Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/858

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SKETCH OF LORD RAYLEIGH.

WE publish an excellent portrait, this month, of the subject of the present sketch, Professor Lord Rayleigh, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which held its annual meeting this year at Montreal.

John William Strutt, Baron Rayleigh, of Ferling Place, Essex, was born November 12, 1842. He had a delicate constitution, which it was feared would render the exposures of the public school dangerous, and he was accordingly placed under the charge of the Rev. J. T. Warner, of Torquay. He early developed a fondness for experimental research, and his chief amusement while a youth was photography. In October, 1861, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, and was there classed among the "reading-men" by his fellow-students. He took several prizes and an exhibition in the course of his studies, and graduated with distinguished honors, being both senior wrangler and Smith's prizeman. Following the usual custom, when a student of a college has distinguished himself in the final examinations. Trinity College elected him a Fellow.

In 1871 Mr. Strutt married the second daughter of the late James Balfour, of Whittingham, Scotland, thus losing his fellowship, to which only celibates are eligible. On the 14th of June, 1872, he succeeded to the title, and in the same year was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, to whose transactions he has contributed many important papers. The medal of this society was conferred upon him in 1882 as a recognition of the importance of his scientific work. In 1879, upon the death of Professor Clerk-Maxwell, who had filled the chair since its establishment in 1871, Lord Rayleigh was appointed Professor of Experimental Physics in Cambridge. Since then, he has devoted much of his time to the organization of the magnificent Cavendish Laboratory, the gift of the Duke of Devonshire, chancellor of the university.

Lord Rayleigh was elected President of the British Association last year at its Southport meeting, and succeeds Professor Arthur Cayley, who is so well known for his devotion to pure mathematics, also in the University of Cambridge. The selection of a lord for the presidency of this body is not without abundant precedent, several distinguished noblemen, as Prince Albert, the Dukes of Argyll and Northumberland, Lord Wrottesley, and others, having occupied the position, which has given rise to the insinuation that this body has a weakness for great titles. But, in the first place, the British Association is not a republican club, but a body of men wise and practical in their generation, and who know how to adapt means to ends for the successful accomplishment of the objects they have in view. And,