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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/565

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SKETCH OF COUNT POURTALES.

was less gay than at Pesth, not being impromptu. The supper was the great feature of the entertainment. Footmen in gorgeous liveries brought in trays of tempting delicacies, fish, flesh, fowl, and good red wine, to which all were prepared to do justice after a hard day's work. Only there were no plates, knives, forks, or other appliances of civilization. Nothing but large wooden toothpicks.

All hang back, eying longingly the dainties good manners forbade them to seize, and watching what course royalty would pursue.

But the court, nay, royalty itself, unhesitatingly took a toothpick, dug it into the chosen morsel, poised it a moment in the air, and it was gone. Thus emboldened, all possessed themselves of these handy instruments, and dug in their turn, roving and sipping like bees, though all with inward misgivings as to whether they had been spirited away suddenly to China or some other Eastern haunt of the primitive chop-sticks. On after-inquiry it was learned that in all large court assemblies these toothpicks were put in requisition, as it was feared that silver forks might be pocketed by the guests. It was neither as an insult to scientific honesty, nor a compliment paid to the archæological tastes of the Congress, that such primeval weapons were used.

The day after this last and most foreign experience nearly all these learned birds of passage had flown—some to the wintry north, others to the sunny south, all bearing a grateful remembrance of a charming week, and of the warmth of Portuguese hospitality; all speculating as to when and where would be their next merry meeting.—Fraser's Magazine.

 

SKETCH OF COUNT POURTALES.

BY the death of this able naturalist, in the full maturity of his powers, American science has sustained a great and irreparable loss. We give a likeness of him from the only photograph we could find, and, as no biography of him, that we are aware of, has been written, we are indebted for the materials of this statement to such fragmentary notices as have been furnished to the press since his death.

Louis François de Pourtales was of the Swiss nationality, and was born in 1823. He belonged to an old family, which had branches also in France, Prussia, and Bohemia. He was educated as an engineer, but showed from boyhood a predilection for natural history. He became a student of Professor Agassiz, and was one of his favorites, accompanying him to America in 1847, and joining in his early labors, first at East Boston, and subsequently at Cambridge. In 1848 he entered the Government service in the department of the Coast Survey, and continued in it many years. Professor Theodore Lyman, writing of Pourtales in the "Boston Advertiser," says: