Cuvier. I. Georges Chretien Leopold Frederic Dagobert, a French naturalist, born at Mont-beliard (then belonging to the duke of Wtirtem-berg), Aug. 23,1769, died in Paris, May 13,1832. The family came originally from a village in the Jura which still bears the name of Cuvier; at the time of the reformation it settled at Mont-beliard, where some of its members held offices of distinction. The grandfather of Cuvier had two sons, the younger of whom entered a Swiss regiment in the service of France; a brave man and excellent officer, he rose to high honors, and at the age of 50 married a lady considerably younger than himself, and had three sons; the oldest died in infancy, the second was the subject of the present sketch, and the third was Frederic Cuvier. As Georges had a delicate constitution, his mother watched over him with the tenderest care; she taught him to read, made him repeat to her his Latin lessons, instructed him in drawing, and developed that ardent desire for knowledge which was so remarkable in him. At the age of 10 he entered the gymnasium, where he remained four years, distinguishing himself in every branch there taught.
At this early period his taste for natural history was stimulated by reading a copy of Buffon which he found at the house of a relative; and his memory was so retentive that at the age of 12 he was perfectly familiar with the descriptions of birds and quadrupeds. At 14 he formed a kind of academy from among his schoolmates, of which he was president, at whose weekly meetings the merits of some book were discussed; here his oratorical and administrative powers began to manifest themselves. A petty trick of a malicious teacher prevented his being sent to the free school of Tubingen, where he would have prepared himself for the church; and this change in his studies he always regarded as most fortunate. Charles, duke of Wtirtemberg, took him under his special favor, and sent him to the academy of Stuttgart in March, 1784. After studying philosophy one year, he applied himself to the science of fiscal administration, because it gave him an opportunity to pursue his favorite natural history in books, in the fields, and in cabinets. One of the professors gave him a copy of the " System of Nature " by Linnasus, which was his library on natural history for several years. "While occupied by such reading and the collection of specimens, he also obtained several prizes in his class studies.
On leaving Stuttgart he became private tutor in the family of Count d'Hericy in Normandy (July, 1788), where he remained till 1794. Here he pursued natural history with great zeal, being very favorably situated for the study of both terrestrial and marine animals. Some terebra-tulce having been dug up in his vicinity, he conceived the idea of comparing fossils with living species. The dissection of some mol-lusks suggested to him the necessity of a reform in the classifications of animals; and here originated the germs of his two great works, the Ossemens fossiles, and the Regne animal. Through his acquaintance with M. Tessier he began a correspondence with Geof-froy St. Hilaire, Lacepede, and other Parisian savants on subjects of natural history; and in the spring of 1795 he accepted their invitation to go to Paris, and was appointed professor in the central school of the Pantheon, for which he is said to have composed his Tableau ele-mentaire de l'histoire naturelle des animator, in which he first published his ideas on zoological arrangement.
M. Mertrud had been appointed professor of comparative anatomy at the jardin des plantes; feeling himself unable from age to discharge all its duties, he called upon Cuvier to assist him, who at this time invited his brother Frederic to join him, and commenced the collection of comparative anatomy which has since become so famous and extensive. In 1796 the national institute was formed, and Cuvier was associated with Lacepede and Daubenton in the section of zoology, and was its third secretary. The death of Daubenton at the close of 1799 made vacant for Cuvier the chair of natural history at the college de France; and in 1802 he succeeded Mertrud as professor of comparative anatomy at the jardin des plantes. In 1800 M. Dumeril, one of Cuvier's pupils, published vols. i. and ii. of his lectures, under the title Lepons d'ana-tomie comparee; the third, fourth, and fifth of the first edition, prepared by G. L. Duvernoy, appeared in 1805. In 1802, appointed by Bonaparte one of the inspectors general to establish lycees or public schools, he founded those of Marseilles, Nice, and Bordeaux. He quitted this office in 1803 on being elected perpetual secretary to the class of natural sciences in the institute, a position which he held until his death; in this capacity he made in 1808 his celebrated report on the progress of the natural sciences since 1789, which appeared in 1810. In 1808 he was also made one of the councillors for life to the imperial university, by which he was frequently brought into close communication with Napoleon. In 1809-'10 he was charged with the organization of the new academies in the Italian states annexed to the empire.
In 1811 he was sent on a similar mission to Holland and the Hanseatic towns, and was made chevalier of the legion of honor. In 1813, though a Protestant, he was sent to Rome to organize a university there, and was also appointed master of requests in the council of state. In 1814 he was named councillor of state by Napoleon, which honor was continued to him by Louis XVIIL, as also that of royal commissary, which enabled him to introduce many improvements in criminal and civil law; and he was made chancellor to the university, which office he retained during life. In 1818 he visited England with his family, to observe its political and scientific institutions; while ther6 he was elected a member of the French academy. In 1819 he was made grand master of the university, and president of the comite de l'interieur, and Louis XVIII created him baron. In 1822 he was appointed grand master of the faculties of Protestant theology, which gave him the superintendence of the religious, civil, and political rights of his creed; and in 1827 was added to this the management of the religious affairs of all the creeds in France except the Roman Catholic. In 1824 he acted as one of the presidents of the council of state at the coronation of Charles X., who in 1826 made him grand officer of the legion of honor.
In 1827 he was offered the appointment of censor of the press, which he refused. In 1830 he recommenced his lectures at the college de France on the "History and Progress of Science in all Ages," which were continued until his death; in this year he made a second visit to England, where he happened to be when the revolution occurred which placed Louis Philippe on the throne of France. He continued to enjoy all his honors and important offices under the citizen king; and in 1832 he was created peer of France, and the appointment of president to the entire council of state only wanted the king's signature when Cuvier expired. - Cuvier lost his mother in 1793, and his father in 1795. In 1803 he married Mme. Duvaucel, a widow with three sons and a daughter, the latter of whom devoted herself to him in his last illness; by this marriage he had four children, of whom three died early; his only remaining child, Clementine, died in 1828, at the age of 22, on the eve of marriage; his wife and two of her first children survived him.
On May 8, 1832, he opened his course of lectures at the college de France. After the first lecture he felt slight pain and numbness in the right arm, and his throat became affected; on the third day both arms were seized, and the power of swallowing was lost, all his mental faculties and the power of speech remaining unaffected; he was perfectly calm and resigned. Four hours before he died he was carried at his own request into the cabinet where the happiest and proudest hours of his life had been spent, and where he wished to draw his last breath. Feeble in his youth, by the time he arrived in Paris his health was seriously deranged; but the excitement of new studies, the change in his habits, and the exertion of lecturing, worked such an alteration that he enjoyed good health until his final illness. He was below the middle stature, with very fair skin and reddish hair up to the age of 30; as his health improved, his hair became darker; at 45 he grew stout, but was always well; at 60 he scarcely seemed more than 50; according to Duvernoy, he never used spectacles when reading or writing.
Cu-vier's brain was remarkably large, weighing between 59 and 60 oz., nearly a pound more than the average; the excess was caused almost entirely by the great development of the cerebral hemispheres, the seat of the intellectual faculties. - A history of Cuvier's labors in the domain of natural history would be the history of natural science in the first half of the 19th century. Linnaeus in 1735 published his Systerna Natural, a mere sketch of the animal kingdom, but still a simple and valuable classification. When Cuvier formed a system based on the invariable characters of anatomical structure instead of external resemblances, he discovered the true basis of a natural classification. He first introduced the division, founded on different plans of structure, of radiata, mollusca, articulata, and vertebrata; and this has been the basis of all modern improvements in zoology. The grand idea of Cuvier was to discover the plan of created beings by the study and comparison of the intimate structure of their organism. With him comparative anatomy and zoology went hand in hand; and from their united facts he deduced the laws of a new science, that of fossil animal life, astonishing the world with the magnitude of his conceptions and the grandeur of his discoveries.
Linnaeus had included in his class of worms all animals which have not red blood, more than half of the animal kingdom. Cuvier's first researches were on this class of animals, which in 1795 he divided into the classes of his invertebrate series. His very first observations in 1792 were on the anatomy of the common patella, certain dipterous insects, and crustaceans, in the second volume of the Journal d'his-toire naturelle. Since the time of Aristotle, the invertebrata had always been neglected until Cuvier published his divisions in 1795, from which may be dated the reformation of natural history. In the same year he studied the structure of the mollusca, divided them into orders, and commenced a series of observations which resulted in his memoir on the history and anatomy of mollusks, published in. 1817. Comparative anatomy was the basis of Ouvier's zoology, and we find memoirs on this subject from 1795 to 1831; the Lemons d'anatomie comparee was but the preface to a more extended work, whose plan he had nearly completed when death overtook him; such as it is, a monument of vast labor, it has furnished materials for the development of this science, and has from its own stores enabled critics to point out unavoidable deficiencies; from a heap of dry, unconnected facts concerning the structure of animals, he obtained the general laws of organization, the limit of variation in each organ, the marked influence of some upon the general system, the subordination of many, and the coexistence or incompatibility of others.
Among the prominent points are: the development of the teeth; the structure of the larynx of birds, of the nasal fossae and organs of hearing in cetaceans, and of the respiratory organs in the perennibranchiate amphibia; the comparison of the brain in the vertebrata, and the relation of its development to the intelligence; the respiration, animal heat, muscular force, sensory and digestive systems of these animals. For this treatise he received one of the decennial prizes instituted by Napoleon in 1810. Cuvier in his scientific labors stated positively only that which he knew from personal observation, and therefore early directed his attention to collecting objects of natural history; the great collection at the jardin des plantes, made chiefly through his own exertions, contributed the materials of which he made such remarkable use; this collection was also necessary for the determination of fossil species, which he began to investigate while residing in Normandy. In 1796 appeared his memoir on the skeletons of the megalonyx and megatherium, and on the skulls of fossil bears from the caverns of Gaylenreuth; from this period till 1812 he contributed many papers on fossil bones, the most important of which were printed in the Annales du museum d'histoire naturelle, and afterward published under the title of Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles (4 vols. 4to, 1812; 2d ed., 1817; 3d ed., 1825, with a preliminary discourse on the "Revolutions of the Surface of the Globe "). Deposits of mollusks and other marine animals had long been known to exist at great distances from and heights above the sea, and were attributed to the deluge; large bones discovered in caverns or dug from the earth had given rise to traditions of the existence of giants in the early ages; even philosophers regarded the fossil impressions in the rocks and the shells in the ground as accidental freaks of nature.
Bernard Palissy, an unlettered potter, discovered the animal origin and former existence of these objects; though he defied the learned men of the 16th century to disprove his statements, it was not until the end of the 17th that his ideas met with a scientific appreciation. Founded on these now acknowledged facts, many theories, all more or less fanciful, were successively adopted and abandoned until the middle of the 18th century, when more rational views began to prevail, and the study of fossils to excite that attention which, in the hands of Cuvier, resulted in establishing many of the positive laws of geology and palaeontology. The bones of the giant Teutobochus had been long since recognized as those of elephants; the skeleton of the supposed antediluvian became under the eye of Cuvier that of a gigantic aquatic salamander. The fact of ancient creations of animals, entirely distinct from the present species, and long since exterminated, was set at rest by the comparison of living and fossil animals by Cuvier. In his first memoir on fossil elephants in 1800 he announced his views on extinct animals, the commencement of a series of observations unparalleled in the annals of science for brilliancy, profound insight into natural laws, and importance of their results.
With him a bone, or even a portion of one, was sufficient for the restoration of a fossil animal which he had never seen, simply from the principle of the unchangeable relations of organs. He made several epochs of creation: the first comprised the mollusks, fishes, and monstrous reptiles; the second, the anaplotherium and palaeotherium, the singular pachyderms of the neighborhood of Paris; the third, the mammoth, mastodon, gigantic sloths, etc.; then came a fourth, the age of man, and the present creation. Anterior to the first epoch was a period in which no organic life, either animal or vegetable, existed on the earth. To Cuvier was principally due the discovery and exploration of this terra incognita of remote ages. In 1817 was published the first edition of the Regne animal (4 vols.), which has served as the basis for subsequent zoological classifications. The last great work of Cuvier, which he undertook in conjunction with Valenciennes, is the Histoire naturelle des poissons; this contains the application of his principles of classification to the class of fishes; eight volumes were published at the time of his death, the first having appeared in 1828, and the eighth in 1831; Valenciennes was intrusted with the task of completing it in 20 volumes, but several more than this number have been published.
Linnaeus had determined about 500 species, and Lacepede 1,500; the title of Cuvier's work implies the magnitude and successful prosecution of his own labors, viz.: "Natural History of Fishes, containing more than 5,000 Species of these Animals, described after Nature, and distributed according to their Affinities, with Observations on their Anatomy, and Critical Researches on their Nomenclature, ancient as well as modern." - Besides the " Report on the Progress of the Physical Sciences," undertaken at the request of Napoleon, Cuvier displayed the extent of his acquirements by his reports before the institute on meteorology and natural philosophy in general, chemistry and physics, mineralogy and geology, botany, anatomy, and physiology, zoology, travels connected with natural science, medicine and surgery, the veterinary art, and agriculture. He contributed many articles on natural history to the Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles; prominent among these is the one on "Nature," in which he combats the metaphysical systems of pantheism and the physio-philosophers, and refers everything to the wisdom and goodness of an almighty Creator. He wrote many articles for a kindred work, the Dictionnaire des sciences medicates, the most important of which is that on "Animal." As secretary of the academy of sciences, it was his duty to read historical notices of deceased members at its public meetings; three volumes of these sketches have been published, containing 39 articles.
Besides these, he delivered several discourses at funerals of academicians. He was quite as eminent a legislator as naturalist, though less known as such; and, as royal commissary, councillor of the university, member of the state council, and president of the committee of the interior, he introduced beneficial changes in the municipal and provincial laws, and in public instruction. His language, both written and spoken, was clear, forcible, precise, and animated, frequently rising to the highest eloquence. The benignity and noble expression of his countenance was remarkable. In private, he was kind, affable, and ready to communicate information. He had the greatest love for order and regularity; he rarely allowed himself to be disturbed during the hours set aside for study, but during his hours of audience he was accessible to everybody. With his other accomplishments, he was an expert draughtsman; many of his plates were drawn by himself, and he left a large collection of designs intended to illustrate his unfinished work on comparative anatomy.
The disinterestedness of Cuvier's character is shown not only by the acts of his life, but by the small fortune he left at his death; having filled offices of the highest trust, which he might have turned to his pecuniary advantage, he left only about $20,000 and a library which cost him a similar sum; this was purchased by government, and given to various institutions, principally to the jardin des plantes. When we consider the number of offices he held, and whose duties he conscientiously performed, any one of which alter his death was sufficient for a man of great talent, and some of which could not be as competently filled, we are able to form some idea of the varied acquirements, the unceasing industry, the wonderful memory, and the transcendent ability of Cu-vier. By universal consent he is regarded as one of the best of men, most brilliant of writers, soundest of thinkers, most far-sighted of philosophers, purest of statesmen, and the greatest naturalist of modern times. II. Frederic, brother of the preceding, born at Montbeliard, June 28, 1773, died in Strasburg, July 24, 1838. With a strong love for the science of mechanics, he abandoned his college studies, and became the apprentice of a clockmaker; and he would doubtless have been an eminent mechanician, had not his invitation to Paris in 1797 by his brother opened his eyes to a new world of natural science.
He was employed in preparing the descriptive catalogue of the skeletons in the collection of comparative anatomy at the jardin des plantes; this was the beginning of his work on the teeth of mammals, published in 1825, which led to many important changes in the natural arrangement of this class, especially in the subdivision into genera, most of which are now adopted in zoology. In 1804 he assumed the direction of the menagerie at the jardin des plantes, which enabled him to study the habits, instincts, and intelligence of animals; the results are given in his Histoire naturelles des mammiferes (1818-'37). Geoffroy St. Hilaire was associated with him in this work, of which 70 livraisons in folio appeared, describing in a simple, charming, and elegant style more than 500 animals under his charge, with anecdotes illustrating their habits and intelligence. Many of the separate papers were first printed in the Annates du museum oVhistoire naturelle. While Descartes and Buffon denied all intelligence to animals, and Condillac and George Leroy, on the contrary, accorded to animals even the highest intellectual operations, confounding instinct with intelligence, Frederic Cuvier drew the line between the intelligence of different orders, tracing it from the lowest rodents through ruminants, pachyderms, and carnivora, to the quadrumana.
He first" showed that domesticity in animals depends on their sociability, being not a change but a development of their natural condition. Man found animals living in society, and he made such domestic; we may tame the solitary and fierce bear, lion, and tiger, but we cannot domesticate them. F. Cuvier was nominated in 1810 inspector of the academy of Paris, and in 1831 inspector general of the university. He advocated the introduction of the study of natural history into schools and colleges by graded text books shorn of technicalities. In 1827 he was elected professor of comparative physiology at the jardin des plantes, a chair created for him by the minister of public instruction. While on a tour for the annual inspection of the colleges, and about to deliver a course of lectures on natural history, he was seized with paralysis at Strasburg, of which he died. His last words were: "Let my son place upon my tomb this inscription, ' Frederic Cuvier, brother of Georges Cuvier.'" Besides the two great works above mentioned, and many memoirs in the Annales du museum d'histoire naturelle, Frederic Cuvier wrote numerous articles in the Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles, and L'histoire des cetaces, in the Suites d Buffon (1836). His name was Georges Frederic, but the first name was not applied to him, but always given to his brother.