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HIS LIFE AND CORRESPONDENCE
ELIZABETH GARY AGASSIZ
IN TWO VOLUMES
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
Br ELIZABETH CARY AGASSIZ.
All rights reserved.
The Riverside Press, Cambridge:
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0- Houghton & Co.
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
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
iv CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
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
CONTENTS OF VOL. II. v
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-
VI CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
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
CONTENTS OF VOL. IL vii
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
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
I. PORTRAIT OF Louis AGASSIZ AT THE AGE OF
FIFTY-FIVE ; originally published in " Nature "
II. THE LABORATORY AT NAHANT ; from a draw-
ing by Mrs. Elliot Vignette
III. COTTAGE AT NAHANT ; from a photograph . 549
IV. MUSEUM OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY ; from a
photograph ....... 561
V. PORTRAIT BUST OF AGASSIZ BY POWERS AT THE
MUSEUM OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY ; from a
photograph ....... 681
VI. VIEW OF PENIKESE ; from a photograph . . 769
HIS LIFE AND CORRESPONDENCE.
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
402 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
ARRANGEMENTS FOR LECTURING. 403
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
404 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
FOREIGN ACCENT IN LECTURING. 405
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,
406 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CHARACTER OF AUDIENCE. 407
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
408 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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 JOURNEY IN AMERICA. 409
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,
410 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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. . . .
THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE. 411
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-
412 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
VISIT TO PROFESSOR SILLIMAN. 413
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
414 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FOSSIL FISHES OF CONNECTICUT. 415
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-
416 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
COLLECTIONS IN PHILADELPHIA. 417
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-
The number of fossil remains comprised in
these collections is very considerable ; masto-
dons especiaUy, and fossils of the cretaceous
VOL. n. 2
418 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
NEARER VIEW OF AMERICAN SCIENCE. 419
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
420 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
THE WILKES EXPEDITION. 421
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
422 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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.
DIRECTIONS FOR THE WEST. 423
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
424 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
COLLECTING IN NEW YORK MARKET. 425
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
426 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
NEW YORK STATE PUBLICATIONS. 427
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-
428 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FIRST AMERICAN LECTURE. 429
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 :
TO CHANCELLOR FAVARGEZ.
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
ENCOURAGING PROSPECTS. 431
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 ? . . .
432 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LOUIS AGASSIZ TO M. DECAISNE.
... 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
EUROPE AND AMERICA COMPARED. 433
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
434 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
AGASSIZ TO MILNE EDWARDS.
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
LETTER TO MILNE EDWARDS. 435
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
436 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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-
AMERICAN SAVANS. 437
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-
438 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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.
AMERICAN FORESTS. 439
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
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,
440 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
PLANS FOR FUTURE JOURNEYS. 441
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
442 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LIFE AT EAST BOSTON. 443
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
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
Agassiz himself was necessarily often ab-
sent, for the maintenance of the little colony
depended in great degree upon his exertions.
444 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
LETTER TO ELIE DE BEAUMONT. 445
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.
TO ELIE DE BEAUMONT.
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-
446 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
GLACIAL DRIFT IN NEW ENGLAND. 447
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-
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
448 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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-
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
GEOLOGY OF EAST BOSTON. 449
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
450 LOUIS AGASSTZ.
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-
CURIOUS GEOLOGICAL FACTS. 451
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.
452 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
COAST UPHEAVALS. 453
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."
RELATIONS TO COAST SURVEY. 455
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
456 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
APPOINTMENT AT CAMBRIDGE. 457
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
458 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
ASSOCIATIONS IN CAMBRIDGE. 459
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
460 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
HOUSEHOLD ARRANGEMENTS. 461
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
462 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
In the summer of 1848 Agassiz organized
an expedition entirely after his own heart, in-
EXPEDITION TO LAKE SUPERIOR. 463
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
464 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
FISHES OF THE PAST AND PRESENT. 465
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
466 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LETTER FROM MURCHISON. 467
whole of the first part, and for this he never
found the time. Apropos of these publica-
tions the following letters are in place.
FROM SIB RODERICK MURCHISOST.
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
468 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
LETTER FROM DARWIN. 469
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." . . .
FROM CHARLES DARWIN.
DOWN, FARNBOROUGH, KENT, >
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
470 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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.
EDINBURGH, 2 STUART STREET, May 25, 1850.
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
LETTER FROM HUGH MILLER. 471
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-
472 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
HUGH MILLER ON FISHING. 473
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-
474 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
SPECIMENS FROM HUGH MILLER. 475
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
476 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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
SECOND MARRIAGE. 477
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
478 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FINAL SETTLEMENT IN CAMBRIDGE. 479
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
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.
FROM ALEXANDER DALLAS BACHE.
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
LETTER FROM DR. BACHE. 481
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,
482 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
FROM ALEXANDER DALLAS BACHE.
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
CONCERNING FLORIDA REEFS. 483
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
484 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
SURVEY OF CORAL REEFS. 485
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
The following letter was written immedi-
ately after Agassiz' s return.
TO SIR CHARLES LYELL.
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
486 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
REPORT UPON FLORIDA REEFS. 487
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.
488 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
To this period belongs also the following
fragment of a letter to Humboldt.
TO ALEXANDER VON 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
SEA-URCHINS AND MEDUSA. 489
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
490 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
STUDIES ON THE SEA-SHORE. 491
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-
492 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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.
LIFE AT THE SOUTH. 493
The cottage stood within hearing: of the wash
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.
TO PKOFESSOR JAMES D. DANA.
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
494 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
LETTER TO PROFESSOR DANA. 495
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
496 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
(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,
COUNTRY HOLIDAYS. 497
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
498 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
TO MRS. HOLBROOK.
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
LETTER TO MRS. HOLBROOK. 499
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
500 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
DISTRIBUTION OF MONKEYS. 501
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
502 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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-
HUMAN RACES. 503
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
504 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
PRIX CUVIER. 505
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
ANXIETY ABOUT COLLECTIONS. 507
Institution and remained upon the Board until
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
508 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
SERIOUS ILLNESS. 509
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.
TO JAMES D. DANA.
SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, CHARLESTON, >
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-
510 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
DISTRIBUTION OF ANIMALS. 511
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
512 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
INVITATION TO ZURICH. 513
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
514 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
TO PROFESSOR OSWALD HEER.
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-
LETTER TO OSWALD HEER. 515
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
516 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ZURICH PROFESSORSHIP DECLINED. 517
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
518 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
AID IN COLLECTING. 519
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
TO JAMES D. DANA.
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
520 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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. . . .
TO PROFESSOR S. S. HALDEMAN, COLUMBIA, PENNSYL-
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
NORTH AMERICAN RIVER FAUNAE. 521
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-
522 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
REMOVAL TO A NEW HOUSE. 523
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
524 LOUIS AGASSTZ.
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
LIFE AT HOME. 525
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
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
526 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ORGANIZES A SCHOOL FOR GIRLS. 527
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
528 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LECTURES IN THE SCHOOL. 529
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
530 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
GIFT TO MUSEUM FROM THE SCHOOL. 531
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
532 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
L. R. AGASSIZ.
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
534 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
SUBSCRIPTION FOR NEW WORK. 535
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
536 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
"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.
FROM HUMBOLDT TO AGASSIZ.
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
LETTER FROM HUMBOLDT. 537
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
538 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
REMARKABLE SUBSCRIPTION. 539
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-
540 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
aration, the reader is referred to the Preface of the volumes
LETTER FROM OWEN. 541
The following letter was one of many in
the same tone received from his European
correspondents concerning this work.
FROM RICHARD OWEN.
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
542 LOUIS AGASSI Z,
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-
FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY. 543
fidence Mr. Otto Dresel, warmly valued by
Ag-assiz both as friend and musician, and he
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-
544 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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.
THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ.
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,
A CHRISTMAS GREETING. 545
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
546 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
THE SATURDAY CLUB. 547
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
548 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LABORATORY AT N AH ANT. 549
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
550 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
TO PROFESSOR AGASSIZ.
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
INVITATION TO PARIS. 551
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
552 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
origin. My family has been Swiss for cen-
turies, and spite of my ten years' exile I am
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-
INVITATION DECLINED. 553
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-
554 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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
PLANS FOR A MUSEUM. 555
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,
556 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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.
SYNOPSIS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM. 557
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
558 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
BEQUEST OF MR. GRAY. 559
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-
560 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
BUILDING OF MUSEUM BEGUN. 561
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
562 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
A FEW WEEKS IN SWITZERLAND. 563
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
ORGANIZATION OF THE MUSEUM. 565
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 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-
566 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
METHODS OF INSTRUCTION. 567
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.
568 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
INFLUENCE OF THE WAR. 569
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-
570 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
ENGLISH CORRESPONDENCE. 571
FROM SIR PHILIP DE GREY EGERTON.
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
572 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FROM SIR RODERICK MURCHISON.
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-
COPLEY MEDAL. 573
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. . . .
574 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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. . . .
FROM SIR PHILIP DE GREY EGERTON.
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-
OWEN TO AGASS1Z. 575
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. . . .
FROM OWEN TO AGASSIZ.
BRITISH MUSEUM, 1862.
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.
576 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CONCERNING THE WAR. 577
missing, but one may easily infer its tenor,
and the pleasure it had given him.
TO SIR PHILIP DE GREY EGERTON.
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
578 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
STUDIES ON THE SEA-SHORE. 579
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
580 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
LECTURING TOUR. 581
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.
582 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
TO MR. THOMAS G. CART.
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
ETHNOGRAPHICAL COLLECTION. 583
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
584 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
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.
LETTER TO MR. GEORGE TICKNOR. 585
TO MR. GEORGE TICKNOR.
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
586 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
COLLECTIONS IN SPAIN. 587
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
588 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
The Tagus would again require an exten-
sive exploration. In the first place a thorough
DISTRIBUTION OF FISHES IN SPAIN. 589
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
590 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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.
FROM DR. S. G. HOWE.
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.
592 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 593
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
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
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
594 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
SAMUEL G. HOWE.
TO DR. S. G. HOWE.
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 ?
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 595
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
596 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 597
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-
598 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 599
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-
600 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
August 10, 1863.
MY DEAR DOCTOR, I am so deeply im-
pressed with the dangers awaiting the prog-
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 601
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-
602 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 603
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
604 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 605
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,
606 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 607
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.
608 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 609
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
610 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 611
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
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 ?
612 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
FROM DR. S. G. HOWE.
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-
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-
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 613
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
614 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CORRESPONDENCE WITH DR. HOWE. 615
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-
616 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
ATTACHMENT TO HARVARD. 617
light upon every part of the subject ; nobody
can furnish more than you can.
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.
618 LOUIS AGASSTZ.
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
LETTER TO EMERSON. 619
TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
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
620 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
FROM RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
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 !
LETTER FROM EMERSON. 621
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-
622 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
R. W. EMERSON.
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
JOURNEY IN MAINE. 623
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
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.
TO HIS MOTHER.
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
PLANS FOR JOURNEY TO BRAZIL. 625
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
626 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
" 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 ? '
GENEROSITY OF MR. THAYER. 627
" 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.
628 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
DEPARTURE FOR BRAZIL. 629
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,
630 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
THE BRAZILIAN JOURNEY. 631
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
632 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
CLOSE OF THE BRAZILIAN JOURNEY. 633
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
634 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
FROM CHARLES SUMNER.
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-
AGASSI Z TO SUMNER. 635
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,
TO CHARLES SUMNER.
Bio NEGRO ; ON BOARD THE BRAZILIAN >
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
636 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
AGASSI Z TO SUMNER. 637
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
638 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LETTER TO HIS MOTHER. 639
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
640 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
LETTER FROM PROFESSOR MARTIUS. 641
province of Bio Grande du Sud. This collec-
tion would do honor to a professional natural-
Good-by, dear mother.
With all my heart,
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
FROM PROFESSOR MARTIUS.
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
642 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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
LETTER FROM PROFESSOR MARTIUS. 643
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,
644 LOUIS AGASSI Z.
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-
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 IN NEW YORK. 645
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
646 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
TO SIR PHILIP DE GREY EGERTON.
MUSEUM OF COMPARATIVE ZOOLOGY,
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
Please send me whatever you may publish
upon the fossil fishes in your possession. I
SUMMER AT NAHANT. 647
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
648 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
TO PROFESSOR PEIRCE, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE COAST
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
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-
LETTER TO PROFESSOR PEIRCE. 649
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-
650 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
THE HARBOR OF BOSTON. 651
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-
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
652 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
GEOLOGY AN AID TO COAST SURVEY. 653
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
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-
654 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
I need not extend these remarks further in
INTEREST IN THE COAST SURVEY. 655
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
656 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
OSWALD HEER AND ARCTIC FLORA. 657
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
658 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
story-book than he by the pictures which this
erudite work called up.
AGASSIZ TO OSWALD HEER.
CAMBRIDGE, May 12, 1868.
MY HONORED COLLEAGUE, Your beauti-
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
LETTER FROM OSWALD HEER. 659
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.
FROM OSWALD HEER.
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
660 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
EXCURSION TO THE WEST. 661
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
662 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LETTER TO M. DE LA RIVE. 663
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.
TO M. DE LA RIVE.
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-
664 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
LETTER FROM LONGFELLOW. 665
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
666 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LETTER FROM LONGFELLOW. 667
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
PROGRESS OF NATURAL HISTORY. 669
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-
670 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
DREDGING EXPEDITION. 671
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
672 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
BEPORT UPON DEEP SEA DREDGINGS. 1
BY LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
CONTINENTS AND OCEANS. 673
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
674 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
MEMOIR OF HUMBOLDT. 675
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."
676 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
In memory of this occasion the "Humboldt
Scholarship ' was founded at the Museum of
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 ! '
ILLNESS AND CONVALESCENCE. 677
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.
678 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ACCESSIONS AT THE MUSEUM. 679
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
680 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
BUST OP AGASSlf.
FINANCIAL POLICY OF THE MUSEUM. 681
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
682 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
FROM PROFESSOR VON SIEBOLD.
. . . 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
LETTER FROM VON S IE BOLD. 683
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-
684 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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. . . .
FROM PROFESSOR G. P. DESHATES.
MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, >
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 !
LETTER FROM PROFESSOR DE SHAVES. 685
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.
686 LOUIS AGASSTZ.
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
The next is in answer to a letter from
LETTER FROM SEDGWICK. 687
Agassiz to the veteran naturalist, Professor
Sedgwick, concerning casts of well - known
fossil specimens in Cambridge, England.
Though the casts were unattainable, the af-
fectionate reply gave Agassiz keen pleasure.
FROM PROFESSOR ADAM SEDGWICK.
THE CLOSE, NORWICH, August 9, 1871.
MY VERY DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND,
... 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
688 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
NEW PLANS OF TRAVEL. 689
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.
FROM PROFESSOR PEIRCE.
COAST SURVEY OFFICE, WASHINGTON, >
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
690 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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 ? ...
FROM AGASSIZ TO PROFESSOR PEIRCE.
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
PROJECTED VOYAGE OF THE HASSLER. 691
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.
692 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ANTICIPATED RESULTS. 693
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:
694 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
" 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
LETTER TO MR. PE1RCE. 695
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
696 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
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
698 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
TO PKOFESSOK, PEIRCE.
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
FLOATING FISH-NEST. 699
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
700 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
served to keep the central mass floating, cra-
dle-like, between them. The elastic threads,
which held the ball of Gulf weed together,
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 ;
A BROOD OF YOUNG FISHES. 701
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
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
702 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FIRST CAST OF THE DREDGE. 703
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.
TO PROFESSOR PEIRCE.
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
704 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
THE MODERN CRINOID. 705
tion, though there is no stiffness in its bear-
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
706 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
ANIMAL LIFE IN THE DEEP SEAS. 707
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
708 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
FOSSIL AND LIVING SPONGES. 709
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
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
710 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CHANGE IN PLAN OF VOYAGE. 711
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
712 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
GEOLOGY OF MATHIAS BAY. 713
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
714 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ENTERING STRAIT OF MAGELLAN. 715
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
716 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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-
OLD MORAINE AT POSSESSION BAY. 717
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-
718 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
BAY OF PORT FAMINE. 719
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
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
720 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
WIND STORM IN THE STRAIT. 721
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
722 LOUIS AGASSIZ,
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-
GLACIER BAY. 723
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-
724 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
726 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
SECOND VISIT TO THE GLACIER. 727
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
728 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ANCIENT MORAINES. 729
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
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
730 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
POWER OF THE GLACIER. 731
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
732 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
CHOROCUA BAY. 733
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
734 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
736 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
STRANGE GUESTS. 737
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
738 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LIFE OF THE FUEGIANS. 739
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
740 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
SMYTHE'S CHANNEL. 741
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
742 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
COLLECTING IN MAYNE'S HARBOR. 743
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
744 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
ENGLISH NARROWS. 745
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
746 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
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
PORT SAN PEDRO. 747
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
748 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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,
A DAY AT ANCUD. 749
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-
750 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
GLACIATED SURFACES. 751
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
752 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
JOURNEY BY LAND. 753
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
754 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
CHARACTER OF THE SCENERY. 755
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
756 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
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
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,
LETTER FROM AGASS1Z TO PE1RCE. 757
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
758 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
ONCE MORE AT SEA. 759
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-
760 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LUNCH IN A LAVA CAVE. 761
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-
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,
762 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
FROM AGASSIZ TO PROFESSOR PEIRCE.
OFF GUATEMALA, July 29.
. . . 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
CHARACTER OF THE GALAPAGOS. 763
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
764 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
766 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
GIFT OF MR. ANDERSON. 767
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
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.
768 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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.
DIFFICULTIES OVERCOME. 769
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
770 LOUIS AGASS1Z.
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
FIRST DAY OF THE SCHOOL. 771
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.
772 LOUIS 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-
LIFE AT PEN1KESE. 773
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
774 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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-
METHOD OF TEACHING. 775
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-
776 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LAST LECTURES AT THE MUSEUM. 777
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
778 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
PERMANENCE OF TYPE. 779
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
780 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
LAST PUBLIC LECTURE. Y81
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
On the 2d of December, he was called to
a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of
782 LOUIS AGASSIZ.
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
DEATH AND BURIAL. 783
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. *
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.
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.
Anderson, John, 767.
Anderson School of Natural His-
tory, 768; opening, 771.
Anthony, J. G., 679.
Australian race, 500.
Austrian custom-house officers, 87.
BACHE, A. D., 422, 455, 458, 480,
Bachelor's Peak, 721.
Bailey, Professor, 426.
Baird", S. F. 424.
Bancroft, George, 645.
Barnard, J. M , 680.
Beaumont, Elie de, writes about
first part of "Fossil Fishes,"
Berlin, University of, quoted, 569.
"Bibb," U. S. Coast Survey
steamer, 453, 671.
" Bibliographia Zoologica," 335.
Bienne, college at, 6, 7.
Blake, J. H., 691.
Bombinator obstetricans, observa-
tions on, 33, 35, 36, 41.
Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, 355,
363, 378, 379.
Borja Bay, 721.
Boston, 401, 430.
Boston, East, 442 ; laboratory, 443 ;
zostera marine bed, 449; shell
Boston Harbor, 648.
Botany, questions in, 40.
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.
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.
Carlsruhe, Agassiz at, 30, 33.
Cary, T. G., 581, 680.
Charleston, S. C., 491.
Charpentier, 231, 261, 358.
Chavannes, Professor, 15.
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.
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-
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-
Deep-sea fauna, 707.
De Kay, 436.
De la Rive, A., invites Agassiz to
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.
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,
Elizabeth islands, 718.
Embryonic and specific develop-
Emerson, R. W., 459, 525, 619,
Emperor of Brazil, 625, 632, 634,
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.
Ethnographical circular, 581.
" Evolution and Permanence of
FAGUS CASTANEAFOLIA, 660.
Favre, E., quotation from, 371.
Favre, L., quotation from, 397.
Felton, C. C., 458, 477, 529.
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,
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.
Fitchburg, lecture at, 782.
Florida reefs, 480-485, 486, 487,
Forbes, Edward, 337.
Forbes, James D., 320, 323, 324.
Fossil Alaskan flora, 660.
" Fossil Arctic flora," 657, 658, 659.
Fremont, J. C., 439.
Fuchs, 44, 150, 644.
Fuegian natives, 736.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, 759, 762.
Galloupe, C. G., 773.
Geneva, invitation to, 276.
Geoff roy St. Hilaire's progressive
theory, remarks on, 383.
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
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.
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..
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,
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.
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.
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
"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
Lausanne, invitation to, 280.
Lava bed in Albemarle island, 761.
Lawrence, Abbott, 457.
Lawrence, Scientific school estab-
lished, 457; Agassiz made pro-
Lea, Isaac, collection of shells,
Leconte, 425, 436.
Lesquereux, L., 679.
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,
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-
M. Agassiz to Louis Agassiz, 66,
Madame Agassiz to Louis Agas-
siz, 60, 113, 129, 134, 171.
A. D. Bache to Louis Agassiz,
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,
to his mother, 27.
Charles Darwin to Dr. Tritten,
A. von Humboldt to Madame
to L. Coulon, 200, 217.
to G. Ticknor (extract), 552.
Leuckart, 28, 148, 212.
Leuthold, 299, 303, 325, 327, 329 ;
Longfellow, H. W., 458; verses on
Agassiz's fiftieth birthday, 544;
Christmas gift, 545.
Long Island Sound, 414.
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;
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
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.
Medusae, 440, 548 ; relation to
echinoderms, 489; beroids, 489;
tiai'opsis, 494 ; campanularia,
Melimova Mountain, 747.
Mellet, Pastor, 36.
Mercantile Library Association,
meeting of, 411.
Meril, the chalets of, 325, 331.
Michahelles, 55, 109.
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
Monkeys, 499, 501.
Monte Video, 711.
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,
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.
Nahant, laboratory at, 548, 678,
581, 647, 674.
National Academy of Sciences
Negroes, 500, 504, 591, 594, 600,
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,
Oken, 44, 53, 54, 91, 102, 151,
Orbe, 118, 666.
Ord, collection, 419.
Otway Bay, 741.
Owen's Island, 742.
PACKARD, A. S., 773.
Paris, Agassiz in, 162, 163, 165,
170, 175, 195.
Peale, R., Museum, 419.
Peirce, B., 438, 458.
Penikese Island, 767; glacial
Philadelphia, 416, 423; Academy
of Science, 416 ; American Phil-
osophical Society, 417.
Phyllotaxis, first hint at the law
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-
Prescott, W. H., 458.
" Principles of Zoology," 466, 467.
RADIATES, relations of, 488, 490.
Ramsay, Prof., 574.
Ravenel, St. Julian, 509.
Rickley, Mr., director at college at
Bienne, 8, 14.
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.
San Vicente, 752.
Sanniento Range, 741.
Saturday Club, 546.
Schelling, 53, 91, 150, 154, 643.
Schimper, Karl, 28, 53, 54, 67, 92,
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-
Schubert, 44, 150,- 682.
Scudder, S. H., description by, of
a first lesson by Agassiz, 567.
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.
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.
Smithsonian Institution, lectures
at, 506; Agassiz becomes regent
Smythe's Channel, 734, 741.
Snell, G., 561.
Snowy Glacier, 741.
Snowy Range, 741.
Spain, plan for collecting in, 585.
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.
TAGUS SOUND, 760.
Tarn Bay, 744.
Thaver, Nathaniel, promotes Bra-
zil expedition, 625, 632, 751.
Tiedemann, Professor, 21, 29, 148;
invites Agassiz to Heidelberg,
Torre}', Professor J., 416, 437.
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
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.
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.
ZOSTERA MARINA BED, 449.
Zuccarini, 52, 150, 643.
Zurich, 15, 16, 147; professorship
BOOKS BY LOUIS AGASSIZ,
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY,
4 PARK STREET, BOSTON;
ii EAST I7TH STREET, NEW YORK.
METHODS OF STUDY IN NATURAL HISTORY.
By Louis AGASSIZ. With Illustrations.
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.
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.
By Louis AGASSIZ. First Series. With Illustrations.
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.
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.
A JOURNEY IN BRAZIL
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.
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.
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
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.
It is impossible to give the reader an idea of the wealth in the
volume. Boston Transcript.
SEASIDE STUDIES IN NATURAL HISTORY.
By ELIZABETH C. AGASSIZ and ALEXANDER AGASSIZ.
With one hundred and eighty-five Illustrations.
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.
HIS LIFE AND CORRESPONDENCE.
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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