To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly.
AT the risk of appearing ungracious, and possibly fastidious, I beg leave to invite attention to some inaccuracies in a brief notice of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, published in The Popular Science Monthly for August, 1876. The statements are erroneous; and, taken as a whole, the article does not fairly present the Academy to the public. The enthusiasm of my learned friend Prof. Cope has possibly led the writer of the article into misconception.
The Popular Science Monthly says, in substance, that Prof. E. D. Cope availed himself of the occasion of the Academy's taking possession of its new building "to suggest in the Penn Monthly some needed changes and improvements" in the organization of the society.
Prof. Cope, in his article on "The Academy of Natural Sciences" in the Penn Monthly, mentions that the Academy while changing its location revised its organization, "adding some functions which shall" relate it to the public more nearly than heretofore; that "its founder," meaning, of course, its seven founders, designed that the objects of the society should be promotion of original research, of instruction, and of the diffusion of knowledge.
Prof. Cope, Corresponding Secretary of the society, and at the period referred to one of a committee instructed to revise the by-laws with a view to improvement, did suddenly conceive and hastily deliver to the public press, contrary to the usual practice in such cases, an article referring to matters which were under consideration of the committee at the time, possibly in expectation that a small minority on some points of peculiar interest might be made a majority through the influence of his eloquence.
The Popular Science Monthly says that the Academy has "a moderate fund for promoting" the diffusion of knowledge, and regularly publishes "Transactions."
The Academy has a very modest "publication-fund," but it has never put forth anything under the title of "Transactions." It publishes the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (quarto), and the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (octavo), the first now including 6,592 pages and 565 plates, and the second, 10,692 pages and 136 plates, which together constitute the Academy's records of original research.
"Original research is not materially encouraged by the Academy."—The Popular Science Monthly.
Original research is considerably encouraged by publishing the reports of investigators, and by giving them freely the use of a scientific library of 25,000 volumes, and of extensive collections of natural objects while engaged in their work. If it is meant that the Academy does not encourage original research because it does not feed, lodge, and clothe investigators, or pretend to compensate them in any manner for scientific work, the charge must be admitted. It may truly plead, however, in extenuation of the illiberal policy of which it is accused, that its resources have never exceeded its current expenditures for fuel, light, postage, freight, etc., etc. The Academy is accused, indirectly, with doing less to encourage original research than might be done with its means: "for," says The Popular Science Monthly, "in one instance funds, supposed to be devoted to research, were hoarded, and afterward turned over to the building-fund."
The Academy never had funds which were in fact or "supposed to be devoted to research." The assertion to the contrary is not true. A section of the Academy had a surplus accumulation in its publication-fund, and generously contributed a part of it to aid the Academy to finish its building. The members of that section are as earnest in the promotion of the interests of science