without some prospect of employment beside that comprised in his immediate scientific aims.
In 1845, when his plans for a journey in the
, he might not have some chance as a public lecturer, hoping to make in that way additional provision for his scientific expenses
's answer, written by his wife, was very encouraging.
before the Lowell Institute.
A month or two before sailing he writes as follows to
introduced to the institution 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 welcome from friends and fellow-citizens, whenever he appeared on the platform.
In the director of the institution,
, 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.
's power as a teacher, or the charm of his personal presence more evident 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
, had by no means accustomed him. He would often have been painfully embarrassed but for his own simplicity of character.
Thinking only of his subject and never of himself, when a critical pause came, he patiently waited for the missing word, and rarely failed to find a phrase which was expressive if not technically correct.
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
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 forbearance 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 blackboard was also a great help both to him and to them.
When his English was at fault he could nevertheless explain his meaning by illustrations so graphic that the spoken word was hardly missed.
He said of himself that he was no artist, and that his drawing was accurate simply because the object existed in his mind so clearly.
However this may be,
it was always pleasant to watch the effect of his drawings on the audience.
When showing, for instance, the correspondence of the articulate type, as a whole, with the metamorphoses 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 applause.
there was no doubt of his success.
He carried his audience captive.
His treatment of the animal kingdom on the broad basis of the comparative 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.
had also the rare gift of divesting his subject of technicalities and superfluous details.
His special facts never obscured the comprehensive outline, which they were intended to fill in and illustrate.
This simplicity of form and language was especially adapted to the audience he had now to address, little instructed in the facts or the
nomenclature of science, though characterized by an eager curiosity.
A word respecting the quality of the Lowell Institute audience of those days, as new to the
professor as he to them, is in place here.
The institution 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, however, was generous, and the privilege of lecturing there was coveted by literary and scientific 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 fashionable 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
A teacher in the widest sense, he sought and found his pupils in every class.
for the first time did he come into contact with the general mass of the people on this common ground, and it influenced strongly
his final resolve to remain in this country.
Indeed, the secret of his greatest power was to be found in the sympathetic, human side of his character.
Out of his broad humanity grew the genial personal influence, by which he awakened the enthusiasm of his audiences for unwonted themes, inspired his students to disinterested services like his own, delighted children in the school-room, and won the cordial 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 December.
Having, therefore, a few weeks to spare, he made a short journey, stopping at New Haven to see the elder
he had written him, ‘I can hardly tell you with what pleasure I look forward to seeing you, and making the personal 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 activity of the
, and the thought of contact with the superior men of your young and glorious republic renews my own youth.’
Some account of this journey, including his
first impressions of the scientific men as well as the scientific societies and collections of the
, 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
, at whose meetings he had been for years an honored guest.
. . . Having no time to write out a complete 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.
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 unused 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 something infernal in the irresistible power of steam, carrying such heavy masses along with the swiftness of lightning.
The habits growing out of continued contact with railroads,
and the influence they exert on a portion of the community, are far from agreeable until one is familiar with them.
You would cry out in dismay did you see your baggage flung about pell-mell like logs of wood, trunks, chests, traveling-bags
, hat-boxes, all in the same mill, and if here and there something goes to pieces no one is astonished; never mind!
we go fast,—we gain time,—that is the essential thing.
The manners of the country differ so greatly from ours that it seems to me impossible to form a just estimate regarding them, or, indeed, to pronounce judgment at all upon a population so active and mobile as that of the Northern States
of the Union
, without having 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 understood that the hotel, where I can work at my ease, suits me better than the proffered hospitality. . . .
But what a country is this!
all along the road between Boston
are ancient 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, literally covering the country, have been transported.
I have had the pleasure of converting already several of the most distinguished American geologists to my way of thinking; among others, Professor Rogers
, who will deliver 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 meeting of some three thousand workmen, foremen of workshops, clerks, and the like.
No meeting 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 advantages of education, of reading, and the means of employing usefully the leisure moments
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 employment 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 belongs 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, consecrated 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 ensemble, 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 science lacks the scope which is characteristic of higher instruction in our old Europe
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 Rhine
The same rock, the same aspect of country, and gres bigarre1
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.
(Yale) owes to the efforts of the Professor
a fine collection of minerals and extensive physical and chemical apparatus.
is the patriarch of science in America
For thirty years he has edited
an important scientific journal, the channel through which, ever since its foundation, European
scientific researches have reached America
His son is now professor of chemistry 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 salamander of Oeningen, the Homo diluvii testis
From New Haven I went to New York by steamboat.
, between Long Island
and the coast of Connecticut
, presents a succession of cheerful towns and villages, with single houses scattered over the country, while magnificent trees overhang the sea; we constantly disturbed numbers of aquatic birds which, at our approach, fluttered up around
the steamer, only to alight farther on. I have never seen such flocks of ducks and gulls.
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
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 collection, 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 presents an intermediate type between the primitive fishes of the ancient deposits and the more regular forms of the jurassic deposits.
Mr. Asa Gray
, professor of botany at Cambridge
, near Boston
, had offered to accompany me on my journey to Washington
We were to meet at the house of Professor Torrey
, 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 remarkably rich in models of machinery and in electrical apparatus, to which the professor especially devotes himself.
The museum contains a collection of animals and fossil remains.
In the environs of the town, in the ditches, is found a rare kind of turtle, remarkable for the form of the jaws and the length of the tail.
I wish very much to procure one, were it only to oblige Professor Johannes Muller
, of Berlin
, who especially desires one for investigation.
But I have failed thus far; the turtles are already withdrawn into their winter quarters.
promises me some, however, in the spring.
It is not easy to get them because their bite is dreaded.
After this I passed four days in Philadelphia
Here, notwithstanding my great desire to see the beautiful country along the shores of the rich bay of Delaware
and the banks of the Schuylkill
, between which the city lies, I was entirely occupied with the magnificent collections of the Academy of Science and
of the Philosophical Society.
The zoological collections of the Academy of Science are the oldest in the United States
, the only ones, except those of the Wilkes Expedition
, which can equal in interest those of Europe
There are the collections of Say, the earliest naturalist of distinction in the United States
; there are also the fossil remains and the animals described by Harlan
, by Godman
, and by Hayes
, and the fossils described by Conrad
's unique collection of human 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
has had the kindness to give me a copy of his great illustrated work representing all the types of his collection.
Quite recently a generous citizen of Philadelphia
has enriched this museum with the fine collection of birds belonging to the Duke
He bought it for 37,000 francs, and presented it to his native city.
The number of fossil remains comprised in these collections is very considerable; mastodons especially, and fossils of the cretaceous
and jurassic deposits. . . . Imagine that all this is at my full disposal for description and illustration, and you will understand my pleasure.
The liberality of the American
naturalists toward me is unparalleled.
I must not omit to mention Mr. Lea
's collection 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.
has promised me specimens of all the species.
Had I not been bound by an engagement 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 rectifying the synonyms of European
After having seen the astonishing variations undergone by these shells in their growth, I am satisfied that all which European
naturalists have written on this subject must be revised.
Only with the help of a very full series of individuals can one fully understand these animals, and we have only single specimens in our collections.
If I had time and means to have drawings made of all these forms, the collection of Mr. Lea
would be at
my command for the purpose, and the work would be a very useful one for science.
There are several other private and public collections at Philadelphia
, which I have only seen cursorily; that of the Medical School, for instance, and that of the older Peale
, who discovered the first mastodon found in the United States
, now mounted in his museum.
Beside these, there is the collection of Dr. Griffith
, rich in skulls from the Gulf of Mexico
; that of Mr. Ord
, and others.
During my stay in Philadelphia
, there was also an exhibition of industrial products at the Franklin 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 Europe
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
I have never felt more forcibly what I owe to the king for enabling me to live for science alone, undisturbed by anxieties and distractions.
Here, I do not lose a moment, and when I receive invitations outside the circle of men whom I care particularly 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 quarters are often to be traced only by isolated houses here and there,—a condition which has caused it to be called the ‘City of Magnificent 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
The evidences of this are to be seen everywhere.
No less than two hundred towns, villages, and
counties bear his name, rather to the inconvenience 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 Museum of the National Institute.
I was impatient 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 surprised 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 Crustacea, for example, the collection at Washington
surpasses in beauty and number of specimens 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.
tells me, however, that the botanical collections are very large.
More precious, perhaps, than all the collections are the magnificent drawings
of mollusks, zoophytes, fishes, and reptiles, painted from life by Mr. Drayton
All these plates, to the number of about six hundred, are to be engraved, and indeed are already, in part, executed.
I can only compare them to those of the Astrolabe, although they are very superior in variety of position and naturalness of attitude to those of the French Expedition
This is particularly true of the mollusks and fishes.
The zoophytes are to be published; they are admirable in detail.
The hydrographic portion and the account of the voyage, 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 feature being charts to the number of two hundred.
It is amazing; the number of soundings extraordinarily large.2
are also to be seen the headquarters of the Coast Survey, where the fine charts of the coasts and harbors now making under direction of Dr. Bache
These charts are admirably finished.
, the superintendent, was in camp, so
that I could not deliver my letters for him. I saw, however, Colonel Abert
, the head of the topographic office, who gave me important information 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 concerning the upper Missouri
, printed by order of the government, and for a collection of freshwater 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 Richmond
, and other places in the South
I had, beside, gathered so much material that I had need of a few quiet weeks to consider and digest it all. Returning therefore to Philadelphia
, I made there the acquaintance 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 distinguished naturalist, equally well versed in
several branches of our science.
He has made me acquainted, also, with a young naturalist from the interior of Pennsylvania
, Mr. Baird
, professor at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
, who offered me duplicates from his collections of birds and other animals.
In order to avail myself more promptly of this and like acquisitions, I wish that M. Coulon
would send me at the close of the winter all that he can procure of the common European
birds, of our small mammalia, and some chamois skins, adding also the fish that Charles put aside for me before his departure.
It would be safest to send them to the care of Auguste Mayor
I separated from my traveling companion, Mr. Gray
, who was obliged to return to his home.
, Mr. Haldeman
and Mr. Lea
accompanied me to Bristol
, where Mr. Vanuxem
possesses an important collection of fossils from ancient deposits, duplicates of which he promises me. Mr. Vanuxem
is one of the official geologists of the State of New York
, and author of one of a series of volumes upon the geology of the State
, about which I shall presently have something to say. To gain time I took the night train from Bristol
to New York, and
arrived at Mayor
's at midnight, having written him to expect me.
The next day I visited the market, and in five days I had filled a great barrel with different 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 acquaintance 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 Auguste 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. I made four skeletons, and dissected several others.
Under such conditions the day ought to have thirty-six working hours.
Were I an artist, instead of describing my voyage from New York to Albany
, I would
draw you a panorama of the shores of the Hudson
I know nothing except the banks of the Rhine
to compare with those of this magnificent river.
The resemblance between them is striking; the sites, the nature of the rocks, the appearance of the towns and villages, the form of the Albany bridges
, even the look of the inhabitants, of whom the greater number are of Dutch
or German origin,—all are similar.
I stopped at West Point
to make the acquaintance of Professor Bailey
of the Military School
I already knew him by reputation.
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 neighborhood, 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 continuous over large spaces; stratified drift, as on
the borders of the glacier of Grindelwald
; in short, all the usual accompaniments of the glaciers are there, and one may follow the ‘roches moutonees’ with the eye to a great distance.
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 natural history.
The government has just completed the publication of a work, unique of its kind, a natural history of the State
in sixteen volumes, quarto, with plates; twenty-five hundred copies have been printed, only five hundred of which are for sale, the rest being distributed throughout the State
Four volumes are devoted to geology and mining alone, the others to zoology, botany, and agriculture.
Yes, twenty-five hundred copies of a work in sixteen volumes, quarto, scattered throughout the State of New York
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 library to him in itself, I bless the efforts of those who devote themselves to public instruction.
. . . I have not neglected the opportunity offered by the North River
) 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
Several 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 interesting 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
, the only ones in the United States
which can rival those of Philadelphia
To-day I have made
my first attempt at lecturing.
Of that, also, I will tell you more in my next letter, when I know how it has been liked.
It is no small matter to satisfy an audience of three thousand people in a language with which you are but little familiar. . .