The Late Mr. G. Dawson Rowley


    IT is with sincere regret that we have to announce the death, on the 21st inst., at his house in Brighton, of Mr. George Dawson Rowley, the projector of, and principal contributor to, the Ornithological Miscellany, which he published at his own very considerable cost, and author of several papers on ornithological and archæological subjects. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1846, he was the companion, both at school and at the University, of the late John Wolley, whose early passion for natural history he shared. In Mr. Rowley, however, the taste for a time gave way to antiquarian studies, and did not return, at any rate very strongly, until some years afterwards, when he had married and was settled at Brighton, where, notwithstanding the dictum of Mr. Ruskin that “no English gentleman has ever thought of birds except as flying targets or flavorous dishes,” he became, so far as the opportunities of the place allowed, a very watchful observer of all that was passing in the feathered world, while in the spring he yearly repaired to his father's estate at St. Neot's in Huntingdonshire, the better to study the habits of birds in the breeding-season. He also began to form a collection of ornithological specimens of singular value, sparing no cost or trouble in the acquisition of objects of rarity or peculiar interest, and the treasures thus amassed finally became very numerous. The design of his Ornithological Miscellany seems to have chiefly been to illustrate this “Rarity Chamber”— for so, after the example set by old Rumphius, it might well be called—a considerable number if not most of the specimens therein figured or described being his own possessions. Yet he willingly accorded room in its pages to worthy contributors, among whom may be mentioned Mr. Dresser, Dr. Finsch, Messrs. Salrin, Sclater, Seebohm and Sharpe, and Lord Tweed-dale, and his printing a translation of Prjevalsky's important work on the birds of Turkestan, published in Russian, with copies of the plates, was a real boon to those ignorant of that language. Besides this lie often wandered into the by-ways of ornithology, which frequently possess a curious kind of interest, and he gave views of many places remarkable for the birds which frequent them. Never did the contents of a work better justify its title, for anything more miscellaneous than they are cannot well be imagined. Failing health, as he himself only a few months ago stated in his concluding remarks, brought it to an end far sooner than he had intended. Setting aside the scientific value of some of the papers, the beautiful plates by which nearly all are illustrated make its cessation a loss to ornithologists; and those who knew that Mr. Rowley had for a long time been gathering information bearing on the history of the extinct Gare-fowl (Alca tmpennis) had hoped that some result of his labours in this respect would one day make its appearance. But this was not to be. More than a year ago a violent hæmorrhage of the lungs gave warning of serious danger, and the attack was only too quickly followed by others of a like nature, under which he sank, in his fifty-seventh year, dying, by a singular coincidence, on the very same day as his father, who had long been an invalid.

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    The Late Mr. G. Dawson Rowley . Nature 19, 84 (1878).

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