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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

Royal Society. — Address of the President, Delivered at

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Royal Society.

Address of the President, Delivered at


Following precedent, I have at the commencement of my Annual Address to record the losses by death of eminent Fellows of this Society which have taken place since the last Anniversary. Though, happily, these losses are not so numerous as they have been in late years, the number amounts to twenty-three, and the list includes the names of men of great distinction in science, and among them of one to whom the Society is under lasting obligations for his active interest in its welfare during upwards of a quarter of a century. Need I name Mr. Gassiot, the founder of the Scientific Relief Fund, the munificent subsidizer of the Kew Observatory, and the ever-ready and liberal promoter of scientific investigation—Mr. Fox Talbot, the discoverer of photogenic drawing (the Talbotype process), proved to be the fruitful parent of photography—Sir Henry James, under whose administration the operations of the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain were greatly extended, and its resources utilized in various ways, especially through the application of scientific processes all tending to the advancement or diffusion of knowledge—Mr. Robert Were Fox, eminent for his researches on the temperature and the magnetic and electrical condition of the interior of the earth, especially in connexion with the formation of metallic veins, and who was, further, the inventor of some and improver of other instruments now everywhere employed in ascertaining the properties of terrestrial magnetism? In Sir William Fergusson we page 4 have lost a surgeon of rare ability and manual dexterity and an operator of great repute; in Mr. David Forbes an accomplished traveller, chemist, and mineralogist; and in Dr. Bowerbank a naturalist of the old school, whose enthusiasm and genial encouragement kindled into a flame the scientific spark that lurked in the breast of many an amateur. There have further been removed by death from the list of Foreign Fellows two recipients of the Copley Medal, the venerable Yon Baer and the comparatively young Le Verrier, together with a traveller and physicist of rare attainments, Erman, the narrative of whose travels is one of the richest storehouses of scientific information (hat has hitherto been given to the world in the narrative form.

Finance.—As heretofore, I must refer to our Treasurer's Report for evidence of the satisfactory condition of the Society's finances. Not but that this is a matter that requires constant vigilance, as the demands upon our pecuniary resources annually enlarge, owing mainly to the rapid increment of matter brought before us and found worthy of publication in our Transactions and Proceedings, and, above all, to the number of expensive illustrations which accompany many of them. This, and the prospect of the results of the Government Fund for the encouragement of research being laid before the Society for publication, appeared to me to render it desirable that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into and report upon the receipts and expenditure of the Society, and that the subject of the outlay on printing and paper should be referred to the Library Committee for report, together with that of the compilation of the Catalogue of Scientific Papers, the labour and expense of which were likely to increase with that enormous development of scientific literature which characterizes this century.

On the recommendation of that Committee, our printing has been transferred to a well-qualified firm of printers, on such conditions as will enable us, we hope, to effect an important saving in our annual charge for printing. It is thought, moreover, that the compilation of the Catalogue of Scientific Papers, which, though no part of our ordinary work, had been voluntarily undertaken and paid for by the Society, and diligently conducted under the supervision of your officers, should not be allowed to press unduly upon our resources, and that the time had come when application should be made to the Government Fund for aid to enable us to meet the increasing demands on our income for the work of the Catalogue.

And further, as tearing on the question of finance, your Council have resolved that the difference between the amount of Life composition payable by newly-elected Fellows who have and those who have not previously to election contributed a paper to the Transactions should cease, and that a part of the funded property of the Society should be invested in secure Stocks yielding a larger interest than the Government funds.

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Presents.—It is always with peculiar pleasure that I announce the presentation of good portraits of scientific worthies. Two in oils, received during the vacation, are now hung on our walls: one of Sir John Herschel, a very faithful likeness, presented by our Fellow, Mr. John Evans; the other, presented by our late Secretary, Dr. Sharpev, is that of Haller, the physiologist, anatomist, botanist, and poet, whose genius and labours were the admiration of his contemporaries, as they have been ever since of his successors. It is not without pride that our countrymen can record the facts that an English sovereign, George II., was the first who recognized the merit of Haller, the Swiss, by bestowing on him his earliest preferment, a professorship in Göttingen, and ever after showing him every mark of respect, and that, on a subsequent occasion, an English University, Oxford, offered him a professorship. The portrait is an excellent one, in perfect preservation, and forms a most valuable addition to our gallery.

I have also to inform you that a sum of £500 has been contributed anonymously by five Fellows to the Society's funds for general purposes, and that our Foreign Secretary has proposed that his office should, as long as he holds it, be regarded as an honorary one, with charge of the Society's foreign correspondence. This very liberal proposal was accepted by the Council, only in so far as resolving that the Foreign Secretaryship should be placed on the same footing in respect of salary as it was before the year 1805; that is to say, that the honorarium should be limited, as in former years, to the proceeds of the original endowment.

Our Fellow, Dr. William Farr, has presented to the Society an annotated copy of Thomson's 'History of the Royal Society,' containing the dates of death of Fellows who died subsequently to the publication of that work, as far as these could be obtained from the Society's Minutes and from printed books, together with a complete chronological list of all the Fellows admitted since 1812 down to 1876. These, with other documents which he has added, enable Fellows to ascertain the names, and dates of birth and death, of every person admitted into the Society since its origin, and hence, to a great extent, supplies valuable data for determining the vitality of scientific men at different periods. In his letter accompanying these very valuable documents Dr. Farr observes that the records of the Royal Society were allowed for years to remain defective as to particulars which were formerly accurately recorded, and that Halley and others seemed to have been alive to the importance of such facts relating to the scientific men of their age. In future, the date and place of birth of Fellows will be registered regularly and accurately, in accordance with Dr. Farr's excellent suggestion, for which, as for the documents, a unanimous vote of thanks was returned by your President and Council.

The Catalogue of Scientific Papers.—In my last year's Address I page 6 informed you that the Lords of the Treasury had granted the funds necessary for printing the decade 1804-73 of the Catalogue of Scientific Papers; and I have now to announce that the first (the seventh of the series) of the two volumes of which it will consist is published. It contains more than a thousand pages. The expediency of the Society's further undertaking the compilation of an "Index of Subjects "having been urged upon the Library Committee, was carefully considered by them. To this end the members were supplied with printed specimens of a well-considered plan adapted to the decade 1804-73, with the request that they would favour the Council with their opinion upon it; when it appeared that, owing to the number of subjects often comprised in one paper, and the differences of opinion as to which of these were worthy of citation, and under what name, the task would be one of prodigious labour and unsatisfactory result, and far beyond the Society's mean?. The printing of the eighth volume is steadily progressing, together with the compilation of the decade for 1874-83.

The Meteorological Council.—The Report of the Treasury Committee of Inquiry into the working of the late Meteorological Office was published last summer. It includes that of the Committee of this Society (none of the members of which had served on the Treasury Committee); and the recommendations of the two bodies are almost identical. As a member of the former, and cognizant of the views of the Government as to the future of the Office, I may state that those views were from the first, and throughout, favourable to giving a more scientific character to the work than it had hitherto possessed, recognizing the principle, that its aim and endeavour should be to advance meteorology as a science, while directing and controlling all such practical operations as were required for the public service. The main difference between the recommendations of the Treasury Committee and our own is that we favoured the retention of the Office under a department of the Crown, with a Government officer as Director, in preference to leaving it subject to a Committee or Council of Control. The Treasury Committee, influenced by the evidence of very eminent scientific men to this effect, that meteorology was not as yet in a scientific condition, and that to render it so required the combined labours of men with various attainments, as also by the fact that there was no department of Government capable of controlling purely scientific investigations, recommended that, as a tentative measure, a modified Committee of Control (to be called a Council) should replace the old Committee, and that the Royal Society should be asked to nominate the members, and, after a period of five years, to review their labours.

Other recommendations, in which both Committees concurred, were, that ocean meteorology should be transferred to the Admiralty, that the maxims which determine the issue of storm-warnings should be put in a page 7 clear shape and issued to the public, that the number and position of both the continuously-recording and the eye-observing stations should be revised, that the latter should be increased so as to satisfy the claims of the Registrars-General, Medical Council, Agricultural Societies, and other bodies, and that a fair approximation to the meteorological condition of the whole British Isles should be daily obtained and published.

Far more important to us, however, than these practical measures, is the strong expression of opinion on the part of both Committees that scientific hypothesis and discussion should be pursued as a duty incumbent on the Office, and that, to this end, an annual grant should be made for the purpose of remunerating investigators, selected by the Council, on a scale proportionate to the work performed.

At the request of H.M. Treasury, and in communication with them, your Council drew up the following suggestions for the administration of the Meteorological Office, which, having been approved, are now put in practice:—That the Office be in future administered by a paid Council, consisting of a Chairman and four effective members, together with, as an ex officio member, the Hydrographer of the Navy, whose services were rendered necessary by the Admiralty having declined to undertake the ocean meteorology; that £1000 should be granted for the remuneration of the Members of Council, who should be persons in a position to devote adequate time and attention to the duties of the Office, and to the inauguration of investigations and experiments designed to place meteorology on a scientific basis, to advance it, and to promote its usefulness to the community; that paid inspectors of stations should be appointed for Scotland and Ireland, and £500 be granted for this purpose; that a sum of £1000 per annum be granted for the payment of individuals, to be selected by the Council, to be engaged in special scientific researches; and that £1500 be granted for new land-stations, and £500 for the extension of telegraphy to Sundays. The result of these new measures will be to raise the annual grant for the Meteorological Office from £10,000 to £14,500.

Your Council having further been requested to nominate the effective members of the Meteorological Council for the approval of the Lords of the Treasury, proceeded to do so in accordance with the spirit of the resolutions which gave scientific research so prominent a position—keeping in view, at the same time, the necessity of obtaining the services of as many members of the old Committee as possible, their knowledge of the details of the Office being at first indispensable, and their efficiency already proved. The result has been the appointment of Ml Henry Smith, Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford, as Chairman, and your Senior Secretary, Mr. F. Galton, Mr. De La Rue, and General Strachey as the other members. The services of Mr. Scott, who has so bug and so ably directed the practical operations of the Office, and of Mr. Toynbee, whose labours in ocean meteorology are so well know) to you, page 8 and of the other officers being all retained, nothing would seem to be wanting, in men or money, to develop the science of meteorology, and to supply the public with data for all the useful purposes contemplated in the establishment of the Meteorological Office. It is to be hoped that the tentative measure thus inaugurated will lead, in five years, to the constitution of a national Meteorological Office under the undivided control of a man of high scientific attainments.

Government Fund of£4000 per Annum for Five Years.—The constitution of the Committee for the administration of this fund, under the authority of the Lord President of the Council, has been provisionally settled, and as much of the first year's grant as was available for the last quarter of the financial year March 31, 1876, to April 1, 1877, was allotted in March last.

The first meeting of the Committee took place on January 11th, when it was resolved:—that four subcommittees should be constituted—namely, (A) Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy, (B) Biology, (C) Chemistry, (D) General Purposes; and that all applications for grants should be addressed to the Secretaries of the Society, and referred by them to one of the first three subcommittees for examination and report and recommendation; that the subcommittees' reports and recommendations should be printed and circulated among the members of the General Committee not less than one week before the meeting at which the grants would be discussed; and that the grants applied for should be limited to sums required for a period not exceeding twelve months. It was further resolved that a report of progress should be required of the recipient at the end of the year in which the grant was made, and that instruments of permanent value purchased out of the Fund, or supplied by the Government on the recommendation of the Royal Society, should be regarded as the property of the Government.

The Committee meetings are fixed for February in each year; those of the subcommittees will take place whenever summoned by the Secretaries of the Society; and notice has been given that applications for grants are to be sent to the Secretaries of the Royal Society not later than December 31st in any year.

At the meeting of the General Committee in March last the subcommittees reported that 102 applications had been received, and that the amount applied for was £14,459. Of the 102 applications 33 were approved, and sums of £300 and under (the total being £2220 Is. 6d. for instruments, assistance, and materials, and £1810 for personal remuneration) were granted.

The results of this step towards the endowment of research will. I hope, be narrowly watched, in the interests both of science and of this Society, which, in undertaking to administer for the Government a sum so page 9 largely devoted to personal remuneration, has assumed a very onerous responsibility, and largely increased the burthen of your Secretaries.

Reports of Naturalists sent by the Society to Rodriguez and Kerguelen Island.—These are being printed uniformly with our Transactions, under the editorship of Dr. Gunther and your President. They will consist of a series of papers, illustrated with plates, on all branches of the natural history of the islands, contributed by the naturalisis themselves and various coadjutors, whose services are gratuitous. The cost of printing will be defrayed by the liberality of your Treasurer, and some of the plates have been presented by the contributors.

The Polar Expedition.—The scientific results of the Polar Expedition, and especially the biological, appear to me to have, in most departments, quite come up to our expectations; and considering that but one season was available for collecting and observing (and we all know how short that is in the arctic regions), they are indeed most creditable to the gentlemen who contributed them. Geology has proved by far the most prolific field of research. Perhaps Botany comes next, and this, and the insects which have been worked up by Mr. M'Lachlan, prove that, between 80° and 83° N., in Grinnell Land, the conditions for the existence of these organisms are far more favourable than are those of lands a long way to the southward.

The flora of the series of channels between 80° and 83° N., the shores of which have been botanized by the officers of the Polar Expedition, have yielded upwards of 70 flowering plants and ferns, which is a much greater number than has been obtained from a similar area among the polar islands to the south-westward, and is unexpectedly large. All are from a much higher latitude than has elsewhere been explored botanically, except the islets off the extreme north of Spitzbergen. The species are, with two exceptions, all Greenlandic. The exceptions are Androsace septentrionalis, which, though found in the northern regions of all the continents, has never elsewhere been seen north of lat. 72°, and Pedicularis capitata, an American and North-Asiatic species, not hitherto recorded north of the same parallel.

Spitzbergen, stretching from latitude 76° 30′ to 80° N., quite to the south of the positions here referred to, has contributed not more than 100 flowering plants and ferns, notwithstanding that its west coast is washed by the Gulf-stream, and that its shores have been diligently explored by many trained collectors. Fifteen of the plants collected by the Expedition have not been found anywhere in Spitzbergen. Compared with Melville Island, in lat. 75° N., and Port Kennedy, in 72° N., the contrast is even more striking, these well-hunted spots, both so much further south, yielding only 07 and 52 species respectively.

This extension of the Greenland flora to so very high a latitude can page 10 only be accounted for by the influence of warm currents of air, or of the air being warmed by oceanic currents, during some period of the summer; and I look with great interest to the meteorological observations made during the voyage, which are being discussed by Sir George Nares, who hopes to have them completed in a couple of months. The observations on the temperature of sea-water will, he expects, give new information; and the study of certain warm gales and warm currents that were observed in lat. 82° and 83° N. can hardly fail to increase our knowledge of the local climate.

May not these phenomena of vegetation and temperature indicate the existence of large tracts of land clothed with vegetation in the interior of Greenland, far within the mountain-ranges of its ice-clad coast, and protected by these from the heavier snowfalls and from the accumulation of glacial ice which borders that island on all sides'?

The fossil plants collected have been examined and reported upon by Professor Heer. Of these the most important are the Miocene. They consist of 25 identifiable species, of which 18 are known Arctic Miocene fossils. All but one had been previously found in Spitzbergen. The most interesting of them is the Conifer, assumed to be identical with the existing American "Bald Cypress," Taxodium distichum, a plant which is now confined to Eastern North America, from lat. 39° southwards, and to which specimens found in the Miocenes of Prance, Italy, Prussia, Greenland, and N.W. America have also been referred.

Professor Heer further thinks that he has identified the remains of a Spruce with the European and Asiatic Norway Spruce (Abies excelsa), which occurs as a fossil only in Postpliocene beds. Its existence in the Miocene period only in such a high latitude would indicate that it is a polar form which has migrated southward in more recent times.

This tracking of the Miocene flora so far to the northward was one of the principal scientific objects to be accomplished by the Polar Expedition; and the fact that the character thereof continues to be neither polar nor arctic, but temperate, supports the hypothesis that during the era in question a vegetation analogous to that now prevailing in the temperate latitudes entirely covered the north-polar area of the globe.

Other branches of Geology have yielded very valuable results in the hands of Mr. Etheridge, who has worked up the very large number of Palaezoic fossils collected especially by Capt. Feilden. These, with the Carboniferous, Miocene, and Postpliocene fossils, animal and vegetable, and the abundant rock specimens, have thrown more light on the former condition of the circumpolar regions than perhaps all the collections of previous expeditions.

Capt. Evans has been so good as to supply me with the results of the magnetical observations made during the voyage, which were in general accordance with those of the American expeditions to Smith's Sound. Nearly continuous hourly observations of the Differential Decli- page 11 nation Magnetometer were taken throughout the winter from October to April. With an inclination of nearly 85°, and a horizontal force of 1.13, the westerly declination disturbance occurred usually between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the easterly between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., the are ranging through 8°. The greatest range (Feb. 19, 1876) reached 5° 48′; the lowest (July 12, 1876) was scarcely 7′. Compared with the results of previous expeditions, we find that, at Rensselaer Harbour, with horizontal force of 1′14 and inclination nearly 85°, the ranges were respectively 4° 52′ and 1° 1′; while at Port Bowen, with horizontal force 0° 46′ and inclination 88°, they were 11° 56′ and 0° 35′ respectively. The mean daily range of declination was 86°-8, and mean declination 101° 42′ W.

The observers were on the alert to observe any signs of connexion between the auroral displays and declination-disturbances, but to no purpose; for, as with Parry in Port Bowen, and Kane in Rensselaer Harbour, no evidence was discoverable. On the other hand, various previous voyagers have registered a marked connexion, as at Port Kennedy by Maguire, at Point Barrow by M'Clintock, and in the Spitzbergen seas by Weyprecht. Considering that there can be no doubt as to the trustworthiness of all these observers, a decisive solution of the question is greatly to be desired.

Sir William Thomson and Prof. Everett have examined the few observations made for the amount of atmospheric electricity, with the result of finding that they confirm the observations of former explorers.

Sir George Nares has obligingly sent me a resume of some of the principal meteorological results, and their comparison with those taken at Polaris Bay in 1871-72: for example:—
Mean annual pressure. Mean annual temperature. Minimum temperature.
.in o o
'Alert,' Floeberg Beach 29.869 −3.467 −73.75
'Discovery,' Discovery Bay 29.887 −3.932 −70.8
Polaris Bay 29.970 +4.196 −45.5

Minimum temperature of earth 20 inches beneath surface, −13°.0.

The warmer temperature at Floeberg Beach was clue to its exposure to the warm winter gales, from which Discovery Bay was cut off. The still warmer temperature of Polaris Bay is partly attributable to there being some uncovered water in the neighbourhood.

The barometer indicated and foretold changes in the weather is in temperate regions.

Making due allowance for unavoidable sources of error, the temperalures of the sea observed on the west shores of Smith's Sound prove the existence of a stratum of cold outer water (temperature about 29°) lying between the locally heated surface-water and a depth of twenty to thirty fathoms, flowing southward in summer, as also of an underlying stratum with a temperature of about 30°. This latter was not found near Floeberg Beach; page 12 but, coupled with the 1872 observations of the 'Polaris,' which showed a temperature of 32°.8 at 203 fathoms in lat. 80° 44′ N. (midway between Franklin and Hals Islands, in Robison Channel), and 32°.1 at 17 fathoms in Polaris Bay, it would appear that the warm underlying water forces itself to the north ward on the east side of Robison Channel. Its entrance into the polar sea or not will depend on the depth of water at the north end of the channel. They also prove the non-existence of a lower temperature of the water than 28°.8 at a depth below 275 fathoms in Smith's Sound or Baffin's Bay. The coldest portion of the arctic water appears not to affect Hayes Sound or Discovery Bay to so great an extent as that of the direct channel.

The Rev. Dr. Hanghton, to whom the tidal observations of the 'Discovery' and 'Alert' were entrusted, informs me that he has completed the preliminary discussion of the whole, and hopes to present the final results of those of the 'Discovery' to this Society before June next. He remarks that the 'Discovery' was better provided for observations than the 'Alert,' and, fortunately, her position was better also, as she lay nearer the head of the tide at Cape Payer. The officer charged with the observations, Lieut. Archer, made them hourly for seven months, with only six days of interpolation. The officers of the 'Alert' were able to make hourly observations for two months only, with fifteen days of interpolation.

Dr. Haughton has already arrived at the following general conclusions:—1. The tide which comes down Smith's Sound from the north is generically distinct from the Behring's Straits tide and from the Baffin's Bay tide. 2. It must therefore be the East-Greenland Atlantic tide; and consequently Greenland is an island. 3. This new tide contains a sensible tertio-diurnal component of much interest.

The mean coefficients of the components are:—
Semidiurnal tide = 50.6 inches.
Diurnal tide = 6.9 inches.
Tertio-diurnal tide = 4.5 inches.

The 'Challenger' Expedition.—You will hear with gratification that the Lords of the Treasury, after advising with your Council, have appropriated the munificent sum of £25,000 for publishing the biological results of the voyage in a style and with a completeness worthy of the Expedition and the nation. Adopting a course as wise as it is liberal, Sir Wyville Thomson has, with the approval of your Council and the Government, chosen for his collaborators the ablest specialists, irrespective of their nationality. It is creditable to our country that, with but few exceptions, it has supplied thoroughly competent and willing workers in most of the departments; and association with such foreign naturalists as Agassiz, and Haeckel cannot fail to be gratifying to themselves and assuring to the public. I had the advantage of inspecting the Echino- page 13 dermata in Professor Agassiz's charge in the Peabody Museum at Harvard College, and of learning the progress he had made in the examination of the vast body of materials entrusted to him. These, he informed me, far surpassed Sir Wyville's estimate in number of species and of interesting and novel forms; and I was surprised to find that the whole had already been sorted, that the greater part was named and ready for return to Edinburgh, and that nearly a dozen exquisite lithographic plates of new and rare forms were prepared for publication.

Sir Wyville Thomson informs me that he is already far advanced towards the publication of two quarto volumes, and that he estimates the whole being completed in fourteen, of the form and size of the Philosophical Transactions.

Transit of Venus.—'Sir George Airy has been pleased to inform me that the inferences from the telescopic observations of the transit of Venus, made in the British expeditions for records of that phenomenon, under the superintendence of the Astronomer Royal, have now been published—first, in response to an order of the House of Commons; secondly, in a more elaborate communication to the Royal Astronomical Society. The number of districts of observation was five, but each of these included a principal and some subordinate stations. The number of observers was eighteen, and as some of them observed both ingress and egress of Venus at the Sun's limb, the total number of observations was fifty-four. The concluded value of equatorial mean solar parallax was 8‴754. The calculation of the photographic records of the transit is advancing rapidly.

The Report on the results of the total Solar Eclipse of 1875, announced in my last year's Address as being drawn up by Mr. Lockyer, is now in our hands.

The Harvard College Observatory (U.S.).—During my recent visit to the United States, I was for a short time a guest at the Cambridge Botanic Garden, and consequently in close proximity to the fine Observatory of Harvard College, to which I paid several visits, being most kindly received by Professor Pickering, successor to the distinguished astronomer, W. C. Bond. The system carried out in this observatory is known to British Astronomers to be so productive of good results that I felt sure that some account of it would be acceptable to the Fellows of the Royal Society; and I therefore availed myself of Mr. Pickering's good offices to obtain a few particulars.

The current work of the Observatory is threefold, and consists of observations with the 15-inch equatorial, with the 8-inch aperture meridian circle, and communication of true time-signals to the public.

The principal work of the equatorial is photometrical, an instrument page 14 having been devised by the Astronomer by which two stars may be compared directly without using an artificial star as an intermediate step in the measurement. By this means the relative brightness of the components of numerous double stars, including some having only very faint components, as also the relative brightness of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, has been determined.

At the time of my visit Prof. Pickering was engaged in a special study of the newly discovered satellites of Mars, one of which, the outer, I had the satisfaction of observing through the equatorial. Their brightness he had determined by three very ingenious methods:—1st, by comparison with an image of Mars shining through a very minute circular hole placed at the focus of the telescope; 2nd, by comparing the satellite with a minute image of Mars formed in the field of the large telescope by a small auxiliary telescope; 3rd, by reducing the light of the inner satellite by one, two, or three plates of microscope-glass, until its brightness was equal to that of the outer satellite. Of these methods the second showed that the outer satellite does not partake of the red colour of Mars.

The meridian circle was, or had lately been, in use for the following purposes:—1st, the determination of the position of all stars brighter than the 9th magnitude contained in the zone 50°.55° N.; 2nd, observations of Mars during the opposition of last summer for the solar parallax; 3rd, observations of a list of composite stars, at the request of Mr. Gill, for determining the solar parallax by means of Ariadne; 4th, preparations are being made for the determination of the absolute position of a catalogue of stars, independently of all previous observations, and, 5th, for the publication of a catalogue of polar stars observed in 1872-1873; 6th, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Survey, a beginning has just been made of the measurement of all stars in the northern hemisphere brighter than the 6th magnitude, whose positions have not recently been determined with precision.

Time-signals for the meridian of Boston are sent by telegraph every two seconds from the Observatory; they are used by the local railways, are transmitted over a large area of New England, and they strike the noon-bells in Boston and in many of the smaller towns.

Besides the above, several thousand observations for atmospheric refraction were made, with the assistance of the Rumford Committee, during last summer with a micrometer level, simple in construction and accurate and rapid in action, invented by Mr. Pickering.

United States' Scientific Surveys.—Of the many surveys of the United States territories undertaken, some by the Central Government, others by State governments, and still others by private enterprise, more or less aided by public funds, none has effected so much for science as that directed by Dr. Hayden. Its publications, distributed with great liberality, are in every scientific library, and its Director is honoured no page 15 less for the energy and zeal with which he has laboured as a topgrapher and geologist, than for the enlightened spirit in which he has ought to render the resources of the Survey available for the advancement of all branches of natural knowledge by every means in his power, nd with admirable impartiality.

Having obtained an extended leave of absence from my offical duties at the Royal Gardens, I, at the close of our last session, accepted an invitation from Dr. Hayden to join his survey, and, in company with our Foreign Member, Prof. Asa Gray, to visit, under his conduct, he Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Utah, with the object of contributing to the records of the Survey a report on the Botany of those States.

I have thus had some opportunity of learning for myself the extent and value of the operations of the Survey, which are so interesting that I venture to think a brief sketch of its rise and progress and a few of its results may be acceptable to you.

When the territory of Nebraska was admitted into the Union 1867, Congress set apart an unexpended balance of £1000 for a Geological Survey of the new State; and Dr. Ilayden, then a young mar who had distinguished himself as an indefatigable palseontological observer and collector (in various expeditions since 1853), was appointed to conduct it. In 1808 the operations of the Survey were continued, and carried westward into the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, the rich Tertiary and Cretaceous beds of which were examined and described in detail, and the famous Yellowstone district, with which Dr. Hayden's name will ever be associated, was reconnoitred. The value of the Survey was immediately appreciated, and in 1869 a large appropriation was voted by Congress for placing it on its present footing under the supervision of the Secretary of State for the Interior. In 1869 and 1870 operations were carried on in Colorado and New Mexico; and full reports on the meteorology, agriculture, zoology, and palasontology of these regions, of great interest and importance, were drawn up and subsequently published. In 1871 the detailed survey of this Yellowstone district was begun, and those marvellous natural features were carefully studied, which have excited the liveliest interest in Europe, and have induced Congress, on Dr. Hayden's representations, to appropriate the whole area as a Government reserve, thus securing to naturalists free access to natural phenomena which in other places, both in Europe and America, are too often monopolized by speculators and closed to the public.

In 1872 the Survey was further extended, and was organized into two corps, each provided with a topographer, geologist, mineralogist, meteorologist, and naturalist, and the States of Idaho and Montana were embraced in its operations; in 1873 it was pushed into Colorado, thence into Utah, and on its completion in 1876, an area of not less than 70,000 square miles, much of it exceedingly mountainous, had been included in the Survey.

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The literature of the Survey consisted, in 1876, of 41 volumes, classified as follows:—1, annual reports, with maps and sections; 2, bulletins for giving speedy publicity to new facts; 3, miscellaneous publications, comprising tables of elevations, catalogues of plants and animals, and meteorological data; 4, monographs on various branches of natural history, especially palaeontology, copiously illustrated with admirable plates in quarto, among which are the works of Leidy, Lesquereux, Coues, C. Thomas, Cope, Parry, Meek, Packard, Silliman, Hayden himself, and others, all of whom are well known on this side of the Atlantic; lastly, the number of photographs now exceeds 4000, and includes, besides geological and geographical features of great interest, views of ancient architectural remains, and of 1200 Indians, belonging to 74 tribes.

In giving these particulars I speak from some personal knowledge. I wish that the same could be said of the local habitation of the Survey and its museum, which, I am assured, contains a very extensive and instructive collection; but these are at Washington, and my pressing duties here and at Kew prevented my visiting the federal capital.

The most important scientific results hitherto derived from the labours of Dr. Hayden and his parties are unquestionably the geological: such as the delineation of the boundaries of the Cretaceous and Tertiary seas and lakes that occupied more than one basin of the mountains of Central N. America, and the marvellous accumulation of fossil Vertebrates that these ancient shores have yielded. Over an area of many hundred thousand square miles in North America there have been found, within the last very few years, beds of great extent and thickness, of all ages from the Trias onwards, containing the well-preserved remains of so great a multitude of flying, creeping, and walking things, referable to so many orders of plants and animals, and often of such gigantic proportions, that the palae-ontologists of the States, with museums vastly larger than our own, are at a loss for space to exhibit them. So common indeed are some species, and so beautifully preserved, that I saw numbers of them, especially insects, plants, and fishes, exposed for sale, and eagerly purchased by travellers, with confectionery and fruit, at the stalls of the railway stations, from the eastern base of the Pocky Mountains all the way to California.

An examination of some of these fossils has brought to light the important fact that in North America there is no recognized break between the Cretaceous and Tertiary beds. This is due to the interpolation of a vast lignitic series the fossils of which furnish conflicting evidence. Concerning this series Dr. Hayden, who has traced it over many hundred miles, observes* that the character of its pala:ontological, as well as of its strictly geological results is such, that whether the entire group be placed in the Lower Tertiary or tipper Cretaceous is unimportant, and page 17 that the testimony of palæontologists will probably always be as conflicting as at present.

Professor Marsh, of Yale College, Newhaven, one of the highest authorities in America, has found that not even invertebrate fossils afford a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. "These," he says, "throw little light on the question;" and he is obliged to assume that "the line, if line there be, must be drawn where the Dinosaurs and other Mesozoie Vertebrates disappear, and are replaced by the Mammals, henceforth the dominant type."

This last passage I have taken from the lucid address of Professor Marsh to the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held last autumn at Nashville, to which I must refer for an exposition of the riches of the fossil Vertebrate fauna of these regions, of the convincing proofs they afford of the doctrine of Evolution, and of the light they throw on the introduction, succession, and dispersion of existing organisms in the New World. Among the suggestive observations with which this address abounds is another in reference to this question of the disputed horizons of the Cretaceous and Eocene beds—namely, its dependence on the relative value to be given to evidence derived from plant and animal remains, He concludes that plants afford unsatisfactory measure of geological periods as compared with animals—a conclusion at which I had long ago arrived. We agree further that a chief cause of this difference of value is the less complex organization of plants, which hence furnish less evidence of the influences of environing conditions; to which might be added the feeble conflict among the higher members of the vegetable kingdom as compared with the vertebrates, their stationary habits, and the duration of similar, if not identical, forms through long geological ages, which has always appeared to me to be one of the most signal characteristics of the early condition of the higher plants as compared with the higher animals. Other, and perhaps even more cogent, reasons for plants being so little satisfactory is, that their reproductive organs, those upon which the classification is principally based, are rarely preserved, and seldom in connexion with the vegetative organs, which are abundantly preserved; and that, with regard to these, the vegetative organs, their prevalent and best-preserved characters, outline and venation, vary in individual species to a surprising degree, and, being repeated in groups otherwise in no way related, become too often fallacious guides.

Another result, previously obtained in respect of other organisms, but ably worked out by Professor Marsh as regards the Vertebrates, is that all the Tertiary beds of North America—Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene—are of older date than the corresponding beds in Europe. This, though apparently supported by his conclusions that the main migrations of animals took place from the American to the Asiatic continent (which he deduces from the American, as compared with the European, life-histories of the page 18 Edentata, Marsunpialia, Ungulata, Rodentia, Carnivora, and even Primates), is a very bold generalization. Without presuming to question the abundance and teachings of the American data, I cannot but think that his theory of migration is, in the present state of palaeontology, premature, especially under our almost absolute ignorance of the "Vertebrate fossils of the continents of Asia and Africa. The prodigal palaeontological wealth of the United States, as compared with the poverty of that of Europe as yet known, may be likened to that of a metropolitan museum or library as contrasted with a provincial collection; and with regard to Central Asia especially, there are indications, in the narratives of travellers and the reports of natives, of vast accumulations of vertebrate fossils there existing. These may revolutionize our present ideas, as Falconer's and Cautley's discoveries in the outer Himalayas did those of our predecessors; and he would be a rash speculator who, having studied what is known of the physical geography of Asia north of that range, ignored the probability of the existence there of fossiliferous Cretaceous and Tertiary seas and lake-basins, in comparison with which those of the Rocky Mountains may sink into insignificance, both as to extent and productiveness. Professor Huxley has, indeed, suggested, as an alternative or escape, the possible former existence of a submerged continent, from which both Asia and America derived their types of animals and plants, which is tantamount to an opinion that the subject is not yet advanced enough for other than speculation.

Other results of Professor Marsh's labours are equally instructive—such, I mean, as support the doctrine of Evolution; but these have been made known to the scientific public of this country by Mr. Huxley, who examined the Yale College Museum last year. Since then, as I was informed by the Professor, during a visit to the same museum, his species and specimens have largely increased in number and proportionately in value—that is, from the patæontological point of view; and the address which I have quoted gives a summary of the state of the whole collection up to the present time.

A few words on the magnificent collection of vegetable remains, Cretaceous and others, that have been studied and described by Mr. Leo Lesquereux in various published Reports of the U. S. Geological Survey, and in separate works issued under its auspices, may be fitly spoken here. It would be difficult to overrate the value of these contributions to fossil Botany, which, in its present state of advancement, affords no results comparable with those obtained from the animal kingdom for fixing the limits of periods, tracing the direction of migrations and the areas of distribution, or for following the devious paths of evolution. In the whole range of the natural sciences no study is so difficult, and at the same time so fruitless, if we regard the amount of results accepted by botanists, as compared with the prodigious labour their acquisition by palæontologists has demanded. Of all the orders of fossil plants of page 19 the formations referred to the Grymnosperms alone have, as a rule, yielded much trustworthy information; and this is due to their texture, to the peculiar character of their vegetative and reproductive organs, to the frequent adhesion of these to the branchlets, to their gregarious habits, to their wide distribution, and to their close affinity with existing species. Of other orders and genera of plants, with the exception of a few with well-characterized foliage, as the Palms, the identifications of a large proportion hitherto published are not recognized as having much claim to confidence by those who have the largest acquaintance with the varied forms of the vegetative organs of plants. And if the identification of the fossil leaves of one country is so hazardous, what must be the risk of identifying the fossil leaves of one continent with those of another? a forlorn hope which has constantly to be resorted to. The result, in the case of the North-American Cretaceous and Tertiary floras, has been the discovery of certain well-ascertained plants, which would appear to show that various prevalent existing American genera have inhabited that continent from a very early period; but that, along with them, there existed types of European, Asiatic, and Australian genera, temperate and tropical, that are no longer associated anywhere on the globe in a state of nature. It is well, under such perplexing conditions, that men of ability and unconquerable zeal (such as Heer, Saporta, and Lesquereux) are to be found who will undertake to investigate them; and while thanking them cordially for what they have done, I would urge upon them the importance of constant reference to large Herbaria, in order to enable them fully to appreciate the variability of foliar organs, and the deceptive nature of the characters they present.

Though doubtless the most productive to science generally, Dr. Hayden's is, I need hardly say, neither the oldest of the States' Surveys nor the first that brought its resources to bear on other matters than geography and geology. Indeed, from the beginning of the century, the Americans have busied themselves with inquiries into the resources and productions of their States—never on any recognized system, too often under difficulties and discouragements, not seldom to be nipped in the bud, or, worse still, sacrificed when the fruit was fit for gathering, through the ignorance or parsimony of the holders of the national purse; but, thanks to the single-mindedness of the labourers, never without some good, and often with great results. The Coast Surveys are admirable alike for their system, for their breadth of purpose, for the attainments and ability of the officers in charge of them, and for the minute topographic accuracy aimed at and attained—an accuracy which, I need not say, is unattainable by such surveys as that here briefly described. The various surveys for railways across the continent have contributed a very library to natural science in many departments; and some of the individual States have, through the like agency, contributed greatly to our knowledge of their natural history and other products. For an excellent and full account of page 20 the history, labours, and results of all these, I must refer you to Prof. "Whitney's article on "Geographical and Geological Surveys" in the 'North American Review' for July and September 1875, which he was so kind as to send me at the moment of my departure from the States. Prof. Whitney's own Geological Survey of California and Nevada is one of the very best of the series. It was begun in 1864, and continued for ten years; but after the publication of a topographical map, and some very valuable results, including natural history, at a most moderate cost, the whole work was stopped by the State Legislature, and the geological maps and sections, though admirable and paid for, have consequently never been given to the public! The last of these Surveys which I shall mention is that of Kentucky by Professor Shaler, the State Surveyor, of which the first volume of the Report has just appeared, containing, besides articles on prehistoric remains, fossil Brachiopods, and caverns and cavern-life, an exhaustive article by Mr. Allen, of singular interest, on the Bisons of America, living and extinct.

The American Flora.—Though I have as yet little to say of the results of Dr. Gray's and my own investigations under the Survey, I have every reason to hope that, having been extended through the Sink, Salt, or desert regions west of the Rocky Mountains, and thence across the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast, they will, with the materials previously obtained by my fellow traveller and myself, enable us to correlate our several researches into the distribution of North-American plants, and to point out the lines along which the migrations of the existing types were directed, and the countries whence they migrated.

As regards the components of the United-States flora, these seemed to us to be threefold, and to be intermixed throughout the continent—an endemic American, a European, and an Asiatic: it seemed that the flora was a ternary compound, so to speak, while that of the temperate Old World was, in a continental point of view, binary—Europe and Asia having many types in common, but very few representatives of the strictly American flora. The distribution of North-American plants, unlike the European, is mainly in a meridional direction, the difference of the floras of the Eastern, Central, and Western States being wonderfully great—far greater than those of similarly situated regions in the Old World. The European components extend over the whole breadth of the continent, diminishing, however, to the westward. The American components present many localized genera, inhabiting the Eastern, Central, and Western States respectively; they increase in numbers and peculiarity, as also in restriction of range, towards the west. The Asiatic components are found both in the Eastern and Western States, but hardly at all in the Central; and some of them are common to both the east and west, while others are peculiar to each. But whereas the European components prevail on the side towards Europe, the maximum of Asiatic representation is on that remote from page 21 Asia. This has been conspicuously shown by Gray's discovery, in the Eastern States, of single representatives of Japanese genera previously Supposed to be monotypic; and what is most noteworthy is, that such representatives are in some cases extremely rare and local plants, found in single and very restricted areas, indicating a dying-out of the Asiatic representation in America.

The evidences of climatic changes in past eras of the existing flora of the continent are seen in the prevalence of arctic and northern species of plants in the alpine zones of the meridional mountain-chains, the Appalachian, Rocky Mountains, and Sierra Nevada, even as far south as the 33rd parallel. These plants had spread southwards during a period of cold, and on its subsequent mitigation had retired to the lofty situations they now inhabit. To the former existence of a warmer climate we may partly look for the extension of Mexican types to the dry regions west of the Rocky Mountains up to the 41st parallel; and to it may be attributed the remarkable northward extension of the Cacti in a very narrow meridional belt, scarcely one hundred miles broad, along the eastern flanks of the same mountains, from their head-quarters in New Mexico, in the 33rd, almost to the 50th parallel.

Of existing influences that determine the development in amount of the vegetation of a country, and the extension in various directions of its components, none are so powerful as the distribution of rainfall and of vapour in the atmosphere. This subject will repay a careful study in America, especially in connexion with the presence or absence of woodlands and forests, an excellent map of which by Professor Brewer, of New haven, was published in 1873 by the Supreme Government, in which the density of the forests in each State is portrayed by five shades of colour.

I must not end my notices of some of the labours of our scientific brethren in the United States without expressing my admiration of the spirit and the manner in which the Government and people have cooperated in making known the physical and biological features of their country, and my conviction that the results they have given to the world are, whether for magnitude or importance, greater of their kind than have been accomplished within the same time by any people or government in the older continents. How great would now be our knowledge of the climate and natural features of India and of our Colonies had the excellent Trigonometrical Survey of the one and the territorial and Geological Surveys of the others been supplemented by Reports such as those to which I have directed attention!

The President then proceeded to the presentation of the Medals.

The Copley Medal has been awarded to Professor James Dwight Dana, of Tale College, Newhaven, United States, for the numerous, varied, and page 22 important contributions to Mineralogy, Geology, and Zoology with which he has enriched science during more than fifty years. Professor Dana's first published paper bears the date of 1823, while the year 1877 finds him, as ever, vigorously at work.

Commencing his career with the inestimable advantage of a sound training in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, one of Professor Dana's earliest writings is an essay upon the connexion of electricity, heat, and magnetism. He then turned his attention to mineralogy; and, after exhibiting his thorough study of both the crystallographic and the chemical aspects of minerals by the publication of a large number of separate memoirs, he produced a systematic treatise on mineralogy, which at once took the place it still holds among standard works upon the subject.

In geology, the diversity and importance of Professor Dana's labours are not less remarkable. Not only have multitudinous detached essays, embodying the results of wide and accurate observations in all parts of the world, and on all classes of geological phenomena, proceeded from his pen, but his 'Manual of Geology,' of which a new edition appeared two years ago, is at once a most clear and comprehensive statement of the present state of geological science, and a complete, though necessarily condensed, monograph of the geology of North America; and, it may be added, few treatises on this branch of knowledge show so thorough and practical an acquaintance with all those sciences which are auxiliary to geology, or so extensive and profound a study of the phenomena presented by the existing condition of the globe, from the knowledge of which every rational attempt to reconstruct the past history of the earth, upon the data afforded by its rocks and their organic contents, must start.

As naturalist to the United States Exploring Expedition, which made a circumnavigatory voyage, under the command of Captain Wilkes, in the years 1838 to 1842, Professor Dana enjoyed unusual opportunities for zoological investigation; and his remarkable works on the Zoophytes and the Crustacea observed during the voyage testify to the admirable use which he made of those opportunities. Nor has Professor Dana confined himself to the merely descriptive side of zoology; but, drawing general conclusions from his vast store of accurate observations, he has published views on classification and on questions of general morphology of much originality and breadth of view.

The Medal was received for Prof. Dana by the Hon. Edwards Pierre-point, United States Minister. The President, in delivering the Medal, expressed his assurance of' the esteem and regard in which Prof. Dana was held by the Royal Society, not less for his own scientific achievements than for the liberal aid he has always rendered to other investigators.

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A Royal Medal has been awarded to Mr. Frederick Augustus Abel, for his physico-chemical researches on gunpowder and explosive agents.

Mr. Abel's career as a contributor to chemistry commenced about 30 years ago. Between 1847 and 1865 he contributed a number of papers to the Chemical Society, which were published in their Journal: some of the investigations were made in conjunction with other chemists; among these were the action of nitric acid on cumol (1847), and researches on strychnine (1849), when the composition of that alkaloid was finally established. They were followed by papers relating to metallurgy (copper) and analytical processes, one of which, on the application of electricity to the explosions of mines, may have led to his various works on explosives, on which the claims of Mr. Abel for the distinction of a Royal Medal mainly rest. So far back as 1863 he directed his attention to the study of gun-cotton in consequence of the development of its manufacture in Austria for artillery purposes, and in that year communicated to the British Association a report on the preliminary results arrived at by his experiments on the Austrian process, and the products furnished by it.

In 1866 a memoir was sent to our Society, which was published in the Phil. Trans, vol. clvi. p. 269, "On the Manufacture and Composition of Gun-cotton." In this paper, as the result of a long series of experiments, made with great accuracy, the conditions were laid down for its uniform manufacture and purification; and the true nature of gun-cotton (tri-nitro-cellulose) was finally established by an exhaustive series of analytical and synthetical experiments.

This paper was followed by another in 1867, published in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. clvii., entitled, "On the Stability of Gun-cotton," which was considered worthy of being made the Bakerian Lecture for that year. This memoir details the results of four years' extensive experiments on the effects of light and heat on gun-cotton, and upon the protective action of water at low and high temperatures. It will be recollected that the uncertain stability which had been characteristic of gun-cotton was conclusively traced to minute quantities of unstable substances remaining in the fibre, even after the most careful purification by the methods hitherto known, and the efficiency of simple measures for securing the stability of gun-cotton was established. This led ultimately to the development of a system of manufacture of gun-cotton which permitted of its ready manufacture in a high state of purity (pulping).

Mr. Abel did not, however, confine his attention to gun-cotton; and, indeed, in 1864 had sent in a paper to the Royal Society, which was published in the 'Proceedings,' vol. xiii., on "Some Phenomena exhibited by Gun-cotton and Gunpowder under special conditions," in which the behaviour of these substances when exposed to high tempera- page 24 tures in rarefied atmospheres and in different mechanical conditions was described.

In 1869 a memoir, entitled "Contributions to the History of Explosive Agents," was printed in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. clix. In this memoir is discussed the influence of more or less strong confinement and other mechanical conditions under which the detonation of such compounds and mixtures was developed. It will be recollected that some striking results were obtained in the examination of the behaviour of explosive compounds when exposed to initiative detonations of different character.

These phenomena were more fully discussed in a second memoir, published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1874, vol. clxiv.; it includes an exhaustive investigation of the transmission of detonation from one mass of gun-cotton, fulminates, and nitro-glycerine to other distinct masses in the open air, and also through the agency of tubes. The causes of interference with the transmission of detonation-force, and the development of detonation as distinguished from explosion, were clearly discussed. The influence of dilution by solids and by liquids on the susceptibility of explosives to detonation, and also the velocity with which detonation is transmitted by different explosive agents under various conditions, was carefully studied. Some important results were obtained by the comparison of the behaviour of the liquid nitro-glycerine and the solid pulped and compressed gun-cotton devised by Mr. Abel. Among other things, the detonation of gun-cutton when thoroughly saturated with water, the transmission of detonation to distinct masses of gun-cotton enclosed in receptacles in which the space between the masses was filled up with water, and, further, the value of water as a violent disruptive agent (as in shells) when it was caused to transmit the force generated by the detonation of very small quantities of gun-cotton, which it surrounded, were established.

The last memoir published in the Philosophical Transactions, on "Fired Gunpowder," is a joint production of Mr. Abel and Captain Noble; and as the merit of the investigation, which has occupied the authors for some years, is divided, I do not dwell particularly upon it, except as affording evidence of the continuity of Mr. Abel's researches in physico-chemistry, which places him at the head of all other workers in the line of research which has mainly engaged his attention, and which has been productive of practical results of the greatest importance to this country.

A Royal Medal has been awarded to Prof. Oswald Heer, of Zurich, for his numerous researches and writings on the Tertiary plants of Europe, of the North-Atlantic Islands, North Asia, and North America, and for his able generalizations respecting their affinities, their geological and climatic relations.

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It is mainly to Prof. Heer's labours that we owe those great advances made of late in our knowledge of the Miocene, Pliocene, and Post-Pliocene floras of Central Europe, which establish upon broad but safe grounds the close analogy existing between the vegetation of these epochs and that of the present period in Eastern North America and Eastern Asia. To Prof. Heer also we are mainly indebted for the remarkable discovery that a rich and varied arboreous vegetation, strikingly similar to what now obtains in temperate and subtropical countries, once extended to the Arctic Circle and far beyond it—a fact of which no adequate explanation has been found, and the importance of which, in relation to all questions as to the former geological and geographical conditions of the northern hemisphere, cannot be overestimated.

Prof. Heer's youthful studies were directed to botany and entomology. His scientific authorship commenced in 1836; and the early bent of his mind towards the higher problems of natural science is evinced by one of his very first memoirs, being 'Sur la Geographie Botanique de la Suisse,' published in 1837. His earliest work on fossil plants was upon those of the Rhone valley, published in 1846, since which period he has been uninterruptedly and indefatigably engaged on the comparative study of recent and fossil plants and in sects—describing and illustrating them with a completeness and exactitude that have been thoroughly appreciated by geologists and botanists, and appending to the systematic descriptions of them geological and climatic considerations, remarkable alike for their caution and significance. Amongst his numerous works his 'Flora fossilis Helvetia,' 'Flora Tertiaria Helvetise,' and 'Flora fossilis Arctica' are conspicuous examples of well-directed labour and great learning; while the number of his minor works on various branches of biology testify to a life spent in successful devotion to science.

During Prof. Heer's long and laborious career he has been conspicuous for the liberal aid he has given to other investigators, and for the disinterested spirit in which he has worked out the collections brought by the government and private expeditions of various European nations from the northern and arctic regions. In particular, we are beholden to him for the labour he has bestowed upon our own Arctic collections, made during the last fifteen years, from that of Belcher to that of Nares, and especially for his elaborate and exhaustive memoir on the Miocene flora of Bovey Tracey, published in the 'Philosophical Transactions,'—labours all the more praiseworthy from being, for some years past, pursued in a recumbent posture, to which grievous bodily ill-health has confined him.

The Medal was received for Prof. Heer by M. Henri Vernet, Consul-General for Switzerland, to whom the President acknowledged the Society's obligations to Prof. Heer for his elucidations of the Geology of England and of the Flora of the Bovey-Tracey Coalfield, published in the Philosophical Transactions; and on behalf of the Society expressed his hope that Prof. Heer might soon be restored to health.

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For the Davy Medal, now for the first time awarded, Prof. Robert Wilhelm Bunsen and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, both Foreign Members of the Society, in recognition of their researches and discoveries in spectrum-analysis, have been selected.

The method of spectrum-analysis, as established by these two eminent men, must rank among the most important extensions of our means of investigating the properties of matter. Before that discovery, the chemical constitution of matter was examined solely by the study of the changes which take place within the narrow range of cases of which we can grasp and weigh the substance under investigation; but the tests employed in spectrum-analysis have no necessary dependence upon the distance of the material from the observer. It has enabled us to see, not only further, but deeper; for, on the one hand, it has led to the detection of many of the chemical constituents of masses distant from our planet, and, on the other hand, it has enabled us to discover many constituents of terrestrial minerals which had escaped detection until our ordinary methods of analysis were guided by the more refined tests afforded by the spectrum-analysis.

* Report of Geological Survey, 1874, p. 20.