first volume—clearly a valuable promise, for such was Stanley’s fame
that, as Larking wrote to Canon Robertson on 3rd April: "I had
letters anxiously asking if Professor Stanley was to speak (sc. at
the Inaugural Meeting) because if so there were many ladies who would come
expressly to hear him."
In all this preparatory work, Larking had the active support of a few
members of the Society, especially Lord Camden and Lord Falmouth, and the
no doubt stimulating, but less practically useful encouragement of many
others. The great bulk of the work undoubtedly fell to the Secretary; by
31st March, 1858, he had written 1,125 regular letters, and had dispatched
1,077 circulars, many of them containing personal letters, a total of
2,202. The unquestioned success of the Inaugural Meeting, which was held
at the Charles Museum on 14th April, 1858, must have been, to him, a keen
personal gratification. The company which attended the meeting was both
numerous and distinguished. The Marquis Camden was in the chair, and he
was supported by Viscount Sydney (the Lord Lieutenant), Earl Amherst,
Viscount Falmouth, the Countess Abergavenny and Viscountess Nevill, Mr.
Beresford Hope, M.P. and Lady Mildred Hope, Sir Brook Bridges, Bart.,
M.P., Sir Walter James, Bart., Sir Walter Stirling, Bart., the Rev.
Professor A. S.
Stanley, and some eighty others who are recorded by name, as well as an
unknown number whose only memorial is "etc., etc., etc.,
At the Inaugural Meeting the proceedings of the interim committee were
ratified and adopted, numerous resolutions were proposed, seconded and
carried unanimously, and speeches were made, some of them of no mean length.
Beresford Hope expatiated upon the science of archaeology, the county’s
singular felicity in the possession of antiquities, and the merits of
photography; the Rev. W. M. Smith Marriott spoke of ecclesiastical
architecture, and the skill and taste being displayed in current church
restoration; Professor Stanley, who was received with especially loud
cheers, gave a thumbnail account of the county’s history. The Rules were
approved, the thanks of the meeting were accorded to Larking, and he replied
in an extempore but eloquent speech, from which the following sentences at
least deserve to be rescued: "But, above all, remember that the sole
object of your researches ought to be Truth. Have as many theories as
you please—I have had thousands in my time—but always be ready (as I
have been) to discard them at once, the moment you find the Truth opposed to
them. Without this devotion to Truth we are frivolous triflers."
The Society was now decently and officially launched; no longer could anyone
sneer at it as a Hole and Corner Affair. But, the launching accomplished,
what course was the ship to steer? Wisely, neither the Society as a whole,
in General Meeting, nor the Council has ever