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meeting, in company with a party of scientific friends, chiefly ornithologists. This was both my first visit to Cambridge and to the Association, and under such pleasant conditions I thoroughly enjoyed both. Besides the number of eminent men of science I had the opportunity of hearing or seeing, I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Charles Kingsley in his own house, and enjoying his stimulating conversation. There was also a slight recrudescence of the evolution controversy in the rather painful dispute between Professor Richard Owen and Huxley, supported by Flower, on certain alleged differences between the brains of man and apes.
I so much enjoyed the meeting, both in its scientific and social aspects, that I attended the next eleven meetings, and generally took part in some of the discussions, besides occasionally reading short papers. One of the most enjoyable meetings socially was that at Exeter, where I and a large party of scientific men were hospitably entertained at a country mansion eight or ten miles from the city, into which we were driven and brought back every day. Among the guests there was Professor Rankin, who entertained us by singing some of his own descriptive or witty compositions, especially the “Song of the Engine Driver,” and that inimitable Irish descriptive song on “The City of Mullingar.” On this occasion there appeared one of the most humorous parodies of the work of the association that has ever been written, called "Exeter Change for the British Lions." It was in the form of a small magazine, giving reports of the meetings, with absurd papers, witty verses, and clever parodies of the leading members, all worthy of Hood himself in his most humorous vein. One of the best of the parodies is the following, as all will admit who are familiar with the style of the supposed author.
ON THE ALCOHOLIC COMPOUND TERMED PUNCH.
BY JOHN T-ND-LL, LL.D., F.R.S.
Chastened and invigorated by the discipline of physical research, the philosopher fearlessly climbs the never-trodden peaks of pure thought, whence he surveys without dizziness the shadowy domain which lies beyond the horizon of ordinary observation. The empirical art of punchbrewing is co-extensive with civilization. But the molecular commotion which agitates the palate of the punch-drinker and awakes in his brain an indescribable feeling of satisfaction could only be apprehended by one whose mind had been previously exercised on the parallel bars of accoustics and optics.
Taste is due to vibratory motion. A peppermint lozenge, for example, dissolving in the mouth, may be likened to a vast collection of minute tuning-forks vibrating synchronously. Pulses are imparted to the nervous filaments of the tongue and palate, and are translated by the internal sense into peppermint. What was molecular agitation is now taste.
With punch properly compounded, we obtain saporous vibrations of various degrees of rapidity, but so related that their simultaneous action on the organ of taste produces an agreeable harmony. The saccharine, acid, and ethylic trills are rhythmical, and a glass of punch is truly the analogue of the sonnet. The instinct of man has detected many such harmonies which have yet to be investigated. For example : what palate is insensible to the harmonious effect of roast hare and currantjelly? But where is the philosopher who can lay his hand upon his heart and say he has determined the relation of the saporous vibrations of the jelly to those of the hare? My own researches on this point have deepened my natural humility, and I now eat my currant-jelly with the simple faith of a little child.
Experiment has proved that the juice of three or four lemons, and three-quarters of a pound of loaf-sugar dissolved in about three pints of boiling water, give saporous waves which strike the palate at such intervals that the thrilling acidity of the lemon-juice and the cloying sweetness of the sugar are no longer distinguishable. We have, in fact, a harmony of saporific notes. The pitch, however, is too low, and to heighten it, we infuse in the boiling water the fragrant yellow rind of one lemon. Here we might pause, if the soul of man craved no higher result than lemonade. But to attain the culminating saporosity of punch, we must dash into the bowl, at least, a pint of rum and nearly the same volume of brandy. The molecules of alcohol, sugar, and citric acid collide, and an entirely new series of vibrations are produced—tremors to which the dullest palate is attuned.
In punch, then, we have rhythm within rhythm, and all that philosophy can do is to take kindly to its subtle harmonies. It will depend
in some measure upon previous habits, whether the punch, when mixed, will be taken in excess or in moderation. It may become a dangerous ally of gravity and bring a sentient being to the gutter. But, on the other hand, it may become the potent inner stimulus of a noble outward life.
I was also honoured by being admitted to the fraternity of the “Red Lions," who fed together during each meeting of the association and expressed applause by gentle roars and wagging of (coat) tails. On these occasions all kinds of jokes were permissible, and speeches were made and songs sung by the scientific humourists assembled. At Edinburgh in 1871, Lord Neaves, a well-known wit and song-writer, was a guest, and gave us some of his own compositions, especially that on “The Origin of Species a là Darwin”—which he recited standing up and with very fine humour. The following verses are samples :
“A very tall Pig with a very long nose
Which Nobody can Deny !
“An Ape with a pliable thumb and big brain,
Which Nobody can Deny !"
And so on for twelve verses, and encouraging roars and great final tail-wagging.
The most deplorable event in my experience of the association was the choice of the late Duke of Buccleuch as President for 1867, at Dundee ; proposed, as I understood, by Sir Roderick Murchison and weakly agreed to by his colleagues. The President's Address has, in every other case, been considered a very serious affair, requiring the labour of some months to compose, in order to render it worthy of an audience consisting practically of the best scientific intellect of our country. But the president on this occasion evidently considered it a condescension on his part to be there at all. He began by telling us that he had never written a speech in his life, and never intended to; that he knew very little
about science, though no doubt it was very useful in its way. Of course it helped us to find coal," and that kind of thing," to support our manufactures; chemistry, too, very useful, dyeing, manure, and many other things—and thus he went on, with a lot of commonplaces hardly up to the level of an audience of tenant-farmers, for, I suppose, nearly an hour; and then there were complimentary speeches! The address
-or rather an address—was, of course, printed, but I never read it, as I felt sure it would be so altered and almost wholly remodelled that it would not at all resemble the poor stuff we had been compelled to hear.
At Glasgow, in 1876, I was President of the Biological Section, and our meeting was rendered rather lively by the announcement of a paper by Professor W. F. Barretton experiments in thought-reading. The reading of this was opposed by Dr. W. B. Carpenter and others, but as it had been accepted by the section, it was read. Then followed a rather heated discussion ; but there were several supporters of the paper, among whom was Lord Rayleigh, and the public evidently took the greatest interest in the subject, the hall being crowded. After having studied the matter some years longer, Professor Barrett, with the assistance of the late Frederick Myers, Professor Sidgwick, Edmund Gurney, and a few other friends, founded the Society for Psychical Research, which has collected a very large amount of evidence and is still actively at work.
I and my wife were entertained at Glasgow by Mr. and Mrs. Mirlees, and at one of their dinner-parties we enjoyed the company of William Pengelly, of Torquay, the wellknown explorer of Kent's Cavern, whose acquaintance I had made some years before while spending a few days at Torquay with my friend and publisher, Mr. A. Macmillan. He sat on one side of our hostess, and I and my wife on the other, and during the whole dinner he kept up such a flow of amusing and witty conversation that the entire party (a large one) looked at us with envy. He was certainly among the most genial and witty men I have ever met, and could make even dry scientific subjects attractive by his humorous VOL II.
way of narrating them. It was a rather curious coincidence that on this occasion, when “psychical research” had first been introduced to the British Association, I learnt from Mr. Pengelly that he had himself had one of the most amazing psychical experiences on record, which I may perhaps find an opportunity of narrating when I give an account of my own investigation of these subjects.
After this year I felt that I had pretty well exhausted the interests of the association meetings, and preferred to take my autumn holiday, with my wife and two children, either by the sea or among the mountains, where we could quietly enjoy the beauties of nature in aspects somewhat new to us; the only exception I afterwards made being the jubilee meeting at York, and even here the chief attractions were the beautiful Alpine gardens of Mr. Backhouse, the excursion to Rievaulx Abbey, and a visit afterwards to my friend Dr. Spruce in his retirement at Welburn, near Castle Howard.