Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/123

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He spent four years at Montpellier after taking his degree, and in botanizing in the Cevennes, the Pyrenees, and Provence, and on the littoral of the Mediterranean. He soon became known throughout Europe as a naturalist of exceptional talent and experience. He was introduced to Linnæus and was commissioned by him to describe the fishes of the Mediterranean for the museum of Queen Louisa Ulrica at Dronningholm, near Stockholm. He prepared a list of all the botanists who had suffered in the pursuit of their calling, entitled the Martyrologie de la Botanique, in which he came near having his own name recorded even thus early, having been poisoned by the saliva of his own dog gone mad, and he wrote to one of his friends that he expected some day to figure upon the roll. This work seems never to have been published, and it is not known where the manuscript is. Coming to Dijon in his travels, M. de Beost, an officer of the states of Burgundy, gave him the privileges of his fine garden, glass houses, and library. Having explored Savoy, he visited the mountains of Switzerland, and, calling upon Voltaire at Geneva, received from him the offer of a secretaryship, which he declined. Then he settled down for a time at Châtillon, his native home, where he put himself in communication with correspondents who furnished him seeds and plants. He studied and explored and experimented with a reckless devotion which called forth from Lalande another prediction that his zeal would some day kill him. His overwork resulted in fever, in the convalescence from which he made the acquaintance of the young woman—"a sensitive plant," he called her—who became his wife: a daughter of M. Jean Beau, who died after two years of happy married life, leaving a son who survived him many years. To the memory of his wife, making a fanciful translation of her maiden name. Beau, he dedicated the genus Pulcheria—a plant not distinctly identified, but which was described as bearing a fruit that inclosed two kernels united in the shape of two hearts.

He removed to Paris in 1704, where, introduced by Lalande and Bernard de Jussieu, he was readily welcomed into the inner circle of learned society and gained the position and recognition he merited. In October, 1766, Commerson was appointed by the French Minister of the Marine, on the recommendation of Poissonier and the Abbé Lachapelle, of the Academy of Sciences, "botanist and naturalist of the king" to Bougainville's expedition of circumnavigation, then in course of organization at Nantes and Rochefort. The title given him was very grateful to him on account of the privileges it brought; that of botanist to the king had been conferred on only two or three men of science, and always led to a pension, while that of naturalist was a distinction which no one before him had obtained. He was first