Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/315

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PSM V81 D315 Principal library of the royal society.png

The Principal Library of the Royal Society.

Academy, and the two societies were unrivaled centers of scientific productivity, until the development of the German universities in the nineteenth century. It is remarkable how large a proportion of the men, from Newton to Darwin, who have originated new movements and new epochs in science have been members of the Royal Society. It is difficult to say to what extent the society has been responsible for their performance. Shortly after his election, Newton wrote to the secretary: "I desire that you will procure that I may be put out from being any longer Fellow of the Royal Society." Later he was for many years president, but at that time he was master of the mint and engaged in writing on subjects such as "The Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John." Darwin presented his paper "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection" to the Linnean Society, and but rarely attended the meetings of the Royal Society.

At the commemoration dinner, Mr. Asquith, the prime minister, said: "The society has not, I think, at any time had any direct financial assistance from the government. For this the government may be criticized; but I venture to think the society is to be congratulated. It is not well that science should be a mendicant for state endowment. I do not forget the annual grants for scientific research which are administered by the society: but