For the first time in months I have a weekend off work and have been looking through some of my book collection for inspiration and to stave off boredom.
Back in 1985, the physicist Freeman Dyson was invited to Aberdeen University to deliver the Gifford Lectures. The Gifford Lectures had been established almost a hundred years previously in 1888 by the jurist Adam Lord Gifford.
Freeman Dyson’s lectures from 1985 were soon after compiled together and published under the title “Infinite In All Directions” and as the author states in the preface, they were his excuse to “talk about everything in the universe.”
At the beginning of the book, Dyson introduces the readers to this awesome passage from the Last Will and Testament of Adam Gifford (1887) in which he talks about who should be invited to deliver the Gifford Lectures:
“The Lecturers appointed shall be subjected to no test of any kind, and may be of any denomination whatever or of no denomination, of any religion or way of thinking, or as is sometimes said, they may be of no religion, or they may be so-called sceptics or agnostics or free-thinkers, provided only that they be reverent men, true thinkers, sincere lovers of and earnest inquirers after truth.”
Aside from the usual Victorian bias towards ‘men’, this is such a marvellous aspiration and legacy to have left behind in a Will. The Gifford Lectures website contains an archive of the lectures delivered going all the way back to 1888, with many of them being available to be read online for free in their entirety.
An enviable legacy indeed.