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101

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

ROYAL PHYSICAL SOCIETY.

EIGHTY-EIGHTH SESSION, 1858–59.

Wednesday, November 24, 1858. Professor Balfour in the Chair. The following Gentlemen were elected Members of the Society :

Anatomy, University of Edinburgh.
Motschoulsky, St Petersburgh.

Foreign Member-Count Victor

The Donations to the Library included the following, and thanks were voted to the donors :

From the Society.-2. Canadian Journal, Toronto, Nos. XV., XVI., and XVII. From the Canadian Institute, Toronto.-3. Papers read to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. By George Lawson, Ph.D. From the Author.-4. The Practical Naturalist's Guide. By James Boyd Davies. From the Author.

Professor Balfour then delivered the Opening Address as follows :

It has been the usual practice in the Society that the retiring President shall give a short address on the occasion of his demitting office, and, in conformity with that custom, I have been called upon by your Secretary to make a few remarks this evening when I conclude my period of probation as President. The task is by no means an easy one, from the difficulty of finding some new topic of interest on which to expatiate. The history of the Society has been already given by my predecessors, and the obituaries of the eminent members who have lately been taken from us (a topic which in most Societies occupies much of the opening addresses), have

VOL, II.

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 specdily 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,

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