Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/517

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

for consultation, and constituting a full repertory of passing occurrences. It is indispensable to the student of current affairs, and should have a place in the library of every working thinker. Appletons' Annual Cyclopædia is a work entirely distinct from their regular American Cyclopædia, which is of a more general character, and treats of the past as well as of the present.

The volume just issued contains the annals of the past year. Its wars and military operations are faithfully described. The internal commotions of states also receive due attention, and the student of foreign politics will peruse, with keen interest, the succinct account here given of the civic strifes of France and Germany, and the sanguinary conflict still going on in Spain. The chronicle of home events is very full. The questions which occupied the minds of our legislators during the year, and which have in any way affected the prosperity of the country, are faithfully presented. Thus we have articles on the national finances, revenue, and taxation; banking, financial crises, commerce, manufactures, etc. The financial condition of the several States also receives attention. In short, no great public concernment is overlooked, and, to give an exact idea of what this volume contains, we should have to enumerate every living practical interest of our people—the movements of political parties, the transportation question, the granger question, the results of elections, proceedings of legislative bodies, judicial decisions, the progress of educational and charitable institutions, the extension of railroads and telegraphs, etc. The diplomatic correspondence of the United States Government, derived from authentic sources, is presented with great fullness. The progress of science, in various branches, is recorded; special prominence being given to the practical applications of scientific discoveries, and, finally, we have the authentic statistics of religious denominations in the United States.

Smithsonian Report for 1872.—The Smithsonian Institution closed the first quarter of a century of its existence with the year for which this report was made. During that time it has made itself known in every part of the civilized world, and "the publications which result from the facilities it has afforded to original research are to be found in all the principal libraries, and its specimens in all the great public museums in the world."

The report of the Secretary, Prof. Henry, evidences admirable management in the financial affairs of the Institution. The original fund, instead of being impaired, has been increased. It now amounts to $704,811; the income from which, during the year 1872, amounted to $46,916. The expenditures for the same time were $45,420. However, this good management has not always existed. Prof. Henry shows that in the establishment of the Institution, the United States Government, through a misconception of the object of the founder, expended $600,000 in the erection of buildings, while the object could have been attained by an outlay for the same purpose of only $50,000. The object of the founder appears to have been the establishment of an institution for the promotion of original scientific research, and the distribution of the knowledge thereby gained; while the Government construed it to be the establishment of a museum, library, art-gallery, lectorium, arboretum, etc. Prof. Henry now suggests that the Government should devote the present building to the use of the National Museum, and repay the Smithsonian fund $300,000; one-third of which could be used for the erection of another building suitable to the Institution, and the remainder be added to the present fund.

The most important work of the Institution consists in the publication of contributions to knowledge, or scientific papers, containing positive additions to knowledge, papers which are the results of investigations directly or indirectly fostered by the Institution, or of individual investigations, but are too expensive in character to be otherwise published. Also, the publication of miscellaneous collections intended to facilitate the study of particular branches of science. These publications are distributed with various specimens, ethnological and otherwise, to libraries and museums throughout this and foreign countries. The most important works published or prepared for publication by the Institution, in 1872, were "Tables and Results of Precipitation of