Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/59

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Darwin, whose bold conceptions, patient labor, and genial mind made him almost a type of unsurpassed excellence, telegraphic news reached Cambridge, just a month ago, to the effect that our Honorary Secretary, Professor F. M. Balfour, had lost his life during an attempted ascent of the Aiguille Blanche de Penteret. Although only thirty years of age, few men have won distinction so rapidly and so deservedly. After attending the lectures of Michael. Foster, he completed his studies of biology under Dr. Anton Dohrn at the Zoölogical Station of Naples in 1875. In 1878 he was elected a Fellow, and in November last a member of Council of the Royal Society, when he was also awarded one of the Royal Medals for his embryological researches. Within a short interval of time Glasgow University conferred on him their honorary degree of LL. D., he was elected President of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, and, after having declined very tempting offers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, he accepted a professorship of Animal Morphology created for him by his own university. Few men could have borne without hurt such a stream of honorable distinctions, but in young Balfour genius and independence of thought were happily blended with industry and personal modesty; these won for him the friendship, esteem, and admiration of all who knew him.


Since the days of the first meeting of the Association in York in 1831, great changes have taken place in the means at our disposal for exchanging views, either personally or through the medium of type. The creation of the railway system has enabled congenial minds to attend frequent meetings of those special societies which have sprung into existence since the foundation of the British Association, among which I need only name here the Physical, Geographical, Meteorological, Anthropological, and Linnæan, cultivating abstract science, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Naval Architects, the Iron and Steel Institute, the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians, the Gas Institute, the Sanitary Institute, and the Society of Chemical Industry, representing applied science. These meet at frequent intervals in London, while others, having similar objects in view, hold their meetings at the university towns, and at other centers of intelligence and industry throughout the country, giving evidence of great mental activity, and producing some of those very results which the founders of the British Association wished to see realized. If we consider further the extraordinary development of scientific journalism which has taken place, it can not surprise us when we meet with expressions of opinion to the effect that the British Association has fulfilled its mission, and should now yield its place to those special societies it has served to call into existence. On the other hand, it may be urged that the brilliant success of last year's anniversary meeting, enhanced by the comprehensive address delivered