« PreviousContinue »
lated by Buckingham Smith, esq. This manuscript was probably taken to Spain after the suppression of the order of the Jesuits in Mexico, in 1767. The Pima language was spoken by the tribes from the river Yaqui, in Sonora, northward to the Gila, and even beyond the Colorado, eastward beyond the mountains in the province of Taraumara, and westward to the sea of Cortez. The phrases given in these works will preserve the knowledge of what constituted the food of the inhabitants ; their manner of living, their character, and native customs, &c. This may prove of historic interest hereafter, if the facts be nowhere else more circumstantially authenticated.
Meteorology.-From 1856 to 1861 an appropriation was made from the agricultural fund of the Patent Office for assistance to the Institution in collecting and reducing statistics relative to the climate of the United States. This was commenced while the Patent Office was under the direction of Judge Mason, but was suddenly discontinued under a change of administration. The propriety of an appropriation for this purpose, from the fund above mentioned, must be evident to every one who reflects on the intimate connexion between meteorology and agriculture. A knowledge of the peculiarities of the climate of a country is an essential requisite for the adoption of a system of scientific culture. The average temperature of the spring, autumn, and of the growing season ; the ratio of the number of unfavor. able to favorable years; the amount of rain, and moisture ; the average time of the occurrence of late and early frosts, are all facts of importance in the economical adaptation of the crops to a given locality, in order to obtain the maximum of produce from a definite amount of labor.
The money received from the Patent Office was expended in assisting to defray the expense of the reductions of the observations, and as soon as the appropriation was stopped we were obliged to discontinue this part of the operations. The Institution, however, still continues to derive some benefit from its association with the Patent Office, in receiving tirough it, free of postage, the returned registers from the different observers.
Unfortunately, the postage law adopted at the last session of Congress prevents the correspondents on agriculture and meteorology from sending their reports by mail unless prepaid. This arrangement almost entirely stops the reception of these articles, for, since the service rendered is gratuitous, the observers cannot be expected to bear this additional burden. It is to be hoped that Congress will so modify the law as to remove this obstruction to a correspondence of great importance to the agricultural interests of the country.
Owing to this restriction, the number of meteorological registers received during the past year has been diminished, and the transmission of nearly all of them would have been discontinued had not the Commissioner of Agriculture, in view of their value to his department, decided to advance to some of the observers the necessary postage stamps to affix to their registers. He would willingly have sent stamps to all, but the tax would have been too heavy for the office; he therefore found it necessary to limit the number, and in doing so endeavored to make such a selection as would secure registers from districts distributed as uniformly as possible in all the States. Those observers, therefore, who have not been supplied with stamps should infer from this no disparagement of their observations, for among those who have been omitted from the list are some whose registers are highly prized for their regularity and accuracy
Before it was known that this arrangement would be made by the Cominissioner a circular was sent from this Institution to all the observers, mentioning the new feature in the postage law, and requesting them to continue their observations, and retain the records until the law should be modified, or some arrangement could be made by which the observers would not be subject to the burden of postage.
Under the new organization of the Department of Agriculture a renewed interest has been manifested by the Commissioner in the collection of meteorological statistics, and he has expressed the desire to co-operate with this Institution in continuing and extending the system of records of the weather which it had established with so much labor and expense.
In order to obtain and diffuse a knowledge of facts of immediate importance to agriculturists, the Commissioner has commenced the publication of a monthly bulletin giving the state of the crops, the condition of the weather, and various other items of importance which are daily received from observers, and which would lose a considerable portion of their value were they suffered to remain unpublished until the end of the year. For this bulletin the Institution supplies the meteorological materials, consisting of the mean, maximum, and minimum temperature and amount of rain for each month in different States, and also, for the purpose of comparison, the mean temperature and amount of rain for a series of five years, grouped by States;
This law has been changed since the above was written, and observers can send their meteorological registers, or other communications, to the Commissioner of Agriculture," without prepayment of postage.
together with tables of important atmospheric changes, and notices of auroras, meteors, and other periodical phenomena. The publication has been received with much favor by agriculturists, and is regarded with great interest by the observers, who are thus fur. nished promptly with a general summary of the principal features of the meteorology of each month in all parts of the country, with which they can compare their own observations.
In view of the value of the information thus furnished by the Institution, it is hoped that the previous appropriation will be renewed, and that the reductions which have been discontinued for the last four years may be resumed.
The second volume of the Results of Meteorological Observations made for the Institution, from 1854 to 1859, and reduced by Professor Coffin, is still in the press, its completion being delayed by the great pressure, upon the public printing office, of government work relative to the war.
We are indebted to the courtesy of Captain (now General) George G. Meade, of the topographical engineers, superintendent of the survey of the north and northwestern lakes, and of his successor in office, Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Graham, for a continuation of the favor formerly extended to the Institution in furnishing us with copies of the meteorological observations made at the different stations estab. lished for the survey. These records are very valuable, being made with full sets of instruments and at important places. They embrace observations made three times a day, at the same hours with the Smithsonian system, 7 a. m. and 2 and 9 p. m., and at ten stations, extending from Superior City in the State of Wisconsin, at the western extremity of Lake Superior, to Sackett's Harbor in New York, on the east end of Lake Ontario.
The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery of the Navy Department also continues to furnish us with the meteorological records kept at the naval hospitals at Chelsea, New York, and Philadelphia.
For several years previous to the commencement of the war a large map was exhibited in the Smithsonian Institution on which was daily represented the direction of the wiud and face of the sky over the greater portion of the United States; and in previous reports we have: frequently called attention to the fact that a properly organized sys. tem for giving daily or half daily changes of the weather in distant parts of the United States would be of great practical importance to the shipping interests of the country; we have also stated the fact that we are much more favorably situated for predicting the coming
weather than the meteorologists of Europe. The storms in our latitude generally move from west to east, and, since our seaboard is on the eastern side of a great continent, we can have information of the approaching storm while it is still hundreds of miles to the west of us. Not so with the meteorologists of Europe, since they reside on the western side of a continent, and can have no telegraphic dispatches from the ocean. The proposition, however, to furnish constant information of this kind could not be carried out by the limited means of the Smithsonian Institution, and, indeed, can only be rendered properly and fully serviceable under the direction and at the expense of the government.
New and interesting features have been introduced into the daily meteorological bulletin published by the Imperial Observatory at Paris. As mentioned in the last report, these bulletins are lithographed each day from records of the barometer, thermometer, wind, and face of the sky, compiled from telegraphic reports transmitted to the observatory from various parts of Europe. In addition to these, they row contain daily a small outline chart of Europe upon which are drawn diagrams showing the barometric curve of the day through the various stations, together with the temperature and direction and force of the wind. For the use of vessels about to leave port, a statement is also given of what will probably be the direction of the wind the next day. Chambers of commerce and intelligent seamen have acknowledged in strong language the benefit of these daily bulletins, thus adding to the ever-accumulating testimony in favor not only of the speculative interest but also practical benefits of meteorology. At Bordeaux, Havre, and other important ports, as soon as the bul. letins are received, the telegraphic announcement of the weather and the probable direction of wind for the following day are posted in public places and furnished to the principal newspapers for publication. The bulletin also contains extracts from the correspondents of the observatory on astronomical and other subjects as well as meteorology. With the number for December 20, a supplement was issued with a diagram exbibiting the indications of the self-registering instruments at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, during the great storm on the English coast in the first three days of December, 1863.
Laboratory. The principal work which has been done in the laboratory during the past year is an extended series of experiments on the properties of different kinds of oil intended for light-house purposes. For a number of years past the price of sperm oil has been constantly increasing, and from a dollar per gallon it had advanced last year to two dollars and forty-three cents. It became, therefore, an important matter to the Light-bouse Board to determine whether some other burning material could not be introduced in the place of so expensive an article. The investigation of this subject was given in charge to myself, as the chairman of the Committee on Experiments. The result of the investigations not only revealed a number of new phenomena of interest to science, but also estab. lished the important practical fact of the superiority of winter strained lard oil over standard sperm oil in the intensity of the light, the steadiness and persistence of the flame, and the less care required in attendance. This fact must have an important bearing on the cost of lighting the extended coast of the United States, as well as upon the commercial value of one of the staple products of the western part of our Union. The price of lard oil is, at present, considerably less than one-half of that of sperm, and while the supply of sperm oil has remained stationary, or even diminished with an increasing demand, the sources of lard oil in the country are abundant, and the quantity which can be produced will be sufficient to meet almost an unlimited consumption.
Another series of experiments was made for determining the proper arrangements of reflectors and lenses for illuminating distant objects either by the electric or the calcium light. These experiments were instituted at the suggestion of the Navy Department, but as no appropriation was made for their being carried into practice, they were discontinued, and the knowledge obtained remains unapplied.
Collections of specimons of natural history, &c.—In several of the preceding reports a distinction has been drawn between the collection of specimens of natural history made through the agency of this Institution, and what is called the Smithsonian museum. The object of making large collections of duplicate specimens is, first, to advance science by furnishing to original investigators new materials for critical study; and second, to assist in diffusing knowledge, by providing colleges, academies, and other educational establishments, with labelled specimens to illustrate the various productions of nature, while the principal end to be attained by the public museum of the Institution is the gratification and instruction of the inhabitants and visitors of the city of Washington.
The collecting and distributing of a large number of specimens, for the purpose stated, is an important means of increasing and diffusing knowledge, and, as such, is in strict accordance with the will of the founder of the Institution. It has, therefore, from the first received