Acland to Pitt Rivers 21 October 1887

Transcription of a letter from Sir Henry Acland to Pitt-Rivers in October 1887, this letter is held by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History:

21 October 1887

Dear General Pitt Rivers,

I venture to throw myself on your kindness – may I say for auld lang syne, and ask you to advise me on the following serious matter.

You know, to our sorrow, Moseley is ill. I hope and believe he will be well again – but not for some time – He has quite given up work for this term, and is away from Oxford.

You are aware that all the work or rather the chief of the work of arranging & placing your collection has been done by Moseley’s admirable assistant, Balfour.

I have just learnt to my consternation that Balfour intends to leave at the end of this term and go abroad. He is lately married and is uneasy at the position in which he finds himself.

He is an assistant – on a temporary salary to ‘the Professor of Anatomy’. Therefore supposing Moseley could not resume Balfour might not remain. He asked Moseley (I believe) if he could guarantee him to remain three years (?) or till the collection is finished & catalogued. But Moselely naturally & rightly could not give any such pledge.

I cannot worry Moseley with business – rather than write to him I would go to Weymouth if you wished to talk the matter over with him – although I do not see what more can be done by him.

Now what I have to ask you is this. Have you any objection to the University guaranteeing to keep him on for (say) 3 years. If you have not then I would beg to persuade the Council to enact this and we should save the very grave mischief of Balfour leaving in the middle of your great work.

I feel deeply interested in it, & try to provide him with any books or any kind he may need for his labours.

In the event of your expressing to me your concurrence, I should then approach Moseley to ask his. But I don’t like to disturb him needlessly. He would certainly require you to be consulted. He is quite sleepless without narcotics & does no business. I went lately to Weymouth to see him before I knew all this.’

[... Happy to host PR if he is by chance coming to Oxford.]

‘I am, Dear General Pitts Rivers faithfully yours’

Transcribed by Frances Larson during the Relational Museum project 2002-2006

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