Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/56

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28
MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY

that might be made as to why a young naval officer should attempt the writing of a book.

Of the reviews of Maury's work, one of the most interesting appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger of June, 1836. It was written by Edgar Allan Poe, who was then editor of that magazine, and closed with the following paragraph: "The spirit of literary improvement has been awakened among the officers of our gallant navy. We are pleased to see that science also is gaining votaries from its ranks. Hitherto how little have they improved the golden opportunities of knowledge which their distant voyages held forth, and how little have they enjoyed the rich banquet which nature spreads for them in every clime they visit! But the time is coming when, imbued with a taste for science and a spirit of research, they will become ardent explorers of the regions in which they sojourn. Freighted with the knowledge which observation only can impart, and enriched with collections of objects precious to the student of nature, their return after the perils of a distant voyage will then be doubly joyful. The enthusiast in science will anxiously await their coming, and add his cordial welcome to the warm greetings of relatives and friends". Poe, perhaps, had no idea how soon his prophetic words were to be fulfilled,—and by the very man whose book he had so favorably reviewed.

After making this successful entry into the field of authorship, Maury lectured on scientific subjects in Fredericksburg and set about the studying of mineralogy, geology, and drawing. In these studies he made such progress as to qualify himself to become superintendent of the United States Gold Mine near Fredericksburg. He spent the summer of 1836 with his family at this mine.