Page images



Vérité sans peur.


FRIDAY, JULY 3, 1885.


IT MAY NOW BE SAID to be the fashion for individuals of great wealth to make bequests to found new institutions of learning, or in general to help on such institutions already in existence, and in particular to endow specific departments of research. But it is much more than a fashion. We may presume that those making such bequests desire, in large majority, that the greatest good shall come from their gifts if not in the advancement of knowledge, then in its diffusion among men. To be sure, we have many princely donations nowadays, which, while they provide for the worthiest of objects, are paraded in the public prints as if ephemeral notoriety were all the donor thought of. But this sort of bequest is growing increasingly less, and the ultimate substantial good is coming to be regarded uppermost.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is indicative of a solid growth in our country, that an increasing proportion of its wealth is turned into the channels of education and science. What it took European nations hundreds of years to find out, the shrewdest of our public benefactors are fully aware of, that no earthly institutions are so stable and enduring as the great colleges and universities; that solid endowments in these institutions have a lease of life which not even nations themselves can be sure of; and that funds thus deposited preserve their integrity when other forms of investment undergo complete dissipation. The chief institutions of higher education in America have an excellent record to exhibit in the management of the funds in

No. 126.1885.

trusted to their guardianship. They are not thought of ordinarily as at all different from other institutions and corporations which exist solely for self-remunerative interest. No college or university exists to make money. The income of such institutions is very largely derived from funds which have been given to them; and while fees are received, and make up a part of the income, they expend all they receive, as a rule, and only hope to receive more that they may give more. So, also, it is with all departments and organizations for scientific research.


'The more one has, the more one receives,' seems to be exemplified in the finances of our greatest university, the observatory of which has just received a bequest of nearly three hundred thousand dollars from the will of the late Mr. Robert Treat Paine of Brookline, Mass. The observatory receives one-half of this amount at once, -a sum large enough to enable the early resumption of the important researches which, through lack of funds, it became necessary to discontinue at the close of last year, the remainder on the death of his widow. Paine died recently, at the advanced age of eighty-one years. Although not a professional astronomer, he was well known to all the astronomers of the present generation. His immediate contemporaries in the science have all, we believe, passed away. Mr. Paine took special interest in the prediction and observation of solar and lunar eclipses; and the persistency with which he followed these phenomena, even in late years, makes it probable that he had observed more eclipses than any other person. Also he made meteorological observations of great value; and his record of barometric and thermometric readings at a

« PreviousContinue »