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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/267

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ADELBERT VON CHAMISSO AS A NATURALIST.

Lieutenant Otto von Kotzebue, commander, on board the Rurik, in the roads of Copenhagen.

A happily decisive turning-point in Chamisso's career was reached with this event. In these days of steamboats and railroads, and journeys around the world in eighty days, we can hardly conceive of the importance that was then attached to a voyage like that of the Rurik, and how it would give definite direction and working material to the traveler for his lifetime. Ehrenberg, whose discoveries in the region of the minutest life quite eclipsed his voyages, was a single exception to this rule. The whole of Chamisso's subsequent scientific work may be regarded as the carrying out of what he began on this voyage. It lasted three years, and led from Plymouth to Teneriffe, Brazil, and around Cape Horn to Chili; to Salas y Gomez, past the island world of the south seas, to the Radak chain of the Marshall Islands; thence northward to Kamtchatka through Bering Strait into the Frozen Sea and back to the Aleutian island of Unalaska, where preparations were made for the polar voyage in the following summer. In the mean time the expedition went south again to California, the Sandwich Islands, and Radak; thence northward again to Unalaska, whence the attempt was made to penetrate the ice. At this point the original and real object of the voyage had to be given up. Kotzebue Sound, Eschscholtz Bay, and the Chamisso Islands are reminders within the Arctic Circle of this abortive enterprise, of which the voyage around the world was the only part realized. On the return the Rurik visited the Sandwich Islands for the second and Radak for the third time; then sailed by Guajan, one of the Marianne Islands, to Manila, around the Cape of Good Hope, and past St. Helena, to Europe. In London Chamisso met Cuvier and Sir Joseph Banks, the companion of Cook on his first voyage. On the 3d of August, 1818, the Rurik anchored in the Neva opposite Count Romanzoff 's house in St. Petersburg. The expedition was broken up, and Chamisso was left in possession of what he had collected. He declined the invitation to remain in Russia, and returned to Berlin.

Chamisso crossed the line four times during this voyage, approached both poles, and made himself at home in the wastes where the ice rises to mountains, in the rude yurts of the tawny fish-eaters of the icy sea, as well as in the palm-crowned splendors of the tropics and among the airy huts of the graceful lotus-eaters of the south seas. Including Europe, he set his foot on the four quarters of the earth, and by a most remarkable coincidence went over Schlemil's journey; and just as Schlemil's boots could not take him over the wide intervening waters to Australia, Kotzebue would not venture to take his cranky vessel through the