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BRITISH ASSOCIATION   215

The Reports of the Committees appointed by it are as a rule far more valuable than ordinary memoirs, and so are the Presidential Addresses, but perhaps the most useful function of the British Association lies in causing persons who are occupied in different branches of science, and who rarely meet elsewhere, to be jostled together and to become well acquainted. Its organisation was a wonderful feat, for it was created upon paper, and has required. nothing ever since beyond a little easing and extension here and there.

The plan of one meeting is as like that of another as two Roman camps. On entering the receptionroom, time seems to have stood still, for the same familiar faces are seen in the same places ; the placards that refer to letters, to programmes, to excursions and to the other multifarious business of the Association, are similarly arranged, so after the experience of a single year a member finds himself at* home on every future occasion. But the sustained racket of it is great, and I found it too long continued for my own nerves. I had a complete breakdown when I was General Secretary, which compelled me to resign what otherwise was a very pleasant post : it would have been playing with death had I continued to hold it.

My period of office began at the time when the old order of supreme management by a few magnates was giving way to a more democratic government. Its earlier and distinguished members, such as Sabine and Murchison, had naturally so much weight in Council that when they were active and in close touch with their juniors their opinions were sure to