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already been given by Fellows of the Society, more competent for the duty than myself. It has occurred to me that a brief notice of two Edinburgh Natural History Societies, which have now ceased to exist, and more particularly of the Wernerian Society, might not be altogether uninteresting.
Natural History studies are peculiarly fitted to call forth the principles of association. There is something connected with the prosecution of them which draws students together, and which binds them by ties of no ordinary kind. The study of the Rocks and Minerals, Plants and Animals, of our globe naturally leads to extended wanderings over mountain and plain, by river side or ocean shore, during which the companionship of friends becomes especially valuable and cheering. There is a sociality in such pursuits which insensibly unites men in scientific brotherhood. Those who have joined in natural history excursions know well the fascination of such rambles, and look back with pleasure to the friendships thus formed. The collections made become also bonds of union. For every naturalist knows the importance of the interchange of specimens. The system of exchange has led to the formation of many associations. It was this which in a great measure led to the institution of the Botanical Society of this city.
Edinburgh has been long celebrated for its Natural History Societies. The situation of our city, the rich fauna and flora of its neighbourhood, its instructive geological and mineralogical features, have rendered it one of the places best fitted for the prosecution of natural science in its practical details. The student has ample opportunities of pursuing science in all its departments. Our museums and gardens also supply a valuable means of acquiring information. Thus it is, that as a school of natural science, there is scarcely any city which possesses greater advantages. It might have been expected, therefore, that scientific societies would spring up among us.
The Physical Society was among the earliest established, and it speedily acquired great eminence from the activity and zeal of its members. It embraced the whole range of science, both natural and physical, and it especially called forth the energies of young men who were zealously cultivating science within the walls of our University. It has had its reverses no doubt,
but it still exists, and has now entered on its eighty-eighth session; and though its resources are not so large as they once were, the zeal of its members I trust is not abated. We have among us many active naturalists whose labours have advanced natural history, and whose original researches have increased the fame and reputation of our school.
Besides the Royal Physical Society, there were other Natural History Societies in Edinburgh, especially among the students of the University. One of them was the Plinian Society, which, during its short existence, tended much to foster the spirit of inquiry, and to call forth the efforts of the junior naturalists of Edinburgh. It was essentially a students' society, and met within the walls of the College. It began its existence on 14th January 1823, and continued to meet till about the year 1835. It enrolled among its members many young naturalists who afterwards acquired eminence, such as Wm. Baird, now in the British Museum ; M.Vicar, now minister of Moffat; Jameson Torrie, well-known for his Natural History labours in connection with his uncle Professor Jameson; Ainsworth, who published Travels in the District of the Euphrates ; Cheeke, the editor of a valuable Natural History Journal; Malcolmson, celebrated for his geological pursuits in India ; Anderson of Inverness, whose guide to the Geology and Natural History of the Highlands is so justly praised ; Robert Grant, now Professor of Comparative Anatomy in London ; John Coldstream, one of the Fellows of our Society, whose labours in Zoology are deservedly famous; Clouston, now a clergyman at Sandwick, who has done much to elucidate the flora of Orkney; Woodforde, who published the Flora of Edinburgh ; Lombard of Geneva ; John Addington Symonds, now a distinguished physician at Bristol ; Hugh Falconer, the Indian Botanist and Zoologist; Browne, one of the Commissioners of Lunacy, and many others. If I were to analyse the proceedings of that Society, I could show that many of those gentlemen exhibited in their communications the early dawnings of their devotion to those departments of science in which they afterwards attained distinction. I feel that not a little of the zeal with which I prosecuted botany was due to my early connection with this Society.
Unfortunately, like some other societies, it had its decay and decline, and, after a brief existence of about twelve years, it ceased to exist. On 6th Febuary 1811, the society was dissolved, and its books and herbarium were divided between the Royal Medical and the Hunterian Medical Societies.
In its flourishing days this Society was supported mainly by students, and it is probable that its decline may be attributed in some measure to the want of some zealous senior members resident in Edinburgh, who, by associating with students in practical natural history, would have kept up the. vigour of the Society.
We now come to another Natural History Society, the nature of which differed essentially from that of the Plinian and other student-societies, and whose period of existence extended over more than forty years, but which has also come to a termination-I mean the Wernerian Natural History Society. This Society owed its origin to Professor Jameson, whose enthusiastic devotion to natural history, and whose eminence in mineralogy rendered his name famous all over the world. The Society thus instituted by him was restricted to senior naturalists. While it lasted, it rendered good service to science, and by the publication of its valuable Memoirs acquired a wide-spread reputation.
The Wernerian Society commenced in 1808, and the following is the record of its foundation :
College Museum, Edinburgh, 12th January 1808.
They resolved to associate themselves into a society for the purpose of promoting the study of Natural History; and
in honour of the illustrious Werner of Freyberg, to assume the name of the Wernerian Natural History Society.
Professor Jameson having been called to the chair, the following office-bearers were unanimously elected :
Professor Jameson, President.
Mr Neill, Secretary. It being understood that the Society should consist of honorary, foreign, non-resident, and ordinary members, it was moved by the president, and unanimously agreed to, that
Professor WERNER of Freyberg,
Richard Kirwan, Esq., President of the Royal Irish Academy, be enrolled as the first honorary members of the Society.
The following gentlemen were then chosen non-resident members :
Dr James Edward Smith of Norwich, President Linnean
And the following were elected foreign members :
M. FREDERICK Möhs, Styria.
M. Von HUMBOLDT, Berlin.
Such then was the institution of the Wernerian Society.
On the 20th January 1808, the laws of the Society were drawn up by a committee.
In regard to resident members it is ruled that the number shall not exceed 100; and in regard to honorary members that they shall not exceed 10.
The meetings were held in the College Museum, or in a room adjoining to it, at two o'clock in the afternoon.
All natural history specimens presented to this Society were to be deposited in the College Museum.
A charter or seal of cause was subsequently obtained from the Town-Council, and the Society was incorporated on 10th February 1808, under the name of the Wernerian Natural History Society.
The first meeting for public business took place on 2d March 1808, in the College Museum.
The record of the proceedings of the Society from that time up to April 21, 1838, is printed as an appendix to the published Memoirs of the Society, vols. ii.-vii.
In these volumes valuable papers are given on various departments of Natural History.
Among the contributors of Papers we may notice the following :-In Geology and Mineralogy-Professor Jameson, Mr Bald, Dr Fleming, Dr Macknight, M. Haidinger, Dr Adam, M. Boué, Mr George Anderson, Mr Trevelyan, Dr Hibbert, Mr Witham, Mr R. J. Hay Cunningham, Mr James Smith, and Mr Torrie. In Chemistry-Dr Thomas Thomson, and Dr Murray. In Botany-Mr Robert Brown (one of his early papers on the Natural Order Asclepiadeæ was read on 4th November 1809), Messrs David and George Don, Mr R. K. Greville, Dr Walker Arnott, Mr Macgillivray, Mr Marshall, Mr Francis Hamilton, Rev. Dr Scot. In Zoology and Comparative Anatomy-Mr Montague, Dr Fleming, Mr Neill, Dr Barclay, Mr Leach, Mr Thomas Brown, Mr James Wilson,