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Esctract from the Address, delivered by His Royal
Highness the Duke of Sussex to the Fellows of the Royal Society; dated 30th November, 1837.
[Continued from p. 37.]
After the Duke had stated that Her Majesty had signed her royal name as Patroness of the Royal Society, he goes on to say,
“ I now proceed to notice some of the more important “ events connected with the administration of the Royal
Society during the last year.
“ One of the royal medals has been adjudged to Mr. “ Whewell, for his valuable series of Researches on the “ Tides, which have been published in our Transactions, « chiefly during the last three years. I must refer you, “ Gentlemen, for a statement of the grounds upon which " this decision has been founded, to the more detailed “ reports of the Council, which will be read to you by
your Secretary, Dr. Roget; but I gladly avail myself “ of this opportunity of expressing my respect for the
great talents and varied attainments of the distinguished
philosopher, upon whom this mark of honour has been “ conferred. If I regard him as occupied with the highest “ and most important practical duties connected with our
system of academical education, and in providing and “ arranging the materials by which it is conducted, or the “ principles upon which it should be based, he will be “ found in the foremost rank of those whose labours do “ not deserve the less honour, because they commonly « absorb the entire time and attention of those who are “ engaged in them; and thus close up the avenue to those “ distinctions which are almost exclusively confined to
great discoveries in science, or to important productions “ in literature. When I read his essays on the architec“ ture of the middle ages, on subjects of general litera
ture, or on moral and metaphysical philosophy, exhibiting
powers of mind so various in their application and so “ refined and cultivated in their character, I feel inclined “ to forget the profound historian of science in the accom
plished man of letters or the learned amateur of art; “ but it is in his last and highest vocation, whilst tracing " the causes which have advanced or checked the
progress “ of the inductive sciences, from the first dawn of philo
sophy in Greece to their development in the nineteenth
century; or in pointing out the marks of design of an All“ wise and All-powerful Providence in the greatest of “ those works and operations of nature, which our senses
or our knowledge can comprehend or explain, that I
recognise the productions of one of those superior minds, “ which are accustomed to exercise a powerful and lasting
influence upon the intellectual character and specula“ tions of the age in which they flourish.
“ It is now three years since the royal medal was ad
judged to Mr. Lubbock for his Researches on Tides; and " the Council have availed themselves of the first oppor“ tunity which was presented, by the recurrence of the “ cycle of the subjects which are successively entitled to “ the royal medals, to make a similar award to his col
league and fellow-labourer in this very interesting and important series of investigation. It is not for me to
attempt to balance the relative claims and merits, in “ connexion with this subject, of these two very eminent
philosophers; it is quite sufficient to remark, that the “ first who ventured to approach this difficult and long
neglected inquiry was the first also who was selected for “ honour; but I have long noticed, with equal pride and “ satisfaction, the perfect harmony with which they have “ carried on their co-ordinate labours, apparently indiffe“ rent to every object but the attainment of truth; and
altogether superior to those jealousies which too frequently present themselves amongst rival and contemporaneous labourers in the same departments of science.
« Those who have attended to the Tidal Researches of “ Mr. Whewell, must be aware how much light has been “ thrown upon the character and course of the phenomena “ of the tides by the simultaneous observations, under his “ instructions, which were made in the month of June, “ 1834 and 1835, at nearly five hundred stations of the “ Coast Guard Service in Great Britain and Ireland ; and “ simultaneously with the latter also at more than one “ hundred stations in America, Spain, Portugal, France,
Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway. These ob“ servations were undertaken by the authority and through “ the influence of the Government of this country, which “ likewise most promptly and liberally furnished the re“ quisite funds and assistance for reducing the Observations “ in such a manner as was requisite for deducing general “ conclusions from them; a labour much too extensive and
costly to be undertaken by any single individual. “ I gladly seize this opportunity of bearing testimony, occupying as I do the highest scientific station in this country, to the readiness which the Lords of the Trea
sury and the Admiralty have shown on this and on every other occasion to forward scientific inquiries, and
particularly such as are connected with the advancement “ of astronomy and navigation. They have granted funds “ for reducing and publishing the Planetary Observations “ at Greenwich, the valuable and extensive series of Ob“ servations of the late Mr. Groombridge, for repeating,
on an adequate scale, the very important experiments of “ Mr. Cavendish, and for many other subjects of great “ scientific interest and value; and I feel satisfied that
every application for assistance towards the accomplish“ ment of any important object in science, will receive “ from them the most willing attention and support, if it
comes before them with the recommendation and autho« rity of those persons who are most competent to judge « of its usefulness or necessity, and in such a form as
may justify them in appealing to Parliament for its “ sanction of the requisite expenditure. I rejoice, Gen“ tlemen, in such manifestations of the sympathy of the “ Government of this great country for the progress of “ science; and I trust that its influence will be felt in “ the cordial union and co-operation of philosophers in “ planning and in executing those great systems of Ob“ servations, whether simultaneous or not, which are still “ requisite to fill up some of those blank spaces which
occupy so large a portion in the map of human knowledge.”
be here stated, that this country has ever been desirous to encourage a mutual exchange of knowledge with other countries in objects of science.
The friends of Professor Bowditch being desirous that
he should be made an Honorary Member of the Royal Society, I communicated the testimonials which had been transmitted to me, to Sir Joseph Banks, the late President. He was pleased to state, that he thought that Professor Bowditch would be a very proper person for the honour; and after taking down, at his request, the form of the certificate required, he stated that he would sign it himself, and get some of the Council to do the same; he then returned it to me for my signature. Mr. Bowditch was duly elected, and I afterwards took similar measures to procure his election as an Honorary Member of the Royal Societies of Edinburgh and Dublin with success.*
The Commissioners of the Public Records have been pleased, with great liberality, to present sets of their Reports to some of the public bodies and institutions of different States of the United States.
* I regret to state that society has met with a great loss in the death of Professor Bowditch, at Boston, aged 65 years; and having early obtained an interesting Memoir of his Life, delivered by the Rev. Alexander Young, an Eulogium by Judge White, and a Memoir by Mr. Pickering, on the occasion of his death, in March, 1838, I transmitted the same to the Council of the Royal Society.
It may be further stated that the family of Dr. Bowditch has appropriated his valuable library to the use of the public. It contains a large collection of philosophical and scientific works. The family has likewise given up the use of the apartments for it in the house in which they lived at Boston, to favour those objects; and it is hoped that those Societies in Europe, which have presented him with their Transactions, will be induced to continue them to the Bowditch Library.
The Duke of Sussex, in his Address to the Royal Society, on the 30th November, 1838, paid a high tribute to the talents and acquirements of this distinguished philosopher.