The Origin and Functions of the British Association


MY attention has been called to a pamphlet published by Mr. W. H. Harrison, purporting to contain a correct account of the first founding of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. I am sure that Mr. Harrison, in common with such other readers of NATURE as take an interest in the affair, will be glad to hear my father speak for himself upon a matter which Mr. Harrison, with the amount of information at his disposal, could only treat of as a subject of speculation. The paper which I inclose was addressed to Sir Edward (then Colonel) Sabine; and I think I may claim for it that it is written with much clearness and impartiality. You may perhaps also consider the letter of importance at this moment, as pointing out what was the view taken in those early days of the proper functions of the Association. The wisdom of this view is abundantly evident now that science has been so widely popularised, and that little more of real work remains for the Association beyond the just apportionment of its funds for scientific purposes. In respect to the numerous scientific letters addressed to my father by Buckland, Murchison, Smith, Sedgwick, Scoresby, Humboldt, Wollaston, Davy, Sabine, Faraday, Brewster, Babbage, Prout, Herschel, Whewell, Forbes, Liebig, De la Bêche, Lyell, and others, I hope some day to cause a selection of them to be produced, in a form which may be of interest, and perhaps of use to the public.

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HARCOURT, E. The Origin and Functions of the British Association . Nature 24, 510–511 (1881).

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