Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
- Holmes was on the Archbishop's list - and then
undergo before the Civil Service Commissioners an examination in the
following subjects:
1. English Composition
2. Translation from 3 out of the 4 following languages: Latin, French,
German and Greek
3. Any other subject or subjects which the Trustees may prescribe, bearing
upon the work of the particular department in which the vacancy has
For the Department of Mineralogy nothing less than a know-
ledge of advanced mathematics, optical crystallography and
inorganic chemistry was expected, and in addition every candi-
date was required to 'satisfy the Civil Service Commissioner
that he is free from physical defect or disease . . . and that his
character is such as to qualify him for public employment.' All
this for a starting salary of £150 a year. The examination fee was
a hefty five pounds out of Holmes' meagre scholarship allow-
ance, but since the salary would more than double his present
income he felt it was worth the investment of both time and
The exams were known to be onerous and he spent from May
to October 1910 cramming for them, completely dropping his
college work. The results were finally published at the end of
November, and while Holmes came first in mineralogy - the
position, after all, for which he had applied - he came second
overall, Latin apparently letting him down. William Campbell
Smith was awarded the post and stayed there all his working
life. In years to come he was to present Arthur Holmes with the
Wollaston Medal, the highest accolade to be awarded by the
Geological Society. With hindsight Holmes must have been
grateful to Walter Campbell Smith for his greater proficiency in
Latin, but at the time it seemed as if all that work had been a
huge waste of time.
While waiting for the results of these exams, and having fallen
out of step with college work, Holmes was advised to start some
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