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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/273

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M. PAUL BROCA.

M. PAUL BROCA.

M. BROCA, says his friend Jacques Bertillon, worked all his o life, and at tasks of very different sorts. "Rarely has there been a mind so active, so equally open to all kinds of knowledge, and so equally fond of all kinds. M. Elisée Reclus, who was his associate in college, tells that he said to him very early in life: 'I do not believe in vocations; a man may select a career almost at random, he will always make a place for himself in it according to his cut.' M. Broca judged others according to himself, and in that went too far, but, as concerned himself, he judged aright." M. Verneuil, pronouncing a funeral eulogy upon him before the Faculty of Medicine, remarked that his life might be shown up as a model to those who desired to become in that profession first pupils, then assistants, and at last masters. In whatever station he was placed, the eulogist added, M. Broca always fulfilled his commission with exemplary exactness and zeal, and, rather than think of avoiding the most trifling item in his programme, he was inclined to charge himself unnecessarily in the fear that he might not be carrying a load proportioned to his strength.

Paul Broca was born at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, in the Gironde, June 28, 1824. The Brocas were of an old Huguenot family, which had included several of the famous brave "pastors of the desert," who suffered in the times of persecution. Broca's father had served in the Spanish wars, and had contracted a profound hatred of the spirit of despotism in which they originated, and were waged; and young Broca was vividly impressed with the reality of the principles of civil and religious liberty, at six years of age, when the Catholics of Sainte-Foy rose against the Government of July, 1830. In 1832 he entered the Communal College of Sainte-Foy, an institution which was then frequented by all the Protestant youth of France, and at which most of the distinguished men of the Reformed Churches were educated. Broca's father wished him to study medicine. He, having a taste for mathematics, preferred the Polytechnic School. He secretly prepared a baccalaureate in science, and having taken the degree of Bachelor in Letters, first in rank, in 1840, when only sixteen years old, he gained permission from his father to be examined for the bachelor's degree in mathematical sciences. Having gained this, he began to prepare himself for the Polytechnic, teaching in the day-time in the college where he had been a student, studying the calculus at night. His plans were suddenly changed by the death of his sister. He was now an only child, and would not embrace a profession that would call him away from his parents. He resolved to study medicine, and share his father's practice at Sainte-Foy.

He was enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris in November,