Among the Fellowships at Trinity College, Cambridge, awarded on Saturday last, one was given for proficiency in Natural Science. Although thrown open to the whole University, it was gained by a member of Trinity College, Mr. Francis M. Balfour, B. A., the circumstances of whose election are worthy of notice. The Fellowships at Trinity College are awarded according to the results of an examination held specially for the purpose, and not as in other Colleges, according to the positions gained by the candidates in the University Examinations or Triposes. The Natural Science Fellowship was no exception to this custom: a special examination in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, was held in order to test the proficiency of the candidates. Bat it had previously been announced that the examiners were prepared in estimating the proficiency of the candidates to take into consideration records of original work in the shape of published memoirs or unpublished dissertations, and to be guided by the value of these as well as by the ordinary examination answers. In other words, the authorities of Trinity College formally declared that they were prepared to bestow a Fellowship as a reward for, and thus as an encouragement to, research. Mr. Balfour's success in his candidature was, we understand, due to the value attached to the original memoirs, chiefly on embryological subjects, sent in by him, as well for their actual worth as for the future of which they gave promise. We congratulate him and the Natural Science School at Cambridge on the result. The deadening influence of the examination system at Cambridge, great as it is in mathematics, bears with fearful effect on all Natural Science studies. The cramming necessary for success in a competitive examination such as the Natural Science Tripos, renders original research for the time being impossible, and goes far to destroy all power for it in the future, Mr. Balfour had the courage to commence original work before he had taken his degree. In spite of warnings that he was endangering his position in the Tripos, he chose the better port, and spent in research the time he might have frittered away in cramming for an examination. Incidentally he has thereby won a Fellowship. We trust that his example will be followed by other students, and the example of Trinity College by other Colleges, so that henceforward on the one hand early research may be the rule at Cambridge instead of the exception, and on the other the injurious effects of the Fellowship system may be lessened as much as possible.

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    Notes . Nature 10, 488–490 (1874) doi:10.1038/010488b0

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