¶ NO DOUBT I am one of the persons known as "dreadful revolutionists;" for long years I have belonged to the legally infamous society which calls itself "The International Working Men's Association," whose name entails upon all who assume membership the treatment of malefactors; finally, I am amongst those who searve that "excrable" Commune, "the detestation of all respectable men." But however ferocious I may be, I shall know how to place myself outside, or rather above my party, and to study the present evolution and approaching revolution of the human race without passion or personal bias. As we are amognst those whom the world attacks, we have a right to demand to be amongst those whom it hears....
¶Religion, by far the most solid of all dikes,
has lost its strength; cracking on every side, it leaks and totters, and cannot fail to be sooner or later overthrown....
¶The external form of society must alter in correspondence with the impelling force within; there is no better established historical fact. The sap makes the tree and gives it leaves and flowers; the blood makes the man; the ideas make the society. And yet there is not a conservative who does not lament that ideas and morality, and all that goes to make up the deeper life of man, have been modified since "the good old times." It is not a necessary result of the inner working of men's minds that social forms must change and a proportionate revolution take place?...
first knew Elie when he visited me in 1872 to attend at my geological lectures. He also took part in geological excursions with my students, one of which led us to the village of Amden where a fire broke out during the night, destroying a great part of the village; he helped us in rescue work. When at Zürich, friends met once a week in his house. I was often there, and we saw with astonishment how extreme social and political views -- in part, indeed, only idealistic theories -- were reconcilable with the clear and idealistically directed intellect, with enormous knowledge and with an uncommonly elevated and fine disposition and cultivation of spirit and heart. Elie, his noble wife and his gifted elder son, Paul, became our friends. Elie worked in Zürich as an author, he had the uncommon talent, aided by an excellent memory, to collect all notes and observations of interest to him, to register them and to have them at hand at the right moment.
When he could reënter France, he returned for a number of years to Paris where he found modest employment as librarian of the publishing house of Hachette. When I spent some weeks in Paris, 1886, Elie went with me to all the museums which gave me days of instructive and elevated enjoyment, since he could give in a few words the outline of the history of each work of art, each monumental building and also the personal story of their creators and proceed from there to give them their right place in the large frame of history. He later became professor in Brussels.
Elisée's wonderful work, La Terre (The Earth) had already beforehand created great interest in me on his behalf. I met him first at his brother's in Zürich, later at Clarens, where he had retired to produce every year a huge volume of his Géographie Universelle. I assisted as friend and as witness at his third marriage in Zürich. The two brothers Elie and Elisée were most intimately connected with each other. But their physical and spiritual features were so conspicuously different that nobody who did not know, could have believed them to be brothers. Elie, the elder, was of tall stature with a monumental head which by its noble form would have formed the delight of a sculptor in marble. Black hair, dark, tranquil serious and yet friendly-looking eyes were characteristic of him. Elie was interested in everything and entered into everything by reflection. He spoke with meditation, slow, clear, using an uncommonly fine vocabulary. He never lost the noble calm of the philosopher, based upon understanding, powerful resignation and observing contemplation. Elisée on the other hand was under middle size, had bright, brilliant eyes, fair hair; he seized things quickly, with genius, his talk was quick and ardent, he was always stirring, could not be held to a point and he possessed to all appearance a never-tiring energy and force of work. Both were sympathetic to me to a high degree. I learned much from them. I venerated and loved them and I venerate and love them still in recollection and memory -- this extraordinary pair of brothers.
DR. ALBERT HEIM
PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY
ZÜRICH JUNE 7, 1924.