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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/706

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

this modern Utopia. The community, however, did not prosper; internal dissensions, as might have been expected, sprang up, and the aid of the courts was invoked. Maclure, utterly disgusted, went to Mexico, and left Say at New Harmony as his agent, to attend to the settling of the affairs of the community. This was not an agreeable task, but, without other means of support, Say was obliged to accept, and continued in this position until his death. This stay at New Harmony was not a period of scientific idleness on the part of Say, as the numerous contributions which proceeded from his pen attest.

At his death his collections arid library came into the possession of the Philadelphia Academy. The insects were submitted to another entomologist for arrangement, but through an unpardonable neglect were allowed to go to complete ruin before their return to the academy, and the types of hundreds of species were thus irrevocably lost. The remainder of his types are principally the property of the Philadelphia Academy, where they are as religiously preserved with his own labels as are those of Linne and Fabricius in London, or of Herbst in Berlin. The number of new species which Say described has probably never been exceeded, except in the cases of those two exceedingly careless workers, John Edward Gray and Francis Walker, of the British Museum. There is this in Say's favor, which can not be said of the two just mentioned, that his descriptions are, almost without exception, easily recognized, and almost every form which he described is now well known. Working as he did without books, and without that traditional knowledge which obtains among the Continental workers, it was unavoidable that he should redescribe forms which were known before; but, owing to the clear insight he possessed, and the discrimination he exercised in selecting the important features of the form before him, his work has never caused that confusion in synonymy which many in much more favorable circumstances have produced.

Say's work was almost wholly the scientific description of the forms which came under his eye, and there is scarcely anything in his writings concerning the habits of animals, or which appeals in the slightest to the popular taste, and his language frequently is not of chaste and classic character. An extract from his "American Entomology" will illustrate this: "During the progress of Major Long's expedition up the Missouri, that enterprising and excellent officer intrusted me with the direction of a small party of thirteen persons, destined to explore the country on the south side of that extended river. After encountering many obstacles and privations, which it is unnecessary to enumerate, the party arrived at the village of the Konza Indians, hungry, fatigued, and out of health. Commiserating our situation, these sons of nature, although suffering under the injustice of white people, received us with their characteristic hospitality, and ameliorated our condition by the luxuries of repletion and repose.