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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/525

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JOHANNES MÜLLER

perished had he not caught hold of a ship's ladder which was floating by. For a long time he held on, and had nearly given up all hope of assistance when he was picked up by a boat from the other vessel. His remaining companion, Dr. Schneider, saved himself in a similar way. This event seems to have had a deep effect upon Müller, and although he still resorted to the seaside, ever afterwards he dreaded to trust himself on shipboard.

When, for a second time, Müller was chosen director of the Berlin Museum, it was certainly most unfortunate that his directorship fell in that memorable year of the revolution, 1848. Although Müller felt himself to be truly German, he was apparently no more of a politician than Goethe. He could experience no sympathy for the democratic rashness which on all sides of him was now being manifested. It was a time of civil commotion when political agitation distracted the whole academic being, and both students and professors were deserting the laboratory and lecture room to equip themselves as soldiers of the revolution. Müller, whose quick spirit had led him, in the olden days of the Student Alliance, to take so active a part in the threatened political eruption, had become a sober conservative. His situation was now one of difficulty, and not without peril. He strove manfully to maintain authority, and even those who took a different view of passing events paid willing tribute to his honesty of purpose and to the personal courage he displayed in the most trying circumstances when the university buildings had become the center of the intense revolutionary movement. Müller naturally feared the destruction of the priceless treasures of his collection. Regarding the state of his mind we can obtain some conception from the words of his distinguished scholar, Rudolph Virchow, who upon Müller's own request became his follower as professor of anatomy and physiology at Berlin University. Regarding these days of the revolution, Virchow has written as follows:

He trembled for the safety of the university, for whose treasures he felt himself to be personally responsible. Day and night he remained at the museum, ever on guard. He tore down agitating placards. He ventured with personal danger among the students. On the day of the great citizens' parade, with his own hand he seized away the black banner which was stretched across the balcony of the university building. But the movement more and more escaped the authority of the academic jurisdiction. In the teaching body of the university grew the voicing of disharmony. The professors and the private lecturers made diligent efforts to be heard and some of them (appointed as a committee, to which I also belonged) argued the matter with the director and the senate in a very unpleasant conversation.

Thus it is apparent that Müller was asked in the most kindly spirit to give up, at least temporarily, the position as director; for Virchow continues:

Thus all agreed, in order to relieve the at least exposed position of the director, to a painful duty; and it was an actual deliverance when, at the closing of the university year, he could give into other hands the office which he had taken upon himself.

This was, perhaps, the most unfortunate directorship since the