Bertrand Russell the Passionate Skeptic: A Biography

By Alan Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
Australia Felix

ONE of Russell's most interesting journeys, as showing the continued liveliness of his interests, was his visit to Australia in 1950. Unlike Kant, who spent his whole life in Königsberg, he was a philosopher who was always ready for new travels and new experiences, as a good empiricist should be. He always loved any adventure into the unknown: 'Isn't it wonderful,' he once said, 'to find out things?'

A wealthy Melbourne business man, Edward Dyason, had set up a Trust Fund so that distinguished men from overseas could give lectures in Australia. Russell accepted this invitation to a strenuous tour in a new land with alacrity, although he was then already seventy-eight.

Since nobody quite like Russell had ever been to Australia before, his arrival caused a certain amount of anxious preparation. There had recently been trouble with Communist demonstrations; so two policemen, Sergeant Lanighan and Detective Lightbottom, were provided for his protection. A senior representative of the Department of External Affairs, Richard Greenish, went to Sydney to meet him, and was later detailed to accompany Russell throughout his travels. Actual arrangements for his journey were in the hands of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the official concerned solemnly heralding Russell's approach by sending out these instructions:

'In reply to questions from various branches, the following additional information on B. Russell's likes and dislikes has been received:

'He would prefer not to be a guest of Governors.

'He would rather not have mayoral receptions and such

-210-

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