Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/565

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
549
SKETCH OF CHARLES A. LE SUEUR.

only as a reason for printing the most valuable of original documents concerning Le Sueur. This is a personal letter from the late Prof. Richard Owen, whose early life was spent at New Harmony, and who was my predecessor in the chair of Biology in the University of Indiana.

Prof. Owen writes as follows under date of December 14, 1886:

"Charles A. Le Sueur was, when I knew him in 1828, about fifty to fifty-five years of age, tall, rather spare in muscle, but hardy and enduring. He permitted his beard to grow, which at. that time was quite unusual; hence he sometimes platted it and tucked it almost out of sight when he went from home. In New Harmony he usually went barenecked, often bareheaded, and in summer occasionally barefooted, or at least without socks. His hair had been dark, but was sprinkled (as well as his beard) with gray. His manner and movements were quick; his fondness for natural history (as it was then called) led him to hunt and fish a good deal.

"In summer he was fond of swimming in the Wabash, and I frequently accompanied him. He instructed me how to feel with my feet for Unios and other shells as we waded sometimes up to our necks in the river or ponds, searching to add to our collections. When he went fishing with others he always exchanged his fine common fishes for the smallest and to them most indifferent-looking, when he recognized some new species or even variety. This item I have from Mr. Sampson, who is well acquainted with the fish of the Wabash, but who confesses he could see no difference in many caught until Mr. Le Sueur, who at once detected that difference, had pointed it out.

"He was temperate and active in all his habits, smoking being the only objectionable habit in which he indulged. His temper was quick and used to call out an occasional "God bless my soul!" the only approach to anything like irritation that he evinced; he was very kind-hearted.

"In conversation with Agassiz about Mr. Le Sueur, the great Swiss ichthyologist paid a high compliment to Le Sueur's acquirements in that department, considering him then (as I inferred) the next best to himself at that time in the United States. He was, however, I judge, remarkably conversant with other branches of biology, inasmuch as nearly all the magnificent drawings he had made when left in New Holland (as it was then called) were mammals, chiefly the ornithorhynchus, echidna, and other rare animals. In showing his drawings he generally offered a lens, that you might see every hair distinctly delineated.

"He was a magnificent artist, good alike in drawing and coloring. I have some of his sketches yet, in which, when I was taking drawing lessons from him, he showed me how to outline, for in-