Popular Science Monthly/Volume 39/September 1891/Sketch of George Lincoln Goodale



GEORGE LINCOLN GOODALE was born at Saco, York County, Maine, August 3, 1839. His father, Hon. S. L. Goodale, for about twenty years the Secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture, is widely known as the author of a standard work on the Breeding of Domestic Animals, and as an agricultural chemist. His mother was a lineal descendant of Rebecca Towne (Nourse), of witchcraft times in Salem.

During his preparation for college, he served as apprentice in an apothecary-store, his grandfather's business, and acquired a good knowledge of the pharmacy of that day. He entered Amherst College in 1856, and graduated in 1860 in the class with Prof. Estey and President Francis A. Walker. After graduation, he remained for a year connected with the college as assistant in chemistry and botany. His teacher in the latter department was the late Prof. Tuckerman. In Tuckerman's Catalogue of the Plants of Amherst and Vicinity the author refers to the excursions made with Mr. Goodale during the years from 1856 to 1861. Among the other teachers then in Amherst College who exerted a marked influence upon the tastes and work of Mr. Goodale should be mentioned the late President Edward Hitchcock and his son Charles, now of Dartmouth, Prof. C. U. Shepard the mineralogist, President Seelye, and the venerable Prof. William S. Tyler.

Being a rapid short-hand writer, he was at one period in his college course amanuensis to the late President William A. Stearns, with whom to the very last he maintained close relations. In his senior year he began the study of medicine with the wellknown and beloved physician Dr. A. Smith, of Amherst, but toward the end of 1861 joined the Portland School for Medical Instruction as a pupil, attending courses of medical lectures in the Medical School of Maine and at Harvard. He received his medical degree at Harvard University in 1863, reading at graduation, a thesis on Anthrax maligna. Later in the same year he was given the same degree by Bowdoin College. From this date until 1865 he practiced medicine in Portland, served as City Physician, and gave lectures in the medical school on anatomy, and afterward on surgery and materia medica. During the winter of that year he attended as private pupil, in New York, the special classes of Dr. Frank Hamilton, Austin Flint the elder, and Dr. Shrady; but in February of 1866 his health was so much impaired that he relinquished practice and study, and went by the way of Panama to California. After having executed certain commissions in the inspection of mining property, he visited the principal points of botanical interest in the State, ascending Mount Shasta with a party in August. He made the ascent of the mountain with so little discomfort that he regarded his health as thoroughly re-established. His journey home in autumn was made by the way of Washington Territory, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, the last part of the long stage-ride being by the "Smoky Hill" route in Kansas the week after the Indian raid of 1866. For a portion of the way the stage party found only smoking ruins of the ranch houses, but no Indians were met with.

In the following year Dr. Goodale visited Europe with his lifelong friend, Prof. Brackett, formerly of Bowdoin College, and now of Princeton University. He accepted, in 1868, an instructorship in Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine. His connection with those two institutions lasted until 1871, during which period he held the chair of Materia Medica in the Medical School, and of Applied Chemistry and Natural Science in the college.

At the invitation of Prof. Asa Gray, he became assistant in botany in the Summer School of 1871, and later in that year was appointed university lecturer in Harvard. In 1872 he was promoted to the Assistant Professorship of Vegetable Physiology, and in 1877 to the Professorship of Botany. On the death of his teacher, the late Asa Gray, he was appointed to the vacant Fisher Professorship of Natural History.

Many of his vacations have been passed in Europe in the study of economic and physiological botany, the vacation year of 18811882 in the laboratory of Pfeffer, in Tübingen, and in Paris.

Harvard professors are expected by the corporation of the university to perform more or less work indirectly connected with their own departments. That which has fallen to Prof. Goodale's share may be inferred from the following, taken from the last college catalogue: member of the Council of the University Library; member of the Faculty of the University Museum; and, next year, as President of the Boston Society of Natural History, he must act ex officio as one of the Trustees of the Peabody Museum. He is also Director of the Botanic Garden of the university.

In addition to the degrees already mentioned, Prof. Goodale has received that of Master of Arts from Bowdoin and from Amherst; from the latter also that of Doctor of Laws.

Among the societies to which he belongs may he mentioned: Phi Beta Kappa, of Amherst; American Society of Naturalists (of which he has been president); American Physiological Society; Society of American Anatomists; the German Botanical Society; the Academies of Philadelphia and of New York; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the National Academy, Washington. He is this year the outgoing President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

Prof. Goodale's contributions to science have been chiefly physiological and botanical. In addition to these publications, reference may be made to his work as associate editor of the American Journal of Science, and to his three series of lectures before the Lowell Institute in Boston.

By his activity as a teacher and lecturer he has been successful in exciting a good degree of interest in his department in the city of Boston, and he has been enabled in this way to secure large sums of money for the Botanical Garden, Herbarium, and Museum. By a recent university report it appears that the subscriptions to these objects, within ten years, have reached the sum of one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. With a portion of this money there has been built an extensive addition to the Agassiz Museum, which accommodates amply the magnificent cryptogamic collections and commodious laboratories of Prof. W. G. Farlow, the laboratories of morphological, physiological, and economic botany, and the museums of botany. For the purpose of augmenting the material for the latter, Prof. Goodale has just completed a journey to Ceylon, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Java, Straits Settlements, Cochin-China, China, and Japan. The fruits of this very zigzag tour around the world are beginning to arrive from Victoria and Queensland. Arrangements have been completed by which large collections of objects illustrating the commercial botany of the present day are to be obtained from the principal countries of Europe and the East, and from the southern hemisphere.

But that part of the museum which has absorbed most of Prof. Goodale's thoughts for the last few years is the novel collection of glass models now in process of formation. Every visitor to our large collections in the natural history museums in the great cities has been struck by the marvelous beauty and fidelity of the models by the Messrs. Blaschka, of Germany. The more delicate marine invertebrates, illustrated in glass in this way, appear to be floating in their native element. By successful negotiations with the Blaschkas, Prof. Goodale has been able to secure for the Botanical Museum at Harvard equally beautiful and faithful models of plants and their parts. The results of the artistic feeling of these wonderful artists are simply beyond belief. The plant in flower and bud lies before the spectator as if it had just been taken from the garden or the field. There is not the least suggestion of glass about it. Every minute point has been copied by the artists without the slightest stiffness, and every shade has been given its true value. All the details of structure are given as they would appear under the microscope. In short, the success of the artists has been far beyond what they themselves dared to hope at the outset, and they are now employing all their time in the studies and plastic manipulations by which these creations are produced. By occasional visits to the home of the Blaschkas on the Elbe, and by providing them with a suitable botanical garden at their own door, Dr. Goodale has been able to indicate the range of the work, and to select the American plants to be copied. The enterprise contemplates the use of the exclusive time of the artists for nine years to come, and will involve at least one journey to Mexico and South America by the younger Blaschka. Two ladies of Boston have provided the funds by which this magnificent gift to Harvard University and to botanical science is rendered possible. The collection is to be in memory of the late Dr. Charles E. Ware, of Boston, an enthusiastic lover of natural history. The collection is now accessible to the public, and it will soon be provided with a descriptive catalogue in preparation by Dr. Goodale. The discovery that these remarkable German artists possessed the skill to prepare in permanent glass perfectly faithful copies of flowers and the parts of flowers, and the securing of this skill for his university and for America, may be fairly regarded as an important achievement in a busy life.

Notice is taken by a correspondent of Garden and Forest of a curious peculiarity of the dandelion. Its flower-stalks stand upright till the time of blossoming is past; then bend downward, assume the form of a double curve with the head close to the turf, and in a few days, having greatly increased in length, rise into the air several inches above the height of the original flower, where their ripened, feathery seeds enjoy a free exposure to the winds.