Balfour to Acland 12 March 1887

This is a transcription of a letter from Henry Balfour to Sir Henry Acland dated 12 March 1887 regarding Balfour's work on the Pitt Rivers Collection. It is held by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History:

12 March [1887 written on letter by later hand, Balfour wrote letter]

My dear Sir Henry,

Pray dismiss entirely from your mind the thought that I have felt in any way hurt or annoyed during the meeting yesterday. Believe me it is not so. I have thoroughly appreciated the kindness & consideration, which I have learnt always to expect from you, & which you shewed in taking the trouble to have me invited to the meeting. I think that I have some right, as you too have though, to represent the department which for the last few years has been practically entirely under my care, where any question involving the transference of collections is discussed. I have taken trouble to gain all the experience that I can as to practical museum managements, & though my voice may carry but little weight, such experience is to a certain extent of value. The legality or otherwise of may vote on that occasion I leave to others better qualified to discuss, & I am perfectly satisfied that with you presiding the course taken will be the right one. I sympathise with you in the pain you have felt at the discussion, & know how deeply you hold the Museum interests at heart, both for the subjects & for those working on them. I cannot help thinking that the outcome of the acceptance of such a motion as that of Thomson’s will tend rather to increase than diminish the feeling of good fellowship, and at the same time give stimulus to true scientific work. I hope my ideas do not strike you as revolutionary if so pray pardon me. Your advice on all subjects is of great value to me, & as you know I like to think that I can appeal to you for it. I shall have a hard struggle to have my position recognized, & with my present appointment ceasing with the year, I am specially anxious now to improve my position with regard to the Anthropological department, quite as much from regard to the collection at which I have worked, as my own personal interests. That the educational value of the collection can be greatly enhanced I have no doubt, and it is with a view to develop the latent wealth of such a collection that I claim the necessity of a working curator for the department. The whole of a man’s time & interest are required, as I know from having started at the very beginning, & my fears for the future of the collection are well founded, if some step of this kind is not undertaken by the University. The outside public fully recognize the value, & the people of other countries are expecting much of the outcome to science of General Pitt Rivers’ labours, which may influence the future as well as the present, if allowed to be properly developed. You will be tired of reading this & I will spare you more.

I will only express my great approval + appreciation of the kindly course which you took with regard to me yesterday afternoon.’

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

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