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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/268

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

dangerous Torres Strait, and Chamisso missed seeing the fifth quarter.

Chamisso's voyage was very similar in its general outline with the fruitful one that Darwin made fifteen years later. Darwin was also naturalist on a little war-vessel dispatched on hydrographic work, and the course of the Beagle covered that of the Rurik in many points, except that it visited Australia instead of the arctic regions, and Tahiti instead of the Sandwich Islands. Darwin, according to his Autobiography, does not seem to have been better prepared for his journey than Chamisso. He had never dissected, and could not draw like Chamisso. In one point he was better situated than our traveler: Captain Fitz-Roy furthered his ends, while Chamisso's captain gave him as little attention as possible as a naturalist, and treated him hardly better as a man. His collections were generally thrown overboard, and he had to black his own boots. The Rurik having only three quarters the capacity of the Beagle, the limitations of space were extremely adverse to collecting and observing. So much the more creditable is it to Chamisso that he was able under so many difficulties to conceal and bring home natural treasures of every kind, as well as to make copious fine and striking observations in every conceivable field. He has in this way enriched, first, botany, then zoölogy and natural history, geography of animals and plants, anthropology and folk-lore, geology and geographical physics with facts of greater or less importance. In two points his observations stretched over a wider circle than Darwin's—in that they extended to the polar regions, and that he, paying more attention to anthropology and ethnography than Darwin, studied the languages with which he came in contact. The discomforts of Chamisso's situation on the Rurik were alleviated by the society of two men who shared his scientific tastes. The Russian painter, Login Choris, was ready with his pencil to fix any remarkable features of the landscape or in natural history; and the ship's surgeon, Dr. Friedrich Eschscholtz, of Dorpat, was often an active, expert participant in his efforts.

Like Darwin, in his Journal of Researches, Chamisso, in his Voyage round the World, published his experiences, pleasantly interwoven with scientific observations, upon which a series of "remarks and views," in the third volume of Kotzebue's narrative, afford a commentary. Chamisso's narrative, rich as it is in pleasant details, lacks something that lends a high charm to Darwin's—the thread of a general thought, which we may possibly see more plainly drawn across his journal than he was perhaps conscious of at the time.

Our present effort to distinguish Chamisso's more important achievements is made difficult by his having permitted his energy