Scientific interest this month is focused on the approaching meeting of the trustees of the Carnegie Institution. At the first meeting of the trustees, officers and an executive committee were appointed, and adjournment was taken to November without any decision on matters of policy. During the summer reports have been prepared by advisory committees of scientific men, and the secretary and other members of the executive committee have been engaged in careful consideration of the methods by which the Carnegie Institution can most effectively contribute to the advancement of science. The president of the institution has been abroad in consultation with foreign men of science and studying their institutions. The advisory committees have been selected with care, and it is doubtless proper that their reports should be regarded as confidential until they have been presented to the trustees. Scientific men would, however, be better pleased if the nomination of the members of the advisory committees had been entrusted to the scientific societies of the country and if they were sure that the trustees would take nc action involving the institution in a definite policy until the questions at issue have been more thoroughly discussed. It would not be possible to select more representative trustees than those of the Carnegie Institution, but they are men of affairs, engaged in the conduct of important enterprises, and can not be expected to devote their attention to the policy of the institution. The plan which obtains in this country of entrusting the ownership and control of educational and scientific institutions to a board of business men, who appoint a president with great power, provides an efficient administration. It is not, however, ideal from the point of view of the scientific man so long as he is an employee or slave he may do his work satisfactorily and economically, but he naturally looks forward to becoming a free man. We all know the difficulties and dangers of a democracy, but we have decided that this is for us the best form of government. Perhaps the greatest service that the Carnegie Institution could perform for science would be to entrust scientific men with its management. They would doubtless make mistakes and perhaps fall into quarrels, but in the end their education would be attained, and thereafter they would be more competent to manage their own affairs than any board of business men placed in authority over them.
As was stated in the September issue of the Monthly, the corporation of the Marine Biological Laboratory has voted to transfer its property to the Carnegie Institution; and this is the only intimation that has been made public in regard to the probable policy of the institution. But while the institution has secured an option on the laboratory, it is by no means certain that it will undertake the ownership. It has been announced by the chairman of the executive committee of the trustees of the laboratory that this will only be done after careful consideration and full discussion, and there is reason to believe that the Carnegie Institution may assist the laboratory without insisting on its becoming a branch or department. This question