220 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
I have heard elsewhere, was that not a single Patent case was brought into his Court. Presumably he was dreaded by both sides on account of his searching questions.
It was his practice to rent a large house and shooting during the autumn vacation, and he most hospitably asked my wife and myself to make long visits to him during three autumns. On the first of these an incident occurred which might have ended, but which confirmed, his friendship ; namely, the sudden and most severe illness of my wife. The prompt and continuous care shown to her by every member of the family at that time in the house, called for my warmest gratitude. Sir William's .second son, who was then a young man, but now a highly distinguished officer, rode several miles to the nearest town, summoned the doctor, and brought back a bag of ice on horseback. Sir William's daughter, Mrs. Hills, nursed her with every possible care for some weeks, until she was sufficiently convalescent to bear removal. Recovery at length ensued, but serious weakness remained, which continued up to her death, nearly forty years later.
One of Sir William Grove's achievements was that of being the main agent, in 1847, of changing the character of the governing body of the Royal Society. It had become too aristocratic, dating from the long presidency of Sir Joseph Banks, and its elections were guided by favour. The struggle between two opposed principles became one between the supporters of different candidates. It was a near contest, but the reform party gained the day. They signalised the memory of their triumph by founding