Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/231

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Flower
Flower
219

medal in physiology and Professor Grant's silver medal in zoology. His life as a medical practitioner was hardly begun when he volunteered in 1854 for medical service in the Russian war. During the campaign he saw active service in the field as well as hospital practice at Scutari. The fatigues of the war caused a temporary break-down of health, and led him to return home and retire from the army. The office of assistant-surgeon coupled with the duties of lecturer upon anatomy and curator of the museum at the Middlesex Hospital, conferred upon him soon after his return, led him to divide his time between surgery and comparative anatomy. During that period he wrote his only works upon surgery, consisting of an article in Holmes's 'System of Surgery,' and a handbook entitled 'Diagrams of the Nerves of the Human Body' (London, 1861, fol.; 3rd ed. 1881, 4to; translated into French in 1888, and into Italian in 1890).

Beyond a few papers published at this period, Flower's zoological work hardly began until his appointment in 1861 to the post of curator of the Hunterian museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. From that date he began to contribute largely and frequently to the 'Proceedings' and 'Transactions' of the Royal and Zoological Societies.

From 1861 to 1884 Flower was curator of the College of Surgeons museum. During that long period he contributed greatly to the extension of that unrivalled collection of anatomical preparations. The duty of collecting and arranging the materials acquired for display led to the production of a long series of memoirs upon vertebrate, almost entirely mammalian, anatomy. These memoirs served as the basis of Flower's 'Osteology of the Mammalia.' published in 1870. After the retirement in 1869 of Thomas Henry Huxley [q. v. Suppl.], Flower was in 1870 appointed to the additional office of Hunterian professor of comparative anatomy and physiology at the College of Surgeons. During the tenure of that professorship he expounded the collections to scientific audiences; one of his best-known series of lectures was upon the digestive organs of the mammalia.

Flower's official connection with the Zoological Society, which ended only with his life, was initiated by his election to the council in 1862. He served continuously until 1869, and after the expiration of a year was nominated a vice-president. Retiring in 1875 he was re-elected to the council (again as a vice-president) in 1876. After the death of the Marquis of Tweeddale Flower was elected president of the society on 5 Feb. 1879. This office he occupied until his death, having thus held the presidency for twenty years, a period only exceeded by one former president (the Earl of Derby), and then by one year only. Much of Flower's leisure was devoted to the affairs of the Zoological Society; urbane and businesslike, he was seldom absent from the chair at the society's meetings, and every detail of its business whether scientific or financial was thoroughly explored by him.

Flower was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1864. He served three periods on the council of this society, viz. 1868-70, 1876-78, and 1884-6. He was also for a period a vice-president. The society awarded him a royal medal in 1882.

On the retirement of Sir Richard Owen [q. v.] in 1884, Flower succeeded him as director of the Natural History Museum. To this important post he brought experience and initiative, and he has been justly pronounced 'an originator and inventor in museum work.' Both sides of the museum the popular as well as the scientific were industriously cultivated by him. The collection of animals for the scientific worker was developed, and students of the rich material contained In the national collection were encouraged. Flower very properly felt, however, that the duty of a curator of a great national institution was also to teach the non-scientific public; he accordingly formed a large collection, which was displayed in the central hall of the museum with a view to illustrating the main facts of zoology and botany. This admirable selection of specimens remains to attest his unusual competence as a museum director. The main idea in the collection, intended for the guidance of the uninstructed public, is the 'interest and beauty of each specimen selected for the public eye,' and the careful avoidance of distracting attention by the multiplication and crowding of objects. As much as possible is shown by a single preparation, and no detail of mounting, background, or lettering was too trivial for elaborate consideration. The 'Index Collection' as it has been termed is an effective text-book of comparative anatomy, beautifully illustrated by the actual objects, and elucidated by sufficient explanatory labels. The remains of extinct forms are often placed in juxtaposition to their living relatives, and the unnatural divorce of recent and fossil animals, which is commonly inevitable in museums, is here avoided.

Flower was not in a literal sense a teacher of zoology. He trained no pupils in research, nor did he save in early days as lecturer at