Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/16

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10
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Before me are representatives of the African race, members of the university in full enjoyment of all its educational advantages. Fitly may they unite in honoring the memory of one who so effectively aided the establishment of this cosmopolitan institution. For, whatever may have been Agassiz's technical vieves as to the diversity of origin of the so-called human races, and however he may have deprecated amalgamation and the premature conferring of certain political privileges, his correspondence with Dr. Samuel G. Howe leaves no doubt as to his position upon the fundamental issue:

The negroes should be equal to other men before the law. . . . They are entitled to their freedom, to the regulation of their own destiny, to the enjoyment of their life, of their earnings, of their family circle. ... It is one of our primary obligations to remove every obstacle that may retard their highest development.

One of Agassiz's two daughters married Quincy A., brother to Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the "Fifty-fourth," the first of the two Massachusetts colored regiments in the Civil War. On the eighteenth of July, 1863, Colonel Shaw fell at Fort Wagner and was there buried with his dusky followers. So far from regretting the circumstances of his death or the nature of his last resting-place, the hero's name has been repeated in the second generation.

By none should the memory of Agassiz be cherished more devoutly than by the science teachers of America. I refer here not so much to the favored few[1] who enjoyed his direct instruction whose office is so finely drawn in these lines by James Eussell Lowell:


He was a Teacher; why be grieved for him
 Whose living word still stimulates the air?
In endless file shall loving scholars come.
 The glow of his transmitted touch to share.

From highest to lowest, every teacher of natural science in this country is indebted to Agassiz for improvements in methods, for elevation of public respect, and for increase in compensation.

Upon the point last named Agassiz had cause for entertaining decided views. For years his regular salary was only $1,500; indeed, not until the very end did a gift relieve him entirely from the necessity for outside labors which doubtless shortened his days. His last letter to me, dated November 25, 1873, contained the following significant sentence: "If scientific men are ever to be placed on a proper footing of independence in this country, it is for the younger to work for it. They have a fine opportunity of doing it by pointing out what the older men have done on a starving allowance." On an earlier occasion he declared

  1. For example, A. C. Apgar, of Trenton; W. O. Crosby, of Boston; W. K. Brooks, of the Johns Hopkins; David S. Jordan, of Stanford; C. S. Minot and W. H. Niles, of Boston; T. B. Stowell, of Potsdam, N. Y.; C. 0. Whitman, of Chicago, and A. E. Verrill, of Yale.