The Times/1906/Letter to the Editor/Walter Frank Raphael Weldon

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A correspondent writes: Walter Frank Raphael Weldon  (1906) 

Source: The Times, Wednesday, Apr 18, 1906; Issue 37997; pg. 8 — Obituary.

A correspondent writes:—"May I supplement your account of Professor Weldon's work in your issue of April 16 by the following details? Professor Weldon was one of the most distinguished pupils of Francis Maitland Balfour, the brother of the late Premier, whose death by an Alpine accident in 1882 was the greatest loss English zoology had sustained for many years. After taking his degree in 1881, he applied himself to research. Among his early work were descriptions of certain primitive annelids and flatworms and important researches on certain organs of the crustacea and other groups of invertebrata. At the time he was carrying on these investigations he was at first demonstrator and afterwards lecturer at Cambridge, and a word must be said about his teaching. Seldom is it given to a man to teach as Weldon taught. He lectured almost as one inspired. His extreme eagerness was only equalled by his lucidity. He awoke an enthusiasm even in the dullest, and he had the divine gift of compelling interest. Professor Weldon was by no means a mere man of science; he had the keenest interest in art and in literature. He possessed that faculty—given to so few Englishmen—of talking a foreign language as a native talks it. His keen dramatic instinct seized the intonation of the others, and, though his knowledge of French, German and Italian was not perfect, his conversation in those languages was what many an absolutely thorough student could only have envied. Quite apart from his scientific attainments, his knowledge of Dante was sufficient to rank him among men of literary culture. In 1891 he succeeded Professor E. Ray Lankaster as Jodrell professor at University College, London. Here he gathered about him a body of earnest students, and furthermore took a businesslike and statesmanlike part in promoting the at first abortive but finally successful attempt to establish a teaching University of London. Here, too, in conjunction with Professor Karl Pearson, he began those series of statistical investigations which will always remain his chief work. On Professor Lankester's appointment as director of the natural history departments at the British Museum, Professor Weldon for a second time succeeded him, and in 1899 became professor of zoology at Oxford. Here he continued his work on statistics as applied to zoology. Following the lines sketched out by Francis Galton, no investigation was too laborious for him to undertake; the minutest measurement of crabs' claws or the most meticulous differences between snails' shells were all objects of his closest attention. In 1901, in conjunction with Professor Karl Pearson, and I belive largely at his own expense, he started the journal Biometrika, which at once won its way to the first place, not only in Great Britain, but in America, and on the Continent. For many years Professor Weldon took an active interest in the work of the British Association and of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. His experience in dredging in the Bahamas and his frequent voyages made him an authority on marine matters, and nowhere will his absence be more missed than on the council of the latter body. Professor Weldon was a brilliant debater, clever, quick and incisive. It fell to his lot frequently to engage in debate, and even those opposed to him could not but acknowledge his brilliancy. He was also a most lovable man, sympathetic, helpful and witty—qualities which endeared him to a large circle of friends."

This work was published in 1906 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 116 years or less since publication.

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