RECORD: S144. Wallace, A. R. 1869. A scientific club. Scientific Opinion 1 (20): 378.

REVISION HISTORY: Body text helpfully provided by Charles H. Smith from his Alfred Russel Wallace Page

[page] 378

A Scientific Club 1

Sir,—You propose for discussion the advisability of establishing a club for the working men of science, and I beg to offer a few remarks on the subject. There can be no doubt that such a club would be most valuable for scientific men, and would also greatly add to the popularity of scientific meetings by making them more accessible. A member of a society who lives a few miles from the centre of London, and who may be engaged during the day in the City or the West End, has now to choose between a journey home and back again, or going to some hotel or coffee-house to dine and spend the time from 4 or 5 till 8 p.m. Many go home, and do not feel inclined to come out again, and thus the meetings of the societies miss the presence of many valuable members.

Your suggestion of an arrangement with some hotel seems to me excellent. Any large hotel proprietor would probably give up at a moderate rent the exclusive use of two large rooms (for coffee-room and library) and supply the members with all they required at the same scale of prices as the less expensive clubs. It seems probable that several hundred members would soon be obtained, and the annual subscription need not be high to cover rent and leave a handsome surplus for scientific periodicals and books of reference, stationery, bookcases, &c.

You seem to think the name a difficulty, but what so simple, expressive, and unexclusive as "The Scientific Club"? the qualification being membership of some recognized scientific society, not including in that term artistic or professional societies. The locality chosen should be determined by that of Burlington House, the focus of scientific gatherings, and Charing Cross, the most central London railway-station. Anywhere between these points would be convenient, and I feel sure that such a club, forming a centre for social intercourse and for obtaining scientific information, would be eminently successful.

I remain, &c.,
Alfred R. Wallace.

1 See p. 360, ante.

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