Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
So early as March 1860, Mr. Bates commenced a series of papers for the Entomological Society, under the title of "Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon Valley." These were at first devoted to the Diurnal Lepidoptera, and in one of them he gave a new classification of the whole group, founded chiefly on the structure of the legs, and leading to the conclusion that the Papilionidæ formed one of the lowest families, while the Nymphalidæ were the highest. This classification has been very generally adopted by entomologists, though there are a few dissentients, who hold that the principle adopted to determine the rank or grade of the respective families is an unsound one. Later on he wrote many papers on the various groups of Longicorn beetles; and finding that his circumstances and the time at his disposal did not allow him to keep up and study two such extensive groups as the Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, he parted with his fine collection of South American butterflies to Messrs. Salvin and Godman, and thereafter devoted himself exclusively to the study of Coleoptera. Later still, he almost confined his attention to the Carabidæ, on which important group he became a recognized authority. His largest works in this direction were his contributions to the "Biologia Centrali-Americana": Vol. I., Part I (Geodephaga); Vol. II., Part 2 (Pectinicornia and Lamellicornia); Vol. V. (Longicornia). A supplement to the Geodephaga has since been published in the Transactions of the Entomological Society of London for 1890 and 1891; and a supplement to the Longicornia was in course of preparation, but not finished at the time of his death.
In 1864, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, an appointment he held till his death. Besides editing the Journal and Proceedings, and carrying on an immense correspondence with travellers and others in every part of the world, he had practically the entire management of the large establishment of the Society, and the chief burden of the arrangements for the various meetings, as well as those for the Geographical Section of the British Association. There can be little doubt that it was the confinement and constant strain of this work that weakened his constitution and shortened a valuable life.
When we consider the originality and clearness of exposition in his first great paper on "Mimicry," the accuracy and fulness of knowledge displayed in his systematic and descriptive work, and the power of observation and felicity of style which characterizes "The Naturalist on the Amazons," we cannot but regret that circumstances should have compelled him to devote so much of his time and strength to the mere drudgery of office work, and be thereby to a great extent debarred from devoting himself to those more congenial pursuits in which he had shown himself so well fitted to excel.
His high reputation, both as a hard-working entomologist and philosophic naturalist, led to his being twice chosen President of the Entomological Society of London, first in 1869, and again in 1878; while he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1881. His somewhat rugged features, quiet, unassuming manners, and thoughtful utterance, must be familiar to all who have attended the evening meetings of the Royal Geographical Society during the last twenty-seven years. Rarely has any Society had a more efficient secretary, who not only carried on its work with accuracy and judgment, but also gained the respect and esteem of all who came in contact with him. He died on Febuary 16, at the age of sixty-seven.
A. R. W.