By C. H. Read, F.S.A.

The first duty of the President of the Institute at the Annual Meeting is to give so much of a review of the work of the past year as may at any rate help to indicate what amount of progress our subject has made, more particularly as seen in the proceedings and publications of the Institute itself. So far as anthropology in general is concerned, I think that in this country we are approaching a period of considerable activity, and that the seed sown thirty years ago by the great men whose names appear on our records, has now sprung up and will speedily bear good fruit. The persistent advocacy of our doctrines by men like Huxley, General Pitt Rivers, Sir William Flower, Mr. Francis Galton, and Professor Tylor, whose names are familiar to all the world, cannot fail in due course to leave a decided impress on the progress of the subject. The establishment of the Chair of Anthropology and the foundation of the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford also will have in the future a more marked influence on the course of scientific study than we have seen even now. It is but yesterday, so to speak, that we were admitted among the sciences, and being thus the youngest of a large family, we must not expect that amount of deference and recognition that is accorded to our elder brothers, though in our hearts we know that Benjamin’s portion should be ours. But in order to secure this, it is needful that we do not in any degree relax the efforts that have hitherto been a necessity, and we must be prepared to welcome and publish in an adequate manner the results of the work done by the rising generation of anthropologists who have devoted a part of their time at the University or elsewhere to this branch of science. To do this in a worthy manner a large membership is absolutely necessary, and in urging you to use your endeavours to enlarge the influence of the Institute in this way, I only repeat what I have heard on many occasions from tins chair.

I do not see, however, that we have any special cause for despondency at this moment. The Treasurer’s report shows, I think, that we have not spent more than we can afford, and with the small income at our disposal it is not possible, even for Mr. Lewis, to make a very brilliant financial statement. The losses by death and resignation also have been more than filled by the election of new members. The only other matter in this category that I need refer to is the number and quality of the communications that have been brought before us, and so far as a part of these is concerned, if not all, you can judge as well as I, for several of them appear in the last number of the Journal.

Prehistoric archaeology is represented during the year by one paper only, and “ eolithic ” man has been allowed an interval of repose. Our single contribution is from Mr. George Clinch, and describes a number of dwelling-places of the neolithic age that he had explored for some years past on the borders of Kent and Surrey. Such remains are very subject to destruction from the ordinary operations of agriculture, and it is fortunate when so, interesting a group as that described by Mr. Clinch finds a chronicler before it is too late. In British ethnology Dr. Beddoe contributed an interesting note on the mediaeval population of Bristol, in which he would account for certain cranial characters by an admixture of French blood, for which there is historical support. He admits that the method he adopts to distinguish English from French by surnames is a rough one; but there is one factor which would imply a liberal discount. It is that in Norman times a great proportion of the well-to-do population would almost certainly possess French titles referring to their calling, such as Dr. Beddoe quotes, Boulenger, Clerk or Leclerc, Bailey and so forth. But I think it would be going too far to assume that every person bearing such a gallicized title was of French blood. Fashion in such matters counts for much, while human nature changes but little in essentials, and I think it would be safer to take for granted that if Mr. Baker found it would improve his business to be called Boulanger or Bullinger, he would make the change, and be in the fashion.

The ethnology of Africa, as might be expected, has occupied a good deal of attention, and we have had no less than six papers relating to various parts of Africa. Two of them dealt with the inner life and superstitions of the West African negro, Mr. Marriott’s paper on “ Secret Societies,” and that of the Count de Cardi on the “Ju-Ju laws of the Niger Delta.” The former paper was admittedly in the main a compilation, aided by a short residence in the country; but as I ventured to point out at the time, it is none the less a valuable record of knowledge on that account. Many of us have had good reason to be grateful to the laborious searcher who has gathered into the modest compass of a single paper all the valuable facts on our special subject from the little used pages of hundreds of bulky volumes. Whether or no Mr. Marriott is right in thinking that the English governor should try to direct the secret societies of West Africa into decent and useful channels is beyond my power to answer. But as the native’s slightest act is governed by the laws of these societies, it is clear that they are a force that any government will have to reckon with, and if Mr. Marriott has helped ever so little in this direction he will have done a useful work.

Colonel Macdonald’s paper, or as he modestly called it, notes, on the ethnology of the tribes met with on the Juba Expedition will be found of great importance and interest by anyone studying the very complex relations of the inhabitants of this portion of Africa. We have to regret that Colonel Macdonald was unable to be present to read it himself. The name of Dr. Westermarck is of itself a sufficient guarantee that his views on the nature of the Arab Ǧinn would be worth hearing, and it is a matter for congratulation that one of the first-fruits of his study of the ethnology of Morocco has been brought before us. The notes of Dr. Kingston on the remains of human industry found in the Knysna caves in South Africa seemed to me to be of special interest, though the writer made no pretensions to giving an exhaustive review of his subject. From his statements it appeared to be quite certain that the very rude stone implements found in these caves were the productions of previous generations of existing natives. Had they been found under other conditions there would have been great temptations to make rudeness of form and a remote antiquity go together. I have a strong impression that it will be found that the stone implement question in Africa generally will have to be studied on its merits and independently of the familiar classification of more northern lands, and I shall not be surprised if it should turn out that the mass of so-called palaeolithic types found in various parts of the African continent are in reality of comparatively recent origin.

I must not forget a tribute of praise to Dr. Bennett for his admirable, though all too short, account of the cannibal Fang of Western Africa, a type of what such field work should be. This interesting tribe of people, one of whose peculiarities is that they use the crossbow, have been much written about before in a picturescjue fashion, but it remained for Dr. Bennett to give us the plain unvarnished tale of their daily life, told as only he can tell it who has become their trusted friend.

Colonel Sir Thomas Holdich gave us two very graphic papers on the “ Tribes on the North-West Frontier of India,” whose good or ill humour makes so much difference to the comfort of our government there. It is pleasant to think that there seems to be no prospect of trouble in that quarter at the present moment, thanks to the men of the stamp of Sir Thomas Holdich. From our Secretary, Mr. Crooke, we had an excellent resumé of the survivals of primitive methods of disposing of the dead in India, a subject on which he is well qualified to speak. It is one of the most important in the study of racial affinities, for it is one of the customs which all folk whether primitive or civilized change with the greatest reluctance. Another Indian authority, Colonel Temple, has given us a most interesting monograph on the “ Origins of Currency,” a very intricate and difficult subject, but which by lucidity of style and clearness of demonstration Colqnel Temple was able to render instructive and easy of understanding.

One of our meetings was held in common with the members of the Folklore Society, a sign of amicable relations which I trust will always be maintained. The special occasion of this was to do honour to Professor Starr, of the University of Chicago, a city in which anthropology seems to hold an ideal position. Professor Starr had made, during sundry visits to Mexico, a collection of objects illustrating Folklore; these he had sent over to England as a gift to the Folklore Society, who in turn have deposited them in the museum at Cambridge. Those members of the Institute who were fortunate enough to be present when Professor Starr gave an account of the collection will, I am sure, agree with me that an evening could scarcely be passed in a more interesting and entertaining fashion.

It is exactly a quarter of a century ago since I had the honour to he elected a member of this Institute, and I recently had the curiosity to read again the excellent address delivered by Dr. Bosk, at that time the retiring President, and I found in it some few facts to cheer us, though at the same time the progress of the Institute has not been so marked in all directions as we might fairly have hoped. Dr. Busk was compelled to allude bo the state of civil war that at that time divided English anthropologists into two or perhaps more camps. This state of things has fortunately for us passed into the domain of history, and the discussions at our meetings rarely travel beyond the subjects of the papers, to which the members are now able to devote all their energies. The Institute had at that moment just emerged from a period of great financial difficulty, by the liberality of a number of the members, a considerable proportion of whom are happily still among us, and one subject of regret to the President was the inability of the Institute to publish adequately the papers that were presented, such publication being obviously one of its main functions. In this respect we can at the present time claim to have made a distinct advance. The Journal in its new form, which has been on its trial since August, 1898, is, 1 think, a creditable publication, of which we have no need to be ashamed, and the manifest advantages of the larger size in the quality and appearance both of text and plates are justification enough for the change. At the same time we are able to publish all the papers brought before us that are considered worthy of a place in the Journal. I can, however, quote one of Dr. Busk’s remarks as entirely applicable to our present situation. He said in 1875 that “ to enable the Institute to take the position it ought and deserves to occupy, a far more ample revenue than we at present enjoy is indispensably necessary.” Ko truer description of our present condition could be given than this, and it is not pleasant to think that in spite of the firm position that our branch of science now enjoys we should have no better report than this on the condition of the exchequer. It does not seem likely that anthropology will be among the most popular studies of the ordinary Englishman, though many of its branches can claim results that have a very practical bearing on the well-being both of the individual and the community. Popularity, however, is not always a benefit to a serious study, and if it be not too paradoxical I should like to say that while it would be doing good work to popularize anthropology, I doubt whether it would benefit anthropology to be popular, as a science. It would be a far greater service to popularize its results, and in this respect I think the Institute could do good work even with its present limited resources. During the past year I have thought of expedients in this direction, and others have been suggested to me. One of these seems likely to come about in the near future, and this is the delivery of lectures by well known authorities in the various branches of our subject, in memory of one of our most distinguished Presidents, Professor Huxley. Such returns will be independent of and in addition to the ordinary business of the session, and will be of a character to be readily followed and understood without any special acquaintance with the mysteries of anthropological science. That such lectures can and should be popular is shown by the attendance at the analogous lectures at the Royal Institution and elsewhere, and I can well conceive that to a vast number of people it will come as a surprise that more use has not been made of curious and interesting facts that are now labelled with the uninviting title, Anthropology. It is in this form that I trust popularity will come to us, and not as an interference with our more specialized communications, which must always remain the foundation of our knowledge, and the main reason for our existence. It is clearly out of the question, at the same time, that we can successfully court popularity by their means, and, as I said before, I scarcely think it desirable to try. Many of my audience to-night must have felt more than once the pain that comes to all of us, when a lecturer is sensible that his hearers, sympathetic though they may be, cannot follow his arguments, or are manifestly unfamiliar with the terms or names that he uses, and which the time limit forbids him to explain or amplify. To make such an occurrence impossible in any society is worth an effort, and I believe the institution of the Huxley lectures will do much towards this end here. At the same time, although the scheme indicates that there will be two kinds of audiences, as there will be two kinds of lectures, it must not for a moment be thought that the members of the Institute will be excluded from any of the discussions, or that any of their privileges will be curtailed. Oil the other hand, these will be considerably increased, and, we trust, to the advantage of everyone concerned.

While I am dealing with this branch of my subject, I wish to remind members of the Institute that they have it in their power to add considerably to the interest of the evening meetings by making small contributions either in the way of exhibiting specimens, and providing a short note, or by sending to the Secretary notes either of recent discoveries or of other matters within our scope. Such unpretending communications not only render the proceedings more interesting, but they might frequently serve the purpose of keeping us more up to date, and add to the permanent value of our Journal. Almost every member, moreover, can help in this way, and swell the bulk of useful “ Miscellanea.”

Library.—We have heard in the Council’s report that several valuable additions have been lately made to the Library, and this opens up a prospect which will need the earnest consideration of the Council and officers before very long. Our library, although it can scarcely claim anything like completeness, has yet attained proportions which very nearly equal the shelf-room at present available, and this without counting a quantity of pamphlets which will in due course be bound and placed on the shelves. In our present rooms there is practically no means of extending the library accommodation to any useful extent; on the other hand, the increase of the library is continuous and fairly regular, our exchanges alone requiring a certain number of additional feet of shelving per annum. Thus it is only a matter of the simplest arithmetic to estimate the earliest moment at which we shall reach the end of our tether, and then the very serious question will arise whether it is possible for us to obtain more room in our present quarters, which will of course involve a corresponding increase in rent; secondly, supposing such an extension of room to be obtainable here, whether we should avail ourselves of it, and bear the additional burden of rent; or thirdly, whether we should try to obtain roomier quarters within our means elsewhere. These are weighty questions, involving a great many incidental difficulties, and the Council will not have an easy task in finding a satisfactory solution. I do not propose even to suggest at this moment which of the alternatives is to be preferred, but I feel it my duty to point out clearly what is before us, and I trust that we shall be able to avoid the painful course that has been followed by one Society in the same conjuncture, that is, to sell the library by auction, a course which for us would, I think, have fatal consequences.

The Council have reported to you the issue of the new edition of the Notes and Queries on Anthropology under the editorship of Dr. Garson and myself. As before, the British Association has granted the funds necessary, and to its Council our warm thanks are due for helping us in so practical a way—for it must not be forgotten that we owe many useful papers to the publication of that little book, and it will not be denied that our recent Journals have been the richer by its means. While the form and general aspect of the book remains much the same as before, yet Dr. Garson has found it necessary to make very drastic alterations in the physical section, which he had in charge, and I can well believe that during the interval of seven years that has passed since the previous issue, marked advance has been made in the methods of that branch of anthropology, and that the instructions required considerable revision. I do not know that any apology is required from me for leaving my part of the work, dealing with ethnography, without any such severe alteration; but, at the same time, I think it well to point out that while observations in the physical section can only be usefully made by a properly qualified physician or surgeon, the queries on the ethnographical side are purposely so framed as to enable any intelligent and observant person on the spot to deal with them. This difference is an essential one and will serve to explain why the second part of the book is less subject to modification than the first. I am fully aware that there is room for a manual treating ethnography from a severely scientific standpoint, and that this will come in time I do not doubt, but atz present I fear it would have a very limited circulation.

While on the subject of the collection of anthropological material, I will take the opportunity of saying a few words on the project of a Bureau of Ethnology, which has been more than once mentioned in this room, and for which I for one venture to anticipate a successful future, in spite of official apathy.

It will be remembered that as long ago as the Liverpool meeting ot the British Association I ventured to bring forward a motion on the subject, urging the prompt' establishment of a bureau for the collection of anthropological data under the auspices of a Government Department. I laid considerable stress on the utility that such a bureau would have, not only for men of science, but for the Government itself, which would possess, after the lapse of a few years, a great quantity of valuable information regarding the hundreds of primitive races with whom we either have constant daily relations or with whom we occasionally come into contact. I adduced also the valuable argument that all this work would be done, the results arranged and classified for reference, and at the disposal of the officers of the Government, almost without cost to the State. For it is an essential part of the scheme that the field work of the bureau is to be entirely carried on by the trained men already in Government employ in our distant possessions, and I have good reasons for believing that many such men, naval officers, the trained officials of the Intelligence Branch of the War Office, Commissioners and Administrators in our Colonies and Protectorates, would cheerfully and willingly employ their leisure in this work. Such is a brief outline of the scheme, and I hope you will pardon my repeating it now in case some members of the Institute may not be already acquainted with it. The Council of the British Association received the resolution favourably, a Committee was appointed to consider it, and this Committee recommended that the Trustees of the British Museum should be invited to undertake the working of the bureau. This body was accordingly approached, and I was then informed that if the scheme were to be worked at the British Museum, the bureau of ethnology would be attached to my department. This had by no means been a part of my original programme, but I was clearly bound to accept the additional responsibility. Communications were then opened with the Foreign Office, in order to obtain the sympathetic co-operation of its officers, and I had an interview with Sir Thomas Sanderson, who was favourably impressed with the usefulness of the proposed work, and was good enough to address letters to the chiefs of the Protectorates in East Africa, instructing them to carry out the wishes of the Trustees of the British Museum, so far as it did not interfere with their ordinary duties. This seemed very promising, and in order to begin the work I applied for a clerk to help in the correspondence that I foresaw would soon become a serious item.

After overcoming the objections of the Treasury, who maintained that such work as was contemplated did not appear to be within the scope of the British Museum, the request was finally granted, and a clerk will in due course be appointed, but with a condition. The condition is this: that if the work of the Bureau of Ethnology increases to any considerable extent, it must then be transferred elsewhere.

However this may be, I have thought that the present is a good opportunity to state the course that affairs have followed, for the information of the Institute. It seems that the best policy now is to create so good and useful a department that even the Treasury will see that it could not well be dispensed with, and to this end I will devote my best efforts, and if, as I confidently hope, the bureau be successful, we must then be prepared with a plan for its more extended working, and a habitat in which the work can be carried on.

There is another project that I ventured to put forward in my address at the last meeting of the British Association, viz., the future position of the important ethnographical collections under my charge at the British Museum. In this matter I had hopes that the few months that had elapsed would have seen some progress; but our national circumstances have been entirely unfavourable, and at the present moment I think it would be both unadvisable and useless to try to educate public opinion with regard to a scheme of this kind. Our counsels and ideas would fall on ears necessarily and rightly pre-occupied with the vital issues now being decided in South Africa, issues the importance of which we recognise to the full, and I am sure that we shall best consult the dignity of our studies by waiting patiently until a successful conclusion has been reached in South Africa, when we can with propriety and more probable success press our views on the Government for the establishment of a properly appointed museum of anthropology. I have ventured to identify the Institute with this scheme, for I know that I have the sympathy and support of the Council, and I am convinced that the foundation of such a museum would form a potent factor in the success of the Institute. I am equally sure that until the national collections of ethnography are in such a position as to admit of their being worked on methods more adapted to the requirements of the subject than is at present possible, we shall never take the scientific position to which our empire is entitled. In this belief, curiously enough, I am supported by more than one of our foreign competitors, who, while they are naturally anxious to increase the treasures of their own museums, at the same time are catholic enough in their views to realize that if England neglects her vast opportunities, while it may be in part their gain, yet it cannot fail to entail ultimate loss in the amount of material available for study.

While we may lament the apathy of the State in anthropological science, there is considerable satisfaction to be derived from the activity seen in centres where the impetus is derived from other sources. At Cambridge great efforts are being made to bring anthropology to the front, by means of expeditions and publication.

The Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits and Sarawak, under the leadership of Dr. A. C. Haddon, returned at the end of May, after a successful mission. The main object of the Expedition was to study the Torres Straits Islanders as completely as possible, and a good deal of work was accomplished in the departments of physical anthropology, psychophysics, linguistics, and general ethnography. Observations have been recorded and collections made which will furnish materials for a monograph on the Islanders, which in due course will be published by the Cambridge University Press. Some of the members of the Expedition visited various portions of the coast of British New Guinea for the purpose of comparing the Torres Straits Islanders with the Papuans and Melanesians of the mainland, and some valuable work was accomplished. Most of the members of the Expedition accepted a very hospitable invitation from Mr. Charles Hose, the President of the Baram District of Sarawak. Here a large number of anthropometric data were obtained, and a good insight into the character and mode of life of various interior tribes of Sarawak was gained. Dr. Haddon has also laid the foundation for a study of the decorative art of Sarawak and Mr. Ray studied the languages; but it is unnecessary to detail the work done by the several members of the Expedition as the results will eventually be published. Mr. Hose deserves the gratitude of anthropologists, not only for his hospitality to this Expedition, and for placing his unequalled knowledge of and influence with the natives at the disposal of his guests, but for his generosity in giving fine collections illustrating the ethnography of his district to the British Museum, and especially to the University of Cambridge. Mr. Hose is now in England on furlough, and we hope to have the pleasure of learning from him something about the natives whom he governs so wisely.

Mr. W. Skeat, also a Cambridge man, has turned to account his local knowledge of the Malay Peninsula, and has organised an expedition composed of graduates from Oxford and Cambridge to study the fauna, flora, and anthropology of the Malay Peninsula. Very few particulars are yet to hand, but I gather that the expedition has met with considerable success, and a number of ethnographical specimens have already arrived in Cambridge, which will supplement the very fine collection that Mr. Skeat gave to the University three years ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Skeat is at present invalided by beriberi.

A lectureship on Physical Anthropology, in connection with the Human Anatomy Tripos, has been instituted by the University of Cambridge for the teaching of anthropology from the human anatomy standpoint. It is satisfactory to find that the courses of lectures and the practical instruction which were gratuitously carried on by Dr. Haddon for several years have been put on a permanent basis. Professor Macalister is to be congratulated on having thus strengthened his school. Our Fellow, Dr. W. L. H. Duckworth, who has read several papers before the Institute, has been appointed to the lectureship.

From Oxford there is little to record except a steady increase in the ethnological and archaeological collections, and for the future the most hopeful sign is that it is becoming possible to secure a small audience of University men and others for lectures on passages in classical literature which admit of anthropological commentary, and on the earlier stages of civilisation in the eastern Mediterranean. The establishment under a joint committee of the Royal Geographical Society and the University of a School of Geography in Oxford, designed to provide a complete geographical training for all duly qualified students, whether members of the University or not, deserves notice, though not directly anthropological in intention, both because historical geography and anthropogeography have from the first received ample recognition in its programme of work, and because the constitution of the School of Geography itself probably indicates the way in which similar studies may be. with the smallest dislocation of the ancient ways, encouraged in the University.

In the Pitt Rivers Museum Mr. Balfour announces that his accessions have been more numerous than usual, among them the greater part of the Australasian collections of our deceased Fellow, Mr. H. A. Tufnell; and further that he can make a satisfactory report on the use that has been made of the museum collections by students. Mr. Balfour’s long illness, however, must have had an effect on the usefulness of the collections, which owe so much to his energy and skill.

In the Ashmolean Museum, which through the munificence of the late Dr. Fortnum has received large accessions this year, the principal acquisitions of anthropological interest are a small but very valuable series of Chinese and Japanese bronzes in the Fortnum collection; a further instalment of typical specimens from M. Siret’s excavations in Spain, which illustrate, for comparison with other Mediterranean series, a number of features in early Iberian civilisation; and a rich series of tomb-groups of the later “Libyan pan-grave” type, from Professor Petrie’s excavations of 1899. These last, together with objects from Hierakonpolis and other Egyptian sites, have been presented by the Egypt Exploration Fund, and reinforce the existing collection on a side on which the museum is already becoming peculiarly strong. The museum has also received by deposit the collection of vases and other Greek antiquities formed by Mr. Edmund Oldfield, which includes several choice and unusual representations of familiar Greek myths, particularly of the making of Pandora, of OEdipus and the Sphinx, and of the attack of Heracles upon Busiris ; the last-named being the well known vase with representations of negroid types by a Greek artist. It was published long ago by Dr. Helbig in Annali del' Institute, 1865.

Among the contributions to the practical anthropology of the year must be counted the memoir read at the Dover Meeting of the British Association by Mr. Henry, of the Indian Police, oil his working of the finger print system for the identification of criminals. Mr. Henry gave a minute account of his experience in the system of measurements for identification invented by Monsieur Bertillon, and finding it unsatisfactory he fell back on the finger prints method of our former president, Mr. Francis Galton. The Bertillon system, according to Mr. Henry, suffers from the radical defect that no two individuals are likely to produce exactly the same results from any given subject, while there is, in addition, an inherent liability to error or variation in tlie instruments themselves. Thus the formulation of the results from a number of subjects cannot be classified with any approach to tlie same certainty that Mr. Henry claims for the finger prints. In these he has devised a very ingenious mode of classification by means of which any person, after half an hour’s explanation and practice, can unfailingly run to earth any given finger print among a series of many thousands, and when so found its position can be defined by a very simple formula. It is scarcely necessary to say that the police in India have to deal with a thousand inidviduals where the English police deal with ten or twenty, and Mr. Henry has claimed for his system that it is practical in its working, and that its results are certain, for one cogent reason among others, that the personal equation and the error in instruments are both entirely eliminated. He desires that the most exacting tests should be applied, and with that object he has asked to be allowed to give a demonstration of the system at the Institute during the spring, when we must see that he has the opportunity of doing so before as many experts as we can get together, He thinks also that his case is strengthened by the fact that the criminal law in India lias been so far changed as to admit finger prints as substantive evidence.

In India the application of finger prints is not confined to identification in criminal matters only. In all dealings with the native population, Mr. Henry informs me, the finger print is gradually taking the place of the ordinary form of identification, and it is found that the impression of the finger upon a receipt for a payment is a more effectual bar against attempts at extortion than any signature would be. It is easy to see how, in any community, it might be put to every-day practical use, and during the life-time of a testator would afford evidence of far greater value than a signature alone can furnish.

Another valuable memoir to which I think the attention of the memlie ?s of the Institute may usefully be called is that by our Fellow, Mr. W. Gowland, on the “ Early Metallurgy of Copper, Tin, and Iron in Europe,” published by the Society of Antiquaries, in the Archeologia. Much has been written on this subject, so fruitful in difficulties, but this is the first time that it has been undertaken by one so well equipped by previous training as Mr. Gowland, whose career in Japan was a happy combination of metallurgy with archaeology. One point of great interest that in his judgment is still undecided, is whether iron or bronze was first used by man, though it is probable that many archaeologists have made up their minds on the subject; but he dispels altogether the idea that there is any greater difficulty, by the most primitive process, in producing an implement of iron than in making one of copper or bronze, and endorses Dr. Percy’s opinion that, metallurgically, the Age of Iron should precede the Bronze Age. I venture to cite this one point among many of great interest in the paper, in order to draw attention to the importance of recording carefully the occurrence of iron rust in an interment of the Stone or Bronze Ages, for, as Mr. Gowland points out, it is unlikely that in ordinary circumstances an iron object of, for example, the later Stone Age?, would be at this date anything but a mass of rust.

There is one argument bearing on the general question of the priority of iron or bronze that I do not remember to have seen noticed, and though its application is limited, it may be worth stating. In the bed of the river Thames from Windsor to Chelsea have been found, from time to time, numbers of relics of past ages, ranging from the stone implements of the Drift up to our own time. The materials of which these remains are made are of all kinds, flint and other stones, bronze, iron, wood, and so forth. All these materials, with the single exception of iron, have undergone much the same alterations in the bed of the river as would have occurred had they been buried on land, though there may occasionally be differences in the degree of change. When an iron object, such as a sword, is recovered from the river, it is more often than not found to have retained for the most part a perfectly smooth surface, upon which any ornamental features are often as plainly to be discerned as if recently executed. In this condition I have seen iron swords of pre-Roman, Roman, Saxon, and later times; but among the hundreds of iron articles from the Thames that I have had through my hands, I have never encountered one piece that could not with certainty, and from extraneous evidence, be attributed to some period more recent than the Bronze Age, The position therefore would seem to be this:—The Thames Valley has been inhabited by man at all times, from the earliest of which we have knowledge, this continued habitation being proved by remains of all the periods with which we are acquainted. We know, from other evidence, that man used iron implements at and after a particular period, and this knowledge is confirmed by the record of the Thames itself, in which relics of iron of all these succeeding periods have been found, the earliest of them fully as well preserved as the most modern. I do not think, therefore, that it is an unfair deduction to draw that if instruments of iron had been used in the Thames Valley in earlier times than is shown by the evidence of other sites (i.e., an earlier than the Bronze Age) we must have encountered them. But as we do not meet with anything of iron that cannot be assigned to post-bronze times, we can only assume that man was unacquainted with the metal. The bed of the Thames is not the only spot that has the quality of preserving iron; other streams have the same peculiarity, if that term can be used, and a review of the probabilities would scarcely seem to be in favour of the theory that iron was known and used before and during the whole length of the Bronze Age, seeing that the many thousand discoveries have furnished no proof of it.

I cannot refrain from calling attention to one useful fact in connection with anthropology that has come prominently to the front during the last few years. It was common enough a generation or more ago, when discoveries of the early ages that we roughly call prehistoric were made in England, or in Northern Europe, to call in the aid of the anthropologist to help in determining the race or affinities of the occupant of the tomb. It was considered that with the primitive relics left by our own rude forefathers the methods of anthropology had an affinity and a proper place. But if it had been suggested to a student of Greek art that our methods could help to unfold and make clear the story of the origin of Hellenic culture, the claim would surely have been received with the haughty assurance that there could be no possible connection between the two subjects. It would have been urged that although Greek art had undergone vicissitudes, so that at certain times or places it stood at a higher level than at others, yet that in its essence it was a heaven-born gift that had descended upon the land of the Greeks, where it had flourished for a very few centuries, and had then passed for ever, owning no human parentage, and, it may almost be said, leaving no progeny. Such was the position taken up by most students of Greek art of the last generation, and it was a position that no one thought of assailing. But within the last twenty years a great and useful change has come over the methods’ adopted in attacking the culture problems of the Mediterranean area. It is now recognised in all centres of study that the most sublime and exquisite of human productions have their beginnings in the over-mastering need for the beautiful which is as much inborn with the warrior of the age of bronze as with the dilettante of the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent. It is clearly seen that there must be a connecting chain joining in a long line of inevitable continuity the feeble and often laughable efforts at beauty of early Mediterranean man with the loftiest and most splendid artistic achievements that the world has ever seen. It is practically admitted that man’s freedom, if not of thought, at any rate of expression, is in practice bounded by the limits of the culture stage of the period and country in which he lives; that while he cannot escape the influence of the preceding stage, he cannot on the other hand do more than make his own little step in the never-ending march of human progress, leaving to the next generation the task of following on. In other words, this is merely the recognition of the fact that the principle of evolution is as much applicable to the essentials of the highest art as it is in the realm of biology. Probably this proposition will scarcely be disputed, but it is one thing to accept an abstract proposition and quite another to apply it in a practical manner. And it is in the practical application of this principle that we have during the last two or three decades made such an advance in the field of archaeology which lies just on the other side of history. It is now seen that the similarity in the methods of burial, or of the objects associated with the dead, at the two ends of the Mediterranean, is scarcely likely to be an accidental coincidence, and that the fact of the discovery being on a classical site has but little if any bearing on its comparative value. The glamour of Homeric tradition has been so far cast aside that we can now, without incurring contempt, compare the relics from a Homeric site with the analogous remains from less historic lands, deal with them in the same way, and apply to them the same terminology. It is to the wonderful discoveries of Dr. Schliemann that we owe this great step; they were so unlike what, according to tradition, they should have been, that a new departure was inevitable, and by degrees their true bearing on the world’s history was recognised. Since then many ardent and well-equipped workers have followed this new line of research, Mr. Arthur Evans, Professor Petrie, Mr. J. L. Myres and others, with the result that we have, at Oxford at any rate, a collection where the student can understand the beginnings of art, and realise the value of comparative anthropology.

I must now say a few words to record our sense of the great loss that we have suffered in the death, after a useful and honoured career, of our former President, Sir William Flower. To me he was a kind friend of more than twenty years’ standing, and I shall always remember with affection his kindly face.

Sir William Henry Flower, K.C.B., LL.D., D.C.L., D.Sc., F.B.S., Past President and Vice-President of the Anthropological Institute, died on the first of July, 1899, at the age of 68 years. He was the second son of the late Mr. Edward Fordham Flower, of Stratford-on-Avon, and was educated at University College, London, and the Middlesex Hospital for the medical profession, which he entered by becoming a member of the Eoyal College of Surgeons of England in March, 1854. At that time this country became involved in the Crimean war, to which he proceeded as Assistant Surgeon to the 63rd Foot, and at the conclusion of the war received the Crimean Medal with clasps for Alma, Inkerman, Balaclava, and Sebastopol, and the Turkish Medal. After his return to England he became a Fellow of the Boyal College of Surgeons, and was appointed Assistant Surgeon to Middlesex Hospital and Curator of the Museum of that School, and practised as a surgeon till 1861, when he was appointed Conservator of the Museum of the Boyal College of Surgeons, a position he retained till the summer of 1884, when he was made Director of the Natural History Department of the British Museum at South Kensington on the retirement of the late Sir Bichard Owen.

Although Sir William Flower has earned for himself a great and well merited reputation by his labours in the field of Zoological Science, and in connection with Zoological Museums, yet on the present occasion it is necessary to confine the limits of this notice of him strictly to his work as an anthropologist.

It was in 1877 that he became a member of this Institute, and began to identify himself prominently with anthropology, chiefly, I believe, through the influence of his old and valued friends, the late Mr. George Busk and Professor Bolleston. About this time he began a revision of the Catalogue of the Human Osteology contained in the Museum of the Boyal College of Surgeons, the numerous additions to which, chiefly made by his exertions, having rendered the previous catalogue by Sir Bichard Owen practically useless for the purpose it was designed. Although he published in conjunction with Dr. Murie an account of the “ Dissection of a Bushwoman ” in the Anthropological Review as far back as 1867, it was not till 1878 that the first -of his more serious contributions to Anthropological Science appeared, a lecture delivered at the Boyal Institution on “ The Native Baces of the Pacific Ocean,” and published in the Beports of that Institution for 1878. From that time onwards he was ever more or less engaged advancing knowledge both by pen and word of mouth in the department of anthropology. In 1879 his first paper on “the Osteology and Affinities of the Natives of the Andaman Islands ” appeared in our Journal, and in the following year an equally important communication on “ the Cranial Characters of the Natives of the Fiji Islands.” In 1881 we had a paper from him on “a Collection of Monumental Heads and artificially deformed Crania from Mallicollo.” The same year he did signal service to the cause of anthropology in this country and to this Institute in particular, in the first place, by the address which he delivered as President of the then Sub-Section Anthropology at the Jubilee Meeting of the British Association held at York, from which resulted a donation' from the late Dr. Muirhead of Glasgow of £100 to this Institute, and in the second place, by the publication of the Catalogue, previously referred to, of Human Osteology in the Museum of the Boyal College of Surgeons. By his lectures on anthropology, as Hunterian Professor, delivered at the College of Surgeons, and published in the British Medical Journal for several years about this period, while he was engaged in classifying and arranging the Anthropological Collection in the Museum, he did a great deal to familiarise members of the medical profession and others with the importance of the comparative anatomy of man, and was the means of bringing many specimens of human osteology to our museums, and not least, led the way to the acquisition by the Council of the College of the large and magnificent collection of skeletons and skulls of the late Dr. Barnard Davis in 1880. Many of our Fellows will yet remember the Presidential Addresses he delivered at the annual meetings of this Institute in 1884 and 1885, published in our Journals for those years. In the first of these he discussed the aims and prospects of anthropology, while the subject of the second was the classification of the varieties of the human species. The period between 1877 and 1885 may be considered that during which his principal contributions to anthropology were made. Although short relatively to the time zoological literature had the benefit of his work, his anthropological contributions produced during it are of the greatest importance, containing as they do not mere descriptions of specimens, but the results also of new and original lines of thought and investigation, and generalisations of already acquired facts, so that they must ever remain as landmarks in the history of anthropology. The chief cause of his active participation in original research in anthropology slackening off at the period mentioned is attributable to the sphere of his labours having been transferred from the College of Surgeons Museum to the more elevated post of Director of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington in the latter part of 1884. Henceforth his work lay more in the administration of that large Institution than in the investigations of the Zoological and Anthropological Laboratory from which he was now removed, much to the loss of our particular branch of science. But although no longer able with his other duties to take as active a part in anthropological research as he would otherwise have done, w’e are indebted to him for many smaller contributions at our meetings and in our Journal, of which that on “ The Size of the Teeth as a character of Race ” deserves special notice, and not least for his last address delivered in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford as President of the Section Anthropology at the Meeting of the British Association in 1894, a most memorable occasion, apart from other considerations, as being the last meeting of the Association in which he and the late Professor the Rt. Hon. Thomas Henry Huxley attended and took part. Lastly, we must not be unmindful of the very valuable work he inaugurated, and was actively engaged in up to the time when ill-health was the cause of his retirement from the Directorship of the Natural History Museum, to advance the study of anthropology by the formation of a collection in that Museum to illustrate the comparative anatomy of man which would appeal to the thousands who during the course of the year visit that great Institution, and which we trust those succeeding him will relax no effort to develop to a still greater extent than declining health permitted him to do.

While the foregoing is a brief epitome of the work in anthropology which Sir William Flower has left behind him for the benefit of ourselves and future generations, no record of it would be complete without some reference of a personal nature to himself.

Dr. Garson, who has kindly furnished me with the facts of Sir William Flower’s career, says, “ any stranger making his acquaintance for the first time could not fail to be impressed with his urbane and gentle manners."  'Professor Flower ist ein feiner Mann' was the remark made by the late Professor Braune of Leipzig after his first interview with him. To know him intimately was to love and esteem him and at the same time to hold him in veneration. I can only say for my own part that during the six years we were associated together at the College of Surgeons, I have never heard or known him utter an angry or unkind word, and when he had to find fault it was done in the gentlest and kindest possible manner. He was ever most considerate of others, and the greatest harmony and good feeling ever prevailed from the highest to the lowest of the staff; at the same time he never condescended to undignified familiarities or favouritism, but always upheld the position he had to maintain with dignity and grace.” As in his official relations, so also in his home, which was everything to him, and amongst his large circle of friends he was greatly beloved and esteemed. On the other hand I feel sure that he would be the first to claim that no small part of his success was due to the support he ever received from the gifted and equally estimable lady who was for so many years his devoted partner in life, and has now, with a family equally devoted to their father, to mourn his irreparable loss.

The universal esteem in which Sir William Flower was held was shown by the crowds of sorrowing friends and colleagues who attended the funeral service at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, where he had been a constant attendant and communicant since he took up liis residence at South Kensington. The Institute was represented at the service by Mr. Budler, Dr. Carson, and myself.

The name of Dr. Brinton was known and respected in every spot where anthropology was cared for. His wide knowledge, his industry, and his sympathetic intelligence made him a welcome visitor at all times. Daniel Garrison Brinton was born in 1837 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and after graduating at Yale and the Jefferson Medical College he entered the army in 1862. While on active service a sunstroke incapacitated him from continuing his career in the army, and he settled in Philadelphia and occupied himself with the literary side of his profession. From his student days, however, he had been much interested in ethnological questions, and was a prolific writer. He established a library and a printing house exclusively for aboriginal American literature, and from this press several valuable works were issued. He filled the office of President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a post as honourable in America as the corresponding one is with us. One of Dr. Brinton’s latest acts was to present his valuable library to the University of Philadelphia. He died on the 31st July last.

Such is the record, ladies and gentlemen, that I have to lay before you to-day. If I have been tedious I am sorry, but in that case you will be grateful that I have refrained from dealing with many other matters probably equally important that have passed through my mind.


To cite this article:

READ, C. H.. 1900. 'Presidential Address Delivered at the Anniversary Meeting of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 30th January, 1900'. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 30, pp. 6-21 (available on-line: