Sadness and revenge (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck)
Admirers of the mysterious and romantic capital of France always perceive the warm autumn in Paris in different ways. Some find a source of inspiration and sublime feelings in motley whirling of the falling leaves, soft blinking of street lights and quiet chanson coming from small cosy coffee houses. Some are fascinated with reckless originality of the streets of Paris, unique colours of national life, outstanding traditional cuisine and the feeling of freedom at the Champs-Elysees. For others the grey sky after the sunny hot summer, constant cool rains, naked trees in parks and even the smell of chestnuts fried here and there are a source of melancholy. Everyone who has once visited Paris has a special attitude and a unique palette of extraordinary feelings to this city. But the feeling of the autumn in this city always has especially interesting shades…
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck loved Paris. But he hasn’t been able to feel the pleasure of watching the sights of his favourite city for nearly two years already. His emotional connection with the views and landscapes of Paris was based not on perception of reality, but rather on disturbing memories of youth and rich imagination. In 1820 the scientist has completely lost sight, and from that moment he could only dive into the real life of the capital city using the following trick: Lamarck moved the soft deep armchair upholstered with golden velvet close to a wide window sill, he then opened the shutters of a panorama window, and started greedily absorbing the sounds of the Paris streets which rushed into the naturalist's office together with the soft wind, which brought moist cool air from Seine. Streams of fresh air played with grey hair of the scientist, making him smile blissfully, and rustled with curiosity in massive piles of manuscripts and books lying here and there.
However in one of cold days in early November of 1822 Lamarck wasn't able to open the office window despite the insuperable need for contact with the city so dear to his heart. It was raining heavily outside and that is why the old man just stood at the window sill with his head down. The old man’s face wrinkled as the thunder blasted outside and the heavy rain drops hit the glass of the window.
- Outstanding! Of course the bad weather is.. umm.. bad, but we have an opportunity to continue with the seventh tome of your "Histoire naturelle des animaux sans vertèbres" or we could finish "The analytical system of positive knowledge of the person"! – Cornelia, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste, rushed into the room, approached her father and carefully hugged him. – Sit down into the armchair, concentrate, choose a subject and start dictating, and I will write down as usual! But beware! If you start dreaming or make a mistake – I will ask the tricky questions!
- Honey, I am not in the right mood to work. Unpleasant thoughts and bad premonitions just won’t let me… - Lamarck has powerlessly fallen into the chair, turned towards his daughter’s voice slowly and stretched his hand with uncertainty hoping to touch Cornelia's palm. – You know how mercilessly they’ve been criticizing not only my "Zoological philosophy", but also all of my subsequent works. Sometimes it seems that my colleagues are simply unable to accept the alternative points of view as to the questions of biological evolution. They just don't want to understand the arguments of the opponent. Sometimes all this makes my hands fall, and all the aspiration to publish my new thoughts simply disappears…
- Father, you are too pessimistic now. This sad weather seems to influence your state of mind. But you know that you are a strong person, and this melancholy is not your natural state. – Cornelia sat down near her father on the armrest of the chair and tenderly stroked him on the head. – I am going to bring a warm plaid and some herbal tea. You will get warm, lean back on a chair, and we will start working. I am absolutely sure that you are full of great ideas – as always! I see no reasons to hide them from the world!
- You are my only hope and support, my dear daughter. Without you I would have probably given up long ago under the pressure of adverse circumstances and would have ceased to carry on my studies. – Jean-Baptiste kissed his daughter’s hand and thoughtfully rubbed a wrinkled forehead. – But, I still have to admit that I find these groundless accusations in scientific charlatanism from Georges Cuvier and the derisive irony of Charles Lyell painful. These gentlemen and their supporters do not offer any alternative views on the scientific problems, but only unreasonably put my views into question. I am already old and blind. I almost never leave this house. It is so difficult for me to fight them using only the scientific papers. For them it is so easy to use rostrums of academies and scientific communities to announce their attacks against me! This upsets me so badly!
- Father, you shouldn’t pay that much attention to the spiteful grumble of people who are simply afraid of revolutionary scientific ideas. You know that innovators are not accepted easily anywhere! – Cornelia has griped her father’s hand put it close to her heart. – I am proud of you, father! It is not an exaggeration to say that you are a great botanist, zoologist, geologist, palaeontologist, philosopher and historian! Future generations will admire you, they will avenge you, father!