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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/117

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GAUSS AND HIS AMERICAN DESCENDANTS

Gauss lived nearly half a century at Göttingen in the midst of continuous work. In 1828 he attended a meeting of scientists in Berlin. After that he never left the vicinity of Göttingen, except in 1854, when a railroad was opened between Göttingen and Hanover. In the letter of August 7, 1852, which we print below in full, Gauss refers to his intention of going to Hanover, when the railroad is completed, and he says that he has not passed a night away from his own fireside since 1830. In marked contrast to this love of seclusion is the "Wanderungslust" of two of his sons, Eugen and Wilhelm. We shall see that both of them made their homes in the United States. A letter written by Wilhelm to his father in March, 1835 (kindly shown me by Mr. William T. Gauss, of Colorado Springs, Colo., a son of Wilhelm) discloses an intense longing to make his home in America, which country made uncontrollable appeals to his imagination. Wilhelm was then twenty-two years old and away from home. Here are fragments from the long letter on this subject:

Father, I pray you again, by every earthly consideration, let me come home and next fall or winter go to America! I have written you that I can secure a position at Potsdam. . . . If you command me to accept it, then of course I must obey, but I can not remain there permanently. I have no peace day or night and in everything I do, America stands before my eyes!. . . Let me come home and study the English language during the summer, let me make the necessary preparations, and start in September of this year by way of New Orleans for Missouri.

He remained in Germany two years longer, devoting himself mainly to the study of agriculture, in preparation for the life he expected to lead in America.

Gauss had four sons, one of whom died in infancy. We have already mentioned Eugen and Wilhelm. Joseph, the oldest, was an officer in the German army, later a director of the Hanoverian railroads. In the latter part of the 30's he visited this country as a representative of his government to investigate the American railway system, then in its infancy. He maintained his residence in Germany, where later he assisted his father in the triangulation of the kingdom of Hanover. He died in 1873. His son-Carl August Gauss, of Hameln, is the only grandchild of the mathematician who is living in Germany to-day. The United States now claims most of the descendants of Gauss. He had two daughters, who were married, but had no children. The older, Minna, married Ewald, the orientalist.

It is conceded that Eugen inherited more of his father's genius than did his brothers. Eugen left for this country as a boy of nineteen. Before coming he had been attending the University of Göttingen. While he was not more reckless than other students, he spent some of his time in fighting duels, enjoying the society of boon companions, and in doing whatever else made up the gay, yet not dissipated, life of a