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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

DECEMBER, 1913




ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, 1823-1913[1]
By Dr. HENRY FAIRFIELD OSBORN

RESEARCH PROFESSOR OF ZOOLOGY IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, the last survivor of the great group of British naturalists of the nineteenth century, passed away on November 7, 1913, in the ninety-first year of his age and the sixty-fourth year of active service and productiveness. He followed by only a few months another member of the group, Sir Joseph Hooker, who introduced the famous Darwin-Wallace papers on Natural Selection to the Linnæan Society in 1858.

Lyell, Darwin and Wallace were three successive but closely kindred spirits whose work began and ended with what will be known as the second great epoch of evolutionary thought, the first being that of the precursors of Darwin and the third that in which we live. They established evolution through a continued line of attack by precisely similar methods of observation and reasoning over an extremely broad field. As to the closeness of the intellectual sequence between these three men, those who know the original edition of the second volume of "The Principles of Geology," published in 1832, must regard it as the second biologic classic of the century—the first being Lamarck's "Philosophie Zoologique" of 1809,—on which Darwin through his higher and much more creative vision built up his "Journal of Researches." When Lyell faltered in the application of his own principles, Darwin went on, and was followed by Wallace.

The two elder men may be considered to have united in guiding the

  1. An abstract of this biographical sketch appeared in Nature, Thursday, June 13, 1912, Vol. 89, No. 2224, entitled, "Scientific Worthies. XXXVIIL— Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, D.C.L., O.M., F.R.S." The writer had the pleasure of receiving a letter from the veteran naturalist June 16, 1912, in which he wrote: "I thank you very much for the complete and careful account of my scientific work and for the great honor you have done me in linking my name with those of Lyell, Darwin and Galton. Your article is by far the best account of my work and of the various influences which determined its direction and the conclusions at which I have arrived. . . ."