Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/526

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
522
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

founding of the university; for the man who possessed the least political inclination was called upon to display, in that time of agitation, the abilities of the politician and statesman.

From this time on Müller worked as hard as ever, but with sadly altered spirits. The nervous strain of overwork was beginning to tell. He suffered much from sleeplessness and this condition he fought with larger doses of opium, which in turn led to a more serious trouble of the heart. In the winter of 1856-7 his health received the first open shock when a gastric fever, the first serious illness since 1827, necessitated the giving up of his lectures. In these days he worried much about himself, feared typhoid fever and wrote to his son, Max Müller, at Cologne. He set in order all his private affairs and engaged, in the case of his death, Dr. Diffenbach to open his body. At this time, however, he developed only a slight trouble in the joint of one foot, and the next summer found him again in fair health. The following winter, however, he again overburdened himself with work, suffered even more than ever from lack of sleep, and again resorted to large doses of alkaloids. For some time he had suffered from moments of dizziness, but had become accustomed to attribute them to the long hours he spent bending over his microscope. These attacks now became so frequent that he dared not venture even on his library ladder. In the evening one would see him sitting listless in his easy chair; or, as if driven by a deep inner anxiety, and gloomy foreboding, pacing restlessly at night through the secluded streets of Berlin.

Easter of the year 1858 did not bring him the accustomed feeling of satisfaction at having completed a period of uninterrupted scientific work. At the end of the summer semester he fully realized, but all too late, the necessity of taking the most energetic measures to bring about an improvement in the condition of his health. He again called his son from Cologne, and, after a consultation, decided to give up all his work and lectures in physiology. He planned an early consultation with his physician in order to decide more definitely regarding his future work; but the end came suddenly. On the morning of the day when this consultation was to have taken place, Müller was found in his bed, lifeless, April 28, 1858. It is needless to say that the tidings of the sudden end of his laborious and valuable life caused profound sorrow in every part of the world where science is cultivated.

 
II

Having now considered the more prominent events of Müller's life and his career as a man among men, let us now consider more in detail the nature of Müller's work, its fullness and its limitations. Let us attempt to discover wherein it has proved so substantial a foundation for the later development of modern physiology; and lastly let us make ourselves better acquainted with Müller's strong person-