Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/26

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20
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

wrote: "Among my plans is a course of practical instruction in Natural History at the seashore, during the summer months, chiefly with the view of preparing teachers to introduce Natural History into our schools. ..."

In the two cases just mentioned it may be said that the advantage was mutual although mine much more than his. But in the following instance his words and deeds can bear no other interpretation than disinterested willingness to aid another at his own inconvenience.

In preparing for a course of lectures before the Lowell Institute I wished to dissect the limbs of certain rare animals which we could neither collect nor afford to buy. On making my wants known to him he promptly took a knife, went with me to the museum store-rooms, and with his own hands cut an arm and a leg from each of several precious specimens. In thanking him I said I had reason to believe that the invitation to give the course was due largely to his having taken the trouble to commend me to the curator; and that I wished he would let me make return by doing some work for him without compensation. He replied, emphatically, "I could not think of it; it is my business to help young men."

In Agassiz were combined five qualities, not uncommon singly or even by twos and threes, but rarely so completely united or so highly developed in one personality, viz., attractiveness, eloquence, strength, energy and helpfulness. As distinguished from Napoleon, from Bismarck, from Goethe, and even from Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Agassiz was at once fascinating, persuasive, powerful, active and uplifting. Under my personal observation have come but two others comparable with him in this most potent combination of great qualities, viz., Henry Ward Beecher and Phillips Brooks. They were preachers; so was he. They based their ministrations upon what they regarded as the Word of God; he drew his texts from what, with equal faith, he held to be the works of a Divine Creator. They were also alike in this; never was voice or hand raised otherwise than for the betterment of mankind.

On returning from Penikese in the fall of 1873 I went to the museum to arrange some specimens, when he came in and reproached me for not letting him know I was there. I explained that I knew he was tired and ill and that I would not take his time. He replied, "Doctor, you are always kind," and those last words have been treasured as a benediction. This coming fifth of September it will be thirty-four years since I beheld my teacher, friend and benefactor in the flesh, but in my mind's eye his image will never fade. Take him for all in all I ne'er shall look upon his like again. Would that it might be justly said of all great men, as I now say of Agassiz: The sun shone brighter at his birth, and shadowed when he died.