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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/663

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cepted the happy suggestion of our mathematicians to call it the Club; and the proposal of some genius among us, that we should have no rules, save the unwritten law not to have any, was carried by acclamation. Later on, there were attempts to add other members, which at last became wearisome, and had to be arrested by the agreement that no proposition of that kind should be entertained, unless the name of the new member suggested contained all the consonants absent from the names of the old ones. In the lack of Slavonic friends this decision put an end to the possibility of increase. Once in the year there was an outing, to which our respective wives were invited.

If I remember rightly, the meetings of the Club began early in the sixties. They were steadily continued for some twenty years, before our ranks began to thin; and, one by one, "geistige Naturen" (departed spirits), such as those for which the poet[1] so willingly paid the ferryman, silent but not unregarded, took the vacated places. Tyndall was a constant attendant and a great promoter of vivacious conversation, until his health failed. Two years ago, a deep gloom was cast over one of our meetings by the receipt of a telegram to the effect that he had but few hours to live, and his partial recovery, at that time, was a marvel to all who knew his condition. I believe that the "" had the credit of being a sort of scientific caucus, or ring, with some people. In fact, two distinguished scientific colleagues of mine once carried on a conversation (which I gravely ignored) across me, in the smoking room of the Athenæum, to this effect: "I say. A, do you know anything about the Club?" "Oh, yes, B, I have heard of it. What do they do?" "Well, they govern scientific affairs; and really, on the whole, they don't do it badly." If my good friends could only have been present at a few of our meetings, they would have formed a much less exalted idea of us, and would, I fear, have been much shocked at the sadly frivolous tone of our ordinary conversation. Assuredly Tyndall did not usually help us to be serious.


But I must bring these brief and too hurried reminiscences to a close. I believe that ample materials exist, and will be used, for a fitting biography: indeed, the putting these materials into autobiographical form was the final piece of work to which Tyn-

  1. "Nimm dann Fährmaan, Take, ferryman,
    Nimm die Miethe Take triple fare.
    Die ich gerne dreifach biete: Which I freely offer thee;
    Zwei, die eben überfuhren, Two who just went over
    Waren geistige Naturen." Were departed spirits.

    I quote from memory; but it is long since I read these verses, and more likely than not the citation errs.