the celebrated 
M. de Humboldt, and find courage to write him 
only a few lines, how grateful I should be to her. 
I think it would come better from her than from 
papa, who would do it more correctly, no doubt, 
but perhaps not quite as I should like." 

She wrote a thankful letter, and the great man 
replied : " I should scold your son, madame, for 
having spoken to you of the slight mark of interest 
I have been able to show him ; and yet, how can I 
complain of a letter so touching, so noble in senti- 
ment, as the one I have just received from your 
hand ? Accept my warmest thanks for it. ... 


One might well despair of the world if a person 
like your son, with information so substantial and 
manners so sweet and prepossessing, should fail to 
make his way." 

This money made it possible for Agassiz to work 
m Paris, until a professorship of Natural History 
was created for him at Neuchatel, through the in- 
fluence of Humboldt and others. Humboldt wrote : 
" Agassiz is distinguished by his talents, by the 
variety and substantial character of his attainments, 
and by that which has a special value in these 
troubled times, his natural sweetness of dispo- 

This " sweetness of disposition " was worth more 
to Agassiz, all through life, than a fortune. It 
drew everybody to him. It opened the pockets of 
the wealthy to carry forward his great projects. It 
won the hearts of his pupils on two hemispheres. 
It made his home a delight, and his presence a con- 
stant blessing. 

He assumed the duties of his professorship at 
Neuchatel in the autumn of 1832, giving his first 
lecture, '' Upon the Relations between the different 
branches of Natural History and the then prevail- 
ing tendencies of all the Sciences," November 
12, at the Hotel de Ville. A society for the study 
of the natural sciences was soon formed, and 
Agassiz became its secretary. So natural, so enthu- 
siastic, so full of his subject, was he, that every- 
body became interested. To little companies of 
his friends and neighbors he lectured on botany, 


on zoology, and the philosophy of nature. Even 
the children were delighted to gather and be told 
how lakes, springs, rivers, and valleys are formed. 

" When it was impossible to give the lessons out- 
of-doors, the children were gathered around a large 
table, where each one had before him or her the 
specimens of the day, sometimes stones and fossils, 
sometimes flowers, fruits, or dried plants. . . . 
When the talk was of tropical or distant countries, 
pains were taken to procure characteristic speci- 
mens, and the children were introduced to dates, 
bananas, cocoa-nuts, and other fruits, not to be 
easily obtained in those days in a small inland 
town. They, of course, concluded the lesson by 
eating the specimen, a practical illustration which 
they greatly enjoyed." 

Three months after his settlement at Neuchatel, 
where eighty louis had been guaranteed to him for ' 
three years, he was invited to Heidelberg, to suc- 
ceed his former professor, Leuckart, in zoology. 
He would receive a salary of five hundred florins^ 
besides about fifteen hundred gulden for lectures 
and literary work. He declined the honor, because 
he wished more time to devote to his writing. The 
following year Neuchatel purchased his collections 
in natural history, thus affording him some pecu 
niary aid in his work. 

A serious misfortune now threatened him in the 
loss of sight. Having injured his eyes by micro- 
scopic work, for several months he was shut up in 
a dark room, practising the study of his fossils by 


touch alone ; by the tongue when the fingers were 
not sufficiently sensitive to feel out the impression. 
With great care his eyes improved, so that he was 
able to use them through life more constantly than 
most persons. 

In October, 1833, when he was twenty-six, 
Agassiz married Cecile Braun of Carlsruhe, the 
sister of his life-long friend Alexander. They 
began housekeeping in a small apartment at Neu- 
chatel, both practising the closest economy that the 
books might be carried on; the "Fresh- Water 
Fishes," and the " Fossil Fishes." She was a skil- 
ful artist, had done much work for her brother in 
botany, and now helped her young husband in 
drawing and coloring his fishes. 

The first number of the " Fossil Fishes " had al- 
ready appeared, with the following title, which 
shows the plan of the great work, to which he 
devoted ten years, from 1833 to 1843 : 

" Researches on the Fossil Fishes : comprising an 
Introduction to the Study of these Animals ; the 
Comparative Anatomy of Organic Systems which 
may contribute to facilitate the Determination of 
Fossil Species ; a New Classification of Fishes, ex- 
pressing their relations to the Series of Forma- 
tions ; the Explanation of the Laws of their 
Succession and Development during all the 
Changes of the Terrestrial Globe, accompanied by 
General Geological Considerations ; finally, the 
Description of about a thousand Species which no 
longer exist, and whose Characters have been 


restored from Remains contained in the Strata of 
the Earth." 

The work was inscribed to Humboldt. " These 
pages owe to you their existence ; accept their 
dedication." It met everywhere the most favora- 
ble reception. Elie de Beaumont wrote to Agas- 
siz : " It promises a work as important for science 
as it is remarkable in execution. Do not let your- 
self be discouraged by obstacles of any kind ; they 
will give way before the concert of approbation 
which so excellent a work will awaken." 

Agassiz had become knoAvn to scholars through- 
out Europe, as an indefatigable worker, but he was 
still poor. Now and then there came a gleam of 
sunshine into the straitened life. In 1834, he was 
greatly surprised to receive from the London Geo- 
logical Society, through Sir Charles Lyell, the 
Wollaston prize, of about one hundred and fifty 
dollars, conferred upon him for his work on fishes. 

He writes back to Lyell : " You cannot imagine 
the joy your letter has given me. The prize 
awarded me is at once so unexpected an honor and 
so welcome an aid that I could hardly believe my 
eyes when, with tears of relief and gratitude, I 
read your letter. In the presence of a savant, I 
need not be ashamed of my penury, since I have 
spent the little I had wholly in scientific re- 
searches. I do not, therefore, hesitate to confess 
to you that at no time could your gift have given 
me greater pleasure. Generous friends have helped 
me to bring out the first number of my ' Fossil 


Fishes ; ' the plates of the second are finished, but 
I was greatly embarrassed to know how to print a 
sufficient number of copies before the returns from 
the first should be paid in. The text is ready also, 
so that now, in a fortnight, I can begin the distri- 
bution, and, the rotation once established, I hope 
that preceding numbers will always enable me to 
publish the next in succession without interruption. 
I even count upon this resource as affording me 
the means of making a journey to England before 

In August, 1834, Agassiz went to England, and 
there formed delightful friendships with such men 
as Lyell, Murchison, Buckland, and others. He 
was allowed to cull, from sixty or more collections, 
some two thousand fossil fishes, and deposit them 
in the Somerset House in London, where Mr. Din- 
kel, the artist, remained for several years at work, 

In the summer of 1836, he began his remarkable 
study of the glaciers. He was so cramped for 
means to carry forward his " Fossil Fishes," that it 
seemed probable that he must discontinue it, when 
opportunely his original drawings were purchased 
by Lord Francis Egerton and given to the British 
Museum. The financial condition was thus bet- 
tered for a time. 

His investigation of the slopes of the Jura led 
to an address before the Helvetic Association as- 
sembled at Neuchatel in 1837, in which he said : 
" Siberian winter established itself for a time over 


a world previously covered with a rich vegetation 
and peopled with large mammalia, similar to those 
now inhabiting the warm regions of India and 
Africa. Death enveloped all nature in a shroud, 
and the cold, having reached its highest degree, 
gave to this mass of ice, at the maximum of ten- 
sion, the greatest possible hardness." He showed 
how huge boulders had been distributed over the 

His views excited much opposition, from most of 
the older geologists. Even Humboldt said, " Your 
ice frightens me." But the discussion convinced 
the scientific world that Agassiz was both original 
a,nd brilliant. He was soon called to a professor- 
ship of geology and mineralogy at Geneva, with a 
salary of three thousand francs, and also to Lau- 
sanne ; but he refused both offers. So pleased were 
the people of Neuchatel that they made him ac- 
cept a present of six thousand francs, payable dur- 
ing three years. 

In 1838, Agassiz founded a lithographic printing 
establishment in Neuchatel, where his work could 
be done under his own direction instead of in 
Munich. He was now, besides his duties as pro- 
fessor, at work on " Living and Fossil Echinoderms 
and Mollusks," as well as " Fresh- Water and Fossil 
Fishes," and soon after upon the " Etudes sur les 
Glaciers," with an atlas of thirty -two plates. The 
book gave an account of all previous glacial study, 
and the observations of himself and companions. 

" Agassiz displayed during these years," said 


one of his co-workers, " an incredible energy, of 
which the history of science offers, perhaps, no 
other example." He worked always till midnight, 
often till two or three o'clock, sitting for hours at 
his microscope, troubled much with congestion of 
the head and eyes. The expense involved in his 
work was enormous, and he was burdening him- 
self with debts, which are more wearing and de- 
struetive to health and happiness than any amount 
of work can ever be. 

Still he struggled on, through these dark days of 
poverty. He was only thirty-three, so young-look- 
ing that, on seeing him, people asked if he were 
"the son of the celebrated professor of Neuchatel." 
He had already been chosen a member of the Eoyal 
Society of London. 

In 1840 he made his first permanent station on 
the Alps, taking with him barometers, thermome- 
ters, hygrometers, psychometers, boring appara- 
tus, and microscopes, making the Hospice of the 
Grimsel his base of supplies, and the lower Aar 
glacier the scene of his work. A huge boulder, its 
upper surface forming a roof, with a stone wall 
constructed on one side, became the sleeping-room 
of Agassiz and five friends. This abode was called 
the Hotel des Neuchatelois. Jacob Leuthold, an 
intrepid Swiss, was their chief guide. He died at 
thirty-seven, sincerely mourned by all. They made 
dangerous ascents of snow-covered peaks, meas- 
ured the depth and forward movement of glaciers, 
Agassiz even being lowered by ropes one hundred 


and twenty-five feet into a glacial well, to investi- 
gate its formation. 

All Europe was becoming interested in glaciers. 
Edward Forbes wrote from Edinburgh : " You have 
made all the geologists glacier-mad here, and they 
are turning Great Britain into an ice-house." Dar- 
win was deeply interested. He wrote from North 
Wales : " The valley about here and the site of 
the inn at which I am now writing must once have 
been covered by at least eight hundred or one 
thousand feet in thickness of solid ice ! Eleven 
years ago I spent a whole day in the valley where 
yesterday everything but the ice of the glaciers 
was palpably clear to me, and I then saw nothing 
but plain water and bare rock." 

Agassiz now began work on his " Nomenclator 
Zoologicus," and his " Bibliographia Zoologiae et 
Geologiae," the former comprising " an enumera- 
tion of all the genera of the animal kingdom, with 
the etymology of their names, the names of those 
who had first proposed them, and the date of 
their publication." The latter contained a list of 
all the authors named in the Nomenclator, with 
notices of their works. This was published by the 
Royal Society in England, in 1848, the expense be- 
ing too great for one person. 

In 1843 the "Fossil Fishes," in five large 
volumes, was completed, and the following year 
his "Monograph on the Fossil Fishes of the Old 
Red Sandstone, or the Devonian System of Great 
Britain and Russia," was published, a large volume 


accompanied by forty-one plates. The discovery 
of these fossils was due to Hugh Miller, whose 
interesting life and pathetic death will always be 
associated with the study of the Old Red Sand- 

In the spring of 1846, a great change took place 
in the life of the overworked naturalist. He had 
long hoped to visit the United States for scientific 
investigation, and now the time had come. The 
King of Prussia, at the request of Humboldt, 
granted him fifteen thousand francs for this pur- 
pose he had previously given Agassiz one thou- 
sand dollars for his glacial researches. . . . Leav- 
ing his wife and daughters with Alexander Braun, 
her brother, at Carlsruhe, and his son Alexander 
at school at ISTeuchatel, Agassiz said good-by to his 
students, who came at two o'clock at night, in pro- 
cession with torchlights. Going to Paris, he spent 
some time in bringing out his second work upon 
the glaciers,-^ Systeme Glaciaire," receiving the 
Monthyon Prize of Physiology from the Academy, 
and sailed for America in September, 1846. 

Humboldt wrote him from Sans-Souci : " Be 
happy in this new undertaking, and preserve for me 
the first place under the head of friendship in your 
heart. When you return. I shall be here no more, 
but the king and queen will receive you on this 
historic hill with the affection which, for so many 
reasons, you merit. Your illegible but much at- 
tached friend." 

Sir Charles Lyell, of England, who had given a 


successful course of lectures before the Lowell 
Institute, Boston, arranged a similiar course with 
Mr. Lowell for his friend Agassiz. Perhaps money 
has never been given more wisely in our country 
than by the refined John Lowell, Jr., of Boston, 
who, dying in a foreign country at thirty-seven, 
bereft of wife and children, left a quarter of a 
million dollars to " provide for regular courses of 
free public lectures upon the most important 
branches of natural and moral science, to be an- 
nually delivered in the city of Boston." None of 
the bequest could be used for buildings, and ten 
per cent, of the accumulation of the fund was to be 
set aside annually to continue it. Since December 
1. 1839, from six to ten courses have been given 
yearly to large audiences, by some of the most dis- 
tinguished persons in Europe and America. 

" Natural and moral science ! " How broad the 
subject, and how incalculable the benefit to any 
city, great or small ! What a means for the best 
general education ; what an uplifting of the whole 
mental and social life of a community ! 

Agassiz came to Boston and gave twelve lectures 
on the "Plan of the Creation, especially in the 
Animal Kingdom." His speech had a foreign 
accent; but his enthusiastic love of his subject, his 
skill in drawing on the blackboard, and his eloquent 
but simple language soon won all hearts. 

He was as pleased with the Americans as they 
were with him. He wrote to his beloved mother 
(his father had died ten years before) : " I can only 


say that the educated Americans are very acces- 
sible and very pleasant. They are obliging to the 
utmost degree ; indeed, their cordiality toward 
strangers exceeds any that I have met else- 
where. . . . The liberality of the American nat- 
uralists toward me is unparalleled. . . . The gov- 
ernment (of the State of New York) has just 
completed the publication of a work unique of 
its kind, a natural history of the State in sixteen 
volumes, quarto, with plates. Twenty-five hun- 
dred copies have been printed, only five hundred 
of which are for sale, the rest being distributed 
throughout the State. Four volumes are devoted 
to geology and mining alone ; the others, to zoology, 
botany, and agriculture. Yes, twenty -five hundred 
copies of a work in sixteen volumes, quarto, scat- 
tered throughout the State of New York alone ! 

"When I think that I began my studies in nat- 
ural history by copying hundreds of pages from a 
Lamarck which some one had lent me, and that to- 
day there is a state in which the smallest farmer 
may have access to a costly work, worth a library 
to him in itself, I bless the efforts of those who 
devote themselves to public instruction." 

Agassiz was at once asked to give a second 
course before the Lowell Institute, on glaciers. 
This, like the first, was greatly enjoyed by the 
two thousand or more persons present. Invita- 
tions now came from other cities, but he said, "I 
will limit myself to what I need in order to repay 
those who have helped me through a difficult 


crisis. . . . Beyond that all must go again to science, 
there lies my true mission." 

He passed his fortieth birthday, May 28, 1847, 
with Dr. B. E. Cotting, curator of the Lowell Insti- 
tute, at whose home he had stayed through some 
weeks of illness. His host, seeing him standing 
thoughtfully at the window, said, " Why so sad ? " 

" That I am so old and have done so little," was 
the reply. 

In the summer of 1847, Agassiz rented a small 
house in East Boston, sufficiently near to the ocean 
to study marine animals. He also gave lectures in 
New York, Philadelphia, Albany, and other eastern 

The next spring, the Lawrence Scientific School 
was organized at Cambridge, in connection with 
Harvard University, and Agassiz was offered the 
chair of Natural History (zoology and geology), 
with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars. The 
school owed its existence to Abbott Lawrence, 
formerly our minister to England. 

Agassiz accepted the position, and opened his 
first course in April, 1848. Here he found conge- 
nial friends, Longfellow, Lowell, Prescott, Motley, 
Gray, Holmes, and others.>>JVl. Christinot, who had 
so generously helped to send him to Paris years be- 
fore, came to the Cambridge home and was put in 
charge of it. " If your old friend," he said, " can 
live with his son Louis, it will be the height of his 

The small plot of ground about the house became 


a zoological garden, with its tank for turtles and an 
alligator, its cage for eagles, a tame bear, and a 
family of opossums. Agassiz had already begun 
his Museum of Comparative Zoology, on the banks 
of the Charles River, in an old shanty. The out- 
look was hopeful ; but he was sad at heart, for 
Cecile, his wife, had died since he came to America, 
and his children seemed too young to bring into a 
home where there was no mother. 

In the summer of 1848, Agassiz organized an 
expedition of students and naturalists for the 
examination of the eastern and northern shores of 
Lake Superior. At Niagara, he saw for the first 
time a living garpike, the only representative 
among modern fishes of the fossil type of Lepidos- 
teus. He made a careful study of the fauna and 
geology of the lake, and the results were published 
in a book. Charles Darwin wrote, " I have seldom 
been more deeply gratified than by receiving your 
most kind present of ' Lake Superior.' ... I had 
heard of it, and had much wished to read it, but I 
confess it was the very great honor of having in my 
possession a work with your autograph as a presen- 
tation copy that has given me such lively and sin- 
cere pleasure." 

Agassiz had published another book in America, 
in 1848, "Principles of Zoology," which had a 
large sale, and was much used in schools. In 1849, 
his only son, fifteen years old, came to live with 
his father. The following year, 1850, Agassiz mar- 
ried Elizabeth Cabot Cary, of Boston, a cultivated 

336 1,017/5 AGASSIZ. 

and lovely woman. His daughters, much younger 
than their brother, arrived from Europe the same 
year. M. Christinot, though urged to remain, now 
preferred to find another home, settled in New Or- 
leans as pastor, and later died in Switzerland. 

The winter of 1851 was spent in the examina- 
tion of the Florida reefs and keys, a work under- 
taken at the request of Prof. A. D. Bache, at the 
head of the United States Coast Survey. The 
results were valuable in showing " how far the soil 
now building up from accumulations of mud and 
coral debris was likely to remain for a long time 
shifting and uncertain, and how far and in what 
localities it might be relied upon as affording a 
stable foundation," for building lighthouses, etc. 
Agassiz brought back for his museum a fine collec- 
tion of corals, of all varieties and in all stages of 
growth, with drawings made on the spot, from the 
living animals. 

This year he accepted a professorship at the 
medical college in Charleston, S. C., lecturing dur- 
ing the three winter months, between his autumn 
and spring courses at Cambridge. The overwork 
finally resulted in a dangerous illness, and he was 
obliged to discontinue it in 1853. The year previ- 
ous he received the Prix Cuvier for his "Fossil 
Fishes." His fond mother wrote : " This has 
given me such happiness, dear Louis, that the tears 
are in my eyes as I write it to you." 

He now issued a circular asking for collections 
of fishes from various fresh-water systems of the 


United States, and responses came from every 
direction. New England captains, when they 
started on a cruise, took out cans, furnished by 
Agassiz, for collections in distant ports. Fisher- 
men and farmers, indeed all classes, heartily joined 
in cooperating with the man who had said in the 
University at Munich, " I will be a leader of others," 
and he had reached the mark which he set for him- 
self. In 1854 he was urged to accept a professor- 
ship in the recently established University of Zu- 
rich, Switzerland ; but he declined, for he had one 
definite aim in America, to found a great museum, 
where the best methods of study could be adopted. 
He said in his " Fossil Fishes " : " Possessing no 
fossil fishes myself, and renouncing forever the 
acquisition of collections so precious, I have been 
forced to seek the materials for my work in all the 
collections of Europe containing such remains; I 
have, therefore, made frequent journeys in Ger- 
many, in France, and in England, in order to exam- 
ine, describe, and illustrate the objects of my 
researches ; but, notwithstanding the cordiality with 
which even the most precious specimens have been 
placed at my disposition, a serious inconvenience 
has resulted from this mode of working, namely, 
that I have rarely been able to compare directly 
the various specimens of the same species from dif- 
ferent collections, and that I have often been 
obliged to make my identification from memory, 
or from simple notes, or, in the more fortunate 
cases, from my drawings only. It is impossible to 


imagine the fatigue, the exhaustion of all the fac- 
ulties, involved in such a method." He hoped to 
found a museum where students should have speci- 
mens for work, ready for their use. 

In the winter of 1855, Agassiz resumed his public 
lectures, as his salary of fifteen hundred was insuffi- 
cient to support his family, but when the spring 
came he found himself exhausted by the extra 

And now his noble wife thought out a plan to 
aid him. She opened a school in their house, for 
young ladies. Agassiz's surprise and pleasure knew 
no bounds when he was informed of the project. 
He immediately took charge of the classes in phys- 
ical geography, natural history, and botany, giving 
a lecture daily on one or other of these subjects. 
The school, with sixty or seventy girls, was contin- 
ued for eight years, Agassiz having the cooperation 
of his brother-in-law, Professor Felton, the noted 
Greek scholar, and other distinguished men. This 
school was a blessing in more ways than one. All 
these years, the debts incurred by the publication of 
the " Fossil Fishes," and the glacial investigations, 
had burdened him. The wonder was that the genial, 
untiring worker could labor at all under this de- 
pressing load. Noble devotees to science ! What 
have they not suffered to advance the cause of 
knowledge ! We sit by our pleasant firesides and 
read what others have wrought for us, perhaps in 
want and sorrow of soul, and we forget to be grate- 
ful or to help lift burdens. 


This school opened by the helpful wife made 
Agassiz a free man no longer shackled by that 
worst form of slavery, debt. Well said John 
Ruskin : " My first word to all men and boys who 
care to hear me is, don't get into debt. Starve 
and go to heaven, but don't borrow. . . . Don't 
buy things you can't pay for ! " 

Indefatigable, versatile, comprehensive in mind, 
Agassiz at once planned another great work, to be 
published in ten volumes, though it was finally re- 
duced to four : " Contributions to the Natural 
History of the United States." Mr. Francis C. 
Gray of Boston, a personal friend and a lover of 
letters and science, set the subscription before the 
public. Very soon, to Agassiz's great delight, he 
received the names of seventeen hundred subscri- 
bers, at twelve dollars a volume. 

He had now reached his fiftieth birthday, com- 
pleting his first volume of the new work on that 
day. His students serenaded him, and Longfellow 
wrote, to be read at the " Saturday Club," com- 
posed of Hawthorne, Holmes, Lowell, Dana, and 
others, this exquisite poem : 

It was fifty years ago, 

In the pleasant month of May, 
In the beautiful Pays de Vaud, 

A child in its cradle lay. 

And Nature, the old nurse, took 

The child upon her knee, 
Saying: " Here is a story-book 

Thy Father has written for thee." 


" Come wander with me," she said, 

" Into regions yet untrod, 
And read what is still unread 

In the manuscripts of God." 

And he wandered away and away 
With Nature, the dear old nurse, 

Who sang to him night and day 
The rhymes of the universe. 

And whenever the way seemed long, 

Or his heart began to fail. 
She would sing a more wonderful song, 

Or tell a more marvellous tale. 

So she keeps him still a child, 

And will not let him go, 
Though at times his heart heats wild 

For the beautiful Pays de Vaud ; 

Though at times he hears in his dreams 

The Ranz des Vaches of old, 
And the rush of mountain streams 

From glaciers clear and cold ; 

And the mother at home says, " Hark! 

For his voice I listen and yearn; 
It is growing late and dark, 

And my boy does not return! " 

This year, 1857, Agassiz received an unexpected 
honor a call to one of the most coveted place 8 
at the Jardin des Plantes ; the chair of palaeontol- 
ogy in the Museum of Natural History, Paris. 
Though obliged to refuse it because he considered 
his life-work to be in America, he appreciated the 
favor as also the bestowal of the Order of the 


Legion of Honor, and the Copley medal from 
England. Twenty -seven years before, he had re- 
ceived in Paris the aid of Humboldt in his destitu- 
tion; now, two hemispheres competed for his 

The following year, 1858, Mr. Francis C. Gray 
died, leaving fifty thousand dollars for the estab- 
lishment of a Museum of Comparative Zoology, to 
be used neither for buildings nor for salaries, but 
purely for scientific needs. 

"All things come round to him who will but 
wait," says Longfellow, in the "Falcon of Sir 
Federigo.'' Other gifts soon followed. Harvard 
University gave land for the site of the building. 
The Massachusetts Legislature gave lands to the 
amount of one hundred thousand dollars. Over 
seventy-one thousand was promptly subscribed by 
citizens of Boston and Cambridge. Agassiz con- 
tributed all his collections, worth thousands of dol- 
lars. The corner-stone of the museum was laid 
one sunny afternoon in June, 1859, and then the 
happy Agassiz hastened across the ocean, to re- 
joice with his mother, in her home near the foot of 
the Jura. She was glad and proud now that he 
had become a naturalist. 

The museum was dedicated November 13, 1860. 
The plan included a main building 364 feet long, 
with wings 205 long, the whole enclosing a hollow 
square. The lecture rooms were at once opened. 
Especially welcome were teachers of schools, for 
whom admittance was free. His lectures were 


open to women as well as to men. This would 
naturally be expected, from the broad-mindedness 
of the man, and the respect he must have had for 
the capacity of woman, from such a mother and 
such a wife. " He had great sympathy," says Mrs. 
Agassiz, "with the desire of women for larger and 
more various fields of study and work." To such 
men women can never be too grateful. 

In 1863, he helped to organize the National 
Academy of Sciences. He frequently gave lectures 
in the large cities, using the money for the further 
development of the museum. 

In 1865 he started, with his wife and several 
assistants, for sixteen months of scientific investi- 
gation in Brazil, the expenses borne by his friend, 
Mr. Nathaniel Thayer, of Boston. He writes to 
his mother, 

"All those who know me seem to have combined to 
heighten the attraction of the journey, and facilitate it in 
every respect. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company have 
invited me to take passage with my whole party on their 
fine steamer, the Colorado. They will take us, free of all 
expense, as far as Rio de Janeiro, an economy of fifteen 
thousand francs at the start. ... I seem like the spoiled 
child of the country, and I hope God will give me strength 
to repay, in devotion to her institutions and to her scientific 
and intellectual development, all that her citizens have done 
for me. . . . With all my heart, 

"Your Louis." 

The story of this expedition has been told, 
chiefly by Mrs. Agassiz, in that most interesting 
volume, " A Journey in Brazil." 


On Agassiz's return, he gave a course of lectures 
before the Lowell Institute, and the Cooper Insti- 
tute, New York, spending the summer at his pleas- 
ant seaside home and laboratory at Nahant. 

The fisherman at Nahant would pull two or three 
miles to bring him a rare fish ; and only for the 
pleasure of seeing him rush out of his little labora- 
tory, crying : " Oh ! where did you get that ? That 
is a species which goes as far as Brazil. Nobody 
has ever seen it north of Cape Cod. Come in, 
come in, and sit down ! " 

In 1868, Agassiz, invited by Mr. Samuel Hooper, 
joined a party of friends in an excursion to the 
Kooky Mountains. This year he was appointed 
non-resident professor at Cornell University, Ith- 
aca, New York. 

The Massachusetts Legislature now gave seventy- 
five thousand dollars, and private individuals an 
equal sum, to provide for the new collections at the 
museum. Later, the museum received from the 
Legislature twenty-five thousand more, and a birth- 
day gift to Agassiz, of one hundred thousand dol- 
lars, was also used by him for his precious work. 
September 15, 1869, at the Humboldt Centennial 
Celebration, Agassiz delivered an eloquent address 
before the Boston Society of Natural History, and 
the " Humboldt Scholarship " was founded at the 
museum. The bread cast upon the waters by 
Humboldt had been found after many days. 

Agassiz was now completely prostrated by over- 
work, and told by his physician that for the sev- 


eral months in which he remained shut up in his 
room he must not think. Yet he could not banish 
one subject from his thoughts, and, with tears in 
his eyes, he would sometimes exclaim, " Oh, my 
museum ! my museum ! always uppermost, by day 
and by night, in health and in sickness, always 
always ! " 

The great mind rallied for one more voyage of 
research in his beloved science. In the coast-sur- 
vey steamer Hassler, with his wife and friends, he 
sailed December 4, 1871, around Cape Horn, land- 
ing at several places along the coast, gathering rich 
treasures from deep-sea dredgings, entering the 
Golden Gate August 24, 1872. 

In October, Agassiz returned to Cambridge. 
Through the gift of Mr. John Anderson, a wealthy 
New York merchant, of the island of Penikese, 
in Buzzard's Bay, with its buildings and an endow- 
ment of fifty thousand dollars, a summer school of 
natural history was at once opened. This year 
was a very busy one. A series of articles were in 
preparation for the " Atlantic Monthly," in opposi- 
tion to the views of Darwin on evolution. He had 
already published two successful books, " Methods 
of Study in Natural History," and "Geological 
Sketches." December 2, 1873, a lecture was given 
at Fitchburg, before a meeting of the Massachu- 
setts Board of Agriculture. The next day Agassiz 
spoke of dimness of sight, and of feeling "strangely 
asleep," and on December 14 he was asleep in 


He was buried from the college chapel, the 
students who loved him laying a wreath of laurel 
upon the bier, and singing his requiem. The noble 
mother, fortunately, had died six years before him. 

They buried him at Mount Auburn. From the 
glacier of the Aar, not far from the spot where his 
little hut once stood, they brought a boulder for 
his monument, and from his old home in Switzer- 
land, pine trees to grow beside his grave. He loved 
both countries, and both have shared in his sacred 

His work will never cease. His museum at Cam- 
bridge now has seventy -one rooms and twelve gal- 
leries, with invested funds of over five hundred and 
eighty thousand dollars, while the buildings and 
collections are valued at about seven hundred thou- 
sand dollars. It is now under the charge of Prof. 
Alexander Agassiz, the son of Louis, and to his 
constant generosity and devotion the museum is 
deeply indebted. 

Agassiz said, " My hope is that there shall arise 
upon the grounds of Harvard a museum of natural 
history which shall compete with the British 
Museum and with the Jardin des Plantes. Do not 
say it cannot be done, for you cannot suppose that 
what exists in England and France cannot be 
reached in America. I hope even that we shall 
found a museum which will be based upon a more 
suitable foundation, and better qualified to advance 
the highest interests of science than these institu- 
tions of the old world." 


Agassiz not only wrote books and built museums. 
He gave to the world a high ideal of a seeker after 
truth. He stimulated the intellectual activity of 
two continents, and blessed both of them by his 
own brilliant mind and his noble character. 



ON Wednesday, April 26, 1882, sitting in the 
North Transept of Westminster Abbey, I 
looked upon a sad and impressive scene. Under 
the dome stood an oaken coffin, quite covered with 
white wreaths ; close by were seated the distin- 
guished pall-bearers, Sir John Lubbock, Canon 
Farrar, the Duke of Argyle, Thomas H. Huxley, 
James Eussell Lowell, and others. Representa- 
tives of many nations were present; the great 
scientists of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and 

Of the thousands who were gathered to honor 
the famous dead, every person wore black, as re- 
quested on the cards of admission to the abbey. 
Perhaps never in the history of England have so 
many noted men been assembled on an occasion 
like this. As the choir, in their white robes, stood 
about the open grave, singing the "Dead March 
from Saul," the strains seemed to come from a far- 
off country, producing an effect never to be forgot- 
ten. Darwin lies buried close to the graves of Sir 
Isaac Newton and Sir John Herschel. 

At Shrewsbury, England, February 12, 1809. 
Charles Robert Darwin was born, in a square, red- 


brick house at the top of a terraced bank leading 
down to the Severn. The greenhouse with its 
varied plants, the ornamental shrubs and trees in 
the grounds, became a delight as soon as the boy 
was old enough to observe them. 

The mother, Susannah, the daughter of Josiah 
Wedgwood of Etruria, a woman with a sweet and 
happy face, died when Charles was eight years old, 
leaving five other children ; Marianne, Caroline, 
Erasmus, Susan, and Catherine. Charles says of 
her in his autobiography, "It is odd that I can 
remember hardly anything about her except her 
death-bed, her black velvet gown, and her curiously 
constructed work-table." She evidently encouraged 
the boy's love for flowers, for he used to say, at 
school, that his mother had taught him " how, by 
looking at the inside of the blossom, the name of 
the plant could be discovered." 

The father, Eobert Waring Darwin, was a well 
known physician, a man of fine physique and 
courtly manner, who had amassed wealth by his 
skill and business ability. Charles's admiration of 
him was unbounded : " the wisest man I ever 
knew," he used often to say. 

" His chief mental characteristics," said Darwin, 
" were his powers of observation and his sympathy, 
neither of which have I ever seen exceeded or even 
equalled. His sympathy was not only with the 
distresses of others, but in a greater degree with 
the pleasures of all around him. This led him to 
be always scheming to give pleasure to others, and, 


though hating extravagance, to perform many gen- 
erous actions. For instance, Mr. B , a small 

manufacturer in Shrewsbury, came to him one day, 
and said he should be bankrupt unless he could at 
once borrow ten thousand pounds, but that he was 
unable to give any legal security. My father heard 
his reasons for believing that he could ultimately 
repay the money, and, from his intuitive perception 
of character, felt sure that he was to be trusted. 
So he advanced this sum, which was a very large 
one for him while young, and was after a time 

" I suppose that it was his sympathy which gave 
him unbounded power of winning confidence, and 
as a consequence made him highly successful as a 
physician. He began to practise before he was 
twenty-one years old, and his fees during the first 
year paid for the keep of two horses and a servant. 
On the following year his practice was large, and 
so continued for about sixty years, when he ceased 
to attend on any one. His great success as a doc- 
tor was the more remarkable as he told me that 
he at first hated his profession so much that if he 
had been sure of the smallest pittance, or if his 
father had given him any choice, nothing should 
have induced him to follow it. To the end of his 
life, the thought of an operation almost sickened 
him, and he could scarcely endure to see a person 
bled a horror which he has transmitted to me." 

Charles went to the day-school in Shrewsbury, 
when he was eight years old. " By the time I went 


to this day-school," he says, " my taste for natural 
history, and more especially for collecting, was 
well developed. I tried to make out the names of 
plants, and collected all sorts of things, shells, 
seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion for 
collecting, which leads a man to be a systematic 
naturalist, a virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong 
in me, and was clearly innate, as none of my sisters 
or brothers ever had this taste. . . . 

" I must have been a very simple little fellow 
when I first went to the school. A boy of the 
name of Garnett took me into a cake-shop one day, 
and bought some cakes, for which he did not pay, 
as the shopman trusted him. When he came out I 
asked him why he did not pay for them, and he in- 
stantly answered, ' Why, do you not know that my 
uncle left a great sum of money to the town on 
condition that every tradesman should give what- 
ever was wanted without payment to any one who 
wore his old hat and moved it in a particular man- 
ner ? ' and he then showed me how it was moved. 
He then went into another shop where he was 
trusted, and asked for some small article, moving 
his hat in the proper manner, and of course ob- 
tained it without payment. 

" When we came out, he said : ' Now, if you like 
to go by yourself into that cake-shop (how well I 
remember its exact position) I will lend you my 
hat, and you can get whatever you like if you move 
the hat on your head properly.' I gladly accepted 
the generous offer, and went in and asked for some 


cakes, moved the old hat and was walking out of 
the shop when the shopman made a rush at me, so 
I dropped the cakes and ran for dear life, and was 
astonished by being greeted with shouts of laughter 
by my false friend Garnett. 

" In the summer of 1818, I went to Dr. Butler's 
great school in Shrewsbury, and remained there 
for seven years, till midsummer, 1825, when I was 
sixteen years old. I boarded at this school, so that 
I had the great advantage of living the life of a 
true schoolboy ; but as the distance was hardly 
more than a mile to my home, I very often ran 
there in the longer intervals between the callings 
over, and before locking up at night. This, I 
think, was in many ways advantageous to me, by 
keeping up home affections and interests. I re- 
member, in the early part of my school life, that I 
often had to run very quickly to be in time, and, 
from being a fleet runner, was generally success- 
ful ; but when in doubt I prayed earnestly to God 
to help me, and I well remember that I attributed 
my success to the prayers and not to my quick 
running, and marvelled how generally I was aided. 

"I have heard my father and elder sister say 
that I had, as a very young boy, a strong taste for 
long, solitary walks ; but what I thought about I 
know not. I often became quite absorbed, and 
once, whilst returning to school on the summit of 
the old fortifications round Shrewsbury, which had 
been converted into a public footpath with no 
parapet on one side, I walked off and fell to the 


ground, but the height was only seven or eight 
feet. Nevertheless, the number of thoughts which 
passed through my mind during this very short 
but sudden and wholly unexpected fall was aston- 
ishing, and seem hardly compatible with what 
physiologists have, I believe, proved about each 
thought requiring quite an appreciable amount of 

As Dr. Butler's school was strictly classical, 
Darwin always felt that, for him, these years were 
nearly wasted. He read many authors, Shakspeare, 
Thomson's Seasons, Byron, and Scott, but later in 
life, he says, lost all taste for poetry. This he 
greatly regretted, and said, if he were to live his life 
over, he would read some poetry every day. The 
book that most influenced him was the " Wonders 
of the World," which gave him a desire to travel, 
which was finally realized in the voyage of the 
Beagle. He did not forget his zest in collecting, 
at first, however, taking only such insects as he 
found dead, for, after consulting his sister, he 
" concluded that it was not right to kill insects for 
the sake of making a collection. From reading 
White's ' Selborne,' I took much pleasure in watch- 
ing the habits of birds, and even made notes on the 
subject. In my simplicity, I remember wonder- 
ing why every gentleman did not become an orni- 

" Towards the close of my school-life, my brother 
worked hard at chemistry, and made a fair labora- 
tory, with proper apparatus, in the tool-house in the 


garden, and I was allowed to aid him as a servant 
in most of his experiments. He made all the 
gases and many compounds, and I read with great 
care several books on chemistry, such as Henry and 
Parkes* ( Chemical Catechism.' The subject inter- 
ested me greatly, and we often used to go on work- 
ing till rather late at night. This was the best 
part of my education at school, for it showed me 
practically the meaning of experimental science. 
The fact that we worked at chemistry somehow got 
known at school, and, as it was an unprecedented 
fact, I was nicknamed ' Gas.' . . . 

"When I left the school, I was for my age 
neither high nor low in it, and I believe that I was 
considered by all my masters and by my father as 
a very ordinary boy, rather below the common 
standard in intellect. To my deep mortification, 
my father once said to me : ( You care for nothing 
but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will 
be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.' But 
my father, who was the kindest man I ever knew, 
and whose memory I love with all my heart, must 
have been angry and somewhat unjust when he 
used such words." 

Dr. Darwin now sent his two boys, Erasmus and 
Charles, to Edinburgh University. Here, Charles 
found the lectures "intolerably dull," all except 
those on chemistry by Hope. His father, evi- 
dently not being able to determine for what his 
son was best fitted in life, suggested his being a 
doctor. The youth attended the clinical wards in 


the hospital, but one day witnessing two opera- 
tions, one upon a child, he rushed away. He says, 
" Nor did I attend again, for hardly any induce- 
ment would have been strong enough to make me 
do so ; this being long before the blessed days of 
chloroform. The two cases fairly haunted me for 
many a long year." 

While in Edinburgh, Charles became deeply in- 
terested in marine zoology, and read a paper before 
the Plinian Society, an association organized for 
the study of natural history. He also attended the 
meetings of the Wernerian Society, where he heard 
Audubon deliver some interesting lectures upon 
the habits of North American birds, and the Koyal 
Society, where he saw Sir Walter Scott in the chair 
as president. 

" I looked at him and at the whole scene," says 
Darwin, "with some awe and reverence, and I 
think it was owing to this visit during my youth, 
and to my having attended the Eoyal Medical So- 
ciety, that I felt the honor of being elected, a few 
years ago, an honorary member of both these socie- 
ties more than any other similar honor. If I had 
been told at that time that I should one day have 
been thus honored, I declare that I should have 
thought it as ridiculous and improbable as if I had 
been told that I should be elected King of Eng- 

During this time, Charles met Sir James Mack- 
intosh, " the best converser," he says, " I ever lis- 
tened to. I heard afterwards, with a glow of pride. 


that he had said, 'There is something in that young 
man that interests me.' .... To hear of praise 
from an eminent person, though no doubt apt or 
certain to excite vanity, is, I think, good for a 
young man, as it helps to keep him in the right 

After two years at Edinburgh, Dr. Darwin, see- 
ing that Charles probably would never become a 
physician, sent him to Cambridge University, that 
he might prepare for the Episcopal ministry. 

Of this time he says, " The three years which I 
spent at Cambridge were wasted, as far as the 
academical studies were concerned, as completely as 
at Edinburgh and at school. I attempted mathe- 
matics, and even went during the summer of 1828 
with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, 
but I got on very slowly. The work was repug- 
nant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see 
any meaning in the early steps in algebra." He 
found great delight in Paley's " Evidences of Chris- 
tianity," and his " Moral Philosophy." 

At Cambridge, like Humboldt, he formed a rare 
friendship, which helped towards his subsequent 
success. Professor Henslow was an ardent scholar, 
a devoted Christian, and a man of most winning 
manners and good temper. From his great knowl- 
edge of botany, entomology, chemistry, mineralogy, 
and geology, he became a most attractive person to 
young Darwin, whose especial passion seemed to 
be the collecting of beetles. Henslow soon be- 
came equally fond of Darwin, and the two took 


long walks together daily, Darwin being known as 
"the man who walks with Henslow." 

Darwin said of this model teacher, years after- 
ward, " He had a remarkable power of making the 
young feel completely at ease with him ; though 
we were all awe-struck with the amount of his 
knowledge. Before I saw him, I heard one young 
man sum up his attainments by simply saying that 
he knew everything. When I reflect how immedi- 
ately we felt at ease with a man older, and in 
every way immensely our superior, I think it was 
as much owing to the transparent sincerity of his 
character as to his kindness of heart, and, perhaps, 
even still more to a highly remarkable absence in 
him of all self-consciousness. One perceived at 
once that he never thought of his own varied 
knowledge or clear intellect, but solely on the sub- 
ject in hand. 

" Another charm which must have struck every 
one was that his manner to old and distinguished 
persons and to the youngest student was exactly 
the same ; and to all he showed the same winning 
courtesy. He would receive with interest the 
most trifling observation in any branch of natural 
history, and, however absurd a blunder one might 
make, he pointed it out so clearly and kindly that 
one left him no way disheartened, but only deter- 
mined to be more accurate the next time. 

''His lectures on botany were universally popu- 
lar, and as clear as daylight. So popular were 
they that several of the older members of the 


University attended successive courses. Once 
every week he kept open house in the evening, and 
all who cared for natural history attended these 
parties, which, by thus favoring intercommunica- 
tion, did the same good in Cambridge, in a very 
pleasant manner, as the scientific societies do in 
London. . . . This was no small advantage to some 
of the young men, as it stimulated their mental 
activity and ambition. . . . 

" During the years when I associated so much 
with Professor Henslow, I never once saw his tem- 
per even ruffled. He never took an ill-natured 
view of any one's character, though very far from 
blind to the foibles of others. It always struck me 
that his mind could not be even touched by any 
paltry feeling of vanity, envy, .or jealousy. With 
all this equability of temper and remarkable benev- 
olence, there was no insipidity of character. A man 
must have been blind not to have perceived that 
beneath this placid exterior there was a vigorous 
and determined will. When principles came into 
play, no power on earth could have turned him 
one hair's breadth. . . . 

"Keflecting over his character with gratitude 
and reverence, his moral attributes rise, as they 
should do in the highest character, in preeminence 
over his intellect." 

Through this noble friend, Darwin had the op- 
portunity of taking a five years' voyage in the ship 
Beagle, as a naturalist. The bark, of two hun- 
dred and thirty-five tons, under command of Cap- 


tain Fitz-Roy, was commissioned by government to 
survey Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, the shores of 
Chili, Peru, and some islands in the Pacific, " and 
to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements 
round the world." 

Professor Henslow knew the captain, and recom- 
mended his young friend for the position. Darwin 
had read Humboldt's travels eagerly, and was de- 
lighted with the prospect of a journey like this. 

Dr. Darwin was opposed at first, but finally 
said, " If you can find any man of common sense 
who advises you to go, I will give my consent." 
Young Darwin at once visited his uncle, Josiah 
Wedgwood, at Maer, who approved of the jour- 
ney, and soon convinced Dr. Darwin of the wis- 
dom of it. 

The vessel sailed December 27, 1831. Though for 
a young man of an extremely affectionate nature 
the separation from family was painful, yet it Avas 
a glad day for Darwin. He had looked forward 
eagerly to it, saying, " My second life will then 
commence, and it shall be as a birthday for the 
rest of my life," and so it proved. He said, years 
afterward, " The voyage of the Beagle has been by 
far the most important event in my life, and has 
determined my whole career." 

These years were busy, earnest ones, devoted to 
constant labor. To his father he wrote from Bahia, 
or San Salvador, the following spring : " !NY> person 
could imagine anything so beautiful as the ancient 
town of Bahia ; it is fairly embosomed in a luxu- 


riant wood of beautiful trees, and situated on a 
steep bank, and overlooks the calm waters of the 
great Bay of All Saints. The houses are white and 
lofty, and, from the windows being narrow and 
long, have a very light and elegant appearance. . . 
But the exquisite, glorious pleasure of walking 
amongst such flowers and such trees cannot be 
comprehended but by those who have experienced 
it. ... I will not rapturize again, but I give my- 
self great credit in not being crazy out of pure 
delight. Give my love to every soul at home. . . . 
I think one's affections, like other good things, 
flourish and increase in these tropical regions." 

Again he writes from Rio de Janeiro : " Here 
(at Rio Macoa) I first saw a tropical forest in all 
its sublime grandeur nothing but the reality can 
give any idea how wonderful, how magnificent the 
scene is. ... I never experienced such intense 
delight. I formerly admired Humboldt, I now 
almost adore him ; he alone gives any notion of 
the feelings which are raised in the mind on first 
entering the Tropics. I am now collecting fresh- 
water and land animals. ... I am at present red- 
hot with spiders ; they are very interesting, and, if 
I am not mistaken, I have already taken some new 
genera." Busy as he was, he was ever thinking of 
home, and anxious to receive letters. When they 
were received, he almost " cried for pleasure." 

He writes to his sister : " If you knew the glow- 
ing, unspeakable delight which I felt at being cer- 
tain that my father and all of you were well, only 


four months ago. you would not grudge the labor 
lost in keeping up the regular series of letters." 

Later he writes : " It is too delightful to think 
that I shall see the leaves fall and hear the robin 
sing next autumn at Shrewsbury. My feelings are 
those of a schoolboy*to the smallest point; I doubt 
whether ever boy longed for his holidays as much 
as I do to see you all again." I 

To his " dear Henslow " he writes : " It is now 
some months since we have been at a civilized 
port; nearly all this time has been spent in the 
most southern part of Tierra del Fuego. . . . The 
Fuegians are in a more miserable state of barbar- 
ism than I had expected ever to have seen a human 
being. In this inclement country they are abso- 
lutely naked, and their temporary houses are like 
what children make in summer with boughs of 

Captain Fitz-Eoy, on a previous voyage, had 
carried several natives to England, and now 
brought them again to their own land. " They had 
become," says Darwin, " entirely European in their 
habits and wishes, so much so that the younger one 
had forgotten his own language, and their country- 
men paid but very little attention to them. We 
built houses for them, and planted gardens, but by 
the time we return again on our passage round the 
Horn, I think it will be very doubtful how much 
of their property will be left unstolen." 

At the Cape of Good Hope, Darwin met and 
dined with Sir John Herschel. For some time he 


lived at St. Helena, "within a stone's throw of 
Napoleon's tomb." He became so deeply inter- 
ested in his geological investigations in South 
America, that he wrote his sister Susan : " I liter- 
ally could hardly sleep at nighty for thinking over 
my day's work. The scenery was so new, and so 
majestic ; everything at an elevation of twelve 
thousand feet bears so different an aspect from 
that in a lower country." 

To another sister he wrote : " I trust and believe 
that the time spent in this voyage, if thrown away 
for all other respects, will produce its full worth in 
Natural History ; and it appears to me the doing 
what little we can to increase the general stock of 
knowledge is as respectable an object of life as one 
can in any likelihood pursue. . . . What fine op- 
portunities for geology and for studying the infi- 
nite host of living beings! Is not this a prospect 
to keep up the most flagging spirit ? If I was to 
throw it away, I don't think I should ever rest 
quiet in my grave." 

Darwin says : " As far as I can judge of myself, 
I worked to the utmost during the voyage, from 
the mere pleasure of investigation, and from my 
strong desire to add a few facts to the great mass 
of facts in natural science. But I was also ambi- 
tious to take a fair place among scientific men." 
In studying the geology of St. Jago, " It then first 
dawned on me that I might perhaps write a book 
on the geology of the various countries visited, and 
this made me thrill with delight. That was a 


memorable hour to me, and how distinctly I can 
call to mind the low cliff of lava beneath which I 
rested, with the sun glaring hot, a few strange 
desert plants growing near, and with living corals 
in the tidal pools at my feet. Later in the voyage, 
Fitz-Roy asked me to read some of my journal, and 
declared it would be worth publishing, so here was 
a second book in prospect ! " 

Darwin, stirred by the right kind of ambition, 
had found his life-work. It would not be in the 
church, as his father had fondly hoped, but the 
world would be his audience. 

On October 5, 1836, Darwin arrived at Shrews- 
bury, after five years' absence. He left home a 
high-spirited, warm-hearted youth, fond of athletic 
sports, and vigorous in body. He came back with 
a passionate love for science, "with the habit of 
energetic industry and of concentrated attention," 
but with health impaired, Avhich made the whole 
of his after life a battle with suffering. Yet he 
conquered, and gave to his generation a wonderful 
example of the power of mind over body ; of vic- 
tory over obstacles. 

During the voyage he was an almost constant 
sufferer from sea-sickness. He wrote home the 
last year : " It is a lucky thing for me that the 
voyage is drawing to its close, for I positively 
suffer more from sea-sickness now than three years 

"After perhaps an hour's work," says Admiral 
Stokes, " he would say to me, ' Old fellow, I must 


take the horizontal for it/ that being the best 
relief position from ship motion. A stretch out 
on one side of the table for some time would 
enable him to resume his labors for a while, when 
he had again to lie down. It was distressing to 
witness this early sacrifice of Mr. Darwin's health, 
who ever afterwards seriously felt the ill effects of 
the Beagle's voyage." 

Admiral Mellersh says : " I think he was the 
only man I ever knew against whom I never heard 
a word said ; and as people, when shut up in a ship 
for five years, are apt to get cross with each other, 
that is saying a good deal." Says another : " He 
was never known to be out of temper, or to say 
one unkind or hasty word of or to any one." 

This lovely spirit, which so endeared him to 
everybody, Darwin kept through life, a spirit 
which sheds a halo around every book he wrote, 
and makes him worthy the admiration and honor 
of every young man. Many persons have the gift 
of writing books, but comparatively few persons 
have the great gift of self-control. 

After a brief visit with his family, Darwin hast- 
ened to Cambridge, to prepare his " Journal of 
Travels." He had learned on the Beagle that 
" a man who dares to waste one hour of time has 
not discovered the value of life." After three 
months of hard work, he went to London, where 
he finished the " Journal," and began working on 
his " Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle," and 
his " Geological Observations." He said at this 


time : " I have nothing to wish for, excepting 
stronger health to go on with the subjects to which 
I have joyfully determined to devote my life." 

For three years and eight months he worked un- 
tiringly. He wrote Henslow : " I fear the Geology 
will take me a great deal of time ; I was looking 
over one set of notes, and the quantity I found I had 
to read for that one place was frightful. If I live 
till I am eighty years old I shall not cease to mar- 
vel at finding myself an author. In the summer 
before I started, if any one had told me that I 
should have been an angel by this time, I should 
have thought it an equal impossibility. This mar- 
vellous transformation is all owing to you." 

Darwin and Lyell now became very intimate 
friends. "I am coming into your way, of only 
working about two hours at a spell," he writes to 
Lyell ; " I then go out and do my business in the 
streets, return and set to work again, and thus 
make two separate days out of one." Of Lyell he 
said : " One of his chief characteristics was his 
sympathy with the work of others. . . . The sci- 
ence of geology is enormously indebted to Lyell 
more so, as' I believe, than to any other man who 
ever lived." 

The " Journal " was published in 1839. January 
twenty-nine of this year, Mr. Darwin, now thirty 
years of age, was married to his cousin, Emma 
Wedgwood, daughter of Josiah Wedgwood of Maer, 
and granddaughter of the founder of the potteries 
of Etruria. The extreme happiness of his married 


life proved the wisdom of his choice. He said in 
after years, " ISTo one can be too kind to my dear 
wife, who is worth her weight in gold many times 

They lived at No. 12 Upper Gower Street, as he 
wrote a college mate, " a life of extreme quietness. 
. . . We have given up all parties, for they agree 
with neither of us ; and if one is quiet in London, 
there is nothing like its quietness." 

In 1842, his " Structure and Distribution of Coral 
Reefs " was published, a book which cost him, he 
says, " twenty months of hard work, as I had to 
read every work on the islands of the Pacific, and 
to consult many charts." Of this book, Professor 
Geikie says : " This well known treatise, the most 
original of all its author's geological memoirs, has 
become one of the classics of geological literature. 
The origin of those remarkable rings of coral-rock 
in mid-ocean has given rise to much speculation, 
but no satisfactory solution of the problem has 
been proposed. After visiting many of them, and 
examining also coral reefs that fringe islands and 
continents, he offered a theory which, for sim- 
plicity and grandeur, strikes every reader with 
astonishment. . . . No more admirable example 
of scientific method was ever given to the world, 
and, even if he had written nothing else, this trea- 
tise alone would have placed Darwin in the very 
front of investigators of nature." 

Lyell wrote to Darwin concerning this book : 
" It is all true, but do not natter yourself that you 


will be believed till you are growing bald, like me, 
with hard work and vexation at the incredulity of 
the world." 

Darwin's next work, on the " Volcanic Islands 
Visited during the Voyage of the Beagle," was 
published in 1844. This book, he said, " cost me 
eighteen months." His third geological book, 
" Geological Observations on South America," was 
published in 1846. 

Meantime, tired of smoky London, Darwin pur- 
chased a home in Down, a retired village five or 
six hundred feet above the sea. The house was 
a square brick building, of three stories, vine-cov- 
ered, in the midst of eighteen acres. "Its chief 
merit," Darwin writes to a friend, " is its extreme 
rurality. I think I was never in a more perfectly 
quiet country." Here, for fo,rty years, Darwin 
lived the isolated life of a student, producing the 
books that made him the most noted scientist 
of his century. Of these years, Mr. Darwin said : 
" Few persons can have lived a more retired life 
than we have done. Besides short visits to the 
houses of relations, and occasionally to the seaside 
or elsewhere, we have gone nowhere. During the 
first part of our residence we went a little into 
society, and received a few friends here ; but my 
health almost always suffered from the excitement. 
... I have, therefore, been compelled for many 
years to give up all dinner parties. . . . From the 
same cause I have been able to invite here very 
few scientific acquaintances. My chief enjoyment 


and sole employment throughout life has been 
scientific work ; and the excitement from such work 
makes me for the time forget, or drives quite away, 
my daily discomfort." 

At Down, Darwin worked for eight years on two 
large volumes concerning cirripedia (barnacles), 
describing all the known living species; the ex- 
tinct species, or fossil cirripedes, were in two 
smaller volumes. The first books were published 
by the Kay Society, between 1851 and 1854 ; the 
others by the Palseontographical Society. About 
two years out of the eight were lost through illness. 
Sometimes he became half discouraged. He wrote 
a friend, " I have been so steadily going downhill, 
I cannot help doubting whether I can ever crawl a 
little uphill again. Unless I can, enough to work 
a little, I hope my life may be very short, for to 
lie on a sofa all day and do nothing but give trouble J*- 
to the best and kindest of wives and good, dear 
children is dreadful." 

Darwin doubted, in after life, " whether the work 
was worth the consumption of so much time," but 
Professor Huxley thinks he "never did a wiser 
thing than when he devoted himself to the years 
of patient toil which the cirriped-book cost him. 
. . . The value of the cirriped monograph lies 
not merely in the fact that it is a very admirable 
piece of work, and constituted a great addition to 
positive knowledge, but still more in the circum- 
stance that it was a piece of critical self-discipline, 
the effect of which manifested itself in everything 


he wrote afterwards, and saved him from endless 
errors of detail." Darwin's patient labor is shown 
by his working " for the last half-month, daily, in 
dissecting a little animal about the size of a pin's 
head, from the Chonos archipelago, and I could 
spend another month, and daily see more beautiful 

During these years from 1846 to 1854, death had 
twice disturbed the quiet life at Down. In 1849, 
Dr. Darwin died, and his son Charles was so ill 
that he could not attend the funeral. In 1851, 
Annie Darwin died, at the age of ten, after a brief 
illness. " She was," said Darwin, " my favorite 
child; her cordiality, openness, buoyant joyous- 
ness, and strong affections made her most lovable. 
. . . When quite a baby, this [strong affection] 
showed itself in never being easy without touching 
her mother when in bed with her ; and quite lately 
she would, when poorly, fondle for any length of 
time one of her mother's arms. . . . She would at 
almost any time spend half an hour in arranging 
my hair, ' making it,' as she called it, < beautiful,' 
or in smoothing, the poor, dear darling, my collar 
or cuffs in short, in fondling me. . . . Her 
whole mind was pure and transparent. One felt 
one knew her thoroughly and could trust her. I 
always thought that, come what might, we should 
have had, in our old age, at least one loving soul 
which nothing could have changed. 

" All her movements were vigorous, active, and 
usually graceful. When going round the Sand- 


walk with me, although I walked fast, yet she 
often used to go before, pirouetting in the most 
elegant way, her dear face bright all the time with 
the sweetest smiles. Occasionally she had a pretty 
coquettish manner towards me, the memory of 
which is charming. . . . 

" In the last short illness her conduct, in simple 
truth, was angelic. She never once complained ; 
never became fretful ; was ever considerate of 
others, and was thankful in the most gentle, 
pathetic manner for everything done for her. 
When so exhausted that she could hardly speak, 
she praised everything that was given her, and 
said some tea 'was beautifully good.' When I 
gave her some water, she said, ' I quite thank you ; ' 
and these, I believe, were the last precious words 
ever addressed by her dear lips to me." 

Such consideration and politeness she naturally 
inherited. Francis Darwin says in his delightful 
life of his father, "He always spoke to servants 
with politeness, using the expression, ' Would you 
be so good,' in asking for anything. In business 
matters he was equally courteous. His solicitor, 
who had never met him, said, 'Everything I did 
was right, and everything was profusely thanked 
for.' " Of the drawings made by his children, he 
would say, " Michael Angelo is nothing to it ! " 
but he always looked carefully at the work and 
kindly pointed out mistakes. 

"He received," says his son, "many letters from 
foolish, unscrupulous people, and all of these re- 


ceived replies. He used to say that if he did not 
answer them, he had it on his conscience after- 
wards, and, no doubt, it was in great measure the 
courtesy with which he answered every one which 
produced the universal and widespread sense of 
his kindness of nature which was so evident on 
his death." 

In November, 1853, Darwin received the Eoyal 
Society's Medal. He was gratified, finding it "a 
pleasant little stimulus. When work goes badly, 
and one ruminates that all is vanity, it is pleasant 
to have some tangible proof that others have 
thought something of one's labors." 

November 24, 1859, when Darwin was fifty, his 
great work, " Origin of Species by means of Natu- 
ral Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Kaces 
in the Struggle for Life," was published. For 
twenty years he had been making experiments 
with plants and animals, and filling his note-books 
with facts. To his old classmate, Fox, he writes 
asking that the boys in his school gather lizards' 
eggs, as well as those of snakes. " My object is," 
he says, a to see whether such eggs will float on 
sea-water, and whether they will keep alive thus 
floating for a month or two in my cellar. I am 
trying experiments on transportation of all organic 
beings that I can ; and lizards are found on every 
island, and therefore I am very anxious to see 
whether their eggs stand sea-water." Again he 
writes, asking Fox for ducklings and dorkings; 
"The chief point which I am and have been for 


years very curious about is to ascertain whether 
the young of our domestic breeds differ as much 
from each other as do their parents, and I have no 
faith in anything short of actual measurement and 
the Eule of Three. ... I have got my fan-tails 
and pouters in a grand cage and pigeon-house, and 
they are a decided amusement to me, and delight 
to H." 

Of this book, Darwin himself says : " I worked 
on true Baconian principles, and without any the- 
ory collected facts on a wholesale scale, more 
especially with respect to domesticated productions, 
by printed inquiries, by conversation with skilful 
breeders and gardeners, and by extensive reading. 
When I see the list of books of all kinds which I 
read and abstracted, including whole series of Jour- 
nals and Transactions, I am surprised at my in- 
dustry. I soon perceived that selection was the 
keystone of man's success in making useful races 
of animals and plants. . . . 

" In October, 1838, that is, fifteen months after I 
had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to 
read 'Malthus on Population/ and, being well 
prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence 
which everywhere goes on, from long continued 
observation of the habits of animals and plants, 
it at once struck me that under these circum- 
stances favorable variations would tend to be 
preserved, and unfavorable ones to be destroyed. 
The result of this would be th*e formation of new 
species. . . . But at that time I overlooked one 


problem of great importance. . . . This problem is 
the tendency in organic beings descended from the 
same stock to diverge in character as they become 
modified. That they have diverged greatly is 
obvious from the manner in which species of all 
kinds can be classed under genera, genera under 
families, families under sub-orders, and so forth. 
. . . The solution, as I believe, is that the modi- 
fied offspring of all dominant and increasing forms 
tend to become adapted to many and highly diver- 
sified places in the economy of nature." 

The book was written slowly, each chapter re- 
quiring at least three months. When the " Origin 
of Species " which had reached its thirty -third 
thousand in 1888 - was published, it created the 
most profound sensation throughout the thinking 
world. Heretofore, most men of science had be^ 
lieved that each species had been separately created 
by the Almighty, that species were immutable, 

Mr. Darwin, by twenty years of study, proved to 
his own mind, and now to most of the world, that 
there has been a gradual evolution, through un- 
numbered ages, of one form of animal life from 
another. He said, "Probably all the organic 
beings which have ever lived on the earth have 
descended from some one primordial form, into 
which life was first breathed." 

The theory of evolution was not original with 
Darwin. Lamarck, in 1801, published his "Organ- 
ization of Living Bodies," in which he stated his 


belief "that nature, in all the long ages during 
which the world has existed, may have produced 
the different kinds of plants and animals by 
gradually enlarging one part and diminishing 
another to suit the wants of each." Geoffrey 
Saint-Hilaire, Goethe, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, the 
grandfather of Charles, all believed that species 
are descended from other species, and in various 
ways improved. 

Some of the reasons for the belief in evolution 
are so simply and clearly stated by Arabella B. 
Buckley, in her " Short History of Natural Science," 
that I quote her words : 

"All the Animals of each class are formed on the 
same plan 

" Why should the animals of one class (such as 
the vertebrate or back-boned class) be formed all 
on one plan, even to the most minute bones ; so 
that the wing of a bat, the front leg of a horse, the 
hand of a man, and the flapper of a porpoise, are 
all made of the same bones, which have either 
grown together, or lengthened and spread apart, 
according to the purpose they serve ? And, more 
curious still, why should some animals have parts 
which are of no use to them, but only seem to be 
there because other animals of the same class also 
have them? Thus the whale has teeth like the 
other mammalia, but they never pierce through 
the gum; and the boa-constrictor has the begin- 
nings of hind legs, hidden under its skin, though 
they never grow out. Here, again, it seems ex- 


traordinary, if a boa-constrictor and a whale were 
created separately, that they should be made with 
organs which are quite useless ; while, on the 
other hand, if they were descended from the 
same ancestor, as other reptiles and mammalia 
who have teeth and hind legs, they might be 
supposed to have inherited these organs. . . . 

" Embryos of animals alike in Structure. 

"Another still more remarkable fact was that 
pointed out by Von Baer, that the higher animals, 
such as quadrupeds, before they are perfectly 
formed, cannot be distinguished from the embryos 
of other and lower animals, such as fish and rep- 
tiles. If animals were created separately, why 
should a dog begin like a fish, a lizard, and a 
bird, and have at first parts which it loses as it 
grows into its own peculiar form ? 

" Living animals of a country agree with the fos- 
sil ones. . . . 

" We know that certain animals are only found 
in particular countries ; kangaroos and pouched 
animals, for example, in Australia, and sloths 
and armadillos in South America. Now, it is re- 
markable that all the fossil quadrupeds in Austra- 
lia are also pouched animals, though they are of 
different kinds and larger in size than those now 
living; and in the same way different species of 
sloth and armadillos are found fossil in South 
America; while in the rocks of Europe fossil 
mammalia are found, only slightly different from 
those which are living there now." It seems nat- 


ural to conclude that the living have descended 
from the fossils. 

The study of the rocks has produced other " miss- 
ing links " in the succession of animal life. Pro- 
fessor Huxley, in some lectures given in New York 
in 1876, described the Hesperornis, found in the 
western rocks, a huge bird, five or six feet in 
length, with teeth like a reptile. In England a 
fossil reptile has been found, the Archaeopteryx, 
having a reptile-like tail, with a fringe of feathers 
on each side, and teeth, "occupying a midway 
place between a bird and a reptile." Flying rep- 
tiles have been found, and reptiles which walked 
on their hind legs. Those who have visited Yale 
and Amherst Colleges must have seen the huge 
bird-tracks or reptile foot-prints taken from the 
rocks in the Connecticut valley. 

Professor Huxley showed the probable descent 
of the horse with its hoofed foot from the extinct 
three-toed Hipparion of Europe, and that from the 
four-toed Orohippus of the Eocene formation. He 
declared it probable that a- five-toed horse would 
be found, and Professor Marsh, in the West, has 
found the Eohippus, corresponding very nearly to 
Professor Huxley's description. 

The question among naturalists was, "How can 
plants and animals have become thus changed ? " 
Darwin showed how it was possible to effect most 
of these changes by "natural selection," or the 
choosing of the best to survive in the struggle for 
existence. As man by grafting secures the finest 


fruit, and by care in animal life the swiftest horses 
for speed as well as the strongest for labor, so 
nature selects her best for the higher development 
of the race. 

Darwin says, " There is no exception to the rule 
that every organic being naturally increases at so 
high a rate that, if not destroyed, the earth would 
soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. 
Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five 
years, and, at this rate, in less than a thousand 
years there would literally not be standing-room 
for his progeny. . . . The elephant is reckoned 
the slowest breeder of all known animals ; it will 
be safest to assume that it begins breeding when 
thirty years old, and goes on breeding till ninety 
years old, bringing forth six young in the interval, 
and surviving till one hundred years old ; if this 
be so, after a period of from 740 to 750 years, 
there would be nearly nineteen million elephants 
alive, descended from the first pair." 

In various ways the weakest are destroyed. 
Darwin, on a piece of ground three feet long and 
two wide, says, " I marked all the seedlings of our 
native weeds as they came up, and, out of 357, no 
less than 295 were destroyed, chiefly by slugs and 

He gives this interesting instance of the strug- 
gle for existence. "I find from experiments that 
humble-bees are almost indispensable to the fertil- 
ization of the heart's-ease, for other bees do not 
visit this flower. . . . Humble-bees alone visit red 


clover, as other bees cannot reach the nectar. . . 
Hence we may infer as highly probable that, if the 
whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or 
very rare in England, the heart's-ease and red clover 
would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The 
number of humble-bees in any district depends in 
a great measure upon the number of field-mice, 
which destroy their combs and nests ; the number 
of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, 
on the number of cats." Hence, as Mr. Darwin 
shows, the frequency of certain flowers in a district 
may depend upon the number of cats ! 

Darwin showed, by most interesting experiments 
with pigeons, that the various breeds come from 
the wild rock-pigeon ; that dogs are descended, 
probably, from the wolf; that different varieties 
can be produced and perpetuated under changing 
conditions of life ; that species are only well 
marked and permanent varieties. He showed how 
organs can be changed by use or disuse ; such as, 
the erect ears of wild animals become drooping 
under domestication ; or moles have only rudi- 
mentary eyes, covered with skin or fur, because 
not needed for sight. 

In the " Origin of Species," the theory of evolu- 
tion received proof which was so nearly incontro- 
vertible that the subject was brought prominently 
before the world as never before. Mr. Alfred 
Kussell Wallace, an able scientist, came to the 
same conclusion as Darwin in regard to the power 
of " Natural Selection," and published, at the same 


time as the " Origin," an essay " On the Tendency 
of Varieties to depart indefinitely from, the Origi- 
nal Type." 

At once Darwin was attacked from every quar- 
ter. Probably not since Galileo showed that the 
earth moves round the sun has a man been so cen- 
sured and persecuted for his opinions as was Dar- 
win. He was declared atheistic, unsettling the 
Christian belief, and opposed to the teachings of 
the Bible. Professor Asa Gray of Cambridge, 
Mass., a devoted Christian and able scientist, de- 
fended and explained Darwin's views, now pub- 
lished in " Darwiniana," claiming that the doctrine 
of evolution is in no wise opposed to the power and 
goodness of the Almighty, and quotes Charles 
Kingsley's words : " We know of old that God 
was so wise that he could make all things ; but 
behold, he is so much wiser than even that, 
that he can make all things make themselves." 
Kingsley wrote Darwin : " I have gradually learnt 
to see that it is just as noble a conception of Deity 
to believe that he created primal forms capable of 
self-development into all forms needful pro tern- 
pore and pro loco, as to believe that he required a 
fresh act of intervention to supply the lacunas 
which he himself had made. I question whether 
the former be not the loftier thought." Gray be- 
lieved that "to do any work by an instrument 
must require, and therefore presuppose, the exer- 
tion rather of more than of less power than to 
do it directly." Darwin said, " There is grandeur 


in this view of life, with its several powers, having 
been originally breathed by the Creator into a few 
forms or into one ; and that, whilst this planet has 
gone cycling on according to the fixed law of grav- 
ity, from so simple a beginning endless forms, most 
beautiful and most wonderful, have been and are 
being evolved." Darwin always felt grateful to 
Asa Gray for his defence. He wrote him : " I 
declare that you know my book as well as I do 
myself ; and bring to the question new lines of 
illustration and argument, in a manner which ex- 
cites my astonishment and almost my envy ! . . . 
I said, in a former letter, that you were a lawyer, 
but I made a gross mistake ; I am sure that you 
are a poet. Xo, I will tell you what you are, a 
hybrid, a complex cross of lawyer, poet, naturalist, 
and theologian ! " 

Darwin wisely made no reply to his critics. He 
said, years later : " My views have often been 
grossly misrepresented, bitterly opposed and ridi- 
culed, but this has been generally done, as I be- 
lieve, in good faith. On the whole, I do not 
doubt that my works have been over and over 
again greatly overpraised. I rejoice that I have 
avoided controversies, and this I owe to Lyell, who, 
many years ago, in reference to my geological 
works, strongly advised me never to get entangled 
in a controversy, as it rarely did any good, and 
caused a miserable loss of time and temper. 

" Whenever I have found out that I have blun- 
dered, or that my work has been imperfect, and 


when I have been contemptuously criticised, and 
even when I have been overpraised, so that I have 
felt mortified, it has been my greatest comfort to 
say hundreds of times to myself, 'that I have 
worked as hard and as well as I could, and no man 
can do more than this.' " 

The " Origin " has been translated into French, 
German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, and 
many other languages. Huxley says of it, " Even 
a cursory glance at the history of the biological 
sciences during the last quarter of a century is 
sufficient to justify the assertion that the most 
potent instrument for the extension of the realm 
of natural knowledge which has come into men's 
hands since the publication of Newton's ' Prin- 
cipia ' is Darwin's ' Origin of Species.' " 

The year after the " Origin " was published, 
Darwin began arranging his notes for his two 
large volumes, "Variation of Animals and Plants 
under Domestication," which, however, were not 
published till 1868. On these two books he spent 
over four years. They are a wonderful collection 
of facts, gathered from books and from his own 
marvellous experiments and observations, confirm- 
ing and illustrating the law of "Natural Selec- 
tion " given in the " Origin." 

Darwin had already received the Copley medal 
of the Royal Society, the greatest honor a scien- 
tific man can receive in England, and the Prussian 
Order "Pour le Merite," founded by Frederick II. 
The order consists of thirty German members and 


a few distinguished foreigners. In 1862 the " Fer- 
tilization of Orchids " was published, which re- 
quired ten months of labor. In this work Darwin 
took the utmost delight. He wrote to a friend 
who had sent him some of these flowers : " It is 
impossible to thank you enough. I was almost mad 
at the wealth of Orchids. ... I never was more 
interested in any subject in my life than in this of 
Orchids." The peculiarities of the flowers therein 
described, as Darwin says, " transcend in an incom- 
parable manner the contrivances and adaptations 
which the most fertile imagination of man could 

In the " Origin " he describes an orchid which 
" has part of its labellum or lower lip hollowed out 
into a great bucket, into which drops of almost 
pure water continually fall from two secreting 
horns which stand above it ; and when the bucket 
is half full the water overflows by a spout on one 
side. The basal part of the labellum stands over 
the bucket, and is itself hollowed out into a sort of 
chamber with two lateral entrances; within this 
chamber there are curious fleshy ridges. The most 
ingenious man, if he had not witnessed what takes 
place, could never have imagined what purpose all 
these parts serve. But Dr. Criiger saw crowds of 
large humble-bees visiting the gigantic flowers 
of this orchid, not in order to suck nectar, but to 
gnaw off the ridges within the chamber above the 
bucket ; in doing this they frequently pushed each 
Other into the bucket, and, their wings being thus 


wetted, they could not fly away, but were com- 
pelled to crawl out through the passage formed by 
the spout or overflow. . . . The passage is narrow, 
and is roofed over by the column, so that a bee, in 
forcing its way out, first rubs its back against the 
viscid stigma and then against the viscid glands of 
the pollen-masses. The pollen-masses are thus 
glued to the back of the bee which first happens to 
crawl out through the passage of a lately expanded 
flower, and are thus carried away. . . . 

"When the bee, thus provided, flies to another 
flower, or to the same flower a second time, and is 
pushed by its comrades into the bucket and then 
crawls out by the passage, the pollen-mass neces- 
sarily comes first into contact with the viscid 
stigma, and adheres to it, and the flower is fertil- 
ized. Now at last we see the full use of every part 
of the flower ; of the water-secreting horns, of the 
bucket half full of water, which prevents the bees 
from flying away, and forces them to crawl out 
through the spout, and rub against the properly 
placed viscid pollen-masses and the viscid stigma." 

Darwin said : " The Botanists praise my Orchid- 
book to the skies. . . . There is a superb, but, I 
fear, exaggerated, review in the 'London Review.' 
But I have not been a fool, as I thought I was, to 
publish ; for Asa Gray, about the most competent 
judge in the world, thinks almost as highly of the 
book as does the ' London Review.' " 

Darwin wrote several other books on plants. 
" The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants " 


was published in 1875; "Insectivorous Plants," in 
1875 ; " Effects of Cross and Self-Fertilization," in 
1876 ; The different Forms of Flowers on Plants 
of the Same Species," in 1877; "The Power of 
Movement in Plants," in 1880. 

When writing his " Different Forms of Flow- 
ers," he said, " I am all on fire at the work ; " and 
of " Insectivorous Plants," " I have been working 
like a madman at Drosera. Here is a fact for you 
which is certain as you stand where you are, 
though you won't believe it, that a bit of hair, 
TSffUtf of one grain in weight, placed on gland, will 
cause one of the gland-bearing hairs of Drosera to 
curve inwards, and will alter the condition of the 
contents of every cell in the foot-stalk of the 

But he was growing tired with his constant and 
multifarious labors. He wrote to Hooker : " You 
ask about my book, and all that I can say is that I 
am ready to commit suicide ; I thought it was 
decently written, but find so much wants rewrit- 
ing that it will not be ready to go to printers 
for two months, and will then make a confound- 
edly big book. Murray will say that it is no use 
publishing in the middle of summer, so I do not 
know what will be the upshot ; but I begin to 
think that every one who publishes a book is a 

In 1871 the " Descent of Man " was published. 
He worked on this book three years, and he wrote 
to his friend, Sir J. D. Hooker, that it had " half 


killed " him. For the first edition Darwin received 
over seven thousand dollars. It had an immense 
circulation in England and America, and created a 
furor in Germany. 

Darwin believed " that man is descended from a 
hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed 
ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhab- 
itant of the Old World. This creature, if its whole 
structure had been examined by a naturalist, would 
have been classed among the quadrumana, as surely 
as would the common and still more ancient pro- 
genitor of the Old and New World monkeys. 

" The quadrumana and all the higher mammals 
are probably derived from an ancient marsupial 
animal, and this, through a long line of diversified 
forms, either from some reptile-like or some am- 
phibian-like creature, and this again from some 
fishlike animal. In the dim obscurity of the past, 
we can see that the early progenitor of all the 
vertebrata must have been an aquatic animal, pro- 
vided with branchiae, with the two sexes united in 
the same individual, and with the most important 
organs of the body (such as the brain and heart) 
imperfectly developed. This animal seems to have 
been more like the larvae of our existing marine 
Ascidians than any known form." 

Most naturalists believe, with Darwin, that man 
has developed from some lower form, but many 
urge that at some stage of development he received 
the gift of speech, and mental and moral powers, 
from an omnipotent Creator. 


Darwin received much abuse and much ridicule 
for his views. Mr. James D. Hague tells in " Har- 
per's Magazine " of a visit paid to the great scien- 
tist, when a picture in the " Hornet " was shown ; 
the body of a gorilla, with the head of Darwin. 
The latter laughed and said, " The head is cleverly 
done, but the gorilla is bad ; too much chest ; it 
couldn't be like that." 

The " Descent of Man " shows the widest re- 
search, and is a storehouse of most interesting 
facts. " Sexual Selection " shows some of the 
most remarkable provisions of nature, and is as 
interesting as any novel. This book, like the 
" Origin," has been translated into various lan- 

In 1872 " The Expression of the Emotions in 
Man and Animals " was published. Over five 
thousand copies were sold on the day of publica- 
tion. It was begun at the birth of his first child, 
thirty-three years before. He says, " I at once 
commenced to make notes on the first dawn of the 
various expressions which he exhibited, for I felt 
convinced, even at this early period, that the most 
complex and fine shades of expression must all 
have had a gradual and natural origin." He wrote 
to a college friend regarding this baby : " He is so 
charming that I cannot pretend to any modesty. 
I defy anybody to flatter us on our baby, for I defy 
any one to say anything in its praise of which we 
are not fully conscious. ... I had not the smallest 
conception there was so much in a five-month 


baby. You will perceive by this that I have a fine 
degree of paternal fervor." 

In 1881, " The Formation of Vegetable Mould, 
through the Action of Worms, with Observations 
on their Habits," was published. " Fragments of 
lournt marl, cinders, etc., which had been thickly 
strewed over the surface of several meadows were 
found, after a few years, lying at a depth of some 
inches beneath the turf, but still forming a layer." 
Ascertaining that this was the work of worms, 
Darwin made a study of their structure, habits, 
and work, in his garden, his fields, and in pots of 
earth kept in his study. The intelligence of 
w r orms, the construction of their burrows, and the 
amount of labor they can perform, are described 
in a most entertaining manner. Over fifty thou- 
sand worms are found in a single acre of land, or 
about three hundred and fifty-six pounds. "In 
many parts of England a weight of more than ten 
tons of dry earth annually passes through their 
bodies, and is brought to the surface, on each acre 
of land. . . . Worms prepare the ground in an ex- 
cellent manner for the growth of fibrous-rooted 
plants and for seedlings of all kinds. They peri- 
odically expose the mould to the air, and sift it so 
that no stones larger than the particles which they 
can swallow are left in it. They mingle the whole 
intimately together, like a gardener who prepares 
fine soil for his choicest plants. . . . The plough 
is one of the most ancient and most valuable of 
roan's inventions ; but long before he existed the 


land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still con- 
tinues to be thus ploughed, by earthworms. It 
may be doubted whether there are many other 
animals which have played so important a part in 
the history of the world as have these lowly or- 
ganized creatures." 

In three years eighty-five hundred copies of the 
" Earthworms " were sold. 

Mr. Darwin was now seventy-two years old. 
Already many honors had come to him, after the 
severe and bitter censure. In 1877, he received 
the degree of LL.D. from Cambridge University. 
In 1878, he was elected a corresponding member 
of the French Institute, and of the Berlin Academy 
of Sciences. In 1879, he received the Baly Medal 
of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1879, from 
the Royal Academy of Turin, the Bressa Prize of 
twelve thousand francs. He valued highly two 
photographic albums sent from Germany and Hol- 
land ; one containing the pictures of one hundred 
and fifty -four noted scientific men ; the other, of 
two hundred and seventeen lovers of natural sci- 
ence in the Netherlands. He wrote in thanks : " I 
am well aware that my books could never have 
been written, and would not have made any im- 
pression on the public mind, had not an immense 
amount of material been collected by a long series 
of admirable observers ; and it is to them that 
honor is chiefly due. I suppose that every worker 
at science occasionally feels depressed, and doubts 
whether what he has published has been worth the 


labor which it has cost him, but for the few re- 
maining years of my life, whenever I want cheer- 
ing, I will look at the portraits of my distinguished 
co-workers in the field of science, and remember 
their generous sympathy." 

He was made a member of more than seventy of 
the learned societies of the world ; in America, 
Austria, India, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ger- 
many, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Bussia, Spain, 
Sweden, Switzerland, and elsewhere. 

Darwin's work was now almost over. His dear 
friend Lyell had gone before him, of whom he said, 
"I never forget that almost everything which I 
have done in science I owe to the study of his great 
works." His brother Erasmus, to whom he was 
tenderly attached, died in 1881. In the spring of 
1882 he was unable to work continuously as usual, 
and suffered from pain about the heart. On the 
night of April 18, he had a severe attack and 
fainted. When he was restored to consciousness, 
he said, " I am not the least afraid to die." He 
died the next day. April 19. 

Darwin died as he had lived, with a heart over- 
flowing with sympathy and tenderness. He said, 
" I feel no remorse from having committed any 
great sin, but have often and often regretted that 
I have not done more direct good to my fellow- 

In his home life he was singularly blest. His 
son says, " No one except my mother knows the 
full amount of suffering he endured, or the full 


amount of his wonderful patience. For all the lat- 
ter years of his life she never left him for a night ; 
and her days were so planned that all his resting 
hours might be shared with her. She shielded 
him from every avoidable annoyance, and omitted 
nothing that might save him trouble, or prevent 
him becoming overtired, or that might alleviate 
the many discomforts of his ill-health. I hesitate 
to speak thus freely of a thing so sacred as the 
life-long devotion which prompted all this constant 
and tender care. But it is ... a principal feature 
of his life that for nearly forty years he never knew 
one day of the health of ordinary men, and that 
thus his life was one long struggle against the 
weariness and strain of sickness." And yet he 
accomplished all his wonderful work ! 

"In his relationship towards my mother, his 
tender and sympathetic nature was shown in its 
most beautiful aspect. In her presence he found 
his happiness, and through her his life which 
might have been overshadowed by gloom became 
one of content and quiet gladness." 

He was the idol of his children, who used " to 
bribe him with sixpence to come and play in work- 
ing hours." " We all knew the sacredness of 
working time," says Mr. Darwin's daughter, " but 
that any one should resist sixpence seemed an im- 
possibility. . . . Another mark of his unbounded 
patience was the way in which we were suffered 
to make raids into the study when we had an ab- 
solute need of sticking-plaster, string, pins, scis- 


SOTS, stamps, foot-rule, or hammer. These and 
other such necessaries were always to be found in 
the study, and it was the only place where this 
was a certainty. We used to feel it wrong to go 
in during work-time ; still, when the necessity was 
great we did so. I remember his patient look when 
he said once, ' Don't you think you could not come 
in again ; I have been interrupted very often ? ' . . . 
He cared for all our pursuits and interests, and 
lived our lives with us in a way that very few 
fathers do." 

His son says : " The way he brought us up is 
shown by a little story about my brother Leonard, 
which my father was fond of telling. He came 
into the drawing-room, and found Leonard dancing 
about on the sofa, which was forbidden, for the 
sake of the springs, and said, 'Oh, Lenny, Lenny, 
that's against all rules ! ' and received for answer, 
' Then, I think you'd better go out of the room.' I 
do not believe he ever spoke an angry word to any 
of his children in his life ; but I am certain that it 
never entered our heads to disobey him. . . . How 
often, when a man, I have wished, when my father 
was behind my chair, that he would pass his hand 
over my hair, as he used to do when I was a boy. 
He allowed his grown-up children to laugh with 
and at him, and was, generally speaking, on terms 
of perfect equality with us." 

He was very fond of flowers, and also of dogs. 
When he had been absent from home, on his return 
his white fox-terrier, Polly, " would get wild with 


excitement, panting, squeaking, rushing round the 
room, and jumping on and off the chairs ; and he 
used to stoop down, pressing her face to his, letting 
her lick him, and speaking to her with a peculiarly 
tender, caressing voice." 

He was very tender-hearted. A friend who often 
visited at Down told me that Mrs. Darwin one day 
urged her husband to punish the little dog for 
some wrong-doing. He took the animal tenderly in 
his arms and carried her out-of-doors, patting her 
gently on the head. "Why, Charles," remon- 
strated the wife, " she did not feel it." He replied, 
" I could do no more." 

"The remembrance of screams or other sounds 
heard in Brazil," says Francis Darwin, "when he 
was powerless to interfere with what he believed 
to be the torture of a slave, haunted him for years, 
especially at night. In smaller matters, when he 
could interfere, he did so vigorously. He returned 
one day from his walk pale and faint from having 
seen a horse ill-used, and from the agitation of 
violently remonstrating with the man. On another 
occasion he saw a horse-breaker teaching his son 
to ride. The little boy was frightened, and the 
man was rough. My father stopped, and, jumping 
out of the carriage, reproved the man in no 
measured terms. . . . 

"A visitor, driving from Orpington to Down, 
told the man to go faster. 'Why,' said the driver, 
' if I had whipped the horse this much driving Mr. 
Darwin, he would have got out of the carriage and 
abused me well.' " 


His manner was bright and animated, and his 
face glowed in conversation. He enjoyed fun, had 
a merry, ringing laugh, and a happy way of turn- 
ing things. He said once, "Gray (Asa Gray of 
Harvard College) often takes me to task for making 
hasty generalizations; but the last time he was 
here talking that way, I said to him, ' Now, Gray, 
I have one more generalization to make, which is 
not hasty ; and that is, the Americans are the most 
delightful people I know.' " 

" He was particularly charming when ' chaffing ' 
any one," says his son, " and in high spirits over 
it. His manner at such times was light-hearted 
and boyish, and his refinement of nature came out 
most strongly. So, when he was talking to a lady 
who pleased and amused him, the combination of 
raillery and deference in his manner was delightful 
to see. When my father had several guests, he 
managed them well, getting a talk with each, 
or bringing two or three together round his 
chair. . . . 

" My father much enjoyed wandering slowly in 
the garden with my mother or some of his children, 
or making one of a party sitting out on a bench on 
the lawn ; he generally sat, however, on the grass, 
and I remember him often lying under one of the 
big lime-trees, with his head on the green mound 
at its foot." 

He had great perseverance in his work, and used 
often to say, " It's dogged as does it ; " and " Sav- 
ing the minutes is the way to get work done." It 


was his habit to rise early in the morning, and after 
breakfast work from eight to half-past nine, and 
then read his letters. At ten or half-past, he went 
back to his work till twelve. After exercise in the 
" Sandwalk," a narrow strip of land, one and a 
half acres in extent, with a gravel walk round it, 
planted with a variety of trees, in which he 
watched the birds and squirrels, he lunched and 
read his newspaper. After this he wrote letters, 
and about three o'clock rested for a time on the 
sofa, some of his family reading to him, often a 
novel, the work of Walter Scott, George Eliot, 
Miss Austen, or others. At four he walked again, 
worked from half-past four till half-past five, dined, 
and usually spent his evenings, after a game of 
backgammon with his wife, or hearing her play on 
the piano, in reading scientific books. Conversation 
in the evening usually spoiled his rest for the night, 
but he could do a great amount of work if he kept 
to his regular routine. In each book, as he read 
it, he marked passages bearing on his Avork. In 
reading a book or pamphlet, he made pencil lines 
at the side of the page, often adding short remarks, 
and at the end made a list of the pages marked. 

Darwin said of himself: "At no time am I a 
quick thinker or writer ; whatever I have done in 
science has solely been by long pondering, patience, 
and industry. ... I think that I am superior to 
the common run of men in noticing things which 
easily escape attention, and in observing them 
carefully. My industry has been nearly as great 


as it could have been in the observation and col- 
lection of facts. What is far more important, my 
love of natural science has been steady and ardent. 

"This pure love has, however, been much aided 
by the ambition to be esteemed by my fellow-nat- 
uralists. From my early youth I have had the 
strongest desire to understand or explain whatever 
I observed ; that is, to group all facts under some 
general laws. . . . My habits are methodical, and 
this has been of not a little use for my particular 
line of work. Lastly, I have had ample leisure 
from not having to earn my own bread. Even ill- 
health, though it has annihilated several years of 
my life, has saved me from the distractions of 
society and amusement." 

Mr. Darwin was never egotistical, or elated by 
his great success. He always felt and spoke mod- 
estly of his work. In the village people of Down 
he took a cordial interest, helping to found a 
Friendly Club, which he served as treasurer for 
thirty years. He also acted for some years as a 
county magistrate. The Vicar of Down, Rev. J. 
Brodie Innes, and Mr. Darwin were firm friends 
for thirty years, yet, says Darwin, "we never 
thoroughly agreed on any subject but once, and 
then we stared hard at each other, and thought one 
of us must be very ill." 

In the hall of the great Natural History Museum 
in London, a statue of Darwin was placed June 9, 
1885, with appropriate addresses. 

Darwin's life is a most interesting study. That 


a boy who seemed in youth to have no special 
fondness for books, but an especial delight in col- 
lecting beetles ; who appeared unfitted either for 
medicine or the church, should come to such a 
renowned manhood, is remarkable. His perse- 
verance, his industry, his thought, his gentleness, 
his sunny nature in the midst of suffering, are 
delightful to contemplate. His books will be an 
enduring monument. He combined a great intel- 
lect and a great heart, which makes the most at- 
tractive nature, in either man or woman. 


MOST of those whose lives are sketched in 
this volume lived to be old men ; but Frank 
Buckland, the pet and pride of thousands in Eng- 
land, died in his prime, almost at the beginning of 
his fame ; a man of whose life our " Popular Science 
Monthly " says, " None more active, varied, and use- 
ful is recorded in scientific biography." 

He was the oldest son of the Dean of Westmin- 
ster, Dr. William Buckland, and was born Decem- 
ber 17, 1826, at Christ Church, Oxford, of which 
cathedral his father was canon at that time. 

" I was told," says Frank, in later years, " that, 
soon after my birth, my father and my godfather, 
the late Sir Francis Chantry, weighed me in the 
kitchen scales against a leg of mutton, and that I 
was heavier than the joint provided for the family 
dinner that day. In honor of my arrival, my father 
and Sir Francis went into the garden and planted 
a birch tree. I know the taste of the twigs of that 
birch tree well. Sir Francis Chantry offered to 
give me a library. ' What is the use of a library 
to a child an hour old ? ' said my father. ' He will 
live to be sorry for that answer,' said Sir Francis. 
I never got the library. 



" One of my earliest offences in life was eating 
the end of a carriage candle. For this, the birch 
rod not being handy, my father put me into a furze 
bush, and therein I did penance for ten minutes. 
A furze bush does not make a pleasant lounge 
when only very thin summer garments are worn." 

The father, Dean Buckland, was distinguished as 
a man of letters, and for his geological research. 
The mother, as is often the case with sons of 
genius, was a remarkable woman, who idolized her 
boy, and who received in return an affection un- 
usual in its intimacy and confidence. 

She began to write about him early, in her jour- 
nal. " At two and a half years of age," she says, 
" he never forgets either pictures or people he has 
seen. Four months ago, as well as now, he would 
have gone through all the natural history books in 
the Radcliffe Library, without making one error in 
miscalling a parrot, a duck, a kingfisher, an owl, or 
a vulture." 

On taking him to see the camelopard and kan- 
garoos in Windsor Park, she says, " He ran about 
with the latter and the other live animals without 
the least fear, though he got thrown down by them. 
He is a robust, sturdy child, sharp as a needle, but 
so volatile that I foresee some trouble in making 
him fix his attention." 

When three and a half, she says, "he certainly is 
not at all premature ; his great excellence is in his 
disposition, and apparently very strong reasoning 
powers, and a most tenacious memory as to facts. 


He is always asking questions, and never forgets 
the answers he receives, if they are such as he 
can comprehend. If there is anything he cannot 
understand, or any word, he won't go on till it 
has been explained to him. He is always wanting 
to see everything made, or to know how it is done ; 
there is no end to his questions, and he is never 
happy unless he sees the relations between cause 
and effect." 

At four he began collecting specimens. of natural 
history. At this time a clergyman brought some 
fossils to Dr. Buckland. Calling his son, who was 
playing in the room, the Dean said, " Frankie, what 
are these ? " 

"They are the vertebrae of an ichthyosaurus," 
lisped the child, unable to speak plainly. 

Mrs. Buckland gave her boy a small cabinet, 
which now bears this inscription : " This is the 
first cabinet I ever had ; my mother gave it to me 
when about four years old, December, 1830. It is 
the nucleus of all my natural-history work. Please 
take care of the poor old thing." 

"In his early home at Christ Church," says 
Frank Bucklaiid's brother-in-law, George C. Bom- 
pas, in his interesting life of the naturalist, " be- 
sides the stuffed creatures, which shared the hall 
with the rocking-horse, there were cages full of 
snakes, and of green frogs, in the dining-room, 
where the sideboard groaned under successive 
layers of fossils, and the candles stood on ichthyo- 
sauri's vertebrae. Guinea-pigs were often running 


over the table, and, occasionally, the pony, having 
trotted down the steps from the garden, would 
push open the dining-room door, and career round 
the table, with three laughing children on his 
back ; and then, marching through the front door, 
and down the steps, would continue his course 
round Tom Quad. 

" In the stable yard and large wood-house were 
the fox, rabbits, guinea-pigs, and ferrets, hawks 
and owls, the magpie and jackdaw, besides dogs, 
cats, and poultry, and in the garden was the tor- 
toise (on whose back the children would stand to 
try its strength), and toads immured in various 
pots, to test the truth of their supposed life in rock 

The boy Frank naturally developed a taste for 
natural history in the midst of such surroundings. 
At nine years of age, he was sent to school at Cot- 
terstock, in Northamptonshire, and at twelve was 
elected scholar of Winchester College. 

He tells an interesting experience on his en- 
trance. " Immediately after chapel, the old stager 
boys all came round the new arrivals, to examine 
and criticise them. I perfectly recollect one boy, 
H., to whose special care my poor confiding 
mother had entrusted her innocent, unsuspecting 
cub, coming up to me with a most solemn face, 
and asking me if I had brought with me a copy 
of the school-book, 'Pempe moron proteron.' I 
said I had not. ( Then,' said he, < you must borrow 
one at once, or the doctor,' i. e. Dr. Moberly, the 


head master, ' will be sure to flog you to-morrow 
morning, and your college tutor, one of the prse- 
fects, will also lick you.' 

" So he sent me to another boy, who said he had 
lent his ' Pempe moron proteron,' but he passed me 
on to a third, he on to a fourth ; so I was running 
about all over the college till quite late, in a most 
terrible panic of mind, till at last a good-natured 
praefect said, ' Construe it, you little fool.' I had 
never thought of this before. I saw it directly : 
Pempe (send) moron (a fool) proteron (further). 
So the title of this wonderful book, after all, was, 
' Send a fool further.' I then went to complain to 
H. ; he only laughed, and shied a Donnegan's 
Lexicon at my head." 

" A few nights afterwards," says Frank, " I 
dreamt I was wandering on the seashore, and that 
a crab was pinching my foot. Instantly awaken- 
ing, I experienced a most frightful pain in my 
great toe. I bore it for a while, until at last it 
became so intense that I had to jump up with a 
howl of agony ; all was quiet, but the pull contin- 
ued, and I had to follow my toe and outstretched 
leg out of bed. I then found a bit of netted whip- 
cord tight round it ; but the whipcord was so in- 
geniously twisted among the beds, that it was 
impossible to find out ivho had pulled it. I re- 
turned to bed as savage as a wounded animal. 
The moment I was settled, the boys all burst into 
a shout : ' Toe fit tied ! By Jove, what a lark ! ' 
This barbarous process is called ' toe fit tie ' be- 


cause there is a line in Prosody which begins, l To 
lit ti, ut verto verti.' Hence the origin of this 
Winchester custom." 

A school friend says of Frank at this time : 
"Imagine a short, quick-eyed little boy, with a 
shock head of reddish brown hair (not much ame- 
nable to a hair-brush), a white neck-cloth tied like a 
piece of rope with no particular bow, and his bands 
sticking out under either ear as fancy pleased 
him, in fact, a boy utterly indifferent to personal 
appearance, but good-tempered and eccentric, with 
a small museum in his sleeve or cupboard, some- 
times a snake, or a pet mouse, or a guinea-pig, or 
even a hedge-hog. In the summer he would be 
always in the hedgerows, after birds, weasels, or 
mice, or in the water-meadows, after crayfish, tom- 
culls, and other fish which hide under stones. . . . 
In fact, he was a born naturalist." 

Another says : " Frank set up a sort of amateur 
dispensary or hospital. He had a patient or two. 
One man I remember, with a bad hand, who used 
to come down to College Gate at twelve o'clock to 
consult him and be experimented upon. In his 
toys (cupboard) he had various bottles and speci- 
mens, one very highly treasured possession being 
a three-legged chicken. 

" His own natural disposition was of the sweet- 
est and gentlest. I never saw him in a passion, 
though he used to get a good deal teased at one 
time for his untidiness. But he always had a 
bright smile amidst it all, and was ready to do 


anything for anybody immediately after. One 
thing used to strike me very much about him, and 
that was his exceeding love for his mother. Boys 
are generally reticent upon this point, but Frank 
seemed never tired of telling me about his, and 
how much he owed her. . . . 

" In school hours he was a painstaking and con- 
scientious worker, never leaving his lessons or 
preparing his task quicker or better than when he 
had some pet, a dormouse or sometimes a snake, 
twisting and wriggling inside his college waistcoat, 
which, having found its way out at his boots, 
would be carefully replaced under the waistcoat, to 
go through the same journey again." 

While at Winchester, Frank determined to be- 
come a surgeon, and chose as a parting gift from 
one of his tutors, instead of Goldsmith's poems, 
" Graham's Domestic Medicine." At his request, 
his parents sent him a lancet, with which he bled 
his college mates, if they were courageous enough 
to submit to the operation, offering each one six- 
pence as an inducement. Nevertheless, when, in 
vacation, he witnessed an amputation at the In- 
firmary, he fainted. 

When Frank left Winchester, Bishop Moberly 
said, " I always had the utmost satisfaction in him 
as a school-boy ; and I look back with very great 
regard to his simple, earnest character, and his de- 
votion to the studies which have made him so well 
known. To me he was just what I always found 
him, full of curious information, excellently kind- 
tempered and affectionate," 


In 1844, at the age of eighteen, Frank entered 
Christ Church, Oxford. Here he turned the court 
between his college rooms and the canon's gardens 
into a menagerie. He owned a young bear, Tiglath 
Pileser, Jacko the monkey, an eagle, a jackal, be- 
sides marmots, guinea-pigs, squirrels, and dormice, 
an adder and other snakes, tortoises, green frogs 
and a chameleon. Skeletons and stuffed specimens 
were numerous. 

Many of these pets strayed away. The marmot 
got into the chapter-house, and the eagle stationed 
himself in the chapel doorway, and attacked those 
who wished to enter. 

Dr. Liddon tells of being invited to Frank's 
rooms, to breakfast with him. "The marmots, 
which had hibernated in the cellar below, had 
just, as he expressed it, 'thawed.' There was 
great excitement ; the creatures ran about the 
table, as entitled to the honors of the day ; though 
there were other beasts and reptiles in the room 
too, which in later life would have made breakfast- 
ing difficult. Speaking of reptiles, one very early 
incident in my Oxford life was joining in a hunt 
of Frank's adder. It had escaped into Mr. Ben- 
son's rooms, and was pursued into the bedroom by 
a group of undergraduates, who had, however, dif- 
ferent objects in view. Frank certainly had the 
well-being of the adder chiefly at heart ; the rest 
of us, I fear, were governed by the lower motive 
of escaping being bitten anyhow if consistently 
with the adder's safety, well if not, still of es- 


caping. Eventually, the adder was caught, I be- 
lieve, without great damage. 

" One day I met Frank just outside Tom Gate. 
His trousers pockets were swollen out to an enor- 
mous size ; they were full of slow-worms in damp 
moss. Frank explained to me that this combina- 
tion of warmth and moisture was good for the 
slow-worms, and that they enjoyed it. They cer- 
tainly were very lively, poking their heads out in- 
cessantly, while he repressed them with the palms 
of his hands. . . . 

" He was certainly one of the most popular men 
in Christ Church ; when he was in the schools, to 
be examined viva voce, almost the whole under- 
graduate world of Christ Church was there. . . . 
He always struck me, in respect of the most seri- 
ous matters, as combining strength and simplicity 
very remarkably ; it was impossible to talk to him 
and not to be sure that God, life, death, and judg- 
ment were to him solid and constantly present 

Another college friend says : " One evening when 
I was devoting an hour to coaching him up for his 
'little go,' I took care to tuck up my legs, in 
Turkish fashion, on the sofa, for fear of a casual 
bite from the jackal which was wandering about 
the room. After a time I heard the animal munch- 
ing up something under the sofa, and was relieved 
that he should have found something to occupy 
him. When our work was finished, I told Buck- 
land that the jackal had found something to eat 


under the sofa. ' My poor guinea-pigs ! ' he ex- 
claimed ; and, sure enough, four or five of them had 
fallen victims." 

Tiglath Pileser, the bear, had to be sent away 
from Christ Church. The dean said, " I hear you 
keep a bear in college ; well, either you or your 
bear must go." So Tig was sent to Islip, seven 
miles from Oxford, a living held by Dean Buck- 
land, who had now become Dean of Westminster. 
The bear did so much mischief at Islip, in grocer's 
shops and houses, that he was sent to the zoological 
gardens, where he died in cutting his teeth. 

Jacko, the monkey, was a source of great amuse- 
ment, and greatly prized by young Buckland. 
" Once, when carrying him on a railway train, in a 
lawyer's blue bag," says Mr. Buckland, in his 
" Curiosities of Natural History," published some 
years afterwards, " Jacko, Avho must needs see 
everything that was going on, suddenly poked his 
head out of the bag, and gave a malicious grin at 
the ticket-giver. This much frightened the poor 
man, but, with great presence of mind, quite as- 
tonishing under the circumstances, he retaliated 
the insult, ' Sir, that's a dog ; you must pay for it 
accordingly.' In vain was the monkey made to 
come out of the bag and exhibit his whole person ; 
in vain were arguments in full accordance with the 
views of Cuvier and Owen urged eagerly, vehe- 
mently, and without hesitation (for the train was 
on the point of starting), to prove that the animal 
in question was not a dog, but a monkey. A dog 


it was in the peculiar views of the official, and 
three-and-sixpence was paid. 

" Thinking to carry the joke further (there were 
just a few minutes to spare), I took out from my 
pocket a live tortoise I happened to have with me, 
and, showing it, said, ' What must I pay for this, 
as you charge for all animals ? ' The employe ad- 
justed his specs, withdrew from the desk to con- 
sult with his superior ; then returning, gave the 
verdict with a grave but determined manner, ( No 
charge for them, sir ; them be insects.' " When- 
ever Jacko got loose, he found mischief. One day 
he covered a shoe, sole and all, with blacking, and 
poured what was left in the bottle inside the shoe. 
He also rubbed the white kitchen table all over 
with black-lead and water. 

Young Buckland spent his vacations at the Uni- 
versity of Giessen, under the famous teacher and 
chemist, Professor Liebig, to whom he became 
greatly attached. " Returning in October, 1845, .1 
brought with me," he says, " about a dozen green 
tree-frogs, which I had caught in the woods near 
the town. ... I started at night on my homeward 
journey by the diligence, and I put the bottle con- 
taining the frogs into the pocket inside the dili- 
gence. My fellow-passengers were sleepy old 
smoke-dried Germans. Very little conversation 
took place, and, after the first mile, every one set- 
tled himself to sleep, and soon all were snoring. 
I suddenly awoke with a start, and found all the 
sleepers had been roused at the same moment. 


On their sleepy faces were depicted fear and anger. 
What had woke us all up so suddenly ? 

"The morning was just breaking, and my frogs, 
though in the dark pocket of the coach, had found 
it out, and, with one accord, all twelve of them had 
begun their morning song. As if at a given signal, 
they one and all of them began to croak as hard as 
ever they could. The noise their united concert 
made seemed, in the closed compartment of the 
coach, quite deafening : well might the Germans 
look angry ; they wanted to throw the frogs, bottle 
and all, out of the window, but I gave the bottle a 
good shaking, and made the frogs keep quiet. 
The Germans all went to sleep again, but I was 
obliged to remain awake, to shake the frogs when 
they began to croak. It was lucky that I did so, 
for they tried to begin their concert again two or 
three times. 

" These frogs came safely to Oxford, and, the 
day after their arrival, a stupid housemaid took off 
the top of the bottle, to see what was inside ; one 
of the frogs croaked at that instant, and so fright- 
ened her that she dared not put the cover on again. 
They all got loose in the garden, when, I believe, 
the ducks ate them, for I never heard or saw them 

The next autumn, after a short tour in Switzer- 
land, he returned to Oxford, this time bringing a 
jar full of red slugs. " They at least were noiseless 
and would not croak like frogs. In the opposite 
corner of the diligence placidly slumbered a trav- 


eller with ample bald head ; Frank also slept, but, 
waking at midnight, he saw, with horror, that two 
of his red slugs had escaped and were crawling 
over the traveller's bald pate. What was to be 
done ? To remove them might waken the sleeper. 
Frank sat, as it were, on tenter-hooks, until the 
diligence stopped at the next stage, when, firmly 
covering up the jar and what remained of the 
slugs, he slipped quietly out of the diligence, re- 
solved to proceed on his journey by another con- 
veyance next morning, rather than face that man's 

Young Buckland took his degree in 1848, and 
entered St. George's Hospital. " My object," he 
said, " in studying medicine (and may God prosper 
it !) is not to gain a name, money, and high prac- 
tice, but to do good to my fellow-creatures and as- 
sist them in the hour of need. . . . My object in 
life to be a great high-priest of nature, and a 
great benefactor of mankind." Wealthy, and of 
the highest social position, he had determined not 
to live for himself, but for the good of others. 

He was now twenty-two; genial, full of kind- 
ness, democratic in his feelings, one of " nature's 
noblemen." At his father's house, the Deanery, 
he met Lyell, Davy, Faraday, Sir John Herschel, 
Guizot, Liebig, Agassiz, Ruskin, Rogers, Lord 
Brougham, Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, 
Lady Franklin, Lady Shelley, and scores of other 
distinguished persons. 

Here his menagerie was larger than ever. The 


stuffed forms of Tiglath Pileser and Billy the 
hyaena were in the hall. Jenny, a monkey from 
Gibraltar, had come to join Jacko, bringing a pet 
chicken with her, which lived in her cage, and 
which she fondled as a nurse does a child. Here 
were tailless Manx cats, lizards, snakes, and fifty 
or sixty rats, usually kept in the cellar. Young 
Buckland would often take snakes out of his pock- 
ets to show his friends. "Don't be afraid," he 
said to a young lady at a party, as he showed her 
some snakes ; " they won't hurt you, I've taken 
out their fangs. Now, do be a good girl, and don't 
make a fuss ; " and he wreathed one snake around 
her neck, and one round each arm. " His sisters 
were so often bedecked with similar reptilian neck- 
laces and armlets that they became used to the 
somewhat clammy, crawling sensation which is a 
drawback to such ornaments." 

About this time, Buckland wrote an article on 
the muscles of the arm, and took it to several 
periodicals, but none would accept it. Urged by 
Mr. White Cooper, the queen's oculist, he wrote 
an article upon his rats, which the friend carried 
to " Bentley's Miscellany." It was accepted, and 
thus began his successful authorship. This was 
subsequently published in his first book, " Curiosi- 
ties of Natural History," in 1857. 

He tells of one of his rat families : " One day a 
poor mother had moved her young about into sev- 
eral parts of the cage, but could not fix on one 
point. I saw what was wanting, she could not 


obtain cover for them. I put my hand into the 
cage, full of tow and cotton wool; she cam^in- 
stantly and took it out of my hand, and covered 
up her young. But, notwithstanding all this care, 
and although evidently most anxious for their wel- 
fare, this kind mother, obeying, I suppose, some 
wise law of nature, devoured during the following 
night every one of the little ones of which she had 
been so careful the preceding day." 

After being house-surgeon at St. George's Hos- 
pital for some time, Buckland became assistant sur- 
geon to the Second Life Guards in 1854. He had 
already given his first lecture, '"The House We 
Live in," delivered at a Working Men's Coffee 
House and Institute established by his mother, 
in Westminster, London. 

About this time he was nearly fatally poisoned 
by a cobra. He says, " I had not walked a hun- 
dred yards before, all of a sudden, I felt just as if 
somebody had come behind me and struck me a 
severe blow on the head and neck, and at the same 
time I experienced a most acute pain and sense of 
oppression at the chest, as though a hot iron had 
been run in and a hundred-weight put on the top of 
it. I knew instantly, from what I had read, that I 
was poisoned. I said as much to my friend, a most 
intelligent gentleman, who happened to be with 
me, and told him, if I fell, to give me brandy and 
eau-de-luce, words which he kept repeating in case 
he might forget them. At the same time I en- 
joined him to keep me going, and not on any 


account to allow me to lie down. I then forgot 
everything for several minutes, and my friend 
tells me I rolled about as if very faint and weak. 
He also informs me that the first thing I did was 
to fall against him, asking him if I looked seedy. 
He most wisely answered, ' Xo, you look very well.' 
I don't think he thought so, for his own face was 
as white as a ghost; I recollect this much. He 
tells me my face was of a greenish yellow color. 

"After walking, or rather staggering, along for 
some minutes, I gradually recovered my senses, 
and steered for the nearest chemist's shop. Rush- 
ing in, I asked for eau-de-luce. Of course, he had 
none, but my eye caught the words. l spiritus am- 
monice,' or hartshorn, on a bottle. I reached it 
down myself, and, pouring a large quantity into a 
tumbler with a little water, both of which articles 
I found on a soda-water stand in the shop, drank 
it off, though it burnt my mouth and lips very 
much. Instantly I felt relief from the pain at the 
chest and head. The chemist stood aghast, and, on 
my telling him what was the matter, recommended 
a warm bath. If I had then followed his advice, 
these words would never have been placed on 
record. After a second draught at the hartshorn 
bottle, I proceeded on my way, feeling very stupid 
and confused." 

In August, 1856, Dean Buckland died, and in 
November, 1857, Mrs. Buckland. On December 
17, her son wrote in his journal : " Thirty-one 
years ago, at 6 A. M. ; I came into the world, at the 


old house in Christ Church, Quadrangle. I am 
now about half-way across the stage of life, and 
thank God I am just beginning to feel my feet. 
But, oh ! what I have lost since last birthday, the 
best friend a man can have in the world, his 

He did not know that he was very much more 
than "half-way across the stage of life already." 
It is well that we walk by faith rather than sight. 

"Oh! blissful, peaceful ignorance, 

"Tis blessed not to know; 
It keeps me quiet, in those Arms 

Which will not let me go, 
And hushes all my soul to rest 

On the Bosom which loves me so. 

" So I go on, not knowing 

I would not if I might 
I'd rather walk with God in the dark 

Than walk alone in the light; 
I'd rather walk with him by faith 

Than walk alone by sight." 

In 1859, after a laborious search of some weeks 
in the vaults of St. Martin's in the Fields, Buck- 
land found the body of John Hunter, the father of 
modern physiology, and the coffin was reinterred in 
Westminster Abbey. Though a most disagreeable 
task, he said, "I must not shrink from doing a 
thing at first sight disagreeable, or nothing will 
ever be accomplished. Nothing like determina- 
tion and perseverance." The Leeds School of 


Medicine presented him a silver medal, as a mark 
of respect for his exertions. 

In 1860, he helped to organize the Acclimatiza- 
tion Society, formed for the purpose of varying 
and increasing the food supply of Great Britain 
by introducing new animals and preserving the 
native fish. He also became voluntary consulting 
surgeon at the Zoological Gardens, doctoring the 
sick, and increasing by his example the tenderness 
shown to animals. 

His life had now become a most active one. He 
wrote many valuable articles for the magazines, 
since issued in books, the " Log Book of a Fisher- 
man and Zoologist," and other volumes, and lec- 
tured frequently, to large audiences, on his favorite 

In 1863, after eight years of service in the Life 
Guards, he resigned, and began to devote himself 
more than ever to fish culture. In January and 
February of each year he collected the eggs of 
trout and other fish from the Rhine, Switzerland, 
France, and elsewhere, distributing some through- 
out the country and artificially hatching others. 
Fish-hatching boxes were exhibited in the South 
Kensington Museum, and at the Crystal Palace. 
Trout ova in ice were sent to Australia, where, 
after incubation had been suspended for a hundred 
days, when placed in running water, the fish came 
into the world strong and healthy. 

In 1864, Buckland made extended investigations 
in oyster culture ; delivered lectures upon the sub- 


ject before the British Association of Bath, the 
Society of Arts, the London Institution, indeed all 
through England and Ireland. He was appointed 
Scientific Eeferee to the South Kensington Mu- 
seum, giving a course of lectures and of class 
demonstration. He sent about sixteen thousand 
young fish and eggs to the Horticultural Gardens, 
and with these he helped to illustrate his lectures 
and inform the public- 
Through " Land and Water," a paper established 
by himself and a few friends, he reached and edu- 
cated a large constituency. 

In 1863, the year previous, he had married Miss 
Hannah Papes, and made his home at 37 Albany 
St., Regent's Park. Here he gathered all his pets, 
who found in Mrs. Buckland a person as kind and 
tender as their master. Here were brought his 
favorite monkeys, " Hag " and " Tiny." The lat- 
ter came from the Zoological Gardens " as good as 
dead," but, through Mrs. Buckland's good nursing, 
she became well and strong. 

With these pets, the overworked naturalist had 
great merriment. He says in his " Log Book " : 
" When the fire is lighted in the morning, in my 
museum, the servants put the monkeys in their 
night cage before it, and directly I come down to 
breakfast I let them out. They are only allowed 
to be loose in my museum as they do so much mis- 
chief ; and in my museum I alone am responsible 
for the damage they do. The moment the door of 
the cage is opened, they both rush out like rockets, 


and the Hag goes immediately to the fender and 
warms herself like a good monkey ; as she, being 
older, seems to know that if she misbehaves her- 
self she will have to be put back into her cage. . . . 

" Tiny steals whatever is on the table, and it is 
great fun to see her snatch off the red herring from 
the plate and run off with it to the top of the book- 
shelves. While I am getting my herring, Tiny 
goes to the breakfast table again, and, if she can, 
steals the egg ; this she tucks under her arm, and 
bolts away, running on her hind legs. This young 
lady has of late been rather shy of eggs, as she 
once stole one that was quite hot, and burnt her- 
self. ... 

" Having poured out the tea, I open the ' Times ' 
newspaper quite wide, to take a .general survey of 
its contents. If I do not watch her carefully, 
Tiny goes behind the chair, on to the book-shelf, 
and comes crash into the middle of the 'Times.' 
Of course, she cannot go through the ( Times ' ; but 
she takes her chance of a fall somewhere, and her 
great aim seems, to perform the double feat of 
knocking the ' Times ' out of my hand and upset- 
ting the tea-pot and its contents ; or, better still, the 
tea-pot on the floor. Lately, I am glad to say, she 
did not calculate her fall quite right ; for she put 
her foot into the hot tea and stung herself smartly, 
and this seems to have had the effect of making 
her more careful for the future. All the day of 
this misfortune she walked upon her heels, and not 
upon her toes as usual. 


"The Hag will also steal, but in a more quiet 
manner. She is especially fond of sardines in oil, 
and I generally let her steal them, because the oil 
does her good, though the servants complain of the 
marks of her oily feet upon the cloth. Sometimes 
the two make up a stealing party. One morning I 
was in a particular hurry, having to go away on 
salmon-inspection duty by train. I left the break- 
fast things for a moment, and in an instant Tiny 
snatched up a broiled leg of pheasant and bolted 
with it carried it under her arm round and round 
the room, after the fashion of the clown in the 
pantomime. While I was hunting Tiny for my 
pheasant, the Hag bolted with the toast ; I could 
not find, time to catch either of the thieves, and so 
had to go off without any breakfast. 

" Tiny and the Hag sometimes go out stealing 
together. They climb up my coat and search all 
the pockets. I generally carry a great many cedar 
pencils ; the monkeys take these out and bite off 
the cut ends. . . . When I come home in the even- 
ing, tired from a long day's work, I let out the 
monkeys, and give them some sweet stuff I bring 
home for them. By their affectionate greeting and 
amusing tricks they make me forget for a while 
the anxieties and bothers of a very active life. 
They know perfectly well when I am busy, and 
they remain quiet and do not tease me. The Hag 
sits on the top of my head, and ' looks fleas ' in 
my hair, while Tiny tears up with her teeth a 
thick ball of crumpled paper, the nucleus of which 


she knows is a sugar-plum, one of a parcel sent by 
Mrs. Owen, the kind-hearted wife of my friend, 
Mostyn Owen, of the Dee Salmon Board, and re- 
ceived through the post in due form, directed, 
' Miss Tiny and Miss Jenny Buckland.' " 

Besides these monkeys, a writer tells of another 
pet which he found when calling on Mr. Buckland. 
"'It's a jolly little brute, and won't hurt,' ex- 
claimed Mr. Buckland, as we were about to retreat 
from the threshold. The monkeys had seized the 
jaguar's tail, and, lifting it up with its hind legs 
bodily to the altitude of their cage, were rapidly 
denuding it of fur. No animal with any feelings 
of self-respect would submit silently to such hu- 
miliation, and the jaguar was making the place 
hideous with his yells. 

" Hearing the cries of her pet, Mrs. Buckland 
came to the rescue ; and it was amusing to see this 
child of the forest, with gleaming eyes and frantic 
yelps, cast itself at her feet, and nestle meekly in 
the folds of her dress ; she had nursed it through a 
very trying babyhood, when Mr. Bartlett had sent 
it from the Zoo, apparently dying and paralyzed in 
the fore -legs, with a promise of fifteen pounds re- 
ward for a cure. That sum has long since been 
swallowed up in damages for clothes destroyed 
and boots devoured, as the invalid's health and 
appetite returned." 

Mr. Bucklaud used to say : " Mrs. Buckland can 
tame any animal in the world ecce signum, my- 


In 1867, Mr. Buckland was appointed Inspector 
of Fisheries. This was the realization of the wish 
of his life. He says in his diary, after receiving 
the appointment : " When I read this I felt a most 
peculiar feeling ; not joy, nor grief, but a pleasur- 
able, stunning sensation, if there can be such a 
thing. The first thing I did was to utter a prayer 
of thanksgiving to Him who really appointed me, 
and who has thus placed me in a position to look 
after and care for His wonderful works. May 
He give me strength to do my duty in my new 
calling ! 

Buckland carried forward his work with the 
greatest zeal and energy. He writes in his journal : 
"I am, now working from 8 A. M. to 6 P. M., 
then a bit in the evening, fourteen hours a 
day ; but, thank God, it does not hurt me. I 
should, however, collapse if it were not for Sun- 
day. The machinery has time to get cool. The 
mill-wheel ceases to patter the water, the mill-head 
is ponded up, and the superfluous water let off 
by an easy, quiet current, which leads to things 

Salmon, which had formerly abounded in Wales 
and England, and been used extensively for food, 
had almost or altogether ceased to exist in many 
rivers. Buckland carefully studied their habits. 
He put himself, as he often said, in the place of 
the salmon. He waded the pools, to feel the force 
and direction of the current against which they 
come up from the sea into the rivers. He did not 
spare himself in storm or cold. 


" Most fish live either in fresh or in salt water ; 
the salmon inhabits both. Bred in the higher 
waters of our rivers, the young salmon of one, 
two, or three years' growth make their way down 
to the sea as smolts, and return thence, impelled 
by the instinct of reproduction, to seek the gravelly 
spawning beds in the mountain streams. In early 
spring and through the summer and autumn 
months they come from the sea, bright-coated and 
silvery, and swim and leap and struggle up the 
rivers. Then is the fisherman's harvest. In win- 
ter the spawning time comes on, when the laws of 
nature and of man alike forbid their capture ; for 
the fish, at other times so rich a luxury, are now 
vapid and unwholesome. Lean and flabby, the 
males with hooked beaks and scarred in fighting, 
the spawned fish, or kelts, rush down again to the 
sea ; whence, after a while, they return, fresh and 
silvery, fattened to twice their former weight, and 
reenter the rivers as fresh-river fish, the joy alike 
of the fisherman and the epicure." 

Buckland constructed salmon ladders over the 
weirs, that the fish might have free passage from 
the rivers to the sea. He sent a series of models 
of these ladders to the American Fishery Commis- 
sioners, with five boxes of specimen oysters, and a 
photograph of his museum, with its casts and 
curiosities. He helped to obtain proper legislation 
from Parliament, both as to fishes and sea-birds ; 
indeed all living things, especially those aquatic, 
had his sympathy and help. 


The results of his work were soon apparent. 
The yearly sales of English and Welsh salmon in 
Billingsgate market, London, before 1861, averaged 
about eight tons only. From 1867 to 1876 the 
average sale was eighty-eight tons. The sales 
of Irish salmon in Billingsgate, three hundred and 
fifty tons yearly ; of Scotch salmon, over one 
thousand tons yearly. Thus was food provided 
for millions of people. 

Everywhere Buckland was the friend of animals. 
He urged that pigs should have "pure, clean, 
wholesome water" to drink. He assisted at the 
opening of the Brighton Aquarium, a place which 
American visitors can never forget, and aided in 
the establishing of other aquaria. 

In 1873, Mr. Buckland published a " History of 
British Fishes." All his books went through many 
editions. In 1874, at the Jubilee Anniversary of 
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ani- 
mals, he spoke against cruelty to seals. 

He wrote in the " Times " : " Captain David 
Gray, of the sealing and whaling ship Eclipse, 
and myself first brought forward, some three years 
ago, the necessity for a close time for Arctic seals. 
The principal sealing ground is at Jan Mayen 
Island, thirteen hundred miles due north from 
London. . . . The ships (sixty sail) arrive at the 
ice from the 15th to the 20th March, just as the 
young seals are born. The seal-hunters at once 
attack them, and the most horrible cruelty ensues. 
I quote Captain Gray's own words to me : ' Last 


year, the fleet set to work to kill the seals on March 
26, 1874, and in forty-eight hours the fishing was 
completely over, the old seals being shot, wounded, 
or scared away, while thousands upon thousands of 
young ones were left crying piteously for their 
mothers. These mostly perished of famine in the 
snow, as they were not old enough to make worth 
while the trouble of killing them. 

" ' If you could imagine yourself surrounded by 
four or five hundred thousand babies, all crying at 
the pitch of their voices, you would have some 
idea of the piteous noise they make. Their cry is 
very like that of a human infant. These motherless 
seals collect into lots of five or six, and crawl about 
the ice, their heads fast becoming the biggest part 
of their bodies, searching, no doubt, to find the 
nourishment they stand so much in need of. M> 

In 1876, an international close time was estab- 
lished, prohibiting the killing of seals until after 
April 3. 

Mr. Buckland's reports on crab, lobster, herring, 
and other fisheries were most full and interesting. 
" Before the young crabs are born," he said, " the 
mother crab tucks up under her tail her numerous 
family of from one to two million coral-like eggs, 
and she sidles on tiptoe many a mile from her 
rocky home to some sandy flat in the deep sea, 
where her young family may flourish best. There, 
or perhaps on returning home, in early spring, the 
time for all young things to come forth, the tiny 
crabs burst the egg; yet so unlike their parent, 


that till lately they were thought some strange ani- 
malcula ; goggle eyes, a hawk's beak, a scorpion's 
tail, a rhinoceros's horn, adorn a body fringed with 
legs, yet scarcely bigger than a grain of sand. 

"Several strange shapes are assumed in turn 
ere the young crab attains the parent form. For 
the parents of so numerous a family it is well that 
nature has provided the young crabs with a strong 
suit of clothes, which does not wear out ; but it is 
quickly outgrown. The young crabs shed from time 
to time the horny case, even to the finger-nails and 
eyelids ; and mother Nature straightway provides, 
underneath, a new, soft, leathery suit, which quickly 
hardens into shell. Another marvel is, that the 
growth is, as it were, by leaps and bounds ; each 
time it bursts its case the young crab swells sud- 
denly to twice the size of the discarded shell. 

" In crab youth several new suits are annually 
required. In maturer life the lady crab, it seems, 
is content with one new dress each year ; yet is 
not the romance of life over. In the time of her 
soft-shelled weakness and seclusion, a male crab in 
full armor constantly attends her, guards her from 
danger, and solaces her in her retirement. An old 
crab's shell, covered sometimes with barnacles, or 
with oysters of several years' growth, shows that 
the patriarch has outlived the change of fashions 
which occupied his youth." 

The report on herring showed that eight hun- 
dred million fish are taken yearly in Scotland, by 
more than seven thousand boats. 


" The Log-Book of a Fisherman and Zoologist " 
was published in 1875, and a new edition of 
" White's Natural History of Selborne," to which 
Buckland added many original observations. Most 
of his writing was done on the cars, on his way to 
different places to give lectures or attend to offi- 
cial business. 

In 1878, he was appointed one of the commis- 
sioners to inquire into the sea fisheries of England 
and Wales, which furnish so much food for the 
people. Over a hundred million soles are sold 
yearly in London alone, besides fifty million plaice 
and whiting, and ten million eels. Mr. Buckland's 
correspondence with many countries had become 
extensive. He had been elected a member of vari- 
ous societies, and had received many gold medals, 
for his wide scientific knowledge and its practical 

In December, 1879, he writes, " This Christmas 
week, I regret to say, I shall not have the oppor- 
tunity of spending my time up to my neck in 
water, collecting salmon eggs for Australia or New 
Zealand, from one or other of our northern rivers, 
or in one of the southern rivers, getting trout eggs 
for the Thames. I must say I very much enjoy 
collecting salmon and trout eggs ; it is very cold, 
and, at the same time, very hard work, but I very 
much prefer it to indoors and the fireside." 

The exposure of this kind of work is seen by his 
description of it. " Here is a list of my < Spawn- 
ing kit.' First, the waterproof dress; this very 


useful garment is in fact a diver's dress, and, when 
properly put on, admits not a drop of water. It 
has, however, one fault, it is apt to freeze when I 
am out of the water, and then one feels encased, 
as it were, in a suit of inflexible armor. Second, 
the spawning tins. . . . Third, a long, shallow bas- 
ket. . . . Fourth, house-flannel, cut into lengths 
of one yard ; this is absolutely necessary to hold 
the struggling salmon. Those who are unaccus- 
tomed to spawn salmon have an awkward habit of 
putting their fingers into the gills of the fish, and 
if the fish's gills are injured and bleed, he suffers 
much from it. I never to my knowledge killed a 
fish in my life while spawning it. Fifth,- dry 
towels; these are most necessary, as the slime 
from the salmon makes one's hands very slippery 
. . . besides which, wiping the hands warms them, 
and, when working in the water at this time of 
year, the cold to the hands and arms is fearful. 
. . . Eleventh, ordinary baggage, and especially a 
bottle of scented hair-oil, with which to well anoint 
the chest and arms and tips of ears, when working 
in the water ; a most excellent and serviceable 
plan. I took this hint from the Esquimaux." 

Frank Buckland's last Fishery Report was made 
in March, 1880, containing an interesting descrip- 
tion of the anatomy of the salmon, its food, habits, 
and the like. 

Mr. Buckland had brought on lung trouble by 
constant exposure and tireless energy, and must 
have foreseen the end. At first it seemed hard to 


him that he should be taken in the midst of his 
best work, but he said, " God is so good, so very 
good to the little fishes, I do not believe he would 
let their inspector suffer shipwreck at last. I am 
going a long journey, where I think I shall see a 
great many curious animals. This journey I must 
go alone." 

He had before this written in his diary : " I think 
it not improbable that, in a future state, the mind 
will be allowed a greater scope of knowledge, and 
the gates of omniscience will be thrown open to it, 
so that those things which it now sees through a 
glass, darkly, will be- opened to the view and under- 
standing. O most glorious reward, for a mind oc- 
cupied here on earth in investigating the wonder- 
ful works of the Creator, from the magnificent and 
stupendously grand scene of geology, and the the- 
ory of the heavens, to the minute and delicate con- 
struction of a microscopic animalcule, or the im- 
measurably fine thread of a plant ! " 

He died December 19, 1880, and was buried in 
Brompton Cemetery, on Christmas Eve. 

His last book, " Notes and Jottings from Animal 
Life," was published soon after his death. 

No wonder that the noble son of the Dean of 
Westminster is remembered and loved. A friend 
wrote, after his death : " Energy was only one of 
Mr. Buckland's characteristics. His kindliness 
was another. Perhaps no man ever lived with a 
kinder heart. It may be doubted whether he ever 
willingly said a hard word or did a hard action. 


He used to say of one gentleman, by whom he 
thought he had been aggrieved, that lie had for- 
given him seventy times seven already, so that he 
was not required to forgive him any more. 

"He could not resist a cry of distress, particu- 
larly if it came from a woman. Women, he used 
to say, are such doe-like, timid things, that he 
could not bear to see them unhappy. One night, 
walking from his office, he found a poor servant- 
girl crying in the street. She had been turned out 
of her place that morning, as unequal to her duties ; 
she had no money and no friends nearer than Taun- 
ton, where her parents lived. Mr. Buckland took 
her to an eating-house, gave her a dinner, drove 
her to Paddington, paid for her ticket, and left her 
in charge of the guard of the train. His nature 
was so simple and generous that he did not even 
seem to realize that he had done an exceptionally 
kind action." 

T)o read of such a life as this makes us trust 
humanity, and reassures us that there are many, 
very many noble and lovely characters in the 
world, both men and women. While we need 
good judgment and common sense, so as to discrim- 
inate wisely, we need also the sweet, sunny nature 
which, with some measure of ideality, sees rose 
colors amid the sombre tints of life. We usually 
find in other hearts what we cultivate in our own. 


was borrowed. 


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