Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/63

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55
AN OLD NATURALIST—CONRAD GESNER.

Gesner's short life was a struggle with poverty and ill health, but he did not suffer neglect, for there is evidence that his contemporaries

PSM V47 D063 Gesner rabbit.jpg
Fig. 7.

held him in honor and took a just pride in his industry and simple earnestness.

The magistrates of Zurich appointed him chief physician and Professor of Philosophy and Natural History in 1553, and the magistrates of Lucerne welcomed him, in 1554, with those distinguished honors which were usually reserved for high public officers.

The Emperor Ferdinand granted armorial bearings to him and his family, with a statement of his desire to express his appreciation of his work, and to encourage others to follow his example.

His death was the glorious climax of his earnest, laborious life. When the plague broke out in Zurich in 1564 he devoted his scientific skill and professional experience to the effort to discover some way to check it; he threw himself into this inquiry with such earnestness that he himself contracted the disease, and, after a short illness, died in his museum, to which he had been

PSM V47 D063 Gesner rooster.jpg
Fig. 8.

carried a short time before, at his request.

He was interred in the cloisters of the great church of Zurich the next day with most distinguished honors, and a large concourse of people of all ranks followed him to the tomb, amid the mourning of the whole city.

I have selected as an illustration of Gesner's method of treating his subjects the chapter on the marmot; for here, as in many other places, we find proof of the injustice of the assertion that he was not an original observer, but simply a compiler.