Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/June 1877/Sketch of Alfred Russel Wallace
|SKETCH OF ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.|
ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, an English naturalist, was born at Usk, Monmouthshire, January 8, 1822. He was employed for several years in the architectural office of his brother, and then devoted himself to natural history. In 1848 he accompanied Mr. IL W. Bates in a scientific expedition to Brazil, where, after a protracted sojourn in Para, he explored the primeval forests of the Amazon and Rio Negro, returning to England in 1852. His valuable collections, especially rich in the departments of ornithology and botany, were in great part destroyed by shipwreck. In 1853 he published "Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro" and "Palm-Trees of the Amazon and their Uses," and in 1854 undertook a journey to the East Indies, where for a period of nearly eight years he explored the greater part of the islands constituting the Malay Archipelago, and portions of Papua. While pursuing his researches relative to the fauna and flora of these regions, Mr. Wallace, unaware of Darwin's previous labors in the same direction, attempted the solution of the problem of the origin of species, and arrived at almost the same general conclusions which were simultaneously reached by that naturalist. His paper "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type," transmitted through Sir Charles Lyell to the Linnæan Society, was read before that body on July 1, 1858, with the reading of Mr, Darwin's paper "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties, and on the Perpetuation of Species and Varieties by means of Natural Selection." Though recognizing the efficacy of natural selection in producing most of the changes attributed to its action by Mr. Darwin, he denies its competence to effect, without the joint agency of some higher cause, the transition to man from the anthropoid apes. In 1862 Mr. Wallace returned to England, where for several years he was mainly engaged in the classification of his vast collection, which embraced upward of 100,000 entomological specimens, and more than 8,000 birds. The results of his Eastern explorations were partially embodied in "The Malay Archipelago: the Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird-of-Paradise" (1869). Mr. Wallace has of late been prominently associated with the believers in the so-called spiritualistic phenomena, to the examination of which he has devoted special attention. His observations were published in a series of essays in the Fortnightly Review for 1874, reprinted as "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism" (1875). In 1868 he received the royal medal from the Royal Society, and in 1870 the gold medal from the Geographical Society of Paris. In 1870 he published "Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection." His elaborate work "On the Geographical Distribution of Animals" (2 vols.) appeared in 1876 in English, French, and German.