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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57



Major-General Karl von Sonklar.—General von Sonklar, for many years an Honorary Corresponding Member of the Royal Geographical Society, died at Innsbruck on the 10th of January last, in his 69th year. Born at Weisskirchen in the Banat, he was brought up in a military school, and entered the Austrian Army in 1839. He first showed his literary power in pamphlets on military subjects. In 1845 his regiment was transferred from Graz to Innsbruck. There he found opportunities for exercising his natural taste for mountain exploration and description. In 1848 Count Coronini, the tutor of the present Emperor, took command of Von Sonklar's regiment and soon formed so high an opinion of his Ober-lieutenant's special acquirements, that he obtained for him a post as one of the instructors of the Archduke Ludwig Victor. This position he held until in 1857 he succeeded to the Professorship of Geography in the Military Academy of Wiener-Neustadt, which he occupied for many years.

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Von Sonklar may be considered as having been one of the fortunate few whose lives are so ordered that their natural tastes and professional duties coincide. He had a passion for topography in its widest sense and including the consideration of the causes which produce it. He spent his vacations in the Alps of Tyrol, where his name was very familiar to the Englishmen who frequented that region twenty years ago as the author of a scries of works and maps which first gave any exact information as to the glaciers and structure of the Tauern chain. For the Government surveys of Austria had left all above the snow-line in complete uncertainty, and it was reserved for private enterprise, for Yon Sonklar and Payer, to give us any accurate knowledge of the higher Tyrolese Alps. In 1855 Yon Sonklar opened the list of his Alpine works by a paper on the Gross Glockner, read before the Viennese Academy. In 1859 he published his monograph on the Hochschwab, in 1861 his map and work on the Oetzthaler Ferner, in 1866 his important book on the Tauern, in 1872 his monograph on the Zellerthaler Ferner.

Von Sonklar was not content to be merely a monographer—an accurate collector of local facts; his topographical works represented his holidays. His professorial duties led him to the production of several geographical schoolbooks which are extensively used in the military and private schools of his country. Observation and generalisation were united in the most important work of his life, the 'Allgemeine Orographic,' published in 1873, a book which has excited much notice and criticism. In 1879 Von Sonklar wrote for the series of the 'Anleitung zu wissenschaftlichen Beobachtungen auf Alpenreisen,' published by the German Alpine Club, a volume on 'Orography, Topography, Hydrography and Glacial Action.' He was besides a frequent contributor to scientific magazines.