Mr. FRANCIS GALTON said the word "geography," like many others, was used in different senses, so they ought to be grateful to Mr. Mackinder for the effort he had made to frame a definition that should combine the suffrages of most people. For his own part he thought that an even simpler definition was possible, namely, that the art of geography was to give a vivid and connected account of the more interesting characteristics of specified districts. The art of giving a vivid account was an extremely rare one. He was sure they must have heard in that room many eminent travellers who read accounts of their journeys, and yet the meeting obtained from them but a very slight idea of the country they had visited. It was extraordinary how weak ordinary language was in expressing visual objects. Who could describe a face in that room in such a way that another person who had never seen it before, should recognise it when seen ? The same remark applied to countries. They read books about a country and then they went there, and found it to be entirely different from what they expected. Now one of the arts of the geographical teacher was to bring vividly before the mind of the learner what he wished to convey, so as to put the learner as far as possible in the position of one who had actually been to the country. That art was somewhat developed, but needed to be developed a great deal more by illustrations, photographs, &c. Another art of the geographical teacher was to give a connected or rational account. He did not himself think so much as others of the possibilities of geography as a science; it. was well to have a high project, but when they endeavoured to reason out the conditions of a country, they found that at the present time they knew very little about the interaction of the various forces of nature. They could go a certain distance; they could easily follow as far as a shrewd intelligent man could go, who had at the same time a little more than a smattering of the principal sciences; but to suppose that any one could really reason out a geographical problem in all its completeness in the same way that he could a mechanical or a mathematical one, seemed to him to be supposing a great deal too much. To recur to the definition, what were the interesting characteristics of a country? There were different people to be interested ; that which interested the strategist did not interest the artist or the merchant; so the geographical teacher had to consider the main wants and wishes of mankind, and to frame his book or teaching accordingly. At the present time the hopes for the better teaching of geography seemed to be in a critical stage. Last week a deputation of three members of the council met the committee appointed by the governing body of the University of Oxford, consisting of the present ViceChancellor, the late Vice-Chancellor, and three other distinguished members of the University, and that committee manifested, so far as they were individually concerned, a sympathy and a desire to help the objects of the deputation. During the present week another deputation would go down to Cambridge to have an interview with the authorities there. Both Universities were at length clearly waking up, and beginning to practically throw themselves into the cause of geography. At this critical time it was a great thing to have a gentleman like Mr. Mackinder, of University distinction, who knew his own mind, who had attracted large audiences in the provinces, who was enthusiastic in geography, a believer in his cause, and who, he was sure, would leave no stone unturned to further the interests of geography-it was a great thing to have such a man taking so prominent a part, and be had very little doubt that however much Mr. Mackinder's theories might be criticised, or whatever mistakes he might make, he was destined to leave his mark on geographical education.
(Discussion on) The Scope and Methods of Geography
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society
9 (new series)