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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 71/July 1907/The Progress of Science

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 71‎ | July 1907

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

The celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franklin, held at Philadelphia last year under the auspices of the American Philosophical Society, has now been completed by the publication of a volume containing a full account of the proceedings. These proceedings were unusually impressive. The Pennsylvania legislature made an appropriation of $20,000, and all the arrangements were carried out with admirable skill by the officers of the society. The commemorative addresses by Dr. H. H. Furness, President Chas. W. Eliot and the Hon. Joseph H. Choate are models of thought and expression. A special session was held to honor Franklin's researches in electricity, when addresses were made by Professor E. L. Nichols and Professor Ernest Rutherford. It is not necessary to repeat here all the features of the program, but attention may be called to circumstances which give opportunity to reproduce from the volume two interesting portraits of Franklin.

??At the instance of the committee of the society, the congress passed an act enabling the secretary of state to have struck a medal to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franklin, one single impression in gold to be presented to the Republic of France and one hundred and fifty copies in bronze to be distributed by the president of the United States and the American Philosophical Society. The medal, designed by Louis and Augustus St. Gaudens, has under the face of Franklin the words "printer, philosopher, scientist, statesman, diplomatist," while on the reverse history writes in the presence of Literature, Science and Philosophy. This medal was presented by the secretary of state, the Hon. Elihu Root, and accepted by his excellency the French Ambassador, M. Jusserand.

The occasion of the Franklin bicentenary was taken by Lord Grey to present to the United States a portrait of Franklin painted in London in 1759 by Benjamin Wilson. This portrait hung in Franklin's house in Philadelphia, whence it was taken by Major André and given by him to the great

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The Franklin Medal.

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Portrait of Franklin Painted by Benjamin Wilson in 1759.

father of Lord Grey. In the letter, read by the Hon. Joseph Choate, when the portrait was first shown after its return to this country, Lord Grey says:

In a letter from Franklin, written from Philadelphia, October 23, 1788, to Madame Lavoisier, he says: "Our English Enemies, when they were in possession of this city and my home, made a prisoner of my portrait and carried it off with them."

As your English friend, I desire to give my prisoner, after the lapse of 130 years, his liberty, and shall be obliged if you will name the officer into whose custody you wish me to deliver him. If agreeable to you, I should be much pleased if he should find a final resting place in The White House, but I leave this to your judgment.

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Bridge Over the Bronx River, between the New York Botanical Garden and the New York Geological Park, dedicated to the Memory of Linnæus

 

THE CELEBRATION OF THE BICENTENARY OF THE BIRTH OF LINNÆUS BY THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

The two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnæus has been celebrated throughout the world, notably by the Royal University of Upsala, where he was professor from 1741 to his death in 1774, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, of which he was the first president. Of the many local celebrations, we may select for mention that under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences, where the arrangements were more elaborate than elsewhere in America. The morning of May 23 was devoted to exercises in the American Museum of Natural History, the afternoon to exercises at the New York Botanical Garden and the New York Zoological Park, the evening to exercises in the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and the New York Aquarium. At these different scientific institutions addresses were made by Dr. J. A. Allen, Dr. P. A. Rydberg, Mr. F. A. Lucas and others. The building of the New York Aquarium commemorated the centennial of its erection, and the collections were opened for the first time by night.

Of special interest was the dedication to the memory of Linnæus of a bridge over the Bronx River on Pelham Parkway between the New York Botanical Garden and the New York Zoological Park. The bronze tablet, presented by Dr. N. L. Britton for the New York Academy of Sciences, bears these words:

Linnæus, botanist and zoologist, born Rashult, Sweden, May 23, 1707; died Hammarby, Sweden, February 18, 1778. This bridge was dedicated by the New York Academy of Sciences, May 23, 1907.

A cable message addressed to the New York Academy of Sciences by the Swedish Academy reads as follows:

To every Swede, and especially to our society, whose honor it is to count Carl von Linné as the greatest ornament of in ranks, it is highly gratifying to see that the memory of the man whom all the world recognizes as Princeps Botanicorum is also held so sacred across the Atlantic that the two hundredth anniversary of his birth will be celebrated there with the same love and reverence as in his own country. And we fully appreciate the delicate courtesy which has led you to immortalize his name among you by dedicating to him the beautiful bridge which unites your Botanical Garden with the Zoological Park.
 

THE STATE UNIVERSITIES AND THE SYSTEM OF RETIRING ALLOWANCES OF THE CARNEGIE FOUNDATION

In Mr. Carnegie's original letter giving $10,000,000 to establish a fund for pensioning professors, denominational institutions, on the one hand, and state institutions, on the other, were excluded. In the act of incorporation, however, the question of the state institutions was left open, and it was at one time reported by the newspapers that Mr. Carnegie would add five million dollars to the foundation in order that they might be included. But it now appears that the opposite policy will be followed. The documents on the subject presented to the trustees have been printed as a bulletin of the Carnegie Foundation. This bulletin, in addition to giving the grounds that have been urged for and against the policy of granting pensions to professors in the state institutions, contains some interesting data in regard to the development of these institutions.

The executive committee of the National Association of State Universities drew up a statement for the trustees in which they urge the following reasons for including these universities under the auspices of the fund: State universities are not controlled by religious denominations; they maintain college standards based on the high school; they have an assured income equal to the productive endowment required for private foundations; state institutions can not establish a pension fund as this might raise the whole question of pensions for state officers; the omission of these institutions discriminates against the professors who have served them; the plan would not weaken support by the states. Memoranda in favor of granting allowances were also presented by Dr. Maurice Hutton, acting president of the University of Toronto, and by Professor Henry T. Eddy, dean of the graduate school of the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, president of the foundation, discusses these papers, and comes to an adverse conclusion. He holds that from the point of view of general policy, professors in the state institutions should receive retiring allowances, but that these should be established by the states themselves, as the granting of allowances by a private agency might lessen the sense of responsibility of the states for educational support. He states that to add to the list of accepted institutions all state universities would be to complete the list of institutions for which the foundation can provide an adequate retiring system. He holds that the award of pensions to a large number of representative institutions by the foundation will make the plan part of the American Educational System, which other institutions will necessarily follow.

It may be that in this matter the trustees of the Carnegie Foundation, nearly all of whom are presidents of private institutions, are not entirely disinterested. Some of them have given occasion for such inference by their attitude toward a national university, which Mr. Carnegie at one time planned to endow. In the establishment of libraries, Mr. Carnegie has not been indisposed to cooperate with institutions supported by taxation. However, it does not follow that in the end it would have been to the advantage of the state institutions to have been placed under the Carnegie Foundation. There are dangers, as well as advantages in centralization and uniformity. It by no means follows that compulsory retirement at the age of sixty-five, on part salary is the best plan. Perhaps the state universities may adopt the German system, by which the appointment of a professor is for life, he being excused from active service when disabled by illness or old age.

 

SCIENTIFIC ITEMS

We record with regret the deaths of Sir Benjamin Baker, F.R.S., the eminent British engineer; of Dr. Alexander Buchan, F.R.S., the Scottish meteorologist; of Sir Joseph Fayrer, known for his pathological work in India, and Dr. Charles Féré, known for his researches in neurology and psychiatry.

The honorary freedom of the City of London is to be conferred on Lord Lister.—The gold medal of the Linnean Society, London, has been awarded to Dr. Melchior Treub, director of the Botanical Garden at Buitenzorg.

A second series of tablets was unveiled in the Hall of Fame, of New York University, on Memorial Day, May 30. Addresses were made by Governor Hughes, of New York, and Governor Guild, of Massachusetts. Among the twelve tablets unveiled was one in memory of Maria Mitchell, the astronomer, and one in memory of Louis Agassiz. The tablet in honor of Agassiz was unveiled under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science with brief addresses by Dr. Charles D. Walcott, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. Edward S. Morse, director of the Peabody Institute of Science.

The committee of one hundred, appointed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to further the promotion, of national interest in health, met in New York City, April 18, and organized by the adoption of rules, the election of officers and the appointment of an executive committee. Professor Irving Fisher, of New Haven, presided as the temporary chairman and was subsequently elected president. Ten vice-presidents were elected, as follows: President Charles W. Eliot, Harvard University; Dr. Felix Adler, New York; Dr. William H. Welch, Baltimore; Rev. Lyman Abbott, New York; President James B. Angell, University of Michigan; Miss Jane Addams, Chicago; Hon. Joseph H. Choate, New York; Rt. Rev. John Ireland, St. Paul; Hon. Ben. B. Lindsey, Denver; Hon. John D. Long, Boston.