« AnteriorContinuar »
of land and water in this part of the world at that time. He also subsequently showed, that the depositions at the period of ihe chalk—at least its organisms—are limited to a determinate zone of the earth's surface, extending, neither in the old world nor the new, beyond 60° of north or south latitude, which, if confirmed, will be the oldest proof of a division of zones upon our planet.
Last of all, the deposition and distribution of the brown coal formation in Germany as well also as that of the chalk of North America engaged his attention. With the investigation of the former were connected peculiar studies of a botanic nature which had also occupied him for many years, but which he had now so far perfecied as to bring their result to bear upon the subject in question. The fossil innpression of dicotyledovous leaves, whose exact determination is often extremely difficult, led him to the study of the living forms of leaves. He rested seldom under the shadow of a tree without accurately observing the structure of its leaves and numbering their nerves. He collected hundreds in a small herbariumn and by continued comparison succeeded in discovering a determinate law in the arrangement of their nerves, according to which all leaves arrange themselves under the four divisions of “Randläufer, Bogenläufer, Spitzläuser, and Saumläufer."
Here permit me to leave the succession of weightier and in part more brilliant discoveries, for which the physical sciences, and especially geology, whose reformer he was, are indebted to him, to return once more to the personal, where I may not aud cannot avoid a inore subjective representation, inasmuch as I have had the fortune of not being a stranger to him, and in many ways know his high manly worth.
You all may have heard doubtless of many a peculiarity of L. v. Buch, who at times under a stern exterior, al ways, however, bore a deeply sensitive and noble heart. Great men are seldoin without sharply defined and deeply stamped peculiarities, and these then belong obviously to the full completion of the portrait.
The custom of performing all his journeys as far as possible on foot, without guide, without knapsack, iu black dress coat, and round hat, in shoes and (formerly silk) stockings, all of which articles of dress being often from the hardships of the journey far more jaded than their bearer, hrought him many a time in pecu. liar couiict with travellers, police authorities and landlords, from which, of course, by intellectual superiority and a good passport, he ever came off at last victorious. Hundreds of original anecdotes which have happened to him on his journeys are known. He himself appeared not up willing even to relate them, and much as he was accustomed also to be importuned by such inisunderstandings, still one can scarcely believe that he always shunned them.
He never communicated in advance, when and where he should travel; and even as he began his extensive journey to the Canary Islands, no one in Berlin had the least intimation of it before his departure. The mechanician who had to construct his barometer, could only conclude that he meant to ascend to high altitudes, as it must be arranged for the determination of heights of 14,000 feet.
I believe myself not to be inexperienced in wandering on foot, but I must however acknowledge, that I was right glad late one evening to have reached the terminus as we once sixteen years ago, wandered thirty-five miles over the mountains from Schandan to Tharand. We halted for refreshment but once on the way, at a spring whose waters we quaffed from the goblet of Diogenes. Instead of stopping at an inn to rest, he halted with pleasure but once in a beautiful spot in the freedom of nature, but even there not without investigating a stone or a leaf in the meanwhile. At such a time he once said, “If we contemplate with attention any one subject of Nature, we can always find something new in it, should it have been investigated and described ever so often."
In this way he generally travelled, seeking however of course at evening as good an inn as possible, with whose signs and characters in the greatest part of Europe there was scarely any one so well acquainted as he.
II, when in a distant land, winter surprised him, then indeed the way home on foot was no more practicable. To travel with strangers however, in a stage-coach, was to him, on account of the possibility of coming in contact with a smoker, fundamentally out of the question. He therefore, before railroads were known, used in every case to purchase his own waggon and with extra post horses return home. But now as he did not possess the gift of selling these again in Berlin, whole collections of all sorts of travelling vehicles here collected on his hands, until at length some relative resolved upon selling them for him. But enough of these peculiarities, which easily could be communicated in much greater numbers. They often form, however, only the original exterior of one of the noblest hearts.
Umarried as he always was, and not withstanding his being ever on journeys, L. v. Buch made use for himself of not the half of his large income. Believe not however in the least, that he hoarded up or collected the other half! He collected only the medals of creation, none stamped by the hand of man. He supported what appeared to him worthy of support, with a lavish hand, and that too without having it easily remarked. Not alone in the cause of science, but also in the purest philanthropy, he expended, doubtless, thousands yearly. I myself have seen him moved to tears at the misfortune of another, and I know the satisfaction of having witnessed it without being able to prize it highly enough. He was accustomed to say at such a time, “He must be helped," and he was helped, by an unseen hand helped.
Perhaps it may be said by one or another, that it were quite easy for a man so independently circumstanced as he, to devote himself exclusively to science, and with so many means to have accomplished great results. With such, however, I cannot agree. Birth and wealth had opened to L. v. Buch many an easy way that would have led to a pleasant, yes, even a brilliant life. Hundreds, I fear, who, struggling with necessity, have earned for themselves a name in science, would, in L. v. Buch's circumstances, have chosen a path in life leading more directly and easily to commanding influence.
The spur of necessity is with many not a small one. But for a man of fortune without such extreme urging, to devote his whole life voluntarily to earnest, pure investigation, and only for that end, there is something in it, as it appears to me, of the great, something of the uncommon; for it is one thing to cultivate a branch of science incidentally, for pastime or amusement, or to acquire a certain credit for erudition, and quite another to resign oneself entirely and undividedly to it.
With such zeal for scientific advancement he also knew well how to draw forth youthful talent wherever he found it, to captivate it, lead it into a fitting path, support it by counsel or assistance, and with such delicacy of feeling and manner, that it itself scarcely perceived how much it was indebted to its patron.
He never accepted a public office, but bore occasionally on festive occasions the key of a “Kammerherr” and many a high order of merit.
I may also not pass by without mentioning the uncommonly varied character of von Buch's attainments, and the retentiveness of his memory even for trifles; it was his custom to note in his small day-book, often embracing the wanderings of many years, only brief remarks in a microscopic hand. Perfectly at home in five or six languages, he was also deeply read in history and literature. Even trivial family circumstances and town occurrences his memory retained in all their details, and he knew how to rehearse them in the most felicitous manner. His conversation was on that account not less spirited than fascinating, and he could, when he was in the right hunior, enliven even the gayest saloon in the highest degree.
Now, however, one word as to his death. On Saturday the 26th February, he was till late at the Humanitätsgesellschaft-a conversational meeting of literati of Berlin. Professors Poggendorf and Braun accompanied him thence to his dwelling. At the door he bade them adien with some jokes as (isual. Upon retiring to rest he felt himself slightly indisposed. The next day began
SECOND SERIES, Vol. XVII, No. 49.-- Jan. 1864.
the malady with violent pains in the foot, in which for many years he had suffered from chilblains. He did not afterwards leave his couch, and a letter from Dresden remained unread. On Tuesday the physician was called. The pains had left him, but a general debility, a nervous excited condition, had taken their place. His acquaintances, however, still kvew nothing of his sickness. On Weduesday, Prof. Beyrich accidentally visiting him, received for the first time information of the sufferings of the highly honored man. He found him in bed, but cheerful, and joking in his wonted manner, alluding often to the task he had undertaken on the chalk formation of North America, and which had engaged his attention for some time past. Upon his writing table lay the beginning of his work with the superscription, “Nebraska," but under this however, were only two lines, probably written on Saturday. On the same evening, Prof. Beyrich carried the intelligence of his illness to the meeting of the German Geological Society, of which von Buch was president. During the night of Thursday his condition became much worse. Debility and fever had visibly increased. However, on Thursday he could still converse with most of those who visited him during the day. When Prof. Beyrich visited him again at 10 o'clock on Friday, March 4th, he found Messrs. Ewald, Braun, and Papiz already at the conch where he lay inconscious, and they did not again leave it till his death, which occurred at twenty minutes before two o'clock.
On March 9th the funeral solemnities took place in the dwelling of the departed, which the Royal Botanic Garden had richly decorated with palms and laurel. His mortal remains were then transported to the family vault at Stolpe.
You thus have a few fleeting sketches of the life and death of the man to whose memory we are here convened to pay our homage, and of whom we are proud, not only as Germans, but also as citizens of Freiberg. Yes, we are something more than proud of him, we are much his debtors. He has never forgotten his Freiberg. Each of his works-of which all never came into the hands of the booksellers—is to be found from his own hand in the Library of the Academy, and besides this also in many of the private libraries of the place. Before the Kreuzthore stands as an ornament of the city, Werner's bust, (a present from Count Einsiedel,) but for whose erection and embellishments we are indebted to von Buch's liberality. He often came here, and only three years since when we celebrated the memory of his distinguished master, he was to our joy with us in this hall, where to-day his portrait presents to us only the noble lineaments which we shall never forget, as his whole service must forever remain unforgotten.
An account of the origin of this portrait may not be without interest. L. v. Buch had often received urgent requests to allow
his portrait to be taken, but had never consented. When his friend Friesleben on the remittance of his own portrait, once uirgently requested his in return, he received in its stead a large lithograph of an Ammonite with the signature under it, “ Leopold v. Buch." There was little hope then, of obtaining a portrait of the great geologist, aside from the imperfect failure in the Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles. Some years since, however, his King sent the celebrated portrait painter, C. Begris, to him, and told him, that he, the King wished his portrait. What remained for him to do? He must obey and sit still. From that portrait is this lithograph a copy.
And now permit me to address myself to you who are dedicacating yourself to the same studies which here once lured this distinguished man. If you all however have not proposed to yourselves the same course—if you are not all called to furnish similar results in your particular departments like a L. v. Buch, still may you ever take him as an exemplar. His example like that of Alexander v. Humboldt, and many others, teaches at the same time that even from an unpretending place of study great effects may go forth. May we all strive to imitate him in untiring zeal, system, and noble sentiments—this will be the highest honor we can show to his memory. For the immortality of his name, he himself has provided.
At the close of the exercises, the band of the cavalry regiment, in garrison here, played a Dead March.
Art. II.-Extracts from the Report on the Geology of the Lake
Superior Land District ; (Part II.) by J. W. Foster, and J. D. WHITNEY.*
In Part I, of this Report, communicated to the Commissioner of the General Land Office in 1850, and published in 1851, we have given a historical sketch of the exploration of the country bordering on Lake Superior, a description of its physical geography and climate, and so much of its geology as was necessary to the full elucidation of the copper-bearing rocks and their relation to the sedimentary formations; this being the subject to which that part of the report was principally devoted. The two concluding chapters coutained an account of the drift phenomena so conspicuously displayed in the region of the great lakes.
In Part II, of this Report, we shall proceed to the detailed and systematic description, so far as our materials will enable us, of
* The appearance of this valuable Report, was announced in volume xv, page 295, We here cite some paragraphs from the chapters, on the general characters of the rocks, and on the Azoic and the lower Silurian systems.