John Almon.

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I have never been in America, and have no personal experience
of the working of their institutions, as I had of so many of the
European ones, and am obliged to collect the data from their

f)ublished reports. I trust, therefore, my friends across the At-
antic will excuse any errors I may have committed through in-
advertency, or any material points I may have passed over from
ignorance.

Our American colonists before the outbreak of the war of In-
dependence had already begun to tuili their attention to the cul-
tivation of science, and especially to the investigation of the rich
and varied fauna and flora of their territory, and several Societies
or Academies for the promotion of these studies and the publi-
cation of transactions on the model of European ones were
Am. Joub. Sol— Sboond Sbbibs, Vol. XLIV, No. 182.— Nov., 1867.



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398 President Bentham's Address at the

fonnded, either immediately before tbe great contest, or daring
the first years of the settlement of the States.

The American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia for
promoting usefal knowledge, was established in 1769, and soon
commenced their 4to Transactions, the 1st volume haying appar-
ently been published in 1771, although, for some reason unknown
to me, it bears the date of 1789. It contains nothing bearing
upon Biolo^, except a few practical agricultural or horticulture
papers ; and the publication was interrupted during the years of
trouble, until the Society was reorganized in 1780. A second
volume is dated 1786, and four more complete the first series,
which was closed in 1804 with the sixth volume. It contains,
amongst a great variety of subjects, a few, mostly short, zoolog-
ical papers chiefly in Ichthyology, Erpetology and Entomology
by B. H. Latrobe, B. S. Barton, and Dr. Williamson, two small
contributions to American Botany sent from Europe by Thun-
berg and Palisot de Beauvois, and an Index FloraB Lancastriensis
by Muhlenberg. The labors of the Society appear then to have
been suspended for nearly fourteen years ; for it is only in 1818
that we find a new series commenced, and continued more or leas
steadily to the present time, the last received being two parts of
the 13th vol. dated 1865. All are in 4to, but with gradually
improving typography, paper, and illustrations, and a somewhat
enlarged size adopted with the 10th vol., dated 1853. The series
comprises all sciences among the subiects treated of; but a large
proportion of the papers are devoted to the investigation of the
N^atural History (including Biology, Geology, Ethnology, and
Linguistics) of the United States. J. Lea's malacological papers
are perhaps the most extensive, going through nine out of the
thirteen volumes. Entomology is next in order, in the earlier
volumes by T. Say and N. M. Hentz, in the latter ones by J. L,
Leconte, with a paper on Coleoptera by S. S. Haldeman, and
another on Myriapoda by H. C. Wood, Jr. In other branches
of Zoology, E. Hailowell on the reptiles of Cuba and the United
States, S. F. Baird's Zoology of the Upper Missouri, and J.
Leidy's papers, chiefly physiological or paleontological, are the
most important, the contributions to Mammology, Ornithology
and Ichthyology being few and short In Botany there are sev-
eral of Nuttall's descriptions of plants collected during his vari-
ous expeditions, an enumeration of no less than 8,098 North
American Fifngi by L. D. de Schweinitz in the Ith vol., G. En-
gelmann's Botany of the Upper Missouri, E. Durand's Botany
of the Great Salt Lake, and a few short contributions of minor
importance. In 1838 the Society also commenced publishing
their Proceedings in 8vo, after the model of European Societies.
Of these we have 9 vols., from 1838 to 1864, including several
papers of considerable length, occasionally illustrated by plates,



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Anniversary meeting of the Linnean Society. 299

but chiefly on Physical Sciences, Greology, or Paleontology. In
Biology there is nothing beyond a few abstracts for the purpose
securing priority of names, or short communications of very
little importance.

The diminished proportion of Natural History papers in the
later volumes of the Philosophical Society's publications is fully
accounted for by the activity of another Society in the same city
devoted exclusively to Natural Science. This Academy of Nat-
ural Sciences of Philadelphia was established early in 1817, and
immediately began the publication of the * Journal of the Acad-
emy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia,' in 8vo, issued in parts
at irregular intervals, with a few plates. The first series of 8
vols., from 1817 to 1842, was chiefly a receptacle for short papers
in almost all branches of Zoology, as well a6 in Geology and
Mineralogy, with a very few botanical contributions by T. Nut-
tall, G. Elliot, L. D. de Schweinitz, and S. W. Conrad, all of lit-
tle importance.

In 1841 the Academy commenced publishing their Proceed-
ings in 8vo, at short intervals, formmg 8 vols., for the years
1841 to 1856 inclusive, and since then one volume (not num^
bered) for each year, from 1857 to 1865, the last received. They
contain short communications, abstracts of the longer papers in-
tended for the Journal, and some entire papers of greater length,
with a few illustrations, woodcuts, or lithographs ; and in some
of the earlier volumes J. Cassin's Ornithological papers are ac-
companied by colored plates. In these 17 vols., will be found
a valuable record of observations and numerous descriptions of
North American species in almost every department of Zoology.

In 1847 the Academy resumed the. publication of the more
extended papers in a work issued as a new series of the Journal,
but in a large 4to form, withplates executed in a superior man-
ner, many of the zoological ones colored ; corresponding, in short
to the Transactions of other Societies. The five volumes issued
up to 1863, besides a few papers on exotic animals or on general
subjects, contain important and valuable contributions to the
Zoology of the United States, amongst which may be partic-
ularly mentioned the papers in Ornithology by J. Cassin, Erpe-
tology by E. Hallowell, Malacology and Conchyliology by I.
Lea and T. A. Conrad, and Entomology by J. L. Leconte and
R. Clemens, besides shorter communications in various branches
of Zoology by naturalists of note. Botany is limited to Nuttall's
account of GambeFs plants, a paper by M. J. Berkeley and M.
A. Curtis on Fungi, and B. Durand's accounts of Heermann's
and of Pratten's collections.

In this Journal I observe that the date of issue of the au-
thor's copies of each separate paper is given in a note to the
table of contents. This is no doubt with a view to fixing a



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300 President Bentham's Address at the

date on which the priority of discovery or of names is to be
established. It has been universally acknowledged that priority
depends upon the date of publication ; but it has been a much
debated question what amounts to a publication so as to fix that
date. Is it to be the time when a paper is read, or when it has
gone through the press so as to prevent any further alterations
on the part of the author, or when it is actually givep out for
sale, or simply the date it bears on the title page? I believe
that at the Iloyal Societv the date of reading a paper is con-
sidered as a sufficient puolication to establish rights of priority
in a discovery or invention, and, in a legal point of view, with
reference, for instance, to the law of patents, it seems reasonable
that it should be so; for it is not fair that an inventor should
obtain the sole right to his invention when the same or a simi-
lar one had been produced at the same time or before him, al-
though not in a manner in which he could have cognizance of
it ; and for establishing such a fact the reading of a paper may
be sufficient evidence. Both inventors can then enjoy the
credit and benefit of their invention, but neither of them to the
exclusion of the oth^.T, This also supposes that no alteration
is allowed in a paper afler it has once been read, unless it be
clearly designated by brackets or otherwise, as I believe to be
the practice of the Koyal Society. In Biology, however, the
case is diflferent, the object is not only to establish that priority
or rather independence of observation or discovery which can .
be enjoyed equally by two or more naturalists, but also the pri-
ority of name, which is a more complicatevi question, for an ani-
mal or plant cannot retain two names; when, therefore, it is
found that it has been differently named by two or more natu-
ralists it is necessary to decide which one should be exclusively
adopted. In principle, it is the universal rule among botanists,
and, I believe, a general one among zoologists, that, supposing
there is no absolute objection to either name, that one is to be
retained which was. first fixed by actual publication, — its inser-
tion in a work on sale or in general distribution, accompanied
bv diagnostic characters or other indications intended to fix its
identity. The reading a paper at a meeting of a Society is not
a publication for this purpose, only because it does not give
fixity ; the author himself does not feel bound by it and (possi-
bly from the discussion evoked or observations made at the
reading) may alter his names before or during the printing. A
purely technical paper is, indeed, not even actually read, and
often laid before the meeting in an unfinished state, the sub-
stance of it being verbally explained. The other objection, as
to the impossibility of a naturalist not actually present having
cognizance of a paper read at a meeting until it is in print is
only one of degree, and may even tell the other way, for he



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Anniversary meeting of the Linnean Society. 301

may see it in print long before he can possibly procure a rival
one from the antipodes although previously published.

It being admitted, then, that the date of a name is that of its
actual publication, there still remains sometimes the practical
difficulty of determining when that publication took place.
Primdfacie evidence is the date given on the title-page of the
work, but that is occasionally unfairly erroneous. The whole
of Eees's Cyclopedia, in which much Zoological and Botanical
matter is original, bears on the title-pages the date of 1819,
when some of the volumes were published nearly twenty years
earlier. Presl's Botanische Bemerkungen, with innumerable new
or altered names of plants, is dated the second year before it
was on sale. The Annales des Sciences Naturelles are notori-
ously antedated by several months. Grisebach's Monograph of
GentianesB, dated 1889, was received in this country the previous
November. The first parts of Ecklon and Zeyher's Enumeratio,
and of Ernst Meyer's Uommentatoines on South African Plants,
each describing as new or renaming two or three hundred spe-
cies of Leffuminosae, many of them identical in the two works,
appeared almost simultaneously ; but Ecklon and Zeyher's was ac-
tually published, as dated on the cover, in January 1886, whilst
E. Meyer's, which was not issued to the public till the 14th of
February 1886, has the ostensible date of December 1885. In
order to do justice to the authors under similar circumstances
extrinsic evidence has been generally admitted to correct the
dates apparent on the title. In the case of Transactions of
Scientific Societies this extrinsic evidence, often difficult to estab-
lish, is particularly required. There are generally two dates
given, tnat of the reading, affixed to each paper, and that of the
completion of the volume, given on the title-page ; the former
would be unfair to the rival observer, who mignt be superseded
by alterations made after the reading of the paper, the latter
equally unfair to the author, whose memoir, if in th^ first part
of the volume, may have been in the hands of the public for
years before the apparent date. In some Transactions this is
remedied by printing the date of publication of each separate
part ; but even that is not always enough, for author's sep-
arate copies have sometimes been generally circulated, and
even on sale, a considerable time before the complete part to
which they belong. It is for the purpose of fixing this date
(which ought surely to be admitted as a sufficient publication)
that in the Philadelphia Journal the date of issue of the author's
cop ies is, as above mentioned, noted in the table of contents.
"We have been considering whether a similar plan might not be
adopted for our own Transactions, but it has been thought un-
necessary to make the alteration, for the cases are very few
where the author's copies are ready for delivery much before the



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302 President Bentham's Address at the

part in which they are contaiDed ; and since we have regularly
issued a part every aotamn, the whole of the papers read during
a session are thus actually published within a few months of the
close of that session, thus always bearing the date of the same
year. Where, however, as in some foreign Transactions, the
author's copies are sometimes circulated a year or more before
the part they are contained in is actually published, the noting
the date of the former appears to be essential.

We are this moment in receipt of the 4th, 5th, and part of
the 6th volume of the Proceedings of the Entomological Society
of Philadelphia in large 8vo, with a few plates ; edited by Mr.
Cresson.

Boston was not long in following the example of Philadelphia
in the foundation of a central scientific body. The American
Academy of Arts and Sciences was established at Boston in
1780, and a few years afterward commenced the publication of
4to Transactions, entitled * Memoirs of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences.' A first series of four volumes, dated
from 1785 to 1821, contains, however, but little on Natural
History, and from that date there appears to have been a long
interruption. In 1833 a new series was commenced, with im-
proved typography and illustrations. Of this we have seven
volumes, from 1883 to 1860, and the first two parts of the 8th
volume, dated respectively 1861 and 1863, when as in the case
of other scientific works, the publication appears to have been
suspended by the efiects of the civil war. Although the majority
of the papers in these Transactions are on mathematical, physi-
cal, linguistical, and other miscellaneous sciences, yet, in Natu-
ral History, they contain D. H. Storer's extended synopsis of the
Fishes of the United States, as well as several detached papers
of his on the Fishes of Massachusetts, Nuttall's account of the
Birds of Massachusetts, some smaller contributions to insect
anatomy by Haldeman and J. Leidy, and several important
Botanical papers, including Sullivan t's Bryology and Hepati-
cology of the United States, A. Gray's Plant® Fendlerianae,
Notes on the Botany of Japan, and several minor papers, Qrise-
bach's Plantas Cubenses Wrightianae, and Eaton's Filices Cuben-
ses Wrightianee et Panamenses Fendlerianae.

In 1846 the Academy also commenced 8vo Proceedings, pub-
lished at shorter intervals than the Memoirs, and forming six
volumes, from 1846 to 1865. Besides the ordinary reports of
Proceedings and abstracts of the longer Memoirs, they include
some entire papers of considerable length, especially J. D. Dana's
Conspectus of the Crustacea of the Exploring Expedition under
Wilkes, M. J. Berkeley and M. A. Curtis's Enumeration of the
Fungi of the same Expedition, Tuckerman's Synopsis of North
American Lichens, G. Engelmann's of North American Cacta-
ceae, and Anderson's of North American Salices.



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Annfversary meeting of the Linnean Society. 303

The naturalists of Boston fiirther followed the example of
Philadelphia in the establishment of a Society specially de-
voted to their own sciences. Their first efforts, however, were
not successfiil. A Linnean Society of New England was formed
in the winter of 1814-15, and during two or three years sev-
eral meetings were held, papers read, and a few collections
formed ; but their only publication was a Eeport read at a meet-
ing of the Society on the 18th of June 1817, on the part of a
Committee appointed to inquire into the facts relating to the
Sea-serpents supposed to have been seen on their shores. This
report, a curiosity in its way, consists chiefly of the examination
on oath of a considerable number of witnesses, the result of
which appears to have led the committee to conclude not only
that Sea-serpents of sixty feet or more in length had really been
seen, but that a Scotiophis ailanticus about three feet in length,
actually captured and described and figured in the report, was
the young of the same species. After this effort the Society
languished, and was dissolved in 1822, and the remnants of the
collections were finally disposed of in 1880.

In that year a new Society was formed, which appears to
have been yearly increasing in means and activity. The Boston
Society of Natural History in 1834 commenced publishing pa-

Sjrs communicated to them in the Boston Journal of Natural
istory, in 8vo, with a few plates ; and the seven volumes issued
up to 1868 are replete with valuable contributions to almost
every branch of the Zoology of their country, with a few botani-
cal papers, especially the Plantae LindheimeriansB by Engelmann
and Gray. In exotic biology there also are papers by S. Cabot
on the Birds of Yucatan, by J. Wyman on the Gorilla, by T.
W. Harris on African Beetles, by A. A. Gould on African
Shells, and by L. W. Bailey on Microscopical Organisms of Para.
The Society also publish their Proceedings in 8vo, now in the 10th
volume (1841 to 1866), which, besides abstracts, include a con-
siderable number of short systematic enumerations, diagnoses,
&c., both in Zoology and Botany. Of late years, however, the
Society appears to have devoted its chief energies to the forma-
tion of a Library and Museum. The printed reports give a
very flattering account of the new building into which the Li-
brary and Museum were moved in 1864, and which had been
erected at a cost, including the cases, of above 100,000 dollars ;
the Library is reported as consisting in 1865 of above 7000
volumes, besides 1800 parts of volumes and above 2000 pam-
phlets, and the Museum as being far richer in most branches of
Natural History than one should have supposed that a private
Society would nave been able to maintain. It will be interest-
ing to watch in future years how far the resources they can de-
pend upon will enable them to provide for the proper care and



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304 President Bentham's Address at the

arrangement of their collections, which, to be uaeful, mast be
constantly and largely on the increase. The Treasurer's ac-
counts show that besides the janitor (whom we should call
porter) and some occasional help, there is but one paid officer,
an eminent Entomologist, who is at the same time Custodian,
Librarian, Recording Secretary, and Entomological Curator.
For the thirteen other Curators of as many branches of Natural
History, on whom alone depends the arrangement of the speci-
mens, no remuneration appears in the accounts, whereas if the
anticipations of increase sketched out in the Custodian's reports
be realized, there must be full claims to the whole time of more
than one Curator in most of these branches. The Society is
making an experiment upon a large scale, but evidently depends
much upon gratuitous aid ; time alone will show whether that is
less precarious on the other side than on this side of the Atlantic.

It is announced that the Boston Society's Journal is to be dis-
continued in the present form, but that the papers read will be
published in quarto, under the new title of Memoirs of the So-
ciety.

The Harvard College at Candbridge contains a Museum of
Comparative Zoology, which appears to be of great importance,
and we understand that the very rich and valuable Herbarium
of the distinguished Professor of Botany is also secured to the
Botanic Garden of the University, but we know of no regular
Transactions or Journals published in connection with the es-
tablishment.

The Lyceum of Natural History of New York was established
in 1818, and commenced publishing the Annals of the Lyceum
in 1823, in large 8vo, with a few plates. The seventh volume
was completed in 1862, and the eighth is now in progress ; they
contain papers of considerable importance, chiefly in illustration
of the I^atural History of the States, including C. L. Bonaparte's
Synopsis of North American Birds, some other papers in Orni-
thology by J. N. Lawrence and others, in Ichthyology by T. Gill,
in Entomology by J. L. Leconte, J. W". Greene, and others, and
numerous monographs and catalogues of shells by various con-
chyliologists. In Botany, Torrey's account of Eocky Mountain
plants and United States Cyperacese, and L. de Schweinitz on
North American Carices, occupy a considerable portion of the
early volumes, beyond which there are only a few short com-
munications from A. Gray.

The Elliott Society of Natural History of Charleston, South
Carolina, published a volume of Proceedings, extending from
November 1853 to December 1858, in 8vo, with a few platea
The most important papers are those of J. MacCrady on the
Acalephse of Charleston Harbor ; among the smaller ones two
are illustrated by plates, L. R. Gibbes on PoroeUana, and a small
list of rare plants by H. W. Ravenel.



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Anniversary meeting of the Linnean Society. 305

The Academy of Science of St. Louis was established in 1856,
and obtained an act of incorporation early in the following year.
They publish Transactions and Proceedings in one continuous
series under the former title, in 8vo, with a few plates ; the first
volume, a thick one, extends from 1856 to 1860, and two parts
of the second are dated respectively 1863 and 1866. The pa-
pers relate chiefly to North Americim Fossils, with a few on
various physical subjects, and one on an Egyptian Papyrus. In
Biology there is little beyond Engelmann's monograph of Ous-
cujta^ and other communications by the same author, more or
leas connected with the North American flora.

The only scientific journal published in the United States
which I have met with is that which has acquired a worldwide
reputation under the title of the American Journal of Science
and Arts. It was commenced under the editorship of Professor
Silliman in 1818, and published in parts in 8vo. After some
interruptions during the first year or two, owing to the difficulty
of arranging with tne publishers, it has regularly formed two
volumes in each year. A first series, conducted by Professor
Silliman, and after the first few^ears at his own risk as proprie-
tor, was closed in 1846 with the forty-ninth volume, a fiftieth
being soon after added, made up of a general Index. Pro-
fessor B. Silliman was then associated with his father, who
has since died, and now conducts it at New Haven in conjunc-
tion with Prof. J. D. Dana, with the assistance of several other
Professors of Cambridge and New Haven. It is now in the
forty-third volume of the second series, having undergone but
little change beyond a reduction in bulk from 1864, necessitated
by the difficulties resulting from the war. In this journal Biol-
ogy occupies less space than other sciences ; there are, however,
a few valuable papers in both Zoology and Botany, and under
the head of scientific intelligence, every number contains critical
notices or abstracts of worlS and other doings in Biology, which
are always of great interest on this side of the water as well as
in the States.

Washington is the seat of an Institution which, although not
coming precisely within the definition of* a Scientific- Society,
contributes largely to the promotion of our own, amongst other
sciences, by publications aft;er the model of Transacftions of
Academies, as well as by other means. It is, moreover, of a
nature so diflferent from any we have in this country, that it may
not be out of place to enter into some detail as to its history, as
gathered from the official reports, as well as from what we have
experienced of its action. The founder was an Englishman,
James Stnithson, described as a graduate of the University of
Oxford, who, having devoted a lone life to the pursuit and en-
couragement of science, bequeathed his large property to the



Online LibraryJohn AlmonThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 86 of 102)