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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

sketch by the author; North Carolina Precincts in 1729, after a map in Hawk's History of North Carolina; A Map of ye most Improved Part of Carolina, from Winsor's America, vol. v, p. 351.

Professor Fiske's genius for the writing of history is apparent on every page of his work. His broad training in philosophy and his accurate knowledge of modern science, along with his remarkable historic consciousness, make him equally happy in tracing effects to causes, in vivacious narrative, or when dealing with stirring incidents and graphic details. Nor does he omit upon occasion to draw lessons from the past for our present guidance, and now and then to point a very opportune moral. His next contribution to American history will be The Dutch and Quaker Colonies, which are promised without much delay, and will be warmly welcomed by a host of readers.

 

The purpose of the founder of the Smithsonian Institution, as stated in his will, "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" has been more fully achieved by the group of men who constituted its officers during its first fifty years than even James Smithson himself could have expected. His motto has been faithfully adhered to, and as a result its workers and laboratories are probably more widely known among scientists than those of any other American institution. Its close connection with the Government has not been the least of its difficulties, and the consistency with which anything savoring of politics has been avoided reflects great credit on the officials. It is to these latter that whatever success the Smithsonian has achieved belongs. The simple subsidizing of an institution is but a step in its foundation. That the Smithsonian has been singularly favored in its officials, its present position implies. Joseph Henry, Spencer F. Baird, and Samuel Pierpont Langley, its three secretaries, are all names of high repute in pure science; as also those of men combining in a most unusual way executive ability with the true scientific spirit. Its minor workers have been equally efficient in their special departments and have also contributed largely to the success of the institution. In fact, the Smithsonian is one of the few scientific national enterprises of which we can be entirely proud. The present volume[1] is published in honor of its fiftieth anniversary, and to commemorate its first fifty years' work. A brief preface by William McKinley and a paragraph by the present secretary serve to introduce the reader. The first chapter gives a history of the founder, James Smithson. An account of the founding of the institution and the board of regents and the work of the three secretaries occupies the next three chapters and is by James Brown Goode, who was to have seen the volume through the press, and whose untimely death not only much delayed the latter's issue, but made a vacancy in the institution which it will be difficult to fill. The benefactors of the Smithsonian and their bequests are next taken up by Professor Langley. Since the original endowment, which was about $700,000, there has been received over a quarter of a million more; $250,000 of this latter amount was given by Thomas George Hodgson, whose curious and eventful life is briefly sketched by Professor Langley. A number of smaller bequests are also spoken of. The United States National Museum, the Smithsonian Library, and the general buildings and equipment of the


  1. The Smithsonian Institution. 1846-1896. The History of its First Half Century. Edited by George Brown Goode. City of Washington. 1897.