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1826年,詹姆斯·史密森的遗嘱

更新时间:2017-8-10 10:46:35 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Smithsonian Institution, which Congress created on this day in 1846, is now composed of 19 museums and galleries that are devoted to “the process of developing an American national identity.”

史密森学会(The Smithsonian Institution)由国会在1846年的今天设立,如今已经拥有19座博物馆和画廊,致力于“发展美国国家认同的这一过程”。

It is intriguing, then, that the Smithsonian’s founding patron, James Smithson, never set foot in the U.S.

这么一来,为史密森学会创立提供资助的詹姆斯·史密森(James Smithson)从未踏足美国的这一点,就十分有趣了。

Smithson was born in Paris as Jacques-Louis Macie, the illegitimate son of a wealthy English duke. He eventually changed his name, became a British citizen and built a solid reputation as a scientist. (A mineral, smithsonite, is named for him, and he is credited with coming up with the term “silicates.”)

史密森生于巴黎,原名雅克-路易·梅西(Jacques-Louis Macie),是一名富有的英国公爵的私生子。最终,他改了名字,成为了英国公民,作为科学家树立起了良好的声誉(有一种矿物菱锌矿[smithsonite]正是以他来命名的,据称他也是为硅酸盐[silicates]命名的人)。

When Smithson died in Italy in 1829, he left behind an unusual will: If his nephew, his sole heir, died without children, his entire estate would go to the U.S. to found “at Washington, under the name Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

1829年,当史密森于意大利去世时,他留下了一个不同寻常的遗嘱:如果他的侄子,即其唯一继承人去世时没有后代,他的全部财产会捐给美国,用来“在华盛顿以史密森学会的名称,为知识的增加和传播”建立“一个机构”。

Only theories exist to explain why Smithson gave the U.S. his wealth, which amounted to more than $500,000, about 1/66th of the U.S. budget at the time.

史密森将其财富赠予美国的原因众说纷纭。他的财富逾50万美元,相当于当时美国1/66的预算。

Even the Smithsonian concedes that “we are left to speculate on the ideals and motivations of a gift that has had such significant impact on the arts, humanities and sciences of the United States.”

就连史密森学会都承认“对于这个对美国艺术、人文学科和科学具有重大影响力的馈赠,我们也只能揣测其背后的想法和动机”。

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