When a man of genius is in full swing, never contradict him, set him straight or try to reason with him. Give him a free field. A listener is sure to get a greater quantity of good, no matter how mixed, than if the man is thwarted. Let Pegasus bolt--he will bring you up in a place you know nothing about!
Out of the mist and fog of time, the name of Aristotle looms up large. It was more than twenty-three hundred years ago that Aristotle lived. He might have lived yesterday, so distinctively modern was he in his method and manner of thought. Aristotle was the world's first scientist. He sought to sift the false from the true--to arrange, classify and systematize.
Aristotle instituted the first zoological garden that history mentions, barring that of Noah. He formed the first herbarium, and made a geological collection that prophesied for Hugh Miller the testimony of the rocks. Very much of our scientific terminology goes back to Aristotle.
Aristotle was born in the mountains of Macedonia. His father was a doctor and belonged to the retinue of King Amyntas. The King had a son named Philip, who was about the same age as Aristotle.
Some years later, Philip had a son named Alexander, who was somewhat unruly, and Philip sent a Macedonian cry over to Aristotle, and Aristotle harkened to the call for help and went over and took charge of the education of Alexander.
The science of medicine in Aristotle's boyhood was the science of simples. In surgery the world has progressed, but in medicine, doctors have progressed most, by consigning to the grave, that tells no tales, the deadly materia medica.
In Aristotle's childhood, when his father was both guide and physician to the king, on hunting trips through the mountains, the doctor taught the boys to recognize sarsaparilla, stramonium, hemlock, hellebore, sassafras and mandrake. Then Aristotle made a list of all the plants he knew and wrote down the supposed properties of each.
Before Aristotle was half-grown, both his father and mother died, and he was cared for by a Mr. and Mrs. Proxenus. This worthy couple would never have been known to the world were it not for the fact that they ministered to this orphan boy. Long years afterward he wrote a poem to their memory, and paid them such a tender, human compliment that their names have been woven into the very fabric of letters. "They loved each other, and still had love enough left for me," he says. And we can only guess whether this man and his wife with hearts illumined by divine passion, the only thing that yet gladdens the world, ever imagined that they were supplying an atmosphere in which would bud and blossom one of the greatest intellects the world has ever known.
It was through the help of Proxenus that Aristotle was enabled to go to Athens and attend the School of Oratory, of which Plato was dean.
The fine, receptive spirit of this slender youth evidently brought out from Plato's heart the best that was packed away there.
Aristotle was soon the star scholar. To get much out of school you have to take much with you when you go there. In one particular, especially, Aristotle, the country boy from Macedonia, brought much to Plato--and this was the scientific spirit. Plato's bent was philosophy, poetry, rhetoric--he was an artist in expression.
"Know thyself," said Socrates, the teacher of Plato.
"Be thyself," said Plato. "Know the world of Nature, of which you are a part," said Aristotle; "and you will be yourself and know yourself without thought or effort. The things you see, you are."
Twenty-three years Aristotle and Plato were together, and when they separated it was on the relative value of science and poetry. "Science is vital," said Aristotle; "but poetry and rhetoric are incidental." It was a little like the classic argument still carried on in all publishing-houses, as to which is the greater: the man who writes the text or the man who illustrates it.
One is almost tempted to think that Plato's finest product was Aristotle, just as Sir Humphry Davy's greatest discovery was Michael Faraday. One fine, earnest, receptive pupil is about all any teacher should expect in a lifetime, but Plato had at least two, Aristotle and Theophrastus. And Theophrastus dated his birth from the day he met Aristotle.
Theo-Phrastus means God's speech, or one who speaks divinely. The boy's real name was Ferguson. But the name given by Aristotle, who always had a passion for naming things, stuck, and the world knows this superbly great man as Theophrastus.
Botany dates from Theophrastus. And Theophrastus it was who wrote that greatest of acknowledgments, when, in dedicating one of his books, he expressed his indebtedness in these words: "To Aristotle, the inspirer of all I am or hope to be."
* * * * * * *
After Theophrastus' death the science of botany slept for three hundred years. During this interval was played in Palestine that immortal drama which so profoundly influenced the world. Twenty-three years after the birth of Christ, Pliny, the Naturalist, was born.
He was the uncle of his nephew, and it is probable that the younger man would have been swallowed in oblivion, just as the body of the older one was covered by the eager ashes of Vesuvius, were it not for the fact that Pliny the Elder had made the name deathless.
Pliny the Younger was about such a man as Richard Le Gallienne; Pliny the Elder was like Thomas A. Edison.
At twenty-two, Pliny the Elder was a Captain in the Roman Army doing service in Germany. Here he made memoranda of the trees, shrubs and flowers he saw, and compared them with similar objects he knew at home. "Animal and vegetable life change as you go North and South; from this I assume that life is largely a matter of temperature and moisture." Thus wrote this barbaric Roman soldier, who thereby proved he was not so much of a barbarian after all. When he was twenty-five, his command was transferred to Africa, and here, in the moments stolen from sleep, he wrote a work in three volumes on education, entitled, "Studiosus."
In writing the book he got an education--to find out about a thing, write a book on it. Pliny returned to Rome and began the practise of law, and developed into a special pleader of marked power. He still held his commission in the army, and was sent on various diplomatic errands to Spain, Africa, Germany, Gaul and Greece. If you want things done, call on a busy man: the man of leisure has no spare time.
Pliny's jottings on natural history very soon resolved themselves into the most ambitious plan, which up to that time had not been attempted by man--he would write out and sum up all human knowledge.
The next man to try the same thing was Alexander von Humboldt. We now have Pliny's "Natural History" in thirty-seven volumes. His other forty volumes are lost. The first volume of the "Natural History," which was written last, gives a list of the authors consulted. Aristotle and Theophrastus take the places of honor, and then follow a score of names of men whose works have perished and whom we know mostly through what Pliny says about them. So not only does Pliny write science as he saw it, but introduces us into a select circle of authors whom otherwise we would not know. We have the world of Nature, but we would not have this world of thinkers, were it not for Pliny.
Pliny even quotes Sappho, who loved and sung, and whose poems reached us only through scattered quotations, as if Emerson's works should perish and we would revive him through a file of "The Philistine" magazine. Pliny and Paul were contemporaries. Pliny lived at Rome when Paul lived there in his own hired house, but Pliny never mentioned him, and probably never heard of him.
One man was interested in this world, the other in the next.
Pliny begins his great work with a plagiarism on Lyman Abbott, "There is but one God." The idea that there were many arose out of the thought that because there were many things, there must be special gods to look after them: gods of the harvest, gods of the household, gods of the rain, etc.
There is but one God, says Pliny, and this God manifests Himself in Nature. Nature and Nature's work are one. This world and all other worlds we see or can think of are parts of Nature. If there are other Universes, they are natural; that is to say, a part of Nature. God rules them all according to laws which He Himself can not violate. It is vain to supplicate Him, and absurd to worship Him, for to do these things is to degrade Him with the thought that He is like us. The assumption that God is very much like us is not complimentary to God.
God can not do an unnatural or a supernatural thing. He can not kill Himself. He can not make the greater less than the less. He can not make twice ten anything else than twenty.
He can not make a stick that has but one end. He can not make the past, future. He can not make one who has lived never to have lived. He can not make the mortal, immortal; nor the immortal, mortal. He can change the form of things, but He can not abolish a thing. Pliny preaches the Unity of the Universe and his religion is the religion of Humanity.
"We can not injure God, but we can injure man. And as man is part of Nature or God, the only way to serve God is to benefit man. If we love God, the way to reveal that love is in our conduct toward our fellows."
Pliny was close upon the Law of the Correlation of Forces, and he almost got a glimpse of the Law of Attraction or Gravitation. He sensed these things, but could not prove them. Pliny touched life at an immense number of points. What he saw, he knew, but when he took things on the word of Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville (for these gentlemen adventurers have always lived), he fell into curious errors. For instance, he tells of horses in Africa that have wings, and when hard pressed, fly like birds; of ostriches that give milk, and of elephants that live on land or sea equally well; of mines where gold is found in solid masses and the natives dig into it for diamonds.
But outside of these little lapses, Pliny writes sanely and well. Book Two treats of the crust of the earth, of earthquakes, meteors, volcanoes (these had a strange fascination for him), islands and upheavals.
Books Three and Four relate of geography and give amusing information about the shape of the continents and the form of the earth. Then comes a book on man, his evolution and physical qualities, with a history of the races.
Next is a book on Zoology, with a resume of all that was written by Aristotle, and with many corroborations of Thompson-Seton and Rudyard Kipling. Facts from the "Jungle Book" are here recited at length. Book Nine is on marine life--sponges, shells and coral insects. Book Ten treats of birds, and carries the subject further than it had ever been taken before, even if it does at times contradict John Burroughs. Book Eleven is on insects, bugs and beetles, and tells, among other things, of bats that make fires in caves to keep themselves warm. Book Twelve is on trees, their varieties, height, age, growth, qualities and distribution. Book Thirteen treats of fruits, juices, gums, wax, saps and perfumes. Book Fourteen is on grapes and the making of wine, with a description of the process and the various kinds of wine, their effects on the human system, with a goodly temperance lesson backed up by incidents and examples.
Book Fifteen treats of pomegranates, apples, plums, peaches, figs and various other luscious fruits, and shows much intimate and valuable knowledge. And so the list runs down through, treating at great length of bees, fishes, woods, iron, lead, copper, gold, marble, fluids, gases, rivers, swamps, seas, and a thousand and one things that were familiar to this marvelous man. But of all subjects, Pliny shows a much greater love for botany than for anything else. Plants, flowers, vines, trees and mosses interest him always, and he breaks off other subjects to tell of some flower that he has just discovered.
Pliny had command of the Roman fleet that was anchored in the bay off Pompeii, when that city was destroyed in the year Seventy-nine. Bulwer-Lytton tells the story, with probably a close regard for the facts. The sailors, obeying Pliny's orders, did their utmost to save human life, and rescued hundreds. Pliny himself made various trips in a small boat from the ship to the beach. He was safely on board the flag-ship, and orders had been given to weigh anchor, when the commander decided to make one more visit to the perishing city to see if he could not rescue a few more, and also to get a closer view of Nature in a tantrum.
He rowed away into the fog. The sailors waited for their beloved commander, but waited in vain. He had ventured too close to the flowing lava, and was suffocated by the fumes, a victim to his love for humanity and his desire for knowledge. So died Pliny the Elder, aged but fifty-six years.
* * * * * * *
All children are zoologists, but a botanist appears upon the earth only at rare intervals.
A Botanist is born--not made. From the time of Pliny, botany performed the Rip Van Winkle act until John Ray, the son of a blacksmith, appeared upon the scene in England. In the meantime, Leonardo had classified the rocks, recorded the birds, counted the animals and written a book of three thousand pages on the horse. Leonardo dissected many plants, but later fell back upon the rose for decorative purposes.
John Ray was born in Sixteen Hundred Twenty-eight near Braintree in Essex. Now, as to genius--no blacksmith-shop is safe from it. We know where to find ginseng, but genius is the secret of God.
A blacksmith's helper by day, this aproned lad with sooty face dreamed dreams. Evenings he studied Greek with the village parson. They read Aristotle and Theophrastus.
Have a care there, you Macedonian miscreant, dead two thousand years, you are turning this boy's head!
John Ray would be a botanist as great as Aristotle, and he would speak divinely, just as did Theophrastus. It is all a matter of desire! Young Ray became a Minor Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; then a Major Fellow; then he took the Master's degree; next he became lecturer on Greek; and insisted that Aristotle was the greatest man the world had ever seen, except none, and the Dean raised an eyebrow.
The professor of mathematics resigned and Ray took his place; next he became Junior Dean, and then College Steward; and according to the custom of the times he used to preach in the chapel. One of his sermons was from the text, "Consider the lilies of the field." Another sermon that brought him more notoriety than fame was on the subject, "God in Creation," wherein he argued that to find God we should look for Him more in the world of Nature and not so much in books.
Matters were getting strained. Ray was asked to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity, which was a promise that he would never preach anything that was not prescribed by the Church. Ray demurred, and begged that he be allowed to go free and preach anything he thought was truth--new truth might come to him! This shows the absurdity of Ray. He was asked to reconsider or resign. He resigned--resigned the year that Sir Isaac Newton entered.
Fortunately, one particular pupil followed him, not that he loved college less, but that he loved Ray more. This pupil was Francis Willughby. Through the bounty of this pupil we get the scientist--otherwise, Ray would surely have been starved into subjection. Willughby took Ray to the home of his parents, who were rich people.
Ray undertook the education of young Willughby, very much as Aristotle took charge of Alexander. Willughby and Ray traveled, studied, observed and wrote. They went to Spain, took trips to France, Italy and Switzerland, and journeyed to Scotland. Willughby devoted his life to Ornithology and Ichthyology and won a deathless place in science.
Ray specialized on botany, and did a work in classification never done before. He made a catalog of the flora of England that wrung even from Cambridge a compliment--they offered him the degree of LL.D. Ray quietly declined it, saying he was only a simple countryman, and honors or titles would be a disadvantage, tending to separate him from the plain people with whom he worked. However, the Royal Society elected him a member, and he accepted the honor, that he might put the results of his work on record. His paper on the circulation of sap in trees was read before the Royal Society, on the request of Newton. Due credit was given Harvey for his discovery of the circulation of the blood; but Ray made the fine point that man was brother to the tree, and his life was derived from the same Source.
When Willughby died, in Sixteen Hundred Seventy-two, he left Ray a yearly income of three hundred dollars. Doctor Johnson told Boswell that Ray had a collection of twenty thousand English bugs. Our botanical terminology comes more from John Ray than from any other man. Ray adopted wherever possible the names given by Aristotle, so loyal, loving and true was he to the Master. Ray died in Seventeen Hundred Five, aged seventy-six.
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Two years after the death of John Ray, in Seventeen Hundred Seven, was born a baby who was destined to find biology a chaos, and leave it a cosmos.
LinnŠus did for botany what Galileo had done for astronomy. John Ray was only a John the Baptist.
Carl von Linne, or Carolus LinnŠus as he preferred to be called, was born in an obscure village in the Province of Smaland, Sweden. His father was a clergyman, passing rich on forty pounds a year. His mother was only eighteen years old when she bore him, and his father had just turned twenty-one. It was a poor parish, and one of the deacons explained that they could not afford a real preacher; so they hired a boy.
Carl tells in his journal, of remembering how, when he was but four years old, his father would lead his congregation out through the woods and, all seated on the grass, the father would tell the people about the plants and herbs and how to distinguish them.
Back of the parsonage there was a goodly garden, where the young pastor and his wife worked many happy hours. When Carl was eight years of age, a corner of this garden was set apart for his very own.
He pressed into his service several children of the neighborhood, and they carried flat stones from the near-by brook to wall in this miniature farm--this botanical garden.
The child that hasn't a flowerbed or a garden of its ownest own is being cheated out of its birthright.
The evolution of the child mirrors the evolution of the race. And as the race has passed through the savage, pastoral and agricultural stages, so should the child. As a people we are now in the commercial or competitive stage, but we are slowly emerging out of this into the age of co-operation or enlightened self-interest.
It is only a very great man--one with a prophetic vision--who can see beyond the stage in which he is.
The stage we are in seems the best and the final one--otherwise, we would not be in it. But to skip any of these stages in the education or evolution of the individual seems a sore mistake. Children hedged and protected from digging in the dirt develop into "third rounders," as our theosophic friends would say, that is, educated non-comps--vast top-head and small cerebellum--people who can explain the unknowable, but who do not pay cash. Third rounders all--fit only for the melting-pot!
A tramp is one who has fallen a victim of arrested development and never emerged from the nomadic stage; an artistic dilettante is one who has jumped the round where boys dig in the dirt and has evolved into a missnancy.
Young Carl LinnŠus skipped no round in his evolution. He began as a savage, robbing birds' nests, chasing butterflies, capturing bees, bugs and beetles. He trained goats to drive, hitched up a calf, fenced his little farm, and planted it with strange and curious crops.
Clergymen once were the only schoolteachers, and in Sweden, when LinnŠus was a boy, there was a plan of farming children out among preachers that they might be educated. Possibly this plan of having some one besides the parents teach the lessons is good--I can not say. But young Carl did not succeed--save in disturbing the peace among the households of the half-dozen clergymen who in turn had him.
The boy evidently was a handsome fellow, a typical Swede, with hair as fair as the sunshine, blue eyes, and a pink face that set off the fair hair and made him look like a Circassian.
He had energy plus, and the way he cluttered up the parsonages where he lodged was a distraction to good housewives: birds' nests, feathers, skins, claws, fungi, leaves, flowers, roots, stalks, rocks, sticks and stones--and when one meddled with his treasures, there was trouble. And there was always trouble; for the boy possessed a temper, and usually had it right with him.
The intent of the parents was that Carl should become a clergyman, but his distaste for theology did not go unexpressed. So perverse and persistent were his inclinations that they preyed on the mind of his father, who quoted King Lear and said, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"
His troubles weighed so upon the good clergyman that his nerves became affected and he went to the neighboring town of Wexio to consult Doctor Rothman, a famed medical expert.
The good clergyman, in the course of his conversation with the doctor, told of his mortification on account of the dulness and perversity of his son.
Doctor Rothman listened in patience and came to the conclusion that young Mr. LinnŠus was a good boy who did the wrong thing. All energy is God's, but it may be misdirected. A boy not good enough for a preacher might make a good doctor--an excess of virtue is not required in the recipe for a physician.
"I'll cure you, by taking charge of your boy," said Rothman; "you want to make a clergyman of the youth: I'll let him be just what he wants to be, a naturalist and a physician." And it was so.
* * * * * * *
The year spent by LinnŠus under the roof of Doctor Rothman was a pivotal point in his life. He was eighteen years old. The contempt of Rothman for the refinements of education appealed to the young man. Rothman was blunt, direct, and to the point: he had a theory that people grew by doing what they wanted to do, not by resisting their impulses.
He was both friend and comrade to the boy. They rode together, dissected animals and plants, and the young man assisted in operations. LinnŠus had the run of the Doctor's library, and without knowing it, was mastering physiology.
"I would adopt him as my son," said Rothman; "but I love him so much that I am going to separate him from me. My roots have struck deep in the soil: I am like the human trees told of by Dante; but the boy can go on!"
And so Rothman sent him along to the University of Lund, with letters to another doctor still more cranky than himself. This man was Doctor Kilian StobŠus, a medical professor, physician to the king, and a naturalist of note. StobŠus had a mixed-up museum of minerals, birds, fishes and plants.
Everybody for a hundred miles who had a curious thing in the way of natural history sent it to StobŠus. Into this medley of strange and curious things LinnŠus was plunged with orders to "straighten it up." There was a German student also living with the doctor, working for his board. LinnŠus took the lead and soon had the young German helping him catalog the curios.
The spirit of Ray had gotten abroad in Germany, and Ray's books had been translated and were being used in many of the German schools. LinnŠus made a bargain with the German student that they should speak only German--he wanted to find what was locked up in those German books on botany.
StobŠus was lame and had but one eye, so he used to call on the boys to help him, not only to hitch up his horse, but to write his prescriptions. LinnŠus wrote very badly, and was chided because he did not improve his penmanship, for it seems that in the olden times physicians wrote legibly. LinnŠus resented the rebuke, and was shown the door. He was gone a week, when StobŠus sent for him, much to his relief. This little comedy was played several times during the year, through what LinnŠus afterward acknowledged as his fault. One would hardly think that the man who on first seeing the English gorse in full bloom fell on his knees, burst into tears of joy, and thanked God that he had lived to see this day, would have had a fiery temper. Then further, the gentle, spiritual qualities that LinnŠus in his later life developed give one the idea that he was always of a gentle nature.
In indexing the museum of Doctor StobŠus, LinnŠus found his bent. "I will never be a doctor," he said; "but I can beat the world on making a catalog."
And thus it was: his genius lay in classification. "He indexed and catalogued the world," a great writer has said.
After a year at the University of Lund, with more learned by working for his board than at school, there was a visit from Doctor Rothman, who had just dropped in to see his old friend StobŠus. The fact was, Rothman cared a deal more for LinnŠus than he did for StobŠus. "Weeds develop into flowers by transplanting only," said Rothman to LinnŠus. "You need a different soil--get out of here before you get pot-bound."
"But about Cyclops?" asked LinnŠus.
"Let Cyclops go to the devil!" It was no use to ask permission of StobŠus. LinnŠus was so valuable that StobŠus would not spare him.
So LinnŠus packed up and departed between the dawn and the day, leaving a letter stating he had gone to Upsala because it seemed best and begging forgiveness for such seeming ingratitude.
When LinnŠus got to Upsala he found a letter from Doctor Cyclops, written in wrath, requesting him never again to show his face in Lund. Rothman also lost the friendship of StobŠus for his share in the transaction.
* * * * * * *
When LinnŠus arrived at Upsala he had one marked distinction, according to his own account--he was the poorest student that had ever knocked at the gates of the University for admittance. Perhaps this is a mistake, for even though the young man had patched his shoes with birch bark, he was not in debt.
And the youth of twenty-one who has health, hope, ambition and animation is not to be pitied. Poverty is only for the people who think poverty.
It is five hundred English miles from Lund to Upsala. After his long, weary tramp, LinnŠus sat on the edge of the hill and looked down at the scattered town of Upsala in the valley below. A stranger passing by pointed out the college buildings, where a thousand young men were being drilled and disciplined in the mysteries of learning. "Where is the Botanical Garden?" asked the newcomer.
It was pointed out to him. He gazed on the site, carefully studied the surrounding landscape, and mentally calculated where he would move the Botanical Garden as soon as he had control of it. Let us anticipate here just long enough to explain that the Upsala Botanical Garden now is where LinnŠus said it should be. It is a most beautiful place, lined off with close-growing shrubbery. After traversing the winding paths, one reaches the lecture-hall, built after the Greek, with porches, peristyle and gently ascending marble steps. On entering the building, the first object that attracts the visitor is the life-size statue of LinnŠus.
To the left, a half-mile away, is the old cathedral--a place that never much interested LinnŠus. But there now rests his dust, and in windows and also in storied bronze his face, form and fame endure. In the meantime, we have left the young man sitting on a boulder looking down at the town ere he goes forward to possess it.
He adjusts his shoes with their gaping wounds, shakes the dust from his cap, and then takes from his pack a faded neckscarf, puts it on and he is ready.
Descending the hill he forgets his lameness, waives the stone-bruises, and walks confidently to the Botanical Garden, which he views with a critical eye. Next, he inquires for the General Superintendent who lives near. The young man presents his credentials from Rothman, who describes the youth as one who knows and loves the flowers, and who can be useful in office or garden and is not above spade and hoe. The Superintendent looks at the pink face, touched with bronze from days in the open air, notes the long yellow hair, beholds the out-of-door look of fortitude that comes from hard and plain fare, and inwardly compares these things with the lack of them in some of his students. "But this Doctor--Doctor Rothman who wrote this letter--I do not have the honor of knowing him," says the Superintendent.
"Ah, you are unfortunate," replies the youth; "he is a very great man, and I myself will vouch for him in every way."
Oh! this glowing confidence of youth--before there comes a surplus of lime in the bones, or the touch of winter in the heart! The Superintendent smiled. Knock in faith and the door shall be opened--there are those whom no one can turn away. A stray bed was found in the garret for the stranger, and the next morning he was earnestly at work cataloguing the dried plants in the herbarium, a task long delayed because there was no one to do it.
* * * * * * *
The study of Natural History in the University of Upsala was, at this time, at a low ebb. It was like the Art Department in many of the American colleges: its existence largely confined to the school catalog. There were many weeks of biting poverty and neglect for LinnŠus, but he worked away in obscurity and silence and endured, saying all the time, "The sun will come out, the sun will come out!" Doctor Olaf Rudbeck had charge of the chair of Botany, but seldom sat in it. His business was medicine. He gave no lectures, but the report was that he made his students toil at cultivating in his garden--this to open up their intellectual pores. In the course of his work, LinnŠus devised a sex plan of classification, instead of the so-called natural method. He wrote out his ideas and submitted them to Rudbeck.
The learned Doctor first pooh-poohed the plan, then tolerated it, and in a month claimed he had himself devised it. On the scheme being explained to others there was opposition, and Rudbeck requested LinnŠus to amplify his notes into a thesis, and read it as a lecture. This was done, and so pleased was the old man that he appointed LinnŠus his adjunctus. In the Spring of Seventeen Hundred Thirty, LinnŠus began to give weekly lectures on some topic of Natural History.
LinnŠus was now fairly launched. His animation, clear thinking, handsome face and graceful ways made his lectures very popular. Science in his hands was no longer the dull and turgid thing it had before been in the University. He would give a lecture in the hall, and then invite the audience to walk with him in the woods. He seemed to know everything: birds, beetles, bugs, beasts, trees, weeds, flowers, rocks and stones were to him familiar.
He showed his pupils things they had walked on all their lives and never seen.
The old Botanical Garden that had degenerated into a kitchen-garden for the Commons was rearranged and furnished with many specimens gathered round about.
A system of exchange was carried on with other schools, and Natural History at Upsala was fast becoming a feature. Old Doctor Rudbeck hobbled around with the classes, and when LinnŠus lectured sat in a front seat, applauding by rapping his cane on the floor and ejaculating words of encouragement.
LinnŠus was now receiving invitations to lecture at other schools in the vicinity. He made excursions and reports on the Natural History of the country around. The Academy of Science of Upsala now selected him to go to Lapland and explore the resources of that country, which was then little known.
The journey was to be a long and dangerous one. It meant four thousand miles of travel on foot, by sledge and on horseback, over a country that was for the most part mountainous, without roads, and peopled with semi-savages.
There were two reasons why LinnŠus should make the trip:
One was he had the hardihood and the fortitude to do it.
And second, he was not wanted at Upsala. He was becoming too popular. One rival professor had gone so far as to prefer formal charges of scientific heresy; he also made the telling point that LinnŠus was not a college graduate. The rule of the University was that no lecturer, teacher or professor should be employed who did not have a degree from some foreign University.
Inquiry was made and it was found that LinnŠus had left the University of Lund under a cloud. LinnŠus was confronted with the charge, and declined to answer it, thus practically pleading guilty. So, to get him out of Upsala seemed a desirable thing, both to friends and to foes. His friends secured the commission for the Lapland exploration, and his enemies made no objections, merely whispering, "Good riddance!" To be twenty-four, in good health, with hair like that of General Custer, a heart to appreciate Nature, a good horse under you, and a commission from the State to do an important work, in your left-hand breast-pocket--what Heaven more complete!
A reception was tendered the young naturalist in the great hall, and he addressed the students on the necessity of doing your work as well as you can, and being kind. Before beginning his arduous and dangerous journey, LinnŠus went to Lund to visit his old patron, Doctor StobŠus. Time, the great healer, had cured the Doctor of his hate, and he now spoke of LinnŠus as his best pupil. He had left hastily by the wan light of the moon, without leaving orders where his mail was to be forwarded; but now he was received as an honored guest. All the little misunderstandings they had were laughed over as jokes.
From Lund, LinnŠus went to his home in Smaland to visit his parents.
It is needless to say that they were very proud of him, and the villagers turned out in great numbers to do him honor, perhaps, in their simplicity, not knowing why.
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The account of the Lapland trip by LinnŠus is to be found in his book, "Lachesis Lapponica."
The journey covered over four thousand miles and took from May to November, Seventeen Hundred Thirty-one. The volume is in the form of a daily journal, and is as interesting as "Robinson Crusoe." There is no night there in Summer; but for all this, Lapland is not a paradise.
It is a great stretch of desert, vast steppes and lofty mountains, with here and there fertile valleys. To be out in the wide open, with no companions but a horse and a dog, filled LinnŠus' heart with a wild joy. As he went on, the road grew so rough that he had to part with the horse, which he did with a pang, but the dog kept him company.
To be educated is to liberate the mind from its trammels and fears--to set it free, new-chiseled from the rock. LinnŠus reveled in the vast loneliness of the steppes and took a hearty satisfaction in the hard fare. His gun and fishing-rod stood him in good stead; there were berries at times, and edible barks and watercress, and when these failed he had a little bag of meal and dried reindeer-tongues to fall back upon.
The simplicity of his living is shown best in the fact that the expenses for the entire journey, occupying seven months, were only twenty-five pounds, or less than one hundred twenty-five dollars. The Academy had set aside sixty pounds, and their surprise at having most of the money returned to them, instead of a demand being made for more, won them, hand and heart. He had hit the sturdy old burghers in a sensitive spot--the pocketbook--and they passed resolutions declaring him the world's greatest naturalist, and voted him a medal, to be cast at his own expense. Fame is delightful, but as collateral it does not rank high.
LinnŠus was without funds and without occupation. He gave a course of lectures at the University on his explorations, where every seat was taken, and even the stage and windows were filled. The sprightliness, grace and intellect LinnŠus brought to bear illumined his theme.
When LinnŠus lectured, all classes were dismissed: none could rival him. His very excellence was his disadvantage. Jealousy was hot on his trail, for he was disturbing the balance of stupidity. A movement grew to force him from the college. Formal charges were made, and when the case came to a trial the even tenor of justice was disturbed by LinnŠus making an attack on Professor Rosen, his principal enemy, with intent to kill him. Dueling has been forbidden in all the universities of Sweden since the year Sixteen Hundred Eighty-two, and the diversion replaced by quartet singing. So when LinnŠus challenged his enemy to fight, and warned him he would kill him if he didn't fight, and also if he did, things were in a bad way for LinnŠus.
The former charges were dropped to take up the more serious--just as when a man is believed to be guilty of murder, no mention is made of his crime of larceny.
Poor LinnŠus was under the ban. The enemy had won: LinnŠus must leave. But where should he go--what could he do? No college would receive him after his being compelled to leave Upsala for riot. He decided that if disgrace were to be his on account of revenge, he would accept the disgrace. He would kill Rosen on sight and then either commit suicide or accept the consequences: it was all one! And so, laying plans to waylay his victim, he fell asleep and dreamed he had done the deed.
He awoke in a sweat of horror!
He heard the officers at the door! He staggered to his feet, and was making wild plans to fight the pursuers, when it occurred to him that he had only dreamed. He sat down, faint, but mightily relieved.
Then he laughed, and it came to him that opposition was a part of the great game of life. To do a thing was to jostle others, and to jostle and be jostled was the fate of every man of power. "He that endureth unto the end shall be saved."
The world was before him--the flowers still bloomed, and plants nodded their heads in the meadows; the summer winds blew across the fields of wheat, the branches waved. He was strong--he could plant and plow, or dig ditches, or hew lumber!
Some one was hammering on the door; they had been knocking for fully five minutes--ah! There had been no murder, so surely it was not the officers.
He arose slowly and opened the door, murmuring apologies. A letter for Carolus LinnŠus! The letter was from Baron Reuterholm of Dalecarlia. It contained a draft for twenty-five pounds, "as a token of good faith," and begged that LinnŠus would accept charge of an expedition to survey the natural resources of Dalecarlia in the same way that he had Lapland, only with greater minuteness. LinnŠus read the letter again. The draft fluttered from his fingers to the floor.
"Pick that up!" he peremptorily ordered of the messenger. He wanted to see if the other man saw it too.
The other man did pick it up! LinnŠus was not dreaming, then, after all!
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This second expedition had two objects: one was the better education of Baron Reuterholm's two sons, and the other the survey. One of these sons was at the University of Upsala, and he had conceived such an admiration for LinnŠus that he had written home about him. No man knows what he is doing: we succeed by the right oblique. Little did LinnŠus guess that he was preparing the way for great good fortune. The second excursion was one of luxury. It lacked all the hardships of the first, and involved the management of a party. Reuterholm was a rich Jewish banker, and a man in close touch with all Swedish affairs of State. This time LinnŠus was provided with ample funds.
LinnŠus had a genius for system--a head for business. He classified men, and systematized his work like a general in the field. There were seven young naturalists in the party, and to each LinnŠus assigned a special work, with orders to hand in a written report of progress each evening. That the "Economist" or steward of the party was an American lends an especial note of interest for us. After Dalecarlia it was to be America!
In money matters he was punctilious and accurate, the result of his early training in making both ends meet. The habits of thrift, industry, energy and absolute honesty had made him a marked man--there is not so much competition along these lines.
The maps, measurements, drawings, and the exact, short, sharp, military reports turned in at regular intervals to the Baron won that worthy absolutely.
LinnŠus was a businessman as well as a naturalist. It would require a book to tell of the glorious half-gypsy life of these eight young men, moving slowly through woods, across plains, over mountains and meadows, studying soil, rocks, birds, trees and flowers, collecting and making records.
Camping at night by flowing streams, awakening with the dawn and cooking breakfast by the campfire in a silence that took up their shouts of laughter in surprise, and echoed them back from the neighboring hills! At last the journey was ended. LinnŠus had proved his ability to teach--his animation, good-cheer and friendly qualities brought his pupils very close to him. Reuterholm insisted that he should attach himself to the rising little college at Fahlun. There he met Doctor MorŠus, a man of much worth in a scientific way. At his house LinnŠus made his home. There was a daughter in the household, Sara Elizabeth, tall, slender, appreciative and studious. One of the Reuterholms had courted her, but in vain.
There were the usual results, and when Carolus and Sara Elizabeth came to Doctor MorŠus hand in hand for his blessing, he granted it as good men always do. Then the Doctor gave LinnŠus some good advice--go to Holland or somewhere and get a doctor's degree. The enemies at Upsala called LinnŠus "the gypsy scientist." Silence them--LinnŠus was now a great man, and the world would yet acknowledge it. Sara Elizabeth agreed in all of the propositions.
Love, they say, is blind, but sometimes love is a regular telescope. This time love saw things that the learned men of Upsala failed to discover--their diagnosis was wrong. LinnŠus had prepared a thesis on intermittent fever, and he was assured that if he presented this thesis at the medical school at Harderwijk, Holland, with letters from Baron Reuterholm and Doctor MorŠus, it would secure him the much desired M.D.
A few months, at most, would suffice. He could then return to Fahlun and take his place as a practising physician and a professor in the college, marry the lady of his choice and live happy ever afterward.
So he started away southward. In due time, he arrived at Harderwijk and read his thesis to the faculty. Instead of the callow youth, such as they usually dealt with, they found a practised speaker who defended his points with grace and confidence. The degree was at once voted, and a "cum laude" thrown in for good measure. LinnŠus was asked to remain there and give a course of lectures on natural history. This he did. Before going home he thought he would take a little look in on Leyden, at that time the bookmaking and literary center of the world. At Leyden he met Gronovius, the naturalist, who asked him to remain and give lectures at the University. He did so, and incidentally showed Gronovius the manuscript of his book on the new system of botanic classification.
Gronovius was so delighted that he insisted on having the book printed by the Plantins at his own expense. Here was a piece of good fortune LinnŠus had not anticipated.
LinnŠus now settled down to read the proofs and help the work through the presses. But he never idled an hour.
He studied, wrote and lectured, and made little excursions with his friends through the fields. The book finished, he hastened to send copies back to Fahlun to Sara Elizabeth, saying he must see Amsterdam and then go to Antwerp to visit his new-found printer-friends there, and then go home!
At Amsterdam he remained a whole year, living at the house of Burman, the naturalist.
The wealthy banker, Cliffort, first among amateur botanists of his day, invited LinnŠus to visit him at his country-house at Hartecamp. Here he saw the finest garden he had ever looked upon. Cliffort had copies of LinnŠus' book and he now insisted that the author should remain, catalog his collection and issue the book with the help of the Plantins, all without regard to cost. It took a year to get the work out, but it yet remains one of the finest things ever attempted in a bookmaking way on the subject of botany.
About the same time, with the help of Cliffort, LinnŠus published another big book of his own called, "Fundamenta Botanica." This book was taken up at Oxford and used as a textbook, in preference to Ray.
LinnŠus received invitations from England and was persuaded to take a trip across to that country. He visited Oxford and London, and was received by scientific men as a conquering hero. He saw Garrick act and heard George Frederick Handel, where the crowd was so great that a notice was posted requesting gentlemen to come without swords and ladies without hoops. Handel composed an aria in his honor.
Returning to Leyden, LinnŠus was urged by the municipality to remain and rearrange the public flower-gardens and catalog the rare plants at the University. This took a year, in which three more books were issued under his skilful care.
He now started for home in earnest, by way of Paris, with what a contemporary calls "a trunkful of medals."
Paris, too, had honors and employment for the great botanist, but he escaped and at last reached Fahlun. He had been gone nearly four years, and during the interval had established his place in the scientific world as the first botanist of the time.
"It was love that sent me out of Sweden, and but for love I would never have returned," he wrote.
LinnŠus and Sara Elizabeth were married June Twenty-six, Seventeen Hundred Thirty-nine.
Now the unexpected happened: Upsala petitioned LinnŠus to return, and the man who headed the petition was the one who had driven him away and who came near being killed for his pains. LinnŠus and his wife went to Upsala, rich, honored, beloved.
LinnŠus shifted the scientific center of gravity of all Europe to a town, practically to them obscure, a thing they themselves scarcely realized.
Henceforth, the life of LinnŠus flowed forward like a great and mighty river--everything made way for him. He was invited by the King of Spain to come to that country and found a School of Science, and so lavish were the promises that they surely would have turned the head of a lesser man. Universities in many civilized countries honored themselves by giving him degrees.
In Seventeen Hundred Sixty-one, the King of Sweden issued a patent of nobility in his honor, and thereafter he was Carl von Linne. In England he was known as Sir Charles Linn.
Sainte-Beuve, the eminent French critic, says that the world has produced only about half a dozen men who deserve to be placed in the first class. The elements that make up this super-superior man are high intellect, which abandons itself to the purpose in hand, careless of form and precedent; indifference to obstacles and opposition; and a joyous, sympathetic, loving spirit that runs over and inundates everything it touches, all with no special thought of personal pleasure, gratification or gain.
LinnŠus seems in every way to fill the formula.