Page:Biographies of Scientific Men.djvu/122

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BIOGRAPHIES OF SCIENTIFIC MEN

presence of a genius. Nearly every one of his memoirs represents a large amount of laborious research, and in the aggregate they bear ample testimony to the soundness of that consensus of opinion which stamps Sir Richard Owen as the greatest palæontologist since Cuvier, and a comparative anatomist only second in the immensity and importance of his labours to Hunter himself.

Owen was a most interesting and charming character; was a prodigious and untiring worker; lived a long, active, public life; knew nearly everybody who was worth knowing; a friend of royalty, and to the earnest worker "a guide, philosopher, and friend."

Devoid of the least superstition, Owen told excellent ghost stories. These were famous and blood-curdling, and on many occasions he was particularly requested to narrate one or more of them. The stories were based on facts, which made them all the more interesting.

No man, not even Cuvier, has done so much as Owen to recreate the past, in visiting the "valley of dry bones" and informing these remains with the strange and weird life that endowed them; and in restoring in vivid outline that ancient world when huge "dragons of the prime" wallowed in the basins of the Thames and Seine, and when in a later age tigers, lions, hyænas and their kin contested with primitive man the supremacy of the sites where now London and Paris stand. It is pleasing to contemplate such pictures of the world's past. Who, outside scientific