Imágenes de páginas
PDF

“ Upon the whole, the committee think very favorably of all parts of the plan for increasing knowledge, and feel no doubt that it would afford important encouragement to scientific pursuits. To suppose that it will create an era in science, or throw into the shade the ordinary educational and intellectual influences at work in the country, would be extravagant. It is enough, and all that can be expected, if it be a rational plan for appropriating moderate means toward the attainment of a desirable end.

“ To fulfil the other objects of the trust, viz. to diffuse knowledge, the Secretary proposes to publish a series of reports, giving an account of the new discoveries in science, and of the changes made from year to year in all branches of knowledge not strictly professional.' These reports are to be prepared by collaborators most eminent in their several departments, who are to receive a compensation for their labors; the collaborator to be furnished with all the journals and other publications necessary to the preparation of his report.

“ The following enumeration of the proposed subjects of these reports will give the Academy a full conception of this part of the plan.

“I. PHYSICAL CLASS. “1. Physics, including Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and Meteorology

“2. Natural History, including Botany, Zoology, and Geology. .«• 3. Agriculture. "64. Application of Science to Arts.

• II. MORAL AND POLITICAL CLASS. “15. Ethnology, including Particular History, Comparative Philology, Antiquities, &c.

4.6. Statistics and Political Economy. 467. Mental and Moral Philosophy.

“18. A Survey of the Political Events of the World ; Penal Re. form, &c.

6. III. LITERATURE AND THE FINE ARTS. “.9. Modern Literature. 6.10. The Fine Arts, and their application to the useful arts. “* 11. Bibliography. « 12. Obituary notices of distinguished individuals.'

" Another branch of the plan for the diffusion of knowledge contemplates the offer of premiums for the best essays on given subjects.

“ The publications of the Institution, of whatever form, are proposed to be presented to all the colleges and to the principal libraries and scientific institutions throughout the country, and to be exchanged for the transactions of all scientific and literary societies throughout the world, thus laying the foundation of a valuable library. An adequate number are to be preserved to supply the future demand of new institutions, and the remainder are to be placed on sale at a price so low as to render them generally accessible.

"For carrying out the plan thus sketched for increasing and diffusing knowledge, the Regents propose to appropriate one half of the income of their fund. The remainder is to be expended in the formation and maintenance of a library, a collection of instruments of research in all branches of experimental science, and a museum. This partition of the income of the fund is stated to be 'a compromise between the two modes of increasing and diffusing knowledge.'

" A library is one of the objects contemplated in the act of Congress, establishing the Board for the management of the trust. It is requisite for carrying out the plan above proposed. At the same time it will be observed, that the distribution by exchange of the publications, which that scheme of operations will call into existence, will rapidly provide the Institution, without farther expense, with the class of works, often of a costly character, which are most directly important as the means of advancing and diffusing positive knowledge. It is accordingly in these that the Secretary proposes to lay the foundations of the library; forming, lst, a complete collection of the Transactions and Proceedings of all the learned societies in the world; and, 2d, a similar collection of all the current periodical publications, and other works necessary in preparing the contemplated periodical reports. In the next place, it is proposed to procure by preference those books which are not found in the other public libraries of the United States, regarding the want of them as of more urgency to be supplied than that of a symmetrical and proportionate collection of books in all the departments of science. Such a library as the plan proposes may be fairly regarded as an important instrument for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

“ The collection of scientific apparatus and instruments of research is no less needful in the furtherance of the above-mentioned plan, which, as it proposes to aid individuals in the prosecution of important researches, may often do so most effectually by the loan of the instruments required for a particular investigation. They will also be needed, especially at Washington, for carrying out, under the most advantageous circumstances, the various experimental investigations in physics already pursued by the Secretary, with such credit to himself, and such honor to the scientific character of the country.

“ The Smithsonian Institution is also to be intrusted with the conservation of a national museum ; Congress having, by a clause in the act of incorporation, devolved upon it the charge of the immense collections belonging to the public, of which those brought home by Captain Wilkes from the Exploring Expedition form the greater portion, but which are daily increasing from many sources. These col. lections, when a proper and convenient place shall have been prepared for their reception and preservation, are likely to accumulate with still greater rapidity in time to come.

“ While there is an obvious propriety and convenience in thus intrusting the care of the public collections to the officers of the Smithsonian Institution, it will not, the committee trust, be forgotten by Congress, that the income of the Smithsonian bequest — moderate at best, and consecrated to an object distinct as it is elevated — ought not to be burdened with the cost of constructing an edifice for the reception and exhibition of the public collections, and their preservation and care. These objects would alone absorb a considerable portion of the fund. If drawn upon to carry them into effect, its efficiency for any other purpose will be seriously diminished, if not altogether destroyed.

“ The plan also contemplates a museum of the fine arts, as well as a scientific apparatus; it proposes to procure casts of the most cele. brated articles of ancient and modern sculpture, and models of antiquities. While it is undoubtedly true, that a gallery of this description would find an appropriate place in an establishment de. voted to the increase and diffusion of knowledge in its broadest sense, the committee cannot but hope that the immediate execution of this part of the plan will not be attempted ; but that it will be deferred till other objects of more decided utility have been provided for, and until a surplus of unappropriated funds shall have accrued.

" The Academy will perceive that the most novel and important feature of this plan is that which proposes to insure the publication of memoirs and treatises on important subjects of investigation, and to offer pecuniary encouragement to men of talent and attainment to engage in scientific research. It is believed that no institution in the country effects either of these objects to any great extent. The nearest approach to it is the practice of the Academy, and other philosophical societies, of publishing the memoirs adopted by them. These, however, can rarely be works of great compass. No systematic plan of compensation for the preparation of works of scientific research is known by the committee to have been attempted in this or any other country. It can scarcely be doubted that an important impulse would be given by the Institution, in this way, to the cultivation of scientific pursuits ; while the extensive and widely ramified system of distribution and exchange, by which the publications are to be distributed throughout the United States and the world, would secure them a circulation which works of science could scarcely attain in any other way.

" It is an obvious characteristic of this mode of applying the funds of the Institution, that its influence would operate most widely through. out the country; that locality would be of comparatively little importance as far as this influence is concerned ; and that the Union would become, so to say, in this respect, a great school of mutual instruction.

“ The committee would remark, in conclusion, that, in a plan of operations of this kind, very much depends upon the activity and intelligence with which it is administered. The character of the Board of Regents is a sufficient warrant for the prudence and good judgment which will watch over the general interests of the foundalion ; while the reputation of the Secretary and his assistant, the Librarian, is so well established in their respective departments, as to render any tribute from the committee entirely superfluous. “ All which is respectfully submitted by the committee.

EDWARD EVERETT, (Chairman,)
JARED SPARKS,
BENJAMIN PEIRCE,
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW,

ASA GRAY. December 4th, 1847.”

Note. — “Professor Agassiz was named of the committee, but, owing to his absence at the South, was unable to take part in the preparation of this report.”

Mr. Tuckerman communicated the following arrangement and description of the Lichenes of the northern portion of North America, viz.: – A Synopsis of the Lichenes of the Northern United States and British

America,* by EDWARD TUCKERMAN.

LICHENES. Perennial, aerial Algæ, vegetating only under the influence of moisture, which is imbibed by the whole surface, propagated by spores (sporidia), and also by the cells (gonidia) of the green layer.

Thallus (universal receptacle, Ach.) composed of three layers, viz. : the cortical, the medullary, and the gonimous ; evolved from a hypothallus (the elementary state in which the layers are confused, and discernible afterwards as cylindrical cells, and also as fibres on the under side of foliaceous Lichenes, and forming the base, closely adnate to the matrix, in crustaceous ones), typically horizontal or vertical. The horizontal thallus is either crustaceous (often somewhat lobed at the circumference or squamulose), or foliaceous (becoming sometimes in degenerate states crustaceous). The vertical thallus is either compressed (subfoliaceous), or terete ( fruticulose); of both of which the filamentous thallus and the pendulous thallus are degenerations. In Cladonia and Stereocaulon a vertical thallus (podetium) arises from the primary horizontal thallus, and is itself often besprinkled with a kind of secondary horizontal thallus in the form of leaf-like scales. — Lichenes are reproduced in two ways; 1. by gonidia, the (normally green) cells of the green (gonimous) layer, which appear on the surface as irregularly shaped powdery masses (soredia), and propagate either on the original thallus, forming foliaceous or squamulose

* This enumeration, originally prepared for Dr. Gray's Manual of the Botany of the Northern States, has been enlarged by the addition of many species from Arctic Anjerica, and from the Pacific coast, and is now published in the hope that it may open the way to a more complete and satisfactory account hereafter. The system is that of Fries, as presented in his Lichenographia Europæn Reformata, with some emendations derived from his later works. The characters of the sections and genera in the Lichenographia have been throughout the basis of those here given, and in part are adopled entire. In the citation of authorities for specific names, the common usage has been followed; but the writer has elsewhere adopted what appears the preferable one (Enum. Lich. N. Amer. 1845), where will also be found some account of the Friesian System.

« AnteriorContinuar »