The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 22
The annals of the Royal Society show that the year ending with this Anniversary presents no falling off in the value and interest of the communications brought before our meetings, as compared with previous years, and indeed surpasses them in number and extent of publications, and in demands on the time of your Council. We have been called upon more frequently than ever to aid in giving effect to those efforts for the advancement of natural knowledge which, whether originating in private enterprise or in the Councils of the State, have marked the year as a memorable one in the history of science.
Before, however, proceeding to the historical summary which this statement involves, I have to discharge the always painful task of recalling to memory the names of the most distinguished of our Fellows who have died since the last Anniversary. In Science we have lost Mr. Bennett, Mr. Campbell De Morgan, Dr. Parkes, Mr. Poulet Scrope, Dr. Sibson, and Lieut.-Col. Strange; in letters and public services, the Rev. Dr. Bosworth, Lord Lyttelton, Earl Stanhope, and the Rev. Dr. Wilson; and the names of the botanist Brongniart and the veteran microscopist Ehrenberg disappear from the list of Foreign Members.
As regards the part taken by your Council in the labours of the year now expired, I feel it to be my duty, as it is, indeed, my pleasure, to inform you, so far as the limits of an Anniversary Address will admit, of the importance of those labours—and the more so, as without page 4 this opportunity it would not be easy to make you acquainted in a way commensurate with their value with the scientific services of your Council as contradistinguished from their current duties.
As anticipated in my Address of last year, application has been made to the Treasury for a grant to cover the cost of printing the decade 1864-73 of our Catalogue of Scientific Papers, comprising now more than 100,000 titles; and I am happy in having to announce that the application was acceded to in the same handsome spirit as that in which the Lords of the Treasury, during Mr. Gladstone's administration, placed a sum upon the Parliamentary votes to defray the expense of printing the first six volumes. The value of this work becomes more and more appreciated with lapse of time; and you will be glad to learn that the continuation of this Catalogue from year to year has been ordered by your Council as a permanent part of the Society's official work. As you are aware, the expenditure for this work appears regularly in our annual balance-sheet.
Acting under a recommendation by the Library Committee, your Council offered the custody of our collection of Oriental MSS. to the India Office under certain conditions, viz. that the manuscripts which require binding should be bound, and a Catalogue made of the whole collection. The Secretary of State for India in Council has accepted the offer with its conditions; and at a fitting opportunity the collection will be transferred to a locality where it will be in competent hands and be readily accessible to students and scholars.
Arrangements have been made for the publication of the Reports of the naturalists sent to Rodriguez and Kerguelen Islands in a separate quarto form, with illustrations; and a grant of £100 from the Donation Fund has been made in aid of the work. The botanical specimens have been named, and are being distributed to the Herbaria of Kew, of the British Museum, of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, and others. A complete set of the zoological collections will be deposited in the British Museum, and the remainder distributed among the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of London and the Museums of Edinburgh, Dublin, Oxford, and Cambridge.
The Report on the results of the "Eclipse" Expedition has-been drawn up by Mr. Lockyer, and is far more satisfactory than could have been anticipated, considering the unfavourable conditions which prevailed during the whole of the time the observations were being made. It now appears that the light which photographs the prominences does not come from hydrogen, but most probably from calcium, while the photograph of the corona with the prismatic camera shows that its chief light is derived from the hydrogen. The complete account of the eclipse will appear in our 'Proceedings' very shortly.
For the financial state of the Society I must refer you to the balance-sheet prepared by our Treasurer now in your hands. It shows that page 5 our resources have been increased by receipt of the Dircks request, £878 12s. 10d. A further increase will occur towards the en, of the year by the incoming of the £2000 Consols to which we are entitld under the will of our late Fellow, It. C. Carrington. Besides these, as addition has been made to our Trust Funds by the settlement of te long-pending question of the Handley bequest. The amount ulimately awarded to us was £6378 19s., the balance of which, after paynent of legacy duty and certain legal charges, has been invested, as maybe seen in our balance-sheet, in Reduced 3-per-cent. Stock.
The Donation Fund has been increased by the receipt of the £500 bequeathed by our late Fellow, Sir Charles Wheatstone, raising thetotal to £6333 10s. 4d. Additions to this fund are greatly to be desirel: it is applied, as you are aware, in aid of research; and a very strictaccount is kept of its expenditure. Were such a fund at all what it ought to be, considering the amount of capital accumulating in this country, in great part the direct outcome of scientific inquiry, we should have fewer complaints of the insufficiency of means of encouragement for research.
To Sir Charles Wheatstone we are further indebted for a valuable collection of portraits of scientific men, including one of the advisor, and one of Boyle (by Kneller), both in oil. Mrs. Selwyn has presented the negatives of the eleven years' series of photographs of the sun-spots (more than 2000) taken at Ely, from 1863-1874, under the late Canon Selwyn's instructions.
You will share my feeling of pleasure when I inform you of the deposit in the hands of our Treasurer of a munificent contribution, £6000, to be devoted to the aid of scientific research, by Mr. Thomas Phillips Jodrell, the founder of the Chair of Animal Physiology in University College, London, and donor of the Laboratory of Physiological Research to the Establishment at Kew. Early in last year, Mr. Jodrell informed me by letter that it was his wish to place at the disposal of this Society, as the one body in which all branches of British science are represented, this generous sum, to be applied (principal as well as interest) in any manner that the Society may consider most conducive, for the time being, to the encouragement among our countrymen of original research in the physical sciences—his object being not, on the one hand, to found a permanent endowment for the benefit of a future generation, nor, on the other, to relieve the Government of any part of its obligations to the present, but to ascertain, as far as may be, by practical experiment on a limited 6cale, to what extent the progress of original research in the physical sciences is retarded in this country by the want of public support to those engaged in it, and in what form an increased measure of such support would be most likely to promote its development.
I need hardly add that your Council, before whom I laid Mr. Jodrell's letter at once, thankfully accepted his offer, and appointed a Committee to consider and to report upon the best means of giving effect to page 6 his liberal views. Before, however, the Committee had presented their report, we were informed of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to increase largely the funds placed at the Society's disposal in aid of scientific investigations, and to allow part of the increment to be devoted to the sustentation or remuneration of investigators—thus fulfilling the main desire which Mr. Jodrell had in view in making his donation.
"When I communicated the intention of the Government to Mr. Jodrell, he signified his desire to reopen the question of the application of the £6000, which he still wished to leave in our Treasurer's hands; for his object had been to induce the Government to do what, to the surprise of every one, it had done, and not to supplement a permanent government endowment by a temporary one of his own. Whatever might be the ultimate decision, he did not doubt that this Society would be the most competent agency for carrying it into effect; and he suggested that the fund should be invested temporarily, and the question of its appropriation reserved until we should meet this session. Finally, Mr. Jodrell has proposed that the gross sum should be retained in its present investment in the prospect of some want of it arising in the course of the next few years, and that the interest accruing in the mean time should be applied by the Society as part of our revenue. This proposal was willingly accepted, and the best thanks of your Council have been presented to Mr. Jodrell.
In April last I was informed by the Lord President of the Council that Her Majesty's Government had under consideration the question of giving further aid to scientific research, by increasing the Parliamentary grant of £1000 per annum which is administered by the Council under the recommendation of the Government Grant Committee in aiding investigators with apparatus and assistance. They proposed in future to augment the Grant annually for five years by £1000, to vest the administration of the whole in the Science and Art Department, and to invite the Society's Council to aid Her Majesty's Government, as hitherto, with advice and assistance as to its appropriation and expenditure, and further to give us the power of recommending, in certain cases, the payment of personal allowances to investigators. The communication also advised that the Presidents of fifteen learned bodies in the United Kingdom should be ex officio members of the Government Grant Committee,—a change in its constitution more apparent than real, as the majority of the Presidents specified were already Fellows of the Society. After several conferences with the Minister, the original proposal was, with his concurrence, modified, and made to apply to the additional £4000 only, the administration of the original £1000 remaining as heretofore, to be accounted for to the Treasury, and the recommendations of the Council with respect to the appropriation of the additional sum to be liable to revision by the Lord President, in whose page break department the vote is taken, and who must be responsible to Parliament for its expenditure. With this proposal your Council concurred, on the understanding that should it happen that the Lord President found it inadvisable to act upon all your Council's recommendations (which, in his Lordship's opinion, is never likely to happen), the Council should have the opportunity of revising them, so that, if thought desirable, the items of the grant to which exception had been taken might be allocated in some other way.
There are therefore now two Government grants in aid of scientific research, one of £1000 per annum, for the administration of which your Council is directly accountable to the Treasury, and which as heretofore, will be appropriated to the providing of instruments and assistance for scientific inquirers: the other, of £4000 annually for five years, to be applied to the aid of investigators, not only by providing instruments and assistance, but occasionally by personal allowances or grants of money, in accordance with recommendations to be made to the Lord President.
The constitution of this new Committee is not yet settled; but it will probably consist of the existing one, together with all the ex offieio members as proposed.
Before dismissing this subject I feel it to be incumbent on me to express our obligations to His Grace the Duke of Richmond and to Lord Sandon, for the active interest they took in providing the grant, and for the liberal manner in which they entered into the views of the Council in respect of its appropriation.
Two of the provisions of the Vivisection Bill called forth an earnest remonstrance from your Council, which was communicated by the President to the Prime Minister in June last. These provisions were the limitation of experiments, even under anaesthetics, to such only as can be shown to contribute directly to the prolongat ion of human life and the alleviation of human suffering; and the prohibition of experiments upon dogs. It was pointed out, in the communication to the Minister, that, as regards both these limitations, the Bill went beyond the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners upon Vivisection for scientific purposes; and, in respect of the first of them, it was represented that the history of physical science shows that all the great discoveries which have contributed to the welfare of mankind have resulted from investigations pursued in the interests of pure science, without reference to their practical application, and that to this rule physiology forms no exception, since all the physiological truths which constitute the foundation of the rational practice of medicine have been ascertained by experiments upon living animals, conducted by persons actuated by that desire for the advancement of natural knowledge which the Royal Society was instituted to foster; and it went on to say:—" Profoundly convinced page 8 of the mutual dependence of all branches of physical science, the President and Council feel that any legislation which arrests the development of one is an injury to all, and they would lament the admission into the Statute-book of a principle which is essentially antagonistic to the progress of all Natural Knowledge."
With respect to the second provision it was urged that, while the Bill professed to regulate experiments only, it prohibited them in the case of dogs, although the constitution of the dog is such as to render it indispensable for some of the most important physiological problems.
The receipt of this letter was followed by Lord Beaconsfield's communicating with me on the subject, when I had the opportunity of representing the views of the Council as being unalterable as to the necessity of modifying, if not of rescinding, these two provisions. The Prime Minister promised and gave full and, as it has proved, favourable consideration to the Council's representations; for, before the third reading of the Bill, its provisions were so modified as to place no obstacle in the way of experiments on all animals for purely scientific purposes by properly qualified persons.
On a subsequent occasion, when time did not allow of my communicating previously with the Council, I ventured, in the name of the Society, to request an audience with the Home Secretary, principally on the subject of the clauses that limited the making of experiments to registered localities, thus preventing physiologists from pursuing their researches during their vacation travels, or at their temporary residences at watering-places and other localities in which no registered institution existed. On this occasion also I found a willing ear lent to the Society's voice, followed by a favourable consideration of our representations, special certificates being now procurable which enable the experimenter to pursue his researches wherever he may be. On the same occasion I urged the confining the operation of the Bill to warm-blooded animals, but with only partial success; the provision which extended to all animals was finally curtailed, so as to apply to the vertebrate class only. Lastly, a protest against the clause compelling all experimenters to transmit to the Secretary of State a detailed report of all the experiments they might undertake, and their results, was more successful; for the Bill now requires reports to be made only when called for by the Secretary of State.
The Loan Collection of Scientific Instruments.—In my address of last year the proposed action of Government in reference to this important object was stated, together with the opinion of the Lord President and Vice-President of the Council, that it might prove the means of carrying out that recommendation of the Science Commissioners which dealt with the want of a Museum illustrating methods of experimenting and means of observing (see 4th Report, §"93). This was followed by a letter page 9 from the Duke of Richmond addressed to myself, suggesting that the Scientific Societies should organize in connexion with the Exhibition a series of Conferences, similar to the sectional meetings of the British Association. This led to that brilliant gathering in May last of scientific men from the metropolis and all parts of Europe (not fewer than thirty-five from Germany alone), and from America, many of them charged by their Governments to report on the collections, and to those public lectures on the instruments and apparatus displayed by many of the most eminent of these scientific men, which imparted such value and interest to the Exhibition.
Among the objects so exhibited, amounting to 20,000 in all, were to be seen specimens of the work or evidences of the genius of a considerable proportion of the eminent scientific men and manufacturers of scientific instruments from the days of Tycho Brahe and Galileo down to the present day, together with a collection of the appliances for scientific teaching adopted in many countries.
It cannot fail to be a matter of congratulation that the objects lent by the Royal Society were not surpassed in scientific value or in historic interest by those of any other institution or country, though among these are the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers of Paris, and the Museums of Berlin, Florence, and Haarlem. We contribute! twenty-seven articles, all of the best construction of their day, and which may be regarded as monuments of the skill of famous makers. They include:— Boyle's air-pump with double barrel, presented by himself in 1662; Newton's original reflecting telescope, constructed by himself in 1071; Huyghens's aerial telescope, with three object-glasses, of 122, 170, and 240 feet focal length, presented respectively by himself in 1691, by Newton, and by the Rev. G. Burnet; a large levelling-instrument used in the Ordnance Survey; two chronometers by Arnold, which were taken round the world by Capt. Cook; Capt. Kater's hygrometer; Priestley's electrical machine; and Sir II. Davy's experimental Safety Lanp.
The interest excited by the Exhibition is best shown on the one hand by the number of visitors, which at the end of September amounted to a quarter of a million, and on the other by the efforts made by a large body of scientific men, who desire to see effect given to the views of the Lord President in founding a permanent Museum of this nature. Amemorial to this effect, signed by more than one hundred scientific men, has been addressed to the Duke of Richmond, representing the advantages of a Museum of Scientific Apparatus, Appliances, and Objects, and of Chemical Products—illustrating both the history and the development of Science— with which the objects now contained in the "Patent Museun" should be incorporated. Among the advantages enumerated which would accrue from such an institution, are the saving of time and labour to investigators, assisting teachers, informing constructors of phiosophical instruments as to the directions in which reproductions are waited, or in page 10 which improvements may be effected, and possibly the lending instruments to investigators under suitable restrictions.
With regard to the advantage of combining the objects of the Patent Museum with the general collection, it is pointed out that the value of these objects as mere subjects of a patent is very imperfectly represented by their separate exhibition, whereas it would be greatly enhanced were they placed in juxtaposition with instruments of the same nature, which, though unpatented, may be both better adapted to their purpose and of greater instructive value.
The Meteorological Office.—In my last years Address I stated that the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury had appointed a Committee to inquire into the working of the Meteorological Office, and the value of the results hitherto obtained by it, and that the result of this might afford to Her Majesty's Ministers the opportunity of adopting measures that would greatly increase the scientific efficiency and public interest of that Office.
The labours of the Treasury Committee are now concluded. It sat frequently during the whole of last session of Parliament, examined many witnesses, scientific and practical, including the most eminent meteorologists of this country whose attendance could be obtained; and a report has been drawn up which will shortly be laid before Parliament. It will include the answer of the Committee of this Society to a letter addressed to the President and Council by a Committee of the Treasury requesting information on the following points:—1. As to the extent to which the objects indicated in the Reports presented by your President and Council in 1855 and 1865 for the guidance of the Office, had been attained by means of the labour and publications of the Office. 2. How far they had led to a better knowledge of the laws governing the weather, and to the discovery of new laws. 3. How far they had led to the collection of data, not otherwise procurable, that form a necessary basis for the establishment of new laws. 4. Should the same objects be further pursued? and if so, in accordance with the programme of operations now in force? 5. Should a change in the programme of the operations appear desirable, what should their nature be?
The Committee of the Royal Society, which consisted of Sir G. Airy, the Rev. R. Main, Professors Adams, Stokes, and B. Stewart, Dr. Guy, Messrs. De La Rue, Warington Smyth, Broun, and Spottiswoode, sent in a series of recommendations to the Council that were embodied in a letter addressed to the Treasury Committee.
Your Council reported that oceanic meteorology had been greatly enriched by the investigations made with regard to winds, currents, and temperatures of the ocean, and by the deductions obtained therefrom, and that these contained results on which sailing-directions of page 11 the most trustworthy character, for the use of navigators, an be constructed.
As regards terrestrial meteorology, that the number of sations for which observations are signalled for the purpose of forecasts should be increased rather than diminished; and that these forecasts as justified by the results of three-fourths of the cases recorded.
That daily weather-charts are considered to have contributed materially to a diffusion of the knowledge of meterological phenomena among all classes, and are on that account of great utility; and, further, their preparation and issue are regarded as beyond the means of private establishments, and eminently worthy the support of the Government. That the publications of the Office generally bear the impress of a scrupulous regard to accuracy, and embrace a collection of data not otherwise attainable, and supply a large mass of material of a nature indispensable to the establishment of new laws; and that all the work appears to have been done in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Society.
As to the future of the Office, your Council were of opinion that the programme now in force should be generally followed; that the hitherto unpublished results of oceanic observations should be brought out it as soon as possible, so that the meteorology of all navigable parts of the ocean should be known; that the rules followed in forecasting storms should be published for the information of future meteorologists; that it would be advantageous to publish weekly averages of the climate of the British Isles for the use of agriculturists and collectors of statistics of health, mortality, and the distribution of disease, these averages to be printed in a tabular form, giving the results not only of the week but of the previous week, of the corresponding week of the foregoing year, and of the average of the corresponding weeks in the foregoing 10 years. That the operations of the self-recording observatories should be continued as at present, until the expiration of the 12-year sun-period, after which the subject of their number and position might be advantageously reconsidered; and that special observations should at once be taken for the purpose of comparing their records, ascertaining their local peculiarities, and determining such constants as would ultimately permit of a large reduction of their number; and with regard to the eye-observing stations, it was recommended that their position and number should be reconsidered, with the view of obtaining a closer approximation to the meteorological conditions of the British Isles.
More important, however, by far, than these recommendations relating to the collection and reduction of observations, is the expressed opinion of your Council that the most practical method of advancing meteorology is by endeavouring to place the science on a firm basis, not by the accumulation and digestion of observations, but by research and experiment— and that this can only be done by the Government securing the services of scientific men who can devote their time to this object. To this end page 12 your Council recommended that the Office should be presided over by a man of the highest scientific attainments, preferably as sole head of the office, and if not, as chairman of a committee composed, like the present, of men eminent in science, but fewer in number—and that an adequate salary should be given to the presiding head, if an individual, or to the members of the committee, if it be retained.
Such is the substance of the recommendations of your Council; and I have every reason to hope that they will be carried out by the Government in as liberal a spirit as were our previous recommendations for the guidance of the Office in 1855 and 1865. Should this be the case, we may expect to be applied to for suggestions as to the general or precise nature of the researches and experiments which your Council have indicated as being essential for placing the science on a firm basis. We have excellent examples of what may be expected from such researches in the essays of our late Fellow, Professor Daniell, and in the more recent contributions to meteorological science of Sir J. Herschel, Balfour Stewart, Tyndall, Straehey, and others; and we look to further improvements from the application of the study of hydrodynamics and the phenomena of light, electricity, and acoustics, and other branches of physical science, to the elucidation of the many unsolved problems which have so long fettered the investigation of the laws of climate.
It will not be thought out of place here if I add a few remarks on the present state of Meteorology as one of the physical sciences, the progress it has really made, and the direction in which further progress is attainable. In this I have been aided by General Straehey, a late member of the Treasury Committee, who, having studied meteorology in India as well as in Europe, has kindly drawn up a statement of our views, and placed it at my service for this Address.
Without question, the chief point in which meteorology now differs from what it was, is the recognition of the necessity for taking into consideration the facts observed at many places simultaneously over a large area, instead of facts observed in succession at a single locality. This great step has been no doubt mainly due to the extension of the electric telegraph, which renders possible the rapid juxtaposition of observations made over a very large area, and the equally rapid dispatch to great distances of the results derived from the consideration of such observations, thus furnishing the means both of acquiring the knowledge and of making it practically useful. A comparison of the first feeble efforts to appreciate the nature of the fluctuations of barometric pressure recorded in the Reports of the British Association for the years following 1843, and chiefly clue to Mr. Birt, and the beautiful synoptical charts now published in many countries, of which those prepared by Captain Hoffmeyer may be taken as an example, will indicate the great progress made in this direction. Charts such as these convey very complete information as to how the chief variations of weather occur over the greater part of page 13 Europe and the United States—though why they occur is yet too little understood. It is, unfortunately, still true that very little has been done towards tracing out the physical causes of the changes of pressure of the occurrence of which we are thus made aware; but it is not to be doubted that, the facts being now presented to students in a readily accessible and intelligible shape, no great interval is likely to elapse before the causes that produce them are ascertained, at all events approximately.
It is practically certain that the changes of atmospheric pressure are immediately dependent on changes of temperature; but no intelligible relation has yet been established between the two, except in the very vaguest manner. And this indicates the first great want of scientific meteorology—namely, an improved theoretical knowledge of the movements of elastic fluids subject to changes of temperature. The difficulties to be surmounted in this branch of mechanics are great; but probably the means may be attained of subjecting the hypotheses that will eventually form the basis of scientific meteorology to the rigorous test of mathematical calculation, though hardly the first step has yet been taken in that direction.
For the purpose of bringing one class of the observations on which a scientific meteorology must be based into a form suited for the application of theoretical tests such as these, the harmonic analysis seems to supply the necessary means. This method may be familiarly explained as having for its object to break up any observed series of quantities representing a recurring phenomenon, such as the diurnal or annual variations of temperature or atmospheric pressure, into other series so arranged that each observed quantity shall be conceived to be an aggregate consequence of a number of different series of variations from the mean value—the first of such series being completed but once in the whole epoch under consideration, the second recurring twice, or being completed in half the epoch, the third recurring thrice, or in one third of the epoch, and so forth.
The arithmetical computations requisite for thus transforming periodical observations being very laborious, Sir W. Thomson (adopting an idea of his brother's, Prof. J. Thomson) has proposed to construct a machine that shall perforin the calculations with the aid only of the graphical projection of the curve resulting from the recorded observations—an illustrative model of which he exhibited to the Society in the course of last Session, and an account of which has been published in our 'Proceedings.'
It is well to remark that this treatment of meteorological or other observations gives no direct aid in referring the phenomena to physical causes, and is only to be regarded as a means of bringing them into a shape in which they can be compared with theoretical formulas or dynamical or other hypotheses. It has too long been thought that the arithmetical manipulation of the results of meteorological observation was a page 14 sufficient end to be attained; and too often the necessity for seeking for the efficient causes of the phenomena has been lost sight of. An altogether useless refinement has also frequently been insisted upon in recording observations of what, in a scientific sense, may be termed insignificant details; and a wholly illusory appearance of accuracy has been aimed at, far beyond what can in fact be attained. The true conception of averages is, in meteorological calculations as in many others, very often missed, and mean results are exhibited which have no real signification.
The relation of meteorology to physics may be compared to that of the natural-history sciences to physiology. Physics include the study of the forces the operation of which on the atmosphere gives rise to meteorological phenomena. The intelligent application of physical research is unquestionably one of the most necessary elements in the satisfactory progress of this science; and Professor Tyndall's study of the action of the air and other gases in relation to radiant heat affords an excellent illustration of the manner in which experimental investigation contributes to the knowledge required to explain atmospheric phenomena.
The prodigality of nature in supplying the germs from which life on the earth is sustained, and the comparatively extremely small proportion of those germs that ever come to maturity, has often been a subject of comment. I venture to remark that a prodigal waste no less conspicuous is to be seen in the long rows of volumes on our shelves containing meteorological observations which doubtless contain vast numbers of scientific germs, but germs not destined to fructify. It is without doubt one of the most serious difficulties that attend our efforts at progress in this science to determine what records to make, what to keep, what to publish. So long as our knowledge is so rudimentary, we cannot properly judge what is essential and what unimportant. Like many other difficulties, this, I presume, must be left to time for its solution; at all events, I shall not attempt it.
In concluding my observations on this subject, I would further impress upon all interested in it that it is to well-directed thought on the physical connexion between the many closely related atmospheric phenomena which are now so clearly presented to the student in the publications of the present day, that we must look for real progress in the science—and that it will almost certainly be found that it is rather through an examination of the better-known recurrent phenomena, viewed broadly, that success will be secured, than by a laborious search after deviations from what is of common occurrence.
The most important scientific incident of the year is unquestionably the return of the 'Challenger' from her voyage round the world and three years and a half of persevering exploration. It is, moreover, one in which the Royal Society has taken the deepest interest, having (as the Lords of the Admiralty officially state) originated it, and having been page 15 called upon by the Government to take a very active share in advising as to its organization and equipment.
The 'Challenger' left Sheerness on the 17th of December, 1872, and, after a voyage of 69,000 miles, arrived at Portsmouth on the 24th of May last with all her officers (with the exception of Captain Nares, who was called home to command a more perilous enterprise, and the late Willemöes-Suhm, who died at sea) in excellent health—their labours crowned with complete success, their collections in perfect order and preservation, and the scientific staff eager to work out the results of their long and arduous investigations. The success of this expedition is the more gratifying, as it is the first and only enterprise of its kind which has been undertaken by any nation for carrying out a thorough and purely scientific investigation of the great oceanic areas, under adequate superintendence and with full appliances.
It is impossible for any one who has not taken an active part both in the organization and conduct of such an expedition as this of the 'Challenger,' to estimate the number and value of the factors that have mainly contributed to its success. Foremost among these were the wise liberality of the Ministry, which gave orders for its outfit being complete on all points, and the care and efficiency of the Naval Department, shown in the attention paid to every detail, in the choice of the ship, its stores, in the selection of the Commander, its executive officers and crew, and in the forethought bestowed on its sailing-directions. The selection of the Scientific Staff (consisting of Sir C. Wyville Thomson, Mr. Wild (Secretary), and Messrs. Murray, Moseley, and Dr. Willemöes-Suhm, naturalists, and Mr. Buchanan), and the apportioning of their duties, was intrusted to your Council; and the manner in which that Staff has carried out its instructions, merits your highest approbation—as is, indeed, testified by the award of a Royal Medal to its Chief, Sir C. Wyville Thomson. Essential to complete success as all these requirements were, they would have been wholly unavailing but for another, which no foresight could provide for and no forethought guarantee; and that is, concord! The trials of social life on shipboard are proverbial; and, according to the early traditions of the naval service, a philosopher afloat used to be considered as unlucky a shipmate as a cat or a corpse. In this ease, thanks to the admirable spirit in which the Commander and his executive worked with the head of the Scientific Staff and his subordinates, I am informed that harmony reigned on board throughout the voyage. And à propos of this, I may be allowed here to allude to another prejudice which was once (if it be not still) current in the service, and which I hope the experience of both the 'Challenger' and Polar ships will finally dispel—namely, that to have one mess-cabin only for the Commander and his officers would be incompatible with naval discipline. The contrary practice in both these Expeditions has, as I am assured, been attended with the happiest results—and this not- page 16 withstanding the addition to the mess of that dreaded element; the philosophers.
Before proceeding to glance cursorily at some of the unpublished results obtained by the 'Challenger,' I must direct your attention to the number and value of the scientific documents which have been from time to time sent home for immediate publication; for in respect of work published during the progress of the voyage this expedition stands quite alone. I refer especially to the seven folio Reports of proceedings by Capt. Nares and his successor Capt. Thomson, including twenty-nine charts of sections of the great oceans, with soundings and isotherms for all depths from the surface to the bottom. These publications, the issue of which we owe to the zeal and assiduity of the late and present Hydrographers of the Admiralty, are of the greatest interest—the seventh especially, which gives a complete résumé of the observations obtained over the whole Atlantic, and deals very ably with their results. It shows that this ocean presents three deep basins, separated by suboceanic ridges. Of these basins, one (the Eastern) extends along the coasts of the Old World, following its main sinuosities from the latitude of Great Britain to that of South Africa. The other two together occupy a somewhat similar position along the coasts of the New World: namely, a northern one extends from lat. 60° N. to 10° N., expanding greatly in the tropics; and a southern one, commencing a few degrees to the south-eastward of the other, extends far into the Antarctic basin, of which it may be regarded as a northern prolongation. Between the eastern and two western basins a comparatively narrow belt of suboceanic highlands extends from the Arctic to the Antarctic circle along a sinuous line which, roughly speaking, occupies a mid-channel course.
Of the oceanic islands, the Azores, St. Paul's rocks, Ascension, and Tristan d'Acunha are emerged peaks of these highlands. The Bermuda Islands rise out of immense depths in the N.W. basin; Fernando de Noronha and Trinidad Island (in 20° S. lat.) rise out of the S.W. basin; while not more than one island (St. Helena) is to be found throughout the whole length of the Eastern basin.
Not only is this discovery of great importance in relation to the sub-oceanic distribution of life, but also in reference to theories of the distribution of land-animals and plants. In the present state of our knowledge, it disposes of all speculations as to the former existence of tracts of now submerged land, which, extending from the great continents to the islands in question, might have aided the migration thither of animals and plants; and it obliges us to conclude that they were peopled with living things by the direct or indirect agency of the elements.
Did time allow, I would have directed your attention to the discussion on Oceanic Circulation contained in these Reports—a subject that has produced, within a very few years, a library of scientific literature, in which the names of Carpenter, Croll, and Wyville Thomson will ever hold a page break high place,—as also to the memoirs contributed to our 'Transactions' and 'Proceedings' by Thomson, Willemöes-Suhm, Moseley, Buchanan, and Murray.
The as yet uninvestigated materials collected by the Expedition include soundings, dredgings, and trawlings at the surface, bottom, and intermediate depths, from 354 stations in the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern, Antarctic, and Pacific Oceans, and in the China Sea and Malay archipelago, all which have to be studied in connexion with simultaneous observations for the temperature, specific gravity, chemical composition, and movements of the sea-water at these stations, and with others relating to the mineral matter covering the floor of the ocean.
Sir C. Wyville Thomson informs me that, as yet, no close estimate can be formed of the number of specimens fit for mounting for museum-purposes which were collected in the deep sea; but he thinks that 100,000 would be well within the mark; and this is of course exclusive of microscopic organisms. Being collected over a vast area presenting comparatively very slight variations in physical conditions, the general character of the fauna which they represent is, as might be expected, on the whole uniform. At the first glance it seems to consist of a multitude of closely allied forms, requiring in many cases great care and skill to determine what among them should be regarded as types of species, and what as local or accidental forms of one species.
In the collection of the abyssal fauna, Sponges and Echinodermata predominate; and Sir C. Wyville Thomson expects that at least one half of these consists of undescribed and newly discovered species—an opinion in which he is fortified by competent judges who have inspected the collection. Crustacea, Annelida, and Polvzoa are also well represented, and are to a great extent of new and remarkable forms. Fishes are numerous, but are for the most part referable to families already made known by the memoirs of the late Rev. R. Lowe on the Fishes of Madeira.
All the specimens have been preserved in such a way that they can be investigated anatomically in every detail; and those who visited the biological laboratories on board the ship at Sheerness, and saw the extent and nature of the appliances for the preservation of soft animals of all sorts, may readily understand how rich a harvest awaits the reapers who have sown so diligently.
Considering how liberal has been the action of the Government hitherto, there cannot be a doubt of Sir Wyville Thomson's being placed in a position that will enable him to superintend the publication of the results of this Expedition on a scale and with a completeness commensurate with their value and worthy of the nation. An unequalled opportunity is now afforded him of investigating the phenomena of migration, variation, of the first appearance, succession, multiplication, and extinction of forms belonging to many orders of the animal kingdom—and this over areas so extensive that they may be regarded as, in a certain sense, page 18 the equivalents of geological periods. For this purpose it appears essential that the collections should be kept together under the eyes of the naturalists who formed them, until every species and variety has had attached to it all the details respecting its habitat and environing conditions that were obtained when it was collected; otherwise the primary object of the Expedition will be frustrated.
It may appear superfluous to suppose that any other course would be possible under the circumstances; but that it is not so is proved by the fact that, many and important as have been the collections made during voyages of discovery and survey which have been dispatched from our shores and brought to England, there is absolutely not one of them, from the days of Cook to the present time, of which, so to speak, any thing like the whole material has been published. True enough, this has in some cases been attributable to a want of energy on the naturalists' parts; but it has far more frequently been due to the parsimony or indifference of the Government, which has refused the opportunity of study, or the means of publication, or both.
Before leaving this subject, I must mention the endeavour of our Fellow, Mr. Sorby, to determine the nature of the Red Clays of the ocean-bottom, of which we have heard so much. He informs me that, though any conclusions now to be drawn from his observations must be provisional, it is safe to consider that many specimens of the Red Clay are so entirely analogous to what the Gault must originally have been, that those specimens might almost be looked upon as being as truly modern Gault as the Globigerina-ooze is modern Chalk. In the Gault the grains of fine sand are chiefly quartz derived from the decomposition of schistose rocks. But the Pacific and Atlantic muds from great depths contain, besides quartz-fragments, others of glassy felspar, pumice, and other volcanic products; and Mr. Sorby has not been able to detect any difference between the main mass of the Gault and other rocks which are composed of very minute granules like those derived from felspar or other minerals which, in a similar manner, easily undergo complete chemical decomposition. Independent, therefore, of the presence of different organic remains, and of the modern volcanic products, there is little or no difference between the Red-Clay deposits and some of the earlier stratified rocks.
The return of the Polar Expedition is too recent to allow of any accurate estimate being formed of the value of the scientific facts which it has accumulated. Captain Nares, in his official Report to the Admiralty, bears warm testimony to the services (both as a collector and an observer) of Captain Feilden, who was selected by your Council as Naturalist to the Expedition; and we have very good reason to believe that his and Mr. Hart's contributions to Arctic Geology and Natural History generally will prove to be the most important and extensive ever obtained from the highest latitudes of the globe.page 19
From a communication with which Captain Feilden has favoured me, it appears that there are no signs of a cessation of animal or vegetable life up to the furthest point reached by the Expedition: birds and mammals occur on the shores of the Polar basin in lat. 82° 45′; and the sea itself abounds in Crustacea and Mollusca, which latter were collected in a fresh state chiefly on the recently raised beaches. Of land mammals, the Lemming and its enemy, the Ermine, were found on the North Greenland coast, between the parallels of 82° and 83°, along with twenty or thirty species of flowering plants, including the beautiful Hesperis Pallasii, Saxifraga flagellaris, and Vesicaria arctica. The absence of whales from Smith's Sound was a noteworthy fact: we may assume that the great Mysticetus, which is almost extirpated in the Spitsbergen seas, and which was traced up Baffin's Bay and to Prince Rupert's Inlet, is now hemmed in by the polar ice of Bank's Straits and McClintock's Channel, and did not attempt to face the pack of Smith's Sound. Birds, which abound in Baffin's Bay, were scarce in the Sound, owing to the cold tides and want of open water in the Polar basin; nevertheless the Knot, the Sanderling, and the long-tailed Skua Gull were all observed to breed on the shores of that basin.
Insects were found at the extreme point reached by Caphin Feilden; and, of the lower orders, Echinodormata were very common. Among these is a beautiful Comatula, identical with one dredged up in 82° 6′ by Captain Buchan, in the 'Dorothea,' in 1818, and afterwards by Franklin in the 'Trent,' in lat. 82° 26′. As the latter localities are on the east coast of Greenland, and this species had not been found previously in any part of the American Polar sea, another reason is suggested for concluding that Greenland is an island, and that the coast traced to the eastward by the sledge expedition of the 'Alert' is truly its northern one.
The geology of Smith's Sound is very instructive, Captain Feilden having succeeded in laying down its outline, at any rate, and connecting its rocks with some of those of the Polar regions to the south. Gneiss, syenite, and hornblende rocks extended from Cape Isabella, in lat. 78°, to Hayes Sound, in lat. 79°, where they were overlain by marine beds of Silurian conglomerates, full of fossils, dipping E. and W., and reaching northward to Cape Collinson. On the Greenland coast, in Bessel's Bay and Petermann Ford, the same rocks are found. On the opposite coast, in Discovery Bay, these fossiliferous rocks, if they ever existed, must have been denuded, and are replaced by azoic slates and limestones presumably answering to the Silurians of American geologists. This formation was traced to lat. 82°, where an anticlinal ridge occurs, the northern strata of which dip to the N.N.E., and are, in lat. 82° 44′, overlain by Carboniferous limestones.
Miocene strata were discovered near Discovery Bay, in lat. 81° 44′, including a 20-foot seam of coal rich in fossil plants. Postpliocene beds full of shells, and sometimes 400 feet thick, filled up the valleys, page 20 and overlay hills 100 feet high; these contained bones of the musk-ox and seal, together with drift-wood, nil deposited as they might have been under existing conditions.
Drift pine wood abounds on the shores of the Polar Sea, no doubt drifted from the Siberian rivers; and birch wood occurred in the Sound.
Evidence of a recent change of climate was met with in the number of deserted Eskimo settlements, which were traced nearly as far north as the parallel of 83°. One of the houses was roofed with large whales' ribs.
I have now, Gentlemen, concluded my endeavour to bring under your notice some of the principal labours of your Council during the past year, together with their immediate and prospective results. I should have liked, had time permitted, to direct your attention to a few of the more interesting papers and experiments that have been brought before us at our evening meetings, and to point out to you that in the consideration and preparation of papers for publication a heavy burden is laid on your Secretaries and that longsuffering body the Committee of Papers. It would perhaps surprise you could you be made aware of the amount and importance of the work connected with papers which is performed by your officers and the Committee. It is work which only in its results comes before the eye of the Society; but I think you will agree with me that those results show how well and faithfully the work has been done.
On the motion of Sir James Alderson, seconded by Mr. Francis Galton, it was resolved—"That the thanks of the Society be returned to the President for his Address, and that he be requested to allow it to be printed."
The President then proceeded to the presentation of the Medals :—
The Copley Medal has been awarded to Professor Claude Bernard, For. Mem. R.S., for his numerous contributions to the science of Physiology.
It fell to the lot of Claude Bernard to make, at about the same time, two discoveries of which it may be said that they have proved more pregnant of physiological interest than any two discoveries which have been made by the same man during the last five-and-twenty years. Not only were the discovery of the glycogenic function of the liver, and of vaso-motor nerves, of prime importance at the time at which they were, made, but their subsequent influence on the progress of physiology has been such that it would he difficult to overrate it.
When, in 1853, Bernard published his work 'Sur une Nouvelle Fonction du Foie,' physiologists, notwithstanding the proof afforded by Liebig and others that animals are able to form fat out of the starch and sugar of their food, still clung with remarkable tenacity to the view that the great distinction between animal and vegetable life lay in the fact that page 21 the chemical actions of the former were exclusively destructive, ant of the latter constructive. When, however, Bernard showed that the hepatic cells were able, like the vegetable cells, to manufacture and deposit in themselves a veritable starch, the older view received its death-blow; the constructive powers of the animal economy could no longer be denied, and the minds of physiologists became open to the fact that in studying animal nutrition they must be prepared for the existence of other processes than those of simple destructive oxidation. The subsequent discovery of glycogen in other (and especially in foetal) tissues made this still more clear. How beneficial this clearing-away of erroneous theretical conceptions has been is shown by the rapid progress which the physiology of nutrition has made during the last quarter of a century.
The discovery of glycogen has also another influence of a general character. Governed too much by the leading idea of the animal bod; being composed of organs with special functions, physiologists were content with the view that the liver was an organ whose function is to secrete bile, and that when it had secreted a proper quantity of bile its work was clone. The fact that in the liver, at the same time that bile was being secreted, chemical labours of an apparently wholly different kind were being carried on, put an end to these narrow conceptions. It was felt at once that a new path of inquiry had been opened up for the study, not only of hepatic, but of all other tissues—a path of which even yet we see only the beginning.
Though such theoretical considerations as the foregoing stamp the discovery of glycogen as emphatically epoch-making in the history of physiology, its immediate and practical fruits were not inconsiderable. It and the subsequent discovery by Bernard that puncture of the fourth ventricle produces a temporary artificial diabetes, at once threw a vivid light over the dark subject of diabetic disease; and if neither the labours of Bernard himself nor those of Pavy and others, who have extended and, in a measure, corrected Bernard's conclusions, have cleared up the whole mystery of this fatal malady, its rational pathology began with the discovery of glycogen; and the complete interpretation of it, when it comes, must be based on Bernard's results.
No less epoch-making than the discovery of glycogen was the observation made by Bernard in the early months of 1852, that division of the cervical sympathetic caused a dilatation of the blood-vessels of the face and neck. That simple experiment was the beginning of the long series of researches on vaso-motor nerves, on nerves of secretion, we may perhaps add nerves of nutrition, and on inflammation, which so eminently characterize the physiology of the present generation. The progress of physiology during the last twenty years has been far more rapid with respect to our knowledge of the laws regulating vascular supply and secretion than in any other direction. Nor is the value of Bernard's initial experiment lessened by the fact that in a later month (August) of page 22 the same year, Brown-Séquard had independently obtained similar results to those of Bernard, and had pushed them further than he had, nor by the fact that Waller in the same year had seen the importance of the new truth more clearly than Bernard himself seems at first to have done. The air of physiology was at that time heavy with some such discovery; and since Bernard not only was the first to call attention to the facts, but also subsequently expounded fully their importance, his merit in the discovery cannot be diminished by others having independently arrived at the same results.
But Bernard's merits as a physiologist do not end here. Second only in importance to the discovery of glycogen and vaso-motor nerves was the observation made by him in 1856, and at about the same time independently by Kölliker, that the South-American arrow-poison, urari, destroys the conductivity and irritability of motor nerve-endings, but leaves muscular contractility intact. This was of great theoretical importance, inasmuch as it afforded striking evidence in support of Haller's views on muscular contractility, views which had been somewhat thrown into the background; and though the opinions expressed by Bernard in publishing this important discovery have not been fully confirmed by subsequent inquiries, the fact which he and Kölliker enunciated, that profound differences exist between the action of the poison on the contractile tissue itself and its action on the endings of the motor nerves, remains as a fundamental doctrine of physiology. The discovery of the properties of urari had, moreover, all the contingent advantages of the invention of a method. Urari has proved of indispensable advantage as a means of physiological analysis; its use in this respect is second only to that of chloroform and other anaesthetics. Many of the most important results in physiology gained during the last quarter of a century would probably have never been reached without the assistance of urari. Indirectly, therefore, we owe these to Bernard and Kölliker.
We are also indebted to Bernard for what was his earliest work, an important research on the functions of the pancreas, more especially on the use of the pancreatic juice in the digestion of fat. This alone was an important addition to physiological science; but it retires into the background before the more important labours on which I have dwelt.
Lastly, in addition to these special researches, physiology has been enriched by a series of general lectures on the nervous system, on digestion, on poisons, on the properties of blood and other animal fluids, in which Bernard not only brought forward many other observations of interest and importance, as for instance those, on carbonic-oxide poisoning, but also directed his readers in a lucid and striking manner to general considerations of great value.
Some of the views which he has thus put forward have not stood the test of subsequent investigation; but many of them, for instance the conception of the blood as an internal medium on which the several page break tissues live, have become part and parcel of the higher physiological teaching of the day; and by the exposition of his general views, Bernard has done service to physiology quite commensurate with the fruit of his more special inquiries.
[The Medal was received for M. Bernard by His Excellency the French Ambassador.]
The Rumford Medal has been awarded to M. Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen, For. Mem. E.S., for his numerous and important researches on the radiation and absorption of light, carried on chiefly by means of the spectroscope.
For the last 16 years Janssen's labours have been unceasing; and he is continuing them with unabated vigour at the present moment.
His first communication dates from 1860, in which year he recorded some observations on the absorption of radiant heat by the interior of the eye. This thesis gained for him the Doctorat ès sciences physiques. In 1862 he published the first section of his celebrated researches on the origin of the telluric lines of the solar spectrum: he gave us the new form of spectroscope of which we are only now beginning to take full advantage (I allude to the "Direct-vision Spectroscope," long associated with the name of Hofmann, because that optician was employed by Janssen), and pointed out how spectrum-analysis might enable us to settle the vexed question of the existence of a lunar atmosphere.
In 1866, with reference to the telluric line, he experimented at La Villette on a tube, some 37 metres long, containing steam at the pressure of 7 atmospheres, with the result that by comparing the spectra he was enabled to demonstrate that the telluric lines were really due to the absorption of aqueous vapour. The experiment was repeated in another form by observations of the spectrum of a flame several miles away through the vapour overlying the Lake of Geneva.
After these researches he sought and obtained a mission from the Paris Academy of Sciences to South-eastern Europe to make observations on the spectra of stars; and he was enabled to establish the fact that aqueous vapour exists in the atmosphere of some of them.
These researches on aqueous vapour led him to observe many spectra, among which were iodine, bromine, and others; and in the 'Comptes Rendus' and Proceedings of the Société Philomathique, observations are recorded which show that at that time he and Ångström were in the van of such researches.
Janssen's observations regarding aqueous vapour naturally led him to take every occasion of studying the solar atmosphere; and since the annular eclipse of 1867 (which he observed at Trani) there has been one total solar eclipse only which he has not studied.
After a scientific mission to the Azores in 1867, he went to India in 1868 to observe the great eclipse of that year. Not only were his observations page 24 of the eclipse itself of the highest value, but during the eclipse, with a flash of genius, the thought occurred to him that an eelipse was not necessary to the observation of the social phenomena into which everybody was inquiring; and he was the first to apply the method, now well known, which is being utilized in all civilized countries for the advancement of knowledge.
For some months after the eclipse Janssen remained in India, and brought home a rich series of observations, opening up many branches of inquiry which have since proved most fruitful in result.
In the eclipses of 1870 in Africa, 1871 in India, and 1875 in Siam, Janssen was present, and advanced further the question which he had set himself, and with the solution of which his name will always be associated.
Janssen's skill as an observer and his sound knowledge of optical and mechanical questions, have not been shown merely in connexion with the spectroscope; he was anxious to observe not only the recent transit of Venus, but to obtain records of several physical phenomena which can be observed only at such times. For this purpose he gave attention to astronomical photography; and the result was the introduction of his revolving apparatus, which was instantly adopted by our own eclipse parties, and will probably be the only photographic instrument used in future transits.
Janssen is at the present time engaged in organizing a physical observatory, and is taking daily photographs of the sun, preliminary to obtaining daily spectrum-photographs to elucidate all those inquiries which have been raised by his former work.
- 1857-58. Determination of the Magnetic Equator on the Coast of Peru.
- 1861-62. Study of the Telluric Lines in Italy.
- 1864. Continuation of this inquiry from high points in the Alps.
- 1867. Observations of the Annular Eclipse at Trani (Italy). Observations of the Eruption of Santorin. Magnetic Observations in the Azores.
- 1868. Observations of total Eclipse in India. Discovery of the new method. Optical and Magnetical observations at Simla.
- 1870. Observations of total Eclipse in Africa. Janssen escaped from Paris in a balloon to make these.
- 1871. Observations of the total Eclipse in Asia.
- 1874. Observations of the Transit of Venus in Japan.
- 1875. Observations of a total Eclipse of the Sun in Siam. [The Medal was received by M. Janssen.]
A Royal Medal has been awarded to Mr. William Froude, F.R.S., for his researches, both theoretical and experimental, on the Behaviour of Ships, their oscillations, their resistance, and their propulsion.
It is generally admitted that Mr. Froude has done more than anybody else towards the establishment of a reasonable theory of the oscillation of ships in wave-water, as well as for its experimental verification. The very accurate instruments which he has contrived for the measurement of a ship's oscillation at sea have even permitted him to measure (as a differential phenomenon) the mean wave acting upon the ship with a degree of exactness exceeding that with which it has hitherto been possible to ascertain the profile of the surface-wave of the sea.
He was also the first to establish on thoroughly sound principles the mechanical possibility of that form of motion known as the trochoidal sea-wave, which more nearly than any other appears to represent the shape of smooth ocean-wave, and which now forms the groundwork of all useful theories of the oscillation of ships.
He has also conducted a series of experiments, extending now over many years, on the Resistance, Propulsion, and Form of Ships, and on the very important and little-understood question of the law connecting the behaviour of ships, in all these respects, with that of models of ships on a much smaller scale. These experiments have been conducted partly for the government, and with public money; but they have also very largely taxed Mr. Froude's own private resources, the sums repaid to him by no means representing his whole expenditure on these matters, and including no compensation whatever for his own time or labour.
The amount of mechanical skill, as well as of theoretical acuteness, which has been exhibited in all this work has placed Mr. Froude in the foremost rank of all investigators on this subject. No one, indeed, has ever done more, either theoretically or practically, for the accurate determination of a ship's motion, whether in propulsion or in waves, than Mr. Froude. Without undervaluing other modern writers, it is not too much to say that his investigations at present take completely the lead in this very important question—most important to a maritime nation.
Mr. Froude's papers are mainly to be found in (he 'Transactions' of the Institution of Naval Architects and of the British Association, as also in separate official reports published as "Blue Books."
[The Medal was received by Mr. Froude.]
A Royal Medal has been awarded to Sir Charles Wyville Thomson, for his successful direction of the scientific investigations carried on by H.M.S.' Challenger.'
In consequence of representations made to Her Majesty's Government by the President and Council of the Royal Society, the Lords of the Admiralty, in 1872, fitted out and commissioned the ship 'Challenger' for the purpose of undertaking a survey of the ocean of a more page 26 systematic and complete character than any which had hitherto been attempted.
After crossing the Atlantic in various directions, the distinguished officer, Captain Nares, who was intrusted with the command of the 'Challenger,' was instructed to proceed southward to the Antarctic regions, and thence to take his way along the western side of the Pacific to Japan; from Japan he was to cross the Pacific, and, running southward through its eastern region, to return to England by way of Cape Horn.
The track taken by Captain Nares, and his successor in command, Captain Thomson, covered 69,000 thousand miles; and the chief objects of the expedition were to obtain at stations of accurately ascertained position, observations by which the temperature of the sea, and its physical and chemical condition, from the surface to the bottom and at all intermediate depths, could be determined, to drag up the sea-bottom itself in quantities sufficient for its satisfactory examination, to ascertain the nature of the fauna at the surface and at the bottom, and to collect and preserve the animals thus obtained, in such a manner as to enable their nature and affinities to-be determined, under more favourable conditions than those afforded by life on shipboard, on the return of the vessel.
In this way it was hoped by those who proposed the Expedition to the Government, that a firmer foundation by far than any which formerly existed, would be laid for the physical geography of the ocean.
The Fellows of the Royal Society hardly need to be reminded of the manner in which those duties have been performed. From time to time, in the space of the three years and a half during which the 'Challenger' has cruised in every variety of climate, and circumnavigated the globe, many long and interesting Reports, sent home by the Director and the other officers of the Staff, have been laid before the Society by order of the Lords of the Admiralty, have been printed in the 'Proceedings,' and afford solid evidence of the nature and value of the work that has been done.
We have records of serial temperatures and determinations of the sea-bottom obtained at 354 station?, of the extraordinary fact of the occurrence of peroxide of manganese in masses over thousands of square miles, of the final answer to the vexed question as to the habitation of the Globigerinœ (which contribute so largely to the existing processes of rock-formation), of the general uniformity of the deep-sea fauna all over the world, together with many other new and interesting discoveries which need not be enumerated. The collections which have been formed are of unexampled value for their extent and the excellency of their preservation.
It may be truly said that no Expedition for scientific purposes ever left the shores of any country better organized or more abundantly pro- page 27 vided with all that would be required for its efficiency; and it is no less true that none has ever more completely fulfilled the purpose for which it was organized.
Under these circumstances the President and Council of the Royal Society have judged that the award of a Royal Medal to Sir Wyville Thomson is a well-earned recognition of the great success which he and the Scientific Staff of the 'Challenger,' under his direction, have rendered to Science, and, at the same time, a fitting acknowledgment, on their part, of the successful manner in which he has discharged the duty with which, on their recommendation, the Government intrusted him.
[The Medal was received by Sir Wyville Thomson.]