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CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH.
SOCIETIES CONNECTED WITH SCIENCE, LITERATURE, AND THE ARTS.
Royal Society-Royal College of Pbysicians--Society of Antiquaries
Society of Arts-Royal Academy of Arts-Royal InstitutionLinnean Society-Geological Society-Royal Geographical Society -Royal Asiatic Society, Sion College-Institution of Civil Engineers-Royal Institute of British Architects—Royal Society of Literature-Royal Agricultural Society - Smithfield Club-Libraries.
THE societies in London connected with science and literature are of course very numerous, and it will not be expected that we can do more than mention the principal of them here. It will be observed that most of them affect the title of Royal. We begin with the oldest, which also stands highest.
The ROYAL SOCIETY, Burlington House, Piccadilly, received its charter of incorporation in 1663, from Charles II., who presented a silver gilt mace to it, still in its possession, and always laid on the table at meetings. This is not the “bauble” of the Long Parliament as traditionally asserted. Charles signed himself as “Founder," in the cb book, where also appear the signatures of his brother James and Prince Rupert as « Fellows." Their places of meeting have been numerous.
For several years they had rooms in Somerset House, before removing to their present quarters. Most persons of scientific eminence in this country, for the last 200 years, have belonged to it. Newton was a member, and presented to it the manuscript of his Principia, which is carefully preserved by it. The members are at present upwards of 750, and consist chiefly of medical men and mathematicians. They are elected by ballot, on being proposed by six members. Each on admission pays £10 as an entrance fee, and £4 annually. The annual meeting takes place on the 30th November. Major-General Sabine is the present President. The library is a valuable one, and it possesses several portraits of eminent persons, of which a good catalogue with annotations has been drawn up; three of Sir Isaac Newton, one of which, by C. Jervas, is placed over the presidential chair; two portraits of Halley; two of Thomas Hobbes ; Sir Hans Sloane ; Sir Christopher Wren; Robert Boyle ; Pepys, the diarist; Benjamin Franklin; Sir Humphrey Davy, by Laurence, and several others. Also busts of Charles II. and George III., by Nollekens ; Sir Joseph Banks, by Chantrey; Sir Isaac Newton, by Roubiliac; James Watt, Cuvier, and others. The following relics of Newton are preserved by the society: a solar dial made by him when a boy; his gold watch with a medallion portrait of him, presented to him, as shewn by the inscription, by Mrs. Conduit, in 1708 ; the first reflecting telescope of his invention, made by his own hands; the mask of the philosopher's face, from the cast taken after his death; a lock of his silver white hair. Amongst other curiosities is the original model of Sir H. Davy's safety lamp, made by his own hands, and a MS. of Wren.
Four gold medals are distributed annually by the society. The memoirs read at its meetings, when published, are known as the “Philosophical Transactions." The fellows place the letters F.R.S., after their names.
THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS, Pall Mall, East, corner of Trafalgar Square, was erected in 1824-5 from the designs of Sir R. Smirke, at the cost of £30,000. The college was founded by Linacre, physician to Henry VII. and Henry VIII. He was the first president, and he bequeathed to it his own house in Knight-Rider Street, where the members had been in the habit of meeting The buildings afterwards designed for them by Wren, in Warwick Lane, Newgate Street (described by Garth in his
poem "The Dispensary"), are still standing, but have been converted partly into a meat market, and partly into shops. The style of the present college buildings is Grecian-Ionic. Amongst the portraits preserved here are those of Sir Thomas Browne, author of the Religio Medici, Sir Samuel Garth by Kneller, Dr. Radcliffe by Kneller, Harvey by Jansen, Sir Hans Sloane (whose collections were the nucleus of the British Museum, “Sloane's wondrous shelves ”—Pope) by Richardson, and William Hunter. In the lecture-room are several busts of eminent physicians, a picture of Hunter lecturing on anatomy before the Royal Academy, by Zoffany. In a gallery in the library are various anatomical preparations, including some used by Harvey to illustrate his lectures on the circulation of the blood. The order of a physician, a member of the college, will admit persons to see the objects above mentioned.
THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES has rooms in Somerset House, Strand. It was founded in 1707, and has had many migrations before it settled in its present quarters. The society was incorporated in 1751, by George II. An applicant for the fellowship must be proposed by three fellows, and will then be balloted for. Five guineas are paid on admission, and two guineas annually. Their meetings are held weekly on Thursdays, beginning with the third Thursday in November, and ending with the third in June, and the anniversary meeting takes place on the 23d of April. Fellows are entitled to write F.S.A. after their names. The transactions of the Society are published under the name of Archæologia, and they date from 1770. It has also issued many independent works, as well as prints. It possesses a valuable library and collection of MSS., and museum. Here are portraits of distinguished antiquaries, portraits of Henry V., Henry VI., Edward IV., Richard III., Henry VII., Henry VIII., and Mary (by Lucas de Heere) ; also of Schoreel, a Flemish artist, by Sir Antonio More his pupil ; and the Marquis of Winchester, Lord High Treasurer, who died 1572. Amongst other curiosities are a folding picture of Preaching at St. Paul's Cross (1616); Porter's map of London, time of Charles I.; prescriptions of the physicians for Charles II. on his death-bed; Cromwell's sword; brass-gilt spur from the battle-field of Towton, “the bloodiest field between the white rose and the red,” with a rhyming posy on the shanks, “ en loial amour tout mon coer ;” Bohemian astronomical clock made in 1525 for Sigismund, King of Poland ; early proclamations ; early ballads and broad-sides ; Roman antiquities found in Britain ; coins, medals, and provincial tokens. For permission to see these things apply to the secretary, at Somerset House.
THE SOCIETY OF ARTS, John Street, Adelphi, is one of the most useful associations in London, established 1754, incorporated 1847. It styles itself the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce. With this end in view, it offers prizes for new inventions and memoirs on subjects deserying of investigation. It publishes a weekly journal. Recognizing the great value of competitive examinations, it holds one annually, and grants certificates and prizes on the awards of the Board of Examiners. In the spring there is an exhibition of new inventions, of which an illustrated catalogue is published. In the council-room are six large pictures, illustrating the progress of the arts, by James Barry, "interesting and remarkable.” The society has taken a deep interest in the subject of international exhibitions, and it is doubtful whether, without its exertions, those of 1851 and 1862 would have taken place. It is supported by the subscriptions of members, who pay two guineas a year.
THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS occupies the east wing of the National Gallery, but as the rooms are required for the exhibition of the national collection of pictures, it is proposed to send the Academy elsewhere. It was established in 1768, and it consists of forty Royal Academicians, who attach the letters “R.A.” to their names, twenty associates “ A.R.A.," and six associate engravers. The Academicians elect a president from their own body, and appoint a secretary and keeper. Vacancies in the body are filled up from the associates. The Council consists of eight members, and they elect from the forty," professors of painting, sculpture, and architecture. The professor of anatomy must be a surgeon.
These professors deliver lectures to the students without charge. Medals are distributed annually as prizes amongst the sudents, and the most deserving of the latter are sent to Rome free of expense to study their art in that city. Sir Joshua Reynolds was the first president, and West the second. Their collection of prints, and library of books, is open to students. Persons wishing to be admitted as students should apply to the secretary. They also possess a good collection of casts, as well as some paintings, the most noticeable of which is an old Italian copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, the size of the original. This is the oldest and best copy that has been made of that celebrated fresco, and it has become of great value, in consequence of the decay of the original. Here are also two cartoons by L. da Vinci, and a bas-relief in marble of the Holy Family, by Michael Angelo.
It is a rule that each Academician, on his election, shall present to the Academy a work of art of his own execution. These diploma-pictures and sculptures are placed in the council-room, and may be seen on application to the secretary. They include a portrait of George III., by Reynolds; a rustic girl, by Lawrence; boys digging for a rat, by Wilkie ; portrait of Gainsborough, by himself ; portrait of Sir W. Chambers, the architect, by Reynolds; and of Sir Joshua, by himself. Amongst the sculptures are Cupid and Psyche, by Nollekens ; bust of Flaxman, by Nollekens ; and a bust of West, by Chantrey. The palettes of Hogarth and Reynolds are preserved here.
THE EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS by living artists, which annually takes place in the rooms of the Royal Academy, is open from the beginning of May to the end of July, and is one of the great sights of the London season. Many hundred pictures are hung on the walls, and a room is appropriated to sculptures. The Academy realizes a large income (and this is the only source of their income) from this exhibition, by charging 1s. admission for each person, and selling a catalogue at 1s. As to the conditions on which works of art are admitted to the exhibition, these may be ascertained from the secretary.
ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN, 21 Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, established 1799 ; the objects in view being the diffusion of knowledge, and the facilitating the general introduction of useful mechanical inventions, and the teaching by courses of philosophical lectures and experiments the application of science to the common purposes of life. This institution has taken a leading part in the great work of popularizing science, and applying its discoveries to the benefit of mankind. Benjamin Thomson, Count Rumford, was one of the early promoters ; and here Sir Humphrey Davy and Faraday have worked with such excellent result. There is a well selected library of about 30,000 volumes ; a theatre where lectures are delivered ; a laboratory for the promotion and advancement of the chemical and physical sciences ; a mineralogical museum ; and a reading-room, in which are found the principal newspapers and periodicals of Britain and the Continent. Certain professorships have been founded, which have been held by such men as Owen, Huxley, and Tyndal, who have delivered their lectures in the theatre. The institution is entirely supported by the subscriptions of members and the bequests of generous benefactors. Dr. Bence Jones is the present secretary.
THE LINNÆAN SOCIETY, Burlington House, Piccadilly, was founded in 1788 by Dr. (afterwards Sir James Edward) Smith, and received its charter in 1802. The object of the society is the study of zoology and botany in all their departments, and it is well supported by the scientific men of the country. They