Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/September 1897/Sketch of Samuel Lockwood
|SKETCH OF SAMUEL LOCKWOOD.|
IN Freehold, N. J., and almost upon the historic ground of the battle of Monmouth Courthouse, in an inviting home built to his liking, lived until January 9, 1894, the Rev. Samuel Lockwood, Ph. D., widely known as a general naturalist, and a shrewd observer and describer of the habits of animals. Such was his retiring and unpretentious nature that the writer had great difficulty in securing his consent to the publication of the story of his life. But long acquaintance and occasional meetings at last thawed the reticence, and I am now, after his death, permitted to give a brief account of it.
Prof. Lockwood was born in Mansfield, England, January 20, 1819. His father, William Lockwood, was a man of devout piety, a leader among the Wesleyan Methodists, and, as a citizen, well versed in public affairs. His mother, who was taken from him at an early age, and for whom he entertained a loving regard, was the daughter of a Moravian exile from Prussia, who became head master of an English endowed school, and was known for his superior artistic tastes and for his engravings on copper. On her death the household in England was broken up, and the father with his little boy started for New York city, where the boy was brought up and received his education. I am unable to give his exact age at the time, but in very tender years the future naturalist began to unfold. A huckleberry party, going into the country one day, were caught in a drenching thundershower. Returning in haste to their stopping place, the boy Samuel left the others, and, making a short cut, went by a bypath through a low meadow. Suddenly he paused. Finding a snake lying in the path, and supposing the reptile was dead, he picked it up and carried it home, reaching the house in advance of the others. Before the rest of the party came in, a little boy in the house was taken into the confidence of the young naturalist, who, with the reptile on his lap and a pin in one hand, discoursed to him about the beauty of the scales upon his snake, pointing to their outlines with the pin. So absorbed was the juvenile lecturer in his theme that he was unaware that the entire company had become his auditors.
Young Lock wood's education, with the exception of the bare rudiments, had to be provided by the labor of his hands and brain. He worked his way into the University of the City of New York, where he attracted the attention of the eminent classicist. Dr. Lewis, and of the elder Draper, eminent in physics. With Dr. Henry, the rhetorician, his relation was different. Lockwood had somewhat independent notions concerning the rhetorical proprieties, and, holding college compositions in no high esteem, failed in a corresponding degree to be appreciated by the professor. Yet he was all the time paying his way through college with his pen, being employed as an assistant editor on the New York Sun, then under the control of Moses Y. Beach. Very much surprised was the professor when he learned from one of Lockwood's classmates that he, the member of the class who stood lowest in marks, was thus practically achieving a substantial literary success.
In consequence of an attack of brain fever, Lockwood left college during his sophomore year and retired to the country to recruit. A classmate came to visit him, and during his stay the two youths went for a hunt. They bagged some birds and squirrels, which were carried to the farmhouse where they were staying. The good wife prepared the game for dinner in delicate style, but while the classmate ate with evident relish, Lockwood, although declaring that he was "as hungry as a bear," found his conscience smiting him, and the savory dish seemed only to accuse him of a wicked and selfish slaughter.
Prolonging his stay in the country through the vacation season, Lockwood one day discovered an oriole's nest at the extremity of a provokingly high and long branch of an oak. To get at the nest without destroying the limb was impossible. At the farmhouse he expressed a wish to get the young birds, when an inmate said, in a taunting way:
"I'd like to see a city chap get them birds!"
That was a challenge. He undertook the capture, and by a series of ingenious devices, combined with steady persistence, secured the whole brood.
This incident rooted more deeply than ever the taste of the student for natural history. When his graduation was near, Dr. Draper, the chemist, in whose class Lockwood stood very high, endeavored to impress upon him that it was his duty to enter the medical college. The young man's trend was, however, toward the Christian ministry. This inclination, which became an irresistible desire, was encouraged by the Rev. Dr. Ferris, afterward Chancellor of the University, and Colonel Crosby, father of the late Rev. Dr. Crosby. Mr. Lockwood entered the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Dutch Church at New Brunswick, N. J.
Mr. Lockwood had been privately married soon after graduation from the university, and still kept the fact a secret when he entered the seminary. He soon found himself without resources, and in his trouble had recourse to prayer. Ultimately the singular thought occurred to him, on which he acted at once, of going to a business man in New Brunswick, who was not regarded as generous or liberal, and proposing a loan of one hundred dollars on bis individual note. The proposal was accepted, and the financier, taking young Lockwood's hand in his own, wished him God speed.
Immediately after this transaction the seminarian went into a barber's shop, and, while waiting his turn, picked up a city paper which offered a series of premiums for the four best stories on a given subject. Reaching home, he told his wife what he had read. She said, "You must write for the first prize!" The story was written, and won the first prize. It was called The Treasure Hunters, and was written during the California gold fever, but bears not even a remote relation to the Argonauts.
Mr. Lockwood was graduated from the seminary and was licensed to preach in 1850. He received a call to the church at Cortlandtown, N. Y., where he remained only two years, employing for diversion his spare time in the pursuit of natural history, collecting insects and studying animals. In 1852 he was called to Gilboa, N. Y., where, located by the side of the Schoharie, he became deeply impressed with the fossil richness of the region.
A clerical agent for a benevolent society came to Gilboa, and after having succeeded, with Mr. Lockwood's aid, in securing the largest subscription ever given in the church for outside benevolence, was taken by him for a stroll in the fields and by the fossil beds. Mr. Lockwood spoke of the geological aspect of the region and of the great age of the Catskills, when the agent responded that it "was all the work of the flood." "Could the flood," asked Mr. Lockwood, "build up these stony mountains filled with shells for thousands of feet deep? . . . We will let the rocks speak for themselves." Picking up a soft stone from the stream, he dropped it on the rock at the agent's feet, when it broke, revealing a mass of Devonian trilobites. "Now," he said, "these fossils were deposited in quiet waters, and by no turbulent flood. So gently was each one laid by Nature in its bed to die, that not one of the delicate striæ that beautify it was injured or disturbed. But then, why should not the Creator have loved the beautiful before man was made?" "What! what!" exclaimed the agent; "death in the world before man was made? I see! You're an infidel!" The agent's society seems, however, to have overlooked this matter of infidelity, for it made Mr. Lockwood an honorary member in recognition of his services to it.
The young minister was soon reading other "sermons in stones."
Strolling one day along a high bank when the water of the stream was low, he observed some carbonaceous markings. With the aid of hammer and chisel these were proved to be relics of an ancient flora. He extracted from the face of the cliff a bell-shaped stone, the lower part of which was more than three feet in diameter and the upper surface about two feet. It was the base of a shaft of a huge tree fern.
In 1854 Mr. Lock wood was called from Gilboa to Key port, N. J., and he took with him a careful drawing of the big fossil. About two years afterward he revisited his haunts in the Schoharie Valley, when with other large fossils he removed the one just described, and presented it to Rutgers College. The moving of this mass—some thirteen hundred pounds—over thirty-seven miles of the Catskills was not without incidents. The young student was much annoyed, at points where the horses were fed, by inquiries about the "big stun." His paleontological lecture upon the rock as being the base of a wonderful plant rather puzzled the country people, as at Durham, N, Y., where the most rational theory that could be conceived to account for his proceedings was that the rock contained gold. This theory won respect for the geologist, who was now viewed in the light of a mining explorer.
Mr. Lockwood prepared drawings of his fossil plants, intending to send them to Hugh Miller, when the news came of the Scotch geologist's death. The fossils were studied and described by Sir J. William Dawson, of Montreal, and the descriptions with plates were published. The chief fossil received the name Caulopteris Lockwoodi, meaning Lockwood's "wing-shafted" tree fern. Each stem was a symmetrical column of sixty feet in height, with vast fronds like far outreaching wings.
Upon invitation of the late Prof. George H. Cook, then the New Jersey State Geologist, Mr. Lockwood presented the fossil to Rutgers College, with a speech, at a meeting of the Students' Natural History Society, in commencement week.
Mr. Lockwood reasoned out, without aid from books, to the conclusion that, though resembling the Carboniferous fossils, these Devonian plants must have antedated them; and that, though the rocks containing them were superficial in the Catskills, they probably extended, in Pennsylvania, beneath the coal beds. His interest in geology became from this time very lively.
In his new field in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Mr. Lockwood's attention was directed to the Cretaceous deposits known as the marl beds. They exhibited a new phase of organic remains in their vertebrate fossils, attesting to the former presence in the region of a race of immense reptiles quite as wonderful in their way as the Devonian cryptogams of the Catskills. During one of the visits of Inspection which he was in the habit of making to the clay bluffs near Keyport, he observed what appeared to be the surface of a broken bone, black and friable. Working very carefully, he extracted two enormous pieces of bone thickly coated with iron oxide—the distal ends of the fibula and tibia of some very large animal. Examining his find on the way home, he noticed a clean fracture, as if a spur had been broken from the bottom of the tibia, indicating a novel form. He returned to the bluff and extracted the missing piece. This bone was examined by Marsh and Cope, and figured by Cope and described by him as Ornithotarsus immanis, or "immense bird-ankled beast." The face of this ankle joint was thirteen inches and three quarters in the longer diameter; and the bones indicated an animal with long hind feet, like those of a bird, and short fore feet, that could stand up and browse upon the high trees of the forests in which it lived. Cope estimated the length of its hind legs at twelve feet.
Mr. B. Waterhouse Hawkins, an English artist skilled in the restoration of fossil forms, had come to this country and made some restorations of ancient gigantic animals—the Hadrosaurus, for instance, at the Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia, and at Princeton College. As he had made restorations of extinct English reptiles for a public park in England, it was thought that a good educational effect would result if a series of restorations of the so much grander extinct reptiles of the Cretaceous period of New Jersey could be set up in Central Park, and this gentleman was accordingly engaged for the project. He had a studio in New York city, where Prof. Lockwood visited him at his work. The artist's plan was, first to reconstruct the entire skeleton from the fossil bones, then to habilitate it in flesh by molding the clay upon it, so that the animal really had a true skeleton inside. Mr. Hawkins had already set up a Hadrosaurus when Mr. Lockwood called, but the visitor noticed that there was a break in the fibula. In answer to an inquiry about this omission, he was told that the beast had a singular articulation of this joint for which the fossil bones gave no data, and the artist had been unable to invent it. Mr. Lockwood modestly said to the artist:
"Why, I can articulate that for you."
Mr. Hawkins was incredulous, and seems to have continued so even after Mr. Lockwood told him he had the articulation at his house. Returning home, Mr. Lockwood made drawings of the part, the receipt of which set the English artist "crazy," as he expressed himself in a letter asking the loan of the bones. With their aid the difficulty was solved. Mr. Lockwood was afterward asked to sell the bones, to be given to the British Museum, but he preferred to keep them for America.
This incident was followed by a very curious psychological experience. Mr. Lockwood received from Mr. Hawkins an original cartoon of the Cretaceous dinosaurs, accompanied by a letter asking him to write a popular descriptive text to it. While his mind was exercised on this subject he was attacked by a violent fever, culminating in delirium. In this delirium he dreamed of a terrific battle of saurians, in which all the giants of the family took part. After recovery from his illness Mr. Lockwood wrote the dream down, and it proved a very satisfactory libretto to the cartoon.
While Mr. Hawkins was still engaged in his saurian reconstruction in Central Park, the "Tweed Ring" rose into power, and, not appreciating the value of this scientific labor, or rather not caring for it unless it was re-enforced by the kind of consideration acceptable to political bosses, ordered the figures, representing the patient labors of two or three years, destroyed. Prof. Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, intervened to prevent this devastation, but he had no hearing.
Mr. Lockwood's residence at Keyport gave him opportunity to study ichthyic life. As a first result of his researches in this new field appeared his article in the American Naturalist, The Sea Horse and its Young, which describes the remarkable fact that the male fish takes from the female the eggs and places them in an abdominal pouch, in which he carries them until they are hatched. It was upon this discovery, published in 1867, that the University of New York conferred upon her alumnus the degree of Ph. D. Some studies on insects at this time led to economic results.
After reading a paper before the New York Lyceum of Natural History on A New Parasite in the Eel, the society requested the doctor to take up the study of Limulus, the horsefoot or king crab. Dr. Lockwood was promised the loan of a compound microscope for the purpose, but this he did not get, and did his work with an instrument which cost but three dollars. The paper was read to the society in 1869, and published in the American Naturalist in 1870. It showed that in one of its embryonic forms Limulus is a trilobite. Dr. Lockwood also demonstrated that in successive months of its larval life it went through further phases representing those higher fossil forms known as Pterygotus. The author furnished eggs to Prof. A. Packard, who sent some to Jena. The article in the American Naturalist attracted much attention, and pointed out the way to a number of eminent workers on the problem who were able to use the best appliances. Dr. Packard led; then Prof. Dorhn, the biologist of the University of Jena, who translated the Lockwood article into German. Dr. Richard Owen, the eminent English anatomist, occupied two evenings of the Linnean Society of London citing largely from the article and complimenting it. The paper received praise also from Milne-Edwards.
In his studies in fishes, besides some abstruse problems which he attacked, not always with equal success, Dr. Lockwood gave a charming lecture on sticklebacks, which included some descriptions of their nesting and the raising of their young. He also made some discoveries among the mollusks. But perhaps his most extended labor was devoted to the oyster, as is shown in his report published by the State of New Jersey. Upon this subject as a lecturer and writer he won great applause and enduring fame. An amusing incident, which was at the same time a compliment, occurred some years ago when Dr. Lockwood was lecturing on The Life of an Oyster. Two oystermen, at the conclusion of the lecture, got into audible discussion over what they had heard. Said one to the other, "I tell you, Ned, he knows it all, from the cedar on Lebanon down to soft clams!"
Dr. Lockwood's studies were not confined to fishes, but he examined and investigated zoology generally. There is also a third phase in his scientific character which must not be omitted. His discovery of the fossil plants in New York led him into the study of living plants; hence he was not without reputation as a comparative botanist. He seemed to see all things as a unit—nothing unrelated—Nature as the oneness of the Infinite Maker. His knowledge of these several fields, which was sharply defined and comprehensive, and his simple yet almost poetic generalization, made everything from his pen attractive to the popular reader.
But back of all was a devout mind, with an overflowing love of any and every living form, animal or plant. In his study his aquarium was always. an attractive object to visitors. He even had a little froggery, where different species of frogs enjoyed themselves. Snakes and lizards, too, entered into his friendship, and afforded him opportunity for the study of their habits. Then, with all these, there seemed to be a pathological instinct in the good man's heart. As a microscopist he investigated the diseases of fishes and of plants.
He was fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, President of the American Microscopical Society, and President of the United States Hay Fever Association. His latest contribution to the Manual of the last-named association was an article on The Comparative Hygiene of the Atmosphere in Relation to Hay Fever. An article of similar character was reproduced, together with the plate from the original, abroad, where Dr. Lockwood was well known among scientists, and was an honorary member of the Belgian Microscopical Society.
Speaking of his aquarium, the writer on one occasion observed in a north room of his study several small aquaria, which were the quarantines to which he intrusted the sick animals while making every effort to save them. These aquaria seemed to be divided into sanitaria for different kinds of maladies. On a later visit the doctor was found going over a large number of mounted slides for the microscope which he had prepared, containing fungi and microbes taken recently from sick fishes. Dr. Lockwood's general and specific knowledge in so many fields, with his well-known love for the young and his lifelong experience as an educator, may readily account for the indescribable charm of his writings; but perhaps especially are these features discovered in his two little volumes of Animal Memoirs, of which a third volume, to embrace the reptiles and fishes, was to follow in due course.
Dr. Lockwood lived to be about seventy-five years of age, but time had dealt so kindly with him that his mind seemed to be expanding and ripening as the years went by. His tenacity of purpose in the pursuit of knowledge continued to brighten an intellect that was never dull, while his conversation glowed with the enthusiasm of youth and charmed with a delicacy of thought that was intellectually refining and pure. He was ever a student, but never a recluse. Seated by his beloved microscope, he seemed to play upon science as a master of the violin feels for its magical chords, and he caught by his sympathetic comment upon insect and animal life the attention of his hearers and held it firmly and harmoniously in touch with his own. His fondness for clearness of speech brought him the admiration of those who know science only by name, and his geniality and hospitality won for him the love of all who came within the circle of his home. In his home life he was ever gentle, considerate, and kind, and his love for his work was as absorbing as the simplicity of his life was sweet.