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Gentlemen and Geology: the Emergence of a Scientific Career, 1660–1920*

  • Roy Porter (a1)

Historians will give no thanks for being told that professionalization models are fraught with pitfalls as putative interpretations of scientific development. When deployed stricto sensu, essentially to trace the evolution of the remunerated career structure, the concept of professionalization invites blinkered antiquarian administrative history. Too easily, however, the jargon can serve as a blanket pseudo-explanation of the key phenomena of modern science, and thereby it loses all precision. Thus a recent author, having noted that professionalization is a Protean term, concludes ‘perhaps we can use it to mean the emergence of a scientific community’. But this runs the risk of collapsing quite distinct concepts into each other, and thereby of begging the very questions which must be faced.

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1 For sensitive and illuminating critique of the model, and for excellent introductory bibliography to the sociology of professionalization, see Reingold Nathan, ‘Definitions and speculations: the professionalization of science in America in the nineteenth century’, in Oleson A. and Brown S. C. (eds.), The pursuit of knowledge in the early American republic (Baltimore and London, 1976), pp. 3369, and the review of that volume by Morrell Jack in Nature, CCLXV (1977), 191; and Hahn R., ‘Scientific careers in eighteenth-century France’, in Crosland M. (ed.), The emergence of science in western Europe (London, 1975), pp. 127–38. The writings of Ivan Illich provide another critical perspective upon the common wisdom about professionalization: see most recently Illich Ivan et al. , Disabling professions (London, 1977). And see now Susan Faye Cannon's important Science in culture (New York, 1978).

2 Knight D. M., ‘Science and professionalism in England, 1770–1830’, Proceedings of the XIV International Congress of the History of Science (Tokyo, 1971), I, 5367: nevertheless, this discussion is stimulating, and should be consulted.

3 There is of course an important semantic dimension, for it had been recognized at least as early as the days of Babbage and Whewell that the ‘want of any name by which we can designate the students of the knowledge of the material world collectively’ signalled the absence of a scientific profession. Little research has unfortunately been done, though see Ross Sydney, ‘Scientist’: the story of a word', Annals of Science, XVIII (1962), 6585, and more generally Williams R., Keywords (London, 1976).

4 For a well-documented exception see Russell C. A., Coley N. G. and Roberts G. K., Chemists by profession. The origins and rise of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (Milton Keynes, 1977). For the traditional professions in England see Carr-Saunders A. M. and Wilson P. A., The professions (Oxford, 1933); Reader W. J., Professional men (London, 1966); and N. and Parry J., The rise of the medical profession (London, 1976). See also Reingold, ‘Definitions and speculations’, p. 48.

5 In this article I concentrate on those who spent a significant amount of their lives doing geology. Using Reingold's distinction of men of science into ‘researchers’, ‘practitioners’, and ‘cultivators’, I am writing almost exclusively about ‘researchers’. I shall however suggest that the other two groups have a history shaped by their relations to the ‘researchers’.

6 See O'Connor J. G. and Meadows A. J., ‘Specialization and professionalization in British geology’, Social Studies of Science, VI (1976), 7789; Roy Porter, ‘The Natural Sciences Tripos and the “Cambridge School of Geology” 1850–1914’ (unpublished typescript); and Allen D. E., The naturalist in Britain (London, 1976), ch. 3.

7 Sociology emanating from the Weberian idea of a scientific vocation is important: Weber M., ‘Science as a vocation’, in (eds.) Gerth H. H. and Mills C. Wright, From Max Weber: essays in sociology (Routledge paperback, London, 1970), pp. 129–56; Merton R. K., ‘Science and democratic social structure’, in Social theory and social structure (rev. edn, Glencoe, 1968), pp. 550–61; Veblen T., The place of science in modern civilization and other essays (3rd printing, New York, 1932); and on a somewhat different tack, Ben-David J., The scientist's role in society (Englewood Cliffs, 1971), and Feuer L. S., The scientific intellectual (New York, 1963).

The secondary nature of professionalization in Britain spotlights the primacy of the amateur tradition. For this, see Allen, The naturalist; Cardwell D. S. L., The organisation of science in England (rev. edn, London, 1972); Berman Morris, ‘“Hegemony” and the amateur tradition in British science’, Journal of Social History, Winter, 1975), pp. 3050; and more generally, Anderson Perry, ‘Origins of the present crisis’, in Anderson P. et al. (eds.), Towards socialism (London, 1965), pp. 1152.

8 For exceptions to the disappointingly small amount of work done on the history of the scientific ethos, see Outram Dorinda, ‘The language of natural power: the Eloges of Georges Cuvier and the public language of nineteenth century science’, History of Science, XVI (1978), 153–78; Sonntag Otto, ‘The motivations of the scientist: the self-image of Albrecht von Haller’, Isis, LXV (1974), 336–51; Knight David, ‘The scientist as sage’, Studies in Romanticism, VI (1967), 6588.

9 For British geology up to the early nineteenth century see Porter Roy, The making of geology (Cambridge, 1977), and the literature listed in its bibliography.

10 It is not worth documenting such commonplace phrases. See however the terms used by William Nicolson to describe William Whiston: Nichols J. (ed.), Letters on various subjects…to and from William Nicolson (London, 1809), pp. 90 ff. For a teasing, disapproving characterization of a virtuoso see Sharp L. W. (ed. ), Early letters of Robert Woodrow, 1698–1709 (Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1937), p. xxvii; but Edward Lhwyd was happy to apply the term to himself: Nichols J. (ed.), Literary anecdotes of the eighteenth century, 9 vols (London, 18121816), I, 318. See also Houghton W. E. Jr, ‘The English virtuoso in the seventeenth century’, Journal of the History of Ideas, III (1942), 5173, 190219.

11 Thus Ray called ‘Divinity’ his ‘proper function’. Gunther R. W. T., Further correspondence of John Ray (London, 1928), p. 163. See Porter, Making of geology, pp. 2230.

12 Thus Martin Lister was more involved in other field-sciences and in medicine; Ralph Thoresby was chiefly an antiquarian; Robert Hooke predominantly an experimental Natural philosopher. Both William Nicolson and Robert Wodrow effectively abandoned their interest as their clerical careers prospered.

13 Publishing constituted practically the only source of income from Earth science. But their works were perforce for a narrow, scholarly market. Readership limitations precluded seventeenth-century Earth scientists from writing best-sellers in the manner of Lyell, Mantell or Geikie in the nineteenth. For the trials suffered by Lhwyd in securing even publication of his Lithophylacii Britannici ichnographia (London, 1699), see Gunther R. W. T., Early science in Oxford, XIV (Oxford, 1945), 360 ff.

14 Cf. Porter Roy, ‘The industrial revolution and the rise of the science of geology’, in Teich M. and Young R. M. (eds.), New perspectives in the history of science (London, 1973), pp. 320–43.

15 Cf. Porter Roy, ‘William Hobbs of Weymouth and his The earth generated and anatomized (?1715)’, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, VII (1976), 333–41.

16 Porter, Making of geology, p. 23.

17 Porter, Making of geology, pp. 32 f.; and Neve M. and Porter R., ‘Alexander Catcott, glory and geology’, The British Journal for the History of Science, X (1977), 3760.

18 Thus for Burnet see Jacob M. C. and Lockwood W. A., ‘Political millenarianism and Burnet's Sacred theory’, Science Studies, II (1972), 265–79; and, more generally, for theories, Collier K. B., Cosmogonies of our fathers (New York, 1934).

19 The one exception is John Hutchinson who did produce a chain of disciples to popularize his Moses's Principia (London, 1724–1727). The reason here is because he was also founding a semi-schismatic sect within the Church of England. See Kuhn A., ‘Glory or gravity: Hutchinson vs Newton’, Journal of the History of Ideas, XXII (1961), 303–22.

20 Cf. Porter, Making of geology, ch. 4.

21 Cf. Porter, Making of geology, p. 115.

22 Which of course differentiates Britain's experience considerably from that of central European absolutisms, where science tended to become professionalized as part of a bureaucratic Kameralwissenschaft.

23 And this is not to include aristocratic collectors, like the earl of Bute, the duchess of Portland and Charles Greville. Furthermore, second and third lines of dilettante gentlemen backed up the chief work of the researchers: men such as the ‘humble admirer of the fossil study’, Emmanuel Mendes da Costa's friend, Dr Robert Taylor: see Nichols J. (ed.), Illustrations of the literary history of the eighteenth century (8 vols., London, 18171858), IV, 775.

24 See Shapin Steven, ‘The Royal Society of Edinburgh: A Study of the social context of Hanoverian science’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1971), chs. 2, 5, and 8; Berman M., ‘The early years of the Royal Institution, 1799–1810: a re-evaluation’, Science Studies, II (1972), 205–40.

25 Porter, Making of geology, ch. 5.

26 Cf. Dance S. P., Shell collecting: an illustrated history (London, 1966); Allen, The naturalist, pp. 33, 54, 69, 155.

27 Hutton James, A dissertation upon the philosophy of light, heat and fire (Edinburgh, 1794), p. v.

28 See Edward Daniel Clarke's tart comment in Otter William, The life and remains of the Rev. Edward Daniel Clarke Ll.D. (London, 1824), p. 134: ‘Sir William does nothing towards the work except publishing it, and putting his name to it when it is finished. How easy it is for a man of fortune to be numbered with the literati!’

29 Cf. SirGeikie A. , Memoir of John Michell (Cambridge, 1918).

30 Cf. Harvey R. A., ‘The life of Henry Cavendish, 1731–1810’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Sheffield, 1971).

31 Porter, Moking of geology, chs. 6–8.

32 For Martin see Millburn J. R., Benjamin Martin, author, instrument-maker and ‘countryshowman’ (Leyden, 1976).

33 Porter, Making of geology, ch. 6; Burt R., John Taylor (Buxton, 1977).

34 Cf. Pollard S., The genesis of modern management (London, 1965). Of course, such professional engineers and consultants shunned some aspects of gentlemanly, amateur geology, e.g. Smith's rejection of ‘dilettante’ collecting habits (see Porter, The making of geology, p. 157). Yet they were also in fact deeply beholden to upper-class employers – for instance, John Farey worked for the duke of Bedford – or scientific patrons – Sir Joseph Banks was patron of Farey and Smith, and the earl of Buchan the patron of John Williams. Hence, willy-nilly, they adopted features of its tone and values. William Hooson opened his Miners dictionary (Wrexham, 1747), ‘Gentle Readers’. Robert Bakewell, the surveyor, could stress almost as strongly as Hutton, the gentleman, that the apex of geology was the cultivation of wonder at Nature. They themselves stressed of course the professional capacities which elevated them above ‘uneducated working miners’. Cf. Weindling P. J., ‘Geological controversy and its historiography: The pre-history of the Geological Society of London’, in Jordanova L. J. and Porter Roy, Images of the earth (Chalfont St Giles, forthcoming 1979).

35 Porter, ‘The industrial revolution’.

36 Inkster Ian, ‘Science and society in the metropolis: a preliminary examination of the social and institutional context of the Askesian Society of London, 1796–1807’, Annals of Science, XXXIV (1977), 132.

37 See Secord J., ‘John MacCulloch: geology and the appreciation of landscape’ (unpublished paper delivered to the conference of the British Society for the History of Science, Southampton, 1976).

38 Some were complicit – willy-nilly – in the snobberies of gentlemanly advancement. Thus the peppery De La Beche came from a family which had been plain Beach two generations back. George Poulett Thompson's name mutated to Scrope on his marrying the heiress, Emma Phipps Scrope.

39 Edmonds J. M., ‘The first geological lecture course at the University of London 1831’, Annals of Science, XXXII (1975), 257–75. p. 260. A man had to be moderately affluent to accept such a chair, its remuneration being slight.

40 For such snobberies, see Page Leroy E., ‘The rivalry between Charles Lyell and Roderick Murchison’, The British Journal for the History of Science, IX (1976), 156–65; Bynum W. F., ‘Charles Lyell and the antiquity of man’ (unpublished paper given to the Lyell Centenary Conference, London, 1975); Geikie A., Life of Sir Roderick I. Murchison (2 vols., London, 1875), 11, 179.

41 Cf. the letter from Aikin to Greenough, 17 May 1813, in the Greenough Correspondence, Cambridge University Library; and Rudwick M. J. S., ‘Charles Lyell, F.R.S. (1797–1875), and his London lectures on geology, 1832–3’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, XXIX (1975), 231–63.

42 See Porter, Making of geology, pp. 131f. The quoted phrase is De La Beche's, cited in Geikie A., Memoir of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay (London, 1895), p. 141.

43 [Fitton William], ‘Review of Transactions of the Geological Society of London, vol. iii’, Edinburgh Review, XXIX (1818), 7094, at p. 70.

44 Buckland William, Vindiciae geologicae, or the connexion of geology with religion explained (Oxford, 1820), pp. 23.

45 For Sedgwick's style of teaching, see Porter, ‘The Natural Sciences Tripos’, pp. 1314.

46 For elaboration of the points to be made in the succeeding paragraphs, see Porter, ‘The Natural Sciences Tripos’, pp. 5f.

47 Quixote of course being the quintessential, pure, disinterested distrait gentleman. Note the aristocratic superiority in Conybeare's phrase, ‘I partake more largely of the spirit of the Knight of La Mancha than of his craven squire, and prefer the enterprise and adventure of geological errantry to rich castles and luxurious entertainments’ (quoted in Porter, The making of geology, p. 141).

48 Quoted in Gordon Mrs, The life and correspondence of William Buckland, DD, FRS (London, 1894), p. x. Romantic and military metaphors for geological activity were rooted deep in the consciousness. ‘The history of geology is the chronicle of a brilliant succession of forced marches’: Judd J. J., ‘Anniversary address of the president’, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, XLIII (1887), 3882, at p. 54.

49 Buckland deemed geology ‘nobler’ than mineralogy: Vindictae geologicae, p. 5. For this ladder of ideality, in which geology claimed a high rung, see Cannon W. F., ‘The normative role of science in early Victorian thought’, Journal of the History of Ideas, XXV (1964), 487502. Whence this urgent need to present geology as a gentlemanly science? In part it was because it was new. In part it was to counter the deep-rooted satirical tradition which had represented investigation of mere mineral objects as dirty, demeaning, and small minded. Eighteenth-century fieldworkers had moreover been harrassed as spies, exciseofficers and poachers, and this continued into the nineteenth century. Hence geologists sought oblique integration by making a conspicuous show of themselves, enjoying their own oddity. For confirmation of this, see Geikie A., A long life's work: an autobiography (London, 1934), pp. 47f.; Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, pp. 48f. Also, the only people, apart from geologists, who applied hammers to stones were stonebreakers, i.e. parish paupers for whom sometimes geologists were mistaken. Cf. Sedgwick's tale of the day he was thus misidentified, and given a charity shilling: Clark J. W. and Hughes T. McK., The life and letters of A. Sedgwick (2 vols., Cambridge, 1890), 11, 573–4. The gentlemanly Sedgwick relished the irony of thus earning a shilling.

50 See Porter, The making of geology, p. 176f.; and Rudwick M. J. S., ‘The foundation of the Geological Society of London’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 1 (1963), 325–55.

51 See Nicolson M. H., Mountain gloom and mountain glory (Ithaca, New York, 1959), pp. 371f.; for religious romanticism in Davy as a geologist, see Treneer A., The mercurial chemist: a life of Sir Humphry Davy (London, 1963). For nineteenth-century modifications of the ideal of a gentleman see Newsome D. H., Two classes of men: Platonism and English Romantic thought (London, 1974); id., Godliness and good learning: four studies on a Victorian ideal (London, 1961); and Wright C., ‘The philosophical and historical background to theories of liberal education, 1780–1850’ (Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1974).

52 Geikie Archibald, Outlines of field geology (5th edn, London, 1902), p. 9.

53 Page D., Chips and chapters (Edinburgh, 1869), pp. 183–4. Page himself was chiefly a general scientific writer, who undertook little original fieldwork of his own. He was here in effect mediating hegemonic gentlemanly values.

54 Davy's letter is quoted by Treneer, Mercurial chemist, p. 80; Arber's letter is taken from his obituary in the Geological Magazine, n.s. decade 6, v (1918), 426–31, p. 428. Compare Murchison's statement ‘geology has fortified in me this sense of natural religion’: Geikie, Life of Murchison, 1, 263. For an admirable exploration of the traditions of pastoral developed within the myth of the field, see Outram, ‘The language of natural power’.

55 Buckland expounded a similar pedagogics in his Vindiciae geologicae, arguing that the real utility of the science lay not in economic advantage but in broadening the mind towards knowledge of God.

56 Weindling, ‘Pre-history’. See also Rudwick, ‘Founding’, and Porter, The making of geology, ch. 8.

57 The Geological Society continued through the century to be remarkably indifferent to practical geology. The first presidential address which dealt primarily with national resources was that by Prestwich Joseph, ‘Anniversary address of the president’, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, XXVIII (1872), xxviixc; the first dealing almost exclusively with coal was by Watts: Anniversary address of the president’, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, LXVIII (1912), xlviiici.

58 See Porter, ‘The Industrial revolution’.

59 For a -good example see the sneers of William Fitton in his (anonymous) review of Smith's William A delineation of the strata of England and Wales, Edinburgh Review, XXIX (1818), 310–37, at p. 311a.

60 It should go without saying that any attempt to hang an evaluative contrast on the distinction between ‘scientists’ and ‘amateurs’ for this period would be gratuitous and misleading. The pejorative term ‘amateurish’ dates only from the 1860s. Highly illuminating on this whole subject is Berman Morris, Social change and scientific organization: The Royal Institution 1799–1844 (London, 1977).

61 Sedgwick was one who maintained the gentlemanly trait of never writing a complete geological book: though in his case complex temperamental problems were also responsible.

62 Worth noting here is Conybeare's W. D. dissection of the errors in The character of Moses established for veracity as a historian (2 vols., Bath, 18131815), by Joseph Townsend, one of the older and more wide-ranging amateurs. See Conybeare's letter to Greenough of 18 February 1813 in the Greenough Correspondence, Cambridge University Library.

63 Cf. Porter, The making of geology, pp. 146f.

64 Cf. Allen, The naturalist, ch.3; Babbage C., Reflections on the decline of science in England and on some of its causes (London, 1830), p. 45.

65 Babbage, Reflections, pp. 1011, wrote that ‘the pursuit of science does not in England constitute a distinct profession, as it does in many other countries. It is therefore, on that ground alone, deprived of many of the advantages which attach to professions’. I do not think these remarks apply to geology.

66 Almost no research has been done on geologists' incomes (a mark of gentlemanly historians). None of the printed lives and letters of nineteenth-century geologists delves into so vulgar a subject. I have not here attempted to tabulate incomes, because my information is very partial, and to make it more complete would constitute a research project in itself. Even the salaries and expenses paid by the Geological Survey are not available in a coherent form, and need to be assembled piece-meal (for which see the forthcoming D.Phil, thesis by P. McCartney, Wolfson College, Oxford).

67 Rudwick, ‘Charles Lyell’.

68 Porter Roy, ‘Charles Lyell and the principles of the history of geology’, The British Journal for the History of Science, IX (1976), 91103.

69 Thus Lyell scarcely deigned to mention De La Beche's Survey work. Murchison and Sedgwick thought he was threatening their scientific property. Murchison labelled De La Beche a ‘jobber’ – ironically since the epithet applies so nicely to the Lord of Grauwacke himself, during his own later reign over the Survey. See the fundamental article by Morrell Jack, ‘London institutions and Lyell's career, 1820–41The British Journal for the History of Science, IX (1976), 132–46.

70 Thus late in the nineteenth century the term amateur came to be used in geology, not so much in contradistinction to ‘professional’, but rather to denote something less full-time and less serious than a career interest. When Lee John Edward called his volume Notebook of an amateur geologist (London, 1881) he was indicating that his book was aimed to delight, not to impart technical instruction. As late as the 1860s, genuinely amateur geologists were still leading the science on a national level: R. A. C. Godwin-Austen, the Surrey landowner, J.P. and deputy lieutenant, would be a good example. By the end of the century the typical amateur was a part-time geologist, whose innovative work was essentially confined to the local level. A good instance would be John Clavell Mansel-Pleydell, Dorset landowner and high sheriff in 1875, whose obituary described him as‘almost the last of the race of country-gentlemen of high social position who took any deep interest in geology’. Geological Magazine, n.s., decade 4, IX (1902), 335–6.

71 Geikie, Life of Murchison, 1, 386–7.

72 Morrell, ‘London institutions’, is illuminating here. See also Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, quoting Ramsay (25 February 1852: p. 197): ‘Good scrimmage between Sedgwick and Murchison on the Lower Silurian and Cambrian question. It was not an enlivening spectacle’. Ramsay simultaneously captures the manliness, and honour, but also the indignity of gentlemen scrapping. Rival claims over scientific priority and property became rife from early Victorian years. For a typical example, see Philip Lake's letter complaining about the behaviour of Aubrey Strahan, and the practices of the Geological Society of London, in Geological Magazine, n.s., decade 4, IX (1902), 333–4. For attempts to clarify issues of priority and property see the letter by Sherborn C. Davies, ‘Priority of observations’, in Geological Magazine, n.s., decade 4, X (1903), 432; and Geikie A., ‘Anniversary address of the president’, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, LXIV (1908), icxxv, at pp. cxxiii f.

73 Flett J. S., The first hundred years of the Geological Survey of Great Britain (London, 1937); SirBailey E. B. , Geological Survey of Great Britain (London, 1952), pp. 21f.

74 Topley W., ‘Report upon National Geological Surveys’, Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Montreal, 1884 (London, 1885), 221–37.

75 The Geological Survey, as a fieldworking organization, was set up before the School of Mines. This may indicate that governments could be more easily prevailed upon to support top geologists, than to promote mining industry (although of course one of the tasks of the Survey was to collect economically useful information about natural resources).

76 Geikie, Long life's work, p. 48, wrote that in the early days of the Survey, salaries acted as a kind of ‘supplement’. Survey workers like Beete Jukes found their salaries did not meet their expenses, and dipped into their own pockets.

77 This is not to imply that the amount of central control was great – workers in the field were allowed considerable latitude, including control of the pace of their work. Rather my point is that the form of control was personal not bureaucratic. In the first years of the Survey, De Le Beche attempted to standardize its workers in quasi-military uniform, but they rebelled and the attempt had to be abandoned.

78 The appointments of Murchison, Ramsay and Geikie bear this out. See Geikie, Life of Murchison; id., Memoir of Ramsay; id., A long life's work.

79 Obituary of Ramsay in Proceedings of the Geological Society of London, XLVIII (1892), 3847, at p. 39; Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, pp. 26–7; Ramsay knew De La Beche as ‘Daddy’: ibid., p. 95.

80 Hull Edward, Reminiscences of a strenuous life (London, 1910), p. 9.

81 Geikie, A long life's work, p. 142.

82 See Hamilton Beryl M., ‘A case study in field investigation: the chronological and conceptual development of nineteenth century geological knowledge of the North West Highlands of Scotland’ (paper given to the conference, New Perspectives in the History of Geology, New Hall, Cambridge, 1977).

83 James Geikie had gentlemanly qualms before accepting. See Newbigin M. I. and Fielt J. S., James Geikie: the man and the geologist (Edinburgh, 1917), pp. 93ff. Geikie's biographers stress his ‘fundamental repugnance to all the weighing of questions of worldly advantage’ (p. 96).

84 Greenly Edward, A hand through time (2 vols., London, 1938), I, 123.

85 Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, chs. 3 and 4.

86 For this point see Layton D., Science for the people (London, 1973), pp. 156–9. Survey men could hold teaching posts at the same time – within the amateur tradition pluralism is of course endemic as one form of what Cobbett called Old Corruption. But they were accepted precisely because they were thought of little importance. For the continuing neglect of economic geology see Watts W. W., ‘Presidentialaddress’, Report of the Seventy-third Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (London, 1904), 641–54, at pp. 649–50.

87 For the quotation see Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, p. 176. For earnestness, see the title of Edward Hull's biography, Memoirs of a strenuous life. William Watts argued that fieldwork turned boys into men: ‘Presidential address’, p. 643. For geology as a test of integrity see Letters and extracts from the addresses and occasional writings of Joseph Beete Jukes, edited by his sister (London, 1871), pp. 576–7.

88 ‘Geology seems to breed stories’: Greenly, A hand through time, II, 479.

89 For Jukes's songs see Letters, pp. 377 f.; for James Geikie's, see Newbigin and Flett, James Geikie, pp. 105 ff.; for Murchison's songs see Geikie, A long life's work, p. 113.

90 For this trait in Ramsay, see Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, pp. 291f.; for Geikie himself see A long life's work, pp. 30 f.; for ‘the poetry of geology’ see Greenly, A hand through time, n, 470.

91 Obituary of Peach in Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society, XII (19241931), 111, at pp. 78.

92 Ibid. pp. 10–11.

93 For Peach's inarticulacy see Geikie, A long life's work, p. 245. Of course, there was nothing ‘unprofessional’ in Peach's skill as a mapper. For Greenly ‘falling in love with’ Peach on the spot, see A hand through time, I, 22.

94 For Survey work as an enviable life see Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, p. 45; Greenly, A hand through time, I, 121.

95 All the directors of the Geological Survey obtained at least a knighthood.

96 Intellectually, this continuity may have led to stagnation. British geologists were not: forced to abandon their chosen preference for descriptive stratigraphy and mapping. Thus the Survey under Murchison seems to have been unwilling to utilize the new petrology being developed above all by the Germans. See Hamilton, ‘A case study’. The Survey continued relatively indifferent to economic geology, and did not mediate between geology and industry. The gap between the civil engineer and the geologists was if anything widening. See Woodward A. W., ‘Field geology and the civil engineer’, Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, n.s. XXXVI (19671968), 531–78; Boswell P. G. H., ‘Anniversary address of the President’, Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, XCVII (1942: for 1941), xxxvilxxv, at pp. xlviiif.

97 Jones T. Rupert, ‘Address at the opening of the session 1880–81’, Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, VII (18811882), 146, at pp. 23; Sweeting G. S. (ed.), The Geologists' Association, 1858–1958 (Colchester, 1958).

98 Allen, The naturalist, ch. 8. Important were the close contacts which leading geologists had with local societies. Thus Adam Sedgwick regularly addressed the Kendal Society, and Thomas McKenny Hughes the Chester (as did Charles Kingsley). Cf. Lowe Philip D., ‘Amateurs and professionals: the institutional emergence of British plant ecology’, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, VII, pt. 4 (1976), 517–35.

99 Cf. Woodward Henry, ‘Presidential address’, Report of The Fifty-seventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (London, 1888), pp. 673–84, at p. 676, where he also writes of the growing ‘confusion of tongues’.

100 Quoted in Berman, ‘Hegemony’, pp. 37–8.

101 See Rudier F. W., ‘Fifty years' progress in British geology’, Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, X (18871888), 234–72. For a parallel in natural history and biology see Allen, The naturalist, ch. 9.

102 See Hamilton, ‘A case study’; Burchfield J. D., Lord Kelvin and the age of the earth (London, 1975).

103 See Stoddart D., ‘The attitudes of geologists to geographers in late Victorian Britain’ (paper for the conference New Perspectives in the History of Geology, New Hall, Cambridge, 1977).

104 O'Connor and Meadows, ‘Specialization and professionalization’.

105 For more extensive discussion, see Porter, ‘The Natural Sciences Tripos’.

106 Possible evidence of the continued social security of late Victorian geologists in their public role is the absence of any discussion of the matter in Presidential Addresses to the Geological Society of London or in Section C of the British Association.

107 Obituary of Prestwich, Geological magazine, n.s. decade 4, VI (1899), 373–81, at p. 381. Compare for its gentlemanly parallels this description of a party returning to Cambridge from a field trip organized by Bonney: … ‘Edmund Kelly, with his clean-cut Greek profile, wearing a Phrygian red cap, takes the helm and steers with the courage of an ancient Viking’, etc. ‘Eminent living geologists: The Rev. Professor T. G. Bonney’, Geological Magazine, n.s. decade 4, VIII (1901), 385400, at p. 389.

108 Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, pp. 277f.

109 See O'Connor and Meadows, ‘Specialization and professionalization’; Bailey, Geological Survey, p. 100ff.

110 Thus Newbigin and Fleti, James Geikie, p. 93 pointed out that James Geikie's difficulties arose because he was a man of no private wealth, whose books brought him little income. Not all Survey posts were pensionable.

111 Though academics tried to maintain liberal values. Thus in the contest for the Cambridge chair in 1873, Archibald Geikie's letter of recommendation for A. T. Green emphasized that he was ‘a man of wide general culture’. Throughout his life Archibald Geikie himself insisted that geology was for himself not a profession but an odyssey through life. Cf. A long life's work, pp. 55–6: ‘The work on which I was now engaged, and to which I had dedicated my. life, was not merely an industrial employment; the means of getting a livelihood; a pleasant occupation for mind and body. It often wore to me an aspect infinitely higher and nobler. It was in reality a methodical study of the works of the Creator of the Universe, a deciphering of His legibly-written record of the stages through which this part of our planet passed in His hands before it was shaped into its present form’.

In similar vein the Geological Magazine obituary of John Home noted: ‘A great gentleman and a great geologist has passed’: LXV (1928), 381–4, at p. 384. Hull's Edward obituarist wrote of him: ‘He maintained the honour of a gentleman’. Geological Magazine, n.s. decade 6, IV (1917), 553–5, at p. 555.

112 Newbigin and Flett, James Geikie, p. 112.

113 For evidence see Porter, ‘The Natural Sciences Tripos’, p. 8. Whether geologists really were overworked is of course a subjective matter. But certainly they perceived themselves so to be. Many found lecturing duties exhausting. See Geikie, Memoir of Ramsay, p. 279 for Ramsay: ‘Even up to the end … the formal lecture … was a severe mental strain to him. When it was over he would come out of the lecture-room sometimes so weary that he could only go home and rest. The prospect of the winter session of the School of Mines [1863] was, therefore, at this time so dark to him that he seriously proposed to resign Professors had to try to extend their courses and exam passes in order to succeed in the fight for scarce university resources.

114 See Miall L. C., Thirty years of teaching (London, 1897).

115 Typescript history of the department of geology (Imperial College, London, archives), p. 10. Cf. the discussion of dress in Sennett R., The fall of public man (Cambridge, 1977). pp. 64 ff.

116 Wells H. G., Experiment in autobiography (2 vols, London, 1934), I, 227.

117 Ibid. p. 228.

118 Ibid. p. 232.

119 See the very interesting report of Sydney Reynolds, professor of geology at Bristol, on this subject: 22 May 1913, Bristol University Library: ‘I cannot but think it would be more profitable to the University to let me have more time for research’.

120 Green A. H., ‘Presidential address’, Report of the Sixtieth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, (London, 1891), 789–93, at p. 789.

121 There are of course other signs of the development of a new professional academic ethos. The disclaiming of originality in text-books would perhaps be one. Bonney Thomas wrote at the beginning of his The story of our planet (London, 1893), p. vi, ‘a teacher cannot claim copyright in his thoughts’.

122 Thus obituaries of Thomas Bonney chorus the view that his scientific originality stemmed from his never having had any formal training. Here the myth of the amateur was being used as a criticism of the new professionalism.

123 Increasing numbers of text-books appeared as part of series, many of them being self-confessedly unoriginal. In many cases (e.g. Archibald Geikie's Text-book of geology) the book comprised distilled lecture-notes.

124 Thus Rudler's Frank obituarist noted that he did little original research. Proceedings of the Geological Society of London, LXXI (1915), lviiilix.

125 Porter, ‘Natural Sciences Tripos’, p. 14ff.

126 Harker might be seen as the bridge between the academic gentleman and the academic professional. Unlike, say, Sedgwick, Harker was no flamboyant eccentric, but rather the routine, regular, methodical, retiring, serious-minded academic.

127 Rothblatt S., The revolution of the dons (London, 1968); id., Tradition and change in English liberal education (London, 1976). Cf. also Engel A., ‘The emerging concept of the academic profession at Oxford’, in Stone L. (ed.), The university in society (2 vols., London, 1975). I, 305–51.

128 For a perceptive account of the depressed state of inter-war geology see Professor P. G. H. Boswell, ‘Anniversary address’. One cause of the decline noted by Boswell was the ‘decrease in the number of the leisured class’.

* For their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper I should like to thank Michael Neve, Jack Morrell, Steven Shapin, Dorinda Outram, and Mary Mackenzie.

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