Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/131

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SKETCH OF HENRY WALTER BATES.

In a paper on the classification of the Rhopalocera, or butterflies, Mr. Bates proposed a new system of arrangement by which the progressive modification in structure, or the evolution from a simple to a more specialized type, could be shown. Its merit is attested by the fact of its almost universal adoption in later works on evolution and natural history.

Mr. Bates's long sojourn in the region of the Amazons, fruitful as it was in scientific results, was detrimental to his constitution, and he returned "a wreck of his former self." His "frame remained enduring, but the elasticity had been taken out of it." But "we may rest assured," says the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, "that nothing but physical prostration actually brought about the long-deferred return to England, and this abandonment of the anticipated visit westward, 'to gather the yet unseen treasures of the marvelous countries lying between Tabatinga and the slopes of the Andes.'"

In 1864 Mr. Bates was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, a position in which, says The Athenæum, for the last twenty-seven years he exercised an influence "none the less effectual that he always carefully avoided any action that might make it or himself conspicuous over the progress in our country [England] of geographical science. He had the satisfaction, while other sciences have more or less specialized themselves, of seeing Geography throwing aside the restrictions that bound her to mere records of discovery and surveying, and taking her true place as a link between the other natural sciences, viewing them all from her own separate standpoint, and bringing out the points of connection between them, from a special and novel aspect." He edited the Transactions of the society from the beginning. In this office, according to Mr. Clements R. Markham, "he was unwearied and most successful in obtaining information bearing on geographical work from every quarter and in all parts of the world. He supplied invaluable hints and suggestions to the authors of papers, and he smoothed over difficulties with never-failing tact. His own rich stores of information were invaluable to all who needed help in their work, and over and over again they enabled him to supply a missing clew in some difficult inquiry, or to elucidate and piece together isolated facts, and show their bearings on each other. In all their intercourse with him, his colleagues, as well as the general body of geographers and travelers, have always been as much impressed by his ability and knowledge, and by the soundness of his judgment, as by that simple and kind-hearted way of giving advice which endeared the late assistant secretary to all who came in contact with him."

Among the notices of Mr. Bates's personal characteristics con-