Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/32

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22
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The elder Becquerel, who died about the same time, at an advanced age, after life-long toils, was already a gray-haired man when I became acquainted with him in the Société Philomatique at Paris. His son, who had a seat beside him in the Academy, was then a zealous member of that society, whose meetings I attended regularly, because it was the favorite debating-ground of the younger savants, who displayed more zeal in their discussions than was witnessed in the Academy. The old gentleman frequently accompanied his son, but I never became intimate with him.

Before Haussmann had revolutionized the appearance of Paris, and prior to the Revolution of 1848, there existed a Rue Copeau, leading from the Rue Mouffetard, the headquarters of the rag-pickers, to the small entrance-gate of the Jardin des Plantes, and upon which the grand portal of the Pitié Hospital abutted. Diagonally across the street from this portal there was a house bearing the number 4, where most of the foreign naturalists, who worked for some time at the Jardin des Plantes, had rooms. A well-known anatomist, Strauss-Durkheim, author of an excellent anatomy of the cockchafer, upon which he had toiled for twenty years, presided at the table of the house, and knew how to ingratiate himself with the proprietresses, two spinster ladies, who were as gaunt and slender as Papa Strauss was broad and fat. The rooms had special names, derived from the illustrious zoölogists, anatomists, and botanists, who had inhabited them. For one hundred francs a month I had the two rooms of Johannes Müller on the first floor, overlooking the gardens, together with board. Besides the naturalist boarders, many old friends from the neighboring streets took their breakfast and dinner there. They were mostly quiet people, living on the interest of a small capital, and who attended all lectures at the Jardin des Plantes, at the Collège de France, and even at the more distant Sorbonne, solely because they there found warm rooms in the wintertime. The conversation at the dinner-table was rarely very animated. Papa Strauss, whose bald head emerged from behind a very large green lamp-shade, like the full moon from behind a dark wreath of clouds, grunted discontentedly whenever louder tones fell upon his ears.

But, at times, all Papa Strauss's grunts were fruitless, and such was especially the case when the young medical students of the Pitié Hospital came to visit us, and conversed with the naturalists of the house about the scientific questions of the day. Two of them were remarkably tall. One, a very long, slender, lively, witty, and sarcastic young man, was a nephew of Cloquet, the celebrated surgeon, and, to distinguish him from his uncle, the students called him only "Le Grand Serpent." He went afterward, as physician of the shah, to Persia, and was, during a chase, assassinated by unknown murderers, whom the shah himself had probably hired. The other, by far graver, with a melancholy expression of countenance, was Claude Bernard. Magendie's experiments, Longet's investigations of the physiology of the ner-