The Late Mr. Assheton Smith


THE man of ample means, and who is a lover of living creatures, has a great opportunity. Mr. Assheton Smith had this opportunity, and he used it not only to gratify his own pleasure, but to share it with others. There was nothing that he liked better than to go the round of his park with a guest, and to point out and discuss the characters and habits of the animals which he had gathered together from various quarters of the globe. With the late squire such a ramble was no ordinary treat. One felt, too, that in this man the beasts had a true friend, that he had studied them and knew their ways, and that he would do his utmost to make their lot as happy as possible. To such a man science owes a great debt. Not only does he afford the student an opportunity of studying animals in favourable circumstances, but he is able to place material at the disposal of the laboratory and museum when these animals have paid nature's last demand. For a number of years I have had the good fortune to act, as it were, as prosector to his menagerie, and both my students and I have been able to Carry out not a few studies in comparative anatomy. Sometimes, playfully, he would accuse me of possessing the “evil eye,” as he said that an animal was not likely to survive long should I express a desire to have it eventually for the college museum, I am grateful that my liking for natural history brought me in touch with him. It is in the small actions of life that one can best read character. A gentleman to the core, he was never fearful of giving himself away by showing the utmost courtesy to the humblest. An unfastened door or gate, a watertap left trickling he would not abide. Everything at the park must be precision and finish to the smallest details. Over his many acts of private charity he ever kept the veil tightly drawn. A few of them have incidentally come to my knowledge, and they reveal the vastness of his sympathy. His many zoological donations, and his gift to the college of site on the Menai Straits for a biological station for the study of marine life, bear eloquent testimony to his desire to advance science. May the pile to be raised on this fine site—let us hope at no distant date—be at least one grateful tribute to his memory.

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WHITE, P. The Late Mr. Assheton Smith. Nature 71, 125–126 (1904).

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