Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/9

This page has been validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

JANUARY, 1906




WITH THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
By Professor ERNEST W. BROWN.

HAVERFORD COLLEGE

I.

THE visit of the British Association to South Africa during the past summer appears to have established the idea that its activities in future are not to be confined to the British Isles. Two successful oversea meetings had already taken place; the first at Montreal, in 1884, and the second at Toronto, in 1897, and there seemed to be no reason why the suggestion of a meeting in Cape Town, made as far back as 1898, by Sir David Gill, astronomer royal at the Cape, should not be followed up. But there were many difficulties in the way. It was obvious at the outset that few would be willing to make two long journeys by sea unless opportunities were afforded to visit the chief places of interest in other parts of South Africa. It was obvious too that few of those whose presence was chiefly desired would be in a position to afford the necessary expense unless very considerable assistance were forthcoming, and the general funds of the association were not intended, nor were they sufficient, for this purpose. Further, there are few towns where accommodation for several hundred visitors can be obtained, and this meant that special trains with dining and sleeping cars must be provided; the trunk lines in the colonies have a supply of rolling stock not much more than is sufficient for the few who travel long distances in South Africa.

While the matter was under discussion, war broke out. But those who were interested did not lose sight of the idea, and early last year it took more definite shape in generous offers of assistance from the governments and towns in South Africa. In the meantime, many changes had occurred. The new colonies must be included in the itinerary; opportunities must be afforded to see places and districts