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offered to negotiate with the boy and his parents or him to come to London on trial. Mr. Hunter gladly availed himself of this offer, and the negotiation ended in Clift becoming an inmate in Hunter's house. I do not know the exact date, but I believe that this was not more than two or three years before Hunter's death. On the occurrence of this event, Hunter's executors (Dr. Baillie and Mr. Home) engaged Clift to take charge of the museum until they had found the means of disposing of it for the benefit of his family; and when it was purchased by Parliament, and consigned to the care of the College of Surgeons, the council of the college retained him for the same purpose, under the name of conservator, a situation which he retained during the remainder of his life.
Cliffs early education had probably not extended beyond reading and writing, but he had a vast desire of acquiring knowledge; had read a great deal in an irregular manner; but his chief study was that of the museum in which he lived for many years; and with this he had a more intimate acquaintance than any other person after the death of the great philosopher by whom it was founded. He had great sagacity, great powers of observation, and great memory, but he wanted that method which a better early education would have afforded him; and his knowledge, though extensive, was of a very desultory kind. His devotion to the memory of Hunter, and his attachment to the museum, formed a remarkable feature of his character, at the same time that his simplicity of mind, his disinterestedness, and the kindness of his disposition, gained him the affection of all who knew him.
It was during the period of which I am now speaking, and not very long after I had ceased to be house surgeon, that Mr. Home introduced me to Sir Joseph Banks. Sir Joseph took much interest in any one who was in any way engaged in the pursuit of science, and as I suppose, partly from Home's recommendation, and partly from knowing that I was occupied with him in making dissections in comparative anatomy, was led to show me much kindness and attention, such as it was very agreeable for
so young a man to receive from so distinguished
But here were to be seen the elder Herschel, Davy, Wollaston, Young, Hatchett, Wilkins the Sanscrit scholar, Marsden, Major Rennell, Henry Cavendish, Home, Barrow, Maskelyne, Blagden, Abernethy, Carlisle, and others who have long since passed away, but whose reputation still remains, and gives a character to the age in which they lived.
In the course of the first few years which elapsed after my introduction to Sir Joseph Banks, I derived so much advantage from the society which I met in his library, and occasionally at his dinner-table, that I feel it in some measure a duty not to omit some further notice of this eminent individual. I have been informed by those who might be supposed to be well acquainted with his history, that as a boy at Eton he was a very indifferent student of Greek and Latin, and that he was himself mortified to find how much less a proficient he was in the school exercises than his fellow-pupils. But even at this early period he began the study of plants; examining the different parts of their structure, and laying the foundation of that extensive knowledge for which he was afterwards distinguished in this department of natural history. Having inherited a considerable fortune, he had no taste for the usual trifling pursuits of affluent young men, and being of an enterprising disposition, he obtained permission to accompany Captain Cook in one (I believe the first) of his voyages of discovery in the Pacific Ocean. I do not know how soon it was after his return to England that he was elected President of the Royal Society, superseding the former President, Sir John Pringle. His election took place after a severe contest, in which his principal opponents were the mathematicians, with Dr. Horsley, the Eishop of Rochester, at their head. He was created a Baronet, a Civil Knight of the Bath (corresponding to the G.C.B. of the present time), and a Privy Councillor. He was annually re-elected to the presidential chair for many years, resigning the office as soon as he found that his declining health prevented his attending the meetings, that being not long before he died. His London residence was in Soho Square, there being extensive premises behind his dwell