Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/103

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

ANTON DOHRN, 1840-1909

In the death of Anton Dohrn zoology mourns a veteran leader, and many zoologists feel—though some of these may not have known him personally—that they have lost a genial and helpful friend. Every one knew him directly or indirectly, and one may even say that there are but few zoologists who are not in some way or another in his debt. For he founded the great station at Naples, and fostered its activities in many directions. It is no mean test of his successful management that it is supported by the funds of many nations and of many diverse institutions.

Dohrn's monument will ever be the Stazione Zoologica: its inception was his, its upbuilding, its policy and its completion—if such a work can ever be called completed. From the time of his early studies—while indeed he was in Messina, in the sixties—he had ever before him the vision of a completed zoological station, an international one, vast in size, splendid in equipment. And with prophetic eye he selected Naples as the field of his life-work. He soon found that his project was not an easy one to carry out, especially in, days when sea-side laboratories were t rare and obscure, and when indeed zoology had hardly come to its own in the scheme of sciences. But Dohrn surmounted the difficulties, scientific, political and financial. In the last regard, when the Academy of Berlin failed to endorse his project, he showed to friends and enemies his faith in his convictions by putting his personal funds, almost all of them, into the melting pot. In the end his arguments were so convincing that the German government granted him a handsome annual subsidy, and insured the success of his undertaking.

Dohrn's history can here be given only in the briefest lines. He was born in 1840, the son of a North German Fabrikbesitzer of scientific tastes. He became a student of Schnell in Jena, devoting himself especially to the study of the arthropods. He was appointed privat-docent; then he traveled, theorized and wrote, hut he taught little; apparently he did not care for the class-room, and even at the end he could point to but few whom he had directly trained. At the outbreak of the war of 1870, Dohrn became a soldier and fought through the campaign; then he returned to his | great plan of the stazione and his struggles in its behalf. The opening of the first building was in 1874, the publications (Mittheilungen and Memoirs) of the station began in 1879, the second building was completed in 1890, the third building (for physiology) in 1907. Through all these years he continued his difficult researches, publishing his results in a series of memoirs. From the first to the last Dohrn showed a rare many-sidedness; to many he was ever the genial friend, to a few the explosive and repentant enemy; at one moment he was the tactful executive, at another the amateur of music and art, at all times the idealist and the profound and conscientious scholar, ever ready (too ready some said) to accept the evidence of facts and to change his scientific views. He had qualities, all in all, which made him a personage of first magnitude in the annals of zoology.

Dohrn's activities in research could readily be made the theme of a volume. For he was a tireless worker and his publications touch many of the most important problems of his day. His earlier years were spent in the study of the embryology of the arthro-