Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/290

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286
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

the institution. The conditions are somewhat similar in many of our universities, but there the faculties have a certain moral control, however limited their statutory rights. So far as appears in the annual reports, there is not a single scientific man, except the secretary, on the Smithsonian foundation, and the scientific men employed in the dependencies are likely to receive the salaries and treatment of departmental clerks. Thus the late secretary could write in his annual report in regard to the Bureau of American Ethnology: 'The actual conduct of these investigations has been continued by the secretary in the hands of Major Powell,' and he could appoint a successor to Major Powell and alter the title from director to chief without the advice of the regents or of any body of scientific experts.

It is well known that a large part of the scientific work under the government had its origin in the Smithsonian Institution, but Henry, the first secretary, was always ready to relinquish work that could be done elsewhere, leaving to the Smithsonian what it only could do. The opposite policy has been followed in recent years, and the National Museum and other agencies supported by the government have not only been kept under the Smithsonian, but have been subordinated to the personal control of the secretary. The propriety of using Smithson's unique bequest for the support of governmental institutions is doubtful, and the result has not been favorable. The National Museum, for example, whether regarded as an educational or research institution, is insignificant when compared with the Museums of Natural History and Fine Arts in New York City, or the similar institutions of foreign nations.

It may be unwise to detach the various governmental agencies from the control of the Smithsonian regents at present, or so long as we have no department of science and education. Directors should, however, be found for the National Museum and other agencies, and scientific men of high standing should be attracted to these institutions, who should be permitted to guide their policies, subject only to the ultimate control of the regents, which should naturally be exercised only on rare occasions and under competent advice. We should like to see the Smithsonian Institution itself devoted to the broad purposes of its foundation 'the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men,' and under existing conditions this could perhaps best be accomplished by some form of cooperation and affiliation between it and the scientific men and scholars of the country and the world.

 

THE REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CARNEGIE INSTITUTION

When the Carnegie Institution was established five years ago, many American men of science hoped that it would fill the position that the Smithsonian Institution had relinquished, and become a center for the higher scientific and intellectual life of the country. But such vague visions are difficult to realize in concrete performance. It is disappointing that the Carnegie Institution has been able to do nothing beyond making grants to certain scientific men and founding certain research institutions along well-established lines, but it may none the less be difficult to say what else it could do to better advantage. Money spent on scientific research is almost surely well spent. If the undertakings of the Carnegie Institution are what in commercial life would be called three-per-cent. investments, in science they bring a material return manyfold as large, and the ideal results are not to be measured.

It is somewhat surprising, therefore, to read in the report of President Woodward that "after careful examination of the facts at hand I think it safe to state that no direct return may be anticipated from more than half of the