Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/76

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me in this chair, that it has not fallen to one of my eminent friends around me to preside on this auspicious occasion. Conscious, however, as I am of my own deficiencies, I feel that I must not waste time in dwelling on them, more especially as in doing so I should but give them greater prominence. I will, therefore, only make one earnest appeal to your kind indulgence.

The connection of the British Association with the city of York does not depend merely on the fact that our first meeting was held here. It originated in a letter addressed by Sir D. Brewster to Professor Phillips, as Secretary to your York Philosophical Society, by whom the idea was warmly taken up. The first meeting was held on September 26, 1831, the chair being taken by Lord Milton, who delivered an address, after which Mr. William Vernon Harcourt, chairman of the Committee of Management, submitted to the meeting a code of rules which had been so maturely considered and so wisely framed, that they have remained substantially the same down to the present day. The constitution and objects of the Association were so ably described by Mr. Spottiswoode, at Dublin, and are so well known to you, that I will not dwell on them this evening. The excellent President of the Royal Society, in the same address, suggested that the past history of the Association would form an appropriate theme for the present meeting. The history of the Association, however, is really the history of science, and I long shrank from the attempt to give even a panoramic survey of a subject so vast and so difficult; nor should I have ventured to make any such attempt, but that I knew I could rely on the assistance of friends in every department of science.

Certainly, however, this is an opportunity on which it may be well for us to consider what have been the principal scientific results of the last half-century, dwelling especially on those with which this Association is more directly concerned, either as being the work of our own members or as having been made known at our meetings. It is, of course, impossible within the limits of a single address to do more than allude to a few of these, and that very briefly. In dealing with so large a subject, I first hoped that I might take our annual volumes as a text-book. This, however, I at once found to be quite impossible. For instance, the first volume commences with a Report on Astronomy by Sir G. Airy; I may be pardoned, I trust, for expressing my pleasure at finding that the second was one by my father, on the Tides, prepared, like the preceding, at the request of the council; then comes one on Meteorology by Forbes; Radiant Heat by Baden Powell; Optics by Brewster; Mineralogy by Whewell, and so on. My best course will therefore be to take our different sections one by one, and endeavor to bring before you a few of the principal results which have been obtained in each department.

The Biological Section is that with which I have been most intimately associated, and with which it is, perhaps, natural that I should