[Auguste-Henri Forel, Swiss entomologist and neurologist, authority on ants, pioneer of neuron theory.] Autograph Letter Signed (‘Aug. Forel’), in French, on overwork (‘Ma position ici me tue’), work (‘mes fourmis de Colombie’) and future plans..

Auguste-Henri Forel (1848-1931), distinguished Swiss entomologist, neurologist, Director of Burghölzli psychiatric hospital, Zürich, and eugenicist, authority on ants and co-founder of neuron theory
Publication details: 
Burghölzli psychiatric hospital, Zürich. 23 December 1896.
SKU: 23587

Forel’s work on ants was praised by Charles Darwin. Such is his standing that his image appeared on the 1000 Swiss franc banknote between 1878 and 2000. 4pp, 12mo; bifolium. Lightly aged, worn at foot (with slight affect on signature); folded twice. 73 lines of text, in an untidy hand. Entirely in French, apart from the following towards the end, suggesting an English-speaking recipient: ‘Merry Christmas and New Year!’ Excellent content. The recipient appears to be a British naturalist to whom he promised a magazine piece on a recent visit. Addressing his letter ‘Cher Monsieur’, he begins with warm season’s greetings and thanks, before lamenting his tardiness (‘épouvantablement en retard’) with regard to ‘les fourmis’: ‘Ma position ici me tue - [last word underlined] Cela devient intenable. Je suis litteralement tué de travail. [...] Toutes mes fourmis de Colombie (de mon voyage) sont encore dans leur tubes de verre.’ He will not touch them before fulfilling his duties and ‘ce que j’ai promis’. He begs him in complete confidence, not to say anything about ‘un projet par lequel j’espère gagner du temps d’ici à un an’. He begs his ‘correspondents de fourmis’ to have ‘patience et pitié de moi, J’ai enfants et il faut vivre et gagner sa vie...’ He is only 48 years old, and is ‘encore capable de me tirer d’affaire. Seulement je ne puis faire d’une heure 5 heures! J’ai trop de choses sur les bras - beaucoup trop. C’est terrible.’ After wishing him a happy Christmas in English, he concludes by stating that he is going to send him ‘une notice biologique que j’ai ecrite sur le Steamer à mon retour. C’est tout ce que j’ai pu faire!’