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New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street 


Copyright, 1885, 

All rights reserved. 


The Riverside Press, Cambridge: 
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0- Houghton & Co. 


1846 : ^T. 39. 

Arrival at Boston. Previous Correspondence with 
Charles Lyell and Mr. John A. Lowell concerning 
Lectures at the Lowell Institute. Relations with 
Mr. Lowell. First Course of Lectures. Character 
of Audience. Home Letter giving an Account of 
his first Journey in the United States. Impressions 
of Scientific Men, Scientific Institutions and Collec- 
tions .......... 401 


1846 - 1847 : ^T. 39 - 40. 

Course of Lectures in Boston on Glaciers. Corre- 
spondence with Scientific Friends in Europe. 
House in East Boston. Household and Housekeep- 
ing. Illness. Letter to Elie de Beaumont. 
Geology and Glacial Remains ..... 430 


1847 -i850: ^T. 40-43. 

Excursions on Coast Survey Steamer. Relations with 
Dr. Bache, the Superintendent of the Coast Survey. 
Political Disturbances in Switzerland. Change 
of Relations with Prussia. Scientific School estab- 
lished in Cambridge. Chair of Natural History 


offered to Agassiz. Acceptance. Removal to 
Cambridge. Literary and Scientific Associations 
there and in Boston. Household in Cambridge. 
Beginning of Museum. Journey to Lake Supe- 
rior. " Report, with Narration." " Principles of 
Zoology," by Agassiz and Gould. Letters from 
European Friends respecting these Publications. 
Letter from Hugh Miller. Second Marriage. 
Arrival of his Children in America .... 454 

1850-1852: ^T. 43-45. 

Proposition from Dr. Bache. Exploration of Florida 
Reefs. Letter to Humboldt concerning Work in 
America. Appointment to Professorship of Med- 
ical College in Charleston, S. C. Life at the South. 
Views concerning Races of Men. Prix Cuvier . 480 


1852-1855: ^T. 45-48. 

Return to Cambridge. Anxiety about Collections. 
Purchase of Collections. Second Winter in Charles- 
ton. Illness. Letter to James D. Dana concern- 
ing Geographical Distribution and Geological Suc- 
cession of Animals. Resignation of Charleston 
Professorship. Propositions from Zurich. Letter 
from Oswald Heer. Decision to remain in Cam- 
bridge. Letters to James D. Dana, S. S. Halde- 
man, and Others respecting Collections illustrative 
of the Distribution of Fishes, Shells, etc., in Our 
Rivers. Establishment of School for Girls . . 506 


1855-1860: *:T. 48-53. 

"Contributions to Natural History of the United 
States." Remarkable Subscription. Review of 


the Work. Its Reception in Europe and America. 

Letters from Hurnboldt and Owen concerning it. 

Birthday. Longfellow's Verses. Laboratory 
at Nahant. Invitation to the Museum of Natural 
History in Paris. Founding of Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology in Cambridge. Summer Vaca- 
tion in Europe ........ 533 

1860-1863 : JET. 53-56. 

Return to Cambridge. Removal of Collection to New 
Museum Building. Distribution of Work. Re- 
lations with his Students. Breaking out of the 
War between North and South. Interest of Agas- 
siz in the Preservation of the Union. Commence- 
ment of Museum Publications. Reception of Third 
and Fourth Volumes of "Contributions." Copley 
Medal. General Correspondence. Lecturing Tour 
in the West. Circular Letter concerning Anthro- 
pological Collections. Letter to Mr. Ticknor con- 
cerning Geographical Distribution of Fishes in Spain 564 


1863-1864: ,ET. 56-57. 

Correspondence with Dr. S. G. Howe. Bearing of 
the War on the Position of the Negro Race. Af- 
fection for Harvard College. Interest in her Gen- 
eral Progress. Correspondence with Emerson con- 
cerning Harvard. Glacial Phenomena in Maine . 591 

1865-1868 : JET. 58-61. 

Letter to his Mother announcing Journey to Brazil. 
Sketch of Journey. Kindness of the Emperor. 
Liberality of the Brazilian Government. Corre- 


sponclence with Charles Surnuer. Letter to his 
Mother at Close of Brazil Journey. Letter from 
Martius concerning Journey in Brazil. --Re turn to 
Cambridge. Lectures in Boston and New York. 
Summer at Nahant. Letter to Professor Peirce 
on the Survey of Boston Harbor. Death of his 
Mother. Illness. Correspondence with Oswald 
Heer. Sumner Journey in the West. Cornell 
University. Letter from Longfellow . . . 624 

1868 - 1871 : MT. 61 - 64. 

New Subscription to Museum. Additional Buildings. 
Arrangement of New Collections. Dredging 
Expedition on Board the Bibb. Address at the 
Huniboldt Centennial. Attack on the Brain. 
Suspension of Work. Working Force at the Mu- 
seum. New Accessions. Letter from Professor 
Sedgwick. Letter from Professor Deshayes. Re- 
stored Health. Hassler Voyage proposed. Ac- 
ceptance. Scientific Preparation for the Voyage . 668 

1871-1872: ^T. 64-65. 

Sailing of the Hassler. Sargassum Fields. Dredg- 
ing at Barbadoes. From the West Indies to Rio 
de Janeiro. Monte Video. Quarantine. Glacial 
Traces in the Bay of Monte Video. --The Gulf of 
Mathias. Dredging off Gulf of St. George. 
Dredging off Cape Virgens. Possession Bay. 
Salt Pool. Moraine. Sandy Point. Cruise 
through the Straits. Scenery. Wind Storm. 
Borja Bay. Glacier Bay. Visit to the Glacier. 
Chorocua Bay ........ 697 


1872 : ,ET. 65. 

Picnic in Sholl Bay. Fuegians. Smythe's Channel. 

Comparison of Glacial Features with those of the 
Strait of Magellan. Ancud. Port of San Pedro. 

Bay of Concepcion. Three Weeks in Talcahuana. 

Collections. Geology. Land Journey to San- 
tiago. Scenes along the Road. Report on Glacial 
Features to Mr. Peirce. Arrival at Santiago. 
Election as Foreign Associate of the Institute of 
France. Valparaiso. The Galapagos. Geolog- 
ical and Zoological Features. Arrival at San Fran- 
cisco , ........ 735 

1872-1873: ^T. 65-66. 

Return to Cambridge. Summer School proposed. 
Interest of Agassiz. Gift of Mr. Anderson. Pro- 
spectus of Penikese School. Difficulties. Open- 
ing of School. Summer Work. Close of School. 
Last Course of Lectures at Museum. Lecture 
before Board of Agriculture. Illness. Death. 
Place of Burial ... . . 765 





FIFTY-FIVE ; originally published in " Nature " 


ing by Mrs. Elliot Vignette 

III. COTTAGE AT NAHANT ; from a photograph . 549 


photograph ....... 561 

photograph ....... 681 

VI. VIEW OF PENIKESE ; from a photograph . . 769 




1846 : ,ET. 39. 

Arrival at Boston. Previous Correspondence with Charles 
Lyell and Mr. John A. Lowell concerning Lectures at the 
Lowell Institute. Relations with Mr. Lowell. First 
Course of Lectures. Character of Audience. Home 
Letter giving an Account of his First Journey in the United 
States. Impressions of Scientific Men, Scientific Institu- 
tions and Collections. 

AGASSIZ arrived in Boston during the first 
week of October, 1846. He had not come to 
America without some prospect of employ- 
ment beside that comprised in his immediate 
scientific aims. In 1845, when his plans for 
a journey in the United States began to take 
definite shape, he had written to ask Lyell 
whether, notwithstanding his imperfect Eng- 
lish, he might not have some chance as a 
public lecturer, hoping to make in that way 
additional provision for his scientific expenses 



beyond the allowance he was to receive from 
the King of Prussia. Lyell's answer, written 
by his wife, was very encouraging. 

LONDON, February 28, 1845. 

. . . My husband thinks your plan of lec- 
turing a very good one, and sure to succeed, 
for the Americans are fond of that kind of 
instruction. We remember your English was 
pleasant, and if you have been practicing 
since, you have probably gained facility in ex- 
pression, and a little foreign accent would be 
no drawback. You might give your lectures 
in several cities, but he would like very much 
if you could give a course at the Lowell Insti- 
tute at Boston, an establishment which pays 
very highly. ... In six weeks you might 
earn enough to pay for a twelve months' tour, 
besides passing an agreeable time at Boston, 
where there are several eminent naturalists. 
. . . As my husband is writing to Mr. Low- 
ell to-morrow upon other matters, he will ask 
him whether there is any course still open, for 
he feels sure in that case they would be glad 
to have you. . . . Mr. Lowell is sole trus- 
tee of the Institute, and can nominate whom 
he pleases. It was very richly endowed for 
the purpose of lectures by a merchant of Bos- 


ton, who died a few years ago. You will get 
nothing like the same remuneration anywhere 


Lyell and Mr. Lowell soon arranged all 
preliminaries, and it was understood that 
Agassiz should begin his tour in the United 
States by a course of lectures in Boston be- 
fore the Lowell Institute. A month or two 
before sailing he writes as follows to Mr. 

PARIS, July 6, 1846. 

. . . Time is pressing, summer is running 
away, and I feel it a duty to write to you 
about the contemplated lectures, that you may 
not be uncertain about them. So far as the 
subject is concerned, I am quite ready ; all 
the necessary illustrations are also completed, 
and if I am not mistaken they must by this 
time be in your hands. ... I understand 
from Mr. Lyell that you wish me to lecture in 
October. For this also I am quite prepared, 
as I shall, immediately after my arrival in Bos- 
ton, devote all my time to the consideration of 
my course. If a later date should suit your 
plans better, I have no objection to conform 
to any of your arrangements, as I shall at all 
events pass the whole winter on the shores of 


the Atlantic, and be everywhere in reach of 
Boston in a very short time. . . . With your 
approbation, I would give to my course the 
title of " Lectures on the Plan of the Crea- 
tion, especially in the Animal Kingdom." 

Thus was Agassiz introduced to the insti- 
tution under whose auspices he first made 
acquaintance with his American audiences. 
There he became a familiar presence during 
more than a quarter of a century. The 
enthusiastic greeting accorded to him, as a 
stranger whose reputation had preceded him, 
ripened with years into an affectionate wel- 
come from friends and fellow-citizens, when- 
ever he appeared on the platform. In the 
director of the institution, Mr. John A. Low- 
ell, he found a friend upon whose sympathy 
and wise counsels he relied in all his after 
years. The cordial reception he met from 
him and his large family circle made him at 
once at home in a strange land. 

Never was Agassiz' s power as a teacher, or 
the charm of his personal presence more evi- 
dent than in his first course of Lowell Lectures. 
He was unfamiliar with the language, to the 
easy use of which his two or three visits in 
England, where most of his associates under- 


stood and spoke French, had by no means 
accustomed him. He would often have been 
painfully embarrassed but for his own sim- 
plicity of character. Thinking only of his 
subject and never of himself, when a critical 
pause came, he patiently waited for the miss- 
ing word, and rarely failed to find a phrase 
which was expressive if not technically cor- 
rect. He often said afterward that his sole 
preparation for these lectures consisted in 
shutting himself up for hours and marshaling 
his vocabulary, passing in review, that is, all 
the English words he could recall. As the 


Lyells had prophesied, his foreign accent 
rather added a charm to his address, and the 
pauses in which he seemed to ask the for- 
bearance of the audience, while he sought to 
translate his thought for them, enlisted their 
sympathy. Their courtesy never failed him. 
His skill in drawing with chalk on the black- 
board was also a great help both to him and 
to them. When his English was at fault he 
could nevertheless explain his meaning by 
illustrations so graphic that the spoken word 
was hardly missed. He said of himself that 
he was no artist, and that his drawing was 
accurate simply because the object existed in 
his mind so clearly. However this may be, 


it was always pleasant to watch the effect of 
his drawings on the audience. When show- 
ing, for instance, the correspondence of the 
articulate type, as a whole, with the metamor- 
phoses of the higher insects, he would lead 
his listeners along the successive phases of 
insect development, talking as he drew and 
drawing as he talked, till suddenly the winged 
creature stood declared upon the blackboard, 
almost as if it had burst then and there from 
the chrysalis, and the growing interest of his 
hearers culminated in a burst of delighted 

After the first lecture in Boston there was 
no doubt of his success. He carried his au- 
dience captive. His treatment of the animal 
kingdom on the broad basis of the compara- 
tive method, in which the great types were 
shown in their relation to each other and to 
the physical history of the world, was new to 
his hearers. Agassiz had also the rare gift 
of divesting his subject of technicalities and 
superfluous details. His special facts never 
obscured the comprehensive outline, which they 
were intended to fill in and illustrate. 

This simplicity of form and language was 
especially adapted to the audience he had now 
to address, little instructed in the facts or the 


nomenclature of science, though characterized 
by an eager curiosity. A word respecting the 
quality of the Lowell Institute audience of 
those days, as new to the European professor 
as he to them, is in place here. The institu- 
tion was intended by its founder to fertilize 
the general mind rather than to instruct the 
selected few. It was liberally endowed, the 
entrance was free, and the tickets were drawn 
by lot. Consequently the working men and 
women had as good an opportunity for places 
as their employers. As the remuneration, how- 
ever, was generous, and the privilege of lec- 
turing there was coveted by literary and scien- 
tific men of the first eminence, the instruction 
was of a high order, and the tickets, not to be 
had for money, were as much in demand with 
the more cultivated and even with the fashion- 
able people of the community as with their 
poorer neighbors. This audience, composed 
of strongly contrasted elements and based 
upon purely democratic principles, had, from 
the first, a marked attraction for Agassiz. A 
teacher in the widest sense, he sought and 
found his pupils in every class. But in Amer- 
ica for the first time did he come into contact 
with the general mass of the people on this 
common ground, and it influenced strongly 


his final resolve to remain in this country. 
Indeed, the secret of his greatest power was 
to be found in the sympathetic, human side 
of his character. Out of his broad humanity 
grew the genial personal influence, by which 
he awakened the enthusiasm of his audiences 
for unwonted themes, inspired his students to 
disinterested services like his own, delighted 
children in the school-room, and won the cor- 
dial interest as well as the cooperation in the 
higher aims of science, of all classes whether 
rich or poor. 

His first course was to be given in Decem- 
ber. Having, therefore, a few weeks to spare, 
he made a short journey, stopping at New 
Haven to see the elder Silliman, with whom 
he had long been in correspondence. Shortly 
before leaving Europe he had written him, " I 
can hardly tell you with what pleasure I look 
forward to seeing you, and making the per- 
sonal acquaintance of the distinguished savans 
of your country, whose works I have lately 
been studying with especial care. There is 
something captivating in the prodigious activ- 
ity of the Americans, and the thought of con- 
tact with the superior men of your young and 
glorious republic renews my own youth." 
Some account of this journey, including his 


first impressions of the scientific men as well 
as the scientific societies and collections of the 
United States, is given in the following letter. 
It is addressed to his mother, and with her to 
a social club of intimate friends and neighbors 
in Neuchatel, at whose meetings he had been 
for years an honored guest. 

BOSTON, December, 1846. 

. . . Having no tune to write out a com- 
plete account of my journey of last month, 
I will only transcribe for you some fugitive 
notes scribbled along the road in stages or 
railroad carriages. They bear the stamp of 
hurry and constant interruption. 

Leaving Boston the 16th of October, I 
went by railroad to New Haven, passing 
through Springfield. The rapidity of the 
locomotion is frightful to those who are un- 
used to it, but you adapt yourself to the 
speed, and soon become, like all the rest of 
the world, impatient of the slightest delay. 
I well understand that an antipathy for this 
mode of travel is possible. There is some- 
thing infernal in the irresistible power of 
steam, carrying such heavy masses along with 
the swiftness of lightning. The habits grow- 
ing out of continued contact with railroads, 


and the influence they exert on a portion of 
the community, are far from agreeable until 
one is familiar with them. You would cry 
out in dismay did you see your baggage flung 
about pell-mell like logs of wood, trunks, 
chests, traveling - bags, hat-boxes, all in the 
same mill, and if here and there something 
goes to pieces no one is astonished ; never 
mind ! we go fast, we gain time, that is 
the essential thing. 

The manners of the country differ so greatly 
from ours that it seems to me impossible to 
form a just estimate regarding them, or, in- 
deed, to pronounce judgment at all upon a 
population so active and mobile as that of the 
Northern States of the Union, without hav- 
ing lived among them for a long time. I do 
not therefore attempt any such estimate. I 
can only say that the educated Americans are 
very accessible and very pleasant. They are 
obliging to the utmost degree ; indeed, their 
cordiality toward strangers exceeds any that I 
have met elsewhere. I might even add that 
if I could complain of anything it would be 
of an excess, rather than a lack, of attention. 
I have often found it difficult to make it un- 
derstood that the hotel, where I can work at 
my ease, suits me better than the proffered 
hospitality. . . . 


But what a country is this ! all along the 
road between Boston and Springfield are an- 
cient moraines and polished rocks. No one 
who had seen them upon the track of our 
present glaciers could hesitate as to the real 
agency by which all these erratic masses, lit- 
erally covering the country, have been trans- 
ported. I have had the pleasure of convert- 
ing already several of the most distinguished 
American geologists to my way of thinking ; 
among others, Professor Rogers, who will de- 
liver a public lecture upon the subject next 
Tuesday before a large audience. 

A characteristic feature of American life is 
to be found in the frequent public meetings 
where addresses are delivered. Shortly after 
my arrival in Boston I was present at a meet- 
ing of some three thousand workmen, foremen 
of workshops, clerks, and the like. No meet- 
ing could have been more respectable and well- 
conducted. All were neatly dressed ; even 
the simplest laborer had a clean shirt. It was 
a strange sight to see such an assemblage, 
brought together for the purpose of forming 
a library, and listening attentively in perfect 
quiet for two hours to an address on the ad- 
vantages of education, of reading, and the 
means of employing usefully the leisure mo- 


merits of a workman's life. The most eminent 
men vie with each other in instructing and 
forming the education of the population at 
large. I have not yet seen a man out of em- 
ployment or a beggar, except in New York, 
which is a sink for the emptyings of Europe. 
Yet do not think that I forget the advantages 
of our old civilization. Far from it. I feel 
more than ever the value of a past which be- 
longs to you and in which you have grown up. 
Generations must pass before America will 
have the collections of art and science which 
adorn our cities, or the establishments for 
public instruction, sanctuaries as it were, con- 
secrated by the devotion of those who give 
themselves wholly to study. Here all the 
world works to gain a livelihood or to make 
a fortune. Few establishments (of learning) 
are old enough, or have taken sufficiently deep 
root in the habits of the people, to be safe 
from innovation ; very few institutions offer a 
combination of studies such as, in its ensem- 
ble, meets the demands of modern civilization. 
All is done by the single efforts of individuals 
or of corporations, too often guided by the 
needs of the moment. Thus American sci- 
ence lacks the scope which is characteristic of 
higher instruction in our old Europe. Objects 


of art are curiosities but little appreciated and 
usually still less understood. On the other 
hand, the whole population shares in the 
advanced education provided for all. . . . 
From Springfield the railroad follows the 
course of the Connecticut as far as Hartford, 
turning then directly toward the sea-coast. 
The valley strikingly resembles that of the 
Khine between Carlsruhe and Heidelberg. 
The same rock, the same aspect of country, 
and gres bigarre l everywhere. The forest 
reminds one of Odenwald and of Baden- 
Baden. Nearer the coast are cones of basalt 
like those of Brissac and the Kaiserstuhl. 
The erratic phenomena are also very marked 
in this region ; polished rocks everywhere, 
magnificent furrows on the sandstone and 
on the basalt, and parallel moraines defining 
themselves like ramparts upon the plain. 

At New Haven I passed several days at 
the house of Professor Silliman, with whom I 
have been in correspondence for several years. 
The University (Yale) owes to the efforts of 
the Professor a fine collection of minerals 
and extensive physical and chemical appara- 
tus. Silliman is the patriarch of science in 
America. For thirty years he has edited 

1 Trias. 


an important scientific journal, the channel 
through which, ever since its foundation, 
European scientific researches have reached 
America. His son is now professor of chem- 
istry at Yale. One of his sons-in-law, Mr. 
Shepard, is also chemical professor in the 
University of South Carolina. Another, Mr. 
Dana, still a very young man, strikes me as 
likely to be the most distinguished naturalist 
of the United States. He was a member of 
the expedition around the world under the 
command of Captain Wilkes, and has just 
published a magnificent volume containing 
monographs of all the species of polyps and 
corals, with curious observations on their 
mode of growth and on the coral islands. I 
was surprised to find in the collection at New 
Haven a fine specimen of the great fossil sal- 
amander of Oeningen, the " Homo diluvii tes- 
tis ' ' of Scheuchzer. 

From New Haven I went to New York bv 


steamboat. The Sound, between Long Island 
and the coast of Connecticut, presents a suc- 
cession of cheerful towns and villages, with 
single houses scattered over the country, while 
magnificent trees overhang the sea ; we con- 
stantly disturbed numbers of aquatic birds 
which, at our approach, fluttered up around 


the steamer, only to alight farther on. I 
have never seen such flocks of ducks and 

At New York I hastened to see Auguste 
Mayor, of whom my uncle will no doubt 
have given you news, since I wrote to him. 
Obliged to continue my road in order to join 
Mr. Gray at Princeton I stopped but one day 
in New York, the greater part of which I 
passed with Mr. Redfield, author of a paper 
on the fossil fishes of Connecticut. His col- 
lection, which he has placed at my disposal, 
has great interest for me ; it contains a large 
number of fossil fishes of different kinds, from 
a formation in which but one species has been 
found in Europe. The new red sandstone of 
Connecticut will also fill a gap in the history 
of fossil fishes, and this acquisition is so much 
the more important, because, at the epoch of 
the gres bigarre, a marked change took place 
in the anatomical character of fishes. It pre- 
sents an intermediate type between the prim- 
itive fishes of the ancient deposits and the 
more regular forms of the Jurassic deposits. 

Mr. Asa Gray, professor of botany at Cam- 
bridge, near Boston, had offered to accom- 
pany me on my journey to Washington. We 
were to meet at the house of Professor Tor- 


rey, at Princeton, a small town half a day's 
journey from New York, and the seat of a 
considerable university, one of the oldest in 
the United States. The physical department, 
under the direction of Professor Henry, is re- 
markably rich in models of machinery and in 
electrical apparatus, to which the professor 
especially devotes himself. The museum con- 
tains a collection of animals and fossil re- 
mains. In the environs of the town, in the 
ditches, is found a rare kind of turtle, re- 
markable for the form of the jaws and the 
length of the tail. I wish very much to pro- 
cure one, were it only to oblige Professor 
Johannes Miiller, of Berlin, who especially 
desires one for investigation. But I have 
failed thus far ; the turtles are already with- 
drawn into their winter quarters. Mr. Tor- 
rey promises me some, however, in the spring. 
It is not easy to get them because their bite 
is dreaded. 

After this I passed four days in Philadel- 
phia. Here, notwithstanding my great desire 
to see the beautiful country along the shores 
of the rich bay of Delaware and the banks 
of the Schuylkill, between which the city lies, 
I was entirely occupied with the magnificent 
collections of the Academy of Science and 


of the Philosophical Society. The zoological 
collections of the Academy of Science are the 
oldest in the United States, the only ones, 
except those of the Wilkes Expedition, which 
can equal in interest those of Europe. There 
are the collections of Say, the earliest natural- 
ist of distinction in the United States ; there 
are also the fossil remains and the animals de- 
scribed by Harlan, by Godman, and by Hayes, 
and the fossils described by Conrad and Mor- 
ton. Dr. Morton's unique collection of hu- 
man skulls is also to be found in Philadelphia. 
Imagine a series of six hundred skulls, mostly 
Indian, of all the tribes who now inhabit or 
formerly inhabited America. Nothing like it 
exists elsewhere. This collection alone is 
worth a journey to America. Dr. Morton has 
had the kindness to give me a copy of his 
great illustrated work representing all the 
types of his collection. Quite recently a gen- 
erous citizen of Philadelphia has enriched this 
museum with the fine collection of birds be- 
longing to the Duke of Rivoli. He bought 
it for 3,700 francs, and presented it to his na- 
tive city. 

The number of fossil remains comprised in 
these collections is very considerable ; masto- 
dons especiaUy, and fossils of the cretaceous 

VOL. n. 2 


and Jurassic deposits. . . . Imagine that all 
this is at my full disposal for description and 
illustration, and you will understand my pleas- 
ure. The liberality of the American natural- 
ists toward me is unparalleled. 

I must not omit to mention Mr. Lea's col- 
lection of fresh-water shells, a series of the 
magnificent Unios of the rivers and lakes of 
America, comprising four hundred species, 
represented by some thirty specimens of each. 
Mr. Lea has promised me specimens of all 
the species. Had I not been bound by an en- 
gagement at Washington, and could I have 
remained three or four days longer in order 
to label and pack them, I might have taken 
at once these valuable objects, which will be 
of great importance in verifying and rectify- 
ing the synonyms of European conchologists. 
After having seen the astonishing variations 
undergone by these shells in their growth, I 
am satisfied that all which European natural- 
ists have written on this subject must be re- 
vised. Only with the help of a very full se- 
ries of individuals can one fully understand 
these animals, and we have only single speci- 
mens in our collections. If I had time and 
means to have drawings made of all these 
forms, the collection of Mr. Lea would be at 


my command for the purpose, and the work 
would be a very useful one for science. 

There are several other private and public 
collections at Philadelphia, which I have only 
seen cursorily ; that of the Medical School, 
for instance, and that of the older Peale, who 
discovered the first mastodon found in the 
United States, now mounted in his museum. 
Beside these, there is the collection of Dr. 
Griffith, rich in skulls from the Gulf of Mex- 
ico ; that of Mr. Ord, and others. During 
my stay in Philadelphia, there was also an ex- 
hibition of industrial products at the Frank- 
lin Institute, where I especially remarked the 
chemical department. There are no less than 
three professors of chemistry in Philadelphia, 
Mr. Hare, Mr. Booth, and Mr. Frazer. 
The first is, I think, the best known in Eu- 

How a nearer view changes the aspect of 
things ! I thought myself tolerably familiar 
with all that is doing in science in the United 
States, but I was far from anticipating so 
much that is interesting and important. What 
is wanting to all these men is neither zeal nor 
knowledge. In both, they seem to compete 
with us, and in ardor and activity they even 
surpass most of our savans. What they need 


is leisure. I have never felt more forcibly 
what I owe to the king for enabling me to 
live for science alone, undisturbed by anxie- 
ties and distractions. Here, I do not lose a 
moment, and when I receive invitations out- 
side the circle of men whom I care particu- 
larly to know, I decline, on the ground that I 
am not free to dispose for my pleasure of 
time which does not belong to me. For this 
no one can quarrel with me, and so far as I 
myself am concerned, it is much better. 

I stopped at Baltimore only long enough to 
see the city. It was Sunday, and as I could 
make no visits, and was anxious to arrive in 
good time at Washington, I took advantage 
of the first train. The capital of the United 
States is laid out upon a gigantic scale, and, 
consequently, portions of the different quar- 
ters are often to be traced only by isolated 
houses here and there, a condition which 
has caused it to be called the " City of Mag- 
nificent Distances." Some of the streets are 
very handsome, and the capitol itself is really 
imposing. Their profound veneration for the 
founder of their liberty and their republic is 
a noble trait of the American people. The 
evidences of this are to be seen everywhere. 
No less than two hundred towns, villages, and 


counties bear his name, rather to the incon- 
venience of the postal administration. 

After having visited the capitol and the 
presidential mansion, and delivered my letters 
for the Prussian Minister, I went to the Mu- 
seum of the National Institute. I was impa- 
tient to satisfy myself as to the scientific value 
of the results obtained in the field of my own 
studies by the voyage of Captain Wilkes 
around the world, this voyage having been 
the object of equally exaggerated praise and 
criticism. I confess that I was agreeably sur- 
prised by the richness of the zoological and 
geological collections ; I do not think any 
European expedition has done more or better ; 
and in some departments, in that of the Crus- 
tacea, for example, the collection at Washing- 
ton surpasses in beauty and number of speci- 
mens all that I have seen. It is especially 
to Dr. Pickering and Mr. Dana that these 
collections are due. As the expedition did 
not penetrate to the interior of the continents 
in tropical regions, the collections of birds 
and mammals, which fell to the charge of Mr. 
Peale, are less considerable. Mr. Gray tells 
me, however, that the botanical collections are 
very large. More precious, perhaps, than all 
the collections are the magnificent drawings 


of mollusks, zoophytes, fishes, and reptiles, 
painted from life by Mr. Drayton. All these 
plates, to the number of about six hundred, 
are to be engraved, and indeed are already, in 
part, executed. I can only compare them to 
those of the Astrolabe, although they are very 
superior in variety of position and naturalness 
of attitude to those of the French Expedition. 
This is particularly true of the moUusks and 
fishes. The zoophytes are to be published ; 
they are admirable in detail. The hydro- 
graphic portion and the account of the voy- 
age, edited by Captain Wilkes (unhappily he 
was absent and I did not see him), has been 
published for some time, and comprises an 
enormous mass of information, its chief fea- 
ture being charts to the number of two hun- 
dred. It is amazing; the number of sound- 
ings extraordinarily large. 1 

At Washington are also to be seen the head- 
quarters of the Coast Survey, where the fine 
charts of the coasts and harbors now making 
under direction of Dr. Bache are executed. 
These charts are admirably finished. Dr. 
Bache, the superintendent, was in camp, so 

1 Agassiz subsequently took some part in working up the 
fish collections from this expedition, but the publication was 
stopped for want of means to carry it on. 


that I could not deliver my letters for him. I 
saw, however, Colonel Abert, the head of the 
topographic office, who gave me important in- 
formation about the West for the very season 
when I am likely to be there. I am indebted 
to him also for a series of documents concern- 
ing the upper Missouri and Mississippi, Cal- 
ifornia and Oregon, printed by order of the 
government, and for a collection of fresh- 
water shells from those regions. I should 
like to offer him, in return, such sheets of the 
Federal Map as have appeared. I beg Guyot 
to send them to me by the first occasion. 

As I was due in Boston on an appointed 
day I was obliged to defer my visit to Rich- 
mond, Charleston, and other places in the 
South. I had, beside, gathered so much mate- 
rial that I had need of a few quiet weeks to 
consider and digest it all. Returning there- 
fore to Philadelphia, I made there the ac- 
quaintance of Mr. Haldeman, author of a 
monograph on the fresh-water shells of the 
United States. I had made an appointment 
to meet him at Philadelphia, being unable to 
make a detour of fifty leagues in order to 
visit him at his own home, which is situated 
beyond the lines of rapid transit. He is a dis- 
tinguished naturalist, equally well versed in 


several branches of our science. He has made 
me acquainted, also, with a young naturalist 
from the interior of Pennsylvania, Mr. Baird, 
professor at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, 
Pennsylvania, who offered me duplicates from 
his collections of birds and other animals. In 
order to avail myself more promptly of this 
and like acquisitions, I wish that M. Coulon 
would send me at the close of the winter all 
that he can procure of the common Euro- 
pean birds, of our small mammalia, and some 
chamois skins, adding also the fish that Charles 
put aside for me before his departure. It 
would be safest to send them to the care of 
Auguste Mayor. 

At Philadelphia I separated from my trav- 
eling companion, Mr. Gray, who was obliged 
to return to his home. From Philadelphia, 
Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Lea accompanied me 
to Bristol, where Mr. Vanuxem possesses an 
important collection of fossils from ancient 
deposits, duplicates of which he promises me. 
Mr. Vanuxem is one of the official geologists 
of the State of New York, and author of one 
of a series of volumes upon the geology of 
the State, about which I shall presently have 
something to say. To gain time I took the 
night train from Bristol to New York, and 


arrived at Mayor's at midnight, having writ- 
ten him to expect me. 

The next day I visited the market, and in 
five days I had filled a great barrel with dif- 
ferent kinds of fish and fresh-water turtles, 
beside making several skeletons and various 


dissections of mollusks. Wishing to employ 
my time as usefully as possible, I postponed 
my visits to the savans of the city, and the 
delivery of my letters, till I was on the eve of 
departure, that I might avoid all invitations. 
I had especial pleasure in making the ac- 
quaintance of the two Le Contes, father and 
son, who own the finest collection of insects 
in the United States. I can easily make some 
thousand exchanges with them when I receive 
those that M. Coulon has put aside for me, 
with a view to exchange. . . . Every morning 
Augu ste Mayor went with me to the market 
before going to his office and helped me to 
carry my basket when it was too heavy. One 
day I brought back no less than twenty-four 
turtles, taken in one draught of the net. 
made four skeletons, and dissected several 
others. Under such conditions the day ought 
to have thirty-six working hours. 

Were I an artist, instead of describing my 
voyage from New York to Albany, I would 


draw you a panorama of the shores of the 
Hudson. I know nothing except the banks 
of the Rhine to compare with those of this 
magnificent river. The resemblance between 
them is striking; the sites, the nature of the 
rocks, the appearance of the towns and vil- 
lages, the form of the Albany bridges, even 
the look of the inhabitants, of whom the 
greater number are of Dutch or German ori- 
gin, all are similar. 

I stopped at West Point to make the ac- 
quaintance of Professor Bailey of the Military 
School there. I already knew him by reputa- 
tion. He is the author of very detailed and 
interesting researches upon the microscopic 
animalcules of America. I had a pamphlet 
to deliver to him from Ehrenberg, who has 
received from him a great deal of material 
for his large work on fossil Infusoria. I 
spent three most delightful days with him, 
passed chiefly in examining his collections, 
from which he gave me many specimens. We 
also made several excursions in the neighbor- 
hood, in order to study the erratic phenomena 
and the traces of glaciers, which everywhere 
cover the surface of the country. Polished 
rocks, as distinct as possible ; moraines contin- 
uous over large spaces ; stratified drift, as on 


the borders of the glacier of Grindelwald ; in 
short, all the usual accompaniments of the 
glaciers are there, and one may follow the 
"roches moutonnees' with the eye to a great 

Albany is the seat of government of the 
State of New York. It has a medical school, 
an agricultural society, a geological museum, 
an anatomical museum, and a museum of natu- 
ral history. The government has just com- 
pleted 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 hun- 
dred of which are for sale, the rest being dis- 
tributed 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, scattered throughout 
the State of New York alone ! When I think 
that I began my studies in natural 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 li- 
brary to him in itself, I bless the efforts of 
those who devote themselves to public instruc- 


tion. ... I have not neglected the opportu- 
nity offered by the North River (the Hudson) 
for the study of the fresh-water fishes of this 
country. I have filled a barrel with them. 
The species differ greatly from ours, with the 
exception of the perch, the eel, the pike, and 
the sucker, in which only a practiced eye could 
detect the difference ; all the rest belong to 
genera unknown in Europe, or, at least, in 
Switzerland. . . . 

I was fortunate enough to procure also, in 
the few days of my stay, all the species taken 
in the lakes and rivers around Albany. Sev- 
eral others have been given me from Lake 
Superior. Since my return to Boston I have 
been collecting birds and comparing them 
with those of Europe. If M. Coulon could 
obtain for me a collection of European eggs, 
even the most common, I could exchange 
them for an admirable series of the native 
species here. I have also procured several in- 
teresting mammals ; among others, two species 
of hares different from those I brought from 
Halifax, striped squirrels, etc. 

I will tell you another time something of 
the collections of Boston and Cambridge, the 
only ones in the United States which can rival 
those of Philadelphia. To-day I have made 


my first attempt at lecturing. Of that, also, I 
will tell you more in my next letter, when I 
know how it has been liked. It is no small 
matter to satisfy an audience of three thou- 
sand people in a language with which you are 
but little familiar. . . . 


1846-1847: JET. 39-40. 

Course of Lectures in Boston on Glaciers. Correspondence 
with Scientific Friends in Europe. House in East Boston. 
Household and Housekeeping. Illness. Letter to 
Elie de Beaumont. Geology and Glacial Remains. 

THE course at the Lowell Institute was im- 
mediately followed by one upon glaciers, the 
success of which was guaranteed by private 
subscription, an unnecessary security, since 
the audience, attracted by the novelty and 
picturesqueness of the subject, as well as by 
the charm of presentation and fullness of il- 
lustration, was large and enthusiastic. 

Agassiz was evidently encouraged himself 
by his success, for toward the close of his 
Lowell Lectures he writes as follows : 


BOSTON, December 31, 1846. 

. . . Beside my lecture course, now within 
a few days of its conclusion, and the ever-in- 
creasing work which grows on my hands in 


proportion as I become familiar with the envi- 
rons of Boston, where I shall still remain a few 
weeks longer, I have so much to do in keeping 
up my journals, notes, and observations that I 
have not found a moment to write you since 
the last steamer. . . . Never did the future 
look brighter to me than now. If I could for 


a moment forget that I have a scientific mis- 
sion to fulfill, to which I will never prove rec- 
creant, I could easily make more than enough 
by lectures which would be admirably paid 
and are urged upon me, to put me completely 
at my ease hereafter. But I will limit myself 
to what I need in order to repay those who 
have helped me through a difficult crisis, and 
that I can do without even turning aside from 
my researches. Beyond that all must go again 
to science, there lies my true mission, 
rejoice in what I have been able to do thus 
far, and I hope that at Berlin they will be 
satisfied with the results which I shall submit 
to competent judges on my return. If I only 
have time to finish what I have begun ! You 
know my plans are not wont to be too closely 

Why do you not write to me ? Am I then 
wholly forgotten in your pleasant circle while 
my thoughts are every day constantly with my 
Neuchatel friends ? . . . 


Midnight, January 1st. A happy new year 
to you and to all members of the Tuesday 
Club. Bonjour et bon an. . . . 

Some portions of Agassiz's correspondence 
with his European friends and colleagues dur- 
ing the winter and summer of 1847 give a 
clew to the occupations and interests of his 
new life, and keep up the thread of the old 


February, 1847. 

... I write only to thank you for the 
pleasure your note gave me. When one is 
far away, as I am, from everything belong- 
ing to one's past life, the merest sign of 
friendly remembrance is a boon. Do not in- 
fer from this that America does not please 
me. On the contrary, I am delighted with 
my stay here, although I do not quite under- 
stand all that surrounds me ; or I should per- 
haps rather say that many principles which, 
theoretically, we have been wont to think per- 
fect in themselves, seem in their application to 
involve results quite contrary to our expecta- 
tions. I am constantly asking myself which 
is better, our old Europe, where the man of 
exceptional gifts can give himself absolutely 


to study, opening thus a wider horizon for 
the human mind, while at his side thousands 
barely vegetate in degradation or at least in 
destitution ; or this new world, where the in- 
stitutions tend to keep all on one level as part 
of the general mass, but a mass, be it said, 
which has no noxious elements. Yes, the 
mass here is decidedly good. All the world 
lives well, is decently clad, learns something, 
is awake and interested. Instruction does not, 
as in some parts of Germany for instance, 
furnish a man with an intellectual tool and 
then deny him the free use of it. The 
strength of America lies in the prodigious 
number of individuals who think and work at 
the same time. It is a severe test of preten- 
tious mediocrity, but I fear it may also efface 
originality. . . . You are right in believing 
that one works, or at least that one can work, 
better in Paris than elsewhere, and I should 
esteem myself happy if I had my nest there, 
but who will make it for me ? I am myself 
incapable of making efforts for anything but 
my work. . . . 

VOL. II. 3 



May 31, 1847. 

. . . After six weeks of an illness which 
has rendered rne unfit for serious work I long 
to be transported into the circle of my Paris 
friends, to find myself again among the men 
whose devotion to science gives them a clear 
understanding of its tendency and influence. 
Therefore I take my way quite naturally to 
the Rue Cuvier and mount your stairs, con- 
fident that there I shall find this chosen so- 
ciety. Question upon question greets me re- 
garding this new world, on the shore of which 
I have but just landed, and yet about which 
I have so much to say that I fear to tire my 

Naturalist as I am, I cannot but put the 
people first, the people who have opened 
this part of the American continent to Euro- 
pean civilization. What a people ! But to 
understand them you must live among them. 
Our education, the principles of our society, 
the motives of our actions, differ so greatly 
from what I see here, that I should try in vain 
to give you an idea of this great nation, pass- 
ing from childhood to maturity with the 
faults of spoiled children, and yet with the 


nobility of character and the enthusiasm of 
youth. Their look is wholly turned toward 
the future ; their social life is not yet irrevo- 
cably bound to exacting antecedents, and thus 
nothing holds them back, unless, perhaps, a 
consideration for the opinion in which they 
may be held in Europe. This deference to- 
ward England (unhappily, to them, Europe 
means almost exclusively England) is a curi- 
ous fact in the life of the American people. 
They know us but little, even after having 
made a tour in France, or Italy, or Germany. 
From England they receive their literature, 
and the scientific work of central Europe 
reaches them through English channels. . . . 
Notwithstanding this kind of dependence upon 
England, in which American savans have vol- 
untarily placed themselves, I have formed a 
high opinion of their acquirements, since I 
have learned to know them better, and I think 
we should render a real service to them and 
to science, by freeing them from this tutelage, 
raising them in their own eyes, and drawing 
them also a little more toward ourselves. Do 
not think that these remarks are prompted by 
the least antagonism toward English savans, 
whom no one more than myself has reason to 
regard with affection and esteem. But since 


these men are so worthy to soar on their own 
wings, why not help them to take flight? 
They need only confidence, and some special 
recognition from Europe would tend to give 
them this. . . . 

Among the zoologists of this country I 
would place Mr. Dana at the head. He is 
still very young, fertile in ideas, rich in facts, 
equally able as geologist and mineralogist. 
When his work on corals is completed, you 
can better judge of him. One of these days 
you will make him a correspondent of the 
Institute, unless he kills himself with work 
too early, or is led away by his tendency to 
generalization. Then there is Gould, author 
of the malacologic fauna of Massachusetts, 
and who is now working up the mollusks of 
the Wilkes Expedition. De Kay and Lea, 
whose works have long been known, are rather 
specialists, I should say. I do not yet know 
Holbrook personally. Pickering, of the Wilkes 
Expedition, is a well of science, perhaps the 
most erudite naturalist here. Haldeman knows 
the fresh -water gasteropods of this country 
admirably well, and has published a work upon 
them. Le Conte is a critical entomologist who 
seems to me thoroughly familiar with what is 
doing in Europe. In connection with Halde- 


man he is working up the articulates of the 
Wilkes Expedition. Wyman, recently made 
professor at Cambridge, is an excellent com- 
parative anatomist, and the author of several 
papers on the organization of fishes. . . . The 
botanists are less numerous, but Asa Gray and 
Dr. Torrey are known wherever the study of 
botany is pursued. Gray, with his indefati- 
gable zeal, will gain upon his competitors. . . . 
The geologists and mineralogists form the 
most numerous class among the savans of the 
country. The fact that every state has its 
corps of official geologists has tended to de- 
velop study in this direction to the detriment 
of other branches, and will later, I fear, tend 
to the detriment of science itself ; for the utili- 
tarian tendency thus impressed on the work of 
American geologists will retard their progress. 
With us, on the contrary, researches of this 
kind constantly tend to assume a more and 
more scientific character. Still, the body of 
American geologists forms, as a whole, a most 
respectable contingent. The names of Charles 
T. Jackson, James Hall, Hitchcock, Henry 
and William Rogers (two brothers), have long 
been familiar to European science. After the 
geologists, I would mention Dr. Morton, of 
Philadelphia, well known as the author of sev- 


eral papers upon fossils, and still better by 
his great work upon the indigenous races of 
America. He is a man of science in the best 
sense ; admirable both as regards his knowl- 
edge and his activity. He is the pillar of the 
Philadelphia Academy. 

The chemists and physicists, again, form 
another utilitarian class of men in this coun- 
try. As with many of them purely scientific 
work is not their sole object, it is difficult 
for an outsider to distinguish between the 
clever manipulators and those who have higher 
aims. . . . 

The mathematicians have also their culte, 
dating back to Bowditch, the translator of the 
" Mecanique celeste," and the author of a work 
on practical navigation. He died in Boston, 
where they are now erecting a magnificent 
monument to his memory. Mr. Peirce, pro- 
fessor at Cambridge, is considered here the 
equal of our great mathematicians. It is not 
for me, who cannot do a sum in addition, to 
pretend to a judgment in the matter. 1 

You are familiar, no doubt, with the works 
of Captain Wilkes and the report of his jour- 

1 Though Agassiz was no mathematician, and Peirce no 
naturalist, they soon found that their intellectual aims were 
the same, and they became very close friends. 


ney around the world. His charts are much 
praised. The charts of the coasts and har- 
bors of the United States, made under the 
direction of Dr. Bache and published at gov- 
ernment expense, are admirable. The reports 
of Captain Fremont concerning his travels 
are also most interesting and instructive ; to 

O 7 

botanists especially so, on account of the sci- 
entific notes accompanying them. 

I will not speak at length of my own work, 
my letter is already too long. During the 
winter I have been chiefly occupied in mak- 
ing collections of fishes and birds, and also of 
the various woods. The forests here differ 
greatly from ours in the same latitude. I 
have even observed that they resemble aston- 
ishingly the forests of the Molasse epoch, and 
the analogy is heightened by that between 
the animals of this country and those of the 
eastern coasts of Asia as compared with those 
of the Molasse, such as the chelydras, andreas, 
etc. I will send a report upon this to M. 
Brongniart as soon as I have the time to pre- 
pare it. On the erratic phenomena, also, I 
have made numerous observations, which I 
am anxious to send to M. de Beaumont. 
These phenomena, so difficult of explanation 
with us, become still more complicated here, 


both on account of their contact with the sea 
and of the vast stretches of flat country over 
which they extend. 

For the last few days I have been especially 
occupied with the development of the medu- 
sas. In studying the actiniae I have made 
a striking discovery, and I should be glad 
if you would communicate it to the Acad- 
emy in advance of the illustrated paper on the 
same subject, which I hope soon to send you. 
Notwithstanding their star-like appearance, 
the star-fishes have, like the sea-urchins, in- 
dications by no means doubtful, of a symmet- 
rical disposition of their organs in pairs, and 
an anterior and posterior extremity easily rec- 
ognized by the special form of their oral 
opening. I have now satisfied myself that 
the madrepores have something analogous to 
this in the arrangement of their partitions, so 
that I am tempted to believe that this tend- 
ency to a symmetrical arrangement of parts 
in pairs, is a general character of polyps, dis- 
guised by their radiating form. Among the 
medusae something similar exists in the dis- 
position of the marginal appendages and the 
ocelli. I attach the more importance to these 
observations, because they may lead to a 
clearer perception than we have yet reached 


of the natural relations between the radiates 
and the other great types of the animal king- 

This summer I hope to explore the lower 
lakes of Canada, and also the regions lying 
to the eastward as far as Nova Scotia ; in the 
autumn I shall resume my excursions on the 
coast and in the Alleghanies, and shall pass 
a part of the winter in the Carolinas. I will 
soon write to Monsieur Bronomiart concern- 


ing my plans for next year. If the Museum 
were desirous to aid me in my undertakings, I 
should like to make a journey of exploration 
next summer in a zone thus far completely 
neglected by naturalists, the region, namely, 
of the smah 1 lakes to the west of Lake Supe- 
rior, where the Mississippi takes its rise, and 
also of that lying between this great basin of 
fresh water and the southern arm of Hud- 
son Bay. I would employ the autumn in ex- 
ploring the great valley of the Mississippi, and 
would pass the winter on the borders of the 
Gulf of Mexico. 

To carry out such projects, however, I have 
need of larger resources than I can create by 
my own efforts, and I shall soon be at the 
end of the subsidy granted me by the King 
of Prussia. I shall, however, subordinate all 


these projects to the possibilities of which 
you kindly tell me. Notwithstanding the in- 
terest offered by the exploration of a country 
so rich as this, notwithstanding the gratify- 
ing welcome I have received here, I feel, after 
all, that nowhere can one work better than in 
our old Europe, and the friendship you have 
shown me is a more than sufficient motive, im- 
pelling me to return as soon as possible to 
Paris. Remember me to our common friends. 
I have made some sufficiently interesting col- 
lections which I shall forward to the Mu- 
seum ; they will show you that I have done 
my best to fulfill my promises, forgetting no 
one. . . . 

In the summer of 1847 Agassiz established 
himself in a small house at East Boston, suf- 
ficiently near the sea to be a convenient 
station for marine collections. Here certain 
members of his old working corps assembled 
about him, and it soon became, like every 
place he had ever inhabited, a hive of indus- 
try. Chief among his companions were Count 
Francois de Pourtales, who had accompanied 
him to this country ; Mr. E. Desor, who soon 
followed him to America ; and Mr. Jaques 
Burkhardt, who had preceded them all, and 


was now draughtsman in chief to the whole 
party. To his labors were soon added those 
of Mr. A. Sonrel, the able lithographic artist, 
who illustrated the most important works sub- 
sequently published by Agassiz. To an ex- 
quisite skill in his art he added a quick, intel- 
ligent perception of structural features from 
the naturalist's point of view, which made his 
work doubly valuable. Besides those above- 
mentioned, there were several assistants who 
shared the scientific work in one department 
or another. 

It must be confessed that this rather orig- 
inal establishment had the aspect of a labo- 
ratory rather than a home, domestic comfort 
being subordinate to scientific convenience. 
Every room served in some sort the purposes 
of an aquarium or a studio, while garret and 
cellar were devoted to collections. The rules 
of the household were sufficiently elastic to 
suit the most erratic student. A sliding scale 
for meals allowed the greatest freedom for ex- 
cursions along 1 the neighboring" shores and 

O O c5 

beaches, and punctuality in work was the only 
punctuality demanded. 

Agassiz himself was necessarily often ab- 
sent, for the maintenance of the little colony 
depended in great degree upon his exertions. 


During the winter of 1847, while continuing 
his lectures in Boston and its vicinity, he lec- 
tured in other places also. It is difficult to 
track his course at this time; but during the 
winters of 1847 and 1848 he lectured in all 
the large eastern cities, New York, Albany, 
Philadelphia, and Charleston, S. C. Every- 
where he drew large crowds, and in those 
days his courses of lectures were rarely al- 
lowed to close without some public expression 
of gratitude and appreciation from the listen- 
ers. Among his papers are preserved several 
sets of resolutions from medical and scientific 
societies, from classes of students, and from 
miscellaneous audiences, attesting the enthu- 
siasm awakened by his instruction. What he 
earned in this way enabled him to carry on 
his work and support his assistants. Still, 
the strain upon his strength, combined with 
all that he was doing beside in purely scien- 
tific work, was severe, and before the twelve- 
month was out he was seriously ill. At this 
time Dr. B. E. Getting, a physician whose 
position as curator of the Lowell Institute had 
brought him into contact with Agassiz, took 
him home to his house in the country, where 
he tended him through some weeks of tedious 


illness, hastening his convalescence by excur- 


sions in all the neighboring country, from 
which they returned laden with specimens, 
plants, birds, etc. In this hospitable home 
he passed his fortieth birthday, the first in 
this country. His host found him standing 
thoughtful and abstracted by the window. 
"Why so sad? " he asked. " That I am so 
old, and have done so little," was the answer. 
After some weeks he was able to return to his 
work, and the next letter gives some idea of 
his observations in the immediate vicinity of 
Boston, and especially in East Boston, where 
he was then living. 


BOSTOX, August 31, 1847. 

... I have waited to write until I should 
have some facts sufficiently important to 
claim your attention. In truth, the study 
of the marine animals, which I am, for the 
first time, able to observe in their natural 
conditions of existence, has engrossed me al- 
most exclusively since I came to the United 
States, and only incidentally, as it were, I 
have turned my attention to paleontology and 
geology. I must, however, except the glacial 
phenomena, a problem, the solution of which 
always interests me deeply. This great ques- 


tion, far from presenting itself more simply 
here, is complicated by peculiarities never 
brought to my notice in Europe. Happily 
for me, Mr. Desor, who had been in Scan- 
dinavia before joining me here, called my at- 
tention at once to certain points of resem- 
blance between the phenomena there and those 
which I had seen in the neighborhood of Bos- 
ton. Since then, we have made several ex- 
cursions together, have visited Niagara, and, 
in short, have tried to collect all the spe- 
cial facts of glacial phenomena in America. 
Within a few days, however, I have come by 
chance upon something quite extraordinary 
and unexpected, which complicates the ques- 
tion anew. You are, no doubt, aware that 
the whole rocky surface of the ground here 
is polished. I do not think that anywhere in 
the world there exist polished and rounded 
rocks in better preservation or on a larger 
scale. Here, as elsewhere, erratic debris are 
scattered over these surfaces, scratched peb- 
bles impacted in mud, forming unstratified 
masses mixed with and covered by large er- 
ratic boulders, more or less furrowed or 
scratched, the upper ones being usually an- 
gular and without marks. The absence of 
moraines, properly so-called, in a country so 


little broken, is not surprising ; I have, how- 
ever, seen very distinct ones in some valleys 
of the White Mountains and in Vermont. 
Up to this time there had been nothing very 
new in the aspect of the phenomena as a 
whole ; but on examining attentively the in- 
ternal arrangement of all these materials, es- 

O ' 

pecially in the neighborhood of the sea, one 
soon becomes convinced that the ocean has 
partially covered and more or less remodeled 
them. In certain places there are patches of 
stratified sand interposed between masses of 
glacial drift-deposit ; elsewhere, banks of sand 
and pebbles crown the irregularities of the 
glacial deposit, or fill in its depressions; in 
other localities the glacial pebbles may be 
washed and completely cleared of mud, re- 
taining, however, their markings ; or again, 
these markings may have disappeared, and 
the material is arranged in lines or ramparts, 
as it were, of diverse conformation, in which 
Mr. Desor recognized all the modifications of 


the " oesars ' of Scandinavia. The disposi- 
tion of the cesars, as seen here, is evidently 
due entirely to the action of the waves, and 
their frequency along the coast is a proof of 
this. In a late excursion with Captain Davis 
on board a government vessel I learned to 


understand the mode of formation of the sub- 
marine dikes bordering the coast at various 
distances, which would be oesars were they 
elevated ; with the aid of the dredge I sat- 

' O 

isfied myself of their identity. With these 
facts before me I cannot doubt that the oesars 
of the United States consist essentially of 
glacial material remodeled by the sea ; while 
farther inland, though here and there reach- 
ing the sea-coast, we have unchanged glacial 
drift deposit. At some points the alteration 
is so slight as to denote only a momentary rise 
of the sea. Under these circumstances one 
would naturally look for fossils in the drift, 
and Mr. Desor, in company with Mr. de Pour- 
tales, was the first to find them, at Brooklyn, 
in Long Island, which lies to the south of 
New York. They were imbedded in a glacial 
clay deposit, having all the ordinary charac- 
ter of such deposits, with only slight traces 
of stratified sand. It is true that the greater 


number of these fossils (all belonging to spe- 
cies now living on the coast) were broken into 
angular fragments, not excepting even the 
thick tests of the Venus mercenaria. 

But a few days ago, as I have said, a wider 
range was given to the field of our researches 
by an observation of mine. The suburb of 


Boston where I am living (East Boston) is 
built on an island, one kilometer and a half 
long, extending from north to southeast, and 
varying in width at different points from two 
to six or seven hundred metres. Its height 


above the sea-level is about sixty feet. This 
little island is composed entirely of glacial 
muddy deposit, containing scratched pebbles 
mixed with larger boulders or blocks, and 
covered also with a considerable number of 
boulders of divers forms and dimensions. At 
East Boston you cannot see what underlies 
this deposit; but no doubt it rests upon a 
rounded mass of granite, polished and grooved 
like several others in Boston harbor. The 
house I occupy is on the southern slope of the 
island, and they are now digging more to the 
north, a new street parallel with one which 
runs along the shore. On the cuts of this ex- 
cavation, at a depth of twelve feet below the 
surface, a bed of Zostera marina may be seen 
which crosses the whole hill almost horizon- 
tally, with a slight inclination to the northeast, 
thus forming a regular and continuous bank 
in the very middle of the drift. This bed of 
zostera, which, thanks to the excavations now 
making, I have been able to trace over an 
extent of several hundred metres in all direc- 

VOL. II. 4 


tions, is several inches in thickness. The 
leaves of this plant, some specimens of which 
I inclose, are so well preserved that many 
still retain their green tint and even show the 
vessels and the grains of chlorophyll within. 
You would say the sea might have thrown 
them there only a few days since, so fresh do 
they seem ; they might serve as stable litter, 
and yet they date back to the deposition of 
the drift, for the deposit which covers them 
is the same as that below them. Except the 
bed of zostera, deposited, no doubt, during a 
temporary encroachment of the sea, there is 
no other sign of the action of the water in 
all this part of the hill. Among the leaves 
of the zostera were found the greater part of 
the shells which now live along the coast and 
attach themselves upon this sea-weed, such as 
the Littorina rudis, Lacuna vincta, Lottia al- 
veus, Mytilus plicatulus jeune, Spirorbis nau- 
tiloides ; small polyps also, among others Tu- 
bulipora patina. Beside these, I have also 
found among them broken pieces of Limulus 
polyphemus and fragments of wood. 

Thirty feet lower, that is to say, about 
twenty feet above the sea-level, on the south- 
ern slope of the hill, Mr. Desor found a bed 
of shells, extending all along the shore, essen- 


tially composed of Mya arenaria, with some 
Natica heros and Purpura lapellus, all of 
which live now upon the shore ; but we have 
not yet been able to ascertain whether this 
bank penetrates across the whole hill, like the 
bank of zostera. 1 

I abstain at present from any comment on 
these facts, and only insist upon the amazing 
freshness and remarkable state of preserva- 
tion of the zostera and the fossils accompany- 
ing it. This is the more surprising, because 
in our journey to Niagara, Mr. Desor and I 
assured ourselves that the river deposits, in 
which, among other things, the mastodon is 
found with the fresh - water shells of Goat 
Island, are posterior to the drift. It is a fact 
worth consideration that the mastodons found 
in Europe are buried in true tertiary forma- 
tions, while the great mastodon of the United 
States is certainly posterior to the drift. Shall 
I then dare to say that the fragments of wood 
found in the bed of zostera mentioned above 
are artificially modeled, and that, could one 
believe one's eyes, the traces of human in- 

1 I have satisfied myself that this bank of mya is simply 
shored up against the slope of the hill and does not pene- 
trate the interior of the drift more than the bank of living 
mya on the present beach below. 


dustry might be found in the cut of their 
surfaces ? It certainly seems hardly credible, 
and yet so striking is the evidence before me 
that I hesitate to reject it. Or do the facts 
noticed by Lund, those of which Nilsson gives 
an account, and those which have been ob- 
served by Mr. Dickinson on the banks of the 
Mississippi, really indicate the existence of 
fossil men of different races from those now 
peopling the surface of the globe? And 
does the human genus reproduce, in the suc- 
cession of its races, phenomena analogous to 
those of the succession of creations which 
have peopled the earth at different geological 
epochs? These are questions, the solution 
of which must be referred to the study of the 
most recent deposits, a study we are only 
just now beginning, and the importance of 
which we can no longer disregard. But, 
however you may look upon these questions, 
you will surely agree with me that in the facts 
here stated, we have incontestable evidence of 
repeated upheavals of the coast of Massachu- 
setts at a recent epoch, that is to say, posterior 
to the creation of animals and plants now in- 
habiting Boston Bay. The clear demarcation 
of the bed of zostera and of the bank of 
mya, and the absence of the latter anywhere 


else on the slope of the hill, prove beside 
that these upheavals have not been continuous 
and uniform, but intermittent. ... In an- 
other letter I will tell you something of my 
observations upon the geographical distribu- 
tion of marine animals at different depths and 
on different bottoms, and also upon the rela- 
tions between this distribution and that of 
the fossils in the tertiary deposits. . . . 


1847-1850: JET. 40-43. 

Excursions on Coast Survey Steamer. Relations with Dr. 
Bache, the Superintendent of the Coast Survey. Political 
Disturbances in Switzerland. Change of Relations with 
Prussia. Scientific School established in Cambridge. 
Chair of Natural History offered to Agassiz. Accept- 
ance. Removal to Cambridge. Literary and Scientific 
Associations there and in Boston. Household in Cam- 
bridge. Beginning of Museum. Journey to Lake Supe- 
rior. " Report, with Narration." " Principles of Zool- 
ogy," by Agassiz and Gould. Letters from European 
Friends respecting these Publications. Letter from Hugh 
Miller. Second Marriage. Arrival of his Children in 

ONE of Agassiz's great pleasures in the 
summer of 1847 consisted in excursions on 
board the Coast Survey steamer Bibb, then 
employed in the survey of the harbor and 
bay of Boston, under command of Captain 
(afterward Admiral) Charles Henry Davis. 
Under no more kindly auspices could Agas- 
siz's relations with this department of govern- 
ment work have been begun. "My cabin/ 3 
writes Captain Davis, after their first trip to- 
gether, " seems lonely without you." 


Hitherto the sea-shore had been a closed 
book to the Swiss naturalist, and now it opened 
to him a field of research almost as stimulating 


as his own glaciers. Born and bred among 
the mountains, he knew marine animals only 
as they can be known in dried and alcoholic 
specimens, or in a fossil state. From the 
Bibb he writes to a friend on shore : " I 
learn more here in a day than in months from 
books or dried specimens. Captain Davis is 
kindness itself. Everything I can wish for is 
at my disposal so far as it is possible." 

Dr. Bache was at this time Superintendent 
of the Coast Survey, and he saw at once how 
the work of the naturalist might ally itself 
with the professional work of the Survey to 
the greater usefulness of both. From the be- 
ginning to the end of his American life, there- 
fore, the hospitalities of the United States 
Coast Survey were open to Agassiz. As a 
guest on board her vessels he studied the reefs 
of Florida and the Bahama Banks, as well as 
the' formations of our New England shores. 
From the deck of the Bibb, in connection with 
Count de Pourtales, his first dredging experi- 
ments were undertaken ; and his last long voy- 
age around the continent, from Boston to San 
Francisco, was made on board the Hassler, a 


Coast Survey vessel fitted out for the Pacific 
shore. Here was another determining- motive 
for his stay in this country. Under no other 
government, perhaps, could he have had op- 
portunities so invaluable to a naturalist. 

But events were now passing in Europe 
which made his former position there, as well 
as that of many of his old friends, wholly un- 
stable. In February, 1848, the proclamation 
of the French republic broke upon Europe 
like a clap of thunder from a clear sky. The 
news created great disturbances in Switzerland, 
and especially in the canton of Neuchatel, 
where a military force was immediately organ- 
ized by the republican party in opposition to 
the conservatives, who would fain hav.e con- 
tinued loyal to the Prussian king. For the 
moment all was chaos, and the prospects of 
institutions of learning were seriously endan- 
gered. The republican party carried the day ; 
the canton of Neuchatel ceased to be a de- 
pendence of the Prussian monarchy, and be- 
came merged in the general confederation of 

At about the same time that Agassiz, in 
consequence of this change of conditions, was 
honorably discharged from the service of the 
Prussian king, a scientific school was organ- 


ized at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in direct 
connection with Harvard University. This 
school, known as the Lawrence Scientific 
School, owed its existence to the generosity 
of Abbott Lawrence, formerly United States 
Minister at the Court of St. James. He im- 
mediately offered the chair of Natural His- 
tory (Zoology and Geology) to Agassiz, with 
a salary of fifteen hundred dollars, guaranteed 
by Mr. Lawrence himself, until such time as 
the fees of the students should be worth three 
thousand dollars to their professor. This time 
never came. Agassiz's lectures, with the ex- 
ception of the more technical ones addressed 
to small classes, were always fully attended, 
but special students were naturally very few 
in a department of pure science, and their fees 
never raised the salary of the professor per- 
ceptibly. This was, however, counterbalanced 
in some degree by the clause in his contract 
which allowed him entire freedom for lectures 
elsewhere, so that he could supplement his 
restricted income from other sources. 

In accordance with this new position Agas- 
siz now removed his bachelor household to 
Cambridge, where he opened his first course 
in April, 1848. He could hardly have come 
to Harvard at a more auspicious moment, so 


far as his social and personal relations were 
concerned. The college was then on a smaller 
scale than now, but upon its list of professors 
were names which would have given distinc- 
tion to any university. In letters, there were 
Longfellow and Lowell, and Felton, the ge- 
nial Greek scholar, of whom Longfellow him- 
self wrote, " In Attica thy birthplace should 
have been." In science, there were Peirce, 
the mathematician, and Dr. Asa Gray, then 
just installed at the Botanical Garden, and 
Jeffries Wyman, the comparative anatomist, 
appointed at about the same time with Agas- 
siz himself. To these we might almost add, 
as influencing the scientific character of Har- 
vard, Dr. Bache, the Superintendent of the 
Coast Survey, and Charles Henry Davis, the 
head of the Nautical Almanac, since the kindly 
presence of the former was constantly invoked 
as friend and counselor in the scientific de- 
partments, while the latter had his residence 
in Cambridge, and was as intimately associated 
with the interests of Harvard as if he had 
been officially connected with the university. 

A more agreeable set of men, or one more 
united by personal relations and intellectual 
aims, it would have been difficult to find. In 
connection with these names, those of Prescott, 


Ticknor, Motley, arid Holmes also arise most 
naturally, for the literary men and scholars of 
Cambridge and Boston were closely united; 
and if Emerson, in his country home at Con- 
cord, was a little more withdrawn, his influ- 
ence was powerful in the intellectual life of 
the whole community, and acquaintance read- 
ily grew to friendship between him and Agas- 
siz. Such was the pleasant and cultivated 
circle into which Agassiz was welcomed in 
the two cities, which became almost equally 
his home, and where the friendships he made 
gradually transformed exile into household 
life and ties. 

In Cambridge he soon took his share in giv- 
ing as well as receiving hospitalities, and his 
Saturday evenings were not the less attractive 
because of the foreign character and some- 


what unwonted combination of the house- 
hold. Over its domestic comforts now presided 
an old Swiss clergyman, Monsieur Christinat. 
He had been attached to Agassiz from child- 
hood, had taken the deepest interest in his 
whole career, and, as we have seen, had assisted 
him to complete his earlier studies. Now, un- 
der the disturbed condition of things at home, 
he had thrown in his lot with him in Amer- 
ica. " If your old friend," he writes, " can live 


with his son Louis, it will be the height of his 
happiness." To Agassiz his presence in the 
house was a benediction. He looked after the 
expenses, and acted as commissary in chief 
to the colony. Obliged, as Agassiz was, fre- 
quently to be absent on lecturing tours, he 
could, with perfect security, intrust the charge 
of everything connected with the household 
to his old friend, from whom he w r as always 
sure of an affectionate welcome on his return. 
In short, so far as an old man could, " papa 
Christinat," as he was universally called in 
this miscellaneous family, strove to make good 
to him the absence of wife and children. 

The make-up of the settlement was some- 
what anomalous. The house, though not 
large, was sufficiently roomy, and soon after 
Agassiz was established there he had the 
pleasure of receiving under his roof certain 
friends and former colleagues, driven from 
their moorings in Europe by the same disturb- 
ances which had prevented him from return- 
ing there. The arrival among them of Mr. 
Guyot, with whom his personal and scientific 
intimacy was of such long standing, was a 
great happiness. It was especially a blessing 
at this time, for troubles at home weighed 
upon Agassiz and depressed him. His wife, 


always delicate in health, had died, and al- 
though his children were most affectionately 
provided for in her family and his own, they 
were separated from each other, as well as 
from him ; nor did he think it wise to bring 
them while so young, to America. The pres- 
ence, therefore, of one who was almost like a 
brother in sympathy and companionship, was 
now more than welcome. His original staff 
of co-workers and assistants still continued 
with him, and there were frequent guests be- 
sides, chiefly foreigners, who, on arriving in a 
new country, found their first anchorage and 
point of departure in this little European set- 

The house stood in a small plot of ground, 
the cultivation of which was the delight of 
papa Chris tinat. It soon became a miniature 
zoological garden, where all sorts of experi- 
ments in breeding and observations on the 
habits of animals, were carried on. A tank 
for turtles and a small alligator in one corner, 
a large hutch for rabbits in another, a cage 
for eagles against the wall, a tame bear and a 
family of opossums, made up the menagerie, 
varied from time to time by new arrivals. 

But Agassiz could not be long in any place 
without beginning to form a museum. When 


he accepted the chair offered him at Cam- 
bridge, there were neither collections nor lab- 
oratories belonging to his department. The 
specimens indispensable to his lectures were 
gathered almost by the day, and his outfit, 
with the exception of the illustrations he had 
brought from Europe, consisted of a black- 
board and a lecture - room. There was no 
money for the necessary objects, and the 
want of it had to be supplied by the pro- 
fessor's own industry and resources. On the 
banks of the Charles River, just where it is 
crossed by Brighton Bridge, was an old wooden 
shanty set on piles ; it might have served per- 
haps, at some time, as a bathing or a boat 
house. The use of this was allowed Agassiz 
for the storing- of such collections as he had 


brought together. Boards nailed against the 
walls served for cases, and with a deal table 
or two for dissection this rough shelter was 
made to do duty as a kind of laboratory. 
The fact is worth noting, for this was the be- 
ginning of the Museum of Comparative Zool- 
ogy in Cambridge, now admitted to a place 
among the great institutions of its kind in 
the world. 

In the summer of 1848 Agassiz organized 
an expedition entirely after his own heart, in- 


asmuch as it combined education with ob- 
servation in the field. The younger portion 
of the party consisted of several of his spe- 
cial pupils, and a few other Harvard students 
who joined the expedition from general in- 
terest. Beside these, there were several vol- 
unteer members, who were either naturalists 
or had been attracted to the undertaking by 
their love of nature and travel. Their ob- 
ject was the examination of the eastern and 
northern shores of Lake Superior from Sault 
Ste. Marie to Fort William, a region then lit- 
tle known to science or to tourists. Ag-assiz 


taught along the road. At evening, around 
the camp-fire, or when delayed by weather or 
untoward circumstances, he would give to his 
companions short and informal lectures, it 
might be on the forest about them, or on the 
erratic phenomena in the immediate neighbor- 
hood, on the terraces of the lake shore, or 
on the fish of its waters. His lecture-room, 
in short, was everywhere ; his apparatus a 
traveling blackboard and a bit of chalk ; while 
his illustrations and specimens lay all around 
him, wherever the party chanced to be. 

To Agassiz himself the expedition was of 
the deepest interest. Glacial phenomena had, 
as we have seen, met him at every turn since 


his arrival in the United States, but nowhere 
had he found them in greater distinctness 
than on the shores of Lake Superior. As 
the evidence accumulated about him, he be- 
came more than ever satisfied that the power 
which had modeled and grooved the rocks 
all over the country, and clothed it with a 
sheet of loose material reaching to the sea, 
must have been the same which had left like 
traces in Europe. In a continent of wide 
plains and unbroken surfaces, and, therefore, 
with few centres of glacial action, the phenom- 
ena were more widely and uniformly scat- 
tered than in Europe. But their special de- 
tails, down to the closest minutiae, were the 
same, while their definite circumscription and 
evenness of distribution forbade the idea of 
currents or floods as the moving cause. Here, 
as elsewhere, Agassiz recognized at once the 
comprehensive scope of the phenomena. The 
whole history reconstructed itself in his mind, 
to the time when a sheet of ice clothed the 
land, reaching the Atlantic sea-board, as it 
now does the coast of Spitzbergen and the 
Arctic shores. 

He made also a careful survey of the local 
geology of Lake Superior, and especially of 
the system of dykes, by the action of which 


he found that its bed had been excavated, 
and the outline of its shores determined. 
But perhaps the inhabitants of the lake itself 
occupied him even more than its conforma- 
tion or its surrounding features. Not only 
for its own novelty and variety, but for its 
bearing on the geographical distribution of 
animals, the fauna of this great sheet of fresh 
water interested him deeply. On this journey 
he saw at Niagara for the first time a living 
gar-pike, the only representative among mod- 
ern fishes of the fossil type of Lepidosteus. 
From this type he had learned more perhaps 
than from any other, of the relations between 
the past and the present fishes. When a 
student of nineteen years of age, his first 
sight of a stuffed skin of a gar-pike in the 
Museum of Carlsruhe told him that it stood 
alone among living fishes. Its true alliance 
with the Lepidosteus of the early geological 
ages became clear to him only later in his 
study of the fossil fishes. He then detected 
the reptilian character of the type, and saw 
that from the articulation of the vertebrae 
the head must have moved more freely on the 
trunk than that of any fish of our days. To 
his great delight, when the first living speci- 
men of the gar-pike, or modern Lepidosteus, 

VOL. II. 5 


was brought to him, it moved its head to the 
right and left and upward, as a Saurian does 
and as no other fish can. 

The result of this expedition was a valu- 
able collection of fishes and a report upon the 
fauna and the geology of Lake Superior, 
comprising the erratic phenomena. A nar- 
rative written by James Elliot Cabot formed 
the introduction to the report, and it was also 
accompanied by two or three shorter contri- 
butions on special subjects from other mem- 
bers of the party. The volume was illustrated 
by a number of plates exquisitely drawn and 
colored on stone by A. Sonrel. 

This was not Agassiz's first publication 
in America. His " Principles of Zoology ' 
(Agassiz and Gould) was published in 1848. 
The book had a large sale, especially for 
schools. Edition followed edition, but the sale 
of the first part was checked by the want of 
the second, which was never printed. Agassiz 
was always swept along so rapidly by the cur- 
rent of his own activity that he was sometimes 
forced to leave behind him unfinished work. 
Before the time came for the completion of 
the second part of the zoology, his own knowl- 
edge had matured so much, that to be true 
to the facts, he must have remodeled the 


whole of the first part, and for this he never 
found the time. Apropos of these publica- 
tions the following letters are in place. 


BELGRAVE SQUARE, October 3, 1849. 

... I thank you very sincerely for your 
most captivating general work on the " Prin- 
ciples of Zoology." I am quite in love with 
it. I was glad to find that you had arranged 
the nummulites with the tertiary rocks, so 
that the broad generalization I attempted in 
my last work on the Alps, Apennines, and 
Carpathians is completely sustained zoologic- 
ally, and you will not be sorry to see the strat- 
igraphical truth vindicated (versus E. de 

Beaumont and ). I beseech you to look 

at my memoir, and especially at my reason- 
ing about the miocene and pliocene divisions 
of the Alps and Italy. It seems to me man- 
ifest that the percentage system derived from 
marine life can never be applied to tertiary 
terrestrial successions. . . . 

My friends have congratulated me much 
on this my last effort, and as Lyell and others 
most interested in opposing me have been 
forward in approval, I begin to hope that I 
am not yet quite done up ; and that unlike 


the Bishop of Oviedo, my last sermon " ne 
sent pas de 1'apoplexie." I have, nevertheless, 
been desperately out of sorts and full of gout 
and liver and all kinds of irritation this sum- 
mer, which is the first for many a long year 
in which I have been unable to take the field. 
The meeting at Birmingham, however, re- 
vived me. Professor W. Rogers will have 
told you all about our doings. Buckland is 
up to his neck in " sewage," and wishes to 
change all underground London into a fossil 
cloaca of pseudo coprolites. This does not 
quite suit the chemists charged with sanitary 
responsibilities ; for they fear the Dean will 
poison half the population in preparing his 
choice manures ! But in this as in everything 
he undertakes there is a grand sweeping 

When are we to meet again ? And when 
are we to have a " stand - up fight ' on the 
erratics of the Alps ? You will see by the 
abstract of my memoir appended to my Al- 
pine affair that I have taken the field against 
the extension of the Jura ! In a word, I do 
not believe that great trunk glaciers ever 
filled the valleys of the Rhone, etc. Perhaps 
you will be present at our next meeting of 
the British Association at Edinburgh, August, 


1850. Olim meminisse juvabit ! and then, 
my dear and valued and most enlightened 
friend, we may study once more together the 
surface of my native rocks for " auld lang 
syne." . . . 


June 15 [1850, probably]. ) 

MY DEAR SIR, 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 presentation copy, that has 
given me such lively and sincere pleasure. I 
cordially thank you for it. I have begun to 
read it with uncommon interest, which I see 
will increase as I go on. 

The Cirrepedia, which you and Dr. Gould 
were so good as to send me, have proved of 
great service to me. The sessile species from 
Massachusetts consist of five species. . . . 
Of the genus Balanus, on the shores of Brit- 
ain, we have one species (B. perforata Bru- 
guiere), which you have not in the United 
States, in the same way as you exclusively 


have B. eburneus. All the above species at- 
tain a somewhat larger average size on the 
shores of the United States than on those of 
Britain, but the specimens from the glacial 
beds of Uddevalla, Scotland, and Canada, are 
larger even than those of the United States. 

Once again allow me to thank you with cor- 
diality for the pleasure you have given me. 

Believe me, with the highest respect, your 
truly obliged, 


The following letter from Hugh Miller con- 
cerning Agassiz's intention of introducing 
"The Footprints of the Creator" to the 
American public by a slight memoir of Miller 
is of interest here. It is to be regretted that 
with this exception no letters have been found 
from him among Agassiz's papers, though he 
must have been in frequent correspondence 
with him, and they had, beside their scientific 
sympathy, a very cordial personal relation. 


DEAR SIR, I was out of town when your 
kind letter reached here, and found such an 
accumulation of employment on my return 
that it is only now I find myself able to devote 


half an hour to the work of reply, and to say 
how thoroughly sensible I am of the honor 
you propose doing me. It never once crossed 
my mind when, in writing my little volume, 
the " Footprints," I had such frequent occa- 
sion to refer to my master, our great author- 
ity in ichthyic history, that he himself would 
have associated his name with it on the other 
side of the Atlantic, and referred in turn to 
its humble writer. 

In the accompanying parcel I send you two 
of my volumes, which you may not yet have 
seen, and in which you may find some mate- 
rials for your proposed introductory memoir. 
At all events they may furnish you with 
amusement in a leisure hour. The bulkier of 
the two, " Scenes and Legends," of which a 
new edition has just appeared, and of which 
the first edition was published, after lying sev- 
eral years beside me, in 1835, is the earliest 
of my works to which I attached my name. 
It forms a sort of traditionary history of a dis- 
trict of Scotland, about two hundred miles 
distant from the capital, in which the char- 
acter of the people has been scarce at all 
affected by the cosmopolitanism which has 
been gradually modifying and altering it in 
the larger towns ; and as it has been fre- 


quently remarked, I know not with what 
degree of truth, that there is a closer re- 
semblance between the Scotch and Swiss than 
between any other two peoples of Europe, you 
may have some interest in determining whether 
the features of your own countryfolk are not 
sometimes to be seen in those of mine, as ex- 
hibited in my legendary history. Certainly 
both countries had for many ages nearly the 
same sort of work to do ; both had to main- 
tain a long and ultimately successful war of 
independence against nations greatly more 
powerful than themselves ; and as their hills 
produced little else than the " soldier and his 
sword/' both had to make a trade abroad of 
that art of war which they were compelled in 
self-defense to acquire at home. Even in the 
laws of some nations we find them curiously 
enough associated together. In France, under 
the old regime, the personal property of all 
strangers dying in the country, Swiss and 
Scots excepted, was forfeited to the king. 

The other volume, " First Impressions of 
England and its People," contains some per- 
sonal anecdotes and some geology. But the 
necessary materials you will chiefly find in the 
article from the " North British Review ' 
which I also inclose. It is from the pen of 


Sir David Brewster, with whom for the last 
ten years I have spent a few very agreeable 
days every year at Christmas, under the roof 
of a common friend, one of the landed 
proprietors of Fifeshire. Sir David's estimate 
of the writer is, I fear, greatly too high, but 
his statement of facts regarding him is cor- 
rect ; and I think you will find it quite full 
enough for the purposes of a brief memoir. 
With his article I send you one of my own, 
written about six years ago for the same pe- 
riodical, as the subject is one in which, from 
its connection with your master study, the 
natural history of fishes, you may take 
more interest than most men. It embodies, 
from observation, what may be regarded as 
the natural history of the fisherman, and de- 
scribes some curious scenes and appearances 
which I witnessed many years ago when en- 
gaged, during a truant boyhood, in prosecut- 
ing the herring fishery as an amateur. Many 
of my observations of natural phenomena date 
from this idle, and yet not wholly wasted, 
period of my life. 

With the volumes I send also a few casts 
of my less fragile specimens of Asterolepis. 
Two of the number, those of the external and 
internal surfaces of the creature's cranial buck- 


ler, are really very curious combinations of 
plates, and when viewed in a slant light have 
a decidedly sculpturesque and not ungraceful 
effect. I have seen on our rustic tombstones 
worse representations of angels, winged and 
robed, than that formed by the central plates 
of the interior surface when the light is made 
to fall along their higher protuberances, leav- 
ing the hollows in the shade. You see how 
truly your prediction regarding the flatness of 
the creature's head is substantiated by these 
casts ; it is really not easy to know how, 
placed on so flat a surface, the eyes could have 
been very available save for star-gazing; but 
as nature makes no mistakes in such matters, 
it is possible that the creature, like the flat- 
fishes, may have lived much at the bottom, 
and that most of the seeing it had use for 
may have been seeing in an upward direction. 
None of my other specimens of bucklers are 
so entire and in so good a state of keeping as 
the two from which I have taken the casts, 
but they are greatly larger. One specimen, 
nearly complete, exhibits an area about four 
times as great as the largest of these two, and 
I have fragments of others which must have 
belonged to fish still more gigantic. The 
two other casts are of specimens of gill covers, 


which in the Asterolepis, as in the sturgeon, 
consisted each of a single plate. In both the 
exterior surface of the buckler and of the 
operculum the tubercles are a good deal en- 
veloped in the stone, which is of a consistency 
too hard to be removed without injuring what 
it overlies ; but you will find them in the 
smaller cast which accompanies the others, 
and which, as shown by the thickness of the 
plate in the original, indicates their size and 
form in a large individual, very characteristic- 
ally shown. So coral-like is their aspect, that 
if it was from such a cast, not a fossil (which 
would, of course, exhibit the peculiarities of 
the bone), that Lamarck founded his genus 
Monticularia, I think his apology for the error 
might almost be maintained as good. I am 
sorry I cannot venture on taking casts from 
some of my other specimens ; but they are 
exceedingly fragile, and as they are still with- 
out duplicates I am afraid to hazard them. 
Since publishing my little volume I have got 
several new plates of Asterolepis, a broad 
palatal plate, covered with tubercles, consider- 
ably larger than those of the creature's ex- 
ternal surface, a key - stone shaped plate, 
placed, when in situ, in advance of the little 
plate between the eyes, which form the head 


and face of the effigy in the centre of the 
buckler, and a side-plate, into which the 
condyloid processes of the lower jaw were 
articulated, and which exhibited the processes 
on which these hinged. There are besides 
some two or three plates more, whose places I 
have still to find. The small cast, stained yel- 
low, is taken from an instructive specimen of 
the jaws of coccosteus, and exhibits a peculiar- 
ity which I had long suspected and referred 
to in the first edition of my volume on the 
Old Red Sandstone in rather incautious lan- 
guage, but which a set of my specimens now 
fully establishes. Each of the under jaws of 
the fish was furnished with two groups of 
teeth : one group in the place where, in quad- 
rupeds, we usually find the molars ; and an- 
other group in the line of the symphyses. 
And how these both could have acted is a 
problem which our anatomists here many of 
whom have carefully examined my specimen 
seem unable, and in some degree, indeed, 
afraid to solve. 

I have written to the Messrs. Gould, Ken- 
dall & Lincoln to say that the third edition 
of the " Footprints ' ' differs from the first and 
second only by the addition of a single note 
and an illustrative diagram, both of which I 


have inclosed to them in my communication. 
I anticipate much pleasure from the perusal 
of your work on Lake Superior, when it comes 
to hand, which, as your publishers have in- 
trusted it to the care of a gentleman visiting 
this country, will, I think, be soon. It is not 
often that a region so remote and so little 
known as that which surrounds the great lake 
of America is visited by a naturalist of the 
first class. From such a terra incognita, at 
length unveiled to eyes so discerning,! antici- 
pate strange tidings. 

I am, my dear sir, with respect and admira- 
tion, very truly yours, 


In the spring of 1850 Agassiz married 
Elizabeth Cabot Gary, daughter of Thomas 
Graves Cary, of Boston. This marriage con- 
firmed his resolve to remain, at least for the 
present, in the United States. It connected 
him by the closest ties with a large family 
circle, of which he was henceforth a beloved 
and honored member, and made him the 
brother-in-law of one of his most intimate 
friends in Cambridge, Professor C. C. Felton. 
Thus secure of favorable conditions for the 
care and education of his children, he caUed 


them to this country. His son (then a lad of 
fifteen years of age) had joined him the pre- N 
vious summer. His daughters, younger by s 
several years than their brother, arrived the 
following autumn, and home built itself up 
again around him. 

The various foreign members of his house- 
hold had already scattered. One or two had 
returned to Europe, others had settled here in 
permanent homes of their own. Among the 
latter were Professor Guyot and M. de Pour- 
tales, who remained, both as scientific col- 
leagues and personal friends, very near and 
dear to him all his lif e. " Papa Christinat ' 
had also withdrawn. While Agassiz was abr 


sent on a lecturing tour, the kind old man, 
knowing well the opposition he should meet, 
and wishing to save both himself and his 
friend the pain of parting, stole away with- v 
out warning and went to New Orleans, where 
he had obtained a place as pastor. This was 
a great disappointment to Agassiz, who had 
urged him to make his home with him, a plan 
in which his wife and children cordially con- 
curred, but which did not approve itself to 
the judgment of his old friend. M. Christinat 
afterward returned to Switzerland, where he 
ended his days. He wrote constantly until 


his death, and was always kept advised of 
everything that passed in the family at Cam- 
bridge. Of the old household, Mr. Burkhardt 
alone remained a permanent member of the 


new one. 


1850 - 1852 : JET. 43-45. 

Proposition from Dr. Bache. Exploration of Florida Reefs. 
Letter to Humboldt concerning Work in America. Ap- 
pointment to Professorship of Medical College in Charles- 
ton, S. C. Life at the South. Views concerning Races 
of Men. Prix Cuvier. 

THE following letter from the Superintend- 
ent of the Coast Survey determined for Agas- 
siz the chief events of the winter of 1851. 


WEBB'S HILL, October 30, 1850. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Would it be possible 
for you to devote six weeks or two months to 
the examination of the Florida reefs and keys 
in connection with their survey ? It is ex- 
tremely important to ascertain what they are 
and how formed. One account treats them 
as growing corals, another as masses of some- 
thing resembling oolite, piled together, bar- 
rier-wise. You see that this lies at the root 
of the progress of the reef, so important to 


navigation, of the use to be made of it in 
placing our signals, of the use as a foundation 
for light-houses, and of many other questions 
practically important and of high scientific 
interest. I would place a vessel at your dis- 
posal during the time you were on the reef, 
say six weeks. 

The changes at or near Cape Florida, from 
the Atlantic coast and its silicious sand, to 
the Florida coast and its coral sand, must be 
curious. You will be free to move from one 
end of the reef to the other, which will be, say 
one hundred and fifty miles. Motion to east- 
ward would be slow in the windy season, 
though favored by the Gulf Stream as the 
winds are " trade." Whatever collections you 
might make would be your own. I would 
only ask for the survey such information and 
such specimens as would be valuable to its 
operations, especially to its hydrography, and 
some report on these matters. As this will, 
if your time and engagements permit, lead to 
a business arrangement, I must, though reluc- 
tantly, enter into that. I will put aside six 
hundred dollars for the two months, leaving 
you to pay your own expenses ; or, if you 
prefer it, will pay all expenses of travel, in- 
cluding subsistence, to and from Key West, 

VOL. n. 


and furnish vessel and subsistence while there, 
and four hundred dollars. 

What results would flow to science from 
your visit to that region ! You have spoken 
of the advantage of using our vessels when 
they were engaged in their own work. Now 
I offer you a vessel the motions of which you 
will control, and the assistance of the offi- 
cers and crew of which you will have. You 
shall be at no expense for going and com- 
ing, or while there, and shall choose your own 
time. . . . 

Agassiz accepted this proposal with delight, 
and at once made arrangements to take with 
him a draughtsman and an assistant, in order 
to give the expedition such a character as 
would make it useful to science in general, as 
well as to the special objects of the Coast Sur- 
vey. It will be seen that Dr. Bache gladly 
concurred in all these views. 


WASHINGTON, December 18, 1850. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, On the basis of our 
former communications I have been, as the 
time served, raising a superstructure. I have 
arranged with Lieutenant Commander Alden 


to send the schooner W. A. Graham, belong- 
ing to the Coast Survey, under charge of an 
officer who will take an interest in promoting 
the great objects in which you will be en- 
gaged, to Key West, in time to meet you on 
your arrival in the Isabel of the 15th, from 
Charleston to Key West. The vessel will be 
placed at your absolute disposal for four to 
six weeks, as you may find desirable, doing 
just such things as you require, and going to 
such places as you direct. If you desire more 
than a general direction, I will give any spe- 
cific ones which you may suggest. . . . 

I have requested that room be made in the 
cabin for you and for two aids, as you desire 
to take a draughtsman with you ; and in ref- 
erence to your enlarged plan of operating, 
of which I see the advantage, I have exam- 
ined the financial question, and propose to 
add two hundred dollars to the six hundred 
in my letter of October 30th, to enable you to 
execute it. I would suggest that you stop a 
day in Washington on your way to Charleston, 
to pick up the topographical and geographical 
information which you desire, and to have all 
matters of a formal kind arranged to suit 
your convenience and wishes, which, I am 
sure, will all be promotive of the objects in 


view from your visit to Florida. . . . You 
say I shall smile at your plans, instead of 
which, they have been smiled on ; now, there 
is a point for you, a true Saxon distinction. 
If you succeed (and did you ever fail ! ?) 
in developing for our Coast Survey the nature, 
structure, growth, and all that, of the Florida 
reefs, you will have conferred upon the coun- 
try a priceless favor. . . . 

The Superintendent of the Coast Survey 
never had cause to regret the carte-blanche 
he had thus given. A few weeks, with the 
facilities so liberally afforded, gave Agassiz 
a clew to all the phenomena he had been 
commissioned to examine, and enabled him to 
explain the relation between the keys and the 
outer and inner reefs, and the mud swamps, 
or more open channels, dividing them, and 
to connect these again with the hummocks 
and everglades of the main-land. It remains 
to be seen whether his theory will hold good, 
that the whole or the greater part of the Flor- 
ida peninsula has, like its southern portion, 
been built up of concentric reefs. But his 
explanation of the present reefs, their struc- 
ture, laws of growth, relations to each other 
and to the main-land, as well as to the Gulf 


Stream and its prevailing currents, was of 
great practical service to the Coast Survey. 
It was especially valuable in determining how 
far the soil now building up from accumula- 
tions 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. 
When, at the meeting of the American Asso- 
ciation in the following spring, Agassiz gave 
an account of his late exploration, Dr. Bache, 
who was present, said that for the first time 
he understood the bearing; of the whole sub- 


ject, though he had so long been trying to 
unravel it. 

The following letter was written immedi- 
ately after Agassiz' s return. 


CAMBRIDGE, April 26, 1851. 

... I have spent a large part of the win- 
ter in Florida, with a view of studying the 
coral reefs. I have found that they consti- 
tute a new class of reefs, distinct from those 
described by Darwin and Dana under the 
name of fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and 
atolls. I have lately read a paper upon that 
subject before the American Academy, which 


I shall send you as soon as it is printed. The 
case is this. There are several concentric 
reefs separated by deep channels ; the penin- 
sula of Florida itself is a succession of such 
reefs, the everglades being the filled-up chan- 
nels, while the hummocks were formerly little 
intervening islands, like the mangrove islands 
in the present channels. But what is quite 
remarkable, all these concentric reefs are upon 
one level, above that of the sea, and there is 
no indication whatever of upheaval. You will 
find some observations upon upheavals, etc., 
in Silliman, by Tuorney ; it is a great mistake, 
as I shall show. The Tortugas are a real 
atoll, but formed without the remotest indi- 
cation of subsidence. 

Of course this does not interfere in the 
least with the views of Darwin, for the whole 
ground presents peculiar features. I wish 
you would tell him something about this. 
One of the most remarkable peculiarities of 
the rocks in the reefs of the Tortugas consists 
in their composition ; they are chiefly made 
up of Corallines, limestone algae, and, to a 
small extent only, of real corals. . . . 

Agassiz's report to the Coast Survey upon 
the results of this first investigation made by 


him upon the reefs of Florida was not pub- 
lished in full at the time. The parts prac- 
tically most important to the Coast Survey 
were incorporated in their subsequent charts ; 
the more general scientific results, as touch- 
ing the physical history of the peninsula as 
a whole, appeared in various forms, were em- 
bodied in Agassiz's lectures, and were printed 
some years after in his volume entitled " Meth- 
ods of Study." The original report, with all 
the plates prepared for it, was published in 
the " Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology," under the supervision of Alexan- 
der Agassiz, after the death of his father. It 
forms a quarto volume, containing some sixty 
pages of text, with twenty-two plates, illustra- 
tive of corals and coral structure, and a map 
of Southern Florida with its reefs and keys. 

This expedition was also of great impor- 
tance to Agassiz's collections, and to the em- 
bryo museum in Cambridge. It laid the 
foundation of a very complete collection of 
corals of all varieties and in all stages of 
growth. All the specimens, from huge coral 
heads and branching fans down to the most 
minute single corals, were given up to him, 
the value of the whole being greatly en- 
hanced by the drawings taken on the spot 
from the living animals. 


To this period belongs also the following 
fragment of a letter to Humboldt. 


[Probably 1852, date not given.] 

. . . What a time has passed since my last 
letter ! Had you not been constantly in my 
thoughts, and your counsels always before me 
as my guide, I should reproach myself for 
my silence. I hope my two papers on the me- 
dusae, forwarded this year, have reached you, 
and also one upon the classification of insects, 
as based upon their development. I have 
devoted myself especially to the organization 
of the invertebrate animals, and to the facts 
bearing upon the perfecting of their classifi- 
cation. I have succeeded in tracing the same 
identity of structure between the three classes 
of radiates, and also between those of mol- 
lusks, as has already been recognized in the 
vertebrates, and partially in the articulates. 
It is truly a pleasure for me now to be able 
to demonstrate in my lectures the insensible 
gradations existing between polyps, medusae, 
and echinoderms, and to designate by the 
same name organs seemingly so different. 
Especially has the minute examination of the 
thickness of the test in echinoderms revealed 


to me unexpected relations between the sea- 
urchin and the medusa. No one suspects, I 
fancy, at this moment, that the solid envelope 
of the Scutellae and the Clypeasters is trav- 
ersed by a net-work of radiating tubes, corre- 
sponding to those of the medusae, so well pre- 
sented by Ehrenberg in Aurelia aurita. If 
the Berlin zoologists will take the trouble to 
file off the surface of the test of an Echina- 
rachnius parma, they will find a circular canal 
as large and as continuous as that of the me- 
dusae. The aquiferous tubes specified above 
open into this canal. But the same thing 
may be found under various modifications in 
other genera of the family. Since I have 
succeeded in injecting colored liquid into the 
beroids, for instance, and keeping them alive 
with it circulating in their transparent mass, 
I am able to show the identity of their zones 
of locomotive fringes (combs), from which 
they take their name of Ctenophorae, with 
the ambulacral (locomotive) apparatus of the 
echinoderms. Furnished with these facts, it 
is not difficult to recognize true beroidal forms 
in the embryos of sea-urchins and star-fishes, 
published by Miiller in his beautiful plates, 
and thus to trace the medusoid origin of the 
echinoderms, as the polypoid origin of the 


medusae has already been recognized. I do 
not here allude to their primitive origin, but 
simply to the general fact that among radi- 
ates the embryos of the higher classes repre- 
sent, in miniature, types of the lower classes, 
as, for instance, those of the echinoderms re- 
semble the medusse, those of the medusse the 
polyps. Having passed the greater part of 
last winter in Florida, where I was especially 
occupied in studying the coral reefs, I had the 
best opportunity in the world for prosecuting 
my embryological researches upon the stony 
corals. I detected relations among- them which 


now enable me to determine the classification 
of these animals according to their mode of 
development with greater completeness than 
ever before, and even to assign a superior or 
inferior rank to their different types, agreeing 
with their geological succession, as I have 
already done for the fishes. I am on the 
road to the same results for the mollusks and 
the articulates, and can even now say in gen- 
eral terms, that the most ancient representa- 
tives of all the families belonging to these 
great groups, strikingly recall the first phases 
in the embryonic development of their suc- 
cessors in more recent formations, and even 
that the embryos of comparatively recent 


families recall families belonging to ancient 
epochs. You will find some allusion to these 
results in my Lectures on Embryology, given 
in my " Lake Superior/' of which I have 
twice sent you a copy, that it might reach 
you the more surely; but these first impres- 
sions have assumed greater coherence now, 
and I constantly find myself recurring to my 
fossils for light upon the embryonic forms I 
am studying and vice versa, consulting my 
embryological drawings in order to decipher 
the fossils with greater certainty. 

The proximity of the sea and the ease 
with which I can visit any part of the coast 
within a range of some twenty degrees give 
me inexhaustible resources for the whole year, 
which, as time goes on, I turn more and more 
to the best account. On the other hand, the 
abundance and admirable state of preserva- 
tion of the fossils found in our ancient de- 
posits, as well as the regular succession of 
the beds containing them, contribute admi- 
rable material for this kind of comparative 
study. . . . 

In the summer of 1851 Agassiz was invited 
to a professorship at the Medical College in 
Charleston, S. C. This was especially ac- 


ceptable to him, because it substituted a reg- 
ular course of instruction to students, for the 
disconnected lectures given to miscellaneous 
audiences, in various parts of the country, by 
which he was obliged to eke out his small 
salary and provide for his scientific expenses. 
While more fatiguing than class-room work, 
these scattered lectures had a less educational 
value, though, on the other hand, they awak- 
ened a very wide-spread interest in the study 
of nature. The strain of constant traveling 
for this purpose, the more harassing because 
so unfavorable to his habits of continuous 
work, had already told severely upon his 
health ; and from this point of view also the 
new professorship was attractive, as promising 
a more quiet, though no less occupied, life. 
The lectures were to be given during the 
three winter months, thus occupying the in- 
terval between his autumn and spring courses 
at Cambridge. 

He assumed his new duties at Charleston in 
December, 1851, and by the kindness of his 
friend Mrs. Rutledge, who offered him the 
use of her cottage for the purpose, he soon 
established a laboratory on Sullivan's Island, 
where the two or three assistants he had 
brought with him could work conveniently. 


The cottage stood within hearing: of the wash 

o O 

of the waves, at the head of the long, hard 
sand beach which fringed the island shore for 
some three or four miles. There could hardly 
be a more favorable position for a naturalist, 
and there, in the midst of their specimens, 
Agassiz and his band of workers might con- 
stantly be found. His studies here were of 
the greater interest to him because they con- 
nected themselves with his previous researches, 
not only upon the fishes, but also upon the 
lower marine animals of the coast of New 
England and of the Florida reefs ; so that he 
had now a basis for comparison of the fauna 
scattered along the whole Atlantic coast of 
the United States. The following letter gives 
some idea of his work at this time. 


CHARLESTON, January 26, 1852. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You should at least 
know that I think of you often on these 
shores. And how could I do otherwise when 
I daily find new small Crustacea, which remind 
me of the important work you are now pre- 
paring on that subject. 

Of course, of the larger ones there is nothing 
to be found after Professor Gibbes has gone 


over the ground, but among the lower orders 
there are a great many in store for a micro- 
scopic observer. I have only to regret that I 
cannot apply myself more steadily. I find 
my nervous system so over-excited that any 
continuous exertion makes me feverish. So I 
go about as much as the weather allows, and 
gather materials for better times. 

Several interesting medusae have been al- 
ready observed ; among others, the entire 
metamorphosis and alternate generation of a 
new species of my genus tiaropsis. You will 
be pleased to know that here, as well as at 
the North, tiaropsis is the medusa of a campa- 
nularia. Mr. Clark, one of my assistants, has 
made very good drawings of all its stages of 
growth, and of various other hydroid medu- 
sae peculiar to this coast. Mr. Stinipson, 
another very promising young naturalist, who 
has been connected with me for some time in 
the same capacity, draws the Crustacea and 
bryozoa, of which there are also a good many 
new ones here. My son and my old friend 
Burkhardt are also with me (upon Sullivan's 
Island), and they look after the larger species, 
so that I shall probably have greatly increased 
my information upon the fauna of the Atlan- 
tic coast by the time I return to Cambridge. 


In town, where I go three times a week to 
deliver lectures at the Medical College (be- 
side a course just now in the evening also 
before a mixed audience), I have the rest of 
my family, so that nothing would be wanting 
to my happiness if my health were only bet- 
ter. . . . What a pity that a man cannot 
work as much as he would like ; or at least 
accomplish what he aims at. But no doubt 
it is best it should be so ; there is no harm in 
being compelled by natural necessities to limit 
our ambition, on the contrary, the better 
sides of our nature are thus not allowed to go 
to sleep. However, I cannot but regret that 
I am unable at this time to trace more exten- 
sively subjects for which I would have ample 
opportunities here, as for instance the anat- 
omy of the echinoderms, and also the embry- 
ology of the lower animals in general. ... 

This winter, notwithstanding the limitations 
imposed upon his work by the state of his 
health, was a very happy one to Agassiz. As 
mentioned in the above letter his wife and 
daughters had accompanied him to Charles- 
ton, and were established there in lodgings. 
Their holidays and occasional vacations were 
passed at the house of Dr. John E. Holbrook 


(the "Hollow Tree"), an exquisitely pretty 
and picturesque country place in the neigh- 
borhood of Charleston. Here Agassiz had 
been received almost as one of the family on 
his first visit to Charleston, shortly after his 
arrival in the United States. Dr. Holbrook's 
name, as the author of the " Herpetology of 
South Carolina," had long been familiar to 
him, and he now found a congenial and af- 
fectionate friend in the colleague and fellow- 
worker, whose personal acquaintance he had 
been anxious to make. Dr. Holbrook's wife, 
a direct descendant of John Rutledge of our 
revolutionary history, not only shared her 
husband's intellectual life, but had herself 
rare mental qualities, which had been devel- 
oped by an unusually complete and efficient 
education. The wide and various range of 
her reading, the accuracy of her knowledge 
in matters of history and literature, and the 
charm of her conversation, made her a de- 
lightful companion. She exercised the most 
beneficent influence upon her large circle of 
young people, and without any effort to at- 
tract, she drew to herself whatever was most 
bright and clever in the society about her. 
The " Hollow Tree," presided over by its 
hospitable host and hostess was, therefore, 


the centre of a stimulating and cultivated so- 
cial intercourse, free from all yne or formal- 
ity. Here Agassiz and his family spent many 
happy days during their southern sojourn of 
1852. The woods were yellow with jessa- 
mine, and the low, deep piazza was shut in by 
vines and roses ; the open windows and the 
soft air full of sweet, out-of-door fragrance 
made one forget, spite of the wood fire on the 
hearth, that it was winter by the calendar. 
The days, passed almost wholly in the woods 
or on the veranda, closed with evenings spent 
not infrequently in discussions upon the sci- 
entific ideas and theories of the day, carried 
often beyond the region of demonstrated facts 
into that of speculative thought. An ever- 
recurring topic was that of the origin of the 
human race. It was Agassiz' s declared belief 
that man had sprung not from a common 
stock, but from various centres, and that the 
original circumscription of these primordial 
groups of the human family corresponded in 
a large and general way with the distribution 
of animals and their combination into faunae. 1 
His special zoological studies were too en- 

1 See Sketch of the Natural Provinces of the Animal World 
and their Relation to the Different Types of Man included in 
Nott & Gliddon's Types of Mankind. 
VOL. II. 7 


grossing to allow him to follow this line of 
investigation closely, but it was never absent 
from his view of the animal kingdom as a 
whole. He valued extremely Mrs. Holbrook's 
thoughtful sympathy, and as the following 
letter connects itself with the winter evening 
talks by the " Hollow Tree ' ' fireside, and was 
suggested by them, it may be given here, 
though in date it is a little in advance of the 
present chapter. 


CAMBRIDGE, July, 1852. 

... I am again working at the human 
races, and have opened another line of inves- 
tigation in that direction. The method fol- 
lowed by former investigators does not seem 
to me to have been altogether the best, since 
there is so little agreement between them. 
The difficulty has, no doubt, arisen on one 
side from the circumstance that the inquirer 
sought for evidence of the unity of all races, 
expecting the result to agree with the pre- 
vailing interpretation of Genesis ; and on the 
other from too zoological a point of view in 
weighing the differences observed. Again, 
both have almost set aside all evidence not 
directly derived from the examination of the 


races themselves. It has occurred to me that 
as a preliminary inquiry we ought to con- 
sider the propriety of applying to man the 
same rules as to animals, examining the limits 
within which they obtain, and paying due at- 
tention to all circumstances bearing upon the 
differences observed among men, from what- 
ever quarter in the study of nature they may 
be gathered. What do the monkeys say to 
this ? or, rather, what have they to tell in 
reference to it? There are among them as 
great, and, indeed, even greater, differences 
than among men, for they are acknowledged 
to constitute different genera, and are referred 
to many, indeed to more than a hundred, 
species ; but they are the nearest approach to 
the human family, and we may at least derive 
some hints from them. How much mixture 
there is among these species, if any, is not at 
all ascertained ; indeed, we have not the least 
information respecting their intercourse ; but 
one point is certain, zoologists agree as lit- 
tle among themselves respecting the limits of 
these species as they do respecting the affini- 
ties of the races of men. What some consider 
as distinct species, others consider as mere va- 
rieties, and these varieties or species differ in 
particulars neither more constant nor more 


important than those which distinguish the 
human races. The fact that they are ar- 
ranged in different genera, species, and vari- 
eties does not lessen the value of the com- 
parison ; for the point in question is just to 
know whether nations, races, and what have 
also been called families of men, such as the 
Indo-Germanic, the Semitic, etc., do not in 
reality correspond to the families, genera, and 
species of monkeys. Now the first great sub- 
divisions among the true monkeys (excluding 
Makis and Arctopitheci) are founded upon 
the form of the nose, those of the new world 
having a broad partition between the nostrils, 
while those of the old world have it narrow. 
How curious that this fact, which has been 
known to naturalists for half a century, as 
presenting a leading feature among monkeys, 
should have been overlooked in man, when, 
in reality, the negroes and Australians differ 
in precisely the same manner from the other 
races ; they having a broad partition, and 
nostrils opening sideways, like the monkeys of 
South America, while the other types of the 
human family have a narrow partition and 
nostrils opening downward, like the monkeys 
of Asia and Africa. Again, the minor differ- 
ences, such as the obliquity of the anterior 


teeth, the thickness of the lips, the projection 
of the cheek-bones, the position of the eyes, 
the characteristic hair, or wool, afford as con- 
stant differences as those by which the chim- 
panzees, orangs, and gibbons are separated 
into distinct genera ; and their respective spe- 
cies differ no more than do the Greeks, Ger- 
mans, and Arabs, or the Chinese, Tartars, 
and Finns, or the New Zealanders and Ma- 
lays, which are respectively referred to the 
same race. The truth is, that the different 
species admitted by some among the orangs 
are in reality races among monkeys, or else 
the races among men are nothing more than 
what are called species among certain mon- 
keys. . . . Listen for a moment to the fol- 
lowing facts, and when you read this place a 
map of the world before you. Upon a nar- 
row strip of land along the Gulf of Guinea, 
from Cape Palmas to the Gaboon, live two 
so - called species of chimpanzee ; upon the 
islands of Sumatra and Borneo live three or 
four orangs; upon the shores of the Gulf 
of Bengal, including the neighborhood of 
Calcutta, Burmah, Malacca, Sumatra, Borneo, 
and Java together, ten or eleven species of 
gibbons, all of which are the nearest relatives 
to the human family, some being as large as 


certain races of men ; altogether, fifteen spe- 
cies of anthropoid monkeys playing their part 
in the animal population of the world upon 
an area not equaling by any means the sur- 
face of Europe. Some of these species are 
limited to Borneo, others to Sumatra, others 
to Java alone, others to the peninsula of 
Malacca ; that is to say to tracts of land simi- 
lar in extent to Spain, France, Italy, and even 
to Ireland ; distinct animals, considered by 
most naturalists as distinct species, approach- 
ing man most closely in structural eminence 
and size, limited to areas not larger than Spain 
or Italy. Why, then, should not the primitive 
theatre of a nation of men have been circum- 
scribed within similar boundaries, and from 
the beginning have been as independent as 
the chimpanzee of Guinea, or the orangs of 
Borneo and Sumatra ? Of course, the supe- 
rior powers of man have enabled him to un- 
dertake migrations, but how limited are these, 
and how slight the traces they have left be- 
hind them. . . . Unfortunately for natural 
history, history so-called has recorded more 
faithfully the doings of handfuls of adven- 
turers than the real history of the primitive 
nations with whom the migrating tribes came 
into contact. But I hope it will yet be pos- 


sible to dive under these waves of migration, 
to remove, as it were, the trace of their pas- 
sage, and to read the true history of the past 
inhabitants of the different parts of the world, 
when it will be found, if all analogies are not 
deceptive, that every country equaling in ex- 
tent those within the limits of which distinct 
nationalities are known to have played their 
part in history, has had its distinct aborigines, 
the character of which it is now the duty of 
naturalists to restore, if it be not too late, in 
the same manner as paleontologists restore 
fossil remains. I have already made some 
attempts, by studying ancient geography, and 
I hope the task may yet be accomplished. 
Look, for instance, at Spain. The Iberians 
are known as the first inhabitants, never ex- 
tending much beyond the Pyrenees to the 
Garonne, and along the gulfs of Lyons and 
Genoa. As early as during the period of 
Phoenician prosperity they raised wool from 
their native sheep, derived from the Mouflon, 
still found wild in Spain, Corsica, and Sar- 
dinia ; they had a peculiar breed of horses, to 
this day differing from all other horses in the 
world. Is this not better evidence of their 
independent origin, than is the fancied line- 
age with the Indo-Germanic family of their 


Oriental descent ? For we must not forget, 
in connection with this, that the Basque lan- 
guage was once the language of all Spain, 
that which the Iberian spoke, and which has 
no direct relation to Sanskrit. 

I have alluded but slightly to the negro 
race, and not at all to the Indians. I would 
only add with reference to these that I begin 
to perceive the possibility of distinguishing 
different centres of growth in these two con- 
tinents. If we leave out of consideration 
fancied migrations, what connection can be 
traced, for instance, between the Eskimos, 
along the whole northern districts of this con- 
tinent, and the Indians of the United States, 
those of Mexico, those of Peru, and those of 
Brazil ? Is there any real connection between 
the coast tribes of the northwest coast, the 
mound builders, the Aztec civilization, the 
Inca, and the Gueranis? It seems to me no 
more than between the Assyrian and Egyp- 
tian civilization. And as to negroes, there 
is, perhaps, a still greater difference between 
those of Senegal, of Guinea, and the Caffres 
and Hottentots, when compared with the Gal- 
lahs and Mandingoes. But where is the time 
to be taken for the necessary investigations 
involved in these inquiries? Pray write to 


me soon what you say to all this, and believe 
me always your true friend, 


In the spring of 1852, while still in Charles- 
ton, Agassiz heard that the Prix Cuvier, now 
given for the first time, was awarded to him 
for the " Poissons Fossiles." This gratified 
him the more because the work had been so 
directly bequeathed to him by Cuvier himself. 
To his mother, through whom he received the 
news in advance of the official papers, it also 
gave great pleasure. " Your fossil fishes," 
she says, " which have cost you so much anx- 
iety, so much toil, so many sacrifices, have 
now been estimated at their true value by the 
most eminent judges. . . . This has given me 
such happiness, dear Louis, that the tears are 
in my eyes as I write it to you." She had fol- 
lowed the difficulties of his task too closely 
not to share also its success. 


1852-1855: ,ET. 45-48. 

Return to Cambridge. Anxiety about Collections. Pur- 
chase of Collections. Second Winter in Charleston. 
Illness. Letter to James D. Dana concerning Geograph- 
ical Distribution and Geological Succession of Animals. 
Resignation of Charleston Professorship. Propositions 
from Zurich. Letter to Oswald Heer. Decision to re- 
main in Cambridge. Letters to James D. Dana, S. S. 
Haldeman, and Others respecting Collections illustrative 
of the Distribution of Fishes, Shells, etc., in Our Rivers. 
Establishment of Schools for Girls. 

AGASSIZ returned from Charleston to Cam- 
bridge in the early spring, pausing in Wash- 
ington to deliver a course of lectures before 
the Smithsonian Institution. By this time he 
had become intimate with Professor Henry, 
at whose hospitable house he and his family 
were staying during their visit at Washing- 
ton. He had the warmest sympathy not only 
with Professor Henry's scientific work and 
character, but also with his views regarding 
the Smithsonian Institution, of which he had 
become the Superintendent shortly after Agas- 
siz arrived in this country. Agassiz himself 
was soon appointed one of the Regents of the 


Institution and remained upon the Board until 
his death. 

Agassiz now began to feel an increased 
anxiety about his collections. During the six 
years of his stay in the United States he had 
explored the whole Atlantic sea-board as well 
as the lake and river system of the Eastern 
and Middle States, and had amassed such ma- 
terials in natural history as already gave his 
collections, in certain departments at least, a 
marked importance. In the lower animals, 
and as illustrating the embryology of the 
marine invertebrates, they were especially val- 
uable. It had long been a favorite idea with 
him to build up an embryological department 
in his prospective museum ; the more so be- 
cause such a provision on any large scale had 
never been included in the plan of the great 
zoological institutions, and he believed it 
would have a direct and powerful influence 
on the progress of modern science. The col- 
lections now in his possession included ample 
means for this kind of research, beside a fair 
representation of almost all classes of the ani- 
mal kingdom. Packed together, however, in 
the narrowest quarters, they were hardly with- 
in his own reach, much less could they be 
made available for others. His own resources 


were strained to the utmost, merely to save 
these precious materials from destruction. It 
is true that in 1850 the sum of four hundred 
dollars, to be renewed annually, was allowed 
him by the University for their preservation, 
and a barrack -like wooden building on the 
college grounds, far preferable to the bath- 
house by the river, was provided for their 
storage. But the cost of keeping them was 
counted by thousands, not by hundreds, and 
the greater part of what Agassiz could make 
by his lectures outside of Cambridge was 
swallowed up in this way. It was, perhaps, 
the knowledge of this which induced certain 
friends, interested in him and in science, to 
subscribe twelve thousand dollars for the pur- 
chase of his collections, to be thus perma- 
nently secured to Cambridge. This gave him 
back, in part, the sum he had already spent 
upon them, and which he was more than ready 
to spend again in their maintenance and in- 

The next year showed that his over-bur- 
dened life was beginning to tell upon his 
health. Scarcely had he arrived in Charleston 
and begun his course at the Medical College 
when he was attacked by a violent fever, and 
his life was in danger for many days. Fortu- 


nately for him his illness occurred at the " Hol- 
low Tree/' where he was passing the Christmas 
holidays. Dr. and Mrs. Holbrook were like 
a brother and sister to him, and nothing could 
exceed the kindness he received under their 
roof. One young friend who had been his 
pupil, and to whom he was much attached, 
Dr. St. Julian Ravenel, was constantly at his 
bedside. His care was invaluable, for he com- 
bined the qualities of physician and nurse. 
Under such watchful tending, Agassiz could 
hardly fail to mend if cure were humanly pos- 
sible. The solicitude of these nearer friends 
seemed to be shared by the whole community, 
and his recovery gave general relief. He was 
able to resume his lectures toward the end of 
February. Spite of the languor of convales- 
cence his elastic mind was at once ready for 
work, as may be seen by the following extract 
from one of his first letters. 


February 16, 1853. } 

... It seems, indeed, to me as if in the 
study of the geographical distribution of ani- 
mals the present condition of the animal king- 
dom was too exclusively taken into considera- 


tion. Whenever it can be done, and I hope 
before long it may be done for all classes, it 
will be desirable to take into account the rela- 
tions of the living to the fossil species. Since 
you are as fully satisfied as I am that the lo- 
cation of animals, with all their peculiarities, 
is not the result of physical influences, but 
lies within the plans and intentions of the 
Creator, it must be obvious that the succes- 
sive introduction of all the diversity of forms 
which have existed from the first appearance 
of any given division of the animal kingdom 
up to the present creation, must have refer- 
ence to the location of those now in existence. 
For instance, if it be true among mammalia 
that the highest types, such as quadrumana, 
are essentially tropical, may it not be that the 
prevailing distribution of the inferior pachy- 
derms within the same geographical limits is 
owing to the circumstance that their type 
was introduced upon earth during a warmer 
period in the history of our globe, and that 
their present location is in accordance with 
that fact, rather than related to their degree 
of organization ? The pentacrinites, the low- 
est of the echinoderms, have only one living 
representative in tropical America, where we 
find at the same time the highest and largest 


spatangi and holothuridae. Is this not quite 
a parallel case with the monkeys and pachy- 
derms ? for once crinoids were the only rep- 
resentatives of the class of echinoderms. May 
we not say the same of crocodiles when com-: 
pared with the ancient gigantic saurians ? or 
are the crocodiles, as an order, distinct from 
the other saurians, and really higher than the 
turtles ? Innumerable questions of this kind, 
of great importance for zoology, are sug- 
gested at every step, as soon as we compare 
the present distribution of animals with that 
of the inhabitants of former geological pe- 
riods. Among Crustacea, it is very remark- 
able that trilobites and limulus-like forms 
are the only representatives of the class dur- 
ing the paleozoic ages ; that macrourans pre- 
vailed in the same manner during the second- 


ary period ; and that brachyurans make their 
appearance only in the tertiary period. Do 
you discover in your results any connection 
between such facts and the present distribu- 
tion of Crustacea ? There is certainly one 
feature in their classification which must ap- 
pear very striking, that, taken on a large 
scale, the organic rank of these animals agrees 
in the main with their order of succession in 
geological times ; and this fact is of no small 


importance when it is found that the same 
correspondence between rank and succession 
obtains through all classes of the animal king- 
dom, and that similar features are displayed 
in the embryonic growth of all types so far 
as now known. 

But I feel my head is growing dull, and I 
will stop here. Let me conclude by congrat- 
ulating you on having completed your great 
work on Crustacea. . . . 

Agassiz returned to the North in the spring 
of 1853 by way of the Mississippi, stopping 
to lecture at Mobile, New Orleans, and St. 
Louis. On leaving Charleston he proffered 
his resignation with deep regret, for, beside 
the close personal ties he had formed, he was 
attached to the place, the people, and to his 
work there. He had hoped to establish a per- 
manent station for sustained observations in 
South Carolina, and thus to carry on a series 
of researches which, taken in connection with 
his studies on the New England coast and its 
vicinity, and on the Florida reefs and shores, 
would afford a wide field of comparison. This 
was not to be, however. The Medical Col- 
lege refused, indeed, to accept his resignation, 
granting him, at the same time, a year of 


absence. But it soon became evident that 
his health was seriously shaken, and that he 
needed the tonic of the northern winter. He 
was, indeed, never afterward as strong as he 
had been before this illness. 

The winter of 1854 was passed in Cam- 
bridge with such quiet and rest as the condi- 
tions of his life would allow. In May of that 
year he received an invitation to the recently 
established University of Zurich, in Switzer- 
land. His acceptance was urged upon the 
ground of patriotism as well as on that of 
a liberal endowment both for the professor, 
and for the museum of which he was to have 
charge. The offer was tempting, but Agas- 
siz was in love (the word is not too strong) 
with the work he had undertaken and the 
hopes he had formed in America. He be- 
lieved that by his own efforts, combined with 
the enthusiasm for science which he had 
aroused and constantly strove to keep alive 
and foster in the community, he should at last 
succeed in founding a museum after his own 
heart in the United States, a museum which 
should not be a mere accumulation, however 
vast or extensive, of objects of natural his- 
tory, but should have a well-combined and 
clearly expressed educational value. As we 

VOL. II. 8 


shall see, neither the associations of his early 
life nor the most tempting scientific prizes in 
the gift of the old world could divert him 
from this settled purpose. The proposition 
from Zurich was not official, but came through 
a friend and colleague, for whom he had the 
deepest sympathy and admiration, Oswald 
Heer. To work in his immediate neighbor- 
hood would have been in itself a temptation. 


CAMBRIDGE, January 9, 1855. 

MY HONORED FRIEND, How shall I make 
you understand why your kind letter, though 
it reached me some months ago, has remained 
till now unanswered. It concerns a decision of 
vital importance to my whole life, and in such 
a case one must not decide hastily, nor even 
with too exclusive regard for one's own pref- 
erence in the matter. You cannot doubt that 
the thought of joining an institution of my 
native country, and thus helping to stimulate 
scientific progress in the land of my birth, my 
home, and my early friends, appeals to all I 
hold dear and honorable in life. On the other 
side I have now been eight years in America, 
have learned to understand the advantages of 
my position here, and have begun undertak- 


ings which are not yet brought to a conclu- 
sion. I am aware also how wide an influence 
I already exert upon this land of the future, 
an influence which gains in extent and in- 
tensity with every year, so that it becomes 
very difficult for me to discern clearly where 
I can be most useful to science. Among my 
privileges I must not overlook that of passing 
much of my time on the immediate sea-shore, 
where the resources for the zoologist and em- 
bryologist are inexhaustible. I have now a 
house distant only a few steps from an admi- 
rable locality for these studies, and can there- 
fore pursue them uninterruptedly throughout 
the whole year, instead of being limited, like 
most naturalists, to the short summer vaca- 
tions. It is true I miss the larger museums, 
libraries, etc., as well as the stimulus to be de- 
rived from association with a number of like- 
minded co-workers, all striving toward the 
same end. With every year, however, the 
number of able and influential investigators 
increases here, and among them are some who 
might justly claim a prominent place any- 
where. . . . 

Neither are means for publication lacking. 
The larger treatises with costly illustrations ap- 
pear in the Smithsonian Contributions, in the 


Transactions of the American Philosophical 
Society, in those of the Academy of Natural 
Sciences, and in the Memoirs of the American 
Academy; while the smaller communications 
find a place in Silliman's Journal, in the Jour- 
nal of the Boston Natural History Society, 
and in the proceedings of other scientific so- 
cieties. Museums also are already founded ; 
. . . and beside these there are a number of 
private collections in single departments of 
zoology. . . . Better than all this, however, is 
the lively and general interest taken in the 
exploration of the country itself. Every sci- 
entific expedition sent out by the government 
to the interior, or to the Western States of 
Oregon and California, is accompanied by a 
scientific commission, zoologists, geologists, 
and botanists. By this means magnificent 
collections, awaiting only able investigators to 
work them up, have been brought together. 
Indeed, I do not believe that as many new 
things are accumulated anywhere as just here, 
and it is my hope to contribute hereafter to 
the more critical and careful examination of 
these treasures. Under these circumstances I 
have asked myself for months past how I 
ought to decide ; not what were my inclina- 
tions, for that is not the question, but what 


was my duty toward science? After the most 
careful consideration I am no longer in doubt, 
and though it grieves me to do so, I write to 
beg that you will withdraw from any action 
which might bring me a direct call to the pro- 
fessorship in Zurich. I have decided to re- 
main here for an indefinite time, under the 
conviction that I shall exert a more advan- 
tageous and more extensive influence on the 
progress of science in this country than in 

I regret that I cannot accept your offer of 
the Oeningen fossils. In the last two years 
I have spent more than 20,000 francs on my 
collection, and must not incur any farther ex- 
pense of that kind at present. As soon, how- 
ever, as I have new means at my command 
such a collection would be most welcome, and 
should it remain in your hands I may be very 
glad to take it. Neither can I make any ex- 
change of duplicates just now, as I have not 
yet been able to sort my collections and set 
aside the specimens which may be considered 
only as materials for exchange. Can you pro- 
cure for me Glarus fishes in any considerable 
number ? I should like to purchase them 
for my collection, and do not care for single 
specimens of every species, but would prefer 


whole suites that I may revise my former iden- 
tifications in the light of a larger insight. 

Remember me kindly to all my Zurich 
friends, and especially to C. Escher. . . . 

His ever - increasing and at last wholly un- 
manageable correspondence attests the general 
sympathy for and cooperation with his scien- 
tific aims in the United States. In 1853, for 
instance, he had issued a circular, asking for 
collections of fishes from various fresh-water 
systems of the United States, in order that he 
might obtain certain data respecting the laws 
of their distribution and localization. To this 
he had hundreds of answers coming from all 
parts of the country, many of them very 
shrewd and observing, giving facts respecting 
the habits of fishes, as well as concerning their 
habitat, and offering aid in the general object. 
Nor were these empty promises. A great 
number and variety of collections, now mak- 
ing part of the ichthyological treasures of the 
Museum at Cambridge, were forwarded to him 
in answer to this appeal. Indeed, he now be- 
gan to reap, in a new form, the harvest of his 
wandering lecture tours. In this part of his 
American experience he had come into con- 
tact with all classes of people, and had found 


some o his most intelligent and sympathetic 
listeners in the working class. Now that he 


needed their assistance he often found his co- 
laborers among farmers, stock-raisers, sea-far- 
ing men, fishermen, and sailors. Many a New 
England captain, when he started on a cruise, 
had on board collecting cans, furnished by 
Agassiz, to be filled in distant ports or nearer 
home, as the case might be, and returned to 
the Museum at Cambridge. One or two let- 
ters, written to scientific friends at the time the 
above-mentioned circular was issued, will give 
an idea of the way in which Agassiz laid out 
such investigations. 


CAMBRIDGE, July 8, 1853. 

... I have been lately devising some 
method of learning how far animals are truly 
autochthones, and how far they have extended 
their primitive boundaries. I will attempt to 
test that question with Long Island, the larg- 
est of all the islands along our coast. For 
this purpose I will for the present limit myself 
to the fresh-water fishes and shells, and for 
the sake of comparison I will try to collect 
carefully all the species living in the rivers of 
Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, and 


see whether they are identical with those of 
the island. Whatever may come out of such 
an investigation it will, at all events, furnish 
interesting data upon the local distribution of 
the species. ... I am almost confident that 
it will lead to something interesting, for there 
is one feature of importance in the case ; the 
present surface of Long Island is not older 
than the drift period ; all its inhabitants must, 
therefore, have been introduced since that 
time. I shall see that I obtain similar col- 
lections from the upper course of the Con- 
necticut, so as to ascertain whether there, as 
in the Mississippi, the species differ at differ- 
ent heights of the river basin. . . . 


CAMBRIDGE, July 9, 1853. 

. . . While ascending the great Mississippi 
last spring I was struck with the remarkable 
fact that the fishes differ essentially in the 
different parts of that long water-course, 
a fact I had already noticed in the Rhine, 
Rhone, and Danube, though there the differ- 
ence arises chiefly from the occurrence, in the 
higher Alpine regions, of representatives of 
the trout family which are not found in the 


main river course. In the Mississippi, how- 
ever, the case is otherwise and very striking, 
inasmuch as we find here, at separate lati- 
tudes, distinct species of the same genera, 
somewhat like the differences observed in dis- 
tinct water-basins ; and yet the river is ever 
flowing on past these animals, which remain, 
as it were, spell -bound to the regions most 
genial to them. The question at once arises, 
do our smaller rivers present similar differ- 
ences ? I have already taken steps to obtain 
complete collections of fishes, shells, and cray- 
fishes from various stations on the Connecti- 
cut and the Hudson, and their tributaries ; 
and I should be very happy if I could include 
the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Ohio in my 
comparisons. My object in writing now is to 
inquire whether you could assist me in mak- 
ing separate collections, as complete as pos- 
sible, of all these animals from the north and 
west branches of the Susquehanna, from the 
main river either at Harrisburg or Columbia, 
and from the Juniata, also from the Schuyl- 
kill, Lehigh, and Delaware, and from the Al- 
leghany and Monongahela. I have Swiss 
friends in the State of New York who have 
promised me to collect the fishes from the 
head-waters of the Delaware and Susque- 


hanna within the limits of the State of New 
York. I cannot, of course, expect you to sur- 
vey your State for me, but among your ac- 
quaintance in various parts of your State are 
there not those who, with proper directions, 
could do the work for me ? I would, of 
course, gladly repay all their expenses. The 
subject seems to me so important as to justify 
any effort in that direction. Little may be 
added to the knowledge of the fishes them- 
selves, for I suppose most of the species have 
been described either by De Kay, Kirtland, 
or Storer ; but a careful study of their spe- 
cial geographical distribution may furnish re- 
sults as important to zoology as the knowl- 
edge of the species themselves. If you can- 
not write yourself, will you give me the names 
of such persons as might be persuaded to aid 
in the matter. I know from your own obser- 
vations in former times that you have already 
collected similar facts for the Unios, so that 
you will at once understand and appreciate 
my object. . . . 

He writes in the same strain and for the 
same object to Professor Yandell, of Ken- 
tucky, adding : " In this respect the State of 
Kentucky is one of the most important of the 


Union, not only on account of the many riv- 
ers which pass through its territory, but also 
because it is one of the few States the fishes 
of which have been described by former ob- 
servers, especiaUy by Rafinesque in his " Ich- 
thyologia Ohioensis," so that a special knowl- 
edge of all his original types is a matter of 
primary importance for any one who would 
compare the fishes of the different rivers of 
the West. . . . Do you know whether there 
is anything left of Rafinesque' s collection of 
fishes in Lexington, and if so, whether the 
specimens are labeled, as it would be very im- 
portant to identify his species from his own 
collection and his own labels ? I never re- 
gretted more than now that circumstances 
have not yet allowed me to visit your State 
and make a stay in Louisville." 

In 1854 Agassiz moved to a larger house, 
built for him by the college. Though very 
simple, it was on a liberal scale with respect 
to space ; partly in order to accommodate his 
library, consisting of several thousand vol- 
umes, now for the first time collected and 
arranged in one room. He became very fond 
of this Cambridge home, where, with few ab- 
sences, he spent the remainder of his life. 
The architect, Mr. Henry Greenough, was his 


personal friend, and from the beginning the 
house adapted itself with a kindly readiness to 
whatever plans developed under its roof. As 
will he seen, these were not few, and were 
sometimes of considerable moment. For his 
work also the house was extremely convenient. 
His habits in this respect were, however, sin- 
gularly independent of place and circumstance. 
Unlike most studious men, he had no fixed 
spot in the house for writing. Although the 
library, with the usual outfit of well -filled 
shelves, maps, large tables, etc., held his ma- 
terials, he brought what he needed for the 
evening by preference to the drawing-room, 
and there, with his paper on his knee, and his 
books for reference on a chair beside him, he 
wrote and read as busily as if he were quite 
alone. Sometimes when dancing and music 
were going on among the young people of the 
family and their guests, he drew a little table 
into the corner of the room, and continued 
his occupations as undisturbed and engrossed 
as if he had been in complete solitude, only 
looking up from time to time with a pleased 
smile or an apt remark, which showed that he 
did not lose but rather enjoyed what was go- 
ing on about him. 

His children's friends were his friends. As 


his daughters grew up, he had the habit of in- 
viting their more intimate companions to his 
library for an afternoon weekly. On these 
occasions there was always some subject con- 
nected with the study of nature under discus- 
sion, but the talk was so easy and so fully il- 
lustrated that it did not seem like a lesson. 
The daughters of Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson 
were members of this class, and it is pleasant 
to remember that in later years he revived the 
custom, and their friends (being, indeed, the 
same set of young people as had formerly 
met in Agassiz's library) used to meet in Mr. 
Emerson's study at Concord for a similar ob- 
ject. He talked to them of poetry and litera- 
ture and philosophy as Agassiz had talked to 
them of nature. Those were golden days, 
not to be forgotten by any who shared their 
happy privilege. 

In the winter of 1855 Agassiz endeavored 
to resume his public lectures as a means of in- 
creasing his resources. He was again, how- 
ever, much exhausted when spring came, and 
it seemed necessary to seek some other means 
of support, for without considering scientific 
expenses, his salary of fifteen hundred dollars 
did not suffice for the maintenance of his fam- 
ily. Under these circumstances it occurred 


to his wife and his two older children, now of 
an age to assist her in such a scheme, that a 
school for young ladies might be established 
in the upper part of the new and larger house. 
By the removal of one or two partitions, ample 
room could be obtained for the accommoda- 
tion of a sufficient number of pupils, and if 
successful such a school would perhaps make 
good in a pecuniary sense the lecturing tours 
which were not only a great fatigue to Agas- 
siz, but an interruption also to all consecutive 
scientific work. In consultation with friends 
these plans were partly matured before they 
were confided to Agassiz himself . When the 
domestic conspirators revealed their plot, his 
surprise and pleasure knew no bounds. The 
first idea had been simply to establish a pri- 
vate school on the usual plan, only referring to 
his greater experience for advice and direction 
in its general organization. But he claimed 
at once an active share in the work. Under 
his inspiring influence the outline enlarged, 
and when the circular announcing the school 
was issued, it appeared under his name, and 
contained these words in addition to the pro- 
gramme of studies : " I shall myself super- 
intend the methods of instruction and tui- 
tion, and while maintaining that regularity 


and precision in the studies so important to 
mental training shall endeavor to prevent the 
necessary discipline from falling into a life- 
less routine, alike deadening to the spirit of 
teacher and pupil. It is farther my intention 
to take the immediate charge of the instruc- 
tion in Physical Geography, Natural History, 
and Botany, giving a lecture daily, Saturdays 
excepted, on one or other of these subjects, 
illustrated by specimens, models, maps, and 

In order not to interrupt the course of the 
narrative, the history of this undertaking in 
its sequence and general bearing on his life 
and work may be completed here in a few 
words. This school secured to him many 
happy and comparatively tranquil years. It 
enabled him to meet both domestic and scien- 
tific expenses, and to pay the heavy debt he 
had brought from Europe as the penalty of 
his " Fossil Fishes ' ' and his investigations on 
the glaciers. When the school closed after 
eight years he was again a free man. With 
an increased salary from the college, and with 
such provision for the Museum (thanks to the 
generosity of the State and of individuals) as 
rendered it in a great degree independent, he 
was never again involved in the pecuniary 


anxieties of his earlier career. The occupa- 
tion of teaching was so congenial to him that 
his part in the instruction of the school did 
not at any time weigh heavily upon him. He 
never had an audience more responsive and 
more eager to learn than the sixty or seventy 
girls who gathered every day at the close of 
the morning to hear his daily lecture ; nor did 
he ever give to any audience lectures more 
carefully prepared, more comprehensive in 
their range of subjects, more lofty in their 
tone of thought. As a teacher he always dis- 
criminated between the special student, and 
the one to whom he cared to impart only such 
a knowledge of the facts of nature, as would 
make the world at least partially intelligible 
to him. To a school of young girls he did 
not think of teaching technical science, and 
yet the subjects of his lectures comprised very 
abstruse and comprehensive questions. It 
was the simplicity and clearness of his method 
which made them so interesting to his young 
listeners. " What I wish for you," he would 
say, " is a culture that is alive, active, suscep- 
tible of farther development. Do not think 
that I care to teach you this or the other spe- 
cial science. My instruction is only intended 
to show you the thoughts in nature which 


science reveals, and the facts I give you are 
useful only, or chiefly, for this object." 

Running 1 over the titles of his courses dur- 


ing several consecutive years of this school 
instruction they read : Physical Geography 
and Paleontology; Zoology; Botany; Coral 
Reefs ; Glaciers ; Structure and Formation 
of Mountains ; Geographical Distribution of 
Animals ; Geological Succession of Animals ; 
Growth and Development of Animals ; Phi- 
losophy of Nature, etc. With the help of 
drawings, maps, bas-reliefs, specimens, and 
countless illustrations on the blackboard, these 
subjects were made clear to the pupils, and 
the lecture hour was anticipated as the bright- 
est of the whole morning. It soon became a 
habit with friends and neighbors, and espe- 
cially with the mothers of the scholars, to 
drop in for the lectures, and thus the school 
audience was increased by a small circle of 
older listeners. The corps of teachers was 
also gradually enlarged. The neighborhood 
of the university was a great advantage in 
this respect, and Agassiz had the cooperation 
not only of his brother-in-law, Professor Fel- 
ton, but of others among his colleagues, who 
took classes in special departments, or gave 

lectures in history and literature. 
VOL. n. 9 


This school opened in 1855 and closed in 
1863. The civil war then engrossed all 
thoughts, and interfered somewhat also with 
the success of private undertakings. Partly 
on this account, partly also because it had 
ceased to be a pecuniary necessity, it seemed 
wise to give up the school at this time. The 
friendly relations formed there did not, how- 
ever, cease with it. For years afterward on 
the last Thursday of June (the day of the 
annual closing of the school) a meeting of 
the old pupils was held at the Museum, which 
did not exist when the school began, but was 
fully established before its close. There Agas- 
siz showed them the progress of his scientific 
work, told them of his future plans for the in- 
stitution, and closed with a lecture such as he 
used to give them in their school-days. The 
last of these meetings took place in 1873, the 
last year of his own life. The memory of it 
is connected with a gift to the Museum of 
four thousand and fifty dollars from a num- 
ber of the scholars, now no longer girls, but 
women with their own cares and responsibil- 
ities. Hearing that there was especial need of 
means for the care of the more recent collec- 
tions, they had subscribed this sum among 
themselves to express their affection for their 


old teacher, as well as their interest in his 
work, and in the institution he had founded. 
His letter of acknowledgment to the one 


among them who had acted as their treasurer 


makes a fitting close to this chapter. 

. . . Hardly anything in my life has touched 
me more deeply than the gift I received this 
week from my school-girls. From no source 
in the world could sympathy be more genial 
to me. The money I shall appropriate to a 
long-cherished scheme of mine, a special work 
in the Museum which must be exclusively my 
own, the arrangement of a special collec- 
tion iUustrating in a nutshell, as it were, ah 1 the 
relations existing among animals, which I 
have deferred because other things were more 
pressing, and our means have been insufficient. 
The f eeling that you are all working with me 
will be even more cheering than the material 
help, much needed as that is. I wish I could 
write to each individually. I shall try to find 
some means of expressing my thanks more 
widely. Meantime I write to you as treas- 
urer, and beg you, as far as you can do so 
without too much trouble, to express my grat- 
itude to others. Will you also say to those 
whom you chance to meet that I shall be at 


the Museum on the last Thursday of June, at 
half -past eleven o'clock. I shall be delighted 
to see all to whom it is convenient to come. 
The Museum has grown not only in magni- 
tude, but in scientific significance, and I like 
from time to time to give you an account of 
its progress, and of my own work and aims. 
How much thought and care and effort this 
kind plan of yours must have involved, scat- 
tered as you all are ! It cannot have been 
easy to collect the names and addresses of all 
those whose signatures it was delightful to me 
to see again. Words seem to me very poor, 
but you will accept for yourself and your 
school-mates the warm thanks and affection- 
ate regards of your old friend and teacher. 



1855-1860 : ,ET. 48-53. 

"Contributions to Natural History of the United States." 
Remarkable Subscription. Review of the Work. Its 
Reception in Europe and America. Letters from Hum- 
boldt and Owen concerning it. Birthday. Longfellow's 
Verses. Laboratory at Nahant. Invitation to the Mu- 
seum of Natural History in Paris. Founding of Museum 
of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge. Summer Vaca- 
tion in Europe. 

A FEW months earlier than the school cir- 
cular Agassiz issued another prospectus, which 
had an even more important bearing upon his 
future work. This was the prospectus for his 
" Contributions to the Natural History of the 
United States." It was originally planned in 
ten volumes, every volume to be, however, ab- 
solutely independent, so that the completeness 
of each part should not be impaired by any 
possible interruption of the sequence. The 
mass of original material accumulated upon 
his hands ever since his arrival in America 
made such a publication almost imperative, 
but the costliness of a large illustrated work 


deterred him. The " Poissons Fossiles ' had 
shown him the peril of entering upon such an 
enterprise without capital. Perhaps he would 
never have dared to undertake it but for a 
friendly suggestion which opened a way out 
of his perplexities. Mr. Francis C. Gray, of 
Boston, who felt not only the interest of a 
personal friend in the matter, but also that of 
one who was himself a lover of letters and 
science, proposed an appeal to the public spirit 
of the country in behalf of a work devoted 
entirely to the Natural History of the United 
States. Mr. Gray assumed the direction of 
the business details, set the subscription afloat, 
stimulated its success by his own liberal con- 
tributions, by letters, by private and public 
appeals. The result far exceeded the most 
sanguine expectations of those interested in 
its success. Indeed, considering the purely 
scientific character of the work, the number 
of subscribers for it was extraordinary, and 
showed again the hold Agassiz had taken upon 
the minds and affections of the people in gen- 
eral. The contributors were by no means 
confined to Boston and Cambridge, although 
the Massachusetts list was naturally the larg- 
est, nor were they found exclusively among lit- 
erary and scientific circles. On the contrary, 


the subscription list, to the astonishment of 
the publishers, was increased daily by unsolic- 
ited names, sent in from all sections of the 
country, and from various grades of life and 
occupation. In reference to the character of 
this subscription Agassiz says in his Preface : 
" I must beg my European readers to remem- 
ber that this work is written in America, and 
more especially for Americans ; and that the 
community to which it is particularly addressed 
has very different wants from those of the 
reading public in Europe. There is not a class 
of learned men here distinct from the other 
cultivated members of the community. On the 
contrary, so general is the desire for knowl- 
edge, that I expect to see my book read by 
operatives, by fishermen, by farmers, quite as 
extensively as by the students in our colleges 
or by the learned professions, and it is but 
proper that I should endeavor to make myself 
understood by all." If Agassiz, perhaps, over- 
estimated in this statement the appreciation of 
the reading public in the United States for 
pure scientific research, it was because the 
number and variety of his subscribers gave 
evidence of a cordiality toward his work which 
surprised as much as it gratified him. On the 
list there were also some of his old European 


"subscribers to the " Poissons Fossiles," among 
them the King of Prussia, who still continued, 
under the influence of Humboldt, to feel an 
interest in his work. 


September 1, 1856. 

... I hear that by some untoward circum- 
stances, no doubt accidental, you have never 
received, my dear Agassiz, the letter express- 
ing the pleasure which I share with all true 
lovers of science respecting your important 
undertaking, " Contributions to the Natural 
History of the United States." You must 
have been astonished at my silence, remember- 
ing, not only the affectionate relations we have 
held to each other ever since your first sojourn 
at Paris, but also the admiration I have never 
ceased to feel for the great and solid works 
which we owe to your sagacious mind and 
your incomparable intellectual energy. ... I 
approve especially the general conceptions 
which lie at the base of the plan you have 
traced. I admire the long series of physio- 
logical investigations, beginning with the em- 
bryology of the so-called simple and lower 
organisms and ascending by degrees to the 
more complicated. I admire that ever-renewed 


comparison of the types belonging to our 
planet, in its present condition, with those 
now found only in a fossil state, so abundant 
in the immense space lying between the shores 
opposite to northern Europe and northern 
Asia. The geographical distribution of or- 
ganic forms in curves of equal , density of 
occupation represents in great degree the in- 
flexions of the isothermal lines. ... I am 
charged by the king, who knows the value of 
your older works, and who still feels for you 
the affectionate regard which he formerly ex- 
pressed in person, to request that you will 
place his name at the head of your long list 
of subscribers. He wishes that an excursion 
across the Atlantic valley may one day bring 
you, who have so courageously braved Alpine 
summits, to the historic hill of Sans Souci. . . . 

Something of Agassiz's astonishment and 
pleasure at the encouragement given to his 
projected work is told in his letters. To his 
old friend Professor Valenciennes, in Paris, 
he writes : "I have just had an evidence of 
what one may do here in the interest of sci- 
ence. Some six months ago I formed a plan 
for the publication of my researches in Amer- 
ica, and determined to carry it out with all 


possible care and beauty of finish. I estimated 
my materials at ten volumes, quarto, and hav- 
ing fixed the price at 60 francs ($12.00) a 
volume, thought I might, perhaps, dispose of 
five hundred. I brought out my prospectus, 
and I have to-day seventeen hundred subscrib- 
ers. What do you say to that for a work 
which is to cost six hundred francs a copy, 
and of which nothing has as yet appeared? 
Nor is the list closed yet, for every day I re- 
ceive new subscriptions, this very morning 
one from California ! Where will not the love 
of science find its niche ! ' ... 

In the same strain he says, at a little later 
date, to Sir Charles Lyell : " You will, no 
doubt, be pleased to learn that the first vol- 
ume of my new work, ' Contributions to the 
Natural History of the United States/ which 
is to consist of ten volumes, quarto, is now 
printing, to come out this summer. I hope it 
will show that I have not been idle during ten 
years' silence. I am somewhat anxious about 
the reception of my first chapter, headed, 
' Classification,' which contains anything but 
what zoologists would generally expect under 
that head. The subscription is marvelous. 
Conceive twenty-one hundred names before 
the appearance of the first pages of a work 


costing one hundred and twenty dollars ! It 
places in iny hands the means of doing hence- 
forth for Natural History what I had never 
dreamed of before." . . . 

This work, as originally planned, was never 
completed. It was cut short by ill-health and 
by the pressure of engagements arising from 
the rapid development of the great Museum, 
which finally became, as will be seen, the ab- 
sorbing interest of his life. As it stands, the 
" Contributions to the Natural History of the 
United States ' ' consists of four large quarto 
volumes. The first two are divided into three 
parts, namely : 1st. An Essay on Classifica- 
tion. 2d. The North American Testudinata. 
3d. The Embryology of the Turtle, the lat- 
ter two being illustrated by thirty-four plates. 
The third and fourth volumes are devoted to 
the Kadiata, and consist of five parts, namely : 
1st. Acalephs in general. 2d. Ctenophorse. 
3d. Discophorse. 4th. Hydroida. 5th. Ho- 
mologies of the Radiates, illustrated by 
forty-six plates. 1 

1 The plates are of rare accuracy and beauty, and were 
chiefly drawn by A. Sonrel, though many of the microscopic 
drawings were made by Professor H. J. Clark, who was at 
that time Agassiz's private assistant. For details respecting 
Professor Clark's share in this work, and also concerning the 
aid of various kinds furnished to the author during its prep- 


For originality of material, clearness of pres- 
entation, and beauty of illustration, these vol- 
umes have had their full recognition as models 
of scientific work. Their philosophy was, per- 
haps, too much out of harmony with the cur- 
rent theories of the day to be acceptable. 
In the " Essay on Classification ' especially, 
Agassiz brought out with renewed earnest- 
ness his conviction that the animal world rests 
upon certain abstract conceptions, persistent 
and indestructible. He insists that while phys- 
ical influences maintain, and within certain 
limits modify, organisms, they have never af- 
fected typical structure, those characters, 
namely, upon which the great groups of the 
animal kingdom are united. From his point 
of view, therefore, what environment can do 
serves to emphasize what it cannot do. For 
the argument on which these conclusions are 
based we refer to the book itself. The dis- 
cussion of this question occupies, however, 
only the first portion of the volume, two thirds 
of which are devoted to a general considera- 
tion of classification, and the ideas which it 
embodies, with a review of the modern systems 
of zoology. 

aration, the reader is referred to the Preface of the volumes 


The following letter was one of many in 
the same tone received from his European 
correspondents concerning this work. 


December 9, 1857. 

... I cannot permit a day to elapse with- 
out thanking you for the two volumes of 
your great work on American zoology, which, 
from, your masterly and exhaustive style of 
treatment, becomes the most important con- 
tribution to the right progress of zoological 
science in all parts of the world where pro- 
gress permits its cultivation. It is worthy 
of the author of the classical work on fossil 
fishes ; and such works, like the Cyclopean 
structures of antiquity, are built to endure. I 
feel and I beg to express a fervent hope that 
you may be spared in health and vigor to see 
the completion of your great plan. 

I have placed in Mr. Triibner's hands a set 
of the numbers (6) of my " History of British 
Fossil Eep tiles," which have already appeared ; 
a seventh will soon be out, and as they will be 
sent to you in succession I hope you will per- 
mit me to make a small and inadequate return 
for your liberality in the gift of your work 


by adding your name to the list of my sub- 
scribers. . . . 

Believe me always truly yours, 


Agassiz had promised himself that the first 
volume of his new work should be finished in 
time for his fiftieth birthday, a milestone 
along the road, as it were, to mark his half 
century. Upon this self-appointed task he 
spent himself with the passion dominated by 
patience, which characterized him when his 
whole heart was bent toward an end. For 
weeks he wrote many hours of the day and a 
great part of the night, going out sometimes 
into the darkness and the open air to cool the 
fever of work, and then returning to his desk 
again. He felt himself that the excitement 
was too great, and in proportion to the strain 
was the relief when he set the seal of finis on 
his last page within the appointed time. 

His special students, young men who fully 
shared his scientific life and rewarded his gen- 
erosity by an affectionate devotion, knowing, 
perhaps, that he himself associated the com- 
pletion of his book with his birthday, cele- 
brated both events by a serenade on the eve 
of his anniversary. They took into their con- 


fidence Mr. Otto Dresel, warmly valued by 
Ag-assiz both as friend and musician, and he 

o ' 

arranged their midnight programme for them. 
Always sure of finding their professor awake 
and at work at that hour, they stationed the. 
musicians before the house, and as the last 
stroke of twelve sounded, the succeeding still- 
ness was broken by men's voices singing a 
Bach choral. When Agassiz stepped out to 
see whence came this pleasant salutation, he 
was met by his young friends bringing flow- 
ers and congratulations. Then followed one 
number after another of the well-ordered se- 
lection, into which was admitted here and 
there a German student song in memory of 
Agassiz's own university life at Heidelberg 
and Munich. It was late, or rather early, 
since the new day was already begun, before 
the little concert was over and the guests had 
dispersed. It is difficult to reproduce with 
anything like its original glow and coloring 
a scene of this kind. It will no more be called 
back than the hour or the moonlight night 
which had the warmth and softness of June. 
It is recorded here only because it illustrates 
the intimate personal sympathy between Agas- 
siz and his students. 

For this occasion also were written the well- 


known birthday verses by Longfellow, which 
were read the next day at a dinner given to 
Agassiz by the " Saturday Club." In speak- 
ing of Longfellow's relation to this club, 
Holmes says : " On one occasion he read a 
short poem at the table. It was in honor of 
Agassiz's birthday, and I cannot forget the 
very modest, delicate musical way in which 
he read his charming verses." Although in- 
cluded in many collections of Longfellow's 
Poems, they are reproduced here, because the 
story seems incomplete without them. 


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 marvelous tale. 

So she keeps him still a child, 

And will not let him go, 
Though at times his heart beats 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 ! ' 
May 28, 1857. 

Longfellow had an exquisite touch for oc- 
casions of this kind, whether serious or mirth- 
ful. Once, when some years after this Agassiz 
was keeping Christmas Eve with his children 
and grandchildren, there arrived a basket of 
wine containing six old bottles of rare vint- 


age. They introduced themselves in a charm- 
ing French " Noel ' ' as pilgrims from beyond 

VOL. II. 10 


the sea who came to give Christmas greeting 
to the master of the house. Gay pilgrims were 
these six " gaillards," and they were accompa- 
nied by the following note : 

" A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 
to all the house of Agassiz ! 

" I send also six good wishes in the shape of 
bottles. Or is it wine ? 

" It is both ; good wine and good wishes, 
and kind memories of you on this Christmas 
Eve." H. W. L. 

An additional word about the " Saturday 
Club/' the fame of which has spread beyond 
the city of its origin, may not be amiss here. 
Notwithstanding his close habits of work Agas- 
siz was eminently social, and to this club he 
was especially attached. Dr. Holmes says of 
it in his volume on Emerson, who was one of 
its most constant members : "At one end of the 
table sat Longfellow, florid, quiet, benignant, 
soft-voiced, a most agreeable rather than a 
brilliant talker, but a man upon whom it was 
always pleasant to look, whose silence was 
better than many another man's conversation. 
At the other end sat Agassiz, robust, sanguine, 
animated, full of talk, boy-like in his laughter. 
The stranger who should have asked who were 
the men ranged along the sides of the table 


would have heard in answer the names of 
Hawthorne, Motley, Dana, Lowell, Whipple, 
Peirce, the distinguished mathematician, Judge 
Hoar, eminent at the bar and in the cabinet, 
Dwight, the leading musical critic of Boston 
for a whole generation, Stunner, the academic 
champion of freedom, Andrew, ' the great War 
Governor' of Massachusetts, Dr. Howe, the 
philanthropist, William Hunt, the painter, 
with others not unworthy of such company." 
We may complete the list and add the name 
of Holmes himself, to whose presence the club 
owed so much of its wit and wisdom. In such 
company the guests were tempted to linger 
long, and if Holmes has described the circle 
around the table, Lowell has celebrated the 
late walk at night across the bridge as he and 
Agassiz returned to Cambridge on foot to- 
gether. To break the verse by quotation 
would mar the quiet scene and interrupt the 
rambling pleasant talk it so graphically de- 
scribes. But we may keep the parting words : 

" At last, arrived at where our paths divide, 
' Good night ! ' and, ere the distance grew too wide, 
* Good night ! ' again ; and now with cheated ear 
I half hear his who mine shall never hear." 1 

1 See Memorial poem, entitled Agassiz, by James Russell 


Agassiz was now the possessor of a small 
laboratory by the immediate sea-coast. It was 
situated on the northeastern shore of Nahant, 
within a stone's throw of broken and bold 
rocks, where the deep pools furnished him 
with ever fresh specimens from natural aqua- 
riums which were re-stocked at every rise of 
the tide. This laboratory, with a small cottage 
adjoining, which was shared during the sum- 
mer between his own family and that of Pro- 
fessor Felton, was the gift of his father-in-law, 
Mr. Gary. So carefully were his wishes con- 
sidered that the microscope table stood on a 
flat rock sunk in the earth and detached from 
the floor, in order that no footstep or acci- 
dental jarring of door or window in other 
parts of the building might disturb him at his 

There, summer after summer, he pursued his 
researches on the medusae ; from the smaller 
and more exquisite kinds, such as the Pleuro- 
brachyias, Idyias, and Bolinas, to the massive 
Cyaneas, with their large disks and heavy 
tentacles, many yards in length. Nothing can 
be prettier than the smaller kinds of jelly- 
fishes. Their structure is so delicate, yet so 
clearly defined, their color so soft, yet often 
so brilliant, their texture so transparent, that 






you seek in vain among terrestrial forms for 
terms of comparison, and are tempted to say 
that nature has done her finest work in the 
sea rather than on land. Sometimes hun- 
dreds of these smaller medusae might be seen 
floating together in the deep glass bowls, or 
jars, or larger vessels with which Agassiz's 
laboratory at Nahant was furnished. When 
the supply was exhausted, new specimens were 
easily to be obtained by a row in a dory a 
mile or two from shore, either in the hot, still 
noon, when the jelly-fish rise toward the sur- 
face, or at night, over a brilliantly phosphores- 
cent sea, when they are sure to be abundant, 
since they themselves furnish much of the 
phosphorescence. In these little excursions, 
many new and interesting things came to his 
nets beside those he was seeking. The fisher- 
men, also, were his friends and coadjutors. 
They never failed to bring him whatever of 
rare or curious fell into their hands, sometimes 
even turning aside from their professional call- 
ing to give the laboratory preference over the 

Neither was his summer work necessarily 
suspended during winter, his Cambridge and 
Nahant homes being only about fifteen miles 
distant from each other. He writes to his 


friends, the Holbrooks, at this time, " You can 
hardly imagine what a delightful place Nahant 
is for me now. I can trace the growth of my 
little marine animals all the year round with- 
out interruption, by going occasionally over 
there during the winter. I have at this mo- 
ment young medusae budding from their polyp 
nurses, which I expect to see freeing them- 
selves in a few weeks." In later years, when 
his investigations on the medusae were con- 
cluded, so far as any teaching from the open 
book of Nature can be said to be concluded, 
he pursued here, during a number of years, 
investigations upon the sharks and skates. 
For this work, which should have made one 
of the series of " Contributions," he left much 
material, unhappily not ready for publication. 
In August, 1857, Agassiz received the fol- 
lowing letter from M. E-ouland, Minister of 
Public Instruction in France. 


PARIS, August 19, 1857. 

SIR, By the decease of M. d'Orbigny the 
chair of paleontology in the Museum of Nat- 
ural History in Paris becomes vacant. You 
are French ; you have enriched your native 
country by your eminent works and laborious 


researches. You are a corresponding member 
of the Institute. The emperor would gladly 
recall to France a savant so distinguished. In 
his name I offer you the vacant chair, and 
should congratulate your country on the re- 
turn of a son who has shown himself capable 
of such devotion to science. 

Accept the assurance of my highest esteem, 


Had it been told to Agassiz when he left 
Europe that in ten years he should be recalled 
to fill one of the coveted places at the Jardin 
des Plantes, the great centre of scientific life 
and influence in France, he would hardly have 
believed himself capable of refusing it. Nor 
does a man reject what would once have 
seemed to him a great boon without a certain 
regret. Such momentary regret he felt per- 
haps, but not an instant of doubt. His an- 
swer expressed his gratitude and his pleasure 
in finding himself so remembered in Europe. 
He pleaded his work in America as his excuse 
for declining a position which he nevertheless 
considered the most brilliant that could be 
offered to a naturalist. In conclusion he adds : 
"Permit me to correct an error concerning 
myself. I am not French, although of French 


origin. My family has been Swiss for cen- 
turies, and spite of my ten years' exile I am 
Swiss still." 

The correspondence did not end here. A 
few months later the offer was courteously re- 
newed by M. Kouland, with the express con- 
dition that the place should remain open for 
one or even two years to allow time for the 
completion of the work Agassiz had now on 
hand. To this second appeal he could only 
answer that his work here was the work not of 
years, but of his life, and once more decline 
the offer. That his refusal was taken in good 
part is evident from the fact that the order of 
the Legion of Honor was sent to him soon 
after, and that from time to time he received 
friendly letters from the Minister of Public 
Instruction, who occasionally consulted him 
upon general questions of scientific moment. 

This invitation excited a good deal of in- 
terest among Agassiz's old friends in Europe. 
Some urged him to accept it, others applauded 
his resolve to remain out of the great arena of 
competition and ambition. Among the latter 
was Humboldt. The following extract is from 
a letter of his (May 9, 1857) to Mr. George 
Ticknor, of Boston, who had been one of 
Agassiz's kindest and best friends in Amer- 


ica from the moment of his arrival. "Agas- 
siz's large and beautiful work (the first two 
volumes) reached me a few days since. It will 
produce a great effect both by the breadth of 
its general views and by the extreme sagacity 
of its special embryological observations. I 
have never believed that this illustrious man, 
who is also a man of warm heart, a noble 
soul, would accept the generous offers made to 
him from Paris. I knew that gratitude would 
keep him in the new country, whe?e he finds 
such an immense territory to explore, and such 
liberal aid in his work." 

In writing of this offer to a friend Agassiz 
himself says : " On one side, my cottage at 
Nahant by the sea-shore, the reef of Florida, 
the vessels of the Coast Survey at my com- 
mand from Nova Scotia to Mexico, and, if I 
choose, aU along the coast of the Pacific, 
and on the other, the Jardin des Plantes, with 
all its accumulated treasures. Eightly con- 
sidered, the chance of studying nature must 
prevail over the attractions of the (Paris) Mu- 
seum. I hope I shall be wise enough not to 
be tempted even by the prospect of a new edi- 
tion of the ( Poissons Fossiles.' 

To his old friend Charles Martins, the nat- 
uralist, he writes : " The work I have under- 


taken here, and the confidence shown in me 
by those who have at heart the intellectual de- 
velopment of this country, make my return to 
Europe impossible for the present ; and, as you 
have well understood, I prefer to build anew 
here rather than to fight my way in the midst 
of the coteries of Paris. Were I offered ab- 
solute power for the reorganization of the 
Jardin des Plantes, with a revenue of fifty 
thousand francs, I should not accept it. I 
like my independence better." 

The fact that Agassiz had received and 
declined this offer from the French govern- 
ment seemed to arouse anew the public inter- 
est in his projects and prospects here. It was 
felt that a man who was ready to make an 
alliance so uncompromising with the interests 
of science in the United States should not be 
left in a precarious and difficult position. 
His collections were still heaped together in 
a slight wooden building. The fact that a 
great part of them were preserved in alcohol 
made them especially in danger from fire. A 
spark, a match carelessly thrown down, might 
destroy them all in half an hour, for with 
material so combustible, help would be un- 
availing. This fear was never out of his- 
mind. It disturbed his peace by day and his 


rest by night. That frail structure, crowded 
from garret to cellar with seeming rubbish, 
with boxes, cases, barrels, casks still unpacked 
and piled one above the other, held for him 
the treasure out of which he would give form 
and substance to the dream of his boyhood 
and the maturer purpose of his manhood. 
The hope of creating a great museum intelli- 
gently related in all its parts, reflecting na- 
ture, and illustrating the history of the ani- 
mal kingdom in the past and the present, had 
always tempted his imagination. Nor was it 
merely as a comprehensive and orderly collec- 
tion that he thought of it. From an educa- 
tional point of view it had an even greater 
value for him. His love of teaching prompted 
him no less than his love of science. Indeed, 
he hoped to make his ideal museum a power- 
ful auxiliary in the interests of the schools 
and teachers throughout the State, and less 
directly throughout the country. He hoped 
it would become one of the centres for the 
radiation of knowledge, and that the investi- 
gations carried on within its walls would find 
means of publication, and be a fresh, original 
contribution to the science of the day. This 
hope was fully realized. The first number of 
the Museum Bulletin was published in March, 


1863, the first number of the Illustrated Cata- 
logue in 1864, and both publications have 
been continued with regularity ever since. 1 

In laying out the general plan, which was 
rarely absent from his thought, he distin- 
guished between the demands which the spe- 
cialist and the general observer might make 
upon an institution intended to instruct and 
benefit both. Here the special student should 
find in the laboratories and work rooms all 
the needed material for his investigations, 
stored in large collections, with duplicates 
enough to allow for that destruction of speci- 
mens which is necessarily involved in original 
research. The casual visitor meanwhile should 
walk through exhibition rooms, not simply 
crowded with objects to delight and interest 
him, but so arranged that the selection of 
every specimen should have reference to its 
part and place in nature ; while the whole 
should be so combined as to explain, so far as 
known, the faunal and systematic relations of 
animals in the actual world, and in the geo- 
logical formations ; or, in other words, their 
succession in time, and their distribution in 

1 At the time of Agassiz's death nearly three volumes of 
the Bulletin had been published, and the third volume of the 
Memoirs (Illustrated Catalogue, No. 7) had been begun. 


A favorite part of his plan was a room 
which he liked to call his synoptic room. 
Here was to be the most compact and yet the 
fullest statement in material form of the ani- 
mal kingdom as a whole, an epitome of the 
creation, as it were. Of course the specimens 
must be few in so limited a space, but each 
one was to be characteristic of one or other of 
the various groups included under every large 
division. Thus each object would contribute 
to the explanation of the general plan. On 
the walls there were to be large, legible in- 
scriptions, serving as a guide to the whole, 
and making this room a simple but compre- 
hensive lesson in natural history. It was in- 
tended to be the entrance room for visitors, 
and to serve as an introduction to the more 
detailed presentation of the same vast subject, 
given by the faunal and systematic collections 
in the other exhibition rooms. 

The standard of work involved in this 
scheme is shown in many of his letters to his 
students and assistants, to whom he looked 
for aid in its execution. To one he writes : 
" You will get your synoptic series only after 
you have worked up in detail the systematic 
collection as a whole, the faunal collections in 
their totality, the geological sequence of the 


entire group under consideration, as well as 
its embryology and geographical distribution. 
Then alone will you be able to know the 
representatives in each series which will best 
throw light upon it and complete the other 


He did not live to fill in this comprehen- 
sive outline with the completeness which he 
intended, but all its details were fully ex- 
plained by him before his death, and since 
that time have been carried out by his son, 
Alexander Agassiz. The synoptic room, and 
in great part the systematic and faunal col- 
lections, are now arranged and under exhibi- 
tion, and the throngs of visitors during all 
the pleasant months of the year attest the in- 
terest they excite. 

This conception, of which the present Mu- 
seum is the expression, was matured in the 
brain of the founder before a brick of the 
building was laid, or a dollar provided for the 
support of such an institution. It existed for 
him as his picture does for the artist before it 
lives upon the canvas. One must have been 
the intimate companion of his thoughts to 
know how and to what degree it possessed his 
imagination, to his delight always, yet some- 
times to his sorrow also, for he had it and he 


had it not. The thought alone was his ; the 
means of execution were far beyond his reach. 
His plan was, however, known to many of 
his friends, and especially he had explained it 
to Mr. Francis C. Gray, whose intellectual 
sympathy made him a delightful listener to 
the presentation of any enlightened purpose. 
In 1858 Mr. Gray died, leaving in his will 
the sum of fifty thousand dollars for the estab- 
lishment of a Museum of Comparative Zool- 
ogy, with the condition that this sum should 
be used neither for the erection of buildings 
nor for salaries, but for the purely scientific 
needs of such an institution. Though this 
bequest was not connected in set terms with 
the collections already existing in Cambridge, 
its purpose was well understood; and Mr. 
Gray's nephew, Mr. William Gray, acting 
upon the intention of his uncle as residuary 
legatee, gave it into the hands of the Presi- 
dent and Fellows of Harvard University. In 
passing over this trust, the following condi- 
tion, among others, was made, namely : " That 
neither the collections nor any building which 
may contain the same shall ever be designated 
by any other name than the Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology at Harvard." This is worth 
noting, because the title was chosen and in- 


sisted upon by Agassiz himself in opposition 
to many who would have had it called after 
him. To such honor as might be found in 
connecting his own name with a public un- 
dertaking of any kind he was absolutely indif- 
ferent. It was characteristic of him to wish, 
on the contrary, that the name should be as 
impersonal and as comprehensive as the uses 
and aims of the institution itself. Yet he 
could not wholly escape the distinction he 
deprecated. The popular imagination, identi- 
fying him with his work, has re-christened 
the institution ; and, spite of its legal title, 
its familiar designation is almost invariably 
the " Agassiz Museum." 

Mr. Gray's legacy started a movement which 
became every day more active and successful. 
The university followed up his bequest by a 
grant of land suitable for the site of the build- 
ing, and since the Gray fund provided for no 
edifice, an appeal was made to the Legislature 
of Massachusetts to make good that defi- 
ciency. The Legislature granted lands to the 
amount of one hundred thousand dollars, on 
condition that a certain additional contribu- 
tion should be made by private subscription. 
The sum of seventy-one thousand one hun- 
dred and twenty-five dollars, somewhat exceed- 
















ing that stipulated, was promptly subscribed^ 
chiefly by citizens of Boston and Cambridge, 
and Agassiz himself gave all the collections 
he had brought together during the last four 
or five years, estimated, merely by the outlay 
made upon them, at ten thousand dollars. 
The architects, Mr. Henry Greenough and 
Mr. George Snell, offered the plan as their 
contribution. The former had long been fa- 
miliar with Agassiz' s views respecting the in- 
ternal arrangements of the building. The 
main features had been discussed between 
them, and now, that the opportunity offered, 
the plan was practically ready for execution. 
These events followed each other so rapidly 
that although Mr. Gray's bequest was an- 
nounced only in December, 1858, the first sod 
was turned and the corner-stone of the future 
Museum was laid on a sunny afternoon in the 
following June, 1859. 1 

1 The plan, made with reference to the future increase as 
well as the present needs of the Museum, included a mam 
building 364 feet in length by 64 in width, with wings 205 
feet in length by 64 in width, the whole enclosing a hollow 
square. The structure erected 1859-60 was but a section of 
the north wing, being two fifths of its whole length. This 
gave ample space at the time for the immediate requirements 
of the Museum. Additions have since been made, and the 
north wing is completed, while the Peabody Museum occupies 
a portion of the ground allotted to the south wing. 
VOL. n. 11 


This event, so full of significance for Agas- 
siz, took place a few days before he sailed for 
Europe, having determined to devote the few 
weeks of the college and school vacation to a 
flying visit in Switzerland. The incidents of 
this visit were of a wholly domestic nature and 
hardly belong here. He paused a few days 
in Ireland and England to see his old friends, 
the Earl of Enniskillen and Sir Philip Eger- 
ton, and review their collections. A day or 
two in London gave him, in like manner, a 
few hours at the British Museum, a day with 
Owen at Richmond, and an opportunity to 
greet old friends and colleagues called to- 
gether to meet him at Sir Eoderick Murchi- 
son's. He allowed himself also a week in 
Paris, made delightful by the cordiality and 
hospitality of the professors of the Jardin des 
Plantes, and by the welcome he received at 
the Academy, when he made his appearance 
there. The happiest hours of this brief so- 
journ in Paris were perhaps spent with his 
old and dear friend Valenciennes, the associ- 
ate of earlier days in Paris, when the presence 
of Cuvier and Humboldt gave a crowning in- 
terest to scientific work there. 

From Paris he hastened on to his mother in 
Switzerland, devoting to her and to his imme- 


diate family all the time which remained to 
him before returning to his duties in Cam- 
bridge. They were very happy weeks, passed, 
for the most part, in absolute retirement, at 
Montagny, near the foot of the Jura, where 
Madame Agassiz was then residing with her 
daughter. The days were chiefly spent in an 
old-fashioned garden, where a corner shut in 
by ivy and shaded by trees made a pleasant 
out-of-door sitting-room. There he told his 
mother, as he had never been able to tell her 
in letters, of his life and home in the United 
States, and of the Museum to which he was 
returning, and which was to give him the 
means of doing for the study of nature all he 
had ever hoped to accomplish. His quiet stay 
here was interrupted only by a visit of a few 
days to his sister at Lausanne, and a trip to 
the Diablerets, where his brother, then a great 
invalid, was staying. He also passed a day or 
two at Geneva, where he was called to a meet- 
ing of the Helvetic Society, which gave him 
an opportunity of renewing old ties of friend- 
ship, as well as scientific relations, with the 
naturalists of his own country, with Pictet de 
la Rive, de Candolle, Favre, and others. 


1860-1863: JET. 53-56. 

Return to Cambridge. Removal of Collection to New Mu- 
seum Building. Distribution of Work. Relations with 
his Students. Breaking out of the War between North 
and South. Interest of Agassiz in the Preservation of 
the Union. Commencement of Museum Publications. 
Reception of Third and Fourth Volumes of " Contribu- 
tions." Copley Medal. General Correspondence. 
Lecturing Tour in the West. Circular Letter concern- 
ing Anthropological Collections. Letter to Mr. Ticknor 
concerning Geographical Distribution of Fishes in Spain. 

his return to Cambridge at the end of 
September, Agassiz found the Museum build- 
ing well advanced. It was completed in the 
course of the next year, and the dedication 
took place on the 13th November, 1860. The 
transfer of the coUections to their new and 
safe abode was made as rapidly as possible, 
and the work of developing the institution 
under these more favorable conditions moved 
steadily on. The lecture rooms were at once 
opened, not only to students but to other 
persons not connected with the university. 
Especially welcome were teachers of schools 


for whom admittance was free. It was a 
great pleasure to Agassiz thus to renew and 
strengthen his connection with the teachers of 
the State, with whom, from the time of his ar- 
rival in this country, he had held most cordial 
relations, attending the Teachers' Institutes, 
visiting the normal schools, and associating 
himself actively, as far as he could, with the 
interests of public education in Massachusetts. 
From this time forward his college lectures 
were open to women as well as to men. He 
had great sympathy with the desire of women 
for larger and more various fields of study 
and work, and a certain number of women 
have always been employed as assistants at 
the Museum. 

The story of the next three years was one 
of unceasing but seemingly uneventful work. 
The daylight hours from nine or ten o'clock 
in the morning were spent, with the exception 
of the hour devoted to the school, at the Mu- 
seum, not only in personal researches and in 
lecturing, but in organizing, distributing, and 
superintending the work of the laboratories, 
all of which was directed by him. Passing 
from bench to bench, from table to table, with 
a suggestion here, a kindly but scrutinizing 
glance there, he made his sympathetic pres- 


ence felt by the whole establishment. No 
man ever exercised a more genial personal in- 
fluence over his students and assistants. His 
initiatory steps in teaching special students of 
natural history were not a little discouraging. 
Observation and comparison being in his opin- 
ion the intellectual tools most indispensable to 
the naturalist, his first lesson was one in look- 
ing. He gave no assistance ; he simply left his 
student with the specimen, telling him to use 
his eyes diligently, and report upon what he 
saw. He returned from time to time to in- 
quire after the beginner's progress, but he 
never asked him a leading question, never 
pointed out a single feature of the structure, 
never prompted an inference or a conclusion. 
This process lasted sometimes for days, the 
professor requiring the pupil not only to dis- 
tinguish the various parts of the animal, but 
to detect also the relation of these details to 
more general typical features. His students 
still retain amusing reminiscences of their de- 
spair when thus confronted with their single 
specimen ; no aid to be had from outside until 
they had wrung from it the secret of its struc- 
ture. But all of them have recognized the 
fact that this one lesson in looking, which 
forced them to such careful scrutiny of the 


object before them, influenced all their sub- 
sequent habits of observation, whatever field 
they might choose for their special subject of 
study. One of them who was intending to be 
an entomologist concludes a very clever and 
entertaining account of such a first lesson, 
entirely devoted to a single fish, with these 
words : " This was the best entomological les- 
son I ever had, a lesson whose influence has 
extended to the details of every subsequent 
study ; a legacy the professor has left to me, 
as he left it to many others, of inestimable 
value, which we could not buy, with which we 
could not part." 1 

But if Agassiz, in order to develop inde- 
pendence and accuracy of observation, threw 
his students on their own resources at first, 
there was never a more generous teacher in 
the end than he. All his intellectual capital 
was thrown open to his pupils. His original 
material, his unpublished investigations, his 
most precious specimens, his drawings and il- 
lustrations were at their command. This lib- 
erality led in itself to a serviceable training, 
for he taught them to use with respect the 
valuable, often unique, objects intrusted to 
their care. Out of the intellectual good-fel- 

1 In the Laboratory with Agassiz, by S. H. Scudder. 


lowship which he established and encouraged 
in the laboratory grew the warmest relations 
between his students and himself. Many of 
them were deeply attached to him, and he was 
extremely dependent upon their sympathy and 
affection. By some among them he will never 
be forgotten. He is still their teacher and 
their friend, scarcely more absent from their 
work now than when the glow of his enthu- 
siasm made itself felt in his personal pres- 

But to return to the distribution of his time 
in these busy days. Having passed, as we have 
seen, the greater part of the day in the Mu- 
seum and the school^ he had the hours of the 
night for writing, and rarely left his desk be- 
fore one or two o'clock in the morning, or even 
later. His last two volumes of the " Contri- 
butions," upon the Acalephs, were completed 
during these years. In the mean time, the 
war between North and South had broken 
out, and no American cared more than he for 
the preservation of the Union and the institu- 
tions it represented. He felt that the task of 
those who served letters and science was to 
hold together the intellectual aims and re- 
sources of the country during this struggle 
for national existence, to fortify the strong- 


holds of learning, abating nothing of their 
efficiency, but keeping their armories bright 
against the return of peace, when the better 
weapons of civilization should again be in 
force. Toward this end he worked with re- 
newed ardor, and while his friends urged him 
to suspend operations at the Museum and hus- 
band his resources until the storm should have 
passed over, he, on the contrary, stimulated its 
progress by every means in his power. Occa- 
sionally he was assisted by the Legislature, and 
early in this period an additional grant of ten 
thousand dollars was made to the Museum. 
With this grant was begun the series of illus- 
trated publications already mentioned, known 
as the " Bulletin of the Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology in Cambridge." 

During this period he urged also the foun- 
dation of a National Academy of Sciences, 
and was active in furthering its organization 
and incorporation (1863) by Congress. With 
respect to this effort, and to those he was at 
the same time making for the Museum, he 
was wont to recall the history of the Univer- 
sity of Berlin. In an appeal to the people in 
behalf of the intellectual institutions of the 
United States during the early years of the 
war he says : " A well known fact in the his- 


tory of Germany has shown that the moment 
of political danger may be that in which 
the firmest foundations for the intellectual 
strength of a country may be laid. When in 
1806, after the battle of Jena, the Prussian 
monarchy had been crushed and the king was 
despairing even of the existence of his realm, 
he planned the foundation of the University 
of Berlin, by the advice of Fichte, the philoso- 
pher. It was inaugurated the very year that 
the despondent monarch returned to his capi- 
tal. Since that time it has been the greatest 
glory of the Prussian crown, and has made 
Berlin the intellectual centre of Germany." 

It may be added here as an evidence of Ag- 
assiz's faith in the institutions of the United 
States and in her intellectual progress that he 
was himself naturalized in the darkest hour 
of the war, when the final disruption of the , 
country was confidently prophesied by her 
enemies. By formally becoming a citizen of 
the United States he desired to attest his per- 
sonal confidence in the stability of her Consti- 
tution and the justice of her cause. 

Some light is thrown upon the work and 
incidents of these years by the following let- 
ters : 



LONDON, AUBEMARLE ST., April 16, 1861. 

MON CHER AoASS., 1 I have this morning 
received your handsome and welcome present 
of the third volume of your great undertaking, 
and this reminds me how remiss I have been 
in not writing to you sooner. In fact, I have 
had nothing worth writing about, and I know 
your time is too valuable to be intrenched 
upon by letters of mere gossip. I have not 
of course had time to peruse any portion of 
the monograph, but I have turned over the 
pages and seen quite enough to sharpen my 
appetite for the glorious scientific feast you 
have so liberally provided. And now that the 
weight is off your mind, I hope shortly to hear 
that you are about to fulfill this year the 
promise you made of returning to England for 
a good long visit, only postponed by circum- 
stances you could not have foreseen. Now 
that you have your son as the sharer of your 
labors, you will be able to leave him in charge 
during your absence, and so divest your mind 
of all care and anxiety with reference to mat- 
ters over the water. Here we are all fight- 
ing most furiously about Celts and flint imple- 

1 An affectionate abbreviation which Sir Philip often used 
for him. 


merits, struggle for life, natural selection, the 
age of the world, races of men, biblical dates, 
apes, and gorillas, etc., and the last duel has 
been between Owen and Huxley on the ana- 
tomical distinction of the pithecoid brain com- 
pared with that of man. Theological contro- 
versy has also been rife, stirred up by the 
" Essays and Reviews," of which you have no 
doubt heard much. For myself, I have been 
busy preparing, in conjunction with Huxley, 
another decade of fossil fishes, all from the 
old red of Scotland. . . . Enniskillen is quite 
well. He is now at Lyme Regis. . . . 

At about this time the Copley Medal was 
awarded to Agassiz, a distinction which was 
the subject of cordial congratulation from his 
English friends. 


BELGRAVE SQUARE, March, 1862. 

MY DEAR AGASSIZ, Your letter of the 
14th February was a great surprise to me. I 
blamed myself for not writing you sooner than 
I did on the event which I had long been 
anxious to see realized; but I took it for 
granted that you had long before received the 
official announcement from the foreign secre- 


tary that you were, at the last anniversary of 
the Eoyal Society, the recipient of the highest 
honor which our body can bestow, whether on 
a foreigner or a native. . . . On going to the 
Royal Society to-day I found that the Presi- 
dent and Secretaries were much surprised that 
you had never answered the official letter sent 
to you on the 1st or 2d December by the 
Foreign Secretary, Professor Miiller, of Cam- 
bridge. He wrote to announce the award, and 
told you the Copley Medal was in his safe keep- 
ing till you wrote to say what you wished to 
have done with it. I have now recommended 
him to transmit it officially to you through the 
United States Minister, Mr. Adams. In these 
times of irritation, everything which soothes 
and calms down angry feelings ought to be 
resorted to ; and I hope it may be publicly 
known that when our newspapers were recip- 
rocating all sorts of rudenesses, the men of 
science of England thought of nothing but 
honoring a beloved and eminent savant of 

I thank you for your clear and manly view 
of the North and South, which I shall show 
to all our mutual friends. Egerton, who is 
now here, was delighted to hear of you, as 
well as Huxley, Lyell, and many others. . . . 


In a paper just read to the Geological So- 
ciety Professor Ramsay has made a stronger 
demand on the powers of ice than you ever 
did. He imagines that every Swiss lake 
north and south (Geneva, Neuchatel, Como, 
etc.) has been scooped out, and the depres- 
sions excavated by the abrading action of the 
glaciers. . . . 


ALBEMARLE ST., LONDON, March 11, 1862. 

MON CHER AGASS., As I am now settled 
in London for some months, I take the first 
opportunity of writing to congratulate you on 
the distinction which has been conferred upon 
you by the Royal Society, and I will say that 
you have most fully earned it. I rejoice ex- 
ceedingly in the decision the Council have 
arrived at. I only regret I was not on the 
Council myself to have advocated your high 
claims and taken a share in promoting your 
success. It is now long since I have heard 
from you, but this terrible disruption between 
the North and South has, I suppose, rendered 
the pursuit of science rather difficult, and the 
necessary funds also difficult of attainment. 
I should like very much to hear how you 
are getting on, and whether there is any like- 


lihood of your being able to come over in the 
course of the summer or autumn. I fully ex- 
pected you last year, and was very much dis- 
appointed that you could not realize your in- 
tention. I have this day sent to you through 
Bailliere, the last decade of the Jermyn St. 
publications. 1 You will see that Huxley has 
taken up the subject of the Devonian fishes in 
a truly scientific spirit. . . . 



MY DEAR AGASSIZ, I have received, and 
since its reception have devoted most of my 
spare moments to the study of, your fourth 
volume of the " Natural History of the United 
States/' a noble contribution to our science, 
and worthy of your great name. 

The demonstration of the unity of plan 
pervading the diversities of the Polyps, Hy- 
droids, Acalephal and Echinodermal modifica- 
tions of your truly natural group of Radiates, 
is to my mind perfect, and I trust that the 
harsh and ugly and essentially error-breeding 
name of Coelenterata may have received its 
final sentence of exile from lasting and ra- 
tional zoological terminology. 

1 Publications of the Geological Survey of England. 


I shall avail myself of opportunities for 
bringing myself to your recollection by such 
brochures as I have time for. One of them 
will open to your view something of the na- 
ture of the contest here waging to obtain for 
England a suitable Museum of Natural His- 
tory, equivalent to her wealth and colonies 
and maritime business. In this I find you a 
valuable ally, and have cited from the Reports 
of your Museum of Comparative Zoology in 
support of my own claims for space. 

I was glad to hear from Mr. Bates that the 
Megatherium had not gone to the bottom, 
but had been rescued, and that it was proba- 
bly ere this in your Museum at Cambridge. 
I trust it may be so. 

A line from you or the sight of any friend 
of yours is always cheering to me. Our 
friends Enniskillen and Eg-erton are both 


well. . . . 

I remain ever truly yours, 


As has been seen by a previous letter from 
Sir Roderick Murchison, Agassiz tried from 
time to time to give his English friends more 
just views of our national struggle. The let- 
ter to which the following is an answer is 


missing, but one may easily infer its tenor, 
and the pleasure it had given him. 


NAHANT, MASS., August 15, 1862. 

... I feel so thankful for your words of 
sympathy, that I lose not an hour in express- 
ing my feeling. It has been agonizing week 
after week to receive the English papers, and 
to see there the noble devotion of the men of 
the North to their country and its govern- 
ment, branded as the service of mercenaries. 
You know I am not much inclined to meddle 
with politics ; but I can tell you that I have 
never seen a more generous and prompt re- 
sponse to the call of country than was ex- 
hibited last year, and is exhibiting now, in the 
loyal United States. In the last six weeks 
nearly 300,000 men have volunteered, and I 
am satisfied that the additional 300,000 will 
be forthcoming without a draft in the course 
of the next month. And believe me, it is not 
for the sake of the bounty they come forward, 
for our best young men are the first to enlist ; 
if anything can be objected to these large 
numbers of soldiers, it is that it takes away 
the best material that the land possesses. I 
thank you once more for your warm sympathy. 

VOL II. 12 


I needed it the more, as it is almost the first 
friendly word of that kind I have received 
from England, and I began to question the 
humanity of your civilization. . . . Under 
present circumstances, you can well imagine 
that I cannot think of leaving Cambridge, 
even for a few weeks, much as I wish to take 
some rest, and especially to meet your kind in- 
vitation. But I feel that I have a debt to 
pay to my adopted country, and all I can now 
do is to contribute my share toward maintain- 
ing the scientific activity which has been 
awakened during the last few years, and which 
even at this moment is on the increase. 

I am now at Nahant, on the sea -shore, 
studying embryology chiefly with reference to 
paleontology, and the results are most satis- 
factory. I have had an opportunity already 
of tracing the development of the representa- 
tives of three different families, upon the em- 
bryology of which we had not a single ob- 
servation thus far, and of making myself 
familiar with the growth of many others. 
With these accessions I propose next win- 
ter seriously to return to my first scientific 
love. . . . 

I have taken with me to the sea-shore your 
and Huxley's " Contributions to the Devonian 


Fishes/' and also your notice of Carboniferous 
fish-fauna ; but I have not yet had a chance 
to study them critically, from want of time, 
having been too successful with the living 
specimens to have a moment for the fossils. 
The season for sea-shore studies is, however, 
drawing rapidly to an end, and then I shall 
have more leisure for my old favorites. 

I am very sorry to hear such accounts of 
the sufferings of the manufacturing districts 
in England. I wish I could foretell the end 
of our conflict ; but I do not believe it can 
now be ended before slavery is abolished, 
though I thought differently six months ago. 
The most conservative men at the North have 
gradually come to this conviction, and nobody 
would listen for a moment to a compromise 
with the southern slave power. Whether we 
shall get rid of it by war measures or by 
an emancipation proclamation, I suppose the 
President himself does not yet know. I do 
not think that we shall want more money than 
the people are willing to give. Private contri- 
butions for the comfort of the army are really 
unbounded. I know a gentleman, not among 
the richest in Boston, who has already con- 
tributed over $30,000 ; and I heard yesterday 
of a shop-boy who tendered all his earnings of 


many years to the relief committee, $2,000, 
retaining nothing for himself, and so it 
goes all round. Of course we have croakers 
and despondent people, but they no longer 
dare to raise their voices ; from which I infer 
that there is no stopping the storm until by 
the natural course of events the atmosphere 
is clear and pure again. 

Ever truly your friend, 


Agassiz had now his time more at his own 
disposal since he had given up his school and 
had completed also the fourth volume of his 
" Contributions." Leisure time he could never 
be said to have, but he was free to give all 
his spare time and strength to the Museum, 
and to this undivided aim, directly or indi- 
rectly, the remainder of his life was devoted. 
Although at intervals he received generous 
aid from the Legislature or from private in- 
dividuals for the further development of the 
Museum, its growth outran such provision, 
and especially during the years of the war 
the problem of meeting expenses was often 
difficult of solution. To provide for such a 
contingency Agassiz made in the winter of 
1863 the most extensive lecturing tour he 


had ever undertaken, even in his busiest lec- 
turing days. He visited all the large cities 
and some of the smaller towns from Buffalo 
to St. Louis. While very remunerative, and 
in many respects delightful, since he was re- 
ceived with the greatest cordiality, and lec- 
tured everywhere to enthusiastic crowds, this 
enterprise was, nevertheless, of doubtful econ- 
omy even for his scientific aims. Agassiz 
was but fifty-six, yet his fine constitution be- 
gan to show a fatigue hardly justified by his 
years, and the state of his health was already 
a source of serious anxiety to his friends. 
He returned much exhausted, and passed the 
summer at Nahant, where the climate always 
benefited him, while his laboratory afforded 
the best conditions for work. If this summer 
home had a fault, it was its want of remote- 
ness. He was almost as much beset there, 
by the interruptions to which a man in his 
position is liable, as in Cambridge. 

His letters show how constantly during this 
nominal vacation his Museum and its interests 
occupied his thoughts. One is to his brother- 
in-law, Thomas G. Gary, whose residence was 
in San Francisco, and who had been for years 
his most efficient aid in obtaining collections 
from the Pacific Coast. 



CAMBRIDGE, March 23, 1863. 

DEAR TOM, For many years past your 
aid in fostering the plans of the Museum in 
Cambridge has greatly facilitated the progress 
of that establishment in everything relating to 
the Natural History of California, and now 
that it has become desirable to extend our 
scheme to objects which have thus far been 
neglected I make another appeal to you. 

Every day the history of mankind is brought 
into more and more intimate connection with 
the natural history of the animal creation, and 
it is now indispensable that we should organize 
an extensive collection to illustrate the natural 
history of the uncivilized races. Your per- 
sonal acquaintance with business friends in 
almost every part of the globe has suggested 
to me the propriety of addressing to you a 
circular letter, setting forth the objects wanted, 
and requesting of you the favor to commu- 
nicate it as widely as possible among your 

To make the most instructive collections rel- 
ative to the natural history of mankind, two 
classes of specimens should be brought to- 
gether, one concerning the habits and pursuits 


of the races, the other concerning the phys- 
ical constitution of the races themselves. 

With reference to the first it would be de- 
sirable to collect articles of clothing and orna- 
ments of all the races of men, their imple- 
ments, tools, weapons, and such models or 
drawings of their dwellings as may give an 
idea of their construction ; small canoes and 
oars as models of their vessels, or indications 
of their progress in navigation ; in one word, 
everything that relates to their avocations, 
their pursuits, their habits, their mode of wor- 
ship, and whatever may indicate the dawn or 
progress of the arts among them. As to ar- 
ticles of clothing, it would be preferable to 
select such specimens as have actually been 
worn or even cast off, rather than new things 
which may be more or less fanciful and not 
indicate the real natural condition and habits 
of a race. 

With regard to the collections intended to 
illustrate the physical constitution of the races 
it is more difficult to obtain instructive speci- 
mens, as the savage races are generally in- 
clined to hold sacred all that relates to their 
dead ; yet whenever an opportunity is afforded 
to obtain skuUs of the natives of different 
parts of the world, it should be industriously 
improved, and good care taken to mark the 


skulls in such a way that their origin cannot 
be mistaken. Beside this, every possible effort 
should be made to obtain perfect heads, pre- 
served in alcohol, so that all their features may 
be studied minutely and compared. Where 
this cannot be done portraits or photographs 
may be substituted. 

Trusting that you may help me in this way 
to bring together in Cambridge a more com- 
plete collection, illustrative of the natural his- 
tory of mankind than exists thus far any- 
where, 1 

I remain, ever truly your friend and brother, 


The following letter to Mr. Ticknor is in 
the same spirit as previous ones to Mr. Halde- 
man and others, concerning the distribution 
of fishes in America. It is given at the risk 
of some repetition, because it illustrates Agas- 
siz's favorite idea that a key to the original 
combination of faunae in any given system 
of fresh waters, might be reached through a 
closer study than has yet been possible of the 
geographical or local circumscription of their 

1 All the ethnographical collections of the Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology have now been transferred to the Peabody 
Museum, where they more properly belong. 



NAHANT, October 24, 1863. 

MY DEAR Sin, Among the schemes which 
I have devised for the improvement of the 
Museum, there is one for the realization of 
which I appeal to your aid and sympathy. 
Thus far the natural productions of the rivers 
and lakes of the world have not been com- 
pared with one another, except what I have 
done in comparing the fishes of the Danube 
with those of the Rhine and of the Rhone, 
and those of the great Canadian lakes with 
those of the Swiss lakes. 

I now propose to resume this subject on 
the most extensive scale, since I see that it 
has the most direct bearing upon the trans- 
mutation theory. . . . First let me submit 
to you my plan. 

Rivers and lakes are isolated by the land 
and sea from one another. The question is, 
then, how they came to be peopled with in- 
habitants differing both from those on land 
and those in the sea, and how does it come 
that every hydrographic basin has its own in- 
habitants more or less different from those of 
any other basin ? Take the Ganges, the Nile, 
and the Amazons. There is not a living being 


in the one alike to any one in the others, etc. 
Now to advance the investigation to the point 
where it may tell with reference to the scien- 
tific doctrines at present under discussion, it is 
essential to know the facts in detail, with ref- 
erence to every fresh-water basin on earth. I 
have already taken means to obtain the ten- 
ants of all the rivers of Brazil, and partly of 
Russia, and I hope you may be able to put me 
in the way of getting those of Spain, if not 
of some other country beside. The plan I 
propose for that country would be worthy of 
the Doctors of Salamanca in her brightest 
days. If this alone were carried out, it would 
be, I believe, sufficient to settle the whole 

My idea is to obtain separate collections 
from all the principal rivers of Spain and 
Portugal, and even to have several separate 
collections from the larger rivers, one from 
their lower course, one from their middle 
course, and another from their head -waters. 
Take, for instance, the Douro. One collection 
ought to be made at Oporto, and several 
higher up, among its various tributaries and 
in its upper course ; say, one at Zamora and 
Valladolid, one at Salamanca from the Tormes 
River, one at Leon from the Esla River, one 


at Burgos and Palencia from the northern 
tributaries, one at Soria and Segovia from the 
southern tributaries. If this could be done on 
such a scale as I propose, it would in itself 
be a work worthy of the Spanish government, 
and most creditable to any man who should 
undertake it. The fact is that nothing of the 
kind has ever been done yet anywhere. A sin- 
gle collection from the Minho would be suffi- 
cient, say from Orense or Melgago. From the 
northern rivers along the gulf of Biscay all 
that would be necessary would be one thor- 
oughly complete collection from one of the 
little rivers that come down from the moun- 
tains of Asturias, say from Oviedo. 

The Ebro would require a more elaborate 
survey. From its upper course, one collection 
would be needed from Haro or Frias or Mi- 
randa ; another from Saragossa, and one from 
its mouth, including the minnows common 
among the brackish waters near the mouth of 
large rivers. In addition to this, one or two 
of the tributaries of the Ebro, coming down 
from the Pyrenees, should be explored in the 
same manner ; say one collection from Pampe- 
luna, and one from Urgel, or any other place 
on the southern slope of the Pyrenees. A 
collection made at Barcelona from the river 


and the brackish marshes would be equally 
desirable ; another from the river at Valencia, 
and, if possible, also from its head-waters at 
Ternel; another from the river Segura at 
Murcia, and somewhere in the mountains 
from its head- waters. Granada would afford 
particular interest as showing what its moun- 
tain streams feed. A collection from the Al- 
meria River at Almeria, or from any of the 
small rivers of the southern coast of Spain, 
would do ; and it would be the more interest- 
ing if another from the river Xenil could be 
obtained at or near Granada, to compare with 
the inhabitants of the waters upon the south- 
ern slope of the Sierra Nevada. 

Next would come the Guadalquivir, from 
which a collection should be made at San 
Lucar, with the brackish water species ; an- 
other at Seville or Cordova, one among the 
head-waters from the Sierra Nevada, and an- 
other from the mountains of the Mancha. 
From the Guadiana a collection from Villa 
Real, with the brackish species ; one from 
Badajoz, and one from the easternmost head- 
waters, and about where the river is lost un- 
der ground. 

The Tagus would again require an exten- 
sive exploration. In the first place a thorough 


collection of all the species found in the great 
estuary ought to be made with the view of 
ascertaining how far marine Atlantic species 
penetrate into the river basin ; then one from 
Santarem, and another either from Talavera 
or Toledo or Aranjuez, and one from the 
head-waters in Guadalaxara, and another in 

The collections made at different stations 
ought carefully to be kept in distinct jars or 
kegs, with labels so secure that no confusion 
or mistake can arise. But the specimens col- 
lected at the same station may be put together 
in the same jar. These collections require, 
in fact, very little care. (Here some details 
about mode of putting up specimens, trans- 
portation, etc.) If the same person should 
collect upon different stations, either in the 
same or in different hydrographic basins, the 
similarity of the specimens should not be a 
reason for neglecting to preserve them. What 
is aimed at is not to secure a variety of spe- 
cies, but to learn in what localities the same 
species may occur again and again, and what 
are the localities which nourish different spe- 
cies, no matter whether these species are in 
themselves interesting or not, new to science 
or known for ages, whether valuable for the 


table or unfit to eat. The mere fact of their 
distribution is the point to be ascertained, and 
this, as you see, requires the most extensive 
collections, affording in themselves compar- 
atively little interest, but likely to lead, by a 
proper discussion of the facts, to the most 
unexpected philosophical results. ... Do, 
please, what you can in this matter. Spain 
alone might give us the materials to solve the 
question of transmutation versus creation. I 
am going to make a similar appeal to my 
friends in Russia for materials from that coun- 
try, including Siberia and Kamschatka. Our 
own rivers are not easily accessible now. 
Ever truly your friend, 



1863-1864 : ^ET. 56-57. 

Correspondence with Dr. S. G. Howe. Bearing of the War 
on the Position of the Negro Race. Affection for Har- 
vard College. Interest in her General Progress. Cor- 
respondence with Emerson concerning Harvard. Glacial 
Phenomena in Maine. 

AGASSIZ'S letters give little idea of the deep 
interest he felt in the war between North and 
South, and its probable issue with reference to 
the general policy of the nation, and especially 
to the relation between the black and white 
races. Although any judgment upon the ac- 
curacy of its conclusions would now be prema- 
ture, the following correspondence between 
Agassiz and Dr. S. G. Howe is nevertheless 
worth considering, as showing how the prob- 
lem presented itself to the philanthropist and 
the naturalist from their different stand-points. 


PORTSMOUTH, August 3, 1863. 

MY DEAR AGASSIZ, You will learn by a 
glance at the inclosed circular the object of 
the commission of which I am a member. 


The more I consider the subject to be ex- 
amined and reported upon, the more I am 
impressed by its vastness ; the more I see that 
its proper treatment requires a consideration 
of political, physiological, and ethnological 
principles. Before deciding upon any polit- 
ical policy, it is necessary to decide several im- 
portant questions, which require more knowl- 
edge for their solution than I possess. 

Among these questions, this one occupies 
me most now. Is it probable that the Afri- 
can race, represented by less than two million 
blacks and a little more than two million 
mulattoes, unrecruited by immigration, will 
be a persistent race in this country ? or will 
it be absorbed, diluted, and finally effaced by 
the white race, numbering twenty -four mil- 
lions, and continually increased by immigra- 
tion, beside natural causes. 

Will not the general practical amalgama- 
tion fostered by slavery become more general 
after its abolition ? If so, will not the pro- 
portion of mulattoes become greater and that 
of the pure blacks less? With an increase 
and final numerical prevalence of mulattoes 
the question of the fertility of the latter be- 
comes a very important element in the calcu- 
lation. Can it be a .persistent race here where 


pure blacks are represented by 2, and the 
whites bv 20-24 ? 


Is it not true that in the Northern States 
at least the mulatto is unfertile, leaving but 
few children, and those mainly lymphatic and 
scrofulous ? 

In those sections where the blacks and mu- 
lattoes together make from seventy to eighty 
and even ninety per cent, of the whole popula- 
tion will there be, after the abolition of slav- 
ery, a sufficiently large influx of whites to 
counteract the present numerical preponder- 
ance of blacks ? 

It looks now as if the whites would ex- 
ploiter the labors of the blacks, and that so- 
cial servitude will continue long in spite of 
political equality. 

You will see the importance of considering 
carefully the natural laws of increase and 
their modification by existing causes before 
deciding upon any line of policy. 

If there be irresistible natural tendencies to 
the growth of a persistent black race in the 
Gulf and river States, we must not make bad 
worse by futile attempts to resist it. If, on 
the other hand, the natural tendencies are to 
the diffusion and final disappearance of the 
black (and colored) race, then our policy 
should be modified accordingly. 

VOL. II. 13 


I should be very glad, my dear sir, if you 
could give me your views upon this and cog- 
nate matters. If, however, your occupations 
will not permit you to give time to this mat- 
ter, perhaps you will assist me by pointing to 
works calculated to throw light upon the sub- 
ject of my inquiry, or by putting me in corre- 
spondence with persons who have the ability 
and the leisure to write about it. 

I remain, dear sir, faithfully, 



NAHANT, August 9, 1863. 

MY DEAR DOCTOR, When I acknowl- 
edged a few days ago the receipt of your in- 
vitation to put in writing my views upon the 
management of the negro race as part of the 
free population of the United States, I stated 
to you that there was a preliminary question 
of the utmost importance to be examined first, 
since whatever convictions may be formed 
upon that point must necessarily influence 
everything else relating to the subject. The 
question is simply this : Is there to be a per- 
manent black population upon the continent 
after slavery is everywhere abolished and no 
inducement remains to foster its increase ? 


Should this question be answered in the neg- 
ative, it is evident that a wise policy would 
look to the best mode of removing that race 
from these States, by the encouragement and 
acceleration of emigration. Should the ques- 
tion be answered, on the contrary, in the af- 
firmative, then it is plain that we have before 
us one of the most difficult problems, upon 
the solution of which the welfare of our own 
race may in a measure depend, namely, the 
combination in one social organization of two 
races more widely different from one another 
than all the other races. In effecting this 
combination it becomes our duty to avoid the 
recurrence of great evils, one of which is al- 
ready foreshadowed in the advantage which 
unscrupulous managers are taking of the 
f reedmen, whenever the latter are brought into 
contact with new social relations. 

I will, for the present, consider only the case 
of the unmixed negroes of the Southern States, 
the number of which I suppose to be about 
two millions. It is certainly not less, it 
may be a little more. From whatever point 
of view you look upon these people you must 
come to the conclusion that, left to themselves, 
they will perpetuate their race ad infinitum 
where they are. According to the prevalent 


theory of the unity of mankind it is assumed 
that the different races have become what 
they are in consequence of their settlement in 
different parts of the world, and that the 
whole globe is everywhere a fit abode for hu- 
man beings who adapt themselves to the con- 
ditions under which they live. According to 
the theory of a multiple origin of mankind the 
different races have first appeared in various 
parts of the globe, each with the peculiarities 
best suited to their primitive home. Aside 
from these theoretical views the fact is, that 
some races inhabit very extensive tracts of the 
earth's surface, and are now found upon sep- 
arate continents, while others are very limited 
in their range. This distribution is such that 
there is no reason for supposing that the 
negro is less fitted permanently to occupy at 
least the warmer parts of North and South 
America, than is the white race to retain pos- 
session of their more temperate portions. As- 
suming our pure black race to be only two 
millions, it is yet larger than the whole num- 
ber of several races that have held uninter- 
rupted possession of different parts of the 
globe ever since they have been known to 
the white race. Thus the Hottentots and the 
Abyssinians have maintained themselves in 


their respective homes without change ever 
since their existence has been known to us, 
even though their number is less than that of 
our pure black population. The same, also, is 
the case with the population of Australia and 
of the Pacific islands. The Papuan race, the 
Negrillo race, the Australian race proper, dis- 
tinct from one another, as well as from all 
other inhabitants of the earth, number each 
fewer inhabitants than already exist of the 
negro race in the United States alone, not to 
speak of Central and South America. 

This being the case there is, it seems to me, 
no more reason to expect a disappearance of 
the negro race from the continent of America 
without violent interference, than to expect a 
disappearance of the races inhabiting respec- 
tively the South Sea Islands, Australia, the 
Cape of Good Hope, or any other part of the 
globe tenanted by the less populous races 
The case of the American Indians, who grad- 
ually disappear before the white race, should 
not mislead us, as it is readily accounted for 
by the peculiar character of that race. The 
negro exhibits by nature a pliability, a readi- 
ness to accommodate himself to circumstances, 
a proneness to imitate those among whom he 
lives, characteristics which are entirely for- 


eign to the Indian, while they facilitate in 
every way the increase of the negro. I infer, 
therefore, from aU these circumstances that 
the negro race must be considered as perma 
nently settled upon this continent, no less 
firmly than the white race, and that it is our 
duty to look upon them as co-tenants in the 
possession of this part of the world. 

Remember that I have thus far presented 
the case only with reference to the Southern 
States, where the climate is particularly favor- 
able to the maintenance and multiplication of 
the negro race. Before drawing any infer- 
ence, however, from my first assertion that 
the negro will easily and without foreign as- 
sistance maintain himself and multiply in the 
warmer parts of this continent, let us consider 
a few other features of this momentous ques- 
tion of race. Whites and blacks may multi- 
ply together, but their offspring is never 
either white or black ; it is always mulatto. 
It is a half-breed, and shares all the peculiari- 
ties of half-breeds, among whose most impor- 
tant characteristics is their sterility, or at least 
their reduced fecundity. This shows the con- 
nection to be contrary to the normal state of 
the races, as it is contrary to the preservation 
of species in the animal kingdom. . . . Far 


from presenting to me a natural solution of 
our difficulties, the idea of amalgamation is 
most repugnant to my feelings. It is now 
the foundation of some of the most ill-ad- 
vised schemes. But wherever it is practiced, 
amalgamation among different races produces 
shades of population, the social position of 
which can never be regular and settled. From 
a physiological point of view, it is sound policy 
to put every possible obstacle to the crossing 
of the races, and the increase of half-breeds. 
It is unnatural, as shown by their very con- 
stitution, their sickly physique, and their im- 
paired fecundity. It is immoral and destruc- 
tive of social equality as it creates unnatural 
relations and multiplies the differences among 
members of the same community in a wrong 

From all this it is plain that the policy to 
be adopted toward the miscellaneous colored 
population with reference to a more or less 
distant future should be totally different from 
that which applies to the pure black ; for 
while I believe that a wise social economy 
will foster the progress of every pure race, ac- 
cording to its natural dispositions and abili- 
ties, and aim at securing for it a proper field 
for the fullest development of all its capabili- 


ties, I am convinced also that no efforts should 
be spared to check that which is inconsistent 
with the progress of a higher civilization and 
a purer morality. I hope and trust that as 
soon as the condition of the negro in the 
warmer parts of our States has been regulated 
according to the laws of freedom, the colored 
population in the more northern parts of the 
country will diminish. By a natural conse- 
quence of unconquerable affinities, the colored 
people in whom the negro nature prevails will 
tend toward the South, while the weaker and 
lighter ones will remain and die out among 

Entertaining these views upon the funda- 
mental questions concerning the races, the 
next point for consideration is the policy to 
be adopted under present circumstances, in 
order to increase the amount of good which is 
within our grasp and lessen the evil which we 
may avert. This will be for another letter. 

Very truly yours, 



August 10, 1863. 

MY DEAR DOCTOR, I am so deeply im- 
pressed with the dangers awaiting the prog- 


ress of civilization, should the ideas now gen- 
erally prevalent about amalgamation gain 
sufficient ascendency to exert a practical in- 
fluence upon the management of the affairs 
of the nation, that I beg leave to urge a few 
more considerations upon that point. 

In the first place let me insist upon the fact 
that the population arising from the amalga- 
mation of two races is always degenerate, 
that it loses the excellences of both primitive 
stocks to retain the vices or defects of both, 
and never to enjoy the physical vigor of 
either. In order clearly to appreciate the 
tendencies of amalgamation, it is indispensable 
to discriminate correctly between the differ- 
ences distinguishing one race from another 
and those existing between different nation- 
alities of the same race. For while the mix- 
ture of nationalities of the same race has 
always proved beneficial as far as we are 
taught by history, the mixture of races has 
produced a very different result. We need 
only look at the inhabitants of Central Amer- 
ica, where the white, the negro, and the In- 
dian races are more or less blended, to see the 
baneful effects of such an amalgamation. The 
condition of the Indians on the borders of 
civilization in the United States and in Can- 


ada, in their contact with the Anglo-Saxons 
as well as with the French, testifies equally 
to the pernicious influence of amalgamation 
of races. The experience of the Old World 
points in the same direction at the Cape of 
Good Hope, in Australia ; everywhere, in 
fact, history speaks as loudly in favor of the 
mixture of clearly related nations as she does 
in condemnation of the amalgamation of re- 
mote races. We need only think of the origin 
of the English nation, of that of the United 
States, etc. The question of breeding in-and- 
in, that of marriage among close relations, is 
again quite distinct. In fact, there is hardly 
a more complicated subject in physiology, or 
one requiring nicer discriminations, than that 
of the multiplication of man, and yet it is 
constantly acted upon as if it needed no 
special knowledge. I beseech you, therefore, 
while you are in a position to exert a leading 
influence in the councils of the nation upon 
this most important subject to allow no pre- 
conceived view, no favorite schemes, no im- 
mediate object, to bias your judgment and 
mislead you. I do not pretend to be in pos- 
session of absolute truth. I only urge upon 
you the consideration of unquestionable facts 
before you form a final opinion and decide 


upon a fixed policy. Conceive for a moment 
the difference it would make in future ages 
for the prospects of republican institutions, 
and our civilization generally, if instead of 
the manly population descended from cognate 
nations the United States should be inhabited 
by the effeminate progeny of mixed races, half 
Indian, half negro, sprinkled with white blood. 
Can you devise a scheme to rescue the Span- 
iards of Mexico from their degradation ? Be- 
ware, then, of any policy which may bring our 
own race to their level. 

These considerations lead me naturally to 
the inquiry into the peculiarities of the two 
races, in order to find out what may be most 
beneficial for each. I rejoice in the prospect 
of universal emancipation, not only from a 
philanthropic point of view, but also because 
hereafter the physiologist and ethnographer 
may discuss the question of the races and ad- 
vocate a discriminating policy regarding them, 
without seeming to support legal inequality. 
There is no more one-sided doctrine concern- 
ing human nature than the idea that all men 
are equal, in the sense of being equally capable 
of fostering human progress and advancing 
civilization, especially in the various spheres 
of intellectual and moral activity. If this be 


so, then it is one of our primary obligations to 
remove every obstacle that may retard the 
highest development, while it is equally our 
duty to promote the humblest aspirations that 
may contribute to raise the lowest individual 
to a better condition in life. 

The question is, then, what kind of common 
treatment is likely to be the best for all men, 
and what do the different races, taken singly, 
require for themselves ? That legal equality 
should be the common boon of humanity can 
hardly be matter for doubt nowadays, but it 
does not follow that social equality is a nec- 
essary complement of legal equality. I say 
purposely legal equality, and not political 
equality, because political equality involves an 
equal right to every public station in life, and 
I trust we shall be wise enough not to com- 
plicate at once our whole system with new 
conflicting interests, before we have ascer- 
tained what may be the practical working of 
universal freedom and legal equality for two 
races, so different as the whites and negroes, 
living under one government. We ought to 
remember that what we know of the negro, 
from the experience we have had of the col- 
ored population of the North, affords but a 
very inadequate standard by which to judge 


of the capabilities of the pure blacks as they 
exist in the South. We ought, further, to 
remember that the black population is likely 
at all times to outnumber the white in the 
Southern States. We should therefore be- 
ware how we give to the blacks rights, by 
virtue of which they may endanger the pro- 
gress of the whites before their temper has 
been tested by a prolonged experience. Social 
equality I deem at all times impracticable, 
a natural impossibility, from the very charac- 
ter of the negro race. Let us consider for a 
moment the natural endowments of the negro 
race as they are manifested in history on their 
native continent, as far as we can trace them 
back, and compare the result with what we 
know of our own destinies, in order to ascer- 
tain, within the limits of probability, whether 
social equality with the negro is really an im- 

We know of the existence of the negro 
race, with all its physical peculiarities, from 
the Egyptian monuments, several thousand 
years before the Christian era. Upon these 
monuments the negroes are so represented as 
to show that in natural propensities and men- 
tal abilities they were pretty much what we 
find them at the present day, indolent, 


playful, sensual, imitative, subservient, good- 
natured, versatile, unsteady in their purpose, 
devoted and affectionate. From this picture 
I exclude the character of the half-breeds, 
who have, more or less, the character of their 
white parents. Originally found in Africa, 
the negroes seem at all times to have pre- 
sented the same characteristics wherever they 
have been brought into contact with the 
white race ; as in Upper Egypt, along the bor- 
ders of the Carthaginian and Roman settle- 


ments in Africa, in Senegal in juxtaposition 
with the French, in Congo in juxtaposition 
with the Portuguese, about the Cape and on 
the eastern coast of Africa in juxtaposition 
with the Dutch and the English. While 


Egypt and Carthage grew into powerful em- 
pires and attained a high degree of civiliza- 
tion ; while in Babylon, Syria, and Greece were 
developed the highest culture of antiquity, 
the negro race groped in barbarism and never 
originated a regular organization among 
themselves. This is important to keep in 
mind, and to urge upon the attention of 
those who ascribe the condition of the modern 
negro wholly to the influence of slavery. I 
do not mean to say that slavery is a necessary 
condition for the organization of the negro 


race. Far from it. They are entitled to their 
freedom, to the regulation of their own des- 
tiny, to the enjoyment of their life, of their 
earnings, of their family circle. But with all 
this nowhere do they appear to have been ca- 
pable of rising, by themselves, to the level of 
the civilized communities of the whites, and 
therefore I hold that they are incapable of 
living on a footing of social equality with the 
whites in one and the same community with- 
out becoming an element of social disorder. 1 

I am not prepared to state what political 
privileges they are fit to enjoy now ; though 
I have no hesitation in saying that they should 
be equal to other men before the law. The 
right of owning property, of bearing witness, 
of entering into contracts, of buying and sell- 
ing, of choosing their own domicile, would 
give them ample opportunity of showing in a 
comparatively short time what political rights 
might properly and safely be granted to them 
in successive installments. No man has a right 

1 I fear the expression " social equality " may be misunder- 
stood in this connection. It means here only the relations 
which would arise from the mixture of the two races, and 
thus affect the organization of society as a whole. It does 
not refer to any superficial or local social rules, such as shar- 
ing on common ground public conveyances, public accommo- 
dations, and the like. ED. 


to what ' he is unfit to use. Our own best 
rights have been acquired successively. I can- 
not, therefore, think it just or safe to grant 
at once to the negro all the privileges which 
we ourselves have acquired by long struggles. 
History teaches us what terrible reactions 
have followed too extensive and too rapid 
changes. Let us beware of granting too much 
to the negro race in the beginning, lest it be- 
come necessary hereafter to deprive them of 
some of the privileges which they may use 
to their own and our detriment. All this I 
urge with reference to the pure blacks of the 
South. As to the half-breeds, especially in the 
Northern States, I have already stated it to be 
my opinion that their very existence is likely 
to be only transient, and that all legislation 
with reference to them should be regulated 
with this view, and so ordained as to accelerate 
their disappearance from the Northern States. 

Let me now sum up my answer to some of 
your direct questions. 

1st. Is it probable that the African race 
will be a persistent race in this country, or 
will it be absorbed, diluted, and finally effaced 
by the white race ? 

I believe it will continue in the Southern 
States, and I hope it may gradually die out at 


the North, where it has only an artificial foot- 
hold, being chiefly represented by half-breeds, 
who do not constitute a race by themselves. 

2d. Will not the practical amalgamation 
fostered by slavery become more general after 
its abolition ? 

Being the result of the vices engendered by 
slavery, it is to be hoped that the emancipa- 
tion of the blacks, by securing to them a legal 
recognition of their natural ties, will tend to 
diminish this unnatural amalgamation and les- 
sen everywhere the number of these unfortu- 
nate half-breeds. My reason for believing 
that the colored population of the North will 
gradually vanish is founded in great degree 
upon the fact that that population does not 
increase where it exists now, but is constantly 
recruited by an influx from the South. The 
southern half-breeds feel their false position 
at the South more keenly than the blacks, 
and are more inclined to escape to the North 
than the individuals of purer black blood. 
Remove the oppression under which the col- 
ored population now suffers, and the current 
will at once be reversed; blacks and mulat- 
toes of the North will seek the sunny South. 
But I see no cause which should check the in- 
crease of the black population in the South- 

VOL. n. 14 


era States. The climate is genial to them ; 
the soil rewards the slightest labor with a rich 
harvest. The country cannot well be culti- 
vated without real or fancied danger to the 
white man, who, therefore, will not probably 
compete with the black in the labors of the 
field, thus leaving to him an opportunity for 
easy and desirable support. 

3d. In those sections where the blacks 
and mulattoes together make from seventy to 
eighty and even ninety per cent, of the pop- 
ulation will there be, after the abolition of 
slavery, a sufficiently large influx of whites to 
counteract the present numerical preponder- 
ance of blacks ? 

To answer this question correctly we must 
take into consideration the mode of distribu- 
tion of the white and of the colored popula- 
tion in the more Southern States. The whites 
inhabit invariably the sea-shores and the more 
elevated grounds, while the blacks are scat- 
tered over the lowlands. This peculiar lo- 
calization is rendered necessary by the phys- 
ical constitution of the country. The lowlands 
are not habitable in summer by the whites be- 
tween sunset and sunrise. All the wealthy 
whites, and in the less healthy regions even 
the overseers, repair in the evening to the sea- 


shore or to the woodlands, and return only in 
the morning to the plantation, except during 
the winter months, after the first hard frost, 
when the country is everywhere habitable by 
all. This necessarily limits the area which can 
be tenanted by the whites, and in some States 
that area is very small as compared with that 
habitable by the blacks. It is therefore clear 
that with a free black population, enjoying 
identical rights with the whites, these States 
will sooner or later become negro States, 
with a comparatively small white population. 
This is inevitable ; we might as soon expect 
to change the laws of nature as to avert this 
result. I believe it may in a certain sense 
work well in the end. But any policy based 
upon different expectations is doomed to dis- 

4th. How to prevent the whites from se- 
curing the lion's share of the labor of the 
blacks ? 

This is a question which my want of fa- 
miliarity with the operations of the laboring 
classes prevents me from answering in a man- 
ner satisfactory to myself. Is it not possible 
to apply to the superintendence of the work- 
ing negroes something like the system which 
regulates the duties of the foreman in all our 
manufacturing establishments ? 


I should like to go on and attempt to devise 
some scheme in conformity with the convic- 
tions I have expressed in these letters. But 
I have little ability in the way of organizing, 
and then the subject is so novel that I am not 
prepared to propose anything very definite. 
Ever truly yours, 



NEW YORK, August 18, 1863. 

MY DEAR AGASSIZ, I cannot refrain from 
expressing my thanks for your prompt compli- 
ance with my request, and for your two valu- 
able letters. 

Be assured I shall try to keep my mind 
open to conviction and to forbear forming 
any theory before observing a wide circle of 
facts. I do not know how you got the idea 
that I had decided in favor of anything about 
the future of the colored population. I have 
corresponded with the founders of " La So- 
ciete Cosmopolite pour la fusion des races 
humaines ' in France, an amalgamation so- 
ciety, founded upon the theory that the per- 
fect man is to be the result of the fusion of 
all the races upon earth. I have not, however, 
the honor of being a member thereof. In- 


deed, I think it hardly exists. I hear, too, that 
several of our prominent anti-slavery gentle- 
men, worthy of respect for their zeal and abil- 
ity, have publicly advocated the doctrines of 
amalgamation ; but I do not know upon what 

I do, indeed, hold that in this, as in other 
matters, we are to do the manifest right, re- 
gardless of consequences. If you ask me who 
is to decide what is the manifest right, I an- 
swer, that in morals, as well as in mathematics, 
there are certain truths so simple as to be ad- 
mitted at sight as axioms by every one of 
common intelligence and honesty. The right 
to life is as clear as that two and two make 
four, and none dispute it. The right to liberty 
and to ownership of property fairly earned is 
just as clear to the enlightened mind as that 
5 X 6 = 30 ; but the less enlightened may re- 
quire to reflect about it, just as they may want 
concrete signs to show that five times six do 
really make thirty. As we ascend in numbers 
and in morals, the intuitive perceptions be- 
come less and less ; and though the truths are 
there, and ought to be admitted as axiomatic, 
they are not at once seen and felt by ordinary 

Now so far as the rights of blacks and the 


duties of whites are manifest to common and 
honest minds, so far would I admit the first 
and perform the second, though the heavens 
fall. I would not only advocate entire free- 
dom, equal rights and privileges, and open 
competition for social distinction, but what 
now seems to me the shocking and downward 
policy of amalgamation. But the heavens are 
not going to fall, and we are not going to be 
called upon to favor any policy discordant 
with natural instincts and cultivated tastes. 

A case may be supposed in which the higher 
race ought to submit to the sad fate of dilu- 
tion and debasement of its blood, as on an 
island, and where long continued wrong and 
suffering had to be atoned for. But this 
is hardly conceivable, because, even in what 
seems punishment and atonement, the law of 
harmonious development still rules. God does 
not punish wrong and violence done to one 
part of our nature, by requiring us to do 
wrong and violence to another part. Even 
Nemesis wields rather a guiding -rod than a 
scourge. We need take no step backward, 
but only aside, to get sooner into the right 

Slavery has acted as a disturbing force in 
the development of our national character and 


produced monstrous deformities of a bodily as 
well as moral nature, for it has impaired the 
purity and lowered the quality of the national 
blood. It imported Africans, and, to prevent 
their extinction by competition with a more 
vigorous race, it set a high premium on col- 
ored blood. It has fostered and multiplied a 
vigorous black race, and engendered a feeble 
mulatto breed. Many of each of these classes 
have drifted northward, right in the teeth 
of thermal laws, to find homes where they 
would never live by natural election. Now, 
by utterly rooting out slavery, and by that 
means alone, shall we remove these disturbing 
forces and allow fair play to natural laws, by 
the operation of which, it seems to me, the 
colored population will disappear from the 
Northern and Middle States, if not from the 
continent, before the more vigorous and pro- 
lific white race. It will be the duty of the 
statesman to favor, by wise measures, the op- 
eration of these laws and the purification and 
elevation of the national blood. 

In the way of this is the existence of the 
colored population of the Northern and Mid- 
dle States. Now, while we should grant to 
every human being all the rights we claim for 
ourselves, and bear in mind the cases of indi- 


vidual excellence of colored people, we must, 
I think, admit that nmlattoism is hybridism, 
and that it is unnatural and undesirable. It 
has been brought to its present formidable 
proportions by several causes, mainly by 
slavery. Its evils are to be met and lessened 
as far as may be, by wise statesmanship and 
by enlightenment of public opinion. These 
may do much. 

Some proclaim amalgamation as the remedy, 
upon the theory that by diluting black blood 
with white blood in larger and larger propor- 
tions, it will finally be so far diluted as to be 
imperceptible and will disappear. They for- 
get that we may not do the wrong that right 
may come of it. They forget that no amount 
of diffusion will exterminate whatever exists ; 
that a pint of ink diffused in a lake is still 
there, and the water is only the less pure. 

Others persist that mulattoism is not and 
cannot be persistent beyond four generations. 
In other words, that like some other abnor- 
mal and diseased conditions it is self -limit- 
ing, and that the body social will be purged 
of it. 

In the face of these and other theories, it is 
our duty to gather as many facts and as much 
knowledge as is possible, in order to throw 


light upon every part of the subject ; nobody 
can furnish more than you can. 
Faithfully yours, 

SAMUEL G. HowE. 1 

The Museum and his own more immediate 
scientific work must naturally take precedence 
in any biography of Agassiz, and perhaps, 
for this reason, too little prominence has been 
given in these pages to his interest in gen- 
eral education, and especially in the general 
welfare and progress of Harvard College. He 
was deeply attached to the University with 
which he had identified himself in America. 
While he strained every nerve to develop his 
own scientific department, which had no exist- 
ence at Harvard until his advent there, no 
one of her professors was more concerned 
than himself for the organization of the col- 
lege as a whole. A lover of letters as well 
as a devotee of nature, he valued every provi- 
sion for a well proportioned intellectual train- 
ing-. He welcomed the creation of an Aca- 


demic Council for the promotion of free and 

1 In this correspondence with Dr. Howe, one or two phrases 
in Agassiz's letters are interpolated from a third unfinished 
letter, which was never forwarded to Dr. Howe. These sen- 
tences connect themselves so directly with the sense of the 
previous letters that it seemed worth while to add them. ED. 


frequent interchange of opinion between the 
different heads of departments, and, when in 
Cambridge, he was never absent from the 
meetings. He urged, also, the introduction 
of university lectures, to the establishment of 
which he largely contributed, and which he 
would fain have opened to all the students. 
He advocated the extension of the elective 
system, believing that while it might perhaps 
give a pretext for easy evasion of duty to the 
more inefficient and lazy students, it gave 
larger opportunities to the better class, and 
that the University should adapt itself to the 
latter rather than the former. " The bright 
students," he writes to a friend, " are now de- 
prived of the best advantages to be had here, 
because the dull or the indifferent must still 
be treated as children." 

The two following letters, from their bear- 
ing on general university questions, are not 
out of place here. Though occasioned by a 
slight misconception, they are so characteris- 
tic of the writers, and of their relation to 
each other, that it would be a pity to omit 



December 12, 1864. 

MY DEAR EMERSON, If your lecture on 
universities, the first of your course, has been 
correctly reported to me, I am almost inclined 
to quarrel with you for having missed an ex- 
cellent chance to help me, and advance the 
true interests of the college. You say that 
Natural History is getting too great an as- 
cendency among us, that it is out of pro- 
portion to other departments, and hint that a 
check-rein would not be amiss on the enthu- 
siastic professor who is responsible for this. 

Do you not see that the way to bring about 
a well-proportioned development of all the re- 
sources of the University is not to check the 
natural history department, but to stimulate 
all the others ? not that the zoological school 
grows too fast, but that the others do not 
grow fast enough ? This sounds invidious and 
perhaps somewhat boastful ; but it is you and 
not I who have instituted the comparison. It 
strikes me you have not hit upon the best 
remedy for this want of balance. If sym- 
metry is to be obtained by cutting down the 
most vigorous growth, it seems to me it would 
be better to have a little irregularity here and 


there. In stimulating, by every means in my 
power, the growth of the Museum and the 
means of education connected with it, I am 
far from having a selfish wish to see my own 
department tower above the others. I wish 
that every one of my colleagues would make 
it hard for me to keep up with him, and there 
are some among them, 1 am happy to say, who 
are ready to run a race with me. Perhaps, 
after all, I am taking up the cudgels against 
you rather prematurely. If I had not been 
called to New Haven, Sunday before last, by 
Professor Silliman's funeral, I should have 
been present at your lecture myself. Having 
missed it, I may have heard this passage in- 
accurately repeated. If so, you must forgive 
me, and believe me always, whatever you did 
or did not say, 

Ever truly your friend, 



CONCORD, December 13, 1864. 

DEAR AGASSIZ, I pray you have no fear 
that I did, or can, say any word unfriendly to 
you or to the Museum, for both of which 
blessings the cause and the effect I daily 
thank Heaven ! May you both increase and 
multiply for ages ! 


I cannot defend my lectures, they are 
prone to be clumsy and hurried botches, 
still less answer for any report, which I 
never dare read ; but I can teh 1 you the 
amount of my chiding. I vented some of the 
old grudge I owe the college now for forty- 
five years, for the cruel waste of two years of 
college time on mathematics without any at- 
tempt to adapt, by skillful tutors, or by pri- 
vate instruction, these tasks to the capacity of 
slow learners. I still remember the useless 
pains I took, and my serious recourse to my 
tutor for aid which he did not know how to 
give me. And now I see to-day the same in- 
discriminate imposing of mathematics on all 
students during two years, ear or no ear, 
you shall all learn music, to the waste of 
time and health of a large part of every class. 
It is both natural and laudable in each pro- 
fessor to magnify his department, and to seek 
to make it the first in the world if he can. 
But of course this tendency must be corrected 
by securing in the constitution of the college a 
power in the head (whether singular or plural) 
of coordinating all the parts. Else, important 
departments will be overlaid, as in Oxford 
and in Harvard, natural history was until now. 
Now, it looks as if natural history would ob- 


tain in time to come the like predominance 
as mathematics have here, or Greek at Oxford. 
It will not grieve me if it should, for we are 
all curious of nature, but not of algebra. But 
the necessity of check on the instructors in 
the head of the college, I am sure you will 
agree with me, is indispensable. You will see 
that my allusion to naturalists is only inci- 
dental to my statement of my grievance. 

But I have made my letter ridiculously 
long, and pray you to remember that you 
have brought it on your own head. I do not 
know that I ever attempted before an expla- 
nation of any speech. 

Always with entire regard yours, 


At about this time, in September, 1864, 
Agassiz made an excursion into Maine, partly 
to examine the drift phenomena on the islands 
and coast of that State, and partly to study 
the so-called " horse - backs." The journey 
proved to be one of the most interesting he 
had made in this country with reference to 
local glacial phenomena. Compass in hand, 
he followed the extraordinary ridges of mo- 
rainic material lying between Bangor and Ka- 
tahdin, to the Ebeene Mountains, at the foot 


of which are the Katahdin Iron Works. Re- 
turning to Bangor, he pursued, with the same 
minute investigation, the glacial tracks and 
erratic material from that place to the sea- 
coast and to Mount Desert. The details of 
this journey and its results are given in one 
of the papers contained in the second volume 
of his " Geological Sketches/ 3 In conclusion, 
he says ; " I suppose these facts must be far 
less expressive to the general observer than to 
one who has seen this whole set of phenomena 
in active operation. To me they have been 
for many years so familiar in the Alpine val- 
leys, and their aspect in those regions is so 
identical with the facts above described, that 
paradoxical as the statement may seem, the 
presence of the ice is now an unimportant ele- 
ment to me in the study of glacial phenom- 
ena ; no more essential than is the flesh to the 
anatomist who studies the skeleton of a fossil 

This journey in Maine, undertaken in the 
most beautiful season of the American year, 
when the autumn glow lined the forest roads 
with red and gold, was a great refreshment 
to Agassiz. He had been far from well, but 
he returned to his winter's work invigorated 
and with a new sense of hope and courage. 


1865-1868: JET. 58-61. 

Letter to his Mother announcing Journey to Brazil. Sketch 
of Journey. Kindness of the Emperor. Liberality of 
the Brazilian Government. Correspondence with Charles 
Sumner. Letter to his Mother at Close of Brazil Jour- 
ney. Letter from Martius concerning Journey in Brazil. 

Return to Cambridge. Lectures in Boston and New 
York. Summer at Nahant. Letter to Professor Peirce 
on the Survey of Boston Harbor. Death of his Mother. 

Illness. Correspondence with Oswald Heer. Sum- 
mer Journey in the West. Cornell University. Letter 
from Longfellow. 

THE next important event in the life of 
Agassiz, due in the first instance to his fail- 
ing health, which made some change of scene 
and climate necessary, is best announced by 
himself in the following letter. 


CAMBRIDGE, March 22, 1865. 

DEAR MOTHER, You will shed tears of 
joy when you read this, but such tears are 
harmless. Listen, then, to what has happened. 
A few weeks ago I was thinking how I should 


employ my summer. I foresaw that in going 
to Naliant I should not find the rest I need 
after all the fatigue of the two last years, or, 
at least, not enough of change and relaxation. 
I felt that I must have new scenes to give me 
new life. But where to go and what to do ? 

Perhaps I wrote you last year of the many 
marks of kindness I have received from the 
Emperor of Brazil, and you remember that 
at the time of my debut as an author, my 
attention was turned to the natural history 
of that country. Lately, also, in a course of 
lectures at the Lowell Institute, I have been 
led to compare the Alps, where I have passed 
so many happy years, with the Andes, which 
I have never seen. In short, the idea came to 
me gradually, that I might spend the summer 
at Rio de Janeiro, and that, with the present 
facilities for travel, the journey would not be 
too fatiguing for my wife. . . . Upon this, 
then, I had decided, when most unexpectedly, 
and as the consummation of all my wishes, 
my pleasure trip was transformed into an im- 
portant scientific expedition for the benefit of 
the Museum, by the intervention of one of my 
friends, Mr. Nathaniel Thayer. By chance I 
met him a week ago in Boston. He laughed 

at me a little about my roving disposition, 
VOL. n. is 


and then asked me what plans I had formed 
for the Museum, in connection with my jour- 
ney. I answered that, thinking especially of 
my health, I had provided only for the needs 
of myself and my wife during an absence of 
six or eight months. Then ensued the fol- 
lowing conversation. 

" But, Agassiz, that is hardly like you ; you 
have never heen away from Cambridge with- 
out thinking of your Museum." 

" True enough ; but I am tired, I need 
rest. I am going to loaf a little in Brazil." 

" When you have had a fortnight of that 
kind of thing you will be as ready for work 
as ever, and you will be sorry that you have 
not made some preparation to utilize the oc- 
casion and the localities in the interest of the 

" Yes, I have some such misgiving ; but I 
have no means for anything beyond my per- 
sonal expenses, and it is no time to ask sacri- 
fices from any one in behalf of science. The 
country claims all our resources." 

" But suppose some one offered you a sci- 
entific assistant, all expenses paid, what would 
you say ? ' 

" Of that I had never thought." 

" How many assistants could you employ ? ' 


" Half a dozen." 

" And what would be the expense of each 
one ? " 

" I suppose about twenty-five hundred dol- 
lars ; at least, that is what I have counted 
upon for myself." 

After a moment's reflection he resumed : 

" If it suits you then, Agassiz, and inter- 
feres in no way with the plans for your 
health, choose your assistants among the em- 
ployees of your Museum or elsewhere, and I 
will be responsible for all the scientific ex- 
penses of the expedition." . . . 

My preparations are made. I leave prob- 
ably next week, from New York, with a staff 
of assistants more numerous, and, I think, as 
well chosen, as those of any previous under- 
taking of the kind. 1 

. . . 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 has in- 
vited 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 

1 Beside the six assistants provided for by Mr. Thayer, 
there were a number of young volunteer aids who did excel- 
lent work on the expedition. 


de Janeiro, an economy of fifteen thousand 
francs at the start. Yesterday evening I re- 
ceived a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, 
at Washington, desiring the officers of all ves- 
sels of war stationed along the coasts I am to 
visit, to give me aid and support in every- 
thing concerning my expedition. The letter 
was written in the kindest terms, and gratified 
me the more because it was quite unsolicited. 
I am really touched by the marks of sympa- 
thy I receive, not only from near friends, but 
even from strangers. ... 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 intel- 
lectual development, all that her citizens have 
done for me. 

I am forgetting that you will be anxious to 
know what special work I propose to do in 
the interest of science in Brazil. First, I hope 
to make large collections of all such objects 
as properly belong in a Museum of Natural 
History, and to this end I have chosen from 
among the employees of our Museum one rep- 
resentative from each department. My only 
regret is that I must leave Alex, in Cambridge 
to take care of the Museum itself. He will 
have an immense amount of work to do, for 


I leave him only six out of our usual staff of 
assistants. In the second place, I intend to 
make a special study of the habits, metamor- 
phoses, anatomy, etc., of the Amazonian fishes. 

Finally, I dream sometimes of an ascension of 


the Andes, if I do not find myself too old and 
too heavy for climbing. I should like to see 
if there were not also large glaciers in this 
chain of mountains, at the period when the 
glaciers of the Alps extended to the Jura. . . . 
But this latter part of my plan is quite uncer- 
tain, and must depend in great degree upon 
our success on the Amazons. Accompanied 
as I am with a number of aides naturalistes, 
we ought to be able among us to bring to- 
gether large collections, and even to add du- 
plicates, which I can then, on my return, dis- 
tribute to the European Museums, in exchange 
for valuable specimens. 

We leave next week, and I hope to write 
you from Rio a letter which will reach you 
about the date of my birthday. A steamer 
leaves Brazil once a month for England. If 
my arrival coincides with her departure you 
shall not be disappointed in this. 

With all my heart, 

Your Louis. 


The story of this expedition has been told 
in the partly scientific, partly personal diary 
published after Agassiz's return, under the 
title of " A Journey in Brazil/' and therefore 
a full account of it here would be mere repe- 
tition. He was absent sixteen months. The 
first three were spent in Rio de Janeiro, and 
in excursions about the neighborhood of her 
beautiful bay and the surrounding mountains. 
For greater efficiency and promptness he di- 
vided his party into companies, each working 
separately, some in collecting, others in geo- 
logical surveys, but all under one combined 
plan of action. 

The next ten months were passed in the 
Amazonian region. This part of the journey 
had the charm of purely tropical scenery, and 
Agassiz, who was no less a lover of nature 
than a naturalist, enjoyed to the utmost its 
beauty and picturesqueness. Much of the 
time he and his companions were living on 
the great river itself, and the deck of the 
steamer was by turns laboratory, dining-room, 
and dormitory. Often, as they passed close 
under the banks of the river, or between the 
many islands which break its broad expanse 
into narrow channels, their improvised work- 
ing room was overshadowed by the lofty wall 


of vegetation, which lifted its dense mass of 
trees and soft drapery of vines on either side. 
Still more beautiful was it when they left the 
track of the main river for the water -paths 
hidden in the forest. Here they were rowed 
by Indians in " montarias," a peculiar kind of 
boat used by the natives. It has a thatched 
hood at one end for shelter from rain or sun. 
Little sun penetrates, however, to the shaded 
" igarape ' ' (boat-path), along which the mon- 
taria winds its way under a vault of green. 
When traveling in this manner, they stopped 
for the night, and indeed sometimes lingered 
for days, in Indian settlements, or in the more 
secluded single Indian lodges, which are to 
be found on the shores of almost every lake 
or channel. In this net-work of fresh waters, 
threading the otherwise impenetrable woods, 
the humblest habitation has its boat and land- 
ing-place. With his montaria and his ham- 
mock, his little plantation of bananas and 
mandioca, and the dwelling, for which the 
forest about him supplies the material, the 
Amazonian Indian is supplied with all the 
necessities of life. 

Sometimes the party were settled, for weeks 
at a time, in more civilized fashion, in the 
towns or villages on the banks of the main 


river, or its immediate neighborhood, at Ma- 
naos, Ega, Obydos, and elsewhere. Wherever 
they sojourned, whether for a longer or a 
shorter time, the scientific work went on un- 
interruptedly. There was not an idle mem- 
ber in the company. 

From the time he left Rio de Janeiro, Agas- 
siz had the companionship of a young Brazil- 
ian officer of the engineer corps, Major Cou- 
tinho. Thoroughly familiar with the Amazons 
and its affluents, at home with the Indians, 
among whom he had often lived, he was the 
pearl of traveling companions as well as a val- 
uable addition to the scientific force. Agassiz 
left the Amazonian valley in April, and the 
two remaining months of his stay in Brazil 
were devoted to excursions along the coast, es- 
pecially in the mountains back of Ceara, and 
in the Organ mountains near Rio de Janeiro. 

From beginning to end this journey ful- 
filled Agassiz's brightest anticipations. Mr. 
Thayer, whose generosity first placed the ex- 
pedition on so broad a scientific basis, con- 
tinued to give it his cordial support till the 
last specimen was stored in the Museum. 
The interest taken in it by the Emperor of 
Brazil, and the liberality of the government 
toward it, also facilitated all Agassiz' s aims 


and smoothed every difficulty in the path. On 
starting he had set before himself two sub- 


jects of inquiry. These were, first, the fresh- 
water fauna of Brazil, of the greater interest 
to him, because of the work on the Brazilian 
Fishes, with which his scientific career had 
opened ; and second, her glacial history, for he 
believed that even these latitudes must have 
been, to a greater or less degree, included in 
the ice-period. The first three months spent 
in Rio de Janeiro and its environs gave him 
the key to phenomena connected wdth both 
these subjects, and he followed them from 
there to the head-waters of the Amazons, as 
an Indian follows a trail. The distribution 
of life in the rivers and lakes of Brazil, the 
immense number of species and their local 
circumscription, as distinct faunae in definite 
areas of the same water-basin, amazed him ; 
while the character of the soil and other geo- 
logical features confirmed him in his precon- 
ceived belief that the glacial period could not 
have been less than cosmic in its influence. 
He was satisfied that the tropical, as well as 
the temperate and arctic regions, had been, 
although in a less degree, fashioned by ice. 

Just before leaving the United States he 
received a letter of friendly farewell from 


Charles Sumner, and his answer, written on 
the Rio Negro, gives some idea of the condi- 
tions under which he traveled, and of the re- 
sults he had obtained. As the letters explain 
each other, both are given here. 


WASHINGTON, March 20, 1865. 

MY DEAR AGASSIZ, It is a beautiful ex- 
pedition that you are about to commence, 
in contrast with the deeds of war. And yet 
you are going forth to conquer new realms, 
and bring them under a sway they have not 
yet known. But science is peaceful and blood- 
less in her conquests. May you return victo- 
rious ! I am sure you will. Of course you 
will see the Emperor of Brazil, whose enlight- 
ened character is one of the happy accidents 
of government. . . . You are a naturalist ; 
but you are a patriot also. If you can take 
advantage of the opportunities which you will 
surely enjoy, and plead for our country, to the 
end that its rights may be understood, and the 
hardships it has been obliged to endure may 
be appreciated, you will render a service to the 
cause of international peace and good-will. 

You are to have great enjoyment. I imag- 
ine you already very happy in the scenes be- 


fore you. I, too, should like to see Nature in 
her most splendid robes ; but I must stay at 
home and help keep the peace. Good-by 
Bon voyage ! 

Ever sincerely yours, 



WAR STEAMER IBICUHY, December 26, 1865. > 

MY DEAR SUMNER, The heading of these 
lines tells a long and interesting story. Here 
I am, sailing on the Rio Negro, with my wife 
and a young Brazilian friend, provided with 
all the facilities which modern improvements, 
the extraordinary liberality of the Brazilian 
government, and the kindness of our com- 
mander can bestow, and pursuing my scien- 
tific investigations with as much ease as if I 
were in my study, or in the Museum at Cam- 
bridge, with this enormous difference, that 
I am writing on deck, protected by an awning 
from the hot sun, and surrounded by all the 
luxuriance of the richest tropical vegetation. 

The kind reception I met at the hands of 
the emperor on my arrival at Rio has been 
followed by every possible attention and mark 
of good-will toward me personally, but usually 


tendered in such a way as to show that an ex- 
pression of cordiality toward the United States 
was intended also in the friendly feeling with 
which everything was done to facilitate my re- 
searches. In the first place, the emperor gave 
me as a traveling companion an extremely in- 
telligent and well-edncated Brazilian, the man 
of all others whom I should have chosen had 
I been consulted beforehand ; and for the six 
months during which we have been on our 
journey here, I have not been able to spend a 
dollar except for my personal comfort, and for 
my collections. All charges for transportation 
of persons and baggage in public conveyances, 
as well as for specimens, have everywhere been 
remitted by order of the government. This is 
not all ; when we reached Para the Brazilian 
Steamship Company placed a steamer at my 
disposal, that I might stop where I pleased on 
the way, and tarry as long as I liked instead 
of following the ordinary line of travel. In 
this way I ascended the Amazons to Manaos, 
and from there, by the ordinary steamer, 
reached the borders of Peru, making pro- 
longed stays at Manaos and at Ega, and send- 
ing out exploring parties up the Javary, the 
Jutay, the lea, etc. On my return to Manaos, 
at the junction of the Rio Negro and the 


Amazons, I found the Ibicuhy awaiting me 
with an order from the Minister of Public 
Works, placing her at my disposal for the 
remainder of my stay in the waters of the 

The Ibicuhy is a pretty little war steamer 
of 120 horse power, carrying six thirty-two 
pound guns. On board of her, and in com- 
pany with the President of the Province, I 
have already visited that extraordinary net- 
work of river anastomoses and lakes, stretch- 
ing between the river Madeira and the Ama- 


zons to the river Tapajos, and now I am 
ascending the Rio Negro, with the intention 
of going up as far as the junction of the Rio 
Branco with the Rio Negro. That the Brazil- 
ian government should be able and willing to 
offer such facilities for the benefit of science, 
during a time of war, when all the resources 
of the nation are called upon in order to put 
an end to the barbarism of Paraguay, is a 
most significant sign of the tendencies prevail- 
ing in the administration. There can be no 
doubt that the emperor is the soul of the 
whole. This liberality has enabled me to de- 
vote all my resources to the making of collec- 
tions, and the result of my researches has, of 
course, been proportionate to the facilities I 


have enjoyed. Thus far, the whole number 
of fishes known from the Amazons has 
amounted to a little over one hundred, count- 
ing everything that may exist from these 
waters, in the Jardin des Plantes, the British 
Museum, the museums of Munich, Berlin, 
Vienna, etc. ; while I have collected and now 
hold, in good state of preservation, fourteen 
hundred and forty-two species, and may get 
a few hundred more before returning to Para. 
I have so many duplicates that I may make 
every other museum tributary to ours, so far 
as the fresh-water animals of Brazil are con- 
cerned. This may seem very unimportant to 
a statesman. But I am satisfied that it af- 
fords a standard by which to estimate the re- 
sources of Brazil, as they may be hereafter 
developed. The basin of the Amazons is an- 
other Mississippi, having a tropical climate, 
tempered by moisture. Here is room for a 
hundred million happy human beings. 
Ever truly your friend, 


The repose of the return voyage, after six- 
teen months of such uninterrupted work, and 
of fresh impressions daily crowding upon each 
other, was most grateful to Agassiz. The 


summary of this delightful journey may close 
as it began with a letter to his mother. 


AT SEA, July 7, 1866. 

DEAR MOTHER, When you receive this 
letter we shall be, I hope, at Nahant, where 
our children and grandchildren are waiting 
for us. To-morrow we shall stop at Pernam- 
buco, where I shall mail my letter to you by 
a French steamer. 

I leave Brazil with great regret. I have 
passed nearly sixteen months in the uninter- 
rupted enjoyment of this incomparable trop- 
ical nature, and I have learned many things 
which have enlarged my range of thought, 
both concerning organized beings and con- 
cerning the structure of the earth. I have 


found traces of glaciers under this burning 
sky ; a proof that our earth has undergone 
changes of temperature more considerable than 
even our most advanced glacialists have dared 
to suggest. Imagine, if you can, floating ice 
under the equator, such as now exists on the 
coasts of Greenland, and you will probably 
have an approximate idea of the aspect of the 
Atlantic Ocean at that epoch. 

It is, however, in the basin of the Amazons es- 
pecially, that my researches have been crowned 


with an unexpected success. Spix and Mar- 
tius, for whose journey I wrote, as you doubt- 
less remember, my first work on fishes, brought 
back from there some fifty species, and the 
sum total known now, taking the results of all 
the travelers who have followed up the in- 
quiry, does not amount to two hundred. I 
had hoped, in making fishes the special object 
of my researches, to add perhaps a hundred 
more. You will understand my surprise when 
I rapidly obtained five or six hundred, and 
finally, on leaving Para, brought away nearly 
two thousand, that is to say, ten times more 
than were known when I began my journey. 1 
A great part of this success is due to the un- 
usual facilities granted me by the Brazilian 
government. . . . To the Emperor of Brazil 
I owe the warmest gratitude. His kindness 
to me has been beyond all bounds. . . . He 
even made for me, while he was with the army 
last summer, a collection of fishes from the 

1 This estimate was made in the field when close compari- 
son of specimens from distant localities was out of the ques- 
tion. The whole collection has never been worked up, and 
it is possible that the number of new species it contains, 
though undoubtedly greatly in excess of those previously 
known from the Amazons, may prove to be less than was 
at first supposed. ED. 


province of Bio Grande du Sud. This collec- 
tion would do honor to a professional natural- 


Good-by, dear mother. 

With all my heart, 

Your Louis. 

The following; letter from old Professor 


Martius in Munich, of uncertain date, but prob- 
ably in answer to one of March, 1866, is inter- 
esting, as connecting this journey with his 
own Brazilian expedition almost half a century 


February 26, 1867. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your letter of March 
20th last year was most gratifying to me as a 
token of your affectionate remembrance. You 
will easily believe that I followed your journey 
on the Amazons with the greatest interest, and 
without any alloy of envy, though your expe- 
dition was undertaken forty years later than 
mine, and under circumstances so much more 
favorable. Bates, who lived for years in that 
country, has borne me witness that I was not 
wanting in courage and industry during an 
exploration which lasted eleven months ; and 
I therefore believe that you also, in reviewing 

VOL. II. 16 


on the spot my description of the journey, will 
not have passed an unfavorable judgment. 
Our greatest difficulty was the small size of 
our boat which was so weak as to make the 
crossing of the river always dangerous. I 
shall look forward with great pleasure to the 
more detailed account of your journey, and 
also the plan of your route, which I hope you 
will send me. Can you tell me anything about 
the human skeletons at the Rio St. Antonio 
in St. Paul ? I am very glad to know that 
you have paid especial attention to the palms, 
and I entreat you to send me the essential 
parts of every species which you hold to be 
new, because I wish to work out the palms for 
the Flora Brasiliensis this year. I wish I 
might find among them some new genus or 
species, which then should bear your name. 

Do you intend to publish an account of 
your journey, or shall you confine yourself en- 
tirely to a report on your observations on 
Natural History ? With a desire to explain 
the numerous names of animals, plants, and 
places, which are derived from the Tupee lan- 
guage, I have studied it for years that I might 
be able to use it fluently. Perhaps you have 
seen my " Glossaria lignareus brasiliensium." 
It contains also 1150 names of animals. To 
this work belong, likewise, my ethnographical 


contributions, of which forty-five sheets are 
already printed, to be published I hope next 
year. I am curious to hear your geological 
conclusions. I am myself inclined to the be- 
lief that men existed in South America previ- 
ous to the latest geological catastrophes. As 
you have seen so many North American In- 
dians, you will be able to give interesting ex- 
planations of their somatic relations to the 
South American Indians. Why could you 
not send me, as secretary of the mathematical 
and physical section, a short report of your 
principal results? It would then be printed 
in the report of our meetings, which, as the 
forerunner of other publications, could hardly 
fail to be agreeable to you. You no doubt see 
our friend Asa Gray occasionally. Remember 
me cordially to him, and tell him I look eagerly 
for an answer to my last letter. The year 
'sixty-six has taken from us many eminent bot- 
anists, Gusone, Mettenius, Yon Schlechtendal, 
and Fresenius. I hear but rarely from our ex- 
cellent friend Alexander Braun. He does not 
resist the approach of old age so well as you, 
my dear friend. You are still the active nat- 
uralist, fresh and well preserved, to judge by 
your photograph. Thank you for it ; I send 
mine in return. My wife still holds in warm 
remembrance the days when you, a bright, 


pleasant young fellow, used to come and see 
us, what a long stretch of time lies be- 
tween. Much is changed about me. Of 
former friends only Kobell and V ogel remain ; 
Zuccarini, Wagner, Oken, Schelling, Sieber, 
Fuchs, Walther, all these have gone home. 
All the pleasanter is it that you, on the other 
side of the ocean, think sometimes of your old 
friend, to whom a letter from you will be al- 
ways welcome. Remember me to your family, 
though I am not known to them. May the 
present year bring you health, cheerfulness, 
and the full enjoyment of your great and glo- 
rious success. 

With warm esteem and friendship, always 


Agassiz arrived in Cambridge toward the 
end of August, 1866. After the first excite- 
ment of meeting family and friends was over, 
he took up his college and museum work 
again. He had left for Brazil at the close of 
a course before the Lowell Institute, and his 
first public appearance after his return was on 
the same platform. The rush for tickets was 
far in excess of the supply, and he was wel- 
comed with the most ardent enthusiasm. It 
continued unabated to the close, although the 


lectures borrowed no interest from personal ad- 
venture or incidents of travel, but dealt almost 
wholly with the intellectual results and larger 
scientific generalizations growing out of the 
expedition. Later in the winter he gave a 
course also at the Cooper Institute, in New 
York, which awakened the same interest and 
drew crowds of listeners. The resolution of- 
fered by Bancroft, the historian, at the close 
of the course, gives an idea of its character, 
and coming from such a source, may not un- 
fitly be transcribed here. 

JBesofoed, That the thanks of this great as- 
sembly of delighted hearers be given to the 
illustrious Professor Agassiz, for the fullness 
of his instruction, for the clearness of his 
method of illustration, for his exposition of 
the idea as antecedent to form ; of the supe- 
riority of the undying, original, and eternal 
force over its transient manifestations ; for 
happy hours which passed too rapidly away ; 
for genial influences of which the memory will 
last through our lives. 

All his leisure hours during the winter of 
1867 were given to the review and arrange- 
ment of the great collections he had brought 




CAMBRIDGE, MASS., March 26, 1867. 

... I know you will be pleased to hear 
that I have returned to the study of fishes, 
and that I am not likely to give it up again 
for years to come. My success in collecting 
in the Amazons has been so unexpected that 
it will take me years to give an account of 
what I have found, and I am bound to show 
that the strange statements that have gone 
abroad are strictly correct. Yes, I have about 
eighteen hundred new species of fishes from 
the basin of the Amazons ! The collection is 
now in Cambridge, for the most part in good 
preservation. It suggests at once the idea 
that either the other rivers of the world have 
been very indifferently explored, or that trop- 
ical America nourishes a variety of animals 
unknown to other regions. In this dilemma 
it would be worth while to send some natural- 
ist to investigate the Ganges or the Brarna- 
putra, or some of the great Chinese rivers. 
Can it not be done by order of the British 
government ? 

Please send me whatever you may publish 
upon the fossil fishes in your possession. I 


frequently sigh for another session in your 
museum, and it is not improbable that I shall 
solicit an invitation from you in a few years, 
in order to revise my views of the whole sub- 
ject in connection with what I am now learn- 
ing of the living fishes. By the way, I have 
eleven hundred colored drawings of the spe- 
cies of Brazil made from life by my old friend 
Burkhardt, who accompanied me on this jour- 

My recent studies have made me more ad- 
verse than ever to the new scientific doctrines 
which are flourishing now in England. This 
sensational zeal reminds me of what I expe- 
rienced as a young man in Germany, when 
the physio-philosophy of Oken had invaded 
every centre of scientific activity ; and yet, 
what is there left of it? I trust to outlive 
this mania also. As usual, I do not ask be- 
forehand what you think of it, and I may 
have put my hand into a hornet's nest ; but 
you know your old friend Agass., and will 
forgive him if he hits a tender spot. . . . 

The summer of 1867 was passed very tran- 
quilly at his Nahant laboratory, in that quiet 
work with his specimens and his microscope 
which pleased him best. The following letter 


to Professor Benjamin Peirce, who was then 
Superintendent of the Coast Survey, shows, 
however, his unfailing interest in the bearing 
of scientific researches on questions of public 



NAHANT, September 11, 1867. 

DEAR SIR, Far from considering your re- 
quest a tax upon my time, it gives me the 
greatest pleasure to have an opportunity of 
laying before you some statements and reflec- 
tions, which I trust may satisfy you that geol- 
ogy and natural history can be made sub- 
servient to the great interests of a civilized 
community, to a far greater extent than is 
generally admitted. 

The question of the harbor of Boston, for 
instance, has a geological and zoological side, 
thus far only indirectly considered. In order 
to ascertain whence the materials are derived 
which accumulate in the harbor, the shores 
ought to be studied geologically with a kind 
of accuracy and minuteness, never required by 
geological surveys made for economical pur- 
poses. The banks of the harbor, wherever it 
is not rock-bound, consist of drift, which it- 


self rests upon the various rock formations of 
the district. Now this drift, as I have ascer- 
tained, formerly extended many miles beyond 
our present shores, and is still slowly washed 
away by the action of tides, winds, and cur- 
rents. Until you know with precision the 
mineral ogical composition of the drift of the 
immediate vicinity, so accurately indeed as to 
be able to recognize it in any new combination 
into which it may be brought when carried off 
by the sea, all your examination of soundings 
may be of little use. Should it, however, be 
ascertained that the larger amount of loose 
material spreading over the harbor is derived 
from some one or other of the drift islands in 
the bay, the building of sea-walls to stop the 
denudation may be of greater and more im- 
mediate use than any other operation. Again, 
it is geologically certain that all the drift isl- 
ands of the harbor have been formed by the 
encroachment of the sea upon a sheet of drift, 
which once extended in unbroken continuity 
from Cape Ann to Cape Cod and farther 
south. This sheet of drift is constantly di- 
minishing, and in centuries to come, which, 
notwithstanding the immeasurable duration of 
geological periods, may be reached, I trust, 
while the United States still remains a flour- 


ishing empire, it will be removed still further; 
so far indeed, that I foresee the time when the 
whole peninsula of Cape Cod shall disappear. 
Under these circumstances, it is the duty of a 
wise administration to establish with precision 
the rate and the extent of this destruction, 
that the coming generations may be fore- 
warned. In connection with this I would ad- 
vise the making of a thorough survey of the 
harbor, to ascertain the extent of rock sur- 
face and of drift, and the relative position of 
the two, with maps to show their relations to 
the different levels of the sea, whereby the 
unequal action of the tides upon the various 
beaches may be estimated. 

The zoological side of the question relates 
to the amount of loose materials accumulating 
in consequence of the increase of animal and 
vegetable life, especially of those microscopic 
beings which, notwithstanding their extraor- 
dinary minuteness, form in course of time vast 
deposits of solid materials. Ehrenberg has 
shown that the harbor of Wismar, on the Prus- 
sian coast of the Baltic, is filling, not in conse- 
quence of the accumulation of inorganic sedi- 
ments, but by the rapid increase and decay of 
innumerable animalcules. To what extent such 
deposits may accumulate has also been shown 


by Ehrenberg, who ascertained, many years 
ago, that the city of Berlin rests upon a de- 
posit of about eighteen feet in thickness, con- 
sisting almost exclusively of the solid parts 
of such microscopic beings. These two cases 
may suffice to show how important may be a 
zoological investigation of the harbor de- 

o o 


I need hardly add that the deposits floated 
into the harbor, by the numerous rivers and 
creeks which empty into it, ought to be inves- 
tigated with the same care and minuteness as 
the drift materials. This investigation should 
also include the drainage of the city. 

But this is only a smaU part of the applica- 
tion I would recommend to be made of geo- 
logical and zoological knowledge, to the pur- 
poses of the Coast Survey. The reefs of 
Florida are of the deepest interest, and the 
mere geodetic and hydrographic surveys of 
their whole range would be far from exhaust- 
ing the subject. It is my deliberate opinion 
that the great reefs of Florida should be ex- 
plored with as much minuteness and fullness 
as the Gulf Stream, and that the investiga- 
tion will require as much labor as has thus 
far been bestowed on the Gulf Stream. Here 
again geological and zoological knowledge is 


indispensable to the completion of the work. 
The reef is formed mainly by the accumula- 
tion of solid materials from a variety of ani- 
mals and a few plants. The relations of 
these animals and plants to one another while 
alive, in and upon the reef, ought to be stud- 
ied more fully than has been the case here- 
tofore, in order to determine with certainty 
the share they have in the formation of these 
immense submarine walls so dangerous to 
navigation. The surveys, as they have been 
made thus far, furnish only the necessary in- 
formation concerning the present form and 
extent of the reef. But we know that it is 
constantly changing, increasing, enlarging, 
spreading, rising in such a way and at such a 
rate, that the surveys of one century become 
insufficient for the next. A knowledge of 
these changes can only be obtained by a nat- 
uralist, familiar with the structure and mode 
of growth of the animals. The survey I made 
about fifteen years ago, at the request of your 
lamented predecessor, could only be consid- 
ered as a reconnaissance, in view of the ex- 
tent and importance of the work. I would, 
therefore, recommend you to organize a party 
specially detailed to carry on these investiga- 
tions in connection with, and by the side of, 


the regular geodetic and hydrographic sur- 
vey. Here, also, would geological knowl- 
edge be of great advantage to the explorer. 
In confirmation of my recommendation I need 
only remind you of a striking fact in the his- 
tory of our science. More than thirty years 
ago, before Dana and Darwin had published 
their beautiful investigations upon the coral 
reefs, a pupil of mine, the late Armand Gressly, 
had traced the structure and mode of growth 
of coral reefs and atolls in the Jura moun- 
tains, thus anticipating, by a geological inves- 
tigation, results afterward obtained by dredg- 
ing in the ocean. The structure of the reefs 
of our shores is, therefore, more likely to be 
fully understood by one who is entirely famil- 
iar with zoology and geology than by a sur- 
veyor who has no familiarity with either of 
these sciences. 

There is another reason why I would urge 
upon you the application of natural sciences 
to the work of the survey. The depth of the 
ocean is a great obstacle to a satisfactory ex- 
ploration of its bottom. But we know now 
that nearly all dry land has been sea bottom 
before it was raised above the level of the 
water. This is at least the case with all the 
stratified rocks and aqueous deposits form- 


ing part of the earth's crust. Now it would 
greatly facilitate the study of the bottom of 
the sea if, after ascertaining by soundings the 
general character of the bottom in any par- 
ticular region, corresponding bottoms on dry 
land were examined, so that by a comparison 
of the one with the other, both might be bet- 
ter understood. The shoals of the southern 
coast of Massachusetts have been surveyed, 
and their position is now known with great 
accuracy ; but their internal structure, their 
mode of formation, is only imperfectly ascer- 
tained, owing to the difficulty of cutting into 
them and examining in situ the materials of 
which they are composed. Nothing, on the 
contrary, is easier than to explore the struc- 
ture or composition of drift hills which are 
cut through by all our railroad tracks. Now 
the shoals and rips of Nantucket have their 
counterparts on the main - land ; and even 
along the shores of Boston Harbor, in the di- 
rection of Dorchester and Milton, such shoals 
may be examined, far away from the waters 
to which they owe their deposits. Here, then, 
is the place to complete the exploration, for 
which soundings and dredgings give only im- 
perfect information. 

I need not extend these remarks further in 


order to satisfy you of the importance of geo- 
logical and zoological researches in connection 
with the regular operations of the Coast Sur- 
vey. Permit me, however, to add a few words 
upon some points which, as it seems to me, be- 
long legitimately to the Coast Survey, and to 
which sufficient attention has not yet been 
paid. I allude, first, to the salt marshes of 
our shores, their formation and uses, as well 
as their gradual disappearance under the ad- 
vance of the sea ; second, to the extended low 
islands in the form of reefs along the coast of 
the Southern States, the bases of which may 
be old coral reefs ; third, the form of all our 
estuaries, which has resulted from the conflict 
of the sea with the drift formation, and is 
therefore, in a measure, a geological problem ; 
fourth, the extensive deposits of foraminifera 
along the coast, which ought to be com- 
pared with the deposits of tripoli found in 
many tertiary formations ; fifth, the general 
form and outline of our continent, with all its 
indentations, which are due to their geological 
structure. Indeed, the shore everywhere is 
the result of the conflict of the ocean with the 
rock formation of the land, and therefore as 
much a question for geology as geodesy to 


Should the preceding remarks induce you to 
carry my suggestions into practical operation, 
be assured that it will at all times give me the 
greatest pleasure to contribute to the success 
of your administration, not only by advice, 
but by actual participation in your work when- 
ever that is wanted. The scientific men of 
America look to you for the publication of 
the great results already secured by the Coast 
Survey, well knowing that this national en- 
terprise can only be benefited by the high- 
minded course which has at all times marked 
your intellectual career. 

Ever truly your friend, 


This year closed for Agassiz with a heavy 
sorrow. His mother's health had been failing 
of late, and November brought the news of 
her death. Separated though they were, there 
had never been any break in their intercourse. 
As far as he could, he kept her advised of all 
his projects and undertakings, and his work 
was no less interesting to her when the ocean 
lay between them than when he could daily 
share it with her. She had an unbounded 
sympathy with him in the new ties he had 
formed in this country, and seemed indeed as 


intimately allied with his later life here as with 
its earlier European portion. 

His own health, which had seemed for a 
time to have regained the vigor of youth, 
broke down again in the following spring, and 
an attack about the region of the heart dis- 
abled him for a number of weeks. To this 
date belongs a short correspondence between 
Agassiz and Oswald Heer. Heer's work on 
the Fossil Flora of the Arctics had recently 
appeared, and a presentation copy from him 
reached Agassiz as he was slowly regaining 
strength after his illness, although still con- 
fined to the house. It could not have come at 
a happier moment, for it engrossed him com- 
pletely, and turned his thoughts away from 
the occupations which he was not yet allowed 
to resume. The book had a twofold inter- 
est for him: although in another branch of 


science, it was akin to his own earlier investi- 
gations, inasmuch as it reconstructed the once 
rich flora of the polar regions as he himself 
had reconstructed the fauna of past geological 
times ; it clothed their frozen fields with for- 
ests as he had sheeted now fertile lands with 
ice. In short, it appealed powerfully to the 
imagination, and no child in the tedious hours 
of convalescence was ever more beguiled by a 

VOL. n. 17 


story-book than he by the pictures which this 
erudite work called up. 


CAMBRIDGE, May 12, 1868. 

ful book on the Fossil Arctic Flora reached 
me, just as I was recovering from a tedious 
and painful illness. I could, therefore, take it 
in hand at once, and have been delighted with 
it. You give a captivating picture of the suc- 
cessive changes which the Arctic regions have 
undergone. No work could be more valuable, 
either as a means of opening recent investi- 
gations in Paleontology to the larger public, 
or of advancing science itself. If I can find 
the time I mean to prepare an abridgment in 
popular form for one of our reviews. Mean- 
time I have written to Professor Henry, Su- 
perintendent of the Smithsonian Institution 
at Washington, that he should subscribe for a 
number of copies to be distributed among less 
wealthy establishments. I hope he will do 
this, and I shall continue to urge it, since my 
friendly relations with him give me a right so 
to do. I have, moreover, written to the direc- 
tors of various prominent institutions, in order 
that your work, so far as is possible for works 


of that kind, may become known in the United 
States, and reach such persons as would natu- 
rally be interested in it. . . . 

With friendly remembrance, yours always, 


The answer is some months later in date, 
but is given here for its connection. 


ZURICH, December 8, 1868. 

MY HONORED FRIEND, Your letter of last 
May gave me the greatest pleasure, and I 
should have answered it earlier had I not 
heard that you had gone to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and supposed, therefore, that my letter 
would hardly find you at home again before 
the late autumn. I will delay writing no 
longer, the more so because I have received, 
through the Smithsonian Institution, your 
great work on the Natural History of the 
United States. Valuable as it is in itself, it 
has a double attraction for me as the gift of 
the author. Accept my warm thanks. It will 
always be to me a token of your friendly re- 
gard. It gave me great satisfaction to know 
that my Fossil Arctic Flora had met with your 
approval. Since then many new facts have 


come to light tending to confirm my results. 
The Whymper Expedition brought to England 
a number of fossil plants, which have been 
sent to me for examination. I found eighty 
species, of which thirty-two from North Green- 
land are new, so that we now know 137 species 
of Miocene plants from North Greenland (70 
N. lat). It was a real delight to me to find 
the fruit cup of the Castanea [chestnut] in- 
closing three seeds (three Kastanica) and cov- 
ered with prickles like the Castanea vesca; 
and, furthermore, I was able to prove by the 
flowers, which were preserved with the fruit, 
that the supposition given in the Arctic Flora 
(p. 106) was correct ; namely, that the leaves 
of the Fagus castaneafolia Ung. truly belong 
to a Castanea. As several fruits are contained 
in one fruit cup, this Miocene Castanea must 
have been nearer to the European species (C. 
vesca) than to the American Castanea (the C. 
pumila Micha). The leaves have been drawn 
in the Flora Arctica, and are also preserved 
in the Whyrnper collection. 

I have received very beautiful and large 
leaves of the Castanea which I have called C. 
Ungeri, from Alaska. I am now occupied in 
working up this fossil Alaskan flora; the 
plants are in great part drawn, and contain 


magnificent leaves. The treatise will be pub- 
lished by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm ; 
I hope to send you a copy a few months hence. 
This flora is remarkable for its resemblance to 
the European Miocene flora. The liquid am- 
ber, as well as several poplars and willows, 
cannot be distinguished from those of Oenin- 
gen ; the same is true of an Elm, a Caspinus, 
and others. As Alaska now belongs to the 
United States, it is to be hoped that these col- 
lecting stations, which have already furnished 
such magnificent plants, will be farther ran- 
sacked. . . . Hoping that you have returned 
safely from your journey, and that these lines 
may find you well, I remain, with cordial 
greeting, Sincerely yours, 


Shortly after Agassiz's recovery, in July, 
1868, he was invited by Mr. Samuel Hooper 
to join a party of friends, tired members of 
Congress and business men, on an excursion 
to the West, under conditions which promised 
not only rest and change, but an opportunity 
for studying glacial phenomena over a broad 
region of prairie and mountain which Agassiz 
had never visited. They were to meet at Chi- 
cago, keep on from there to St. Paul, and 


down the Mississippi, turning off through 
Kansas to the eastern branch of the Pacific 
Railroad, at the terminus of which they were 
to meet General Sherman with ambulances 
and an escort for conveyance across the coun- 
try to the Union Pacific Railroad, returning 
then by Denver, Utah, and Omaha, and across 
the State of Iowa to the Mississippi once more. 
This journey was of great interest to Agas- 
siz, and its scientific value was heightened by 
a subsequent stay of nearly two months at 
Ithaca, N. Y., on his return. Cornell Univer- 
sity was then just opened at Ithaca, and he 
had accepted an appointment as non-resident 
professor, with the responsibility of delivering 
annually a course of lectures on various sub- 
jects of natural history. New efforts in behalf 
of education always attracted him, and this 
drew him with an even stronger magnet than 
usual, involving as it did an untried experi- 
ment the attempt, namely, to combine the 
artisan with the student, manual labor with 
intellectual work. The plan was a generous 
one, and stimulated both pupils and teachers. 
Among the latter none had greater sympathy 
with the high ideal and broad humanity of the 
undertaking than Agassiz. 1 

1 Very recently a memorial tablet has been placed in the 


Beside the enthusiasm which he brought to 
his special work, he found an added pleasure 
at Cornell in the fact that the region in which 
the new university was situated contained an- 
other chapter in the book of glacial records 
he had so long been reading, and made also, 
as the following letter tells us, a natural se- 
quence to his recent observations in the West. 


ITHACA, October 26, 1868. 

... I am passing some weeks here, and am 
studying the erratic phenomena, and especially 
the formation of the many small lakes which 
literally swarin in this region, and are con- 
nected in various ways with the glacial epoch. 
The journey which I have just completed has 
furnished me with a multitude of new facts 
concerning the glacial period, the long con- 
tinuance of which, and its importance with 
reference to the physical history of the globe, 
become daily more clear to me. The origin 
and mode of formation of the vast system of 
our American rivers have especially occupied 
me, and I think I have found the solution of 

Chapel at Cornell University by the trustees, recording their 
gratitude for the share he took in the initiation of the insti- 


the problem which they present. This sys- 
tem reproduces the lines followed by the 
water over the surface of the ground mo- 
raines, which covered the whole continent, 
when the great sheet of ice which modeled 
the drift broke up and melted away. This 
conclusion will, no doubt, be as slow of ac- 
ceptance as was the theory of the ancient ex- 
tension of glaciers. But that does not trouble 
me. For my own part I am confident of its 
truth, and after having seen the idea of a gla- 
cial epoch finally adopted by all except those 
who are interested in opposing it on account 
of certain old and artificial theories, I can 
wait a little till the changes which succeeded 
that epoch are also understood. I have ob- 
tained direct proof that the prairies of the 
West rest upon polished rock. It has hap- 
pened in the course of recent building on the 
prairie, that the native rock has been laid 
bare here and there, and this rock is as dis- 
tinctly furrowed by the action of the glacier 
and by its engraving process, as the Handeck, 
or the slopes of the Jura. I have seen mag- 
nificent slabs in Nebraska in the basin of the 
river Platte. Do not the physicists begin to 
think of explaining to us the probable cause 
of changes so remarkable and so well estab- 


lisliecl ? We can no longer evade the ques- 
tion by supposing these phenomena to be due 
to the action of great currents. We have to 


do first with sheets of ice, five or six thousand 
feet in thickness (an estimate which can be 
tested by indirect measurements in the North- 
ern States), covering the whole continent, and 
then with the great currents which ensued 
upon the breaking up of that mass of ice. 
He who does not distinguish between these 


two series of facts, and perceive their connec- 
tion, does not understand the geology of the 
Quaternary epoch. . . . 

Of about this date is the following pleasant 
letter from Longfellow to Agassiz. Although 
it has no special bearing upon what precedes, 
it is inserted here, because their near neigh- 
borhood and constant personal intercourse, 
both at Cambridge and Nahant, made letters 
rare between them. Friends who see each 
other so often are infrequent correspondents. 

ROME, December 31, 1868. 

MY DEAR AGASSIZ, I fully intended to 
write you from Switzerland, that my letter 
might come to you like a waft of cool air 
from a glacier in the heat of summer. But 


alas ! I did not find cool air enough for my- 
self, much less to send across the sea. Switz- 
erland was as hot as Cambridge, and all life 
was taken out of me ; and the letter remained 
in the inkstand. I draw it forth as follows. 

One of the things I most wished to say, and 
which I say first, is the delight with which 
I found your memory so beloved in Eng- 
land. At Cambridge, Professor Sedgwick 
said, " Give my love to Agassiz. Give him 
the blessing of an old man." In London, Sir 
Roderick Murchison said, " I have known a 
great many men that I liked ; but I love Ag- 
assiz." In the Isle of Wight, Darwin said, 
" What a set of men you have in Cambridge ! 
Both our universities put together cannot fur- 
nish the like. Why, there is Agassiz, he 
counts for three." 

One of my pleasantest days in Switzerland 
was that passed at Yverdon. In the morning 
I drove out to see the Gasparins. In their 
abundant hospitality they insisted upon my 
staying to dinner, and proposed a drive up the 
valley of the Orbe. I could not resist; so 
up the lovely valley we drove, and passed the 
old chateau of the Reine Berthe, one of my 
favorite heroines, but, what was far more to 
me, passed the little town of Orbe. There it 


stands, with its old church tower and the trees 
on the terrace, just as when you played under 
them as a boy. It was very, very pleasant to 
behold. . . . Thanks for your letter from the 
far West. I see by the papers that you have 
been lecturing at the Cornell University. 

With kindest greetings and remembrances, 
always affectionately yours, 

H. W. L. 


1868-1871 : JET. 61-64. 

New Subscription to Museum. Additional Buildings. Ar- 
rangement of New Collections. Dredging Expedition on 
Board the Bibb. Address at the Humboldt Centennial. 

Attack on the Brain. Suspension of Work. Work- 
ing Force at the Museum. New Accessions. Letter 
from Professor Sedgwick. Letter from Professor Des- 
hayes. Restored Health. Hassler Voyage proposed. 

Acceptance. Scientific Preparation for the Voyage. 

AGASSIZ returned to Cambridge to find the 
Museum on an improved footing financially. 
The Legislature had given seventy-five thou- 
sand dollars for an addition to the building 1 , 


and private subscriptions had doubled this 
sum, in order to provide for the preservation 
and arrangement of the new collections. In 
acknowledging this gift of the Legislature in 
his Museum Eeport for 1868 Agassiz says : 
" While I rejoice in the prospect of this 
new building, as affording the means for a 
complete exhibition of the specimens now 
stored in our cellars and attics and encumber- 
ing every room of the present edifice, I yet 


can hardly look forward to the time when we 
shall be in possession of it without shrinking 
from the grandeur of our undertaking. The 
past history of our science rises before me 
with its lessons. Thinking men in every part 
of the world have been stimulated to grapple 
with the infinite variety of problems, con- 
nected with the countless animals scattered 
without apparent order throughout sea and 
land. They have been led to discover the 
affinities of various living beings. The past 
has yielded up its secrets, and has shown them 
that the animals now peopling the earth are 
but the successors of countless populations 
which have preceded them, and whose remains 
are buried in the crust of our globe. Further 
study has revealed relations between the ani- 
mals of past time and those now living, and 
between the law of succession in the former 
and the laws of growth and distribution in 
the latter, so intimate and comprehensive that 
this labyrinth of organic life assumes the 
character of a connected history, which opens 
before us with greater clearness in proportion 
as our knowledge increases. But when the 
museums of the Old World were founded, 
these relations were not even suspected. The 
collections of natural history, gathered at im- 


mense expense in the great centres of human 
civilization, were accumulated mainly as an 
evidence of man's knowledge and skill in ex- 
hibiting to the best advantage, not only the 
animals, but the products and curiosities of all 
sorts from various parts of the world. While 
we admire and emulate the industry and per- 
severance of the men who collected these ma- 
terials, and did in the best way the work it 
was possible to do in their time for science, 
we have no longer the right to build museums 
after this fashion. The originality and vigor 
of one generation become the subservience 
and indolence of the next, if we only repeat 
the work of our predecessors. They prepared 
the ground for us by accumulating the mate- 
rials for extensive comparison and research. 
They presented the problem ; we ought to be 
ready with the solution. If I mistake not, the 
great object of our museums should be to ex- 
hibit the whole animal kingdom as a mani- 


festation of the Supreme Intellect. Scientific 
investigation in our day should be inspired by 
a purpose as animating to the general sympa- 
thy, as was the religious zeal which built the 
Cathedral of Cologne or the Basilica of St. 
Peter's. The time is passed when men ex- 
pressed their deepest convictions by these 


wonderful and beautiful religious edifices; 
but it is my hope to see, with the progress of 
intellectual culture, a structure arise among 
us which may be a temple of the revelations 
written in the material universe. If this be 
so, our buildings for such an object can never 
be too comprehensive, for they are to embrace 
the infinite work of Infinite Wisdom. They 
can never be too costly, so far as cost secures 
permanence and solidity, for they are to con- 
tain the most instructive documents of Om- 

Agassiz gave the winter of 1869 to iden- 
tifying, classifying, and distributing the new 
collections. A few weeks in the spring were, 
however, passed with his friend Count de 
Pourtales in a dredging expedition on board 
the Coast Survey Steamer Bibb, off the coast 
of Cuba, on the Bahama Banks, and among 
the reefs of Florida. This dredging excur- 
sion, though it covered a wider ground than 
any previous one, was the third deep-sea ex- 
ploration undertaken by M. de Pourtales un- 
der the auspices of the Coast Survey. His 
investigations may truly be said to have exer- 
cised a powerful influence upon this line of 
research, and to have led the way to the more 
extended work of the same kind carried on 


by the Coast Survey in later years. He had 
long wished to show his old friend and teacher 
some of the rich dredging grounds he had 
discovered between Florida and the West In- 
dies, and they thoroughly enjoyed this short 
period of work together. Every day and hour 
brought some new interest, and excess of ma- 
terial seemed the only difficulty. 

This was Agassiz's last cruise in the Bibb, 
on whose hospitable deck he had been a wel- 
come guest from the first year of his arrival 
in this country. The results of this expedi- 
tion, as connected with the present conforma- 
tion of the continent and its probable geolog- 
ical history in the past, were given as follows 
in the Museum Bulletin of the same year. 



From what I have seen of the deep-sea bot- 
tom, I am already led to infer that among the 
rocks forming the bulk of the stratified crust 
of our globe, from the oldest to the youngest 
formation, there are probably none which have 
been formed in very deep waters. If this be 
so, we shall have to admit that the areas now 
respectively occupied by our continents, as 

1 Bull Mus. Comp. Zool., I. No. 13, 1869, pp. 368, 369. 


circumscribed by the two hundred fathom 
curve or thereabout, and the oceans at greater 
depth, have from the beginning retained their 
relative outline and position ; the continents 
having at all times been areas of gradual up- 
heaval with comparatively slight oscillations 
of rise and subsidence, and the oceans at all 
times areas of gradual depression with equally 
slight oscillations. Now that the geological 
constitution of our continent is satisfactorily 
known over the greatest part of its extent, it 
seems to me to afford the strongest evidence 
that this has been the case ; while there is no 
support whatever for the assumption that any 
part of it has sunk again to any very great 
depth after its rise above the surface of the 
ocean. The fact that upon the American 
continent, east of the Rocky Mountains, the 
geological formations crop out in their regu- 
lar succession, from the oldest azoic and pri- 
mordial deposits to the cretaceous formation, 
without the slightest indication of a great sub- 
sequent subsidence, seems to me the most 
complete and direct demonstration of my prop- 
osition. Of the western part of the conti- 
nent I am not prepared to speak with the 
same confidence. Moreover, the position of 
the cretaceous and tertiary formations along 

VOL. II. 18 


the low grounds east of the Alleghany range 
is another indication of the permanence of the 
ocean trough, on the margin of which these 
more recent beds have been formed. I am 
well aware that in a comparatively recent pe- 
riod, portions of Canada and the United States, 
which now stand six or seven hundred feet 
above the level of the sea, have been under 
water ; but this has not changed the config- 
uration of the continent, if we admit that the 
latter is in reality circumscribed by the two 
hundred fathom curve of depth. 

The summer was passed in his beloved lab- 
oratory at Nahant (as it proved, the last he 
ever spent there), where he was still continu- 
ing the preparation of his work on sharks 
and skates. At the close of the summer, he 
interrupted this occupation for one to which 
he brought not only the reverence of a dis- 
ciple, but a life-long debt of personal gratitude 
and affection. He had been entreated to de- 
liver the address at the Humboldt Centennial 
Celebration (September 15, 1869), organized 
under the auspices of the Boston Society of 
Natural History. He had accepted the invita- 
tion with many misgivings, for to literary 
work as such he was unaccustomed, and in 


the field of the biographer he felt himself a 
novice. His preparation for the task was 
conscientious and laborious. For weeks he 
shut himself up in a room of the Public Li- 
brary in Boston and reviewed all the works of 
the great master, living, as it were, in his pres- 
ence. The result was a very concise and yet 
full memoir, a strong and vigorous sketch of 
Humboldt's researches, and of their influence 
not only upon higher education at the present 
day, but on our most elementary instruction, 
until the very " school-boy is familiar with his 
methods, yet does not know that Humboldt is 
his teacher." Agassiz's picture of this gener- 
ous intellect, fertilizing whatever it touched, 
was made the more life-like by the side lights 
which his affection for Humboldt and his per- 
sonal intercourse with him in the past enabled 
him to throw upon it. Emerson, who was pres- 
ent, said of this address, " that Agassiz had 
never delivered a discourse more wise, more 
happy, or of more varied power." George 
William Curtis writes of it : " Your discourse 
seems to me the very ideal of such an ad- 
dress, so broad, so simple, so comprehen- 
sive, so glowing, so profoundly appreciative, 
telling the story of Humboldt's life and work 
as I am sure no other living man can tell it." 


In memory of this occasion the "Humboldt 
Scholarship ' was founded at the Museum of 
Comparative Zoology. 

It is hardly worth while to consider now 
whether this effort, added to the pressing work 
of the year, hastened the attack which oc- 
curred soon after, with its warning to Agas- 
siz that his overtasked brain could bear no 
farther strain. The first seizure, of short 
duration, but affecting speech and motion 
while it lasted, was followed by others which 
became less and less acute until they finally 
disappeared. For months, however, he was 
shut up in his room, absolutely withdrawn 
from every intellectual effort, and forbidden 
by his physicians even to think. The fight 
with his own brain was his greatest difficulty, 
and perhaps he showed as much power in 
compelling his active intellect to stultify it- 
self in absolute inactivity for the time, as he 
had ever shown in giving it free rein. Yet 
he could not always banish the Museum, the 
passionate dream of his American life. One 
day, after dictating some necessary directions 
concerning it, he exclaimed, with a sort of 
despairing cry, " Oh, my Museum ! my Mu- 
seum ! always uppermost, by day and by 
night, in health and in sickness, always 
always ! ' 


He was destined, however, to a few more 
years of activity, the reward, perhaps, of his 
patient and persistent struggle for recovery. 
After a winter of absolute seclusion, passed 
in his sick chamber, he was allowed by his 
physician, in the spring of 1870, to seek 
change at the quiet village of Deerfield on 
the Connecticut River. Nature proved the 
best physician. Unable when he arrived to 
take more than a few steps without vertigo, 
he could, before many weeks were over, walk 
several miles a day. Keen as an Egyptologist 
for the hieroglyphics of his science, he was 
soon deciphering the local inscriptions of the 
glacial period, tracking the course of the ice 
on slab and dike and river-bed, on every 
natural surface. The old music sang again 
in his ear and wooed him back to life. 

In the mean time, his assistants and stu- 
dents were doing all in their power to keep 
the work of the Museum at high-water mark. 
The publications, the classification and ar- 
rangement of the more recent collections, the 
distribution of such portions as were intended 
for the public, the system of exchanges, went 
on uninterruptedly. The working force at 
the Museum was, indeed, now very strong. 
In great degree it was, so to speak, home-bred. 


Agassiz had gradually gathered about him, 
chiefly from among his more special students, 
a staff of assistants who were familiar with 
his plans and shared his enthusiasm. To 
these young friends he was warmly attached. 
It would be impossible to name them all, but 
the knot of younger men who were for years 
his daily associates in scientific work, whose 
sympathy and cooperation he so much valued, 
and who are now in their turn growing old in 
the service of science, will read the roll-call 
between the lines, and know that none are 
forgotten here. Years before his own death, 
he had the pleasure of seeing several of them 
called to important scientific positions, and it 
was a cogent evidence to him of the educa- 
tional efficiency of the Museum, that it had 
supplied to the country so many trained in- 
vestigators and teachers. Through them he 
himself teaches still. There was a prophecy 
in Lowell's memorial lines : 

" He was a Teacher : why be grieved for him 
Whose living word still stimulates the air ? 
In endless file shall loving scholars come, 
The glow of his transmitted touch to share." 

Beside these, there were several older, ex- 
perienced naturalists, who were permanently 
or transiently engaged at the Museum. Some 


were heads of departments, while others lent 
assistance occasionally in special work. Again 
the list is too long for enumeration, but as the 
veteran among the older men Mr. J. G. An- 
thony should be remembered. Already a con- 
chologist of forty years' standing when he 
came to the Museum in 1863, he devoted him- 
self to the institution until the day of his 
death, twenty years later. Among those who 
came to give occasional help were Mr. Les- 
quereux, the head of paleontological botany 
in this country ; M. Jules Marcou, the geolo- 
gist ; and M. de Pourtales, under whose care 
the collection of corals was constantly im- 
proved and enlarged. The last named be- 
came at last wholly attached to the Museum, 
sharing its administration with Alexander 
Agassiz after his father's death. 

To this band of workers some accessions 
had recently been made. More than two 
years before, Agassiz had been so fortunate 
as to secure the assistance of the entomologist, 
Dr. Hermann Hagen, from Konigsberg, Prus- 
sia. He came at first only for a limited time, 
but he remained, and still remains, at the Mu- 
seum, becoming more and more identified with 
the institution, beside filling a place as pro- 
fessor in Harvard University. His scientific 


sympathy and support were of the greatest 
value to Agassiz during the rest of his life. 
A later new-comer, and a very important one 
at the Museum, was Dr. Franz Steindachner, 
of Vienna, who arrived in the spring of 
1870 to put in final order the collection of 
Brazilian fishes, and passed two years in this 
country. Thus Agassiz's hands were doubly 
strengthened. Beside having the service of 
the salaried assistants and professors, the Mu- 
seum received much gratuitous aid. Among 
the scientific volunteers were numbered for 
years FranQois de Pourtales, Theodore Ly- 
man, James M. Barnard, and Alexander Ag- 
assiz, while the business affairs of the insti- 
tution were undertaken by Thomas G. Gary, 
Agassiz's brother-in-law. The latter had long 
been of great service to the Museum as col- 
lector on the Pacific coast, where he had 
made this work his recreation in the leisure 
hours of a merchant's life. 1 

Broken as he was in health, it is amazing 
to see the amount of work done or directed 
by Agassiz during this convalescent summer 
of 1870. The letters written by him in this 

1 For the history of the Museum in later times reference 
is made to the regular reports and publications of the insti- 

By Powers. 


time concerning the Museum alone would fill 
a good-sized volume. Such a correspondence 
is unfit for reproduction here, but its minute- 
ness shows that almost the position of every 
specimen, and the daily, hourly work of every 
individual in the Museum, were known to him. 
The details of administration form, however, 
but a small part of the material of this cor- 
respondence. The consideration and discus- 
sion of the future of the Museum with those 
most nearly concerned, fill many of the let- 
ters. They give evidence of a fostering and 
far - reaching care, which provided for the 
growth and progress of the Museum, long 
after his own share in it should have ceased. 

In reviewing Agassiz's scientific life in the 
United States, its brilliant successes, and the 
genial generous support which it received in 
this country, it is natural to give prominence 
to the brighter side. And yet it must not be 
forgotten that like all men whose ideals out- 
run the means of execution, he had moments of 
intense depression and discouragement. Some 
of his letters, written at this time to friends 
who controlled the financial policy of the Mu- 
seum, are almost like a plea for life. While 
the trustees urge safe investments and the ex- 
penditure of income alone, he believes that in 


proportion to the growth and expansion of 
the Museum will be its power of self-main- 
tenance and its claim on the community at 
large. In short, expenditure seemed to him 
the best investment, insuring a fair return, on 
the principle that the efficiency and useful- 
ness of an institution will always be the meas- 
ure of the support extended to it. The two 
or three following letters, in answer to letters 
from Agassiz which cannot be found, show 
how earnestly, in spite of physical depression, 
he strove to keep the Museum in relation with 
foreign institutions, to strengthen the former, 
and cooperate as far as possible with the lat- 


MUNICH, 1869. 

. . . Most gladly shah 1 I meet your wishes 
both with regard to the fresh-water fishes of 
Central Europe and to your desire for the 
means of direct comparison between the fishes 
brought by Spix from Brazil and described 
by you, and those you have recently yourself 
collected in the Amazons. The former, with 
one exception, are still in existence and remain 
undisturbed, for since your day no one has 
cared to work at the fishes or reptiles. Schu- 
bert took no interest in the zoological cabinet 


intrusted to him ; and Wagner, who later re- 
lieved him of its management, cared chiefly 
for the mammals. I have now, however, 
given particular attention to the preservation 
of everything determined by you, so far as it 
could be found, and am truly glad that this 
material is again to be called into the service 
of science. Of course I had to ask permis- 
sion of the " General Conservatorium of Sci- 
entific Collections ' before sending this prop- 
erty of the state on so long a journey. At 
my urgent request this permission was very 
cordially granted by Herr von Liebig, espe- 
cially as our collection is likely to be in- 
creased by the new forms you offer us. 

As to the fresh-water fishes I must beg for 
a little time. At the fish market, in April or 
May, I can find those Cyprinoids, the males 
of which bear at the spawning season that 
characteristic eruption of the skin, which has 
so often and so incorrectly led to the making 
of new species. . . . 

From your son Alexander I receive one 
beautiful work after another. Give him my 
best thanks for these admirable gifts, which I 
enter with sincere pleasure in my catalogue of 
books. You are indeed happy to have such a 
co-worker at your side. At the next oppor- 


tunity I shall write my thanks to him per- 

How is Dr. Hermann Hagen pleased with 
his new position? I think the presence of 
this superior entomologist will exert a power- 
ful and important influence upon the develop- 
ment of entomology in North America. . . . 


PARIS, February 4, 1870. ) 

Your letter was truly an event, my dear 
friend, not only for me but for our Museum. 
. . o How happy you are, and how enviable 
has been your scientific career, since you have 
had your home in free America ! The founder 
of a magnificent institution, to which your glo- 
rious name will forever remain attached, you 
have the means of carrying out whatever un- 
dertaking commends itself to you as useful. 
Men and things, following the current that 
sets toward you, are drawn to your side. You 
desire, and you see your desires carried out. 
You are the sovereign leader of the scientific 
movement around you, of which you yourself 
have been the first promoter. 

What would our old Museum not have 
gained in having at its head a man like you ! 


We should not now be lying stagnant in a 
space so insufficient that our buildings, by the 
mere force of circumstances, are transformed 
into store-houses, where objects of study are 
heaped together, and can be of no use to any 
one. . . . You can fancy how much I envy 
your organization. It depressed me to read 
your letter, with its brilliant proposals of ex- 
change, remembering how powerless we are 
to meet even a small number of them. Your 
project is certainly an admirable one ; to find 
the scientific nomenclature where it is best es- 
tablished, and by the help of good specimens 
transport it to your own doors. Nothing 
could be better, and I would gladly assist in 
it. But to succeed in this excellent enterprise 
one must have good duplicate specimens ; not 
having them, one must have money. As a 
conclusion to your letter, the question of 
money was brought before my assembled col- 
leagues, but the answer was vague and uncer- 
tain. I must, then, find resources in some 
other way, and this is what I propose to do. 
. . . [Here follow some plans for exchange.] 
Beside this, I will busy myself in getting to- 
gether authentic collections from our French 
seas, both Oceanic and Mediterranean, and 
even from other points in the European seas. 


Meantime, you shall have your share hence- 
forth in whatever comes to me. ... I learn 
from your son that your health is seriously 
attacked. I was grieved to hear it. Take 
care of yourself, my dear friend. You are 
still needed in this world ; you have a great 
work to accomplish, the end and aim of which 
you alone are able to reach. You must, 
therefore, still stand in the breach for some 
years to come. 

Your letter, which shows me the countless 
riches you have to offer at the Museum, puts 
me in the frame of mind of the child who was 
offered his choice in a toy-shop. " I choose 
everything," he said. I could reply in the 
same way. I choose all you offer me. Still, 
one must be reasonable, and I will therefore 
name, as the thing I chiefly desire, the remark- 
able fauna dredged from the Gulf Stream. 
Let me add, however, in order to give you 
entire freedom, that whatever you may send 
to the Museum will be received with sincere 
and ardent gratitude. 

And so, farewell, my dear friend, with a 
warm shake of the hand and the most cordial 
regard. DESHAYES. 

The next is in answer to a letter from 


Agassiz to the veteran naturalist, Professor 
Sedgwick, concerning casts of well - known 
fossil specimens in Cambridge, England. 
Though the casts were unattainable, the af- 

O ' 

fectionate reply gave Agassiz keen pleasure. 


THE CLOSE, NORWICH, August 9, 1871. 

... I of course showed your letter to my 
friend Seeley, and after some consultation with 
men of practical knowledge, it was considered 
almost impossible to obtain such casts of the 
reptilian bones as you mention. The speci- 
mens of the bones are generally so rugged and 
broken, that the artists would find it extremely 
difficult to make casts from them without the 
risk of damaging them, and the authorities of 
the university, who are the proprietors of the 
whole collection in my Museum, would be 
unwilling to encounter that risk. Mr. Seeley, 
however, fully intends to send you a gutta- 
percha cast of the cerebral cavity of one of 
our important specimens described in " Seeley's 
Catalogue," but he is full of engagements and 
may not hitherto have realized his intentions. 
As for myself, at present I can do nothing ex- 
cept hobble daily on my stick from my house 


to the Cathedral, for I am afflicted by a pain- 
ful lameness in my left knee. The load of 
years begins to press upon me (I am now toil- 
ing through my 87th year), and my sight is 
both dim and irritable, so that, as a matter of 
necessity, I am generally compelled to employ 
an amanuensis. That part is now filled by a 
niece who is to me in the place of a dear 

I need not tell you that the meetings of the 
British Association are still continued, and the 
last session (this year at Edinburgh) only 
ended yesterday. Let me correct a mistake. 
I met you first at Edinburgh in 1834, the 
year I became Canon, and again at Dublin in 
1835. ... It is a great pleasure to me, my 
dear friend, to see again by the vision of mem- 
ory that fine youthful person, that benevolent 
face, and to hear again, as it were, the cheer- 
ful ring of the sweet and powerful voice by 
which you made the old Scotchmen start and 
stare, while you were bringing to life again 
the fishes of their old red sandstone. I must 
be content with the visions of memory and the 
feelings they again kindle in my heart, for it 
will never be my happiness to see your face 
again in this world. But let me, as a Chris- 
tian man, hope that we may meet hereafter in 


heaven, and see such visions of God's glory in 
the moral and material universe, as shall re- 
duce to a mere germ everything which has 
been elaborated by the skill of man, or re- 
vealed to God's creatures. I send you an old 
man's blessing, and remain, 

Your affectionate friend, 


In November, 1870, Agassiz was able to re- 
turn to Cambridge and the Museum, and even 
to resume his lectures, which were as vigorous 
and fresh as ever. So entirely did he seem to 
have recovered, that in the course of the win- 
ter the following proposition was made to 
him by his friend, Professor Benjamin Peirce, 
then Superintendent of the Coast Survey. 


February 18, 1871. > 

... I met Sumner in the Senate the day 
before yesterday, and he expressed immense 
delight at a letter he had received from 
Brown - Sequard, telling him that you were 
altogether free from disease. . . . Now, my 
dear friend, I have a very serious proposition 
for you. I am going to send a new iron sur- 

VOL. II. 19 


veying steamer round to California in the 
course of the summer. She will probably 
start at the end of June. Would you go in 
her, and do deep-sea dredging all the way 
round ? If so, what companions will you 
take ? If not, who shall go ? ... 


CAMBRIDGE, February 20, 1871. 

... I am ever joyed at the prospect your 
letter opens before me. Of course I will go, 
unless Brown-Sequard orders me positively to 
stay on terra firma. But even then, I should 
like to have a hand in arranging the party, as 
I feel there never was, and is not likely soon 
again to be, such an opportunity for promoting 
the cause of science generally, and that of nat- 
ural history in particular. I would like Pour- 
tales and Alex, to be of the party, and both 
would gladly join if they can. Both are as 
much interested about it as I am, and I have 
no doubt between us we may organize a work- 
ing team, strong enough to do something cred- 
itable. It seems to me that the best plan to 
pursue in the survey would be to select care- 
fully a few points (as many as time would al- 
low) on shore, from which to work at right 
angles with the coast, to as great a distance as 


the results would justify, and then move on to 
some other head-land. If this plan be adopted, 
it would be desirable to have one additional 
observer to make collections on shore, to con- 
nect with the result of the dredgings. This 
would be the more important as, with the ex- 
ception of Brazil, hardly anything is known of 
the shore faunaB upon the greater part of the 
South American coast. For shore observa- 
tions, I should like a man of the calibre of 
Dr. Steindachner, who has spent a year on the 
coast of Senegal, and would thus bring a 
knowledge of the opposite side of the Atlantic 
as a starting basis of comparison. . . . 

After consultation with his physicians, it 
was decided that Agassiz might safely under- 
take the voyage in the Hassler, that it might 
indeed be of benefit to his health. His party 
of naturalists, as finally made up, consisted 
of Agassiz himself, Count de Pourtales, Dr. 
Franz Steindachner, and Mr. Blake, a young 
student from the Museum, who accompanied 
Agassiz as assistant and draughtsman. Dr. 
Thomas Hill, ex -president of Harvard Uni- 
versity, was also on the expedition, and though 
engaged in special investigations of his own, 
he joined in all the work with genial interest. 


The vessel was commanded by Captain (now 
Commodore) Philip C. Johnson, whose cour- 
tesy and kindness made the Hassler a floating 
home to the guests on board. So earnest and 
active was the sympathy felt by him and his 
officers in the scientific interests of the expedi- 
tion, that they might be counted as a valua- 
ble additional volunteer corps. Among them 
should be counted Dr. William White, of Phil- 
adelphia, who accompanied the expedition in a 
partly professional, partly scientific capacity. 

The hopes Agassiz had formed of this ex- 
pedition, as high as those of any young ex- 
plorer, were only partially fulfilled. His en- 
thusiasm, though it had the ardor of youth, 
had none of its vagueness. In a letter to Mr. 
Peirce, published in the Museum Bulletin at 
this time, there is this passage : " If this world 
of ours is the work of intelligence and not 
merely the product of force and matter, the hu- 
man mind, as a part of the whole, should so 
chime with it, that from what is known it may 
reach the unknown. If this be so, the knowl- 
edge gathered should, within the limits of 
error which its imperfection renders unavoid- 
able, enable us to foretell what we are likely 
to find in the deepest abysses of the sea." 
He looked, in short, for the solution of special 


problems directly connected with all his previ- 
ous work. He believed the deeper sea would 
show forms of life akin to animals of earlier 
geological times, throwing new light on the 
relation between the fossil and the living 
world. In the letter above quoted, he even 
named the species he expected to find most 
prevalent in those greater depths : as, for in- 
stance, representatives of the older forms of 
Ganoids and Selachians ; Cephalopods, resem- 
bling the more ancient chambered shells ; 
Gasteropods, recalling the tertiary and creta- 
ceous types ; and Acephala, resembling those 
of the Jurassic and cretaceous formations. He 
expected to find Crustaceans also, more nearly 
approaching the ancient Trilobites than those 
now living on the surface of the globe ; and 
among- Radiates he looked for the older forms 


of sea-urchins, star -fishes, and corals. Al- 
though the collections brought together on 
this cruise were rich and interesting, they 
gave but imperfect answers to these compre- 
hensive questions. Owing to defects in the 
dredging apparatus, the hauls from the great- 
est depths were lost. 

With reference to the glacial period he an- 
ticipated still more positive results. In the 
same letter the following passage occurs: 


" There is, however, still one kind of evidence 
wanting, to remove all doubt that the greater 
extension of glaciers in former ages was con- 
nected with cosmic changes in the physical 
condition of our globe. Namely, all the phe- 
nomena relating to the glacial period must be 
found in the southern hemisphere, accompa- 
nied by the same characteristic features as in 
the north, but with this essential difference, 
that everything must be reversed. The trend 
of the glacial abrasions must be from the south 
northward, the lee-side of abraded rocks must 
be on the north side of the hills and mountain 
ranges, and the boulders must have traveled 
from the south to their present position. 
Whether this be so or not, has not yet been 
ascertained by direct observation. I expect 
to find it so throughout the temperate and 
cold zones of the southern hemisphere, with 
the exception of the present glaciers of Terra 
del Fuego and Patagonia, which may have 
transported boulders in every direction. Even 
in Europe, geologists have not yet sufficiently 
discriminated between local glaciers, and the 
phenomena connected with their different de- 
grees of successive retreat on the one hand; 
and, on the other, the facts indicating the 
action of an extensive sheet of ice moving 


over the whole continent from north to south. 
Among the facts already known from the 
southern hemisphere are the so-called rivers 
of stone in the Falkland Islands, which at- 
tracted the attention of Darwin during his 
cruise with Captain Fitzroy, and which have 
remained an enigma to this day. I believe it 
will not be difficult to explain their origin in 
the light of the glacial theory, and I fancy 
they may turn out to be ground moraines sim- 
ilar to the ' horsebacks ' in Maine. 

" You may ask what this question of drift 
has to do with deep-sea dredging ? The con- 
nection is closer than may at first appear. If 
drift is not of glacial origin, but is the pro- 
duct of marine currents, its formation at once 
becomes a matter for the Coast Survey to in- 
vestigate. But I believe it will be found in 
the end, that so far from being accumulated 
by the sea, the drift of the Patagonian low- 
lands has been worn av/ay by the sea to its 
present outline, like the northern shores of 
South America and Brazil." . . . 

This is not the place for a detailed account 
of the voyage of the Hassler, but enough may 
be told to show something of Agassiz's own 
share in it. A journal of scientific and per- 
sonal experience, kept by Mrs. Agassiz under 


his direction, was nearly ready for publication 
at the time of his death. The two next chap- 
ters, devoted to the cruise of the Hassler, are 
taken from that manuscript. A portion of it 
appeared many years ago in the pages of the 
" Atlantic Monthly." 


1871-1872: JET. 64-65. 

Sailing of the Hassler. Sargassum Fields. Dredging at 
Barbadoes. From the West Indies to Rio de Janeiro. 
Montevideo. Quarantine. Glacial Traces in the Bay 
of Monte Video. The Gulf of Mathias. Dredging off 
Gulf of St. George. Dredging oil Cape Virgens. Pos- 
session Bay. Salt Pool. Moraine. Sandy Point. 
Cruise through the Straits. Scenery. Wind Storm. 
Borja Bay. Glacier Bay. Visit to the Glacier. Choro- 
cua Bay. 

THE vessel was to have started in August, 
but, owing to various delays in her comple- 
tion, she was not ready for sea until the late 
autumn. She finally sailed on December 4, 
1871, on a gray afternoon, which ushered in 
the first snow-storm of the New England win- 


ter. Bound for warmer skies, she was, how- 
ever, soon in the waters of the Gulf Stream, 
where the work of collecting began in the 
fields of Sargassum, those drifting, wide-spread 
expanses of loose sea-weed carrying a countless 
population, lilliputian in size, to be sure, but 
very various in character. Agassiz was no 


less interested than other naturalists have been 
in the old question so long asked and still 
unanswered, about the Sargassum. " Where 
is its home, and what its origin? Does it 
float, a rootless wanderer on the deep, or has 
it broken away from some submarine attach- 
ment ? ' He had passed through the same 
region before, in going to Brazil, but then he 
was on a large ocean steamer, while from the 
little Hassler, of 360 tons, one could almost 
fish by hand from the Sargassum fields. Some 
of the chief results are given in the following 


ST. THOMAS, December 15, 1871. 

. . . As soon as we reached the Gulf Stream 
we began work. Indeed, Pourtales had organ- 
ized a party to study the temperatures as soon 
as we passed Gay Head, and will himself re- 
port to you his results. My own attention 
was entirely turned to the Gulf weed and its 
inhabitants, of which we made extensive col- 
lections. Our observations on the floating 
weed itself favor the view of those who be- 
lieve it to be torn from rocks, on which Sar- 
gassum naturally grows. I made a simple 
experiment which seems to me conclusive. 
Any branch of the sea-weed which is deprived 


of its floats sinks at once to the bottom of the 
water, and these floats are not likely to be the 
first parts developed from the spores. More- 
over, after examining large quantities of the 
weed, I have not seen a single branch, how- 
ever small, which did not show marks of hav- 
ing been torn from a solid attachment. 

You may hardly feel an interest in my zo- 
ological observations, but I am sure you will 
be. glad to learn that we had the best oppor- 
tunity of carefully examining most of the ani- 
mals known to inhabit the Gulf weed, and 
some also which I did not know to occur 
among them. The most interesting discovery 
of our voyage thus far, however, is that of a 
nest built by a fish, and floating on the broad 
ocean with its living freight. On the 13th, 
Mr. Mansfield, one of our officers, brought me 
a ball of Gulf weed which he had just picked 
up, and which excited my curiosity to the ut- 
most. It was a round mass of Sargassum 
about the size of two fists. The bulk of the 
ball was made up of closely packed branches 
and leaves, held together by fine threads, run- 
ning through them in every direction, while 
other branches hung more loosely from the 
margin. Placed in a large bowl of water 
it became apparent that the loose branches 


served to keep the central mass floating, cra- 
dle-like, between them. The elastic threads, 
which held the ball of Gulf weed together, 

O 7 

were beaded at intervals, sometimes two or 
three beads close together, or a bunch of them 
hanging from the same cluster of threads, or 
occasionally scattered at a greater distance 
from each other. Nowhere was there much 
regularity in the distribution of the beads. 
They were scattered pretty uniformly through- 
out the whole ball of sea - weed, and were 
themselves about the size of an ordinary pin's 
head. Evidently we had before us a nest of 
the most curious kind, full of eggs. What 
animal could have built this singular nest ? 
It did not take long to ascertain the class to 
which it belonged. A common pocket lens 
revealed at once two large eyes on the side 
of the head, and a tail bent over the back of 
the body, as in the embryo of ordinary fishes 
shortly before the period of hatching. The 
many empty egg cases in the nest gave prom- 
ise of an early opportunity of seeing some 
embryos, freeing themselves from their envel- 
ope. Meanwhile a number of these eggs con- 
taining live embryos were cut out of the nest 
and placed in separate glass jars, in order to 
multiply the chances of preserving them ; 


while the nest as a whole was secured in alco- 
hol, as a memorial of our discovery. 

The next day I found two embryos in my 
glass jars ; they moved occasionally in jerks, 
and then rested a long time motionless on the 
bottom of the jar. On the third day I had 
over a dozen of these young fishes, the oldest 
beginning 1 to be more active. I need not 

o o 

relate in detail the evidence I soon obtained 
that these embryos were actually fishes. . . . 
But what kind of fish was it ? At about the 
time of hatching, the fins differ too much 
from those of the adult, and the general form 
has too few peculiarities, to give any clew to 
this problem. I could only suppose it would 
prove to be one of the pelagic species of the 
Atlantic. In former years I had made a care- 
ful study of the pigment cells of the skin in a 
variety of young fishes, and I now resorted to 
this method to identify my embryos. Hap- 
pily we had on board several pelagic fishes 
alive. The very first comparison I made gave 
the desired result. The pigment cell of a 
young Chironectes pictus proved identical 
with those of our little embryos. It thus 
stands, as a well authenticated fact, that the 
common pelagic Chironectes of the Atlantic, 
named Ch. pictus by Cuvier, builds a nest for 


its eggs in which the progeny is wrapped up 
with the materials of which the nest itself is 
composed ; and as these materials consist of 
the living Gulf weed, the fish cradle, rocking 
upon the deep ocean, is carried along as in an 
arbor, which affords protection and afterwards 
food also, to its living freight. This marvel- 
ous story acquires additional interest, when we 
consider the characteristic peculiarities of the 
genus Chironectes. As its name indicates, it 
has fin-like hands ; that is to say, the pectoral 
fins are supported by a kind of long wrist-like 
appendage, and the rays of the ventrals are 
not unlike rude fingers. With these limbs 
these fishes have long been known to attach 
themselves to sea-weeds, and rather to walk 
than to swim in their natural element. But 
now that we know their mode of reproduction, 
it may fairly be asked if the most important 
use of their peculiarly constructed fins is not 
the building of their nest? . . . There thus 
remains one closing chapter to the story. May 
some naturalist, becalmed among the Gulf 
weed, have the good fortune to witness the 
process by which the nest is built. . . . 

This whole investigation was of the greatest 
interest to Agassiz, and, coming so early in 


the voyage, seemed a pleasant promise of its 
farther opportunities. The whole ship's com- 
pany soon shared his enthusiasm, and the very 
sailors gathered about him in the intervals of 
their work, or hung on the outskirts of the 
scientific circle. A pause of a few days was 
made at one or two of the West Indian isl- 
ands, at St. Thomas and Barbadoes. At the 
latter, the first cast of the large dredge was 
made on a ledge of shoals in a depth of eighty 
fathoms, and, among countless other things, a 
number of stemmed crinoids and comatulae 
were brought up. An ardent student of the 
early fossil echinoderms, it was a great pleas- 
ure to Agassiz to gather their fresh and living 
representatives. It was like turning a leaf of 
the past and finding the subtle thread which 
connects it with the present. 


PERNAMBUCO, January 16, 1872. 

MY DEAR PEIRCE, I should have written 
to you from Barbadoes, but the day before we 
left the island was favorable for dredging, and 
our success in that line was so unexpectedly 
great, that I could not get away from the spec- 
imens, and made the most of them for study 
while I had the chance. We made only four 


hauls, in between seventy-five and one hun- 
dred and twenty fathoms. But what hauls ! 
Enough to occupy half a dozen competent zo- 
ologists for a whole year, if the specimens 
could be kept fresh for that length of time. 
The first haul brought up a Cheniidium-like 
sponge ; the next gave us a crinoid, very much 
like the Rhizocrinus lofotensis, but probably 
different ; the third, a living Pleurotomaria ; 
the fourth, a new genus of Spatangoids, etc., 
etc., not to speak of the small fry. We had 
the crinoid alive for ten or twelve hours. 
When contracted, the pinnules are pressed 
against the arms, and the arms themselves 
shut against one another, so that the whole 
looks like a swash made up of a few long, 
coarse twines. When the animal opens, the 
arms at first separate without bending outside, 
so that the whole looks like an inverted pen- 
tapod ; but gradually the tips of the arms 
bend outward as the arms diverge more and 
more, and when fully expanded the crown has 
the appearance of a lily of the L. martagon 
type, in which each petal is curved upon it- 
self, the pinnules of the arms spreading later- 
ally more and more, as the crown is more 
fully open. I have not been able to detect 
any motion in the stem traceable to contrac- 


tion, though there is no stiffness in its bear- 

' O 

ing. When disturbed, the pinnules of the 
arms first contract, the arms straighten them- 
selves out, and the whole gradually and 
slowly closes up. It was a very impressive 
siffht for me to watch the movements of the 


creature, for it not only told of its own ways, 
but at the same time afforded a glimpse into 
the countless ages of the past, when these 
crinoids, so rare and so rarely seen nowadays, 
formed a prominent feature of the animal 
kingdom. I could see, without great effort of 
the imagination, the shoal of Lockport teem- 
ing with the many genera of crinoids which 
the geologists of New York have rescued from 
that prolific Silurian deposit, or recall the for- 
mations of my native country, in the hill-sides 
of which also, among fossils indicating shoal 
water deposits, other crinoids abound, resem- 
bling still more closely those we find in these 
waters. The close affinities of Rhizocrinus 
with Apiocrinoids are further exemplified by 
the fact that when the animal dies, it casts off 
its arms, like Apiocrinus, the head of which is 
generally found without arms. And now the 
question may be asked, what is the meaning 
of the occurrence of these animals in deep 

waters at the present day, when, in former 
VOL. n. 20 


ages, similar types inhabited shallow seas? 
Of the fact there can be no doubt, for it is 
not difficult to adduce satisfactory evidence of 
the shoal - like character of the Silurian de- 
posits of the State of New York ; their hori- 
zontal position, combined with the gradual 
recession of the higher beds in a southerly 
direction, leaves no doubt upon this point ; 
and in the case of the Jurassic formation al- 
luded to above, the combination of the cri- 
noids with fossils common upon coral reefs, 
and their presence in atolls of that period, are 
satisfactory proofs of my assertion. What 
does it mean, then, when we find the Penta- 
crinus and Rhizocrinus of the West Indies in 
deep water only? It seems to me that there 
is but one explanation of the fact, namely, that 
in the progress of the earth's growth, we must 
look for such a displacement of the conditions 
favorable to the maintenance of certain lower 
types, as may recall most fully the adaptations 
of former ages. It was in this sense I alluded, 
in my first letter to you, to the probability of 
our finding in deeper water representatives of 
earlier geological types ; and if my explana- 
tion is correct, my anticipation is also fully 
sustained. But do the deeper waters of the 
present constitution of our globe really ap- 


proximate the conditions for the development 
of animal life, which existed in the shallower 
seas of past geological ages? I think they 
do, or at least I believe they approach it as 
nearly as anything can in the present order of 
things upon earth ; for the depths of the ocean 
alone can place animals under a pressure cor- 
responding to that caused by the heavy atmo- 
sphere of earlier periods. But, of course, such 
high pressure as animals meet in great depths 
cannot be a favorable condition for the devel- 
opment of life ; hence the predominance of 
lower forms in the deep sea. The rapid dim- 
inution of light with the increasing depth, 
and the small amount of free oxygen in these 
waters under greater and greater pressure* 
not to speak of other limitations arising from 
the greater uniformity of the conditions of 
existence, the reduced amount and less vari- 
ety of nutritive substances, etc., etc., are so 
many causes acting in the same direction and 
with similar results. For all these reasons, I 
have always expected to find that the animals 
living in great depths would prove to be of a 
standing, in the scale of structural complica- 
tions, inferior to those found in shoal waters 
or near shore ; and the correlation elsewhere 
pointed out between the standing of animals 


and their order of succession in geological 
times (see " Essay on Classification ") justifies 
another form of expression of these facts, 
namely, that in deeper waters we should ex- 
pect to find representatives of earlier geolog- 
ical periods. There is in all this nothing 
which warrants the conclusion that any of 
the animals now living are lineal descendants 
of those of earlier ages ; nor does their simi- 
larity to those of earlier periods justify the 
statement that the cretaceous formation is still 
extant. It would be just as true to nature to 
say that the tertiaries are continued in the 
tropics, on account of the similarity of the 
miocene mammalia to those of the torrid zone. 
We have another case in the Pleurotomaria. 
It is not long since it has been made known 
that the genus Pleurotomaria is not altogether 
extinct, a single specimen having been discov- 
ered about ten years ago in the West Indies. 
Even Pictet, in the second edition of his Pale- 
ontology, still considers Pleurotomaria as ex- 
tinct, and as belonging to the fossiliferous 
formations which extend from the Silurian 
period to the Tertiary. Of the living species 
found at Marie Galante, nothing is known ex- 
cept the specific characteristics of the shell. 
We dredged it in one hundred and twenty 


fathoms, on the west side of Barbadoes, alive, 
and kept it alive for twenty-four hours, dur- 
ing which time the animal expanded and 
showed its remarkable peculiarities. It is un- 
questionably the type of a distinct family, en- 
tirely different from the other Mollusks with 
which it has been hitherto associated. Mr. 
Blake has made fine colored drawings of it, 
which may be published at some future time. 
. . . The family of the Pleurotomarise num- 
bers between four and five hundred fossil spe- 
cies, beginning in the Silurian deposits, but 
especially numerous in the carboniferous and 
Jurassic formations. 

The sponges afford another interesting case. 
When the first number of the great work of 
Goldfuss, on the fossils of Germany, made its 
appearance, about half a century ago, the most 
novel types it made known were several gen- 
era of sponges from the Jurassic and creta- 
ceous beds, described under the names of 
Siphonia, Chemidium, and Scyphia. Nothing 
of the kind has been known among the living 
to this day; and yet, the first haul of the 
dredge near Barbadoes gave us a Chemidium, 
or, at least, a sponge so much like the fossil 
Chemidium, that it must remain for future 
comparisons to determine whether there are 


any generic differences between our living 
sponge and the fossil. The next day brought 
us a genuine Siphonia, another genus thus far 
only known from the Jurassic beds ; and it is 
worth recording, that I noticed in the collec- 
tion of Governor Rawson another sponge, 
brought to him by a fisherman who had 
caught it on his line, on the coast of Barba- 
does, which belongs to the genus Scyphia. 
Thus the three characteristic genera of sponges 
from the secondary formation, till now sup- 
posed to be extinct, are all three represented 
in the deep waters of the West Indies. . . . 

Another family of organized beings offers a 
similar testimony to that already alluded to. 
If there is a type of Echinoderms character- 
istic of a geological period, it is the genus 
Micraster of the cretaceous formation, in its 
original circumscription. No species of this 
genus is known to have existed during the 
Tertiary era, and no living species has as yet 
been made known. You may therefore imag- 
ine my surprise when the dredge first yielded 
three specimens of a small species of that 
particular group of the genus, which is most 
extensively represented in the upper cretaceous 

Other examples of less importance might be 


enumerated ; suffice it now to add that my ex- 
pectation of finding in deep waters animals 
already known, but thus far exceedingly rare 
in museums, is already in a measure real- 
ized. . . . 

Little can be said of the voyage from the 
West Indies to Rio de Janeiro. It had the 
usual vicissitudes of weather, with here and 
there a flight (so it might justly be called) of 
flying-fish, a school of porpoises or dog-fish, 
or a sail in the distance, to break the monot- 
ony. At Rio de Janeiro it became evident 
that the plan of the voyage must be somewhat 
curtailed. This was made necessary partly 
by the delays in starting, in consequence of 
which the season would be less favorable than 
had been anticipated along certain portions of 
the proposed route, and partly by the de- 
fective machinery, which had already given 
some trouble to the Captain. The Falkland 
Islands, the Rio Negro, and the Santa Cruz 
rivers were therefore renounced; with what 
regret will be understood by those who know 
how hard it is to be forced to break up a 
scheme of work, which was originally con- 
nected in all its parts. The next pause was 
at Monte Video ; but as there was a strict 


quarantine, Agassiz was only allowed to land 
at the Mount, a hill on the western side of the 
bay, the geology of which he was anxious to 
examine. He found true erratics loose peb- 
bles, granite, gneiss, and granitic sandstone, 
having no resemblance to any native rock in 
the vicinity scattered over the whole sur- 
face of the hill to its very summit. The hill 
itself had also the character of the "roches 
moutonnees ' ' modeled by ice in the northern 
hemisphere. As these were the most northern 
erratics and glaciated surfaces reported in the 
southern hemisphere, the facts there were very 
interesting to him. 

With dredgings off the Rio de la Plata, and 
along the coast between that and the Rio Ne- 
gro, the vessel held on her way to the Gulf 
of Mathias, a deep, broad bay running some 
hundred miles inland, and situated a little 
south of the Rio Negro. Here some neces- 
sary repairs enforced a pause, of which Agas- 
siz took advantage for dredging and for study- 
ing the geology of the cliffs along the north 
side of the bay. As seen from the vessel, they 
seemed to be stratified with extraordinary 
evenness and regularity to within a few feet 
of the top, the summit being crowned with 
loose sand. Farther on, they sank to sand 


dunes piled into rounded banks and softly 
moulded ledges, like snow-drifts. Landing 
the next day at a bold bluff marked Cliff End 
on the charts, he found the lower stratum to 
consist of a solid mass of tertiary fossils, chiefly 
immense oysters, mingled, however, with sea- 
urchins. Superb specimens were secured, 
large boulders crowded with colossal shells 
and perfectly preserved echini. From the top 
of the cliff, looking inland, only a level plain 
was seen, stretching as far as the eye could 
reach, broken by no undulations, and covered 
with low, scrubby growth. The seine was 
drawn on the beach, and yielded a good har- 
vest for the fish coUection. At evening the 
vessel anchored at the head of the bay, off the 
Port of San Antonio. The name would seem 
to imply some settlement ; but a more lonely 
spot cannot be imagined. More than thirty 
years ago, Fitzroy had sailed up this bay, par- 
tially surveyed it, and marked this harbor on 
his chart. If any vessel has broken the loneli- 
ness of its waters since, no record of any such 
event has been kept. Of the presence of man, 
there was no sign. Yet the few days passed 
there were among the pleasantest of the voy- 
age to Agassiz. The work of the dredge 
and seine was extremely successful, and the 


rambles inland were geological excursions of 
great interest. Here he had the first sight of 
the guanaco of the Patagonian plains. The 
weather was fine, and at night-fall, to the 
golden light of sunset succeeded the fitful 
glow, over land and water, of the bonfires 
built by the sailors on the beach. Returning 
to the ship after dark, the various parties as- 
sembled in the wardroom, to talk over the 
events of the day and lay out plans for the 
morrow. These are the brightest hours in 
such a voyage, when the novelty of the lo- 
cality gives a zest to every walk or row, and 
all are full of interest in a new and exciting 
life. One is more tolerant even of monoto- 
nous natural features in a country so isolated, 
so withdrawn from human life and occupation. 
The very barrenness seems in harmony with 
the intense solitude. 

The Hassler left her anchorage on this des- 
olate shore on an evening of singular beauty. 
It was difficult to teU when she was on her 
way, so quietly did she move through the 
glassy waters, over which the sun went down 
in burnished gold, leaving the sky without a 
cloud. The light of the beach fires followed 
her till they too faded, and only the phospho- 
rescence of the sea attended her into the 


night. Rough and stormy weather followed 
this fair start, and only two more dredgings 
were possible before reaching the Strait of 
Magellan. One was off the Gulf of St. 
George, where gigantic star-fishes seemed to 
have their home. One of them, a superb 
basket-fish, was not less than a foot and a 
half in diameter; and another, like a huge 
sunflower of reddish purple tint, with straight 
arms, thirty-seven in number, radiating from 
the disk, was of about the same size. Many 
beautiful little sea-urchins came up in the 
same dredging. About fifty miles north of 
Cape Virgens, in tolerably calm weather, an- 
other haul was tried, and this time the dredge 
returned literally solid with Ophiurans. 

On Wednesday, March 13th, on a beauti- 
fully clear morning, like the best October 
weather in New England, the Hassler rounded 
Cape Virgens and entered the Strait of Ma- 
gellan. The tide was just on the flood, and 
all the conditions favorable for her run to her 
first anchorage in the Strait at Possession 
Bay. Here the working force divided, to form 
two shore parties, one of which, under Agas- 
siz's direction, the reader may follow. The 
land above the first shore bluff at Possession 
Bay rises to a height of some four hundred 


feet above the sea-level, in a succession of 
regular horizontal terraces, of which Agassiz 
counted eight. On these terraces, all of which 
are built, like the shore-bluffs, of tertiary de- 
posits, were two curious remnants of a past 
state of things. The first was a salt-pool ly- 
ing in a depression on the second terrace, some 
one hundred and fifty feet above the sea. 
This pool contained living marine shells, iden- 
tical with those now found along the shore. 
Among them were Fusus, Mytilus, Buccinum, 
Fissurella, Patella, and Voluta, all found in 
the same numeric relations as those in which 
they now exist upon the beach below. This 
pool is altogether too high to be reached by 
any tidal influence, and undoubtedly indicates 
an old sea-level, and a comparatively recent 
upheaval of the shore. The second was a 
genuine moraine, corresponding in every re- 
spect to those which occur all over the north- 
ern hemisphere. Agassiz came upon it in as- 
cending to the third terrace above the salt-pool 
and a little farther inland. It had all the 
character of a terminal moraine in contact with 
an actual glacier. It was composed of hete- 
rogeneous materials, large and small peb- 
bles and boulders impacted together in a paste 
of clayey gravel and sand. The ice had evi- 


dently advanced from the south, for the mass 
had been pushed steeply up on the southern 
side, and retained so sharp an inclination on 
that face that but little vegetation had accu- 
mulated upon it. The northern side, on the 
contrary, was covered with soil and overgrown ; 
it sloped gently off, pebbles and larger 
stones being scattered beyond it. The pebbles 
and boulders of this moraine were polished, 
scratched, and grooved, and bore, in short, all 
the usual marks of glacial action. Agassiz 
was naturally delighted with this discovery. 
It was a new link in the chain of evidence, 
showing that the drift phenomena are con- 
nected at the south as well as at the north 
with the action of ice, and that the frozen 
Arctic and Antarctic fields are but remnants 
of a sheet of ice, which has retreated from the 
temperate zones of both hemispheres to the 
polar regions. The party pushed on beyond 
the moraine to a hill of considerable height, 
which gave a fine view of the country toward 
Mount Aymon and the so-called Asses' Ears. 
They brought back a variety of game, but 
their most interesting scientific acquisitions 
were boulders from the moraine scored with 
glacial characters, and shells from the salt- 


Still accompanied by beautiful weather, the 
Hassler anchored at Elizabeth Island and at 
San Magdalena. Here Agassiz had an oppor- 
tunity of examining the haunts and rookeries 
of the penguins and cormorants, and obtain- 
ing fine specimens of both. As the breeding 
places and the modes of life of these animals 
have been described by other travelers, there 
is nothing new to add from his impressions, 
until the vessel anchored, on the 16th March, 
before Sandy Point, the only permanent settle- 
ment in the Strait. 

Here there was a pause of several days, 
which gave Agassiz an opportunity to draw 
the seine with large results for his marine col- 
lections. By the courtesy of the Governor, 
he had also an opportunity of making an ex- 
cursion along the road leading to the coal- 
mines. The wooded cliffs, as one ascends the 
hills toward the mines, are often bold and 
picturesque, and Agassiz found that portions 
of them were completely built of fossil shells. 
There is an oyster-bank, some one hundred 
feet high, overhanging the road in massive 
ledges that consist wholly of oyster-valves, 
with only earth enough to bind them together. 
He was inclined, from the character of the 
shells, to believe that the coal must be creta- 
ceous rather than tertiary. 


On Tuesday, the 19th March, the Hassler 
left Sandy Point. The weather was beautiful, 
a mellow autumn day with a reminiscence 
of summer in its genial warmth. The cleft 
summit of Sarmiento was clear against the 
sky, and the snow-fields, swept over by alter- 
nate light and shadow, seemed full of soft 
undulations. The evening anchorage was in 
the Bay of Port Famine, a name which marks 
the site of Sarmiento's ill-fated colony, and 
recalls the story of the men who watched and 
waited there for the help that never came. 
The stay here was short, and Agassiz spent 
the time almost whoUy in studying the singu- 
larly regular, but completely upturned strata 
which line the beach, with edges so worn 
down as to be almost completely even with 
each other. 

For many days after this, the Hassler pur- 
sued her course, past a seemingly endless pan- 
orama of mountains and forests rising into 
the pale regions of snow and ice, where lay 
glaciers in which every rift and crevasse, as 
well as the many cascades flowing down to 
join the waters beneath, could be counted as 
she steamed by them. Every night she an- 
chored in the sheltered harbors formed by the 
inlets and fiords which break the base of the 


rocky walls, and often lead into narrower ocean 
defiles penetrating, one knows not whither, 
into the deeper heart of these great mountain 

These were weeks of exquisite delight to 
Agassiz. The vessel often skirted the shore 
so closely that its geology could be studied 
from the deck. The rounded shoulders of 
the mountains, in marked contrast to their 
peaked and jagged crests, the general charac- 
ter of the snow-fields and glaciers, not crowded 
into narrow valleys as in Switzerland, but 
spread out on the open slopes of the loftier 
ranges, or, dome like, capping their summits, 
all this afforded data for comparison with 
his past experience, and with the knowledge 
he had accumulated upon like phenomena in 
other regions. Here, as in the Alps, the 
abrupt line, where the rounded and worn sur- 
faces of the mountains (moutonnees, as the 
Swiss say) yield to their sharply cut, jagged 
crests, showed him the ancient and highest 
line reached by the glacial action. The long, 
serrated edge of Mount Tarn, for instance, is 
like a gigantic saw, while the lower shoulders 
of the mass are hummocked into a succession 
of rounded hills. In like manner the two 
beautiful valleys, separated by a bold bluff 


called Bachelor's Peak, are symmetrically 
rounded on their slopes, while their summits 
are jagged and rough. 

On one occasion the Hassler encountered 
one of those sudden and startling flaws of 
wind common to the Strait. The breeze, 
which had been strong all day, increased with 
sudden fury just as the vessel was passing 
through a rather narrow channel, which gave 
the wind the additional force of compression. 
In an inconceivably short time, the channel 
was lashed into a white foam ; the roar of 
wind and water was so great you could not 
hear yourself speak, though the hoarse shout 
of command and the answering cry of the 
sailors rose above the storm. To add to the 
confusion, a loose sail slatted as if it would 
tear itself in pieces, with that sharp, angry, 
rending sound which only a broad spread of 
loose canvas can make. It became impossible 
to hold the vessel against the amazing power 
of the blast, and the Captain turned her 
round with the intention of putting her into 
Borja Bay, not far from which, by good for- 
tune, she chanced to be. As she came broad- 
side to the wind in turning, it seemed as if 
she must be blown over, so violently did she 

careen. Once safely round, she flew before the 
VOL. n. 21 


wind, which now became her ally instead of 
her enemy, and by its aid she was soon abreast 
of Borja Bay. Never was there a more sud- 
den transition from chaos to peace than that 
which ensued as she turned in from the tu- 
mult in the main channel to the quiet waters 
of the bay. The Hassler almost filled the 
tiny harbor shut in between mountains. She 
lay there safe and sheltered in breathless calm, 
while the storm raged and howled outside. 
These frequent, almost land-locked coves, are 
the safety of navigators in these straits ; but 
after this day's experience, it was easy to un- 
derstand how sailing vessels may be kept wait- 
ing for months between two such harbors, 
struggling vainly to make a few miles and 
constantly driven back by sudden squalls. 

In this exquisite mountain-locked harbor, 
the vessel was weather-bound for a couple of 
days. Count Pourtales availed himself of this 
opportunity to ascend one of the summits. 
Up to a height of fifteen hundred feet, the 
rock was characterized by the smoothed, 
rounded surfaces which Agassiz had observed 
along his whole route in the Strait. Above 
that height all was broken and rugged, the 
line of separation being as defined as on any 
valley wall in Switzerland. It was again rm- 


possible to decide, on such short observation, 
whether these effects were due to local glacial 
action, or whether they belonged to an earlier 
general ice-period. But Agassiz became satis- 
fied, as he advanced, that the two sets of phe- 
nomena existed together, as in the northern 
hemisphere. The general aspect of the op- 
posite walls of the Strait confirmed him in 
the idea that the sheet of ice in its former ex- 
tension had advanced from south to north, 
grinding its way against and over the northern 
wall to the plains beyond. In short, he was 
convinced that, as a sheet of ice has covered 
the northern portion of the globe, so a sheet 
of ice has covered also the southern portion, 
advancing, in both instances, far toward the 
equatorial regions. His observations in Eu- 
rope, in North America, and in Brazil seemed 
here to have their closing chapter. 

With these facts in his mind, he did not 
fail to pause before Glacier Bay, noted for its 
immense glacier, which seems, as seen from 
the main channel, to plunge sheer down into 
the waters of the bay. A boat party was 
soon formed to accompany him to the glacier. 
It proved less easy of access than it looked at 
a distance. A broad belt of wood, growing, 
as Agassiz afterward found, on an accumula- 


tion of old terminal moraines, spanned the 
lower valley from side to side. Through this 
wood there poured a glacial river, emptying 
itself into the bay. Strange to say, this gla- 
cier-washed forest, touching the ice on one 
side and the sea on the other, was full of 
flowers. The red bells of the glossy leaved 
Desfontainia, the lovely pink blossoms of the 
Phylesia, the crimson berries of the Pennetia, 
stood out in bright relief from a background 
of mossy tree -trunks and rocks. After an 
hour's walking, made laborious by the spongy 
character of the ground, a mixture of loose 
soil and decaying vegetation, in which one 
sank knee-deep, the gleam of the ice began 
to shimmer through the trees ; and issuing 
from the wood, the party found themselves in 
front of a glacier wall, stretching across the 
whole valley and broken into deep rifts, caves, 
and crevasses of dark blue ice. The glacier 
was actually about a mile wide ; but as the 
central portion was pressed forward in advance 
of the sides, the whole front was not presented 
at once. It formed a sharp crescent, with the 
curve turned outward. One of the caves in 
this front wall was some thirty or forty feet 
high, about a hundred feet deep, and two or 
three yards wide at the entrance. At the 


further end it narrowed to a mere gallery, 
where the roof was pierced by a circular win- 
dow, quite symmetrical in shape, through 
which one looked up to the blue sky and 
drifting clouds. There must be strange ef- 
fects in this ice-cavern, when the sun is high 
and sends a shaft of light through its one 
window to illuminate the interior. 

This first excursion was a mere reconnais- 
sance. An approximate idea of the dimen- 
sions of the glacier, and some details of its 
structure, were obtained on a second visit the 
following day. The anchorage for the night 
was in Playa Parda Cove, one of the most 
beautiful of the many beautiful harbors of 
the Magellan Strait. It is entered by a deep, 
narrow slit, cut into the mountains on the 
northern side of the Strait, and widening at 
its farther end into a kind of pocket or basin, 
hemmed in between rocky walls bordered by 
forests, and overhung by snow and ice-fields. 
The next morning at half -past three o'clock, 
just as moonlight was fading before the dawn, 
and the mountains were touched with the 
coming day, the reveille was sounded for 
those who were to return to Glacier Bay. 
This time Agassiz divided his force so that 
they could act independently of each other, 


though under a general plan laid out by him. 
M. de Pourtales and Dr. Steindachner as- 
cended the mountain to the left of the val- 
ley, following its ridge, in the hope of reach- 
ing a position from which they could discover 
the source and the full length of the glacier. 
In this they did not succeed, though M. de 
Pourtales estimated its length, as far as he 
could see from any one point, to be about 
three miles, beyond which it was lost in the 
higher range. It made part of a net-work of 
glaciers running back into a large massif of 
mountains, and fed by many a nev<3 on their 
upper slopes. The depth as well as the length 
of this glacier remains somewhat problemat- 
ical, and indeed all the estimates in so cursory 
a survey must be considered as approximations 
rather than positive results. The glazed sur- 
face of the ice is an impediment to any exam- 
ination from the upper side. It would be im- 
possible to spring from brink to brink of a 
crevasse, as is so constantly done by explor- 
ers of Alpine glaciers where the edges of the 
cracks are often snowy or granular. Here 
the edges of the crevasses are sharp and hard, 
and to spring across one of any size would be 
almost certain death. There is no hold for 
an Alpine stock, no grappling point for hands 


or feet. Any investigation from the upper 
surface would, therefore, require special ap- 
paratus, and much more time than Agassiz 
and his party could give. Neither was an ap- 
proach from the side very easy. The glacier 
arches so much in the centre, and slopes away 
so steeply, that when one is in the lateral 
depression between it and the mountain, one 
faces an almost perpendicular wall of ice, 
which blocks the vision completely. M. de 
Pourtales measured one of the crevasses in 
this wall, and found that it had a depth of 
some seventy feet. Judging from the re- 
markable convexity of the glacier, it can 
hardly be less in the centre than two or three 
times its thickness on the edges, something 
over two hundred feet, therefore. Probably 
none of these glaciers of the Strait of Magel- 
lan are as thick as those of Switzerland, 
though they are often much broader. The 
mountains are not so high, the valleys not so 
deep, as in the Alps ; the ice is consequently 
not packed into such confined troughs. By 
some of the party an attempt was made to as- 
certain the rate of movement, signals having 
been adjusted the day before for its measure- 
ment. During the middle of the day, it ad- 
vanced at the rate of ten inches and a fraction 


in five hours. One such isolated observation 
is of course of little comparative value. For 
himself, Agassiz reserved the study of the 
bay, the ancient bed of the glacier in its for- 
mer extension. He spent the day in cruising 
about the bay in the steam-launch, landing at 
every point he wished to investigate. His 
first care was to examine minutely the valley 
walls over which the glacier must once have 
moved. Every characteristic feature, known 
in the Alps as the work of the glaciers, was 
not only easily recognizable here, but as per- 
fectly preserved as anywhere in Switzerland. 
The rounded knolls to which De Saussure first 
gave the name of roches moutonnees were 
smoothed, polished, scratched, and grooved 
in the direction of the ice movement, the 
marks running mostly from south to north, or 
nearly so. The general trend of the scratches 
and furrows showed them to have been con- 
tinuous from one knoll to another. The fur- 
rows were of various dimensions, sometimes 
shallow and several inches broad, sometimes 
narrow with more defined limits, gradually 
passing into mere lines on a very smoothly- 
polished surface. Even the curious notches 
scooped out of the even surfaces, and tech- 
nically called " coups de gouge," were not 


wanting. In some places the seams of harder 
rock stood out for a quarter of an inch or so 
above adjoining decomposed surfaces ; in such 
instances the dike alone retained the glacial 
marks, which had been worn away from the 
softer rock. 

The old moraines were numerous and ad- 
mirably well preserved. Agassiz examined 
with especial care one colossal lateral moraine, 
standing about two miles below the present 
terminus of the ice and five hundred feet 
above the sea-level. It consisted of the same 
rocks as those found on the present terminal 
moraine, part of them being rounded and 
worn, while large, angular boulders rested 
above the smaller materials. This moraine 
forms a dam across a trough in the valley 
wall, and holds back the waters of a beautiful 
lake, about a thousand feet in length and five 
hundred in width, shutting it in just as the 
Lake of Meril in Switzerland is held in its 
basin by the glacier of Aletsch. There are 
erratics some two or three hundred feet above 
this great moraine, showing that the glacier 
must have been more than five hundred feet 
thick when it left this accumulation of loose 
materials at such a height. It then united, 
however, with a large glacier more to the 


west. Its greatest thickness, as an indepen- 
dent glacier, is no doubt marked, not by the 
boulders lying higher up, but by the large 
moraine which shuts in the lake. The direct 
connection of this moraine with the glacier 
in its former extension is still further shown 
by two other moraines, on lower levels and 
less perfect, but having the same relation to 
the present terminus of the ice. The lower of 
these is only one hundred and fifty feet above 
the actual level of the glacier. These three 
moraines occur on the western slope of the 
bay. The eastern slope is more broken, and 
while the rounded knolls are quite as distinct 
and characteristic, the erratics are more loosely 
scattered over the surface. In mineralogical 
character they agree with those on the western 
wall of the bay. Upon the summits of some 
small islands at the entrance of the bay, there 
are also some remnants of terminal moraines, 
formed by the glacier when it reached the 
main channel ; that is, when it was some three 
miles longer than now. 

The more recent oscillations, marking the 
advance and retreat of the glacier within cer- 
tain limits, are shown by the successive mo- 
raines heaped up in advance of the present 
terminal wall. The central motion here, as in 


all the Swiss glaciers, is greater than the lat- 
eral, the ice being pushed forward in the mid- 
dle faster than on the sides. But there would 
seem to be more than one axis of progres- 
sion in this broad mass of ice ; for though 
the centre is pushed out beyond the rest, the 
terminal wall does not present one uniform 
curve, but forms a number of more or less 
projecting angles or folds. A few feet in 
front of this wall is a ridge of loose mate- 
rials, stones, pebbles, and boulders, repeating 
exactly the outline of the ice where it now 
stands ; a few feet in advance of this, again, 
is another ridge precisely like it ; still a few 
feet beyond, another ; and so on, for four 
or five concentric zigzag crescent-shaped mo- 
raines, followed by two others more or less 
marked, till they fade into the larger mo- 
rainic mass, upon which stands the belt of 
wood dividing the present glacier from the 
bay. Agassiz counted eight distinct moraines 
between the glacier and the belt of wood, and 
four concentric moraines in the wood itself. 
It is plain that the glacier has ploughed into 
the forest within some not very remote pe- 
riod, for the trees along its margin are loos- 
ened and half uprooted, though not yet alto- 
gether decayed. In the presence of the glacier 


one ceases to wonder at the effects produced 
by so powerful an agent. This sheet of ice, 
even in its present reduced extent, is about a 
mile in width, several miles in length, and at 
least two hundred feet in depth. Moving 
forward as it does ceaselessly, and armed be- 
low with a gigantic file, consisting of stones, 
pebbles, and gravel, firmly set in the ice, 
who can wonder that it should grind, furrow, 
round, and polish the surfaces over which it 
slowly drags its huge weight. At once de- 
stroyer and fertilizer, it uproots and blights 
hundreds of trees in its progress, yet feeds 
a forest at its feet with countless streams ; it 
grinds the rocks to powder in its merciless 
mill, and then sends them down, a fructifying 
soil, to the wooded shore below. 

Agassiz would gladly have stayed longer in 
the neighborhood of Glacier Bay, and have 
made it the central point of a more detailed 
examination of the glacial phenomena in the 
Strait. But the southern winter was opening, 
and already gave signs of its approach. At 
dawn on the 26th of March, therefore, the 
Hassler left her beautiful anchorage in Playa 
Parda Cove, six large glaciers being in sight 
from her deck as she came out. The scenery 
during the morning had a new scientific in- 


terest for Agassiz, because the vessel kept 
along the northern side of the Strait, while 
the course hitherto had been nearer the south- 
ern shore. He could thus better compare the 
differences between the two walls of the Strait. 
The fact that the northern wall is more evenly 
worn, more rounded than the southern, had a 
special significance for him, as corresponding 
with like facts in Switzerland, and showing 
that the ice-sheet had advanced across the 
Strait with greater force in its ascending than 
in its descending path. The north side being 
the strike side, the ice would have pushed 
against it with greater force. Such a differ- 
ence between the two sides of any hollow or 
depression in the direct path of the ice is well 
known in Switzerland. 

Later in the day, a pause was made in 
Chorocua Bay, where Captain Mayne's chart 
makes mention of a glacier descending into 
the water. There is, indeed, a large glacier 
on its western side, but so inaccessible, that 
any examination of it would have required 
days rather than hours. No one, however, re- 
gretted the afternoon spent here, for the bay 
was singularly beautiful. On either side, deep 
gorges, bordered by richly-wooded cliffs and 
overhung by ice and snow-fields, were cut into 


the mountains. Where these channels might 
lead, into what dim recesses of ocean and 
mountain, could only be conjectured. The 
bay, with all its inlets and fiords, was still as a 
church. Voices and laughter seemed an in- 
trusion, and a louder shout came back in 
echoes from far-off hidden retreats. Only the 
swift steamer-ducks, as they shot across, broke 
the glassy surface of the water with their ar- 
row-like wake. From this point the Hassler 
crossed to Sholl Bay, and anchored at the en- 
trance of Smythe's Channel. As sunset faded 
over the snow mountains opposite her anchor- 
age, their white reflection lay like marble in 
the water. 


1872 : ^T. 65. 

Picnic in Shell Bay. Fuegians. Smythe's Channel. 
Comparison of Glacial Features with those of the Strait of 
Magellan. Ancud. Port of San Pedro. Bay of Con- 
cepcion. Three Weeks in Talcahuana. Collections. 
Geology. Land Journey to Santiago. Scenes along 
the Road. Report on Glacial Features to Mr. Peirce. 
Arrival at Santiago. Election as Foreign Associate of 
the Institute of France. Valparaiso. The Galapagos. 
Geological and Zoological Features. Arrival at San 

THE next day forces were divided. The ves- 
sel put out into the Strait again for sounding 
and dredging, while Agassiz, with a smaller 
party, landed in Sholl Bay. Here, after hav- 
ing made a fire and pitched a tent in which 
to deposit wraps, provisions etc., the company 
dispersed in various directions along the shore, 
geologizing, botanizing, and collecting. Ag- 
assiz was especially engaged in studying the 
structure of the beach itself. He found that 
the ridge of the beach was formed by a gla- 
cial moraine, while accumulations of boulders, 
banked up in morainic ridges, concentric with 


one another and with the beach moraine, ex- 
tended far out from the shore like partly 
sunken reefs. The pebbles and boulders of 
these ridges were not local, or, at least, only 
partially so ; they had the same geological 
character as those of the drift material 
throughout the Strait. 

The day was favorable for work, and there 
was little to remind one of approaching win- 
ter. A creek of fresh water, that ran out 
upon one part of the beach, led up to a ro- 
mantic brook, rushing down through a gorge 
bordered by moss-grown trees and carpeted 
by ferns and lichens in all its nooks and cor- 
ners. This brook took its rise in a small lake 
lying some half a mile behind the beach. 
The collections made along the shore in this 
excursion were large and various : star-fish, 
volutas, sea-urchins, sea-anemones, medusae, 
doris ; many small fishes, also, from the tide- 
pools, beside a number drawn in the seine. 

Later in the day, when the party had assem- 
bled around the beach fire for rest and refresh- 
ment, before returning to the vessel, their 
lunch was interrupted by strange and unex- 
pected guests. A boat rounded the point of 
the beach, and, as it came nearer, proved to 
be full of Fuegian natives, men, women, chil- 


dren, and dogs, their invariable companions. 
The men alone landed, some six or seven in 
number, and came toward the tent. Nothing 
could be more coarse and repulsive than their 
appearance, in which the brutality of the sav- 
age was in no way redeemed by physical 
strength or manliness. They were almost 
naked, for the short, loose skins tied around 
the neck, and hanging from the shoulders, 
over the back, partly to the waist, could 
hardly be called clothing. With swollen 
bodies, thin limbs, and stooping forms ; with 
a childish, yet cunning, leer on their faces, 
they crouched over the fire, spreading their 
hands toward its genial warmth, and all 
shrieking at once, " Tabac ! tabac ! ' and 
" Galleta ! " biscuit. Tobacco there was 
none ; but the remains of the lunch, such as 
it was, hard bread and pork, was distrib- 
uted among them, and they greedily devoured 
it. Then the one who, judging from a cer- 
tain deference paid him by the others, might 
be the chief, or leader, seated himself on a 
stone and sang in a singular kind of monot- 
onous, chanting tone. The words, as inter- 
preted by the gestures and expressions, seemed 
to be an improvisation concerning the stran- 
gers they had found upon the beach, and were 

VOL. II. 22 


evidently addressed to them. There was some- 
thing curious in the character of this Fuegian 
song. Rather recitative than singing, the 
measure had, nevertheless, certain divisions or 
pauses, as if to mark a kind of rhythm. It 
was brought to a close at regularly recurring 
intervals, and ended always in the same way, 
and on the same note, with a rising inflection 
of the voice. When the song was finished, a 
certain surprise and expectancy in the listeners 
kept them silent. This seemed to trouble the 
singer, who looked round with a comical air 
of inquiring disappointment. Thus reminded, 
the audience were quick to applaud, and then 
he laughed with pleasure, imitated the clap- 
ping of the hands in an awkward way, and 
nothing loth, began to sing again. 

The recall gun from the Hassler brought 
this strange scene to a close, and the party 
hastened down to the beach, closely followed 
by their guests, who still clamorously de- 
manded tobacco. Meanwhile the women had 
brought the boat close to that of the Hassler 
at the landing. They all began to laugh, 
talk, and gesticulate, and seemed a noisy crew, 
chattering unceasingly, with amazing rapidity, 
and all together. Their boat, with the babies 
and dogs to add to the tumult, was a perfect 


babel of voices. They put off at once, keep- 
ing as close as they could to the Hassler boat, 
and reaching the vessel almost at the same 
time. They were not allowed to come on 
board, but tobacco and biscuit, as well as 
bright calico and beads for the women, were 
thrown down to them. They scrambled and 
snatched fiercely, like wild animals, for what- 
ever they could catch. They had some idea 
of barter, for when they found they had re- 
ceived all that they were likely to get gratui- 
tously, they held up bows and arrows, wicker 
baskets, birds, and the large sea - urchins, 
which are an article of food with them. Even 
after the steamer had started, they still clung 
to the side, praying, shrieking, screaming, for 
more " tabac." When they found it a hope- 
less chase, they dropped off, and began again 
the same chanting recitative, waving their 
hands in farewell. 

Always interested in the comparative study 
of the races, Agassiz regretted that he had no 
other opportunity of observing the natives of 
this region and comparing them with the In- 
dians he had seen elsewhere, in Brazil and in 
the United States. It is true that he and his 
companions, when on shore, frequently came 
upon their deserted camps, or single empty 


liuts ; and their canoes followed the Hassler 
several times, but never when it was conven- 
ient to stop and let them come up with the 
vessel. This particular set were not in a 
canoe, but in a large boat of English build. 
Probably they had stolen it, or had found it, 
perhaps, stranded on the shore. They are 
usually, however, in canoes of their own mak- 
ing. One can only wonder that people ingen- 
ious enough to construct canoes so well mod- 
eled and so neatly and strongly put together, 
should have invented nothing better in the 


way of a house than a hut built of flexible 
branches, compared with which a wigwam is 
an elaborate dwelling. These huts are hood- 
like in shape, and too low for any posture but 
that of squatting or lying down. In front is 
always a scorched spot on the ground, where 
their handful of fire has smouldered ; and at 
one side, a large heap of empty shells, show- 
ing that they had occupied this place until 
they had exhausted the supply of mussels, on 
which they chiefly live. When this is the 
case, they move to some other spot, gather a 
few branches, reconstruct their frail shelter, 
and continue the same life. Untaught by their 
necessities, they wander thus, naked and home- 
less, in snow, mist, and rain, as they have done 


for ages, asking of the land only a strip of 
beach and a handful of fire ; and of the 
ocean, shell-fish enough to save them from 

The Hassler had now fairly entered upon 
Smythe's Channel, and was anchored at even- 
ing (March 27th) in Otway Bay, a lake-like 
harbor, broken by islands. Mount Burney, a 
noble, snow-covered mountain, corresponding 
to Mount Sarmiento in grandeur of outline, 
was in full view, but was partially veiled in 
mist. On the following day, however, the 
weather was perfect for the sail past Sarmi- 
ento Range and Snowy Glacier, which were in 
sight all day. Blue could not be more deep 
and pure, nor white more spotless, than their 
ice and snow-fields. Toward the latter part 
of the day, an immense expanse of snow 
opened out a little beyond Snowy Range. It 
was covered with the most curious snow hum- 
mocks, forming high cones over the whole 
surface, their shadows slanting over the glit- 
tering snow in the afternoon sunshine. They 
were most fantastic in shape, and some fifty 
or sixty in number. At first sight, they re- 
sembled heaped-up mounds or pyramids of 
snow ; but as the vessel approached, one 
group of them, so combined as to simulate a 


fortification, showed a face of rock where the 
snow had been blown away, and it seemed 
therefore probable that all were alike, snow- 
covered pinnacles of rock. 

The evening anchorage on the 28th was in 
Mayne's Harbor, a pretty inlet of Owen's 
Island. Here the vessel was detained for 
twenty -four hours by the breaking of the 
reversing rod. The engineers repaired it to 
the best of their ability, with such apparatus 
as they had, but it was a source of anxiety 
till a port was reached where a new one could 
be supplied. The detention, had it not been 
for such a cause, was welcome to the scientific 
party. Agassiz found the rounded and mou- 
tonnees surfaces and the general modeling of 
the outlines of ice no less marked here than 
in the Strait ; and in a ramble over the hills 
above the anchorage, M. de Pourtales came 
upon very distinct glacial scorings and fur- 
rows on dikes and ledges of greenstone and 
syenite. They were perfectly regular, and 
could be connected by their trend from ledge 
to ledge, across intervening spaces of softer 
decomposed rock, from which all such surface 
markings had disappeared. 

The country above Mayne's Harbor was 
pretty, though somewhat barren. Beyond the 


narrow belt of woods bordering the shore, the 
walking was over soggy hummocks, with little 
growth upon them except moss, lichens, and 
coarse marsh grass. These were succeeded by 
ridges of crumbling rock, between which were 
numerous small lakes. The land seemed very 
barren of life. Even the shores of the ponds 
were hardly inhabited. No song of bird or 
buzz of insect broke the stillness. Eock after 
rock was turned over in the vain expectation 
of finding living things on the damp under 
side at least ; and the cushions of moss were 
broken up in the same fruitless chase. All 
was barren and lifeless. Not so on the shore, 
where the collecting went on rapidly. Dredge 
and nets were at work all the morning, and 
abundant collections were made also from the 
little nooks and inlets of the beach. Agassiz 
found two new jelly - fishes, and christened 
them at once as the locality suggested, one 
for Captain Mayne, the other for Professor 
Owen. Near the shore, birds also seemed 
more abundant. A pair of kelp-geese and a 
steamer duck were brought in, and one of the 
officers reported humming-birds flitting across 
the brook from which the Hassler's tanks were 

Early on the morning of the 30th, while 


mountains and snow-fields, woodland and wa- 
ter, still lay between moonlight and sunrise, 
the Hassler started for Tarn Bay. It was a 
beautiful Easter Sunday, with very little wind, 
and a soft sky, broken by few clouds. But 
such beginnings are too apt to be delusive in 
this region of wet and fog, and a heavy rain, 
with thick mist, came up in the afternoon. 
That night, for the first time, the Hassler 
missed her anchorage, and lay off the shore 
near an island, which afforded some protection 
from the wind. A forlorn hope was detailed 
to the shore, where a large fire was kept burn- 
ing all night, that the vessel might not lose 
her bearings and drift away. In the morn- 
ing all was right again, and she kept on her 
course to Rowlet Narrows. 

This passage is formed by a deep gorge, 
cleft between lofty walls over which many a 
waterfall foams from reservoirs of snow above. 
Agassiz observed two old glacier beds on the 
western side of the pass two shallow depres- 
sions, lying arid and scored between swelling 
wooded ridges. He had not met in all the 
journey a better locality for the study of gla- 
cial effects than here. The sides of the chan- 
nel show these traces throughout their whole 
length. In this same neighborhood, as a con- 


spicuotis foreground on the shore of Indian 
Reach, to the south of Lackawanna Cove, is a 
largre moraine resembling* the "horse-backs," 

O O ' 

in the State of Maine, New England. The 
top was as level as a railroad embankment. 
The anchorage for the night was in Eden 
Harbor, and for that evening, at least, it was 
lovely enough to deserve its name. The 
whole expanse of its land-locked waters, held 
between mountains and broken by islands, 
was rosy and purple in the setting sun. The 
gates of the garden were closed, however, not 
by a flaming sword, but by an impenetrable 
forest, along the edge of which a scanty rim 
of beach hardly afforded landing or foothold. 
The collections here, therefore, were small ; 
but a good haul was made with the trawl net, 
which gathered half-a-dozen species of echin- 
oderms, some small fishes, and a number of 
shells. Fog detained the vessel in Eden Har- 
bor till a late hour in the morning, but the af- 
ternoon was favorable for the passage through 
the English Narrows, the most contracted part 
of Smythe's Channel. It is, indeed, a mere 
mountain defile, through which the water 
rushes with such force that, in navigating it, 
great care was required to keep the vessel off 
the rocks. Her anchorage at the close of the 


day was in Connor's Cove, a miniature harbor 
not unlike Borja Bay in the Strait. It was a 
tranquil retreat. The water-birds seemed to 
find it so, for the steamer ducks were trailing 
their long wakes through the water, and a 
large kind of stormy petrel sailed up to the 
vessel, and almost put himself into the hands 
of the sailors, with whom he remained an un- 
resisting prisoner. 

Geologically, Agassiz found Connor's Cove 
of especial interest. It runs east and west, 
opening on the eastern side of the channel ; 
but the knolls, that is to say, the rounded 
surfaces at its entrance, are furrowed across 
the cove, at right angles with it. In other 
words, the movement of the ice, always from 
south to north, has been with Smythe's Chan- 
nel, and across the Strait of Magellan. In- 
deed it seemed to Agassiz that all the glacial 
agency in Smythe's Channel, the trend of the 
furrows, the worn surfaces whereon they were 
to be found, and the steepness of southern ex- 
posures as compared with the more rounded 
opposite slopes, pointed to the same conclu- 

On the third of April Agassiz left with 
regret this region of ocean and mountain, gla- 
cier, snow-field, and forest. The weeks he had 


spent there were all too short for the work he 
had hoped to do. Yet, trained as he was in 
glacial phenomena, even so cursory an obser- 
vation satisfied him that in the southern, as in 
the northern hemisphere, the present glaciers 
are but a remnant of the ancient ice-period. 

After two days of open sea and head winds, 
the next anchorage was in Port San Pedro, a 
very beautiful bay opening on the north side 
of Corcovado Gulf, with snow mountains in 
full sight ; the Peak of Corcovado and a 
wonderfully symmetrical volcanic mountain, 
Melimoya, white as purest marble to the sum- 
mit, were clearly defined against the sky. 
Forests clothed the shore on every side, and 
the shelving beach met the wood in a bank of 
wild Bromelia, most brilliant in color. Not 
only were excellent collections made on this 
beach, but the shore was strewn with large 
accumulations of erratics. Among them was 
a green epidotic rock which Agassiz had 
traced to this spot from the Bay of San An- 
tonio on the Patagonian coast, without ever 
finding it in place. Some of the larger boul- 
ders had glacial furrows and scratches upon 
them, and all the hills bordering the shore 
were rounded and moutonnee. One of the 
great charms for Agassiz in the scenery of all 


this region, and especially in the Strait of 
Magellan, was a kind of home feeling that 
it gave him. Although the mountains rose 
from the ocean, instead of from the plain as 
in Switzerland, yet the snow-fields and the gla- 
ciers carried him back to his youth. To him, 
the sunset of this evening in the Port San 
Pedro, with the singular transparent rose color 
over the snow mountains, and the soft suc- 
ceeding pallor, was the very reproduction of 
an Alpine sunset. 

The next morning brought a disappoint- 
ment. From this point Agassiz had hoped to 
continue the voyage by the inside passage be- 
tween the main-land and the island of Chiloe. 
This was of importance to him, on account of 
its geological relation to Smythe's Channel 
and the Strait of Magellan. In the absence 
of any good charts of the channel, the Cap- 
tain, after examining the shoals at the en- 
trance, was forced to decide, almost as much 
to his own regret as to that of Agassiz, not 
to attempt the further passage. Keeping up 
the outer coast of Chiloe, therefore, the vessel 
anchored before Ancud on the 8th of April. 
It was a heavenly day. The volcanic peak of 
Osorno and the whole snowy Cordilleras were 
unveiled. The little town above the harbor, 


with its outlying farms on the green and 
fertile hills around, seemed like the very cen- 
tre of civilization to people who had been so 
Ions: out of the world. It is said to rain in 


Ancud three hundred and sixty-five days in 
the year. But on this particular afternoon it 
was a very sunny place, and the inhabitants 
seemed to avail themselves of their rare priv- 
ilege. Groups of Indians, who had come 
across the river in the morning to sell their 
milk in the town, were resting in picturesque 
groups around their empty milk - cans, the 
women wrapped in their long shawls, the men 
in their ponchos and slouched hats ; the coun- 
try people were driving out their double teams 
of strong, powerful oxen harnessed to wooden 
troughs filled with manure for the fields ; the 
washerwomen were scrubbing and beating 
their linen along the roadside ; the gardens 
of the poorest houses were bright with large 
shrubs of wild fuchsia, and, altogether, the 
aspect of the little place was cheerful and 
pretty. Agassiz had but two or three hours 
for a look at the geology. Even this cursory 
glance sufficed to show him that the drift 
materials, even to their special mineralogical 
elements, were the same as in the Magellan 
Strait. Here they rested, however, on vol- 
canic soil. 


Stopping at Lota for coal, but not long 
enough for any scientific work, the Hassler 
entered Concepcion Bay on the 15th April, 
and anchored near Talcahuana, where she was 
to remain some three weeks for the repair 
of her engine. This quaint, primitive little 
town is built upon one of the finest harbors 
on the Pacific coast. Agassiz was fortunate 
in finding, through the kindness of Captain 
Johnson, a partially furnished house, where 
several large vacant rooms, opening on the 
" patio," served admirably as scientific labo- 
ratories. Here, then, he established himself 
with his assistants. It was soon understood 
that every living thing would find a market 
with him, and all the idle urchins about the 
town flocked to the house with specimens. 
An unceasing traffic of birds, shells, fish, etc., 
went on there from morning to night, and to 
the various vendors were added groups of In- 
dians coming to have their photographs taken. 
There were charming excursions and walks in 
the neighborhood, and the geology of the re- 
gion was so interesting that it determined 
Agassiz to go by land from Talcahuana to 
Valparaiso, on a search after any glacial tracks 
that might be found in the valley lying be- 
tween the Cordillera of the Andes and the 


Coast Range. Meanwhile the Hassler was to 
go on a dredging expedition to the island of 
Juan Fernandez, and then proceed to Valpa- 
raiso, where Agassiz was to join her a fort- 
night later. Although this expedition was 
under the patronage of the Coast Survey, the 
generosity of Mr. Thayer, so constantly ex- 
tended to scientific aims, had followed Agas- 
siz on this second journey. To his kindness 
he owed the possibility of organizing an ex- 
cursion apart from the direct object of the 
voyage. This change of plan and its cause 
is told in the following extract from his gen- 
eral report to Professor Peirce : 

" April 27th. While I was transcribing 
my Report, Pourtales came in with the state- 
ment that he had noticed the first indication 
of an Andean glacier in the vicinity. I have 
visited the locality twice since. It is a mag- 
nificent polished surface, as well preserved 
as any I have ever seen upon old glaciated 
ground or under glaciers of the present 
day, with well-marked furrows and scratches. 
Think of it ! a characteristic surface, indicat- 
ing glacier action, in lat. 37 S., at the level 
of the sea ! The place is only a few feet 
above tide level, upon the slope of a hill on 


which stand the ruins of a Spanish fort, near 
the fishermen's huts of San Vicente, which 
lies between Concepcion Bay and the Bay of 
Aranco. Whether the polished surface is the 
work of a glacier descending from the Andes 
to the sea-shore or not, I have not yet been 
able to determine. I find no volcanic pebbles 
or boulders in this vicinity, which, after my 
experience in San Carlos, I should expect all 
along the shore, if the glaciers of the Andes 
had descended to the level of the ocean, in 
this part of the country. The erratics here 
have the character of those observed farther 
south. It is true the furrows and scratches 
of this polished surface run mainly from east 
to west; but there are some crossing the main 
trend, at angles ranging from 20 to 30, and 
running S. E. N. W. Moreover, the magnetic 
variation is 18 3' at Talcahuano April 23d, 
the true meridian bearing to the right of the 
magnetic. I shall soon know what to make 
of this, as I start to-morrow for the interior, 
to go to Santiago and join the ship again at 
Valparaiso. I have hired a private carriage, 
to be able to stop whenever I wish so to do. 
I also take a small seine to fish for fresh water 
fishes in the many streams intervening be- 
tween this place and Valparaiso. The trend 


of the glacial scratches in San Vicente re- 
minds me of a fact I have often observed in 
New England near the sea -shore, where the 
glacial furrows dip to a considerable extent 
eastward toward the deep ocean, while further 
inland their trend is more regular and due 
North and South. . . . 

" I had almost forgotten to say that I have 
obtained unquestionable evidence of the cre- 
taceous age of the coal deposits of Lota and 
the adjoining localities, north and south, which 
are generally supposed to be tertiary lignites. 
They are overlaid by sandstone containing 
Baculites ! I need not adduce other evidence 
to satisfy geologists of the correctness of my 
assertion. I have myself collected a great 
many of these fossils, in beds resting upon 
coal-seams. Ever truly yours, 

" Louis AGASSIZ." 

On the 28th of April, then, Agassiz left 
Talcahuana, accompanied by Mrs. Agassiz, 
and by Dr. Steindachner, who was to assist 
him in making collections along the way. 
They were to travel post, along the diligence 
road, until they reached Curicu, within half a 
day of Santiago, where railroad travel began. 
It was a beautiful journey, and though the 

VOL. ii. 23 


rainy season was impending, the fair weather 
was uninterrupted. The way lay for the most 
part through an agricultural district of corn, 
wheat, and vineyards. In this strange land, 
where seasons are reversed, and autumn has 
changed places with spring, the work of har- 
vest and vintage was just going on. The 
road was full of picturesque scenes : troops of 
mules might be met, a hundred at a time, 
laden with corn - sacks ; the queer, primitive 
carts of the country creaked along, carrying 
huge wine-jars filled with the fresh new juice 
of the grape; the road was gay with country 
people in their holiday dresses ; the women, 
who wore their bright shawls like a kind of 
mantle, were sometimes on foot and sometimes 
pillioned behind the men, who were invariably 
on horseback, and whose brilliant ponchos and 
fine riding added to the impression of life and 
color. Rivers and streams were frequent ; and 
as there were no bridges, the scenes at the 
fords, sometimes crossed on rafts, sometimes 
on flat boats, worked by ropes, were exciting 
and picturesque. For rustic interiors along 
the road side, there were the huts of the work- 
ing people, rough trellises of tree -trunks in- 
terwoven with branches ; green as arbors while 
fresh, a coarse thatch when dry. There was 


always a large open space in front, sheltered 
by the projecting thatch of the house, and 
furnished sometimes with a rough table and 
bench. Here would be the women at their 
work, or the children at play, or sometimes 
the drovers taking their lunch of tortillas and 
wine, while their animals munched their mid- 
day meal hard by. The scenery was often fine. 
On the third day the fertile soil, watered by 
many rivers, was exchanged for a sandy plain, 
broken by a thorny mimosa scattered over the 
surface. This plain lay between the Cordillera 
of the Andes and the Coast Ran^e. As the 


road advanced farther inland, the panorama 
of the Cordilleras became more and more 
striking. In the glow of the sunset, the peaks 
of the abrupt, jagged walls and the volcano- 
like summits were defined against the sky in 
all their rugged beauty. There was little here 
to remind one of the loveliness of the Swiss 
Alps. With no lower green slopes, no soft 
pasturage grounds leading gently up to rocky 
heights, the Andes, at least in this part of 
their range, rise arid, stern, and bold from 
base to crest, a fortress wall unbroken by tree 
or shrub, or verdure of any kind, and relieved 
only by the rich and varied coloring of the 


The lodgings for the night were found in 
small towns along the road, Tonie, Chilian, 
Linarez, Talca, Curicu, and once, when there 
was no inn within reach, at a hospitable ha- 

A brief sketch of the geological observa- 
tions made on this excursion is found in a let- 
ter from Agassiz to Mr. Peirce. He never 
wrote out, as he had intended to do, a more 
detailed report. 

OFF GAUTEMALA, July 29, 1872. 

MY DEAR PEIRCE, ... I have another 
new chapter concerning glacial phenomena, 
gathered during our land-journey from Tal- 
cahuana to Santiago. It is so complicated a 
story that I do not feel equal now to record- 
ing the details in a connected statement, but 
will try to give you the main facts in a few 

There is a broad valley between the Andes 
and the Coast Range, the valley of Chilian, ex- 
tending- from the Gulf of Ancud, or Port de 

o ' 

Mott, to Santiago and farther north. This 
valley is a continuation, upon somewhat higher 
level, of the channels which, from the Strait 
of Magellan to Chiloe, separate the islands 
from the main-land, with the sole interrup- 
tion of Tres Montes. Now this great valley, 


extending for more than twenty-five degrees 
of latitude, is a continuous glacier bottom, 
showing plainly that for its whole length 
the great southern ice-sheet has been retreat- 


inof southward in it. I could find nowhere 


any indication that glaciers descending from 
the Andes had crossed this valley and reached 
the shores of the Pacific. In a few brief lo- 
calities only did I notice Andean, i. e. vol- 
canic, erratics upon the loose materials fill- 
ing the old glacier bottom. Between Curicu 
and Santiago, however, facing the gorge of 
Tenon, I saw two distinct lateral moraines, 
parallel to one another, chiefly composed of 
volcanic boulders, resting upon the old drift, 
and indicating by their position the course of 
a large glacier that once poured down from 
the Andes of Tenon, and crossed the main 
valley, without, however, extending beyond 
the eastern slope of the Coast Range. These 
moraines are so well marked that they are 
known throughout the country as the cerillos 
of Tenon, but nobody suspects their glacial 
origin ; even the geologists of Santiago assign 
a volcanic origin to them. What is difficult 
to describe in this history are the successive 
retrograde steps of the great southern ice- 
field that, step by step, left larger or smaller 


tracts of the valley to the north of it free 
of ice, so that large glacial lakes could be 
formed, and seem, indeed, always to have ex- 
isted along the retreating edge of the great 
southern glacier. The natural consequence 
is that there are everywhere stratified ter- 
races without border barriers (since these 
were formed only by the ice that has van- 
ished), resting at successively higher or lower 
levels, as you move north or south, upon un- 
stratified drift of older date ; the northern- 
most of these terraces being the oldest, while 
those further south belong to later steps in 
the waning of the ice-fields. From these 
data I infer that my suggestion concerning 
the trend of the stria3 upon the polished and 
glaciated surface of the vicinity of Talca- 
huana, alluded to in the postscript of my last 
letter, is probably correct. . . . 

At Santiago Agassiz rested a day or two. 
Here, as everywhere throughout the country, 
he met with the greatest kindness and cordial- 
ity. A public reception and dinner were 
urged upon him by the city, but his health 
obliged him to decline this and like honors 
elsewhere. Among the letters awaiting him 
here, was one which brought him a pleasant 


surprise. It announced his election as For- 
eign Associate of the Institute of France, - 
" one of the eight." As the crowning honor 
of his scientific career, this was, of course, 
very gratifying to him. In writing soon 
after to the Emperor of Brazil, who had ex- 
pressed a warm interest in his election, he 
says : " The distinction pleased me the more 
because so unexpected. Unhappily it is usu- 
ally a brevet of infirmity, or at least of old 
age, and in my case it is to a house in ruins 
that the diploma is addressed. I regret it the 
more because I have never felt more disposed 
for work, and yet never so fatigued by it." 

From Santiago Agassiz proceeded to Valpa- 
raiso, where he rejoined the ship's company. 
The events of their cruise had been less sat- 
isfactory than those of his land- journey, for, 
owing to the rottenness of the ropes, pro- 
duced by dampness, the hauls of the dredge 
from the greatest depths had been lost. Sev- 
eral pauses for dredging in shallower waters 
were made with good success, nevertheless, 
on the way up the coast to Callao. From 
there the Hassler put out to sea once more, 
for the Galapagos, arriving before Charles 
Island on the 10th of June, and visiting in 
succession Albernarle, James, Jarvis, and In- 
defatigable islands. 


Agassiz enjoyed extremely his cruise among 
these islands of such rare geological and zo- 
ological interest. Purely volcanic in charac- 
ter, and of very recent formation, they yet 
support a fauna and flora quite their own, 
very peculiar and characteristic. Albemarle 
Island was, perhaps, the most interesting of 
all. It is a barren mountain rising from the 
sea, its base and slope covered with small 
extinct craters. No less than fifty some 
perfectly symmetrical, others irregular, as if 
blasted out on one side could be counted 
from the deck as the vessel neared the shore. 
Indeed, the whole island seemed like some 
subterranean furnace, of which these craters 
were the chimneys. The anchorage was in 
Tagus Sound, a deep, quiet bay, less peaceful 
once, for its steep sides are formed by the 
walls of an old crater. 

The next day, June 15, was spent by the 
whole scientific party in a ramble on shore. 
The landing was at the foot of a ravine. 
Climbing its left bank, they were led by a 
short walk to the edge of a large crater, which 
held a beautiful lake in its cup. It was, in 
fact, a crater within a crater, for a second 
one, equally symmetrical, rose outside and 
above it. Following the brink of this lake to 


its upper end, they struck across to the head 
of the ravine. It terminated in a ridge, which 
looked down upon an immense field or sea of 
hardened lava, spreading over an area of sev- 
eral miles till it reached the ocean. This 
ancient bed of lava was full of the most sin- 
gular and fantastic details of lava structure. 
It was a field of charred ruins, among which 
were more or less open caves or galleries, 
some large enough to hold a number of per- 
sons standing upright, others hardly allowing 
room to creep through on hands and knees. 
Rounded domes were common, sometimes bro- 
ken, sometimes whole ; now and then some 
great lava bubble was pierced with a window 
blasted out of the side, through which one 
could look down to the floor of a deep, un- 
derground hollow. 

The whole company, some six or eight per- 
sons, lunched in one of the caves, resting on 
the seats formed by the ledges of lava along 
its sides. It had an entrance at either end, 
was some forty feet long, at least ten feet 
high in the centre, and perhaps six or eight 
feet wide. Probably never before had it 
served as a banqueting hall. Such a hollow 
tunnel or arch had been formed wherever the 
interior of a large mass of lava, once cooled, 


had become heated again, and had flowed 
out, leaving the outside crust standing. The 
whole story of this lava bed is so clearly told 
in its blackened and extinct remains, that it 
needs no stretch of the imagination to recre- 
ate the scene. It is again a heaving, palpi- 
tating sheet of fire ; the dead slags are aglow, 
and the burned - out furnaces cast up their 
molten, blazing contents, as of old. Now it 
is the home of the large red and orange- 
colored iguanas, of which a number were cap- 
tured, both alive and dead. These islands 
proved, indeed, admirable collecting grounds, 
the more interesting from the peculiarity of 
their local fauna. 



. . . Our visit to the Galapagos has been 
full of geological and zoological interest. It 
is most impressive to see an extensive archi- 
pelago, of most recent origin, inhabited by 
creatures so different from any known in 
other parts of the world. Here we have a 
positive limit to the length of time that may 
have been granted for the transformation of 
these animals, if indeed they are in any way 
derived from others dwelling in different parts 


of the world. The Galapagos are so recent 
that some of the islands are barely covered 
with the most scanty vegetation, itself pecu- 
liar to these islands. Some parts of their sur- 
face are entirely bare, and a great many of 
the craters and lava streams are so fresh, that 
the atmospheric agents have not yet made an 
impression on them. Their age does not, 
therefore, go back to earlier geological pe- 
riods ; they belong to our times, geologically 
speaking. Whence, then, do their inhabitants 
(animals as well as plants) come ? If de- 
scended from some other type, belonging to 
any neighboring land, then it does not require 
such unspeakably long periods for the trans- 
formation of species as the modern advocates 
of transmutation claim ; and the mystery of 
change, with such marked and characteristic 
differences between existing species, is only 
increased, and brought to a level with that of 
creation. If they are autochthones, from 
what germs did they start into existence ? I 
think that careful observers, in view of these 
facts, will have to acknowledge that our sci- 
ence is not yet ripe for a fair discussion of 
the origin of organized beings. . . . 

There is little to tell for the rest of the 


voyage that cannot be condensed into a few 
words. There was a detention for despatches 
and for Coast Survey business at Panama, 
a delay which was turned to good account in 
collecting, both in the Bay and on the Isth- 
mus. At San Diego, also, admirable collec- 
tions were made, and pleasant days were spent. 
This was the last station on the voyage of 
the Hassler. She reached her destination and 
entered the Golden Gate on the 24th of 
August, 1871. Agassiz was touched by his 
reception in San Francisco. Attentions and 
kindnesses were showered upon him from all 
sides, but his health allowed him to accept 
only such hospitalities as were of the most 
quiet and private nature. He passed a month 
in San Francisco, but was unable to under- 
take any of the well-known excursions to the 
Yosemite Valley or the great trees. Rest and 
home became every day more imperative ne- 


1872-1873: JST. 65-66. 

Return to Cambridge. Summer School proposed. In- 
terest of Agassiz. Gift of Mr. Anderson. Prospectus 
of Penikese School. Difficulties. Opening of School. 
Summer Work. Close of School. Last Course of 
Lectures at Museum. Lecture before Board of Agricul- 
ture. Illness. Death. Place of Burial. 

IN October, 1872, Agassiz returned to Cam- 
bridge. To arrange the collections he had 
brought back, to write a report of his jour- 
ney and its results, to pass the next summer 
quietly at his Nahant laboratory, continuing 
his work on the Sharks and Skates, for which 
he had brought home new and valuable mate- 
rial, seemed the natural sequence of his year 
of travel. But he found a new scheme of ed- 
ucation on foot ; one for which he had himself 
given the first impulse, but which some of 
his younger friends had carefully considered 
and discussed in his absence, being confident 
that with his help it might be accomplished. 
The plan was to establish a summer school 


of natural history somewhere on the coast 
of Massachusetts, where teachers from our 
schools and colleges could make their vaca- 
tions serviceable, both for work and recrea- 
tion^ by the direct study of nature. No 
sooner was Agassiz once more at home than 
he was confronted by this scheme, and he 
took it up with characteristic ardor. Means 
there were none, nor apparatus, nor building, 
nor even a site for one. There was only the 
ideal, and to that he brought the undying 
fervor of his intellectual faith. The pro- 
spectus was soon sketched, and, once before 
the public, it awakened a strong interest. 
In March, when the Legislature of Massachu- 
setts made their annual visit to the Museum 
of Comparative Zoology, Agassiz laid this 
new project before them as one of deep inter- 
est for science in general, and especially for 
schools and colleges throughout the land. 
He considered it also an educational branch 
of the Museum, having, as such, a claim on 
their sympathy, since it was in the line of the 
direct growth and continuance of the same 
work. Never did he plead more eloquently 
for the cause of education. His gift as a 
speaker cannot easily be described. It was 
born of conviction, and was as simple as it 


was impassioned. It kept the freshness of 
youth, because the things of which he spoke 
never grew old to him, but moved him to the 
last hour of his life as forcibly as in his 
earlier years. 

This appeal to the Legislature, spoken in 
the morning:, chanced to be read in the even- 


ing papers of the same day by Mr. John 
Anderson, a rich merchant of New York. It 
at once enlisted his sympathy both for the 
work and for the man. Within the week he 
offered to Agassiz, as a site for the school, 
the island of Penikese, in Buzzard's Bay, with 
the buildings upon it, consisting of a fur- 
nished dwelling-house and barn. Scarcely 
was this gift accepted than he added to it 
an endowment of $50,000 for the equipment 
of the school. Adjectives belittle deeds like 
these. The bare statement says more than 
the most laudatory epithets. 

Agassiz was no less surprised than touched 
at the aid thus unexpectedly offered. In his 
letter of acknowledgment he says : " You do 
not know what it is suddenly and unex- 
pectedly to find a friend at your side, full of 
sympathy, and offering support to a scheme 
which you have been trying to carry out un- 
der difficulties and with very scanty means. 


I feel grateful to you for making the road so 
easy, and I believe you will have the perma- 
nent gratitude of scientific men here and else- 
where, for I have the utmost confidence that 
this summer school will give valuable oppor- 
tunities for original research, as well as for 
instruction." At Agassiz's suggestion the 
school was to bear the name of " The Ander- 
son School of Natural History." Mr. Ander- 
son wished to substitute the name of Agassiz 
for his own. This Agassiz absolutely refused 
to permit, saying that he was but one of many 
scientific men who had already offered their 
services to the school for the coming summer, 
some of whom would, no doubt, continue to 
work for it in the future, and all of whom 
would be equally indebted to Mr. Anderson. 
It was, therefore, most suitable that it should 
bear his name, and so it was agreed. 

Thus the material problem was solved. 
Name and habitation were found ; it remained 
only to organize the work for which so fit- 
ting a home had been provided. Mr. An- 
derson's gift was received toward the close of 
March, and, in the course of the following 
month, the preliminaries were concluded, and 
the property was transferred to the trustees of 
the Anderson School. 




Few men would have thought it feasible to 
build dormitories and laboratories, and pro- 
vide working apparatus for fifty pupils as 
well as for a large corps of teachers, between 
May and July. But to Agassiz no obstacles 
seemed insurmountable where great aims were 
involved, and the opening of the school was 
announced for the 8th of July. He left Bos- 
ton on Friday, the 4th of July, for the island. 
At New Bedford he was met by a warning 
from the architect that it would be simply im- 
possible to open the school at the appointed 
date. With characteristic disregard of prac- 
tical difficulties, he answered that it must be 
possible, for postponement was out of the 
question. He reached the island on Satur- 
day, the 5th, in the afternoon. The aspect 
was certainly discouraging. The dormitory 
was up, but only the frame was completed ; 
there were no floors, nor was the roof shin- 
gled. The next day was Sunday. Agassiz 
called the carpenters together. He told them 
that the scheme was neither for money, nor 
for the making of money ; no personal gain 
was involved in it. It was for the best in- 
terests of education, and for that alone. Hav- 
ing explained the object, and stated the emer- 
gency, he asked whether, under these cir- 

VOL. II. 24 


cumstances, the next day was properly for rest 
or for work. They all answered " for work." 
They accordingly worked the following day 
from dawn till dark, and by night -faU the 
floors were laid. On Monday, the 7th, the 
partitions were put up, dividing the upper 
story into two large dormitories ; the lower, 
into sufficiently convenient working - rooms. 
On Tuesday morning (the 8th), with the help 
of a few volunteers, chiefly ladies connected 
with the school, who had arrived a day or 
two in advance, the dormitories, which were 
still encumbered by shavings, sawdust, etc., 
were swept, and presently transformed into 
not unattractive sleeping - halls. They were 
divided by neat sets of furniture into equal 
spaces, above each of which was placed the 
name of the person to whom it was appropri- 
ated. When all was done, the large open 
rooms, with their fresh pine walls, floors, and 
ceilings, the rows of white beds down the 
sides, and the many windows looking to the 
sea, were pretty and inviting enough. If 
they somewhat resembled hospital wards, they 
were too airy and cheerful to suggest sickness 
either of body or mind. 

Next, a large barn belonging to Mr. Ander- 
son's former establishment was cleared, and a 


new floor laid there also. This was hardly 
finished (the last nails were just driven) when 
the steamer, with its large company, touched 
the wharf. There was barely time to arrange 
the seats and to place a table with flowers 
where the guests of honor were to sit, and 
Agassiz himself was to stand, when all ar- 
rived. The barn was, on the whole, not a 
bad lecture-room on a beautiful summer day. 
The swallows, who had their nests without 
number in the rafters, flew in and out, and 
twittered softly overhead ; and the wide doors, 
standing broadly open to the blue sky and the 
fresh fields, let in the sea-breeze, and gave a 
view of the little domain. Agassiz had ar- 
ranged no programme of exercises, trusting 
to the interest of the occasion to suggest 


what might best be said or done. But, as he 
looked upon his pupils gathered there to 
study nature with him, by an impulse as nat- 
ural as it was unpremeditated, he called upon 
them to join in silently asking God's bless- 
ing on their work together. The pause was 
broken by the first words of an address no 
less fervent than its unspoken prelude. 1 
Thus the day, which had been anticipated 

1 This whole scene is fitly told in Whittier's poem, The 
Prayer of Agassiz. 


with so much anxiety, passed off, unclouded 
by any untoward accident, and at evening the 
guests had departed. Students and teachers, 
a company of some fifty or sixty persons, were 
left to share the island with the sea-gulls 
whose haunt it was. 

We will not enter into the daily details of 
the school. It was a new phase of teaching, 
even for Agassiz, old as he was in the work. 
Most of his pupils were mature men and wo- 
men, some of whom had been teachers them- 
selves for many years. He had, therefore, 
trained minds to deal with, and the experience 
was at that time as novel as it was interest- 
ing. The novelty has worn off now. Summer 
schools for advanced students, and especially 
for teachers, have taken their place in the 
general system of education ; and, though the 
Penikese school may be said to have died with 
its master, it lives anew in many a sea-side 
laboratory organized on the same plan, in sum- 
mer schools of Botany and field classes of Ge- 
ology. The impetus it gave was not, and can- 
not be, lost, since it refreshed and vitalized 
methods of teaching. 

Beside the young men who formed his corps 
of teachers, among whom the resident profes- 
sors were Dr. Burt G. Wilder, of Cornell Uni- 


versity, and Professor Alpheus S. Packard, 
now of Brown University, Agassiz had with 
him some of his oldest friends and colleagues. 
Count de Pourtales was there, superintending 
the dredging, for which there were special 
conveniences, Mr. Charles G. Galloupe having 
presented the school with a yacht for the ex- 
press purpose. This generous gift gave Ag- 
assiz the greatest pleasure, and completed the 
outfit of the school as nothing else could 
have done. Professor Arnold Guyot, also, 
Agassiz's comrade in younger years, his 
companion in many an Alpine excursion, 
came to the island to give a course of lec- 
tures, and remained for some time. It was 
their last meeting in this world, and together 
they lived over their days of youthful adven- 
ture. The lectures of the morning and af- 
ternoon would sometimes be followed by an 
informal meeting held on a little hill, which 
was a favorite resort at sunset. There the 
whole community gathered around the two 
old friends, to hear them talk of their gla- 
cial explorations, one recalling what the other 
had forgotten, till the scenes lived again for 
themselves, and became almost equally vivid 
for their listeners. The subject came up nat- 
urally, for, strange to say, this island in a 


New England bay was very suggestive of gla- 
cial phenomena. Erratic materials and boul- 
ders transported from the north were scattered 
over its surface, and Agassiz found the illus- 
trations for his lectures on this topic ready to 
his hand. Indeed, some of his finest lectures 
on the ice-period were given at Penikese. 

Nothing could be less artificial, more free 
from constraint or formality, than the inter- 
course between him and his companions of 
this summer. He was at home with every 
member of the settlement. Ill-health did not 
check the readiness of his sympathy; lan- 
guor did not chill the glow of his enthusiasm. 
All turned to him for help and inspiration. 
Walking over their little sovereignty together, 
hunting for specimens on its beaches, dredg- 
ing from the boats, in the laboratory, or the 
lecture-room, the instruction had always the 
character of the freest discussion. Yet the 
work, although combined with out - of - door 
pleasures, and not without a certain holiday 
element, was no play. On the part of the 
students, the application was close and unre- 
mitting; on the part of the teachers, the 
instruction, though untrammeled by routine, 
was sustained and systematic. 

Agassiz himself frequently gave two lee- 


tures a day. In the morning session he would 
prepare his class for the work of the day ; in 
the afternoon he would draw out their own 
observations by questions, and lead them, by 
comparison and combination of the facts they 
had observed, to understand the significance 
of their results. Every lecture from him at 
this time was a lesson in teaching as well as 
in natural history, and to many of his hearers 
this gave his lectures a twofold value, as bear- 
ing directly upon their own occupation. In 
his opening address he had said to them : 
" You will find the same elements of instruc- 
tion all about you wherever you may be 
teaching. You can take your classes out, and 
give them the same lessons, and lead them up 
.to the same subjects you are yourselves study- 
ing here. And this mode of teaching children 
is so natural, so suggestive, so true. That is 
the charm of teaching from Nature herself. 
No one can warp her to suit his own views. 
She brings us back to absolute truth as often 
as we wander." 

This was the bright side of the picture. 
Those who stood nearest to Agassiz, however, 
felt that the strain not only of work, but of 
the anxiety and responsibility attendant upon 
a new and important undertaking, was peril- 


ous for him. There were moments when this 
became apparent, and he himself felt the dan- 
ger. He persevered, nevertheless, to the end 
of the summer, and only left Penikese when 
the school broke up. 

In order to keep the story of this final ef- 
fort unbroken, some events of great interest 
to Agassiz and of importance to the Museum 
have been omitted. In the spring the Mu- 
seum had received a grant of $25,000 from 
the Legislature. To this was added $100- 
000, a birthday gift to Agassiz in behalf of 
the institution he so much loved. This last 
sum was controlled by no official body and 
was to be expended at his own good will and 
pleasure, either in collections, publications, or 
scientific assistance, as seemed to him best. 
He therefore looked forward to a year of 
greater ease and efficiency in scientific work 
than he had ever enjoyed before. On return- 
ing from Penikese, full of the new possibili- 
ties thus opened to him, he allowed himself a 
short rest, partly at the sea-shore, partly in 
the mountains, and was again at his post in 
the Museum in October. 

His last course of lectures there was on one 
of his favorite topics, the type of Kadiates 
as connected with the physical history of the 


earth, from the dawn of organic life till now. 
In his opening lecture he said to his class : 
" You must learn to look upon fossil forms as 
the antiquarian looks upon his coins. The 
remains of animals and plants have the spirit 
of their time impressed upon them, as strongly 
as the spirit of the age is impressed upon its 
architecture, its literature, its coinage. I want 
you to become so familiar with these forms, 
that you can read off at a glance their charac- 
ter and associations." In this spirit his last 
course was conceived. It was as far-reaching 
and as clear as usual, nor did his delivery 
evince failure of strength or of mental power. 
If he showed in any way the disease which 
was even then upon him, it was by an over- 
tension of the nerves, which gave increased 
fervor to his manner. Every mental effort 
was, however, succeeded by great physical 

At the same time he had undertaken a 
series of articles in the " Atlantic Monthly," 
entitled, " Evolution and Permanence of 
Type." They were to have contained his own 
convictions regarding the connection between 
all living beings, upon which his studies had 
led him to conclusions so different from the 
philosophy of the day. Of these papers, only 


one was completed. It was his last word 
upon science ; the correction of the proof- 
sheets was the last act of his working life, and 
the article was published after his death. In 
it he claimed that the law of evolution, in a 
certain sense as true to him as to any so-called 
evolutionist, was a law " controlling develop- 
ment, and keeping types within appointed cy- 
cles of growth." He maintained that this law 
acts within definite limits, and never infringes 
upon the great types, each one of which is, in 
his view, a structural unit in itself. Even met- 
amorphoses, he adds, " have all the constancy 
and invariability of other modes of embryonic 
growth, and have never been known to lead 
to any transition of one species into another." 
Of heredity he says : " The whole subject of 
inheritance is exceedingly intricate, working 
often in a seemingly capricious and fitful way. 
Qualities, both good and bad, are dropped as 
well as acquired, and the process ends some- 
times in the degradation of the type, and the 
survival of the unfit rather than the fittest. 
The most trifling and fantastic tricks of inher- 
itance are quoted in support of the transmuta- 
tion theory; but little is said of the sudden 
apparition of powerful original qualities, which 
almost always rise like pure creations, and are 


gone with their day and generation. The 
noblest gifts are exceptional, and are rarely 
inherited ; this very fact seems to me an evi- 
dence of something more and higher than mere 
evolution and transmission concerned in the 
problem of life. In the same way the matter 
of natural and sexual selection is susceptible 
of very various interpretations. No doubt, on 
the whole, Nature protects her best. But it 
would not be difficult to bring together an 
array of facts as striking as those produced 
by the evolutionists in favor of their theory, 
to show that sexual selection is by no means 
always favorable to the elimination of the 
chaff, and the preservation of the wheat. A 
natural attraction, independent of strength or 
beauty, is an unquestionable element in this 
problem, and its action is seen among animals 
as well as among- men. The fact that fine 


progeny are not infrequently the offspring of 
weak parents, and vice versa, points, perhaps, 
to some innate power of redress by which the 
caprices of choice are counterbalanced. But 
there can be no doubt that types are as often 
endangered as protected by the so-called law 
of sexual selection." 

" As to the influence of climate and phys- 
ical conditions," he continues, "we all know 


their power for evil and for good upon living 
beings. But there is, nevertheless, nothing 
more striking in the whole book of nature 
than the power shown by types and species to 
resist physical conditions. Endless evidence 
may be brought from the whole expanse of 
land and air and water, showing that identical 
physical conditions will do nothing toward the 
merging of species into one another, neither 
will variety of conditions do anything toward 
their multiplication. One thing only we know 
absolutely, and in this treacherous, marshy 
ground of hypothesis and assumption, it is 
pleasant to plant one's foot occasionally upon 
a solid fact here and there. Whatever be the 
means of preserving and transmitting proper- 
ties, the primitive types have remained perma- 
nent and unchanged, in the long succession 
of ages, amid all the appearance and disap- 
pearance of kinds, the fading away of one 
species and the coming in of another, from 
the earliest geological periods to the present 
day. How these types were first introduced, 
how the species which have successively repre- 
sented them have replaced one another, 
these are the vital questions to which no an- 
swer has been given. We are as far from 
any satisfactory solution of this problem as 


if development theories had never been dis- 

In conclusion, he sketches the plan of these 
articles. " I hope in future articles to show, 
first, that, however broken the geological rec- 
ord may be, there is a complete sequence in 
many parts of it, from which the character of 
the succession may be ascertained ; secondly, 
that, since the most exquisitely delicate struc- 
tures, as well as embryonic phases of growth 
of the most perishable nature, have been pre- 
served from very early deposits, we have no 
right to infer the disappearance of types be- 
cause their absence disproves some favorite 
theory ; and, lastly, that there is no evidence 
of a direct descent of later from earlier spe- 
cies in the geological succession of animals ' 

This paper contained the sentence so often 
quoted since, " A physical fact is as sacred as 
a moral principle. Our own nature demands 
from us this double allegiance." This ex- 
pressed the secret of his whole life. Every 
fact in nature was sacred to him, as part of 
an intellectual conception expressed in the 
history of the earth and the beings living 
upon it. 

On the 2d of December, he was called to 
a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of 


Agriculture at Fitchburg, where he lectured 
in the evening on " The structural growth of 
domesticated animals." Those who accom- 
panied him, and knew the mental and phys- 
ical depression which had hung about him for 
weeks, could not see him take his place on the 
platform, without anxiety. And yet, when he 
turned to the blackboard, and, with a single 
sweep of the chalk, drew the faultless outline 
of an egg, it seemed impossible that anything 
could be amiss with the hand or the brain 
that were so steady and so clear. 

The end, nevertheless, was very near. Al- 
though he dined with friends the next day, 
and was present at a family festival that week, 
he spoke of a dimness of sight, and of feeling 
" strangely asleep." On the 6th he returned 
early from the Museum, complaining of great 
weariness, and from that time he never left 
his room. Attended in his illness by his 
friends, Dr. Brown-Sequard and Dr. Morrill 
Wyman, and surrounded by his family, the 
closing week of his life was undisturbed by 
acute suffering and full of domestic happiness. 
Even the voices of his brother and sisters 
were not wholly silent, for the wires that 
thrill with so many human interests brought 
their message of greeting and farewell across 


the ocean to his bedside. The thoughts and 
aims for which he had lived were often on his 
lips, but the affections were more vivid than 
the intellect in these last hours. The end 
came very peacefully, on the 14th of Decem- 
ber, 1873. He lies buried at Mount Auburn. 
The boulder that makes his monument came 
from the glacier of the Aar, not far from the 
spot where his hut once stood ; and the pine- 
trees which are fast growing up to shelter it 
were sent by loving hands from his old home 
in Switzerland. The land of his birth and 
the land of his adoption are united in his 


AAR, glacier, 299, 317, 319, 349, 
357, 364 ; last visit to, 396 ; boul- 
der-monument from, 783. 

Abert, Colonel, 423. 

"Academy, The Little," 54, 67, 
94, 154. * 

Ackermann, 100. 

Actiniae, 440. 

Adelstaetten, 86. 

Agassiz, Alexander, 558, 628. 

Agassiz, Auguste, 3, 5, 8, 16, 24, 

Agassiz, Cecile Braun, 230; talent 
as an artist, 2-30. 

Agassiz, Elizabeth Gary, 477. 

Agassiz, Louis, 1 ; as a teacher, 
7; popular reading, 66; becomes 
pastor at Concise, 134; death, 

Agassiz, Jean Louis Rodolphe, 
birthplace, 1; first aquarium, 2; 
early education, 2; love of nat- 
ural history, 3 ; boyish studies 
and amusements, 4; taste for 
handicraft; its after use, 4, 5; 
adventure with his brother on 
the ice, 5; goes to Bienue, 5; 
college of Bienne, 6, 7; vaca- 
tions, 8 ; own sketch of plans of 
study at fourteen, 12; school 
and college note-books, 13, 14; 
distaste for commercial life, 14 ; 
goes to Lausanne, 15: to the 
medical school at Zurich, 15; 
copies books on natural history, | 
16, 148 ; first excursion in the j 
Alps, 16, 17; offer of adoption i 
by a Genevese gentleman, 17, 
18; goes to Heidelberg, 19; j 
student life, 22; described in i 
Braun' s letter?, 25, 27 ; at Carls- 
ruhe, 30, 33; illness, 32; at Mu- 
nich, 46; description of Museum j 

VOL. ii. 50 

at Stuttgart, 47; of mammoth, 
47; at Munich, 52, 55, 67, 143; 
"The Little Academy," 54, 67, 
94, 154; "Freshwater fishes of 
Europe," 59; desire to travel, 
60, 63, 64, 68; vacation trip, 70; 
work on Brazilian fishes, 74; 
second vacation trip, 82; grow- 
ing collections, 95; plans for 
travel with Humboldt, 99, 101, 
102; doctor of philosophy, 109; 
at Orbe and Cudrefin. 118; 
death of Dr. Mayor, 118; doctor 
of medicine, 119, 127 ; new in- 
terest in medicine, 120; first 
work on fossil fishes, 120, 123; 
at Vienna, 130, 132; negotiations 
with Cotta, 132, 133, 137; uni- 
versity life, 144; at home, 158; 
studies on cholera, 159 ; arrives 
in Paris, 162; homesickness, 
163 ; Cuvier gives him his fossil 
fishes, 166; last interview with 
Cuvier, 167; embarrassments, 
169, 177, 178; offer from Ferus- 
sac, 171 ; plans for disposing of 
collection, 176; curious dream, 
181; Humboldt's gift, 183; first 
sight of sea, 189 ; plans for going 
to Neuchatel, 190, 193, 199; in- 
ducements to stay in Paris, 194, 
197; birthday festival, 196; call 
to Neuchatef, 199, 201, 202; first 
lecture at Neuchatel, 206 ; suc- 
cess as a teacher. 207, 208, 211 ; 
impulse given to science, 208; 
children's lectures, 208 ; call to 
Heidelberg, 211, 214, 217; de- 
clination, 214, 218; sale of col- 
lection, 216. 217, 222; threat- 
ened blindness. 218; publishing 
"Fossil Fishes," 220, 238; mar- 
riage, 230 ; growing reputation, 



230; invited to England, 232; 
receives Wollaston prize, 235 ; 
views on classification and de- 
velopment, 239, 245; difficulties 
in the work on "Fossil Fishes," 
246, 257; first visit to England, 
248 ; material for " Fossil 
Fishes," 250; return to Neu- 
chatel, 251 ; first relations with 
New England, 252; second visit 
to England, 259; various works, 

259 ; receives Wollaston medal, 

260 ; first glacial work, 260; sale 
of original drawings of " Fossil 
Fishes," 262; on the Jura, 262; 
"glacial theory" announced, 
263; opposition* 264, 268; invi- 
tation to Geneva, 276; to Lau- 
sanne, 280; death of his father, 
280; lithographical press, 281, 
284; variety of work, 282; re- 
searches on mollusks, 283, 285; 
chromolithographs, 282, 286 ; 
elected into Royal Society, 286 ; 
new glacial work, 287, 293, 295; 
first English letter, 289; " Etudes 
sur les Glaciers," 296; on the 
glacier of the Aar, 298, 317, 319, 
350, 355, 357, 364, 396; "Hotel 
des Neucbatelois," 298, 318, 332, 
350; work, 301; ascent of the 
Strahleck, 302; of the Siedel- 
horn, 306; second visit to Eng- 
land, 306; in the Highlands, 
306 ; in Ireland, 310 ; researches 
in the interior of glacier, 321; 
ascent of the Ewigschneehorn, 
323; of the Jungfrau, 323-330 ; 
on the V escher, 325 ; the chalet 
of Meril, 325; the Aletsch, 326; 
the Col of Rotthal, 327; the 
peak, 329; the descent, 330, 
331; zoological work, 333; va- 
rious publications, 333; unity in 
work, 336; on glaciers, 337-347; 
"Fossil Fishes," 348; gifts from 
the king of Prussia, 349, 379; 
plans for visiting the United 
States, 355, 377; microscopic 
study of fossil fishes, 359; criti- 
cal point, 361 ; publishes " Fossil 
Fishes," 366; not an evolution- 
ist, 371; belief in a Creator, 372, 
390, 396; fish skeletons, 374; 
plan of creation, 388-396; last 
visit to glacier, 397; receives 
Monthyon prize, 398; publishes 

" Systeme Glaciaire," 398; sails 
for America, 400 ; arrives in 
Boston, 401 ; lectures, 402, 403, 
444; their success, 404, 406, 431, 
444: visit to New Haven, 408, 
409, 413 ; impressions, 409, 432, 
434; American hospitality, 410; 
Mercantile Library Association, 
411 ; New York, 415, 425 ; 
Princeton, 415 ; Philadelphia, 
416 ; American scientific men, 
419, 436; Hudson River, 426; 
West Point, 426; Albany, 427; 
lectures on glaciers, 430; Amer- 
ican forests, 439 ; erratic phe- 
nomena, 439 ; medusae and po- 
lyps, 440 ; plans for travel, 441 ; 
at East Boston, 442 ; first birth- 
day in America, 445; on the 
"Bibb," 453; first dredging, 
455 ; leaves Prussian service, 
456 ; professor at Harvard, 457 ; 
removes to Cambridge, 457 ; 
death of his wife, 461; begins 
a collection, 462 ; excursion to 
Lake Superior, 463, 466; "Prin- 
ciples of Zoology" published, 
466; second marriage, 477; ar- 
rival of his children, 478 ; ex- 
amination of Florida reefs, 480- 
487 ; radiates, 488-490 ; professor 
at Charleston, S. C., 491; lab- 
oratorv on Sullivan's Island, 
492; the "Hollow Tree," 495- 
497; origin of human race, 497- 
504; receives the "Prix Cu- 
vier," 505 ; lectures at Smith- 
sonian Institution ; made regent 
of, 506 ; growth of collections, 
507; their sale, 508; illness at 
Charleston, 508; relation of liv- 
ing to fossil animals, 510 ; return 
to the north, 512; invitation to 
Zurich, 513, and refusal, 517; 
circular on collecting fishes, 518, 
and response, 519; new house ia 
Cambridge, 523 ; manner of 
stndy, 524 ; weekly meetings, 
525 ; renewed lectures, 525 ; 
school for young ladies opened, 
526, and success, 527 ; courses 
of lectures, 529 ; close, 530 ; 
" Contributions to the Natural 
History of the United States " 
projected, 533; concluded, 542, 
568, 580; fiftieth birthday, 542; 
laboratory at Nahant, 548, 578, 



581, 647, 674; invitation to 
Paris, 550, 552; refusal, and 
reasons, 551-554; receives cross 
of Legion of Honor, 552 ; dan- 
gerous state of collections, 554; 
an ideal museum, 555-559 ; 
"Museum of Comparative Zo- 
ology" founded, 560-564; visit 
to Europe, 562; teaching at mu- 
seum, 566; attitude during civil 

. war, 568, 575, 577, 591; urges 
founding National Academy, 
669; naturalized, 570 ; receives 
Copley medal, 572 ; lecturing 
tour, 580; ethnographical col- 
lections, 582 ; hydrographical 
distribution of animals, 585 ; 
future of negro race, 591, 594, 
600, 612 ; visit to Maine, 622; 
to Brazil, 625; return, 638, 644; 
at Lowell Institute, 624 ; at 
Cooper Institute, 645 ; illness, 
657 ; journey to the West, 661 ; 
professor at Cornell University, 
662 : address at Humboldt Cen- 
tennial, 674; illness, 676; anx- 
iety for Museum, 676, 680 ; 
restored health, 689 ; Hassler 
expedition, 690, 749 ; at Talca- 
huana, 750 ; journey from Tal- 
cahuana to Santiago, 752-758 ; 
elected Foreign Associate of the 
Institute of France, 759 ; at the 
Galapagos islands, 759-764; at 
San Francisco, 764 ; return to 
Cambridge, 765; summer school 
projected, 766; gift of Penikese, 
767 ; opening of school, 769 ; last 
lectures at Museum. 776 ; last 
work, 778; last lecture, 782; last 
visit to Museum, 782 ; death, 

Agassiz, Rose Mayor, 1; sympathy 
with her son, 2, 3; at 'Concise, 
135; visit to, 563; death, 656. 

Albany, 427. 

Albemarle Island, 760. 

Aletsch, glacier of the, 326, 331. 

Alps, tirst excursion in, 16, 17; 
later excursions, 287; first per- 
manent station, 298. 

Amalgamation, 600, 609, 612, 

Amazons, the, 630, 636, 640, 646. 

America, native races of, 581. 

America, South, native races of, 

American forests, 439. 
Ancud, 748. 
Anderson, John, 767. 
Anderson School of Natural His- 
tory, 768; opening, 771. 
Anthony, J. G., 679. 
Asterolepis, 473. 
Australian race, 500. 
Austrian custom-house officers, 87. 

BACHE, A. D., 422, 455, 458, 480, 

482, 485. 

Bachelor's Peak, 721. 
Baer, 150. 

Bailey, Professor, 426. 
Baird", S. F. 424. 
Balanus, 469. 
Bancroft, George, 645. 
Barbados, 703. 
Barnard, J. M , 680. 
Beaumont, Elie de, writes about 

first part of "Fossil Fishes," 


Berlin, University of, quoted, 569. 
Beroids, 489. 
Berthy, 90. 
"Bibb," U. S. Coast Survey 

steamer, 453, 671. 
" Bibliographia Zoologica," 335. 
Bienne, college at, 6, 7. 
Bischoff, 29. 
Blake, J. H., 691. 
Bombinator obstetricans, observa- 
tions on, 33, 35, 36, 41. 
Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, 355, 

363, 378, 379. 
Booth, 419. 
Borja Bay, 721. 
Boston, 401, 430. 
Boston, East, 442 ; laboratory, 443 ; 

zostera marine bed, 449; shell 

bed, 450. 

Boston Harbor, 648. 
Botany, questions in, 40. 
Bowdftch, 438. 
Braun, Alexander, 24, 25, 31, 67, 

89, 94, 143, 179, 397, 643. 
Brazil, visit to, 625; freshwater 

fauna of, 633, 638, 640, 646; 

glacier phenomena, 638. 
Brewster, Sir David, 473. 
Brongniart, 176. 
Bronn, 29, 48; his collection now 

in Cambridge, 30. 
Brown-Se"quard, Dr.. 782. 
Buch, Leopold von, 201, 256, 264, 

265, 272, 274, 345. 



Buckland, Dr., invites Agassiz to 
England, 232; acts as his guide 
to fossil fishes, 250; to glacier 
tracks, 306 ; a convert to glacial 
theory, 307, 309, 311 ; mentioned 
by Murchison, 468. 

Burkhardt, 320, 442, 479, 494, 647. 

CABOT, J. E., 466. 

Cambridge, 457-459, 461. 

Cambridge, first mention of, 252. 

Campanularia, 494. 

Carlsruhe, Agassiz at, 30, 33. 

Cary, T. G., 581, 680. 

Castanea, 660. 

Charleston, S. C., 491. 

Charpentier, 231, 261, 358. 

Chavannes, Professor, 15. 

Chelius, 30. 

Chemidium, 709. 

Chemidium-like sponge, 704. 

Chiem, lake of, 84. 

Chilian, valley of, 756. 

Chironectes pictus, 701. 

Chorocua Bay, 733. 

Christinat, Mr., 159, 459, 478. 

Civil Avar, 568, 570, 575, 577, 579, 

Clark. H. J., 494, 539. 
"Coal deposits at Lota, age of, 753. 

Coal mines at Sandy Point, 718. 

Coast range, 755. 

Coelenterata, Owen on the term, 

Collections, growth of, 507; em- 
bryological, 507; appropriation 
for; place of storage; sale, 508. 

Conception Bay, 750. 

Concise, Parsonage of, 134. 

Connecticut geology, 415. 

Connecticut River, 413. 

Connor's Cove, 746. 

Corcovado Gulf. 746. 

Corcovado Peak, 746. 

"Contributions to Natural History 
of the United States," 533, 536, 
538, 539, 542, 553. 

Copley medal, 572. 

Coral "collection, 487, 490. 

Cordilleras, 755. 

Cornell University, 662. 

Cotting, B. E., 444. 

Coulon, H., 300, 301. 

Coulon, L., 190, 199, 208, 215. 

Coutinho, Major, 632, 636. 

Crinoids, deep-sea and fossil, com- 
pared, 705. 

Ctenophorae, 489. 

Cudrefin, 1, 9. 

Curicu, 753, 756. 

Cuvier, Georges, dedication to, 

75; notes on Spix fishes, 108 ; 

reception of Agassiz, 164; gives 

material for fossil fishes, 166; 

last words, 168. 
Cyclopoma spinosum, curious 

dream about, 181. 
Cyprinus uranoscopus, 76. 

DANA, J. D., 414, 421, 436. 
Darwin, C., accepts glacier theory, 

342; on "Lake Superior," 469 ; 

on Massachusetts cirrepedia, 

469; Darwinism, 647; estimation 

of Agassiz, 666. 
Davis, Admiral, 454, 458. 
Deep-sea dredgings, 671, 672, 690- 

704, 715. 

Deep-sea fauna, 707. 
De Kay, 436. 
De la Rive, A., invites Agassiz to 

Geneva, 276. 
Desor, 28-2, 287, 300, 317, 320, 324, 

332, 442, 446, 448, 450. 
Dinkel, Joseph, 92, 137, 141, 174, 

177, 189, 250, 287. 
Dinkel, his description of Agassiz, 


Dollinger, 45, 52, 54, 90, 150. 
Dray ton, 422. 
Drift-hills, 654. 

EASTER fete, 10, 11. 

Echinarachnius parma, 489. 

Echinoderms, relation to medusas, 

Eden Harbor, 745. 

Egerton, Lord Francis, buys origi- 
nal drawings, 262. 311. 

Egerton, Sir Philip,' 232, 249, 251, 
262, 562. 

Elizabeth islands, 718. 

Embryonic and specific develop- 
ment, 490. 

Emerson, R. W., 459, 525, 619, 

Emperor of Brazil, 625, 632, 634, 
637, 640. 

England, first visit to, 248 ; gener- 
osity of naturalists, 250 ; second 
visit to, 305. 

English Narrows, 745. 

Enniskillen, Lord, 251, 562. 

Equality of races, 604. 



Escher von der Linth, 320, 332. 

Esslingen, 48. 

Estuaries, 655. 

Ethnographical circular, 581. 

" Evolution and Permanence of 

Type," 777. 
Ewigschneehorn, 323. 


Favre, E., quotation from, 371. 

Favre, L., quotation from, 397. 

Felton, C. C., 458, 477, 529. 

Fe'russac, 171. 

Fishes, classification, 203, 239; 
collecting, 57, 58, 76, 78; pro- 
phetic types, 239. 

Fishes of America, 377, 518. 520. 

Fishes of Brazil, 633, 638, 640, 
646, 682. 

Fishes, Spix's Brazilian, 74, 79, 
98, 106, 108, 111, 121. 

Fishes of Europe, 59, 92, 112, 122, 
585 ; of Kentucky, 523 ; of New 
^ York, 428 ; of Switzerland, 38. 

Fishes, fossil, geological and genet- 
ic development, 204, 239 ; study 
of bones, 359, 374 ; in English 
collections, 232, 249, 250 ; of 
the "Old Red," 366; of Sheppy, 
374, 376 ; of Connecticut, 415. " 

Fishes, Fossil, " Recherches sur 
les poissons fossiles," 92, 120, 
123, 166, 181, 215, 220, 223, 224, 
226, 236, 238, 246, 269, 347, 348, 
360, 362, 366 ; receives Wollas- 
ton prize, 235 ; Monthyon prize, 
397 ; Prix Cuvier, 505. 

Fish-nest, 699. 

Fitchburg, lecture at, 782. 

Florida reefs, 480-485, 486, 487, 
490, 651. 

Forbes, Edward, 337. 

Forbes, James D., 320, 323, 324. 

Fossil Alaskan flora, 660. 

" Fossil Arctic flora," 657, 658, 659. 

Frazer, 419. 

Fremont, J. C., 439. 

Fuchs, 44, 150, 644. 

Fuegian natives, 736. 

Galloupe, C. G., 773. 
Geneva, invitation to, 276. 
Geoff roy St. Hilaire's progressive 

theory, remarks on, 383. 
Gibbes, 493. 
Glacial marks in Scotland, 306, 

309, 376; "Roads of Glen Roy," 
308; in Ireland, 310; in New 
England, 411, 413 ; in New 
York, 426; at Brooklyn, 448; 
at East Boston, 449 ; 'on Lake 
Superior, 464; in Maine, 622 ; 
in Brazil, 633, 639 ; in New 
York, 663; in Penikese, 774; in 
western prairies, 664; in South 
America, 694, 712, 716, 722, 729, 

Glacial submarine dykes, 448. 

Glacial phenomena, 439, 445-447, 
574; lectures on, 430, 774. 

Glacial work, gift from king of 
of Prussia toward, 349; " Sys- 
teme glaciaire," published, 399. 

"Glacial theory," 263, 296; oppo- 
sition from Buch, 264 ; from 
Humboldt, 268, 344, 345, 347; 
Studer's acceptance of, 295 ; 
" Etudes sur les glaciers," pub- 
lished, 295; Humboldt's later 
views, 315. 

Glacier Bay, 723, 725; moraine, 

Glaciers first researches, 261; re- 
newed, 262, 287; "blue bands," 
292, 322 ; advance, 294, 352, 
365; Hugi's cabin, 294; of the 
Aar, 298, 317, 319, 349, 357, 
364, 396 ; in the winter, 317 ; 
the Rosenlaui, 317; boring, 321; 
glacier wells, 322; caves of the 
Viescher, 324; capillary fissures, 
351 ; formation of crevasses, 
353; sundials, 355; topographi- 
cal survey, 355; stratification of 
neve', 357; new work, 364. 

Glaciers in Strait of Magellan, 
720, 721, 723, 733, 742, 744, 746, 
747, 751, 756. 

Glen Roy, roads of, 308. 

Goeppingen, 49. 

Gould, A. A., 436, 466. 

Gray, Asa, 415, 421, 437, 458, 643. 

Gray, Francis C., 534 ; leaves a 
sum to found a Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology, 559. 

Gray, William, 559. 

Greenough, H., 561. 

Gressly, A., 653. 

Griffith, Dr., collection of, 419.. 

Grindelwald, 305. 

Gruithuisen, 44. 

Guyot, Arnold, 290, 291, 460, 478, 
773; on Agassiz's views, 372. 



HAGEN, H. A., 679, 684. 

Haldeman, S. S., 423, 436. 

Hall, J., 437. 

Harbor deposits, 649, 654, 650, 651, 

Hare, 419. 

Harvard University, 457, 617, 619, 

Hassler expedition, 690, 692, 697. 

Heath, 320, 324. 

Heer, Oswald, 514, 657. 

Heidelberg, arrival at, 19 ; rambles 
in vicinity of, 19, 20; student 
life at, 22, 23, 26, 148; invita- 
tion to, 211. 

Henry, Joseph, 416, 506. 

Hill, 'Thomas, 691. 

Hitchcock, 437. 

Hochstetter, the botanist, 49. 

Holbrook, J. E., 495, 509. 

Holbrook, J. E., Mrs., 496, 509. 

Holmes, O. W., 459; description 
of " Saturday Club," 546. 

Hooper, Samuel, 661. 

"Horse-backs," 622. 

Hospice of the Grimsel, 299, 305. 

Hotel des Neuchatelois, 298, 318, 
332; last of, 350. 

Howe, Dr. S. G., on the future of 
the negro race, 591. 

Hudson River, 426. 

Hugi's cabin, 294, 300. 

Humboldt, Alexander von, pro- 
jects of travel with, 99, 101, 102; 
kindness, 185, 187; writes to L. 
Coulon, 200, 217 ; gives form 
for letter to the king, 225; on 
succession of life, 228; on Eh- 
renberg's discoveries, 229; on his 
brother's death, 253; urges con- 
centration and economy, 267, 
270; discourages glacial work, 
267 ; opposes glacial theory, 268, 
344, 345, 347; on works on "Fos- 
sil " and "Freshwater" fishes, 
313-314 ; on his own works, 315 ; 
later views on glacial theory, 
315 ; farewell words to Agassiz, 

Humboldt, centennial, 674. 

Humboldt. scholarship, 676. 

Humboldt, William von, letter 
concerning his death, from his 
brother, 253. 

"Ibicuhy," the, 637. 

Indian Reach, 745. 

Invertebrates, relations of, 488, 490. 

Ithaca, N. Y., 672. 

JACKSON, C. T., 437. 
Johnson, P. C., 692, 750. 

KENTUCKY, fishes of, 523. 
Kobell, 150, 643. 
Koch, the botanist, 72. 

Lackawanna cove, 745. 
Lake Superior, excursion to, 463; 
glacial phenomena, 464; local 
geology, 465; fauna, 465. 
Lake Superior, "Narrative" of, 


Lakes in New York, origin of, 663. 
Lausanne, Agassiz at the college 

of, 15. 

Lausanne, invitation to, 280. 
Lava bed in Albemarle island, 761. 
Lawrence, Abbott, 457. 
Lawrence, Scientific school estab- 
lished, 457; Agassiz made pro- 
fessor, 457. 
Lea, Isaac, collection of shells, 

418, 436. 

Leconte, 425, 436. 
Lepidosteus, 465. 
Lesquereux, L., 679. 
Letters : 
Agassiz to his brother Auguste, 

46, 57, 75, 109. 
to his father, 19, 22, 31, 66, 71, 

97, 114, 130, 180. 
to his father and mother, 82, 

118, 136, 160, 170, 183. 
to his mother, 62, 127, 409, 

624, 639. 

to his sister Cecile, 55, 79. 
to his sister Olympe, 163. 
to his old pupils, 532. 
to Elie de Beaumont, 445. 
to Bonaparte, Prince of Ca- 

nino, 346, 362, 377, 378. 
to A. Braun, 118. 
to Dr. Buckland, 234. 
to T. G. Gary, 582. 
to James D. Dana, 493, 509, 


to L. Coulon, 190, 197. 
to Decaisne, 432. 
to A. de la Rive, 663. 
to Sir P. Egerton, 284, 294, 
311, 347, 359, 374, 577, 646. 



Agassiz to R. W. Emerson, 619. 
to Chancellor Favargez, 430. 
to S. S. Haldeman, 520. 
to Oswald Heer, 514, 658. 
to Mrs. Holbrook, 498. 
to S. G. Howe, 594, 600. 
to A. von Humboldt, 188, 193, 

202, 213, 220, 257, 488. 
to J. A. Lowell, 402. 
to Sir Charles Lyell, 236, 486, 

to Charles Martins (extract), 


to Dr. Mayor, 165. 
to Henri Milne-Edwards, 434. 
to Benjamin Peirce, 648, 690, 

698, 703, 756, 762. 
to Adam Sedgwick, 387. 
to Charles Sumner, 635. 
to Valenciennes, 537. 
Auguste Agassiz to Louis Agas- 
siz, 77. 
M. Agassiz to Louis Agassiz, 66, 

113, 138. 

Madame Agassiz to Louis Agas- 
siz, 60, 113, 129, 134, 171. 
A. D. Bache to Louis Agassiz, 

480, 482. 

Alexander Braun to Louis Agas- 
siz, 35, 39, 43. 
Leopold von Buch to Agassiz, 

Dr. Buckland to Agassiz, 232, 

247, 309, 342. 
L. Coulon to Agassiz, 199. 
Charles Darwin to Agassiz, 469. 
A. de la Rive to Agassiz, 276. 
G. P. Deshayes to Agassiz, 684. 
R. W. Emerson to Agassiz, 620. 
Edward Forbes to Agassiz, 337. 
Oswald Heer to Agassiz, 659. 
Dr. S- G. Howe to Agassiz, 591, 


A. von Humboldt to Agassiz, 
187, 222, 253, 266, 312, 344, 
381, 536, (extract) 400. 
H. W. Longfellow to Agassiz, 


Sir Charles Lyell to Agassiz, 234. 
Lady Lyell to Agassiz, 402. 
L. von Martius to Agassiz, 641. 
Hugh Miller to Agassiz, 470. 
Sir R. Murchison to Agassiz, 

339, 467, 572. 
Richard Owen to Agassiz, 541, 

Benjamin Peirce to Agassiz, 689. 

M. Ronland to Agassiz, 550. 
Adam Sedgwick to Agassiz, 383, 

C. T. von Siebold to Agassiz, 


B. Silliman to Agassiz, 252. 
Charles Sumner to Agassiz, 634. 
Tiedemann to Agassiz, 211. 
Alexander Braun to his father, 

25, 143. 

to his mother, 27. 
Charles Darwin to Dr. Tritten, 

A. von Humboldt to Madame 

Agassiz, 186. 
to L. Coulon, 200, 217. 
to G. Ticknor (extract), 552. 
Leuckart, 28, 148, 212. 
Leuthold, 299, 303, 325, 327, 329 ; 

death, 3t>4. 

Longfellow, H. W., 458; verses on 
Agassiz's fiftieth birthday, 544; 
Christmas gift, 545. 
Long Island Sound, 414. 
Lota, 753. 

Lota coal deposits, 753. 
Lowell, James Russell, 458, 547. 
Lowell, John Amory, 402, 404. 
Lowell Institute, 402, 430; lectures 
at, 403, 644; reception at, 404; 
audience, 407. 
Lyell, Sir Charles, 234; accepts 

glacial theory, 309. 
Lyman, T., 680. 


Magellan, Strait of, 715. 

Mahir, 55, 67, 83. 

Maine, visit to, 622. 

Man, origin of, 497; compared 

with monkeys, 499; distinction 

of races, 500", 504; form of nose, 

500; geographical distribution, 

Man prehistoric in S. America, 


Marcou, J., 679. 
Martius, L. von, 44, 52, 53, 54, 57, 

79, 150, 641. 
Mastodon of U. S. compared to old 

world, 451. 
Mathias, Gulf of, 712. 
Mayne's Harbor, 741. 
Mayor, Dr., 9 ; death of, 118. 
Mayor, Auguste, 415. 
Mayor, Francois, 14. 
Mayor, Lisette, 10. 



Mayor, Mathias, 15. 

Meckel, 155. 

Medusae, 440, 548 ; relation to 
echinoderms, 489; beroids, 489; 
tiai'opsis, 494 ; campanularia, 

Megatherium, 576. 

Melimova Mountain, 747. 

Mellet, Pastor, 36. 

Mercantile Library Association, 
meeting of, 411. 

Meril, the chalets of, 325, 331. 

Michahelles, 55, 109. 

Micraster, 710. 

Miller, Hugh, 367, 470 ; on " Foot- 
prints of the Creator," 471, 476; 
on " Scenes and Legends," 471; 
on resemblance of Scotch and 
Swiss, 472; on "First Impres- 
sions," 472; on Asterolepis, 473 ; 
on Monticularia, 475. 

Mississippi, fishes in the, 521. 

Mollusks, inner moulds of shells 
of. 283. 

Monkeys, 499, 501. 

Monte Video, 711. 

Monticularia, 475. 

More\ 88. 

Morton, S. G., 417, 437 ; collection 
of skulls, 417. 

Motier, birthplace of Agassiz, 1; 
inscription to Agassiz, 2. 

Motley, J. L., 459. 

Mount Burner, 741. 

Mount Sarmiento, 741. 

Mount Tarn, 720. 

Munich, 44, 46, 51, 52, 55, 89, 94, 
143, 150. 

Murchi?on, Sir R., on glacial the- 
ory, 339, 340, 468; accepts it, 
341 ; sends his Russian "Old 
Red" fishes, 367; on "Princi- 
ples of Zoology," 467; on terti- 
ary geology, 467. 

Murchison, Sir R., 562, 666. 

Museum of Comparative Zoology, 
first beginning, 462; coral col- 
lection begun, 487; gift from 
pupils, 530; idea of museum, 
555-559; publications, 555; Mr. 
Gray's legacy, 559; name given, 
559 ; popular name, 560 ; Har- 
vard University gives land, 560 ; 
Legislative grant, 560; corner- 
stone laid, 561; plan, 561; dedi- 
cation, 564; work at Museum, 
564; public lectures, 565; addi- 

tional grants, 569, 668, 776; first 
Bulletin, 569 ; growth, 680; new 
subscription, 668; new building, 
668; object and scope, 668 ; new 
collections, 671; staff, 678; a 
birthday gift, 776 ; last lectures 
by Agassiz, 776. 
Mya arenaria bed, 450. 

NAGELI, 30. 

Nahant, laboratory at, 548, 678, 

581, 647, 674. 
National Academy of Sciences 

founded, 569. 
Negroes, 500, 504, 591, 594, 600, 

605, 612. 
Neuchatel, plans for, 190, 193, 

199 ; accepts profesorship there, 

202; first lecture, 206; founding 

of Natural History Society, 208, 

215; museum, 208. 
New Haven, 408, 409, 413. 
New York, city of, 415, 425. 
"New York, Natural History of," 


Nicolet, C., 300. 
"Nomenclator Zob'logicus," 334, 

Nuremberg, 73 ; the Dtirer festival, 


CEsars, 447. 

Oesterreicher, 91. 

Oken, 44, 53, 54, 91, 102, 151, 


Orbe, 118, 666. 
Ord, collection, 419. 
Osorno, 748. 
Otway Bay, 741. 
Owen's Island, 742. 

PACKARD, A. S., 773. 

Panama, 764. 

Paris, Agassiz in, 162, 163, 165, 
170, 175, 195. 

Peale, R., Museum, 419. 

Peirce, B., 438, 458. 

Penikese Island, 767; glacial 
marks, 774. 

Philadelphia, 416, 423; Academy 
of Science, 416 ; American Phil- 
osophical Society, 417. 

Phyllotaxis, first hint at the law 
of, 39. 

Physio-philosophy, 152. 

Pickering, Charles, 421, 436. 

Playa Parda Cove, 725. 



Pleurotomaria, 704, 708. 

"Poissons d'eau douce," 92. 

" Poissons fossiles," 92. 

Port Famine, 719. 

Port San Pedro, 747. 

Portugal, plan for collections in, 

Possession Bay, 715; moraine, 

Pom-tales, L. F. de, 300, 305, 442, 
448, 455, 478, 671, 679, 680, 691, 
698, 722, 726, 727, 742, 751, 773. 

Pourtales, extract from his jour- 
nal, 304. 

Prescott, W. H., 458. 

Princeton, 416. 

" Principles of Zoology," 466, 467. 

RADIATES, relations of, 488, 490. 

Ramsay, Prof., 574. 

Ravenel, St. Julian, 509. 

Redneld, 415. 

Rhizocrinus, 704. 

Rickley, Mr., director at college at 

Bienne, 8, 14. 
Ringseis, 90. 

Rivers, American, origin of, 663. 
Rogers, H., 437. 
Rogers, W. B., 411, 437, 468. 
Rosenlaui, glacier of the, 305, 317, 


Roththal, Col of, 327. 
Rowlet Narrows, 744. 

ST. GEORGE, Gulf of, 715. 

Salamander, fossil, at New Haven, 

Salt marshes, 655. 

Salzburg, 88 ; precautions con- 
cerning students, 87. 

San Antonio, Port of, 713. 

San Diego, 764. 

Sandy Point, 718. 

San Francisco, 764. 

San Magdalena, 718. 

Santiago, 758. 

San Vicente, 752. 

Sargassum, 697. 

Sanniento Range, 741. 

Saturday Club, 546. 

Schelling, 53, 91, 150, 154, 643. 

Schimper, Karl, 28, 53, 54, 67, 92, 
94, 109. 

Schimper, William, 82, 91, 107. 

Schinz, Prof., 16, 77, 147 ; library 
and collection, 16. 

School for young ladies opened, 

526 ; success, 527; lectures at, 
529 ; close, 530 ; yearly meeting 
of old pupils, gift to the Mu- 
seum, 530. 

Schubert, 44, 150,- 682. 

Scudder, S. H., description by, of 
a first lesson by Agassiz, 567. 

Scyphia, 709. 

Sea bottom, 653, 672. 

Sedgwick, Adam, on Geoff roy St. 
Hilaire's theory, 383; question 
on descent, 385-387. 

Sedgwick, Adam, 666. 

Seeley, H. G., 687. 

Seiber, 44, 643. 

Sharks and skates, 550. 

Shepard, 414. 

Sholl Bay, 734, 735 ; moraine at, 

Shore level, change of, 452, 673. 

Siebold, Letter of, about Agassiz 
at Munich, 126. 

Siedelhorn, ascent of the, 306. 

Silliman, Benjamin, announces 
subscribers to " Fossil Fishes," 
252 ; visit to, 408, 413. 

Siphonia, 709. 

Smithsonian Institution, lectures 
at, 506; Agassiz becomes regent 
of, 506. 

Smythe's Channel, 734, 741. 

Snell, G., 561. 

Snowy Glacier, 741. 

Snowy Range, 741. 

Sonrel, 443. 

Spain, plan for collecting in, 585. 

Spatangus, 704. 

Spix, 79; his " Brazilian Fishes," 

Sponge, chemidium-like, 704. 

Sponges, deep sea, 707. 

Stahl, 90, 283. 

Stark e, 44. 

Steindachner, F., 679, 691, 753. 

Steudel, the botanist, 49.. 

Stimpson, W., 494. 

Strahleck, ascent of the, 302. 

Studer, 293, 295. 

Stuttgart, Museum at, 47. 

Sullivan's Island, 492. 

Summer School of Natural His- 
tory, plan for, 766. 

Sumner, Charles, 634. 

Talcahuana, 750. 
Tarn Bay, 744. 



Tenon, 757. 

Thaver, Nathaniel, promotes Bra- 
zil expedition, 625, 632, 751. 

Tiaropsis, 494. 

Ticknor, 459. 

Tiedemann, Professor, 21, 29, 148; 
invites Agassiz to Heidelberg, 

Torre}', Professor J., 416, 437. 

Tortugas, 486. 

Trettenbach, 87. 

UNITED STATES, first thought of 
visiting, 355 ; idea given up, 
363 ; resumed, 377 ; departure 
for, 398; impressions of, 432, 
434; scientific men, 436-438. 

United States Coast Survey, 422, 
455, 651, 653, 655; steamer 
" Bibb," 453, 455; constant con- 
nection with, 455; examination 
of Florida reefs, 480, 482; dredg- 
ing expedition, 671. 

United States Museum of Natural 
History, 421. 

Vallorbe, 36. 
Valparaiso, 759. 
Vanuxem, 424. 

Vienna, visit to, 130, 132. 
Viescher Glacier, cave of, 324. 
Vintage in Switzerland, the, 8. 
Vogt, Karl, 282, 300, 320. 
Volcanic islands, 760-7ti3. 
Volcanic soil, 749 ; boulders, 757. 

WAHREN, 299, 303, 327. 

Wagler, 90, 150. 

Wagner, 72, 643, 683. 

Walther, 644. 

Waltl, 90. 

Washington, 420, 421, 422. 

Weber, J. C., 92. 

West Point, 426. 

White, W., 692. 

Whymper collection, 660. 

Wild, Mr., 351. 

Wilder, B. G., 772. 

Wilkes Exploring Expedition, 421, 

438; collection. 421. 
Wyman, J., 437, 458. 
Wyman, Dr. Merrill, 782. 

YANDELL, 522. 

Zuccarini, 52, 150, 643. 
Zurich, 15, 16, 147; professorship 
offered, 513. 


Published by 



By Louis AGASSIZ. With Illustrations. 
i6mo, $1.50. 


I. General Sketch of the Early Progress in Natural History. 
II. Nomenclature and Classification. 

III. Categories of Classification. 

IV. Classification and Creation. 

V. Different Views respecting Orders. 
VI. Gradation among Animals. 
VII. Analogous Types. 
VIII. Family Characteristics. 
IX. The Cnaracter of Genera. 
X. Species and Breeds. 
XI. Formation of Coral Reefs. 
XII. Age of Coral Reefs as showing Permanence of Species. 

XIII. Homologies. 

XIV. Alternate Generations. 
XV. The Ovarian Egg. 

XVI. Embryology and Classification. 

Skillfully planned, and tersely written ; and while embodying 
many general hints as to the method by which scientific truth has 
been reached, it sketches the history of science in past times. 
The knowledge which it imparts so gracefully is of the most 
interesting character, and is enforced by apposite and practical 
illustration. A more delightful scientific work we have never 
chanced to encounter ; and we therefore cordially commend it to 
all classes of readers. New York Albion. 

Never before has science been so completely popularized. 
Philadelphia Press. 


By Louis AGASSIZ. First Series. With Illustrations. 

i6mo, $1.50. 


I. America the Old World. 
II. The Silurian Beach. 

III. The Fern Forests of the Carboniferous Period. 

IV. Mountains and their Origin. 
V. The Growth of Continents. 

VI. The Geological Middle Age. 

VII. The Tertiary Age, and its Characteristic Animals. 
VIII. The Formation of Glaciers. 
IX. Internal Structure and Progression of Glaciers. 
X. External Appearance of Glaciers. 

This work has been extensively read and admired for the sim- 
plicity and beauty of its style, the vividness of its descriptions of 
Nature, and the grandeur of its views of the world's progress. 
Professor Agassiz reviews the prominent events of the successive 
eras in a manner that cannot fail to charm and instruct the most 
unscientific reader. American Journal of Science. 

The style of these essays is clear ; the information such as to 
stimulate, as well as enlighten, the mind ; and the illustrations 
serve as good aids to the thorough comprehension of the text. 
Boston Transcript. 

By Louis AGASSIZ. Second Series. i6mo, $1.50. 

I. Glacial Period. 
II. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, in Scotland. 

III. Ice-Period in America. 

IV. Glacial Phenomena in Maine. 

V. Physical History of the Valley of the Amazon. 

This volume, taken in connection with the first series of " Geo- 
logical Sketches," presents in a permanent form, and in their 
proper order, all the essays Professor Agassiz wrote in his ma- 
turer years on geological and glacial phenomena. 

These papers, rich with accumulated stores of scientific lore, 
and seeming, in their simple but animated and engaging style, to 
be genuine outgrowths of their author's temperament, as well as 
of his wisdom, need no recommendation. Boston Advertiser. 

We commend them as giving in popular form the general out- 
line and many local details of the glacial theory which Agassiz 
elaborated to cosmic proportions from Charpentier's more limited 
groundwork, and for which he labored and battled against potent 
adversaries during many years, until from a hypothesis he reduced 
it to a demonstration. New York World. 

The simple grace of style, the pure and idiomatic English, itself 
a model for the student, the clearness of illustration, the certainty 
of the author's grasp of his subject, give them a wonderful charm, 
even to those who neither know nor care for their subject. Some 
men can make any subject interesting to any one. Among these 
Professor Agassiz was prominent. Portland Press. 


By Professor and Mrs. Louis AGASSIZ. With eight 
full-page Illustrations and many smaller ones, from 
photographs and sketches. 8vo, $5.00. 


I. Voyage from New York to Rio de Janeiro. 
II. Rio de Janeiro and its Environs Juiz de Fora. 

III. Life in Rio Fazenda Life. 

IV. Voyage up the Coast to Para. 
V. From Para to Manaos. 

VI. Life at Manaos Voyage from Manaos to Tabatinga. 
VII. LifeinTefee. 

VIII. Return to Manaos Amazonian Picnic. 
IX. Manaos and its Neighborhood. 

X. Excursion to Mauhes and its Neighborhood. 
XI. Return to Manaos Excursion on the Rio Negro. 
XII. Down the River to Para Excursions on the Coast. 

XIII. Physical History of the Amazons. 

XIV. Ceara. 

XV- Public Institutions of Rio Organ Mountains. 
XVI. General Impressions of Brazil. 

The volume possesses a high degree of interest in the richness 
of its details concerning the manners and customs, social life, and 
natural scenery, of Brazil, its animated and often picturesque nar- 
rative, and the graceful freedom and simplicity of its style. New 
York Tribune. 

The narrative is interwoven with some of the more general re- 
sults of Prof. Agassiz's scientific observations, especially his in- 

quiries into the distribution of the fishes in the greatest hydro- 
graphic basin in the world, and the proof of the former existence 
of glaciers throughout its extent. The vegetation of the tropics, 
seen by Prof. Agassiz from a paleontological point of view, is 
drawn in charming pictures by Mrs. Agassiz's pen- Journal of 
Travel and Natural History (London). 

A most charming and instructive volume. It will be an indis- 
pensable companion for every traveller in Brazil ; and its intrinsic 
merits assure for it general favor and circulation. Pall Mall Ga- 

A more charming volume of travels we have seldom met with. 
Springfield Repiiblican. 

It is impossible to give the reader an idea of the wealth in the 
volume. Boston Transcript. 


With one hundred and eighty-five Illustrations. 
8vo, $3.00. 

This beautiful volume is an admirable companion for the sea- 
side resident or tourist, especially for all who are capable of pleas- 
ure from looking at or studying the life of the sea. Professor 
Alexander Agassiz gives the results of his own extended observa- 
tions and profound researches, relating to the structure, habits, 
growth, development from the embryo, and other characteristics 
of New England polyps, jelly-fishes or medusa;, and star-fishes, 
illustrating his descriptions with numerous artistic figures ; and 
Mrs. Agassiz adds to the volume the charm of her graceful pen. 
" Seaside Studies in Natural History " is a work for the learned 
as well as unlearned, fitted to give all delight and instruction. 
Professor JAMES D. DANA, in American Journal of Science. 


Edited by ELIZABETH C. AGASSIZ. With Portraits and 
Illustrations. 2 vols. crown Svo. 

This volume gives a full account of Professor Agassiz, his 
work and writings, and also contains copious selections from his 
correspondence. It is the most extended biography of him which 
has ever been published. 

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