Theodore Vogel

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 On this day in 1841, the German botanist Theodore Vogel was laid low with dysentery.

Vogel was botanizing in Niger (“nee-ZHER") after joining the Niger expedition in May of that year. By August, Vogel recorded the hardships of traveling by naval warship in his journal:

"As soon as I got on board the Wilberforce, my first care was to shift my entire collection, especially the plants gathered since we arrived at Cape Coast Castle. But though I had taken all possible care, much was spoilt and almost everything in a bad state. It has been my lot ... that after endless labor, I could only get together ill-conditioned plants; for dampness and want of room are obstacles impossible to be overcome... I mention this, on purpose, that in case my collection comes into other hands, I may not be accused of negligence. I have sacrificed every convenience to gain room, and spared no trouble to overcome the dampness of the ship and of the atmosphere, but without success. The general arrangements of a man-of-war do not give much opportunity for such experiments. When will the time arrive, that expeditions, whose result must depend on the observations of naturalists, will afford them, from the outset, the appropriate and necessary support? At present, the vessels are fitted up for other purposes, and it is left to chance, to discover a little nook for the philosopher. I was now obliged to devote the two days remaining which we spent at Accra, to the drying of my collection, that all might not be lost." 

When Vogel became sick on this day in 1841, his friend and fellow German, the mineralogist, Charles Gottfried Roscher, tended to him for thirteen days and never left his bedside. On December 17th, about mid-day, Vogel asked his friend if everything was ready for their excursion, and then a few minutes later, he peacefully passed away.

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Theodore Vogel
Theodore Vogel


  1. Ruth Taylor on May 16, 2021 at 11:02 am

    I found a quote from Theodor Vogel from this expedition: ‘One might believe that after the formation of the world, a quantity of useless surplus stones was cast into the sea.’ Theodor Vogel, the botanist on a British commercial expedition to Africa describing Cape Verde, an archipelago of ten scattered islands. 1841.

    Now I can’t find the text where I sourced it. Do you know where it came from?

    I would be most grateful.

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