The CHAIRMAN said, that a fortnight ago, when the Exhibition was first opened, the President of the Society, the Marquis of Lorne, had stated the circumstances under which it had been called into existence, and the reasons why the Geographical Society had undertaken its superintendence. A week ago, at the second meeting, a most instructive, full, and luminous paper had been read by Mr. Ravenstein, and he (the Chairman) felt sure that all who had heard that excellent address must have gone away conscious of a valuable addition having been made to their geographical knowledge. The meeting held that day was the third of the proposed series, and the subject for the usual lecture was that of geographical appliances, such as those distributed about the rooms, and it was due to the zeal and energy of the lecturer-Mr. Keltie-that visitors were now able to inspect specimens of every kind of geographical appliance in the form of maps, reliefs, and globes, that existed either in England or abroad. Some were simple and gave only a general idea of the subjects with which they were connected, while others entered more into detail. With regard to the maps, some were cheaply got up in the first instance, and others were more expensive ; and in this connection he would say that to him it appeared that the original cost of a good design for a map, as distinguished from the cost of reproduction, need be no bar to its being undertaken, because, considering the hundreds of thousands of children to be educated, there must always be a demand for a really good map. He might mention that the Geographical Society had actually offered to help to defray the cost of particular maps if those directly connected with education could agree precisely on what they required. There were two or three appliances necessary in geographical education which hardly came within the limits of the Exhibition but which still deserved mention. He was very strongly convinced of the necessity of devising some simple forms of laboratory experiments which could be performed before a class, and show the principal processes going on in physical geography. Then there were magic-lantern slides, which formed a very suitable apparatus for effectively bringing home to the conceptions the physical features of the earth. True it was that such appliances appealed only to the sense of sight, but there were other influences capable of imparting geographical knowledge besides the faculty of seeing. One strong instance of this would be found in the case of a very eminent statesman, who blind though he was, delighted above all things to be taken to some elevated point of view and to have the features of the surrounding country described to him. By the duration of ascent he gained an idea of the altitude, and many other incidents of the journey, such as the freshness of the air, the smells, the sounds, and the silence too, all combined to impress his imagination with the geography of the district. Poetical and verbal descriptions of nature, in virtue of the many subtle associations connected with words, were also able to produce extremely vivid effects ; and it was a misfortune' that some of our greatest poets had possessed but a very meagre acquaintance with geography. That almost inspired man, Shakespeare, was evidently deficient in this respect, as witness his description of the sea, given in "The Tempest," which was absolutely false in every particular. Many of his descriptions of confined areas, such as the Midland Counties, were exceedingly appropriate, but there were no references to the larger aspects of nature. Perhaps our own Poet Laureate was most successful in geographical description. He (the Chairman) would not enter further into detail on the power of happy phrases in awakening the geographical imagination, but would call at once upon Mr. Keltic to read his paper.
(Chairman's Remarks) On Geographical Applicances
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society
8 (new series)