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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Philosophical Society of Victoria

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Royal Society of Victoria



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

The committee formed to report on the controversial subject of cremation finally produced its report towards the end of 1892. After carefully surveying the field of human burial the world over, the committee 'confidently recommends cremation as incomparably the best solution of every difficulty, particularly on hygiene, sentimental and economical grounds. It seems clear that both the public advantages of cremation, and the public dangers of burial, are infinitely more important and practical than any private predilections either way'. A model of a suitable crematorium was displayed and its action explained. The report was adopted by the Society and printed in the Proceedings.

The division of the members into sections, as was envisaged in the original constitution and as was carried out by certain sciences, came very much under criticism early in 1892, largely because of the so-called un-society attitude of Section G (literature and fine arts). Professor Baldwin Spencer was the leader in this reform move and, after stating that the Society was not large enough to be broken up in sections and that any such breaking up must weaken the Society as a whole, was successful in having the appropriate rules of the constitution rescinded. Thus ended a period in the developmental life of the Society which, in some ways, had served particular branches of science satisfactorily, but which, in others, had caused dissension and disunity among members.

The financial depression that occurred throughout Australia in the early 1890s was felt in the Royal Society as elsewhere. The reduction of the government grant from £500 to £250 in 1892 brought about the discontinuance of the Transactions of the Society, publication being limited to the Proceedings. This was greatly regretted by the council as by its members.

It is interesting to record that in 1892 the Society valued its assets for insurance purposes at £4,000, made up of building £2,650, furniture £350 and books £1,000.

1893 saw further marine work carried out by a member of the Society in co-operation with a government department. The necessary permission having been given to the secretary of the Customs department for a scientific representative to be present during the trawling operations of the Swansea off Lakes Entrance, Mr T. S. Hart was appointed representative of the Society, and financial assistance was given to the project. On his return, Mr Hart submitted details of his results in a paper to the Society.

People in Bright Sparcs - Hart, Thomas Stephen; Spencer, Walter Baldwin

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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