||Science and the making of Victoria
Table of Contents
Inaugural and Anniversary Addresses of the Royal Society
Inaugural Address, delivered by Mr. Justice Barry, President of the Institute, at the Opening Converzazione, 22nd Sept., 1854
Inaugural Address of the President, Captain Clarke, R. E., Surveyor-General, &c., &c.
Anniversary Address of the President, the Honourable Andrew Clarke, Captain R. E., M.P., Surveyor-General of Victoria, &c., &c., &c.
Anniversary Address of the President, His Honor Sir William Foster Stawell, Knight, Chief Justice of Victoria, &c., &c. [Delivered to the Members of the Institute, 12th April, 1858]
Anniversary Address of the President, Ferdinand Mueller, Esq., Ph.D., M.D. F.R.G. and L.S., &c., &c. [Delivered to the Members of the Institute, 28th March, 1859]
Address of the President, Ferdinand Mueller, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.G. & L.S., &c., &c. [Delivered to the Members of the Institute at the Inauguration of the Hall, January 23rd, 1860.]
Inaugural Address of the President, His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., &c., &c. [Delivered to the Members of the Royal Society, at the Anniversary Meeting held on the 10th April, 1860.]
Inaugural Address of the President, His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., &c., &c.
[Delivered to the Members of the Royal Society, at the Anniversary Meeting held on the 10th April, 1860.] (continued)
I would not willingly imply that this is the case among us here. Every credit is due, I must repeat, to the Legislature for the liberality it has in times past displayed in scientific matters. It has cause, I have already recorded my belief, to be proud of the results achieved. For my own part, when I peruse the encomiums passed in presence of learned societies at home, by so illustrious an authority as Sir Roderick Murchison, upon the labors of our Government Geologist and PalŠontologist; or when I find so celebrated an astronomer as Mr. Hinds congratulating the scientific world, through the columns of the Times, "That the essential instruments exist at Melbourne, in the hands of experienced Astronomers, for observing the transit of the newly discovered intra-mercurial planet over the sun's disc;" I feel, I confess, prouder of being the Governor of a colony which has attained this advanced stage of civilisation, than if I had a stately palace to dwell in, or barbaric hordes to bend the knee at my nod.
If I am anxious, as I have hinted, to see still further moderate expenditure for scientific purposes; if I long to know that the Southern Heavens are nightly swept with an eighteen-inch lens, instead of by our present comparitively powerless telescopes; it is because I am convinced that such expenditure would in many respects be the truest economy, and that in others the fame which would accrue to the colony would far more than compensate for the immediate outlay.
Our present position in regard to scientific researches strikes me as not very dissimilar to that of some quartz-crushing Company on our gold fields, possessing stacks of auriferous stone ready to yield untold treasure, together with a first-rate battery of stampers but begrudging the fuel requisite for working the steam-engine by which that battery is to be driven.
This Colony has gone to great expense in engaging the services of men of first-rate ability: it has provided each with certain apparatus suited to his vocation, or given him the aid of a costly staff. Having done this, will it be content to rest in ignorance of what is being accomplished, or delay, for the sake of a few extra thousands, the successful completion of their allotted tasks?
I have enlarged, gentlemen, at the risk of wearying you, upon this portion of my subject, because I am convinced that the Royal Society may do much to remedy such a state of things. It must, however, first of all, begin at the beginning, and acquire more of the confidence of the people than it at present commands. It must make science popular. Not in the false sense of the word. Not by patronising the exhibition of pretty tricks and ingenious experiments (though let me, in passing, observe I should be glad to hear lectures on scientific subjects, delivered by qualified lecturers, in our new Hall). Not by promoting the publication of cheap manuals and trashy guide books to science, in which facts are generalised until their individual significance is lost, and the student is persuaded that he can run before he really knows how to walk alone. Not by such means would I have you popularise the objects we have in view, but by teaching your fellow-colonists to believe in the earnestness of your purpose and the sincerity of your endeavours to promote their welfare; by inducing implicit reliance in the accuracy of your assertions, and inculcating the real value and utility of scientific truth.
I know that difficulties await any society of this kind in such a course. Even among the educated classes there are many who deride the notion of a Philosophical Institute, and though not ignorant of the derivative sense of the words, nor unwilling to boast themselves "friends of reason," or possessors of "knowledge," would only apply the name of "philosophers," or "men of science," to its members by way of taunt. That taunt is out of date, and futile. The revelations of the telescope on the one hand, and of the microscope on the other, so far from tending to exalt the pride of human reason, oppress man rather with a sense of utter insignificance. We have no longer, as in Shakspere's day,
"Our philosophical persons to make modern
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