Recognized HTML document


the " Philosophical Club " for the use of the reformers, in distinction to the older Royal Society Club. Both were merely dining clubs that met on the evenings of Royal Society meetings, and they were held on alternate weeks. I, like many others, was a member of both. The members of the Philosophical Club were limited in number to forty-seven, as a reminder of the date of its foundation. This controversy is now quite obsolete, and the two clubs have become amalgamated.

Another very important reform that Sir William Grove carried through on this occasion, was to limit the number of elections to the Royal Society to fifteen in each year, it having been found that fifteen annual elections corresponded to the losses by death ; so the average number of Fellows would thereby remain unchanged. It was the firm opinion of Sir William Grove, which I fully share, that the only feasible way of keeping a standard of qualification from being lowered is to limit the number of selected candidates, for it is scarcely possible to define a standard in words. The question has lately been raised whether fifteen is not too small a number now. On that point I have no up-to-date knowledge that would justify an opinion, but when I served on the Council of the Royal Society many years ago, and the number of candidates averaged little more than fifty, it happened that about twelve out of the fifteen were elected at the first ballot, but there was often considerable delay in fixing upon the remainder. So it seemed that fifteen was a somewhat high number then, but this year there were as many as a hundred candidates. Certainly no one has been elected since