Organic Chemistry in Peril

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THE Times of Feb. 21 contains a remarkable article by Prof. George Forbes, in which he describes his experience in 1877 when endeavouring to act as war correspondent in the Russo-Turkish war. He was foiled by the Russian officials in every attempt that he made to join their army, until he met with a Prince Swiatipolk Mirski—a distinguished supporter of literature and the arts, well known in Parisian society—who was in charge of Transcaucasia. After they had talked together for some time, the Prince suddenly asked him: “Are you any relation of the late Principal James David Forbes?” When Forbes replied that he was his son, the Prince grasped him by the hand—‘was very pleased to meet him’, he had so much admired his father's discoveries in relation to glaciers and other branches of science—and roared with laughter as he remarked: “And to think that they looked upon you as a Turkish spy”. (I wonder if the prince did begin his sentence with that conjunction?) From that moment Forbes's difficulties disappeared: he soon received a permit and was free to go under fire; he did so right valiantly. “Thus, as constantly in my life,” writes Forbes, “I was given the chance to do greater things than my own merit deserved, through the esteem, veneration and affection in which that great man, my father, was held.” A more moving expression of filial reverence, of justified ancestor worship, has not been penned.

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