THE LATE DR. ELLIOTT COUES.
C. C. MARBLE.


THE subject of this sketch, whose death occurred on Christmas, 1899, at Baltimore, Md., was one of the few men who have become famous both in physical and psychical science. He had long been recognized as one of the leading naturalists of America, and of late years had acquired equal distinction as a philosopher.

Early in April last Dr. Coues supplied us with the material for a sketch of his life, to which we are indebted chiefly for what this article contains. He was born in Portsmouth, N. H., Sept. 9, 1842, and was the son of Samuel Elliott Coues and Charlotte Haven Ladd Coues. His father was the author of several scientific treatises which anticipated some of the more modern views of physics, astronomy, and geology; so that young Coues would seem to have inherited his bent of mind towards study and research. The name is of Norman French origin. Dr. Coues' father was a friend of Franklin Pierce, and early in the presidency of the latter received from him an appointment in the United States patent office, which he held nearly to his death in July, 1967. The family moved to Washington in 1833 and Dr. Coues had always been a resident of that city, excepting during the years he served in the West and South as an army officer or engaged in scientific explorations.

     

As a boy he was educated under Jesuit influences at the seminary now known as Gonzaga College. In 1857 he entered a Baptist college, now Columbian University, where he graduated in 1861 in the academic department, and in 1863 in the medical department of that institution. To the degrees of A. B., A. M., Ph. D., and M. D., conferred by this college, his riper scholarship added titles enough to fill a page from learned societies all over the world.

His taste for nature history developed early in an enthusiastic devotion to ornithology, and before he graduated he was sent by the Smithsonian Institution to collect birds in Labrador. Among his earliest writings are the account of this trip, and a treatise on the birds of the District of Columbia, both published in 1861, and both papers secured public recognition in England as well as in this country, thus making a beginning of his literary reputation.

While yet a medical student, Dr. Coues was enlisted by Secretary Stanton as medical cadet, U. S. A., and served a year in one of the hospitals in Washington. On graduating in medicine in 1863, he was appointed by Surgeon-General Hammond for a year as acting assistant surgeon U. S. A. and, on coming of age passed a successful examination for the medical corps of the army. He received his commission in 1864, and was immediately ordered to duty in Arizona. His early years of service in that territory, and afterward in North and South Carolina, were utilized in investigating the natural history of those regions, respecting which he published various scientific papers.

Though he wrote some professional articles, during his hospital experience, Dr. Coues seem never to have been much interested in the practice of medicine and surgery. After about ten years of ordinary military service as post surgeon in various places he was, in 1873, appointed naturalist of the U. S. northern boundary commission, which surveyed the line along the forty-ninth parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky mountains.

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