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542
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

JEAN LOUIS RUDOLPHE AGASSIZ[1]
By Professor EDWARD S. MORSE

PEABODY MUSEUM, SALEM, MASS.

JEAN LOUIS RUDOLPHE AGASSIZ was born in Motier, Switzerland, May 28, 1807, and died in Cambridge, December 14, 1873.

He was one of the great naturalists of the world, a student of Cuvier, beloved by Humboldt, counting every distinguished name in science as an admirer and idolized by his associates. At the age of twenty-four he had an international reputation. He had conferred upon him many degrees, one of which was the doctor's degree of medicine and surgery, in the preparation for which Von Siebold says he prepared seventy-four theses on anatomical, pathological, surgical and obstetrical subjects, also investigations in materia medica, medicina forensis and the relation of botany to these topics.

He studied at the medical school at Zurich, the University of Heidelberg and at the University of Munich. Investigations of the widest diversity in natural science were embodied in 415 papers, memoirs and books, many in quarto and folio, representing nearly ten thousand pages and a thousand plates.

Besides his profound attainments as a naturalist he was equally remarkable as a teacher and most eloquent as a lecturer. Always enthusiastic in his own work, he had the further power of inspiring this enthusiasm in others. At the age of twenty-three, in a letter to his brother, he said: "What troubles me is that the thing I most desire seems to me, at least for the present, farthest from my reach, namely, the direction of a great museum." He little foresaw that thirty-one years from that time he would see the inauguration with pomp and circumstance of the great museum at Cambridge of which he was the originator and director. Nor could he have anticipated that his son, profiting by his engineering and geological studies in the Lawrence Scientific School with which this museum was affiliated, should use that knowledge in securing the fortune by which the museum has expanded far beyond the most ardent imagination of its founder.

In the very prime of his manhood, in the very height of his fame,


  1. Read at the unveiling of the Agassiz tablet at the Hall of Fame, New York, May 30, 1907. In the preparation of this brief address I am indebted to Mrs. Elizabeth Agassiz's charming tribute to her husband in her "Life and Letters of Louis Agassiz" and to Marcou's "Life of Agassiz."