Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/471

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By Professor J. B. SMITH


AND now, having given a very hasty and superficial statement to show how important a place the insect really occupies in the social economy, it behooves me to say something of some of the men whose labors made some of these facts and conclusions known.

Many of the matters of which I have spoken are of recent development and the men who have done the work are still with us and still working. Some are in attendance at this very meeting and as we expect still better work from them, nothing will be said of what they have done thus far. And while it is intended to confine the mention to American entomologists, it is necessary to include under that head some whose claim to be called American rests altogether upon the work done with or on American insects. Let me say too that the order in which the names come is not meant to represent anything more than convenience in arrangement of topics, and finally, it is not to be understood that omissions show lack of regard, but only that within my time limit no photographs were obtainable.

Thomas Say has been termed the father of American entomology, and certainly no one is better deserving of that term than he. He builded well and broadly and his knowledge of the American insect fauna was surprising. His work was in all orders and the amount of material that passed through his hands was very large. Unfortunately most of his types have been destroyed, so that we are not now able to see the specimens that he had to work with. This has made less trouble than with some other authors, because Say had that wonderful faculty of seizing upon and describing the specific peculiarity of the individual before him. I well remember the hours that I spent over his descriptions, trying to identify captures made thirty-five years ago, and while I was often disappointed, I succeeded in correctly identifying what I now consider a really large percentage of the forms taken. Say's experience meant hard work under difficulties: no money—very little literature. His bed, for a time, the floor of the Exhibition Hall of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, his food costing six cents per day. Encouragements there were few—discouragements many and none greater than the lack of literature. None of the younger men can appreciate that hunger for books with which the older men were compelled to fight and the enjoyment of getting into an alcove with