The Termonde bells are gone, are gone,

And what is left to say?
It's forth we must, by bitter dawn,

To try to find the way.

They used to call the children

To go to sleep at night;
And then their songs were tender

And drowsy with delight.

The wind will look for them in vain

Within the empty tower.
We shall not hear them sing again

At dawn or twilight hour.
It’s forth we must, away, away,

And far from Termonde town,
But this is all I know to-day-

The chimes, the chimes are down!

They used to ring at evening

To help the people pray,
Who wander now bewildered

And cannot find the way.



WHEN I first met Louis Agassiz, he was still in the prime of his admirable manhood; though he was then fifty-two years old, and had passed his constructive period, he still had the look of a young man. His face was the most genial and engaging that I had ever seen, and his manner captivated me altogether. But as I had been among men who had a free swing, and for a year among people who seemed to me to be cold and superrational, hungry as I doubtless was for human sympathy, Agassiz's welcome went to my heart — I was at once his captive. It has been my good chance to see many men of engaging presence and ways, but I have never known his equal.

As the personal quality of Agassiz was the greatest of his powers, and as my life was greatly influenced by my immediate and enduring affection for him, I am tempted to set forth some incidents which show that my swift devotion to my new-found master was not due to the accidents of the situation or to any boyish fancy. I will content myself with one of those stories, which will of itself show how easily he captivated men, even those of the ruder sort.

Some years after we came together, when indeed I was formally his assistant, I believe it was in 1866, he became much interested in the task of comparing the

skeletons of thoroughbred horses with those of common stock. I had at his request tried, but without success, to obtain the bones of certain famous stallions from my acquaintances among the racing men in Kentucky. Early one morning there was a fire, supposed to be incendiary, in the stables at the Beacon Park track, a mile from the College, in which a number of horses had been killed and many badly scorched. I had just returned from the place, where I had left a mob of irate owners and jockeys in a violent state of mind, intent on finding someone to hang. I had seen the chance of getting a valuable lot of stallions for the museum, but it was evident that the time was most inopportune for suggesting such a disposition of the remains. Had I done so, the results would have been, to say the least, unpleasant.

As I came away from the profane lot of horsemen gathered about the ruins of their fortunes or their hopes, I met Agassiz almost running to seize the chance of specimens. I told him to come back with me: that we must wait until the mob had spent its rage; but he kept on. I told him further that he risked spoiling his good chance, and, finally, that he would have his head punched; but he trotted on. I went with him, in the hope that I might protect him from the consequences of his curiosity.

When we reached the spot, there came about a marvel: in a moment he had all those raging men at his command. He went at once to work with the horses which had been hurt but were savable. His intense sympathy with the creatures, his knowledge of the remedies to be applied, his immediate appropriation of the whole situation, of which he was at once the master, made

those rude folks at once his friends. Nobody asked who he was, for the good reason that he was heart and soul of them. When the task of helping was done, Agassiz skillfully came to the point of his business, the skeletons, and this so dexterously and sympathetically that the men were, it seemed, ready to turn over the living as well as the dead beasts for his service. I have seen a lot of human doing, much of it critically, as actor or near observer, but this was in many ways the greatest. The supreme art of it was in the use of a perfectly spontaneous and most actually sympathetic motive to gain an end. With others, this state of mind would lead to affection; with him, it in no wise diminished the quality of the emotion. He could measure the value of the motive, but do it without lessening its moral import.

As my account of Agassiz's quality should rest upon my experiences with him, I shall now go on to tell how and to what effect he trained me. In that day there were no written examinations on any subjects which candidates for the Lawrence Scientific School had to pass. The professors in charge of the several departments questioned the candidates and determined their fitness to pursue the course of study they desired to undertake. Few or none who had any semblance of an education were denied admission to Agassiz's laboratory. At that time the instructors had, in addition to their meagre salaries, — his was then $2500 per annum, the regular fees paid in by the students under their charge. So I was promptly assured that I was admitted. Be it said, however, that he did give me an effective oral examination, which, as he told me, was intended to show

whether I could expect to go forward to a degree at the end of four years of study. On this matter of the degree he was obdurate, refusing to recommend some who had been with him for many years and had succeeded in their special work, giving as reason for his denial that they were “too ignorant.

The examination Agassiz gave me was directed first to find that I knew enough Latin and Greek to make use of those languages; that I could patter a little of them evidently pleased him. He did n't care for those detestable rules for scanning. Then came German and French, which were also approved: I could read both, and spoke the former fairly well. He did not probe me in my weakest place, mathematics, for the good reason that, badly as I was off in that subject, he was in a worse plight. Then, asking me concerning my reading, he found that I had read the essay on classification and had noted in it the influence of Schelling's views. Most of his questioning related to this field, and the more than fair beginning of our relations then made was due to the fact that I had some enlargement on that side. So, too, he was pleased to find that I had managed a lot of Latin, Greek, and German poetry, and had been trained with the sword. He completed this inquiry by requiring that I bring my foils and mask for a bout. In this test he did not fare well, for, though not untrained, he evidently knew more of the Schläger than of the rapier. He was heavy-handed and lacked finesse. This, with my previous experience, led me to the conclusion that I had struck upon a kind of tutor in Cambridge not known in Kentucky.

While Agassiz questioned me carefully as to what I

« ElőzőTovább »