[Taxacom] A taxonomists lament 1887

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Mon Oct 22 07:11:49 CDT 2018


I present the commentary below only as a historical interest, not to argue
any point about such matters which is outside the direct scope of Taxacom,
although many of the themes remain with us today. It caught me by surprise
in a standard entomological account. For the non-entomologist, the author,
Grote worked on Lepidoptera taxonomy. He was at one time a director of the
Buffalo Museum of Sciences and from what I recall, the circumstances of his
leaving that position involved some difficulties, but I do not know if that
was before or after this article.

John Grehan

Grote, A.R. 1887. A chapter on the structure of butterflies and moths. 18th
annual report of the Entomological Society of Ontario.

"Nor does the materialistic selfishness and insincerity of the present
century console us! At a time when more than ever the principles of
Christianity are needed, Christianity is going out. Almost do we prefer the
intellectual swindle of the last century to what we now suffer. Money rules
the world, and the commercial balance sheet is waited for; not the spring
and the new year. Everybody asks me, Does your Entomology, your Art, pa?
How much do you get by it? I have even been suspected of using it merely to
make money by it, which, in one sense, complimented me. But mainly those
who deal in humbug, claptrap, and lies, make money, in Entomology as in
other things. If you are poor and have only your good reputation, it is a
proof that you have kept yourself reasonably unspotted from a world of
deceit and fraud, a world which, in the past at least, has rewarded the
betrayer, the successful perjurer, and martyred every human heart that beat
for it, ridiculted and oppressed every intellect that opposed to its
unreason and folly. In every circle of society and activity, the same story
of suffering and wrong is wearisomely repeated. Still, hope remains behind
and has not flown even out of our Entomological boxes. Thus I wander from
my subject, I hope not altogether aimlessly.


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