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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/417

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SKETCH OF JACOB MOLESCHOTT.

SKETCH OF JACOB MOLESCHOTT.
By Prof. E. P. EVANS.

THE distinguished physiologist, Jacob Moleschott, was born August 9, 1822, in Hertogenbush,[1] the capital city and chief commercial and industrial center of North Brabant in Holland. His father was a physician of some note, and his paternal grandfather a reputable apothecary; on his mother's side he was the grandchild of the celebrated Dr. Van der Monde. His mother was a woman of superior culture and refinement, and she and her more sedate and scientific husband devoted themselves with conscientious care and excellent discretion to the early education of their child.

The Moleschotts were originally Catholics. In 1797 the grandfather's dwelling, together with his large apothecary shop and storehouse, which contained a hundred thousand florins' worth of Peruvian bark and other medicaments of great value, was' burned to the ground, thus reducing him at once from a state of affluence to extreme poverty. Not one of the many priests, who had constantly enjoyed his generous hospitality, lifted a finger to help him in his distress. A few prominent Protestant citizens came to his aid, and by their timely efforts enabled him to resume his business, which he carried on with such success as partially to retrieve his fortune, so that when he died in 1838 he was a comparatively wealthy man. The unsympathetic conduct of his coreligionists made a deep impression upon him as well as upon his son, who was then a child, and instead of pursuing his studies at the Catholic seminary at Warmond, he entered the University of Leyden, to which he was especially attracted by the eminent humanist, Prof. Daniel Wyttenbach, a man as conspicuous for learning as for breadth and freedom of thought. The influence exerted by this liberal thinker and scholar was wholesome and permanent, and decisive in determining the future intellectual character of the Moleschott family.

In his fifteenth year Jacob Moleschott was sent to the Prussian gymnasium at Cleves, not far from the Netherlands frontier, where he remained five years. He was then matriculated as a student of medicine and natural science in the University of Heidelberg.

At the solicitation of Nägele, Moleschott prepared a dissertation on a pathological problem which had been already discussed by the professor, but which could be definitely solved only by the


  1. ['S Hertogenbosch (the Duke's Bush) was originally a hunting seat of the Dukes of Brabant; hence the name.]