REFLECTIONS ON READING AUGUSTE FOREL
THE name of Auguste Forel is renowned in the world of European science, but within the confines of his own land his writings are perhaps less well known than they should be. Every one is familiar with the social activities of this splendid personality, of this man whose indefatigable energies and ardent convictions have not been affected either by his age or by ill-health. But Latin Switzerland, which justly admires the writings of the naturalist J. H. Fabre, hardly seems to realise that in Forel it is fortunate enough to possess an observer of nature whose insight is no less keen than that of Fabre, and whose scientific endowments are perchance even richer and more unerring. I have recently been reading some of Auguste Forel's studies of ant life, and I have been profoundly impressed by the wide scope of his experimental researches, carried on for a whole lifetime. While patiently observing and faithfully describing the life of these insects, day by day, hour by hour, and year after year, his thoughts have been simultaneously directed towards the ultimate recesses
- The most important of these studies have been collected in the great work Les Fourmis de la Suisse (Nouveaux mémoires de la Société helvétique des Sciences naturelles, vol. xxvi, Zurich, 1874), and in the admirable series Expériences et remarques pratiques sur les sensations des insectes, published in five parts in the "Rivista di Scienze biologiche," Como, 1900–1901. [Two only of Forel's writings on insects are available in the English language: The Senses of Insects, Methuen, London, 1908; and Ants and some other Insects, Kegan Paul, London, 1904.] But these works form no more than a fraction of the author's studies written on this subject. Dr. Forel recently told me that since the publication in 1874 of the work which has become a classic, he has penned no less than 226 essays upon ants.