more than interpret to their pupils so much of the wisdom of the past, and of contemporary science, as may suffice for the immediate wants of the country, and will have but scanty leisure for original investigation in the field of knowledge. There are, however, never wanting earnest and curious minds who feel an almost irresistible impulse to labor in this field, to enlarge the bounds of thought, and to grapple with the great problems of man and nature. To foster this spirit, to encourage its beginnings, and to extend the influence of its example, should be the aim of wise statesmen and legislators who seek to elevate their kind and ennoble their nation; knowing that the brightest glories and the most enduring honors of a country are those which come from its thinkers and its scholars.
The world's intellectual workers are, from the very nature of their lives of thought and study, separated in some degree from the mass of mankind. They feel, however, not less than others, the need of human sympathy and co-operation, and out of this need have grown academies and learned societies devoted to the cultivation of letters and of science. The records of these bodies in Florence, in Rome, in Paris, in London, and elsewhere, are the records of scientific progress for the last three centuries. Such bodies do not create thinkers and workers, but they give to them a scientific home, a center of influence, and the means of making known to the world the results of their labors.
It was with a wise forethought that more than a century since Franklin and his friends founded at Philadelphia the American Philosophical Society. Its planting then seemed premature, but its vigorous growth during a century has served to show that the seed was not too early sown. This, however, unlike many of the academies of the Old World to which we have adverted, had no formal recognition from the State, and there came a period in the growth of the American Union when the need of an official scientific body was felt. Thus it was that nineteen years ago, in the midst of the great civil war, the American Congress authorized the erection of a National Academy of Sciences, to which, as an American citizen, I have the honor to belong. The aim proposed in founding this Academy was to gather together what was best and highest in the scientific life of the nation, and, moreover, to organize a body of councilors to which the executive authority could always look for advice and direction in scientific matters relating to the interests of the State. In this National Academy—at first consisting of fifty, and now practically limited to one hundred members (a number which it has not yet attained)—the domain of letters is unrepresented; while the Royal Society of London is, in like manner—although scholars and statesmen seek the honors of its fellowship—essentially an Academy of Sciences.
Our infant organization attempts a larger plan, and embraces, with the mathematical and physical sciences, letters, philosophy, and his-