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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/519

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515
JOHANNES MÜLLER

states after the expulsion of the French. The movement towards a student alliance was then at its height, and this seized strongly upon Müller, who, as we learn, took a leading part in that rather enthusiastic association in which the academic students still cherished hopes of a German unity.

Even these early investigations of Müller were bringing him to the notice of many of the scientific men of his time. On the occasion of the publication of his work on the "Laws of Animal Motion," Oken, the then famous natural scientist, expressed his high approval together with the wish that Müller might be permitted to devote himself purely to natural science. Of this course of action, however, there seemed at that time little prospect. After the death of Müller's father, the small family inheritance lasted but a short while; and from this time until the dawn of his European fame Müller appears to have been constantly troubled with the distressing problem of obtaining the necessary funds for the continuance of his labors; and often even with the question of obtaining food. But in spite of the difficulties which his financial condition enforced upon him, this was on the whole a gay time. The thoughts of the wide possibilities of his chosen vocation appear to have maintained the spirit of the youth, and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge and recognition was gratified at every spring which philosophy, literature, theoretical natural science and careful observation offered. It was also here and during these early years of his study that Müller contracted the spirit of the Naturphilosophie, from whose grasp he was freed at a later date through his contact with Rudolphi at Berlin.

When we consider the trying conditions which surrounded Müller in this period of his life, it must be considered most fortunate that there stood at the head of the Prussian ministry a man who, more than any other, appears not only to have recognized Müller's genius, but also to have had the ability to loosen the fetters which bound up Müller's great gifts. This man was the Minister von Altenstein; and it was he who, by securing a generous government stipend, made it possible for Müller to spend two years—from the spring of 1823 to the autumn of 1824—in furthering his scientific studies at Berlin, where Müller shortly passed his examination for the license to practise his profession of medicine.

It was here that Müller had the great good fortune to become the favorite pupil of Rudolphi, who at that time was the most formidable enemy to subjective speculation in biological science, and who already had begun to base physiology—rather exclusively, perhaps—on the actual study of animal structure. It was Rudolphi, moreover, who had the liberality to place at Müller's disposal his laboratory, his apparatus, his library, and what was still more advantageous, his constant oversight and advice. Of the encouraging aid which he received