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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/266

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the students facetiously called Knape's osteology, or by the unattractive condition of the dissecting art at that time. Thus he went, with a correct instinct, late but thoroughly, through anthropotomy, the true elementary school of biology. He worked in the Zoölogical Museum of Lichtenstein, helped arrange the fishes and crustaceans, and certainly heard Rudolphi on comparative anatomy and physiology, Weiss on mineralogy, which was very attractive to him, Erman on electricity and magnetism, and Horkel on natural philosophy. We are astonished at what he must have assimilated to himself during those three years in preparation for his journey round the world, when we find how well qualified he proved to be for every kind of observation on land and water.

While Chamisso's poems of the time of the war of deliverance contain nothing of importance, the period was marked by his most famous work, and one that has been translated into most of the languages of civilization—The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemil. In Schlemil, in his outer guise, Chamisso presented a prototype in many respects of himself; and in the way that Schlemil comforted himself for the loss of his shadow in striding over the earth with his seven-league boots, "scaling its heights, testing the temperatures of its fountains and of the air, observing its animals and studying its plants, speeding from the equator to the pole, and from one hemisphere to the other, and comparing experiences"—this fiction is only a reflection of the longings by which he was possessed, when, a French-German, or a German-Frenchman, there was no place, no sword for him in the combat. Out of the human tangle into the expanse of nature, the deeps of science, was his solution of the difficulty. Sharp questions have been asked concerning the meaning of Schlemil's loss of his shadow; it is symbolical of Chamisso's loss of a country. The dream described by Chamisso in "Schlemil" was soon to be fulfilled, but not by means of seven-league boots. He was not permitted to join the expedition of Prince Max von Wied-Neuwied to Brazil, but Hitzig showed him a newspaper containing an account of a contemplated exploring expedition of the Russians. A ship fitted up by Count Romanzoff was to be dispatched to the south seas, and was also to seek for a northeast passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Napoleon's return from Elba had just astonished the Congress of Vienna, and set Europe into a fright. In the newly blazing war-fever, in which he would have to remain an idle spectator, Chamisso's dissatisfaction rose to the highest pitch, and, stamping with his feet, he exclaimed, "I wish I was at the north pole with those Russians!" The sagacious Hitzig managed the affair with Russia; and Chamisso, recommended by Lichtenstein and other teachers, was appointed naturalist of the expedition, and reported himself on the 9th of August, 1815, to