Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/179

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estate, valued at about 100,000l. Acceptance of the gift was opposed in Congress, but, through the influence of John Quincy Adams, Richard Rush was sent to England to enter a suit in the name of the president of the United States. A decision was given within two years, and the sum of 104,960l. in gold was delivered at the Philadelphia mint. In 1867, inclusive of a residuary legacy, the total amount of the bequest had increased to six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The Smithsonian Institution was established by act of Congress, approved on 10 Aug. 1846, and the first meeting of the board of regents took place on 7 Sept. in the same year. Joseph Henry was the first secretary (1846–78); to him are due the form of the publications, the system of international exchanges, and the weather bureau. Under the second secretary, Spencer Fullerton Baird (1878–87), the new museum building was erected, and much attention was given to zoological and ethnological explorations. Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley, the third and present holder of the office, established the National Zoological Park and the Astrophysical Observatory, and has given great encouragement to the physical as well as the biological sciences. The special work of the bureau of ethnology was begun in 1872. The Smithsonian building is one of the finest in Washington. The library forms part of the congressional library, and comprehends perhaps one-fourth of the national collection. The institution publishes periodically valuable series of scientific publications, entitled respectively ‘Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge’ since 1848, in 4to; ‘Miscellaneous Collections’ since 1862, 8vo; and ‘Annual Reports.’ The ‘Bulletins’ of the National Museum commenced in 1875 and the ‘Proceedings’ in 1878. The ‘Annual Reports’ of the Bureau of Ethnology date from 1878. The Bureau also issues ‘Bulletins.’

Smithson was a man of gentle character whose life was devoted to study uncheered by domestic affection. He had one relaxation. Arago, in the course of his ‘Éloge d'Ampère,‘ without mentioning Smithson by name, says: ‘Je connaissais à Paris, il y a quelques années, un étranger de distinction, à la fois très-riche et très-mal portant, dont les journées, sauf un petit nombre d'heures de repos, étaient régulièrement partagées entre d'intéressantes recherches scientifiques et le jeu’ (Œuvres, 1854, ii. 27). Ampère demonstrated to his friend that, according to the doctrine of chances, he was each year cheated out of a large sum; but Smithson was unable to forego the stimulus of play. His writings are marked by terse and lucid expression, and his theory of work is well illustrated by the noble words found in one of his notebooks, which have been adopted as a motto for the publications of the institution: ‘Every man is a valuable member of society who by his observations, researches, and experiments procures knowledge for men.’ Although he deeply felt the circumstances of his birth, he was proud of his descent, and once wrote: ‘The best blood of England flows in my veins. On my father's side I am a Northumberland, on my mother's I am related to kings; but this avails me not. My name shall live in the memory of man when the titles of the Northumberlands and the Percys are extinct and forgotten.’ One part of this statement has already been realised, and, as the founder of the famous institution which bears his name, he is already illustrious. The position of the Smithsonian Institution is without a parallel in any country.

There is an oil painting representing him as an Oxford student (1786), and a miniature by Johns (1816), both in the possession of the institution. A medallion found among his effects was marked ‘my likeness’ in Smithson's hand; from this have been engraved the portrait published by the institution, the great seal, and the vignette to be seen on all its publications.

[Materials have been kindly contributed by Professor S. P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. G. B. Henderson lent some family documents. See also Smithson and his Bequest, by W. J. Rhees, 1880, and accounts by W. R. Johnson and J. R. McD. Irby of the writings of Smithson, 1879, in Misc. Collections, vol. xxi. 1881; Report of R. Rush to the Department of State, 1838; Gent. Mag. March 1830, p. 275; Goode's Account of the Smithsonian Institution, 1895.]

H. R. T.

SMITZ, CASPAR (d. 1707?), painter, is believed to have been a native of Flanders. About 1660 he came to London, where he gained a reputation for his small portraits in oil, groups of fruit and flowers, and especially pictures of the penitent Magdalene, in the foreground of which he usually introduced a large and carefully painted thistle plant. From his works of this class he received the sobriquet of ‘Magdalene’ Smith; several of them were engraved by John Smith, P. Schenk, and E. Petit. Being induced by a lady who had been his pupil to remove to Ireland, Smitz practised there during the latter part of his life. Though his art was admired and well remunerated, he was always impecunious, and died in poverty in Dublin about 1707. Among his pupils were William Gandy [q. v.] and James Maubert.