Sir John Barrow (1764–1848) was a distinguished British government diplomat whose career took him to China and Africa, and who in forty years as Secretary to the Admiralty was responsible for promoting Arctic and Antarctic exploration. A close friend of Sir Joseph Banks, he served on the Council of the Royal Society and as President of the Royal Geographical Society. Sketches of the Royal Society and Royal Society Club was published posthumously in 1849, as a supplement to Barrow's autobiography (also published in this series). It consists of a brief history of the societies, followed by a series of memoirs of presidents of the Royal Society of Barrow's time, and of other leading members of the Society and the Royal Society Club, the elite dining club associated with it. The biographies provide abundant evidence of the central importance of the Royal Society to scientific life in nineteenth-century Britain.
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Section VIII. Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, F.R.S. Having thus given a slight account of all the Presidents of the Royal Society in my time, I shall now proceed to say something of some of my other colleagues in the Society Club. Alexander Dalrymple, who was Hydrographer to the Admiralty in the earlier years of my Secretaryship, was the son of Sir James Dalrymple, Bart., of Hailes, and of Lady Christian, daughter of the Earl of Had- dington, a very amiable and accomplished woman; and brother of the celebrated judge and historian Lord Hailes. Having left the school of Haddington before he was fourteen, and not being sent to any other, or to the University, Alexander's scholastic endowments were very limited. His eldest brother was wont to make him translate some of the Odes of Horace to keep up his Latin. But going abroad entirely his own master, before he was sixteen years of age, no progress was made in his Latin: he says, indeed, as he never found any use for it, he took no pains to keep it up. His family had interest enough with Alderman Baker, Chairman of the East India Company, to obtain for him a writership in the Company's service, which suited young Dalrymple, who had conceived a strong desire to go to the East Indies, by reading ' Menhoff's Voyages' and a novel called 'Joe Thomson.' He was for a short time placed in an academy at Enfield to be instructed inwriting and accounts, qualifications respecting which he was to be examined, and some demur was made to this part of his certificate. He was, however, appointed a writer on the Madras establishment. But here was another defect. He wanted a few months of sixteen years of age; and, when mentioned, Lady Christian stronglyobjected to her son tacitly assenting to countenance what was untrue, though it was urged that th...
Preface; 1. The Royal Society, its presidents, and the Royal Society Club; 2. Sir Joseph Banks; 3. Dr. Wollaston; 4. Sir Humphry Davy; 5. Mr. Davies Gilbert; 6. The Duke of Sussex; 7. The Marquis of Northampton; 8. Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, F.R.S. (Hydrographer to the Admirality); 9. Mr. Cavendish; 10. Mr. Smithson Tennant; 11. Dr. Young; 12. Sir Francis Chantrey; 13. Mr. Hatchett.