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Admiral Dumont d'Urville (1790-1842)

    Naturevolume 149page498 (1942) | Download Citation



    BY a terrible railway accident at Versailles on May 8, 1842, France lost one of her most eminent scientific explorers, Admiral Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d'Urville, whose voyages not only added much to geographical knowledge but also enriched immensely the natural history collections Paris museums. Born in Normandy on May 23, 1790, d'Urville entered the Navy at the age of eighteen, and two years later in the Chevrette visited the Black Sea. In the Isle of Milo his attention was turned to the famous statue of Venus, which was afterwards bought by the French Ambassador to Constantinople and now stands in the Louvre. In 1822 d'Urville was appointed to the Coquille, commanded by Duperrey, and in the course of a voyage in Oceania he made a collection of three thousand plants and another of twelve hundred insects. Returning home in 1825, he was appointed to the command of the ship, which was then renamed the Astrolabe. Leaving Toulon on April 25, 1826, the ship visited Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Carolines and other islands in the Pacific. The ship finally reached France again on March 25, 1829. D'Urville's last voyage, made during 1837-40 in the Astrolabe, accompanied this time by the Zélée, took him to the Antarctic. It was while he was engaged in writing the account of this voyage that he met his death. The train he was in caught fire, and the carriage doors being locked, some fifty-two persons, including d'Urville's wife and son, were burnt to death.

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