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Record: oai:ARNO:533334

JournalFlora Malesiana Bulletin
AbstractIn 1968 we lost the last of the group of old-time botanists of the Treub period of the Botanic Gardens at Bogor, with the passing away of Prof. Dr. A. Ernst, of Zürich, Sept. 17th, 1968, in the age of 94. Apart from deafness he fortunately remained well until the last. We visited him Aug. 24, 1968, together with Prof. Dr. Markgraf, and it was remarkable to see how vividly he remembered details from his stays in Java. Born in Winterthur, 1875, he stayed most of his life in Zürich where he became an extra-ordinary professor of general botany in 1905, ordinary professor in 1909. He initiated his appointment with his first tour to Java, 1905/06, through a grant of the Swiss Buitenzorg Fund, where he travelled widely, also outside the island. In the company of Campbell, Backer, and Pulle he went also to Krakatau. His restless industry led him to write several reports on this subject in 1907, and later in 1934. Another subject in which this man of wide learning became deeply absorbed was the anatomy and embryology of saprophytes, on which subject he published a series of papers, together with his compatriot Dr. Ch. Bernard. In 1918 he published a great work ”Bastardierung als Ursache der Apogamie im Pflanzenreich”, a hypothesis of experimental and phylogenetic genetics. Since 1922 he was interested in the genetics of Primula on which he experimented and published lavishly. In 1930/31 he made another large study exploration in the East, on which he was accompanied by his second wife, Martha Ernst-Schwarzenbach, a former pupil of his. I vividly remember their pride in having found, at Pasar Ikan, in the Bay of Djakarta, proof of the sexual propagation in Caulerpa. Flower biology and its genetics had his life-long interest; on these subjects he published lavishly in the Archiv of the Julius Klaus Stiftung. Several theses were prepared by his pupils on material collected by him during his two tours. He left us an extra-ordinarily large oeuvre, as the works on the East are only part of the whole work he accomplished. In honour of his 70th birthday a large ”Festgabe” was published in the Archiv Julius Klaus Stiftung, 1945, 568 pp. Mrs. Ernst was specialized in the study of waterplants, their morphology, pollination, etc. She was also a lecturer in the University of Zürich. She was of course much younger than her husband and very vigorous. In his later years she drove him on long tours through Europe and about seven years ago they visited us en route. She must have been a great help to him, also in pursuing his genetical experiments. It was a great blow to him that she died quite suddenly in August 1967.
A second old-timer, as devoted as Prof. Ernst to the East, has passed away. Mrs. Mary Strong Clemens died at Chermside Garden Settlement, a home for the aged in the suburbs of Brisbane, on April 13th, 1968, aged 94 or 95. Mrs. Clemens was a remarkable woman, small of stature, but extremely tough, tireless, and fantastically active, simple-minded but extremely kind, devoted to plants and especially to collecting in the wilds; she had a remarkable memory and form-knowledge of plants, but was without ambition to do herself botanical research. Both she and her husband were very religious and this formed an essential part of their life: they lived as Christians, always trusting in God and seeing the good in man. Each meal was preceded by a simple religious song. Though shy by nature she was extremely persevering to convert people and at some time she had a mania to convert me from humanism towards her true religion. Her interesting botanical letters always included clippings from the Scripture. Her most amiable husband, risen from an emigrated miner from Cornwall to the status of Chaplain of the American Army, when pensioned, lived with her in the most simple way. Botany, once her hobby, stimulated by the late Dr. Merrill in the Philippines already as early as 1905, served for them to accumulate money for missionary purpose. Thus he shared her hazards in the forest where she, notwithstanding all the odds of the primitive way of camping and camp gear, of food and clothing, managed to collect an immense number of plants. They employed a few native collectors and thus it came that sometimes errors on habit occur on the labels, as a native collector telling her the plant was an ’akar’, it could be an epiphyte or a climber. Also the zeal to make as many duplicates as possible meant sometimes scrappy material and halved twigs, the making of the sets being mostly done by Clemens, the ticketing by herself. But the bulk of huge material in our herbaria, forming a true scientific memorial of their joint activity, is a worthy testimony of their activity. Clemens himself had little botanical knowledge and interest but he acted as her manager, buying even her clothes and stockings, not always of the proper size. But all these outward things were entirely irrelevant in the distinctly harmonious life of this devoted couple, which in all respects commanded admiration by all of us. I knew them well because they stayed at Bogor for many months in 1932 where I assisted her in the arrangement and pre-identification of their Kinabalu collection made in 1931. He was then 70 and she 60, both still strong and quite insensitive to climate or what else, supported by their faith. To save carrier money she stayed fearless camping and collecting on Kinabalu summit for a fortnight alone, trusting God to look after her, as she told me. During their later collecting work in New Guinea they paid the toll for the primitive way of forest life they led in order to keep expenses low, as he died in 1936, we heard, of food poisoning. I remember their luggage as they came from Kinabalu, with an old guni sack, containing a large piece of bacon green with fungi and some old battered tins of canned food, which they said should by all means be preserved for their next stay on Kinabalu. Her strong faith must have been a great help to overcome the grief of his death. Death meant little to the Clemenses, as according to their philosophy ”there is a natural body and a spiritual body, and I will be clothed by a new body.” Her own, tired, outworn body was turned over to the medical authorities, I heard from Dr. Degener, as she thought it might be of some use to them. She went on collecting for the dual purpose of pursuing her useful scientific collecting hobby and earning money as far as she could for missionary purposes now standing alone for this job. Most unfortunately her immense and extremely valuable Saruwaged collection and herself were caught by the war and though she was, I believe to have heard, exchanged with Japanese prisoners, her collections remained in New Guinea and are in all probability practically lost. During my stay in Japan I have seen in Tokyo a few bundles of duplicates at the University and in the National Museum, obviously shipped during the war. But these could be only a fragment of the certainly immense store she had made of probably about 10.000 collections! They were still in their original packing and had the familiar smell of smoke, because she used during field work to store dried material in racks above the smoke of fires in order to keep them dry and free of insects. After the war she lived in Brisbane and notwithstanding her age went on collecting in Queensland; she had for some time a small niche adjoint to the already so much cramped Brisbane Herbarium. By this concise life sketch and personal impression I want to bring a tribute to both of the Clemenses, ranging foremost among the great collectors in Malesia, a couple quite apart, to be admired and remembered.
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