Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/25

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CHAPTER I
His Early Years


No other great American has ever received so many honors abroad and so little recognition at home as has the oceanographer, Matthew Fontaine Maury. While his own country was but meagerly, and sometimes grudgingly, rewarding him, there was hardly a civilized foreign country that did not bestow upon him some mark of distinguished consideration. This was not merely a case of distance lending enchantment to the view, but rather one of perspective; those near him with but few exceptions had only a partial and incomplete view of the man, while foreigners at a distance saw the complete figure of the great scientist unobscured by the haze of professional jealousy or political and sectional prejudice. But there is another kind of perspective,—that produced by the lapse of time; hence it is that we now are enabled to appreciate the greatness of a man irrespective of the side he took in the War between the States in those "unhappy things and battles long ago". It is this perspective of time that makes possible the writing of this biography with the confidence that the time has now come when throughout our entire country Maury's greatness as a scientist and as a man will be seen in its true proportions, and his fine struggle against obstacles to attain his ideals and accomplish his purposes will serve as an inspiration and a challenge to every American.

Whatever the obstacles were that Maury had to contend with, there was no handicap in his ancestry, for

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