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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

moral philosophy which has appeared during the year, and also for the best oration or essay. The Montyon prizes, worth 22,463 francs, are for the best work of any sort by a Frenchman produced during the preceding twelve months. A prize, worth 21,940 francs, is for the best work on the application of knowledge to the arts. The Gobert prizes are for the best history of France, or on some point connected with its history. A special prize is offered every year for the best poem or essay upon a subject which the academy itself suggests.

The government pays each of the members of the academy the sum of 1,200 francs a year as a pension. The same sum is given to the members of the other academies which belong to the institute. The secretaries of the different academies receive 6,000 francs annually. Special grants are made from time to time for special objects. Thus in 1902, 10,300 francs were voted for the dictionary and other publications, 4,000 francs for a special prize, and 13,900 francs for miscellaneous uses. Sessions are private, save at the reception of a new member, the annual meeting in November, and the gathering of all the academies on October 25, when the large hall is crowded to suffocation.

It is impossible to estimate the influence which this academy has exerted on the literary life and taste of the French people. Nor can one determine the value of its contributions to the development and purification of the French language. There can be no doubt of its usefulness, or that in its work it has more than realized the hopes of its founders. Its influence at present is hardly less powerful than in the earlier years of its life. In fact, it may be truthfully said that in its unique character and position it has long been, and still is, the wonder and despair of other nations.

 

The Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-lettres

This academy, the 'little academy,' as it was nicknamed, the second in the order of formation, was established under the ministry of Colbert in 1665. At first it was simply a committee of four persons chosen from the French academy to work on inscriptions, form devices or emblems, suggest medals representing important and striking facts in the national history and furnish designs for the royal tapestry. It did not receive its name or enter upon its definite field of labor till 1701. Prior to this time its members, whose number had been gradually increased, discussed antiquarian and archeological subjects, and in this direction did good work. It was in the year 1701 that the Abbe Bignon asked the king to recognize it as an academy, give it a name and determine its duties.

Although the request of the abbé was received favorably, the new academy did not receive its charter till the time of Ponchartrain, July 16, 1706. Its name or title was not given till 1716. Then, as now, it