Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/400

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

well as the physique of the masses in large towns is undergoing already retrograde changes; and that the present condition fills the minds of observers of social progress with gloomy forebodings as to the future. The progress of civilization has endowed us with a measure of self-control, has tended to subordinate the unit of the mass—to encourage the evolution of the citizen as compared to the mere individual. The effect of alcoholic indulgence to excess is to institute retrogressive changes, and to undo, to a great extent, what civilization has slowly achieved.—Sanitary Record.

 

SKETCH OF GUSTAV WALLIS.

GUSTAV WALLIS, the indefatigable traveler and botanist, whose death at Cuenca, Ecuador, we recently announced, was born May 1, 1830, at Lüneburg, Prussia, where his father was an advocate and proctor of the superior court. He died at the early age of forty-eight years, of which the last eighteen were spent in incessant travel and research. We have not been able to learn any particulars concerning the early life of this distinguished traveler, for the compilers of biographical dictionaries have utterly ignored the man whose merit is simply that he has enriched horticulture with no less than one thousand new species. And here we may remark that works of the class just named are as a rule singularly neglectful of the representatives of science: while every divine and politician that rises ever so little above the average of his class is mentioned, scientific men whose fame is world-wide are passed by in silence. For the biographical items contained in the present sketch we gratefully acknowledge our indebtedness to our German contemporary, Die Natur, in which is published a brief but appreciative memoir of Wallis by his friend Dr. Karl Müller, editor of that very able magazine.

Wallis's travels in quest of botanical rarities began in 1860, his first field of labor being the same which, with the exception of two years, engaged his attention down to the day of his death—tropical America. In that year we find him exploring the banks of the Lower Amazon and a few of its principal tributaries, the Tapajos, Madeira, Purus, etc. In 1863, quitting the course of the great stream, he made an excursion northward, crossing the Rio Negro and the Rio Branco and penetrating to the Sierra Parima on the southern frontier of Venezuela, in longitude west 64°, and nearly under the equator. Returning to the Amazon, he explored the left bank for some distance up-stream; then swimming across the river, he followed the right bank westward into Peru and Ecuador, crossing the Cordilleras, and in 1866 arriving at the city of Guayaquil. Here he took ship for the port of Buenaventura in the