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of the municipality. Every one who has travelled much through that country must have been made sensible of the great advantages offered by these local collections of antiquities, discovered in the surrounding districts, as well as of its minerals and fossils, its botanical and zoological productions, arranged by the side of a library of works of local interest. And if these collections are full of attraction to a stranger, how much more valuable must they be to an inhabitant? In this country, steps have recently been taken by the legislature to enable the municipalities of the corporate towns to establish similar museums and libraries at the cost of local funds. But the genius of our people tends rather to the attainment of such objects by voluntary associations than by executive authorities; and we hope consequently, to some extent, to secure this most desirable benefit for our county by means of the Society we are now organising.
I have hitherto confined my remarks almost entirely to our local desiderata in reference to Archæology. But the department of Natural History affords an opening of, at least, equal utility to our aim. Without pretending to assert for this county any preëminent claims as a field for the researches of the naturalist, I am yet justified in saying, that it offers advantages in this respect not inferior to any other. The Geology of Wiltshire is indeed not very elaborate, extending only from the London clay to the old red sandstone, but the palæontology of this limited range is peculiarly rich. The fossils of our green sand beds have an European reputation, chiefly owing to two remarkable collections—one formed by a lady of this neighbourhood, Miss Benett; the other by our respected honorary secretary, Mr. Cunnington. The coral rag is nowhere more abundant in zoophytes, and nowhere assumes more strikingly its true character of an ancient coral reef, than in the hill range running northwards from this town through Bowood and Bremhill. Our Oxford clays are peculiarly rich in cephalopoda. The Kelloways rock is known to all geologists for its rare molluscs. Our corn-brash and forest marble beds, are little else than masses of organic remains. The laminated tilestones of this formation, in their ripple-marked surfaces strewed over with fragments of coral and water-worn shells, and impressed with the footprints of crustacea, really present the exact appearance of a sandy shore just left by the retiring tide; though we know that countless ages must have elapsed since the waves of the ocean broke upon them. The politic limestone of Bradford has given its name to a rare and curious variety of encrinite. The great colite of our Cotswolds, is a storehouse of organic matter, including reptiles and fishes. And the lower oolites abound in molluscs. In fact few counties offer a more fertile field for study to the palæontologist. And a closer examination would very probably discover many new or rare species of extinct animals, still further to enrich the Fauna of our Wiltshire strata.
It ied by the nady alluded to let ther
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It is possible, however, that some who hear me may have been startled by the number and variety of the strange sea-monsters, whom I have already alluded to as the former inhabitants of our now orderly inland county. If so, let them take heart, and with the aid which this Society will, I trust, soon afford, apply themselves to the study of geology. They will then speedily become familiar with yet greater marvels. They will learn that all our seemingly solid and immovable continents have been—and still are continually undergoing changes of place and structure, amounting in the lapse of ages to absolute revolution-at one time raised above, at another depressed beneath the level of the ocean, ground down by the action of water, baked by subterranean heat, and broken up by earthquakes and volcanoes—above all, that the rocks and strata which compose them are almost wholly made up of the remains of countless myriads of organized beings, once enjoying light and life, like ourselves,—that, in the words of Bryon,
“The dust we tread upon was once alive!” And the deeper insight they may obtain, by these or other congenial inquiries, into the exhaustless wonders of Creation, the more impressed they will become with reverential awe and gratitude towards the Almighty Creator
“Who sits above the Heavens,
To us invisible, yet dimly seen
In these His glorious works!” For this, after all, is the most gratifying result of such inquiries. They lead the mind “from Nature up to Nature's God”—and inspire a devotional feeling in those who pursue them, which favourably influences their religious and moral character. (Cheers.)
I possess too little acquaintance with the kindred sciences of Botany and Zoology to be able to give an opinion worth anything on the degree to which the county may afford employment to the student of living genera and species. But it cannot be otherwise than desirable that local observers of these fields, likewise, of scientific research, should be put in communication with each other, and a Museum formed in which our existing Fauna and Flora, no less than those of our Ancient History, may be studied and appreciated.
As some encouragement to provincial students of Natural History, I may remind them that the greatest philosopher of the day, Sir John Herschel, in his admirable “Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy," speaks of the advantages possessed by local residents for acquiring and communicating correct information, as infinitely superior to those of observers of a more general character. “Those alone,” he says, “who reside upon the spot, where the phenomena occur, can make such a continued series of regular observations as is necessary for their complete proof. They alone can mark all the details of geological structure, and refer each stratum by a careful and long-considered observation of its fossil contents, to its true epoch, can alone note the habits of the animals of each country, and the limits of its vegetation, or obtain a satisfactory knowledge of its universal contents; with a thousand other particulars essential to a complete acquaintance with our globe as a whole.” And it is to the increased number of such local cultivators of science enjoying these peculiar opportunities, that he ascribes the immense progress made of late years in the physical sciences—a progress which in its advance cannot but entail, as Herschel goes on to remark, incalculable benefits upon mankind.
Fortified with this high authority, I will ventnre in conclusion to urge upon all who now favour me with their attention, to avail themselves of the advantages of this nature which their position enables them to enjoy, to take a share ir labours, which, by extending the boundaries of human knowledge, hold out the promise of such vast results; and not merely to lend their names and pecuniary aid to our Society—though this of course is essential to its vitality
—but to contribute likewise their personal exertions in the furtherance of its objects. Supported, as it appears likely to be from this day's proceedings, it will be in the power of the Society, in its collective capacity, to centralize the operations of scattered workers; to advise, encourage, and report their useful labours. But it is by the energy of individuals that all real success is to be gained. Let me say to one and all of you, “Try to raise the reputation of our county to a level with that of the most cultivated!” (Applause.) “Spartam nactus es, hanc exorna!”—Let every Wiltshireman strive to win credit for Wiltshire, by doing his best towards the illustration of her ancient annals, the preservation of her historic monuments, the instruction and mental elevation of her inhabitants. Such objects afford a worthy and a common aim to the highest as well as the least among us. Let all whose pulses beat with a love for their country, and a sense of national pride—all who feel in themselves, or desire to encourage in others, noble aspirations and a preference for intellectual over sensual enjoyments, assist in the good work of which we are laying the foundation to-day; and, by all the means in their power, strive to advance the objects of the Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History Society.
The address having been concluded, amidst loud applause,
The Noble MARQUIS said—I may be allowed to give momentary expression to the great delight which, indeed, every one present must feel, at the address we have just now heard; so well designed to promote the objects of the Society, and to perpetuate the spirit upon which it must depend for support. You must all wish, instantaneously and unanimously, without waiting for the close of the meeting, to return your most cordial thanks to Mr. Scrope, for the address he has now delivered. (Loud cheers.)
Here the Noble Marquis left the meeting amidst hearty cheering from the company, and the Chair was taken by the President elect.
Rev. A. FANE, Vicar of Warminster, next rose to propose a list of Vice-Presidents. He said there was one point which he was glad of an opportunity of laying before the President and the Committee. The striking peculiarity of this county was that it was divided into parts, by its physical conformation, more effectively and completely than were the different Ridings of Yorkshire. And it was a strange thing to say that in that room, with the exception of himself and a kind friend and neighbour who had accompanied him, there was not a single gentleman present from the Southern part of the county. The list of names that had been given him to propose, contained those of two gentlemen only from the South of Wists, and he frankly warned them, that it would require great caution on their part to avoid a separation between the two divisions of the county, as far as the present Society was concerned. Although the Southern part had been better cared for by Sir R. C. Hoare, they must not think there was nothing to be done there. There were many antiquities, many seats, and many churches, with the lordly mistress of all the churches, the Cathedral at Salisbury-in the Southern Division. It gave him great pleasure in saying that the first name on the list was that of one who took great interest in the restoration of the churches in the neighbourhood—the Lord Bishop of the diocese (cheers.) The second name was that of one who belonged to the North, but, with a strange admixture, happened to hold the office of Chairman to the Sessions in the parish of which he (Mr. Fane) happened to be the Vicar; he spoke of Sir John Awdry. The third belonged to the public-John Britton. The next was a gentleman from the North-Mr. H. M. Clarke. The next was also from the NorthCapt. Gladstone. The next was Mr. Heneage, the member for the Northern town in which they were then met. Then they really had one from the South, for the committee could not well leave out the name of the builder of Wilton Church. Next came the names of seven gentlemen, all residing in the Northern division, and some of them in its most extreme parts.—Mr. Fane then referred in complimentary terms to the admirable address by the President, and said that many parts of it really and truly struck home to him. While listening to it, he had put his hand into his pocket, and taken out a valuable ring, which any lady might covet, and which had recently been found under the hearthstone of a cottage in the neighbourhood of Warminster. It had belonged to a man who was beheaded in the reign of Henry the Second. Just outside the door of the room in which they were then assembled was a fine
North Mdstone. which they
collection of flint fossils. These had been obtained from land belonging to himself, by an ingenious geologist, who had asked leave to go over it for the purpose of searching for such remains, and who had found a perfect treasure of fossils—so extensive and valuable that he (Mr. Fane) had been almost inclined to charge him a per centage upon what he might afterwards find. (Laughter.) He did trust that there would be the greatest care taken to avoid all jealousy between the North and South of the county. He trusted they would give them an opportunity of meeting in the South. He had been told in a whisper that the next meeting might be held at Salisbury. He hoped it might be so. Their object should be to unite the two parts of the county divided by Salisbury Plain. Everywhere in the county, South as well as North, there were valuable remains. Fossils were to be found under their feet, and ladies might find rings under hearthstones. (Laughter.) He concluded by proposing that the following gentlemen should be the Vice-Presidents,—viz., The Lord Bishop of Salisbury, Sir J.W. Awdry, John Britton, Esq., H. M. Clarke, Esq., Capt. J. N. Gladstone, M.P., G. H. W. Heneage, Esq., M.P., The Right Hon. Sidney Herbert, M.P., Walter Long, Esq., M.P., Joseph Neeld, Esq., M.P., R. P. Nisbet, Esq., Lieut-Col. H. S. Olivier, W. W. Salmon, Esq., T. H. S. Sotheron, Esq., M.P., and Earl Bruce.
Rev. Jas. Bliss of Ogbourne, seconded the resolution. With reference to the observations of Mr. Fane, he said the Committee had been most anxious that no difference should exist between the North and South of the county. Mr. Fane was the only person from the South who had condescended to accept the office of Local Secretary. Invitations had been extensively sent out, but declined, he hoped, not through jealousy on the part of the Southern division of the county. (“No, no.") The Committee were not to blame; it was the fault of the gentlemen who had been communicated with, but had refused to join with them. He trusted, however, that they would yet have, in a very few weeks, a large accession from that part of the county, that was yet comparatively unrepresented.
Mr. CUNNINGTON—The circulars were sent rather more generally into the South than into the North. I felt, from the beginning, that it was most important such a course should be adopted. Mr. Bliss made a mistake in saying there was only one local Secretary in the South. Besides Mr. Fane, there are two secretaries at Salisbury, and one at Bishopstone; and there are eight or ten members from that division of the county.
THE PRESIDENT—I am sure Mr. Fane will allow that in his goodhumoured observations, there was something rather taunting to the gentlemen who got up the Society; and he must not be surprised at the degree of warmth displayed by Mr. Bliss, in repelling those taunts. st appears, however, that they consulted the South