Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/418

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
404 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the prison of Saint-Firmin, near Geoffroy's residence; and he, on the 2d of September, getting access to the prison under a disguise, signified to them that he intended to help them escape. "No," said the Abbé de Keranran, "we will not leave our brethren, for that would only make their destruction more certain." Geoffroy, however, got a ladder, and took it after nightfall to the corner of the prison-wall which he had designated, and waited for eight hours before the first priest appeared. One of the prisoners hurt his foot in jumping, and our hero carried him in his arms to a neighboring yard. Twelve of the priests had been rescued, when one of the guards fired a gun, the shot from which went through Geoffroy's clothes, and aroused him to the fact, which he had not noticed, that the sun had risen. He then returned home; but, though he had arranged to meet the priests afterward, he was not destined to see them again; and, when he went to the appointed rendezvous, he found himself alone. Exhausted by his efforts, Geoffroy hurried home to Étampes, where he fell dangerously ill, but was brought back to health under the salubrious influence of the fresh country air. Haüy's letters to him at this time attest the affection which existed between the master and his pupil. In one of them the great mineralogist wrote (October 6, 1792): "Your letter reached me just as I was going out to dinner; it was like a delicate dessert, of which I immediately gave a part to M. Lhomond; we were never so happy at the table except when you were really with us"—and then he advises Geoffroy to suspend for a while, for the sake of the restoration of his health, the hard study of crystallography, and attach himself to plants, "which present themselves under a more graceful mien and speak a more intelligible language. A course in botany is all pure hygiene." Geoffroy resumed his studies in Paris in November, and in March following, at the request of Daubenton and on the nomination of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, he was appointed sub-keeper and assistant demonstrator in the Natural History cabinet of the Jardin des Plantes. On the reorganization of the Jardin des Plantes as the Museum of Natural History, in June, 1793, he was named to the chair of Zoölogy of Vertebrated Animals. He hesitated to accept the position because his studies had been in mineralogy, but Daubenton persuaded him to do so. Immediately after his installation, he began the foundation of the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes, beginning with three itinerant collections of animals that had been confiscated by the police and taken to the museum. Of what he accomplished in this department he has written: "When I began to direct my studies to the natural history of animals, that science had not been encouraged at Paris. It had never been made a branch of instruction, and I did not expect that I should shortly be made the first one to treat it in a public course. Established in the year II (1793-94) as Professor of the Natural History of Mammalia and Birds, I became also an administrator in the museums of the collections of these classes. There were then