IN the present day when the individual laborer in the fields of biology is so often lost in the flood of new facts which is continually being poured into the archives of the science; when a narrow specialization and very definite concentration of activity are the primary condition and means for furthering the highest interests of the science as a whole, and when the difficulty is ever increasing, to hold in the foreground the larger and more general problems of biological significance, it may not be altogether inappropriate to recall—we might almost say revive—at times, some of the monumental figures whom the history of every science, at rare periods, brings forth, and to learn once again our debt to them.
That the times are past when it is permitted a single individual to survey, in full understanding, the broad fields of activity in the realm of general biology must assuredly be considered as a sign of advance. We may even remark that the gradual expansion which physiology alone has undergone during the last half century, in passing beyond the confines of a unitary science and in trespassing—perhaps with right—upon the fields which had at one time belonged to other realms, is a necessary consequent to the death of the last great ruler of the science. For these reasons alone it may be of interest and of profit to recall the single instance of a man who, during his years of activity, so deeply influenced the drift of physiological thought; and after whose death, the overgrown and no longer self-containing science of physiology burst like a great stream at its mouth, by many and devious channels to reach the sea.
Johannes Müller was born in the city of Coblenz on the fourteenth day of July, 1801, the son of Mathias Müller, a shoemaker. Although a man of small means, the father determined not to deny his son the advantages of a fair education, and accordingly the young lad was sent to the Jesuit school in the place of his birth, then under French control. Here he remained for eight years, pursuing a study of the classics and mathematics and gaining the foundation of that knowledge of Greek used so brilliantly in after years in the translation and
- On the above subject the writer would acknowledge the especial value of two German works from which he has freely borrowed: A comprehensive treatise by DuBois Reymond, "Gedächtnissrede auf Johannes Müller"; and a brief paper by Max Müller, in Westermann's Monatshefte for July, 1901. The present paper was first presented in a course of biological seminars at Brown University.