Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1835 — 1900)

Wilfrid de Fonvielle, La Science Illustrée N°652 - (26 mai 1900)
Sunday 31 August 2014 — Latest update Thursday 5 January 2017

Death is cruel to the Academy of Sciences, she seems hell-bent on his desk. After one of his two perpetual secretaries, turn it is one of its two presidents.

We must add that the loss of Milne-Edwards seems to be a sad corollary to that of Bertrand. Indeed, it is to be released too quickly from his rooms of the Museum, and he went to the Academy to supplement Bertrand dying, Milne-Edwards succumbed to illness seemingly inconsequential which he suffered.

As Bertrand, Milne-Edwards was a precocious child. Early on he gathered all academic laurels. There is no examination that he had passed with white balls. For a long time he was appointed as the successor of his father. He found the advantages and also disadvantages of this facility beginning.

The originality of his talent has suffered from the hereditary principle. Instead of light, it was mainly a reflection; not having to open new path, he followed the path that the author of his life had drawn before him. The father of Milne-Edwards was born in England and had happily combined the qualities of his homeland and his adopted country. He was neither a Cuvier, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, not even a Darwin, but his lessons of comparative physiology will remain as a monument of meaning and insight. Precisely because the author has no general system of its own, the book is destined to last long.

Many curious and interesting observations that would form as many chapters of Comparative physiology courses must Alphonse Milne-Edwards. It was very clear, and professed great. What especially characterizes his career are his underwater explorations, carried aboard the Travailleur and Talisman. It was, indeed, one of the first to follow the momentum by Norwegian scientists in the Arctic Ocean with the Flora and Fauna are so rich: as if nature wished to compensate for the richness of its polar deserts, sterility of the snow and frozen ground.

Results trips Alphonse Milne-Edwards were exhibited at the Museum, described by all scientific journals and produced a great sensation. That’s when the administration of the Museum realized the advantage to organize special exhibitions in honor of travelers returning from distant lands and unfamiliar, or particular interest in patriotic colonial perspective.

These exhibits were especially frequent from 1891 when Alphonse Milne-Edwards was appointed director of the Museum, replacing the late Fresny and friendly, made ​​of compulsorily retired for not sufficiently taken within the limits of the appropriations granted by the department.

Alphonse Milne-Edwards was an outstanding administrator and nine years of his leadership certainly mark in the history of the Garden, which Milne-Edwards knew every detail, because he lived from the age of six years; at a time when children are usually thinking only play ball, or making sand pile, it seems he was already studying convinced observer. Maybe he already dreamed that the command of this beautiful science was awarded?

The Geographical Society is right to associate heart tributes to the Academy of Sciences prodigal to the deceased, because no man has done more to develop and consolidate the alliance of natural history with the physical description the globe on which we are chained, despite spikes pushed up by followers of Charles and Montgolfier.

Its creation was the most useful for the establishment of an annual course for explorers. Almost all scientists and heroism that have extended the colonial area of ​​France took advantage of this remarkable initiative. This teaching was revolutionary in the way of being the great Normal School, professed in the great amphitheater of the Garden, while for rest have declared victory on the battlefield, the National Convention decreed even against ignorance and superstition. Alphonse Milne-Edwards deserved honor that made ​​him the Minister of Education by delivering his eulogy during the funeral celebrated April 24 at the Montparnasse cemetery. He will remain in his administration a lasting monument, the new building housing the collections of zoology. We can say that it is a beautiful high Palais in all of creation. It is a kind of luxury befitting a republican nation whose museum was the idol at the time or the Declaration of Human Rights was drafted. For it is in the name of nature that the Revolution rebelled against the privileges and prejudices of feudalism which had persisted under the ancient monarchy.

At the sitting of Monday, 23 April, the Academy of Sciences was deeply troubled because the announcement of the unexpected death of Milne-Edwards increased the number of elections in which it should do, and electoral matters are all, those whose immortal concerned with the most passion. Just to replace Milnes-Edwards, it will charge a member of the Section of Zoology, a vice president and a director of the museum. In fact, although the minister invites, according to law, the academy to prepare a list of candidates, he feels obliged to take the first ever designated by the academy.

This is an obvious abuse that tends to make the academy the absolute mistress Chairs College of France, the Museum, the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, Office longitudes, etc. The leadership of the Central Weather Bureau, observation of Meudon, and all major scientific institutions is in the hands of a responsible to recruit itself without any control company whose preponderance of year says year, often at the expense of private enterprise, the true source of infinite progress. Wilfrid de Fonvielle

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