Science at Hastings


HAD we here a few more men like Mr. Alex. E. Murray, my paper on “Science at Hastings” would never have been written. But I fail to see in what way he has “vindicated the honour of Hastings.” With the exception of one or two sentences which require qualification, his letter is simply an emphatic repetition of what I said in the Hastings and St. Leonards News. The substance of my paper may be given in one of its sentences: “With the exception of occasional debates among the members of the Philosophical Society and the few scientific lectures in the winter programme of the Mechanics' Institution, there is in Hastings no public encouragement or aid to science.” As to the Philosophical Society, Mr. Murray admits that, “owing to a variety of circumstances, it is not at present quite so flourishing as we could wish.” In point of fact, during the session 1874–75, four papers were read and a conversazione held. This Society is the only distinctively scientific one in the town, notwithstanding the “multiplicity” of institutions mentioned by Mr. Murray. Popular scientific lectures are occasionally given in connection with various associations for young men; and the Mechanics' Institution also has a winter lecture session, but unfortunately the Committee find it very difficult to obtain lecturers, and are fain to eke out their list with musical evenings and readings. The Literary and Scientific Institution has for many years dropped the word “Scientific” from its name, and at present seeks merely to provide for a few of the older inhabitants of the town a quiet reading-room supplied with papers, a few reviews and magazines, and a box from Mudie's. Scarcely a new book has been bought for very many years. The meteorological instruments which the Institution “formerly possessed” were, with the exception of the barometer, broken long ago, and the barometer has since been sold. At one time—twenty years ago—I was in the habit of taking the observations in the absence of the gentleman whose special business it was; but it must be at least a dozen years since any observations were systematically taken.

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