DAVY (HUMPHRY) Letter signed, as President of the Royal Society, 1826
Lot 49
DAVY (HUMPHRY) Letter signed, as President of the Royal Society, 1826
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Letter signed ("H. Davy"), as President of the Royal Society, and marked "Private & confidential", to "Sir" (evidently a prospective fellow of the society), explaining that, as President, it is not for him to interfere in elections, and that fellows are divided into two classes, one comprising working scientific men the other "Patrons of Science"; and that it has been usual when professional men offer themselves for election "to expect some Paper or communication which may imply qualification; and which being published in the transactions, may satisfy the Fellows of the propriety of their claims", adding however that "this rule has not been so strictly attended to as it ought to have been"; the text written in an attractive secretarial hand, 3 pages, two light stains, 8vo, 30 April 1826


  • SIR HUMPHRY DAVY ON HOW TO BE ELECTED TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY: 'on 30 November 1820 Davy was elected to what was then a position of lonely eminence in the world of British science. In the event, Davy's reputation was tarnished by his taking this responsibility: had he died in 1819 it would have been glittering. The society was teetering between remaining a gentlemen's club and becoming an academy of sciences. Davy favoured judicious modernizing and was tolerant of specialisms, and during his presidency the council of the society came to include a majority of men with one or more scientific publications. He made publication an important factor in election, but, lacking the social status of Banks, he was unable to force his will upon the fellows, and found himself between hostile camps, pleasing nobody' (David Knight, ODNB). He was to continue as President until 1827.
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